Category Archives: Employment

Chicago: Adding Jobs

When a region creates more jobs, it is pretty much great news for everyone.  Last month, the ADP Regional Employment Report  recorded an additional 5,700 new positions in the private sector. And for those in Chicago still seeking employment, there is good news too; a new law has forbidden potential employers from asking job applicants to reveal their salary history in an increasing attempt around the country to create gender equal salaries.

The additional jobs in Illinois saw the most in Chicago but the state as a whole added a staggering 41,000 jobs in 2017.  Over half of these though were in Chicago – nearly 24,000.

And with this, the executive order to mark Equal Pay Day was signed by the Chicago Mayor.  This shows how far into the year women have to work – on average – to earn as much as their male counterparts did the previous year! This comes at a time when lawmakers in the region are looking at two different pieces of legislation that are seeking to close the wage gap.

Workers Compensation

Rep. Laura Fine, D-Glenview just proposed a Bill (H.B. 4595) for the establishment of an (Illinois) state-sponsored insurance company.  If it becomes law, it would result in the creation of the non-profit Illinois Employers Mutual Insurance Co. providing local workers compensation in situations in which companies where they work cannot afford to do so.  The Illinois Workers Compensation Commission Operations Fund would provide a $10 million loan to get this going.

While this seems necessary, last year, Gov. Bruce Rauner – also of Illinois – attempted H.B. 2622 which was vetoed.  Indeed, a recent study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine found that Illinois mine workers who are the victims of injuries and illnesses are less likely to report these to tracking federal agencies

Chicago 2017: A Review of Company Culture

Energage just published results for this year’s ranking of Best Workplaces in the Chicago area.  Using employee surveys as well as assessments of work-life balance, company leadership and more, Baird & Warner took top place. According to Energage’s CEO Doug Claffey: “Our mission is making the world a better place to work together. With the Energage platform, companies finally have a way to turn the potential of engagement into real action.”

And then there are collaborative efforts that occur within companies. For example, design and development company Adage Technologies recently started using the Scrum methodology (used in software development projects) to make collaboration go faster.  But, to ensure staff satisfaction is not lost the process, regular meetings for employees are held in which they can discuss their thoughts on how to move forward.  And Cars.com has been working toward tech team restructuring in order to cultivate more cross-functional collaboration which has worked well for company culture, increasing deployment rates in the team.

Other companies are focusing on getting healthy within the workplace: SPINS (a consumer insights and data analytics company) has an in-office gym featuring meditation, cooking demos and volunteer opportunities. And then Dose provides its employees with fitness initiatives resulting in greater staff cohesion and more.

All Chicagoan firms should take a look at what is making these (and others on the list) stand out from the rest in an attempt to bolster their own rankings on employee culture.

Working from “Home”

A few years ago everyone was trying to work from home.  It knocked out the commute, saved time and let you stay in your pajamas all day.  But then the trend started backfiring a bit and people craved the interaction between others and being forced to get dressed rather than be on the computer in their bedroom.  Indeed, at that time it was found that people craved the stimulation of the office environment and the networking opportunities it offered.

Thus, the We-Work/Hub situation was born.  And the best of both worlds came into action.  For those Chicagoans looking for options, today they can choose from:  WeWork Chicago (for $350-750 a month in 6 locations); Level (with different options available at there 4 locations – one close to Willis Tower and its thriving community; indoor bike racks at another and cheap fees – starting from a mere $50 per month) and Industrious Chicago (which provides a large space right in the center of River North across from the Loop. As well as office facilities this has lounge area, phone booths and relaxation rooms as well as a café).

These spaces are obviously thriving since Level Office just signed a deal for a 110,000 square foot office tower at Welton and 16th Streets.

Chicago and Wage Increases

Chicago will now be subject to obligatory minimum wage increases. Following a new law that went into place at the beginning of this month, within the city, a 50 percent increase will result in minimum wage being $11 per hour. This is noteworthy since it is the third such increase that has taken place since December 2014. For tipped workers it has increased to $6.10 per hour – an inflation-rendered increase set up earlier this year.

Minimum wages in Chicago will increase at a rate of $1 per hour (next year and the year after), to get to the highest $13 level per hour in 2020. Thereafter wage increases will be determined by inflation.

Furthermore, Cook County employers will be forced to give their workers sick pay (and a carry over of unused days to the next year), since right now 40% of workers in the area are not eligible for this benefit.

Second Chance Job Fair

Triton College recently put together its Second Chance Job Fair that was attended by 70 employers and 150 applicants.  The aim of this event was to literally, give people a second chance in building a solid future for themselves.  The reason the college hosted the job fair, was, according to Director of Career Services at Triton Rich Williams, because they “saw a real need for this type of job fair. There are a lot of people who are facing some tough barriers in terms of finding employment. At the same time, there are a lot of employers who want to help. We’re linking the two.”

This kind of fair is so important given the current economic climate.  Very few people are able to get a second chance; but this is the perfect opportunity for it.  And it’s great for employees as PeopleReady employment agency rep Diego Irizarry said that they are often looking for “diverse candidates to meet the staffing needs of local businesses.”

This represents a real networking opportunity for the community and the college, filling a gap that is often remained empty.   And Triton College is perfect as it understands how important it is to connect jobs/careers with education.  And some jobs are even designed for such “second chance employees.”

So take a leaf out of Chicago’s book and start training those who need it and for those companies, find those seeking employment who really want to work and keep getting pushed back.

Business Expansions in Chicago

There have been various movements with expansions, buyouts, M&As, etc. in the last few weeks in Chicago. Here we take a brief look at three of them: Trustwave, Amita Health and Periscope.

Trustwave – the firm that works in the cybersecurity industry – is about to hire around 100 new people for its Chicago office. In addition, an announcement was made about the upcoming internship program being developed alongside the City Colleges of Chicago. And this is just the start; by the end of 2017 Robert McCullen, company CEO anticipates a further 300 people to join the company headquarters in Chicago once construction is finished and the space is ready for this expansion. With around 400 employees in Chicago currently (and 1,700 globally) this is really a doubling of Chicago staff members.

Amita Health – Chicago’s third largest hospital system – is interested in putting up two medical office buildings (with a joint $55.3 million price tag) right near rival ones. This is at the same time that hospital systems throughout America are seeking to bolster the way they attract additional patients. One of the new facilities will be in Bartlett and the other in Woodridge and they would be the largest of the company’s nine hospitals.

And then there is Periscope – based in Minneapolis – is expanding to Chicago. One of America’s five biggest independent creative networks purchased Anthem Marketing Solutions, the Chicago-headquartered analytics and strategy firm. Anthem has been in the business for two decades already and focuses on both (diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive) analytics and (database marketing and consumer journey) mapping services. This new office in Chicago will become the fifth for Periscope. As company CEO Elizabeth Ross explained the company really is hoping to “help [its] clients spend less on paid media and the best way to do that is to expand analytics and prove you can deliver results through channels and methods that are less reliant on [traditional ad buys].”

Boost for Chicago Businesses

With the announcement that three Chicago-based firms are being chosen to lead the Obama Presidential Center’s project management team, the reputation for successful, thriving businesses in the region is taking a positive spin. In this role, the team will be in charge of the establishment and guidance of the processes needed to ensure the center is being both designed and developed simultaneous to budget, schedule and technical stipulations as set out by the foundation.

The three firms – Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), McKissack & McKissack and Ardmore Associates – will each bring something else to the project. JLL has the capacity to provide the project with will bring “industry-leading practices” vis-à-vis the library’s design and construction; and the other two firms have a strong niche in the African-American community as well as the Ardmore Associates being a women-owned professional services company.

Meanwhile, over in the software industry, ActiveCampaign is set to add a further 225 employees to its ranks over the next two years, more than tripling the size of its headquarters.

With such recognition and expansion of businesses in the area, Chicago looks like its setting the pace for other regions nationwide.

 

3rd Annual Small Business Forum

Two days ago, Fox Valley SCORE hosted its 3rd Annual Small Business Forum. Since Americans seem to be increasingly switching from employee to employer (becoming their own bosses), a greater need has emerged for the know-how to do this.  Learning about the political, social and economic consequences is crucial and these forums – attended by local experts – set out to assist in the matters.

The event took place at the Northern Illinois University Conference Center (in Naperville) from 8.30am to 2.30pm, and, as in the past, successfully presented take-away tools for small businesses to “advance and grow into thriving enterprises.”  Topics covered included: plan building, how to start, product/service pricing, cash flow management.  As well, participants were able to network with other SME owners to exchange information and support each other.

Keynote speaker was Anderson’s Bookshops and Anderson’s Bookfair’s co-owner, Becky Anderson whose topic was the impact on the local community of small businesses.  As a fifth generation family business manager (which started back in 1875 in Napervile) Anderson was President of the American Booksellers Association  for seven years and a year ago started her four-year term on the Naperville City Council.  Her mantra of “put your money where your heart is – home,” has resulted in her making her a true “treasure to her business and community.”