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Showing posts from 2017

Night Howl: When Early Birds Run the Team's Schedule

It's 6 a.m. on a Monday morning, and you're already sitting in a meeting.

You know, the Monday morning meeting that used to start at a very manageable 10 a.m. -- until somebody decided that 10 o'clock was way too late. Night owls, it's time to call a time out on morning meeting creep!

"Morning meeting creep" is when meetings keep moving earlier and earlier in the day. Ah, the days where you could slap the snooze button a few times as the sun was coming up! Now you're sipping a cup of coffee and logging into Skype for the 5 a.m. team round-up. You're online before the first Trump tweet of the day. How on earth did this happen?

I'll tell you exactly how it happened: The crack 'o dawn people have gotten their mitts on the team's scheduling process, and the night owls on the team are paying the price. Your Fitbit sleep stats are screaming at you to get more sleep, but the early birds would like to push the weekly team meet even earlier to get…

Non-stop holiday music could hurt employees' mental health

The holidays are here, and for many employees it means the same holiday song play list on repeat loop all day long, for weeks on end. Now some psychologists are warning these repetitious, 24/7 holiday melodies could be hurting employees' mental health!

Holiday music can put customers into the right buying mindset, but too much holiday music exposure can send employees right up the wall. It's easy to see why many employee could feel a bit at loose ends by mid-December. They are a captive audience to the same old holiday songs, played all day long, over and over again, for up to two months.

Pipedown, a British group that seeks more silence in public, estimates that some store employees will hear "Jingle Bells" blaring over the workplace speakers up to 300 times before Christmas Day. Do you hear what I hear, indeed.


Where can employees go to escape another round of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"? They can't leave the sales floor, and they can&#…

Dealing with Co-workers Who Always Fish for Advice (Then Refuse to Take It)

Your co-worker has a dilemma and seems to be fishing for advice. So, being the nice co-worker you are, you kindly offer some handy advice. But all you get from this co-worker is an icy, cold glare.

"I know," this co-worker says in an irritated tone of voice. "I'm doing it this way."


What? No more than a minute ago, this co-worker didn't know what on earth to do. This co-worker was having a Shakespearean "to be or not to be" professional soliloquy as the two of you stood at the copier. This co-worker was definitely fishing for advice, and, like a good knowledge worker, you shared your knowledge in an effort to abate this co-worker's quandary.

You were just trying to be helpful, but now this co-worker seems vaguely upset and inclined to ignore your advice completely. What just happened here?

I Didn't Ask For Your Advice!
At some point in your career, you will work with the I-want-your-advice-but-don't-want-your-advice co-worker who is…

Four in Five U.S. Employers Will Give Employees Paid Thanksgiving Off

Do you get a four-day Thanksgiving weekend this year? If so, you're not alone: four in five U.S. employers will be giving employees a few paid days off!

Hey, those Black Friday fights don't happen in a vacuum; we need to be out of the office and actually blocking the discount vacuums for them to happen. Bloomberg Law's annual Thanksgiving Holiday Practices Survey tells us that 78% of U.S. employees will be given Thanksgiving and Black Friday off -- with pay!

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However, exactly one-third (33%) of employees will be stuck at the office on Thanksgiving Day. Employees in the service/maintenance sector are the most likely to be working on Thanksgiving Day, followed by employees in the security/public safety sector. These sectors are followed by technical, professional, managerial/supervisory, sales/customer service, production, and office clerical.

The bigger the company, the more likely employees will be putting in some work time over the holiday weekend. When they'…

Study Reveals Remote Workers Feel Left Out at Work

A new study of more than 1,100 global remote workers finds they're living up their name. Remote workers do feel remote. In fact, they can feel shunned, and avoided, by their in-office colleagues!

Thanks to technology, employees can work anywhere now. They probably get more done that way, too. But an emotional price is paid for this lofty level of freedom. Many remote workers think their colleagues in the office are shortchanging and backstabbing them, big time! They feel left out, and left behind.

But wait an ironic minute: technology is supposed to bring us together, isn't it? We can Skype and Slack our way to remote worker inclusion! Or can we? According to the researchers' article in the Harvard Business Review:

We polled 1,153 employees, and 52% said they work, at least some of the time, from their home office. And when they do, many feel their colleagues don’t treat them equally. Remote employees are more likely to report feeling that colleagues mistreat them and leav…

Employees Fear Making Phone Calls in Front of Co-workers

There's a client emergency that requires a quick response, and your manager tells you to pick up the phone and call the client right away.

Suddenly, you're seized with fear. Your palms start to sweat. Your heart begins to pound. You have to make a phone call in front of your co-workers and it's freaking you out!

Hey, we all have our personal hang ups, right? All hail the scariest sound in corporate America.


You are not alone: a new survey of British office workers by Powwownow finds that having to make a phone call in front of co-workers is our second-biggest fear at work!

Calling Out a Workplace Problem
Our biggest fear, in case you're curious, is having to give a co-worker negative feedback, which we find a way to phone in somehow. But having to actually pick up the phone in front of our co-workers to talk to a real, live working professional on the other end? So, so scary.

More than one-third of employees surveyed (36%) find the prospect of talking on the phone i…

Five Tips for Pacing Your Breaking News Consumption at Work

Are you getting much done today, or do you feel distracted by breaking news?


It's okay to admit that your eyes are glued to your online news subscriptions today, waiting for the next shoe to drop here in Washington DC. Maybe you're wishing you had gone to law school to be like Jill Wine-Banks, even though law is no longer a growth industry outside of Washington DC. You're loving the smell of indictments in the morning. If only you didn't have to work in between the breaking news alerts, right?

Welcome to the club. We're all busy trying to look busy as we sneak another peek at the news during the boring, early afternoon meeting. Everyone thinks we're looking up documents when we're checking for the red, breaking news banner atop of online edition of The Washington Post.

The red banner is back, something new has happened!

The next few months could be a breathless whirlwind of news cycles that threaten to distract us at every turn during the work day. This mig…

Survey Finds We Admire Our Co-workers Who Come to Work Sick

You might feel guilty for going to work sick as a dog, but a new survey finds many of your co-workers might be quietly purring over your sense of dedication. They sort of admire you for dragging your sneezy, sorry self to work. You've got a fever, and the only prescription is more financials!

The National Sanitation Foundation survey reveals slightly more than one-quarter (26%) of U.S. workers go to work when they don't feel well. They show up to work sick for all the usual reasons. They're afraid to take time off. They need the money. They fear their workload will only get higher and deeper, and they'll never be able to catch up.


But that's not the shocking part. No, I'll let the press release explain:

One of the more surprising results of the survey concerns how employees feel about co-workers coming into work sick. While 98 percent of Americans surveyed acknowledge that they do judge fellow co-workers who come in sick, their feelings aren’t generally negativ…

Dealing With the Co-worker Who Won't Recycle Anything

You're walking past a co-worker's garbage bin to see it stuffed yet again with wadded-up paper, empty soda cans, cardboard wrappers and discarded plastics. So much for that paperless office idea. Let's talk about our co-worker who never, ever recycles anything!


A few of your colleagues seem to have been standing behind the door when recycling bins were handed out, because they never bother to recycle. Like, ever. Maybe you've bitten your tongue for a long time about a colleague's lax attitude toward recycling. Perhaps you've moved more than a few items from the garbage bin to the recycling bin along the way because it bothers you so much.

After recycling this routine a few times, however, you feel compelled to address the topic out loud by uttering some variant of "We have a recycling bin, you know," to which this co-worker responds: "Yeah, I know, I just throw everything in the garbage can."

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I'll admit this is my internal react…

Whaa! When Your Work Team Turns Mean and Childish

Is your work team turning leaner and meaner lately? Okay, scratch the "lean" part. Your work team is just plain mean.

Your once-smiling co-workers no longer say "hi" when you walk into the room. You know it's not you, because they're doing it to each other, too. Eyes are rolling in staff meetings as much as biting commentary rolls off the tongue. Your once-friendly work team now lacks compassion, consideration and patience. They don't have each other's backs as much as they're busy backbiting. Kindness seems so 2015.

When Your Work Team Turns Childish
You're spending valuable mental bandwidth trying to figure out the source of your team's childish attitude problem. It's not layoffs; there haven't been any layoffs in quite awhile, thankfully. It's not a negative new hire; the new staff additions are great people.

It's not the work; everyone's workload is fairly balanced. It's not that your co-workers are trying t…

Fine Lines: The 10 Most Ageist Phrases in the Workplace

You're going about your work day when a younger colleague suddenly utters something that smacks of...ageism. Ugh.

Highlighting a co-worker's age is a wrinkle in workplace time that might just leave a few scars. But how do you know if something you've said is ageist? How can you know if you're insulting an older teammate with a back-handed, age-related insult?


Without further ado, here are the 10 most ageist phrases than need to be Botoxed from the face of the modern workplace:

1. "Let me get somebody else to do it." You're perfectly capable of doing "it," but a younger colleague is insistent than you should let "it" go to somebody who was in grade school when you were in grad school. You insist it's no problem, but "it" is handed off, anyway.

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2. "You're overqualified/why are you working here?" Because you need a job, just like your co-workers do? Plus, you're really good at your job. It isn…

Employees Spend 68 Days a Year Feeling Bored Out of Their Minds

Do you often feel bored at work? A new OfficeTeam survey finds we're bored at work an average of 10.5 hours per week. That's the equivalent of 68 days per year! All together now: zzzzzzzz.

You're not alone if your mind keeps wandering to your weekend plans. Maybe you reflexively keep checking your phone to see if something new is there, only to find that nothing new has transpired since you last checked five minutes ago.


Maybe you're snacking constantly to fill the time, putting a few more steps on your Fitbit to stay entertained, or chatting up the administrative assistant about a favorite band. Because boredom. It's all in a day's work.

A Respite From the Repetitive Workplace
But wait: the modern workplace is supposed to be full of fun, excitement and interesting work! Actually, let's choose an adjective other than "interesting," because my journalism professors back in the day would always cross out the word "interesting" with a big,…

How to Fight the Loneliness Epidemic at Work

Have you heard about the workplace loneliness epidemic? It's the theory that we're all at work alone, together. Now all the alone time on the clock is getting to us!

The more technology brings us together, the more it's pulling us apart. Why talk to each other at work when we can simply text each other?


At the same time, the workplace has become the main social scene (or only social scene) for too many employees. We want to be close friends with our co-workers, only to find it doesn't really work like that in today's competitive work environments. And the work itself isn't filling the void.

Bottom line: loneliness is hurting our overall health.


As the Washington Post's Jenna McGregor writes:

Most people go to work wanting to enjoy their relationships with the people they're working with, wanting to feel like they are contributing to something meaningful in the world. But that is not the experience many people have. Many people feel that the folks th…

Your Yelling Boss Gets Tired of Yelling After a Week

Being a jerk to employees makes your boss feel better -- but only for awhile until the abuse begins to take a toll on the boss's mental health, according to a new Michigan State University study.

You might think the manager who is a yeller secretly enjoys being this way. And, maybe he or she does enjoy it to an extent, but the enjoyment doesn't last.

According to the MSU press release:

Bullying and belittling employees starts to take its toll on a supervisor's mental state after about a week, according to the study, which is published in the Academy of Management Journal.

"The moral of the story is that although abuse may be helpful and even mentally restorative for supervisors in the short-term, over the long haul it will come back to haunt them," said Russell Johnson, MSU associate professor of management and an expert on workplace psychology.
Why does it all go downhill after a week? Because the boss begins to experience subtle blow back from employees in the…

20% of Workplace Coffee Mugs Have Poop on Them

Do you use a ceramic coffee mug at work? Well, your cuppa of French vanilla medium roast might just contain traces of fecal matter. Drink up, everyone!


A new University of Arizona study finds the vast majority (90%) of office coffee mugs have gross germs on them, which doesn't seem all that surprising somehow. But get this: 20% of office coffee mugs have traces of poop on them.


What is causing the transfer of fecal matter to our office coffee cups? A recent study finds many of our co-workers aren't washing their hands after they use the restroom. That's because our own germs aren't the problem; it's our co-workers' germs that are the problem!

But that's not all. The break room sink sponge that was last replaced in...actually, nobody in the office can remember when it was last replaced? The stinky, dirty sponge that serves double duty for wiping down the sink before using the same sponge to clean coffee mugs that are then put back on the shelf? Ew.

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Are You Tired of Teammates Riding Your Coattails at Work?

Your employer encourages employee collaboration -- and a lot of it! -- but your co-workers always look to you to provide the details, the documentation, and even the party decorations while they never seem to bring anything to the table!


Another day, another way your teammates find creative ways to ride your coattails at work. Somehow, you've become a grab-and-go corporate convenience mart for your under-performing teammates. The spreadsheets are on Aisle 4, and your past PowerPoint presentations on Aisle 2. One at a time everyone, and please don't crowd!

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Sigh. Talk about taking one for the team! There you are, cutting down heavy brush and blazing another trail while your teammates drag their feet and take the path of least resistance. But complaining about it might make you look like a poor team player.

The Everybody Gets a Trophy Workplace
Welcome to the 21st-Century workplace, where high performers always feel like they're doing the lion's share of the wor…

How to Handle a Co-worker's Hard Candy Habit

You're trying to work, but all you can hear is a co-worker working on a jawbreaker. Sweet mercy. Let's talk about the co-worker with the raging hard-candy habit!

Maybe your co-worker has a thing for Jolly Ranchers or Tootsie Rolls, when he's not reaching for another peppermint starlight mint or the root beer barrels he bought at the candy kiosk. Sometimes, he likes to kick it old school by throwing a bag of Pop Rocks into his workplace productivity routine. You know, just to shake things up.

Talk about ten pounds of Life Savers stuffed into a five pound bag! No matter how you try, your co-worker's hard candy habit has you vaguely shaken up. The constant crunching, gnawing and scraping of candy against the teeth during the work day is something you can't un-hear, unfortunately.

At some point, each piece of candy submits to mandibular manipulation. At its breaking point, each piece of hard candy disintigrates into a dozen pieces inside your co-worker's mouth. …

To Raise a Good Future Employee, Stop Saying "You're So Smart"

Are you a parent raising the next generation? Well, don't forget that you're also raising a future employee. And raising a stellar future employee may require eliminating the phrase "you're so smart" from your parental vocabulary!

A new UC San Diego study finds that praising even young kids for being "so smart" isn't necessarily good for them. In fact, the study finds that kids who are repeatedly told how smart they are can give up easily, and turn to cheating. Oops.

Researchers separated 300 children in Eastern China into two groups. The children in the first group received no praise while playing a guessing game using number cards. In other words, they weren't told how smart they are. The second group of children, however, did receive praise, and lots of it. The children in this group were told repeatedly how smart they are, and that they performed well.

Then the researchers asked them not to cheat as a hidden camera recorded the game.

The …

Artwork is Disappearing from the Open Office Environment

Take a look around your department. Do you see artwork hanging on the walls? No? Let me guess: there are no walls on which to hang the artwork.

The open office environment has claimed another casualty in addition to our ability to focus and concentrate on a daily basis. The pretty pictures that once decorated our corporate cubicles and hallowed workplace hallways are disappearing! They have been replaced by glass, glass, and more glass. Glass windows, low-to-no partitions and gobs of open office space separated by -- you guessed it! -- glass walls.


In what would seem a strange contradiction, the open office environment that's meant to spur our creativity is instead actively purging artistic works from the workplace. Like Edvard Munch's The Scream, professional artists and other creative types are lamenting the waning availability of workplace wall space on which to display their finished masterpieces. A fascinating Workplace Insight article paints a rather sad picture of th…

When Co-workers Turn Standing Desks Into a Competition

Never one to miss out on workplace trends, your employer has invested in standing desks for everyone on your team.

Everything was fine at first, but now you've discovered that your lower back isn't so hip to this trend. So you pull up a chair, sit down and go back to work. That is, until one of your co-workers just has to say something about your butt being in a chair.

"Why are you sitting down? Standing is so good for your circulation," this co-worker says as he ticks off the list of standing desk health benefits. "I've been standing all day. But, to each their own, I guess. I notice Jane has been standing up all day, too. Good job, Jane. You rock!"

Congratulations, your overly-competitive co-worker has just issued a standing challenge to see how long everyone in the office can stand at their desk.

Stand In the Place Where You Work
You quietly wonder how to respond to this co-worker's comments as he checks his FitBit stats and proceeds to do som…

Sorry Snapchat, Senior Managers Just Aren't That Into You

Do you like connecting with co-workers over social media? And which social media platform do you like to use?

A new OfficeTeam survey of more than 1,000 U.S. employees and 300 senior managers finds that we may not have U.S. Senator Ted Cruz's social media problems on the job, but we do have our preferred social media platforms.


Facebook is the preferred social media platform for connecting with our co-workers. More than seven in 10 (71%) professionals surveyed give a thumb's up to workplace Facebook friendships, followed by Twitter (61%), Instagram (56%) and Snapchat (44%).

However, many senior managers still aren't sure about employees using social media to talk about work, or what they did this weekend. Just under half of senior managers (49%) think it's fine to connect with fellow employees on Facebook. But fewer senior managers want employees connecting over Twitter (34%), Instagram (30%) and Snapchat (26%).

Mixing Work With Social Media
Employees and senior manage…