September 28, 2018

The Roundup: Fair scheduling, more young people joining unions, and passive-aggressive email phrases

In this week's Roundup, we're talking about labor trends - specifically, fair scheduling, and demographic shifts in labor unions. We're also looking at the most passive-aggressive email phrases (ahem, "as per" the headline).

Fair scheduling discussions continue trending

Recently, The Wall Street Journal reported on the fair scheduling trend across the U.S. Specifically, the fact that “city and state governments are weighing how employee hours are set in an attempt to give shift workers more predictability and stability.”

We’ve written about fair scheduling in great detail (check out this post on updates and trends to watch), including trends we’re watching such as flexible work schedules, call-in shift bans, and adequate rest time.

“While employee scheduling can be a minefield for managers, there is a possible silver lining. Many large retailers closely tracking these trends have decided there is a business benefit to proactively implementing some of these requirements to attract and retain talent in a tight labor market,” Mallory Narang of Ceridian’s Compliance team wrote.

The WSJ article highlights some similar points – that while there are added complexities for employers, there is value in making changes to scheduling practices: “Worker advocates behind the laws point to research from two arms of the University of California – at Berkeley and San Francisco – that says schedules can have more of an impact on worker well-being than pay.”

Related: How to improve your hourly associates’ work-life balance with better scheduling

More young people are joining labor unions

According to Quartz, “membership [in labor unions] is on the rise for people younger than age 35, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

Specifically, there are almost 400,000 more union members younger than 35 in 2017 than there were in 2016. However, the number of union members 35 and older hasn’t changed very much in the last five years, and further, the overall U.S. union membership rate has been steadily decreasing since 2008.

What’s causing the shift in union member demographics? It’s a result of the changing world of work, according to University of California labor professor Steven Pitts, who talked to Quartz about the issue. Pitts said there are three forces that might explain it:

  • Industries with older union members are shrinking.
  • The younger demographic doesn’t remember the ‘70s and ‘80s when unions “were demonized by big business and politicians.”
  • Sectors that are not traditionally unionized are forming unions.

Pitts adds that the more people there are with jobs, the more people there are to join unions, which, as Quartz notes, could be reflective of the current U.S. unemployment rate (3.8% in May), which is at a low.

Not sure if you’ve used any of these phrases before, but….

Earlier this month, Psychology Today wrote about how best to respond to passive aggressive work emails.

But a recent survey from Adobe provides what we really wanted to know: what are the most passive-aggressive email phrases?

According to the survey of more than 1,000 white-collar workers in the U.S., the most annoying phrase used in work email is: “Not sure if you saw my last email” (25% of respondents hated this one the most).

Others? “Per my last email” and “per our conversation” (are your teeth clenching yet?), as well as “any update on this?”

Adobe’s key takeaway was that companies need to help employees with communication etiquette and cross-channel communication. Psychology Today offers a few tips:

  • Recognize hostility – that is, identify when someone is being passive-aggressive or angry.
  • Don’t engage by being equally passive-aggressive back – instead, try to keep things respectful and polite.
  • Acknowledge that the person communicating in this way may be angry – this could create a positive change in the dynamic.

Danielle Ng-See-Quan

Dani is the Senior Manager, Content Marketing at Ceridian.

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