Do Dogs in the Office Make us More Productive?

img_3876-1Working in an office can become very routine. The same office. The same desk. The same faces. Well… what if there were new faces? New, furry, cute faces.

Take Your Dog To Work Day (TYDTWD) is a great way to “shake up” a routine day. It’s held each year on the Friday following Father’s day, which makes today, June 24th, the 18th annual TYDTWD.

Some offices love the idea of dogs in the office so much that they allow it on a daily basis. Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conducted a survey in 2015 that found 8 percent of U.S. employers allow dogs in the work place. This statistic has gone up 3 percent since their 2008 survey.
Whether it’s their fluffiness, companionship, or sloppy kisses, there is no doubt that dogs can bring happiness to the office. They can help reduce stress, increase job satisfaction, improve camaraderie, and even encourage longer work hours. Happy workers make for a happy work environment.

Bringing dogs to work can even attract a younger workforce. Millennials are projected to make up almost half of the workforce by 2020, according to Stifel Equity Research. In addition, they will soon be the largest pet-owning cohort, surpassing baby-boomers. Like most pet-owners, these 19-to-35-year-olds view their animals as not only their best friend, but family as well.

Amazon, Etsy, Google, Bissell, Clif Bar and Petco are just a few examples of companies today that embrace this idea. CNBC spoke to the manager of culture and engagement at Etsy, Sarah Starpoli, who said:

“Millennials make up a lot of our workforce. As the population has increased in our offices, the dogs have grown with us. People want it. People know about it when they come in and are hired.”

TYDTWD_2In order for animals, employees and visitors to the workplace to remain safe and happy, a policy should be formed with some guidelines. Here are some suggestions to consider when creating and implementing a policy:

[slideshare id=63392957&doc=slidesharebyptwd-160623205632]

These suggestions mostly pertain to allowing employees’ personal pets in the office. Some employers may be hesitant to the idea of having multiple creatures in the office, or it may not make sense with the type of work happening in the work environment. However, that isn’t the only option to having animals in the workplace. Benefits can still be seen by just getting a company fish for everyone to enjoy. Nemo (or Dory!) is an easy way to brighten the office after years of the same routines.

It may be too late to join the official Take Your Dog To Work Day happening today, but it could start a conversation at your office to determine if it could be right for you. Hopefully, with the suggestions for a policy above, you’ll be reaping the rewards of having a furry faced co-worker soon.

Other sources:

http://www.wsj.com/video/pets-in-the-workplace-a-petiquette-primer/4DE7F97F-4D41-44B1-8CE2-89587F7F7287.html

http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-office-pet-is-a-pig-no-really-1435708431

http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshbersin/2012/06/13/new-research-unlocks-the-secret-of-employee-recognition/#17a4ffc2d949

The Ripple Effect of Minimum Wage Ordinances

img_3876-1On Thursday, April 14th, groups of labor protesters walked the city streets of Chicago. Their demand: raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Protests like these continue to impact the trends of City and State minimum wage increases across the country.

So, how do the growing demands of groups like these impact small businesses, customers and job seekers alike?

Let’s take a look.

First, here is a quick breakdown of three recently passed minimum wage ordinances: the City of Chicago, the State of California, and three different ordinances throughout the State of New York.

Chicago:
Effective Date

Non-Tipped Employees

Tipped Employees
Current $10.00 $5.45
1-Jul-16 $10.50 $5.95
1-Jul-17 $11.00 Increases with CPI
1-Jul-18 $12.00 Increases with CPI
1-Jul-19 $13.00 Increases with CPI
1-Jul-20 Increases with Consumer Price Index (CPI) Increases with CPI
California:
Effective Date

26 or More Employees
25 or Fewer Employees
1-Jan-17 $10.50 $10.00 (current rate)
1-Jan-18 $11.00 $10.50
1-Jan-19 $12.00 $11.00
1-Jan-20 $13.00 $12.00
1-Jan-21 $14.00 $13.00
1-Jan-22 $15.00 $14.00
1-Jan-23 $15.00 $15.00
New York City: Effective Date
11 or More Employees

10 or Fewer
31-Dec-16 $11.00 $10.50
31-Dec-17 $13.00 $12.00
31-Dec-18 $15.00 $13.50
NY Employers in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties: Effective Date
31-Dec-16 $10.00
31-Dec-17 $11.00
31-Dec-18 $12.00
31-Dec-19 $13.00
31-Dec-20 $14.00
31-Dec-21 $15.00
NY Employers in remaining part of State:
Effective Date
31-Dec-16 $9.70
31-Dec-17 $10.40
31-Dec-18 $11.10
31-Dec-19 $11.80
31-Dec-20 $12.50
1-Jan-21 Rate will increase to $15.00 on an indexed schedule to be set by the Director of the Division of Budget (DOB) in consultation with the Department of Labor.

 

It is probably too early to say who will be impacted the most by such legislation. A growing concern for small-businesses located outside of the City of Chicago may be whether they can afford to compensate employees to compete with the Chicago market, especially as the minimum wage continues to increase. On the opposite end of the spectrum, small businesses, within the city limits of Chicago, may find themselves asking whether they can afford to continue operations in the city. This in turn, may drive businesses to consider relocating jobs.

ChicagoProtests2

Last summer, one of my clients provided feedback they had received from reputable employment agencies, Pro Staff and AIG: there was a shortage of available seasonal workers. They attributed this shortage to employees that were not as willing to work for wages below Chicago’s $10 per hour minimum wage.

That leaves us with the question:

“Will people be willing to work for a lower minimum wage in surrounding areas, whether that be Chicago’s suburbs, or in the surrounding states of California and New York, knowing that they may be able to find employment nearby for a higher wage?”

If suburban companies continue to see a decline in available workers, how will those companies respond …Increase their labor costs? Offer employees other forms of compensation? Raise price of goods?

HiringI would be remiss not to mention the arguments behind these recent minimum wage increases. One primary argument is that this addresses the cost-of-living increases; Chicago city officials estimate that more than 400,000 Chicago workers will benefit for this reason alone. In addition, proponents for raising the federal minimum wage argue it would increase economic activity, reduce poverty as well as government welfare spending, and spur job growth.

Economists from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago predicted that a $1.75 rise in the federal minimum wage would increase aggregate household spending by $48 billion the following year, thus boosting GDP and leading to job growth; however, such labor increases may end up of having the opposite effect on workers and job seekers, as job-creation may begin to halt.

In certain industries, they already have.

According to an article posted on Investor’s Business Daily, recent Labor Department data shows that job creation is actually on the decline, at its slowest pace in at least five years, specifically in the leisure and hospitality sector. Chicago had their slowest year of job growth in the leisure and hospitality sector since 2009. Employment gains from October through December of 2015 averaged less than half the pace seen in 2014 at just 1.1 percent. In addition, increasing labor costs may drive businesses to increase their prices, if they wish to continue to seek profits, which in turn may negatively impact the consumer. Specifically in the fast-food industry, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago stated that if minimum wage is increased, fast-food restaurants would pass almost 100% of their increased labor costs on to consumers.

There’s no doubt that the increase of minimum wage will create a ripple effect felt by customers, job seekers, and employers.

Employers, particularly small-businesses located in areas near Chicago, California and New York, should begin analyzing whether to compensate their employees to match the local minimum wage hikes, especially if the trend of “employees not-as-willing to work for a lower wage” heightens and leads employees to migrate to companies and or locations that will.

StratEx: A Best Place To Work in Illinois in 2016

StratEx Named 2016 “BEST PLACES TO WORK IN ILLINOIS” for Second Consecutive Year

BPTW_logo2016 (2)CHICAGO – June 9, 2016 – StratEx, a Chicago-based provider of human resources software and service, has been selected as one of the 2016 “Best Places to Work in Illinois” for its second consecutive year by the Daily Herald Business Ledger and the Human Resources Management Association of Chicago (HRMAC).

“Being named to this list for the second year in a row is incredibly humbling,” said Founder & CEO of StratEx, Adam Ochstein. “Since inception, I sought to create a company where employees enjoyed coming to work, and getting recognized with this honor is validation of accomplishing that.”

In partnership with HRMAC, the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce, the Small Business Advocacy Council, and MRA –The Management Association, the list identifies and honors the best places of employment in Illinois, benefiting the state’s economy, its workforce and businesses.

BPTW_Award_3rd
StratExians (l to r): Julia Guest, Jaclyn Farrell, Marina Kaplunovsky, & Ben Zats

“From the very beginning, we sought to establish our company as a place where each employee feels like an invaluable member of the team,” said Sami Abualsamid, President of StratEx. “We are very excited about our current growth and are eager for the year to come.”

To be eligible for nomination, companies had to have at least 15 employees working in Illinois, be a for-profit or not-for-profit business or government entity, be a publicly or privately-held business, have a facility in the state of Illinois, and must have been in business for a minimum of one year. Participating companies were assessed through a two-part process. The first part consisted of evaluating each company’s workplace policies, practices, and demographics. The second part consisted of an employee survey to measure employee experience in the company.

StratEx was recognized at the 2016 “Best Places to Work in Illinois” awards ceremony on Thursday, May 26, 2016, where it was revealed that they placed third in the small business category.

Winners will also be featured in a special publication on June 27, 2016 that will honor and profile each of the awarded companies. For more information on StratEx, please visit www.stratex.com or contact Heather Youkhana at 312-496-6562 or hyoukhana@tkcpr.com.

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About StratEx
Founded in 2003, StratEx is a provider of human resources software and service, helping companies manage the entire employee lifecycle all online, through its proprietary software, eStratEx. From filing resumes and applications, to hiring and onboarding, to time-off requests and payroll processing, to termination, resignation or exit interviews, StratEx helps companies manage the processes so businesses can focus on employee relations StratEx has offices in Chicago, Orlando and NYC. For more information on StratEx, please visit www.stratex.com, or call 312-216-2200.

About the Daily Herald Business Ledger
The Business Ledger is the leading provider of business news and information about businesses and the economy in suburban Chicago. The Business Ledger is a sister publication to the Daily Herald and part of the Paddock Publications family.