I enjoy talking about policies and whether or not policies are necessary. Recently someone asked me what I thought about a policy on working through lunch. The phrasing led me to believe that their employees were working from their desks while eating (and by working I mean surfing the web).

So, with that in mind, did I recommend a “no eating at your desk rule?”

No.

I encouraged my friend to look at the situation in the context of job performance. If employees are completing work and abiding by the rules, leave them be. On the other hand, if it is affecting performance by causing them to not finish their work on time, have more mistakes, etc., then approach the situation from that legitimate standpoint.

A follow up comment by my friend was that the policy would be “too hard to manage” if done piecemeal, so it should be a flat ban across the board if it went into effect. My response was that people choosing to eat at their desks or not isn’t something that really requires management (or attention) unless it impacts their level of performance.

This isn’t 1910. We don’t have to stand over people every minute of the day to “crack the whip” and make them work. If you do, then you have larger problems on your hands.

Focus more on what is accomplished and less on the how.

What are your thoughts?

You are my favorite!Favoritism. Bias. Preferential treatment. Nepotism in the workplace. How do you stop it from becoming an issue? Today we have a special post with someone needing assistance. Let’s pitch in and help.

Sometime last year I posted a rant from someone who was being stepped on at work. That person received help anonymously through the comments and today I have another post from another frustrated, anonymous HR pro. Let’s hear what they have to say and then give some tips and pointers in the comments. If you’re looking for more info, here’s a post on how to communicate with difficult people at work.

So here’s my deal. I’m an HR rep at a well-respected organization. We’ve been quite successful and I would say we are in the top 5 or 10% in the state for our industry. Continue reading

28 Hour DayToday we\’re kicking off the 168 Hours Series (cleverly named because there are 168 total hours in a week). After seeing others struggle with their own time and focus, I thought it would be helpful to put a few posts together with some tips and strategies for managing time. And if the term “managing time” bothers you, then replace it with something more palatable. It\’s a misnomer, really, because unless you\’re Hiro Nakamura, you are most certainly not the master of time and space. But you can still do some pretty amazing things with some focused effort.

Everyone has 168 hours in a week. Make yours count.

168 hours per weekThat\’s not to say that you have to be doing something every one of those 168 hours. It just means that you should be purposeful with your time. You have a finite amount and an infinite number of activities to choose from. Be purposeful with how you spend your time, and I guarantee you\’ll have more satisfaction than if you wander aimlessly, hoping you\’ll be able to accomplish your goals in some general time frame.

Of all of your resources, time is the one that you just can\’t get more of.

What will be covered?

  • Golden Hours, Batching Tasks, and Cutting Distractions
  • The (dreaded but effective) Time Log
  • Goals, Time, Focus, and Snowballs
  • And more…

More topics may be added as time goes on, but those are a few that I definitely want to include. Interested? Make sure you subscribe for free updates. And if you know someone who could use a little bit of help on the time management side of things, please pass them the link to this post. You just might not want to tell them why you’re letting them know. :-)

It’s October. That means Halloween is just around the corner. And I’ve got a Halloween business strategy that employers will be dying to get their hands on. Okay, I’ll let you in on my secret. Zombies. What if your HR reps could reanimate dead flesh and bring those zombies into the workplace? The potential benefits more than outweigh the occasional brain-eating frenzy. Here are 10 reasons to hire zombies in your workplace…

  1. Use them to cull the bad employees from the herd. That should discourage the ‘ole quit-and-stay mentality.
  2. While they\’re not great at complex tasks, you can use them as motivators for the people who do those types of work. Bob in accounting wouldn\’t screw up the numbers with a zombie hanging over his shoulder!
  3. Since they don\’t get diseases or sickness, you won\’t have to waste any more time with FMLA.
  4. The benefits package would be cheap. They don\’t even need vacation pay!
  5. Zombies don\’t get tired, and they never waste time on Twitter (although Zombiebook is growing in popularity from what I hear).
  6. Everyone loves zombies. They\’re so cuddly. There have been dozens of movies dedicated to their antics.
  7. There is a drastically simplified recruiting/hiring process associated with zombies, and it\’s actually just a single question. Are you a zombie? [grunt] Great! You\’re hired.
  8. In case #7 worries you, don\’t freak out too much. Zombies aren\’t a protected EEOC class. I checked.
  9. You can train them to recognize and attack union organizers, IRS agents, or OSHA inspectors.
  10. With all of the recent employee engagement talk, you really don\’t have to worry. Zombies stay 100% engaged until a shotgun blast pulverizes their skull.

But, as always, I’m not covering something. What are we missing? Is there another great reason to hire zombies that I’m not covering? Drop it in the comments below! And if you enjoyed this list, then you might want to check out the Batman list as well!

Update: I posted a sequel list (more reasons to hire zombies). Check it out!

training log I keep a running log. I\’m not great about it, but I can still give you a fairly approximate average of my monthly mileage, and I can even remember some of the more memorable workouts (like the one on New Year\’s Eve in 2006 when I ran 7 miles in twenty degree weather while my family prepared for a party). Anyway, that running log helps me in multiple ways, and I think you should have one, too. Even if you\’re not a runner, it helps to chart your progress and make note of milestones. What if you used a log at work to keep up with your accomplishments?

Victories

Did you finish a big project at work recently? Write it down and try to capture some of the specifics (dollars saved, process time cut, etc.). You might also want to put that on your resume. Next time you need it for a job search, it will be updated and full of your latest accomplishments. On a more short-term basis, it’s a great way to put together your performance review comments to make sure your work is being recognized.

Trends

Seeing an ongoing issue in your weekly work life? Make a note of that recurring event. You might not have an answer now, but looking back in a few days/weeks/months might help you see the problem from a different angle and provide some valuable insight.

Beware

Some runners can predict injuries/illness before it ever happens. A heavy workout regimen can take its toll in the long run, and work is the same way. If you\’re consistently handling tough tasks and seeing signs of too much stress, then you might want to cut back a bit. Sometimes the best way to make progress is to pull back, reset, and leap back in with renewed energy.

Keeping track of your progress for the long-term should reveal a steady upward trend. There will be ups, downs, and lateral moves, but the overall goal should be to increase your performance level. And five years down the road when you look back and see how far you have come in terms of knowledge, skills, and abilities, you will be pleasantly surprised by the results.

I bet you have a process at your company to reprimand employees. You probably cover everything from verbal and written reprimands all the way to suspensions. I\’m quite certain that every organization has a way to notify employees when they are performing poorly.

With that said, does your organization have a way to commend employees for a job well done? Aside from a short and sweet “attaboy” or “attagirl,” do you have a way to show your appreciation in a written format?

I\’ve seen hundreds (thousands?) of reprimands. I\’ve seen a single commendation. That leads me to two possibilities. One, there really aren\’t any other staff members who deserve being commended for performing well (not likely). Or two, there aren\’t any supervisors willing to commend someone for doing well (quite likely).

Or maybe it\’s more benign, and the supervisors really don\’t know the power of a short note letting someone know that he/she knocked it out of the park.

Whatever the cause, it\’s a problem that needs to be addressed. I\’m willing to bet that many of you work in companies that are similar. Check out your ratio. I don\’t think you should be praising your employees daily for every little action, but when someone really takes up the slack and goes above and beyond, then it really wouldn\’t hurt to show some appreciation.

Photo by Sidelong