Hiring people, Fortnite slips and the coronavirus

BY ZACHARY HORNER, News + Record Staff
Posted 3/6/20

Two weeks ago, I made a reference to the U.S. version of “The Office,” which is far and away my favorite TV show ever. I hope to make more references in the future. Truthfully, “The Office” …

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Hiring people, Fortnite slips and the coronavirus

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Two weeks ago, I made a reference to the U.S. version of “The Office,” which is far and away my favorite TV show ever. I hope to make more references in the future. Truthfully, “The Office” taught me a few things about businesses and how they work prior to ever really learning about business. Among them:

• The importance of customer service for local businesses, especially when you can’t compete price-wise with big box/chain stores

• The meaning of the terms “downsizing” and “human resources”

• And what to do when your boss writes a movie screenplay and you find it while he’s out on a sales call with his boss

That last one is a very specific situation, but it’s important to learn that. Here are this week’s items...

How companies are hiring

Something I’ve noticed perusing business newsletters and news in recent weeks is how companies are hiring workers and how that’s changed.

The Body Shop, a UK-based cosmetics and skin care company, will begin utilizing an “open hiring” policy beginning this summer, according to a report in The Morning Brew e-newsletter. By this summer, the report says, “potential employees at all of The Body Shop’s retail stores will only need to meet three criteria: 1) authorized to work in the U.S. 2) can lift over 50 pounds and 3) can stand for eight hours. Drug tests and background checks will be removed from the application process; jobs will be doled out on a first-come, first-serve basis.”

The Body Shop’s distribution center first tried out the policy last year, and employee turnover dropped from 43 percent in December 2018 to 16 percent in December 2019. The company also said productivity improved.

The News & Observer reported late last month that a large portion of companies in the Research Triangle Park area are becoming more willing to train their own tech workers. There were more than 28,000 job postings in the IT field in December, a 10.8 percent jump from last year according to the N.C. Tech Association.

In 2017, IBM’s RTP location began a 12-month apprenticeship program that, according to the story, has provided coding and cybersecurity instruction to more than 200 employees without advanced degrees and has hired around 90 percent of them. Additionally, one survey found 46 percent of Raleigh-area chief information officers were “willing to be more flexible on skill requirements and provide training to new hires.”

Fortnite bringing in less revenue

I’ve written about Cary-based Epic Games and its flagship offering Fortnite in this column many times. It’s my attempt to keep up with what the kids are doing these days.

And what are they doing? Well, it seems like they might be playing a little less Fortnite. January revenue from the game hit its lowest level since November 2017, according to a report last week. The popular shooter game, launched in 2017, has seen monthly revenue drop below $100 million since last September, but is still the reigning top-grossing online video game of the year.

Business tips re: coronavirus

It seems that everywhere you turn, there’s news about coronavirus, or COVID-19, officially. In response, a task force was created within North Carolina’s state government. Last week, that task force released some tips for businesses to help deal with potential spread:

• Practice good hand hygiene and encourage your employees and patrons to take common-sense precautions to protect themselves from the spread of respiratory illnesses

• Review your policies and procedures for remote or teleworking where possible

• Cross-train employees for key functions so that daily schedules can continue relatively uninterrupted by potential employee absences

• Review absenteeism policies to make sure employees are not being encouraged to come to work if they are sick

• If you have not already, establish a relationship with your local health department and communicate with them if you have any questions or concerns about COVID-19

In this week’s edition of the News + Record, I have a story on the virus and how Chatham County is responding.

Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at zhorner@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.


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