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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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U.S. is behind on supply chain independence from China

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'We have to make sure we have a diversified supply chain': Biden presidential coordinator

The U.S. has some rapid catching up to do if it is to secure the reliability of its supply chain and its independence from competitors like China, a top White House advisor admitted this week.

“Look, this is a major concern for the U.S. and I think for the rest of the world. As we are going into a cleaner, greener, an entirely new energy system, we have to make sure we have a diversified supply chain,” Special Presidential Coordinator Amos Hochstein told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble on Monday.

“We can’t have a supply chain that is concentrated in any country, doesn’t matter which country that is,” he said. “We have to make sure from the mining and refining process to the building of the batteries and wind turbines that we have a diversified system that we can be well supplied for. That is the only way this will work from an economy perspective.”

Asked if the U.S. was behind in this endeavor, Hochstein, who also served in the Obama administration as chief energy envoy, replied: “Absolutely we’re behind.” But, he added, “It doesn’t mean that we’re out.”

Workers transport soil containing rare earth elements for export at a port in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, China October 31, 2010.

Stringer | Reuters

China controls roughly 60% of the world’s production of rare earth minerals and materials, according to a recent report by Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. Those resources include lithium, cobalt, nickel, graphite, manganese and other rare earth elements crucial for making things like electric vehicles, batteries, computers and household goods.

They’re also essential for renewable technology like solar panels and wind turbines, which are central in the U.S.’s attempt at an energy transition away from fossil fuels. As just one example, China refines 95% of the world’s manganese — a chemical element used in batteries and steel manufacturing — despite mining less than 10% of its global supply.

For the U.S., whose relations with China can currently be described as tense at best, this poses several security risks, were China to decide to weaponize that market dominance at any point. The Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war have also highlighted the fragility of the global supply chain.

‘We have not invested’

The White House, in a Feb. 2022 fact sheet, wrote that “The U.S. is increasingly dependent on foreign sources for many of the processed versions of these minerals. Globally, China controls most of the market for processing and refining for cobalt, lithium, rare earths and other critical minerals.”

“We have to recognize that we have not invested, and that’s what the United States is trying to do now, is not only say the same old talk of we want to have partnerships,” Hochstein said. “We’re going to come to this table together with our G7 allies, we’re going to pool our resources, we’re going to make sure that the money is there.”

This includes dedicated financial and business incentives, Hochstein said. The Biden administration’s mammoth 2022 Inflation Reduction Act aims to invest heavily in the supply of and access to critical minerals in allied countries, and offers approximately $369 billion in funding and tax credits to boost renewable energy technology and critical mineral production.

“We’re giving the incentives, through the IRA, to tell companies ‘look, if you make sure you’re mining in the U.S. or in other countries and bring it to the U.S. for refining, processing and battery manufacturing, there’s going to be the kind of financial incentives there’,” he said.

U.S. is 'absolutely behind' on supply chain independence for crucial minerals: presidential adviser

Despite his warnings about supply chain risk, Hochstein rejected the idea that the U.S. was being held hostage to China.

“I don’t want to talk about being held hostage, at the end of the day China is doing what they think is right for them,” he said. “They’re trying to build an economic energy in the clean energy space and we all need to do the same.”

“We have to learn from what we went through in the oil and gas energy space, as we transition to a new energy market that relies still on natural resources,” he added.

“They may not be oil and gas, but they’re still natural resources — they’re not abundant everywhere in the world — so we have to make sure from the U.S. perspective that we have a supply chain for the United States, and that’s what the legislation that we passed in the United States is trying to do.”



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Boeing to slash about 2,000 white-collar jobs in finance and HR, report says

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Boeing expects to slash about 2,000 white-collar jobs this year in finance and human resources through a combination of attrition and layoffs, the planemaker confirmed to Seattle Times newspaper on Monday.

Last month, the Virginia-based company announced it would hire 10,000 workers in 2023, but some support positions would be cut.

Back then Boeing acknowledged it will “lower staffing within some support functions” – a move meant to enable it to better align resources to support current products and technology development.

“Over time, some of our corporate functions have grown quite large. And with that growth tends to come bureaucracy or disparate systems that are inefficient,” the newspaper quoted Mike Friedman, a senior director of communications at Boeing as saying. “So we’re streamlining.”

Boeing did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment. 

Last year, Boeing said it plans to cut about 150 finance jobs in the United States to simplify its corporate structure and focus more resources into manufacturing and product development.

Watch CNBC's full interview with Boeing's Dave Calhoun



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Trump appeals sanctions for ‘frivolous’ suit against Hillary Clinton

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presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton attend campaign rallies in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, October 10, 2016 and Manchester, New Hampshire U.S., October 24, 2016 in a combination of file photos.

Mike Segar | Carlos Barria | Reuters

Former President Donald Trump and one of his lawyers said Monday they are appealing nearly $1 million in sanctions imposed on them for what a federal judge called their “frivolous” lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and more than two dozen other defendants.

The court filing about the appeal came days after a lawyer for Trump and his attorney Alina Habba told the judge in the case they were willing to put up a bond of $1,031,788 to cover the costs of the sanctions while the federal Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit considered the matter.

In imposing those sanctions Jan. 19, Judge John Middlebrooks said in an order, “We are confronted with a lawsuit that should never have been filed, which was completely frivolous, both factually and legally, and which was brought in bad faith for an improper purpose.”

Trump’s suit, which sought $70 million in damages, accused Clinton, former FBI officials, the Democratic National Committee and others of conspiring to create a “false narrative” that Trump and his 2016 presidential campaign against Clinton were colluding with Russia to try to win the election that year.

CNBC Politics

Read more of CNBC’s politics coverage:

Middlebrooks in September dismissed the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, and barred Trump from refiling the complaint.

He later ordered Trump and Habba to pay more than $937,000 in sanctions.

Middlebrooks in his sanctions order called Trump “a mastermind of strategic abuse of the judicial process,” and a “prolific and sophisticated litigant who is repeatedly using the courts to seek revenge on political adversaries.”

A day after Middlebrooks issued that order, Trump voluntarily dropped another lawsuit he had pending before the same judge against New York Attorney General Letitia James. That suit was related to James’ pending $250 million fraud lawsuit against Trump and his company in Manhattan state court.

Jared Roberts, the lawyer for Trump and Habba, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC about the appeal.



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