Discover more from The 21 Hats Morning Report
Is It Time to Try a Four-Day Week?
It’s a benefit that more than two-thirds of employees want but only 17 percent of employers offer.
Here are today’s highlights:
Caveat employer: Quitting can be contagious.
Why fine dining is moving to the suburbs.
Is all the talk about reshoring American manufacturing just talk?
Who’s really to blame for inflation?
Gene Marks makes the small-business case for a four-day work week: “Every small business owner I talk to has the same problem: We can’t find enough people to do the work we need. Well, I have an answer: Perhaps we should be offering a four-day workweek. ‘What? A four-day workweek?’ I’ll often hear when I propose this. ‘I need my people to work more, not less!’ Sure, it sounds a little crazy, particularly for the typical small business owner, who, according to the Small Business Administration is generally over the age of 55. But to those people — many of whom are my clients — I say, keep an open mind. The reality is that a four-day workweek is steadily becoming a workplace reality. And leveraging it could be a huge benefit for a small business owner.”
“Here’s a benefit that more than two-thirds of workers want and yet only 17 percent of employers are offering, according to a recent study from employment recruiter Robert Half. And some studies have shown that these types of working arrangements also increase productivity, effectiveness and morale.”
“The biggest attraction? Unlike most other employee benefits, it doesn’t have to cost us anything. Because in the end, if we’re getting the work we need out of our people then what do we care whether they do it in four days or two days?” READ MORE
As you may have noticed, quitting can be contagious: “When workers weigh whether to jump jobs, they don’t just assess their own pay, benefits, and career development. They look around and take note of how friends feel about the team culture. When one employee leaves, the departure signals to others that it might be time to take stock of their options, what researchers call ‘turnover contagion.’ So quitting begets more quitting, a challenge that employers can’t always solve with raises or perks. Even a single resignation notice can breed a ‘hot spot,’ said Will Felps, who teaches management at the University of New South Wales and was an author of a study of turnover contagion.”
“Mr. Felps and his team studied staffing at a hospitality company and a selection of bank branches, all in the United States, and found that one worker’s decision to leave is especially likely to inspire others who don’t feel strongly embedded at the company.”
“In a recent poll of more than 21,000 LinkedIn members, 59 percent said a colleague’s departure had led them to consider quitting as well.”
“‘When you walk by a restaurant and it’s full of people, it’s a clue this restaurant is pretty good,’ Mr. Felps said. ‘Similarly, when the people you know, like, and respect are leaving a job, you think maybe the grass is greener somewhere else.’”
“‘It’s always really scary to make a decision to leave your job, and it was nice to be able to see other people were doing it,’ Ms. Cheng said. ‘It didn’t feel as lonely, or like I was an outsider.’” READ MORE
This labor shortage may be here to stay: “For new truck drivers in Portland, Oregon, a $30,000 signing bonus. For new recruits in the army, a $50,000 bonus. Route closures for public buses from Texas to North Dakota. An end to automatic daily housekeeping at most Hilton and Marriott hotels. Offers by Amazon and Walmart to cover college tuition for their employees. The thread that runs through all these snapshots—a tiny sample of such stories—is a remarkable imbalance between the need for workers and their availability in America today. The economy has surged beyond its pre-covid-19 level of GDP. Companies in just about every industry, from hospitality to finance, are desperate to hire people to keep up with demand. But the numbers willing to work for them are way down.”
“America has about 3 million fewer workers now than on the eve of the pandemic, a 2 percent contraction in the labor force.”
“For much of the past two years, a fair assumption was that as the pandemic ebbed, people would go back to work in droves. That looks less plausible today.”
“There are about 2 million fewer working-age immigrants than there would have been had pre-Covid trends continued, according to Giovanni Peri and Reem Zaiour of the University of California, Davis.”
“Roughly half would probably have had university degrees, so their absence hurts high-skill and low-skill industries alike.” READ MORE
THE COVID ECONOMY
As more workers call in sick, the U.S. food supply falls under pressure: “In Arizona, one in 10 processing plant and distribution workers at a major produce company were recently out sick. In Massachusetts, employee illnesses have slowed the flow of fish to supermarkets and restaurants. A grocery chain in the U.S. Southeast had to hire temporary workers after roughly one-third of employees at its distribution centers fell ill. Food-industry executives and analysts warn that the situation could persist for weeks or months, even as the current wave of Covid-19 infections eases. Recent virus-related absences among workers have added to continuing supply and transportation disruptions, keeping some foods scarce.”
“At a Piggly Wiggly franchisee in Alabama and Georgia, about one-third of pickers needed to organize products and load trucks at the grocery chain’s distribution centers were out sick in the first week of January, said Keith Milligan, its controller.”
“The company has been struggling to get food to stores on time due to driver shortages and staffing issues that haven’t improved, Mr. Milligan said, leaving Piggly Wiggly to change its ordering and stocking plans daily in some cases.” READ MORE
THE COVID ECONOMY
Economist Mark Zandi dives into the inflation debate:
There’s a lot of talk about reshoring American manufacturing: “Despite reports by advocates about a resurgence in reshoring, skeptics say the nation’s trade deficit set a record last year amid soaring demand for imported goods. The annual reshoring index, compiled by the international consulting firm Kearney to track whether manufacturing jobs are coming back to America from 14 low-cost Asian nations, found that factory work soared in Asia in 2020 to nearly its highest point since 2008. ‘Our latest findings show that the U.S. has not reclaimed manufacturing jobs in any material way,’ Kearney reported last year.”
“There is sometimes a vast difference between the announced claims from business executives about reshoring and what is actually taking place on the ground,’ said Morris Cohen, a professor emeritus at Penn’s Wharton School.”
“‘There’s been a shift in attitudes at companies,’ Cohen said. ‘But talk is cheap. What have they actually done?’” READ MORE
THE 21 HATS PODCAST
Dashboard: Checking in on the State of Small Business: This week, Loren Feldman talks to John Arensmeyer, founder and CEO of Small Business Majority, about what most concerns the businesses in his group and how they view their prospects. Plus: what are most smaller businesses doing now that the Supreme Court has blocked the vax-or-test mandate? Is there a possibility of more funds being allocated to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund? And what are the chances of legislation passing that would curb anti-competitive practices on Big Tech platforms? And is it really the case that these proposals have bipartisan support?
You can find Dashboard in your 21 Hats Podcast feed.
FOOD & BEVERAGE
Fine ding is moving to the suburbs: “Jalea is one of many independent restaurants — including Roots Southern Table in Farmers Branch, Texas; Travail Kitchen and Amusements in Robbinsdale, Minn.; and Noto in St. Peters, Mo. — that are raising the collective aspirations of the local culinary culture and turning suburbs into dining destinations. Some places are offering regional flavors, or creative takes on heritage dishes; others feature a tasting menu or an extensive wine list. They are meeting the tastes of a suburban population that, in part because of the pandemic, is not only growing but also diversifying. The stereotype of the suburbs as homogeneous, white-picket-fence communities is long outdated, and as people move there from cities, they are bringing their appetite for more sophisticated, varied menus.”
“Jalea’s owners, the siblings Mimi and Andrew Cisneros, recognized the risk in choosing this quaint street over a city known for its vibrant restaurant scene. But they saw opportunities in the suburbs that they wouldn’t find in St. Louis.”
“Because St. Charles is a small community, the two believe they can make a bigger impact here. With the lower overhead costs, Mr. Cisneros, 29, said he felt much freer to experiment with flavors.”
“‘St. Charles is not just the white suburbs where we grew up,’ Ms. Cisneros said. ‘It is becoming globalized like everywhere else.’” READ MORE
More renters are forming tenant unions: “Tenant unions, also known as associations, have been around for more than a century. They have been especially active in expensive cities with large renter populations such as San Francisco and New York. Now they are spreading in places like Akron, Ohio; Milwaukee, and the Maryland suburbs. Hundreds of new tenant unions have been formed during the pandemic, estimated Katie Goldstein, director of housing campaigns for the Center for Popular Democracy. The progressive organization with 50 affiliate groups across the country is one of a handful of activist networks advising tenant unions.”
“Landlord trade organizations confirm there has been a sharp rise in new unions, though they noted that many of the groups have only a few members.”
“Most unions are formed at individual properties, though organizers increasingly focus on uniting renters who live in different buildings and share the same landlord, an approach that they say emulates industrial trade unions.” READ MORE
THE 21 HATS CONVERSATION
The Changing Face of the Yarn Industry: In recent years, however, the quiet industry of tiny neighborhood yarn shops scattered across the U.S. has become an unlikely cultural battleground. It’s been divided by charges of racism and cultural appropriation that have erupted in a series of social media firestorms, prompting some owners to close, sell, or rebrand their businesses. In this bonus episode of the 21 Hats Podcast, we meet three women who were not content to stick to their knitting: Adella Colvin, whose business, LolaBean Yarn Co., is a prominent independent dyer based in Grovetown, Ga.; Gaye (GG) Glasspie, a leading yarn industry influencer whose signature color is orange and who is based in Clifton, New Jersey; and Felicia Eve, who owns String Thing Studio in Brooklyn, N.Y., one of the few Black-owned yarn shops in the country.
You can listen to the 21 Hats Podcast wherever you get podcasts.
You can watch a video or read a transcript of the conversation. WATCH HERE
If you see a story that business owners should know about, hit reply and send me the link. If you got something out of this email, you can click the heart symbol, you can click the comment icon below, and you can share it with a friend. Thanks for reading, everyone. — Loren