One of Raul Vargas’ first moves as new CEO of Farmers Group was to reverse the company’s previous approach to working remotely by requiring most employees to be in the office three days a week, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The move has outraged many of the insurance company’s employees who were told a year prior that they would be allowed to work remotely, causing some to make significant lifestyle changes that are now far less plausible or sustainable. Some sold their cars, others expanded home offices or moved their families to new cities, the Journal reported.
Some employees said on the company’s internal social network that they are prepared to quit their jobs and others have called for unionizing.
“I was hired as a remote worker and was promised that was the company culture moving forward,” a worker who specializes in medical claims posted. “This is seemingly a power move that is frankly disgusting.”
Another employee wrote that they had sold their house to move closer to their grandkids and lamented that they had made a huge financial decision based on a lie.
In an email obtained by the Journal, Vargas explained that he believed in the importance of in-office work for “collaboration, creativity and innovation.” The company will have “the opportunity to combine the best of both worlds — all that we’ve gained from flexible and virtual work with all the teamwork and collaboration we get when we work together in the office,” Vargas said.
A Farmers spokeswoman told the Journal the new system will include about 60% of the company’s U.S. workforce of about 22,000 employees. The hybrid work policy won’t go into effect until September, giving employees three months to adjust and make arrangements.
Spotify to Slash 200 Jobs
Spotify announced on Monday that it plans to cut 200 jobs, roughly 2% of its workforce, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The bulk of the cuts will come from the music-streaming company’s podcast division, vice president Sahar Elhabashi told the Journal. Elhabashi, who is head of the podcast business, said Spotify is reorganizing the unit to focus on partnerships with its biggest stars.
The podcast business restructuring follows an earlier round of layoffs at the company, which was announced in January and estimated to be about 600 employees, or 6% of staff, as part of a broader cost-cutting mission post-pandemic.
The Journal noted that Spotify has spent more than $1 billion on podcast deals since 2019 and it’s the top podcast platform by listeners in the U.S., according to Edison research.
Part of the company’s ambitions in podcasting is to make money from its own shows and expand its advertising revenue by selling ads across other networks’ and publishers’ shows, the Journal reported.
Spotify has invested heavily in its ad business, including developing technology to insert ads via streaming — which allows it to more precisely track ad impressions and other data — and creating its own ad marketplace, which allows advertisers to buy spots targeting audiences rather than on specific shows.
Virginia Eliminating Degree Requirements for Most State Jobs
Virginia will no longer require a four-year college degree to attain most state jobs, Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced May 30.
Virginia joins a growing list of states that have enacted similar changes to their hiring requirements, including Alaska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Utah. These states allow for certifications or job experience to be valid qualifications for state jobs.
“On day one we went to work reimagining workforce solutions in government and this key reform will expand opportunities for qualified applicants who are ready to serve Virginians,” Youngkin said in a statement. “Last month, Virginia achieved the highest labor force participation rate in nearly 10 years, demonstrating the Commonwealth’s sustained workforce developments.”
Recent state action mimics a growing trend in the private sector to place less emphasis on degree requirements and reward talent for skills and experience. A 2022 survey from American Student Assistance and Jobs for the Future revealed 81% of employers believe they should focus on skills rather than degrees when hiring.
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