5 Biggest News Stories of the Week: August 25

EAs the saying goes, the news never stops. In this weekly news roundup, we’ll cover the top news stories impacting American workplaces and communities.   

1. U.S. Employee Engagement Rebounds With Concerns Over Remote Worker Disconnect

In the changing world of hybrid and remote work, U.S. employee engagement has improved. However, remote workers’ connection to their organization’s mission and purpose is at an all-time low.   

Gallup research found that employee engagement in mid-2023 is at 34%, a slight increase from 2022. Actively disengaged employees decreased from 18% in 2022 to 16% in mid-2023, resulting in a 2.1-to-1 engaged to actively disengaged ratio.   

While on-site employees are less engaged, they have improved the most since 2022. The mission and purpose connection has eroded, particularly for exclusively remote employees.

2. Appeals Court Ruling Eases Pursuit of Bias Claims in Workplace

A recent court decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has made it easier for workers to sue their employers for bias.  

This decision changes a rule that has been in place for 27 years, which allows people to sue for employment discrimination unless they have experienced a specific type of employment decision. These decisions include hiring, firing, leave, promotions or pay. Bloomberg said experts think this choice will change the law and make more workers test its limits.  

3. Indeed Data: Decline in Posted Wages Signals Potential Relief for Inflation Concerns

The latest data from the Indeed Wage Tracker reveals that posted wages grew at a 4.7% annual rate in July, down from 5.8% in April and 8% in the previous July.   

Indeed says wages may return to their pre-pandemic growth rate, possibly between October and December, if the current slowdown persists. With inflation moderating and unemployment staying low, the Federal Reserve could be encouraged by the simultaneous slowdown in posted wages.  

Indeed adds that the recent trend in inflation suggests that concerns about a “wage-price” spiral should ease, as resilient labor market conditions contribute to diminishing wage growth.  

4. Toyota and Roots & Shoots Partner to Empower Youth in Sustainability Projects

Toyota North America (No. 4 on the Fair360, formerly DiversityInc 2023 Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) is partnering with Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots program, supporting youth engagement in sustainability projects near Toyota’s manufacturing plants.  

Employees of the company and local communities are supporting youth community service projects that aim to protect wildlife habitats. The company’s commitment includes a $100,000 grant. This initiative aligns with Toyota’s Environmental Challenge 2050 and emphasizes a commitment to sustainability.  

5. Florida Law Banning Mandatory Fairness Training Faces Appeals Court Scrutiny

A U.S. appeals court panel heard oral arguments on whether a Florida law banning mandatory workplace fairness training promoting certain progressive concepts violates employers’ free speech rights. The state appealed a judge’s ruling that blocked the law pending a lawsuit by two small businesses and a consultant.   

According to Reuters, the 2022 “Stop the Wrong to Our Kids and Employees Act” restricts training that promotes eight specific ideas. Supporters argue it protects “individual freedoms” and curbs discrimination, while critics claim it stifles speech. The court grappled with whether the law regulates conduct or speech and its constitutionality.