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Author: Sabrina Son

One Bad Apple Is All It Takes To Destroy a Friendly Work Environment

 

It’s al old saying — not to mention a Jackson 5 song — and it’s true: It only takes one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch. There’s a recent study from Sweden of just how disruptive workplace “incivility” can be.

While the business world has become increasingly sensitive to the damaging effects of bullying, It turns out just-plain-rudeness is also surprisingly toxic. Small meannesses such as leaving someone out of an email thread, the occasional dirty look, or ignoring a coworker affect not just the direct recipient, but also anyone observing the nastiness.

The study identified five problems incivility causes. Amy Morin, writing for Forbes, summarizes them.

Decreased Job Satisfaction — If there’s a person no one likes to meet with, or if the seating geography of a break room is determined by people avoiding sitting near someone, those times of day bring a negative feeling into an otherwise satisfying work experience.

Higher Turnover Rates — One nasty coworker can result in higher turnover rates because he or she can create an unpleasant environment that no one is happy to stay in, regardless of salary, benefits, and perks.

Sleep Problems — Employees with rude coworkers are more likely to suffer sleep deprivation, most likely from the background stress levels difficult person produces. Obviously, being tired makes this stress harder to deal with and can affect work quality.

Poor Mental Health — Other studies have found bullying and harassment produce negative psychological effects, and this study found a similar impact with incivility.

Rude Behavior is Contagious — When behavioral norms are influenced by nasty behavior, particularly when it goes uncorrected, an entire environment can be ruined. The study found people observing rudeness are more likely to view it as acceptable and begin practicing it themselves. The study even found they were more likely to provoke trouble with their coworkers.

Rude employees are often left with their behavior uncorrected because they tend to be the kind of person who “brings a gun to a knife fight,” and everyone would rather give them a wide berth. Still, this destructive behavior needs to be corrected, no matter how unpleasant it may be to confront the person.

Sabrina Son

Sabrina is the editor in chief for TINYpulse news. She's dipped her toes into various works of writing — from retail copywriter to magazine editor. Her work's been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg BNA, and Tech.co.

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Asking People to Kick In at the Office Can Lead to Bad Feelings

 

The office can be seen as a great place to pool small bits of money from a bunch of people. It’s not uncommon to be asked to chip in for parties, charities, the purchase of Girl Scout cookies from someone’s child, or going-away or birthday gifts for other staff members. If it’s something you care about, it’s great to be asked. If not, being put on the spot can be painfully uncomfortable, as Diane Stafford of the Kansas City Star writes.

It’s about peer pressure. While they’re typically well-intentioned, collection efforts can make someone feel trapped for fear of not seeming rude or aloof. And there are good reasons a person might be reluctant to kick in. Perhaps money is tight. Maybe the person doesn’t socialize at work. Or maybe a collection is being made on behalf of someone the person doesn’t know, or a cause that he/she doesn’t care about.

When people choose not to contribute, co-workers who do and who want to foster a close-knit workplace can become downright baffled, wondering what’s wrong with the holdouts. Everyone can wind up feeling badly.

Being asked for money can be especially awkward for contract workers, whose attachment to the company is tenuous since it’s likely to be temporary. “Sorry, I have no clue who this person is,” one contract worker told Stafford about being asked to sign a card and donate towards a gift. “I’ve been here a few days. I may be gone tomorrow.”

When parents regularly bring in goods their children have been asked to sell — Girl Scout cookies, fruit boxes, plastic bags, and so on — it’s even worse because co-workers can feel like they’re essentially being asked, “Don’t you like my child?” when asked to buy something.

Stafford suggests the only way to avoid introducing this kind of stress into an office is for the people soliciting contributions to be more sensitive about not engendering bad feelings by thinking more carefully about who they ask for money. They may also seek anonymous ways of contributing — such as posting an order sheet on a bulletin board, or displaying the merchandise for sale in a common space — that allow those who want to contribute do so without pressuring those who don’t.

Sabrina Son

Sabrina is the editor in chief for TINYpulse news. She's dipped her toes into various works of writing — from retail copywriter to magazine editor. Her work's been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg BNA, and Tech.co.

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How to Avoid Frauds — And Being Hacked — on LinkedIn

Many of us are receiving more LinkedIn connection requests these days from people who seem to be strangers. When you receive a request like this, it’s hard to be sure how to respond. After all, it might be someone to whom you’re indirectly connected, and you don’t want to be rude. On the other hand, it may be part of some kind of fraudulent scheme, or worse, a hacker attempting some “human engineering” on you.

So what could a stranger be after, anyway? According to Ondrej Krehel of CSO, it’s likely to be phishing of some sort. Hackers use phishing to collect bits of seemingly innocent information that can be combined and built upon. One group of reportedly Iranian hackers posed as corporate headhunters on LinkedIn in order to acquire emails from within their targets’ companies. A hacker can glean information from business emails — such as job titles and a company’s organizational structure — that gives him leverage to phish higher and higher up the food chain. Some hackers make it to the top, posing as management capable of order subordinates to transfer funds to an account controlled by the hacker.

And of course, there’s the potential for planting malware on targets’ computers. The Carbanak cyber gang is believed to have made off with $1 billion from more than 100 financial institutions world-wide. Krehel says that fraudulent LinkedIn requests have some traits in common to keep an eye out for:

  • Hackers often use stock images of attractive women as profile pictures. Unfortunately, they may also use pictures of actual professionals to appear more credible.
  • Hackers may misrepresent themselves as recruiters for firms that may or may not actually exist, or list themselves as “self-employed.”
  • Hackers have lately been copying real profiles, which is especially tricky since an external search will lead you down the same rabbit hole.
  • A hacker’s fake profile will be littered with an abundance keywords to ensure the profile pops up in as many searches as possible.

So who can you trust among the LinkedIn requests that pop out of nowhere? See if LinkedIn shows you as being indirectly connected to the person already. You can also try a Google search to learn more about the person, bearing in mind that it won’t protect you if someone stole and identity outright. You can also try directly calling the company they claim to work for. Before you click the Accept button, whatever you do, think twice.

Sabrina Son

Sabrina is the editor in chief for TINYpulse news. She's dipped her toes into various works of writing — from retail copywriter to magazine editor. Her work's been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg BNA, and Tech.co.

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Showing Off Your Company to Prospective Hires With Video

More and more people are searching for job online, with data from Pew Research revealing that 79% of job-seeking Americans have researched companies to work for online, and 34% saying the internet was their single more important avenue for learning about a company. It only makes sense, therefore, that companies are thinking more carefully about how they present themselves online to talent. And video is getting into the picture more and more.

Last fall, Twitter released their Periscope phone/tablet app that broadcasts your videos for 24 hours before they disappear into the ether. Facebook has started offering similar functionality in Facebook Live. There’s also Meerkat. All offer an interesting approach for companies looking to present their company culture to prospective applicants. You could also use other more traditional outlets like youtube and vimeo if you’re more comfortable with them.

Susan Vitale, chief marketing officer at iCIMS Inc. spoke to talent management, saying, “In essence, it’s a way to grab great attention for potential candidates for a brand without a ton of overcrowding or noise from other recruiting organizations or commercials and spam, if you will. You can produce a really authentic message, which is tremendously helpful for job seekers and for candidates.”

Vitale suggests five types of videos a company can broadcast.

  • Video interviews with employees who can share how great it is to work at your company.
  • Videos of the office space, particularly the entranceway and reception, to help applicants feel more comfortable when they arrive for an on-site interview.
  • Videos of the office environment that show what it’s like in your office. Include decorations, amenities, pets, whatever you think presents the space most accurately.
  • Videos of office events can reveal a lot about your company culture.
  • Talk directly to job seekers on a video, explaining to them what the interview and, hopefully, hiring process will be like once they apply.

Vitale also encourages companies to take their cameras outside the office when there’s an opportunity to show something that presents the company in a positive light.

It’s also a good idea to promote the video before broadcast and after on the social platforms your company uses. (You can save and replay a video so it lasts longer than the basic 24 hours.) You’ll also need a strategy for constructively responding to comments on Periscope, Facebook Live, or any other video platform you choose. You will get them. It is the internet, after all.

Sabrina Son

Sabrina is the editor in chief for TINYpulse news. She's dipped her toes into various works of writing — from retail copywriter to magazine editor. Her work's been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg BNA, and Tech.co.

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Treating Employees Like Grownup Humans Is The First Rule of Engagement

Lucy Adams writing for Personnel Today wonders if we make successful employee engagement more complicated than it needs to be. After speaking to her share of CEOs, HRDs, and communication directors, she’s identified three simple principles she believes are all a company needs for engaging employees.

Treat Employees Like Adults

Many companies act as if they think employees are children who need to be protected, controlled, and amused.

Adams cites things like Casual Fridays and restroom reminders to wash your hands as indicators of a paternalistic attitude towards employees. We might add micromanagement, mandatory self-appraisals, and other such infantilizing measures.

Rule-laden employment contracts and mandatory trainings can also have the effect of alienating the vast majority of good employees while failing to protect the company from bad ones anyway.

Think of Employees as Customers

For many companies, an annual engagement survey is the extent of the effort made to keep track of employees’ feelings. It may take departments months to agree on the survey questions that are likely to garner a mere 60% participation rate.

Companies invest in understanding their customers, collecting and analyzing data that describes their actions and preferences. They should consider leveraging their data-parsing systems to understand employees the same way.

And just as different customers require different enticements, so do employees. The one-size-fits-all approach of the annual review/bonus structure doesn’t recognize the human differences between people, and can’t be expected to successfully motivate all employees.

Engage Employees As Human Beings

In world of “VUCA” — volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity — the value of connecting on a human level can hardly be overstated. Inspiring leaders consider it part of their job to make themselves available to employees who need to vent, share ideas, or just connect.

Such efforts can fail, though, when leaders talk to employees like made-up characters whose corporate-speak checks all the boxes while failing to make a human connection. Adams says you don’t need to “dialogue” with employees, or “interact.” Just talk. Use the same words you’d use with your friends and family as a sign of respect, a recognition of common humanity.

Sabrina Son

Sabrina is the editor in chief for TINYpulse news. She's dipped her toes into various works of writing — from retail copywriter to magazine editor. Her work's been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg BNA, and Tech.co.

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Intelligent Robots May Be a Stupid Idea. For One Thing, They Want Our Jobs

Last Sunday, during a speech at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C., scientist Moshe Vardi did his best to sound an alarm about what he sees as the inevitable destructive encroaching upon human jobs by robots endowed with artificial intelligence. Verdi is a professor of computational engineering at Rice University.

What alarms Vardi is the assumption that the advancement of technology is always to the benefit of mankind. To the standard pro-technology stance that robots will free humans from the drudgery of work, Vardi responds, “I do not find this a promising future as I do not find the prospect of leisure-only life appealing. I believe that work is essential to human well-being.”

Vardi’s not alone in his concerns, with prominent scientists such as Stephen Hawking having written, “Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it; the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all.”

With robots expected to be capable of doing anything a human can within 30 years, Verdi expects human unemployment to top 50% by 2045. While he doesn’t expect technology to be stoppable at this point — “The genie is out of the bottle,” he says — he feels we have no more than 25 years to avoid serious problems. “What we need to do is to start now thinking very hard and investing in research into how society can cope with the advance of automation.”

Tesla founder Elon Musk recently announced his participation in the Open AI project, which is based on the counter-intuitive idea: Making AI technology available to everyone as it advances will safeguard  human priorities by not allowing it to become the exclusive domain of big corporations.

Or our robot overlords.

Sabrina Son

Sabrina is the editor in chief for TINYpulse news. She's dipped her toes into various works of writing — from retail copywriter to magazine editor. Her work's been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg BNA, and Tech.co.

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Yahoo Begins Layoffs Amid Confusion

After years of declining profits and multiple CEOs unable to turn the company around, Silicon Valley giant Yahoo began laying of 15% of its workforce this week. The process seems to be especially chaotic, according to Kara Swisher, writing for re/code. At the heart of the story is what appears to be a serious breakdown between CEO Marissa Mayer and Yahoo’s board of directors.

Yahoo is looking to reduce its workforce by 1,500 people, and the cuts are concentrated in the company’s media and sales departments. Yahoo’s search team is being spared since apparently Mayer sees it as a remaining area of opportunity for Yahoo.

After reportedly maintaining her own “invest/maintain/kill” list to help pinpoint who would stay and who would go, Mayer is finalizing the layoffs in consultation with McKinsey & Co., Goldman Sachs, and Qatalyst Partners. These firms are also helping Mayer think through a range of challenges, including how to separate Yahoo from its stake in China’s Alibaba Group.

11 years ago, Yahoo co-founder made a $1 billion bet on Chinese businessman Jack Ma, who went on to build the now massive Alibaba Group. Yahoo sold half its stake in Alibaba four years ago over Yang’s objections, shares that would now be worth about $32 billion dollars. Fortunately, Yahoo held on to a similar number of shares, and it’s the value of those shares that’s allowed the once-powerful internet giant to survive. Yahoo’s now planning to keep its stake in Alibaba and sell off its internet core.

During an earnings call last week, the board reportedly stated their interest in selling off the internet business at the same time Mayer was saying she still hoped to fix it. People have also accused the CEO of making a sale more difficult by ignoring phone calls from serious potential buyers.

Whatever is going between Mayer and her board, the investment community is perplexed, and at least 15% of Yahoo’s workforce has no choice but to move on.

Sabrina Son

Sabrina is the editor in chief for TINYpulse news. She's dipped her toes into various works of writing — from retail copywriter to magazine editor. Her work's been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg BNA, and Tech.co.

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Something About Boomerang Employees Is in the Air

“Boomerang employees” are people who’ve left a company to work somewhere else and have now returned. The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated and WorkplaceTrends.com have recently completed a study of boomerangs and have discovered, among other things, that 40% of workers would consider returning to a former employer. And 15% already have. Why not? Maybe they left for some upward mobility that they’ve now achieved.

The study surveyed over 1,800 HR professionals, and among the top findings are these:

  • While nearly half of the HR people surveyed said their companies previously had policies discouraging returners, 76% said they have a more favorable view of the idea now.
  • Boomerangs now pose a serious threat to other job applicants. 85% of HR people say they’ve received applications from ex-employees, and 40% say they hired about half of them.
  • A boomerang’s familiarity with a company’s culture obviously make training and integration easier than it would be with someone new. (Some HR people do have concerns that boomerangs may return with a stigma for having left, or with old company baggage.)

It’s hard to know what one’s professional future holds. Here are U.S. News Money’s suggestions for some things you can do to boomerang successfully.

  1. Leave on good, friendly terms: When you leave, don’t quit via text and give the company a full two-weeks’ notice. It’s also a good idea to send thank-you notes to your boss and coworkers.
  2. Make sure your performance reviews shine: When you return, it’s likely your reviews will get a fresh look as the company considers bringing you back. At least make sure you’ve corrected any inaccuracies in recent reviews.
  3. Stay in touch with friends at the company after you leave: Do what you can to remain part of the company’s “family.” Pay attention to things going on there via your friends’ social media updates.
  4. Leverage your knowledge of the company’s mission when they ask why you want a new job: You already know what the company’s story is. Bonus points for letting them know you’ve stayed in the loop on current company events (which you can do via continuing friendships with coworkers).

Sabrina Son

Sabrina is the editor in chief for TINYpulse news. She's dipped her toes into various works of writing — from retail copywriter to magazine editor. Her work's been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg BNA, and Tech.co.

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The Way Every Sci-Fi Movie War Starts. Thanks, Luxembourg.

You wouldn’t think a tiny country like Luxembourg would want to provoke the wrath of aliens by announcing plans for space mining, the reason behind so many intergalactic conflicts (see Star Wars, Total Recall, Alien, Avatar, Dune, etc.). But that’s just what they’ve done. Last week they announced the first European government initiative to begin mining minerals from asteroids.

The idea is to relieve the pressure on Earth’s resources by getting them from space instead. Luxembourg is also betting their new business will encourage the exploration of space.

Etienne Schneider, Luxembourg’s economy minister, told The Christian Science Monitor that, “Our aim is to open access to a wealth of previously unexplored mineral resources on lifeless rocks hurling through space, without damaging natural habitats.” At least not our own natural habitats.

Not everyone is pleased about Luxembourg’s announcement, and have noted it violates what’s viewed as one of the United Nations’ most significant accomplishments, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. Vladimir Kopal, ex- Legal Subcommittee chairman of the UN’s Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space says the treaty needs to be respected since it’s already possibly prevented the complete destruction of humanity thanks to its moderating effect on space-based weaponry. Luxembourg believes their plan doesn’t violate the treaty.

The whole thing’s not as out-there as it may seem, since Luxembourg is home to SES, one of the world’s biggest communication-satellite operators. In addition, Luxembourg may have been reading the writing on the wall, since the U.S. passed the SPACE Act of 2015 that awards mineral right to whoever brings the minerals back down to earth.

There’s little question that space-business competition is taking off. Hopefully nobody out there will notice.

Sabrina Son

Sabrina is the editor in chief for TINYpulse news. She's dipped her toes into various works of writing — from retail copywriter to magazine editor. Her work's been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg BNA, and Tech.co.

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Employees Who Feel Appreciated Stay Longer

British performance-improvement agency P&MM has just released a report confirming the value of employee recognition programs. P&MM studied companies that have formal employee recognition programs. They collected and analyzed feedback from 12,331 full-time, part-time, and freelance employees with a range of responsibilities.

What they found was that employees who had never been formally thanked for their work by management or peers tended not to stay in their companies very long, leaving anywhere from an average of 4.7 years to 9.8 years. On the other hand, workers who had been formally recognized for their contribution stay far longer, with an average range of 8.16 years to 14 years, an increase of 3.7 years. In fact, say the study’s authors, “This sort of analysis provides a valuable insight for managers as it means that recognition program data can be used to highlight those staff who are a flight risk.”

High turnover is an expense few companies welcome. P&MM says that as much as a third of employees are likely to change companies in 2016, and that it can cost employers up to £30,614 (about $44,374 US) each time it happens.

P&MM’s analysis doesn’t suggest that just an occasional plaque or reward is a necessarily a panacea. However, P&MM’s John Sylvester says, “The data clearly indicates a propensity for individuals who are recognized to be more engaged at work, to go above and beyond and to have better relationships with managers and colleagues.’’

It makes sense. The emotional connection employees feel toward their companies is acknowledged to be a driver of high performance. And who would feel good about working hard and not being appreciated?

Sabrina Son

Sabrina is the editor in chief for TINYpulse news. She's dipped her toes into various works of writing — from retail copywriter to magazine editor. Her work's been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg BNA, and Tech.co.

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