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Read relevant career news and research from Cornell faculty and staff, sorted in chronological order.
Virginia Doellgast, professor of employment relations and dispute resolution at ILR, discusses labor unions' battles against disruptive technology.
People today work substantially less than they did generations ago – not just because they have more money, but because of the virtually unlimited trove of cheap entertainment increasingly at their fingertips, according to new research co-authored by a Cornell economist.
Louis Hyman, professor of industrial and labor relations, discusses the history of mass layoffs in corporate America.
“Workers are angry because the wealth gap has grown so great. They had been suffering, and during Covid, they were suffering acutely,” said Kate Bronfenbrenner, director of labor education research at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
Vicki Bogan offers tips on mentorship, networking, professional attire—and why you shouldn’t stress out too much
“They have some more bargaining power, the labor market is strong, they feel they can use the strike weapon to get gains they think they deserve,” says Alex Colvin, dean of the ILR School.
This piece references research by Virginia Doellgast, professor of employment relations and dispute resolution, on how workers who have tight controls surrounding how they perform their work are more likely to get burned out and find it more difficult to solve problems brought to them by customers.
Matt Marx, professor of personal enterprise and small business management, discusses noncompete agreements.
“Managers often think that knowing more about what workers are doing is useful for making decisions, or eliminating waste, or compelling workers to comply with a firm’s goals,” says Karen Levy, professor of information science.
“The tech sector is just getting back to where they were in 2020 or 2021, which I don’t think is a bad situation. It’s still a huge workforce."
Remote jobs can help workers craft more satisfying lives, with higher psychological well-being and work engagement, but only if that work occurs during regularly contracted hours, according to new ILR School research.
A first-of-its-kind study of parents’ work arrangements during the pandemic shows that mothers working from home increased their supervisory parenting fully two hours more than fathers did, and women were also more likely to adapt their work schedules to new parenting demands.
To support more equitable workplaces, Michelle Duguid investigates hiring practices intended to increase diversity.
Chris Collins, professor in the ILR School, says that a largely remote workplace can lead to weaker social connections among staff, resulting in less understanding of and investment in the institution’s values.
Bradford Bell, professor in strategic human resources, explains, “I think the bigger question is what’s leading to that resentment? I think in some cases, it may be the fact that organizations haven’t been transparent about how these decisions are made. Why are some employees allowed to work from home while others are required to come into the office?”
“Unions are successful when they are building on things that workers are concerned about,” said Alexander Colvin, dean of the Industrial and Labor Relations School.
“We might assume certain requests — a more flexible work schedule, shorter weeks, a sabbatical, or just a long vacation — are non-starters at our current job, and so the only way to really change our situation is to leave it for a completely new one,” says Vanessa Bohns, associate professor in the ILR School.
This piece features a study by Kaitlin Woolley, associate professor of marketing and communications, and Laura Giurge, assistant professor of behavioral science at the London School of Economics and Political Science, finding that people who worked on weekends and holidays enjoyed their work less and experience decreased motivation, even if they chose their schedule themselves.
“It’s the gamification of labor, where the pressure for output is exhilarating because it’s tangible and trackable,” says Lee Humphreys, professor of communication.
According to a new “Labor Action Tracker” report out of the ILR School, 140,000 workers went on strike in 2021.
“High-quality data clearly shows infection decreases when workers have access to sick leave,” says Nicolas Ziebarth, associate professor of policy analysis and management. “It prevents contagious workers from coming to work.”
“Workers have had an amazing threshold for tolerating the abuse that employers have put on them,” says Kate Bronfenbrenner, senior lecturer in the ILR School. “But when that abuse went so far as to risk their lives, that crossed the line; in the context of Covid, where employers were asking them to work harder than ever and employers were making huge profits.”
Sunita Sah, associate professor of management organizations, discusses her new study on a professionalism paradox.
“Be more mindful about the things you agree to,” says Vanessa Bohns, associate professor in the ILR School. “Each time you agree to something, you are necessarily taking time away from something else, so you want to weigh your decision carefully.”
“Feeling powerless to change things any other way, we may jump to the nuclear option of leaving without even bothering to try a more measured approach first,” says social psychologist Vanessa Bohns, associate professor in the ILR School. “In the moment, leaving may feel like the only way to reassert our power over the situation, when in fact there may have been less extreme ways to do so.”
“Millions of workers don't have access to paid sick leave, and we're still in a pandemic,” says Nicolas Ziebarth, associate professor of policy analysis and management.
Dan Alpert, visiting fellow at the Law School, explains that working Americans are taking their time to look for better jobs.
“People feel like they contributed a lot during the depths of the pandemic and now they’re looking for some of the returns when the economy’s doing better and companies are doing better – profits are up, stock prices are up,” says Alex Colvin, dean of the ILR School. “We’re seeing similar effects going on with quit rates going up, people more willing to leave their jobs now and look for something better.”
Vanessa Bohns, associate professor in the ILR School, discusses how to redefine and achieve influence in the workplace.
Vanessa Bohns, associate professor of organizational behavior, and Laura Giurge, postdoctoral research fellow of organizational behavior at London Business School, co-write this opinion piece about the miscommunication surrounding off-hours email response expectations.
“When the government does not ensure that people have access to paid sick leave, people go to work sick,” says study author Nicolas Ziebarth, associate professor at the Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy. “And when you have a virus going on – it could be the flu or coronavirus, it doesn't really matter – then the sick people at work infect coworkers who go on to infect other people.”
“Measured by hourly wages, hourly worker ‘power’ has increased substantially,” says Daniel Alpert, senior fellow in financial macroeconomics at the Law School. “Measured by hours offered to hourly workers in the lower wage sectors such as leisure and hospitality, retail, not so much.”
Diane Burton, academic director of the Institute for Compensation Studies at the ILR School, says that companies’ announcing pay increases for entry-level jobs affects their internal workforces. “The symbolic aspects of wages matter. People want to know how they stack up,” Burton says.
This op-ed from Russell Weaver, quantitative geographer at the IRL school, discusses enhanced unemployment insurance. He writes workers getting these benefits are now in a stronger position to reject exploitative and dehumanizing work.
“Different workers have different needs,” says Ian Greer, senior research associate in the ILR School. “For some of them the real barrier is not money, it is not the low wage, but it is the schedule. For many workers health insurance is a huge need. They will take a lower wage job so their family can have health insurance.”
“The American ethos ties together self-worth, value, and productivity. There’s an element of that in these videos because they remind us that we can always do better,” says Lee Humphreys, professor of communication.
Jamila Michener, associate professor of government and co-director of the Center for Health Equity, discusses employer panic about what appears to be a labor shortage, the role of poverty in the U.S. and more on the Ezra Klein Show.
“Coworkers who eat together tend to perform at a higher level than their peers, yet cafeterias are often undervalued by companies,” says Kevin Kniffin, assistant professor of management.
“The pandemic has brought to the fore a lot of inequality issues that existed before, but now amplify them,” says Vicki Bogan, associate professor of applied economics and management.
Jamila Michener, associate professor of government, discusses the pandemic’s effect on women in the workforce and focuses specifically on how Black and Latina women have been disproportionately affected.
Courtney McCluney, assistant professor of organizational behavior, discusses the harms of code switching in the workplace and the tyranny of culture fit in this podcast.
Alexander Colvin, dean of the ILR School, explains that employers avoid union representation by “shifting investment to nonunion facilities and to parts of the country with low levels of unionization.”
“The idea of having these virtual holiday parties is in part to try to combat some of that isolation that people are feeling,” says Bradford Bell, professor of strategic human resources.
Maria Fitzpatrick, associate professor of policy analysis and management, says, “What happens in retirement is going to be different for different people depending on what they did before retirement and what they do after.”
Francine Blau, professor in the ILR School, says, “These are a subset of essential workers who, given the nature of their jobs, must provide their labor in person. Prioritizing them makes sense given the heightened risk that they face.”
Vanessa Bohns, associate professor of organizational behavior at the ILR School, notes that charismatic people often boost other people and that “People tend to perk up when you talk about them.”
Courtney McCluney, assistant professor at the ILR School, discusses her research on Black women entrepreneurs in Detroit.
“Just putting on [formal] clothes doesn’t matter as much if you’re just as confident when you’re wearing casual clothes and you feel like you can work just as well that way,” says Vanessa Bohns, associate professor of organizational behavior at the ILR School.
“I'm not a privacy absolutist,” says Ifeoma Ajunwa, assistant employment law professor. “But we shouldn't allow pandemics to become pretexts.”
“There may be some women who would like to work outside the home, but as childcare gets more expensive, they are deterred from doing that. We have considerable research evidence of the negative effect of childcare cost on female labor force participation,” says Francine Blau, professor at the ILR School.
Dean of the ILR School Alex Colvin is quoted extensively on which employees will return back to the office first, pointing to seniority as a possible determining factor.
"There's a general norm to be kinder to women, and so it just could be we're used to being kinder to women," says Vivian Zayas, associate professor of psychology, about a paper she recently published with Lily Jampol, PhD. in social psychology.
Based on research released by Nicolas Ziebarth, associate professor of policy analysis and management, and researchers from Temple and the KOF Swiss Institute on mandated sick pay, Ziebarth says the pay “would definitely slow down the spread of the disease, which is crucial in these times.”
Francine Blau, professor in the ILR School, is quoted extensively throughout this piece on the cost of child-care and how various households in the U.S. must approach it.