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June 27, 2011

From the "cute kids offering important life lessons" department

This video clip is one of those must-shares. It's the heartwarming and sweet story of a remarkable group of kids who offer tremendous lessons in teamwork, sportsmanship, and the truly important things in life. That's the kind of team I want to be part of -- winners, every one of them!

l'equip petit from el cangrejo on Vimeo.

June 25, 2011

Cool work, tech & productivity tools

Online database of social media policies has 176 policies from organizations of various types and sizes. It's an invaluable tool if you need to create or update your policies.

9 Web Apps for Gathering Customer Feedback - a list of web-enabled tools for eliciting customer feedback, but many of these could be harnessed to gather employee feedback, too.

Inspiring quotes to move and inspire you - a nicely curated list of quotations

Dropbox - "a free service that lets you bring all your photos, docs, and videos anywhere. This means that any file you save to your Dropbox will automatically save to all your computers, phones and even the Dropbox website. Dropbox also makes it super easy to share with others, whether you're a student or professional, parent or grandparent." You get 2 GB of free storage space to synchronize files.

How to disable Facebook facial recognition - Facial recognition technology examines photos as they're being uploaded and suggest matches to faces in the photos of your Facebook friends. This article offers steps to opt out to ensure that your privacy is protected.

DocuTicker - is a research tool that "collects abstracts from 'grey literature': PDF reports published by government agencies, think tanks, NGOs, research institutes and other public interest groups."

SLR Camera Simulator - Want to be a better photographer? Whether you need to improve your photo-taking skills for your job or just for fum, this online silulator lets you experiment with lighting, ISO, aperture, shutter, and distance settings and see the effects.

DuckDuckGo - a general purpose search engine like Google or Bing - but one that says it offers more privacy (it does not collect your browsing history) and more "goodies", or specialized search tools.

Free Conference Call - supply a name and email and get a dial-in number and access code for immediate phone conferencing for up to 96 people. Teleconferencing is available 24/7 with no need to schedule or make reservations. Many features, including free recording and free downloading.

Creately - a collaborative online tool for creating diagrams, flowcharts, organizational charts and more.

New Google tools including voice searches and the ability to search using images. Cool stuff!

Malwarebytes - protect your computer from a rogue's gallery of viruses, worms, trojans, rootkits, dialers and spyware. This program is a long-time favorite of techies and in-the-know nerds. Download a free version or pay a one-time fee for real time protection.

June 19, 2011

Transgender policies, dog days, talent trends, bad supervisor of the month & more

Transgender policies - Currently, only about 4 in 10 Fortune companies have gender-identity-inclusive policies but that may change soon since the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has recently issued guidelines on transgender workers. David Shadovitz of Human Resource Executive notes that with more than 2 million employees, OPM's actions might spur other organizations to follow its lead. "In addition to clarifying the meaning of terminology such as gender identity and gender transition, the OPM memo outlines how managers, supervisors and co-workers should address issues such as privacy, dress and appearance, restroom access, recordkeeping and insurance benefits."

It's Lightning Safety Awareness Week - June 19 to 25 is Lightning Safety Awareness Week and Consumer Insurance Blog offers some tips and resources that might be good to share with employees through your health, safety & wellness programs. Knowing what to do in electrical storms is particularly important information if you have employees who work all or part of their time outdoors.

Employment issues and trends - Talent Edge 2020: Blueprints for the new normal features results from an October 2010 Deloitte survey that polled 334 global senior business leaders and human resource executives at large organizations about employee trends as we emerge from the global downturn and confront the next decade's challenges. Retention, the race for talent, and leadership development are seen as key issues.

Working like a dog has a new meaning - Friday, June 24 is Take Your Dog to Work Day. This event was created to celebrate the great companions dogs make and to encourage their adoption from humane societies, animal shelters and breed rescue clubs. But if you don't do it for the dogs, how about for your employees? Pets can offer an important health benefit by helping to reduce stress and depression. Here are some ideas for how your workplace can get involved. Visit the Professional Pooch Gallery - you can also enter your submissions to win a potential cash prize.

ADA - Marlene Prost of Human Resource Executive looks at the issue of whether there are limits to ADA leave requests. She reviews a hearing between the EEOC and employers earlier this month and the guidance that the EEOC provided. The EEOC says companies must be flexible in going beyond their attendance policies but some employers still find a lack of clarity in this issue.

A stitch in time - At E.L.I's Blog, Stephen M. Paskoff offers 3 phrases - 12 words to help you avert a major organizational disaster. In looking at corporate crises, he notes that most "are not the result of random, unpredictable acts. Instead, they arise from repetitive practices which are ignored or a few outrageous acts. In either instance, retrospective analysis reveals problems which usually raised complaints but, too frequently, resulted in inaction or harm to complainants rather than steps to address the problems."

Uninvited guests - Bill Pokorny of Wage & Hour Insights has good advice for employers on what to do when the DOL makes an unannounced visit. The long and the short of it is: call your lawyer!

Bad supervisor of the year award - An egregious case of sexual harassment led to a $95 million verdict (explicit language alert) for a Missouri plaintiff. John Hyman of Ohio Employer's Law blog notes that, "...this verdict underscores the importance of prompt and thorough investigations into complaints of harassment by employees. The jury did not subject the employer to this verdict because of the acts of a rogue supervisor, but because the company did not do anything about him when the plaintiff complained."

June 18, 2011

Tips for using Facebook (and other social media) in the hiring process

If you use social media such as Facebook or LinkedIn as a primary source of recruiting, you may be inadvertently putting yourself at risk for discriminatory hiring practices. For one, there is the issue of disparate impact since some minorities may be underrepresented on social networking sites, a matter that may be particularly important for employers with any federal funding. The EEOC is currently reviewing the issue of disparate impact and it is expected that new guidelines may be forthcoming to encompass 21st century practices, such as social media.

Social media poses other potential risks for discrimination in hiring. Viewing a candidate's social networking pages may also expose you to information that you are not allowed to consider in the course of hiring, such as race, religion, age, political beliefs, or health issues.

Security experts CSO Online offer 4 tips for using Facebook legally to conduct background checks - which includes an article and the video, below. Among the many points they and other experts make are to have a policy and to enforce it consistently; be upfront and transparent, and to seek authorization; be aware of the potential legal hazards; to use a third party for screening and research; and recognize that online information may be inaccurate.

June 11, 2011

Coming to grips with post-disaster recovery

In the wake of devastation created by a particularly violent tornado season, communities from Missouri and Alabama to Iowa and Massachusetts and are coping with the aftermath and recovery from destruction. It's well known that people experience various stages of grief when coping with loss. What is less well understood are the stages that a community goes through in coping with and recovering from massive trauma. This two-page PDF discusses the phases of community adjustment after a disaster, offering a useful model for understanding the recovery process. Much like the grief process, the various stages can and do overlap:

Heroic Phase - occurs during and immediately after the event - attention is focused on survival.

Honeymoon Phase - occurring 1 to 6 months after the disaster. A sense of shared experience and purpose; influx of support services and anticipation of assistance.

Disillusionment Phase - from 2 months to 2 or more years. Anger and resentment at public relief agencies; Erosion of sense of shared community.

Reconstruction - several years following a disaster. People assume responsibility for their own problem-solving; gradual reaffirmation of belief in community.

Beyond the community level, there is an issue that is relevant to many of us in our every day work: coping with disasters on the organizational level, which presents another set of challenges. London-based psychotherapist Pauline Rennie Peyton writes about the effects of trauma at the workplace, noting that, "there is often little support for managers in their capacity as managers who, in the aftermath of trauma, are trying to get their workforce back to 'normal.'"

Businesses located in disaster zones are faced with the dual task of repairing and restoring their own functionality while coping with the losses and recovery of their workers. People all cope with trauma and grief differently and there is no pattern or timetable to the grief and recovery process. An organizational drive to expeditious business restoration may be perceived as hard or uncaring by some workers. Peyton says that managers who talk about what they see going on with their team are less likely to be shut out and treated as an uncaring alien. But therein lies the dilemma: many managers aren't trained in dealing with trauma, and may well be experiencing their own personal reactions. Peyton speaks of this:

I can never stress strongly enough that those people with either “Manager” or “Human Resources” as part of their title are not immune from needing outside help. If you yourself are experiencing not feeling “normal” or are aware of a colleague who is experiencing the effects of trauma, please seek help sooner rather than later. People in these responsible roles often take on the problems of their teams without the supervision and training that they need — yet they fail to notice when they themselves need help.

One way to help employees and managers alike is to bring in professional support, resources that are trained and experienced in dealing with crisis management and trauma. Often, this can be an Employee Assistance Program, or other community resources. Pre-planning for organizational emergency response should include identifying such support resources in advance as part of the crisis response team.

June is PTSD Awareness Month. We've compiled some post trauma recovery resources for managers and supervisors:

June 5, 2011

News roundup: social media & engagement; Lady Gaga & Mother Theresa; cancer survivors & more

Employee engagement - At SmartBlogs Andy Sernovitz posts about how Wal-Mart engages with employees using social media. His post includes a 25 minute video presentation by Walmart's Lisa Thurber who talks about how her team is tasked with communicating with the more than 1.2 million employees. Related: 12 questions to measure employee engagement.

Leadership icons: the angel and the monster - The Economist looks at what Lady Gaga and Mother Theresa have in common: "leadership projection" or charisma. Both have the power to build emotional commitment in their followers and both are worth studying for what they can teach us about leadership.

Cancer survivors and the workplace - Kristen Frasch of Human Resources Executive Online posts about the challenges that HR managers are facing with more cancer survivors returning to the workplace. Data from Unum's long-term and short-term disability customers shows that as medical treatments improve, the number of cancer survivors who are returning to the workplace is trending up, forcing a national dialogue on how to craft return-to-work policies in the case of serious, chronic disease. According to the article, "Already, cancer is the second-leading cause of long-term disability and the sixth-leading cause of short-term disability in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society." In addition to flexible leave policies, it requires training managers and coworkers in creating a supportive environment. (Related: Cancer in the Workplace: resources for managers and colleagues. )

The carrot or the stick? - In light of increasingly aggressive actions on the part of employers to discourage smoking - including the refusal to hire smokers - director of risk management for the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners Nancy L. Bolton explores various carrot and stick alternatives and questions how far punitive measures against smokers should go. While acknowledging the health care costs that smoking can add, she also asks "What kind of talent do we forfeit when we fail to retain, or refuse to hire altogether, because we've chosen one personal vice and made it an employment matter?"

Social media policies - Jon Hyman Of Ohio Employer's Law Blog has been regularly covering the issue of social media policies and the National Labor Relations Board: See his posts: are you better off without a social media policy?; NLRB issues another complaint over a Facebook termination and Ho-hum … another NLRB social media complaint?

June wellness focus - June is Men's Health Month. Here are a few resources: Men's Health Facts (PDF) and The Silent Health Crisis (PDF) - one-page information sheets to give you facts for your wellness promotions or to use as handouts; and useful screening checklists (PDF) for both men and women that offer age and frequency screening guidelines for various health issues.

Panic buttons - After a few recent highly publicized sexual assaults on hotel housekeepers, at least one New York hotel has decided to take action to protect workers and to send the message to future guests: we arm our workers with a panic button. Manhattan's Pierre hotel met with union workers after a recent on-premise attack, and agreed to equip all room attendants with panic buttons that operate much like the ones used by the elderly. Other ways to protect workers from sexual harassment and assault: "increased surveillance in hallways and elevators, additional training for supervisors and room attendants, and taking better advantage of electronic-key technology to check up on housekeepers who stay in any room for an unusually long time."

June 3, 2011

3 things Ric Elias learned while his plane crashed

Ric Elias had a front-row seat on Flight 1549, the plane that crash-landed in the Hudson River in New York in January 2009. What went through his mind as the doomed plane went down? At TED, he tells his story publicly for the first time.

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