Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pamper your older staffers

Older people tend to show up on time, have a wealth of experience in what works and doesn't in your business, and usually can get along pretty well with others.

Boomers make up a third of the workforce--there are not enough workers coming along to replace them.

But age nips at everyone and sometimes you need to accommodate them a little to keep them onboard.

Ruth W. Crocker, Govt Executive, Oct 28, 2014, writes about a recreational therapist at a skilled nursing facility. She was great with patients--knew what they needed to recover from a brain injury or trauma.

But over the years, her paperwork backed up. She was expected to write up cases by hand--while the doctors would dictate and a transciptionist would take it from there.

Finally she got a medical leave to recover from stress.

That did not have to happen. Some modifications in the environment can keep older workers on the job.

--Maintaining a motionless position is tiring--especially if the person is standing. Make position changes mandatory.

--Sitting for hour after hour can weaken the body--provide information on this and permit walking and stretching.

--If lifting is involved, provide proper equipment.

--Small handles are hard to grip as we grow older--check all handles.

--Improved lighting helps ALL workers. Between 20 and 50, as much as 75% of light does not reach the retina.

--Age-related hearing loss can benefit from sound proofing. Also minimize machine noise.

--Provide incentives to lose weight or stop smoking.

Supervisors should not treat older workers like children. In fact, supervisors can benefit from workshops on aging.

Right on!

That therapist? Eventually the whole joint benefited from a voice-activated dictation system.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Feeling charitable? How not to get ripped off

Around the holidays, people often donate to charity. There are 1.5 million nonprofits--how can you judge which ones rate your hard-earned money?

Laura Fredericks is a charity expert.She once raised a million bucks in 24 hours.

She recommends you check your charity of choice with a reputable watchdog organization.

Charity Navigator ( has been around since 2001 and rates by "stars"--1 being lowest, 4 being highest. It looks at the organization's financial health, accountability, and transparency--and now is looking at effectiveness.

GuideStar ( gathers info on IRS-registered organizations.

Also the Better Business Bureau--BBB Wise Giving Alliance publishes 20,000 reports. Go to resources.

Then go to the charity website and download last three annual reports. Red flags are board and staff turnover. Different names each year--caution.

See where their funds went. Make sure at least 80% went to the mission.

See where the funds came from--you want to see individual gifts or bequests--around 80%.

I give through our local newspaper fund drive at the holidays--the paper matches the gifts.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ask yourself...before starting a job search

Debra Auerbach, CareerBuilder, says you want to take time to reflect on your situation before starting a job search.

Why are you searching? If you just graduated and need money, that could be the reason. If you are unhappy where you are, that could be. But maybe in that case, you just need new responsibilities.

What do you bring that's unique? Really hone on what is unique about you.

Define the corporate culture you like. Some places are buttoned up--suits, quiet... Others are rowdier and people wear jeans and work weekends Do you like to work alone--or in teams.

Define your "nice to haves" and "need to haves." Location, function, salary, perks. If you must leave at 4:30 to pick up kids, you need to "give" someplace else--maybe be on call weekends.

No job has everything, but you don't want to founder around trying to decide--think ahead.

Oh, and Millennials--the emphasis is on what you can do for the employer, not what the employer owes you or can do for you.

Monday, October 27, 2014

When to say no to a job

Yes, times are tough, jobs are scarce, but sometimes it's just not "right." You need to face it.

Robert Half, the employment gurus, say:

No...if it's the beginning of your search and an early offer is blah. Taking it eliminates future opportunities.

No...if you lose enthusiasm as the job interview process wends on.

No...if the job is  not really a fit--every time you go there, do you feel excited, eager? If not, it may not be for you.

No...if it's just a job and not a step on some career path.

No...if it's same old. Too easy..too pat...too much like what you had.

Take these things up with the hiring manager...maybe you are missing something.

Or you may be right--move on.

I did that a few months ago--had a low offer on a screenplay--certain elements didn't thrill me--passed. Now, with no other offers yet, I wonder. But I think I did the right thing.

Hope anyway.

Friday, October 24, 2014

STEM industries still challenging for women

The old "women are bad at math" thing persists. Catalyst has issued a report titled High Potentials in Tech-Intensive Industries: The Gender Divide in Business Roles.

It shines a light on the male-dominated STEM companies.

Women are less likely to enter these and more likely to leave once they do.

Only 18% of women in the study opted for a business role in a STEM companu following their MBA--24% of men did.

Fifty-three percent of women started there, then left. Thirty-one percent of men did the same.

Women were more likely to start in entry-level jobs and be paid less.

Women also faced lack of role models and vague evaluation criteria. They were also less likely to have a female supervisor.

What can companies do about this?

--Start men and women are equal levels and pay.

--Evaluate the culture for hostility. Do events outside the office include women?

--Recruit senior males to sponsor up-and-coming women.

--Make standards clear.

--Provide a flexible work environment.

Come on, people--we can't dismiss half the workforce..that would be really stupid.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

House hunting tips for single people

Sometimes on shows like HGTV's House Hunters or Property Virgins, I see singles looking for a house.

I got my one and only house in my fifties--but I  understand that many young people are better money managers and think ahead.

Forbes Magazine's website had a story Oct 21, 2014, on tips for singles thinking of buying a home.

First, look at homes you can afford. Don't get in the traps that took down so many people earlier in this century. Employment can change. Health can change. Don't over-extend.

Be mindful of your safety. Even male singles are vulnerable in certain neighborhoods. Look for a low crime area--ask about crime. Is it well lit? Are there locks on the windows and doors? How about a security system?

How handy are you? Remember--there will be no nice super to fix things--it's on you. Personally I go nuts trying to keep the grass low enough to be ignored by the little "enforcement" trucks that sneak around trying to raise revenue by fining you for tall grass and weeds. Just the other day, the water heater caught on fire--the firemen drained it and a new one was a cool grand. Bam!

You can pay a yearly maintenance company a flat rate and then it's $45 or so a call for people to fix things--but they often find a way out of it or send pretty sloppy people.

Above all, this may be your home, but think of resale from the jump. Try for as many bedrooms as possible and affordable--you may close one off, but it will increase the resale value.

May I add some advice? I often see people on these shows glance in a bathroom and say, "This will have to go." Getting a room remodeled is a huge deal--getting things to "go" can be a nightmare. See if it's "liveable."

I smile when I hear that--these youngsters will soon see homeowning for what it is--part of life's rich tapestry.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Take 5 minutes to improve your job search

Susan Ricker has some quick suggestions on CareerBuilder.

Replace our "Objective." Instead use a branded headline--Experienced project manager ready to produce results.

Connect with one person in your network you have not talked to in a month.

Check your social profiles and update.

Research your target industries or companies.

Remove dumb voicemail recordings.

Clean up your resume. Remove irrelevant jobs. The past ten years is enough.

Check with references before they are requested.

Keep good records of all letters, calls, email, and so on that you have sent.

Proof, proof backwards, have someone else proof.

Okay, this is more than five minutes--but that was a catchy headline, wasn't it?