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Companies bet employee benefits will help them in ‘Great Reshuffle’

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Paul Bradbury | OJO Images | Getty Images

Millions of Americans are quitting their jobs and rethinking what they want when it comes to work and work-life balance. Companies are responding, meeting their employees’ needs in areas such as remote work, flexible hours, four-day workweeks, compensation and more. This story is part of a series looking at the “Great Reshuffle” and the shift in workplace culture taking place right now.

The “Great Resignation” — also known as the “Great Reshuffle” — is showing no signs of slowing down.

The mass exodus of workers, which includes almost 48 million who walked away last year, has led some employers to rethink how they retain and attract employees.

The result has been more flexibility and remote work, as well as higher compensation. Some companies have instituted four-day workweeks, while others have moved to all-remote or hybrid work schedules.

In fact, 63% of jobseekers cite work-life balance as one of the top priorities when choosing a new job, according to LinkedIn’s 2022 Global Talent Trends report. In comparison, 60% said compensation and benefits.

Here’s how some companies have stood out with policies they say are helping them in the war for talent.

Four-day workweek

Work from anywhere

Sevdha Thompson, digital producer of marketing for Coalition Technologies, spent a few weeks working in Costa Rica last year.

Courtesy: Sevdha Thompson

Employees at Culver City, California-based digital marketing and website design company Coalition Technologies can work remotely from anywhere in the world.

For Sevdha Thompson, the company’s digital producer of marketing, that means she can spend time in Jamaica with her family, visit rainforests in Costa Rica and travel around the U.S. to see friends — all while working.

“I, for one, love traveling,” said Thompson, who’s in her early 30s.

“Having that flexibility to be able to spend time with people who are very important to me, in different parts of the globe, it’s of major importance.”

While some employees have used the policy to travel, others simply work from where they live. Today Coalition Technologies’ more than 250 workers are spread out across the globe — from the U.S., Canada and Mexico to India, Germany and South Africa.

‘Surprises and delights’

LinkedIn employees are treated to “surprise and delight” moments through the tech company’s LiftUp program.

LinkedIn

Even something as simple as an extra paid day off or a workday without meetings can boost employee well-being, according to LinkedIn.

When its workers were faced with burnout and exhaustion during the pandemic, the tech giant responded with an initiative called LiftUp. It’s a resource hub and a series of fun events, but most notably it also gives the gift of time in the form of well-being days off and meeting-free days.

“The surprises and delights were really meant to simply put the spark back in everyone, lift our heads up higher, and create some fun along the way,” Nina McQueen, LinkedIn’s vice president of benefits and employee experience at LinkedIn, said in the company’s 2022 Global Talent Trends report.

The program isn’t going away when the pandemic ends.

″[Employees] need support, they need to know the organization values them,” said Jennifer Shappley, LinkedIn’s global head of talent acquisition.

Paid sabbaticals

Sabbaticals aren’t a common workplace perk. Prior to the Covid pandemic, only 5% of organizations offered a paid sabbatical program, while 11% offered an unpaid one, the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2019 benefits report found.

Tech company Automattic is one of the 5%. For every five years worked, employees get a paid three-month sabbatical.

“It provides a really nice sort of reset point for people to reevaluate their role or their careers or what they want to come back doing,” said CEO Matt Mullenweg.

I stepped away completely disconnected, came back, was rejuvenated, was excited about my work again.

Lori McLeese

Automattic’s global head of human resources

It can also benefit those at work, since people take on new responsibilities to cover for the worker on sabbatical.

Lori McLeese, Automattic’s global head of human resources, took her first sabbatical in 2016 to travel to Europe. It was the best thing she could have done, she said.

“It helped reset my brain,” McLeese said. “I stepped away completely disconnected, came back, was rejuvenated, was excited about my work again.”

Contract work with benefits

Harriet Talbot quit her full-time job at Unilever to take part in its U-Work program in London.

Courtesy: Harriet Talbot

Unilever’s U-Work program gives contract workers the freedom and flexibility they desire, coupled with job security and benefits.

Workers commit to working a minimum number of weeks a year, receive a small monthly retainer and get paid for assignments. Benefits include a pension, health insurance and sick pay.

It was the perfect fit for 30-year-old Harriet Talbot. She quit her full-time job in the global consumer goods company’s London office in 2021 and has since worked two contract jobs at the company, in addition to a side gig at a local bike shop. She is now between assignments, traveling by bike through Europe to Australia.

“It’s such a kind of real relief and really progressive, I think, to be able to come back and join the Unilever community when I get back,” she said.

U-Work is now being piloted in several other global locations, although it hasn’t made it to the U.S. … yet.

Fit work around life

Allison Greenwald, senior product manager at The Alley Group, spent five weeks in Alaska while working a flexible schedule.

Courtesy: Allison Greenwald



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Atlanta Fed President Bostic expects job losses but says there’s a really good chance to get to 2% inflation without killing the economy

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President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Raphael W. Bostic speaks at a European Financial Forum event in Dublin, Ireland February 13, 2019.

Clodagh Kilcoyne | Reuters

Raphael Bostic, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, appeared on CBS’ “Face The Nation” Sunday morning with a continued commitment to the 2% inflation target and a cautiously optimistic outlook on the path to get there.

The nation’s central bank hiked the targeted federal funds rate by 75 basis points to between 3 and 3 1/4 Wednesday. Bostic believes that the Federal Reserve can achieve its goal of 2% inflation without severely damaging the economy.

“I do think that we’re going to do all that we can at the Federal Reserve to avoid deep, deep pain.” Bostic told “Face the Nation.”

The most recent report clocked inflation at 8.3% through the past year. The Fed is aiming to temper demand in the economy so prices can stabilize, but some fear that the strict policies might initiate further economic turmoil.

Bostic recognized that there will likely be job losses as a result of the Fed’s actions. However, compared to prior Fed tightening, Bostic believes that “there is a really good chance that if we have job losses it will be smaller than what we’ve seen in other situations,” he said on “Face the Nation.”

Bostic sees “positive momentum” in the economy despite two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth, a signifier used by some to identify a recession.

“We’re still creating lots of jobs on a monthly basis. And so I actually think that there is some ability for the economy to absorb our actions,” Bostic said, noting “considerable job growth” in his bank’s hometown of Atlanta. “My expectation is that as we move along and we start to get inflation more under control.”



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Italy poised for hard-right leader as country votes in snap election

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Giorgia Meloni, leader of the right-wing party Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) holds a giant Italian national flag during a political rally on February 24, 2018 in Milan, Italy.

Emanuele Cremaschi | Getty Images

Italians head to the polls Sunday in a nationwide vote that could return the country’s first female prime minister and the first government led by the far-right since the end of World War II.

Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) party was created in 2012, but has its roots in Italy’s 20th century neo-fascist movement that emerged after the death of fascist leader Benito Mussolini in 1945.

After winning 4% of the vote in 2018’s election, it has used its position in opposition to springboard into the mainstream. The Brothers of Italy party is expected to gain the largest share of the vote for a single party on Sunday. Polls prior to a blackout on Sept. 9 showed that it’s been getting almost 25% of the vote, far ahead of its nearest right-wing ally Lega.

Forming a coalition with Lega, under Matteo Salvini, Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and a more minor coalition partner, Noi Moderati, it looks likely the right-wing alliance will win power in Rome. Italy’s complicated first-past-the-post system rewards coalitions and the center-left Democratic Party has failed to build a large enough alliance despite polling at 21% as a single party.

Polls opened at 7 a.m. local time and will close at 11 p.m. An exit poll is due as the ballot closes, but early projections may not come until Monday morning. Reaching political consensus and cementing any coalition could then take weeks and a new government may only come to power in October.

Incumbent Mario Draghi, a much-loved technocrat who was forced out by political infighting in July, agreed to stay on as caretaker. The snap elections on Sunday come six months before they were due.

70 governments in 77 years: Why Italy changes governments so often

Brothers of Italy has chimed with sections of the public who are concerned about immigration (Italy is the destination for many migrant boats crossing the Mediterranean), the country’s relationship with the EU and the economy.

In terms of policy, Brothers of Italy has often been described as “neo-fascist” or “post-fascist,” its policies echoing the nationalist, nativist and anti-immigration stance of Italy’s fascist era. For her part, however, Meloni claims to have rid the party of fascist elements, saying in the summer that Italy’s right-wing had “handed fascism over to history for decades now.”

Still, its policies are socially conservative to say the least, with the party opposing gay marriage and promoting traditional “family values,” with Meloni saying in 2019 that her mission was to defend “God, homeland and family.”

A volunteer prepares pink ballot papers at a polling station in Rome’

Andreas Solaro | Afp | Getty Images

When it comes to Europe, Fratelli d’Italia has reversed its opposition to the euro, but champions reform of the EU in order to make it less bureaucratic and less influential on domestic policy. On an economic level, it has deferred to the center-right coalition’s position that the next government should cut sales taxes on certain goods to alleviate the cost-of-living crisis, and has said Italy should renegotiate its Covid-19 recovery funds with the EU.

Fratelli d’Italia has been pro-NATO and pro-Ukraine and supports sanctions against Russia, unlike Lega which is ambivalent about those measures. Meloni has been described as something of a political chameleon by some, with analysts noting changes in her political position over time.

'We have to cooperate with Europe and the European community,' Italy lawmaker



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3 rules to follow for a successful open relationship from therapist

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Open relationships among celebrities — Shailene Woodley, Angelina Jolie, and, perhaps most notably, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith — have been conversation fodder for years. The dynamic is often dismissed as a Hollywood arrangement that can only be maintained by iron-clad NDAs.

In recent years, though, non-monogamy has become increasingly mainstream. About one in four adults is interested in having an open relationship, according to 2021 YouGov poll of 23,000 Americans.

Opening up a relationship can actually strengthen it, says Avital Isaacs, a therapist at Manhattan Alternative Wellness Collective, a mental health practice that serves queer and trans people, non-monogamous people, and sex workers.

“In a monogamous relationship, there is a typified kind of foreclosure,” she says. “The relationship is defined by what you don’t do and it can feel like a real reduction of self. There is less that you are actively doing with your partner.”

Non-monogamy allows you to explore more experiences that you otherwise might not have in a monogamous relationship. It can also help remind someone that their partner is desirable. “Seeing them go on dates with other people may inspire a sense of wanting to earn this person’s love and care,” Isaacs says. “For some people, that’s a big motivator, instead of taking each other for granted.”

3 rules for a successful open relationship

An open relationship tends to work best if you navigate it thoughtfully, says Megan Hanafee Major, a therapist who works with couples, marriage, gender, and sexuality based in the greater Chicago area.

“Most successful open relationships follow general rules around boundaries, communication, and goals,” she says.

If you’re interested in exploring an open relationship, here are Major’s three tips to get you started.

1. Define which kinds or relationships are OK

Decide if any types of relationships or people are “off limits,” Major says. “Communicate if you or a partner has a primary relationship that will take priority, and think about what type of information you share with other partners.”

Maybe being open means physical intimacy but not emotional. Whatever it is, you need to communicate your boundaries.

“Take time to think about personal boundaries as well as relational ones,” she says. “Know that it is OK to adjust these if needed, but respecting others’ boundaries and expecting them to do the same for you is a must.”

2. More communication is always better

In any relationship, communication is paramount. In an open one where expectations are even less clear you need to be more conscious about what you’re negotiating with your partner, Isaacs says.

“When you’re in a monogamous relationship you’re doing the framework provided for you based on our society and culture,” she says. “We prioritize and understand romantic relationships to be exclusive. If you’re in an open relationship, our cultural structures and systems are not designed for you.”

That can put you in uncharted waters.

For example, she says, you get a “plus one” at a wedding or a holiday party, not a “plus whoever you’re in a relationship with.”

Major agrees that when you’re bucking societal norms and creating a more unique dynamic between you and your partner, clear communication becomes even more necessary. “Personally, I am of the mind that more communication is nearly always better than less,” she says.

Be specific when discussing the parameters of your relationships. “Communicating to partners about expectations, logistics, like time commitments, and desires, allows trust and vulnerability to build and hold over time. Not only will this help manage any misunderstandings that arise — they are inevitable — but will show your partners that you value them, their thoughts, and their time.”

3. Know what your goals are and communicate if they change

Make sure you, your primary partner and potential new partners are all on the same page.

Some questions you can ask yourself, Major says, include:

  • Do you hope to spend time doing specific activities?
  • Would you like your partners to know one another? 
  • Are there certain things that you want to explore sexually or romantically? 

“Goals may be different from relationship to relationship and are bound to change over time,” says Major. Being clear about them can alleviate hurt feelings and mixed messages down the road.

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