31 March 2008

No Asshole Rule: I'm So Proud!

In December 2007 I wrote about Bob Sutton's book The No Asshole Rule. The other day I realized that his blog features a link to my review under "Reviews and Comments: The No Asshole Rule".

I don't care if the prof added the link himself or if it was done automatically by some gadget. It's just cool!

You can read my book review here and check out the results of my "ARSE Challenge" here.

I also just did the ARSE Test again (score: 4, "You don’t sound like a certified asshole, unless you are fooling yourself."). I think that - more important than the score itself - it's just good to do the test from time to time and to pay attention to your replies.

29 March 2008

Links: Topless, Cleavage And Prostitution

Links to three articles I enjoyed this week.

Topless Meetings
...as in "no laptops allowed".
“All of our meetings got a lot more productive,” he said.
(Topless Meeting For Team Focus?, 43 Folders)

Cleavage In The Workplace
...as in "cleavage in the workplace" (really).
cleavage IS power - and you must be aware of using your cleavage power responsibly!
Or to adapt from the Spider-Man mantra: With great cleavage comes great responsibility.
(The Power Of Cleavage, Karen Salmansohn in October 2007, through The Employment File)

93-Year-Old Man Flirting With Undercover Cop
Grandpa's trial is planned for April.
"All I was going to do was talk," he said Monday. "It wasn't for sex. I am 93, you know."
(My New Heroes, Marc Andreessen)

Better Know A Strange Labor Law: Portugal

This is the second installment of our new series "Better Know A Strange Labor Law".

(Please also read the disclaimer at the bottom of this post)

Portugal: The Country
Situated in Europe on the Iberian peninsula with a population of almost 11 million. All cab drivers are fluent in sign language and some understand English. Great country if you love meat, almost all dishes are served with fries AND rice. According to a former employee, TAP (the national airline) stands for "Take Another Plane". Great weather!

Portugal: The Strange Labor Law
If your company intends to start doing business in Portugal, here's one important thing to know: There's no termination period for the employer.

This doesn't mean that you can tell your employees to go home and the next day their employment contract will have disappeared. This means that you can't fire anybody. An employee can resign with a 1 month resignation period in the 2 first years of employment and 2 months afterwards.

The employer has the following choices:
  • offer money and beg the employee to leave (also known as "mutual consent")
  • fire the employee for gross misconduct (also known as "for cause" or "good luck proving that")
  • fire the employee, pay up to 6 months salary AND risk to be forced to reinstate the employee (also known as "abusive dismissal" or "back to square one")

Impact On Labor Market
The consequence is that most companies only offer fixed-term contracts (can be extended 2x within 2 years) or hire their workforce through temp agencies.

Unfortunately, this is another example of a labor law that was meant to protect employees but is probably doing more harm than good.

I'm no lawyer. This doesn't constitute in any way, shape, form or size legal advice. I'm just babbling. I got most of my information from fortune cookies. If you really need serious advice, contact a real lawyer. But first make sure he is sober.

Disclaimer re: the Disclaimer:
I have nothing against lawyers. But I thought that it would be fun to say something bad about them since everybody seems to hate lawyers. Especially my friends who went through a divorce.

28 March 2008

The Happy Employee In Your Inbox

The Happy Employee's posts are now also available by email.

A friend of mine mentioned recently that she was - her words, not mine! - too blond to use blogs.

I remembered Frank Roche's recent post on KnowHR welcoming new email subscribers and installed the necessary plug-in, add-on, widget, gadget (whatever it's called nowadays...) on the THE blog.

I also think that the following snippet from a comment to Frank's post is quite interesting:
[..] if you’re not reading blogs as an HR professional, you’re missing the boat.
Of course, I don't want my blond friend to miss the boat!

So if you want to receive the THE's posts by email, enter your email address in the box on the right side, click the little grey button to confirm and check your inbox in about 30 seconds.

Oh, and this is also a great solution for Baby Boomers who think they are too old to use revolutionary technologies like blogs and for Gen Yer's who think that blogs are only for old people ;-)

27 March 2008

Study: Salary Satisfaction Of Swiss Employees

A new study analyzes the salary satisfaction of Swiss employees.

The University of Zurich and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology published their annual "HR Barometer" study on 26 March 2008, focusing this year on the salary satisfaction (press release in German and French).

Salary Satisfaction
According to the study, 49% of all employees are happy with their salary.

The Swiss Federation of Trade Unions reacted at once claiming that more than half of all employees are not satisfied with their remuneration. They just forgot to mention that only 13% specifically said that they were unhappy while 38% answered with the equivalent of "neither nor".

More Important Than Money
  • flexible work
  • responsibility
  • possibility to take decisions
  • opportunity to contribute

Closely Connected To A High Salary Satisfaction

  • performance evaluations
  • personnel development measures
  • feeling that there's a balance between what the employee gives and receives

Additional Results

  • around 1/3 consider changing jobs (5% increase compared to previous year)
  • loyalty to company is decreasing, while employees expect more loyalty from their employer
  • hitting the up escalator becomes less important

Looks like Gen Y is already taking over ;-)

25 March 2008

Email Guerrilla Techniques 2 (Only Apply If Really, Really Desperate)

Does email overload sound familiar? You're looking at your inbox and don't know where to start? Desperate times call for... Guerrilla Techniques!

But first, what qualifies as being really, really desperate?
Here's an example:
You're staring at your computer, can't remember what you were about to do, it's past midnight, you're still at the office, you realize you're completely screwed and you definitely feel like throwing your chair through the (closed) window.

Email Guerrilla Technique #2
If you receive emails saying "please take care" and realize that it's the result of a 15 round email tennis match where half a dozen people used their creativity to hide information here and there, or it's a single message that is just plain cryptic, then it's time for Email Guerrilla Technique #2.
  • don't spend a lot of time trying to figure out what you're supposed to do (and risk wasting your time delivering the wrong thing).
  • Within seconds of reading the message, fire back a reply saying "I'm not sure I understand your request. Please specify how I can help you."
  • Don't wait, do it right away.
  • Use your time for truly urgent and important things while you wait for a reply (or have a coffee with the cute girl from marketing).
  • Celebrate as soon as you realize that a lot of your requests for clarification never get answered (less work for you!)
To be continued.

21 March 2008

RiseSmart Ranking Of Career Blogs

RiseSmart has published their Global Ranking of Top English-language Career Blogs and I'm chagrined to say that they made a mistake.

According to the ranking I'm at no. 36, after
The dead giveaway was when I realized that I was ranked higher than
After reading up on the algorithm used, it's obvious that my Alexa score should be 1 instead of 20 placing me around no. 160.

So as usual, never trust a statistic you didn't fake or mess up yourself ;-)

Quotes: Recruiting And Employee Relations

Here are my two favorite HR quotes of the week.

Rowan Manahan at Fortify Your Oasis:
[..] there is a world of difference between the candidate who sounds good and the candidate who is good and sound ...
Wenchie at HR Wench:
I act with discretion by laughing only after employees have left the room.

I couldn't agree more with both statements!

19 March 2008

Blogging, Connecting Cyberspace With The Real World

Today I realized that blogging can be beneficial while interacting with human beings in the real world.

In between staring at my screen and replying to emails, I interacted with my HR colleagues, had a coffee in the break room (I couldn't avoid talking to a few "customers") and had lunch with a friend.

Looking back, I mentioned the following blog posts more or less directly:
And I mentioned this from Wenchie's newest post to a colleague:
I also didn't kill a hiring manager when he asked my boss (right in front of me) "why is the receptionist conducting interviews?" Office Assistant you a-hole....the title is Office Assistant!

Read HR blogs and you will have something to talk about. Even better: write an HR blog. You will be forced to do a minimum of research and you will have even more to talk about.

Okay, I'm just a geek, I know... but still.

GTK: Hawthorne Effect

Here's another first installment of a new series: GTK - Good To Know.

HR Professionals are familiar with many names and concepts, but sometimes it's difficult to remember what something was exactly about. GTK helps refresh the memory with a few bullet points.

Hawthorne Effect
  • based on experiments at the Hawthorne Works, 1924-1932
  • Elton Mayo was involved in the experiments
  • study about the effects of changes of the work environment on worker's productivity
  • workers changed their behavior because human beings like feeling important
  • give your employees special attention, but remember that the effect is only short-term
Cali & Jody wrote about a post on 37signals and somebody mentioned the Hawthorne Effect in the comments.

17 March 2008

Better Know A Strange Labor Law: Italy

This is the first installment of our new series "Better Know A Strange Labor Law".

The labor laws in your own country may not always make sense to you, but at least you're used to them. If you start working in another country however, you will encounter labor laws which may seem a bit strange.

(Please also read the disclaimer at the bottom of this post)

Italy: The Country
Italy is a country in Southern Europe and looks like a boot. The Italians (back then Romans) were famous for their bloody entertainment long before Hollywood (gladiators and lions). Italians are crazy about football but you mustn't mention the word "soccer". Awesome food, beautiful women, great weather.

: The Crazy Labor Law
"Trattamento Di Fine Rapporto" (TFR) is difficult to translate, but "end-of-service payment" comes quite close.

If an employee leaves your company, you will have to pay the equivalent of roughly one monthly salary per year of service. Some consider this a severance payment, but the money is also due in case of resignation.

If you start a company in Italy, make sure that your local adviser doesn't only explain the costs for base salary, social security and pension, but also ask him about the different mandatory accruals and their consequences.

Since 2007 companies with 50 or more employees must pay the TFR into a pension fund, which is easier to understand.

I ain't no lawyer. This doesn't constitute in any way, shape, form or size legal advice. I got all my information from Google ads and TV commercials. If you really, really need serious advice, contact a lawyer. But first tell him your favorite lawyer joke. If he laughs, find a real lawyer.

15 March 2008

Email Guerrilla Techniques (Only Apply If Really, Really Desperate)

Sometimes your workload can become just too much and you have no clue how to get the situation back under control. Desperate times call for... Guerrilla Techniques!

Just be careful if you really wish to apply them since your boss and co-workers might not be too happy about it.

Does this sound familiar? Your inbox contains more messages than there are stars in the sky. You read most of them, but can't remember if and what you're supposed to do.

Email Guerrilla Technique #1
  • Move all messages from your inbox to a folder called "TooMuch", "IGiveUp" or whatever makes you feel better.
  • Start over with a clean slate
  • Never go to this folder again unless you're looking for a specific message you know must be in there somewhere.
  • Trust me, you won't go to this folder nearly as often as you might think.
More Guerrilla Techniques soon.

13 March 2008

Credit Suisse Employees Without Facebook, Nestle Employees Are Vaccinated

Shocking news: employees at Credit Suisse are cut off from Facebook!

The free daily Swiss newspaper (newsrag...) 20 Minutes reports (in French) that CS has made sure their employees can't access Facebook at work.

I think this is stupid.

If your employees have the freedom to check their personal email, update their Facebook profile, watch a clip on YouTube and read some blogs, then they will be much more willing to stay late at the office to finish an urgent project (or just stay late at the office).

If this sounds like exploitation of the workforce to you, then let me feel the heat of your righteous anger in the comments.

Back to the original article, I also liked the quote from Nestle's PR guy:
Nous engageons des collaborateurs adultes, responsables et vaccinés.
(We hire employees who are grown-up, responsible and vaccinated.)
Never underestimate the value of a healthy workforce ;-)

11 March 2008

Mid-Life Crisis Through The Generations

Some musings and random thoughts about mid-life crisis...

GI's / Veterans:
They're too old, they can't remember that far back.

Baby Boomers:
Panic. "My life is almost over, did I achieve anything?"

Gen X:
Mid-life crisis happens much earlier than for previous generations. "What do I really want? How can I achieve more? Is there a new time management book available on Amazon?"

Gen Y:
They don't care. They think they will live forever.

Disclaimer: if this post offended you, then you're probably not from my generation...

06 March 2008

Quote: Intelligence And Work-Life Balance

This is a quote from Douglas Adams' "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy":
[..] man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much - the wheel, New York, wars and so on - while all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time.

But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man - for precisely the same reasons.
What if the dolphins were right?

04 March 2008

When It's Time To Go

Sometimes it's time to look for a new job. Even if you don't want to face it, your subconscious may be trying to send you a message right now.

How to listen to your subconscious? It's actually very easy. Start writing a "weekly top ten favorite songs"-list. If some or all of the songs below appear on your list more and more often, then it's time to look for a new challenge:
  1. Linkin Park - In The End (it doesn't really matter)
  2. Ozzy - Crazy Train (I'm going off the rails on a crazy train)
  3. Queen - I'm Going Slightly Mad (it finally happened, I'm slightly mad)
  4. Johnny Cash - I Got Stripes (stripes around my shoulders, chains around my feet)
  5. Garbage - Only Happy When It Rains (You’ll get the message by the time I’m through [= resignation letter?])
Don't worry if Green Day's "Holiday" is on your list. A (definitely not) representative survey showed that this is an all-time favorite song with the working population aged 25-45.

And if "I Believe In Miracles" by the Ramones is on your list, at least 2 of the following things apply to you:
  • you're old
  • there's still hope for you
  • you're beyond hope
Finally, if the only song you're listening to is Offspring's "Why Don't You Get A Job", then it's definitely time to do something, although it could either mean finding a new job or getting rid of your darling...