Category Archives: Employment

The Fair Workweek

A bill was unanimously approved recently by Chicago’s City Council that will force employers of large firms in the state to give at least two weeks’ notice of schedules to their employees.  When last minute changes occur, they will have to be compensated.  However, the rule will only apply to workers who earn $26 or less per week.

The “fair workweek” has actually been in developmental stages for over two years in eight industries.  Should this become law, it will be an unprecedented move in America.

It could be particularly challenging however, for those in the medical and healthcare sectors.  Initially, the Illinois Health and Hospital Association put forward an opposition but after efforts were made on both sides for a compromise solution, this was withdrawn.

Chicago, IL and Minimum Wage: It’s Just Geography

Workers in Chicago – or those moving to the city – will be pleased to know that minimum wage is far from minimum.  While the state of Illinois has been stuck at $8.25 for the last 9 years, this year Chicago pushed its minimum wage up to $13! 

So how is this fact affecting the rest of the state of Illinois?  It seems it does not want to bow to pressure.  according to CEO and President of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, Rob Karr, Illinois should not be dictated to by Chicago.  At a recent meeting held by the Senate Labor Committee, Karr said:


“It’s something we all need to look at when we’re talking about … the economic diversity of this state and the fact that, the suburbs and downstate simply don’t enjoy the same economics [as Chicago].”

The argument that raising the minimum wage leads to less employment opportunities has largely been disproved, particularly within Chicago.  With the raise of the minimum wage in Chicago (a hike of 40 percent) unemployment in the windy city actually reached an all-time low of 3.6 percent!  indeed, in 2018 Chicago’s drop in unemployment was the highest out of America’s largest 10 cities.  Plus, an additional 72,000 jobs arrived in Chicago, causing it to have more jobs per capita than in the last 50 years.

Ford put a billion dollar investment into Chicago last week adding 500 manufacturing jobs while North Point also announced the creation of 1,300 new jobs. 

Raising the minimum wage is important.  Chicago has shown that it works too.

Working Moms

The Mom Project

Women can find it challenging to get back into the workforce after they have had children.  It was found that 34 percent choose not to return to their jobs.  An endeavor in Chicago is now aiming to fix that issue.  The Mom Project – a Chicago-based startup – is trying to reduce that figure by bringing moms to employers looking to hire who understand and appreciate the value a mom can bring to their firm and who will work with them to alleviate mom-based pressures. 

The startup is currently working with 75,000 women in this position. To date, they have gotten 1,000 companies internationally to see if they can make a fit with moms returning to the workforce.  The mission of the project is: “helping women remain active in the workforce in every stage in their journey.”

Some of the companies the project works with include: JLL, Sapient Razorfish, Georgia-Pacific, Miller-Coors and more.

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.