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Showing posts from November, 2012

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 …

Can You Smell the Fear In Your Co-workers?

You're in a meeting when suddenly you start feeling nervous for seemingly no reason. Don't worry, it's just your fearful reaction to your co-worker's fearful armpit sweat. Geez, could you go buy a better deodorant already? Researchers in the Netherlands had a group of male study participants watch The Shining and cringe-worthy scenes from MTV's Jackass, all the while taking sweat samples. Then they had a group of women take a visual test while, without their knowledge, the women also sniffed the chemosignals of the guys' sweat. The researchers studied their facial expressions and eye movements to see how they would react. The women looked fearful when they inhaled "fear sweat" and grimaced when they smelled "disgust sweat." Conclusion: We humans react emotionally to each other's sweat. If someone else is fearful and starts sweating, then we might start feeling slightly fearful, too. If someone else is nervous and starts sweating, then…

Future Shock: What the Election Results Mean For the U.S. Workplace

Ah, it's finally over. The United States has been relieved of an increasingly uncomfortable case of electoral constipation, but what does it mean for the American workplace? I'm a bit fuzzy from a very late night of cable news viewing, but I'm game to make a few, quick workplace predictions. First, the Affordable Care Act (e.g., "Obamacare") is here to stay, and a little over a year from now employers and employees will begin to feel the ACA's full force impact on the workplace. The ACA's full implementation will be incredible to watch. How will employers react to it? How will uninsured employees, who suddenly have access to a healthcare plan thanks to state-based exchanges, feel about it? How could the ACA affect morale, productivity, sick rates, and the average employee's willingness to stick with a job simply for the employer's health plan? The effects of the Affordable Care Act on the U.S. workforce will be seismic. Second, the Lilly Ledbett…

Vroom! What Your Car Says About Your Politics

Is your co-worker a Democrat or a Republican? He or she might not be saying, but his or her chosen ride could help drive you to a conclusion. Automotive research website TotalCarScore.com conducted a Facebook survey to learn what Republicans and Democrats like to drive. It found a few distinct differences, too. (Okay, okay, any Facebook survey is automatically a shaky research premise in my book but I'm too keyed up this morning about the election to care. Plus, I'm about to go spend hours waiting in line to vote, so I'm busy planning the logistics of insulated shoes and periodic bathroom breaks. So please stay with me here. P.S.: If you haven't already, please get out and vote!) Anyway, TotalCarScore.com reveals more than one-fourth (29%) of our Republican/conservative friends drive trucks, while slightly more than one-fourth of our Democratic/liberal friends (27%) drive economy and compact cars. This finding doesn't seem particularly shocking for some reason, …

Monday Morning Workplace News Round-up

It's the day before the presidential election, and there's not much else to talk about other than how glad we'll be when it's finally over. Here's your Monday morning workplace news round-up. Unsure of the workplace voting rights in your state? Then check out this terrific blog post. New Yorkers endured a serious case of Sandy-induced smartphone withdrawal. Can you spare some battery power, brother? Meanwhile, Northeast employers ponder how to deal with hurricane-stricken employees. Gen Xers are overtaking Baby Boomers as the fattest generation. But it's happening in Australia, so it's okay. Now if we Gen Xers could only find our own galaxy on a map, right? Speaking of far-away places, you can leave the country for work purposes but wherever you go, there you are. Iowa company OutcomesMTM just started offering unlimited paid time off to its 52 employees. Don't apply there all at once, okay? Could Saddle Creek employees be up a creek if Gov. Romn…

Workplace Cyber-bullying Is All the Rage These Days

OMG, my co-worker is so stupid, I think I'll flame her on Facebook! Look at the prank video I secretly recorded and just uploaded to YouTube! Let's use instant messaging to complain about so-and-so behind her back! Don't take it so personally, I was just trying to be funny on Twitter! Welcome to the age of workplace cyber-bullying. It's here, it's bad, and it's getting worse. A new British report entitled "Punched From The Screen" takes a look at cyber-bullying in the workplace and finds many employees are being humiliated online and gossiped about behind their virtual backs. In fact, the researchers estimate up to 20% of employees experience at least one instance of cyber-bullying every week. That's a lot of misspellings, emoticons, and LOLs bandied about company servers. Separate research, however, concludes more than two-thirds (67%) of cyber-bullying happens via instant messaging on the down low in real time where conversations don't ne…

Non-smokers Should Heart Workplace Smoking Bans

A new study links fewer heart attacks to laws that ban smoking in the workplace. Secondhand smoke, we banish you behind the office building next to the company dumpster! A report in the Archives of Internal Medicine followed people in one Minnesota county over a period of time and concludes a drop in myocardial infarction is related to the rise of smoke-free workplace laws. Where there's smoke, there's fire -- or at the very least, fewer heart attacks since non-smoking employees don't have to breathe in all that yucky smoke. Jordin Sparks is on to something here: How are we supposed to breathe with no air? However, 10 states do not have general statewide bans on smoking in non-government facilities and leave it up to counties or municipalities to enact anti-smoking measures inside restaurants and other private facilities. These states are Alabama, Alaska, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Even California, a le…