Chalk one up for old media.
There was an article in the New York Times Thursday detailing the struggles of a woman working irregular hours at Starbucks. Really irregular, like working late into the night, then starting at 4 the next morning.
Now the company says it’ll do better.
Among other things, it has promised work hours will be posted a week ahead of time. And that it'll make its scheduling software more flexible.
Starbucks is far from the only company that uses workers when, and only when, it needs them. S0-called "just-in-time hiring" is a widespread practice in retail, hospitality and healthcare. There aren’t exact numbers on how many part-time workers fall into this category, but the number of people working part-time jobs, when they would rather be working full-time ones, was about 7.5 million in July.
The practice has caught on because employers don’t want to pay employees to sit around. And, thanks to computers, with all their fancy data and algorithms and software, employers can more easily figure out when all the sitting around might happen. Software scheduling programs ensure people are booked to work only when they are needed.
“They look at ongoing trends, they look at what a store or restaurant or whatever it is, did last year at this hour,” said Susan Lambert, a professor at the University of Chicago.
These predictive programs then factor in specifics. “In Chicago it might be whether there is going to be a Bears game, or what the weather is likely to be,” Lambert said.
And then they spit out a work schedule that can be tweaked again depending on how busy a place gets.
“It’s all about the cost-cutting,” said Peter Cappelli, a professor of management at the Wharton School of Business.
To make sure they have the staff they need, some businesses require employees to be on call 40 hours a week for part-time jobs.
“Sometimes they make them show up,” said Cappelli, “and you’ve got to commute and drive a fair bit, and then you discover whether or not they need you, but they require that you show up.”
All of which can make it very, very difficult to manage your life. To arrange daycare. Go to school. Work a second job.
There are companies out there staring to take these issues seriously, said Joan C. Williams, director of the center for WorkLife Law at the University of California Hastings College of Law.
Right now she’s working with the Gap on a pilot program to stabilize schedules.
In a statement, a Gap spokesperson said of the program: “We know that consistent and reliable scheduling is important to our employees. We are exploring ways to increase scheduling stability and flexibility across our fleet of stores.”
“If you want to be a high-road employer, who employs low-wage workers," says Williams, "'just-in-time' scheduling has begun to seem inconsistent.”
Williams said the focus on cutting costs by matching labor supply and labor demand ignores other business costs.
It also hurts a company’s bottom line, she said, when employees quit or don’t show up because they can’t balance their unpredictable work schedules with the rest of their lives.
Here's a neat confluence of my lousy night's sleep last night and the rise of big data and wearable technology.
Thanks to the Wall Street Journal and data provided by Jawbone, makers of one of those fitness bracelets, we now know all kinds of stuff. Like which city's residents get the most sleep: that'd be Melbourne, Australia at seven hours and five minutes a night.
The least? Tokyo at five hours and 45 minutes.
Kai looks back on this week, chatting with Linette Lopez from Business Insider and the Wall Street Journal’s Sudeep Reddy about the world economy and the spending power of the American consumer.
Imagine that you go to play a video game, and all of a sudden you see yourself – basically your face is put on a motion capture animation. And the thing is, you didn’t give anyone permission to use your face—make money off your face – and so you get mad and decide to sue.
The NCAA is the organization behind college sports, but it's also a massive business, one that makes nearly $1 billion a year in revenue through TV, video games, and merchandising.
All that is up in the air right now, the NCAA just lost a huge court case that could hamper its ability to make money.
The ruling could lead to college athletes being compensated in some way, more court cases are looming, and we wanted to put that in context.
A group of Mexican women, "Las Patronas," are helping migrants on their journey north. The BBC's Will Grant explains:
That simple, instinctive act of kindness by the young girls was to lead to the creation of Las Patronas, a charitable organisation which has helped tens of thousands of Central American migrants over the past two decades and which was awarded Mexico's most prestigious human rights prize last year.
The WHO has called for donations to help contain the outbreak. But money is just the first step. The challenges run from finding the right staff to prepping neighboring countries just in case.
Topics on their plate this week:
Topics on their plate this week:
Have you always dreamed of running through the storied Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum tunnel onto the field in front of 70,000+ roaring fans before a University of Southern California football game? Up until now, you usually had to play or coach for the team to have this "once in a lifetime experience," as the school calls it.
Today, you can do it for $1,500, if you're a USC season-ticket holder. If that's too pricey, consider the pre-game locker room tour for $1,000, or a pre-game photo with the "World Famous" USC Song Girls for $750. (Added bonus: The money is considered a donation, so it's tax-deductible, but that's a different story.)
USC recently started selling these experiences and more for its upcoming season, but at least one former player says they commoditize something that shouldn't have a price tag.
“It does feel a little weird to me to put a price on running out of the tunnel to play a football game, which we were told as players constantly was a very earned and special right," said Petros Papadakis — who captained the USC football team in 1999 and 2000 — on Fox Sports Radio's Petros and Money Show. “It’s USC football. It’s supposed to be honorable to be in that locker room. I didn't think you could put a price on that.”
Craig Kelly, an assistant athletic director at USC, says what donors get to do won't match the specialness of actually playing on the team.
“Putting on the pads, the walk through the tunnel, coming out of the locker room, the meetings that they have and the speech before the game… all that’s included in what Petros is referring to and what we’re offering isn’t that," Kelly said.
Kelly says lots of schools lavish perks on donors, which is true. That’s how the game is played — the most generous boosters get the ear of the athletic director, get to travel with the team and get the very best seats.
At the University of Alabama, you can put your name on the coach’s office, for $1 million. What makes USC’s approach unusual is they’ve gone mass-market, according to Josh Rebholz, UCLA's senior associate athletic director for external relations.
"We do offer some of these experiences, but we really believe that many of them — like running out of the tunnel with the team and being on field pre-game — are pretty sacred assets, and so we try to limit who we offer them [to], and really, we try to only offer them to highest and most generous donors that we have," Rebholz said.
In other words, these prized assets are so sacred that they can only be sold for lots of money.
"Access for the sidelines for us can run as much as $100,000 a year," said Rebholz.
If you want to run out on the field at the Rose Bowl with the Bruins and join them in the locker room after the game, you'll have to write a half-million dollar check to UCLA.
So here’s the lesson, USC: It’s not that you’re commoditizing college football. Schools have been doing that for a long time.
It’s that you’re probably not charging enough.
Anjli Raval is a London-based correspondent for the Financial Times, but she recently took a trip through the U.S. to analyze home prices.
Her first stop was South Sacramento in Northern California, where she noticed home prices still stagnated:
These areas of California’s capital had some of the highest foreclosure rates in the US after the housing bust that wiped out $7tn of homeowner equity in the wake of the financial crisis. Since then, Sacramento has seen a rebound, at least on paper. But there are clear signs that it – and many other cities – are stuck in a multiyear housing hangover that has serious implications for economic recovery.
The standard playbook for an economic recovery often relies on a housing market rebound. But in the U.S., that rebound continues to stop and start depending on where you live.
Click play above to listen to Anjli Raval's interview, or read her story at FT
New information was released Friday about the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., but the answers have prompted still more questions.
Heavy fighting continues in eastern Ukraine, as government and separatist forces still fight for control of the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk.
Thousands of people are converging on Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, for a protest rally against the government. The protesters began their 300-mile march in Lahore, led by Imran Khan, who believes he was robbed of last year's election by voting fraud. Meanwhile, a populist cleric is leading a separate march on the capital.
In Los Angeles, police shot and killed an African-American man during a scuffle with officers Monday night. While many black members of the community were angered by the killing, it hasn't sparked the same outcry as in Ferguson, Mo. Frank Stoltze of KPCC says that's because the Los Angeles Police Department has sought to build relationships with the neighborhood.
Rick Barton, a top State Department official, says sometimes the U.S. has to take risks in diplomacy. Citing his own frustrations, he says that the Obama administration has yet to come up with a real strategy to resolve the war in Syria and isolate jihadi fighters.
In LA, police shot and killed an African-American man during a scuffle with officers Monday. While it angered many black members of the community, it hasn't sparked the same unrest as in Ferguson, Mo.
Major League Baseball owners have selected Rob Manfred to succeed Bud Selig as the league's commissioner. Manfred is the sport's 10th commissioner, selected after six rounds of voting by the 30 MLB owners. Sportswriter Stefan Fatsis joins Robert Siegel to speak about the news.
Every year, police and sheriffs' departments receive hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of military-style equipment from the Pentagon. The equipment is passed on with the intent to fight drugs and terrorism, but it was on display in Ferguson, Mo., where it was used for crowd control during protests there.
For more on the challenges of supporting internally displaced persons in Iraq, Robert Siegel speaks with Kieran Dwyer, the spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Dwyer responds to criticisms of the U.N. agencies trying to help.
Cricket flour is a thing, and it's showing up in protein bars and baked goods. A few companies are testing the water to see if Americans can get on board with cricket as an alternative to meat or soy.