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August 28, 2011

Thinking differently: Steven Jobs' address at the 2005 Stanford University commencement

In light of Steve Jobs' resignation earlier this week, here's a highly inspirational and poignant video clip of Jobs speaking at the 2005 Stanford University commencement in an address entitled "How to Live Before You Die." He made the speech about a year after being diagnosed with cancer and after a surgery which gave him a new lease on life. Here's a transcript.

August 26, 2011

Hurricane Resources

All you folks in Irene's path - please stay safe this weekend. Hopefully, things won't be as bad as predicted - but hurricane season lasts until November 1, so we thought some hurricane-related tools might be in order. We'll be posting and adding to the resources here.

National Hurricane Center - Tracking Hurricane Irene

The Weather Channel: Hurricane Central

Safety Daily Advisor: Preparing your workplace for a hurricane

IT World: Hurricane Irene: Checklist for protecting your technology before & during a hurricane

National Association of Insurance Commissioners: Disaster Planning for Small Businesses

FEMA: Are you ready? Hurricane Preparation Guide

Keeping kids calm during bad weather

Keeping kids occupied when the power is out

How Hurricanes Work

August 21, 2011

Bullying resources for parents and teachers

Bullying continues to be a hot issue, both in the news and as one of the top concerns of our employee members. Last year, we posted Resources for working parents: Teen bullying. It's been one of our most popular and sought after resources so we thought we'd add more resources on the topic.

State Cyberstalking, Cyberharassment and Cyberbullying Laws - from the The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

National Bullying Prevention Center - PACER’s (Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights) National Bullying Prevention Center unites, engages, and educates communities nationwide to prevent bullying through creative, relevant, and interactive resources.

Committee for Children - A nonprofit working globally to prevent bullying, violence, and child abuse.

It's My Life: Bullying - bullying resources for kids from PBS.

Cyberbullying Research Center - up-to-date information about the nature, extent, causes, and consequences of cyberbullying among adolescents. Cyberbullying can be defined as "willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices."

Connect for Respect from the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) - bullying resources and tip sheets for parents and educators.

Bullying at School & Online - extensive resources for parents and educators from education.com.

Bullying - resources from the American Psychological Association.

7 Ways You Can Address Bullying at Your School - Encouraging victims and student witnesses to report abuse and providing supervision in hallways and other areas can help to reduce bullying on and off campus.

Bullying and Harassment: Thin Line and Thin Ice - An expert on legal issues in school transportation discusses the distinction between bullying and harassment and offers best practices for dealing with both on the bus.

When your child is being bullied (PDF) - Practical strategies for helping your child cope and working effectively with your child's school from Elizabeth Englander

What Parents Can Do About Childhood Bullying - Marlene Snyder, Ph.D. explains how to determine if your child is a bully or a victim -- and how to take appropriate, effective action.

Understanding Bullying and Its Impact on Kids With Learning Disabilities or AD/HD - Kids with learning or attention problems can be easy prey for bullies. Marlene Snyder, Ph.D. tells you how to recognize the signs that your child is being bullied.

Identifying Students `At-Risk` for Violent Behavior: A Checklist of `Early Warning Signs - A checklist of "early warning signs" will facilitate identification of students who may be in need of intervention. The greater the number of items that are checked, the greater the potential for violent acting-out behavior.

August 19, 2011

HR humor for a Friday afternoon

It's Friday afternoon in August - and we haven't made a silly posting in quite some time. We're overdue! Our first clip is offers some amusement for anyone who has ever tried to teach someone about new technologies. And the second clip - well, it's funny - but ouch - let's hope this isn't the HR reputation with employees!

August 13, 2011

New briefs: Social media litigation & costs; regulatory matters; cool tools

Facebook firings - Employees use social media like Facebook and Twitter to vent about their jobs, and employers often retaliate with termination. But employers need to ensure they are not breaking the law for such firings. "A new analysis by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce of more than a hundred charges recently filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) involving social media and the workplace. Many of the complaints filed with the federal agency were brought by workers who felt they were illegally let go or otherwise disciplined for their Facebook musings. Others alleged that their companies had "overly broad" policies regarding social media that undercut their rights as workers."

See also:
Social media and workers comp - Workers' Comp Insider looks at how social media being used in fraud investigations.

The use of social media at the workplace is on the rise - A recent survey by Robert Half reveals that more than half of those employers surveyed allow some form of social media use at work if it is work-related, up 19% from 2009. But 32% still prohibit social media use at work.

Social media incidents cost the typical company $4 million over past 12 months - according to security specialist Symanatec's 2011 Social Media Protection Flash Poll, leaked data, litigation and other problems related to lax social media policies are costing employers dearly.

Excuse me? - Workplace incivility is a growing problem, according to researchers at the American Psychological Association. "The academics define workplace incivility as "a form of organizational deviance… characterized by low-intensity behaviors that violate respectful workplace norms, appearing vague as to intent to harm." Research reveals that 75% to 80% of people have experienced this type of incivility at work.

Regulatory compliance
The Six Most Common Wage/Hour Violations
The top 10 industries for OSHA complaints
Blanket attendance policies could cost employers millions

Cool tools

  • Everything you ever wanted to know about organizational charts and then some can be found at orgChart.net. Find everything from the history of the organizational chart to data visualization and free chart samples.
  • ProPublica offers a Dialysis Facility Tracker for dialysis patients and others who want to learn about the quality of care at individual dialysis clinics. Among other things, you can learn how often patients treated at a facility have been hospitalized, report certain types of infections or are placed on the transplant list. The information is submitted by facilities and collected by contractors of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency that oversees most dialysis care.
  • Suicide Survivor Resources - resources for people who have lost loved ones to suicide.
  • The Full Wiki has quizzes on more than 44,000 topics. Test your knowledge on arcane topics. Teachers and managers can access printable sheets to share quizzes with students.

August 5, 2011

The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

Alain de Botton, renowned essayist, philosopher and founder of The School of Life, examines the nature and function of work. Most of our waking hours are spent at work, and yet we rarely challenge the basic assumptions that lie behind this time-consuming, life-altering activity. A thoughtful and entertaining talk - don't miss the part about HR Departments (from about 13:15 to about 17:00)

August 4, 2011

Life Tools: A Decision Matrix for the Rest of Us

Are you a confident decision-maker, always sure of your choices and usually pleased with your results? Or do you sometimes second-guess yourself, or feel worried and uncertain about big decisions? Or maybe you are among those who find making key decisions (or even more minor choices) utterly torturous, to the point of deciding-by-not-deciding (often a terrible mistake).

By definition, major life decisions are fraught with hope, desire, fears, expectation, and doubt, and if you are among the not-so-decisive deciders above, perhaps you've wished for some mechanism that would allow you to apply more objectivity and logic to the process.

The good news is that you are in luck! Exactly such a tool exists, and for free: the Decision Matrix [PDF]. An information design specialist has created an easily accessible explanation of the matrix and one real-life example of how to use it, plus printable forms. It's the same type of decision matrix that big businesses, corporations, and financial institutions use to make critical decisions every day - you can use it on or off the job.

And the bad news? The bad news is that your decision matrix is only as good as the criteria (key characteristics) you apply and the research you put in to weigh them... but hey, we never said the big choices can be rendered dead easy -- only that you can bring more clarity and objective light to the process.

Remember, this is only a tool. Even if your matrix gives you an answer you hate, it may have done it's job by helping to clarify what you really want or need (or what you don't!) as opposed to what you think you should do, or just feeling confused and uncertain about whole thing. If you get an answer that just feels wrong instead of enlightening, you can toss it out and forget it, or you can start again with a better idea of the weight and importance of certain key aspects of the decision, or by excluding options you now realize are unacceptable.You use the tool, the tool doesn't use you!

Oh, and returning once again to the groups we mentioned in the first paragraph -- the confident and successful decision-maker as opposed to the rest of us who are more likely to fret and dither? It is very likely that the bold, self-assured, decisive individual has a sort of "internal matrix" that helps him or her to evaluate choices naturally, and the process of applying the physical matrix and related techniques to our own decisions can help us to develop and exercise our own critical thinking and decision-making skills, even in instances where we don't have the opportunity to physically chart them out.

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