Author Archives: afscme

Job-Hopping Toward Equity

Source: Boris Groysberg, Paul Healy, and Eric Lin, MIT Sloan Management Review, July 14, 2021

Changing employers can help narrow the gender gap in executive compensation.

For managers and executives, changing employers has been linked to larger increases in pay. So we set out to explore whether women — particularly those in senior roles — can use external moves to increase their own compensation and perhaps narrow the gender pay gap.

Existing survey-based studies suggest that gains from switching employers are less pronounced for women than for men. These studies broadly compare leavers versus stayers by gender. However, leavers and stayers may have different attributes that drive pay increases — and those differences may vary by gender.

For such reasons, we think it’s necessary to take a finer-grained look at the issue by asking some pointed questions. For instance, in external labor markets, do executive women primarily get paid less for doing the same job, or does the disparity have more to do with getting barred from job opportunities with higher pay? Recent work suggests that access to those plum opportunities is a critical component. Short-listing practices in external search firms have been shown to disadvantage women. But studies also show that once executive women enter consideration pools, they are as likely to be selected as men with comparable credentials. That finding raises another question: Once women are placed in these competitive roles as external hires, how do their pay increases compare with those of men brought in from the outside?

In our analysis, they actually compare favorably. Using proprietary data from a top-five executive placement firm, interviews with search firm executives, and career history information on LinkedIn, we looked at more than 2,000 senior-level external job switches across a wide variety of industries and functions. Surprisingly, we found that among executives who change jobs, women get higher-percentage increases than men overall. In this article, we quantify these differences and explore contextual factors that appear to be associated with the gains for women, shedding light on when women might fare better financially in changing employers.

To be clear: Higher increases are not the same thing as higher pay. In our sample of executive job switchers, women are paid, on average, less than men both before the move and after. But in some situations, external moves do appear to reduce pay disparities.

Why Putting On Blinders Can Help Us See More Clearly

Source: Sean Fath, Richard P. Larrick, Jack B. Soll, and Susan Zhu, MIT Sloan Management Review, June 8, 2021

Even if your organization doesn’t have a “blinding” policy for hiring and other people evaluations, it’s possible to reap some of the benefits.

Would you decide which job candidates to interview based on their names — or which ventures to fund based on entrepreneurs’ gender or physical attractiveness? Few managers would admit doing so, even to themselves. But research shows that decision makers are in fact susceptible to exactly this type of bias. Identical resumes sent in response to job postings are less likely to generate a callback for an interview if the name at the top suggests the candidate is Black.1 And female entrepreneurs face harsher questions from potential investors and are less likely to have their ideas funded than men (particularly attractive men).

Generally, this body of research demonstrates that the fairness of social evaluations — such as whom to hire, invest in, or promote — can be adversely affected by irrelevant and seemingly innocuous attributes, like name or appearance, because of the biases they evoke. How might these judgments be made more equitably? One way to reduce the potential for bias and increase objectivity is to adopt a decision-making strategy called blinding — that is, limiting the information that can be considered in an evaluation. The logic is straightforward: An evaluator cannot be biased by irrelevant information about a target of evaluation (for instance, a job candidate’s name) if that information is hidden from view. It is for this reason that Justice is typically depicted wearing a blindfold: The blindfold ensures the impartiality of her decision-making.

Worker Power and Voice in the Pandemic Response

Source: Sharon Block and Benjamin Sachs, Clean Slate for Worker Power, July 2021

From the summary:
Our country is wracked by two urgent crises – the COVID-19 pandemic and the plague of systemic racism.

COVID-19 presents grave challenges to all of us, but it poses particular – and, in many cases, life-threatening – challenges to working people. Moreover, the costs of the pandemic are being borne disproportionately by low-wage workers, a population made up primarily of women and workers of color. As they work to keep the economy moving despite the pandemic, these workers are being asked to put their lives on the line in ways that are both unacceptable and unnecessary.

Indeed, as the economy reopens, more and more workers will be put in harm’s way. Unless, that is, something fundamental changes about the way we approach worker voice and power.

In this issue brief, we offer a set of recommendations designed to empower workers so that they are better positioned to cope with the ravages of COVID-19, keep themselves and their families safe, and build a more equitable economy than the one the pandemic shut down.

There is strong bipartisan support for the recommendations we are suggesting. A large majority of likely voters support giving workers a formal voice in setting health and safety standards. Only 19% of likely voters said they opposed these reforms. View the full polling results here.

As with the original Clean Slate report, the recommendations here are designed so that they apply to all workers regardless of whether the law classifies them as employees, independent contractors, or otherwise outside of traditional labor law’s protection. And a central premise of the Clean Slate for Worker Power project is that any attempt to empower workers must begin with the effort to make labor law, and the labor movement, fully inclusive of workers of color – workers who have faced exclusion from the start.

When law empowers all workers to demand equitable treatment – including safe and healthy working conditions – workers can build the kind of nation we all deserve.

Effects of nurse-to-patient ratio legislation on nurse staffing and patient mortality, readmissions, and length of stay: a prospective study in a panel of hospitals

Source: Matthew D McHugh, Linda H Aiken, Douglas M Sloane, Carol Windsor, Clint Douglas, Patsy Yates, The Lancet, Vol. 397, issue 10288, May 22, 2021
(subscription required)

From the summary:
Background
Substantial evidence indicates that patient outcomes are more favourable in hospitals with better nurse staffing. One policy designed to achieve better staffing is minimum nurse-to-patient ratio mandates, but such policies have rarely been implemented or evaluated. In 2016, Queensland (Australia) implemented minimum nurse-to-patient ratios in selected hospitals. We aimed to assess the effects of this policy on staffing levels and patient outcomes and whether both were associated.

Methods
For this prospective panel study, we compared Queensland hospitals subject to the ratio policy (27 intervention hospitals) and those that discharged similar patients but were not subject to ratios (28 comparison hospitals) at two timepoints: before implementation of ratios (baseline) and 2 years after implementation (post-implementation). We used standardised Queensland Hospital Admitted Patient Data, linked with death records, to obtain data on patient characteristics and outcomes (30-day mortality, 7-day readmissions, and length of stay [LOS]) for medical-surgical patients and survey data from 17 010 medical-surgical nurses in the study hospitals before and after policy implementation. Survey data from nurses were used to measure nurse staffing and, after linking with standardised patient data, to estimate the differential change in outcomes between patients in intervention and comparison hospitals, and determine whether nurse staffing changes were related to it.

Findings
We included 231 902 patients (142 986 in intervention hospitals and 88 916 in comparison hospitals) assessed at baseline (2016) and 257 253 patients (160 167 in intervention hospitals and 97 086 in comparison hospitals) assessed in the post-implementation period (2018). After implementation, mortality rates were not significantly higher than at baseline in comparison hospitals (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1·07, 95% CI 0·97–1·17, p=0·18), but were significantly lower than at baseline in intervention hospitals (0·89, 0·84–0·95, p=0·0003). From baseline to post-implementation, readmissions increased in comparison hospitals (1·06, 1·01–1·12, p=0·015), but not in intervention hospitals (1·00, 0·95–1·04, p=0·92). Although LOS decreased in both groups post-implementation, the reduction was more pronounced in intervention hospitals than in comparison hospitals (adjusted incident rate ratio [IRR] 0·95, 95% CI 0·92–0·99, p=0·010). Staffing changed in hospitals from baseline to post-implementation: of the 36 hospitals with reliable staffing measures, 30 (83%) had more than 4·5 patients per nurse at baseline, with the number decreasing to 21 (58%) post-implementation. The majority of change was at intervention hospitals, and staffing improvements by one patient per nurse produced reductions in mortality (OR 0·93, 95% CI 0·86–0·99, p=0·045), readmissions (0·93, 0·89–0·97, p<0·0001), and LOS (IRR 0·97, 0·94–0·99, p=0·035). In addition to producing better outcomes, the costs avoided due to fewer readmissions and shorter LOS were more than twice the cost of the additional nurse staffing.

Interpretation
Minimum nurse-to-patient ratio policies are a feasible approach to improve nurse staffing and patient outcomes with good return on investment.

Impact of Flexible Work Arrangements on Key Challenges to Work Engagement Among Older Workers

Source: Joanne Allen, Fiona M Alpass, Ágnes Szabó, Christine V Stephens, Work, Aging and Retirement, June 21, 2021
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
As workforces age, organizations are challenged to provide human resource management policies and practices that are responsive to the needs of older workers. Flexible work arrangements (FWAs)—practices that allow workers to influence when, where, and how work is completed—have been promoted as enabling older workers to maintain work engagement by decreasing demands of the work role, providing the autonomy to balance work and nonwork commitments, and signalling the value of workers to employers. The current study aimed to examine whether FWAs were effective in alleviating key challenges to work among older workers by assessing the impact of FWAs on the associations of physical health, mental health, and negative age-related stereotypes about older workers, with work engagement. Data were obtained from 1,834 workers aged 55–82 (age M = 63.3, 54% female) from a general random sample of older adults. Greater mental health and lower negative stereotypes predicted higher work engagement. Greater physical and mental health conveyed an indirect impact on engagement via lower perception of negative stereotypes. Greater FWAs displayed a weak negative association with the perception of negative stereotypes about older workers and reduced the association of negative stereotypes with work engagement. Access to FWAs may have a minor role in alleviating key risks to work engagement associated with mental and social challenges for an aging workforce. Considerations for future investigations of FWAs and their impact on risks to engagement among older workers are discussed.

Steward’s Corner: What Your Boss Doesn’t Want You to Know, and Where to Find It

Source: Tom Juravich, Labor Notes, May 24, 2021

Given the wealth of information available online, conducting research on your employer is more possible than ever—and more important than ever, as firms become more complex and globalized.

There’s no reason we should ever begin bargaining or start an organizing campaign without a strong sense of who the employer is, how it generates its profit, where it is growing, who its decision-makers are, and where it is most vulnerable. This information is much easier to find than most people think.

More information is available on companies that trade on one of the stock exchanges, but there is still plenty of information on privately held firms and nonprofits. And this approach is relevant for firms both large and small, across a wide variety of sectors….

…Former employment attorney Edgar Ndjatou, executive director of Workplace Fairness, a nonprofit that promotes workers’ rights, said disagreements over politics, vaccinations, mask wearing and other hot-button topics also could fuel violent workplace conflicts….

Going Public: Iceland’s Journey to a Shorter Working Week

Source: Guðmundur D. Haraldsson, Jack Kellam, Autonomy, June 2021

From the executive summary:
• In 2015 and 2017, in response to campaigning by trade unions and civil society organisations, two major trials of a shorter working week were initiated by Reykjavík City Council and the Icelandic national government.

• These eventually involved over 2,500 workers — more than 1% of Iceland’s entire working population — many of which moved from a 40-hour to a 35- or 36-hour working week.

• These trials not only aimed to improve work-life balance, but also to maintain or increase productivity. Reductions in working time were not accom-panied by reductions in pay.

• The trials evolved to include nine-to-five workers alongside those on non-standard shift patterns, and took place in a wide range of workplaces, from offices to playschools, social service providers and hospitals.

• The scale of the trials, combined with the diversity of workplaces involved and the wealth of available quantitative and qualitative data provides ground-breaking evidence for the efficacy of working time reduction.

• Results summarised in this report, based on both qualitative and quantitative data, demonstrate the transformative positive effects of a shorter working week for both employees and businesses alike.

• Productivity and service provision remained the same or improved across the majority of trial workplaces.

• Worker wellbeing increased across a range of indicators, from perceived stress and burnout, to health and work-life balance.

• Following the trials’ success, Icelandic trade unions and their confederations achieved permanent reductions in working hours for tens of thousands of their members across the country. In total, roughly 86% of Iceland’s entire working population has now either moved to working shorter hours or have gained the right to shorten their working hours.

•These reductions were won in contracts negotiated between 2019 and 2021, and have already come into effect for most workers. Some of these contracts give shorter hours to all union members, while other contracts stipulate that staff and their individual workplaces can negotiate shorter hours.

Stress at Work: Individuals or Structures?

Source: A C L Davies, Industrial Law Journal, Advance Access, April 23, 2021
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Stress is a significant practical problem in modern workplaces. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), more than half of all working days lost to ill health each year are attributed to stress, depression or anxiety. This article offers an overview of the occupational psychology literature on workplace stress, focusing on the job demands–resources or JD-R model, developed by Demerouti et al., and highlighting two important points: first, that stress at work is not just about excessive job ‘demands’ but also about inadequate ‘resources’ to cope with those demands; second, that stress-related ill-health is not just a matter of vulnerability on the part of the individual worker, but is also about the way in which the workplace is organized. The article then draws on these insights to offer a critique of the way in which health and safety law and tort law approach workplace stress, arguing that both bodies of law are overly focused on treating stress as a matter of individual vulnerability. It concludes by drawing out some broader implications of the occupational psychology literature for areas of employment law less obviously related to workplace stress, and for casual or platform working.

Does Going Back Into the Office Freak You Out?

Source: Amy Silver, Harvard Business Review, April 23, 2021
(subscription required)

With companies considering redesigning physical office spaces to better accommodate hybrid work environments, chances are, depending on your job, your sector, and your leadership team, at some point you’ll need to go in to work. And this might be making you anxious. As we try to socialize and adjust to yet another “new normal” by engaging with people at work like we did in a pre-pandemic world, the exact focus of our worries and fears will vary. To manage your fears, there’s a few things you can do.

  • Understand what impact fear can have on your work. When our fear system is activated, we go into fight-or-flight mode. This means we can become distracted, our thoughts become more muddled, and decision making becomes more biased as our brain tries to make short cuts and we are more likely to make bad decisions.
  • Learn how to manage your fear. Be compassionate to yourself and know that it’s okay to feel this way. Then recognize your triggers and reactions. Does being in a crowded elevator scare you? Or running into coworkers when you go to fetch your coffee?
  • Separate your “fear” voice from what you want to do. Fear’s job is to keep us safe, and it does that by pushing us to choose short-term, protective behaviors (like running away, or avoidance) in a given situation rather than behaviors that will serve us in the longer term (facing something more rationally).