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Showing posts from August, 2011

Kids Of Unemployed Parents Doing Poorly In School

It's back to school time, but not everyone is happy about it.

New University Of Chicago research finds problem behavior in the classroom increases more than 40% when Mom loses her job. Kids are also 1.6 times more likely to repeat a grade when Dad loses his job, and older children are more likely to cause disruptions and get suspended. And as we all know, a lot of people have lost their jobs over the last few years. Good luck, teachers.

You can read more here. Well, at least we all get to enjoy this Staples commercial again.

Would You Take A Polygraph To Get A Job?

Forget Myers-Briggs tests and peeing in a cup, because employers are getting into something called "virtual polygraphy."

What is virtual polygraphy, you ask? In layman's terms, it's incorporating the wide range of modern technologies to cross-check employees and job applicants for inaccuracies, whether it's relying on a voice stress analyzer to listen for the sound of lying or depending on algorithms to find fraud and other funny business.

And virtual polygraphy might just be coming to a workplace near you sometime this decade! According to a Harvard Business Reviewarticle:
In truth, "virtual polygraphy" is becoming a "new normal" in combating workplace dishonesty and deception. Bernie Madoff's disgrace and the ongoing housing crises exacerbated by "liar's loans" and "robo-signings" have created a business environment where the focus on integrity isn't just financial. Auditing spreadsheets is good; the ability t…

Is Your Co-worker A Huge Diva?

Do you work with someone who can politely be described as high maintenance?

Does this co-worker act entitled while bringing the drama and screaming that he or she simply can’t work under these conditions?

Congratulations, you have a workplace diva on your hands.

Diva means "goddess" in Italian and "god-like" or "divine" in Latin. In the workplace, diva loosely translates to "huge pain in the ass" because you're rapidly tiring of this co-worker's drama queen ways. These employees bound dramatically into the office like Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada. I'm here everyone, the day can begin. Humility has never been their strong suit. Already a legend in their own minds, these workplace divas think they should have the elevator all to themselves even if they're just low-level staffers or God forbid, the intern.

So how do you deal with a workplace diva? Here are five tips:

1. Always bring it back to the work. The workplace diva …

Favoritism Plays A Big Part In Promotions

It helps to be the boss's friend or favorite if you're being considered for a promotion.

New research from Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business finds that favoritism based on friendships and connections still plays a big part in promotions, even when companies have set up barriers to prevent it from happening.

Nearly all 303 senior business executives surveyed (92%) have seen favoritism rear its ugly head in promotions, but less than one-quarter (23%) say they have favored certain employees when deciding who to promote. Who, me!?

But wait, it gets better: More than one-quarter (29%) of senior executives in the survey considered only one employee for their more recent promotion, and more than half (56%) already knew who they wanted for the job when more than one employee was in the running. Almost all (96%) promoted the person they had in mind all along. So it might not be all in your head if you suspect the other guy or gal has the edge from the get-go. You…

Breaking News: Twitter Isn't the News

So I was web surfing the latest hurricane news on Saturday evening when I saw this "Breaking News" tweet front and center on's main page.

To me, it sums up the absurdity of news organizations increasingly relying on tweets in lieu of interview quotes and what's trending on Twitter as the day's latest stories. Call me old-fashioned, but Twitter isn't the news. Every time a journalist relies on a tweet instead of a quote from an actual interview an angel loses its wings. It's simply the height of editorial laziness. Really. Truly. But now we know about Rob Marciano's college internship, so it's not all bad, I guess.

Company Tells Employees To Get The Same Haircut

If your employer told you and your fellow co-workers to get the same haircut, would you do it?

Apparently, Japanese construction company Maeda Corporation has told its 2,700 employees to get the same short haircut to save energy. Plus, their hair will look better after wearing hardhats. No hat-hair allowed!

If you're wondering, male employees are supposed to cut their hair short around the sides but "slightly longer on the top, while female employees have been asked to wear a 'cute' bob with a fringe that can be swept to one side," reports Britain's Daily Mail.

Hmm. I'm not convinced all this hair follicle conformity will lead to greater energy savings in the end. Shorter bobs generally requires a hair dryer and at least one minute with an electrical hair styling brush unless you want to look like the Dutch Boy leaving a wind tunnel. Guys, on the other hand, can just wash and go. By the way, how would the company know whether or not an employee is running…

Friday Funnies: Monty Python's Silly Job Interview

An oldie but goodie.

Email Is About To Become So Last Decade

Email is on its way out -- at least if you ask the nearest CIO.

More than half (54%) of chief information officers think instant messaging, SharePoint, Yammer and other forms of real-time employee communication will leave email in the dust within five years, according to a new Robert Half survey.

Somewhere Nora Ephron is weeping because her cutesy 1998 Meg Ryan-Tom Hanks movie is about to become as quaint and laughable as any 1980s flick that features a cell phone the size of a suitcase. Ah, the days of dial-up and overwrought, scripted email prose that let you knock the ball into someone else's court so you could relax while waiting days for a reply. They will be missed.

Are You Jealous Of Your Working Spouse?

Your spouse bounds through the door after a long day of work, flush full of stories about staff meetings, client calls, tiffs between co-workers, soggy lunch sandwiches and the bad traffic on the way home. There are still a few emails to return and documents to read tonight, too. The work never ends.

Then out pops the question: And how was your day?

Well, let's see...what did I do today? Um, hmm...

This question can be the worst question of the day when you're either unemployed or severely underemployed. It can take a few seconds to create an interesting storyline. You tweaked your resume and applied for a few jobs online. You spent a few minutes talking to the retired neighbor lady about the proper care and feeding of potted plants. You went for a long walk. You changed the kitty litter and vacuumed. If you have young kids, there's all that, too.

Your daily war stories never seem to measure up in conversation, though. Even you get bored relaying the details. When it comes ri…

Breaking News: Lower-Earning Workers Can't Afford COBRA

If you earn a smaller income, you're far less likely to access COBRA benefits than someone who earns more money.

Roughly 57% of Americans who lost their jobs between 2008 and 2010 went uninsured, according to a new Commonwealth Fund survey. As a result, nearly three-fourths of these former employees (72%) stopped going to the doctor, stopped filling prescriptions and stopped going to follow-up visits.

But what about COBRA, the nice-to-know-it's-there-but-gut-punchingly-expensive-if-you-actually-need-to-use-it way for the newly unemployed to stay on their health insurance plan? In a totally not shocking development, Commonwealth reports that 70% of low-income earners went completely uninsured after job loss between 2008 and 2010 compared to 42% of higher-earning earners. In fact, only 8% of lower-income workers accessed COBRA benefits versus 21% of those earning a higher income.

If you've ever used COBRA, then you know how expensive the monthly payment can be. So it's n…

East Coast Earthquake Shakes Up West Coast

What's shakin' bacon? That was some earthquake, huh?

As the West Coast rolls its collective eye and mumbles something about "Loma Prieta," we here on the East Coast can't stop talking about yesterday's 5.8-magnitude tremblor that sent everyone running out of office buildings and into the middle of the street, which is like the worst place everyone could possibly go.

Obviously, we have some things to learn about earthquake safety here on the East Coast. So let's learn together! Here's a short list of great resources:

FEMA Earthquake Safety At Work Page
California's Office Of Emergency Services

Oh, and the U.S. Geological Survey has a page where you can learn all about the other earthquakes that have occurred on any given day in history, even on your birthday. Happy 40th! Kinda cool, if you're a nerd.

Now that we've gotten safety tips out of the way, I will say that I find the sudden East Coast-West Coast ve…

One In Three Using Tablets On the Toilet

Just a little something to think about the next time a friend or colleague hands you their iPad, or any other mobile gadget for that matter: It's probably spent some quality time in the can.

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Yes, our mobile usage knows no boundaries these days. Who hasn't been in a public restroom and overheard some anonymous person in a nearby stall deciding what to have for dinner while they're busy expelling last night's dinner? And they take forever to finish taking care of business, too.

A new Staples Advantage survey finds one in three of us are surfing in the loo, or the bog, or whatever you like to call it. So tablets have literally become a time toilet. And how often do you see people wiping down those little screens? Probably never, right? You might want to keep some hand sanitizer in your pocket, purse or glove compartment. Baby wipes work in a pinch, too.

You can read more about the Staples Advantage survey here.

Tuesday Workplace News Round-up

Are you tired of summer yet? I think I'm officially ready for autumn. A few leaves are starting to turn color here in the greater D.C. area so there's both hope and change going on, at least in regard to the seasons. Here are some headlines catching my eye this morning:

Can you claim a sexually hostile workplace even if you work in a sex shop? Yes, and you can win your case.

The Washington Post creates a word cloud for the unemployed and JOB is the word they're saying the most. Amazing.

But WAPO makes up for it with a great story about large companies seeking hiring tax breaks while keep their offshoring numbers a secret.

20 minutes of employee social networking a day apparently keeps the profits away.

Meanwhile, another study claims that cyberloafing at work makes employees more productive. Stay tuned, the next study will say something else.

If you're still working and aren't an executive, don't count on much of a raise next year.

From the "a sign of the…

Business Travelers Don't Mind GPS Tracking In Dangerous Places

Would you mind being tracked by GPS? If you're a business traveler heading to risky locales around the globe, chances are you're probably okay with it.

More than three-fourths (82%) of 4,700 business travelers in a new International SOS survey say they're either "comfortable" or "very comfortable" having their comings and goings tracked over their mobile devices. They also like receiving alerts tailored to their up-to-the-moment location as well as other travel updates.

So one person's privacy invasion is another person's life line, which makes sense if you spend a lot of time traveling through dangerous places. And if you're a business traveler heading off to destinations barely known, please stay safe, okay?

Teams Work Better When They're Tired

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Feeling a bit tired today? Well, you might be making the people around you more creative.

London South Bank University researchers wanted to find out how fatigue affects teams instead of taking another tired look (pun intended) at how it affects us as individuals. The main finding is sort of a wake-up call, too: Teams are more motivated to do well and to reach their best decisions when some team members are tired.

Why would this be? It's pretty simple, really. The more tired we are, the more likely we are to let somebody else's better solution rule the day. In the process, we create a real sense of teamwork and avoid something called the Einstellung effect, which is our very human individual tendency to go with the least-creative solution instead of coming up with new ways of doing things. And not surprisingly, we tend to feel less creative when we're tired and working solo.

Weariness can win the day as long as you're working on a well-oil…

Friday Funnies: The E-Trade Baby Loses Everything

The stock market isn't child's play anymore for the E-Trade baby. A funny clip, but painfully all too real for anyone with a 401(k).

Study: Buyers Don't Want A "Relationship" With Salespeople

Attention, sales account executives: Your clients just aren't that into you.

Researchers from Baylor University, Texas Christian University and
the University of Tennessee tested the sales concept of "relationship marketing," which theorizes that salespeople can create strong bonds with buyers akin to family bonds. When the researchers interviewed 38 corporate buyers, however, they learned that these buyers tended to view sales relationships as a "polite fiction" they must endure to get what they need:
The authors found that buyers prefer to connect (and disconnect) with suppliers as needs arise and hold low expectations for future interactions with salespeople outside of their business dealings. "This study suggests that business buyers are not actually seeking authentic relationships, and sellers' efforts to develop them may even create negative tension for buyers."
Ouch. So much for all that relationship marketing stuff, huh? You think you have a …

Hiring Managers Want Heart Over Smarts

If a hiring manager wasn't feeling your job interview, you might want to start thinking EQ instead of IQ.

71% of 2,662 U.S. hiring managers in a new CareerBuilder/Harris Interactive survey say they value EQ, or "emotional intelligence," over IQ, and 59% say they won't hire job applicants who are very smart (high IQ) but aren't very good at reading and reacting to the emotions of other people (low EQ). According to CareerBuilder:

"The competitive job market allows employers to look more closely at the intangible qualities that pay dividends down the road – like skilled communicators and perceptive team players," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. "Technical competency and intelligence are important assets for every worker, but when it's down to you and another candidate for a promotion or new job, dynamic interpersonal skills will set you apart. In a recovering economy, employers want people who can effect…

Status Of Women's Job Hunting Contacts? It's Complicated

As the old saying goes, it's not what you know it's who you know when finding a new job, and the "who you know" part seems to be paying off much better for men.

A new NC State study concludes that men are more likely to gain new employment through their workplace social contacts than women. In fact, the study finds men with years of specialized work experience are finding new jobs without actually having to go out and look them. It's the casual "Hey, we need a [insert name of job position], you wanna come work for us?" approach in action, and the researchers say men are roughly 12% more likely than women to be finding good jobs this way.

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So why aren't workplace social networks working as well for women? The researchers aren't really sure yet:
This gender disparity is especially problematic for women who are vying for high-wage, managerial jobs -- because these positions are often filled through the informal recruiti…

It's Official: Bed Bugs Are Everywhere Now

It seems only three things are certain in life anymore: Death, taxes and bed bugs.

Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit but the 2011 National Pest Management Association/University of Kentucky "Bugs Without Borders" report is giving me a serious case of the scratchies this morning. It seems bed bugs are everywhere now, sort of like The Situation in Abercrombie & Fitch clothing. How bad is it out there? Here's the breakdown on bed bug growth over the last year, according to the new NPMA report:

College dorms (54%, up from 35% a year ago)

Hotels/motels (80%, up from 67%)

Nursing homes (46%, up from 25%)

Office buildings (38%, up from 18%)

Schools and day care centers (36%, up from 10%)

Hospitals (31%, up from 12%)

Transportation (train/bus/taxi) (18% up from 9%)

Movie theaters (17%, up from 5%)

The professional exterminators who participated in the survey also said they've found bed bugs in retail stores, laundromats, libraries, restaurants and airplanes.…

Wednesday Warblings: Happy Birthday, Elvis!

Presidential contender Michele Bachmann (shudder...) took a few minutes yesterday to wish Elvis a happy birthday. Only his birthday was January 8. He died on August 16. Oops. So awkward.

Study: Office Non-Conformists Are the Most Team-Oriented

A new University of East Anglia (UEA) study reveals something that may shock the average manager: Employees who are the least likely to conform to group norms are the most likely to work for the common good of the group.

Say whah? According to ScienceDaily:
The study, published in the August issue of the journal Personality and Individual Differences, shows that people who do not conform are most likely to work together for the greater good, while conforming to social norms can actually make people less likely to co-operate -- a finding which surprised the researchers and could have implications in the workplace for team design and operations management.
For example in a work setting, if you are part of a team working on a project you expect everyone to put the same effort in to the task. The expectation is that people who are high in social desirability will conform to the effort other people are putting into the task, but actually the conforming people may be less helpful becaus…

Wellness? Workers Are Too Depressed To Work Out

Stress, depression, anxiety, and poor social support are getting in the way of employees’ workplace wellness goals, according to a new report from ComPsych Corporation.

Among ComPsych's findings:

15% of employees don't get any exercise;

31% exercise a mere once or twice per week;

34% eat one (or fewer) fruits and vegetables every day;

23% admit to binge drinking within the past six months;

16% say they are getting enough sleep.

Nearly one-quarter of employees are into binge drinking? Wow. Maybe it's because employees are feeling kind of down in the dumps: 40% of employees surveyed said an "emotional or physical health problem" has kept them from maintaining normal activities with friends and family, and 36% said they're feeling tense or anxious most of the time these days. Slightly more than one-fifth (21%) said they've "felt down, depressed or hopeless" in the past four weeks. According to ComPsych:
"There is strong correlation between hi…

It's Almost Bring Your Gun To Work Time In Texas

If you live and work in Texas, you can bring your gun to work starting September 1. Yee-haw!

On June 17, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed SB 321, otherwise known as the Hegar Gun Bill, into law. It allows employees to bring guns, ammo and concealed weaponry to work -- as long as they keep these weapons in a locked car outside the work building. Employees can't keep their guns and ammo in the company car, either.

Employers aren't required, however, to make sure that employees are complying with the new law, and so how would the boss know what's going on unless he or she is taking the time to look? Anyway, Texas employers have some policy reviewin' to do over the next few weeks. As reports:
In light of the upcoming effective date of this new gun law, it is recommended that covered employers with broad workplace violence policies revise those policies; review workplace violence policies to ensure they provide for prompt and effective discovery, investiga…

Will the NFL Hire Its First Female Ref Soon?

Even if you don't know the difference between a tailback and a tailgate, you might like to know that the NFL may be on the verge of hiring its first woman referee.

NFL V.P. of Officiating Carl Johnson told Jane McManus of that he expects to hire a female official for the league.

Though Johnson doesn't publicly evaluate potential referees he stated that several women are currently under consideration to be hired, and that he expects to hire one to officiate in the NFL. "We have some in our pipeline, and I expect we’ll see it soon," Johnson said.
Of course, "soon" can mean next week, next year or next decade, but it's still kind of cool to think of men across America in face paint and backward baseball caps grumbling at a female ref for making a bad call, only to have the call stand after the instant replay. Or after the new NFL instant replay, whatever that is. Who cares! My point is, I'm all for women getting the chan…

Smart British Kids Are Skipping College For Apprenticeships

The smartest British students are coming up with a new plan as Britain's higher education system becomes more Americanized: Skip college and enter a corporate apprenticeship program.

Yes, amid rising tuition costs (sound familiar?), Britain's top-tier students are saying screw it, a college degree just isn't worth it anymore. As The Telegraphreports:

Employers such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, Network Rail, Marks & Spencer, Grant Thornton and Laing O'Rourke are reporting huge rises in applications for A-level entry jobs this summer.

The disclosure blows a hole in claims that degrees are a prerequisite for careers at Britain's leading companies.
To Americans, rising tuition costs are like the sun coming up in the morning. Both move in only one direction: skyward. As we Americans debate the value of a college degree amid skyrocketing tuition costs, deep recessions and overwhelming student debt loads, we should be asking if apprenticeship programs could be a more vi…

Wall Street End-Of-Year Bonuses Could Fall 30%

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The terrible economy is getting to everyone these days, and it may finally be reaching Wall Street.

First there was the news of 101,000 banking layoffs this year and now Bloomberg is reporting that some Wall Street trader end-of-year bonuses may drop as much as 30% because of the lack of economic recovery and uncertainty in world markets. I know you're sobbing in your cereal. But if it makes you feel any better, just know that the drop mainly affects equities and fixed-income traders. Hedge fund traders could still receive a 5% bonus increase while Wall Street investment bankers and fixed income asset managers could see a 5-10% bonus bump. So not all of their hope is lost.

Is the Heat On At Work? There's An App For That

It's still summer and we all know what that means: A few more weeks of really bad hair days lay ahead.

It also means a few more weeks' worth of intense sweating because it's so hot outside. If your chosen occupation offers all the coolness of a brick pizza oven, you might like to know that the U.S. Department of Labor has just introduced a free app that allows you to monitor workplace heat indexes via your mobile gadget. This app could come in very handy for managing up-to-the-minute on-site risks of heatstroke and other heat-related ailments, so figuratively speaking it's rather cool.

You can read more about how it works here. Click here to download the app. Stay safe and cool, everyone!

Study: Narcissists Make Really Bad Bosses

Is your boss a narcissist? Is he or she also a really bad boss?

If you answered "yes" to both questions, then a new University of Amsterdam study won't surprise you at all. It finds narcissists tend to rise to management, but they make terrible leaders once they get there. The ladder-climbing qualities that others saw in them -- supreme confidence in themselves, a type-A nature toward others, and so on -- don't work very well once they attain a leadership role:

The study found that the narcissists' preoccupation with their own brilliance inhibits a crucial element of successful group decision-making and performance: the free and creative exchange of information and ideas.
Again, this isn't surprising if you've ever worked with a narcissistic "I'm tired of talking about me, why don't you talk about me" kind of boss. But the most interesting part of the study explores how our human brains naturally gravitate toward narcissists whenever we h…

Friday Funnies: Deer In the T.V. Headlights

The anchor's reaction at 1:03 makes this whole clip worthwhile.

President Obama's Speech In Holland, Michigan

President Obama spoke today at the Johnson Controls advanced battery facility in Holland, Michigan. He said he doesn't want to call Congress back to Washington because he wants members of Congress to hear the frustrations of their constituents. A good point, but I still think he should call them back to work around the clock on a large-scale jobs program. We Americans would hear that loud and clear.

German Group Seeks To Ban Workplace Kissing

A German group is tired of German workers kissing each other on both cheeks like the rest of Europe, and it wants kissing banned in the workplace.

The Knigge Society is advising handshakes instead, and it's even measured out a very specific "social distance zone" that should be kept between workers: 60 centimeters. For metrics-challenged Americans, that's about 23 inches.

The group is telling German workers who don't want to be kissed upon greeting to put a "little paper message" on their desks.

To paraphrase Prince paraphrasing Tom Jones, you don't have to be rich to be my co-worker, you don't have to be cool to rule my world, ain't no particular sign I'm more compatible with, I just want your extra time and at least two feet of social distance between our bodies at all times. Hey, I'd put that on my little paper message. It's probably a good thing that I'm self-employed.

265,147 U.S. Workers Lost Their Jobs In Q2

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Private sector employers shed 265,147 workers in the second quarter of 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported yesterday.

The good news? 381,622 U.S. workers lost their jobs during the second quarter of 2010, so at least the number has gone down. But it's still far from small enough. We need a great big FDR-like jobs bill, and fast. Yeah, like that's going to happen anytime soon. Not to be depressing or anything.

Click here for the rundown.

Wednesday Warblings: Livin De Life

Forget Rebecca Black, because we live in an age where even a 55-year-old senior executive can make a rap music video! Here is Allen "A." Samuels, a "55-year-old casino executive with a passion for hip hop" singing his hot new tune, "Livin De Life." I'd say more, but I really don't know what to say. Yo? [Hat tip to]

Study: Companies Losing Millions In Lost Memory Sticks

Do you know where your memory stick is? Can't find it? Oops, that's more money down the drain.

A new Ponemon Institute study of 400 companies reveals they lose 12,000 employee and customer records on average because of lost memory sticks. Ponemon estimates the average cost of each lost record is $214. Add it all up and you get into the millions of dollars fairly quickly.

But who hasn't misplaced a memory stick -- in a bag, in a car, in a coat pocket, list goes on -- at least temporarily? They're so small. Maybe memory stick cases emblazoned with the company logo would make great holiday presents for employees this year? Just an idea.

"Beanie Meanie" Lawsuit Dresses Down Religious Garb At Work

An employee begins wearing a yarmulke to work, only he's not Jewish. He's Italian-American. His Jewish co-workers don't like it very much and call him out on it. He eventually gets fired, and then sues the company.

Welcome to what The New York Post is dubbing the Beanie Meanie Lawsuit:
Ciro Rosselli, 29, of Queens, claims in papers filed in Manhattan federal court yesterday that he donned the religious head cover in the office while practicing "theosophy," an obscure spiritual philosophy that holds "there is no higher religion than truth."

But the non-Jewish man's colleagues at McKinsey & Co. apparently thought wearing the Jewish skullcap wasn't kosher -- and allegedly unleashed a torrent of taunts at the Astoria, Queens, resident.

Rosselli claims that his boss sent him an e-mail likening him to Kabbala fan Madonna for his sudden embrace of Judaism, while another co-worker suggested he was just trying "to hide his bald spot."

Darcus Howe Explains It All About the London Riots

The BBC did the obligatory man-on-the-street interview with a fellow named Darcus Howe, who went on to give a rather impassioned account of why the London riots are taking place. Too bad the anchor kept interrupting him. Anyway, it's worth a watch.

Banks Will Cut More Than 100,000 Employees This Year

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Bloomberg is reporting this morning that the fifty largest global banks will cut their collective employee headcount by roughly 101,000 this year.

Banks cite slow growth, new debit card rules and low interest rates as some reasons behind the accelerating layoffs.

Of course, a percentage of these bank employees might be entry-level employees who really do need the work to help make ends meet, in which case the layoffs suck. But if you've lost your job since 2008 and still don't see any highly-paid bankers facing their day in court, then you probably aren't weeping in your store-brand oatmeal over this development.

Breaking News: Recession Is Turning Workers Into Rude Jerks

Stop the presses, because more employees are thinking, "Are you always this much of a jerk or are you just trying to annoy me?"

Yes, the Great Recession is making employees very grumpy and apparently more willing to annoy each other with every kind of small, rude gesture. The co-worker who muttered sarcastically that "the phone is blond today" as you were answering phones this morning? Well, she really meant it, and you just happen to be a natural Scandinavian blonde, so there. Suddenly it's like you're back in high school, only with spreadsheets and J.C. Penney pantsuits. This recession is thatbad.

I've written on the topic of workplace incivility before, and more recently blogged about how rude we've gotten off the clock. Workers are busy annoying each other with small acts of incivility simply because they can, and some workers view sarcasm and pettiness as all that's left in their dwindling personal empowerment arsenal on the job. Therein li…

Get Ready For Workplace Glee Club!

I've never watched "Glee" -- I'll just listen to the original songs instead, thank you -- but I hear it's quite the phenomenon. So much so that our friends in Canada have created a new teevee show called "Canada Sings!" where workplace glee teams put down their staplers and smart phones to sing their hearts out:
Hosted by Matte Babel, ET Canada's Hollywood correspondent, the show follows 12 workplace glee clubs as they work with choreographers and vocal coaches who do their best to transform them into polished performers. Each episode sees two teams competing against one another for a chance to win a $10,000 donation to the charity of their choice. But to make it to the winner’s circle, they'll have to impress a judging panel made up of Jann Arden, Pierre Bouvier, the lead vocalist for the pop punk band Simple Plan, and Rob Van Winkle, a.k.a. Vanilla Ice.

"It's a different show. It hasn't been done," Van Winkle says. "It&#…

Like Millions Of Careers, Workforce Investment Act Remains Stalled

If you've been waiting for Congress to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act, you're just going to have to keep waiting.

In June, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) filed a bill to update the WIA for the first time since 1998. Murray's bill would essentially modernize job training and offer companies incentives to hire new workers.

The U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee was supposed to hold a hearing on the bill last Wednesday, but the hearing was abruptly canceled and it's not clear when the bill will see the light of day again:
Meanwhile, the future of the Workforce Investment Act is murkier without any clear timeline to move forward.

This comes as disagreement persists over a provision of the bill that would regulate when people with disabilities could work for less than the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour.

Some disability advocacy groups — including the National Down Syndrome Society and the National Federation of the Blind — are pressing har…

Credit Rating Downgrade News Round-up

Let's try to find a way to enjoy our weekend now that Standard & Poor's has decided the United States has the political attitude, judgment and foresight of the typical teenager. Wait a minute, though: Isn't Standard & Poor's the same group that gave the housing bubble's subprime sludge a AAA rating? Hmm. I must be missing something here. Anyway, it's the first weekend of August and there isn't anything going on except that our entire economy is falling apart while Congress is taking a month-long vacation and the whole world is getting up in our business and talking behind our back. Here's your weekend credit rating downgrade news round-up.


The New York Times

The Washington Post

The Wall Street Journal

Xinhua News Service (China)

Pravda (Russia)

The Guardian (U.K.)

Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

Financial Times (U.K.)

Arab News (Middle East)

New Zealand Herald

The Korea Times (South Korea)

The Times Of India


The U.S. Economy Added 117,000 Jobs In July

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It's 8:30 on Friday, the moment even semi-financially literate journalists have been waiting for all week. It's time for the July jobs report!

And what does it tell us? The U.S. economy gained 117,000 jobs in July and unemployment fell to 9.1%.

That's good, although I wonder what kind of jobs have been added, exactly. I'd look at the BLS website to find out, but it's currently being crushed under the volume of heavy visitor traffic. I'll go ahead and put my money on another weird day ahead for Wall Street, though.

Creative Types More Likely To Cheat And Lie

Are you a member of the creative class? Well, you may be more likely to take a few liberties with the truth and to cut a few more corners than your less-creative cohorts.

Creativity comes with a dark side, according to a new Duke University behavioral economics study. The researchers had study participants ranging from the very creative to the not-as-creative do some group exercises intended to make them think outside the box (ugh, I hate this phrase too, but I've only had one cup of coffee this morning so I apologize). The results showed that the most creative people were more likely to cheat, lie, justify their unethical behavior, and then feel all kinds of good about it. Sort of like a Duke defensive player faking a charge inside the key. Boo-ya!

So is creativity in the workplace a bad thing? No, say the researchers, but managers might want to pay closer attention for overly-inventive corner-cutting and over-the-top imaginative explanations on everything from time cards to mileag…

Friday Funnies: Spongebob's Global Warming Agenda

Do you know that Spongebob Squarepants is pushing a liberal global warming agenda? Yes, yes, yes, it's true -- according to the morning crew on Fox And Friends. The best part is when anchor Gretchen Carlson says Spongebob Squarepants is hard to even follow sometimes. Really? Everything about her suddenly makes sense to me.

Job Creators Layoff News Round-up

Ahead of tomorrow's jobs report we learn that layoffs are at a 16-month high. Oh, goodie, goodie gumdrop. Here's a small snapshot of what's happening this week on the layoff front.

Seattle's largest biotech company will be getting smaller soon.

Illinois companies are laying off at least 1,100 workers.

Furloughed F.A.A. engineers will be on Capitol Hill today to speak up for the 4,000 engineers not getting a paycheck this month.

ATK Aerospace Systems let 100 employees go yesterday.

Oregon RV maker Monaco Coach gives 450 employees their walking papers.

At JC Penney, 442 warehouse layoffs are in fashion.

An Eastern Pennsylvania jobs agency is shedding 20% of its staff because of funding cuts.

95 Iowa Workforce Development employees will receive their pink slips today.

New Hampshire hospitals are declaring time of death on jobs amid Medicaid cutbacks.

A customer hands Florida Gov. Rick Scott a pink slip while he's working at a Tampa doughnut shop. Let's go to the videotape!


Workplace Calls To Suicide Hotlines Up 33%

Well, this isn't very good news.

Calls from employees feeling suicidal as well as from managers trying to help them have increased 33% over the last twelve months, according to a new workplace survey from EAP firm Harris, Rothenberg International (HRI).

As HRI's Director of Clinical Services Dr. Randy Martin says:
"Over the past several years we have noted a direct correlation between the recent economic downturn and the significant increase in the call volume related to suicidality, including the 33% increase in just the past year. Many of those calling us in crisis should have called weeks, months, or even years ago when the financial crisis began. But with a culture that promotes independence and a do-it-yourself philosophy, many people believe they are supposed to be strong enough to handle crises on their own. Unfortunately, they end up waiting until they are on the verge of suicide."

According to Dr. Martin social support is a significant buffer to coping with …

Wednesday Warblings: Hillbilly Handfishin'

If you watch cable TV, then you've seen the commercials for the new show Hillbilly Handfishin', which premieres this Sunday, August 7th on Animal Planet. Who needs fish hooks when you can use your bare hands?? I might have to catch an episode of this show just because it looks so weird, and dropping the "g" from the show title adds a certain je ne sais quoi. Yee-haw.

Where Would Ferris Bueller Be Today? Probably Unemployed

Do you know that this week is the 25th anniversary of the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off?

I didn't realize it, either, in the haze of this recession and the debt ceiling crisis. But this NBC-Today Show article reminded me that, in fact, Ferris would be in his 40s now.

The article has some fun trying to guess where Ferris and his friends would be today if they were real people. Ferris Bueller would be a Mark Zuckerberg-type zillionaire who owns the Chicago Cubs. His sister Jeannie Bueller would be an investigative reporter who is "among the most influential media members in the country." Sloane Peterson would have launched her own cosmetics company and would be starring in "The Real Housewives Of Chicago" (nice cross-promotion, NBC). Cameron Frye would have become a stock trader and a "leading financial magnate, having avoided the housing bubble and made a fortune shorting overvalued stocks."

Wait a second here: Not one of these characters would be …

Yet Another Reason To Drive Slowly In Construction Zones

I hope this worker is okay. Ouch.

Is Hurting Someone's Feelings On Twitter A Federal Offense?

Could a tweet that criticizes someone famous potentially lead to a federal charge of stalking?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a friend-of-the-court brief last week in the case of an individual who is apparently being prosecuted under an updated 2005 federal anti-stalking law for criticizing a public figure on Twitter. From EFF's press release:
At issue is a federal law originally enacted to criminalize traveling across state lines for the purpose of stalking. In 2005, the law was modified to make the "intentional infliction of emotional distress" by the use of "any interactive computer service" a crime. In this case, the government has presented the novel and dangerous theory that the use of a public communication service like Twitter to criticize a well-known individual can result in criminal liability based on the personal sensibilities of the person being criticized.
So don't hurt anybody's feelings online because they might get mad, okay? Oh,…

Florida's Jobless Must Now File For Unemployment Over the Internet

If you live in Florida and lose your job, you'd better have access to a computer.

That's because Florida's unemployment claims process is now completely online as of today. According to one article:

The changes came Monday, requiring anyone seeking unemployment benefits to do so online only. It's projected to save the state $4.7 million each year in administrative costs.

"They can no longer call on the telephone or fax in an application for unemployment all of the applications for unemployment are strictly done over the internet," explained Joe Mascaro with Pasco County Workforce.
The only problem: 40% of unemployed Floridians don't use computers to track their unemployment benefits, and people from young to old are suddenly experiencing technical difficulties. Some of Florida's jobless (again, the young as well as the old) have never used a computer; others don't own one. And it's a good bet that in this economy some unemployed Floridians have h…

Monday Workplace News Round-up

I'm in the mood for a little news aggregation this morning. Here are some headlines catching my eye:

A dig in Wales unearths job application cover letters from the Great Depression.

Foxconn will start replacing its suicide-prone employees with robots over the next three years.

One job applicant's interview is ruined by store security tags left on her new interview suit. Or so says her husband.

Would you like to volunteer your town as a nuclear waste site?

Auto executives are feeling pretty good about the economy.

Forbes gives a Baby Boomer a Gen Y makeover. Does the makeover come with poor spelling and human interaction skills? I kid, I kid. Sort of.

see more Failbook

A new study links waning union power to greater income inequality.

Half Price Books is courting soon-to-be-ex Borders employees.

Oregon's state employees are angry and we know this because they're talking about it on Facebook.


Should employers be able to discriminate against ex-convicts?

MTV turns 30 today. Yeah…

Study: Distance Makes the Heart Grow More Selfish

What makes people behave in their own self-interest and seem disconnected from the impact of their actions on others?

It's a question on the mind of many people this morning as the president and Congress seem ready to start selling out the social safety net in a horrible recession without making the wealthy and corporations pay their fair sharereach a compromise on the debt ceiling.

Now a new study courtesy of researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Economics in Jena tells us something we all suspect: People are inclined to act more fairly when they can clearly see the consequences of their action on others. But if the consequences aren't right in front of their faces, then they're more likely to ignore said consequences and make selfish decisions based on their own self-interest and self-image.

In other words, we're laying the foundation for our 2012 re-election campaigns and you're just a faceless unemployment statistic to us, so good luck figuring out how to fin…