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Showing posts from 2010

Top Ten Workplace Events Of the ‘00s

I’m thinking the same thing I think every New Year’s Eve: Where the hell is my flying car?

The television shows of my youth promised me a flying car by now. Haven’t the movers and shakers in Detroit and Washington D.C. ever watched The Jetsons? Back To the Future? Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? Harry Potter? If a flying car is out of the question, I’ll take a cool jetpack, because it would be so awesome to land in front of my local grocery store with reusable grocery bag in hand. Then again, D.C. drivers are bad enough on the ground that I’m not sure I’d want to see them in the air.

I hope your holidays have been everything you want them to be. I’ve been puttering around town and pondering a year-end “top ten” list that looks back on some formative workplace events of the past decade. Accountants ad, lawyers litigate, plumbers plumb, and journalists create wildly inaccurate top ten lists. It’s what we do, especially at the end of the year when nothing is happening and we don’t feel like think…

Frustrated Workers Hit Any Key, Literally

I was waiting in line at a store to buy an iPod Touch as a Christmas gift. (Shh, don't tell.) Finally, it was my turn at the top of the line.

"I'm wondering if you have the 9 megabyte iPod Touch in stock?" The young sales clerk stared at me as if I were speaking Aramaic. "Um...we only have...the 8 gigabyte iPod Touch?" I'm old enough to know that ending a factual statement as a question is the polite way of pointing out someone's idiocy. "Oh, yes," I said, "that's what I meant to say. Sorry." Apparently, gigabytes always come in even numbers as well. Who knew?

I shared this story with my spouse, who was born and raised in the Silicon Valley and probably used computers in utero. The kind of guy who delights in discussing the soul of any given machine while my mind leaves for vacation in the Caribbean. He burst out laughing at my story, but he wasn't surprised. He's lived with me long enough to know what a technology ill…

Tea Drinkers Waste More Time At Work

Is tea the drink of choice for some of your employees? Well, be aware that they might be straining company productivity levels along with that tea bag.

A new T6 survey finds the average tea-drinking British worker spends nearly a half an hour (24 minutes, to be exact) making tea every day. In terms of lost productivity, it adds up to 400 Pounds in lost work hours every year, and 190 days in lost work time over the span of a career.

T6 bases its findings on a survey of 1,000 British office workers.

Of course, coffee is king on this side of the pond: The United States ranks a lowly 13th in world tea consumption, and CareerBuilder reports 37% of American workers drink two or more cups of coffee every day at work. CareerBuilder also finds American workers are more likely to buy themselves a cup of coffee as a reward for a job well done.

We Americans tend to relate to tea like we relate to soccer: The rest of the world is obsessed with it, but it's just not our thing. World Cup? Cup of te…

Monday Workplace News Round-up

Happy Monday! Are you done with your Christmas shopping? I have yet to find something for the hardest-to-buy-for person on my list (there's always one, isn't there?). Wish me luck. Here's your Monday workplace news round-up:

A new study finds U.S. pediatricians can't do their jobs unless they're near a Starbucks and an IKEA.

Temporary work is where the action is.

Workers in California's Napa Valley could probably use a glass of wine after soaking in these numbers.

Canadian Mounties are suffering from PTSD.

Canadian researchers, meanwhile, plan a big survey on Gen Xers in the workplace.

Male business travelers love a good status update.

Heading to the post office today? Get ready to wait...and wait.

This Indian article entitled "Three Top Tips To Get a Job In the USA" suggests telling employers what they want to hear and acting like you care.

Come on, Congress: Pass the 9/11 responders health care bill already. We owe it to them, so stop dragging your feet, oka…

LinkedIn Groups: Useful Or Just Plain Stupid?

I've joined a few LinkedIn writing groups over the last few years. It's been a way to keep up on trends affecting my debatable career choice, and to gain a few random insights into the writing business.

The number of groups and threads on LinkedIn has exploded during the Great Recession as the unemployed and under-worked have a lot more time on their hands. Why not cruise over to LinkedIn and post a question, or maybe participate in a discussion thread? If we've got the time, LinkedIn's got the boards.

To be honest, however, I don't visit LinkedIn very much anymore. If I log on, it's to accept someone's invitation to connect, or to poke around a few groups for five minutes until I have to go somewhere. I've participated in a handful of group discussions when the question hit home and I thought I had something useful to contribute, but mostly I read the comments posted by other people.

After a few days of following a LinkedIn discussion thread, however, I g…

Wednesday Warblings: So You Want To Go To Law School?

Have you seen any of the "so you want to be a...?" career videos on Xtranormal? They are absolutely hilarious. I dedicate this one to all my Gen X friends who went to law school.

Update: Here's the "so you want to be a journalist" clip, which is also hilarious and very spot-on. It pretty much sums up every conversation I've had with Journalism majors in recent years.

Is Hiring Smart Applicants A Dumb Move?

A new study says that employers should be taking their chances on overqualified job candidates.

The researchers conclude that certain myths about overqualified job applicants -- namely, that they'll get bored and quit too soon after being hired -- just aren't true in many cases. In fact, overqualified applicants tend to work out well for companies, the researchers say, and at the very least they should get a chance to interview:

"A manager trying to fill a job that demands less-than-top-level smarts should never reject a candidate out of hand just because the applicant's score on the company's intelligence tests labels him or her as smarter than the job requires," said [USC Professor Anthony] Nyberg, an assistant professor of management and an expert in strategic human resources. "If anything, our research suggests that such a candidate could be expected to stay longer and perform better than an applicant whose scores make him supposedly a better fit."…

Monday Workplace News Round-up

Happy Monday morning! Here are some headlines catching my eye today:

The mancession is graying around the edges.

Hiring is up 12% in India, though.

The school science fair is going the way of the dodo thanks to the Great Recession.

Meanwhile, a team of grown-up scientists just created bacteria that can be programmed like a computer. Will they give us the blue screen of death?

A new study finds each generation has its own version of the "American Dream."

Australia's unemployment hovers around 5% but Australian consumers aren't spending their money.

Canada's privacy commissioner is keeping Silicon Valley companies on their toes.

Our neighbors to the north have also decided to accept more students from India.

Coffee and doughnuts make us smarter, just don't look at our expanding waistlines.

Managers think Gen Y lacks professionalism.

Fortunewonders what happens when the jobless give up. Well, they stop their magazine subscriptions, for starters.

Get ready for co-workers sel…

OMG, Is Sen. Bernie Sanders Filibustering?

Is this history in the making?

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) has been speaking continuously on the Senate floor for almost five hours in opposition to President Obama's tax proposal and he shows no signs of stopping. At the moment, he's reading passages from a book and it's starting to give me serious flashbacks to Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.

How long will he keep going? Does the filibuster live?

C-SPAN is carrying it live. You can also watch the live stream here.

Friday Funnies: Comedic Gold

I'm wondering if this letter is legit, but the way it's written is too funny to quit. Hammertime!

Children Of Divorce Pay More For College

Children of divorced or remarried parents are likely to pay a higher percentage of their own college costs.

It's the conclusion of a new study published in the Journal Of Family Issues. Here's the breakdown:

Children of married parents pay about 23% of their college expenses.

Children of remarried parents pay about 47% of their college expenses.

Children of divorced but not remarried parents pay about 58% of their college expenses.

So the worst-case scenario for incoming college students is having divorced parents who haven't walked down the aisle a second time. Children of married parents, meanwhile, are the least likely to pay their own way through college. No one said life is fair.

Not only are children of divorce more likely to pay their own way through college, they'll also pay a price when it's time to enter the job market. That's because children of divorce are less likely to complete their college degrees, which in turn directly impacts the types of jobs that…

The Top Ten Most Depressing Careers

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Is your chosen career field making you depressed?

Health magazine has just released its list of the Top Ten Most Depressing Professions -- that is, the ten careers with the highest rates of depression.

Is your job on the list? Click here to find out.

Ikea Gives U.S. Workers Bikes For Christmas, But Is It A Good Investment?

If you've been to IKEA lately, you know that the company has ditched plastic shopping bags as a part of the company's overall green initiative.

In keeping with the greening of its company-wide operations, this week IKEA presented the company's 12,000+ U.S. employees with bicycles for Christmas. According to this story:

All 12,400 workers at IKEA stores nationwide were presented with their bicycles simultaneously at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, just before opening the stores at 10 a.m.

Shivering in the cold, 72 workers at the Bolingbrook store huddled near the back of a large white trailer at the far end of the parking lot just before 9:30 a.m.

“Thank you for coming out in the freezing cold for your holiday gift,” said Christopher Garcia, 28, regional public relations and marketing manager.

“We worked really hard this year and our gift reflects the values that we hold dear as a company,” he said before raising the door on the trailer to reveal the bikes.
In Scandinavia, bicycles are a po…

Shh! Companies Spying On Sick Workers

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From the "you knew it was going to happen" files: Companies are hiring detectives to spy on employees who take sick days. Their concerns are not entirely unfounded, since a recent survey found 57% of salaried employees are taking sick days when they're not sick.

All together now: Buuueeeeeler, Buuuuuueeeler....

Shoppers Prefer Smartphones To Store Employees

A new Accenture study finds shoppers prefer to interact with their smart phones rather than with retail employees.

According to Accenture, 73% of shoppers who have questions are reaching first for their smartphones, compared with 15% of shoppers who would rather speak with a store employee.

Also, 71% of shoppers prefer their smartphones for locating local stores with items in stock, compared with 17% of shoppers would rather get the information by speaking with an employee. Ouch.

In some ways, the "I'm just browsing, but thanks" trend makes a lot of sense. Dealing with retail employees can be hit or miss, even on a good day. Some retail employees are very friendly and helpful but many others are...not. So it isn't surprising that consumers are reaching for their smartphones instead of seeking help from the nearest retail sales clerk. Here's what an Accenture spokeswoman had to say:

“Smartphones will permanently change the relationship between the store and the shop…

Monday Workplace News Round-up

Good morning. Here are some headlines catching my eye today:

Should employees be able to file class action discrimination lawsuits? The U.S. Supreme Court will decide.

2010 will go down as one of the worst years in U.S. history for bank failures.

Greece is setting up an electronic system to monitor compensation of government employees.

Bedbugs have dreams of making it big in Hollywood.

U.S. News And World Report says public relations will be one of the best career choices over the next decade. Yeah, because journalists don't have jobs anymore.

Employers in the United Kingdom say they can't find any skilled employees, either.

Online retailer Zappos will hire 1,000 seasonal workers today.

The expensive college degree you earned back in the 1980s doesn't mean squat in this job market.

SeaWorld and Busch Gardens give 350 employees tickets to ride the happy fun time unemployment roller coaster.

A retired colonel goes to battle with the Library of Congress for firing him.

Given a choice, w…

Great Recession Won't Leave, Sleeps On Couch

The U.S. Department of Labor reports this morning that the U.S. unemployment rate has edged up to 9.8%.

Hey, let's just round it up to 10% already since economists say the unemployment report will reach the double digits very soon. We've hit a record for the longest period of high unemployment since the early 1980s. Forget the Pat Benatar and "Morning In America" days though, because the times we're living in are more like "Morning In Las Vegas" after a night of binge drinking with William Hung singing continuously in the background.

Here's the official BLS report on the employment situation for your reading pleasure. Maybe you should wait for Friday happy hour before reading it, though, since these reports tend to go down better with a glass of Two Buck Chuck or cheap, store-bought beer, the designated go-to drinks in this never-ending recession. If you're one of the long-term unemployed, happy hour starts at 2 in the afternoon.

Ouch! Low Status Leaders Are Gluttons For Punishment

Life as a low-status leader can be a truly punishing existence.

It's the finding of a team of researchers from Rice University, the University of Texas and Universitat de Valencia. Their study, politely entitled "Cooperation and Status in Organization," was published in the August issue of the Journal of Public Economic Theory.

The researchers asked 80 study participants to play repeated rounds of a game where they could decide how much to contribute to the public good and how much to keep for themselves. Team leaders were chosen according to participants' scores on a trivia quiz. In one group, the person with the highest score ("high-status") was chosen as the leader. In the other group, the person with the lowest score ("low-status") was chosen to lead.

As the game wore on, it became apparent that team members were more likely to imitate the high-status leaders. Not only did they tend to ignore the low-status leaders, they punished them for tryin…

Wednesday Warblings: Market This!

Please stop thinking on the job and just do what we tell you to do!

see more Monday Through Friday

When It Comes To Smartphones, Employers Better Watch Out

I was out and about the other day and realized that my cell phone was dead. Just then, I saw a young 20-something woman walking toward me.

"Could I bother you for the time?" I asked.
"Huh?" she said, looking confused.

I realized the phrase "bother you for the time" had thrown her off, so I rephrased my question. "Oh," she said, whipping out her smartphone. "It's 1:15." I thanked her and moved on.

Later, I was out with my kids at Chuck E. Cheese. Wall-to-wall people, total insanity. Amid the noise and flashing lights, I noticed that very few parents were wearing watches. They were checking the time on their smartphones.

So there I was, standing in the middle of Chuck E. Cheese wondering what the smartphone-as-watch trend means for the workplace. When you think about it, the office clock has spawned an entire lexicon we use to describe our work life. Clocking in, clocking out. On the clock, off the clock. Clock watching. Clocking time. …

Avoiding Flu And Cold In the Workplace

Here's a little bit of shameless self-promotion: My latest story about how to keep cold and flu from spreading around the office.

The funny thing is, I was under the weather while I was working on it. Hey, I figure that actors immerse themselves in a role so why not freelance journalists? It's a form of on-the-job training, a way to become one with the subject matter.

Unfortunately, my original story title, "You Make Me Sick," didn't survive the editor's red pen. That's probably a good thing, however, since the Vick's VapoRub was probably going to my head.

Monday Workplace News Round-up

Hope you survived the holiday weekend. I don't know about you, but I sure am tired of eating turkey. Here are some headlines catching my eye today.

It looks like federal workers won't be getting a raise anytime soon.

A new study finds women feel more stressed about Facebooking. It's okay to let Facebook users name your baby, though.

Speaking of Facebook, George W. Bush will be at its headquarters this afternoon to take your questions live online.

The British Royal Navy fires 300 aircraft builders to hire cheaper Polish workers.

In other news, British consumers don't have much disposable income.

Well, at least we know that members of the U.S. diplomatic corps can be as gossipy as the rest of us.

More employers are offering paycards instead of paychecks. Sounds cool, as long as employees aren't getting hit with fees.

New college grads who expect the corner office within three months are in for a rude awakening.

A newly-elected Republican congressman channels the entire U.S. e…

GM Stuns Americans By Thanking Them

The American taxpayer bailed out General Motors, and now GM is thanking Americans for helping them "get back up."

If you didn't happen to see GM's new commercial on television yesterday, it's worth a watch. The Animal House clips are great. The piano version of The Hollies' "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" works well, too. Overall, it's a very nice and unexpected gesture -- not to mention a very smart public relations move.

Banks, we'll be waiting for your thank you ads now.

Black Friday Sends Retailers Down A Black Hole

The malls are shimmering in decorations, grocery shoppers are pawing through the frozen turkeys and the B Team is subbing for the cable news anchors. It must be time for a holiday.

I wish all my fellow Americans a relaxing, bloat-free turkey day.

If you work in retail, enjoy Thanksgiving Day (if you have it off...) because you'll be heading back to work at 2 a.m. or some other ridiculous hour of the morning to work the Black Friday sales. If you watch TV, you've seen the ads.

I'm not sure how it started, but this "opening in the middle of the night" stuff has turned into a modern-day retail arms race. I can remember when opening at 7 a.m. on Black Friday was considered early. Now the stores open at 12:01 a.m. or 2 a.m., for some unknown reason.

A few years from now, the marketing team at a major retailer is going to have an idea. It will approach the CEO, who will give his or her blessing. Then the company will announce that the company's stores won't close …

For Employees, 'Tis the Season To Be Stressed

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Employees are stressed out of their minds just in time for the holidays.

About 68% of employees in a new ComPsych Corporation survey said they have high stress levels going into the holiday season, and one-fifth (20%) revealed lack of job security as their biggest source of stress.

ComPsych Corporation offers employee assistance programs, or EAPs. As the company's CEO explains:
“As the holiday shopping season begins, employees are trying to balance the urge to spend with the worry that they will retain their job,” said Dr. Richard A. Chaifetz, chairman and CEO of ComPsych. “We increasingly get calls from employees who are struggling to manage their daily expenses. On top of that, they are now faced with gift-giving costs."
The high stress levels are hurting employee productivity: 44% of employees surveyed said they are losing an hour or more of productivity every day due to stress, and 64% said they are "too stressed to be effective" on th…

Monday Workplace News Round-up

Hope you had a relaxing weekend. Here are a few headlines catching my eye today:

L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez writes a moving column about the young busboy who held Robert F. Kennedy's hand in his final moments.

Newly-minted MBAs are feeling no pain.

New Zealand officials get ready to investigate the Pike River mine collapse.

Oh great, this recession is never going to end, is it?

Small companies are a breeding ground for workplace bullying.

A new study explores what women in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt think about the workplace.

12% of U.S. employers plan to give employees a Thanksgiving gift this year.

A Canadian employer is getting chewed out for telling employees they can't eat meat.

U.S. Bechtel wants to curb 834 Romanian workers building Romania’s Transylvania Highway over a dispute with the Romanian government.

A survey finds 76% of Gen Xers in Singapore expect to make a career change, the most of any age group.

A Wall Street Journal contributor's sugg…