Category Archives: 3. News You Can Use

Emojis Cause Workplace Confusion

A whopping 71 percent of Americans add digital images such as emojis or GIFs when using mobile messaging apps. While such use may not cause ☹️ when sent between friends, the practice is causing many a 😰 in HR departments across American businesses. Why? The cutesy icons have now become evidence in certain workplace lawsuits. 😩

The problem lies in emojis’ inherent subjectivity—what’s funny to you may be offensiveto me. Perhaps that is why 39 percent of senior managers surveyed by Robert Half said that using emojis was unprofessional. However, in the same survey, 61 percent stated that using the images in work communication was okay “in certain situations.”

Clearly, a lack of consensus about if and when to use digital images pervades the workplace, and researchers are investigating just how the ubiquitous icons can cause chaos. Some findings show that emoji use affects the sender’s workplace persona by conveying a lack of seriousness. In fact, researchers in Israel found that use of emojis increased the perception of a sender’s incompetence. However, the data also found those reactions tend to be influenced by the level of formality in the communication, once again leaving emoji use problematical.

Even more serious, however, is that emojis have exacerbated sexual harassment issues, says Kelly Hughes, an attorney at the national legal firm Ogletree Deakins. Employees sending messages rife with heart or kissy face emojis open themselves up to harassment charges by creating what could be interpreted as a hostile work environment. This is especially true if the emojis are used to convey inappropriate thoughts. These types of messages end up putting employers at risk because workplace communication can be used as evidence in lawsuits against organizations.

It’s no wonder employers are 😩.

Discussion

  1. Describe an acceptable situation for sending a message with an emoji to your boss.
  2. List some emojis that could be misinterpreted.
  3. Should firms create policies controlling the use of emojis in business communication?

–From Workforce

The Zen of Interviewing

No matter how perfect your résumé is, you won’t land the job without also nailing an interview. Experts offer advice about how to answer some of the most common interview questions you’re likely to encounter.

Tell me about yourself. This interview favorite is open-ended by design to test the interviewee’s ability to communicate well. Career coach Donald Walsh cautions job candidates to avoid the typical answer, I am a hard worker, noting that no organization would want to hire a lazy worker. Nor should you interpret the open-ended question as an invitation to tell your life story or to rehash your résumé. Walsh advises going beyond buzzwords and clichéd answers to instead summarize talents and skills without delving too deeply into your personal life. He suggests using a “listicle” that melds skills related to the job with witty responses: I was the fourth of four children, so I learned early how solve problems.

What are your weaknesses? Experts call this tricky question a landmine. To say you have no weaknesses is ridiculous; to offer up deal-killers (I’m massively disorganized) is also unwise. Still, honesty is the best policy. For example, if you have trouble organizing yourself, talk about the ways you compensate for the issue (adhering to your Google calendar or the like.) However, if you are indeed massively disorganized and a key component of the position requires organizational skills, why are you wasting your time and the interviewer’s? Finally, know that you won’t fool a hiring manager if you take a strength and try to masquerade it as a weakness (I work too hard.)

Where do you see yourself in five years? Job search mavens suggest approaching this question by preparing well thought-out answers while offering up some responses to avoid. Think twice about the wisdom of telling a hiring manager that you want her job. Why would someone hire you to unseat her? In the same vein, no company wants new-hires who just want to learn on the company’s time before starting their own businesses. The best approach, experts suggest, is to use your past experiences to tie into your future with the company: My past jobs have allowed me to progress and grow, and I hope my next role will allow me to do that over the next five years.

Why this company? This one is easy. Discuss the company’s values (which you’ve researched ahead of time!) and how your skill set will add to the organization’s mission. Don’t talk about money, perks, prestige, or the ability to bring your dog to the workplace. Similarly, if you tell a hiring manager you’re unclear about your future want and this job because it caught your eye, you will have killed any chance you had with the firm.

Curveball questions. Sometimes, you’ll get an oddball question such as, Is it better to turn in a project that’s perfect and late, or one that’s good and on time? There’s no wrong answer, says Obed Louissant, the VP of HR for IBM Watson. An organization looking for a team member would need both types of people.

Discussion

  1. Why do experts tell job seekers to not complain about past jobs or managers?
  2. How could you describe your accomplishments without appearing arrogant?
  3. What can inappropriate attire—either too casual or too formal—say about you to a hiring manager?

Businesses Scurry to Address Sexual Harassment

The tsunami of sexual harassment claims since media mogul Harvey Weinstein’s fall from grace has prompted many businesses to examine the ways in which they deal with workplace misconduct.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. And while many organizations provide sexual harassment training and have policies on the books to deal with reported cases, victims of the unwanted advances have been slow to come forward until now. As accusations from across the workplace emerge—including government, entertainment, and industry—organizations are taking action to prevent more harassment from occurring.

Vox Media has hired an outside firm to review its sexual harassment reporting procedures. Uber has added staff to deal with reports of misconduct. House Speaker Paul Ryan has called for House members to provide sexual-harassment training for their staff.

Even companies that so far have not experienced incidents have made moves. Dell, Rockwell, and Facebook are encouraging employees to attend training sessions meant to identify biases that can lead to sexual harassment. Boardroom directors—who typically do not deal with sexual harassment unless an incident requires their input—are taking proactive measures. A former CEO for Reuters, who sits on several boards, says organizations should not wait for “grotesque” examples of sexual harassment before checking their own corporate culture.

However, worries about overkill are emerging. Some men have become intimidated enough to avoid conversations with female co-workers, which could keep these women from learning about important job-related opportunities.

Nevertheless, the systemic culture that has excused egregious behavior seems to be under the microscope, and that’s good news for all involved.

Discussion

  1. Aside from firing sexual harassers, what can organizations do to promote a workplace free of such behavior?
  2. Should coworkers who witness a colleague being harassed proactively report the situation to authorities?
  3. What can be done to eliminate the tacit tolerance of sexual misconduct?
  4. Why do companies fire problematic workers or managers almost instantly after allegations surface instead of waiting to exercise due process under the law which means that an accused is innocent until proven guilty?

From the Wall Street Journal