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Showing posts from May, 2017

How to Handle the Colleague Who Physically Bullies You

You're walking down the hallway at work when a colleague suddenly walks up from behind, elbows you out of the way, and walks on without even looking back.

Whether you're an administrative assistant, a high-powered partner in a firm, a petite person, or the Prime Minister of Montenegro, you've probably dealt with a fellow professional who gets physical in the workplace by grabbing you, moving you, prodding you, and otherwise ignoring your boundaries and invading your personal space.

Watch Trump shove the PM of Montenegro out of the way so he can be in a photo op. 🙄— Lynn Bee (@lynnlovestennis) May 25, 2017

For clarity, let's stick with physical interactions that are not (1) sexual in nature; or (2) physical altercations involving punching, kicking or (egad!) body slamming. These are separate topics involving inappropriate touch.

No, I'm talking about the co-worker who will bat your arm away to get the first piece of birthday cake…

Big Changes at Work Make Us Want to Quit, Bigly

Change. We all hate it, most of the time. Change creates uncertainty, which creates stress, which leads to a new American Psychological Association study that says change at work makes employees want to throw in the towel!

Harris Poll conducted an online survey on behalf of the APA that included slightly more than 1,500 U.S. adults who work full time, part time or are self-employed. Exactly half of those surveyed (50%) said they have been affected by "organizational changes" in the last 12 months, are "currently being affected" by organizational change or "expect to be affected" by organizational changes in the next year.

What to expect when you're expecting change as an employee? Insane levels of work stress, of course: More than half (55%) of employees undergoing big change in the workplace were more than twice as likely to experience chronic work stress than employees in low-to-no stress jobs.

Employees undergoing change at work (or who have rec…

Escape Rooms Are Something Your Team Can't Escape

It's time for some team building at work, but it's also the 21st Century so trust falls and sharing circles won't work. What's a back-biting work team to do?

Well, you can always lock yourselves in a room together to see if you can escape together!

"Escape rooms" have been trendy for awhile now, and escaping takes teamwork. In the process, you'll get to know your colleagues' strengths and weaknesses that you already know from working with them every day.

Race To Escape
Escape room companies around the country are offering a wide variety of escape experiences. They're hard to (pun intended) escape these days. In the Detroit area, you can look for the new Harry Potter-themed escape room. Las Vegas has some new movie-inspired escape rooms opening soon. There are gamer-themed escape rooms galore, and reality show-themed escape rooms. You can even find escape rooms at the local mall.

This whole concept sounds very familiar. Where have I seen it bef…

Being Attractive In Scientific Fields Isn't Always Pretty

You're listening to an expert give a data-driven PowerPoint presentation. This person is both smart, and attractive. Is that going to be a problem? Maybe so, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Essex in England asked 3,700 study participants to rate the photos of 600 geneticists and physicists from 400 U.S. and British universities for perceived attractiveness, intelligence, morality, competence and sociability. Study participants were asked how much they would like to find out more about each scientist's work, and to what extent each scientist's research seemed accurate, and important.

The P-value of Prettiness
The good news? Attractiveness can bring attention to a scientist's hard work like bees to a flower! However, attractiveness cannot make others value the work, or the conclusions. There can be an initial interest to consider the work, but the extent to which the work has impact could be debatable. And scientists are all about impact. Goodb…

Is Your Workplace High-Stress? Then Adopt a Workplace Cat

We're only weeks away from Take Your Dog to Work Day (June 23, mark your calendars), but what about the domestic house cat? It's time the average cat got a little bit of workplace respect, too.

Studies have shown that a cat's purring can reduce our blood pressure, which could be a good thing for stressed-out employees. Could the average house cat survive the modern workplace, though? Could employers deal with all the bad cattitude?

Consider Japanese IT firm Ferray Corporation, which welcomes cats in its workplace. The company currently has at least nine cats wondering the halls, walking across desks and purring for employees. Ferray's CEO offers $45 (U.S.) per month to employees who rescue a cat. That's so cool.

A Japanese company is encouraging people to bring their cats to the office to help them cope with stress and fatigue— AFP news agency (@AFP) May 19, 2017
Could cats work in the average American workplace, though? Cats are curiou…

When the Boss Is Away, Our Co-workers Will Play

They are eight of the best words in the business world: My boss is out of town this week.

Management has left town for an annual convention, a corporate retreat or a leadership conference, leaving employees behind to practice their copious self-management skills. It's as if the whole mood of the office has changed overnight. There's music, there's chit chat, there's tit for tat, maybe there's even some slacking on Slack. The usual, frantic work pace has been temporarily replaced by frivolity, Funyuns and the occasional high-five.

It's like that old saying: When the cat is away the mice will play.

I'm of two minds about this common issue for workplaces everywhere. It can be annoying to be the colleague on deadline while a gaggle of employees sits nearby sharing their best college stories. However, if you work in a pressure cooker work environment, then blowing off some much-needed steam makes sense. In a 24/7/365 work world that demands our constant attenti…

Should the Workplace Toy Around with Fidget Spinners?

The fidget spinner. Every kid either has one, or wants one. Now the question is: should the workplace toy around with them, too?

My grade schooler has been asking for one of these colorful spinny things (my words) for weeks. Everyone at school has one! I finally caved in and ordered one for less than $10. It is expected to arrive in the mail on the last day of school. Go figure.

If you haven't heard of the fidget spinner, it's a small, three-pronged piece of plastic that -- you guessed it! -- spins around very quickly. Fidget spinners come in different shapes and colors, and some models even glow in the dark. They fit in our hands, and capture our attention. The fidget spinner is marketed as being a stress-relieving device for children with ADHD, ADD, anxiety or autism. They inhabit a toy category called "fidget toys."

Schools have been banning them, experts are debating them, and the Fidget Spinner Association wants everyone to enjoy them.

But what about th…

Are You Jealous of Your Part-Time Co-Worker?

The work day is only half over, but your hard-working co-worker is already done for the day. This co-worker works part time, and the whole thing just blows.

You might not like to admit it out loud, but you're a little bit envious (okay, totally jealous!) of the co-worker who specifically sought out a part-time job for the flexibility or "fun" of it. These co-workers do not want to work full time, thankyouverymuch, because it's financially feasible for them to work 10/15/20/25 hours per week, max.

Why is life so unfair? Why do you have to slog through 8 (okay, 9 or 10) hours at the office every day while your part-time-on-purpose colleague is probably sitting on the back deck of their beautiful dream home on Easy Street watching the leaves sway in the warm afternoon breeze?**

You want to look with some disdain upon the part-timer in your work life, but he or she is a conscientious employee who always manages to tie up loose ends before leaving for the day. At 1 p.m.…

Study Finds Morning Teamwork Leads to Afternoon Selfishness

Teamwork. It's what makes the workplace work. But a new study finds helping our co-workers too much in the morning can lead to a lack of teamwork in the afternoon!

Researchers at Michigan State University found that "helpful" employee behaviors doled out in the early hours of the work day can come with a dark side. Namely, we feel like we've already done our "helpful" bit for the day as afternoon rolls around, and it's time to focus on ourselves. We're tired, we might be running behind after helping others, and we simply don't have any more mental bandwidth for our co-worker's questions.

Could you go ask somebody else for a change? Thanks. As reports:

"The increase in mental fatigue from helping coworkers in the morning led employees to reduce their helping behaviors in the afternoon and, perhaps more interestingly, they engaged in more self-serving political behaviors in the afternoon as well," said [Russell] Johnson, ass…

Breaking News: The News Cycle Is Hurting Our Productivity

On a scale of one to 10, how would you rate your overall productivity level this week?

Come on, be honest. You've been downloading the latest tweets, scrolling through comments, and hiding news sites as a manager walks past!

Maybe you're self-employed or telecommute. Either way, good luck staying focused this week. I made the mistake of working in a room with a television tuned to MSNBC yesterday. Stop watching the news and focus, I told myself. I accomplished the short list of things I wanted to get done, but not as much as I would have liked because the news cycle was spinning into overdrive.

Then again, I'm a journalist. Looking for the latest, greatest breaking news updates on and off all day is what I do. If I were left on a deserted island and could bring only one item, it would be a rechargeable tablet with a fast internet connection so I could refresh various news sites on the fives. (And contact my loved ones, of course.)

A recent employee survey commissioned by…

Your Personality Could Keep Robots From Stealing Your Job

Worried about robots stealing your job? Then you might want to work on your personality and play a few more rounds of Trivial Pursuit.

I'm kidding: the times we're living through seem more akin to a game such as Cards Against Humanity, which I have yet to play but I've heard it's...interesting. Besides, you already have a great personality and there's no need for you to change. You're one in a billion!

However, you might be interested in new research that finds your IQ -- when combined with a tendency toward extraversion and an early love of the arts and sciences -- could keep robots from eventually taking your job in particular. Humanities majors navigating the STEM age, rejoice. We're somebody now!

Researchers at the University of Houston relied on data gathered from 346,660 people (!) to conclude that those with higher levels of intelligence, maturity, extraversion, and a lingering interest in the arts and sciences tended to be found in "l…

Too Many Employees Can Relate To How Comey Was Fired

Everyone is talking about the Comey firing this morning.

Was he really fired while he was giving a speech? Did news of his firing really flash across a screen behind him while he was speaking, and he thought it was a prank? Ouch. Why wasn't he fired in person? Why does it suddenly feel like a flashback to June 1994 again?**

In all seriousness, the manner in which FBI Director James Comey was fired yesterday could be sending U.S. employees into flashback mode, remembering the time they were fired by management in the most impersonal way possible. Maybe they were fired by voice mail. Maybe they were fired by email, a social media post, or text. Maybe they came to work one morning to find the door locked and their badge no longer worked. Maybe their box of personal belongings was sitting on the front desk.

I'm leaving politics out of this post (PS: resist) to focus solely on the way Comey's dismal dismissal was managed. How he was let go from his job represents the very wors…

Are Another Team's Workplace Huddles Hurting Your Productivity?

A work team that is not yours has decided to have a meeting within inches of your work area. There they are, yapping about yesterday, today and blockers while you try in vain to concentrate. Let's huddle over by the virtual water cooler to complain about this quorum quandary, shall we?

Welcome to a problem that's quietly percolating in today's boundary-challenged open office environments: the impromptu team "huddle" (or stand-up meeting if you prefer) that's suddenly happening in your immediate work area! Team huddles feel vaguely like kindergarten circle time. They can also be very annoying when they are neither your team nor your decision.

Huddle, or Muddle?
The team huddling near your desk wants to disrupt the market, but all they're managing to do is disrupt your work flow as they run down their individual goals for today and explain why they still haven't finished yesterday's project. You reach into your work bag for ear buds, only to realize…

Undercover Boss: 23% of U.S. Employees Don't Know Who Their CEO Is

Could you pick your CEO out of a lineup? No? I'll give you a minute to look up his or her bio on the company webpage.

If your CEO's name doesn't roll off the tip of your tongue, then know that you're not alone! Nearly one-quarter (23%) of U.S. employees can't identify their CEO, according to a recent survey from APPrise Mobile, a mobile employee communications company. APPrise Mobile bases this finding on a Google Consumer Survey of 1,000 U.S. respondents who work for companies with 500 or more employees.

Who's My CEO Again?
Employees in the 18-to-24 demographic are most likely not to know their CEO's name or face. On a good note, two-thirds of employees in the 18-to-24 age range surveyed (66%) do know the name of their company's chief executive, while 78% of employees over the age of 25 can identify their CEO, as well. So, the majority of employees do know who sits atop the corporate pyramid chart.

Still, 23% of our co-workers have no clue who their CE…

Politics is Turning U.S. Employees into Cynical Stress Puppies

Are you feeling increasingly stressed out at work for no apparent reason? Do you think your teammates are motivated by self-interest, and nothing more?

Do you have to remind yourself not to be so distrustful of human sincerity, and integrity?

Well, buck up because you're not alone! A new American Psychological Association online survey of more than 1,500 U.S. adults employed full time, part time or self-employed** finds many of us are turning into cynical stress puppies on the job, and our current political environment is to blame.

Unfortunately, our workplace malaise has grown worse since the APA conducted the same survey last Fall. Basically, we're all turning into Silicon Valley's Gilfoyle.

I'll let the APA's press release do the talking because I'm still so bummed out after yesterday's Trumpcare vote in the U.S. House of Representatives:

American workers are more likely to say they are feeling stressed and cynical because of political discussi…