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Showing posts from January, 2011

Americans Are Ready To Dress For The Job They Don't Really Want

The majority of unemployed Americans now believe their next job won't be one they want, according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll of slightly more than 1,000 U.S. adults.

The participants were asked if they expected their next full-time job to be one they want or one they're just settling for. A full 60% of unemployed respondents said they expect to settle for a full-time job that they don't really want, while 42% of under-employed respondents said the same thing.

These findings certainly reflect job seeker's disillusionment with the current job market but they may not bode well for the future workplace, either. Anyone who has ever worked alongside someone who is unenthusiastic about the work (who hasn't?) can give you an earful about how so-and-so who was always too busy complaining or surfing job listings on the down low to do a great job.

If job seekers expect to take jobs they don't really want, then employers will be managing workers who don't really want…

Can You Explain What "Internet" Is?

I love this clip. It's from a January 1994 episode of The Today Show where the hosts were discussing some newfangled thing called the "Internet." Ah, Netscape, Fetch and dial-up. Those were the days. Well, at least now we know the Internet is not a truck or a series of tubes. Oh, nevermind.

Gen Xers Are the Most Likely To Volunteer

This week the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its latest numbers on volunteering.

The volunteer rate of women fell from 30.1% to 29.3% between September 2009 and September 2010. The volunteer rate of men stayed around 23.2% and was pretty much unchanged (pick it up, guys). A few other findings:

Gen Xers in the 35-to-44 age range are the most likely to volunteer, with nearly one-third of them (32.2%) taking on volunteer projects.

People in their early twenties are the least likely to volunteer, with less than one-fifth (18.4%) doing any volunteer work.

Married people are more likely to volunteer, and the volunteer rate increases even more so if they are parents. The parental factor may explain why Gen Xers are volunteering the most, since they're the ones bringing the cupcakes to the teacher appreciation days, manning the moon bounce at the school Halloween party and dealing with the stressed-out queen bee moms who always find a way to make them feel like lazy idiots.


Friday Funnies: The State Of The Union Is Salmon

A word cloud shows "salmon" was the word people remembered most from President Obama's State of the Union address, so of course someone would find a way to have fun with it.

Can Office Clutter Damage Your Career?

Is your desk covered with coffee stains? Did you just find the wrapper to an energy bar you ate six months ago? Do you work on the "I could have sworn it was in this pile" filing system?

If so, you might lose out on a promotion, says a new OfficeMax study. At the very least, your co-workers might not want you working on their projects.

Some offices can go to the extreme, however, by starting clean desk policies and by not allowing employees to add any personal touches to their office or cubicle -- e.g., a family picture, a small plant, a funny but tasteful magnet, and so on. Such management practices can hurt employee morale in ways managers don't realize. I've seen it happen. Managers think the neat and clean office looks like a page out of Architectural Digest while employees feel like they can't bring their true selves to work because, literally, they aren't allowed to bring anything about themselves to work. Stressed-out employees start to spend as much tim…

CFOs Perk Up To Employee Development

An Accountemps survey asked more than 1,400 U.S. CFOs what perks (if any) their companies will offer or plan to offer this year to attract and retain talent. Here's what they said:

29% Subsidized training/education

24% Flexible work hours or telecommuting

24% Mentoring programs

13% Matching gift programs

11% Free or subsidized lunch or snacks

Employers also mentioned childcare, dry cleaning services, subsidized transportation and gym memberships, sabbaticals, and housing or relocation assistance.

I'm not surprised training is the top priority, since employees always want training and development even in a good economy. Training and development budgets were down in the Great Recession, and now employees are hungry to polish their skills and learn something new. Bring on the PowerPoint presentations and three-ring binders! CFOs should cue up the Miami Sound Machine and get ready to sweat, because everyone's going to want some training.

Tuesday Mornings Stress Employees Out

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Tuesday mornings are the most stressful time of the week for employees, according to a new British survey.

The survey found employees' stress levels tend to peak around 11:16 a.m.

So if you're stressing out this morning over everything you need to get done by Friday, take heart that you're not alone.

U.S. Consumers Leave Business Outside Their Circle Of Trust

Trust in business among the world's consumers is down 2%, according to the 2011 Edelman Trust Barometer.

After the last few years of economic turmoil, however, maybe a 2% drop isn't all that bad.

Consumers in some countries, most notably Brazil and Germany, are actually putting more trust in business, not less. Consumers' view of business remains strong in China and India as well.

The United States didn't fare as well in Edelman's poll. U.S. consumers' trust in business is down eight points to 46%, putting the United States only five points ahead of last place. Perhaps not surprisingly, U.S. consumers seem to trust the banks the least. Their shaky relationship is like the one between Jack Byrnes (consumers) and Greg Focker (banks) with the whole "circle of trust" thing.

Trust will improve eventually, but in the meantime smart companies will see this survey as a chance to forge a higher level of trust with their customers. U.S. entrepreneurial firms in …

Monday Workplace News Round-up

It was 19 degrees Fahrenheit with the wind chill here in Washington, D.C. today. Overall, a good day to sit around, drink coffee and work on a Monday Workplace News Round-up. Hey, these things don't type themselves up!

Home Depot allegedly fires an 80-year-old employee over 24-cents-worth of screws. Now the employees is suing.

A new SHRM study concludes most Americans couldn't explain the new health care law even if they had to.

Facebook and Germany comes to terms on privacy.

Everyone's talking about the Chinese approach to education but Finland's approach deserves attention, too.

Today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling could impact co-workers who date on the job.

Mexico added 850,000 jobs in 2010.

Anybody who is anybody, or even sort of somebody, arrived in Davos today.

Estonian employers have some new rules to follow.

Employees in South Korea must be cold. Freezing cold.

Some applicants are sending employers malware along with their job applications.

Uruguay has a 6.1% unemploym…

Friday Funnies: The Dream Of the 90s

A spoof of Pacific Northwest culture starring Fred Armisen? How do I get in on this deal?

Here's a promo for the new IFC show Portlandia that's set in Portland, Oregon. If you've spent any quality time in the Pacific Northwest or in Portland specifically, you'll get it. And laugh. Hysterically. Enjoy. [Warning: NSFW.]

P.S. -- I think the tall, female clown at 1:47 might be Gretchen Jones, the Portland clothing designer who won Project Runway last season.

Offshoring Due To Lack of Trained Workers? Talk To the Hand

I've only had one cup of coffee this morning and I'm still in slightly-grumpy "talk to the hand" mode, but a new study isn't sitting very well with me.

The Duke Fuqua School Of Business and The Conference Board have released a new survey that asked U.S. companies about their reasons for offshoring jobs, about the job functions they're sending abroad, and so forth. In other words, offshoring trends.

Essentially, companies told the researchers the main reason they're offshoring jobs is not for the cost savings, but because U.S. workers lack the skills needed to do the work.

Sorry, but I'm not buying what this study is selling. There are millions of U.S. workers with great skills and a lot of newly-discovered free time to put to good use on the job. Their skills might be a bit rusty because they're not using them at the moment, but they're smart, innovative and they can learn quickly if a bit of training is required. Let's be honest here: U.S. …

This David Brooks Column Should Scare Employers

The column by David Brooks in yesterday's New York Times is worth a read.

It should also scare employers.

In the column, Brooks discusses author and "tiger mom" Amy Chua, who pushes her children very hard academically and has created debate in recent weeks over the limits of overachieving parenting. He disagrees with her strict approach, saying that what kids learn socially by interacting with their peers in the school cafeteria is just as important as what they learn academically in the classroom. Eschew the social element of development, and you wind up with kids who are book smart but socially stupid. And, well, these kids turn into adults eventually. Adults who must interact with others in the workplace. Here's the pivotal part of the story:
Participating in a well-functioning group is really hard. It requires the ability to trust people outside your kinship circle, read intonations and moods, understand how the psychological pieces each person brings to the room ca…

Employees Keep Coming To Work Sick

It isn't your imagination if it seems like everyone at work is sneezing, wheezing and popping lemon-flavored throat lozenges.

A new CareerBuilder survey of 3,700 workers finds nearly three-fourths (72%) are coming to work when they're sick enough to stay home. A full 55% said they feel guilty for calling in sick. I suspect they're just as worried, if not more so, about getting fired.

So now your co-worker isn't just sick of work, he's sick at work. Restaurant employees are among the worst in terms of coming to work sick. With any luck, they won't sneeze on your turkey sandwich while they're making it.

Bottom line: You have a very good chance of being around a co-worker on any given day who has some kind of contagion. In fact, more than half of the employees surveyed (53%) said they've picked up an illness from a co-worker. Now this is a form of teamwork that nobody really wants.

I covered the flu and cold topic fairly recently and offered tips for stayin…

40% Of World's Population Works Full Time

Gallup is out today with new research that finds 7% of the world's population (comprising 129 countries) was unemployed last year.

40% of the world's population was employed full time, while 19% was under-employed.

Sub-Saharan Africa had the lowest percentage of people working full-time jobs. The Americas (using Gallup's term) fall somewhere in the middle.

Anyway, the study has some very interesting data points. Enjoy.

Survey Reveals Managers' Most Embarrassing Moments

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It turns out senior managers can be just as tired and forgetful as the rest of us.

OfficeTeam surveyed 1,300 senior managers at U.S. and Canadian companies about their most embarrassing moments at work. Some of their, ahem, senior moments included getting locked in the office; falling off a stage at a business event; falling asleep while interviewing job applicants; and fainting during a client meeting. There are also the rodent-in-my-office-jump-on-a-chair-and-scream stories and the obligatory wardrobe malfunctions, such as wearing bathroom slippers to work by mistake or doing a training session with the barn door wide open.

See? Senior managers can be just as dazed, confused and distracted as the typical rank-and-file employee. They're just like everyone else, except for that pesky I-can-hire-you-and-fire-you part. Would they hire themselves if they were on the receiving end of these slip-ups, though? That's the real question. It's a tough job…

U.S. Supreme Court Justices, Now Appearing Nightly

Do justices on the U.S. Supreme Court have a sense of humor on the job?

Yes, they do. And they can be pretty funny, too.

A legal consultant did some research on the subject that appears in the Communication Law Review. Among the findings: Justice Scalia cracks the most jokes of anyone on the bench. Who knew?

This study just goes to show that all of us, no matter our job, need a good laugh at work every once in awhile.

EEOC Meeting Takes On Human Trafficking

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will meet to discuss the topic of human trafficking and forced labor, and the government-wide efforts to combat it.

The International Labor Organization estimates 12.3 million people around the world were victims of child labor, forced or bonded labor and sexual servitude in 2007. Other estimates have said the number could actually reach as high as 27 million. offers a wealth of information on what is essentially modern-day slavery.

Monday Workplace News Round-up

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I hope your day was a good one. Here's your Monday workplace news round-up.

Starbucks observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day by giving its employees holiday pay.

Chase Bank may have overcharged 4,000 military families on their mortgages, resulting in at least 14 home foreclosures.

Residents of York, Pennsylvania debate whether or not city employees must live within city limits.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Bari, Italy asks residents to post the names and pictures of lazy city workers to his Facebook page for public shaming.

Camden, New Jersey could lay off 45% of its police force tomorrow.

Silicon Valley looks to invest in East Africa.

Target is buying Canada's Zellers store chain and some people aren't too happy about it.

Greece has more strikes on the way.

Goldman Sachs hires an in-house barber.

Borders Books announces job cuts.

Great Britain ends its practice of forced retirement at 65, while Americans fight for the right to retire at 65. Yeah, figure th…

Will You Take the Workplace Civility Challenge Today?

President Obama's terrific speech in Tuscon touched on the need for civility in our national discourse. Everyone in the media, at least for now, is talking about civility, what it means, and how we can create more of it.

I've been thinking a lot about workplace civility this week and remembered a management column I wrote on the topic for the April 2009 issue of Entrepreneur magazine. I interviewed P.M. Forni, author of Choosing Civility and founder of the Civility Initiative at Johns Hopkins University. It's still one of my favorite columns, and it's still timely since the recession isn't over yet for millions of people.

Here's the story.

Maybe we can all take the workplace civility challenge today. It could be saying or doing something nice for the grumpy co-worker who always raises your stress level. If you're self-employed or looking for work, you could say something nice to a store clerk, a customer service phone representative, a store greeter, a waitre…

What Are Hiring Managers Looking For? Good Manners

CareerBuilder is out today with another survey of hiring managers.

In this one, hiring managers were asked about the things applicants do during interviews that drive them absolutely freaking bonkers. Here's what they said:

71% -- Answering a cell phone or texting during the interview
69% -- Dressing inappropriately
69% -- Appearing disinterested
66% -- Appearing arrogant
63% -- Speaking negatively about a current or previous employer
59% -- Chewing gum
35% -- Not providing specific answers
32% -- Not asking good questions

What jumps out at me is that the first six things on the list have nothing to do with knowledge and skill level and everything to do with manners and social etiquette.

Job applicants are blowing job opportunities due to their own poor manners. It turns out Mom was right, as always. Sit up straight. Spit out the gum. Don't mumble. Look people in the eye. Don't cop an attitude. Remember to say "thank you." And are you really going to wear that out of t…

Wednesday Warblings: The Short Shrift

Tacos are a tall order for this customer.

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72% Of U.S. Companies Don't Want Working Moms

A new Regus survey out today has bad news for working moms. Or Moms who would like to work, as the case may be in this economic climate.

Regus asked employers about their plans to hire working moms in 2011 and only 28% of U.S. companies surveyed said they plan to hire working mothers this year. This means a whopping 72% of U.S. companies aren't keen on hiring working moms right now. Last year, 46% of U.S. companies surveyed were willing to take a chance on Moms.

The short list of gripes against working moms are exactly the ones you'd expect. A full 37% of companies surveyed this year said working moms are less committed and less flexible. Another 33% said they train working moms only to have them leave the job when another baby comes along. Almost one-quarter (24%) said working moms tend to have rusty skills.

Says Sande Golgart, regional vice president for Regus: "With a record 6.4 million women without work in November 2010-11 coupled with our survey data, it's clear t…

National Bed Bug Summit Scurries Into D.C.

Bed bugs have taken a bite out of some well-known businesses in the last year. Just ask Abercrombie and Fitch, Victoria's Secret and Hollister, all of which have dealt with bed bug outbreaks in their stores.

The bed bug problem isn't going away, and businesses can be ground zero for an infestation. One survey found 40% of all bed bug infestations happen inside businesses. Now customers are filing lawsuits when they bring the little blood-suckers home in their shopping bags. Some employees have sued their employers. Bed bug besieged states, meanwhile, have asked the federal government for help.

Well, never fear: The Federal Bed Bug Workgroup is here! This broad coalition of bed bug warriors from the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, and National Institutes of Health will be hosting the second National Bed Bug Summit in Washington, D.C. on February 1 and 2. Yes, ev…

Tuesday Twits: Finally, A Good Reason To Read Malcolm Gladwell

Job Bias Claims Hit New Record In 2010

U.S. workers filed a record high 99,922 charges of private sector workplace discrimination in 2010, according to new figures out this morning from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The EEOC's figures reflect fiscal year (FY) 2010 that ended Sept. 30, 2010.

You can read more here and here.

Will Congress Reboot Program For Laid-Off Technology Workers?

Since the 1970s, employees who have lost their jobs to foreign imports have been able to take advantage of a federal initiative called the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program that covered some of their education, relocation and healthcare expenses.

Congress updated the TAA program in the 2009 stimulus package to include knowledge workers who have lost their jobs to offshoring. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates at least 155,000 U.S. technology workers have utilized the program's benefits since then.

The TAA program could see a major shakeup next month, however, unless Congress renews it by February 12. The program won't be eliminated; it will simply go back to how it looked before the new stimulus rules took effect in 2009. In other words, workers who have lost their jobs to offshoring will be excluded from the program once again, which means at least 155,000 laid-off workers could be affected.

Will Congress renew the 2009 version of the TAA program? While Congress mul…

Monday Workplace News Round-up

Like everyone else, I'm glued to the coverage of the horrific shootings in Tuscon, Arizona over the weekend. I hope everyone connected to the events will be able to heal both physically and emotionally. I hope also that our nation's political discourse can regain the civility it has lost in recent years. Here's your Monday workplace news round-up.

Federal officials and their employees are rightfully nervous about safety and security on the job.

Washington D.C. books to the top of America's "most literate city" list.

Some people aren't happy that the gadget-free quiet cars on New Jersey's transit trains aren't staying very quiet.

The San Jose Mercury News says the smartphone is the new Swiss army knife, but can it open a can of Spaghetti-Os or a bottle of beer? I don't think so.

A Citigroup report concludes smoking will burn out by 2045.

Are we entering the age of the permanent jobless class?

British Prime Minister David Cameron might make it harder f…

Will 'Telepresence' Replace Telecommuting?

Interested in telecommuting? Sorry, but that's so 20th Century. Your co-workers of the future could be "telepresencing" instead.

What is "telepresencing," you ask? It's being able to work from home while still having a presence in the office. No, I'm not talking about CNN's experimental phase with hologram technology during the 2008 presidential election. Telepresence is a type of "remote presence" where a TV screen on wheels wanders the hallways at work. The non-techie in me thinks of it as a Segway with a TV screen featuring your home-based co-worker waving back at you. As one story explains:
While they may be very robot-like in appearance, telepresence (or "remote presence") machines are less robots than they are video conferencing interfaces on wheels. And they may just be the future of the modern workplace.

At least two Silicon Valley companies are vying for the telepresence lead in this country: Anybots and Willow Garage. Both…

Ten Employment Trends To Watch In 2011

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What will be the most important trends in business, hiring, work culture and job search this year? asked thousands of hiring managers and employees what they think. Click here for the survey results.'s 10 Best Jobs For 2011

After a particularly good day, you might think you have the best job in the world.

Well, do you? has just released its list of the 10 best jobs for 2011. (Hint: If you're a student, load up on math and computer science classes!)

But doesn't stop there. It also lists the 10 worst jobs for 2011. I'll go ahead and tell you the winner for worst job of 2011: roustabout. Bonus points will be awarded if you already know what a roustabout does for a living.

Answer: A roustabout is essentially a blue collar temporary worker. Only instead of getting paper cuts, these workers might die in the course of doing their jobs on an oil rig, in a plant, or on a farm. Since they're temporary workers, they probably don't have employer-provider health plans and other benefits. Yes, I can see how that job might top the list. Thanks to all the people who bravely take on this dangerous job. Stay safe out there.

By the way, did you know that Elvis Presley made a …

Wednesday Warblings: He Really Said That?

Lawrence O'Donnell had a few guests on last night to debate the Affordable Care Act and the Republicans' plan to start repealing the new health care laws. One of his guests was Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), who was asked if he would be willing to opt out of the Congressional health care insurance plan and purchase a private health insurance plan instead. Roe said he doesn't use the Congressional health care plan because he's...on Medicare. O'Donnell's reaction was priceless.

Employers Saying 'C-ya, LOL' To Generation Text

Hey dude - Id like to apply 4 the sales job. Heres my resame. Would like an interveiw ASAP since Im going skeeing on friday. Just text me since I dont check email. Tnx. Later.

Have you received a job application like this one yet? If not, don't worry. You'll get your turn soon.

Welcome to the 21st Century job market, where young people are applying for jobs via text! It's the hip new thing to do. These young applicants are being dubbed "Generation Text," and they're annoying employers in a huge way:
Regardless of the cause, some experts say many of today's young adults are thin on the skills and etiquette required for interviewing.

"We call them 'Generation Text'," says Mary Milla, a US communications consultant and media trainer.

"Voicemail is out, email is too slow, so now they're texting, and their spelling is awful."
Young applicants say they play by different rules and employers must face the fact that the world is changing.…

The 25 Oddest Interview Questions of 2010

It's no secret that employers are very picky right now when it comes to new hires. They're putting applicants through multiple rounds of interviews to see how they stack up. They're asking applicants to pat their heads and rub their tummies while jumping up and down on one foot and describing their three best qualities. Well, maybe employers aren't going that far, but they sure are asking a lot of questions.

As any journalist will tell you, however, some questions are better than others. Asking great questions is an art form. A good question gets people thinking, while a bad one makes them question our abilities and we end up with something like this:

Even hiring managers can lob a few "do you remember when you were with the Beatles?" type of misses. Case in point: A new Glassdoorreport that reveals the 25 oddest interview questions of 2010. Here are five of my favorite oddest questions employers asked:

"If you were shrunk to the size of a pencil and p…

Monday Workplace News Round-up

Happy 2011! I'm not feeling my mojo yet on this first Monday morning of the new year. So today's news round-up is a bit shorter. I'm going to have another cup of coffee before adding a few more headlines. In the meantime, here are a few stories catching my eye today:

The United States starts 2011 with fewer people applying for unemployment benefits. Let's hope it lasts.

The U.S. underemployment rate, however, hits 17%.

More U.S. employers are getting in trouble for classifying employees as independent contractors.

Everybody needs to take a chill pill so we can have a rational discussion of public employee unions.

The Great Recession has turned Americans into real couch potatoes.

People don't make passes at people who wear glasses as the old saying goes, but the good news is that they're more likely to hire them.

Smart Money says it knows the ten things your boss won't tell you. "Why are you reading articles instead of working?" didn't make the list…