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Showing posts from January, 2013

Congratulations, You Have No Privacy At Work Anymore

Social media use -- or more accurately, misuse -- has destroyed any sense of employee privacy, according to a new survey. Hey twit, would you stop posting office Twitpics with me in them? More that half (53%) of 4,000 adults in AVG Technologies' Digital Diaries survey said they have zero privacy now, thanks to all the packets of twits, tweets, Instagrams and Flickrs flying here, there and everywhere all day at work, most likely without their knowledge or consent. Awesome. Roughly 10% of employees surveyed said they've discovered "secret conversations" going on behind their backs via social media, and about the same percentage have been embarrassed by uploaded photos. Privacy-seeking employees here, there and everywhere probably wish their could give their social media-obsessed co-workers the Mike Teevee treatment, flying over our heads in a million pieces and then promptly reassembled and downloaded into Mom's purse. Look at me, everyone! I'm the first per…

Do Extracurricular Activities Hurt Your Job Hunt?

I had planned to write on Monday about Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's suggestion that employers should be able to ask female employees if they plan on starting a family, but the kids were sick. Can I get a dose of irony while fetching another bowl of chicken noodle soup? Overall, I reacted to Ms. Sandberg's suggestion of allowing employers to ask, "So are you planning to get knocked up anytime soon?" with a stunned, awkward silence not unlike Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer summing up her term as governor. As someone who has interviewed small business owners for more than a decade, I can certainly understand the desire of staff-strapped employers to ask this burning question of job applicants of childbearing age, but generally it's a bad idea that reopens a can of worms. Besides, it's easy to forget what it was like for young working women when Sheryl Sandberg was in grade school and presumably oblivious to the 1970s case law leading to up to the Pregnancy Discrimin…

Five Steps For Cleaning the Office Refrigerator

Spring is right around the corner, which means it's almost time for some spring cleaning at work. Who will get the glorious task of cleaning out the office refrigerator that still has holiday food in it? Anyone, anyone? Grab your Hazmat suit and hold your nose, because we're lifting the lid on the dirty office fridge. Cleaning and maintaining the office refrigerator can be a thankless task, and occasionally a dangerous one. In fact, one study found that storing your lunch sack in the office restroom is safer than storing it in the office refrigerator. Another study, meanwhile, tells us that the refrigerator door handle is one of the germiest places in the whole workplace. Ew. In some cases, the office refrigerator can become so unsafe and unsanitary that Foodsafety.gov has issued a set of safety guidelines. I know what you're thinking. Can't the intern, administrative assistant or temp clean the fridge? Can't we hire a Molly Maid to face down the plastic containe…

Employees Everywhere Would Vote the Boss Off the Island

A new Monster Global Poll of workers worldwide finds three-fourths would vote their bosses out of their offices today if they had the chance. Yes, managers are bad everywhere, not just here. So, that's good? I mean, knowing that your fellow workers in Europe, Asia and other places also have very little faith in their bosses and would vote them off the island in Survivor-like fashion should, theoretically, make you feel better, right? We're all in this together, separated only by long distances and flight delays. You haven't been pulling your weight around here boss, and you haven't built a strong coalition of employees to save your hide. Now the votes are in, and you have to leave the island. You are the weakest link, bye-bye! But who should replace the boss? About one-third (30%) of more than 2,400 people surveyed would elect themselves manager. Exactly one-fourth (25%) would play kingmaker by backing a co-worker for the job, and slightly more than one-fifth (21%) w…

You Can (Sort Of) Talk Smack About Your Boss Online Now

It's no secret that social media has become the TMI tool of today. It seems like everyone, everywhere is prone to over-sharing about love, life and work online. Tell us everything about yourself, because we really didn't need to know that. What do you mean by "private life"? We need to get Jodie Foster on this, stat. As anyone who has posted on The Facebook Fired knows, talking a little bit too much about how much you hate your job today (LOL!) could get you fired. Now the National Labor Relations Board is stepping in to limit employers' ability to write broad, vague social media policies. Employers who have told employees they can't use social media to say anything even remotely negative about the company could be demanding a "dislike" button soon. According to The New York Times:The labor board's rulings, which apply to virtually all private sector employers, generally tell companies that it is illegal to adopt broad social media policies — l…

U.S. Supreme Court To Hear Workplace Bias Case

We went to the inauguration ceremony on the National Mall yesterday, even though the jaded locals we know looked at us all crazy-like and said: "OMG! Why on earth would you do that? The crowds! We just watch it on teevee."Watch it on teevee? No thanks, that sounded way too boring. We already watch enough teevee. Plus, we wanted to be crammed like sardines into a Metro train car en route to standing in 40-degree weather waving complimentary flags and then spending the next few hours wandering aimlessly amid blocked-off streets trying to find a place to eat, because that's how we roll. Really though, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience even from our vantage point in Jumbotronville far, far down the National Mall near the CNN booth, where I could plainly see the back of Anderson Cooper's head from thirty feet away as he kicked it with a panel of pundits. Clearly, I was an insider now, breathing in Mother Nature's version of A/C as I took in the 360. I'll ta…

Canada Becomes First Nation To Adopt Workplace Mental Health Standard

Mental health is on our minds these days, and now we can look to our friendly neighbors to the North for advice on creating a mentally-healthy workplace. This week, Canada became the first country in the world to publish an official set of workplace mental health standards. The Toronto Stardescribes the 61-page code as a set of good practices "endorsed by business, labour, the federal government, the non-profit sector and the aboriginal community. It reflects a societal recognition that mental illness can no longer be neglected or treated as a personal weakness. It is the culmination of 14 years of research, advocacy, consciousness-raising and consensus building." It's estimated 1 in 5 Canadians deal with some form of mental illness each year. Canada's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), meanwhile, calculates untreated mental health illnesses including depression and anxiety cost Canadian employers $51 billion a year. The new standards, titled Psycholog…

The Ex Files: What Makes Lawyers Leave Law?

What turns a lawyer into an ex-lawyer? A new survey of former lawyers is ready to brief us.Above the Law surveyed 430 "recovering" (er, former) attorneys to find out what made them enter, and then leave, lawyering. The most common reason cited for attending law school was that it would be "a way to get rich and drive a BMW" "intellectually stimulating." But all these legal eagles got was a crummy t-shirt that said "What the hell was I thinking!?" once they started practicing law, because the number one reason for leaving the practice of law was that it was "too high pressure" for 44% of those surveyed. A full 40% of ex-lawyers felt like they didn't fit in, and 31% felt pigeon-holed. Another 37% said that they had no life, and 27% thought the legal profession was "very competitive." One ex-lawyer sums up the legal profession this way: "[W]atching young partners go from great health to chronic illness by working 20 …

Employees Think Teams Are Important, They Just Don't Want To Work On One

Teamwork. Managers want it, and the vast majority of employees think it's important. A recent survey, however, finds many employees are taking the Greta Garbo approach to teamwork. Yes, they vant to work alone. Don't let the filing cabinet hit you on the way out of my cube, m'kay? The University of Phoenix, with the help of market research and strategy consultancy Kelton, surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. adults to suss out their views on teamwork. Almost all (95%) of the survey participants said that teams serve an important purpose at work, but more than one-third (36%) said that they would rather work alone, thank you very much. These employees would rather work alone because they think work teams are almost always, without exception, highly dysfunctional. In fact, verging on three-fourths (70%) said that they have worked on a highly dysfunctional work team. How is "dysfunction" defined, you ask? More than one-third (40%) of those surveyed said that they've …

Want A Raise? It All Depends On Your Co-workers

Our grade schooler aced her online math assignment, and it was time to click on a virtual prize. "What is that, Mom?" We sat there for a second staring at four, jagged rectangular shapes underscored by two big words in white, block letters. For all her hard work over the last 30 minutes, she had won a set of...pottery shards. "Huh? What are 'pottery shards'?" she asked, looking confused. I explained briefly both the concept and uses of broken pottery, and then she threw up her arms and started talking directly to the computer screen. "I work really hard, and all you give me is pottery shards!? What kind of a prize is that? Seriously!?" I couldn't help it; I started laughing because I could see her point. Pottery shards? What kind of a sadistic online math education company rewards a pre-tweener's growing mastery of basic division and multiplication with a drawing of broken pottery shards? Talk about shattered motivation. Maybe you …

Men Want Skimpy Women's Clothing Banned At Work

Psst, ladies: A new survey reveals your male co-workers want to ban some of your wardrobe items because they're too revealing. What do they want you to stop wearing to work, exactly? Let's dress down the list! First, I should clarify that the research is a survey of British men conducted by the British Heart Foundation. So take what I'm about to reveal with a grain of salt, an international perspective, or some fashion metaphor that's not coming to mind. That said, here's the list of women's clothing items labeled far too distracting and/or unprofessional to be worn at work: Hotpants (50% of the men surveyed said they're too distracting) Sheer blouses (41%) Miniskirts (39%) Low cut tops (38%) Crocs (36%) Anything with leopard or animal print (33%) Slogan t-shirts (32%) UGG boots (26%) Amen, fellas. I'm totally on board with you about the UGG boots. They are ugg-ly, even outside of work. Now that we know what the men are thinking, where are the wom…

Employers Are Still Asking Really Weird Interview Questions

If you had to pick a U.S. state to get rid of, which one would it be? A penguin walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here? Real employers are asking these questions in real job interviews. I will now raise my hands in a Susan Powter-like gesture and ask employers to please stop the madness. Really, employers? Glassdoor is out today with its list of the Top 25 Oddball Interview Questions of 2013, and the list is still as strange as it was in 2010. Here's a sampling of questions employers have asked job applicants recently during interviews: "What do you think about when you are alone in your car?" "Can you say: 'Peter Pepper Picked a Pickled Pepper' and cross-sell a washing machine at the same time?" "What kitchen utensil would you be?" "What’s your favorite song? Perform it for us now." Huh? To me, such questions indicate that employers navigating a buyer's job market have be…

Here Comes the Test Of Your Sick Time Policy

The flu is laying us low and taking over faster than high-profile op-eds about Honey Boo Boo, but it doesn't mean your sick co-workers are going to stay home. No, they're coming to work, anyway. Where's the scheduling Tamiflu when you need it? Flu season is where the rubber meets the road regarding companies' "innovative" idea to merge sick days into PTO, or paid time off, a Menudo mixture of sick days, vacation days and personal time all lumped together into one confusing time bank. Today, all across our great country, employees are coming down with the first symptoms of seasonal flu but they don't want to use their valuable vacation days to fight it. I only have a few chills, and I'm not THAT warm. I'll go ahead and go to work, because I've already booked that seven-day trip to Key West in April! Great, thanks, now two-thirds of the office will get sick today, too. Or maybe a manager has spent the last year griping whenever an employee too…

Hiring Managers Are Tired Of Job Applicants' Bad Attitude

Interviewing for jobs and getting nowhere? Well, you might want to start acting like you're interested in the job. Attention, interviewees: Employers think you're just not that into them, because you keep sitting there like a bump on a log with that blank stare on your face, taking phone calls during the job interview, and then when the interviewer asks if you have any questions about the job, you don't have any. I take that back. You do have a few questions, such as, "How soon can I get vacation time?" and "How many breaks would I get?" Really!? Yes, according to a new CareerBuilder/Harris Interactive survey that ranks "failure to appear interested in the job during an interview" as THE number one mistake U.S. job seekers are making day in, day out. Nearly two-thirds (62%) -- two thirds! -- of hiring managers surveyed said job applicants doom themselves by not seeming at all interested in the job. While acting above it all can work while …

Dealing With Workplace Bullies As A Temporary Worker

If you've done any temp work, then you know how much it can suck sometimes. From workplace hazards to bullying behavior, temping can feel occasionally like death by a thousand paper cuts. Let's fill out this time card together! Talking about temping hits a bit close to home for me, because once upon a time as a young person I did a lot of temp work to help earn money for college. Many of my temp assignments consisted of one to five days at each workplace, and I kept busy moving from office to office. I enjoyed the change of scenery, and reveled in the workplace perceptions I gained observing various people in their natural work habitat. The wide range in workplace ecosystems could be rather startling. Some work environments were fun, modern, manic and frantic while others were downright boring, drab and nap-inducing, but they still had a lot in common, from backstabbing co-workers to stale doughnuts in the break room. In fact, I think my interest in workplace management issue…

Are U.S. Workplaces Within Inches Of Going Metric?

You might want to brush up on the Metric System because a petition en route to the White House could be inching its way toward serious consideration. Er, make that centimetering, will you? That's right: Centimeters, liters, and kilometers could be heading our way, and we Americans can throw our arms in the air like we really do care and shout en masse: Noooooooooooo! According to the petition on the White House website:The United States is one of the few countries left in the world who still have not converted to using the Metric System as a standardized system of measurement. Instead of going along with what the rest of the world uses, we stubbornly still adhere to using the imprecise Imperial Unit - despite the fact that practically every other country that we interact with uses Metric. Why should we convert to using the Metric System? Because it's superior, less convoluted - everything is ordered in units of tens, while the chaotic arrangement of the Imperial System slow…

Employers, Your Employees Resolve To Quit You In 2013

The December jobs report is out this morning and, well, we'll take it. U.S. employers added 155,000 jobs in December, but the unemployment rate is still 7.8%. Slow and stead wins the race, or at least we can take heart that the numbers are largely positive. If you're looking for real action in the numbers, then check out the latest employee surveys. U.S. workers want to dump their current employers, and how! They're thinking it's about time to blow this Popsicle stand, run like hell, run Lola run, cool runnings, let the river run, shut up and drive, goodbye yellow brick road, you get the picture. I'm running out of song and movie titles. The point is, many employees have been admiring greener pastures for the last four years, but they've been looking and not touching. Daydreaming is probably a better word. The tepid hiring scene has left many employees too scared to make a move, which is completely understandable. So they sit at their desks day after day, f…

Generation Y's Table Manners Are Out To Lunch

The business lunch. Ah, that tried and true tradition that separates the men from the boys. And the women from the girls. And the, uh, well-mannered from the not-so-well-mannered. Let's put a fork in it, shall we? When you stop to think about it, the most important interactions in the business world happen over food. We've all been there. You go to lunch (or dinner) with a few co-workers, a business associate or a client to talk shop. Or maybe "doing lunch" is a part of the job interview process. Talk about a minestrone minefield. Everything is going well -- until everyone has been seated. Perhaps you can't help but notice how the person with whom you're dining is, shall we say, a bit out to lunch on table manners. Gag me with a spoon! Was this person raised in the wild? No, but he or she may be under the age of 30. Psst, Generation Y: Older managers have noticed how your table manners are lacking. Let's just say that you've been served. Here are…

The End Of Cursive Writing And What It Means For Employers

Here's something I've been thinking about over Christmas break: What has happened to cursive writing? This question came to mind when I came upon our child sitting at the dinner table over winter break writing something with an intensity of focus that got my attention as I went about dusting. I glanced over her shoulder. "Mom? How do I write a capital 'F' in cursive? Can you help me?" She was trying to teach herself cursive writing. She has watched me write in cursive many times, and she thinks it looks cool and, quite frankly, pretty. Certainly more girly than writing in all caps. I sat down and showed her how to write a flowing, flowery cursive capital "F" just like I'd learned at her age, and printed up the cursive alphabet (capital and lower-case) with the help of the internet. Then I encouraged her to keep trying. "This is too hard," she told me, growing frustrated. Curse you, cursive writing! Still, I encouraged her, telling…

Happy New Year From the Workplace Diva

Whew. It's good to get that over with, finally. No, not the holidays. I'm talking about our illustriously unproductive 112th Congress reaching a "fiscal cliff" deal that among other things will help an estimated 2 million long-term unemployed Americans keep putting food on the table, thanks to continued unemployment checks arriving in the email. Happy new year! I've been laying low for a few weeks. After the Sandy Hook tragedy, I lost all motivation to blog. My deepest condolences to the families. I hope your holidays were exactly what you wanted them to be, whether this means they were a minimalist, low-key affair spent watching reality show marathons in your bathrobe, or they included a swirling whirlwind of family members who reminded you once again why you only see each other during the holidays. The spirit of the season is different for all of us, and it has its own way of putting things in perspective. So where to go from here? Well, there's a lot…