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Showing posts from January, 2012

Relocate For A Job? New Hires Saying "No Thanks"

The percentage of Americans willing to relocate for a new job is at an all-time low. New hires aren't willing to move for no stinking job anymore: A mere 7.2% of people in a new Challenger, Gray & Christmas survey say they're willing to move for an employer.

I'm not surprised, since I blogged not too long ago about how the U.S. relocation rate is the lowest since 1948. Moving is expensive, not to mention a pain in the ass. Pull up a chair, because we'll all be hanging around for awhile.

Will City With Lower Unemployment Rate Win the Super Bowl?

Will the New England Patriots or the New York Giants win Super Bowl XLVI? If you believe a comparison of metropolitan unemployment rates to Super Bowl victories, then the Patriots will take home the trophy this year.

According to outplacement firm RiseSmart, the team from the city with the lower unemployment rate has won 17 of the last 20 Super Bowls. That's roughly an 85% chance of victory. And guess which metropolitan area has had the lower unemployment rate over the last year, Boston or New York? Boston!

Granted, anything can happen in the Super Bowl, which always seems to end up in a final score of 9-3. Historically, the Super Bowl isn't the most exciting game ever. Sorry, it's just not. Okay, I'll admit I catch some of the ads and the halftime show but skip most of the game, because I tend to find professional sports about as exciting as watching paint dry. Is Old Navy open? Will Tom Brady get the pass protection he needs? Will Giselle jinx it all? Why is an outplac…

U.S. Scientists Desperately Seeking Funding

Our elected leaders keep telling us how we need to train more scientists, but we're no longer willing to fund the ones we already have. Scientists' success rate in landing a U.S. scientific research grant has reached an all-time low, according to new figures.

Only 18% of National Institutes of Health (NIH) research project grants got funded last year, which means a whopping 82% of research grants died in the slush pile. One doesn't need a Ph.D. to see that these are not the greatest of odds for the scientists who apply, and it's pretty much the worst it's ever been, competition-wise, inside the scientific research community. As a BioTechniques article reveals:
The stiff competition was the result of an unfortunate combination of fewer awards and more applicants. Overall, 8765 awards were distributed in 2011, about 700 fewer than 2010. But the number of applicants for those awards increased about 8%, from roughly 46,000 to 49,500.

Before electronic submissions, grant a…

Workplaces Are Ditching Bottled Water

Do you drink eight glasses of water or more each day? Yeah, neither do the rest of us because then we'd spend all our time in the bathroom and never get anything done.

Apparently, workplaces have caught on to this more-is-less phenomenon because global corporate expenditures on bottled water have slowed to a trickle. In fact, bottled water is now one of the least-selling workplace catering expenditures worldwide, according to the 2011 Global Consumer Foodservice Survey.

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But workplaces around the world are loving themselves some "hot drink machine" action. It's the number-one spending category for companies everywhere! And the vast majority of global workplaces love pizza, too. Well, geez, who doesn't? Via InfoGrok:
Similarly, the most used facilities worldwide were ‘hot drinks machines, with a high frequency of use in 90% of countries surveyed, and ‘on-site coffee or tea shops’, with a high frequency of use in 60% of countries surveyed. In t…

Friday Funnies: Mitt's Office

With the prospect of birthday cakes like this one, maybe the disappearing office birthday party is a good thing?

Workplace Trends: The Workplace Parking Tax

Do you grumble regularly about the parking situation at work? Well, imagine if your company were having to shell out a few hundred dollars per year to the city for each employee parking space.

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Nottingham, England recently passed a levy that requires local companies to pay £288 per year for each employee parking space, and the levy is expected to cut down on traffic and raise £100 million over the next ten years to fund public transportation. Now Edinburgh, Scotland is thinking about doing the same thing. As reported on
Businesses would be charged for parking spaces they provide to their staff under proposals being considered by the Labour Party.

The Labour group in Edinburgh, which is currently the second-largest party in the City Chambers, would look into the possibility of a “workplace parking levy” to raise money for transport improvements and reduce congestion if it came into power after May’s local elections.
As you'd probably guess, Scottish busi…

Will the Self-driving Company Car Zoom Into Reality?

Could the self-driving company car be the panacea for productivity that managers have been waiting for?

Google -- who else? -- is busy test driving its own self-driving cars on today's Quinn Martin Production-free streets of San Francisco. Google's "autonomous" cars run on artificial intelligence software that can "see" traffic and obstacles. Neat, huh?

Even neater is pondering how today's test drives could become tomorrow's fleet of self-driving company cars, ready and waiting to run errands for the harried administrative assistant tasked with buying birthday party supplies for the disappearing office birthday party or the salesperson who forgot to leave something non-PDFable with a client this morning. Instead of getting into the company car to drive aaaaaallll the way across town hurting their personal productivity, employees of the future will be able to send the company car solo. Or have the intern or a junior employee go instead. Then again, may…

U.S. Employees Spend $1,092 A Year On Coffee Drinks

If you can't make it through the day without at least four cups of coffee, know that you're not alone because a new Accounting Principals survey says U.S. employees are spending more than $1,000 a year on coffee drinks.

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That's right: The $1,000+ a duly-employed person could spend on paying down his or her credit card or putting into savings for a rainy day is instead going toward a good bean buzz. Gen Y (and Millennial?) employees in the 18-34 age range are the most likely to spend money on coffee drinks. They're averaging $25 per month on the liquid gold, which makes sense, because they're young and they don't know any better.

"Experienced" Gen X and Baby Boomer employees over age 45, however, are less likely to shell out for a $5 latte every day on the way to work because at some point they realized they were spending upwards of $100 a month on coffee drinks and how were they ever going to cover all the bills and pay for …

Thoughts On the State of the Union

Dinner was microwavable, homework got done early, and the kids were told they'd have to watch the Disney Channel on the other teevee because Mom and Dad have a date night with some appointment television. It must be time for the State of the Union address!

I always look forward to the SOTU, no matter who is president. There's just something about seeing our dysfunctional government confined to one, large rectangular room that brings out the geek in me. It's the very best of American political theater, and a refreshing counterpoint to the 12,309th Republican debate. And given the sheer number of GOP debates so far, I feel like I exaggerate only slightly. What!? The Republicans are having another debate? Tonight? Why? They just debated two days ago! Where are they this time?

Anyway, I thought the president gave a great and very optimistic speech. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels...what was up with the profile side eye? Is his right side his best side? I couldn't focus on his run…

Is Travel Software Taking the Fun Out of Business Travel?

Do you travel a lot on business? Now your employer can watch you even more closely to make sure you're traveling on the cheap.

The latest version of TripIt For Business lets employers track and rank the most efficient business travelers in the company. As says:
For employees, a company travel calendar makes it easy to see when and where colleagues are traveling. For managers and business owners, real-time access to office travel spending provides insight into how much travel is on the books at any given moment.

Newly added visibility into office travel spending quickly answers questions about how much the company has spent to date on travel, what travel spend will be in the next 30 or 90 days, who travels the most frequently, and who the most efficient travelers in the company are.
Oh, crap. Now managers can turn business travel into an Amazing Race-like competition where employees are pitted against each other in a game of who-is-the-cheapest-traveler-of-all. Great. G…

Workplace Trends: Get Ready For Wunderkit

Companies the world over have a Facebook page. It's just sort of the thing to do these days.

But a German start-up called 6Wunderkinder is about to release a new app called Wunderkit that it hopes will become a sort of non-Facebook Facebook for the 21st Century workplace, and tech writers apparently love it.

What is it exactly? Well, it lets employees create lists in a cloud that they can upload or download to their smartphones and other devices. Or something? I never said I was a tech writer. According to a story on
Even though it would eventually grow into a successful product, co-founder and designer Jan Martin says the company deliberately held back in development, saving the best for Wunderkit, which he and colleagues describe as a sort of "Facebook for work" that will enable colleagues from all over the world to exchange information on projects they are working on.

The as yet unreleased app has generated considerable buzz in the Berlin start-up scene, even…

Can Presenting Last Give You the Edge?

Are you gearing up to give a presentation? If it's a presentation involving multiple presenters, then you might want to go last.

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Australian researchers analyzed 1,522 American Idol "performances" on the Australian, British, Canadian and American versions of the show and found American Idol contestants who sing last have a much higher chance of advancing to the next round, especially if they have the middling talent level of, say, a Jennifer Lopez. Studies of the Eurovision singing contests have shown the same thing.

Could presenting last serve you well on the job? Speaking first can give you a go-getter's aura, but if you're one of five people giving a PowerPoint presentation to an audience full of bored, texting people, deciding to go last might just give you a few advantages. First, going last lets you size up the competition and adjust accordingly. Second, it allows you to gauge what interests the audience, oth…

Friday Funnies: Obama Sings

President Obama did a fundraiser at the Apollo Theater last night and paid tribute to Al Green by singing a snippet of his classic song, Let's Stay Together, and you know, he's pretty good! I vote for a sing off in this Fall's presidential debates, a sort of "America's Got Talent" for wannabe and current presidents. Or maybe President Obama can sing part of the State of the Union on Tuesday night? Hey, stranger things have happened in the age of reality television.

Study: Imaginary Co-workers Make You More Productive

Imaginary friends are no longer just for 6-year-olds. They can make you more productive on the job. No, really -- and there's a new study to prove it.

Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln asked hundreds of employees to stop obsessing about the bad habits of their real-life co-workers for awhile to conjure up the image of an imaginary co-worker who was friendly, hard-working, and an all-around good person. And guess what: The study participants who saw their imaginary co-worker friend in a very positive light had better job performance themselves and were suddenly more friendly, hard-working and all-around good people. No, really! According to the UNL rundown:

University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers have found that study participants who conjured positive imaginary co-workers contributed more in the actual workplace, both in job performance and going above and beyond their job descriptions to help others.

The results showed that your perceptions of others -- even ones …

Workplace Trends: The Holographic Team Leader

Remember that scene in Star Wars where R2-D2 beams a holographic version of Princess Leia saying Obi-Wan Kenobe is her only hope?

Well, now your average trainer -- or even company team leaders -- can be beamed into the nearest conference room to walk your hopeless team through the new employee handbook or to badger you for random status updates! The age of the holographic leader is finally here, courtesy of a company called Digital Video Enterprises, Inc. (DVE). According to

Unlike common videoconferencing/telepresence, the DVE 3D CreateSpace(TM) brings trainers and team leaders from distant sites imaging them upon DVE's patented transparent holographic display system. Viewers see the floating images of these people standing at a real podium and they can look around and behind these imaged people. The amazing realism of their virtual presence ensures that group interaction completely replicates an in-person experience. According Jeff Machtig, Co-Founder of D…

Weirdest Things Listed On Employee Expense Reports

Ah, the employee expense report. So much information, so much room for fudging.

At least this is how CFOs feel after telling Robert Half Management Resources about the weirdest things they've ever seen employee include on expense reports. Some of the wacky expenses employees have tried to run past management in this recession include cosmetic surgery, lottery tickets, trailer rentals, pet food, teepees, speeding tickets, expensive family trips, and fines for crashing into toll booths. Hey, it's hard to see where you're going when you're trying to text.

But a recent survey by expense tracking software firm Concur says that recession-wary employees are leaving money on the table intentionally as they write their expense reports. A full 22% of employees Concur surveyed were "too embarrassed" to ask for total reimbursement; 5% felt too guilty; and roughly half (49%) felt it was too much trouble to itemize every single expense and then prepare an adequate defense. P…

Workplace Twitter Use Up 700% In 2011

If you're a manager tired of employees going on Twitter to inadvertently divulge proprietary secrets and ruin the company's branding efforts, then you're not going to like a new report from security company Palo Alto Networks that says workplace Twitter use jumped 700% last year.

Facebook is still number one with employees, but Twitter's Strunk & White-inspired verbal delivery system is taking its measly 140 characters to the top and it's never looking back. Or is it? Hmm. Will we still be tweeting in five years or will Twitter be replaced by the latest, greatest creation by two dudes at a university somewhere (TM) that is sure to cost companies millions in lost employee productivity and revenue? I'm betting on the latter.

Managers will also love that employees are more likely to be actively writing tweets instead of simply reading them. Awesome. Everyone is talking but not listening, because we're too caught up in our own thoughts and random spelling er…

Workplace Trends: Facebook Wants To Share Your Political Status Updates

Starting to get into the presidential race? Yeah, the 2012 race isn't nearly as exciting as the 2008 race, when the nighttime cable news shows were appointment television. But at least now when you "Facebook" a comment about the 2012 race the site will turn around and share it with journalists.

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If you watch cable news for more than 20 minutes, you've no doubt heard of Well, Facebook and Politico have apparently inked a deal where Facebook will sift through users' private comments looking for politically-minded status updates that it can amass into giant "data sets." Then Facebook will supposedly forward these data sets -- ahem, anonymously -- on to Politico, which will then use them to sum up voter sentiment. Or resentment? Who knows. What we do know is that it's going to be like using sarcastic Twitter comments to generalize about the entire U.S. population, only now with "like" buttons! And since CNN has la…

70% Of U.S. Companies Will Be Open On MLK Jr. Day

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday. Roughly seven in 10 U.S. companies will still be open for business, though.

A new Bloomberg Bureau of National Affairs workplace survey tells us that 31% of U.S. employers will give their workers a paid holiday today. That's slightly more than three in ten U.S. employers. Well, it's an increase of 1% over last year and an increase of 3% over 2010, so that's progress? It's certainly better than 1987, when 14% of employers designated Martin Luther King Day as a paid holiday for employees. MLK Jr. Day was first observed in 1986.

Government employees are more likely to have today off:
Consistent with past years, nonbusiness employers are much more likely to make Martin Luther King Day a paid holiday than are nonmanufacturing or manufacturing establishments. More than six in ten nonbusiness organizations (61 percent) will make January 16 a paid holiday, compared with 23 percent of nonmanufacturing firms and 8 percent of …

Friday Funnies: S*%# Nobody Says


Racial Discrimination At Work Is Bad For Your Health

Can racial discrimination on the job have long-term impacts on one's health?

Yes, according to a new Rice University study entitled "Is Discrimination an Equal Opportunity Risk? Racial Experiences, Socio-economic Status and Health Status Among Black and White Adults," which calls racial discrimination the "missing link" when talking about workplace health:
...the authors examined data containing measures of social class, race and perceived discriminatory behavior and found that approximately 18 percent of blacks and 4 percent of whites reported higher levels of emotional upset and/or physical symptoms due to race-based treatment.

"Discriminatory behavior very well may be a 'missing link' in the analysis of racial and ethnic health disparities," Bratter said. "It's important to acknowledge and study its impact on long-term health."
The study has been published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

Workers Care More About Rudeness Directed At Same-Gender Co-workers

Acts of workplace incivility bother us more when someone of the same gender is on the receiving end.

Or so says a new Texas A&M/Buena Vista University study of male and female restaurant workers.

So Courtney feels stressed out (but isn't outraged...) as she watches someone being intentionally rude to her male co-worker Chris, but she's gonna have a total fit if the same thing happens to her female co-worker Chris. Ditto for men witnessing workplace rudeness hurled at a male co-worker. It doesn't matter that both parties have the same boring, unisex name; it's the gender-related principle of the thing. We share the same X or Y chromosome, therefore I feel your pain. Or maybe you're Canadian?

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The biggest surprise, however, might lie in how men and women react in the aftermath. Women tend to become much more demoralized after watching a female co-worker get picked on. Men, however, tend not to feel demoralized after watching a male colle…

U.S. Supreme Court: Discrimination Laws Don't Protect Some Church Employees

While you were sleeping at your desk yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court dealt with a few workplace-related cases.

First, the Court ruled that federal discrimination laws don't protect some church employees because there needs to be separation of church and state, there are First Amendment protections, and there's something about the Establishment Clause. Well okay, until you learn that churches won't have to factor race, sex and disability into their employment processes, and that they can fire a minister whenever they want to and no federal anti-discrimination laws will apply. Terrific.

Oh, and the Court also threw out a case from an inmate at a privately-run prison who was suing the prison's employees for maltreatment. Inmates housed at government-run federal or state prisons, however, can still get their lawsuit on because they're covered under the Eighth Amendment. Or something? What does it all mean? I decided not to become a lawyer a long time ago, so I'll l…

Top 5 Workplace Injuries Bleeding Employers Dry In Workers Comp Costs

That 80/20 rule you use to describe your customer base? Well, go ahead and apply it to your company's direct workers compensation costs, too.

A new Liberty Mutual Group Inc. report has just stumbled through the door to tell us that the top five workplace injuries account for a whopping 72% of all direct workers comp costs. And what are the "top five" workplace injuries according to Liberty Mutual, you ask?

1. "Overexertion" -— e.g., injuries caused by lifting, pushing, pulling, holding and carrying are resulting in an annual cost of $12.5 billion for employers and account for one-quarter of all workplace injuries;

2. "Fall on same level" -- known more informally as "falling on your face," employee spills are leading to $7.94 billion in direct workers comp costs and 15.8% of all workplace injuries;

3. "Fall to lower level" -- vertical falls are rising employers' workers comp costs by $5.35 billion;

4. "Bodily reaction" -— s…

Tuesday Twitterings: Microsoft's Tweet Choir

Check out "The Tweet Choir," which sang at Microsoft's CES press conference. Not sure about the lyrics that include lines such as "hashtag, nerd alert" and "hoping for some good Xbox news." Sure is some fantastic singing, though.

Do Active Social Media Users Make Less Ethical Employees?

Do you spend a lot of time on social media sites? Sorry to break it to you, but a new study says that your work ethic needs some work.

The Ethics Resource Center has released its 2011 National Business Ethics Survey that explores the work attitudes of super-active social media users. Lo and behold, our super social media-savvy co-workers are more likely to steal from the office supply room; take company software home to install on their computers; use company credit cards for personal use (tsk, tsk); and talk smack about their co-workers and employers (especially online -- go figure). Also, they're just not that "into" their current jobs, since 72% of super-active social networkers plan to move on to greener pastures within five years, compared to roughly 40% of their Luddite, sorry-I-don't-use-Facebook counterparts.

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Status update: Don't hire anyone who spends a lot of time tweeting, Facebooking, Tumblring, Foursquaring, and whatever else is go…

Workplace Trends: No More Birthday Parties

It's an employer's market, and employers are firmly in control of who they hire and fire. It also means employers can make all kinds of big and small changes on the job, like making employees celebrate their birthdays on their own time and dime.

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Take Australia, where some employers have banned birthday cakes at work. "Cake in the break room" is becoming so 2007. If there is cake, it was probably baked on a budget.

Workplace birthday parties definitely have their pros and cons. While the constant stream of cake and good wishes is nice, the forced frivolity and lost productivity can leave employees wanting to gouge their eyes out with a plastic, frosting-covered fork. If a recent discussion among columnist Carolyn Hax's commenters is any indication, then there are many employees who simply don't like celebrating their co-workers' birthdays at work. Period.

The reasons are many. For starters, each employee might be asked to contrib…

Friday Funnies: Work It, Bosom Buddies

Have you watched the new ABC show Work It? I haven't either, but apparently it's not worth watching if you've read the reviews.

The plot goes something like this: Two men battered by the "mancession" decide to dress like women in order to land jobs. I think I liked it better when it was called Bosom Buddies starring Peter Scolari and a very young Tom Hanks, which, perhaps not coincidentally, was also an ABC show in the early 1980s. Only if I recall correctly, Scolari and Hanks were dressing as women to land a place to live. Hey, times do change. One man's job is another man's apartment, or something like that. They're interchangeable as long as you have lip gloss and big hair. Remember Benson?

Can Updating Your LinkedIn Profile Get You Fired?

Are you in the process of updating your LinkedIn profile? Be careful, it might just get your fired.

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A British company executive claims he was fired for checking a box on his LinkedIn profile to indicate that he is/was interested in "career opportunities." Via Techworld:
The case highlights a grey area around employees' use of social networks such as LinkedIn. According to Kate Hodgkiss, Partner at law firm DLA Piper, employers have every right to seek to protect confidential company information by restricting LinkedIn and other profiles.

“Employers commonly place restrictions on what employees can disclose outside the company and restrictions on a LinkedIn profile are a logical extension of this,” she said.

However, organisations cannot prevent employees from looking for a new job.
So now you not only need to be careful about what you write on social media sites, you need to be careful about the boxes you check AND whether or not you can take you…

Report: U.S. Economy Gained 325,000 Jobs In December

Someone at GOP headquarters is surely banging his or her head against a wall this morning because the ADP National Employment Report says U.S. private companies added a whopping 325,000 jobs last month.

Okay, maybe I'm being harsh. Or maybe not. I report, you decide. But it looks like we might finally be on the road to recovery? Or the ADP figure simply reflects seasonal temporary hiring, which means these workers are already back on the job hunt? These figures do have a habit of getting revised down when no one's looking.

Still, things seem to be moving in the right direction for the moment, and who can complain about it other than the GOP clown car? Hot off the ADP website:

ADP today reported that employment in the U.S. nonfarm private business sector increased by 325,000 from November to December on a seasonally adjusted basis. The estimated advance in employment from October to November was revised down slightly to 204,000 from the initially reported 206,000. The increase in …

Workplace Trends: The Self-sanitizing Keyboard

Get ready to ditch the bottle of Lysol you keep underneath your desk, because the age of the self-sanitizing keyboard is finally here!

The FDA has just approved the Viogard Self Sanitizing Keyboard, which can kill up to 99.9% of keyboard germs using some sort of ultraviolet light technology -- or so the maker claims. Office germaphobes rejoice! However, a June 2011 study in the American Journal of Infection Control says Vioguard's keyboard is actually 67% effective in killing keyboard yuck, which means you might want to keep a bottle of Lysol/Fantastic/409/bleach spray on standby.

Still, such a product might keep employees from catching every single cold and case of pink eye that floats around the office. Score one for overall productivity! Pair it up with your bulletproof computer bag and you'll be impervious to anything the workplace throws at you. Almost. As tells us:
According to lab studies funded by Irish office-supply company Viking, two thirds of the desks in …

Are Chinese Workers Opening the Window To Higher Electrical Bills?

It turns out that Chinese workers are just like your relative who likes to run the air conditioning with the windows open when it's 90 degrees outside.

A new study of Chinese workplace behavior finds Chinese workers are fond of opening windows at work in the summertime when the air conditioning system is cranked on high. To be specific, they're opening 23% of all windows to get some "fresh air." Awesome. Goodbye, crisp HVAC air and hello, humidity and higher electrical bills! From a brief article on
A study in China of workplace behavior related to the indoor environment found, among other things, that workers keep 23% of windows open for fresh air in the summer, even when air-conditioning is in operation.
Okay, this is largely redundant information because it's pretty much what I just told you, but it's instantly more credible because someone else said it. Hey, I'm a petite blond woman. Being asked, "Um, is there someone else I c…

Working Americans To Spend 2012 Whining How They Want A New Job

The holidays are over, the kids are on the school bus, the GOP is still searching for someone electable, and it's time to make our homes look like...January.

Happy New Year, 2012!

We'll also be breaking our New Year's resolutions by the end of the week because we don't have the time, energy or focus to stick to them for more than a few days. And according to a still-active online poll on, Americans' top three New Year's resolutions for 2012 are to get fit (a goal for 30% of survey takers as the numbers currently stand), to save money (29%) and to find a better job (24%), which means we won't be motivated to keep said resolutions past Saturday. That's roughly 96 hours from now, so you'd better get on that "better job" thing stat if you're going to make it happen.

Face it: 2012 is going to be the year of complaining loudly about our jobs if we still have one. Or at the very least, being forced to listen to one-quarter of our fellow …