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An American financial giant gets real about student loan debt

(BUSINESS NEWS) There’s no doubt that student loan debt is one of the biggest obstacles the millennial generation faces, but now companies are stepping up to help out.

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Millennial force to be reckoned with

If there’s one thing about Millennial culture taking over the workforce, it’s that personal evolution is wrapped in every aspect of the business model. Because the generation promotes social accountability, progressive employers are stepping up and doing their part.

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They have to. Otherwise, they’ll be left hat in hand, wondering why the best talent is passing them by. And in 2017, with new business ventures popping up at an astounding rate, having the best people is imperative if you want to compete.

Caring culture

Caring about your team has become a priority in the culture of the working world. It’s nice to see companies embrace the idea of a holistic work environment and move away from 17-hour workdays that offer a blurred vision of what benefits could be. Instead, we are seeing progressive employers go above and beyond, and it’s awesome.

One of the more impressive stories popping up in the category of “next level company” has gotta be New York Life.

Despite their status as the biggest insurance provider in America, New York Life is paying it forward with taking employee care to the next level.

They’re going above and beyond the simple notion of “office perk” and offering something incredible: student loan repayment.

Teamwork makes the dream work

Working with Austin’s Student Loan Genius, New York Life has launched a program offering up to $10,200 over five years for eligible employees. They will also provide loan advice and planning tools, pay down plans and contributions toward the life of the debt. This will also count for the children of current employees, too.

Talk about investing back into your people.

This is not a move by New York Life to plan for a “theoretical” future of uncertainty, but instead, they’re working to solve the problems of this moment – the right now. Acknowledging that “right now” is the X-factor in today’s marketplace is a brilliant move because without doing so, companies aren’t addressing the elephant in the room: most of their people owe money to Uncle Sam or Sallie Mae. It’s an inescapable fact of the workplace environment that most of the folks sitting at one of the “good jobs” are likely drowning in loan debt.

Chain reaction

Considering that Bernie Sanders ran an entire campaign on college being too expensive, which one of the main pillars was the insanity of student debt, this move by New York Life works to practically combat the problem and the others it causes.

That $150 per month back into their employees’ pockets covers half the monthly health care cost for the average American.

It’s also enough to buy a $27,000 nicer home, or finance a car.

Taking this whole thing up to an even spicer degree is that New York Life is offering their benefits from the moment new employees sign on the dotted line. No waiting period or anything, because any new employee will tell you, that whole 90-day trial thing is the definition of the suck.

On brand

The student loan repayment move works well with New York Life’s commitment to personal growth and a deeper level of education. One of the cornerstones of the company has been their proactive response to college, taking extracurricular classes, and moving up the corporate ladder.

New York Life has maintained an education assistance program for a long time now, so with the both now balancing out the personal growth category, it’s a bold move to acquire and retain the top talent they are looking for.

Taking care of the people

These moves alongside companies like Atlassian, who offer 100% covered health care for employees and their families, set themselves apart from the pack. Apple has nap rooms, and Facebook has chef-catered, healthy food, Slack gives employees $150 a month for personal wellness, and Lyft gives it’s team free rides anywhere.

These perks are just some of the newest ways businesses are telling their teams they care about their lives and want them to thrive.

Another one of the big perks is centered in the idea of work/life balance is allowing for mothers to take eight weeks off with their new babies, while fathers get six to meet their new kids, too. More and more top-tier companies realize people coming back to work immediately after the birth of a child aren’t focused and fulfilled, and instead, more likely to look for a company with a more progressive family focus.

These are the kinds of perks millennials are after, the one’s that matter.

By adopting a perk like student loan repayment, it puts New York Life in the bigger conversation of companies doing more.

Treating people like people

One of the biggest trends to emerge in the last few years is the idea that treating your employees just as special as customers is critical. New hires want to see core values and how a company executes on them. By working with Student Loan Genius and offsetting some of the costs an employee has in their back pocket, New York Life is going to make waves in the insurance space. A lot of folks will check out their careers page if only to get a glimpse of possibility.

Higher site traffic, higher retention rates, and happier employees. Not a bad tradeoff for helping pay for someone’s undergrad Russian art history class back in 2004. New York Life for the win.

#NewYorkStudentLifeLoanGenius

Robert Dean is a writer at ScaleFactor and The American Genius. He is a writer, journalist, and cynic. His most recent novel, The Red Seven is in stores. Currently, he’s working on his newest novel, Tragedy Wish Me Luck. He also likes ice cream and panda bears. He currently lives in Austin. Stalk him on Twitter.

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Business News

Is insecurity the root of overworking in today’s workforce?

(CAREER) Why are professionals who “made it” in their field still chronically overworked? Why are people still glorifying a lack of sleep in the name of the hustle?!

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So you got that job you wanted after prepping for months, and everything seems cool and good… but you’re working way more hours than scheduled. Skipping lunch, coming in early and staying late, and picking up any project that comes your way. You’re overworked.

Getting the job was supposed to be a mark of success in itself, but now, work is your life and everyone is wondering how you can be working so much if you’re already successful.

In an article for Harvard Business Review, Laura Empson delves into what drives employees to overwork themselves. Empson is a professor of Management of Professional Service firms at the University of London, and has spend the last 25 years researching business practices.

Her recently published book Leading Professionals: Power, Politics and Prima Donnas, focuses on business organizational theory and behavior, based on 500 interviews with senior professionals in the world’s largest organizations.

Over the course of her research, Empson encountered numerous reports of people in white-collar positions pushing themselves to work exhausting hours. Decades ago, those with white-collar jobs in law firms, accountancy firms, and management consultancies worked towards senior management positions to gain partnership.

Once partnership was reached, all the hard work paid off in the form of autonomy and flexibility with scheduling and projects. Now, even entry-level employees are working overextended hours.

An HR director interviewed by Empson noted, “The rest of the firm sees the senior people working these hours and emulates them.” There’s a drive to mirror upper management, even at the cost of health.

Empson’s research indicates insecurity is the root of this behavior. Insecurity about when work is really done, how management will perceive employees, and what counts as hard work. Intangible knowledge work provokes insecurity since there’s rarely ever a way to tell when this work is complete.

Colleagues turn into competitors, and suddenly working outside of your regular hours becomes seen as normal if you want to keep up with the competition. You want to stand out from the crowd, so staying late a few days a week starts to feel normal.

This can turn into a slippery slope, and when being overworked feels like the norm, you may not notice taking on even more extra hours and responsibilities to feel like you’re contributing efficiently to the company.

During her research, Empson found that some recruiters admitted to hiring “insecure overachievers” for their firms.

Insecure overachievers are incredibly ambitious and motivated, but driven by feelings of inadequacy. Financial insecurity and disproportionately tying self-worth to productivity are just a few contributing factors to their self-doubt.

As a result, these kind of people are amazingly self-disciplined, and likely to pursue elite positions with professional organizations. Fear of being exposed as inadequate drives insecure employees to work long hours to prove themselves

Even upper level management is subject to this same insecurity.

Organizational pressures can make even the most established leader overwork themselves.

Empson notes, “Working hard can be rewarding and exhilarating. But consider how you are living. Recognize when you are driving yourself and your staff too hard, and learn how to help yourself and your colleagues to step back from the brink.“

Analyze your organization’s conscious and unconscious messaging about achievement, and make sure you’re setting and enforcing realistic expectations for your team.

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The most common buzzwords (still) used in job descriptions

(BUSINESS) Employers are trying their best to attract really high quality talent, but the buzzwords that continue to plague the process are lame, annoying, and often insulting.

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It’s that time of year again. Year-in-review lists abound and Indeed.com is no exception. The website for employers and potential employees has taken a look back at the year in job descriptions and released its list of the weirdest job titles used in online listings.

They found the usual suspects — yes, sadly rockstar and hero still make the cut — but a few other keywords skyrocketed up the charts in 2018.

Indeed recognized seven top-performing buzzwords in its research: genius, guru, hero, ninja, superhero, rockstar, and wizard. Among these Top 7, some were up over previous years, while others’ popularity seems to be fading.

Employers really loved referencing masked assassins in their descriptions this year, resulting in a 90 percent year-over-year jump for ninja, and a 140 percent increase for the term since Indeed began tracking these stats in 2015.

Wizards and heroes didn’t fare as well. Job titles containing “wizard” were down 17 percent from 2017 and use of the word “hero” was down a whopping 44 percent since last year. Superhero ended the year up over 2017 (19 percent), but is still down by 55 percent since 2015.

So which states are touting these weird (some might say annoying) titles the most? The answers aren’t too surprising. California tops the list for ninja, genius, rockstar, wizard, and guru. Texas, whose capital is Austin, aka Silicon Hills, loves using hero, superhero, guru, rockstar, and ninja. Populous states New York and Florida make the list for using several of the buzzwords — no surprise there. But a few smaller states snuck into the Top 4, including Ohio (No. 1 “superhero” user) and Utah (No. 4 on the “rockstar” and “wizard” lists).

While many companies like to use these so-called creative terms to convey a sense of a hip and cool company culture, does using these “fun” titles actually find the best candidates? According to Indeed, the answer might be “not exactly.” Job seekers aren’t necessarily searching for terms like ninja or guru, so they might not even find the job they would be the perfect fit for. And truth be told, many experienced job seekers are turned off by these weird titles and might not even apply to the job in the first place.

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Half of the jobs Amazon will offer at their new headquarters won’t be tech

(BUSINESS NEWS) As Amazon begins laying solid plans to start hiring, some are upset that half of the new jobs won’t be tech jobs – let’s discuss why.

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As 2019 gears up, one of the biggest tech stories of 2018 will carry into this year, and that’s Amazon HQ. Amazon’s two new headquarters in Crystal City, Virginia and Long Island City, New York have promised about 50,000 new jobs coming in 2019 according to Engadget and the Wall Street Journal.

The catch? Only half of those jobs will be in tech. Some are upset about this, so we’ll explain:

Naturally, a behemoth like Amazon has many moving parts and these two facilities will require different roles to keep the company functioning. An estimated 25,000 jobs will be in support roles like administration, marketing, finance, maintenance, and human resources. For the cities they’ll occupy, this means there will be more than one way to find employment besides tech or IT.

It’s undeniable that Amazon’s $5 billion investment will vastly change these two communities. Employment opportunities can bring growth for residents, however it will depend upon the company’s ability to hire local. Likewise, Amazon’s presence will draw city transplants, a tactic that historically raises property values and living costs (looking at you, Seattle).

Crystal City is expected to see a huge influx in traffic and housing, according to The Washington Post. Although the state has promised to allocate resources into transportation, and Amazon assures a slow growth at first, thousands of workers will need accommodation.

For Long Island City, a community who’s already transforming from industrial yards to a blooming arts neighborhood, we will likely see its gentrification reach new heights. LIC is set to become the digital-lifestyle relative across the river from its cousin, Manhattan.

In any case, residents can hope to take advantage of the varying positions that will need filling in 2019.

However, everyone should brace for change as this corporate beast gradually awakens.

Whatever the new headquarters will bring, we can expect it to be, in typical Amazon fashion, bold and flashy.

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