Friday, June 29, 2012

Having It All? What Is “All” Anyway?

Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article in the Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” has set off dozens of debates. (For example, see here and here and here and here.) Slaughter, who is the former director of policy planning at the State Department, makes many interesting points.

But what is all? Does it have to be complete and total success in every aspect of life? Is perfection the only possible goal? Do many of us compare ourselves to some nonexistent “Goddess of Having It All”? Do we see ourselves as solo performers with way too many things to juggle?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bias Against Older Workers Decreases Engagement—In Younger Workers!

While most employers are aware of the legal ramifications of ageism, are they aware of the other ramifications? What are the other ramifications?

Jacquelyn B. James, PhD, Sharon McKechnie, PhD, and Elyssa Besen surveyed over 4,000 retail employees aged 18 to 94 about whether older workers are as likely to be promoted as younger workers; whether older workers are able to adapt to new technology; and so on.

They categorized any bias they found as (1) perceived by interviewees as fair; or (2) perceived by interviewees as unfair. In a discussion of their research on the website Aging&Work: AGEnda, they explained,
Our hypothesis did not prepare us for the finding that the perception of [unfair] discrimination was actually more strongly related to lower employee engagement among younger workers than older workers.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Planning for Difficult Conversations: No Reason to Go It Alone

Having difficult conversations can be anxiety producing, so it can be helpful to plan in advance—and even more helpful to have the guidance of an objective, knowledgeable person. A great place to get this guidance is from your Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

As an EAP, we offer solutions for many complex management and HR issues, including communicating with employees regarding work performance standards.

Here’s an example. Of course, due to confidentiality concerns, we can’t provide an actual case study, but this represents a not-unusual phone call.

Sam, an HR manager, called the EAP because he had to provide difficult feedback to an employee, Jessica, on her work performance. When working on more than one project at a time, Jessica became stressed and snapped at co-workers and even Sam.

Sam wanted assistance in preparing for the performance discussion. The EAP counselor, Julie, helped Sam to structure the upcoming discussion into three parts:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Voluntary Benefits: The Next Big Thing?

The always-interesting MetLife Study of Employee Benefits Trends just hit its tenth anniversary and includes a “Then and Now” section discussing what a difference a decade makes—and doesn’t make.

One of the most interesting findings is this:
Ten years ago employees expected benefits, but were far less engaged in their true value. Today, new economic realities are driving employees to more fully appreciate the coverages that their employers provide – even if they have to pay more of the costs themselves. [Emphasis mine.]
In addition: Younger workers entered the workforce at a time when employers were starting to shift both cost and risk to employees. Perhaps because of this experience, younger generations do not appear to have the same sense of entitlement for employer-paid benefits as older workers. As a result, almost two-thirds (62%) of younger workers are willing to bear more of the cost of their benefits rather than lose them.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Guidelines for Basic Digital Etiquette

While no one necessarily expects you to leave your phone at home or at your desk in this increasingly connected world, it’s not unreasonable that your colleagues expect that it will be set to silent and you won’t spend the entire meeting updating your Facebook status, texting, and tweeting.

It’s true that technology has drastically changed the rules for the workplace, but that doesn’t mean there are no rules—expectations about common courtesy still exist.

Guidelines for Basic Etiquette

Respect screen privacy. When approaching someone’s cubicle, stand to the side until they acknowledge you. Or come back if they seem busy. Avoid standing behind them—or hovering while they finish phone calls.