August 30, 2014

In the Internet age, people don’t need to leave their homes in order to access near limitless choices of entertainment. Although convenient for consumers, this cultural shift has sent attendance at many theaters and symphonies across the country on a downward spiral. But it’s not just highbrow pursuits that have seen a drop in public interest. In fact, circuses are in such a dire state that industry insiders fear their decline will lead to a nationwide decline in the number Continue reading

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August 26, 2014

Economists have long argued that a skills gap is growing among the American workforce. Hundreds of businesses both large and small have echoed this sentiment, claiming that there aren’t enough qualified people to perform certain jobs. However, in most cases this line of thinking simply doesn’t add up. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of unemployed people exceeds the number of jobs available in every industry. In durable goods manufacturing, for instance, there are approximately 576,000 idle Continue reading

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July 11, 2014

 

A few years ago, a rash of employee suicides at Foxconn Technology prompted investigations into the working conditions at the Chinese manufacturing giant. As the maker of such in-demand items as the iPad and Hewlett-Packard servers, Foxconn employs tens of thousands of people who work long shifts and live on-site. The monotonous work and the dorm-like living quarters can make for a grey life on the Foxconn campus, leading to depression and worse.

Foxconn responded to this bleak state Continue reading

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diningIn the world of fine dining, the food may be the focus, but the customer is king. That’s certainly the case at New York’s exclusive Eleven Madison Park, where professional servers iron table linens and polish silver before diners arrive. Like any three Michelin-star establishment, they want to ensure that guests will be as comfortable as possible even before they sit down to eat. While this includes primping that is common at other elite eateries, the maître d’ at Continue reading

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For many working Americans, leaving the office in the early evening doesn’t necessarily mean your workday is done. Answering emails and phone calls can stretch one’s workday far past the standard five o’clock threshold. That is, unless you happen to be a consultant working in France. Under a new agreement between labor unions and corporate representatives, more than 250,000 French employees at consulting, computing and polling firms are required to “disconnect” from work once they clock out.

Under the Continue reading

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January 24, 2014

Over the past few decades farming towns across America have seen populations drop as more young people leave their rural homes behind in favor of big cities. However, urban living today doesn’t present as many opportunities as in the past. Not only do cities demand a higher cost of living, but also chances for career advancement can diminish given the large talent pool.

That’s the situation systems manager Wallace Harwood encountered at his job with an energy company in Lexington, Continue reading

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January 19, 2014

Although the American economy is slowly recovering, the job market is not. Low and minimum wage work has driven much of the recovery while mid-level jobs that disappeared during the recession have failed to rematerialize. Confronted with this bleak “new normal,” many people in both the private and public sectors have called for an increase to the federal minimum wage. Advocates for change point to cases like that of Anthony Goytia, who must supplement his salary as a Wal-Mart clerk Continue reading

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November 27, 2013

Recruiting capable and contented employees remains one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today. In fact, hiring represents a $400 billion global industry as companies the world over vet candidates on their education and experience. But according to a new generation of HR upstarts, the traditional methods used to evaluate potential hires are in desperate need of updating. After all, 70 percent of American workers claim they are dissatisfied in their jobs, and as recently as 2007, 3 million people Continue reading

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October 15, 2013

Wal-Mart became the world’s largest retailer by keeping margins low on everything, including employee compensation. For the Florida-based grocer Publix, however, keeping staff motivated through strong financial incentives is a recipe for success rather than instability. Publix’s net margins of 5.6 percent trounce Wal-Mart’s 3.8 percent, making it the most profitable grocery chain in the nation. With $27.5 billion in sales, it’s also the largest employee-owned company in America. Staffers control 80 percent of the company thanks to a policy Continue reading

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October 11, 2013

The hierarchical structure of modern corporate offices can be traced back to 19th century railroad companies. With vast networks of track stretched across the country, transportation magnates needed to designate clear lines of communication among their far-flung operations. A system of middle managers and regional executives eventually rose to prominence and ensured that things ran smoothly. Over the course of the 20th century, businesses of all stripes adopted this top-down structure as their own, eventually leading to the Continue reading

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