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Most Important Developments in HR for 12/20

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Another Google employee added her name to a list of workers who say they were fired for legally advocating for labor rights inside the company. Kathryn Spiers, 21, said she was fired Dec. 13 after she developed a notification that told colleagues they had the right to participate in labor organizing when they visited the website of IRI Consultants, a firm Google reportedly hired that advises employers on how to combat unions. The world’s largest internet search provider has traditionally been open, with employees encouraged to debate company policies and speak up if they see something they’re concerned about. However, a series of internal protests in recent years has sparked a crackdown under Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai. Bloomberg

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If you are simply aiming for a “good” culture at your organization, you’re setting the bar too low. An organization that embraces values like integrity and teamwork is really no different from any other. If you want to produce the kinds of specific outcomes that will allow you to differentiate your company, you need to define a unique culture that cultivates the necessary kinds of employee attitudes and behaviors. Building this unique culture goes beyond internal aspirations. Companies that do this well also identify a desired brand identity, how you want your organization to be perceived and experienced by customers and other external stakeholders. If your company culture is aligned and integrated with that identity, your employees are more likely to make decisions and take actions that deliver on your brand promise. Harvard Business Review

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Technology is one field many people rely upon to offer a vision of a brighter future. But as the 2020s dawn, optimism is in short supply. The new technologies that dominated the past decade seem to be making things worse. Social media were supposed to bring people together. Today they are better known for invading privacy, spreading propaganda, and undermining democracy. E-commerce, ride-hailing, and the gig economy may be convenient, but they are charged with underpaying workers, exacerbating inequality, and clogging the streets with vehicles. Artificial intelligence may well entrench bias and prejudice, threaten your job, and shore up authoritarian rulers. At the very moment banks are striving to rebrand themselves as tech firms, internet giants have become the new banks, morphing from talent magnets to pariahs. Even their employees are in revolt. Yet, the technological transformation since the Industrial Revolution has helped curb ancient evils, from child mortality to hunger and ignorance. Yes, the planet is warming and antibiotic resistance is spreading. But the solution to such problems calls for the deployment of more technology, not less. So as the decade turns, put aside the gloom for a moment. To be alive in the tech-obsessed 2020s is to be among the luckiest people who have ever lived. The Economist

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Kris Dunn, CHRO and partner at Kinetix, wrote about unlimited vacation this week on his blog. Spoiler alert: He’s not for it. “Much has been written about the cool, trusting, and performance-first view of any company that would dare to offer unlimited vacation. I have to admit, it’s intoxicating, until you figure out that most employees are dramatically unprepared to think about the responsibility and accountability that goes with the perk. I’d argue that there are three types of employees related to how they perceive unlimited vacation: Those who think they can really take as much vacation as they want and don’t look inward at their performance related to their level of PTO; high performers who already understand that vacation is only vacation until it isn’t, at which they hop online or on the horn and the huddled masses who have been around the block enough to know that nothing is free, so they end up taking the same amount of vacation as they had under the old policy and are secretly angry because no one really respects the fact that they are ‘off’ when they are ‘off.’ Unlimited vacation is a dream. It’s the opiate of the masses. Remote work is an OD strategy that actually can improve lives, productivity, and retention.” The HR Capitalist

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A California law passed in September 2018 mandated that any public company headquartered in California have at least one woman on its board of directors by the end of 2019, or face a $100,000 one-time fine. Less than two weeks from the deadline, dozens of companies have yet to comply, according to the New York Times. It seems strange that, in 2020, two years after #MeToo hit Silicon Valley hard, some companies should still not be able to find a single woman they deem competent to sit on their boards. Companies that don’t add at least one woman director soon are going to find themselves falling further behind as the law’s requirements ramp up. By the end of 2021, companies with five board members are going to have to have at least two female directors. Companies with six board members will have to have at least three women among them. By that time, the penalty will rise to $300,000 for every ‘missing’ female board member. Inc.

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CFOs are not pessimistic on the economy. The Q4 CNBC survey finds a minority — only 15% of U.S. CFOs — think a recession will occur next year. Their fears about U.S. trade policy as the biggest risk to their business have declined (15% cited trade as the biggest external risk this quarter). But there are reasons the biggest employers may be poised to pull back on staffing, according to economic and labor market experts. And there are a few key recent market numbers that support the negative jobs forecast. “For a long time we have been hearing how technology is going to replace employees, but it has not really happened in total,” CFO Leadership Council’s McCullough said. “But as more and more companies automate more and more tasks, we may finally be entering the time where technological advancements legitimately result in fewer jobs.” CNBC

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