“If the company wants to abruptly, drastically change the nature of their work, it can do so at will, and its employees have zero recourse if their bottom line is slashed. That’s because they aren’t technically employees, but contractors, bereft of the same protections and benefits granted to full-time workers. Management is invisible. When Rabbits stormed the company discussion forum with complaints, it was shut down, while the company, like Uber, balks at the idea that it’s an employer of any Rabbits at all. TaskRabbit is a platform. TaskRabbit is a mediator. TaskRabbit is not a bad boss, because it was never a boss to begin with — it’s just operating an algorithm. The notion of unionization in the “sharing economy” is of course preposterous and unheard of — not even Facebook has organized — so who needs collective bargaining when you’ve got trust, and community, and other ukelele-and-Vimeo startup platitudes?”
“The new study, which analyzed data from the Current Population Survey from 1976 to 2012, illustrates that the recession had a disproportionately large effect on routine jobs, and greatly sped up their loss. That is probably because even if a new technology is cheaper and more efficient than a human laborer, bosses are unlikely to fire employees and replace them with computers when times are good. The recession, however, gave them a motive. And the people who lost those jobs are generally unable to find new ones, said Henry E. Siu, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia and an author of the study. Young people and those with only a high school diploma are much more likely to be unemployed and replaced by a machine, he said. And to the authors’ surprise, men are more vulnerable than women. “When you look at data, women who would otherwise be finding middle-paying routine jobs tend to be moving up the job ladder to these higher-paying brain jobs, whereas men are much more likely to just be moving from blue-collar jobs into not finding a job,” said Mr. Siu, who wrote the study with Guido Matias Cortes of the University of Manchester, Nir Jaimovich of Duke University and Christopher J. Nekarda of the Federal Reserve in Washington.”
“A new analysis from the San Francisco Fed finds entry-level earnings for new college grads — defined as working graduates age 21 to 25 — grew only by 6 percent from April 2007 to April 2014. In comparison, median weekly earnings for all workers grew two-and-a-half times as fast, at 15 percent. And while recent grads tend to fall behind after any recession, the gap since the Great Recession has been both wide and long-lasting.”
“Mail carrier is just one casualty of a tech-based job market that shares a unifying theme: paper. Newspaper reporters face a projected 13% decline in hiring in the coming years. Layoffs and furloughs in the industry are commonplace, the result of advertisers slashing their print budgets by nearly 30% since 2009, per a NewspaperDeathWatch.com report. “When I started in the business, I imagined paying my dues for a few years and moving up to better beats or an editor’s role,” says one former newspaper reporter in Southern California. Nate moved to public relations in 2011, the same year 152 newspapers cased operations around the nation. “But after almost 10 years I saw how few jobs there were and no opportunities to move up,” he says. Consumers are not simply eschewing reading the news, but rather are consuming their information online and not in print. Want to catch up on the latest news? Power on your smart phone or tablet and get the latest happenings from around the globe in one place. Want to read a book? Download any one of thousands of titles instantly. The logging industry is feeling the impact of the move from print to digital. Says Eric Johnson, publisher of Northern Logger, dramatically lower demand for paper means much less demand for wood pulp that lumberjacks help provide. The result is a 9% decline in logging industry employment.”
The 40-hour workweek is mostly a thing of the past…
Taking some time off actually improves a worker’s productivity at work. A study from Ernst & Young found that every ten hours of vacation time taken by an employee boosted her year-end performance rating by 8 percent and lowered turnover. Former NASA scientists found that people who take vacations experience an 82 percent increase in job performance upon their return, with longer vacations making more of an impact than short ones.
“One of the rewards of more cooperation—and sometimes conflict—is that people are happier. In a clumsy, slow-moving organization, people become frustrated and disengaged because their work has no impact. Ironically, when you let conflict happen and sometimes encourage it, people get angry and fight with each other—and that makes them happier, because in the end they did difficult, important work that made a difference.”
“Ninety-four percent of professional workers put in 50 or more hours, and nearly half work 65 or above. All workers have managed to cut down on our time on the job by 112 hours over the last 40 years, but we’re far behind other countries: The French cut down by 491 hours, the Dutch by 425, and Canadians by 215 in the same time period. Workers in Ireland and the Netherlands are also working less. We’re also increasing our productivity, getting more done in the time we spend at work. It went up by nearly 25 percent between 2000 and 2012.”
“Through these new means, companies have found, for example, that workers are more productive if they have more social interaction. So a bank’s call center introduced a shared 15-minute coffee break, and a pharmaceutical company replaced coffee makers used by a few marketing workers with a larger cafe area. The result? Increased sales and less turnover.
Yet the prospect of fine-grained, digital monitoring of workers’ behavior worries privacy advocates. Companies, they say, have few legal obligations other than informing employees. “Whether this kind of monitoring is effective or not, it’s a concern,” said Lee Tien, a senior staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco.”
“The trap is that we think it’s an either/or—that we are either pursuing the life of the mind or that we are a beauty school," he says. More colleges, he argues, should expose students to real-world work while still in the shelter of the college experience, approaching it the way that they approach study abroad. "We want students to get immersed in a culture. Well, the workplace is a culture.”