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May 26, 2010

Flex time and work life benefits: very important to Generation Y

There was a day in the not too distant past when flex time and work life programs were viewed primarily as benefits integral to attracting working Moms. Today, such programs are no longer just important for Moms: research shows that flexible work benefits are also vital to attracting and retaining the kids that all those working Moms nurtured, the so-called Generation Y workers. A new study on cross-generational work values points to this and other differences spanning Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y respondents.

Michael O'Brien reports on this study in his Battle of the Generations article in Human Resource Executive. The research is part of the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future project, an ongoing study of the behaviors, attitudes, and values of American secondary school students, college students, and young adults.

In the study, "Generational Difference in Work Values: Leisure and Extrinsic Values Increasing, Social and Intrinsic Values Decreasing," the authors analyzed data from samples of 16,507 U.S. high-school seniors in 1976, 1991 and 2006, representing baby boomers, Generation X and Generation Y. Each generation responded to the same questions at the same age (18), allowing a good comparison of how work values and the view of the workplace have changed over time. Questions covered extrinsic values, such as pay, benefits and status; intrinsic values, such as meaningful work; social values; altruistic values; and leisure values.

Among some of the central findings as reported by O'Brien:

  • The value placed on leisure has increased steadily over the generations, while the centrality of work declined.
  • Extrinsic values, such as the value placed on status or money, peaked with Generation X, but it is still higher among Generation Y than it was among boomers.
  • The value placed on the social aspect of work, as well as intrinsic values (e.g., interesting, results-oriented jobs), decreased over the generations.
  • Generation Yers place high value on work/life benefits such as flexible scheduling.
In New generation brings its values to work, Laura Raines offers her take on the study in the Atlanta Journal Constitutions, quoting professor Stacy M. Campbell, one of the study authors, as saying, "Up until now, the differences seen in the younger generation have been largely anecdotal, but now we have data to support the stories."

Among other generational differences, Raines also highlights the importance of leisure time to Gen Y:

"Perhaps most significantly, the younger generations placed a much higher value on leisure time," Campbell said. "Almost twice as many young people in 2006 rated having a job with more than two weeks of vacation as ‘very important’ than did in 1976." At the same time the youngest generation’s interest in salary and status — did not decrease.

"While Generation X valued money highly, they were willing to work hard for it. Gen Y has the high expectations of getting paid well and having more leisure time. They want [to have] their cake and eat it, too."


May 18, 2010

Cool Tools & useful sites

From time to time, we like to clean out our bookmark file of assorted linkage. Some are useful work tools or tools for general daily living - and others are just things that caught our fancy.

Mashable is your guide to social media and Web 2.0 news. It reviews new sites and services, publishes breaking news and offers social media resources and guides. Whether you're a social media newbie or an old hand, this site is an invaluable tool and guide to Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and more.

DriveSafe.ly - a mobile app that reads text (SMS) messages and emails aloud in real time and automatically responds without drivers touching the mobile phone. DriveSafe.ly is the solution to texting while driving. There is a free version as well as subscription plans for individuals, families, and businesses.

Pirate Pad - an online tool that allows synchronized type so you can collaborate on documents in real time. Just open a new board, type in a name and then click "share this pad" and get a link to share with your team. Easy.

Need to keep track of time? Try Online stopwatch and online time tracker.

The Daily Plate - a free service to track your daily calorie intake and burn rate. Search more than 100,000 food items in the database and see the calorie and nutrition information for that food.

Taxi Fare Finder - Are you visiting a new city for business? Get your Taxi Fare Estimates before you leave. Taxi Fare Finder.com calculates how much your cab fare may cost in your city. Just type in the addresses and go!

Nationmaster - a vast compilation of data to graphically compare nations. Generate maps and graphs on all kinds of statistics with ease on everything from economic data to wall plug voltages.

Stop junk mail and catalogs - An average of 41 pounds of junk mail is sent to every adult citizen each year. Approximately 44% of this mail goes into a landfill unopened. Cover your household for $41, with a guarantee of an 80-95% reduction within a few months.

Naval Safety Center Photo of the Week - if you have responsibility for on-the-job safety, or even if you don't, you will marvel at the risks some people take to get the job done.

Proverbia - Search more than 17,681 famous quotes and proverbs for your next speech or essay.

Pollen Forecast - click on your state to get a 4-day allergy forecast

Field Triage Decision Scheme: The National Trauma Triage Protocol - a printable single-page decision tree for first responders

Employer best Practices for Workers With Caregivers - best practices and advice from the EEOC that go beyond federal nondiscrimination requirements.

Rethinking Drinking - the target audience for this interactive site is the 3 in 10 U.S. adults who drink more than the low-risk limits. The site uses calculators and worksheets to allow users to conduct self-assessments and check their drinking pattern and see how it compares to the norm.

Wallet Garden is a simple tool to help you if your wallet is stolen. Wallet Garden stores phone numbers so you can cancel your cards from anywhere, at any time. It's free, and it doesn’t store any sensitive information.

May 11, 2010

Bike to Work Week May 17-21: Tools to make your workplace bike friendly

bike-month-logo
Next week is Bike to Work Week, and there are so many good reasons to support and encourage your employees to bike to work - really, not just for this one week, but on an ongoing basis. It's a safe, low impact aerobic activity that can bolster your wellness program and yield health benefits for your work force. In a difficult economic time, it can help your employees to save money and possibly earn tax credits. And switching from fuel-powered commuting to human-powered commuting is good for the environment. Oh, and did we mention that it's fun? There are many more reasons for your employees to start biking now.

To help support Bike Month 2010 and Bike to Work Week, we've compiled some employer-focused resources:

The League of American Bicyclists has some excellent resources to get you started. They offer a 16-page step-by-step guide for creating a Bike Month event, including ideas specifically around biking to work. Some of these plans call for starting in February, so you may want to file this publication away for next year, but there are some creative suggestions that can be used now. As part of their "Bicycle Friendly Businesses" program, the League also provides technical assistance for employers. Also see their list of ways that employers can encourage bike-commuting employees.

The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety has a page of terrific practical suggestions and resources for creating a bicycle-friendly workplace. And at GreenBiz.com, Caitlin Dorsey offers Ten Ways to Make Your Business Bike-Friendly. It's worth reading her full suggestions, but we've summarized her pointers here:

1. Install bicycle racks in front of your business.
2. Participate in Bike-to-Work Week.
3. Offer cyclist discounts.
4. Keep a "loaner" lock on hand.
5. Use bicycle couriers.
6. Offer safe cycling training for employees.
7. Guarantee emergency rides home.
8. Make space available inside your workplace for bicycle parking.
9. Shower facilities.
10. Cash or in-kind incentives for bicyclists.

Learn about the The Bicycle Commuter Act and ways that your employees can potentially get tax credits through the Bicycle Commuter Tax Provision

Check out this map of bicycle friendly communities to see if your community is on the list.

Biker education and safety resources you can share with your employees:
How you can ride better
Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
NHTSA Bicycle Safety Tips for Adults (video)

May 4, 2010

Interview question-palooza

Whether you're an HR pro who has interviewed more candidates than the entire population of Liechtenstein or whether you've a newcomer to the field, we think you will find some useful tools at Susan Heathfield's excellent compilation of job interview resources at About.com Guide. Kudos to Susan on her 10 year anniversary - she's been consistently providing quality online information for human resource professionals since 1990, and in this topic, she doesn't disappoint.

Here are a few of the resources we found noteworthy:
Sample Job Interview Questions - pages of them for varying situations. Don't miss reader suggestions.
Illegal interview questions
Candidate telephone screening
Using behavioral interviews to select the best

Unusual Interview Questions
One post that we particularly liked dealt with unusual job interview questions. She cites Microsoft, whose unorthodox interview questions (examples: How many golf balls does it take to fill a 747? Why is a manhole cover round?) have become the stuff of legend.

Microsoft is hardly the only tech company to use offbeat questions as part of the interview process. Tech behemoth Google may have gone them one better with their tough brainteasers. Seattle Interview Coach Lewis Lin has compiled 140 Google interview questions from various sources, including applicants who interviewed both successfully and unsuccessfully. Brainteaser questions are now common enough that they've spawned a cottage industry of tools to help candidates prep.

A case can be made for the oddball question. It lets the interviewer see how the applicant handles a curve ball and it can offer a window into the applicant's creativity and problem solving when faced with something unexpected. It often isn't so much whether an applicant can answer a brainteaser correctly (if there even is a correct answer) as much as how he or she approaches it.

For even more interviewing questions and styles, you get an insider's view of the practices at various companies by reading interview reviews posted by job applicants at GlassDoor.

May 2, 2010

Drinking Moms

Alcohol abuse is one of the most common issues we deal with. Whether people come to us via a supervisor's referral, a family member's referral, or their own volition, there is one unifying thread: alcohol is taking a tremendous toll, not just in the drinker's life, but in the lives of all the people around them: family members, work colleagues, and friends. And nothing is harder than when the drinker in crisis is a parent.

Drinking Moms have a particular stigma in society. Alcohol abuse in men is often shrugged off with a nod and a wink, while with women, it is perceived as unladylike and unfeminine. And when motherhood enters the picture, the stigma is intensified. Women face other unique challenges in overcoming addiction, as well. According to a recent Harvard Mental Health newsletter on Addiction in Women, men are more likely to be substance abusers than women, "But in other respects, women face tougher challenges. They tend to progress more quickly from using an addictive substance to dependence (a phenomenon known as telescoping). They also develop medical or social consequences of addiction faster than men, often find it harder to quit using addictive substances, and are more susceptible to relapse. These gender differences can affect treatment."

Some high profile, celebrity cases are bringing the issue of women and alcoholism to public attention. And this past week, ABC's 20/20 focused on alcoholic Moms. Several video clips from the series can now be viewed online.

Life for stay-at-home mom goes from Pinot in park to Merlot in morning (video)
Mom looks to rehab after hitting bottom (video)
Drunken moms: the fear of quitting (video)
'Cocktail Crusader' falls to earth (video)
Moms face uphill battle to stay sober (video)

Related stories
Mary Karr, alcoholic mother, recalls shame of addiction
Mom kept drinking a secret from loved ones
Children of Alcoholic Mother Open Up
Drinking Mom's Resource Guide

Resources
Alcohol, A Woman's Health Issue - from the NIAAA
Are Women More Vulnerable to Alcohol's Effects? - from NIAAA

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