The Executive Shift
Today’s busy manager is likely to feel there aren’t enough minutes in the day, according to a recent survey released by Robert Half International Inc., a staffing service specializing in the accounting, finance and information technology fields. The survey, conducted by an independent research firm, included responses from 150 executives with the nation’s 1,000 largest companies.
Executives were asked,
“On average, how many hours do you work per week?” The mean response was 54 hours.
They were then asked, “How does this compare to five years ago?”
The same hours
“Overtime isn’t uncommon among executives, particularly in today’s business environment where maintaining productivity with fewer resources is the norm,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. Messmer cautioned that managers who continually work extended hours are at risk of burnout, which can impact their performance over the long term. “Executives should regularly evaluate workloads, looking for signs of excessive overtime among employees at all levels,” he advised. “Shifting priorities, reassigning tasks or bringing in temporary workers during peak business cycles can often alleviate some of the burden on full-time staff.”
Sexual Harassment Still Alive and Smirking
A national survey by the Employment Law Alliance (ELA), a network of employment and labor lawyers, revealed that 21 percent of the women and 7 percent of men polled say they’ve been sexually harassed at work. Stephen J. Hirschfeld, CEO of the ELA, said given the amount of litigation and the volume of claims filed with federal and state government agencies, many observers will be surprised that the percentage of those saying they’ve been sexually harassed isn’t much higher.
“The poll results confirm that sexual harassment is still very much a fact of life in the American workplace,” said Hirschfeld. “However, our findings strongly suggest that most employees are confident in their ability to be self-policing when it comes to sexual harassment, clearly want their employers to stay out of their personal lives, and only resort to litigation as an absolute last resort. While we would agree that one case is one case too many, it’s very significant that 82 percent of the 1,000 American adults polled said they’ve not been sexually harassed at work.”
Other key findings in the ELA “America At Work” survey were:
· 20 percent of those polled said they know of a romantic relationship between a supervisor and a subordinate at work.
· 66 percent said romantic relationships at work cause favoritism and poor morale
· 54 percent said employees were likely to face retaliation if they rejected romantic relationships with their supervisors.
· 66 percent of those surveyed believe romantic relationships at work are personal and private and should not be regulated by employers.
Are You a Victim of Digital Depression?
“Digital depression” is an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness due to the inability to keep up with the latest technological innovations, according to Dan Stamp, chairman and founder of Priority Management Systems, a consulting firm specializing in organization and efficiency. These pressures are leading to skyrocketing stress levels and a decrease in productivity.
How can you tell if you are experiencing digital depression? Stamp lists five symptoms:
Insecurity due to “digital Darwinism.” This is an anxious feeling based on the belief that a technological evolutionary process is taking place, and only those who master every program, every upgrade and every gadget will survive.
Stressed by accessibility. This is the need to be constantly available by cellular phone, pager or the latest wireless device, which means being constantly interrupted. The inability to “unplug” contributes to increased stress.
Continuous partial attention. This is an inability to concentrate on a task until completion and is brought on by a 24/7 world with shorter deadlines and a faster pace. Urgent matters take precedent over important matters, and time isn’t taken to reflect on decisions or “sleep on it.”
Victim of “device creep.” Here, there’s a pressure to acquire the newest wireless, all-in-one cell phone-digital assistant-remote control device, to augment an existing collection of gadgets and toys, regardless of whether it enhances productivity.
Cognitive interruptus. There’s a state of permanent interruption today. Whether it’s the phone, pager or e-mail alarm, every interruption deters you from your daily plan, increasing your workload and sense of anxiety.
Fortunately for the tech-stressed, there are several basic cures to digital depression:
1. Schedule time to unplug yourself from your job, to unwind and maintain a healthy balance in your life.
2. Invest in new skills training just as you invest in new hardware and software.
3. Always consider the costs, benefits and return on investment before purchasing new technology. You should be able to specifically define how the technology or device will make you more effective at your job.
4. Identify your priorities every day. Use these as the basis of your daily plan and stick to it.
Don’t Get Burned When Firing an Employee
A recent issue of The Nevada Employment Law Letter included a checklist of tough questions for supervisors to ask themselves before firing someone. If the fired employee sues, the supervisors might have to answer these same questions in court:
Why am I firing this employee?
You should have a clear, compelling reason.
What proof do I have?
Jurors will expect written records that support your reason.
Is my motive purely business?
Are you considering the person’s gender, race, etc. – even a little?
Is there evidence of an improper motive?
Even if your motive is purely business, did you ever say anything that will look like an improper motive?
Did I follow normal procedures?
It looks suspicious if you don’t.
Am I being consistent?
Compare this employee to other employees – in your department and throughout the company – who did something similar.
Does it look suspicious?
Even if you have legitimate reasons, the circumstances might look suspicious. For example, firing a woman a week after she announces she’s pregnant.
Have I checked with HR?
You should always consult your company’s human resources department before firing someone. They can help you reduce the risk of making a big mistake.