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Showing posts from March, 2012

Friday Funnies: Bode Falls Asleep

Have you ever fallen asleep standing up? No? Well, little Bode did, and how. We've all had days like this on the job, haven't we? This is my favorite video of the week.

How To Prank Your Co-workers On April Fool's Day

April Fool's Day is right around the corner, which means it's time to get our prank on!

As I blogged this time last year (twice) YouTube offers a lot of great April Fool's Day pranking ideas.





There's always the bucket prank, too. Or maybe you simply want to know where April Fool's Day came from?



But back to planning your office prank. Oh, what to do? If you're stuck for ideas, websites are popping up to help you out. HappyOfficePranks.com, an Atlanta-based start-up, offers six pranks that you can send to your boss, coworkers, or employees (if you're the boss). "They're really good, nothing like the run-of-the-mill foil the cubicle pranks," says co-founder Ashli Norton. "You can just pick who you want to prank, choose the prank you want to send, and then we will email it."

Should you or shouldn't you, though? Pull a prank at work, that is. Norton thinks bosses should go for it. "A lot of employees don't get to see the fun, hu…

Is Coffee Turning High Achievers Into Slackers?

As we wrap up our morning coffee consumption, along comes another study to let us know our drinking habits aren't doing our productivity levels any favors. Drink up!

A new University of British Columbia study warns us that coffee can be a real downer, especially if you tend to be a high achiever:
"Every day, millions of people use stimulants to wake up, stay alert and increase their productivity – from truckers driving all night to students cramming for exams," says Jay Hosking, a PhD candidate in UBC’s Dept. of Psychology, who led the study. "These findings suggest that some stimulants may actually have an opposite effect for people who naturally favour the difficult tasks of life that come with greater rewards."

The researcher studied both "slacker" and "worker" rats and found the "slacker" rats tended to avoid challenges after taking amphetamines. Meanwhile, the "worker" rats, which usually didn't shrink from a good c…

How To Feng Shui Your Cubicle

Can re-arranging your cubicle make you a better employee who's bound for the corner office? Let's find out! Welcome to the wacky, wonderful world of Feng Shui.

I'm one of those people who gets bored and likes to re-arrange the furniture every so often. Living with me can be like going to your local grocery store where you know where everything is, only to realize the pasta that used to be on Aisle 7 has been relocated to Aisle 9. Why do grocery stores insist on moving everything around after we've figured out where it is? Because the employees are bored and looking for something to do, of course. I'm not a Feng Shui person per se, but I do find that moving things around a room offers a fresh, energizing perspective in the short term and it lets me know where the dust balls have been hiding. My dust allergy always appreciates the clean sweep.

A recent Philly.com article offers six tips for adding some Feng Shui to your office, or more specifically, to your personal w…

The '80s Called And Wants Its Workplace Fashion Back

It's not just your imagination if you feel like you've walked into a scene from Flashdance whenever you go clothes shopping these days. The neon '80s are back, and they're bad. Bad for the workplace, that is.

Seriously, a trip to Old Navy or any other store can feel like a head trip for anyone over the age of 35. Baggy, off-the-shoulder, Jennifer Beals-style yoga sweatshirts are the new, hip thing to have in boring gray...or why not in neon green or pastel? Or how about an unflattering peasant blouse (now with polyester waistband along the bottom!) that is sure to make most women under 5'11" look four months pregnant? Is she, or is it just the shirt she's wearing? It's the burning question petite women want to ask each other as the tent blouse trend rages on. I've even seen a few people wearing leg warmers lately, and it's a sight that I can't un-see. What maniac thought that returning to the Reagan fashion era would be a good idea?



Now put…

Hotel Workspaces Enter the 21st Century

Are you a business traveler who wishes hotel workspaces would catch up with the mobile times we're living in? Well, you'll be glad to know that someone is thinking of these things.

Marriott Hotels and Resorts, workplace space designer Steelcase, and design and innovation consulting firm IDEO announced yesterday that they are working together to redesign the future of working from a hotel. If you've ever done it, you know how it can be, sitting either in a small, cramped storage closet trying to print something out or sitting on an old desktop in the hotel lobby still trying to print something out while a tired couple with cranky, furniture-climbing children checks in at the front desk.

But this is the 21st Century, and the Gen X and Gen Y global business traveler "community" is evolving!
"By 2013, almost 35 percent of the global workforce will work without an office. We are designing hotels for a new generation that is used to working how, where and often times…

Are A Co-worker's Political Views Ruining Your Opinion Of Them?

All in all, you really like your co-workers. Lucky you. Then one day, a favorite co-worker flaps his yap in support of a presidential candidate you couldn't vote for in a million years. Oh, no.

Let the election year workplace games begin, because we Americans will be re-upping our POTUS contract in eight months, and until then I'm willing to place a $10,000 bet on American employees having politics on the brain. Unfortunately, silly season in U.S. politics won't be limited to a few weeks in August this year, and the political climate is sure to be partly cloudy and overheated with occasional thunderstorms. Lucky us. I've written past pieces on the topic of talking politics at work -- namely, whether or not managers should allow it -- but I find a secondary question equally, if not far more, interesting: What should you do if a co-worker's political views are changing your opinion of them, and not for the better?

Maybe your co-worker strongly supports Rick Santorum, …

Workplace Trends: The Facebook "Enemies" App

Tired of "friending" people on Facebook? Wouldn't it be great if you could find your enemies instead and label them as one of your, well, "enemies"? Now you can!

A graduate student and a professor of emerging media at the University of Dallas at Texas were tired of Facebook's "all sunshine and no rain" approach to creating and maintaining connections. Everything on Facebook is so damn positive all the time, from our list of friends to our most recent status update about how awesome our kid is doing lately. Just stop it already, will you? If you don't stop posting status updates filled with glitter rainbows and fluffy purple unicorns, the rest of us cynics are going to have to hide you or "de-friend" you.

And what about all our old enemies from high school, past jobs and past relationships that Facebook keeps recommending as new "friends"? Just seeing their thumbnail photo in the upper right-hand corner of the page can be crin…

Friday Funnies: Firemen In Drag Put Out A Fire

You're a fireman waving to the crowd as part of a St. Patrick's Day parade when an emergency call comes in about a truck fire. Only you're dressed to the nines in a fancy, strapless ballgown. Oh, what to do?

If you're a volunteer firefighter in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, you leave the parade to fight fires with fashion and flair, even though strapless gowns require constant, awkward readjusting and instantly give the wearer, male or female, the shoulders of a linebacker. Sorry ladies, the truth must be said. The sleeveless wedding dress trend needs to end, because only .01 percent of women can pull off the look. Anyway, kudos to these firefighters for responding to the call, dress and all. You look great, guys! [Hat tip to Michael K. at Dlisted.com.]

JOBS Act Stalls In U.S. Senate Over "Crowdvesting"

Last week, the JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act cruised through the U.S. House, only to stall in the U.S. Senate this week. The culprit: Something called crowdvesting. Here's a primer.

In the United States, investors can use sites such as Kiva and Kickstarter to invest in philanthropic endeavors, but for-profit start-ups can't use the Internet to seek out investors looking to make a profit -- e.g., crowd investing or "crowdvesting." Crowdvesting is highly illegal under current U.S. securities laws. And the U.S. Senate might just keep it this way. According to a Filmmakermagazine.com article:
Currently, it is illegal to use crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to solicit actual investments. Monies pledged on these platforms are donations usually lacking any tax benefit or further income possiblity [sic] for the funder. (Or, increasingly, they are pre-buys for a specific goods or services.) The JOBS Act aims to change that, allowing businesses,…

Orange Leaves This Company Seeing Red

What color are you wearing to work today? Assuming you have a choice in what you wear and you're not covered in flair, that is.

For 14 employees at a Florida law firm, having a fashion choice apparently resulted in a pink slip last week. The employees claim they were fired for wearing orange shirts to work on Friday, supposedly to look like a close-knit group when they went out for happy hour at the end of the day. I'll let the Sun-Sentinelexplain:
This Friday, 14 workers wearing orange shirts were called into a conference room, where an executive said he understood there was a protest involving orange, the employees were wearing orange, and they all were fired.

The executive said anyone wearing orange for an innocent reason should speak up. One employee immediately denied involvement with a protest and explained the happy-hour color.

The executives conferred outside the room, returned and upheld the decision: all fired, said Lou Erik Ambert, 31, of Coconut Creek, a litigation par…

Is Your Doctor Tweeting About Your Checkup?

Doctors tend to be very busy people -- just ask anyone who has been sitting in the waiting room for 45 minutes. You wouldn't think doctors would have time to tweet or post a Facebook status update about work-related stuff, but that might be just what they're doing.

A Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) article reveals how doctors are misusing social media on the job. It turns out M.D.s are doing all sorts of things online that could lead to a workplace Code Blue, from prescribing medications without having seen the patient to using social media to ask patients out on dates. Say ahhhh, indeed.

Now the Federation of State Medical Boards is looking at implementing strict guidelines for medical professionals who use Twitter and Facebook. Wait a second: You mean we don't have these rules already!? But what about the rest of us who are going to the doctor and could possibly become fodder for his or her 2 p.m. status update? Surely, our doctor wouldn't tweet abou…

Kids These Days: Younger Workers Don't Care About Confidentiality

Does your company have intellectual property or documentation it doesn't particularly want floating outside its walls? Well, younger employees don't really care about all of your namby pamby confidentiality rules.

Or so says a new FileTrek survey that finds more than two-thirds (68%) of employees in the 18-to-34 age range don't see a problem in taking confidential company information with them whenever they leave the building.

Management is worried that the company's plans, specs and other secret details might slip into the hands of a competitor somehow, but the "Millennials" are all sorts of "whatevs" about it, apparently. Don't you managers understand that these kids are the mobile generation? They need room to drive while texting and your confidentiality rules are soooo 20th Century. And it's not like anyone behind them in line at Starbuck's can read their smartphone screens; all anyone might see is the occasional "LMFAO" or …

Will California Make Unemployment A Protected Class?

Pop the top down on your convertible and grab your shades, because a bill is making its way through the California Assembly that would make unemployment a protected job classification.

AB 1450 would ban California's employers from discriminating against the great unwashed of the Great Recession otherwise known as the long-term unemployed. The bill was introduced by assemblyman Michael Allen (D-Santa Rosa) and is slated to have its first committee hearing next week.

The bill, if passed, would also ban a few other employment practices, according to The Press-Enterprise:
AB 1450 also would crack down on employment agencies and online job boards that list "must be currently employed" as a prerequisite for being considered. The law as proposed would ban offending companies from bidding on state jobs for three years.

"When I talk to my constituents, most of them are shocked to find out it's legal to do this in 49 states," Allen said.
We should all pay attention to thi…

OMG, Social Media Growth Is Slowing Down

If you still can't tell a tweet from a status update, you'll be happy to know that social media growth may be peaking.

The sixth global social media survey from marketing group UM Singapore tells us there is a "plateauing of growth" underway in social networking. Loquacious-challenged Luddites, rejoice!

Essentially, new social media sites aren't entering the space nearly as fast anymore and social media users are spending all their time on one or two favorite sites, which, by extension, makes it harder for new social media startups to gain traction, which, by further extension, means you won't be feeling pressured to embarrass yourself in new and exciting ways in cyberspace. Huzzah? By "one or two favorite sites," I mean Facebook and Twitter. Who else? And we're spending a lot of time on them.

Maybe slower social media growth would be a good thing, since we don't really know how to use it yet? So far, practice isn't making us social media p…

Friday Funnies: HR vs. March Madness

It's time for March Madness, the best time of the year! But human resources and March Madness don't always mix. If you're going to send employees a three-page memo banning March Madness office pools and score updates, don't use green paper.

Are We More Likely To Lie About Our Hobbies On LinkedIn?

Okay, which one has more exaggerations on it: Your hard-copy resume or your LinkedIn profile? Oh come on, don't lie.

According to a new Cornell study, we tend to be more honest about the big stuff (work history, colleges attended, etc.) on LinkedIn than we are on our paper resumes. However, we're more likely to lie about our hobbies and interests on LinkedIn.

Interesting. Um, in my spare time I like to...play ultimate frisbee (well actually, not since college). I play oboe in an orchestra (I quit three years ago). I'm a runner (get real, I have a newborn and no energy). I like to garden (pulling up the waist-high weeds in my backyard is on my bucket list). I do yoga (if that means watching a yoga DVD for five minutes until I get bored and turn it off). I'm working toward my pilot's license (but not since the Great Recession hit because my spouse lost his job and the lessons are too expensive on our current budget).

You get the idea. Fill in your own blanks. The thing …

How (Not) To Celebrate St. Patrick's Day At Work

If you're planning to wear green to work tomorrow in honor of St. Patrick's Day, then you might want to settle a few things up front so you don't leave your employer seeing red.

Before you think I'm here to douse your celebratory plans with a giant pint of green beer, let me just say that I'm all for letting employees wear green, don a little leprechaun kitsch, dig out the Lucky Charms hat, whatever. After the long, hard slog work has been lately, St. Patrick's Day can be a fun, timely diversion. But now for the dousing part: There might not be a pot of gold waiting at the end of this rainbow for management.

First, we all know that St. Paddy's Day is largely a drinking holiday. If your hip, hot and happening employer has invested in a few high-techy kegarators, management could find itself living a reality teevee version of Employees Gone Wild. Who let Jim have so much alcohol, huh? Nobody let him drive anywhere. Yes, please don't let your drunk co-work…

The Workplace Is Psychologically Unsafe, Say Workers Almost Everywhere

Is work driving you a bit crazy lately? A new Reuters/Ipsos global employee survey reveals seven in 10 workers everywhere think their workplace is psychologically unsafe and unhealthy. Oh, joy.



Actually, Reuters/Ipsos polled 14,618 workers online in 24 countries, so it's not technically everywhere, but that's so much yada yada because the overall sampling results indicate that we're all sorts of freaking miserable.



Or are we? Surprise: U.S. and Canadian workers who participated in the survey were the most likely to say their workplaces are psychologically healthy -- no, really! -- followed by India, Australia, Great Britain and South Africa. Of course, Americans' use of antidepressants has jumped 400% over the last 20 years and Americans between the ages of 18 and 44 are the most likely to use them, so that might have something to do with it?

Anyway, if you're wondering about the participating countries, they were, in alphabetical order: Argentina, Australia, Belgium,…

Are You A Lunchroom Loafer Or A Lunchtime Leaver?

Where you do you eat your lunch during the workday? It's a simple question that could impact people's perception of you on the job.

On the surface, you have three options: To be a lunchroom loafer (i.e., you eat in the breakroom or the company cafeteria every day); to be a lunchtime leaver (you more often than not leave the building, sometimes using your car to put even more distance between yourself and the office); or to be a desk dweller (you like to eat at your desk while catching up on work).

Maybe you keep things interesting by mixing and matching. On Monday, you ate in the breakroom or the company cafeteria with your dysfunctional co-workers to catch up on company gossip and your co-worker's latest divorce. On Tuesday, you desperately needed some new scenery and you walked (alone) to the fast food place down the street for some queso and quiet. Wednesday was super busy, and so you ate at your desk while wrapping up a long list of pressing items.



Why am I blogging about…

Friday Funnies: The Bucket Prank

April Fool's Day is fast approaching. Do you have your bag of tricks ready yet? Here's one idea: The bucket prank. The employee outwitted, outplayed and outsmarted his co-workers, though. Or maybe he just got lucky? Either way, he didn't get wet. Booya!

Should Companies Offer An Employer Match For Student Loans?

I had an epiphany while paying bills this month: I can finally see the light at the end of my student loans.

I'm close, but not quite, in terms of paying them off. Our society awards piddly few benefits to being a Gen Xer these days, but making that last student loan payment will definitely be one of them.

Before you hate me for being dutiful, please realize that my opening boastful statement is possible only after years of small, monthly installments that have been a staple of our monthly budget for nearly two decades. I say "our," because my husband also married my student loan debt when he married me. And now, the end finally feels within reach. I don't know what we're going to do after we make that last payment, either. It will feel very strange, like losing a fair-weather friend. But I'm ready. So, so ready.

Seriously, the Gen Xer in me feels very lucky to see more and more daylight at the end of this very long tunnel, because U.S. college graduates owe a r…

Employee Cyberloafing Increases After Clocks Move Ahead

If you find yourself yearning to surf the Internet even more next week, you're not alone and you can blame it on Daylight Saving Time.

A new study concludes that losing an hour of sleep -- which we'll all get to do this weekend, so fun -- makes us tired enough to compensate by scanning the Internet for pretty much anything not related to work or the act of looking for work in the days following the time change. According to Newstrackindia.com:
Web searches related to entertainment rise sharply the Monday after the shift to daylight saving time when compared to the preceding and subsequent Mondays, according to D. Lance Ferris, assistant professor of management and organization in Penn State's Smeal College of Business, and his colleagues David T. Wagner, Singapore Management University; Christopher M. Barnes, Virginia Tech University; and Vivien K. G. Lim, National University of Singapore.

They based their findings on an examination of six years worth of data from Google.
Well…

How To Handle A Non-Apology Apology At Work

A co-worker has done you wrong and apologizes. Too bad his or her apology only makes things worse.

Yes, you were ready to forgive but not forget your co-worker's trespasses when he or she cackled a classic non-apology apology of the sorry-but-it-wouldn't-have-happened-if-you-weren't-such-a-loser variety. You know, the "I'm sorry you feel that way, but..." apology. But. It's the bane of any amorphous mea culpa. Throw in a "but" mid-sentence, and you've negated everything you've just said.



The non-apology apology -- or more to the point, what constitutes a proper apology -- is the talk of non-apologetic journalists everywhere who are writing tons of column inches on the topic thanks to Rush Limbaugh's non-apology apology. High-profile non-apology apologies are usually the domain of corporate legal departments and public relations firms that have to find a way to get their foot-in-mouth leaders or clients out of a publicly-embarrassing …

Workplace Trends: Say Goodbye To the Necktie

Are you a guy who still wears a necktie? Wow, you sure are old fashioned, aren't you?

The British Media are reporting the death of the necktie at work. The only place you're gonna see one in 20 years is at a museum. The trend is so pervasive that even high-powered CEOs are going for the casual look these days. Casual Friday is now on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday AND Friday!

According to Britain's Daily Telegraph:
THE corporate necktie could join corsets, top hats and coattails as a thing of the past with the workplace moving to more casual dressing, according to a recent poll.

The rise of "creative industries" is driving the trend, the telegraph.co.uk reported, with almost three-quarters surveyed saying ties would become obsolete within 20 years.

Just under a quarter of those surveyed by DealJungle.com -a UK deals site for small business - even put the tie's demise in under a decade.
CALL (sorry, can't help myself) it the "Steve Jobs effect" o…

Friday Funnies: Epic Handshake

The future of the U.S. workforce has a cool, new way of shaking hands. Nosebleeds are optional.

How To look Like You Remembered National Employee Appreciation Day

Today is National Employee Appreciation Day! You forgot about it until this morning, but you want to fool employees into thinking it's been on your radar for weeks and weeks. Here's how to look like you remembered a day no one ever remembers.

I blogged about National Employee Appreciation Day last year. Note to self: This event happens on the first Friday in March. NEAD seems like a great opportunity to thank employees, even in the smallest of ways, for everything they do all year aside from getting to work late, arguing with their co-workers, stealing lunches from the break room fridge, and spreading conspiracy theories about management. We all need this day to remember why we work for reasons other than to pay the bills. But what's a forgetful manager to do on a tight budget and with so little time? Here are five quick and dirty ideas:

1.) Order a catered lunch. Surprise, everyone! It's National Employee Appreciation Day! Oh, you guys didn't know that? Well, manage…

Let's Be Blunt About the Blunt Amendment

I sit here wondering what all of America is wondering: Is Snooki really pregnant? Actually, I'm not all that interested to know. But I am wondering if Congress is about to screw over American workers in a big way.

Today is the day the U.S. Senate will supposedly vote on the Blunt Amendment, which, if you believe the Republicans, would give Obamacare-hating Americans more "freedom" but if you believe the Democrats, the Blunt Amendment, if passed, would allow employers to pick and choose which health conditions to cover and it's really just a transparent attempt to snooker millions of American women into a potential is-she-or-isn't-she Snooki situation.

Curiously, the Blunt Amendment is attached to a very large highway bill. Well, the GOP has been pretty much our-way-or-the-highway in recent years, hasn't it? I'm feeling the synergies here. The Senate is expected to defeat the GOP amendment while the rest of us just want to get the November election over with…