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Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Keeping up with the Joneses is less of an issue these days.

November 20, 2011
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Recently I considered that our nation’s shaky economic situation has made many of us “neighborly” in that suddenly, we may have more things in common with members of our community. Perhaps this is positive as families come together and neighbors commiserate.

Let’s take a look at the girl next door: Reports about women abound.

What Moms Choose: The Working Mother Report”  by Working Mother Research Institute examines attitudes and priorities of working moms. Five workplace needs were identified to keep women on the job and engaged:

• An established culture of trust;
• Family friendly focus;
• Flexibility, from telecommuting to flextime;
• Ability to use paid sick leave to care for an ill child; and
• Consistent scheduling of work hours.

Working women struggle to earn wages similar to their male counterparts, as evidenced in a GAO report, “Gender Pay Differences: Progress Made, but Women Remain Underrepresented among Low-Wage Workers.”  Reported here, “Women made up an estimated 49% of the overall workforce in 2010, but constituted 59% of the low-wage workforce.”

Lora Kloth
Lora Kloth is a CUNA research librarian.

One last coffee talk with the ladies as we examine “In our Best Interest: Women, Financial Literacy and Credit Card Behavior,” presented by FINRA. Conclusion here: women have more problems with credit cards than men, although financial literacy lessens this difference.

Thus, consider the importance of implementing financial literacy programs at your institution to benefit both men and women.

Across the street, note that “More Young Adults are Living in Their Parents’ Home,” the Census Bureau reports.  Keep Johnny and Mary’s rooms ready; “The percentage of men age 25 to 34 living in the home of their parents rose from 14% in 2005 to 19% in 2011 and from 8% to 10% over the period for women.”

Perhaps contributing to this homeward-bound phenomenon is the fact that “16% of 25-34 year-olds are underemployed” and “two out of three students graduate with student loan debt, at an average of over $24,000” according to “The State of Young America,” a joint publication of Demos and Young Invincibles.

This trend of economically suffering youth is further evident in “The Rising Gap in Economic Well-Being: The Old Prosper Relative to the Young”  where Pew Research observes that “In 2009, household headed by adults ages 65 and older possessed 42% more median net worth…than households headed by their same-aged counterparts had in 1984. During this same period, the wealth of households headed by younger adults moved in the opposite direction. In 2009, households headed by adults younger than 35 had 68% less wealth than households of the same-aged counterparts had in 1984.”

Keeping up with the Joneses is less of an issue these days, as instead, the neighbors together struggle with “Unemployment and Earning Losses: The Long-Term Impacts of The Great Recession on American Workers,” The Hamilton Project notes that unfortunately, workers unemployed during a recession usually have large lifetime income losses as wages drop about 19% or $112,100 over the next quarter century.

This is about double the loss that displaced workers experience in a non-recession job loss.

Brookings lets us know in “The Re-Emergence of Concentrated Poverty: Metropolitan Trends in the 2000s,”  that despite a decline in the 1990s, the population in extreme poverty neighborhoods rose by one-third from 2000 to 2005-09. However, this is still lower than the 14.1% rate of 1990; 10.5% of the poor across the country lived in extreme poverty neighborhoods from 2005-09.

Down the block, grandparents deal with Medicare issues. “Spotlight on…Medicare and Medicaid Prescription Drug Rebates”  by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reveals that “Medicaid recouped 45% of its spending on these drugs in manufacturers rebates , receiving $2.9 billion in rebates for $6.4 billion in expenditures, Medicare Part D sponsors only recouped 19%, or $4.5 billion in rebates for $24 billion in expenditures.”

And, “FTC Study Finds that in FY 2011, Pharmaceutical Industry Continued to Make Numerous Business Deals that Delay Consumers’ Access to Lower-Cost Generic Drugs.”  Generics are instrumental in making medications affordable, and can be up to 90% cheaper than brand names. Some brand-name drug companies have chosen to compensate generic manufacturers to slow market entry of generics by about 17 months.

Finally, in health care, “Moving Ahead Amid Fiscal Challenges: A Look at Medicaid Spending, Coverage and Policy Trends,” the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates Medicaid officials are looking to institute cost-cutting strategies as state spending is to increase 28.7% in FY 2012 to compensate for lost federal dollars.

All things considered, it would seem that many of us in the neighborhood do have a lot in common these days. As Horace said, “Your own safety is at stake when your neighbor’s house is in flames.”

LORA KLOTH is a research librarian in CUNA's business-to-business publishing department.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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