October HR News Roundup

Woman feeling sick and burnt out at work

Take a look at this month’s roundup of HR news — we’re covering the introduction of voice-initiated job applications, business trip burnout, how to interrupt workplace bias, and more.

The Next Generation of Job Applications

The ability to apply for a job online has already made it easier for those on the hunt for a new role. And the process continues to evolve. McDonald’s is taking the next big step. The company’s Apply Thru is a voice-initiated job application process that works on Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Applicants start by providing their basic information, as well as job and location preference through the app, and then follow a link to a careers site (provided via text message), where they can finish their applications. “As consumerization continues to creep into recruitment tech, you can expect other high-volume employers to quickly adopt this new voice-apply channel,” Chris Russell, managing director of RecTech Media told SHRM. He also predicts that initial phone screens will be taken over by voice assistants, ideally saving recruiters a lot of time.

Business Trip Burnout

Work travel for some employees is unavoidable. And the early mornings, always-on environment, late nights, absence of “me time,” and time away from home can all combine to make them feel burnt out. What can you do to make these trips less stressful and increase your employees’ wellbeing? “In today’s hiring environment it’s so critical to think about the employee experience,” Wen-Wen Lam, CEO of NexTravel told Employee Benefit News. “Letting employees stay a couple of extra days can really help fight burnout by giving them time to rest mentally and physically.” This isn’t to say you should cover the cost of their extra time. But giving them the freedom to explore new cities — and even work remotely for a few days while they’re away instead of requiring them to return ASAP — can make all the difference.

Sleep Better, Work Better

Sleep plays a huge role in a well-functioning workforce. It’s tied to an employee’s overall health, wellbeing, and productivity. But according to data reported by Employee Benefit News, just over 40% of employees say they come to work tired somewhat often, costing employers more than $400 billion each year. One company wants to change that, offering a new sleep health technology benefit that measures users’ blood oxygen levels, heart rate, and time in bed, among other things, and then offers a sleep coaching program and network of physicians who can prescribe treatment options, ideally resulting in more well-rested employees. What’s the benefit for employers? A hefty amount of savings per employee per year, greater productivity, lower healthcare costs, and lower accident rates.

Bias, Interrupted

Building an inclusive workforce is important and, according to a recent Harvard Business Review article, it can help employees to be more innovative, effective, and committed. Anti-bias training is a step in the right direction, but authors Joan C. Williams and Sky Mihaylo say there are more effective things that individual leaders can do to interrupt bias at work. First, look at fairness in hiring: Make sure the applicant pool is diverse, complete with women and other under-represented groups. Next, think about daily team management: Make sure all groups get their fair share of projects, acknowledgement, and opportunities to contribute, and ask everyone to take on the responsibility of “office housework” by creating a set rotation. Last but not least, ensure equitable employee development by clarifying rules around performance reviews, assignments, promotions, and raises.  

Death of the Sick Day

It’s getting to be that time again — the familiar sounds of coughing, sneezing, and sniffling are becoming more prevalent around the office as we head into cold and flu season. And even with designated sick time, employees often come to work sick, much to their colleagues’ chagrin. Why? According to a recent Accountemps survey, 54% of employees said they had too much work to do, while 40% didn’t want to use their sick time. What’s the norm at your organization? Do employees tend to come to work sick? If so, encourage them to take advantage of their sick time or, if possible, to work from home instead. Take a look at what managers and leadership tend to do, too — if they’re coming to work with the flu, chances are their examples are just being followed. And remember, healthy employees tend to be happier at work…and more productive. Don’t let the sick day meet its demise!

Written by: Jeannie Krill

November 5, 2019

About the Author

Jeannie Krill at Bright Horizons

As a former Bright Horizons preschool teacher, Jeannie has seen what child care means to clients firsthand. She also offers a view from the Millennials camp, cluing us into what’s challenging today’s largest demographic, and what they really want. She holds a BA in Psychology from Valparaiso University.