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Showing posts from 2015

How To Pretend Like You're Working This Week

Are you working this week? Excuse me, I should say "working," because nobody is getting any real work done. Let's all fake it until we make it to quitting time! I haven't been posting much lately because I've been waiting in long lines to buy rolls of tape. I make deals with myself while I wait.I will get some writing done, just as soon as I bake those holiday cookies! I will move mountains, after I deal with a few more holiday-related molehills! Why do I always pick the line that stops moving? Repeat after me: I won't get anything truly constructive done today. I will try, but it probably won't happen. The best I can hope for is to knock one, maybe two, pressing things off my "to do" list. That's it. How did I forget to buy tape when that's what I went into the store to buy?! We are all distracted this week, and it's time to own it. Yes, I know. It's anathema to admit to slacking off in today's Slack-enabled workplaces. …

Let's Talk About Star Wars In the Workplace

Have you heard there's a new Star Wars movie hitting theaters? Of course you have, unless you've been living underneath a space rock. Star Wars is everywhere. The media are abuzz today with stories about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and from every conceivable story angle. Even business journalists are trying to capture some Star Wars stardust by writing stories that seem to be, shall we say, reaching a bit here and there. Here is a small sample of online headlines: "One Company's Workplace Rules For Seeing 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'" writes Forbes. "Over 50% Of People Think Women Are Controlled By Hormones At Work," trumpets Business Insider. (A large photo of Princess Leia accompanies the story.) "What Star Wars Teaches Us About Employee Relations," muses a writer for Workforce. (Hint: HR can look sort of like the Death Star, when you really stop to think about it.) "10 Excuses To Use To Play Hooky For 'Star Wars: T…

Your Toxic Co-worker Costs $12,489 A Year

Business articles love to talk about the "toxic co-worker," but what does "toxic" actually mean? Well, researchers at Harvard have analyzed data from 11 companies and 50,000 employees to offer up a personality profile of today's toxic co-worker! Of course, the word "toxic" can have a wide range of meanings in today's workplace, from the co-worker who undermines us to the co-worker who snitches on us to...sigh, we all have our own stories, right? But this Harvard paper is interesting in that it paints a personality portrait, if you will, of the typical toxic co-worker. Who is this co-worker, anyway? First, our toxic co-worker tends to be a highly productive employee, which might explain his or her longevity on the job -- especially if he or she might be on the less ethical side, which could very well be the case in some way, since we're talking about the toxic co-worker. Second, these co-workers tend to be highly selfish employees. Third,…

Only 1 In 4 Employees Expects A Holiday Bonus

Are you expecting either an end-of-year holiday bonus or pay raise? If you're not expecting either one, then you're in good company. The Bankrate Money Pulse survey of 1,000 adult Americans reveals only one in four employees expects either an end-of-year increase in pay or a holiday bonus. What do these eternal optimists plan to do with the extra money? They will stuff it in a old Folgers coffee can just like great-grandpa used to do, of course. Okay, they don't plan to go that far, but they do plan to be incredibly practical by placing the additional money in savings, paying down bills, and/or paying off debt. But unemployment is at a seven-year-low! Shouldn't employees be job-hopping by now, and basking in the glow of an employees' job market? What's going on out there? It turns out many employees are still in a Great Recession state of mind. As this excerpt from a Bankrate.com survey article reveals:"Usually, when the unemployment rate gets quite …

How To Do A Job Interview In A Coffee Shop

You've landed a job interview. Congratulations! The interviewer, however, wants to do the interview at a local coffee shop. Uhhh, okay. Let's figure out how to do this thing! We've all walked into a coffee shop to see someone being interviewed for a job. At least, that's what we suspect is going on. Maybe we don't overhear the conversation, but we can sense that a job offer is definitely on the line. We quietly root for this person as we wait to order our cup of joe. If you're thinking, "Excuse me, I'm a white-collar professional, and we don't do interviews at coffee shops," then you might want to update your views before your next job interview. Well-paid professionals are doing job interviews in public places such as coffee shops, food courts, or the nearest outside table at the strip mall just like everyone else. Our work culture is just that way these days. Now it's your turn to do a coffee shop interview! You've never done one …

The Old-fashioned Distractions Still Rule At Work

What is your biggest workplace distraction? Oh, come on now; you know you have one! Let's meet by the water cooler to discuss. A new BambooHR survey of more than 1,000 U.S.-based employees reveals that our workplace distractions, like our politics, remain largely local. While it's tempting to think that the internet would top our list of preferred workplace interruptions, it doesn't take up nearly as much mental bandwidth as standing by the water cooler, taking another bathroom break and engaging in office gossip with our workplace besties. Upper-level managers are the most likely to kick their workplace distractions old school, too. From the BambooHR press release:More upper management employees (10 percent) spend 30 minutes or more each workday taking trips to the water cooler or break room than lower management employees. More upper management employees (7 percent) spend 30 minutes or more each workday taking bathroom breaks than lower management employees. More upp…

Stop Texting Because You're Doing it All Wrong!

Do you ever wonder if your texts come off as sincere? Believe it or not, researchers looked into it and our texts need some TLC, stat! Researchers at Binghamton University had 126 undergraduates read a bunch of text messages. The main finding? Ending our texts with a period makes the message recipient doubt our sincerity. A period makes us sound less friendly in our online speech pattern. However, overusing exclamation points to sound like a poorly-written brochure can have the opposite effect by making our texts seem more genuine, and more heartfelt. Aww! Even using no punctuation at all is preferred to using a full stop. Better to sound ungrammatical than to end a line of text with a period and make everyone suddenly doubt us. As The Washington Postreports:According to [Binghamton University researcher Celia] Klin and her fellow researchers, that's an indication that the text message period has taken on a life of its own. It is no longer just the correct way to end a sentenc…

My Bad! When Co-workers Can't Admit Mistakes

Your co-worker made a mistake, but can't own it. In fact, this co-worker never owns a mistake, even when it's glaringly obvious who made it. Let's talk about the right thing to do when a co-worker can't admit to being wrong! From big mistakes on projects to surefire predictions that don't pan out to errors in judgment to picking up the wrong break room dessert at the local bakery, the typical office abounds with both major and minor errors on a daily basis. Hey, we're human; mistakes happen! We apologize for our misstep, and move on. The blameless co-worker, however, isn't one to eat humble pie by saying, "Oh! I was supposed to pick up an apple pie instead of a chocolate cake? My mistake." No, this co-worker prefers to let them eat cake by proclaiming, "Well, I don't know about you, but I heard 'chocolate cake,' so I just bought what I was told to buy." Sigh. Why don't some employees want to own their mistakes, no ma…

How Rude! Workplace Bullies Are Finding New Ways To Bully

A new study concludes that workplace bullies are finding new ways to circumvent corporate anti-bullying rules. Let's take a passive-aggressive look at what's going on out there!Psychologists at Sweden's Lund University surveyed 6,000 people to see how they interact with others on the job. They found that modern workplace bullying is less about pushing and shoving and more about devious, underhanded maneuvers intended to get under a co-worker's skin. There is a spot of good news, however: Many companies are taking workplace bullying very seriously by setting zero-tolerance policies and cracking down on instances of bullying behavior. The bad news? Workplace bullies are finding increasingly subtle ways to get around said zero-tolerance policies. What are they doing, exactly? Workplace bullies are turning to rudeness and incivility. They're "forgetting" to email a certain colleague about an upcoming meeting or event (made all the easier by blocking said co…

Five Tips For Taking Kids To the Company Party

You have received an invitation to the company party that says young kids are welcome. So...are you going to bring your kids, or not? I've been there, shadowing a trouble-seeking toddler who was aggressively roaming the very well-manicured, multi-level home of The Boss, who just so happened to collect colorful, and incredibly breakable, vases! Of course, grabbing the glassware and dropping it on the floor was the ultimate goal of our toddler, who, for some reason, did not have bookcases filled to the gills with gorgeous, prism-shimmering glassware at home. The boss was incredibly gracious and welcoming, but playing successful shelf defense*** was utterly exhausting. As fun as the party was, I felt like a shell of a human being on the drive home as our toddler snored in the car seat. I suppose my story isn't a ringing endorsement of hitting the company party circuit with children in tow, but I learned a few things from the experience! Bringing young kids to the company holi…

How To Turn Workplace Gift Giving Into A Gift For Yourself

It's not even mid-November, but this year is moving quickly toward its logical conclusion: December. This means it's time to add new entries to my annual Oh No, It's the Holidays Again! blog series. So far, we've uncovered the unfortunate truth about Secret Santas, sent the potluckphobe to the company holiday potluck, dressed down co-workers who brag about their expensive holiday gifts, discussed how to talk to a co-worker's spouse at the company holiday party, and figured out what happens when a company's holiday gifts don't stay current with the times. I was planning to blog about the 2015 holiday season "soon," just like I'm procrastinating with my holiday gift shopping. Then I came across an Ad Age article about McCann's new holiday ad campaign for Office Depot, and I suddenly felt inspired to blog about the holidays. This year, Office Depot is touting its 2015 holiday Co-worker Collection. As the article points outs, it's a d…

Workplace Distractions Creep Into the C-suite

Do you feel like workplace distractions have taken a toll on your ability to concentrate? Take heart, everyone: Senior managers are feeling attention span pain, too! Workplace distractions abound in the 21st Century, and with today's open office environments they're only getting worse. From peripheral movement to co-worker chatter to the rank smell of our co-worker's day-old fish platter, we might feel like there are barriers beyond our control when it comes to concentrating at work. But what about distractions at the senior management level, where the job might include nifty features such as closed doors and executive assistants? Yeah, how distracted is the C-suite these days? In what may be a small glimpse into the modern life of senior management, software and services provider Abila looked into the challenges facing non-profit CFOs and found that almost half (49%) view "daily interruptions" as their most pressing workplace challenge! In fact, dealing wi…

The Millennials Are the Most Jealous Generation

A new study reveals which generation is the most likely to have the green-eyed monster quietly lurking within, and I'll warn you now that it isn't pretty.We've already discussed our jealous co-workers, but what drives their envy and how old are they? Researchers at UC San Diego looked into it, and discovered that younger people tend to be the most envious, and over a longer list of things! Here's the main gist of our jealous ways, according to the press release:Envy was a common experience. More than three fourths of all study participants reported experiencing envy in the last year, with slightly more women (79.4 percent) than men (74.1 percent). The experience declined with age: About 80 percent of people younger than 30 reported feeling envious in the last year. By ages 50 and over, that figure went down to 69 percent. Are these findings surprising? In some ways, no. It makes sense that we let more things go than our waistlines as we age. When we're young, w…

Disclosing A Disability In Cover Letters Is Risky Business

Imagine you've been handed two cover letters that look virtually identical in terms of qualifications and experience, except for one thing: One of the job applicants admits to a disability on paper. Which one would you interview? Well, a new Rutgers/Syracuse study reveals that disabled-but-highly-qualified job applicants are 34% less likely to hear from employers than nondisabled job applicants with the same qualifications. The researchers sent out more than 6,000 fictitious resumes and cover letters in response to advertised accounting jobs. I'll let the official Rutgers rundown offer an overview of the study methodology:The research team carefully crafted robust resumes and matched the experience to job openings on a major job-search website. No employer was applied to twice. There were two candidate profiles—one with six years' experience, the other about a year out of college. Candidates with and without disabilities were equally qualified. One-third of the cover le…

Half Of Us Have Cracked A Smartphone Screen

Have you ever cracked the screen on your smartphone, but kept right on using it for months? Well, you might be interested in a Motorola global survey that phones home just how often we crack our smartphone screens, how it happens, and which countries have the highest percentages of cracked smartphone screens! The Motorola survey, entitled "Cracked Screens and Broken Hearts" (don't roll your eyes, watching someone scroll through a cracked smartphone screen can be a shattering situation) surveyed 6,000 adult smartphone users in six different countries: The United States, the United Kingdom, India, China, Mexico and Brazil. What did the survey reveal? Of the countries surveyed, India boasts the highest percentage of cracked smartphone screens. While an estimated 50% of global smartphone users have experienced a broken screen, a whopping 65% of smartphone users in India have cracked their smartphone screens. Mexico (64%) and China (63%) round out the top three, followed…

When the Boss's Spouse Acts Like Management

You're going about your work day when your manager's spouse walks in and asks what you're working on today, and tells you to clean your desk. Let's talk about the boss's spouse who acts like management! Increasingly, it feels like there are three people in this workplace marriage: You, your boss, and your boss's better half! The problem is, your boss's spouse doesn't actually work for the company. No, he or she simply shows up on a regular basis to "hang out," say "hi," and tell stories. If you have a great relationship with your boss's family members, then good for you! It's so nice when things work out well. But when it isn't working, it can be a very hard situation to know how to handle. How does this "situation" show up in the workplace? Maybe you're in charge of arranging your boss's travel plans, and his or her spouse is always on the phone telling you exactly how to do it. Maybe you're i…

Gen Why: When Co-workers Try To Guess Your Age

Things are going well at work -- until one day when a co-worker tries to guess your age but is way, waaaay off target. Oh, no! It's considered impolite to ask our fellow working professionals for their age or salary level, but the general rules of workplace etiquette do not stop this particular co-worker from trying to wrestle a life mileage odometer reading from your finely-lined lips. I'm guessing you're in your...mid 40s? Ugh, really? Suddenly, you're feeling defensive and worried, because you've only recently left the coveted 18-to-34 demographic! You're also regretting your decision to invest in a very expensive face cream that apparently isn't helping very much. Why is your co-worker asking? For most employees, trying to guess your age is a way of filling in their wrinkled knowledge gaps. For other employees, however, asking your age might be a way of trying to put you into, for lack of a better word, a "category." In today's youth-…

Five Tips For Making New Year's Work Resolutions

Do you know that today is the 300th day of 2015? This means we have only 65 days left to plan our 2016 work resolutions. Quick, let's call a strategy meeting! Maybe you had Big Plans last December (which is right around the corner again, by the way...) to make this year the Best Year Ever In the Entire History of Your Career. Here's what we were telling CareerBuilder around this time last year, in 2014. No word on whether these workplace resolutions actually worked out, but perhaps your 2015 workplace resolutions have all come true, and how. If so, good for you! Maybe like the rest of us, however, you're 300 days deep into this thing and looking to 2016 to be the Best Year Ever In the Entire History of Your Career. (Again.) You're going to get out there and network, get a new job, get a raise, get a new office, get it together! Before life gets in the way. (Again. Just like it always does.) The question is, how on earth can we make realistic workplace resolutions t…

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: When A Co-worker Doesn't Respect You

You say something, only to have a work colleague offer an eye roll and a dismissive attitude. Oh, no. We have a disrespectful work peer situation on Aisle 9! It's a tale as old as workplace time. You're just doing your job, when a work peer keeps letting you know, subtly or not-so subtly, that you're not worthy of his or her professional respect. All you ever get are blank stares, deep sighs, excessive sarcasm, random smirks, and under-the-breath commentary directed toward your other colleagues when you are still within earshot. You've been on the job for awhile now, and this co-worker's dismissive attitude is really starting to get to you. And rightly so; who deserves this kind of treatment? (Nobody, that's who.) Unfortunately, too many employees will encounter workplace disrespect. It's been estimated that 1 in 5 employees do not feel respected by their work colleagues. That's 20% of the workforce, which, any way you slice it, is a respectable num…

Bank To Laid-Off Employees: Keep Working For Free

Your employer lays you off and ships your job abroad, but it doesn't stop there. No, your employer also demands that you be "available" to stay on call, for no additional pay, for up to two years after you leave the company. Sounds far fetched, right? Well, reality is always stranger than fiction, as they say: Roughly 100 IT employees at SunTrust Bank in Atlanta are reportedly in the process of transferring their IT knowledge to their foreign replacements, with the additional caveat in their severance agreement that they stick around for a few years in case the company, you know, still needs their knowledge and expertise. Is this for real? Is this a new "consulting" trend? I sure hope not, because it's an absolutely despicable employment practice. Is this a new job category called "outtern," as in, it's sort of like an unpaid internship, only you've been fired? And how is it even legally, and practically, enforceable? I will be very…

What Are the Unwritten Rules of Your Workplace?

You're a new hire who seems to be settling nicely into your new workplace. Good for you! That is, until one day when you break one of the company's unwritten rules and discover what NOT to do at work. Ugh.It's a fact of workplace life that a well-managed workplace will lay out its processes and procedures for a new hire from the very beginning. Do this, do that, make sure this goes there, put that over there. However, each workplace also has a set of unwritten workplace rules. Never do this, never do that, make sure this never goes there, and don't you dare put that over there! Oops, now we've done it. We've broken an unwritten rule at work! Like a sad, frustrated wedding singer, it sure would have been nice to know about these unwritten rules yesterday. Unfortunately, it takes time on the job to read an employer's unwritten rules, because they are just that: unwritten. Meanwhile, new Gallup research reveals many employees do not have a clear idea of what&#…

The Workplace Skill Most In Demand? Social Skills

New research finds that jobs requiring stellar social skills are the fastest-growing job segment in our economy. Um, hello? Yes, I was talking to you. Okay, I'll wait while you finish texting... Oh great, you're done! Thanks for allowing me to finish my thought. I'll make it quick. So, where was I? Oh, yes. I was going to mention how soft skills are becoming harder to find in today's economy, but they're increasingly the most important skill employees need on the job. We tend to think of "smart" as being book smart (i.e., academically talented), but there are different kinds of smarts. There's book smart, and then there's socially smart. Both are equally important (no, really!) and, increasingly, job applicants can't have one without the other to land the very best jobs. That's because managers in our fast-moving economy can teach a new hire basic work skills (e.g., here's how you perform a basic technique in a STEM job), but they…

Let's Think Outside the Box About Business Jargon

You're in a meeting with 15 of your workplace besties when one of them throws out a new business buzzword. Zing! You're momentarily lost for words, because you have no idea what this co-worker means. Ugh. Talk about a lack of synergy. Quick, we need an ideation session where we can do some rapid-fire decisioning! We've all been there, struggling to understand some new bit of business lingo. I still remember the first time that I, as a fledgling business journalist, heard the phrase "eyeballs" during the dotcom era. CEOs and marketing types kept telling me all about these rumored "eyeballs," and man were they ever "sticky" for some reason! Finally, I had to risk looking stupid by asking for a definition. I learned that the word "eyeballs" was trendy business slang for audience. "Stickiness" referred to the amount of time users spent on a website over the course of a week, or a month. For me, it was like filling in a word…

Twitter's Seemingly Unsociable Approach To Layoffs

Twitter announced today that it is laying off 8% of its global workforce. So how did some employees find out they were losing their jobs? Via Twitter, of course!As Gawker reports, one Twitter engineer woke up to check his phone messages, and apparently discovered via tweet that he had "been removed"...from Twitter, Inc.? There's, uh, a problem accessing your account. Access denied, 21st-Century HR style. Ouch. The employee later posted that he received a personal phone call from Twitter, so that's good. I can favorite that part. Of course, we don't know the full story here, but the initial impression is: Really, Twitter? This is how you conduct layoffs? Now that's not very sociable at all! I realize that we're living in a largely automated online work world, but wow. There still has to be room for some compassion, humanity, and decorum around the deactivation and job separation process, even in the Internet age. Perhaps employers can make a persona…

Oh Great, Everyone Has "Digital Amnesia" Now

Quick! Do you know your work phone number without looking it up on your phone? If so, then count yourself lucky because a new survey finds 39% of working Americans can't be bothered to remember their work phone numbers anymore! It doesn't stop there: Slightly more than three-fourths (77%) can't remember the phone number of their child's school, while less than half can remember their closest friend's phone number. A full 40% of us can't remember our kids' phone numbers. The good news? Roughly 71% of us can still remember our spouse's cell phone number. These are among the findings of a new poll from internet security firm Kaspersky, which concludes that many of us have something called "digital amnesia." We're so used to letting our devices (or The Google, depending) store information for us that we're no longer committing anything to memory.Hey, I should give you my phone number. Why don't I just send you a text? That way, y…

Are You Underpaid? Now There's An App For That

A new app allows employees to post their salaries on a map, along with their gender, ages, average commute times and other details, either anonymously or publicly. Let the 21st Century salary transparency games begin! Like Glassdoor, the new app Wagespot is a way to find out how much people earn, and where. Wagespot's founders are calling it a "Zillow for salary data." The data are only beginning to emerge, since the app was launched on Tuesday. Bottom line, though: It's getting harder for companies to keep a lid on salary and benefits information in our "sharing economy." Not only do we have salary-sharing apps such as Glassdoor and Wagespot, we also have "anonymous intra-messenger" apps such as Memo for venting and sharing all kinds of office gossip. In fact, a new Adecco work trends study finds 65% of job seekers "frequently or sometimes" scan job listings via their mobile devices. A growing number of recruiters are mobile frien…

Let's All Phone It In On Customer Service Week

Do you know that it's Customer Service Week? Okay, let me update that: It's now the middle of Customer Service Week. I know, I know. The service on this workplace blog is too slow, and you'd like to speak with a manager! According to a new OfficeTeam survey, so would a lot of other people. More that four in 10 employees surveyed (42%) told OfficeTeam that they encounter poor customer service at least once a month, and 79% will report examples of poor customer service to a company. The good news? A full 7 in 10 surveyed said they will gladly contact a company to report an instance of great customer service when they see it. The question is, how many times a week are customer service reps circling the bottom of our receipts and imploring us to "take part in a survey" and, you know, to give them a shout out for doing a good job while we're at it? And how often are we taking them up on their offer? Anyone, anyone? Now I understand the hesitancy to go online…

80% of Employees Are Avoiding Their Co-workers

A new survey says that 80% of employees prefer to work alone, because their work environment is either too hostile or largely unhelpful. Oh, no. It's time to call a team meeting, stat! That's right, folks. When it comes to the workplace, we're all a bunch of Greta Garbos wanting to be left alone. Nearly 2,000 U.S. and Canadian employees participated in a survey sponsored/conducted by The Faas Foundation, Mental Health America (MHA) and the Canadian Association for Mental Health (CAMH) regarding workplace bullying and psychological wellness. The findings are, well, kind of depressing. In addition to learning that 80% of employees surveyed prefer to work alone because their current work environment doesn't work very well, 83% also said that their company is "overly focused on trivial activities." Of course, "trivial" can mean different things. Perhaps it means there's too much busy work. Perhaps it means too many molehills are being turned int…