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Showing posts from March, 2017

FCC to Poor People: No More Cheap Internet for You

It's hard to apply for work these days without access to a reliable broadband connection. Now the FCC wants to take low-income Americans offline.

Apparently, poor Americans do not have internet search histories that are worth selling? Here's the situation, courtesy of an excellent article in ARS Technica:

The Federal Communications Commission is dropping its legal defense of a new system for expanding broadband subsidies for poor people, and it will not approve applications from companies that want to offer the low-income broadband service.

The decision announced today by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai would halt implementation of last year's expansion of the Lifeline program. This 32-year-old program gives poor people $9.25 a month toward communications services, and it was changed last year to support broadband in addition to phone service.
The number of Americans applying for jobs over the internet has doubled since 2005. A recent Pew Research Center report found more than half (…

When a Co-worker Co-opts the Workplace Quiet Space

Today's open office environments are noisy, so companies are designating office "quiet spaces" where employees can decompress amid the Sturm und Drang of random workplace dysfunction.

But what happens when the office quiet space is taken over by a territorial co-worker who grumbles and gives you the stink eye for invading their personal space? You could at least knock first!

But the quiet space is not this employee's work space; it's a quiet place meant to be shared by everyone for solo meditation, yoga, cooling off after a heated exchange, cat napping, general de-stressing, long-range planning, visionary thinking, reading or snarfing down a bag of Cheetos far away from the disapproving glance of the office food critic. It's meant to be a momentary escape from the stress of work, at work.

You can't help but notice how this co-worker's workload is spread around the quiet room like a poison ivy of productivity. This co-worker's devices are rechargi…

Here's What Your Manager Really Thinks of Your Messy Desk

How neat is your immediate work area? You might not think it's too bad, but senior management might think it resembles an episode of Hoarders!

A new OfficeTeam survey asked 300 senior managers to name the most distracting or annoying thing about employee work spaces. More than half (54%) said that a "messy" work space was the most distracting or annoying thing. Displaying "inappropriate" or "offensive" photos or phrases annoyed 21% of senior managers surveyed, while another 15% can't handle too many knickknacks or decorations populating anyone's work area.

Now for the weird part: One in ten senior managers surveyed (that would be 10%) don't like a work area that looks too neat and clean! They want to see that you're working, and they can't tell unless you are shuffling a stack of papers, sticking random Post-It notes here and there and otherwise leaving a trail of broken staples around your desk. Productivity means generating pap…

Culture Shock: Leaving a Dysfunctional Workplace for a Well-Run Workplace

You've worked in a highly-dysfunctional workplace for far too long, and now you're off to a new workplace that doesn't run on drama, infighting and backbiting. Even better, your new co-workers are happy people who communicate well, and management actually smiles!

Your new boss is definitely not the same as the old boss. For you, it's a huge culture change that begs the question: how will you put this happy, highly-functional workplace in perspective?

Anyone who works long enough will transition from a highly-toxic work environment to a well-run workplace. No workplace is perfect -- there will always be some level of tension when you put random people together in an office -- but your new workplace's problems already seem far less dramatic and intense than the problems you encountered at your previous workplace. There's a big difference between wondering why your co-worker eats smelly food at his desk and wondering why your co-worker always sets you up for failu…

Dealing with Co-workers who Drop In On their Day Off

This morning, our grade schooler asked a question she found printed on a tube of Gogurt: Which one are you more scared of, spiders or a day off?

Hmm. I went with spiders as I sipped my morning coffee because only a raging workaholic could be scared of taking some much-needed time off. This realization (courtesy of yogurt in a tube...) got me thinking about past colleagues who always seemed to drop in to the office on their days off. "Dropping in" could last anywhere from minutes to hours.

Shouldn't these co-workers be somewhere else, doing something fun? Why are they just sitting there, yammering on about next week's project as they spin around in their office chair? Don't they have anything better to do on their day off? Apparently not.

These questions might cross our minds as we watch this co-worker wander around the office and tell anyone who will listen how it's their day off. But how can we miss them if they never leave?

As colleagues, we can ha…

Survey Finds the Gig Economy is Really Getting to Us

A new Canadian survey finds the "gig economy" is stressing workers out and damaging their mental health. Let's take an Uber ride to the nearest coffee shop to #discuss this topic while we wait for more work to arrive in our inbox!

The Ontario Federation of Labour recently surveyed more than 4,000 Canadians on the topic of "precarious" employment -- meaning, we don't know how much money we'll earn this month, and how will we pay the bills?

Whether we want to call it freelancing, the free agent nation or a super-trendy side hustle, the end result of all this solopreneuring can be the same: stress and anxiety.

The Ontario Federation of Labour finds the uncertainty surrounding the gig economy is creating a never-ending cycle of worry for the people who work from gig to gig. In fact, anxiety ranks as the number-one, negative gig economy side effect. Verging on one-third (31%) of survey participants said their emotional health has been the "most signif…

Shh! When Your Workplace is Way Too Quiet

What if your office is so quiet that you can hear yourself think, and your thoughts are screaming that this workplace is way too damn quiet?

Shh, don't eat your orange slices too loudly at your desk, or you might attract unwanted attention from your colleagues. Let's use this blog post to whisper about this scary-quiet workplace problem!

The noisy workplace can be very distracting. But equally distracting, if not more so, is the office that emits no ambient sound to distract us from the small sounds we humans make continuously, from grumbling tummies to boisterous knee bouncing to calculated keystrokes on a keyboard. In a head-to-head sound match-up with the local library, you are sure that your office would win, hands down.

In fact, the too-quiet workplace is so quiet that you can hear a co-worker writing from 20 feet away! Setting a cup of coffee on your desk feels like an act of aggression. You hate talking on the phone at work, because you feel like 25 sets of ears are tu…

Are Older Job Seekers Being Blocked From Applying Online?

You're a job seeker over a certain age applying for jobs online. Too bad the years listed in the drop-down menu don't go back far enough for you to apply honestly!

As if being older doesn't present enough indignities in the modern workplace, there's a brewing controversy that some job websites might be finding some not-so-innovative ways to block older workers from even being able to apply in the first place!

How might older job seekers be getting shut out online? By going to apply for a job and finding the dates listed in the drop-down menus go back only so far, for example. Say you graduated from undergrad in 1985 and want to be honest in saying you graduated from college before the hiring manager was even born (good for you, so confident), but you don't see 1985 listed anywhere in the site's drop-down menu as you listen to Simply Red's Holding Back the Years album. The years, for some reason, stop at 1990. Don't you forget about me, indeed.

So snea…

Bill Would Let Employers Get All Up in Employees' Genetic Business

Are you busy climbing the corporate ladder? Well, a bill making its way through Congress could allow employers to climb the ladders of your DNA!

A bill passed last Wednesday by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce would allow employers essentially to fine employees enrolled in voluntary wellness programs who refuse to undergo genetic testing. Show us your DNA profile, or you can pay up to 30% more for your company health insurance plan!

Employers can't look at employees' genetic profiles right now thanks to privacy laws, so the party of small government (R) is trying to help them out, apparently. H.R. 1313, which is somewhat ironically called the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act, is already facing strong opposition by many groups according to an excellent piece in yesterday's Washington Post:

The bill is under review by other House committees and still must be considered by the Senate. But it has already faced strong criticism from a broad array of gr…

Only 2 in 10 Employers Prepared to Deal with Painkiller Addiction

A new employer survey from the National Safety Council finds the majority of U.S. workplaces are dealing with employee prescription drug problems.

The survey, entitled "How the Prescription Drug Crisis Is Impacting American Employers," asked 501 human resources managers across industries to talk about prescription drug abuse at work. Bottom line: More than 70% said prescription drug misuse is impacting their companies, but only 19% feel prepared to deal with the problem.

Employers aren't offering employees training to spot signs of a prescription drug use problem in their colleagues: Slightly more than three-fourths (76%) of companies in the survey offer no training to employees whatsoever. While 57% of employers surveyed will drug test employees, 41% of these employers are not testing employees for synthetic opioids.

How is on-the-job drug use affecting employee performance? Affected employees are missing work (39%); using drugs at work (39%); having a positive drug t…

U.S. House to Vote Today on Ending Class Action Lawsuits

Do you know that the U.S. House is scheduled to vote today on essentially ending class action lawsuits?

The so-called "Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017" (H.R. 985) is sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). H.R. 985 was introduced in the House last month and was discussed by the House Judiciary Committee on February 15. Here's the February 15th hearing on it, which starts at the 9:00 mark.

To date, there hasn't been time allotted for everyone from lawyers to laymen to comment on the legislation. The bill is opposed by the American Bar Association, consumer advocates and civil rights groups.

If the bill passes, it would allow a class action to be appealed in the middle of the case, slowing the case way down, among other things. The bill also contains a requirement that each person in the class action lawsuit must show that they suffer from the same “type and scope of injury." This means everyone in the lawsuit would have to show that they share th…