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We've Got Email Overload And It's Driving Us Crazy

Do you have unread e-mail waiting for your immediate attention? Oh come on, admit it: There are a lot of e-mails you haven't opened -- or you've opened them, but haven't really had a chance to read them yet -- because you have a million other things battling for your limited attention span. Don't worry, you're not alone. From junk mail that made it into your "real mail" box to the e-mail from two days ago you "really need to get to," it's all there, in bold, screaming for you to click and read. Can we just highlight the whole thing and hit "delete all" already? We're all struggling to keep up with e-mail. Case in point: A new report from software company Varonis that finds 10% of employees have 10,000 e-mails or more sitting in their in-boxes right now. According to Technologyguide.com:Varonis' report, which focused on employees' "digital habits and vices," goes on to say that almost a quarter of those surv…

Last Writes: Do You Need A Workplace Will?

You come to work one day to find your job has gone belly up. You either have five minutes to gather all of your stuff, or it's waiting for you in a box at the reception area. Did you (or they) remember to get everything? Unfortunately, it's a fair question in these times when more than one newly-minted ex-employee has forgotten his or her ______ at a former job, and he or she may or may not be able to (or want to) get it back. Just imagine the millions in lost and abandoned personal items left behind by the "just fired" in many an office building during the Great Recession, from expensive pens to picture frames to pretty pashmina scarves. Surely, there's a museum's worth of stuff in this enormous workplace lost and found. And who is going to take care of the plants newly-minted ex-employee always watered because no one else ever bothered to do it? Maybe you need to craft a workplace will before stuff really hits the fan. And a lot of times, we sense when th…

Slack To The Future: The 50 Best Places To Work In 2013

2012 is almost over, hiring seems to be up, and employees are down on their jobs and shooting a sideways glance at greener pastures as they work up a list of workplace resolutions for the coming year. Glassdoor.com is on the other side of that greener pasture (funny, it really is better over there...) frantically waving its list of the top 50 companies to work for in 2013. Yes, 2013. As in, the future baby, which is a little over two weeks away. Let's look forward instead of backward, unlike the impending flurry of useless but mildly entertaining year-end "top 10 of 2012" listicles coming your way soon from neurotic, underpaid content providers journalists. (P.S.: Stay tuned for some upcoming, useless, year-end "top 10 of 2012" listicles on this blog!) Glassdoor's fifth-annual Employees' Choice Awards -- a.k.a., the Top 50 Places To Work list -- is based on almost half a million company reviews and ratings submitted over the last year by employees wh…

Let's All Self-Deport To Telework Week 2013

Are You Ready For Telework Week? Don't worry, it's not happening until the week of March 4-8, 2013. But now is the time to remind your boss what telework is, and why you should be able to try it for a week. How can you miss me if I'm always here!? On that note, "telework" is the same thing as "remote work" or "telecommuting," we just like to have multiple words that mean the same thing to confuse managers, employees and journalists alike. Am I teleworking or telecommuting? I'm not sure. Rest assured that no matter which word you choose, it means YOU'RE NOT COMING TO THE OFFICE TODAY and you're not going to be swerving your vehicle on the interstate to miss a family of ducks crossing the road. Maybe life really is about the journey and not the destination? Amazing. But back to Telework Week, which is meant to encourage a higher comfort level with telecommuting options. Last year, more than 71,000 employees participated in Telework…

Monday Morning Workplace News Round-up

Only 15 days until Christmas -- at least that's what my kids keep reminding me. The pressure is on, the buzzer is going off, the jig is up, it's a throw down in the check-out line. Having fun yet? I am, at least with prepositions. Here's your Monday Morning Workplace News Round-up. U.S. employers created 146,000 jobs in November. Somewhere, Jack Welch weeps while tweeting. It's now illegal for New Jersey employers to ask job applicants for their social media passwords. More than three-fourths of Americans demand a Do Not Mail law to stop all the advertising circulars. Hear that, Congress? Our overcrowded kitchen counters will thank you. UPS employee Ken Jones puts a modern-day spin on an old classic. So funny, and so true. Attention, Corporate America: There isn't a lack of qualified U.S. job applicants, says this CEO. Half of Canada will throw a holiday workplace party this year. Yay! Psst, office gossip is great for making your lazy co-workers feel terribl…

Psst, The Boss Spent $42 On Your Holiday Gift

Worried your company won't spring for employee holiday gifts this year and you'll end up stiffed like a modern-day Clark Griswold? There might not be a hefty bonus check in your future to fund a sweet backyard swimming pool, but your employer isn't going to leave you high and dry this holiday season, either. The Advertising Specialty Institute's 2012 corporate gift-giving survey finds employers will shell out an average of $42 per employee on holiday gifts this year, compared to an average of $26 per client. So you'll make out better than the client who represents 2% of your total business but takes up 98% of your time. There, feel better now? Not to burst your bubble, but this $42 price tag is actually lower than last year when employers spent an average of $43 per employee. Hey, it's a difference of only one dollar, which means one less trip to the dollar store for the department's capable administrative assistant. Oh, who are we kidding. Put the not-so…

Bank Of America Makes Flex Time Less Flexible

Bank of America has a message for its employees this week: Get your butts back into the office! Like many other big companies, Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America went with the whole "let's offer our employees a flex time program" mindset that's been so popular over the last decade with America's "My child has a 2 p.m. check-up at the pediatrician and they couldn't fit us in at any other time and I really tried to find another time first thing in the morning and the mean receptionist was so inflexible that I'm going to find a new pediatrician" workforce. So Bank of America started a workplace flex program called "My Work" that allows employees to work up a routine of working at their desks a little here, telecommuting from home a little there, and taking advantage of the company's special "telecommuting centers," which I sort of envision as telecommuting banks at a bank. Add more flexibility to your work rou…

This Year's Tuesday Holidays Mean More Paid Time Off

Christmas and New Year's Day fall on consecutive Tuesdays this year and it means more paid time off for the average employee, according to a new Bloomberg BNA survey. I think we can all toot our noisemakers to that! You can thank the calendar for what you're about to receive, which just might be THREE paid days off later this month instead of only two paid days off last year when Christmas and New Year's happened over the weekend. Ugh! There's nothing like a major holiday on a Saturday or Sunday to totally screw up your workplace escape, is there? Bah-humbug! But this year, you've got it made in the Winter Soltice shade. Monday, December 24 will be pretty much useless work-wise, and everyone will be exhibiting signs of presenteeism (the non-gift giving kind) on the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday following Christmas Day. Then it's the weekend, followed by New Year's Eve on Monday, December 31 and the office will be closed again on Tuesday, January 1. Your…

The Red Tape Around Tape Recording At Work

Do you hear what I hear? No, I'm not talking about Whitney Houston's awesome version of the Christmas classic, one of only two songs that can get me to stop channel surfing and listen all the way through* after the soft rock stations start their 24/7 Christmas music marathons in late September. I'm talking about the voice recordings your co-worker might be tape recording secretly at work to document random acts of unkindness and senseless booting. Consider the recent case Jones v. St. Jude Medical Center, in which an employee secretly tape recorded workplace conversations to gather evidence of discrimination. The employer fired her for making the recordings, she filed suit claiming retaliation and Title VII protection, and a judge sided with the employer, citing the company's policy against tape recording in the workplace. This case caught my eye because I have a funny Nickleback/Instagram spoof I want to share and smartphones have made it so easy to record both so…

Workplace Trends: Trick My Work Truck

National Public Radio reports that employees of the future will be working from their cars. Wait a second: The future? Doesn't anyone at NPR ever watch the Bravo network? Everyone on every Bravo show is always on the phone, driving somewhere too fast while yelling at someone on speakerphone as they ramp up their cat couture business or whatever. Working en route is on like Donkey Kong in real life, too, and has been for quite awhile. On any given day, you might be making a (hands-free) work call from your sweet ride with the two car seats in back that will be there until your kids reach either 6 feet or 170 pounds under current state law, and how can crumbs and broken toy parts be scattered all over the floor again? You just vacuumed! We don't have time to answer these questions because working from our cars is going upscale, and how! Car makers are catching onto our obsessive mobile tendencies by creating the next generation of work trucks:"This is the biggest tool in…

The Top 15 Places To Work In U.S. Retail

Let's take a pause from pushing each other away from the bargain bin to ask a serious question: Which retailers make the best employers? Job site Indeed.com has just compiled the top 15 places to work in retail, based on data culled from current and former employees who have posted something on Indeed's "company pages." Here are Indeed's top 15 employers in retail: 1. Apple 2. Disney Store 3. Coach 4. Costco 5. IKEA 6. Dress Barn 7. Halloween City 8. Champs Sports 9. REI 10. Nike 11. Vitamin World 12. Nordstrom 13. Sherwin Williams 14. Finish Line 15. Bath and Body Works The companies made the list based on their compensation/benefits packages, overall management, job security/opportunities for advancement, company culture, and work/life balance. The last one on the list can be harder to find than a store employee when you need help, or maybe that's just me. The first thing I notice? Roughly one-fourth of the companies listed -- Costco, REI, Nike, Nord…

Monday Morning Workplace News Round-up

Ah, Monday morning. Why does it keep rolling around? I'm definitely sensing a pattern. Here's the Monday morning workplace news round-up: Workplace safety standards could soon apply to U.S. flight attendants in flight, per new OSHA proposals. Hard to believe they don't exist already. Should employers automatically own all of your inventions? You missed the third-annual Boring Conference because you were busy being bored in a staff meeting. Oh, the irony. Chicago's WGN news crew covers a plane crash on live teevee that turns out to be a staged scene for a teevee drama. Oops. Let's go to the videotape because we can! Are career women twice as likely to be victims of domestic abuse? City-wide workplace parking levies have companies speeding away from one British city, or so say business groups. In other driving news, Toyota dangles early retirement in front of 10% of its U.S. workforce. Disneyland's Living Christmas Tree whistles its way to work. Let the …

Friday Funnies: The Ghostly Elevator Prank

A Brazilian teevee show pranked people on an office elevator by having a youthful, "ghostly" presence pop out of the elevator wall. I think she'd scare the crap out of most of us. Well done, Brazil. Now get back to work!

Employees' Top Workplace Resolutions for 2013

2013 is right around the corner. How the hell did that happen? I'm still hoarding bottled water and canned goods for Y2K. I demand to speak with a manager! But that will have to wait, because first we need to discuss a new Glassdoor/Harris Interactive survey that reveals the average American employee's workplace resolutions for 2013. What, exactly, do employees wish for in the coming year? Perhaps not surprisingly, about one-third (32%) of employees surveyed list getting a raise as their top workplace resolution for 2013. After they get more money, they will start looking for a new job, since "looking for a new job" (23%) ranks second on employees' workplace resolutions list. Employees are also resolved to receive better job performance reviews from the boss (21%); attend more work-related training sessions (16%); use all of their earned vacation days (13%); and "socialize" more often with co-workers (9%). So give me a raise while I look for a new …

How To Deal With Co-workers Who "Borrow" Things They Don't Return

You let a co-worker borrow something of yours awhile ago, and you're still waiting to get it back. And waiting...and waiting. You don't want to think about it, but you have a feeling you've just been pawned. Let's talk about the co-worker who borrows things but never returns them! You may not know who these co-workers are until they "borrow" something from you. Maybe your co-worker "borrows" something work-related, such as your favorite (expensive) pen, and then walks off with it, forever. Or maybe you loaned your co-worker one of your other personal possessions, such as a new gaming DVD or a kitchen item you brought to the company potluck (my condolences) that your co-worker offered to take home to "wash" for you. Whatever it is, the item is now missing from your collection and increasingly you fear you'll never, ever see it again. How do you raise the issue with this co-worker without sending your professional friendship to the poin…

Happy Holidays! Your Co-workers Have Hangovers

This time last year, I blogged about a Caron Treatment Centers survey that revealed half of U.S. employees have missed a day of work due to holiday party hangovers. Now Caron is back with its 2012 survey and, well, keep the ibuprofen handy, employers! Earlier this month, Harris Interactive surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. adults on behalf of Caron Treatment Centers and you might want to go pour yourself a tall, hot cup of coffee because the results are rather staggering. Nearly all of those surveyed (96%) said they have either come to work with a bad hangover after a holiday party, or know someone else who has done so. Almost two-thirds (64%) of our drunk co-workers couldn't even work up the energy to leave the house the day after and called in sick. That's a lot of bad excuses. But wait, the Caron Treatment Center/Harris Interactive survey gets worse: 61% of survey participants have shown up late to work, or left early, due to alcohol-related bad mojo. 54% said they were menta…

Workplace Trends: The Granny Pod

With an estimated 8,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 each day, their children face the future challenge of where to put them. Now a Virginia company has come up with a brick and mortar solution called "The Granny Pod," which -- let's face it -- could also be called "Grandma and Grandpa's future home office," since even the oldest Baby Boomers probably won't be retiring anytime soon. Hey, it's hard to save for retirement* when you had to have those pricey tickets to The Eagles' fourth "Final Farewell Tour," and the vacation home you can't sell in this market was a necessary purchase to host the getaway weekends you put on the credit card to impress annoying people who own even bigger vacation homes. You only live once, and keeping up with the Joneses had you jonesing for a second mortgage back in the day because you never wanted to live like your parents did, holding down a stable-but-boring job for 40 years where a single salary manag…

The Workplace Parables Of Wreck-It Ralph

I saw the movie Wreck-It Ralph recently. It was a great movie, and I was amazed how much it relates to today's workplaces. Let's tear ourselves down to build ourselves back up, shall we? John Lasseter, chief creative officer at Walt Disney Animation Studio and Pixar wunderkind, is a genius for coming up with movies kids will love and adults will relate to between the so-called lines. Consider Finding Nemo, which was released in the wake of 9/11 and dealt with themes of love, loss and letting go. The workplace writer in me would call Wreck-It Ralph Lasseter's comment on the Great Recession because, at its heart, the movie deals with the workplace angst that comes from feeling trapped in a dead-end job and trying to figure out what to do about it. Ralph is the "bad guy" in a 1980s video game that's managed to stay plugged in at a local arcade, a relic of a time gone by. Ralph burned out on his "job" of wrecking things a long time ago, and yearns to …

Monday Morning Workplace News Round-up

It's the Monday after Thanksgiving and we're all going back to work. Or we're getting re-engaged in the act of looking for work, which is a job in itself. I don't know about you, but I'm very tired of turkey. Here's a Monday morning workplace news round-up. Companies are getting rid of the "reply all" email button. Send a "reply all" message to tell your co-workers and see if they catch the irony. This holiday season, give your employer the gift of unused vacation time. Lay me off once, shame on you. Lay me off twice, can't get fooled again. By the way, Jenna Bush is now an editor-at-large and daily columnist for Southern Living magazine because...well, why not? Anyone and his (or her) dog can be a journalist now. Somewhere, an unemployed former-journalist-with-journalism-degree-turned-unpaid-blogger weeps. The long arm of the law captures a 17-year-old manager secretly filming the women's restroom at Long John Silver's. W…

Black Friday Injured Employee News Round-up

I hope you had a very wonderful, relaxing Thanksgiving. Somehow I managed not to burn water and someone else made the pumpkin pie, so I'm thankful all turned out well. Thanksgiving really is one of our best national traditions, especially when someone else is doing the cooking. Now let's turn our attention to one of our worst national traditions, Black Friday, which is in full swing at shopping malls all around the country. And as usual, it's leaving mayhem and broken bones in its wake. In San Antonio, a man pulled a gun on a fellow shopper who cut ahead of him in line at Sears. In Alaska, a Dick's cashier fainted and paramedics had to be called. There were stabbing threats made at a Kmart somewhere, too. Are we having fun yet? Britain's Daily Mail has the complete rundown. Let's go to the videotape, because moving pictures say a thousand words, don't they? Here's a quick compilation of the best of the Black Friday web so far today. Enjoy, or be ap…

The Thanksgiving Listicle: Let's Not Work Very Hard

I've been sitting here on and off for the last 90 minutes trying to think of something to blog about between trips to the coffeemaker and updates on the Price Is Right "wide load" preggo lawsuit, but it's time to face reality: I've got nothin'. More to the point, I've already given up today. My mind is out to lunch and is sitting at the Thanksgiving table being forced to eat my own cooking. I know I'm not alone. Millions of American workers have already checked out mentally for the holidays, and they're sitting right next to you seriously pretending to work with an Angry Birds game tucked underneath the spreadsheet. Everyone at work is plotting his or her escape this morning, assuming he or she hasn't already successfully flown the coop. It's like the movie Chicken Run, only with employed people instead of Nick Park's claymation chickens. How can I leave two hours early today? God, I'm so bored. Get me out of here! Ask not what …

Fall In Love With A Co-worker, Get A "Love Bonus"

A Chinese technology company has come up with an innovative solution to the universal teamwork problem: Fall in love with a co-worker and get a big, fat bonus! Chengdu, a cloud computing company in China's Sichuan Province, is giving employees who fall in love with each other a "Love Bonus" bonus. That's right, folks: Fall in love with one of your adjoining cubicle dwellers who spends half the day complaining, and an extra paycheck of 1112 Yuan ($180) could be yours. The company thinks having employees "strip" -- e.g., give up singledom for a relationship -- will be good in more ways than one. According to Businessinsider.com:Each "stripper" would get a bonus of 1112 Yuan ($180) a number that was chosen to represent 1111+1. The company hopes that if their employees fall in love with their colleagues, they will "have an even more harmonious team - a notion that leads us to believe that they have not really thought this through. Still, the co…

TTYLSOS: Young Employees Suck At Confrontation

Your "Millennial" co-worker is upset, and if you keep it up she might just send you a text message! Your young co-workers who say stupid things like "who is Gene Wilder?" and think they should have already had your job yesterday are struggling with confrontation at work. Give them any negative feedback, or simply disagree with their ideas, and they somehow think you're all up in their grill "yelling" at them. They're more likely to complain about it electronically, too. As Chicago Tribune writer Rex Huppke e-xplains:"One of the primary reasons in this past year or two that I've been called in to coach executives or companies around generational differences is to help them leverage the skills and talents of millennials," said Linda Gravett, a psychologist and senior partner with the Cincinnati-based human resources consulting firm Gravett & Associates. "Many of them have trouble handling conflicts and don't have confront…

Hostess Brands To No Longer Host Employees

Better get your Twinkies and Wonder Bread fix while you can, because Hostess Brands Inc. has announced it will liquidate the company and lay off nearly 18,500 employees following a strike by bakery union members. According to reports:"We deeply regret the necessity of today's decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike," Chief Executive Officer Gregory F. Rayburn said in a statement. "Hostess Brands will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,500-member workforce and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders." The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union went on strike Nov. 9 after a bankruptcy judge in White Plains, New York, imposed contract concessions that 92 percent of the union's workers rejected. Hostess closed three of its 36 plants permanently Nov. 12, blaming the strike. Hostess said it determined last night that not enough employees had returned t…

U.S. Employers See Lowest Rise In Healthcare Costs In 15 Years

A new Mercer study finds U.S. employers' healthcare costs rose 4.1% this year -- the lowest increase in employer healthcare costs in 15 long, long years. Since 1997, to be exact. I'll raise a dose of Nyquil and sneeze to that! Employers' healthcare costs are falling so dramatically all of the sudden because they're busy prepping their workplaces for the Affordable Care Act. Yes, U.S. employers are making more of an effort to hold down healthcare costs now that the ACA looks like it's here to stay like a nagging winter cold. Specifically, employers are moving toward wellness plans, high-deductible plans, and consumer-directed health plans to expand healthcare coverage as required under the ACA. Here's the kicker, though: The cost of providing employees a consumer-directed health plan, Mercer says, is 20% cheaper than getting coverage through a preferred provider. As The Hill reports:"Moving even a small number of employees out of a more expensive plan in…

Top Ten Fashion Trends For the Freelance Nation

What do you wear to walk the 20 feet from your coffee maker to your home office, projecting power all the way and letting the cat know who's boss? When you work from home, listening to people talk about workplace fashion can strike you as funny, because for most of us fashion went out the window as soon as we left the office. Suits and dresses are replaced by (let's be honest!) whatever you choose from the laundry baskets you still need to sort, fold and put away from two days ago. You never seem to iron anything anymore, either. It turns out you can go home again, you'll just stop trying as hard once you get there. I got to thinking about freelance fashion after reading a new University of Cincinnati study about Metrosexual males in the workplace. The study concludes the average American working man is taking much greater pains with his appearance these days and basically wants to look like he's on the cover of Men's Health magazine, whether he lives in San Fran…

Employees Race To Black Friday With Red Eyes

Thanksgiving is next week, but that's so much yada-yada because it's almost Black Friday, the unofficial first day of the holiday shopping season when stores open before the crack of midnight and the average retail store employee wants to break down and cry. Happy holidays! Yes, U.S. retailers will be clocking each other over the head again this year with the utterly confusing modern-day tradition of I-can-open-earlier-than-you-can-neener-neener store hours. A list of store opening times is out, and the early bird trend is getting worse, folks. Wal-Mart and Target will open at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving night. Best Buy, Old Navy, Kohl's and Macy's will open at midnight on Thanksgiving, while Staples and Office Depot will open at 5 a.m. on Black Friday morning just in case you want to buy someone a stapler or a new pack of printer paper for Christmas. Speaking of Staples, it's out with a new survey that finds more than three-fourths (80%) of employees are coming to wo…

Monday Morning Workplace News Round-up

One week ago today, we were fretting over who would win the presidential election. Now we're just picking up another heart-clogging breakfast sandwich and running late to work. Or looking for work, as the case may be. Back to life, back to reality, and now I'm craving a McMuffin. Here's your Monday morning workplace news round-up: On this official observance of Veterans Day, far too many veterans remain unemployed. Papa John's, Applebee's and Darden Restaurants, which owns Red Lobster and Olive Garden, might initiate layoffs because of "Obamacare". Would you like a side of whooping cough with that? On that note, get ready for the age of telemedicine. A frustrated Washington, D.C. attorney/working mom quits the legal industry in spectacular e-fashion. Was hiking the digital trail the ultimate downfall of Gen. David Petraeus? If someone shouts "fried egg!" in the middle of a crowded commuter train, will anyone hear it? Wondering how well y…

Hosting An Office Thanksgiving Party That Isn't A Total Turkey

The election is finally over, the economy is looking up a bit, and your Thanksgiving dinner will cost less this year. There's more to be thankful for, but if you're a stressed manager trying to plan the annual office Thanksgiving party then you might feel like you have a thankless job.Surveys reveal many employees will be working right through Thanksgiving this year, so put a little love in your heart and a little Stove Top on the break room table. Hosting a Thanksgiving lunch is a nice way to show hard-working employees that management cares.Putting food on your family is hard enough, however, much less trying to plan an entire holiday feast for an office full of high and low quarterly performers. The office food critic will be sure to complain about the food selection (or lack thereof). The food is too hot, too cold, too spicy, too bland, too high-calorie, too empty-calorie, too fatty, too filling, not filling enough. And since it's a Thanksgiving feast, meat will be on …