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Showing posts from 2018

In the age of ghosting, it's time for employers to think about loyalty

If you've been following business news lately, then you've probably seen the spate of articles about new hires who are "ghosting" employers by not showing up for their first day of work. At least we'll always have customer loyalty cards, right?

It's still unknown how many employees are ghosting employers, so I'm not feeling any loyalty to calling it a trend. Yet. But a new article in The Washington Post gives us some insight into why employees (e.g., Millennials) are ghosting employers. Chalk it up to a good economy:

The bartender arrived early, stayed late and offered to help other kitchen staffers. Still, he said, his boss told him to "show initiative" — then slashed his hours.

So, 20 minutes before his shift started last Friday, Lucas fired off a parting group text to management: "I deserve better . . . so I went out and got better."

He had already accepted a better-paying offer from a restaurant in his home city of Tacoma, Wash.

Is …

Feeling slow and sluggish at work? Blame global warming

Feeling tired at work lately? Well, you might be able to blame your exhaustion on more than poor sleep habits, because rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere could be making everyone feel tired, and stupid!

I'll type slowly so we can all understand together. Scientists at University College London (U.K.) claim that rising CO2 levels could become a real problem at work. As Britain's Daily Mail reports:

Surging levels of greenhouse gases could make people tired, forgetful and stupid, scientists claim.

Afternoon fatigue, the slump that office workers often experience, could become a worldwide problem due to surging levels in carbon dioxide.

A factor in sick building syndrome is higher carbon dioxide levels in poorly ventilated workplaces which can make workers feel lethargic, low in energy and slow, The Sunday Times reported.

Let's call it fossil fuel brain fog. Or clean coal cognitive cobwebs. Or something? I don't think this emerging workplace problem has a nam…

2019 workplace trends: re-evaluating social media scoring of applicants

If you want a job in certain industries these days, then it's a good idea to have a lot of followers on social media. But after what we've seen in the last year, maybe it's time to admit this thinking could be wrong.

Many employers love to see a job candidate with a great social media footprint. From followers to comments, the candidate is active on social media. Entire industries have sprung up around online "reputation" management and social media branding to help job candidates perfect their online presence.

But there's a problem. The last year has revealed real cracks in the social media facade. As social media sites sweep their sites of bots and other problems, it begs the question we need to start asking: Are social media metrics a poor way of scoring job candidates as potential hires?

How Much Do Followers Really Matter, Anyway?
Outside of specific industries that require high levels of contact with the general public -- sales and marketing quickly com…

Hello? How to deal with coworkers who stare

Another day at work, another day of dealing with the coworker who knows you're there, but never acknowledges you. Sometimes, you catch this coworker staring at you. Let's stare down this uncomfortable workplace problem together!

Before we go any further, let's clarify that this stare isn't a sexual stare. No, this stare feel downright competitive. It is a winner-takes-all stare. A lion in the grass stare.

You feel like this coworker is studying you from a safe distance. It's like he or she is quietly sizing you up, and competing with you on some imaginary plane to which you haven't been given the exact coordinates. Are you X, or are you Y, and where do your two lines intersect? In reality, you two are located in separate quadrants and your lines run parallel to each other.

The fact that this coworker won't engage you in conversation only makes the whole thing feel weirder. You've tried to smile and say "hi", but this coworker either…

2019 workplace trends: pawternity benefits

It may sound barking mad, but "pawternity" benefits -- a.k.a. time off to be with a new pet -- are shaping up to be a hot workplace perk for 2019. Woof!

Our pets are our furry babies, so why shouldn't employees get some time off to acquaint a newly-adopted dog with its surroundings? As usual, the Nordic countries are ahead of us on this idea, with a Nordic pet-food company recently adopting "pawternity" leave for its international workforce.

Pawternity benefits are sniffing around the edges of U.S. workplace culture, mainly in largely urban centers such as New York City. Like it or not, "puppy parental leave" is on the verge of becoming a thing.

Puppy Time!
Puppies need their people, especially when they're newly-adopted. Like a human toddler, they need constant, direct supervision. But pawternity leave could be good for humans, too. According to

Pawternity, or fur-ternity, has some big benefits. The National Institute of He…

When you want to walk but your coworker insists on driving

You're on your way to meet a client whose office is four blocks away. You start walking in that direction, but your teammate makes a beeline for her car. "I can drive!" she says. "It's too far to walk." Huh?

You don't mind walking. In fact, a short, brisk walk always feels great. You can't believe your coworker wants to drive FOUR FREAKING BLOCKS on such a great, autumn day. The colorful leaves are falling, the air is crisp but not freezing, and the walk would do you good.

Still, your coworker won't budge. She is driving, end of. It isn't worth digging in your heels on this issue, so you get into the passenger side of your coworker's car and drive the four blocks. Of course, now you're both running late to the meeting because you can't find a parking space.

Walk? Are You Serious?
We may need to update the phrase "walk a mile in my shoes," because a new survey of 2,200 Americans by tech product review company Gea…

It's 2018, where is my paperless office?

A new study finds your coworkers might see you as neurotic and uncaring just because your work area is cluttered. Let's meet by the water cooler to discuss!

Psychologists at the University of Michigan (Flint and Ann Arbor campuses) explored the dirty nooks and crannies of workplace messiness and how it affects perceptions of an employee's personality. 160 study participants were assigned to sit in one of three types of offices: spotless, generally neat and whoa, is that a dust bunny on your keyboard?

All of the offices were decorated identically, except for the varying levels of clutter -- e.g., books, papers strewn about, coffee cups, coats thrown on chairs, and so on.

As you'd probably guess, the messier offices were rated lower. But more than that, the study participants rated the employee's extraversion (social), agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness to experiences, and here's the dirt: the messier the office, the more likely the employee …

2019 workplace trends: apps that score employees' mental health

So much for faking it until you make it, because emerging apps could let you gauge your current mental state at work!

Of course, mental health apps have been around for awhile now, and they are busy helping employees manage what they're feeling. Some employees are benefiting greatly from advice that, in some cases, is coming from robots.

But what about getting a personalized mental health score? Well, there are apps for that now, too. As reports:

Total Brain markets itself as a way for employees to train their brain to track and reduce stress. It starts by giving employees a 20-minute assessment of their mental health. The assessment includes a combination of tasks and questions that measure things like memory, focus and decision-making. There also are screening tests related to mental conditions.

After being assessed for their emotions, feelings, cognition and self-control, employees who take the test are given a percentile score. Then they can select a 15-minute d…

2019 workplace trends: microchipping of the workforce

It's the stuff of science fiction, but employers can literally get underneath employees' skin by implanting them with microchips. And now a major British company is reportedly planning to do just that!?

A story in Britain's Telegraph reveals that a few "major UK companies" are apparently looking at microchipping a percentage of their workforce for...well, why would they want to embed RFID chips in some of their employees? I'll let the (subscription-blocked) story opener explain:

British companies are planning to microchip some of their staff in order to boost security and stop them accessing sensitive areas.

Biohax, a Swedish company that provides human chip implants, told the Telegraph it was in talks with a number of UK legal and financial firms to implant staff with the devices.

Okay, deep breath, everyone! First off, we don't know the names of these companies, and they're still in "talks," which could mean anything. Second, we don't k…

2019 workplace trends: The pedal desk

In 2018, the sitting desk became the standing desk. But what does 2019 hold in store for our rather sedentary workplaces? Hint: get ready to pedal while you work.

A recent pilot study by kinesiologists at UMass Amherst looked at "pedal desks" (think desk on top, at-home stationary bicycle down below) and found that light-intensity pedaling at work improved people's insulin responses to a test meal. Pedal desks can level up our fitness levels.

With so many health-conscious workplaces, we know exactly where this is going. Now we can literally feel like we're pedaling to nowhere at work!

I'm only kidding. Hey, many of us want to exercise and reap the physical rewards of a decent workout, so why not pedal in place while we prepare a PowerPoint for tomorrow's meeting? Pedal bikes are not widespread yet, but they're a trend that could be just up around the bend, as far as 2019 workplace trends go.

I have an exercise bike at home, and I've tried to read and…

When a coworker feels sorry for you at Thanksgiving (but they don't need to)

Thanksgiving is almost here, and your family lives far away. You have decided to stay here this year, and curl up with a movie and maybe a box of KFC. You're totally fine with it. So why is a coworker making you feel all kinds of bad about it?

The modern workforce is highly mobile, and our jobs can take us to the other side of the country -- or even to the other side of the world. We keep up with family through technology, but what about turkey day?

Luckily, your employer has given you Thanksgiving and Black Friday off in addition to the weekend, so theoretically you could catch a flight home for Thanksgiving. But you've decided to stay put this time. You have your reasons.

Welcome to the downside of working far away from family. Nobody likes making the decision whether or not to travel at Thanksgiving, and many people struggle with it every year.

When Turkey Day Is Personal Downtime
Quietly, you're actually looking forward to the Thanksgiving break. You'll be able to …

Hey, Amazon: welcome to Washington DC, you will fit right in

It's official. Amazon is moving one of its two additional headquarters to Northern Virginia. The move is expected to bring thousands of jobs to the area. Bummer.

I'm only kidding. I, for one, will never complain about job creation. But the influx of 25,000 new jobs won't stop the locals from complaining about the impending traffic nightmares and the inevitable swarm of lanyard-wearing tech bros walking...well, where are they walking to, anyway?

The Tech Bros Are Coming!
My home-owning friends in NOVA (Northern Virginia) are very excited about the favorable effect Amazon could have on home prices. But otherwise, they worry that Amazon's HQ2 arrival will add only more chaos to an area already beset by a troubled infrastructure and a very high cost of living.

In the spirit of Amazon Prime, commutes from NOVA into DC will now take two days.— neontaster (@neontaster) November 13, 2018
I've been following the online comments for weeks, and the Amazon work ethos seems to h…

Email? Generation Z doesn't use it, and doesn't want it

The other day, I told my teenager that somebody we know had sent her an email. "What? Email? I never check email," she said. "People still use it?" Um, yes.

It dawned on me that I might as well have told her to check her Myspace account or Facebook page. Her generation uses neither, and scoffs at both. But email is the work tool of the masses that is still widely used in the business world. Isn't it? Yes, at least until my child's generation arrives in the workplace en masse in the next few years.

"Can't they just text it to me instead?" she asked. "I never check email. I mean, I know you do, Mom..."

I told her that she really needs to check her email this one time, because that message is waiting for a response that may be already running almost a day late. "Okay," she said. "I'll go figure it out. I never check email."

Email Is For Old People
I assumed that I was the only parent having this discussi…

Does your company have an E-scooter use policy yet? It should

You need to run a work-related errand. Instead of driving, you hop on an electric scooter. You sure look cool, but who will be liable if you get into an accident or break local E-scooter laws?

Like a tween bopping around the neighborhood on an E-scooter, local laws are all over the place regarding their use. These motorized scooters are sleek, they're fun, and who in the heck doesn't want one? Depending on where you are, however, local ordinances may ban electric scooters on sidewalks and restrict them to bike lanes. Or vice versa. Or neither. Or both.

Zooming right to the point: Do you know the local laws regarding E-scooter use?

People are getting hurt, as well: a recent Washington Post article revealed a rise in emergency room visits resulting from E-scooter use. These scooters can go fast. That means they can be dangerous if not handled appropriately.

Here in Washington, D.C., E-scooters are everywhere. Employees are commuting to work on them, using them for wo…

Have we been oversold on our expectations of the workplace?

Feel like you're going through the motions at work? You are not alone: a new study finds that even highly-skilled knowledge workers feel largely underwhelmed by their own work load!

A new Conversica poll of 1,000 knowledge workers reveals the drudgery that can be found even in the most sought-after jobs. More than three-fourths (80%) of survey participants admitted that some aspects of their jobs are below their skill level, while verging on two-thirds (62%) said their work involves a "significant amount" of drudgery.

Meanwhile, more than four in ten knowledge workers (42%) report spending 30 minutes of every work hour taking care of "busy work".

Is this surprising? No, but perhaps not for the reasons we expect. As a society, we have managed to build an entire mythology around the culture of white collar work. Television shows, movies and magazine articles constantly send us the message that our careers are supposed to be exhilarating, and never boring. Our jo…

Need your office to look busy? Hire some seat fillers

Between telecommuting and remote work, today's workplaces might sometimes run short on warm bodies at desks. Working in a mostly-empty office isn't a problem, unless a big, potential client wants to stop by later this week for an in-person meeting. Oh, no!

Suddenly, the mostly-empty, 21st-Century office space can seem filled with perceived promotional pitfalls. Will the client think that we look too small to take on a big project? Will they wonder where everyone is? Will we lose the deal because we look like a dinky, fly-by-night operation? You need help looking bigger, and busier, stat.

Or maybe a company just has too much space, and many employees who work remotely. Instead of bringing them back to the office -- which could hurt morale -- the company looks for other ways to fill the space.

Space Fillers For Hire
Innovative staffing firms such as Desk Camping and LiquidSpace are able to match freelancers with employers that have a lot of empty space to fill. Like extras on a f…

Let's talk about talking about the midterm results at work

Have you voted? I know, you're tired of being asked this question. But exercising our right to vote is one of the most important rights we have, if not the most important right.

If you're like everyone else, then you are sneaking peeks at your smartphone as you work today. Many people feel like they've been waiting forever for election day to arrive, and now it's finally here. Politics is on everyone's mind, we're proudly wearing our "I Voted" stickers, and we'll be sweating it out until we know the results tonight (or whenever the runoff is over). This SNL skit is just a little bit too real to me. Today is a huge day.

The Morning After
Today is one thing, but tomorrow will be the day after the midterms. That's when stuff gets real. A few of your coworkers might want to run a verbal victory lap around the office while you're on your fifth cup of caffeine because you stayed up too late watching election night returns, only to watch your ca…

Are you planning to blow off the company holiday party?

Ah, it's November. This means the company holiday party is right around the corner! And just so you know, your manager expects you to show up.

We all know the drill. The date is set, the venue is lined up, and the boss says she "hopes" to see you at the party. No pressure, just show up if you can make it, and bring a potluck item!

Don't fall for it, because a new survey from staffing firm OfficeTeam reveals that your manager might just expect ALL employees to show up, no excuses, with hamburger tater tot casserole in hand, ready to par-tay!

The Unwritten Rule of Office Parties
Just when you were beginning to work on your short list of excuses, OfficeTeam finds that vast majority of 2,800 senior managers surveyed (93%) said their company will be hosting a holiday party or activity in the coming eight weeks. Slightly more than four in ten companies (41%) are planning to spend more on holiday parties this year, too.

But here's the catch: Exactly two-thirds (66%) of…

How to practice winter desk hygiene without wiping out morale

You had to use your coworker's computer for a minute. As soon as you leave, this coworker is bleaching down his or her entire work area like it's a bio-hazard zone. Yikes. How should we react to colleagues who make a Very Big Deal about everybody else's germs?

Hey, they're our germs, so they're okay -- at least to us, right? We live with them all day long. So we cannot understand why our germaphobe coworker frantically wipes down his or her desk every time we go near it. It's like they can't clean it fast enough.

At least we know it's not only us they're singling out with paper towels and copious amounts of 409 spray. Everybody in the office gets the same antibacterial treatment. Even customers.

We can appreciate that this coworker is taking necessary measures to avoid getting sick; we only wish he or she wasn't so obvious about it. There must be a more understated, subtle way to go about de-germing one's work area that do…

I'm just not feeling it: when a coworker lacks empathy

A coworker is back to work after a huge personal setback. Everyone on staff offers sympathy, and support. Well, everyone except for the one coworker who seems to have been behind the door when empathy and compassion were handed out.

You ask the returning coworker how they are doing, but the empathy-challenged coworker has only one question for them: So, when will you be done with the invoice? I need it as soon as possible. Wow.

It's Business, Not Personal
We are facing a crisis of compassion in our country that's emanating from the very top, and it is quite scary. Smart leaders would be wise to ponder how the empathy lacking in our national discourse could be trickling into the workplace, because a clear lack of empathy on the part of one coworker risks undermining the entire team's morale, productivity and job tenure.

Few of us want to work in an environment that lacks heart and soul. We are human beings, and we need to know that empathy and compassion exist -- albeit perh…

Welp! Don't help coworkers unless they ask first

How often do you offer to help a coworker who didn't ask for your help? Often? Sometimes? Never? New research reveals that never offering to help might be the best course of action!

Researchers at Michigan State University surveyed 54 full-time employees between the ages of 21 and 60 and collected data on their various interactions with coworkers. They found that employees' self esteem can suffer when their colleagues offer to help.

But that's not all. Our own morale as the helper can suffer when we feel like our coworker didn't appreciate our assistance. Our coworker didn't even say "thank you", and now we wonder why we still work here. Nobody seems to appreciates us!

The Areas of My Unwanted Expertise
That's right: every time you utter "Do you need some help?", your coworker might be hearing: "You are completely incompetent, aren't you?" Ouch.

It might land like that old Billy Swan song that sounds, well, a little bit tone d…

Ugh-Choo! Flu Season Costs Employers Billions in Lost Productivity

It's October, it's cooling down outside, and that means only one thing. No, not football. Flu shots!

Yes, it's time to get our flu shots because the flu season is upon us. In fact, the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting your flu shot by the end of October.

The 1918 Flu Anniversary
Do you know that this year is the 100-year anniversary of the 1918 flu pandemic that killed 50 million people worldwide? An estimated 675,000 Americans perished in that pandemic.

My parents were born not long after that time, and they would occasionally recount the stories their parents had told them about friends who passed away in the pandemic, and how sick some friends and relatives who survived that flu had been. It was a very scary time.

Yes, thinking about the flu is not a happy way to start the work week, but it's a reminder that the flu can be very dangerous, especially for children, the elderly, and those with certain health conditions such as asthma.…

Survey Reveals How Employees Are Bonding With the Boss

How close are you with your boss at work? From following each other on Snapchat to asking the boss for advice on personal matters, a new survey finds many employees are finding various ways to bond with the boss!

Researchers at Olivet Nazarene University recently surveyed 3,000 employees to find out how they relate to their bosses on a daily basis. How close are today's employee-boss relationships? Let's get a status update on the modern employee-manager relationship, stat!

Call Me!
For starters, 68% of employees have the boss's phone number -- a statistic I find completely unsurprising because we need to contact the boss in an emergency. Frankly, I'm more surprised that 32% of employees said that they do not have the boss's phone number.

But get this: slightly more than one-third of employees (34%) have asked the boss for advice regarding a personal, non-work related issue, while more than one-fourth of bosses (29%) have asked their employees for advice regarding a…

It's World Food Day, So Let's Talk about Hunger at Work

Employers like employees who are hungry for the work. But what if employees are hungry for food because they can't afford to buy enough of it?

Today is World Food Day, which is meant to highlight issues around chronic hunger and food sustainability. World Food Day events are scheduled to take place today in 150 countries.

Roughly one-third of the world's people suffer from some form of malnutrition. Do you know that world hunger has actually increased over the last three years? 820 million people around the world were undernourished last year, and it's getting worse.

Here in the United States, we tend to frame hunger as an educational issue affecting children in school. It's a very valid topic: more than 13 million American children live in "food insecure" homes, according to USDA statistics.

One in six American children simply isn't getting enough to eat at home. Then this child goes off to school, where he or she has a hard time concentrating and has …

One-Third of Employees Think Managers Set Pay Based on Feelings

Here's a Monday kind of question for you: Do you think your manager sets your pay based primarily on skills, or how they feel about you?

Cloud-based compensation software firm Beqom has issued its 2018 Compensation and Culture Report, which, among other things, reveals that one-third of employees think their managers set pay based on how they feel about an employee instead of the employee's performance, skills and experience. Ouch.

Forget having the skills to pay the bills, because modern management is about all the feels! This isn't business, it's personal. So what can managers do about it?

The Way You Make Me Feel
Favoritism at work -- even when it's perceived favoritism -- can have a highly corrosive effect on employee productivity and engagement if they think their pay is based on workplace popularity. Here, watch this video. It has some great tips.

Transparency -- e.g., making everyone's pay or salary level everyone's business -- is another s…