Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Why So Tongue-Tied at Meetings? Neuroscience Might Have the Answer

Ever had a lot of ideas before walking into a meeting, and then effectively becoming a mute when it was time to contribute?

There might be a physiological basis for clamming up. Neuroscientists have a term, “expression of IQ,” which is an outward display of intelligence. The Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute conducted a study to see whether small group settings had any effect on people’s expressions of IQ.[1] And, boy, did they ever.

The methodology was simple. A standard intelligence test was given to 70 people individually. Then the test takers were put into groups of five, and were given the same questions in a different sequence. This time, however, participants saw how well they did in relation to others in the group, by being given a “ranking score.”

Initially everyone did worse than before. After a while, though, about half of the participants got the hang of it and eventually scored roughly the same as the first time. But the other half never bounced back.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Links You Can Use: July 23-27

This week's Links You Can Use features resources and news about employee health and wellness, preparing for retirement, saving money on taxes, emotional well-being, and how offices are changing their space to improve collaboration and efficiency.

The City of Phoenix rolled out an incentive-based weight loss program for its employees as part of a comprehensive workplace wellness strategy. (Phoenix Business Journal)

A must-read for anyone wondering about retirement savings: retirement policy insider Teresa Ghilarducci doesn't mince words when it comes to the challenges of saving up for the golden years. (New York Times)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Workplace Etiquette: Making Sense About Scents

We’ve talked about how to deal with employees with poor hygiene and unpleasant smells, but what about colleagues who spritz on cologne or perfume in the office?

Many nurses’ organizations view fragrances as a health hazard. As the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter writes,
At present one in five people in the U.S. experience adverse health effects from fragrance exposure. These effects range from mild to serious with fatalities reported in a very small number of cases.
On the Job Accommodation Network, Elisabeth Simpson, MS, discusses obligations of the employer when it comes to workplace fragrances. Guidelines generally depend on the circumstances, including whether the employee with fragrance sensitivity is sufficiently incapacitated to trigger the Americans with Disabilities Act and who’s responsible for the fragrance (e.g., another employee or a machine necessary to the business).

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Why Employers Should Care About Employees Who Are Caregivers (Part 2)

In our previous blog post, we talked about why some workers caring for children with special needs may require more health care and lose time and focus at work. But demanding caregiving needs are not just limited to parents of children with special needs.

An increasing number of employees are now also caring for older adults. In fact, nearly 55 million Americans care for an older adult, and 42% of workers reported caring for an older loved one within the last five years. (1)

Research from the MetLife Mature Market Institute and National Alliance for Caregiving (2) revealed the following:
  • Each year, employers lose up to $33.6 billion in lost productivity as a result of full-time workers having to provide care to older adults.
  • Employers lose an average of $2,110 annually per each full-time employed caregiver.
  • The costs are due to employee replacement, absenteeism, partial absenteeism (coming in late, leaving work early), workday interruptions, eldercare crises, supervisor time (supervisors spending more time at work), unpaid leave*, and workers going from full-time to part-time.
*The Family and Medical Leave Act entitles eligible employees to job-protected, unpaid leave for a certain number of days per year. However, employers still have to pay for temporary employees and reassignments.

General population trends show that the aging Baby Boomer generation will continue to require care from loved ones, including those who work full-time or part-time. And many workers experience a knowledge gap when it comes to managing and paying for care.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Links You Can Use: July 16-20

Happy Friday! Here is your week's Links You Can Use.

Unsure about a grammar rule or the correct use of a phrase? Grammar Girl gives you great writing advice via blog posts and podcasts. (Quick and Dirty Tips)

A study on job benefits reveals that employees may need to be educated more about 401(k)s and other types of employer-sponsored savings benefits. (Employee Benefit News)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Why Employers Should Care About Employees Who Are Caregivers (Part 1)

What could be causing millions of people to be called away from work, decrease their work hours, or force them to leave the workforce altogether? Research shows that it’s caregiving for children with special needs or older adults.

Today, caregiving needs have become more demanding, and the costs to businesses come in the form of higher healthcare claims and lost productivity.

In this special two-part post about caregiving, we’ll talk about employees’ caregiving challenges, costs to employers, and what employers can do about it. Part 1 will focus on the challenges unique to caring for children with special needs.

Caregiving for Children With Special Needs

Almost 14% of all children under age 18 in the United States have a special healthcare need (a chronic or severe health or mental health problem that requires more intensive or specialized care than children normally require), according to a 2008 study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (1)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

One Easy Way to Influence Other People

Why is it that certain people always seem to get what they want? Do they have a natural talent or can anyone do it?

There is, in fact, a science to influencing others. However, the problem is that, as discussed in Influencer (by Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan and Switzler), most of us are better copers than influencers.

They write that we have become entangled in the “Serenity Trap,” courtesy of Alcoholics Anonymous’ serenity prayer (“Accept the things I cannot change”), to the point where we forget that we actually can make a difference.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Links You Can Use: July 9-13

Every week, we’ll pass on bits of wisdom and food for thought* concerning today’s workplace, the economy, productivity, work/life balance, and many more related issues—all from around the web. Bookmark us to get a weekly dose of up-to-date news stories and online tips and advice. Here are some Links You Can Use:

It can be challenging to get started on saving up money for emergencies and long-term goals like retirement. Fortunately, Feed the Pig offers simple, interactive tools that makes personal finances, well, kind of fun. The website features financial calculators, free savings tips, and a talking pig, naturally. (Feed the Pig)

Reduce stress and enhance your emotional well-being with some of these suggestions for improving your work-life balance. (SavvySugar)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

USA.gov: A Rich Resource of Free Information

Do you find government news and policies to be long-winded and confusing? Need to get a passport or check the status of your tax refund? Wondering about how to start your own small business, where to find a local farmer’s market, or what to do in the wake of a natural disaster? Believe it or not, you can find the answers on one website: www.usa.gov.