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Showing posts from January, 2014

Ah-Choo! Your Co-workers Are Still Coming To Work Sick

A new OfficeTeam survey finds a majority of employees are coming to work sick and what's more, the boss knows it! Your co-worker's red cheeks, bloodshot eyes, sweaty visage and lethargic demeanor are a germy giveaway that he's definitely coming down with something -- maybe it's that thing going around the office or the local schools? -- but he came to the weekly staff meeting, anyway. Oh, great! Now everyone will get sick. In fact, Seven in 10 (70%) of more than 400 employees OfficeTeam surveyed said that, yeah, they "frequently" go to work when they're feeling under the weather. Remember to wipe down your work area and wash your hands! What's more, many managers know when their subordinates are sick at work. Not sick of work, which is a very different thing. Prepositions make a big difference, don't they? But I digress. A full 65% of managers surveyed said that yeah, employees are showing up sick for work either "somewhat frequently"…

30% Of Unemployed Haven't Been Interviewed In Last Year

So yeah, there was President Obama's State Of the Union address last night and I watched the SOTU like I always do, no matter who is Commander in Chief. The SOTU is a Grammys-like industry/publicity show for politicians, only without a chair-bound Beyonce making parents angry on Twitter. I'll have to go back and re-watch last night's SOTU a second time (thanks, DVR technology). I caught something about "a year of action," women getting paid 77 cents on the dollar, and upward mobility being stalled. "The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by, let alone to get ahead," President Obama said. "And too many still aren't working at all. So our job is to reverse these trends." Perhaps, like me, you sat there last night looking over President Obama's shoulder for signs of flickering recognition in House Leader John Boehner's face and wondering when our leaders i…

Call Me! 10 Tips For Holding More Successful Conference Calls

You're on a conference call when the person speaking suddenly sounds like he's calling from the bottom of a tin can. Could he repeat himself? You didn't catch what he just said. Let's conference together on how to hold more successful conference calls! I can't count how many conference calls I've done over the years with entrepreneurs, authors and experts alike. It's a lot. There were days as a journalist where I ran between conference calls all day long, just keeping my fingers crossed that the access code would work when it was time to make the call. Some conference calls ran like easy-peasy clockwork, not a hitch or hiccup in sight. I walked away riding a conference caller's high. Other conference calls, however, could feel like an unexpected exercise in Murphy's Law. If it can go wrong, then it will. Maybe the dial-in access code doesn't work. Maybe someone forwards a document, or download, during the call that requires either a new plug-i…

Hiding From Managers Can Really Increase Our Productivity

Hey, managers: Would you like to increase employee productivity? Of course you would! Then stop being so transparent all the time. Look away managers, look away! Yes, the constant stream of productivity updates, online monitoring, "urgent" messages, "emergency" meetings, Skype conversations, Facebook updates, and angry Post-It notes telling employees to clean out the company fridge by the end of the day OR ELSE is distracting employees from getting any real work done. A Harvard professor calls this non-privacy workplace phenomenon the "Transparency Paradox." The rest of us call it "Stop Looking Over My Shoulder All Day Long So I Can Get Some Work Done!" A Forbes India article lays it out for management. Read it and weep, micromanagers:In a series of studies, Harvard Business School Assistant Professor Ethan S. Bernstein shows that decreasing the observation of employees can increase their productivity. What's more, in a curious phenomeno…

Do Your Co-workers Think You're A Jerk For Being Charitable?

We might feel good about making a charitable contribution to a good cause, but do our co-workers get a good feeling about us when we do it? Uh, nope. Our co-workers might just see us as nothing more than calculated, amoral jerks! A Yale study delves into the perceptions surrounding individual charitable contributions. In a nutshell, others could question our motivations, and even our morality, if we reap any sort of reward when making a charitable contribution. Damn you, self-interest! As The Association For Psychological Science reports:This phenomenon — which researchers call the "tainted-altruism effect" — suggests that charity in conjunction with self-interested behavior is viewed less favorably because we tend to think that the person could have given everything to charity without taking a cut for themselves. "We are just starting to learn more about how people evaluate the altruistic behavior of others," explains Yale University researcher George Newman. …

World Economic Forum To Discuss Your Grinding Stress Levels

When I think of the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, I think of Bono, Bill Clinton and private-jet bound billionaires discussing global warming. This year, however, they'll also be discussing the overall stress levels, and resulting mental health declines, of the global workforce! Yes, it's tough being the average employee out there these days. And by "out there," I mean here, there and everywhere all around the globe as employees deal with job loss, or the very real potential of it, amid our global race to the bottom. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, will be stressing the issue at Davos 2014 in front of major world leaders, celebrities, and CEOs. OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria shared his thoughts on the topic in a BBC interview. The grass isn't always greener, and employees populating all professions everywhere are feeling affected by grinding stress and its side effects. Mr. Gurria says that workplace stres…

Workplace "Charge Rage" Is All the Rage In Silicon Valley

Driving an electric car to work is all fun and games, not to mention better for the environment. That is, until you can't access a car-charging station at work anymore because your obnoxious co-workers keep hogging them all day. Let's drain the battery on this trending topic, shall we? So everyone is talking about Google and its egg-prone shuttle buses as another car-related problem quickly charges up the 280 trying in vain to pass the Google bus. Or maybe you take the 101 because you like it gritty. Anyway, electric cars are the deluxe ride of the Silicon Valley tech set and everyone there wants one so they can feel superior for some reason. Electric cars, however, are creating backups at Bay Area outlets. Not the mall outlet, but the electrical outlet at some of your favorite Silicon Valley companies that are going green as they go about creating a huge stock bubble. If Silly Valley companies want to hire the best talent, then they're gonna have to pony up a bunch of …

Survey Dishes Up How U.S. Employees Spend Lunch Breaks

Ah, lunch. It may not be the most important meal of the day -- that honor belongs to breakfast -- but lunch is the most important part of many employees' work day (or work night). Unless someone stole our lunch from the company fridge again, that is. Bummer. But how, exactly, are hard-working employees spending their lunch breaks in this economy? Let's chew on the results of a new OfficeTeam survey, shall we? OfficeTeam asked more than 400 U.S. adult employees to dish on their workplace lunch break routines. How long is your typical lunch break? And what else are you doing during lunch, besides eating? Inquiring minds want to know! Nearly four in 10 surveyed (38%) said they tend to take a full 60 minutes (or more) for lunch, while 32% surveyed take anywhere from 21 to 30 minutes for lunch. Wait a second. "60 minutes or more?" It's okay to take more than an hour for lunch? Gee, can we all work there, too? Anyway, what stands out to me here is that nearly 10% o…

Oh, Rats! New Study Finds Rodents Are Good To Each Other

A new study finds rats are very willing to help each other out, which means that Herb in accounting has absolutely no excuse anymore for being a complete jerkwad at work. Researchers at the University of Chicago asked an intriguing research question: Are rats more likely to help rats of the same breed, or rats who are a part of their adopted family/social group? It turns out that rats are more likely to help other rats based on common "social experiences" rather than genetics, which means if a rat either knows and/or recognizes another rat a little bit, then it will gladly lend a hand. Or a scrawny little paw, in this case. And they don't even use social media! Yet. As The Chicago Tribuneexplains:The peer-reviewed study argues that rats choose whom to help based on social experiences rather than genetics. The research, published in the open access eLife Journal this week, stems from a 2011 study also done at U. of C. that suggested rats exhibited empathy-like behavior…

Restroom Etiquette 101: How To Take A Potty Break At Work

You're conversing with a co-worker while your morning coffee fills your bladder. Suddenly, you need to use the restroom very badly, as in right this minute. How do you excuse yourself politely, however, without flushing your professional self-respect right down the company toilet? Let's unroll this all-too-common, modern workplace conundrum! Many people, at work or pretty much everywhere else these days, will loudly and rather abruptly announce: "I'll be right back, I need to pee." I remember uttering such intentions occasionally as a young Gen Xer, when one day an older relative of mine, a well-mannered member of the Silent Generation no less, whispered to me with a sly grin: "Do you really need to announce it to the whole room? Simply excuse yourself, slip away and use the restroom. I think the rest of us can put two-and-two together to guess where you've gone." Wink, wink. Looking back, my family member was offering incredibly smart advice f…

17% Of U.S. Employees Expect To Lose Their Jobs In 2014

A New York Federal Reserve Bank survey finds nearly one-fifth of employed Americans think they'll lose their jobs by the end of the year. Happy 2014, everyone! Just as we're losing our New Year's glow, here comes the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to tell us it's been collecting and analyzing consumer sentiment regarding household finances, inflation and yes, the job market. The agency's new Survey Of Consumer Expectations survey included 1,200 consumers and will be a monthly survey to gain insight into "how consumers expect overall inflation and prices for food, gas, housing, education and medical care to change over time." Apparently, the survey results will be factored into future adjustments to Fed rates. Yay? Anyway, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York asked these 1,200 consumers about their "job separation expectations," which is a fancy way of asking: "Hey man, do you think you're going to get the boot this year?" It tu…

Seven Realistic Interviewing Tips For Millennial Job Seekers

The December jobs report came out on Friday, and well, yeah. Unemployment fell from 7% to 6.7%, but the economy added only 74,000 jobs. 55,000 of these jobs are in retail; 19,000 are in "business services." Can we get a side order of manufacturing production with our service economy? The real story, however, is the labor participation rate. It's fallen to 62.8%, the lowest in nearly 36 years. Roughly 350,000 of us "left the labor force" last month, meaning at least 350,000 Americans have given up looking for work. To put things in perspective, the soundtrack albums from "Saturday Night Fever" and "Grease" were topping the charts the last time our employment motivation levels were this low. Millions of young job seekers are dropping out of the workforce, too, since they can't find jobs, either. Yet, every day for some reason there are still dozens of new, cognitively dissonant business articles imploring employers -- teaching them, re…

Wage And Hour Lawsuits Could Clock Employers In 2014

Law firm Seyfarth Shaw is out with its tenth annual Workplace Class Action Litigation Report that dishes impending trends in workplace litigation. The good news? It looks like there will be fewer workplace discrimination lawsuits filed this year. The bad news? Wage and hour lawsuits -- e.g., when employees claim they haven't been paid for all hours worked -- will be all the rage and fury in 2014. Yes, employers: Amid the warp and woof of office life, you'll need to make sure to pay your largely mobile workforce in full for all hours worked since they still don't want to work for free. If you somehow underpay employees either by mis-classifying them as ineligible for overtime or by erroneously labeling them as "independent contractors" (tsk, tsk), then you could set your company up for a future employee class action wage and hour lawsuit, which, if it's not already obvious, is a rapidly growing area of employment law. As IBAmag.com reports:"I think f…

The Polar Vortex Puts A Chill On Workplace Productivity

It's a balmy 9 degrees outside, but it feels like minus 7 with the wind chill. Schools are closed, neighbors are slowly sauntering to work late or simply taking a polar vortex day. Productivity, of virtually any kind, is currently at a standstill. Would you like some hot chocolate? After a two-week hiatus for many with one day (e.g., yesterday) to remember where we left off, we're right back where we started, which means we're not starting much of anything today at all. It's one of those days where getting on a roll feels like rolling a boulder up a hill. There are times in life when we must come to terms with our own lack of productivity thanks to Mother Nature, teacher workdays and federally-mandated holidays. Today is one of those times. The problem is, simply slowing down, even when the weather forces it, can feel like a huge imposition on many modern-day professionals in our work-obsessed, results-focused, productivity-powered, career-calculated culture. For the…

Smile, Today Is the Most Miserable Work Day of the Year

Not to depress you, but do you know that today is the most depressing work day of the year? It's true, assuming you buy into an annual calculation of The Most Depressing Day conducted since 2005. Bummer. Even if you've been working a full 40 over the last two weeks, which is really a sucky 60 in this lean and mean economy, you've almost certainly had time to slack off here and there while your most Type-A colleagues were on vacation. And if you have kids, your schedule has most certainly been disrupted to accommodate their TV viewing schedules and requests to hear the song What Does the Fox Say? just one more time. 300+ million views on YouTube? Really? Now everyone is back in the office trying to remember what he or she does for a living and asking who messed up the report/spreadsheet/accounting books/printer/coffeemaker/filing system while they were on vacation. Oops. Perhaps you're back to looking for a job, which is a full-time job in itself these days. Just know…