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Showing posts from March, 2016

Monsters Inside Meetings: How To Work With Germaphobes

Do you work with someone who bleaches everything down after you exit their work area? Then this post is for you. Let's come clean on working with the office germaphobe!

I was scanning workplace headlines and came across a U.S. News & World Report article on how to poop at work and practice proper hygiene.

The story got me thinking about general office hygiene from another angle: How should you handle the co-worker who treats everyone in the office like a walking, talking bio-hazard?

If you work long enough, you'll encounter the co-worker who, after you've used his or her keyboard, whips out a wad of paper towels and a bottle of bleach spray and proceeds to wipe down the entire area you just finished using. The arm rests of the office chair are thrown in for good measure.

You can tell by the look in their eyes that they'd like to spray you down, too, just to be on the safe side.

You quietly take a bit of offense at the entire process, because you take pride in your…

Let's Pressure Ourselves To End All the Self-imposed Pressure

How was your spring break? Did you get a lot done? I didn't get very much done, but that's fine. In fact, it's fantastic.

Why didn't I get more done? One word: kids. They're awesome, they're busy and they had more than a week off from school. No camps, just me, all day long, because I'm a freelancer and therefore, flexible. There were moments of fun and excitement followed by cycles of downtime and boredom. (Boredom? Why, yes. It's the key to learning how to think creatively.)

Of course, my own boring moments of creative thinking inevitably fell by the wayside. Instead of writing, I averaged 12,000 steps per day, just trying to keep up. There was neither the time, nor the energy, to think much about writing.

And I'm fine with it. Scrapping impossibly ambitious "to do" lists in favor of small, attainable daily goals has been a part of my personal evolution in recent years. I can relax and be in the moment, therefore I am. I'm still a wo…

Study Finds Teams Suffer When Everyone Gets A Trophy

Your team has just completed a highly-successful project, and you played a big part in making it happen. Now it's reward time, and you'll surely be singled out for praise and recogni...heeeeeey, why is everyone on the team getting the same trophy?!

Welcome to management in the 21st Century, where everyone on the team gets the same amount of acknowledgement for a job well done! A new North Carolina State University study, however, finds our "everyone gets a trophy" team culture isn't motivating work teams very much.

In fact, the NCSU study concludes that rewarding individual workers is what boosts overall team performance. Maybe now we'll all get our turn to feel like Sally Field at The Oscars. Finally!

Managers, you need to let your workplace stand-outs stand up to receive the accolades they so desperately deserve while their teammates sit there and watch it happen! I know, I know: the Millennials on your work team wouldn't be very happy about it.

This i…

Study Finds We're All a Bunch of Workplace Chameleons

Do you tend to act more coldly when you speak with a manager? As a manager, do you tend to act more warmly when you interact with an employee?

If so, you're not alone. Let's get smart about a new Princeton study that finds all the workplace is but a stage!

Princeton University researchers conducted four experiments to analyze stereotyping in the workplace, and how employees tend to react within workplace hierarchy. Well, if anybody would know about trying to act smarter than they are, it's our friends from the Ivy League. So, what did they learn?

The study concludes that employees, in fact, can alter their behavior based on how they feel they are being perceived. A manager, for example, might play down his or her competence to underlings in order to seem warmer (and perhaps less intimidating). An employee, meanwhile, might act colder in the presence of management in order to appear more competent.

The end result? Workplace conversations that can feel like two ships pa…

Employers No Longer Love Insuring Working Spouses

Is your working spouse on your health insurance plan? Well, he or she is going to cost more to insure, thanks to spousal surcharges!

This surcharge is all in the name of rather unromantic cost containment. Sure, you've been able to get the same seasonal allergy medications for a fraction of the cost courtesy of your spouse's amazeballs health insurance plan, but if you insist on bumming off your spouse's plan when you have access to other insurance, then you can expect to pay through the nose for it!

Well, maybe not through the nose, but you could be paying an indirect surcharge soon. Sniff.

Last year, more than one-quarter (27%) of employers charged spouses a surcharge for health care coverage when they had access to another employer-provided health insurance plan, and the number of employers adding "spousal surcharges" is expected to jump to 56% by 2018, according to Willis Towers Watson.

The average employee is currently paying a "spousal surcharge"…

Psst, Too Much Multi-tasking Is Making You Less Productive

We all know that busy-ness is a badge of honor these days. But new research finds that living in tomorrow is making us a lot less productive today!

Management scientist at Case Western Reserve University stopped checking their messages while eating lunch and making ten copies to conduct research into something called "mindfulness," which is an old Buddhist concept that tells us to put all our energies into focusing on the current moment.

CWRU's research finds that being "in the moment" increases focus and collaboration, while lowering employee stress levels. I think we can all raise a Sloth-like smile to that!

But you're at work, where multi-tasking is still king! You have three meetings this morning, five customer calls to return by noon, way too many emails to answer, a quarterly report due tomorrow, a co-worker who needs to vent -- and you're try to manage all five at once!

Who has time to be in the moment in our multi-tasking work culture? Not yo…

Millennials Most Likely To "Vacation Shame" Their Co-workers

Has a co-worker ever guilt-tripped you for taking a vacation? Then you might be interested in a new Alamo Rent A Car survey that finds "vacation shaming" is a thing, and our Millennial co-workers rock at it!

I know, I know. You feel badly for using your vacation days (er, snow days) and when you do, your nose is buried in a smartphone answering work-related messages. You feel out of sight, out of mind as you sit poolside -- and there's no way you're going to fall off the office radar by looking "low energy." So, you never take that relaxing vacation, do you?

This is where the Ray Ban-wearing 2016 Alamo Family Vacation Survey rolls up with its over-packed suitcase and unpacks a nationwide vacation shaming trend.

Alamo surveyed 1,500 working adults in January, and reports that 59% of employed Millennials feel "a sense of shame" for taking a planned vacation, compared to 41% of employees aged 35 and older.

But wait, there's more. Alamo finds th…

Here's A List Of the Hardest-Working Cities In America

Do you know that tomorrow, March 4, is National Employee Appreciation Day, the day when we're supposed to honor employees for their hard work? No, really; it's real!

In honor of this largely-unknown holiday,* finance website Wallet Hub analyzed 116 metro areas to find out where the hardest-working Americans are quietly lurking! Wallet Hub examined six key metrics ranging from labor force participation rate to average weekly work hours to the number of workers with multiple jobs. What did they learn?

Without further ado, here are The Top Ten Hardest-Working U.S. Cities for 2016, according to Wallet Hub's analysis:

1. Anchorage, Alaska
2. Virginia Beach, Virginia
3. Plano, Texas
4. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
5. Irving, Texas
6. Scottsdale, Arizona
7. San Francisco, California
8. Cheyenne, Wyoming
9. Washington, DC
10. Charlotte, North Carolina

Alaskans are indeed very busy people. For proof, simply look at the mind-boggling number of TV shows now based in Alaska! It…

If You're Going To Be A Jerk At Work, Be A Consistent Jerk

Would you prefer a boss who is always unfair, or is unfair only some of the time? A new Michigan State University study concludes that employees would prefer the boss who is...consistently unfair? Hey, at least we know what we're getting!

MSU researchers divided 160 college students into three groups to perform a stock-pricing task. The first group was always treated fairly. The second group was always treated unfairly. The third group, meanwhile, experienced erratic, unpredictable treatment that could be fair one minute and unfair the next.

Bottom line: if we're going to be subjected to unfair treatment at work, then we want managers who are consistently unfair across the board! If our boss is a jerk, we'd prefer that he or she double down on it and be a jerk all the time instead of only some of the time.

From the official MSU press release:

"Our findings essentially show that employees are better off if their boss is a consistent jerk rather than being a loose ca…