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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 Adia 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

Why the world is looking at HEB as the model for preparedness

(BUSINESS NEWS) HEB didn’t react quickly, they had been planning and putting processes in place for years. Businesses that want to live through hard times need hard plans.

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HEB store front

In the midst of COVID-19, there seems to be a grocer retailer that should be recognized for how they quickly adapted their processes and supply chain as it relates to providing one of the most essential items we all need: groceries.

HEB is a regional grocer with over 400 stores in Texas and Mexico. In January 2020, they were recognized by Business Insider as being one of the best grocery stores in America. Now if you live in Texas for example, you probably have your own reasons why you love HEB (based in San Antonio, TX) but here are some reasons to truly appreciate their leadership, management and partners even more.

They actually have been working on their pandemic and influenza plan since 2005. When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston and surrounding areas extremely hard in 2017, HEB was instrumental in helping the communities to rebuild. They have done an incredible number of things like:

  • Implementing a Director of Emergency Preparedness
  • Offering raises to their store managers and employees (called partners) as a great incentive to keep up their great efforts and work
  • Allowed the partners flexibility in sick leave
  • Worked with supply chains early on identify areas that needed additional attention and how to still manage daily shipments of food and other grocery items
  • Put in signage in stores and setting up lines to help manage the amount of people in stores and the guides for social distancing
  • Adjusted store hours so that there would be ample time to re-stock overnight to meet consumer demands
  • Set limits on some items early on so that more customers would have access to those that they need
  • Continue to monitor the situation and adjust as needed
  • Received praise even from the popular Bren Brown about their Daring Leadership

While we continue to navigate what our day to day looks like, it seems like a great idea to take learnings from who is doing it well and give praise to those that are aiding however they can in this current climate and we are forever grateful for access to groceries, toilet paper and other things – thank you, HEB.

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Business News

34 places to find open remote jobs available now

(BUSINESS NEWS) With everything seeming in flux and uncertainty, there are still companies with open positions who are looking to hire people right now, so jump to it!

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positions for hire

It goes without saying that these are difficult and unusual times. The number of Americans that have filed for unemployment has hit over 6.6 million and many more will be adding to that number in the coming weeks. In March alone, 701,000 jobs were cut by employers in the United States.

A Job Quality Index, developed by Cornell Law School and others, finds that 37 million jobs may be at risk. A

ccording to the study, “The list assumes that the COVID-19 crisis does not ultimately result in widespread, long-term, layoffs of goods-producing workers (i.e. that the crisis will be of modest duration). It focuses on those workers in sectors that are effectively being forced to shut down as a result of social-distancing recommendations or shelter-in-place requirements.”

While everything is changing around us every single day, something that remains a constant is a fact that people need money. Online businesses, delivery services, grocery stores, and the like are busy like they’ve never been before. As a result, a number of companies within these industries are looking to hire people immediately.

We even have our own Facebook Group dedicated to remote work, Remote Digital Jobs.

Check out the list below to see 34 companies or search sites that offer remote jobs currently open:

Aetna
Amazon
AngelList
A Place for Mom
Apple
BMarko Structures
Bellhops Online Service
Collage.com
CVS
Dollar General
Domino’s
DoorDash
GrubHub
Humana
Instacart
Intuit
Kelly Services
Kroger
Lionbridge
LiveOps
Nielsen
Outschool
PagerDuty
Papa John’s
Pizza Hut
PepsiCo
Publix
Redox
Rosetta Stone
UnitedHealth Group
Walgreens
Walmart
Williams-Sonoma
Worldpay
Xerox
Zoom

Additionally, Get Hired via LinkedIn is continuously updating who is currently hiring. According to the description from curator Andrew Seaman, “Companies from industries spanning from technology to retail are hiring to meet increased demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Below is a regularly updated list of companies hiring right now.”

As noted, the list above are all companies and sites offering remote/work-from-home positions. The Get Hired list may include positions that require on-site work.

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Business News

Debunking ridiculous remote work myths (and some serious survival tips)

(BUSINESS) People new to remote work (or sending their teams home) are still nervous and have no concept of what really happens when people work from home. We’ll debunk that.

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With an entire nation (or planet) moving to a remote workforce in the midst of a global pandemic, we’re hearing some pretty wild misunderstandings of what remote work is, and how it functions effectively. Bosses are scrambling to buy up spying tech for some good ol’ hamfisted enforcement.

For those of us who have been remote for ages, it’s fascinating to watch the transition. And also offensive. People tweeting about getting to take naps and not wear pants. That’s not remote work, that’s just you being unsupervised like a child for five minutes, KEVIN.

I was chatting with my buddy Michael Pascuzzi about remote work (full disclosure, he’s a Moderator in our Remote Digital Jobs group) and despite cracking many jokes, we realized there is a lot of noise to cut through.

In the spirit of offering meat for you in these hungry times, Michael offered to put his thoughts on paper. And why should you listen to him? It’s because he has worked for several tech companies, both startups and enterprises including TrackingPoint, 3DR, and H.P. He currently works remotely for Crayon, a Norwegian Digital Transformation, and Cloud Services company. He holds an M.B.A. in Digital Media Management from St. Edward’s University and a B.A. in Art History from the University of Connecticut. He’s also wonderfully weird. And a remote worker.


In his own words below:

So you’re working remotely now. Cool.

At first, it feels.. strange. But, as you get into it, you’ll get comfortable with your routine.

I’m sure you have a preconceived notion of remote workers. You probably thought this type of work was just for Unabombers and nomads. Maybe you don’t think you have a real job any longer because you’re doing it in your Underoos.

While, yes, working from home does allow you the option to work in your underwear, you still probably shouldn’t. There’s a lot to working from home and getting work done. You’re going to get a crash course in the coming weeks. I’m going to give you a leg up on your peers by telling you what you really need to know and what nobody else is telling you about remote work.

The following is a cheat sheet to getting ahead of your peers – and maybe make a case for you to continue in this lifestyle after the pandemic has subsided.

1. Working remotely doesn’t mean playtime

Right now, you’re roughly one week into your new working arrangement. You’ve got your table, your computer, and your whole set up. You’re also taking advantage of:
– The creature comforts of home
– Nobody looking over your shoulder

Irish coffees for breakfast, no pants-wearing, and naps during lunch are all available to you now that you work from home. And let’s not forget about #WhiteClawWednesdays!

These are all terrible ideas.

Here’s why:

If you come to a phone/video meeting drunk, we’ll know. If you’re on a video call with bedhead and a wrinkled shirt, we’ll assume you’re unprofessional. White Claw Wednesdays are probably okay in moderation, but taking a shot every time Karen says something annoying on a conference call is a bad idea!

Working from home should be an enjoyable and comfortable experience, but it shouldn’t be fun. It’s still work; and work sucks.

2. Working remotely should give you a better work/life balance:

Initially, you’ll find it hard for you and for your employer to separate your work hours from your life hours. Staying working only during your work hours is VITAL to keeping your sanity. Microsoft Office 365 has a tool that measures your wellbeing in “My Analytics.” Below is a picture of my wellbeing for this month. It’s not good.

digital accounting of wellbeing

The leadership team and managers at my company stress wellbeing. We take that chart seriously, and failing to have quiet days doesn’t make you look like a hard worker. Hard workers get shit done 8-5.

3. Working remotely also doesn’t mean firing the nanny

Working remotely doesn’t equal additional family time. Your work hours are your work hours. The pandemic quarantine doesn’t leave a whole lot of options for families to coexist without overlapping.

And it’s okay to occasionally have a “coworker.” But, you need to create your own private workspace within the hustle and bustle of homeschooling going on around you.

Here are a few more best practices you won’t read anywhere else:

You’ll need to learn to distance yourself from “work” when no longer at your “office.” This means powering down at the end of the day. Having a work/life balance when you work from home tends to swing in the opposite direction than you probably assumed; work can take over your life.

  • You’re going to have to turn off mobile notifications 100% of the time. It’s a pandemic, you’re not traveling; you don’t need them on – ever.
  • Turn off your computer at the end of the day. It’s good for your computer, and it’s fantastic for your mental health.
  • If your manager needs to reach you or you need to contact a direct report, just follow the wise words of Kim Possible: Call me, beep me if you wanna reach me.
  • You must wear pants. (FYI guys, dark leggings look like real pants and are super comfortable) Get ready for your day as if it were a regular office. Take a shower, shave, comb your hair, eat breakfast in the kitchen, wear jewelry. Look like you give a damn.

  • You must turn on your camera for video calls (and please don’t take your laptop into the bathroom. no field trips). Nonverbal communication accounts for 93% of all communication. We need to see your face, your posture, your eyerolls.
  • All of your calls should be video calls. You’ll find you’ll miss humans if you do not see them daily.
  • Clean the room (or at least directly behind you). We shouldn’t see laundry and quarantine snacks in the background. We absolutely should never HEAR you opening a bag of chips.
  • Close your door. Kitchen, office, bedroom… whatever you’re using needs to be YOUR space. It’s your office. Your clubhouse. Only one Homer allowed.

And for the love of all that isn’t COVID, please wear pants.

More resources:

I’m on a team at Crayon that freely consults on working remotely and cloud technology. This isn’t a sales pitch. If you have questions or need productivity tips, you can always email my team directly at contact.us@crayon.com.

Meanwhile, here are some additional resources to dig into:

  1. 20 tips for working from home
  2. Guide to engaging a distributed workforce
  3. Top 15 tips to effectively manage remote employees
  4. How to make working from home work for you

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