Most Important Developments for 12/18

The possibility that large swaths of the population may refuse — or simply delay — getting vaccinated presents a perilous challenge to the health of the nation and the economy. Unless three quarters of the nation is vaccinated, the engine of the economy will not jump start the way so many are hoping. That’s why business leaders are so uniquely positioned: They can tell employees that they may only return to the workplace if they get vaccinated. Beyond social welfare, there’s a persuasive argument that a vaccination mandate could be considered a workplace benefit: If employees knew that everyone around them is vaccinated, they would feel more comfortable working there. Some companies could even require their customers to be vaccinated, which would have a bigger impact on the compliance rate and show genuine leadership. The New York Times

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Applications for U.S. state unemployment benefits unexpectedly jumped to the highest level in three months, suggesting the labor market’s recovery is faltering amid the surge in Covid-19 cases and widening business restrictions. Initial jobless claims in regular state programs rose by 23,000 to 885,000 in the week ended Dec. 12, Labor Department data showed Thursday. Continuing claims for state programs declined by 273,000 to 5.51 million in the week ended Dec. 5. That figure roughly approximates the number of people receiving state unemployment benefits, but doesn’t include the millions of people who have already exhausted those benefits or are receiving assistance through federal pandemic jobless aid programs. The increase in initial claims reflects rising filings in California and Illinois, two states where governments have imposed particularly restrictive lockdowns in the wake of the latest Covid-19 surge. That, paired with cooler weather, has led to additional job losses and growing risks for the economy in the months before widespread vaccine distribution. Bloomberg

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Amid a rocky holiday season, many people may be apprehensive about moving forward with a December job search. But with several of us opting to stay home due to the pandemic this year, commitments like travel and family gatherings have been put on hold. That’s all the more reason to take advantage of this downtime to ensure a strong start in your job search come January and February — two of the best months for getting hired. Here’s what you should be doing right now to boost your chances of landing your dream job in 2021: Dust off your LinkedIn profile, up your networking game, stay on top of job listings and apply, and be patient and positive. CNBC

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While the shift to working from home in 2020 has provided much-needed flexibility for professional workers during the COVID-19 crisis and shown that a remote workforce can maintain productivity, negative aspects of the experience  isolation, diminished collaboration, and burnout  have emerged. Research shows remote employees are working longer, spending time in more meetings, and having to keep up with more communication channels. Nearly 70 percent of professionals who transitioned to remote work because of the pandemic say they now work on the weekends, and 45 percent say they regularly work more hours during the week than they did before, according to a survey of 2,800 workers by Los Angeles-based staffing firm Robert Half. The survey also found that working parents were more likely to work weekends and more than eight hours per day than those without children. SHRM

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A new masterpiece has been added to the oeuvre of pro-beard literature. “It grows on you: Perceptions of sales/service personnel with facial hair” was just published in the Journal of Business Research. The paper reports on five studies that tested the “power of the beard” in the workplace. They found that customers consider bearded salespeople to have greater expertise and, therefore, more trustworthiness than mustached, clean-shaven, or stubbled coworkers. This was true regardless of race, ethnicity, attractiveness, or likability and also held true for both online and in-person sales. As anyone who’s ever worked a sales floor knows, trust and expertise are the currency of the job. The researchers found that the perception that bearded sales workers are more trustworthy can lead to increased sales. Fast Company

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