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Showing posts from March, 2014

Hey, It's April Fool's Day, Not April Jackass Day

April Fool's Day is tomorrow, and the question is: How will we go too far and piss off our co-workers this time? Now don't get me wrong. April Fool's Day can be quite fun, but some employees can go waaaaay overboard. Before we know it, a "hilarious" little workplace prank is veering into the super-annoying and/or highly offensive category. Well, it sounded like a good idea at the time! The key is to get the joke just right. How can we get it right in our worried, overly-stressed 21st Century workplace, however? To make the decision easier, here are five general prank areas to think about avoiding at all costs:1. Covering a cubicle in foil or wrap. Tightly wrapping a co-worker's cubicle in aluminium foil -- or underneath a whole host of other coverings -- is a traditional, safe office prank going back decades, but man is it annoying when you're the cubicle dweller who suddenly can't access his desktop or car keys while everyone stands there laughing …

Oh Man, Google Is Running A 100-Year-Long Workplace Study

Just when you feel good about finally setting up a company suggestion box, here comes Google saying it plans to collect employee data over the next 100 years so it can create the ultimate happy and productive workforce that never wants to work anywhere else. Wait a second. Google will still be around 100 years from now!? Okay, I'll admit this was my first reaction to today's Verge story about "Google gDNA," Google's fancy-pants terminology for periodically surveying 4,000 of its employees OVER THE NEXT 100 YEARS regarding matters of employment, retention, general well-being on the job, and so on. Launching a 100-year-long study seems superbly optimistic of Google, given Moore's Law and the fast pace of technological change across the vast netscape of Silicon Valley. But if anyone can do it, then Google can. Now I'm right back where I started in grad school, making a bowl of Top Ramen while waiting for Netscape to load. Those were the days, man. Google…

Hashtag This! Managing the Social Mediaphobic Employee

Are you a social mediaphobe? For clarity's sake, I'm not referring to those of us who avoid social media altogether and view it as a point of pride to tell everyone how we don't use Facebook, Twitter, and the rest of today's virtual menagerie. No, I'm talking about those of us who have created the requisite social media accounts but don't like to utilize them in a "hey, I'm at the grocery store looking at oranges, here's a selfie!" embarrassing kind of way. We've all read the "how-to" articles about managing employees who over-use social media, but what about all of the employees who still fear social media and/or don't think they need to use it? Nearly 10 years into the social media scene, these employees still don't see the point of it all, they don't want to participate in the mind-to-keyboard experience, and, in sum, they think social media is pretty stupid, and no one is going to change their minds about it. Y…

Trying To Be Fair At Work Is Really Wearing Your Boss Out

Does your manager seem more tired and cranky around the edges lately? Yes? Well, a new Michigan State University study tells us that striving to create a "fair" workplace can be an utterly draining ordeal for your boss. Hey, who ever said that life in upper management is fair? MSU researchers surveyed 82 managers twice daily for a few weeks to conclude that navigating continual instances of "procedural fairness" between employees results in higher levels of mental fatigue and, ultimately, wanting to slam the office door shut in search of some peace and quiet! That's right; listening to employees complain continuously about each other while simultaneously suppressing personal biases and striving to be consistently consistent across the board is nothing but exhausting. According to the official MSU press release:A new study led by Michigan State University's Russell E. Johnson found the act of carefully monitoring the fairness of workplace decisions wear…

Bill Before Hawaiian Legislature Would Ban Nepotism In Hiring

So I'm sitting here watching Luke Russert report the news as I read an article about a bill before the Hawaiian legislature that would ban nepotism in the hiring process. Let's simply say that I'm feeling the synergies. Nepotism is a dirty, insidious underbelly of our current economy, and Hawaiian State Senate Judiciary Chairman Clayton Hee has introduced a bill before the Hawaiian legislature that would stop nepotism in the hiring of state employees. The bill arose from allegations of nepotism in hiring at a state facility in Hawaii. From a recent article in Hawaii News Now: The measure, if passed by lawmakers this legislative session, would make it illegal to advocate for, employ, promote or supervise 27 types of relatives, including siblings, cousins, grandchildren, in-laws, step relatives and even reciprocal beneficiaries. Nepotism should be barred, Hee said, because "It suggests that there's favoritism and special privileges with hiring practices by sta…

March Madness Goes Mobile On Workers' Mobile Devices

Are employees checking messages on their smartphones, or are they busy streaming the latest round of March Madness games? It could be a question on many a micromanaging manager's mind today, thanks to emerging mobile viewing services that will allow employees to catch all of the action on the down low on their phones and/or tablets during the afternoon status update meeting. It used to be that employees had to tune in on a conspicuous 24-inch desktop monitor at work, but not anymore! Companies from Time Warner's Turner to CBS are promoting a value-added service called "TV Everywhere" that lets subscribers watch games live and in real time over their mobile devices at work. Let's hop to it with this funny Dish Anywhere ad: Rabbit** represents today's workforce. In our trendy BYOB work culture, it's getting more difficult for employers to monitor and block viewing content. Of course, as I blogged last year, senior managers are the most likely employees …

Study Finds Flexible Work Arrangements Aren't Very Flexible

Flexibility. Employers tout it, employees want it. Too bad it doesn't really exist anymore. The study, which appears in the journal Community, Work, and Family, examined the flexible workplace arrangements of 545 U.S. employers and finds they tend to be about as flexible as someone's tendons during a first-ever yoga class. In fact, the study concludes that "flexible work arrangements" are now out of reach for the vast majority of U.S. employees, and the arrangements that are offered are...eh, I'll let the study abstract explain:This study examines flexible work arrangement (FWA) availability in 2009 in a sample of 545 American employers. While most employers offer FWAs to some of their workforce, few offer these to the majority of their workers. Those employers that offer flexible work options tend to rely most heavily on flexibility in the scheduling and place of work. Seldom do organizations make options of reducing work and/or pausing work available to majori…

What!? Chances Are Good Your Co-workers Can't Hear You

A new survey finds four in 10 employees are pretending like they've just heard everything correctly when they know they missed something important. Let's take out our ear buds and catch an earful of productivity-busting survey results, shall we? Epic Hearing Health surveyed 2,000 people and concludes that untreated hearing loss is a loud and growing presence in today's workplaces. Here's a breakdown of the most important employee survey results:61% must ask others to repeat themselves because they didn't catch everything the first time; 57% must concentrate super-hard to understand conversations amid background noise or extraneous talking; 42% often misunderstand what was just said; 40% sometimes pretend to have heard something correctly when they know they did not; 37% believe hearing loss is impacting their phone conversations. The survey was conducted by a hearing aid company, so there's that. Still, if such tinnitus-tinged numbers ring true, then a de…

Eat Up! Scientists Say the "Five Second Rule" Might Be Real

You drop a piece of food on the floor at work, and promptly proceed to throw it away. But hold on, because new scientific research concludes that the "five second rule" -- that short window of time where eating food off the floor is just fine -- may, in fact, be real. Go ahead, drop it while it's hot, and then pick it up and gobble it down! As WedMD reports:The five-second rule -- pick up that dropped food on the floor fast if you want to safely eat it -- may have some basis in reality, researchers report. "Consuming food dropped on the floor still carries an infection risk, as it very much depends on which bacteria are present on the floor at the time," Anthony Hilton, a professor of microbiology at Aston University in England, said in university news release. "However, the findings of this study will bring some light relief to those who have been employing the five-second rule for years, despite a general consensus that it is purely a myth," he a…

Are Big Changes Coming To U.S. Overtime Pay Laws?

60 hours is the new 40 for salaried workers in our smartphone-powered economy, and the Obama administration is apparently taking notice. Today's Washington Post is reporting that the White House plans to seek changes to outdated U.S. labor laws that, in effect, could strengthen current overtime pay provisions for millions of U.S. employees. From the WAPO article:The White House did not say how administration officials plan to overhaul regulations to ensure that workers are better compensated. But administration officials cited their authority to regulate overtime under the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act. That act requires most workers to be paid overtime but permits exemptions at the discretion of the Labor Department. One prominent exemption permits employers to deny overtime pay to "executive, administrative and professional" workers. Hmm. How do we define "professional worker" these days? In the 21st Century, everyone considers himself or herself a professi…

This Year's March Madness Office Pool Winner Knows Nothing

March Madness ramps up soon with a long three and a bucket full of brackets for employees to fill out. But what are employees gonna do when the Least Informed Fan In the Entire Office (TM) wins the whole thing and is crowned March Madness Office Pool Champ? Yes, anyone who has ever worked in an office this time of year knows the drill. A co-worker, who is almost always a huge sports fan, suggests everyone fill out a March Madness bracket. Here are this year's 64 teams, pick your winners for each bracket now. Oh, and please contribute $10 to the pool that will go to the winner. In fact, March Madness is now the most betted-on sports event in the United States, even outpacing the Super Bowl. I mean, people really get into this tournament. And why not? It's fun!) Employees eagerly fill out their brackets and turn them in, only to have the office sports fans proceed to chuckle at some of the teams certain employees have chosen along the way. Hey, look! Judy from accounting think…

Want To Be A Better Manager? Then Hit the Dance Floor

Ah, today's workplace. The beatings will continue until morale improves, right? If only your boss would shake it down to a funky fresh beat, then he or she might learn a thing or two about managing employees, or so a new study says. No, really! A team of Finnish researchers has authored a new paper titled "Manager's Dance: Reflecting Management Interaction Through Creative Movement" that appears in this month's issue of The International Journal of Work Organisation and Emotion. In the paper, the researchers asked various volunteers to dance, and conclude that managers could learn more about themselves, and thus their management style, simply by dancing! As Alpha Galileo reports:The team encouraged volunteers to "dance their feelings" and videotaped them so that hidden insights and emotions might be extracted. They suggest that creative movement harnessing the whole body may give rise to new knowledge about management interactions. Most intriguingly, t…

Traffic Congestion Growing Three Times Faster Than Economy

Does your daily commute seem to be taking longer and longer? If so, then it's not just your imagination. A new report finds that traffic congestion in the United States grew three times faster than the U.S. economy last year. Can we get a little bit of infrastructure repair with our traffic back ups? As the February jobs report parallel parks itself above the news fold this morning, here comes The Car Connection zooming right past, and somehow avoiding a pothole in the process, to report the following:When it comes to predicting and tracking traffic trends, INRIX is the go-to authority. The company says that traffic congestion surged in 2013, growing over three times as fast as the U.S. economy. According to INRIX, traffic in the U.S. reversed two consecutive years of declines with a six percent increase in 2013. The country's GDP, by comparison, grew 1.9 percent last year. INRIX suggests that continued economic growth will result in more traffic congestion, longer commutes…

Here Are America's 10 Best Cities For Professional Women

Attention, women of the workforce! As you arrange backup daycare for your backup daycare that cancelled on you again because it's snowing for the tenth time this winter, here comes real estate research blog Moveto to let exhausted WOHMs know that the grass is always greener in a city in which they are not currently residing. (Psst, Junior's other shoe is probably under his bed, behind the Lego wheel and to the left of the fossilized bite of bagel from last week. You're welcome!) I know what you're thinking: A blog can feature relevant information? Yes, it happens occasionally and when it happens, it's spectacular! In this particular case, Moveto has released its take on America's 10 best cities for professional women. Moveto evaluated everything from commute times and recent job growth to unemployment rank, adjusted earnings for women, and the number of women's professional groups per capita, in addition to a number of other factors. According to Mo…

Yay, Workplace Personality Clashes Are the Company's Fault

Does the boss think your "personality clash" with a co-worker is your own damn fault? Well, take heart because a new study blames your employer's "organizational structure" for all of the fighting, backbiting, and paper clip throwing! Yes, your employer wins this year's Missed Congeniality award for setting up a workplace that sets up your personality to fail at work. Researchers at the University of South Australia (UniSA) wanted to see where the root of the problem lies when it comes to workplace personality clashes, and it found that the workplace's own personality tends to clash with employees. As Science Daily reports:While it may be easy to put workplace harassment down to personality conflicts, in reality workplace harassment is most often a product of the workplace itself, not the people in it. This is the finding of research by University of South Australia (UniSA) researcher Dr Michelle Tuckey that was published today, 3rd March 2014, in the…

You've Been Listserved! Dealing With Angry Gatekeepers

A rather terse private LinkedIn rejection message has gone viral, which raises an interesting question in the social media age: How, exactly, are we supposed to handle angry, online gatekeepers who want to write us off? In our constant quest to become even better networked professionals in a not-so-good economy, we will send a professional request on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and so on. Can we be friends? May I join your group? May I request an informational interview? Might we connect on a Six Degrees Of Kevin Bacon-like professional plane? Perhaps the other busy professional completely ignores our request, which, bottom line, is their right and privilege. Perhaps, however, the other professional gets back to us with a reply that quite literally screams "just go away, loser." No, we can't be friends, no you may not join my group, no you cannot have 30 minutes of my time, and no, we'll never connect like I'm Kevin Bacon and you're my regular, A-list side…