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Showing posts from April, 2013

We're Not Getting the Message When It Comes To Technology

You've just missed an important meeting when your co-worker says, "Didn't you get my message about it?" Uh, no -- because this co-worker emailed you about the meeting when you spend all of your time texting. Can you hear me now? Good. Now stop trying to contact me in ways that I don't tend to communicate! Reading a story about mobile chat overtaking text messaging makes me think, "Oh great, now we'll have even more ways to miss each other's urgent messages." You might think that Blackberry messaging is awesome, but maybe your co-worker still communicates primarily through email. Or vice versa. I say tomato, you say tomato, let's call this whole technological progress thing off! Rather than being the great unifier, technology is becoming the wayward workplace beacon that helps us pass each other by like two ships in the night. Oh, I just got your message from a few days ago! Sorry I missed it, and sorry for the late reply! is becoming a sil…

Complimenting A Co-worker Without Sounding Like A Suck Up

You want to compliment a co-worker, but you're faced with an uncomfortable question: how do I compliment him or her without sounding like a total suck up? Nobody likes a shameless suck up, and complimenting co-workers "the right way" is an art form that few ever master. Go about it the wrong way, and you risk sounding like a boot-licking sycophant or worse, a sly slinger of backhanded compliments that seem to come out of left field and hit the recipient right where it counts. I don't care what anyone in the office says, Jane, you CAN turn reports in on time! Ugh. By the way, you look really good in that color! So how do you go about complimenting a co-worker, especially if you really mean it this time? Here are seven steps for compliment-giving success at work:1. Think your compliment through before saying it. Many workplace compliments tend to happen in the spur of the moment, but think it through before putting it out there. Could your compliment embarrass your…

U.S. Employees Don't Want To Understand Health Insurance

How much do you really want to know about your current healthcare plan? If you feel your blood pressure rising at the mention of co-pays, claims and coinsurance, then you're not alone because a new Aflac survey of U.S. healthcare "consumers" finds that -- surprise! -- we really don't have the time or the knowledge to understand our own healthcare coverage. According to the third annual Aflac WorkForces Report, nearly three-fourths (72%) of U.S. employees haven't heard the phrase "consumer-driven health care" and more than half (54%) do not want more control over their insurance options because...well, they just don't, okay? They have enough on their plates already, and who has time and a Ph.D. to read all of the fine print? Maybe that's why 89% of employees lucky enough to have health coverage are choosing the same exact health plan year after year after year. Yeah, sure, that sounds good, just sign me up for the same thing again. I'm gl…

Work Daze: Should F'ing Up Be A Strategy For Success?

By now, you've probably seen former North Dakota news anchor A.J. Clemente's moment of television news infamy, but if you haven't seen it here it is. Clemente is making the rounds on the media circuit after his big mess up, where people ranging from Joe Scarborough to David Letterman are asking him what's next. Maybe a job at ESPN? The sky's the limit, buddy. No going back to Bismarck for you. You're on your way to success now! Blerg. I'm getting really tired of watching people in our society get rewarded for screwing up. For those of us who are trying to play by the rules, be professional, and get it "right" in this all-too-tepid economy, seeing someone get rewarded for doing something that in the old days would have gotten him or her laughed out of the room is nothing short of disturbing. Forget about getting fired and groveling for a job, any job, to win your way back into people's good graces. Today, the ticket to success seems to be s…

Workplace Trends: Fingerprint Monitors For Working Drunks

The two beers you had during your working lunch could soon catch up with you, thanks to a new fingerprint reader that lets employers instantly measure your blood alcohol content amid the comforts of your own cubicle. I bet Roger Sterling and Don Draper wouldn't like this potential workplace trend one bit. A company called AlcoDigital has uncorked a digital device called the AlcoSense TruTouch that can gauge the blood alcohol content in our skin to see if we're WUI (i.e., working under the influence) or generally tubthumping on company time. According to a story in the U.K.'s Metro, "Users put their fingers on an optical touch pad and the reader gives a result within ten seconds, meaning 300 employees an hour can be processed." One employee's privacy is another manager's touch pad, or something like that. This device could prove very beneficial, however, for employers that have employees working very dangerous jobs, or jobs that could potentially put co…

Survey Says the Biggest Team Player In the Office Is...

Which employee is the biggest team player in your company? Anyone? Anyone? Someone will answer the phones and send your calls to voice mail while you think about it. Tomorrow (4/24) is National Administrative Professionals' Day, and a new Staples employee survey has the latest low-down on life as the person who gets paid to tell everyone else that you're "in a meeting." Yeah, right. You're in a meeting down at a sports bar watching the NCAA Tournament, or sitting at your desk doing a little bit of online holiday shopping. One-third of administrative assistants Staples surveyed say that they have "covered up" for their boss, and 20% cover up for their boss at least once, or more, EACH WEEK when they're not busy looking for things the boss can't find and recalling the names of people he or she has forgotten. But it's all good, I'll play along. Yes, please send me to voice mail. Thanks for your help, and you have a great day, too! Screen…

How To Deal With Co-workers Who Pull Rank At Work

You're sitting in a meeting sharing your cool, new idea when a co-worker suddenly smacks it down. But she doesn't stop there. No, she uses her authority, either real or perceived, to score points and one-up you in the heat of debate. I am me, and you are not me, so I win! Congratulations, this co-worker just pulled rank on you. All was going well, until she got testy and whipped out her job title, her past job experience, her graduate degree from an expensive, well-known college, her family connections, her Klout ranking, or some other perturbing little piece of petulant pedigree peddling intended to place herself on a professional pedestal. Whew. How's that for some Monday morning alliteration? Maybe, like an office-dwelling Reese Witherspoon or a parking ticket-evading Texas congressman, you've slumped into your seat as this co-worker went a step further and pulled the "Don't you know who I am? I'm a VIP!" routine in front of a valued customer o…

It's Workplace Conflict Awareness Month But No One Cares

Is it just me, or is this turning into one of the weirdest, most surreal weeks in recent memory? At this point, I feel like we're all going to wake up by the side of the road somewhere and wonder what the hell just happened. Or at the very least, wonder what might happen next. As this scary, strange, incredibly sad, anxiety-ridden week winds down, I thought I'd mention that April, which is now more than halfway over, is Workplace Conflict Awareness Month. Now is the time when we're supposed to be having in-depth conversations about workplace conflict so we can root it out once and for all. Yeah, like that's going to happen. But please try, will you? You still have 12 days to turn this dream into reality. Recent surveys report that workplace rudeness is on the rise, and now there's a free iTunes app that will let you send the office bully an "anonymous, gentle" note telling him or her to knock it off already. Yeah, like that's going to work, but mayb…

How Should Employees Mourn In the Age Of Social Media?

In hindsight, I realize that I completely overlooked the use of social media in yesterday's post about discussing national tragedies at work. To be honest, offering tips for social media use in the context of tragedy and grief simply didn't cross my mind because it's not something that I would do. To me, using Twitter and Facebook to mentally process a national tragedy feels akin to shouting "sorry to hear about your mom!" from the window of a passing car. It rings hollow to me somehow, and I'm trying to understand why. In our very public media age, I find that I still prefer to express my grief privately, offline. It's not generational; many of my Gen X peers are sharing their feelings on the Boston tragedy in 140 characters or less and "liking" and "sharing" things related to it, while I sit lost in quiet, largely wordless, contemplation. I have trouble pressing the "like" button in the context of tragedy. I don't be…

The Do's And Don'ts Of Discussing National Tragedies At Work

The tragic events in Boston raise an important work-related question: How, exactly, should we talk about national tragedies at work? Unfortunately, such events seem to be happening with greater frequency, or maybe it just feels that way. The events of the day might not affect you directly as an employee, but you might feel a need to talk about them, anyway. If you're an ordinary human being type of person, however, then it can be hard to know what to do. How, when, and where should you bring it up at work? Should you say something, or should you hold back? And how much should you say? Here are a few quick do's and don'ts for talking about national tragedies at work:DO acknowledge the tragedy. These events can feel like the elephant in the room when they happen. If it feels right privately among co-workers, it's okay to say, "Did you hear about what happened yesterday? That was so horrible." Acknowledging that something has happened alleviates the stress of…

Workplace Trends: The Workplace Bathroom Monitor App

You're sitting at your desk when nature calls, so you trek to the company restroom to find that it's occupied. It's Murphy's Law that when you really have to go, you'll have to wait. You've made it this far though, so why go back to your desk? Well, if you had BUM you wouldn't have to stand outside the dirty office restroom waiting for your turn. BUM is a "bathroom usage monitor app" developed by Sanborn Media Factory that will let you know when the restroom is free. No more waiting around after drinking that fourth cup of morning coffee, no more pacing outside the stall waiting for your co-worker to wrap up his or her business! As Mashable reports:"It's something we did for fun, but it's definitely improved people's lives meaningfully," says Chris Sanborn, president of Sanborn Media Factory. "It's a small thing, but something that every single person encounters." Isn't it? Now for the caveat: BUM runs on …

Honey Poo List: Bosses Are Making Workers Run Their Personal Errands

Your boss wants you to pick up her dry cleaning, or mail yet another box for her at the post office. But the last time you looked, your job title wasn't Personal Assistant and "picking up the boss's dry cleaning" wasn't in your job description. Don't worry, you're not alone. A lot of bosses are making employees run their personal errands for them. Don't forget to add 2% milk to your boss's cup of Starbuck's coffee! Sure, she gave you $2 for a $4 cup of coffee, plus tip, but whatevs. You can eat the difference, right? A new CareerBuilder survey of 3,500 U.S. employees spills the beans on managers who are taking advantage of employees for personal errands. Nearly one-quarter (23%) of employees surveyed said that their bosses ask them regularly to take care of "non-work-related" tasks during the work day. Hey, take my dog for a walk, will you? Here's the poop scoop. The requests for personal assistance are getting kind of weird, …

Companies Relocating To States With Fewer Fat People

Looking for work? If you live in a state with a high obesity rate, then your chances of landing a new job might be getting a bit slimmer. That's because more companies seem to be expanding (no pun intended) into parts of the country where human body parts tend to be on the smaller side. In summary, "company culture" is slimlining into "Colorado." According to NPR:It may cost less to do business in places where there's what some people call a culture of health. And that's put Colorado, which has the lowest rates of adult obesity in the country, on the map for companies looking to relocate or expand. Yes, states such as Colorado are starting to market themselves from a "culture of health" standpoint to lure suspecting employers away from states such as California. But wait: isn't California supposed to be one of the "fit" states? Anyway, it turns out that John Denver might have been right all along. You were born in the summer of…

Hello, City: The 10 Best Places For New College Graduates

If you're a college fifth-year senior or an extremely tired and frustrated graduate student wrapping up a master's thesis or dissertation this month, then take heart: you are about to enter the worst job market since the 1930s. Happy graduation! Now let's look for a place to live.Apartment Guide has the 4-1-1 on the best cities for new college graduates being pushed into our post-Lehman Brothers economy. Here are the ten best places to move if you're young, most likely single and carefree, and ready to live life to its fullest: 1. New York, New York 2. Washington, D.C. 3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 4. Seattle, Washington 5. Minneapolis, Minnesota 6. San Francisco, California 7. Chicago, Illinois 8. Las Vegas, Nevada 9. Portland, Oregon 10. Denver, Colorado Hey, if you can make it there then you can make it anywhere, right? Apparently, today's typical college graduate isn't as enthralled with the prospect of big city living, however, because Apar…

What Your Doughnut Says About Your Workplace Personality

Someone brought doughnuts to the meeting, or left a few boxes in the break room. Doughnut day is always a good day, isn't it? Forget the calorie content and dig right in. But what does your choice of doughnut say about your workplace personality? It's time to make the doughnuts blog post! It seems silly, but your favorite doughnut can actually say something about you. Are you someone who likes constant change, or are you a dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist? Are you someone who tends to play it safe, or are you a corporate trailblazer at every opportunity? Let's box up twelve favorite doughnuts to find out what they say about our personalities on the job!1. The Maple Bar. One look at a maple bar, and you're instantly transported back to your childhood when grandpa would offer you one. Back then, it was pretty much The Doughnut. As an adult employee, you might be a little bit resistant to big changes at work. That's because you tend to be a sentimental traditionalist …

Happy Jobs Report Day, Employees Fear Losing Their Jobs

The March jobs report tells us that job creation is at its lowest point in nine months at the same time a new Glassdoor report reveals that nearly 20% of employees worry they're about to get laid off. Could we get the job recovery plate with a side order of optimism, please? U.S. employers added 88,000 jobs in March, according to this morning's BLS jobs report. The unemployment rate dropped slightly to 7.6%. However, 4.6 million of our fellow Americans are still among the faceless "long-term unemployed," which means they've been out of work for at least six months and probably much longer. The long-term unemployed now comprise 40% of the total U.S. unemployment rate. In fact, the number of Americans who have given up looking for work is the highest since one of the most depressing albums ever recorded* was on constant repeat play on FM radio stations all across America. Actually, this album has never really gone away, has it? Thanks a lot, classic rock stations…

Hey Kids, Flipping Burgers Now Requires A Bachelor's Degree

Want a cashiering job at McDonald's? If you don't have a degree from a four-year college institution, then you need not apply. A Massachusetts McDonald's location put out a call for a new, full-time cashier. The job skills required to be considered for the position include one to two years of experience, great customer service skills...and at least a bachelor's degree. Yes, a bachelor's degree. According to a story in the U.K.'s Daily Mail:It used to be high school drop outs flipping burgers at McDonald's, now the fast-food joint is demanding a bachelors degree. In a frightening example of how competitive the job market is for young people right now, a McDonald's outpost in Winchedon, Massachusetts, has just posted a call-out for a full time cashier - but insists only college graduates need apply. And even they must have 1-2 years of cashier experience before they'll be trusted with the Big-Mac-selling responsibility, according to the advert. La…

Backed Up On the Job? Constipation At Work Affects Us All

When was the last time you went poop? It's an impolite question that impacts us all, and it could be a frequent question on your mind if you happen to be a stressed-out employee or job seeker. Congratulations, you're constipated! Plugged up more than the Hoover Dam. Let's go ahead and make Number Two today's Number One topic, shall we? Work stress is rearing its ugly head, and it's sending your diet and exercise habits into the crapper. Of course, this means that you're spending less and less time actually sitting on the crapper. It drives you crazy when your co-workers or family members announce that they need to take a(nother) poop break. They grab a magazine or their smartphone (ew), and disappear for awhile. They emerge from the loo looking so relaxed and happy, their problems flushed away, while you stare at your yummy cinnamon-raisin bagel knowing that it will simply join the club if you eat it. In this case, the club sandwich you had for lunch 48 hour…

Price Check: Workplaces Are Deciding To Ban Cookie Sales

Are you tired of getting hit up at work to support another school-related fundraiser? From shelling out for expensive boxes of cookies to splurging on a roll of super-expensive wrapping paper to buying a mind-blowingly expensive too-small bag of caramel-flavored popcorn, there's always a parent selling something at work that you shouldn't be buying on your beleaguered personal budget. The average U.S. employee isn't reaching as happily for his or her wallet in these tough times whenever co-workers roam the hallways hawking their kids' fundraisers at work. More than one-quarter (27%) of employees in a new Accounting Principles Workanomix 2013 survey are tired of being asked to buy stuff their co-workers are selling on behalf of their kids. Nearly one-quarter of employees (24%) feel pressured to buy these (usually very expensive) items even if they don't want or need them, while nearly half of employees (49%) feel no guilt or hesitation in saying "no, thanks&q…