« September 2007 | Main | November 2007 »

October 31, 2007

Working When You're Sick Is Bad News for Everyone

Flu season is here, which means over the next few months, far too many of us are going to come to the office sick. We’ll feel guilty about missing a day of work and pressured to finish that all-important project on time

Been there. Done that.

But you know what?  Knowingly bringing flu germs into the workplace is both dumb and inconsiderate. Not only are you making yourself worse by trekking in when you should be under the covers resting, but you're also putting all of your colleagues -- and their families -- at risk for catching your illness. And when that flu virus starts bouncing its way from worker to worker, everyone's productivity goes down.

Here are a few tips on how to handle your next bout with the flu:

  • Take a Sick Day: Can't that project wait until tomorrow? Don't you have a bank of unused sick time you can tap into?
  • Work from Home: If you absolutely must work when you're sick, ask your supervisor if you can do so from the comforts of your living room or home office -- with a bowl of soup nearby.
  • Hide in Your Cubicle: Germs spread easily, so if staying home just isn't an option, do your best to minimize contact with your colleagues while you're under the weather. Postpone all nonessential meetings, bow out of your usual group lunch in the cafeteria and avoid handshakes. 

And one last reminder before I go: Get your flu shot. Your colleagues really don't want your germs.

Got any other tips for handling the flu and your job? Post them below.

Posted by Bryan on October 31, 2007 at 11:27 AM in The Daily Grind | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

October 29, 2007

This Halloween, What Scares You at Work?

At this spooky time of year, when the days are getting shorter, the wind is starting to pick up and get colder, and Halloween is right around the corner, your thoughts may turn to the things that scare you. I’m not talking about cheap horror movie screams or yelping in terror at a haunted house, but the things that rattle you to the core.

At work, there are a bunch of things many of us are afraid of, some of which are in our control, some not. They include:

Make sure you post your own scare points -- and how you deal with them -- in the comments below. Happy Halloween!

Posted by Christine on October 29, 2007 at 11:40 AM in Current Events , The Daily Grind | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 24, 2007

Don't Let Cranky Coworkers Bring You Down

Did you know that National Cranky Coworker Day is just two days away? Well, it is. And here's why: Because someone, somewhere, some time ago decided that the fourth Friday of October is the perfect time to recognize those people who do their best to suck the joy out of the workday for everyone around them. Brilliant.

OK, that was my best impression of a cranky writer. How'd I do?

Every workplace has a crank or two, and you know who they are. They're the workers who complain about everything: the workload, the boss, the clients, the benefits package, the office furniture, the cafeteria food, the bathrooms and the building temperature. They even complain when they get a raise, because it wasn't big enough. Bleh. They're just no fun to be around or work with, are they?

So what should you and I, the cheerful, uncomplaining, look-on-the-bright-side types, do about these nattering nabobs of negativity in honor of National Cranky Coworker Day? Here are a few ideas:

  • Ask How You Can Help: It can't hurt to say something like this: “You don't seem very happy lately, but we are working on this project together. Is there anything I can do to help cheer you up to make sure we stay focused on meeting our deadline?”

  • Invite Them to Lunch Away from the Office:  When you get to know your cranky colleagues a little better outside of your physical workplace, you may just find out they aren't as down in the dumps as you think. In fact, they might even be courteous and pleasant!
  • Buy Them Chocolate: This sweet treat never fails to brighten someone's day. One option: Seattle-based Emily's Chocolates offers packages of fortune cookies with friendly messages. Give them to your curmudgeonly coworkers, and you'll surely put a smile on their faces -- even if it is just for a day.

Now if you excuse me, I have a lunch to plan. What will you do for that grumpy coworker in your office?

Posted by Bryan on October 24, 2007 at 02:37 PM in Current Events , The Daily Grind | Permalink | Comments (42) | TrackBack (0)

October 22, 2007

Are You Desperately Seeking Balance?

We’ve all heard the term work/life balance. You know what I’m talking about: Making time for interests outside of work, spending time with your family and even doing nothing at all. But how many of us actually practice it?

I will admit I’m sometimes guilty of getting my work/life priorities mixed up. Sometimes we all just need practical tips on keeping things in balance to keep us on track. For help, check out these articles about having a career and outside interests while keeping your work life moving in the right direction. And I wish you a week of hard work mixed with the right amount of fun.

Posted by Christine on October 22, 2007 at 10:52 AM in The Daily Grind | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

October 17, 2007

Is Crying at Work for Men Only?

Last week, the Yankees were eliminated from the first round of the postseason for the third year in a row. As a result, speculation that the loss means the end of the line for longtime team manager Joe Torre was started by Yanks owner George Steinbrenner.

While I’m a steadfast member of Red Sox Nation by birth, I think that’s sad, considering Torre is not only a class act but one of the best managers in baseball. Even Red Sox manager Terry Francona has stepped up to the plate to voice his support for Torre. But one person who took Torre’s potential exit particularly hard -- on a public stage -- was Yankees announcer Suzyn Waldman. In the postgame show after the loss, Waldman broke down in tears on the air. As you might expect, Waldman’s professionalism and objectivity were called into question, and the backlash was profound.

Here are just a few big-name athletes and coaches who have teared up for all to see: Brett Favre, Dick Vermeil, Keyshawn Johnson, Roger Federer and Tiger Woods. What do these people have in common? That’s right; they’re all men. As this Sports Illustrated article points out, “What's odd is that we admire tears in men but not in women. Men who cry are ‘sensitive.’ Women who cry are ‘weak.’”

And this concept seems to stretch across sports and even politics -- for example, the SI article includes the following quote:

“When former Congresswoman Pat Schroeder cried during her 1987 exploratory run for president, critics said she set back women's chances for the White House by 20 years. After that she collected pictures of men crying. She finally stopped, she says, ‘in the hundreds,’ but not before her gallery included pictures of red-eyed Pete Sampras, Wayne Gretzky and Dan Reeves, to say nothing of Ronald Reagan, John Sununu and Gary Hart. ‘For men, crying has become this mandatory rite of passage,’ Schroeder says, ‘but for women, it's still not OK.’”

I hate this double standard. I’m an emotional person, and if I need to cry at work, I do. While my husband, whose chronic illness provoked a lot of tears a few years back, is doing much better, there’s unfortunately always something to cry about. But if you’re a woman, keeping in mind the realities of the workplace, there are smart ways to go about it:

  • If a good cry is inevitable, try to go into the bathroom or otherwise get away from your desk. Sometimes a change of scenery can stop the waterworks. And even if it doesn’t, the move will give you some privacy.
  • Take deep breaths. This will help keep you calm.
  • If you get caught crying, don’t apologize. Pull yourself together, if possible, and go on with your day.

For more on this subject, check out these Monster articles:

Posted by Christine on October 17, 2007 at 10:23 AM in Women at Work | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

October 15, 2007

How to Handle Your Boss

With tomorrow being Boss’s Day and all, you may have your relationship with your own supervisor on your mind. Whether this person is easy to get along with, difficult or somewhere in between, we’ve got lots of advice on handling your boss. Check out this list:

Feel like venting about your crazy boss? Do it on our Your Crazy Boss message board. And if you’re a boss yourself, find out whether you make the grade with this quiz.

Posted by Christine on October 15, 2007 at 03:16 PM in The Daily Grind | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

The Sacrifices of Going Back to School

I was on full-time dad duty with my 1-year-old son for most of the weekend, as my wife was busy putting in marathon study sessions at the local library. In fact, extra study time on the weekends isn’t uncommon these days for my wife, who’s undertaking a master’s degree program in nursing as part of her career change from the IT world.

Going back to school in pursuit of a second degree and a new career, whether you do it relatively early in your working life or in grayer years, requires you to face fresh challenges and overcome obstacles, such as:

  • You’re leaving behind a career you’ve already mastered to learn a whole new set of professional skills.

  • You’re asking the other members of your family to sign on to big changes in their routines too, particularly if most of your classes are held at night or on weekends.

  • Your new career won’t necessarily lead to a bigger payday. In fact, you might have to take a few steps down the corporate ladder.

But I’m an optimist: Just as I tell my wife, I know you’ll persevere. I’m confident you’ll get past the day-to-day inconveniences, the late and sleepless nights and the occasional missed soccer game or dance recital. After all, some sacrifice is necessary when you’re working to fulfill your newfound professional passion.

And one other thing to keep in mind: To help keep your school costs down, apply for as many scholarships as you can. One from FastWeb that allows you to create your own scholarship is a great place to start. 

For more on returning to the classroom and changing careers, check out these Monster resources:

Posted by Bryan on October 15, 2007 at 02:21 PM in Career Development | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

October 10, 2007

It Pays to Stop Depression at Work

As you go about your job today, take a look around you. Behind your coworkers’ facades may lie what psychiatrists call the common cold of mental illness: Depression. Indeed, according to statistics quoted by the National Institute of Mental Health, in any given year, 9.5 percent of the population suffers from a depressive illness. That translates to 20.9 million American adults.

Depression doesn’t just hurt individuals. It damages families, relationships and even ends lives. And at work, it can take quite a toll on productivity and morale. So what can employers do when a worker is showing signs of depression?

According to this story, employers who offer help for depressed workers not only benefit their employees but the company’s bottom line. The study found that 5 percent more workers who participated in employer-provided help programs were employed by the end of the year than those who did not, helping to stem turnover and training costs. And a common problem for depressed employees -- excessive absenteeism -- was also curtailed.

Why do I bring this up now? Well, October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. It’s high time this all-too-common issue got the attention and treatment it deserves. If you’re not sure if you’re depressed, tomorrow is National Depression Screening Day. Go get screened, either on the phone or in person. And if you do find out you’re depressed, get help, either through your employer or elsewhere. You can survive depression. The millions of survivors are living proof.

For more on dealing with mental illness in the workplace, check out these Monster articles:

Posted by Christine on October 10, 2007 at 10:07 AM in The Daily Grind | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

October 08, 2007

To Get Ahead in Your Career, Start Blogging

If you’re a young professional, let me give you one piece of advice that could quickly catapult your career into the stratosphere: Start blogging.

Here are two guys who have done just that:

  • Ryan Healy had been out of college for less than a year when he colaunched a blog for twentysomethings in the workforce called Employee Evolution in February 2007. Less than six months later, the well-known career author and blogger Penelope Trunk was so impressed with the expertise Healy was demonstrating through his blog that she started a company with him. At the ripe old age of 23, Ryan quit his entry-level corporate job and is now set to try his hand at running a career development company.
  • Dan Schawbel, 24, writes the Personal Branding Blog. He’s already been hailed as a young turk of personal branding in Fast Company, has launched his own quarterly publication called Personal Branding Magazine and has been named the first-ever social media specialist by his employer, EMC.

Now could Ryan and Dan have landed their new gigs by following the traditional corporate path? Maybe. But it likely would have taken them years rather than months.

Thanks to the rapid adoption of social media tools in the workplace and the relative ease of connecting with peers and influential colleagues through online social networks and presence applications such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, a good blog can help you establish yourself as an expert and accelerate your career growth at a speed otherwise unthinkable as recently as a couple of years ago.

And what does it take to be a good blogger?

  • Good writing skills.
  • An interest or passion in a topic.
  • The discipline to post regularly.
  • A willingness to read and reach out to other bloggers and to engage in regular online and offline networking.

Start blogging, produce compelling content and build the right relationships, and you’ll be well on your way to creating a whole new set of career opportunities for yourself.

For more on making your way in the online world, check out these Monster career advice resources:

Posted by Bryan on October 8, 2007 at 02:39 PM in Career Development , New Media | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

October 03, 2007

Got a Crazy Boss? Tell Us About It

Bosses. They can be the bane of your existence or benefit your work life. And sometimes, they just are plain insane.

For a great example, take this story from our new Your Crazy Boss message board, posted by Monster member GettinSerious:

My craziest boss was an anorexic who used to sit in meetings eating canned green beans right out of the can. But she never wanted to touch one of those wretched green beans with the skin on her fingers or with her lips, so she'd pick one bean at a time out of the can, pinching it with her long fingernails and then curling her lips back so she only touched it with her teeth, never her lips, when she got the bean to her mouth.

She also preferred working between about 6 p.m. and 4 a.m. so was hardly ever there during the day. One night, she called me at 1:30 a.m. to discuss a routine email. When my phone rang at 1:30 a.m., I jumped out of bed, thinking some relative had probably been in a horrible accident or something. It was my boss asking a routine question about some routine issue about which I'd emailed her days earlier. When I exclaimed, "Do you know what time it is!" she mumbled something about being sorry, it must be getting late but...and then proceeded to talk for over an hour about routine office business.

That was the last straw that made me decide I had to find a new job.

Sounds like a real winner, right? But I bet you can top it. Post your story on our Your Crazy Boss message board, and author and columnist Stanley Bing, as well as other Monster members, will help you deal with this person. You’d be crazy not to!

Posted by Christine on October 3, 2007 at 10:12 AM in The Daily Grind | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)