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Showing posts from 2013

10 Workplace Resolutions For Employees To Break In 2014

As yet another survey noted this week, Tuesday tends to be employees' most productive work day. Given that it's the Friday before Christmas, it's safe to say that at least half of your co-workers -- not including you, of course! -- have been "out of the office" since Tuesday "running an errand" and will "return shortly." Uh-huh. They're not fooling anyone, are they? We all know that they'll be returning to the office, mentally speaking, on January 2, 2014. Okay, go ahead and make it January 6, 2014, since New Year's Day falls mid-week this year. Until then, we can't in all seriousness expect people to think very hard for a two-day work week. So what can we do to pass the time at work until quitting time? Well, we can always think of a few New Year's resolutions to break! New Year's Eve/Day is one of my favorite times of the year. Frankly, I've been intrigued from an early age by the whole notion of the new year…

Thanking Co-workers For Holiday Gifts (When You Haven't Gotten Them One)

You're hard at work when a co-worker stops by your desk last-minute with a small holiday gift. The problem is, you haven't bought anything for this co-worker yet. Okay, let's be honest: you hadn't planned on buying a gift for this co-worker at all, until now. How will you navigate the next 30 seconds of this little workplace interaction? Here's how. It can be very easy to be taken aback when a colleague, co-worker or business associate gives us a holiday gift unexpectedly. We thought we'd finished our holiday shopping until this co-worker drops by our desks with a small gift in hand. Surprise! "Oh, wow. Thanks, you shouldn't have!" we might say almost reflexively. And by that, we mean, "Oh really, you shouldn't have because I haven't bought anything for you yet and I'll have to think of something and I'm not sure what to get you and my budget is tight and...you drink coffee, right? Would a Starbucks gift card suffice?"…

It's Time To Hug Your 60-Watt Light Bulbs Even Closer

Take a long look at the 60-watt light bulbs in the lights and lamps around you, because in a few weeks they're going away. Forever. As you try to un-knot another string of holiday lights -- how do they get so tangled up? -- I'm here to present a light bulb moment, courtesy of CNN.com:Light bulb manufacturers will cease making traditional 40 and 60-watt light bulbs -- the most popular in the country -- at the start of 2014. This comes after the controversial phasing out of incandescent 75 and 100-watt light bulbs at the beginning of 2013. In their place will be halogen bulbs, compact fluorescent bulbs, LED bulbs and high efficiency incandescents -- which are just regular incandescents that have the filament wrapped in gas. All are significantly more expensive than traditional light bulbs, but offer significant energy and costs savings over the long run. (Some specialty incandescents -- such as three-way bulbs -- will still be available.) If you're re-reading the above a…

Silent Slight: When Co-workers Brag About Their Holiday Gifts

You're chatting with a co-worker who says that her parents are buying her a house -- A WHOLE, FREAKING HOUSE!!! -- for Christmas. You, meanwhile, are standing there silently wondering how to cover next month's rent. It's time to discuss how to handle our boastful co-workers during the holidays!Household income disparity is something we don't like to talk about at work, but it can be there, the elephant in the proverbial conference room. Perhaps a co-worker comes to work and says that she's getting...a brand-new Lexus for Christmas. There it is, bright and shiny and sitting in the driveway, keys already in the ignition, just like in the TV commercials! Too bad it's not the make or model she wanted, and the interior isn't quite right, and she's all sorts of bummed about it.You, meanwhile, drive a threadbare car with 200,000 miles on it. You couldn't even afford the $350 big, red bow from all those holiday Lexus television commercials. Yes, the bow alo…

Your Co-workers Will Buy You A Holiday Gift If...

Whether or not to buy holiday gifts for co-workers can feel like a big decision this time of year. Who to buy for, what to buy, and, ahem, whether or not to expect anything in return can take up more than a few acres of employee mindshare. Or maybe not? Let's go to a new survey that unwraps employees' gift giving plans at work! Staffing company Spherion asked survey company Harris Interactive to ask a bunch of employees about their workplace gift-giving plans. So Harris Interactive created an online survey that netted a meaningful statistical sample of 970 working U.S. adults who probably still don't know who to buy for, what to buy, and ahem, whether or not to expect anything in return.So what did these employees say? Slightly more than half (52%) said they plan on giving presents to their co-workers, but only to their peers and above. So if everyone else outranks you at work, then you can suck it. You get nothing, you lose, good day, sir! (Or madame.) More employees pl…

Should Employers Offer Season's Greetings To Seasonal Workers?

Christmas is coming, which means it's time for some holiday cheer in the workplace, unless your employer is a real dud. Employees can look forward to delicious cookies and cakes in the break room, dishing up at the office potluck, pretending to be surprised by their Secret Santas, and, in general, finding a bit of merriment-making amid the spreadsheet mistakes. Wait a minute. Where'd this guy come from? Oh, yeah. The temp. What's his name again? Dave? Dan? Hey You? Why can't I ever remember his name? An equally important question for managers everywhere this holiday season is: So are you gonna invite the temps to participate in the company's holiday festivities, or not? How, exactly, will you fold your contingent workforce into the company's holiday batter? If you follow business news, then you've noted the steady rise in temporary and contract positions in recent years. From contractors to "seasonal workers" (read: temps) to part-timers to th…

Five Tips For Getting Over Your Egotistical Co-workers

Does your co-worker see himself as the second coming? Does he walk into a room with an attitude that screams, "don't you know who I am"? Dealing with co-workers who take themselves far too seriously is becoming a very serious matter in the workplace. Let's work together to take these co-workers down a few notches, shall we? We'll start our exploration of the self-grandiose self in California's Bay Area where start-up CEO/techies are getting mighty tired of being called techies. Apparently, they feel it's become a very derisive term and a not-so-subtle form of workplace discrimination. They're better than that, and by using the word "techie" we, as in all us non-techies, are stupidly, and loudly, conveying that we ARE NOT techies imbued with the bombastic ability to inhabit a social media bubble, and therefore we are not one of them. Silicon Valley techies would kindly prefer that everyone else refer to them from now on as either "c…

Would You Like To Hear A Wall Street Banker Sing?

If bankers bursting into song is your idea of a good time, then you could make out like a bandit thanks to reality television. There's a new BBC show called "The Choir" where Citigroup's choir, among others, are competing to land the "best workplace choir" title. Think of "The Choir" as a cross between "The Office" and "Glee," only it's reality television, which is quickly becoming the only kind of television we have anymore because quality shows such as Mad Men are expensive to make. Picking the right song to perform that represents your financial institution well, however, can be a very tough decision. Should the average, MBA-endowed banker pick "Take the Money and Run" by The Steve Miller Band? No. How about "Head Like A Hole" by Nine Inch Nails? Nah, but that would be totally awesome somehow. Maybe "I Got Mine" by The Black Keys? Nope. Today's bankers prefer songs such as Bob Marley&#…

Feeling Unmotivated At Work? Try "Temptation Bundling"

It's the day before Thanksgiving. I really should be starting the turkey day food prep, but I'm blogging instead. And you know why I'm choosing to blog? Because it's a lot more fun for me, an escapist activity from the hum-drum, every day, warp and woof of life. Yes, I should be trimming the green beans and donning the holiday bravery to try making my own gravy for once, but there's a new Wharton article beckoning me to blog about it and, quite frankly, I welcome the distraction. I know exactly why I'm feeling unmotivated. While I love the sentiment of Thanksgiving, the holiday itself seems to combine all the areas in which I feel I do not excel. Specifically, detailed menu planning, hosting, and cooking. I would rate myself as passable, but not great, in all three areas. Combine them, and the laugh track basically cues itself. Simply put, I do not love to cook and preparing certain elements of a big Thanksgiving meal can feel slightly intimidating. For m…

How To Feel Thankful For Your Very Worst Co-workers

A recent OfficeTeam survey tells us that employees are most thankful for their friendly co-workers this holiday season. But what about the co-workers we're not quite as thankful for? After all, the workplace is replete with other employees who annoy the crap out of us at every opportunity. The co-workers who -- perhaps through years of diligent practice and artful ingenuity -- know exactly how to press our buttons. Yeah, those co-workers, and there are a lot of them. Maybe they don't know they're pressing our buttons, however. There's always that possibility, I suppose. Bottom line: How, exactly, are we going to "re-frame our perspective" toward our most annoying co-workers so that we can live the ending of the workplace version of Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life? Wow, we all want to live this movie ending, don't we? It would be just as awesome to live it on the job, if it weren't for our worst, er, "most challenging," co-wor…

You've Been Served! How To Deal With Office Potluck Wars

Once again you'll be bringing the same dish or store-bought item to the company holiday potluck. Somehow, you never get to bring anything else, do you? Why is that? Let the office potluck wars begin! You got the email with the link to one of those online sign-up sheets that never seems to work when you use it. In your defense, you haven't used this sign-up website in months, and, well, if you don't use it you lose it, right? Now you sit there wasting valuable time thinking up a whole new password that the site didn't save for some reason and then you get to wait for the website to ping you back before you can access the electronic sign-up sheet again and....gaaaahhhh, someone else signed up for the cheap, easy item you had in mind while you were re-registering for the website! Someone, however, will still need to bring the napkins, the plastic spoons, and maybe even a big loaf of bread in addition to a Main Dish that could be (1) expensive to provide; and/or (2) tim…

This Thanksgiving, U.S. Employees Are Most Thankful For...

What are you most thankful for on the job? Simply having a job in this economy could probably top the list, but that's not what employees are most thankful for this year, according to a new OfficeTeam survey of 400 U.S. employees. OfficeTeam tells us that employees are most thankful for...their friendly co-workers! Nearly one-quarter (24%) of survey participants listed "friendly coworkers" as what they're most thankful for at work, followed by a good benefits program (20%); an easy commute (16%); challenging assignments (15%); supportive managers (11%); and flexible hours (3%). ("Other" and "Don't know" comprised another 10% of the responses.) Older employees (aged 65+) are the most thankful for their friendly co-workers, followed by the coveted 18-to-34 demographic. But where's Generation X, the largely-ignored, non-coveted generation of cynical slackers who are entering, or currently navigating, their 40s? Apparently, Gen X employees d…

Are Company Holiday Parties Turning Into Big Booze Fests?

The holiday party circuit is upon us and employees have a lot on their minds. One thing that isn't on enough employees' minds, however, is how to hold their liquor in the presence of their co-workers. Drink up! Caron Treatment Centers just released its annual holiday drinking survey, and the results are rather sobering (no pun intended). The online survey of nearly 2,000 U.S. adults was conducted by Harris Interactive and assessed survey participants' attitudes toward alcohol consumption at holiday parties. Let's just say that many employees plan on getting their party on this holiday season. Nearly one-third of survey participants (32%) believe that having three OR MORE drinks is acceptable at the workplace holiday party --- if the drinker is able (1) to hold his or her liquor; and (2) to refrain from driving. That's a rather big "if," however, because 60% of survey participants have watched a drunk co-worker "behave inappropriately" by slapp…

The Key To A Job Seeker's Character, Now In 140 Characters Or Less

Forget the Myers Briggs personality test, because IBM claims to be developing new personality profiling software that will allow employers to assess a job seeker's personality traits based on his or her...word choices on Twitter? Oh please, no. #CanWeGetBatKidOnThisStat? Many job seekers are prepared, if necessary, to sit down and take one of those long, computerized personality assessments the asks them to answer the same statement phrased in eight different ways. But in the near future, employers could be able to pull up the vacuous verbal wasteland that is Twitter and assess a job seeker's entire character in 140 characters or less. Essentially, hiring managers will be able to pull a professional, paraphrased Jack Nicholson. Wrong verb, Mr. or Ms. Job Applicant. Wrong verb. Or something like that. IBM's personality profiling software could be a potential boon for employers. As The Daily Mail (U.K.) reports:Researchers believe the software can even establish how emotio…

My Bad! The Sorry State Of the Average Workplace Apology

A new Forum Corporation global Leadership Pulse Survey reveals the rather sorry state of the average workplace mea culpa. The survey finds that misperceptions abound when it comes to workplace apologies. A full 89% of managers surveyed said that they apologize "either always or often" for their workplace mistakes. That's nice. We can all appreciate someone who takes full ownership of his or her faults, right? But get this: only 19% of employees surveyed said that the boss "always or often" offers an apology. With any luck, it wasn't one of those non-apology apologies causing some confusion. Whatever is going on, there appears to be a wide gulf between the apologies offered and the apologies received at work. From the press release:Despite the fact that most bosses say they own up to workplace errors, employees do not agree. In fact, 43 percent of employees say that their managers rarely or never apologize. Managers who choose to ignore their workplace mi…

Five Tips For Handling Co-workers Who Always Cut You Off

You're in the middle of telling a co-worker something important when suddenly you're no longer the one doing the talking. BAM! You've been cut off again! Stopped at the crossroads of your own words. Go ahead and ask yourself: "Why does this co-worker always cut me off whenever I'm speaking? It really makes me..." Pardon me. Hold that thought, because this is where I jump in to take over the conversation. Perhaps you've noticed this bad habit in a co-worker, or worse: that he or she always seems to cut you off, and only you, while allowing your co-workers to finish whatever they have to say. Let's cut to the chase by writing a sample conversation so we know exactly what we're talking about here, shall we? Employee A: I was thinking we should go ahead and do it on spec, but I just spoke with the client and learned that-- Employee B: It's a go? We should just do it on spec, then! Employee A: Well, what I was going to say is that the client t…

Senior Managers Give Workplaces the Holiday Gift Of Malware

The holidays are right around the corner, and you're wondering if the company is going to give you the same holiday gift as last year. Well, be aware that senior management is in a very giving mood this year -- if you like opening your email to find the company's network is running slow, or is completely down again. Happy holidays! A ThreatTrack Security/Opinion Matters survey of 200 enterprise-level malware analysts finds senior managers are busy giving their companies the gift of malware. Yes, senior executives are infecting company computer systems with all kinds of viruses, bugs and other problems. What are these senior executives doing online, exactly? Let's phish around for an answer! According to the survey, C-level executives are infecting corporate computer systems with malware by doing one, or more, of the following: clicking on a malicious link in a phishing email (56%); allowing a family member to use a company-owned device (45%); visiting a pornographic w…

Five Warning Signs That It's Time To Quit Your New Job

Congratulations! You're starting a new job. You're eager to get going and show everyone what you can do. If only you new employer would give you some direction as to what needs to get done, however. Sigh. Anyone who works long enough will look back and immediately spot The Job That Spelled Doom From Day One. Back in the dark ages of my very young youth, I took a desk job that on the surface looked like a great opportunity. I showed up for the first day of work ready to go, only to find out they didn't have a desk and chair for me. So I stood there, waiting to speak with my new manager who hadn't hired me (the hiring had been done by someone else). "Where should I sit?" I asked. We're working on it and we'll get back to you, I was told. Meanwhile, my new co-workers wouldn't engage me in conversation, which felt awkward and strange. I simply stood there, off to one side, waiting for some direction and orientation as to how, and where, to start th…

Let's Thank Veterans By Not Reducing Them To Stereotypes

The Los Angeles Times has a great article today about the stereotypes our military veterans face in the current job market. A full 2 million of our bravest, most responsible citizens are finding an uphill battle in convincing many employers to take a chance on them. This needs to stop. From the article:According to September Bureau of Labor data analyzed by Syracuse University's Institute for Veterans and Military Families, post-9/11 veterans ages 20 to 24 are 81% more likely to be unemployed than their non-veteran peers, and those ages 25 to 29 are 71% more likely to be out of a job. This situation is especially frustrating because veterans make great employees. Veterans bring a long list of virtues to the workplace, including leadership ability, a strong sense of teamwork, loyalty and initiative. These qualities are borne out in their performance. Data recently released by the advisory company CEB show that veterans are more likely to stay at a company, and that they deliver 4…

Five Tips For Inspiring Yourself Through Uninspiring Projects

I've taken a few days off from blogging this week because I've felt rather uninspired to blog. "It" just wasn't there, as they say. For better or worse, I'm able to put down my pen since I'm the queen of my own online domain. But what if you've been handed a big project at work -- where I would hope you're earning a paycheck -- and you simply can't find the motivation and the inspiration to start? It's funny how the trite inspirational posters hanging around the office only leave you feeling even more uninspired. How will you power yourself through this mind-numbing material, huh? (To clarify, I'm talking about your work project and not this blog post, should there be any confusion.) As a professional writer who has slogged through many an uninspiring story assignment over the years, all I can say is: I feel you, dog. For me, it could be like pulling teeth to get excited when faced with an assignment that made counting paperclips see…