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Archive for October, 2006

iPods at Work

Full disclosure – I don’t personally own an MP3 player (my kids do), but I do use one from time to time. This past week I have come across several articles about the use of them at work, the pro’s & con’s of allowing them and whether companies have policies regulating their use. Here are some of the articles and the interesting points I found in them:

iPod @ Work –
Some problems that occur related to the wearing of iPods/MP3s include the users not being able to hear others when they address them, inaccuracies and mistakes on the job due to being more mentally engaged in the music, and touching a co-worker on the shoulder to get the person’s attention could scare the employee (possibly resulting in spilled coffee all over the keyboard) or be misconstrued as sexual harassment.

Wow, those last couple points seem to be pushing it.

Employee gadgets pose security risk to companies –
iPods, MP3 players and other smart devices can all connect to computers. That’s fine when used at home, but when connected to a work PC, the devices can pose a serious risk including – malicious code that crept onto the device at home could enter the corporate network unseen by the firewall or intrusion detection software. Also, a disgruntled employee could copy confidential information to the device and walk out with it. Classified information on a mobile device could be a business risk even when used by loyal workers, when their gadget is lost or stolen, for example.

With all the news the last few months of laptops and desktops that seem to get stolen and confidential records exposed (i.e. bank info, veteran’s personal information, etc.) how much easier is it to loose or steal a MP3 player.

Companies put the iPod to work –
ACG Texas LP, franchisee of the pancake-house chain IHOP Corp. – started testing Apple Computer Inc.’s digital media player on a few employees to save money on Spanish-language classes. National Semiconductor Corp., spent $2.5 million on video iPods for all of it’s 8,500 employees to use for training and company announcements. Capital One Financial Corp., more than 3,000 employees have received iPods since the company began using them in supplementary training classes.

In terms of sales, I can see a huge benefit in using video iPods for providing product training to your entire sales team without pulling them out of the field for a meeting to provide it. The iPod approach allows them to receive the training during non-selling times throughout the day. If needed, they can review the training too. But I would recommend conducting a little research and installing the needed security applications to limit any unwanted exposure you may create through this tool.

The Importance of Your Boss

Sales & Marketing Management has a quick hitter of a story regarding an Adecco survey about the worker-boss relationship.

I think most people are aware of this:

“The relationship between a worker and his/her manager has very real implications for both employee satisfaction and performance,” says Ray Roe, president of Adecco North America.

But here is a survey result that I found somewhat surprising:

The younger the worker, the less impact the boss has on overall happiness. Among Generation Y workers, 53 percent said their relationship with their boss had no impact on their work-life happiness. However, 62 percent of baby boomers report their bosses have influence over their day-to-day lives.

Now, the thing with surveys is that the wording of the question does influence the response. It is difficult to fully comprehend these results without knowing the questions that were posed.

My off-the-cuff explanation is that Gen Y workers have a better work-life balance than the Baby Boomers. This balance allows them to “escape” the stresses of their work role, including their relationship with their boss. Boomers, on the other hand, have their identity more closely tied to their work role. Therefore, their relationship with their boss is more important to their overall work-life balance.

It has been many years since my Psych courses in college, but I think that explanation is accurate. We explored some of these items in our article Hiring Adjustments for Generations X and Y.

Fortune 500 Blogs

Business blogs seem to be the topic of the day here at The Hire Sense so I putzed around with Google and came across this interesting wiki site that is amassing the active public blogs concerning Fortune 500 companies. Their preliminary findings:

According to our research, 40 (8%) of the Fortune 500 are blogging as of 10/05/06

Some of the blogs are written by employees while others are truly corporate-sponsored blogs.

Hiring Still Positive has a quick hit story stating that hiring continues to increase though it shows signs of leveling off:

The forecast for technical and professional jobs was strongest, at +23, down from +30 a year before;

We have multiple technical positions that we are working on right now. This data seems accurate in our world. We have heard some discussions of manufacturing leveling off, but I’m not sure how severe that plateau will be.

A Newspaper’s View of Blogs

Our local St. Paul Pioneer Press offers up a tantalizing headline with no meat to the story – To blog or not to blog? The alleged purpose of this 3 paragraph story is to discuss whether companies should blog or not (ed.-they should). However, take a look at this closing paragraph:

One should always keep in mind that bloggers aren’t held to the same standards as, say, newspapers, governments or publicly traded companies when it comes to factual accuracy (or good spelling and grammar). But, once one applies that large grain of salt, this batch of blogs can be a tasty buffet.

Right. Anyone who reads the New York Times can see their “factual accuracy” on display. An extensive editorial process will not correct agenda journalism. Blogs and the Internet are direct threats to the ever-declining newspaper circulation. I would recommend taking this newspaper reporter’s commentary with a boulder-sized grain of salt.

In terms of business, blogging is a communication stream that allows prospective customers, vendors and employees to experience the company in a highly personalized manner. I believe the day is coming when people will be surprised when a company does not have a blog.

Can you imagine a company without a website today?

A Latte In Every Cubical

Good news to start your Monday – Starbucks has a stated goal to reach 40,000 stores worldwide. Although I am much more of a Dunn Bros. fan, I am all for more coffee shops.

We may have to consider moving Select Metrix headquarters to this building:

The people who work in Seattle’s tallest building face a tough decision: should they get their caffeinated indulgence at the old Starbucks on the building’s first floor or the new Starbucks, 40 floors up? And, if those lines are too long, is it too far to walk across the street, where a third Starbucks awaits?

Passionately Pink for the Cure

The Executive Restaurant Recruiter directs us to an excellent program called Passionately Pink for the Cure.

From the M&M website:

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and to commemorate, we’ve created a special pack of M&M’S Chocolate Candies. Each time you buy one of the specially marked bags, we’ll make a donation* to The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Help support breast cancer research and outreach programs while satisfying your sweet tooth!

My wife was just 23 when she lost her mother to pancreatic cancer and I am certain many readers have had cancer affect their life in some manner. This is a worthy cause that can make a significant difference in the fight against breast cancer so please purchase M&M’s with the pink ribbon on the packaging. And besides, there is no finer candy than peanut M&M’s.

The Hooky Entitlement

The Pioneer Press posted this AP story – Playing hooky a popular pastime – Absence from work at 7-year high. I guess there are still companies that offer sick days as opposed to PTO.

First, the breakout of sick day excuses:

It found that personal illness accounts for only 35 percent of unscheduled absences, with the rest due to family issues (24 percent), personal needs (18 percent), stress (12 percent) and entitlement mentality (11 percent).

I found the “entitlement” reason quite entertaining. I suspect some employees feel they have earned that time and choose to use it their own way.

The piece of information I find most interesting is the fact that sick days are at a 7 year high. Statistical anamoly or specific cause?

Lacking Basic Skills

The humorous look at cover emails and letters points to a growing problem amongst recent grads and younger employees. From’s article Younger Employees Lack Basic Skills:

Of 431 human resource managers polled, more than 70 percent said recently hired high school students proved to be deficient in academic skills, such as grammar, spelling, and written communications, according to a survey released on Oct. 4 by a coalition of business research and advocacy groups, including the Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.An overwhelming majority cited problems new hires had handling such routine tasks as writing memos, letters, and other reports, the survey found.

Poor writing skills also proved to be problematic for two-year and four-year college graduates, though to a lesser extent, according to the survey’s respondents.

As amusing as it is at times, a dearth of critical business skills is a long-term liability to our candidate pool.

Anecdote – Cover Emails/Letters

You knew we had to do it. These anecdotes come from Killian Advertising and their Cover Letters From Hell page. Absolutely classic content for your reading pleasure.

First, I think their reasons for these poorly written communications are spot on. I believe point 1 is the primary explanation:

A writer uses pseudo-legalese because he lacks confidence in his authentic voice. From undergraduates trying to ace our Creativity Test, to MBAs immersed in BizSpeak, applicants feel they must inflate their prose by imitating Dickens, or combing the thesaurus to select – sigh – precisely the wrong word.

That misguided approach leads to this:

“Who’s better to spew out incite, than a college senior … ?”

“I also have a degree English which serves me well in editing text for poor grammer or typos.”

“May I ask you for spending a little moment in looking at some of my interesting facts?”

“I will be able to input your agency with a wide and nouveau perspective in the creative field.”

“I am a motivated, self-igniting person who greatly entertains the challenges of bettering myself and the performance of work that I do.”

Brutal. Just plain brutal.

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