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Showing posts from July, 2012

Microsoft, For Whom The Bell Curve Tolls

Are you watching the Olympics? NBC's questionable coverage is filled with personal stories interrupted by commercials short, random bursts of athletic activity in which world-class, American-only athletes are pulling together for the greater glory of the team. It's pretty much the exact opposite of stack ranking systems at work. Let's talk about Microsoft! A new Vanity Fair article details Microsoft's "lost decade," referring to the last ten years in which the tech giant has missed product release deadlines, has poo-pooed emerging trends (oh, the iPhone won't go anywhere...), and has watched its new product releases fall flatter than a model in platform shoes at Paris Fashion Week. Zune, anyone? The Vanity Fair article reveals a rather startling tidbit: sales of Apple's iPhone now exceed Microsoft's total valuation. Wow. Really? How can that be? Well, if you believe the article, CEO Steve Ballmer is a business guy who says stupid things and do…

Friday Funnies: USA Olympic Swim Team Does Call Me Maybe

The U.S. Olympic swim team took a break from its back-breaking training sessions and 10,000-calorie-a-day diets to make a cheeky video to Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe." The swimmer's look at :45 is priceless. Go, Team USA! P.S.: Good luck, London. We're all rooting for you as you gear up to host the Games. Have fun!

Your Boss Is A Jerk, And Now There's Scientific Proof

Is your direct supervisor or co-worker a bit on the arrogant side? It's usually easy to tell, but now you can measure arrogance levels thanks to the newly-developed Workplace Arrogance Scale (WARS). Let's go to WAR people! Researchers at The University of Akron and Michigan State University have developed a "new measure of arrogance"! From The University of Akron press release:A new measure of arrogance, developed by researchers at The University of Akron and Michigan State University, can help organizations identify arrogant managers before they have a costly and damaging impact. The Workplace Arrogance Scale (WARS) will be presented at the American Psychological Association convention in Orlando on Aug. 2 by industrial and organizational psychologist and professor Stanley Silverman, dean of UA's Summit College and University College. A paper about the Workplace Arrogance Scale also appears in the July 2012 issue of The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist…

U.S. Workers Won't Watch Olympics, They'll Just Kick the Crap Out Of Co-workers Instead

The Olympics are here! The Olympics are here! The Opening Ceremonies are marching right down London's confused and clogged streets as Mitt Romney wins British hearts and minds, but few American employees say they'll bother to watch the Olympic Summer Games on the clock. No, they'll just keep right on kicking the competitive crap out of each other in their individual quest to reach the gold medal podium at work in the 50-meter office gossip dash and the synchronized skimming finals, thank you very much. Forget about the shot put competition, because U.S. workers are busy throwing each other underneath the bus! A new Workplace Options/North Carolina firm of Public Policy Polling poll of more than 500 working Americans concludes that fewer than 1 in 5 U.S. workers (zero?) will be following the Olympics while they work. Younger employees in particular just don't care about the Olympics. Overall, the Olympic Games are generating far less interest among the American workf…

Breaking News: Big Companies Are More Ethically Challenged

It's almost the ten-year anniversary of Sarbanes-Oxley, the giant, federally-mandated accounting accountability act that arose in the wake of the Enron scandal. Remember mark-to-market accounting, Raptors and Arthur Andersen? Ah, those were the days.
see more Monday Through Friday We know what happened to Enron and Arthur Andersen, but what has former Congressman Mike Oxley (R–OH-4) been up to since then? Well, one of his gigs is as chairman of a non-partisan, nonprofit group The Ethics Resource Center (ERC), which has just released a survey of 2,172 employees at U.S.-based companies with annual revenues of at least $5 billion. What are these employees seeing on the job? According to the report found on Ethics.org:Major findings from the study included: 1) just over half of workers (52 percent) at the highest revenue companies had observed misconduct in the previous 12 months, compared to 45 percent at all companies in the U.S. 2) Seventy-four percent of employees at the Fort…

Why Employees Should Fear the Future Of Facial-Recognition Software

A hiring manager separates the wheat from the chaff in the resume pile, but wants to zero in a little bit more before scheduling interviews. So she goes onto Facebook, looks up an applicant's profile, "captures" his profile image with the help of software, and then searches the web for any and all photos of him, whether he is smiling front and center or lurking somewhere far in background on a crowded street. We know it's him, because the software is able to pull up other identifying information. Where has this cat been, and who is he palling around with? Oh, he was at a major protest three years ago? Look, there he is way, way, waaaay the background with a protest sign! Hmm. Next.
see more epicfails Welcome to the potential future of 21st-Century hiring, courtesy of facial-recognition software, where employers might be able to look up your entire place setting, from cup to fork to napkin, in addition to your mug! The best part? You could be fully identifiable simp…

Gun Control: Will Colorado Make Its Day Better?

There's something flying underneath the radar in the wake of the horrible Aurora theater shootings. That "something" is Colorado House Bill 1088, which would allow employees and managers to use physical and/or deadly force when they have a "reasonable belief" that someone might be dangerous. The Republican-sponsored bill -- otherwise known as the "Make My Day Better" bill -- has been "postponed indefinitely" since March, but will it be back on the table now? We'll have to wait and see, but here's a snippet of the bill:2) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 18-1-704, any occupant of a dwelling AND ANY OWNER, MANAGER, OR EMPLOYEE OF A PLACE OF BUSINESS is justified in using any degree of physical force, including deadly physical force, against another person when that other person has made an unlawful entry into the dwelling OR PLACE OF BUSINESS, and when the occupant OR THE OWNER, MANAGER, OR EMPLOYEE has a reasonable belief t…

WHAT!? USA Has the World's Noisiest Workplaces

Can't hear yourself think over the store's music system? Listen up, because U.S. workplaces are loud. Really loud. Among the loudest on the planet. Shh, don't say anything though, because corporate America doesn't want to hear it. U.S. workplaces lack the adequate workplace noise standards found pretty much everywhere else. It's sort of like our national lack of paid maternity leave, only for the ears. Would you like a headache along with your halter top? OSHA proposed updating workplace noise standards in 2010, but the manufacturing industry and the U.S. Chamber of Chamber of Commerce put their fingers in their ears and said "la-la-la-la-la." So OSHA dropped the proposal. Say, what? Meanwhile, we Americans can't hear worth a crap anymore. As I blogged last year, one in four U.S. college students is already somewhat hearing impaired. The Better Hearing Institute estimates that 24 million Americans have untreated hearing loss, and two-thirds of them…

Want To Land A Better Job? Then Lose the Tattoos

Note to the 18-to-34 demographic: Getting older is a pain in the ass. It gets harder to lose weight, gray hairs start sprouting, and the super-cute tattoo you got in your twenties suddenly looks more short-sighted than tribal. Then one day, you decide it's time to have your tattoo removed. Welcome to the growth industry of the 21st Century! If you've ever quietly played a game of "I Spy A Tattoo" to keep yourself entertained at the pool or at the park, then you know that it can be a challenge these days to find young-ish people who aren't inked in some way, whether it's on the neck, calf, lower back, arm or ankle. It's estimated that 40% of American adults in the 18-to-40 demographic have some sort of tattoo or non-earlobe piercing, compared to only 3% in 1990. If the tattooed person was sober or otherwise thinking ahead during the tattoo procedure, then the tattoo is either small or it can be covered up easily with work clothes, because the typical, ma…

Why Are Organizations' Optics Suddenly So Awful?

Is it just me, or does it seem like prominent people in business and politics are failing to think things through all the way? From Mitt Romney's tax returns to Calvin Klein's Team USA outfits made in China to new Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer saying she'll skip maternity leave, it seems like no one is getting the optics right lately. Let's put this problem underneath the lens, shall we? As a latent-come-lately journalist, I'll say that poor optics are one of the things today's journalists live for, right up there with spell check, food stamps and Wikipedia. Watching someone in business or politics forget to consider how something looks to the great unwashed "out there" generates gazillions of copy inches and hours of cable news punditry each year, not to mention hundreds of sarcastic, anonymous comments posted to message boards. One doesn't have to look very hard to find examples of foot-in-mouth disease of the PR kind these days. First, there's…

LMFAO, Here Are the Most Popular Employee Ringtones

What kind of loud ringtone do you use to annoy everyone else during a movie, a presentation or a meal in a restaurant? I know, I know: your ringtone says something unique about your personality and you picked the least-annoying ringtone out there, yada, yada, yada. But do you know that there's a Top Ringtones List for employees? Oh, yes, it exists, and it's a song list that even Newt Gingrich might love. I dunno, this is the ONE TIME I looked at Newt Gingrich and thought, "Hella, yeah! That's awesome!" An ABBA ringtone is waaaay cooler than shutting down Congress in the mid-1990s, dude. So what are the most popular employee ringtones? According to San Francisco's Visage Mobile, which has compiled it all in a report, the top employee ringtone downloads are Sexy And I Know It by LMFAO; Rolling In the Deep by Adele; Cheers (Drink To That) by Rihanna; and Young, Wild And Free by Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa. But our trendy and vaguely confusing BYOD (Bring You…

Job Applicants Dislike Companies That Screen Social Media Accounts

Employers like using social media to screen job applicants, but job applicants are less likely to like the companies that do. The 2012 Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey finds a whopping 92% of employers are using social media for recruiting purposes. That's a lot of self-involved tweets and puffed-up LinkedIn pages to read, but nearly three-fourths of employers (73%) report that they generally find someone to hire once they wade through all of the hashtags, misspellings and narcissistic musings. Does the job candidate still want the company, though? Now this is where things get interesting, because a new study says that job applicants are less likely to want the job if they find out that their social media pages have been retroactively reviewed more closely than Mitt Romney's outsourcing record and tenure at Bain Capital. Oh, my bleeding ears. In the study, 175 students applied for a fake temporary job that they thought was real and lo and behold, many of the students didn&#…

Workplace Trends: The Office "Group Cleanse"

Your office might need a good cleansing, but let's not go there. No, let's talk about cleansing our inner beings by living on all-natural, limited-calorie liquid lunches in the name of teamwork! The office-wide "group cleanse" is pouring into the workplace, according to a story in The New York Times. Trendy office fridges are now stocked with "cleansing" drinks for employees to live on all day. For up to a week, employees agree to take part in a team-building, 1,200-calorie-a-day, all-liquid diet, and apparently it's becoming all the rage in industries ranging from fashion to finance, and it doesn't matter if you're "lunching" with a client, either. Just whip out your liquid lunch in a nice restaurant and ask the client if he or she would like one, too! It tastes like crap, according to one employee who describes his cleansing drink as "gnarly tasting." Awesome. I tell you, this trend is just the way to land a big account. D…

Managers Are the Most Likely To Go On Vacation

Ah, that was...fun? The family and I took a short vacation that wasn't a short staycation. Yes, we actually went somewhere this time in a quest to show our children that there's a lot more Virginia past the Ikea at Potomac Mills. You locals know what I mean. Anyway, they had a blast touring Bob McDonnell territory, which does very well on election night until Northern Virginia bothers to show up. It was an on-the-cheap, you-can-do-this-or-that-but-not-both economy vacation for sure, but the kids had a blast, which is what counts. But now their exhausted parents need a post-vacation vacation to recover from the actual vacation because traveling with young children isn't really much of a vacation. You parents know what I mean. And I find blogging to be very relaxing, so let's get back to our regularly-scheduled bloggramming. Let's talk about employee vacation trends! Man, did I see a lot of people "on vacation" but obliviously working on their iPads whi…

U.S. Economy Adds Only 80,000 Jobs In June

I've been sitting here for the last hour simulating an employed business journalist, just waiting for 8:30 a.m. Eastern SHARP. That's right, people: it's jobs report day, and, well, let's talk about Jessica Simpson instead. The U.S. economy added 80,000 jobs in June, dropping the U.S. unemployment rate to...oh wait, it's still the same. 8.2%. Um, yay? These numbers deserve a San Diego-style fireworks show. Yes, non-farm payroll increased by some 80,000 jobs but an estimated 12.7 million Americans are still jobless and another 8.2 million Americans are working part-time when they really want full-time work, according to this morning's BLS report. In fact, June's numbers are just like May's numbers, which means our economy is sort of like Jessica Simpson trying to lose all the baby weight. It's coming off, but veeeery slowly, and we know in hindsight that we probably should have paced our overall consumption patterns a little bit better, but that…

This Year, the Fourth Is A Five-Day Vacation

Happy Fourth of July! It's not in your imagination if the last week has seemed rather slow. Nobody, anywhere is getting any real work done all week long! Fire up the grill and make yourself a burger that deserves a long op-ed piece. Or something? Since the Fourth of July falls on a Wednesday this year, it's a five-r, vacation-wise, even if your vacay is by the printer tray. Even Mitt Romney is using this week as a working holiday. Which one of your waterfront vacation homes will you jet ski in front of today? Hmmm. I'm getting the impression that optics aren't Romney's forte. Here in Washington D.C., it'll be interesting to see how tonight's fireworks shows unfold amid continuing, widespread power outages due in part to a widespread lack of power company employees. Don't touch that downed electrical line; help is on the way. From Richmond. Or Delaware, or North Carolina. Apparently? As a fledgling local, there's also the question of how much t…

Workplace Trends: The Talking Urinal Cake

Will your office restroom toilet soon be offering you tips and advice? Yes, techies and federal grants have just given us the talking urinal. Or more precisely, the talking urinal cake. At the moment, the talking, motion-activated urinal cake is being tested in Michigan restrooms as a way to curb drinking and driving, but are we merely a step, hop and a wide stance away from seeing this stuff in the average office restroom? Just think of all the friendly workplace reminders management could give employees, from "remember to clear your desk" to "remember to clock in on time." Perhaps at some point, the messages could be personalized, as in John, don't forget I'll need that report by 11 a.m. sharp. Oh, the horror. At $21 a pop, however, these urinal cakes aren't cheap, so it may be awhile before this technology trickles down into the average workplace. And what about the urinal-lacking logistics of the ladies room? Still, it's interesting to think…

Is "Cloud" Computing In For Some Stormy Weather?

Well, we survived the Great D.C. Derecho of 2012 with only a fallen deck chair, a few power dips, and a spotty wireless connection. We'll count ourselves incredibly lucky. Especially since so many people are still without power in 95-degree heat and at least 17 people didn't survive the storm. My thoughts are with their loved ones. It's been both funny and sad to watch the people here (myself included) try to rustle up a smartphone connection. You can see the tuned-out, antsy look of oh, come on, work already, I really need to check my email from a mile away. So we close our email apps and try the web, because if email isn't working the web surely will be, right?
see more Funny Graphs Now we find out that "cloud computing," which lets companies store and access encrypted data from some nebulous, unknown location, doesn't work all that hot after a freak storm, and Congress is all over it like Alec Baldwin's mountain bike on a reporter's foot. Gee…