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Showing posts from September, 2011

Hallmark Introduces A Line of Layoff Greeting Cards

Is a layoff in the cards for someone you know? Well, now you can send him or her a layoff greeting card!

In a totally relevant sign of the times, Hallmark is introducing a line of layoff cards such as this one, which reads: "Don't think of it as losing your job...think of it as a time-out between stupid bosses."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Your friend will get a laugh -- or will he? Only you know the answer. Overall, I think this is a great idea because people tend to react to other people's job loss like they do to severe illness. They don't know what to do or what to say and so they either disappear or ignore the obvious. Gee, uh, yeah. Sorry to, uh, hear that? People can be huge dorks at the worst times, it is a proven fact. So a layoff greeting card might help fill the void by letting a suddenly-unemployed friend or relative know how much you care without having to say anything, all for the cost of a small Starbucks latte. Do people still buy lattes -- or for that mat…

Embarrassment Can Be Good For Business

Are you easily embarrassed? Do you turn red and look at the ground after being clumsy or making a social faux pas? Well, don't turn too dark a shade of crimson because a new UC Berkeley study reveals that you're naturally more trustworthy and generous.

That's right: Embarrassment can play to your advantage, and pretty easily it turns out. Other people will see you as kind, human, socially-oriented and virtuous, which when you think about it aren't bad traits to exhibit in front of customers or in a job interview. When we watch someone else get embarrassed, we tend to feel sympathetic and quite frankly, we're just glad it's not our turn because we know it could easily happen to us. Did you SEE how red he turned after spilling his coffee all over the conference room table? He looked so damn uncomfortable and I felt so bad for him. I don't know why, but I like the guy!

It's all in how you recover after taking a proverbial spill. Apologize, pick up the pieces…

The Top Office Pet Peeves Of Workers Around the World

Okay, what annoys you the most about your co-workers? Or should I say your former co-workers, since we're still navigating the worst recession since the 1930s?

Networking site LinkedIn asked the first question of more than 17,000 workers around the world -- since the Internets are international -- and finds there are distinct cultural differences in what annoys us at work. According to LinkedIn:

Americans get more irritated than other nationals by co-workers taking other people's food from the office refrigerator.

Brazilians are the most annoyed of any national group by excessive gossiping.

Germans are annoyed by dirty common areas (the community microwave or refrigerator) more than the rest of the world.

Indians react more negatively to irritating mobile phone ringtones.

Japanese are more peeved by office pranks than others.
Overall, Indian workers tend to have the most pet peeves for some reason. I can't speak to that, but I do buy the food stealing gripes from American work…

Which Professions Need Coffee the Most?

Perk up to the daily grind or whatever, because tomorrow is National Coffee Day!

In honor of coffee's big day, Dunkin' Donuts and CareerBuilder analyzed the latest coffee trends in the workplace, including which professions rely the most on coffee, how these workers take their brew, and how different regions of the country compare in their coffee habits.

It turns out that scientists and lab technicians are the biggest coffee drinkers out there. Apparently, running gels, writing grants and dealing with peer reviewers requires a high caffeine intake. Here's the full list:

1. Scientist/Lab Technician
2. Marketing/Public Relations Professional
3. Education Administrator
4. Editor/Writer
5. Healthcare Administrator
6. Physician
7. Food Preparer
8. Professor
9. Social Worker
10. Financial Professional
11. Personal Caretaker
12. Human Resources Benefits Coordinator
13. Nurse
14. Government Professional
15. Skilled Tradesperson (plumber, carpenter, etc.)


Breaking News: Stock Traders Are Psychopaths

As you sit around unemployed watching your dreams of retirement disappear along with your 401(k), along comes a study to remind us that stock traders tend to be psychopaths.

Well, not all stock traders. That would be far too much of a generalization. But a new University of St. Gallen study concludes stock market traders tend to have, shall we say, certain traits in common with certified psychopaths.

The researchers compared stock traders to certified psychopaths in German hospitals and found that the stock traders could be more ruthless, reckless and manipulative. According to Der Spiegel:
"Naturally one can't characterize the traders as deranged," Noll told SPIEGEL. "But for example, they behaved more egotistically and were more willing to take risks than a group of psychopaths who took the same test."

Particularly shocking for Noll was the fact that the bankers weren't aiming for higher winnings than their comparison group. Instead they were more interested…

Friday Funnies: Woman Walks Across America Just Because

A big question for all of us in this turkey burger economy is what to do with all of the time on our hands. Well, 24-year-old Catherine Li isn't just sitting around; she's walking across America from San Francisco to New York just because she can. She's been walking for months. It's something to do, I guess? I wonder if she's planning to return the shopping cart when she's done.

The Twelve Most Underrated Jobs In America

Why content yourself with a run-of-the-mill career when you can run with the big dogs? Aim high, kid.

Welcome to what's been the career mantra for a few generations of doctors, lawyers, investment bankers, celebrity assistants and wannabe TV news anchors. But tells us we've been aiming so high that we're looking right past some good, steady careers. has just ranked the twelve most underrated jobs in America, which just so happen to have a lower-than-average unemployment rate:

1. Paralegal/Legal Assistant, average income $47,153.00
2. Accountant, average income $60,174.00
3. Loan Officer, average income $55,239.00
4. Market Research Analyst, average income $62,229.00
5. Software Engineer, average income $87,140.00
6. Computer Systems Analyst, average income $77,153.00
7. Insurance Agent, average income $46,342.00
8. Dietician, average income $52,127.00
9. Dental Hygienist, average income $67,107.00
10. Civil Engineer, average income $76,139.00
11. Physical …

Americans Are All About Flu Shots This Year

If you've driven past any pharmacy chain or grocery store lately, you've seen the signs. Yes, it's time to get your flu shot.

And Americans are giving the whole idea of vaccination a shot in the arm: Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they'll get a flu shot this year. That's good news for the workplace, where flu costs U.S. companies at least $10.4 billion in direct costs including hospitalizations and outpatient visits, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

Up to one-fifth of the U.S. population will get the flu in any given flu season, and more than 200,000 people to end up in the hospital. Overall, getting a flu shot is a hell of a lot cheaper than a hospital stay.

Workplaces of all sizes can do a lot to minimize the impact of seasonal flu simply by asking employees to wash their hands, to cough and sneeze into their elbows, and to go home (or stay home) if they're feeling any symptoms. If you're the boss, please don't try to pow…

Breaking News: Service Employees Are Being Rude To Customers

Ever stood at a counter while a surly employee completely ignores you?

If you're like many customers in a new Journal of Service Research study, you're taking your business elsewhere in a futile quest for "nice" employees with great customer interaction skills and a proper work ethic.

One-third of customers in the JSR study say they're being treated rudely by a service employee at least once a month and they're taking their business elsewhere. In a recession. When companies need sales. Is there really anything left to say? Well, actually, yes there is: Companies desperately need to give their service employees a sense of the big picture. Why should employees care about making customers happy? What does the company expect, service-wise? Why should these employees feel good about their jobs, and the company? Do employees view the company's mission statement as a bunch of B.S.? How can leaders lead by example? How do bad attitudes affect the bottom line, and b…

The Average Telecommuter Works Less Than One Hour Per Day

Here comes a new CareerBuilder survey to feed the average manager's fear of telecommuting options!

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One in five telecommuters (17%) spend less than one hour per day on work-related stuff, according to CareerBuilder. A full 37% of employees surveyed say they're more productive at the office because when they're "working" at home they are too busy doing household chores (31%), watching TV (26%), dealing with pets (23%), running errands (19%), surfing the Internet (18%) and watching/dealing with/running after children (15%).

Telecommuters like to work in their jammies, particularly women. The best way to scare a telecommuter, or for that matter an independent contractor, is to say, "Can we talk over Skype?" Trust me: You'll scare the flannel sleep pants right off of them. I have to shower, brush my hair AND put on a clean shirt!? Ahhhh!

I almost feel like I shouldn't be talking about this survey because I'm a big fan o…

Study: Facebook "App Economy" Has Created 182,000 Jobs This Year

Got an app for that? If you're talking about the U.S. economy, it could help.

A new University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business study has this to say:

While the U.S. jobs picture may be bleak, the proliferation of Facebook and mobile technology applications has spawned an entirely new industry – dubbed the "App Economy" — that has added at least 182,000 new jobs and contributed more than $12.19 billion in wages and benefits to the U.S. economy this year, according to new research from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. Using more aggressive estimates, the Facebook App Economy created a total of 235,644 jobs, adding a value of $15.71 billion to the economy.
Who knows how statistically valid these numbers are, but I think we can all "like" some new jobs being created.

Employees' Personal Postage Costing Employers Millions

Have you ever sent a personal letter or package from work at your employer's expense to avoid standing in line at the post office?

Yes? Well, you're not the only one and it's costing employers millions.

Parcel delivery and returns company Collect+ asked British employees if they've ever sent personal mail from work and let the company pick up the tab. Roughly 10% of employees surveyed are sending ten or more packages per year at their employer's expense, and 15% are slowing down their corporate postal areas with a constant stream of personal mail. By the way, how much would it cost to ship it by Ground vs. Next Day?

About one-third of employees (32%) say that sending their personal snail mail from work is a way to avoid lines at the post office, while one-quarter said the post office's banker hours make it hard to get there in time. Hmm.

Even better, roughly 6% of employees admit to having "embarrassing" packages delivered to their office address. Hey, …

Are You Ready For World Alzheimer's Day?

Wednesday is World Alzheimer's Day. Get ready to go purple!

The Alzheimer's Association is asking people everywhere to wear purple on Wednesday -- a.k.a. Alzheimer's Action Day -- to show support for Alzheimer's awareness. You can also change your Facebook profile photo to bring attention to the cause.

Last year I blogged about an Alzheimer's Disease International report that found the costs of dementia to equal about 1% of world GDP. Dementia would be the world's 18th largest economy if it were an economy. Wow.

Click here for the 2011 Alzheimer's Disease International report, which concludes that as many as 28 million people have early stage dementia but don't know it.

So wear a little purple this week, remind your Facebook friends, or make a company donation to Alzheimer's research, which is taking a look at Alzheimer's in the workplace. Whatever works for you. Just don't forget.

The White House Is A Hostile Workplace For Women, Or Not

If you watch the 20-minute cable news loop today, you'll probably hear a story about a Politico story about a new Ron Suskind book that alleges the White House has a problem with women.

Apparently, some former staffers tell Suskind that gender was an issue but now they're saying they were misquoted. Anyway, it's sure to be the talk of Washington's talking heads today, because the people here love a good navel gazing debate even in times of severe economic distress.

So is the White House a hostile work environment for women? I don't know, but the White House is probably a hard place to work no matter who is president because of the long hours and the overly-educated policy wonks who are constantly jockeying for position. One day you're in, the next're out. Project Runway references aside, no wonder White House press secretaries rarely last more than two years on the job. The stress level has got to be amazing.

Maybe the White House can bring in Tim Gu…

Can Employers Secretly Use GPS To Track Employees?

Is it okay for employers to track employees on the down low using a GPS device? It's the question an appeals court will decide in the coming weeks.

An ex-state employee in New York claims his former employer secretly attached a GPS device to his car and tracked his movements 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even when he went on vacation.

The employee's former employer, the New York State Department of Labor (you can't make this stuff up), says it was exploring a pattern of employee misconduct, including the employee's claim that he was working over the weekends.

So terrible invasion of privacy or justifiable investigation of suspicious behavior? I guess the legal eagles will let us know soon. I'll keep you updated.

Post-World War II Workers More Likely To Binge Drink

Step aside Don Draper, because a younger generation of binge drinkers is bellying up to the bar.

The generations born after World War II are more likely to binge drink and to become alcoholics, according to new research to be published in an upcoming issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. Not only are the post-World War II generations living it up just a little bit too much, it doesn't matter if they're male or female or where in the world they live.

Economic instability and work stress are partly to blame for younger generations getting their drink on more often than great-grandpa's generation. The researchers highlight the workplace as democratizing drinking for women in particular:
[Richard A. Grucza, an epidemiologist at Washington University School of Medicine] added that social and cultural changes specific to women in western cultures during the past 50 to 60 years are too numerous to count. "By and large, these changes mean women have many opp…

First Step To Higher Productivity? 10,000 Steps Per Day

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If you want higher productivity in your workplace, then you might want to tell employees that the elevator will be out of service for the rest of the year.

Employees who walk at least 10,000 steps per day in addition to three gym workouts per week are giving their employers $2,500 in added workplace productivity every year, according to a new Swedish study.

How far is 10,000 steps, anyway? Well, it's about five miles-worth of walking. But employees don't need to know this, do they!? Phrasing it as "10,000 steps" makes it sound like a walk in the park. It's all in the marketing. Give employees cheap pedometers and get them sweating to the oldies. Those stairs don't climb themselves.

UBS Can't Remember Where It Put $2 Billion

Our grade schooler just found a $10 bill we had misplaced in an old shirt pocket. We let her keep it because she was so excited. But what if like Swiss investment bank UBS, you can't find $2 billion?

Yes, UBS is telling the world this morning that a "rogue trader" racked up $2 billion in unauthorized trading losses and now the third quarter spreadsheets aren't looking so hot anymore. A 31-year-old UBS employee has been arrested in London. Oopsies. Via Bloomberg:

While the loss is "manageable" for UBS, it's "obviously not helpful for sentiment and confidence in the bank's risk management following the near-death experience of 2008-2009," said Andrew Lim, a London-based analyst at Espirito Santo Investment Bank, in a note. Lim had estimated third-quarter net income of 1.1 billion francs for UBS.
A $2 BILLION loss is "manageable"? There aren't very many companies that could say this with a straight face. And haven't we been tol…

Breaking News: Managers Don't Like Work-Life Balance Programs

If you're working hard to put food on your family, then you might be interested in a new WorldatWork Alliance for Work-Life Progress report that essentially tells us how much managers hate all of our modern-day, namby-pamby work-life balance programs and flexible work arrangements.

Not only are managers biased against work-life programs, WorldatWork tells us that they're actively punishing the employees who take advantage of them by promoting someone else, giving negative job performance reviews, assigning crap work, and overall just sort of subtly discouraging employees from signing up for work-life balance programs and flexible work arrangements in the first place. You can look, but don't touch! This is for PR and business magazine annual ranking lists only, people!

In fact, roughly 40% of the managers surveyed think the most productive employees are "those without a lot of personal commitments," and more than half think the ideal employee is "one [who] is a…

Is It Okay To @*^%$#@ Swear At Work?

People are swearing at work. No, really. It's happening!

Thanks to salty-tongued former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz, swearing at work -- is it good, is it bad, should women swear, should they not, what does it all mean for office protocol -- is a meme of the week for business journalists. Oh, great. Don't these reporters ever read blogs or use Twitter? Everyone is swearing left and right these days, men and women alike. It's not really a gender issue anymore, at least for the younger generations or anyone who reads Jezebel. We all know people with hot tempers who swear more than they should. And yes, the occasional four-letter word has been known to slip out even on the job. But with any luck, not in front of customers unless you know them very, very well.

The problem with cussing at work is that there's an inverse correlation that comes along with it. The more we swear, the less impact our high-octane words have on the intended audience over time. That's because we human …

Hospital Employees Are Sick, Pay More For Health Insurance

Do you know that hospital employees pay more for health insurance than employees in other industries and also tend to be in worse health?

It's true, if you believe the results of a new study from Thomson Reuters that examined the general health and health care benefits of more than one million hospital workers and their dependents and then compared these findings to employees (and their dependents) in the general U.S. workforce.

Thomson Reuters' diagnosis? Hospital employees have a 8.6% higher "illness burden" than other employees. In fact, people who work in U.S. hospitals are more likely to have HIV, mental illness, asthma, diabetes, congestive heart failure and hypertension. Hospital workers and their dependents, however, tend to avoid doctor's appointments, and more than one-fifth (22%) go to the emergency room for treatment.

Hospital employees spend 10% more for their health coverage, too. The annual health care costs of hospital employees and their dependents …

American Jobs Act News Round-up

As President Obama gave his big jobs speech last night, residents of the greater Washington area were trying to stem the deluge caused by five days of unrelenting, torrential rain.

Our streets are now rivers, schools and roads are closed all over D.C., Maryland and Virginia, and parts of the Capital Beltway are under water so fewer inside-the-Beltway commuters will actually be taking their mindsets inside the Beltway. Obviously, God has had enough of our smoothie-sipping, upscale cupcake eating, lack of job creating, flash-flood surfing ways.

But back to the president's speech announcing the $450 billion-ish American Jobs Act. I'm certainly no E.J. Dionne or Howard Fineman, but I thought it was his best speech in quite awhile. Passionate, bold, direct, calling on Congress to stop the silly circus, asking repeatedly for immediate action ("Pass this bill right away..."), and seeing the jobs problem for it really is: a severe crisis that can't wait another 14 months f…

Study: 60% Of Employees Are Making Dumb Business Decisions

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Wait! Before your make any business decisions today, are you absolutely sure they're good ones?

I ask this question because the Corporate Executive Board surveyed 5,000 employees and found 60% of them are making bad business decisions on a regular basis.

More to the point, nearly two-thirds (62%) of employees don't really know what to do with the information they're given every day. Workers with insight deficits (you can't make these terms up) are failing "to complement data with the necessary judgment to arrive at optimal conclusions," according to CEB.

In other words, they're reading documents and spreadsheets and hastily-scribbled memos and status updates and then screwing up royally. Hey, we're all human at the end of the day and even half of senior managers surveyed are prone to their own insight deficit moments, so there.

The best part? CEB tells us that more than one-third (43%) of employees trust but fail to verify da…

Humans Like To Talk At the Same Time

The abbreviated post-Labor Day work week has everyone thinking it's Wednesday, days of drenching rain has Washingtonians complaining they have Seasonal Affective Disorder in early September, and the president's big jobs speech to Congress tonight is going to mess up some football game.

Four-day work weeks are always weird because everything feels so off-kilter with strange bursts of activity at what feel like the wrong times, which, it turns out, is a lot like our communication pattern! A new study finds humans communicate in short bursts followed by bouts of silence. Seems obvious, until you discover this communication pattern holds true whether we're communicating on the internet, by e-mail, over the phone, or via the stock market. How cool is that? When it comes to talking, we're hot then we're cold, we're yes then we're no, we're in then we're out, we're up then we're down -- or some other non-Katy Perry-inspired description of human inte…

Is It Okay To Fire Someone Over the Phone?

Yahoo fired CEO Carol Bartz yesterday, and how it went down has everyone talking.

Bartz sent a company-wide "goodbye" email claiming she was fired over the phone. Not in person by a real human being, over the phone. And she's the CEO!

Well, at least she can be thankful that she wasn't fired by email. She didn't show up to work one morning to find the building locked or her personal access denied. She wasn't ushered into a conference room to have an Up In the Air-like third party contractor do management's dirty work. We'll need your I.D. badge, you don't need to work the rest of the day, I can't answer your questions. Good night, and good luck. Wait, wrong movie.

The sad truth is that technology is making the act of firing people way too easy and way too impersonal. Email, Facebook, Twitter have become walls companies can hide behind to avoid the incoming (questions, shock, tears). Firing an employee via electronic means is still a subject of de…

Cool Job Openings: Apple New Product Security Manager

A top-secret iPhone 5 prototype walks into a bar...

Yes, for the second time an Apple employee has reportedly lost a top-secret iPhone prototype. The most recent episode of iLostit happened in late July in a fun-looking San Francisco bar with a website that blasts loud music, and now Apple is looking to hire a few good New Product Security Managers.

So if you're unemployed, know a thing or two about keeping top-secret prototypes out of hipster dining establishments and don't mind living in or around the pricey South Bay, you can look for the job listing here. By the way, if you happen to see an iPhone 5 for sale of Craigslist or some other website, Apple would probably like it back.

And if you're lucky enough to land a job interview, it's a good idea to stay away from any "two iPhones walk into a bar..." jokes.

Let's Celebrate National Payroll Week!

After last week's dismal August jobs report that took the "labor" out of Labor Day and had business reporters all over America thinking they were so clever for referencing that "Saved By Zero" song and that ancient Robert Downey Jr. movie and then sort of pausing as a nation to celebrate Labor Day's impending demise, we can now get down to business.

It's finally September! Yay! It's also National Payroll Week, everyone!

According to (it has its own website, so it must be official):
National Payroll Week celebrates the hard work by America's 156 million wage earners and the payroll professionals who pay them. Together, through the payroll withholding system, they contribute, collect, report and deposit approximately $1.7 trillion, or 71.9%, of the annual revenue of the U.S. Treasury.
Then again, the average workweek for private sector employees fell 0.1% to 34.2 hours in August and their average hourly earnings dropped 3 cent…

The State With the Most Workforce Meth Use Is...

Pop quiz: Which U.S. state leads the nation in workforce meth use?

If you think it's Oregon, which would be a good guess if you're a regular Frontline viewer, you are wrong. No, the answer is Hawaii.

Hawaii? Apparently so. Not only does the Aloha State come in first, it lands in first by a long way. Hawaii's workforce methamphetamine use outpaces the national average by a whopping 410%, according to a new study out today from Quest Diagnostics. Supposedly, it's the first state-by-state urine analysis of workforce meth use.

Here is Quest's list of the top nine workforce meth-using states. The accompanying percentage shows how much the state's rate of use exceeds the national average:

Hawaii (410%)
Arkansas (280%)
Oklahoma (240%)
Nevada (180%)
California (140%)
Wyoming (130%)
Utah (120%)
Arizona (100%)
Kansas (80%)

Kansas? Utah? Wow. And I thought bedbugs were everywhere now. But the study also tells us that workforce cocaine use has fallen 65% over the last five…

Three In 10 U.S. Workers Worry They'll Be Laid Off Soon

As President Obama gears up for his big jobs speech on September 7 -- no wait, on September 8 -- Gallup reminds us once again just how bad it is out there.

Three in 10 U.S. employees think they'll be getting the axe soon, Gallup says. Verging on one-third (30%) of employees worry their work hours will get cut, while exactly one-third (33%) worry their wages will go down. But their biggest worry is benefits: More than four in 10 workers (44%) lay awake at night wondering when their benefits will get slashed.

The worst part? Worries over impending joblessness are back where they were in 2009 during the height of the Great Recession, which we all know isn't really over.

I hope the president "goes big" on his jobs plan, but I fear he'll continue to tinker around the edges of the unemployment problem without proposing some sort of large-scale jobs program or offering employers new incentives for hiring the long-term unemployed and addressing the elephant in the room: …

Medical Professionals Need To Scrub Their Scrubs

The next time you see a hospital employee walking around town in their scrubs, you'd better hope they're wearing a clean outfit.

A new Israeli study concludes that more than half of nurses' scrubs carry some type of bacteria. Somehow this finding isn't very surprising, but then you learn that of the 238 nurse and doctor uniform samples tested, at least half had something nasty on them. In some cases, the researchers found signs of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, which causes very hard-to-treat infections.

Ick. Who knows how bad the skanky scrub problem is stateside, but still. We don't want no scrubs, especially when we're eating in a restaurant or roaming the aisles at the grocery store. Take it away, TLC.