« October 2006 | Main | December 2006 »

November 30, 2006

Are You Shedding or Packing on the Holiday Pounds?

It’s been a week since Thanksgiving.  Have you been pigging out on leftovers?

Of course, once you’re done doing that, you’ll have to prepare for the impending onslaught of holiday parties with office coworkers, family and friends. And holiday parties mean plenty of food and drink.

So here’s my question: If you’re going to eat and drink so merrily during the next month, will you also be checking the scale in your bathroom? And here’s my advice: You probably should be.

As a recent BusinessWeek story notes, two-thirds of all Americans are overweight. And those extra pounds can be costly -- both to you and your company.

Obese men and women, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, are at higher risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and adult-onset diabetes. They have higher annual medical bills and also miss an average of two days more of work each year than their thinner counterparts.

This is undoubtedly the reason that businesses like Microsoft are offering -- and in many cases, funding -- clinical weight-loss programs for their employees. Here at Monster, for example, we can join a Weight Watchers program.

Does your company have options to help you slim down? If it does, take advantage of them!

Posted by Bryan on November 30, 2006 at 01:15 PM in The Daily Grind | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 29, 2006

Coworker Gifts: What and How Much?

In October, a Monster member asked how he could get out of a request by his “sycophant” coworker to contribute $20 – $30 to buy the boss an easy chair as a birthday gift. His question unleashed a tirade on the boards, both against the sycophant and the boss himself.

In this holiday season, I wonder what is appropriate when it comes to coworker gift giving. An easy chair for the boss -- for birthday or otherwise -- clearly isn’t. (Though, if you’re dead set on giving me a gift, I wouldn’t mind a massage chair.) A small, collective gift when a coworker has a new baby? I say yes. (No more babies coming from this body, which brings me back to that massage chair. I like this particularly nice model, available at Brookstone.) A card and cake on a birthday? Yes, again. (FYI: I love cream cheese frosting.) Holiday cards? Hmmm…

When I worked for myself, I sent cards to professional contacts -- relatively innocuous cards without the picture of the hair-combed kids (we try to comb their hair at least once a year). But now that I’m working at a 3,000-plus-member organization, I wouldn’t know where to start and where to end. I’m relatively new here, unversed in the office holiday playbook. How many cubicle-lengths do I reach? Do I extend my reach up a few levels at the risk of being perceived as a…hold back those tirades…sycophant? Do I send cards not to those for whom I can pop over the cubicle partition and sing an off-key rendition of “Frosty the Snowman” but to the more distant writers and coworkers whom I wouldn’t recognize if they spilled their egg nog on me at the office holiday party? Do I send the Monster holiday card, the internal promotion for which I’ve realized is a full-blown holiday marketing initiative in itself? (Maybe I at least should send a card to the project manager of that.) Should I contact a professional gift manager? (They exist, I’m told.) Should I just say “happy holidays” in this blog and leave it at that?

Happy holidays Michael, Ryck, Christine, Ann, Norma, Bryan, Mark, Jim, Christina, Christie, Catherine, etc., and all you way-higher-ups (Diana, any interest in an easy chair?). Hmmmmm. What I need is to sit down and give this some serious thought. (Did I say sit in a massage chair and give this serious thought? No, please, really, don’t.)

For more helpful information on office gift giving, check out Norma’s blog.

Posted by Elizabeth on November 29, 2006 at 12:02 PM in The Daily Grind | Permalink | Comments (28) | TrackBack (0)

November 28, 2006

Michael "Kramer" Richards and Anger at Work

Michael Richards has finally moved down from the top spot on the Yahoo Buzz Index a week after his slip of the lip outraged millions. Last century, this kind of workplace rage was called "going postal," and the rest of us heard about it only if it resulted in serious bodily harm. But in the Web 2.0 world, a video clip shot by an audience member can be viewed globally on YouTube [over 18 -- login required] mere minutes after the incident.

Some of the heat seems to have cooled around this event -- perhaps with lasting results, though many question Richards's awkward apologies. But anyone who doesn't work alone in the middle of a wheat field has probably had occasion to witness -- or participate in -- a display of anger in the workplace. That is, after all, what happened to the man who made a name for himself as Kramer on "Seinfeld" -- he was doing his job as a comedian when he lost his temper.

We all know the workplace can be stressful, and probably many of us have responded less than gracefully to the pressure. In my past jobs, I worked with screamers, snarling, sulky bosses and a coworker who slammed doors and drawers daily. I too am guilty of raising my voice and pounding the desk at times.

Back when work was physical, loud, noisy and outdoors, a little shouting might have been OK. But in today's open offices, the slightest growl can be heard by your colleagues all around you -- just like Richards's comedy club audience. So here's a tip: It's no longer cool to lose your cool.

If you feel the anger inside you rising like a rocket, get out of there. Take a walk, look for some space, find some privacy before you cut loose. As Richards's real-life experience shows us, losing your temper at work can have a lasting impact.

Posted by Ryck on November 28, 2006 at 02:27 PM in Current Events | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

November 27, 2006

Get Your Mouse Ready, It’s Cyber Monday

Maybe you hit the malls early Friday morning (or late Thursday night), and maybe you didn’t. Chances are you haven’t finished all your holiday shopping. And now that you’re back at work, what better way to enjoy the holiday season and procrastinate a little than to shop from the comfort of your cubicle?

According to Ellen Davis, senior director of the National Retail Federation's Shop.org, “about 61 million consumers are expected to shop from work this holiday season, up about 10 million from a year ago,” says a Chicago Tribune article.

This is one of the reasons why the National Retail Federation has dubbed today, the Monday after Thanksgiving, Cyber Monday -- the official kickoff to the online shopping season.

Many e-tailers (Amazon.com not among them) are offering special promotions, often including free shipping. You can see several sites and their sales at CyberMonday.com. And if you purchase from the links on CyberMonday.com, a percentage of the proceeds will go to the Ray M. Greenly Scholarship Fund, which helps fund the education of students pursuing careers in e-commerce.

So as long as you’re doing good, your boss won’t mind if you do a little shopping from work, right? Who knows? He might be surfing the online stores right along with you.

Posted by Norma on November 27, 2006 at 10:46 AM in Current Events | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

November 22, 2006

What We’re Thankful For

Being that tomorrow is Thanksgiving and this is a work blog, I thought I’d give thanks to those people whose work currently sustains me on a daily basis. See if you can identify why. They are:

I canvassed colleagues to find out what they were thankful for. Here’s what they said:

  • Ann: After more than three years of freelancing -- during which I had to pay for my own very comprehensive, but alas, very expensive health insurance -- I'm thankful that I finally have group health insurance again! I'm also thankful for the insight and inspiration we draw from our Monster user community -- you remind us each and every day who we're really working for.
  • Bryan: This year I'm especially thankful for the birth of my son. He's closing in on six weeks now and is healthy as can be! On a related note, I'm also thankful that my employer allows me to work from home on occasion, so that I can manage the art of typing up a blog post one minute and changing a diaper the next.
  • Christine: Last year at Thanksgiving, I wrote about my husband's struggles with being diagnosed with a chronic illness and how grateful I was for his improved health, as well as the support of my coworkers in the face of a crisis. I'm pleased to report he is doing extremely well, so I am grateful for that a second year in a row. I'm also thankful that my relationships with my coworkers have continued to deepen and grow, making this a fun place to work. After all, at the end of the day, it's the people who keep you on the job. So happy Thanksgiving to them -- and of course, to you.
  • Mark: Thankful for the privilege of working with such smart, dedicated, team-oriented people.
  • Norma: My family and friends: Especially my husband, who just does so much, and my son, who is darn cute. Mulberry Child Care: This is where my son goes all day while I'm at work. It's right nearby so I can visit, and he adores all his teachers. My flexible-spending account: So I can afford to send my son to child care. Sleep: It's great when you can get it -- especially as a first-time parent.
  • Ryck: I have lots of personal stuff to be thankful for, but I'm also thankful for two work-specific items: I'm thankful to our offshore development team, who will be working through Thanksgiving to add wonderful new features to our site, and I'm thankful for the chance to meet and talk with so many 50+ job seekers at the AARP's member event several weeks ago -- they taught me a lot!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by Elizabeth on November 22, 2006 at 10:49 AM in The Daily Grind | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

November 21, 2006

Working on Thanksgiving

I've had several jobs that required working over a holiday (movie usher and newspaper reporter, to name two), so I'm always cognizant of those who aren't sitting around the table at home on the holiday. If you stop to think about it, there are lots of people out there working, such as:

  • Public Servants: Police, firemen, ambulance drivers, 911 dispatchers, plus all those transit workers.
  • Utility Workers: Those who work on power plants, gas pipelines, water and sewer systems, not to mention emergency plumbers on call for those holiday drain catastrophes (been there, unclogged that).
  • Travel Workers: Everyone from airline pilots and baggage handlers to turnpike toll takers and, our current favorites, the TSA screeners.
  • Hospitality Workers: Hotel staff and, of course, restaurant chefs, waitstaff and helpers, for whom this is one of the big money days of the year.
  • Healthcare and Pharmacy Workers: They help us recover from Aunt Minnie's pie -- or worse -- and the caretakers for friends, like Fido, who must stay where they are.
  • Soldiers and sailors, spacemen and submariners.
  • Reporters and entertainers, sports figures and all the supporting cast members (count me among them).
  • Even retail workers and the USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline staffers are working on Thanksgiving Day.

While my thanks are not exactly in the same vein as the American Management Association's paean to the Puritan work ethic or Tom Peters' "Tribute to Brand Yous," I'm happy to offer my modest thank you to everyone whose work this and every holiday keeps us safe, on-the-go, well-fed and entertained.

Happy Thanksgiving -- and enjoy your alternate day of celebration -- whenever.

Posted by Ryck on November 21, 2006 at 02:39 PM in Salary , The Daily Grind | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

November 20, 2006

Who’s Your Office Turkey?

With Thanksgiving coming, the only turkey you might be thinking about is the one you’ll be eating Thursday. Oh, but there are other turkeys in your life.

Now I know it’s a short week, and you’re likely distracted by thoughts of travel, family, etc. And if you’re not, you’re probably looking for some distraction. So stop for a moment, and take a look around the office. There’s a turkey lurking somewhere…

The office turkey could be the person who tries so hard and has many admirable qualities but always manages to fall short. He could be the one you might be thankful to know but also thankful to not have working on your project. Or the office turkey could be the person who somehow jams the printer every time he sends a job. In short, your turkey is a recipe for office mishaps and disaster.

Who is your office turkey?

Posted by Norma on November 20, 2006 at 11:38 AM in The Daily Grind | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

November 17, 2006

How Much Bad Behavior Is Enough?

Bobby Knight is back on the front page again. Not for his basketball coaching efforts at Texas Tech or for being one of the winningest coaches in NCAA history, but for slapping a player on live TV while dressing him down. Check out the video here.

If you watch the video, the slap may not seem like a huge deal. But when you factor in Knight’s long history of violence and foulmouthed tirades (here are ESPN’s top 10 Knight moments), you can understand the media hoopla and calls for Knight to be fired a bit more.

Knight’s behavior is antisocial, to be sure. But his ability to get results is astounding. Knight, who coached Indiana University’s legendary Hoosiers for almost 30 years, ranks third in victories on the all-time coaches list and is one of only two coaches to play on and coach national championship teams, according to his coaching bio at Texas Tech. Knight also won a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics for his coaching of the men’s basketball team, which included sports legends Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing.

But Knight’s behavior caught up with him in 2000, after Indiana U’s president announced he’d developed a zero-tolerance policy regarding Knight. An incident where Knight allegedly grabbed a student’s arm tipped the scales, and he was finally fired.

So how much bad behavior cancels out good job performance? Voters on the  ESPN Page 2 poll overwhelmingly believe a losing season is the only thing that will get Knight fired again. (Note: The other responses are actual things Knight has done.) It’s sickening to think about, but slapping people around seems to be OK as long as you get results.

So what do you think should happen to Knight? Have you ever worked with a seemingly untouchable Bobby Knight of your own?

And if you ever have to deal with a toxic boss, check out these resources:

Posted by Christine on November 17, 2006 at 10:31 AM in Current Events | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)

November 16, 2006

Your Pet Project: On ‘Hiatus’

I found out some disappointing news late last week: One of my new favorite TV shows, "Six Degrees," has been put "on hiatus" by ABC. The network says the show will return in January.

What a bummer. I don’t watch much television these days -- I spend far too much time on the Internet -- but I really enjoyed plopping myself down on the sofa to catch “Six Degrees” every Thursday night.

I experienced a similar disappointment here at Monster recently, when a new-media project I was working on was also shelved until the new year. It’s a project I’m very passionate about, too, but it needed to get knocked down a couple of rungs on the priority ladder as we focus on completing another major company initiative.

So what did I do? I made sure to let my boss know that I understood the important reasons for postponing the project while also expressing an interest in taking a leading role in reviving it, when the time was right.

Still, having to put the brakes on a venture –- work or otherwise -- that you’ve poured your creative energies into can be a major letdown. Has it ever happened to you?

Here’s some advice on getting good projects in the first place and how to execute once you’ve got one:

Posted by Bryan on November 16, 2006 at 01:55 PM in Salary , The Daily Grind | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 15, 2006

Farewell from a Monster Blogger

Dear Monster Blog readers, I hate to use clichés, but it’s been quite the journey for me here at Monster – 3.5 years to be exact (which, in Internet years, much like celebrity relationships, is a seeming eternity). I’ve learned quite a bit not only from my work environment, but also from my virtual coworkers – y’know, you. It’s all happened so fast, and it’s hard to believe I’m writing my last Monster Blog post. I’ll be leaving Monster to relocate to the opposite coast. Among numerous near-and-dear Monster memories, I’ll miss our dialogue on subjects ranging from alcohol to religion to your messy desks. You’ve been quite the active audience, and I hope you continue to read our blog and offer up your two cents. I’m terrible with goodbyes, so I’m just going to leave you with a few words posted on my “traveling wall of wisdom” (read: dry-erase board on wheels):

  • “Some days you’re the pigeon, others you’re the statue” -- from my dear blogging colleague Christine.
  • “How did I get here? Where is my beautiful cube?” – from my very neat and unflinchingly helpful tech-guru colleague Michael.
  • “I can’t brain today; I have the dumb” – from my honest and ever-carbonated colleague Jesse.

Thanks for reading, everyone! I’ll miss you :) Maya

Posted by Maya on November 15, 2006 at 10:53 AM in The Daily Grind | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)