HR Buzz: March Madness, Taxes and Mobility, Disappointing HiPos

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By Martin Berman-Gorvine

What you need to know this week about workplace trends, surveys, and reports.

Women Are From Venus, Men From March Madness

College basketball playoff season is bringing out a basic gender difference in American workplaces: men are much more enthusiastic about focusing on sports at work.

Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of male workers said they love following sports on the job and bonding with colleagues over their shared passion, compared with only 26 percent of women, according to a survey of 1,011 U.S. employees conducted by Menlo Park, Calif.-based staffing firm OfficeTeam. A further 23 percent of men, but 44 percent of women, are only willing to tolerate the sports talk, while just 13 percent of men, but three in 10 women, would rather focus on work.

Gender Gaps in Views on Celebrating Sports Events Like “March Madness” at Work

The young are also bigger sports enthusiasts than their more seasoned colleagues, with 55 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds and 46 percent of 35- to 54-year-olds, but only 25 percent of those 55 and older loving sports talk at the office. Overall, employees spend (or waste, depending on your point of view) six hours of work time on average following March Madness, OfficeTeam said.

New Tax Law Effects Written Off?

The new federal tax law isn’t turning most employers (but maybe some employees) into stick-in-the-muds.

Almost nine in 10 employers (89 percent) expect the amount of employee relocation they do to stay the same or even increase in the coming year, despite the new law making it harder for the companies to write off certain associated expenses. That’s according to a survey of 211 employers by workforce mobility management company Weichert Workforce Mobility, based in Morris Plains, N.J.

However, the provision of the new law that limits individuals to a $10,000 deduction of state and local taxes could have an impact on some employees’ willingness to relocate to high-tax states such as California, an article by the Society for Human Resource Management suggests. Especially for higher earners, the costs can be significant, and if employers want workers to move to high-tax states and localities, they may have to offer significant incentives.

Not Living Up to Your Potential?

High-potential employees should perhaps be looking over their shoulder, or at least monitoring their own performance more carefully, lest their managers grow frustrated with them.

Seven in 10 managers are considering firing a “high-potential” who isn’t living up to his or her billing, and 88 percent of managers say they have at least one high potential who’s a disappointment, according to a survey by leadership training company VitalSmarts. The survey of 681 managers and 346 employees was done in mid-January among a group of international but primarily North American, respondents. The company is based in Provo, Utah.

To avoid these kinds of problems, “managers should be really clear when they give an assignment to a high-potential, to state where it falls in priority compared with other projects,” Justin Hale, master trainer and trainer support manager at VitalSmarts, told Bloomberg Law. “Do priority reviews regularly of their projects.”

Student Debtors Yearn for Employer Help

An excellent recruitment and retention tool is at hand for employers that are willing to help young workers burdened with massive student debt.

More than seven in 10 (71.4 percent) student debtors consider benefits covering their loans to be an important or very important factor when pondering job offers, a survey commissioned by student loan consolidation and refinancing service LendEDU and online lender Laurel Road found.

More than half (53.1 percent) would stay in a job they disliked if it was helping them pay off their student debt, and 58.4 percent would take a loan repayment benefit instead of additional vacation days. The survey was done Feb. 8-9 among 1,000 student borrowers who graduated between 2012 and 2017.

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