Archive for the ‘Employment’ Category.

Why you should skip the ATM machine and self-checkout aisles at your next trip to the bank or retail stores

The banking industry is changing. It is currently undergoing one of its biggest shifts. The future is all about technology. Your bank’s mobile app is

Self-checkout and automation are costing our society jobs

Self-checkout and automation are costing our society jobs

slowly but gradually replacing your visit to your local branch. And as more people become comfortable with banking on their computers and smartphones, there will be less and less need for physical branches. This will mean the loss of of jobs. In fact this may already be starting to happen in some parts of the country.

This increased banking convenience for us is coming at the expense of bank jobs. And banks certainly don’t have a problem with having less staff, it will just mean more profits for them and their shareholders. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in capitalism and shareholder equity, but I also believe stakeholder (works, consumers, vendors etc.) come first and until these are taken care of, shareholder equity won’t matter much for the economy as a whole.  Therefore, I believe it is more important than ever before, to visit your local branch and use the services of a teller. Even if it is something as simple as withdrawing money which you could do at the ATM machine. Unless you see a long line-up, always try to go inside to do your banking. Those few minutes you spend inside ensure that you are helping someone keep their job. Multiply that by millions around the country doing the same thing and the result is tens of thousands of bank employees keeping their jobs. And when these can keep their jobs, imagine the trickle-down effect that can have for the economy.

Banks are not alone at this. We are increasingly seeing more and more self checkout counters at grocery and big box stores. They are there for our convenience, but if used a lot, it means job losses for employees at thousands of big box stores and grocery stores nationwide.  Similar to your visit to the bank, and unless there is a long line up at the other check-out lines, skip them as much as you can. Ensure someone or a lot of people are able to keep their jobs. And it is only costing you a few minutes if not less. Heck, lately, I have been seeing more people at the self check-out counter than at ones attended by a real human cashier!

Restaurants have joined this trend too and introduced self-ordering and paying systems, where you can order and even pay through an automated system, and skip straight to pick your meal. Don’t bother! Skip the new automated ordering screen at McDonald’s and go to the counter instead. Help a student, a mom, or someone else keep their job. And by the way, even if you choose to the cashier, I don’t know if you are saving any time by ordering yourself. I mean the cashier knows the menu and the ordering system better and would probably be faster at taking your order than you can do it yourself.

The irony is, we may have inadvertently used these new technologies and skipped the human interaction for the sake of convenience and saving time, and in the process have cost us or someone we know their job. And if it hasn’t yet, it may happen in the future, where there is less demand for humans and more love for machines. In a previous post, we had discussed the ‘Amazon effect‘ and how it is killing jobs locally. Coming up in a future article, we will expand on that further and how buying online is also killing jobs. we all want to save money and time, who doesn’t? problem is, we are falling for it so much that we are overlooking the big picture, where we are losing thousands and thousands of jobs every month due to some form of automation. When these jobs are lost, we are losing much needed tax revenue, spending money and more, than can keep the economic cycle and prosperity going.

Be wary of automation at your local bank, grocery stores and other big box stores. Use them only sparingly and always look for real humans to check out. It will only mean less jobs lost in the future. And when when more people are working, it can only be good for the economy.

Nepotism in the workplace may be a good thing for the environment!

Nepotism can be bad, as it overlooks talent in favor of hiring and giving preference to those who are related to the people with power. But it can also be good for the environment,

Hiring family members at the same company can help the environment

Hiring family members at the same company can help the environment

especially when family members work for the same company and share the same ride to work.  Nepotism can mean smart commuting.

Where I work, there is at least 6 different groups of people who are family members and thus commute together. In fact in one instance, there is a family of 4 (father and 3 daughters) that commute together.  In total, these make up 15 individuals, commuting in 7 cars instead of each commuting in their own cars. That is an elimination of 8 cars from the road from one company alone.  And I know most of these, all are good and qualified for the job. They weren’t qualified simply based on having a relative at the company.  They just happened to have someone who works there, who told them about the vacant job and helped them get through the door.  In other words, nepotism may help make your job search easier but it doesn’t guarantee it.

Nepotism can be extended and even encouraged at other companies and organizations.  While not sacrificing talent and other important qualifications , nepotism can co-exist with other job requirements.  Companies that care about the environment can show it by various means, whether by encouraging their employees to take public transit, in their literature or by encouraging hiring new employees that have family members at the company who will end up sharing the same commute to work.

Certainly, hiring other family members may not guarantee that they will commute together and this is something that can be discussed and brought up during the interview process. The company should make it clear that one of the reasons they would hire family members or friends is to encourage group commuting in hopes of reducing the cars on the road and in the company’s parking lot. But this is a minor issue. I doubt two people living in the same house would want to drive two cars to the same place, back and fourth. It is a waste of energy, money and even time.

Imagine how many cars we can take off the road if every company could hire up to 10% of its staff from the same family members. Literally thousands and thousands. It would be significant enough to be noticed on the road every morning and afternoon rush hour.

Nepotism has often been associated with favoritism is give a negative stigma but it doesn’t have to be. If companies can balance their hiring process, putting new emphasis on nepotism as a way to help the environment, then it is a benefit for the company and the staff.  And the word ‘nepotism’ has a negative connotation, we can replace it with something else. How about ‘workplace family building’?

 

 

Is Amazon responsible for local job losses where you live?

No one can resist the temptation: you find an item on Amazon, and even after accounting for shipping expenses, it still comes out

Is buying from Amazon.com killing local jobs?

Is buying from Amazon.com killing local jobs?

cheaper than what you would pay if you were to get the same item at a local store. I, too, have done this in the past, but not as much as others do.

I like to think of this as a short term thinking, that only benefits the individual making the purchase and Amazon of course. In the long term, you and your local economy are probably both losing.

Weekly-even daily-news of some retailer laying off people is becoming a norm. Not a week passes by without some retailer, big or small, announcing massive job layoffs. Whether it is Sears, Best Buy, Staples or some other small retailers, online shopping is costing the local economy hundreds, even thousands of jobs. Many different retailers are suffering and only one is benefiting. Well, other online shopping giants are benefiting too, but Amazon stands to gain the most.

This begs the question: where does this stop? Or will it? There is nothing wrong with saving money, after all, we all want to maximizer our purchasing powers. Heck, this very blog is all about helping you organize your finances and save money. But when this saving of a few bucks is only a short term gain, we have to start thinking about how we are spending our money. You may save a few bucks today, maybe even hundreds every year. But in the long term, your very job could be lost due to this. If you work for a retailer, be it in electronics, clothing, shoes-even food-you now have direct and fierce competition from some online retailer, mainly Amazon. Of course, Amazon is the name that is most synonymous with online shopping, but there are many more out there, including Ebay, Overstock, Barnes and Nobles etc…

If you prefer the convenience of online shopping, why not shop from your local retailer’s online store? For example, instead of buying books from Amazon.com , why not head to Chapters.ca instead? You will be supporting your local Canadian economy while saving money at the same time. You may not save as much as if you had bought from Amazon, but you will be indirectly responsible for saving someone’s job and that is always a great feeling.

One essential strategy to use when looking for a job

Based years of job searching and trying to find jobs for family members and friends, I have realized that one of the best and unknown

One essential strategy to use when looking for a job: look for companies that are desperate!

One essential strategy to use when looking for a job: look for companies that are desperate!

ways to get a job is to look for companies that are desperate. Let me explain what I mean by this. When a company suddenly has a need to hire an employee, whether it is to replace a sudden departure or out of pure need for extra staff, you are much more likely to get the job, all other things being equal.

Ok, you may be thinking that it is all common sense and nothing revolutionary.  After all, most hiring are born out of need or desperation on the part of the company. Sure it is but most people don’t think of it actively. That is, they don’t act on it.

When a company needs to hire immediately, chances are they will overlook many shortcomings in prospective applicants that they would otherwise insist on. And the shorter the hiring window and the number of applicants the easier it will be to score the job.

I have personally seen this happen with my own job search as well as with my wife, sister, friends and others. For most of us, although we were generally qualified to take on job, we may not have been the best candidates for some of these jobs. Not even close. But somehow we got the jobs based on how soon we applied for these jobs, shortly after they were posted. A lot of companies, when faced with a sudden and urgent need to hire someone, would rather hire from the very first applicants-assuming they meet at least some of the criteria-than to wait and risk losing time and customers. Desperation leads to panic for some hiring managers and HR department and that panic may lead to a quick hiring decision: be sure to put yourself out there when this is the case.

This is especially the case for the food and IT industries, where certain positions are either very specialized or the business can’t go even one day without a replacement.  If you are looking for a job in of these two industries and you spot an ad for a company that is urgently looking for new staff, be sure to apply right away. Always look for the date the ad was posted, as the earlier you reply the better your chances are to score that job. You can also take advantage of special email alerts from the different job sites out there (Indeed, CareerBuilder, Workopolis etc.) so you are notified of that special job you are waiting for or are interested in.

Another way to use this strategy to your advantage, and similar to what has already been mentioned above, is to look for the wording of these ‘hiring’ ads. Are they using special keywords like ‘urgent’ ‘start right away’ ‘need urgently’ etc.? These tell you that the company or business doing the hiring is a little desperate and you should jump at the opportunity.

And last, new businesses that are just opening or getting started, are often desperate to find the right staff to start the business. Be sure to look out for those. A new restaurant opening in your neighborhood can’t open without the required kitchen and serving staff. They can’t just open and worry about that part later.

Got your own special tips for getting a job? please share them with us in the comments section.

As more Robots replace Humans in the workplace, it is time for a robot tax?

robots-taking-our-jobs

How to stop robots from taking more of our jobs? how about we start taxing them?

At the rate it is going, robots can probably take more than 10% of the jobs that humans currently perform, in the not too distance future. Possibly even more. For companies, this is a great thing of course, as robots can do a very accurate and great job, without having to pay them, worry about training them, getting sick etc. You just program them and they are on their way.

For us, humans, this trend is increasingly more and more concerning, as it is costing us jobs in manufacturing, automation and various other sectors.

CBS’s ’60 Minutes’  had a recent episode dedicated to this very topic: Are robots taking our jobs?

What can be done to discourage companies from using more and more robots to replace human labour?  how about tax on companies using robots? what? yes you read that correctly, and this coming from someone who doesn’t believe in too much taxation and government intervention in the free flowing of a capitalistic enterprise system. Let me explain how I could justify something as outrageous as a ‘tax on robots’ (robot head tax)

As more and more robots automate and take our jobs, we humans lose in the long term. We lose these good paying jobs and are left with these jobs at the bottom of the barrel. Jobs that pay just slightly above the minimum wage.  The government can tax companies for the usage of robots on the basis of the income they generate for the company. Just because they are non-human doesn’t mean they should be exempt from paying taxes. Individuals and companies already pay taxes on so many things such as property, cars etc. Why not robots? And to justify such a tax, it would make a lot of sense to dedicate revenues from this to fund future labor training on new technologies.  That is to fund the transition and training to new technologies needed to be ready for the new digital age.  Remember, the government is losing a lot of tax revenues when humans are eliminated by robots. Such a tax on robots would make up some of that revenue. And for companies using robots for production, paying such a tax will still generate them more profits than if they were employing humans.

Some may argue that it doesn’t make sense and is not fair to tax something just because it is helping a company save money. True, but these savings are coming at the expense of hiring human beings to perform the job.  Where does it end? when half of our jobs have been delegated to be done by robots? and as mentioned earlier, the more jobs get eliminated by robots, the less tax revenue and income is available to society, all of which will impact the economy as a whole in the long term.

If a tax is not a fair idea, how about putting a cap by the government on how much of a company’s workforce is composed of robots? And again,  this is coming from someone who believes in free enterprise and capitalism. But I believe everything has a limit and the government can and should have a role to play in this, to ensure robots don’t automate every possible job and put humans out of work.  In other words, just because a job can be done by a robot doesn’t mean it should. Humans and robots can mix in doing certain jobs.

Where does it end? Outsourcing, cyber-sourcing, robots etc. There are more and more pressures on traditional labor, where there is less need for the latter and the pay continues to dwindle. It is understandable that it is part of the realty of the 21st century and the new digital age. But we have to be careful on how we make this transition. We have to bridge the gap and not just stomp on our most valuable resource-humans-in order to make as much profits as possible. At the end of the day, if humans don’t have good paying jobs, companies will not have enough profits, never mind money for robots and automation.

 

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