What is the best way for HR to handle violence in the workplace? How about drug abuse, pornography, theft, lowered productivity and on-the-job injuries? Couple the losses from these activities with the cost of litigation and the solution for many companies is: Surveillance!
A greater amount of employers are turning to the use of video surveillance cameras and other high-tech security measures to keep an eye on employees so they can stave off injuries, bad behavior and other kinds of loss. I’m not a fan of cameras, but if done appropriately, monitoring can increase productivity and reduce misbehavior. But would you trade these benefits for the new set of problems a monitoring system brings to workplace?
If an employer is going to do it, from a legal perspective, unveiling surveillance is the wisest approach. Employers need to let employees know that they will be monitored so their reasonable expectation of privacy is removed. Not knowing often forms the basis for invasion of privacy lawsuits arising under common law.
The law is not yet fully developed on the issue of surveillance in the workplace. Nevertheless, the cases that have been decided propose that the courts will consider the ‘disclosure factor’ in determining whether privacy rights of an employee have been violated, or whether other illegal activity has taken place. By letting employees know that their activity will be monitored, the employer will lessen an employees' expectation for privacy and as a result, reinforce its defense in court.
I’m a big proponent of trust, happiness and fun in the workplace. I believe that trying to eliminate theft or drug abuse needs to happen in the interview process, not by instigating an intense surveillance system with measures that will erode the framework of a positive culture and trust within a company.
Employers need to incorporate HR professionals at the earliest phase of considering and implementing a surveillance system in the workplace. Employers also need to work toward a company wide solution that does not harm morale and is comprehensible to employees. Employers also must be certain that surveillance systems do not infringe upon collective bargaining contracts, or create an atmosphere of shadowing in the middle of a union-organizing campaign.
Finally, given the changing legal setting of this issue, any employer that chooses to keep an eye on its employees through surveillance should also be sure to stay fresh on the law.
Last month, I wrote a post
about my effort to improve communication at work through a "secret group" forum on Facebook. I'm posting again to report how well it's been working. Maybe you should try it at work too!
All our employees at each of our 3 locations have gotten involved and it's been amazing to see all the conversations going on...we're actually getting things done on Facebook...at work!
Where it's really helped the most is with logistics and scheduling. Sales communicates their needs with Procurement and Production, these departments respond with updates, ETAs, questions etc. It's so easy to post your status, what you have questions on, or what you need help with in one place. Our business flow runs so much smoother now that we're all on the same page. Overall, when all employees are scanning our Facebook wall they become more informed and useful throughout the day.
I find it interesting how company's ban social media rather than finding ways like this to harness the free technology
. Really, everyone was sneaking on it throughout the day anyway, so I figured I might as well integrate it and make it productive.
Don't be afraid to Poke the Box, you juts might solve a problem.
I believe that a company's job application should reflect its core values. An applicant may be qualified, but if she doesn't share the same core values as the organization, then it's simply not a good fit. That's why I think a standard application is junk
- unless of course your business is stiff and boring. Sure there is a lot of legal trash you've got to have in there to protect your business and reduce exposure to litigation, but that's what the fine print is for.
Behold, here's my company's spankin' new job application that I've designed (with a little help from Sell!Sell!
) to reflect the core values
of my organization.
If you don't like it, tell me why. I like it because it's fun. One thing I've got to say about management is this:"If you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong."
I recently read this Businessweek article, God's MBAs: Why Mormon Missions Produce Leaders
. So here's my opinion as a former missionary and recent MBA grad:
First off, it would be important to note that there is a disproportionately large number of non-religious people among the educated and wealthy in our society. Serving a Mormon mission does not guarantee success in business or politics, but it can sure help. Nevertheless, it was nice to read such a positive piece about missionaries in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in a major news publication. I'm still rather surprised they would write about such a topic.
The missionary experience is a truly incredible opportunity. From a business angle, you develop keen leadership traits as well as perfect your skills in sales and marketing. You learn how to really care about people and build sincere relationships of trust. You work 16+ hours a day, seven days a week. You study your guts out because you have to know the entire Bible and Book of Mormon as well as other religious scripts and dialogs like the back of your hand. Some lucky missionaries even get to learn Spanish, Russian, Japanese or Mandarin on top of everything else. The best experience of all comes in dealing with and handling objections because you develop the moxie to persist in making that call or knocking on that door after hundreds rejections.
In my opinion, I believe that no matter what religion you subscribe to, when a young man hits the age of 19, he needs to leave home, move far away (a third world country if at all possible), wear a uniform every day, get a short hair cut, give up girls, cars, music, television, movies, concerts, cell phones, facebook and the pursuit of money to live on a very small budget and just serve people - in other words, actually step outside oneself for once and learn some charity. Just imagine what this would do for the world we live in.
This quote by
Guy Kawasaki will put it all into perspective for a bootstrapped entrepreneur who's learning on the fly in the school of hard knocks:
Focus on cash flow. I understand the difference between cash flow and profitability, and I'm not recommending that you strive for a lack of profitability. But cash is what keeps the doors open and pays the bills. Paper profits on an accrual accounting basis is of no more than secondary or tertiary importance for a startup. As my mother used to say, "Sales fixes everything."
Indeed, sales does fix everything. But high revenues also cover-up a great deal of inefficiencies. But who really cares about inefficiencies when sales are up? That is until they are down.
In times of revenue-feast, if you don't pay attention to where your money is going, and you don't hunker down and follow a meticulous budget then when times of revenue-famine occur you won't have any idea how to pull your company out of a death spiral which will bring an organization to insolvency very quickly.
I recall that Jack Johnson
said, "maybe, it pretty much always means no." Isn't that usually the case? Well, maybe...maybe not.
Maybe, people say "maybe" because they're lazy, or maybe they really are unsure, or maybe they don't want to be direct and have you think they're harsh, but rather flaky. Or maybe they're intimidated.
But when you're at work, you don't want to come across as flaky, so you use the word "try." I came across a great quote the other day:The word "try" implies weakness in the face of challenge.
I asked someone to do something today, I even used the the good 'ol "Will you" commitment-pattern approach and looked them straight in the eyes. Their reply was, "I'll try," with a head nod.
Here's a little advice: the key to a better work life is by saying, "Absolutely, I will." That would make someone (like your boss) feel confident in you and your abilities (and deserving of the raise that you so desperately think you deserve for trying
so hard). The thing is, even if you don't get it done for some reason or another, your boss will still believe that you at least honestly
tried because you answered confidently in the affirmative.
I don't believe anyone who says they'll "try." Either you will or you won't, and you already know what you're going to do.
I never had the opportunity to be a traditional student - living the college life with a safety net and credit card from my parents.
I was fortunate enough to juggle full-time school with full-time work. As I look back, I wouldn't have had it any other way, the exhausting experience was well worth it because it pointed me in the right direction and helped me realize what I like and don't like.
College to me was about: work, productivity, advancement, intense study
- real painful learning curves!
But in the end you triumph and grow with confidence to take on your future and make the most of it
However, as a return on investment, is college really worth it? I guess that depends on what you can do with it. I was privileged enough to get scholarships for both my degrees, so the ROI for me was great. But would I pay $90,000 for a bachelor's degree for my son? Then another $120,000+ for a graduate or professional degree?
This Fast Company article
analyzes several reports that suggest college graduates experience a 35-85% increase in income after graduating from college, nevertheless it really just depends on what your field of study is.
Engineers and business majors are at the top of the salary pyramid, while psychology and graduates in education and social work are begging for the table scraps. So given the right major, college is worth it…right?
Seth Godin points out that student debt
in the United States is approaching a trillion dollars (five times
what it was ten years ago).
He poses the question, “Are those in debt buying more education or are they seeking better branding in the form of coveted diplomas?”
The underlying question here is, “Does a $40,000 a year education that comes with an elite degree deliver ten times
the education of a cheaper but no less rigorous self-generated approach assembled from less-famous institutions and free or inexpensive resources?”
If it does not, then what you're paying for are the connections, the doors it will open and the jobs it will snatch up. So then, it’s really a marketing strategy, and if it works then that expensive piece of paper will pay for itself rather quickly.
In my opinion, a marketing strategy could shift the dial, but that does not mean it's always
worth the money.
So, is spending a trillion dollars on degrees the best way for individuals to go about marketing themselves? I wonder what the economy, and society, would be like if people spent this money on building up their work history? What if it was spent on just becoming smarter, more creative, resourceful and self-sufficient?
Would young, creative people with fresh ideas be more willing to take on greater amounts of risk because they owe less money?
Today, there’s definitely a shortfall of intelligent, bootstrapping, and motivated people in our organizations. I don’t believe we need better labeled or more certified people. We just need them to be motivated enough to solve problems and actually care about what they are doing.
My suggestion is this: take a little longer in college, couple it with work experience in your field of study and apply the things you learn in the classroom every single day. Then your job becomes more like a lab rather than just a job. In this scenario, you build a work history, create contacts, and get that ever-important piece of paper that says you're worth more than you really are.
Ever wonder how a couple hundred thousand jobs can be added in a quarter and somehow the unemployment rate still goes up? Well, the reason behind this can be found in the statistic itself.
The national unemployment rate is based on the number of adults who want to work but can't find employment, they are therefore classified as "unemployed." The number of people who don't have jobs and are not looking for work
are not counted in this figure.
So when the economy adds jobs and unemployment rises, it is because the people who are not looking for work notice that jobs are available and begin looking for work, thus adding themselves to the number of people in search of a job.
Think about it, that really means the unemployment rate is a lot higher.
Here are three current explanations as to why the United States is not generating enough jobs:From Salon.com:
"Businesses are reluctant to spend more and create more jobs because there aren’t enough consumers out there able and willing to buy what businesses have to sell."From The New York Times:
"Workers are getting more expensive while equipment is getting cheaper, and the combination is encouraging companies to spend on machines rather than people."From The Atlantic:
"Some economists chalk up the jobless recovery to a demand shortfall and end the discussion there. But there's something else happening. It's the new, relentless pursuit of efficiency."
There you have it, machines are cheap right now and humans are an expensive liability. So if you listen to an economist, you should invest in machines because they're efficient and don't come with all the baggage stupid humans do.
I guess I'm a people person. I'd rather surround myself with cognitive, passionate folks. I think it would do wonders for the economy...that is until machines learn how to repair themselves, then I'm selling out.
Data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that over the past 10 years, 10.2 percent of full-time employed adults and 11 percent of part-time working adults are substance abusers. This number comes to approximately 14 million workers. It’s no surprise that marijuana has been the most popular drug, but recently the use of cocaine and ecstasy have declined, however, the use of prescription painkillers has rapidly increased.
Users are a major strain on company resources and productivity. These people tend to have shorter stints in employment, use more sick days, and show up late more often. Talk about return on assets! Moreover, these losers are more likely to cause accidents on the job and of course health care costs are double that of their drug free colleagues because their ‘chronic’ problems require repeat trips to the Doctor’s office and pharmacy.
Over the past 25 years employers have jumped on the bandwagon of Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) as a service to help these drug users. By the way, the HR department is generally in charge of overseeing it. An employee with substance abuse problems can use their employer’s provided EAP on their own initiative (but this rarely happens) or if a supervisor’s suggests it. At most companies, if employees fail a random drug test, or one ordered after a finding of reasonable suspicion (like an accident), they are often required to contact the EAP as a condition of employment. It is very likely that if the use of the EAP is not required, most people will not take the initiative to use them.
Even with zero-tolerance and screening policies, employers are accepting the safety risks, productivity losses, and surmounting health care costs that substance-abusing employees bring to work. Why? Because using an EAP is easier than actually trying to solve the problem, and there is a shred of hope that it might work…maybe, but not really.
Using EAPs simply show that an employer is ‘trying’ to help, but the employer knows that EAPs are rarely effective. When selecting an EAP, employers need to be aware of how programs utilize statistics in marketing pitches and decisions in selecting an EAP should never be based solely on price. Very few EAPs produce measurements that offer a clear picture of how well they find and handle substance abuse cases. Therefore, employers need to demand such measurements, because these metrics will enable them to monitor performance. If an EAP can’t provide this, then it would be wise to continue searching.
A well-built EAP can be incredibly effective, but the employer must be committed to using it. It’s a simple choice, and if an employer works to make its EAP accountable and commit to constructive confrontation, an employer will be successful purging a drug culture and rejuvenate the organization.
Here's a quick Seinfeld clip from an episode where Jerry is dating a Miss America contestant. Kramer appointed himself her chaperone and while at dinner, he asks the classic Miss America question: "What would you do to make the world a better place?"
She replies, that she would try to end world hunger: “If everyone ate one meal less, there would be enough food to feed the world." Hmmm....
This is an example of the misconception that for others to have more, we must take less. The problem this Miss America contestant doesn't quite get is...the functions of markets are to provide opportunities for the exchange of goods and services, as well as allocating resources to their highest-valued uses.
So when you waste food, it really has no impact on the starving kid in Africa, he'll still be starving if you eat that last piece of chicken or not.