Category Archives: 1. The Scoop

Dating Coworkers a Sticky Wicket… Commas Count, Court Rules, and Company Pays… Tricks to Stoke Memory

Dating Coworkers a Sticky Wicket 

Office romances have been around for, well, as long as there have been offices. Recent research indicates that around 40 percent of workers have dated a colleague. With the national conversation revolving around workplace harassment, companies and employees are trying to navigate the treacherous waters of what’s okay and what’s not when it comes to dating a coworker.

Some organizations are putting regulations on their books prohibiting relationships between managers and their direct reports. Others are codifying relationships with so-called “love contracts,” which require colleagues in a relationship to sign a statement in which both parties agree to behave professionally at work. At Facebook and Google, employees are allowed to ask a colleague out once. If the request is rejected, no more asking is allowed without HR stepping in.

However, micro-managing human relations can be a no-win situation for organizations—having too many rules surrounding adult relationships makes it difficult to attract and keep employees, say HR managers. Still, having some policies governing these interactions offers workers clarity and employers a way to protect themselves and their staff.

From the Wall Street Journal

Commas Count, Court Rules, and Company Pays

The omission of the much-debated Oxford comma in a Maine labor law resulted in a court ruling costing a local dairy $5 million.

The problematic punctuation—which is the comma placed after the penultimate item in a list of three or more items—was absent in a law governing overtime and caused confusion about how to interpret which activities were exempted from overtime pay.The problem began when the employer claimed its drivers were exempt from overtime pay, citing Maine’s labor law, which stated that overtime rules did not apply to:

The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:

(1) Agricultural produce;

(2) Meat and fish products; and

(3) Perishable foods.

The drivers claimed that the phrase “packing for shipment or distribution” read as a single act, and that since they never did any packing, they argued they should not have been exempt from overtime. The judge reviewing the case agreed and wrote that if the list of exemptions “used a serial comma to mark off the last of the activities that it lists, then the exemption would clearly encompass an activity that the drivers perform.”

Subsequently, the company settled the case–and the Maine legislature added clarifying punctuation to its law.


Tricks to Stoke Memory

A memory champion has advice for those of us who leave our keys in the car (running), forget to return an e-mail, or can’t remember why we’re in a room. Memory champ Nelson Dellis shares his tips.

  1. Make it memorable. Associate the detail to remember with something exciting or special to make it real instead of abstract. For example, if you need to remember to pick up a pizza, imagine sizzling hot cheese burning your mouth.
  2. Create a memory palace. A memory palace is a series of pictures you imagine superimposed onto a place you know well. If you need to remember items on a grocery list, imagine bread covering your office desk and make up a story for why it’s there. When you dredge up the image of the desk and see the bread all over it, the story will be there to help you recall the item on your grocery list.
  3. Fabricate fantasies. Connect tasks you need to do and create a whacky narrative out of them. For example, if you need to remember to call the IT manager and schedule a meeting, make up a story: The CEO stole all the company computers and you need to meet with the IT person to discuss how to handle things. The crazier the story, the more memorable it becomes.
  4. Pay attention. Turn on laser focus when you know you need to remember something. Say you need to remember someone’s name. Tell yourself “This person’s name is X, This person’s name is X.”
  5. Practice daily. Anything you want to excel at requires practice, and memorization is no exception. Avoid relying on lists and instead force your memory to do the work.

From Fast Company


Smartphones Are Making Us Dumb… Unpaid Internships Are Baaack… The Selfie That Won’t Die

Smartphones Are Making Us Dumb

People are so attached to their smartphones that over half surveyed in a Gallup poll say they couldn’t imagine their lives without one and psychologists say that’s not good. Research is showing that the phones ferret their way into our psyches so the brain actually becomes dependent on them, in turn weakening our intellect.

Scientists have known for years that just the sound of a smartphone ringing causes distraction, poor concentration, and even a rise in blood pressure and pulse rate. Worse, the anxiety of being unable to answer a call reduces the owner’s ability to solve problems. Some researchers call this “brain drain,” which negatively affects learning, logical reasoning, abstract thought, and creativity.

Social skills suffer from using the devices, too. Even when talking face to face, smartphone users are itching to check their newsfeeds on their phones, making the actual conversations less meaningful and unfocused.

The phones’ appeal—constant availability of information, portability, and entertainment—is the very aspect that makes them what one cognitive psychologist calls a “supernormal stimulus” that can unduly commandeer attention.

From The Wall Street Journal

Unpaid Internships Are Baaack

After years of progress making internships fairer to young people seeking workplace experience, the US Department of Labor has issued new guidelines making it easier for companies that want to hire interns for no pay. The change reverts to rules that favor employers who can once again hire interns as free labor.

Previous rules required internships to meet six criteria that prohibited employers from taking “immediate advantage from the activities of the intern.” The new rules say an internship does not have to meet any threshold; it merely needs to be justified on its own merits.

The updated guidelines allow an employer to argue that even if an intern is completing low-level tasks with no supervision, that individual benefits from learning about how an industry works, thus making the unpaid internship legal. However, many employers are taking precautions and are paying interns minimum wage to avoid possible legal repercussions.

From Los Angeles Times

The Selfie That Won’t Die

Those temporary selfies, the ones that disappear? Not so temporary, it turns out.

The entire purpose of apps such as Snapchat and Instagram Stories is that they only allow viewers to see an image for a few seconds before it disappears. However, researchers are now saying that once those not-so-professional images are seen, they’re hard to unsee.

Because the so-called disappearing selfies are considered safe, people sending them tend to take more risqué snaps or other photos they wouldn’t send if they knew the picture would be more permanent. The researchers explain that viewers of these images can’t seem to forget them, leaving a lasting impression of the sender’s poor judgment.

The addition of screen-capture software compounds the problem, which becomes most dire when potential employers see the photos. At best, says one researcher: “[Prospective employers] might just think if you look uninhibited, you’re an idiot, and they don’t want to hire an idiot.”

From Harvard Business School



The Business Card Gets Creative… Here’s Why Workers are Unhappy…

The Business Card Gets Creative

Like wearing gloves to a cocktail party, the standard rectangular business card has had its day, at least in some industries. Instead, odd-shaped cards that stand out are breathing new life into the old business convention.


People who want to make a statement with their cards are getting creative. The owner of a business development firm hands out a version of a Rubik’s cube with his name on it. A security-training firm’s card is metal and contains lock-picking tools. From odd sizes such as trapezoids to surprising materials like plastic, these unusual marketing tools have one thing in common: the attempt to make the recipient remember the person handing them out.

Although some are irritated by smaller than usual cards or cards so thick they won’t fit into a wallet, proponents of the oddball leave-behinds claim that most receiving the cards hold onto them, which is, of course, the point.

Cultures outside of the U.S. and some industries such as law and finance show no signs of giving up the traditional rectangle, and experts warn young job seekers to stick to the standard.

From the Wall Street Journal

Here’s Why Workers are Unhappy

Americans are not happy, at least at work, according to a new survey conducted by Mental Health America. The research found that fewer than one-third of U.S. workers say they are happy in their jobs, costing American businesses billions of dollars in productivity.

The results from the survey, which measured attitudes of over 17,000 employees, found that only 25 percent of workers felt they were adequately paid. Seventy percent were actively seeking new employment. Other reasons for worker misery included insufficient recognition, tight deadlines, cranky colleagues, and demanding bosses.

The key factors that influenced happiness were perks and flexible workplaces. Of those employees who reported being happy at work, 52 percent said they had flexible arrangements, and three-fourths noted a relaxed work environment. In a surprising finding, happy employees preferred professional recognition over salary.

The industries with the worst records for having happy employees included manufacturing, retail, and food and beverage. The industries with the best records were healthcare, financial services, and non-profits.


LinkedIn Profiles à la 2018

With 90 percent of employers using LinkedIn to find and vet new employees, it pays to keep your LinkedIn bio updated. Below are some tips geared to catch an employer’s eye.

Must haves

  • Education details
  • Professional-looking photo
  • Creative headline
  • Compelling 40-word summary statement

Must dos

  • Engage with contacts regularly.
  • Personalize messages to unknown new contacts.
  • Hit the right tone by adding personality to your bio.
  • Avoid rehashing your résumé as a narrative.
  • Update often with examples of work.

    From Business Insider