Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Why people avoid videoconferencing

I can never get people to Skype with me.  Boo-hoo.

Michael J. Coren, writing on Quartz, cites a Zogby Analystics poll seeking to understand why people don't like teleconferencing.

They found:

--A majorityof working adults don't like remote work and videoconferencing.

--Plenty go to great lengths to avoid it.

They say the technology does not work that well and also that they are camera-shy.

Nearly half said they were more worried about how they looked than what they were saying in the conference.

 A third spent more time primping than prepping, as Coren put it.

In another random sample of 800 Americans, one in 10 said they had not put on underwear, pants or a bra for a videconference. Thirty percent of younger workers said they wore their jammies.

Still others, though, were more appalled by what people do on the calls rather than how they looked.

Eating and drinking, not paying attention, background noice, heavy breathing, and sitting too close to the camera were no-nos.

Older people were more likely to be self-conscious and feel unattractive. Men liked being on camera more than women.

One thing you can do if this is you--minimize your own image and just talk to the other person,

If you're me, though, you want to at least make sure you don't look dorky first. Or too dorky.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Companies need to actively seek gender equality

I hate to say it, but it's still a man's world--and this includes companies, boardrooms, and everyday life.

Oliver Staley, Government Executive Magazine, June 22, 2016, wrote about a presentation made by Jonathan Segal, a labor attorney, at the Society of Human Resources annual meeting.

Some tips for improving gender equality in your workplace:

Reassess job requirements for senior leadership. If you are not hiring women for senior roles, see if your requirements are unreasonable. Maybe 10 years' experience, not 15, is enough. Include other types of experience in the term "experience."

Expand the applicant pool. Reach out to professional groups such as women engineers. If women left the company to raise kids, ask them if they'd like to return.

Consider your biases. Circulate resumes with names removed, for example. Don't ask people to explain long gaps. (A lot of short gaps can be a red flag.)

Rethink your interview process. All candidates should be asked the same questions. Don't ask women what hours they can work if you don't ask men that.

Make sure all employees have equal access to opportunities within the company. Men may spend more time with senior execs, which gives them more chance of a promotion.

Minimize the gender pay gap. Every job should have a pay range--don't base it on what the person made in their last job. Audit your payroll--see if women are being shortchanged.

Get serious about work/life balance. Give all candidates more control over their schedules. Do not put time in the office above results.

Evaluations should be fair.  Measure substance and results, not style and methods. If you say someone is "too assertive," provide examples.

Quash harassment. One in four women say they are subjected to harassment at work. Managers have an obligation to step in.

While employers are not really allowed to consider gender in hiring, this does not apply to board members. You can broaden your company's gender-awareness by seeking female board members.

There are more women than men graduating from college. This is a huge part of your workforce. This isn't an effort made out of condescension or some weird notion of political correctness. It's good business.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Negotiation tips

Maybe you don't take your business advice from Glamour mag, but I thought these tips on negotiating were pretty good.

Selena Rezvani, author of Pushback: How Smart Women Ask--And Stand Up For--What They Want, says:

Do your research. Rezvani says be the smartest person in the room about what you want. If you are asking for a flexible schedule, for instance, have all the stats and info on that on the tip of your tongue.

Tap your network. Networks create confidence. And it can be a goldmine of info on what has already asked for what you want and what happened.

Keep it personal. When the meeting begins, don't be afraid to chat a little. You will seem more trustworthy.

Watch the body language. Smile, firm handshake--don't look tentative or apologetic.

Be strategic with silence.  At key moments, meaning right after your ask and after the response, maintain 5-7 seconds of silence with relaxed, but engaged eye contact.

Do not rush. You can settle it in one session, but it you are not happy don't get rushed into agreeing. Buy time to consult others and to think it through.

Remember, the other party gains if they can make you give a fast answer.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Vacation trends--outings are changing

According to Michigan State's Broad College of Business, vacations are changing. The old
"put the family in the car" model is fading.

Bonnie Knutson, a professor at Broad, says people are just now feeling the recession is ending.

They want to take off--but differently than in past decades or even generations.

Multi-generational groups. More than ever, vacationing groups include more than one generation. Often grandparents finance trips.  Usually these groups have a "home base" hotel and explore from there.

Bleisure.  This is a mix of business and leisure. Usually younger travelers do this, adding days onto a business trip, capitalizing on the round trip ticket paid for by the company. Sixty percent of travelers say they have done this.

Experiential travel. The trend now is not toward luxury, but what experiences you can pack in. Experiential travel can be educational, cultural, wellness-based, or even charitable. Wellness has jumped 50% in the last year. This is things like yoga, spas, serenity retreats and the like.

Well, I have to say the old "family in the car" deal was far from serene, so people may be on to something here.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Use skills from "therapy" to find a job

She sure looks happy all right.
According to a study done at Ohio State, unemployed people were more likely to find a job if they used skills aimed at fighting depression--such as:

---Identifying negative thoughts and turning them into positives

--Planning enjoyable activities to change their mood.

Depression can accompany job hunting--so this is a two-fer.

They researchers looked at 75 unemployed people from 20 to 67. They took online surveys three months apart.

A third reported symptoms that put them in the moderately to seriously depressed category.

The respondents that used the skills were more likely to show an improvement in their depression--and report that they had received a job offer.

Even though most job seekers feel some discouragement as they look through listings and get rejected, those who persisted and used the cognitive skills to boost mood were most likely to succeed.

Basically it came down to overcoming negative thinking. You have to do this consciously--not just hope it happens.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Millennials can't stand the din

Yuh-oh, could it be that our under-age 35 workers have delicate ears--and that this could sound the end of open space floor plans?

Jessica Leigh Hester, Government Executive Magazine, June 16, 2016, says the giant-sized slides, free meals, skateboard halfpipes, and boozy Fridays are nice perks, but workers really want silence.

Oxford Economics surveyed more than 1,200 executives and non-senior workers in industries such as health, retail, manufacturing, financial, and government. The majority said they worked  in open-plan offices (74%). Half were Millennials.

Uninterrupted work time topped all the employees' wish lists.

More than half complained about noise. Many wore headphones or sought quiet corners to work.

The supervisors, in the other hand, reported (69% anyway) that their spaces were noise reduction conscious.

Obviously construction and transportation are noisy. Thirty million US employees are exposed to hazardous noise levels.

But even below hazardous, noise can be distracting.

Comfort level is 48-52 decibels. Whispering clocks are around 3 dD. Chatting is 60 dB.

Employers might want to nvest in Quiet Zones. Many commuter trains have Quiet Cars.

There is also a giant felt helmet to block out noise and movement. I think that would be distracting in itself.

But a little funny, too.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Color can affect concentration

I know color affects my happiness. I love rich colors. When I had my house painted, I chose a light green, gray trim, and under the wide eaves, a bright blue. I love looking out at my eaves.

Rob Payne of the ScienceNetwork quotes researchers that say color can affect concentration.

Many students like to study in environments with pale colors--but concentration is higher when you are surrounded by reds and yellows.

They had some participants read a passage and answer some questions on it in rooms with six different color schemes.

The yellow and red room won out. Pulse rates even go up in red and yellow rooms.

However, two-thirds of the students did not think red was suitable for studying--associating it with depression, annoyance or even danger.

Still, results are results. Are we looking at more libraries with red walls?