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Showing posts from November, 2011

Breaking News: Everyone Thinks the "Millennials" Are Lazy Whiners

Do you think your 20-something co-workers are lazy, unfocused and in general, just sort of whiny and unmotivated?

Well, so do all your other (older) co-workers!

A new poll of more than 600 employees by Raleigh, North Carolina-based consulting firm Workplace Options finds the youngest workplace generation has a "distinct" (a.k.a. terrible) work ethic. More than three-fourths (77%) of workers polled believe the Millennials "have a different attitude toward workplace responsibility than workers of other age groups," while 68% think the Millennials are "less motivated to take on responsibility and produce quality work compared to their counterparts." According to the press release:
"The idea that younger workers are not as engaged or motivated as older workers is interesting from a management perspective, but may be shortsighted," said Dean Debnam, chief executive officer at Workplace Options. "The attitudes reflected in this poll may stem, in par…

China To Say Zai Jian To the Humanities

Was your undergraduate degree pretty much useless in helping you land your first "real" job? If you majored in the humanities only to turn around and enter graduate school in a valiant attempt to major in something targeted and useful, then you know what I'm talking about.

The Chinese Ministry of Education is apparently tired of its graduates playing the "why the hell did I major in this?" game, because it's just announced that it will start eliminating college majors that muster an overall employment rate below 60% over consecutive years. Your college major better lead to a job, or else! According to the Wall Street Journal:
None of the reports specified which majors would be cut under the new rules, but there are signs that some universities have already started taking steps to decrease the size of programs that don’t result in paid positions. Enrollment in a Russian program at China’s Shenyang Normal University was cut to 25 students this year from 50 in p…

Are Scammers Targeting Workplaces On Cyber Monday?

It's Cyber Monday, the day when online retailers finally get their moment in the sun. But if you plan on shopping from work today, you might need sunlight to disinfect your hard drive afterward.


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Shopping at home is different from shopping at work. At home, it's your personal computer on the line and you're going to be more careful about the sites you pull up. When you're at work, however, it's the company's computer at risk and can't the IT department just fix it already? That's a big part of the problem, along with our attraction to deals that save pennies on the dollar.

And with a new Cyber Monday CareerBuilder survey telling us half of employees plan to shop online at work this holiday season, let's all get ready for viruses and spyware galore. Good luck, IT. You're going to need it.

We Gave Thanks, Now Let's Lose Our Unemployment Benefits

It's the Monday after Thanksgiving, and I'm so over turkey leftovers.

To be honest, I'm not much of a leftovers person, no matter the dish. I very much enjoy the meaning behind Thanksgiving, but leftover food that's been sitting in the refrigerator for more than 48 hours is pretty sketch with me. So while my Facebook friends are raving about their innovative cranberry-mashed potato turkey sandwiches for the fourth day in a row (yum?), I'm pondering exactly when to ditch our sparse, intentionally-downsized Thanksgiving meal to make more room for the foods we'll actually eat.

In any case, I hope your holiday was everything you wanted it to be, and more!

So what to write about this post-holiday morning...well, there's always Gawker's very awesome round-up of Thanksgiving retail worker news that happened over the long weekend and was peppered with enough excitement to bring a tear to the eye. Black Friday sales hit a new record, thanks in part to employees wor…

Gen Xers Now Most Likely To Get Plastic Surgery

My grade schooler was being particularly helpful at the grocery store the other day, and I thanked her. "No problem, Mom! I like helping the elderly."

Bada-bing, bada-boom.

Like every other Gen Xer, I'm starting to feel my years. As I look in the mirror, I often have the same reaction I do whenever I see a McCain-Palin bumper sticker on someone's car: Really?

Now we learn that Gen Xers are going under the knife in a big way. A survey from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) reveals that 43% of all cosmetic surgery procedures last year were performed on Gen Xers between the ages of 31 and 45. Baby Boomers (defined as those between the ages of 51 and 64) comprised a mere 28% of all cosmetic surgeries.

Never trust anyone over 30, or at least recommend they look into Botox. Gen Xers flirting with the big 4-0 are feeling the pressure to keep up with the Jennifer Anistons of the celebrity circuit:
This pressure - whether it's real or perceived - alon…

Ho, Ho, Ho: More Employers Blocking Online Holiday Shopping This Year

It's time to hit the Internet for holiday presents, but don't be surprised if you can't connect to your favorite retail websites at work.

A new Robert Half Technology survey of more than 1,400 U.S. chief information officers reveals these tech-savvy office Grinches plan on stealing your online access this holiday season. A full 60% of CIOs will block retail websites in the coming weeks -- a 12% increase over last year. Nearly one-quarter (23%) will let employees shop online at work but they'll "monitor activity for excessive use." One wonders how "excessive use" is defined, exactly.

The percentage of companies that will give employees unlimited, all-you-can-eat online shopping access this holiday season: 13%. The CIOs who let employees shop online expect it to suck up at least FOUR HOURS of employees' time per week. Um, yeah...I'm finishing up that report and I'll send it to you after I get my shopping cart through Amazon's online che…

Technology Trends: Microsoft's Workplace Activity Patent

Your days of dissing the company on the down low may be numbered.

Microsoft has filed a patent for a "system" that lets employers track employees right down to their physical gestures and will alert HR whenever it sees something amiss. As for the actual patent application, it's Patent No. 20110276369, which describes the technology thus:
Approaches are provided for monitoring, analyzing, and influencing organizational behaviors through multi-modal communication systems. Desired and undesired behaviors and applicable organizational contexts are defined and action plans developed. The behaviors are then monitored through communication sessions between members and analyzed for comparison to the action plans such that feedback may be provided at individual and/or organizational levels to influence the behaviors.
I'm not sure what "undesired behaviors and applicable organizational contexts" means exactly either, but it's sort of creeping me out. According to I…

Science Helps Overbearing Parents Become Even More Overbearing

The Congressional "Supercommittee" warns us that it can't legislate its way out of a paper bag, 60 Minutes jumps the shark by deeming model singer Taylor Swift worthy of one of its once-lofty artist profiles, and now this.

We've entered the age when parents can buy DNA test kits to determine the sports and activities in which their children are most likely to excel. A Boulder, Colorado company called Atlas Sports Genetics claims it can hit a home run in assessing a child's sports aptitude, and it's selling DNA swab test kits to living vicariously through their kids worried parents for $160. Open up and say "aaah" Timmy or Tammy, because we need to know whether you'll do better in soccer, t-ball or Little Gym! According to one article:
The swabs are sent to Atlas, then to a lab in Australia.

The company is looking for something called the ACTN-three gene, which is responsible for fast-twitch explosive muscles.

"It's really just a tool in a t…

Friday Funnies: Blonde On An Escalator

So a blonde tries to go up a down escalator...I'll let you step in here with your own jokes.

Do You Work With A Know-It-All?

Do you work with someone who always tries to make you feel like you were born in a barn? A co-worker who never misses an opportunity to look down his or her nose at you? If you haven't encountered the condescending co-worker, you will eventually. It's almost unavoidable, and it's how you handle these insufferable know-it-alls that makes all the difference. You'll know immediately when you're in the presence of a condescending co-worker. There's a tone in the voice and a certain look in the eyes, as if they're wondering how you manage to button your shirt in the morning without a manual. They'll want to explain the basics of your job to you when you've been doing it (quite well, thank you) for a few years now and you have the student loan debt to prove it. Maybe this person refers to you by pet names such as "sweetie" or "cutie" or the dreaded "hon" instead of your real name while shunting all of the less mentally-inten…

Cool Workplaces: The Motley Fool

How can you create a more fun, trustworthy workplace in these stressful times and reinvent the whole idea of work/life balance?

In a new weekly series dubbed "cool workplaces," I'll spotlight a company that's doing cool things to make life better for employees. Here are Sam Moore Cicotello and Lee Burbage from the "People Department" (read: HR) at Virginia-based investing website The Motley Fool talking about the company's work/life balance strategies at a recent TEDx event in Washington, DC.

So what is The Motley Fool doing to make life better for employees in this never-ending recession? For starters, the company doesn't have a vacation policy. The Motley Fool's employees are in charge of their own vacation days and when they want to take time off, and it's been company policy for 18 years. The office boasts an open floor plan with desks on wheels so employees can pair up for projects or move their desks just for the hell of it (hey, we all …

Would You Give A Bank Your Social Media Passwords?

An Australian bank is apparently kicking around a new customer relations idea: Give us access to your social media accounts or we'll charge your more. Is it the wave of the future for retailers everywhere?

Australia's Commonwealth Bank sees a gold mine of data mining in our musings about what we had for lunch, how our toddler had a tantrum at Target and what we're having for dinner. Plus, the bank can make money by turning around to sell customers' social media "data" to others! And if you as the customer don't want to fork over your social media updates on a digital platter, then you can just pay more for the bank's services, capische? Looking for a credit union in 3, 2, 1. As The Sydney Morning Heraldreports:
Presumably, such a system also relies on providers such as utilities and rival financial institutions signing on as channel partners, and the bank taking a clip on each product it sells.

At the same time, by having greater access to your Facebook …

U.S. Census: Relocation Rate Lowest Since 1948

Thinking about moving to a new city or state soon? If you're like your fellow Americans, probably not.

As we gear up to celebrate the Pilgrims and all things Mayflower next week, the folks at the U.S. Census tell us that fewer Americans are moving than at any time since 1948. Essentially, we're becoming a nation of homebodies like the Greatest Generation. Of course, the economy is to blame because it's always to blame these days for pretty much everything, isn't it? According to the Census press release:
For those who moved to a different county or state, the reasons for moving varied considerably by the length of their move. According to Geographical Mobility: 2008 to 2009, when people moved a considerable distance between 2008 and 2009 ─ 500 or more miles ─ it was most likely for employment-related reasons, which were cited by 43.9 percent of such movers, as opposed to housing-related reasons, given by 11.6 percent. Conversely, when people didn't move far ─ less th…

Cool Job Openings: NASA Is Looking For Astronauts

Remember when you were eight and you wanted to be an astronaut? Well, now you can! That's because NASA has just announced it's looking for new astronauts as of today, and the application process will be open to the public until January 27.

The job opening is posted at USAJobs.gov. Simply type "astronaut" into the "what" field and the listing should come up. If it doesn't, here is most of it courtesy of cut and paste:
Astronaut Candidate

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has a need for Astronaut Candidates to support the International Space Station (ISS) Program and future deep space exploration activities.

Agency: Johnson Space Center

Location: Houston,Texas

Salary: $64,724.00 to $141,715.00

Open Period: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 to Friday, January 27, 2012

Who May Apply: This announcement is open to all qualified U.S. citizens.

Series & Grade: GS-0801-11/14

Position Information: Full Time - Permanent

JOB SUMMARY:

NASA, the world's l…

Farm Workers, the Metal Ones Are Coming For You

Modern-day Americans are notorious for not wanting to get their hands dirty on the job, especially when it comes to farm work.

No, we prefer to leave these tasks to people from other countries, but even they shouldn't bet the farm on keeping these jobs for much longer. That's because a Massachusetts start-up called Harvest Automation is developing mini robots that can perform our farm-like tasks for us, and these robots have been created specifically with U.S. labor problems (read: illegal immigration) in mind, apparently. According to Wired.com:
Massachusetts startup Harvest Automation is beta testing a small mobile robot that it's pitching to nurseries as the solution to their most pressing problem: a volatile labor market.

The multi-billion-dollar industry that supplies ornamental plants to building contractors, big-box retailers and landscaping firms — $11.7 billion according to the most recent USDA figures — has been eagerly awaiting automation for decades. The down econ…

Your Thanksgiving Dinner Will Cost More Than Ever Before

Are you stocking up on stuffing yet? No? Well, you're going to have to start soon because Thanksgiving (the U.S. version) is almost here. And this year it's going to cost you an arm and a leg and a wing.

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation just hatched its annual Thanksgiving cost survey that tells us this year's Thanksgiving celebration will be the most expensive since we arrived on the Mayflower. Thanksgiving will cost the average U.S. family 13% more than last year. In 1986, a turkey dinner with all of the fixings cost an average of $28.74. This year, the cost will average $49.20. Let's just round up to $50, shall we?

Why will it be the most expensive Thanksgiving ever, you ask? Food prices keep rising due to global demand, for starters. But you already know this, because you go to the grocery store. What you might not realize is that turkey in particular has been gaining in popularity around the world, which means the cost (not so thankfully) has been going up steadily.…

Friday Workplace News Round-up

I haven't done a news round-up in awhile but it's Friday, my younger child has a cold that I've somehow managed to avoid so far, and I can't think of anything else to do at the moment. So there.

Zynga tells its employees to give back all their pre-IPO shares or get fired.

If you have facial scars or blemishes, the person interviewing you for a job won't remember pretty much anything you said.

It's 11/11/11 and numerologists are all over it.

How to create an emotionally intelligent warrior. I don't know this means exactly, either.

I just love the Waylon Jennings-inspired title of this workplace story. Good work, editor.

Current college students say to give them social media access or they won't take the job. (Shh, nobody tell them that there aren't very many jobs to go to.)

The top five workplace benefits trends for 2012.

How to find a job in charity social media. Who knew?

The White House, SBA and Senate work on ways to turn military veterans into entrepre…

10 Fictional Workplaces We Wish Were Real

Have you ever wished that a movie or television workplace could be real? And that you could work there, even if only for a day?

Of course, the jobs portrayed in the movies and on teevee always seem far more glamorous, exciting and fun than they really are, and why do all of the characters in these fictional offices always look like former models? Our real jobs add ten pounds without a camera lens, and going to Super Snips for the $20 hair trim (plus tip) isn't doing us any favors in this recession. Sure, these movie and teevee workplaces are pure fantasy and exist solely in the minds of Hollywood script writers, but haven't we all had moments where we think anywhere but our real office would be so much better? The grass is always greener on the other side of the screen.

This great article ranks the top ten fictional workplaces we wish were real. Some workplaces that made the list include TGS (30 Rock), Pawnee Parks Department (Parks And Recreation), and MacMillan Toys (from the …

OSHA To Retailers: Keep Holiday Workers From Getting Trampled, Please

It's not even Thanksgiving yet, and every major retailer except Nordstrom already thinks it's Christmas.

Let's face it: Thanksgiving has become the Jan Brady of the holiday season while Christmas is all Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. I guess this makes Cindy Brady Halloween? I always wanted Cindy's Kitty Carryall doll. It was so awesome. Remember the episode where Kitty Carryall got lost, and the one where Bobby and Cindy got lost in the Grand Canyon? Something was always getting lost on that show. Anyway, I'm getting off track. Where was I going with this post? Oh, yes. The holidays. Shopping. Black Friday. And seasonal retail workers tragically getting trampled and killed by rabid, angry customers.





This time of year can be worse than the bridal gown sale at Filene's Basement, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration must realize this because it's just issued an anti-trampling fact sheet full of safety suggestions for major U.S. retailers.

Among the tip…

Technology Trends: All Hail the "HusbandMotivator" App

Does your husband seem less than motivated to find a new job? Don't worry, because there's an app for that now.

The new HusbandMotivator (TM) app from a new company called Weongozi will supposedly not only motivate him to job hunt, it will get him off the couch to take out the garbage, to fix the car, to mow the lawn...pretty much anything you need him to do in any given moment! How does the app work, you ask? I'll let the press release explain:
The HusbandMotivator™ App gives you tips, hints - and a simple script to read to make your requests touch all the right buttons to persuade your husband to do what you want.

The new app uses the latest Artificial Intelligence tools to identify the psychological triggers that will move your husband to take action.

"HusbandMotivator™ can help improve your relationship and solve problems with your man. Now you can change your husband's behavior - without nagging. Is this the best wedding gift you never got?" said Shelle Rose…

A Shameless Bit Of Self-Promotion: My Jim Collins Interview

So I got an email from the nice folks at Costco's membership magazine asking me if I'd like to interview well-known business guru Jim Collins, author of the business classics Good To Great and Built To Last, about his new book, Great By Choice. Um, yes, please?

It was a fun interview, and he was very gracious with his time and his insights into why some companies thrive in uncertainty and economic chaos while others do not. Here's the story. Now it's back to tending to my youngest Jr. Workplace Diva who has a cold. She just coughed into my mouth as I was picking her up, so it's only a matter of time before I get my turn. Well, it is cold and flu season. You've gotten your flu shot, right?

Breaking News: Employees Are Cheating On Their Time Cards

Have you ever padded your time card with extra minutes or hours?


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A new Kronos/Workforce Institute survey of more than 2,000 workers worldwide (if the "world" consists of only the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Canada, China, France, India and Mexico) finds we're getting a bit punchy, if you know what I mean.

India ranks first in time card cheaters with nearly three-fourths (73%) of workers cheating on their time cards while Canadians (26%) are the least likely to cheat their employers on the number of hours worked. Rounding out the middle of the list are China (72%), Australia (51%), Mexico (49%), the U.K. (37%), France (33%), and the United States (33%).

So we Americans actually rank pretty low in terms of time card cheaters/pay padders. We're tied with the French for second-to-last place, but neither of us are as honest as the Canadians. Forget freedom fries, because we have more in common with the French people than we th…

Facebook Makes Employees' Kids Come To Work For Good-night Kisses?

Burning the midnight oil at work lately? Just be glad you don't work at Facebook, where the long work hours have employees' young children trekking into the company's California headquarters to tell Mom or Dad goodnight.

According to Gawker according to Forbes, Facebook employees endured a "lockdown" this summer where they worked nights and weekends for 60 days amid the Google+ threat. Check this out from the Forbes article:
However, inside the Palo Alto office where more than 750 engineers regularly pass by the small glass conference room in which Zuckerberg, 27, holds court, Facebook employees put in some serious overtime during the summer lockdown. This had happened only once before in recent years at Facebook: After word leaked that Google was starting work on a "Facebook killer" in summer 2010, Zuckerberg called on engineers to work nights and weekends for 60 days to revamp key social features like photos, groups, and events. Just as it did then, the…

Achoo! Half Of U.S. Workers Are Faking Sick Days

A co-worker calls in sick and you can't help but think, "Hmm, I wonder if she's really sick or she's going to the mall." If a new Kronos/Harris Interactive survey is to be believed, the mall might be a better guess.

The survey concludes that half of working Americans are regularly faking sick days. You're not going to be able to make it to work today because you're not feeling well. Blah, blah -- we've all heard it before. But the half-yearly sale is starting today at your favorite department store and you want to snag the best deals. Besides, you're burned out after weeks (or months) of high stress and heavy workload. If your company would simply offer more paid time off or some much-needed flex time, you wouldn't have to resort to such measures. Sure, your co-workers are going to be pissed off and they'll suspect that you're not really sick, but they're taking their own "sick" days here and there -- curiously, always on …

End Of Daylight Saving Time Means Tired Employees

I hope you're enjoying these last few days of evening daylight, because they're coming to a screeching halt this weekend. That's right: Daylight Saving Time is ending. It's almost time to turn the clocks back one hour and return to Standard Time. Sigh.

Then it'll be time to wander around for a few days feeling like your whole day is off. You're gaining an hour, but the time change will still mess with your head. What time is it, again? It feels like noon but it's only 11. And it's almost dark on the drive home. Why do I suddenly want to eat dinner at 4:30? Man, I really hate this already. How long until the clocks move ahead again?

If you're a busy manager already planning ahead for next week (and you are, aren't you?), then you might want to take a minute to ponder the effect of the time change on employees. One study estimated that Daylight Saving Time costs the United States $480,000,000 in lost productivity. Talk about burning daylight.

Other s…