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More holiday shifts for Los Angeles employees than in other cities

Santa
Employees in Los Angeles aren’t much for holiday spirit: 69% of them plan to work voluntarily on Christmas and/or New Year this year.

That’s more than any other major city, according to a new survey of 2,000 people conducted by workplace accommodation company Regus. Philadelphia is a close second, with 68.8% of employees planning to put in time on the holidays, followed by Dallas-Fort Worth and Chicago.

Only 58% of New Yorkers intend to toil for their bosses over the period. Nearly 60% of Angelenos not only will work but also commute to the office to do so.

Employees in smaller businesses are also more likely to have holiday shifts. Compared with 59% of people at mid-sized companies and 49% of those at large firms, 68% of workers at companies with fewer than 50 people on staff will be doing their jobs on Christmas and New Year.

Not that all of them expect to be productive. In Southern California, 36% of holiday staff say they aren’t likely to get much actual work done.

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-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Santa works hard by directing traffic. Credit: Francis R. Malasig / EPA

Muted company holiday parties, low-cost personal shindigs for 2011

Spirits high at low-cost holiday parties


Company parties are still trying to pull themselves out of the recession doldrums, but personal, private parties are having an easier time picking up.

Champagne and sparkling wine purveyor Korbel said it expects to ship more than 16 million bottles around the holidays, up 5% from 2009. Hosts are inviting more guests — 36 on average this year compared with 33 last year, according to Evite.

Sherman Oaks social media strategist Nick Walsh, 26, is nearing fete fatigue with at least five holiday parties this month.

There was the white elephant bash, where he was given a guido survival kit complete with pasta, tanning oil and Axe body spray. There’s an upcoming ugly sweater party and a party bus event. His office is hosting one shindig. One weekend, he had so many parties lined up that he began mixing up dates and locations.

With more events than ever to go to this year, Walsh has started strategically mapping them out so that he doesn’t double up on seeing the same people.

“I’m a really big Christmas guy in general, but I’ve had my fill,” he said. “I’m constantly declining Facebook invites now because I’ve had so many. Everybody has a Christmas party these days.”

But many of the festivities are decidedly low-rent. Participants in white elephant parties have been getting low-budget (or no-budget) gifts such as used ashtrays, wilted carrots and broken umbrellas, according to a survey from the Creative Group.

Sales at the online Ugly Sweater Shoppe, which sells the unattractive duds for tongue-in-cheek winter bashes, are on track to double sales from last year. Pullovers featuring Santas, snowmen or Christmas trees -– including one called the Rockafeller -– are set to be bestsellers, owners said.

UglyChristmasSweaterParty.com launched out of a loft in 2009 with $35,000 in sales before moving to a basement in 2010 and raking in $70,000. This year the company has moved into a warehouse and is expecting more than a quarter of a million dollars in revenue.

“The flashier they are, the quicker they sell off the shelves,” co-owner Adam Paulson said. “A lot of people are still on a budget, so instead of having a black-tie event, they’re using sweaters to have a good time on the cheap.”

Of course, all is not dark and dreary for corporate shindigs. Conde Nast, publisher of Vogue, the New Yorker and other tony magazines, is returning its holiday luncheon to the upscale Four Seasons hotel in New York this year after canceling it in 2008 and then briefly reviving it as a muted cocktail hour.

Party planners are setting up events at bowling alleys, at the Getty Center, on Newport Beach boats and even at the Metodo Rossano Ferretti hair salon and spa in Beverly Hills.

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-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Production assistants Byron Escobar, left, and Eddy Robles load a sleigh onto a truck for a holiday party at Bob Gail Special Events in Los Angeles on Dec. 8. Credit: Christina House / For The Times

LGBT employees welcome at big banks and law firms, report says

Rainbow flag

The corporate world -- especially at law firms and big banks –- is a much better place for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees than it was a decade ago, according to a new report from LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign.

When the Corporate Equality Index was first calculated in 2002 to check major American companies for policies mandating equal treatment of workers regardless of sexual orientation, just 13 businesses of 319 had a perfect score. This year, with even more criteria, 190 companies out of 636 participants landed a 100% rating.

That included 55 law firms and 22 banks and financial services such as Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co.

Consulting companies did well, as did retailers and those in the food-beverage-grocery sector. Other companies with 100% ratings included AT&T Inc. and Ford Motor Co.

Transportation and travel businesses had few perfect scorers. Oil and gas companies, as well as mining and metal firms, also did not have many scorers at the top. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. had a 60% rating, as did General Electric Co. Exxon Mobil Corp. scored a -25%.

The majority of participants scored above 80%, with many more firms now offering nondiscrimination policies that included both "sexual orientation" and "gender identity," medical benefits that don’t distinguish between spouses and partners, and healthcare that factors in transgender needs.

Human Rights Campaign invited publicly traded companies from the Fortune 1000 list as well as firms in the top 200 of American Lawyer magazine’s rankings. Any private employer with at least 500 full-time U.S. employees could also ask to be included.

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-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo credit: Felipe Dana / Associated Press

Ask Laz: Can your boss put your vacation requests on hold? [Video]

OK, worker bee, an island getaway is calling your name, but your boss won't let you answer. Is that kosher? 

KTLA viewer Veronica is asking. Her mom works for a hotel in downtown Los Angeles. When she puts in for time off, hotel management tells her whether she can get the break depends on how many guests they have at the time.   

She wants to know whether they can legally do that.

Laz's reply? Well, that depends.

Click the video to find out more. 

 

 

 

You can catch David Lazarus on KTLA-TV Channel 5 weekday mornings and during the 1 p.m. newscast. 

If you have a question, write or send a video to asklaz@ktla.com. You might just get the answer on KTLA. 

 

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Women a century away from breaking California glass ceiling, study says

Most companies plan on having holiday parties: report 

60% of workplaces surveyed block online shopping at the office

 

 

-- Michelle Maltais

 

Women a century away from breaking California glass ceiling, study says

Meg whitman
Women business executives in California hoping to reach parity with their male counterparts may have to wait awhile -– say, a century, according to UC Davis.

Women are a long way from cracking the state’s glass ceiling, since the percentage of female leaders at the 400 largest public companies headquartered in California –- which together represent nearly $3 trillion in shareholder value -- is growing just 0.2% a year, according to a new report.

Less than 10% of executives -– defined as the five highest-paid jobs at a company along with board members -– are women. As of June, there were no women in power at more than a third of California corporate behemoths, including companies such as Adobe Systems Inc. and Skechers USA Inc.

No company had only women on its board or management team. Only 13 had a woman chief executive, down from 16 last year, though the number of women chief financial officers jumped 28.6% to 45.

Orange County had the lowest percentage of women top honchos of any county in California, followed by Santa Clara County. Promotion of women didn’t seem to be a priority for semiconductor and software companies

San Francisco and San Mateo counties -– as well as the retail and wholesale industries -- ranked highest.

Bebe Stores Inc. had the best gender balance, with women claiming 40% of high-ranking spots in the company. Wet Seal Inc. improved dramatically, with a woman chief executive and women holding 36.4% of major roles, compared with last year, when just one executive post was occupied by a woman.

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-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Meg Whitman, current chief executive of Hewlett-Packard and former chief executive of EBay. Credit: Jose Luis Villegas / Reuters

Most companies plan on having holiday parties: report

A majority of companies plan to hold holiday parties this year, according to a report by Challenger, Gray & Christmas
The party must go on.

Despite a still-weak economy, a majority of companies still plan to hold holiday parties this year, according to an annual report released Tuesday by Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Nearly 68% of businesses reported that they plan to throw a year-end bash in the coming weeks, down from the pre-recession period of 2007, when about 90% of companies surveyed had such plans.

The economy's slow pace has left some companies with little reason to celebrate. Some businesses have put off hiring, equipment upgrades and other big expenditure to stay afloat. Yet many refuse to abandon the holiday party, said John A. Challenger, chief executive of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

"For many employers, the holiday party is a way to demonstrate appreciation for employees' hard work throughout the year,"  he said. "Others see the parties as a relatively low-cost morale builder.  For smaller companies, the holiday party is simply an extension of a more family-like relationship that often exists between these employers and their employees."

Some companies have engaged in cost-saving measures. Sixty percent of those surveyed said they will cut down on the guest list by limiting attendance to employees only.

Still, almost half of the companies surveyed said they plan to offer alcohol at their holiday event. 

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Photo: Mindy Weiss of Mindy Weiss Party Consultants poses with "Santa and Mrs. Claus" at a holiday party for Ryan Seacrest's company. Credit: Curtis Dahl Photography

60% of workplaces surveyed block online shopping at the office

Amazon
Hoping to slip in some shopping at work? Companies are making it harder for workers to buy online while on the job, according to a new report from research firm Robert Half Technology.

Six in 10 of the chief information officers in the survey say their companies block access to online shopping sites such as Amazon.com. That’s up from 48% last year.

As a result, according to the research firm, more employees are turning to mobile devices such as smartphones to surreptitiously shop at their desk.

Roughly a quarter of workplaces allow some shopping but keep track of online activity to prevent excessive use. Only 13% of offices let their employees browse Internet retailers as much as they like.

Those companies say they expect workers to spend four hours a week surfing the Web for holiday deals. Those employees may turn out to be the most productive, according to a report this summer about wasting time online.

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Photo: A box from Amazon.com. Credit: Rick Wilking / Reuters

Workers win record number of bias cases in 2011, EEOC reports

Gavel
More workers than ever sought help against office discrimination from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission this year, the agency said this week.

More than 99,947 charges were filed in 2011 alleging unfair workplace practices based on race, sex, age, religion, disability and even family medical history, according to the EEOC’s annual performance report

That’s the highest number since the commission was launched through the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The agency also won a record amount of monetary relief –- nearly $365 million -– for employees.

Over a year in which national unemployment remained stuck at around 9%, many workers are working longer hours for less pay, with older employees expecting to delay retirement.

The EEOC resolved 112,499 cases through a mix of investigations, conciliations, mediations and litigation, more than last year.

The agency won $3 million for 290 former 3M employees who had accused the company of denying leadership training to and laying off hundreds of workers over age 45. About 800 Verizon employees won a $20-million fund after challenging the company over claims that it disciplined or fired employees with disabilities.

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Photo: Paul Taggart / Bloomberg

WeWork to open shared offices for entrepreneurs in Hollywood

 

We_work_Fifth AvenuWeWork, a shared-office service for budding entrepreneurs, has agreed to open its first Southern California outpost, in Hollywood.

The New York company leased 35,681 square feet, almost half the space in the former Stephen J. Cannell building at 7083 Hollywood Blvd., in a deal valued at $15 million.

WeWork plans to open offices for 350 to 400 entrepreneurs and small-business freelancers by mid-February, co-founder Adam Neumann said. Tenants will be screened by WeWork to ensure a wide range of business specialties. They will be encouraged to do business with one another.

“What we are creating is a networking community,” Neumann said. “We are the world’s first physical social network.”

The Los Angeles office will be WeWork’s sixth, joining a recently opened outpost in San Francisco and four in New York. The offices are an updated version of executive suites, Neumann said, in which tenants share workstations and such amenities as kitchens, conference rooms, coffee bars, private phone booths, a meditation room and an Xbox gaming lounge.

Building managers observe tenants’ business skills and make introductions and recommendations for work with other tenants, he said.

“If you are a member of the WeWork community, we can get your lawyer, accounting services, PR, IT person and brander all for less than $10,000,” Neumann said.

In other cities, WeWork offices are in historic-looking buildings that predate World War II. The Los Angeles offices will be in a six-story mirrored glass structure near La Brea Avenue that was completed in 1985 and is owned by CIM Group, Hollywood’s largest commercial landlord.

“Los Angeles was a little bit of an enigma,” Neumann said. “It’s not easy to understand where the right location is, not like New York,” where offices are in fashionable neighborhoods, including SoHo and the Meatpacking district.

Hollywood, he decided, is up and coming and had the added blessing of his wife, actress Rebekah Paltrow. The cousin of Gwyneth Paltrow “lived in Los Angeles for a few years, and from her experience this was the right place,” he said.

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Photo: Inside a WeWork shared office in New York. Credit: WeWork

 

 

24 Hour Fitness faces sexual harassment lawsuit

24

A male employee has sued 24 Hour Fitness USA Inc., saying his female boss got a little too friendly with him at one of the fitness company’s clubs in Sherman Oaks.

Jonathan Prince says the club's manager invited him out for drinks, asked him to accompany her to Las Vegas and sent him unwanted, suggestive text messages for one month this summer.

In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Prince said he told his boss to “cease her behavior and refused her advances.” Prince said his boss retaliated by falsely criticizing his work performance, diminishing his chances for bonuses and promotion. 
 
Prince said he “suffered and continues to suffer embarrassment, humiliation, emotional distress, mental anguish and severe shock to his nervous system.”

Officials with 24 Fitness declined to discuss the allegations.

“As a matter of practice, we do not comment on pending litigation. Our focus remains on making fitness accessible and affordable to people of all ages,” the company said in a statement.

The lawsuit seeks financial compensation “in excess of $50,000.”

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twitter.com/spfeifer22

Credit: People at 24 Hour Fitness in Irvine work out during presidential debates in 2008. Credit: Christine Cotter / Los Angeles Times

Unhealthy, overweight Americans cost $153 billion in lost work

Obesity
Full-time workers in the U.S. who are overweight or obese and have chronic health problems such as high blood pressure or asthma cause $153 billion in lost productivity each year, according to a new Gallup poll.

That’s nearly four times the amount reported in Britain, according to the report, which found that such Americans have 450 million more days of of absenteeism than their healthy colleagues.

More than 68% of all U.S. workers, regardless of weight, have at least one chronic condition such as diabetes or depression, according to Gallup. Healthy Americans of normal weight make up less than 14% of the population and take about four sick days a year.

The rest of the 109,875 workers surveyed from Jan. 2 to Oct. 2 were overweight, obese and/or suffering from an ongoing health issue.

About 18% of U.S. workers are overweight or obese and saddled with three or more health conditions -- costing $81 billion in lost work over the 42 sick days each takes on average every year, according to Gallup.

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 -- Tiffany Hsu

Photo credit: Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times

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