The Bureau of Labor Statistics (‘BLS’) has reported the ‘quits rate’ (defined as voluntary terminations as a percentage of the workforce) for the last 21 years. Today, people are quitting work like they have never quit before. Nearly four million Americans a month, for each of the last four months.
Astonishingly, a recent survey found that 40% those recently leaving their jobs do so without having their next job lined up. BLS also reports that job openings rose to an unprecedented high, nearly 11 million, in July. The quits rate indicates significant dissatisfaction with the companies left behind. The huge unfilled job number shows that people are selective about the jobs they will take.
Who is Leaving, and Why?
Retail and hospitality industries are among the industries most affected, but workers across all industries, and many white-collar workers, have quit or say they plan to quit.
One leading theory about why this extraordinary exodus is occurring blames COVID. In the middle of a plague, people are deciding what is important in their lives. So, if the current job is complicating life, or is not providing meaning and satisfaction, employees are giving it the heave-ho.
How Can Employers Encourage Retention?
Employers should pay attention to this trend. If nothing else, replacing employees is an expensive proposition, commonly estimated at a third of salary. This figure includes the loss of organizational knowledge and productivity when an established worker goes out the door, the cost of hire, and the time involved in getting the new hire up to speed.
The good news is that there are actions that companies can take that encourage employee retention.
- Job growth – Empower and upskill your employees. Create or reinvigorate commitment through strong onboarding, continuous training and development, readily-available coaching, and mentoring promising employees. Also, as the higher you go the fewer slots there are, develop alternatives for advancement. For example, recognize growth opportunity roles within project teams, and rotate duties within organizations so employees do not feel stale, sidelined, or bored.
- Work/life balance – Many people are burned out, doing more than they did when they were in the office, plus juggling family commitments. Rigid work requirements further stress those with demanding home-life commitments. Adjust work load and schedules when an employee’s home commitments increase. Strengthen flex-time and parental leave practices. Flexibility means the employer is making a commitment to the employee, which increases employee loyalty. Post COVID, consider moving to a hybrid home/office work schedule instead of returning to 100% in-person attendance.
- Management style – ‘People leave managers, not companies.’ An overstatement, but a useful one. The best bosses are ‘servant leaders’ who facilitate the success of their reports. They are courteous, respect the dignity of the members of their team, and make sure that every team member feels valued. Recognition is the gold standard for ensuring retention. If your company fosters, rewards and insists on these ‘soft skills’ in management, employees will stick around.
- Engagement – Encourage the ‘small group cohesion’ so natural to the social animals that we humans are. Foster interpersonal connections by creating opportunities for collaboration and by acknowledging personal and professional milestones, big and small.
- Communication – Working remotely, more communication than ever is done via emails and IMs. Be very aware of tone; make sure your message ‘lands’ as you intend, on point but not harsh. You should always communicate what your company does and why it does it to create a shared sense of purpose, challenge, and wins. Today, company and manager communications should acknowledge COVID’s effects on life and work. Acknowledgment sends the message that the employer cares, and helps employees accept what cannot be changed.
- Listening – Strong exit interview programs and climate assessments will help your employer identify the root cause of turnover and your success in addressing them.
Are Changes Coming?
For years, the corporate world focused on ‘shareholder value.’ Wages stagnated, the wage gap between the middle class and the rich grew astronomically, employee discontent mounted and, as shown in the table above, the quits rate moved steadily up. Now it is on steroids.
To address this exodus, perhaps what we see today is a shift back to the idea that the purpose of the workplace is to fund the success of employees and their families. Companies that brand on this theme should see less attrition – and more applicants.
Having happier staff is, on its own, a great thing. That employee retention initiatives result in significant corporate savings by increasing efficiency and eliminating worker replacement costs – well, that isn’t bad either.
On August 31, 2021, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) published its approval of the OFCCP’s Affirmative Action Program Verification Interface (‘AAVI’). It has been a long time coming. A 2016 General Administration Office (GAO) study concluded that federal contractors should be required to verify that they create their mandated Affirmative Action Plans (AAPs). The OFCCP developed verification plans that went through public ‘notice and comment’ in 2019 and again in 2020.
The OMB approval links to a .pdf ‘Federal Contractor User Guide’, which sheds light on what the AAVI program might entail. The document outlines how to establish an AAVI electronic account, how to upload Affirmative Action Plans (AAPs), and how to certify that your employer maintains an AAP for each ‘establishment’, that is, each of a contractor’s physical work locations.
Full Plan Upload: To Be or Not to Be?
A few years ago, there was significant contractor concern that verification might entail an annual upload of all AAPs. Contractors did not want to upload reams of business-sensitive information covering their entire operation. We will have to see, but from the User’s Guide, it does not appear that AAVI requires a full upload. Instead, a ‘Certification Portal’ will ‘allow’ contractors to upload AAPs – presumably for locations under audit. (How secure the information will be, how confidential the information will remain in the face of Freedom of Information requests… these remain open questions.) Once uploaded, the plans will be tracked in the OFCCP’s electronic ‘Case Management System’.
The User Guide details how to log both ‘parent company’ and establishment-specific information. It is unclear whether the contractor must create a record for each establishment it maintains, and if so, how. Manually creating such records will be a significant task for large contractors. (The OPM notice also includes a link to a pdf ‘OFCCP AAVI Admin Guide’, apparently for the OFCCP’s AAVI users. This guide references EEO-1 data imports. Could this auto-populate establishment detail? It’s not likely, but let’s hope so!)
Verification: Questions Abound
AAVI will require that contractors verify one of the following
- It has established and maintained affirmative action programs at each establishment, as applicable. See 41 CFR Chapter 60.
- It has been party to a qualifying federal contract or subcontract for 120 days or more and has not developed and maintained applicable affirmative action programs at each establishment, as applicable. See 41 CFR Chapter 60.
- It became a covered federal contractor or subcontractor within the past 120 days and therefore has not yet developed applicable affirmative action programs. See 41 CFR Chapter 60.
The certification language is essentially unchanged from what the OFCCP proposed in ‘notice and comment’. At that time, contractors had lots of questions. As of now, the questions remain unanswered.
Who should do the certification? Anybody, or an official with responsibility for the program?
How are large contractors with hundreds if not thousands of AAPs to answer if one plan is in development, or has just expired? Is the fact that the contractor had a valid AAP and is creating a new one enough to say it has ‘established and maintained’ its program…?
What are the consequences when a contractor certifies that a plan is ‘not developed’?
The OFCCP proposed that contractors would have 90 days ‘once the requirement takes effect’. Will the 90-day period be extended, as contractors requested? Did the clock start on August 31, 2021?
The OFCCP’s proposal stated that after the initial certification year, the Agency will set a date by which all existing contractors must renew their annual certification. What will that date be?
One thing is certain. The OFCCP’s verification website says ‘coming soon’. If your employer is a federal contractor and has not paid sufficient attention to your AAP requirements, it is high time. Consider starting with the resources in Circa’s recent ‘prep your plan’ blog.
Circa will update you on AAVI requirements as information becomes available.
In her presentation at the 2021 NILG National Conference, OFCCP Director Yang indicated the general direction of the Agency under the new administration. Significant change may await us.
Director Jenny Yang announced that Michelle Hodge, formerly Mid-Atlantic RD, will become OFCCP Deputy Director. Michelle Hodge brings a wealth of experience to the position given her prior role as the Regional Director for the OFCCP’s Mid-Atlantic Region.
Director Yang also welcomed Maya Raghu to the OFCCP as its Deputy Director of Policy. Director Yang noted that Ms. Raghu will focus on pay equity. Ms. Raghu was Senior Counsel at the National Women’s Law Center, the group that sued the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to force the collection of EEO-1 Component 2 pay information. She has written in no uncertain terms that she disagrees with the 2020 Oracle decision, in which an Administrative Law Judge found that the OFCCP’s pay analysis procedures violate Title VII legal standards. Ms. Raghu’s appointment is one more reason to follow the development of OFCCP’s pay review practices with care.
Director Yang’s action items include reviewing how federal contractors are selected for audit, in order “to identify industries with higher rates of noncompliance”. Director Yang also mentioned modernizing the ‘supply and service’ regulation (the race and gender affirmative action requirements set out in 41 CFR Chapter 60, pursuant to Executive Order 11246) to ‘better align with the modern workforce’. The Agency is considering updates the following updates:
- Goal setting by race/ethnicity subgroup (as opposed to the current comparison of Whites to a single utilization goal for all minorities, the proposed subgroup analysis will radically expand the number of analyses you must perform).
- Detail on how to report non-binary gender self-identification (the OFCCP has a rather vague FAQ on the voluntary identification of individuals who identify as other than male or female. Currently the Agency requires only male/female reporting).
Director Yang also spoke of finding “alternatives to the establishment-based approach” to Affirmative Action Plans (AAPs). This could lead to very significant changes in Agency practice.
Today most AAPs report on individual ‘brick and mortar’ work locations. These AAPs do not commonly reflect a federal contractor’s business organization. ‘Functional Affirmative Action Plans’ (FAAPs) report location-spanning business organizations, but use of FAAPs pose problems for contractors. All organizational changes must be reported to the Agency in ‘real time’. Given the speed at which some companies reorganize, this can be hard to keep up with. Also, the large employee populations commonly reported in FAAPs can make small differences between groups statistically significant. This ‘large numbers problem’ can, unfortunately, lead to contractors who maintain FAAPs being required to justify their treatment of large numbers of employees.
It will be interesting to see if the OFCCP can meet Director Yang’s goal of “integrating the objectives of OFCCP compliance requirements with broader Diversity & Inclusion efforts” by finding a middle ground between the two forms of current review.
In her discussion of possible supply and service program changes, Director Yang stated that her objective is to “reduce unnecessary burden on contractors while ensuring how to address indicators of discrimination.” Such a balance would be greatly appreciated. Having a robust conversation between the Agency and the contractor community would be a good first step for ensuring that Director Yang’s intentions become practice.
Milwaukee, WI (April 22, 2021) – Circa welcomes the guilty verdict in George Floyd’s murder trial and commends the 12 Minnesota jurors who upheld the rule of law.
As a company that believes in the transformative power of diversity, Circa is steadfast in its belief that people are all created equal; and government, including law enforcement should provide all citizens equal protection under the law, regardless of race.
Circa is cognizant of the fact that one guilty verdict does not change make. It’s unsettling to think of what direction things may have gone had the verdict been different. Sadly, our nation gets to do this again in August when the three other policemen are tried. Then, in the midst of all this, Daunte Wright is killed in the hands of another police officer. And another, and another.
The U.S. judicial system plays an important role in meting out justice to victims who are wronged. “A court case can set precedence by way of case law, yet the change we seek in our society to ensure that this never happens again can only be brought about by continued action to eliminate racism, bias, bigotry, and hate in all forms. Systemic problems require systemic solutions,” said Roselle Rogers, Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Circa”
Addressing systemic racism takes time and progress can be made. Towards this end, Circa encourages:
- Policy reform. Enact legislation to bring about meaningful police reform that will hold lawenforcement accountable for misconduct, improve transparency, and reform police training and policies.
- Policies and programs aimed towards removing barriers and levelling the playing field for historically marginalized populations in society.
- Transcending from discussion to action. As individuals and as corporations, there is a role that each of us can play – no matter how big or small – to bring about change. Join. Get involved.
- Speak up when you see it. Have the courage of Daniella Frazier and bear witness to injustice, bias, hate, and racism.
- Educating others. Empathy starts with awareness and understanding. Learning to harness diversity is the key to a better future. While people are all different, and speak with different voices, there is a shared dream, hope, for a better, just, and equitable society – if not for us, for the next generation. Learn to work together as one and this will be achieved.
Rogers concluded, “Racism needs to end with our generation. Change begins with you and me, and it begins now.”
Roselle Rogers is an accomplished HR executive, with 30+ years of practical application. She joined Circa in 2006 and has been instrumental in the company’s growth from local job board provider to the launch of its OFCCP compliance and diversity products. Rogers leads Circa’s diversity, equity and inclusion strategy and thought leadership as well as the company’s OFCCP compliance and community partner relations. She holds senior professional certifications with HR Certification Institute and SHRM and is a Director of the UP Alumni Association of Wisconsin. She has a Bachelor of Arts, Economics, from the University of the Philippines and a Postgraduate Diploma in Human Resources Development from Ateneo de Manila University.
Circa is a catalyst for 21st century companies to build high-performing diverse teams based on research that shows companies want to shift from diversity as a program to diversity as a business strategy. The companies’ robust portfolio of SaaS-based solutions and unparalleled industry expertise give employers the tools and knowledge they need to radically change how they approach talent acquisition and compliance management. The company was founded in 1994, has 4500+ customers, 15,500 community partner relationships and in 2020 posted 5M+ jobs through its network of 600+ online employment websites.
Vice President Marketing, Product Management
Photo: Roselle Rogers, VP Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Circa
On Monday, President Trump issued a new Executive Order addressing federal contractors’ and subcontractors’ use of H-1B Workers. Many believe the new Executive Order lays the groundwork for substantially limiting the ability of federal contractors and subcontractors to use H-1B workers to perform work on federal contracts, either by further limiting the number of visas available OR make the visa application process stricter, using a merit-based approach. Recall that earlier in June, the administration issued a temporary ban on new work visas through December 2020. This ban, combined with the extension of restrictions in issuing new green cards, effectively keeps as many as 525,000 foreign workers out of the country for the rest of the year.
Here are the salient points of this Executive Order:
- It orders all federal agencies to audit their FY2018 and FY2019 contracts and the utilization of H-1B workers and offshoring by employers holding federal government contracts and subcontracts, and determine whether US workers were displaced or adversely impacted.
- Within 120 days of the date of the EO, each federal agency shall submit a report of the audit to OMB and recommend necessary corrective action to be taken by the agency to remedy adverse impact to US workers, to the economy, and to national security, including “proposing any Presidential actions that may be appropriate.”
- Each agency is also required to take action within 45 days of the EO, to protect US workers from adverse impact on wages and work conditions caused by the use of H-1B workers and ensure that federal contractors and subcontractors who employ H-1B visa holders comply with the Immigration and Nationality Act.
What does this mean?
Many employers using H-1B workers happen to be larger employers who have federal contracts, many of them in the technology industry. As we await more development in this area, federal contractors and subcontractors should consider the following:
- How would current and further restrictions impact your company’s diversity make up? How will this affect talent acquisition for your specialty occupations that are hard to fill? What steps should you be taking now to start building your diversity talent network?
- Verify if they have foreign national workers working on government contracts that specifically state that only US citizens and US permanent residents can perform work on the contract.
- Confirm that you have proper documentation to prove that your H-1B workers are provided similar wages and work conditions as other US workers in the same occupations.
You can also learn more by reading the Fact Sheet the White House issued on the EO: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trump-ensuring-americans-not-displaced-foreign-workers-using-federal-dollars/
Roselle Rogers, SPHR, SHRM-SCP,
Vice President Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) turned 30 years old on July 26. The landmark law provides protection against discrimination of individuals with disabilities (IWD) in a variety of areas such as employment, health care, housing, and education.
Defining what qualifies as a disability is a vital part of ADA’s value. It establishes the guidelines for who should be considered an IWD and who should be protected. When it comes to diversity and inclusion in the workplace, the ADA set the standard for ensuring people with disabilities have the same rights and access to opportunities to meaningful employment.
The ADA also requires employers to provide these reasonable accommodations to IWDs to help them complete the same tasks as employees without a disability. Through various programs and assistive technologies, employers create many additional opportunities to hire and promote talented individuals who otherwise would not be able to fulfill their duties.
The OFCCP also took its lead from the ADA, requiring federal contractors to actively recruit IWDs through Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This law prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment against IWDs, and requires employers take affirmative action to recruit, hire, promote, and retain these individuals.
Circa is proud to walk in step with the ADA in their pursuit of equality for individuals with disabilities. As we look to help employers acquire talented individuals of all kinds, the 30th anniversary of the ADA is a reminder of the strides many have taken in moving toward a truly inclusive workforce. We’re all excited to see what the next 30 years brings!
Until the coronavirus pandemic struck, employers struggled this year to fill open positions, but now business success and employment rates have been shaken. In the blink of an eye, Americans are now feeling the impact of the Bureau of Labor Statistics release of the March unemployment rate, which rose to 4.4% after February’s 3.5% 50-year low. More than 700,000 US jobs were lost in February and 7+ million people are filing for unemployment benefits. Leisure and hospitality jobs dropped by 459,000.
Yet there’s hope for many. Thousands of companies are finding creative ways to keep businesses going, dine-in only restaurants are offering carry out services with daily specials and many took advantage of technology upgrades by reservation entities, Tock and Resy, to offer free delivery services. Yoga, meditation and fitness studios are turning to virtual class formats, with Peloton and Fitbit offering discounted or free subscriptions for a limited time. An Orland Park, IL college student, sent home due to school closing, launched a volunteer-based grocery shopping for seniors, covid senior shoppers, that has since gone viral. And, small businesses are encouraging people to buy gift cards with the anticipation to use them once it’s safe again to be amongst others.
Employers are also finding resourceful ways to manage through the coronavirus pandemic. Recently we hosted webinars on Managing Through the Coronavirus, Pandemic Planning: Employer’s Guide to New Regulations for COVID-1 and Transitioning to Virtual Hiring and On-Boarding. Record high numbers of viewers indicates there’s a need for this information and some people may have more time on their hands.
With the pivot to virtual hiring, we are also seeing an increase in virtual career events and for a number of employers a dramatic increase in job postings to fill the business process shifts they’ve made, which gives hope to the millions who are recently unemployed. Unemployment could rise anywhere from 15% to 30% in the coming months with economists worrying that the US may face a climate unseen since the Great Depression.
Yet, hope abounds. For the employed, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provides paid sick leave and emergency family and medical leave for qualifying individuals. For businesses, the federal government has infused more than $2 trillion under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
Of the $2 trillion, 30% of the funds are set aside for individuals, 25% for large corporations, 19% for small businesses, 17% for state and local governments and 9% for public services. For employers the CARES Act provides:
- Paycheck Protection Program Loans
- Emergency EIDL Grants
- Enhanced Unemployment Benefits
- Payroll Tax Credit/Deferrals
This infusion of federal funding is unprecedented. Not since the 1930s has the federal government infused this much capital into the economy. Looking at the brighter side, there may be a silver lining for many, who while staying at home practicing social distancing, may receive federal funding, stay fit by working out indoors, have food delivered to their doors, learn new skills via the web and spend quality time with their immediate families.
Companies rapidly hiring under the “New Norm.”
There is a COVID-19 myth right now that companies are furloughing employees, and unemployment is anticipated to skyrocket. Don’t believe it. Large employers such as Amazon, Dollar Tree, and Kroger have announced they are seeking thousands of new hires. Perks, such as hiring bonuses up to $500 along with instant pay increases, are also being offered to new hires to get people to act quickly.
Despite everything going on, our customers have reached out to share they are hiring. We’ve included links to theses employer’s career sites for you to act immediately. But before you start applying, we thought we’d share a few trends in flight with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
Consider Career Events
Under the new norm, searching for a job hasn’t changed much, with one exception, career events. Sadly we’ve seen hundreds of career events cancelled. Yet, tech-savvy companies are shifting to virtual events. As a job seeker, expect to follow the same steps such as registering ahead, having your resume prepared, researching key employers and practicing your pitch as you network with different employers, answering questions about your work history and skills. One more item, test your technology to ensure your device is capable of supporting you during your virtual career event. You’ll still want to dress for the event, the key difference is you’ll log-in versus walk in. Once there, chime in on an existing conversation, or opt to chat privately with an employer to ask about open positions, even get an immediate face-to-face interview, via video of course.
Social distancing has influenced the interviewing and hiring process. The biggest change is video interviewing, which gives both you and the hiring manager the opportunity to meet face-to-face and experience a more engaging conversation versus an old-fashioned phone interview. We’re also hearing that companies are hiring faster, sometimes within hours of an interview.
For those companies moving full speed ahead with new hires, onboarding is taking on a new look. HR is pivoting and adopting virtual onboarding for new hires, now working remotely. Average new hires have more than 50+ activities to complete during an onboarding experience. Hiccups during this process not only creates stress, but can also incite self-doubt. With virtual onboarding, expect to engage with online tools, scheduling software, communications platforms, and videoconferencing tools all found within Microsoft Office 365. Outlook and Teams will help make sure your onboarding meetings happen not just virtually, but smoothly. More importantly, software platforms like these will keep your activities focused, engaged, and productive.
An Alternate Approach
With diversity being a key initiative for thousands of employers, you may want to consider reaching out to a community organization to assist you with your job search. These organizations focus on diversity, LGBTQ, minorities, veterans and the disabled. We work with more than 20,000 community organizations, which assist our clients in finding people just like you. It may be a quicker, easier path depending upon your current situation.
Regardless of how you go about your search, one thing is for sure: numerous companies are looking to hire new employees now.
Visit our job board or check out some of these top companies now hiring!
United we stand.
The history and mythology that accompany this phrase are in the very fiber of our nature. Our “fight” is strong when we have a common goal. This quote is first attributed to one of the Founding Fathers, John Dickinson, in 1768 in his pre-revolutionary war song “The Liberty Song.” Further used throughout the years since by politicians and pop stars, it captures the American spirit. That spirit of coming together to support a common cause – one that threatens our way of life – is in our DNA.
The ability to rally around a common goal and witnessing the results in real time is truly impressive. Organizations and individuals, and obviously countries, typically have too many initiatives in flight at the same time to have anything but a diffused impact. In the case of the American response to the COVID-19 crisis, all flashlights are pointing in the same direction to create the brightest light in the fight for our healthcare system and our people.
Having a unified goal to ensure that the healthcare system can support the needs of the American people has resulted in the rare alignment of government agencies, corporations, and individuals. We are seeing major pharmaceutical companies donating critical medicines, large corporations donating ventilators, researchers collaborating across country borders at an unprecedented level, citizens sewing N95 masks and fashioning face shields, the list goes on. Pushing other goals and political agendas aside, and leading the country to do the same, has made space for this focus. The clear actions of each along with the results and impacts show that with this unified focus, we can make quick progress.
As we take another look at our 2020 strategic plan, we are taking into consideration not only the changed environment and economy, but also a change in perspective. Our daily calendars are already filled to the brim, and we constantly get pulled into new opportunities and challenges, making it difficult to focus. As we look at the impact that can be made in real time with a singular purpose, we can take that perspective to remind us that we could use the same approach with business and our personal lives.
Acting with intention and purpose is really powerful and can accelerate growth. Having limited time and resources really forces us to be more intentional with them. While I sit here typing this in the kitchen at my makeshift desk to accommodate being able to work from home AND homeschool my three wonderful children, I am a little overwhelmed by the responsibility, and more than a little inspired by the resilience of my coworkers, my neighbors, and my children – my fellow Americans.
What act of generosity or kindness have you witnessed that has caught your attention during these stressful times? How has your perspective shifted? Please share with us.
United with all of you in spirit –