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Showing posts from November, 2010

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…

College Professor Calls Out Business Students For Cheating On Midterm

Let's just say University of Central Florida business professor Richard Quinn wasn't very happy when he found out a group of students cheated on his midterm exam.

Not only was he onto their cheating ways, he called them out on it in class and then made everyone retake a new, lengthy test -- on his schedule. He really lowers the boom. "If you're going to give birth, you're going to give birth in the exam room," he tells groaning students. "Because it's going to have to take a signed, hand-delivered note from God for you to get out of taking this midterm exam."

Good for him, because cheating sucks. He's doing all their future employers (and investors) a favor by teaching them that cheating doesn't always pay off, whether it's exaggerating on a resume, fudging an expense report, taking credit for someone else's work, or making up phony shell entities to inflate a company's stock price. We need more professors like Richard Quinn.

Study Finds Americans Are Sick Of Their Confusing Healthcare System

The Commonwealth Fund has been studying the state of healthcare in the United States and ten other countries.

In a totally shocking development, the survey reveals Americans see their healthcare system as way too confusing and bureaucratic. Also, Americans are among the least likely in the world to go to the doctor because it costs too much.

The ten other countries in the Commonwealth Funds study are Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Among the findings:
One-third (33%) of U.S. adults went without recommended care, did not see a doctor when sick, or failed to fill prescriptions because of costs, compared with as few as 5% of adults in the United Kingdom and 6% in the Netherlands;

20% of U.S. adults had major problems paying medical bills, compared with 9% or less in all other countries;

31% of U.S. adults spend "a lot of time" dealing with insurance paperwork, disputes, having a claim denied by t…

Steven Slater Joins the Mile High Club

Here's ex-JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater rapping on behalf of mobile app company Line2's "mile high texting club." His song is called "I'm Steven Slater Bitches." I'd tell him to stick with his day job, but then again I don't know if he has one right now. Anyway, here it is for your listening pleasure.

EEOC Listens To Older Workers Complain About the Job Market

My last post was about the EEOC, and today I have one more.

Yesterday the EEOC held an open hearing on the topic of older worker discrimination.

Experts testified about the impact of the economic crisis on older workers, the legal issues regarding age discrimination in the current climate, and the best strategies for keeping older workers.

The plight of people who remember life before the World Wide Web is a hot topic: Age discrimination claims filed with the EEOC between 2006 and 2009 increased slightly more than 3%, from 21.8% to 24.4% of all EEOC charges filed. In terms of actual headcount, 22,778 Americans filed age discrimination claims in 2009, compared to 16,548 Americans in 2006. Keep in mind that these are only the Americans who bothered to file a claim. Who knows how many Americans thought about it but didn't do it because they were worried it could hurt their future job prospects.

The unemployment rate of people over age 55 increased from 3% in 2007 to 7.3% in August 2010, …

EEOC Issues Final Rule On GINA

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) makes it illegal for U.S. employers to discriminate against employees and job applicants based on their genetics.

Essentially, the law bans employers from buying, accessing or requiring employees to offer information about their families' genetic histories.

But apparently, Congress left a few things open to interpretation. For example, how are "genetic tests" to be defined, exactly? What constitutes "genetic information"? Are there instances where employers could conceivably use genetic information in making a hiring decision?

And what about social media? Say you're a hiring manager doing your due diligence on a few well-qualified applicants. You look up one of the applicants on Twitter and see that she tweeted about stopping at CVS to pick up her mom's insulin prescription. You now know something about the applicant's genetic background without digging very deep.

The Equal Employment Opport…

Wednesday Warblings: Sweet Revenge

A side of strep throat with your sweet tea? Yummy.

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Tuesday Workplace News Round-up

Here are some headlines catching my eye today:

Wow, just wow. I hope they rehire the guy.

Women working stressful jobs are more prone to heart attacks.

Enjoy that working vacation you'll be taking this year. ranks the top 100 companies for military veterans.

The NLRB fights for employees' right to talk smack about the boss on Facebook and blogs.

The Washington Post runs an article about the disillusionment of Gen X and gets a ton of posts from disillusioned Gen Xers.

The Boomers, meanwhile, enjoy a ever-widening range of senior discounts.

Gen Y prefers cubicles to open workstations. I'm sure they'd also like a job to go along with it.

Picky employers apparently want new hires who are able to do the job without any training. Good luck with that.

Will the U.S. Government go after back taxes owed by federal workers as a way to cut the deficit?

Singer Sebastian Bach gets drunk and bites a bar employee. Well, I hope he left a great tip.

Disney bans employees from texting w…

Managers Plan To Spend the Holidays At...Work

It looks like many managers aren't in the holiday spirit this year.

A new OfficeTeam survey of more than 1,000 managers finds about one-third (31%) of them will take the employer-provided vacation days between Thanksgiving and New Year's, but no more than that.

Another 25% said they'll only take one or two days off at most during the entire holiday season.

So while you might take some holiday time off, your boss will be sitting at the office wondering why you're not there. He'll also be realizing he's heard The Carpenter's "Merry Christmas, Darling" three times already, and it's only 10 o'clock in the morning. The local soft rock station's 24/7 Christmas music marathon is really starting to get on his nerves. He'll be listening to non-stop Christmas music for 43 more days, too! This sucks. Why aren't you at work again? Oh that's right, you're somewhere fun listening to Nine Inch Nails "Pretty Hate Machine" ins…

Are "Nice" Women Applicants Losing Out On Job Offers?

A note of caution to women seeking jobs: If a letter of recommendation describes you as "nice," "caring," "sensitive," "compassionate," or "supportive" you might be less likely to get a job offer.

It's the conclusion of a new National Science Foundation study that examined 624 letters of recommendation sent to an unnamed research university. The researchers discovered that some words (see above) were more likely to be used to describe women while men were more likely to be described as "assertive," "confident," "aggressive," "ambitious," "independent" and "daring."

I'm taking this study with a small grain of salt since it focuses only on jobs in academia, where some people would eat their own young if it meant getting tenure. Academia is Darwinism with spectacles and student office hours. I'd love to see how this study would play out if broadened beyond the ivory tow…

Thirteen Networking No-nos For Job Seekers

I enjoyed reading this Eva Tahmincioglu article about networking no-nos.

The article mentions good tips for staying professional while networking, handling situational interviews, using social media and basic things like thanking the person with whom you're networking.

I've been thinking about my own networking experiences over the years, and I have a few to add to the list. Here are my thirteen tips for maximizing your networking efforts:

1. Know what you want before you start. You're having coffee with your networking contact. The problem is, you're expecting him or her to tell you what you should do with your life because you have no clue. The other person isn't Mom or Dad; he or she is a busy professional who expects you to show up with targeted questions. Know generally what industry you'd like to inhabit (nursing, merchandising, etc.) before you start networking. Sorting yourself out a little bit will save everyone's time.

2. Meet in the middle. If you…

U.S. Employees Aren't Saving For Retirement, Busy Buying Food Instead

A new ING Retirement Research Institute survey finds American employees aren't maximizing their 401(k) contributions.

The majority of those surveyed told ING that well yes, they could increase their 401(k) contributions today by 3% of their salary but, well, they're not doing it.
According to the findings, a majority of workers (87%) said they could be saving more in their employer-sponsored retirement plan, a savings vehicle they deem critically important to reaching a secure retirement and the foundation of most their retirement savings strategy. In fact, of the 1,000 workplace retirement plan participants surveyed, nearly two-thirds (64%) said their employer-sponsored retirement plan accounts for all or most of their retirement portfolio. However, many participants are not stretching to maximize their contributions when they can. Moreover, they tend to rely on "guesswork" when setting contribution levels, and don't fully understand the importance and long-term i…