Posted by Erik Even on Aug 4, 2009 in Advice
It’s unfortunate, but part of life — at some point, someone at your workplace will lose a loved one or close friend.
People never seem to know how to treat a bereaved person, or how to talk to them. Keeping in mind the office environment and professional relationships, here are some tips.
What Not to Say
God has a purpose / It’s God’s will. Very common, and totally inappropriate both at work or not. No one wants to hear that their loved one’s death was plotted by deities. And at work, it’s best to never bring up religion. Let your bereaved co-worker work out any religious issues, if any, with their clergy.
I know how you feel. Unless you suffered the exact same loss — a parent, a child, whatever — then do not say this, because you don’t know how they feel. And even if you have had a similar experience, you’re just a co-worker — an acquaintance. Unless you and the grieving person are close friends outside of work, don’t try to share your experience.
You’ll get over it. Absolutely true. And NO ONE wants to hear it when the pain is so fresh.
You have to get on with your life. Also true. But maybe the bereaved person could worry about that after the funeral?
What Not to Do
Pretend nothing happened. Even if you don’t know a work acquaintance very well, just say “I’m sorry.” Ignoring the issue doesn’t make it go away — it can actually increase the discomfort. Once the issue has been briefly touched upon, don’t mention it again. And treat the bereaved person as you normally would — don’t offer to take some of their work, for example. Leave that between the bereaved person and their immediate supervisor.
Compare their losses to your losses. You think it’s bad to lose a nephew? I lost a son! Wow, I feel bad for you. And you’re a monster — how dare you belittle someone’s suffering? It doesn’t matter if you lost ten children. STFU.
Offer your philosophy on death. Keep it to yourself. Let the bereaved’s family and clergy deal with that. No one cares what you learned on your junior year trip to Nepal.
Okay, if those are the things to not do or say, what should one do or say?
What to Say
I’m sorry. Expresses empathy and caring, without crossing any lines. They say “thank you,” and you can all get back to work.
What to Do
Offer help. It’s almost a cliche, and such help is rarely accepted. But “If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know” will be appreciated, even if it never comes up again. BUT — if the bereaved takes you up on your offer, then you really have to help.
Ask about, or offer memories about, the deceased. If you have never met the person who died, you can ask the bereaved person to talk about him or her. If they decline the offer, it’s still appreciated. If they talk about the loved one, then be attentive.
If you knew the deceased person, then feel free to mention a quick memory of that person, or say something nice. I met your husband at last year’s Christmas party, and we talked for a while. He was a fascinating person.
Let things get back to normal on the bereaved’s own schedule. Don’t avoid the person, or seek them out. Treat them respectfully, and professionally. One day soon, he or she will laugh at a joke, or thank you for your understanding, and any social discomfort will lift.
Do you have any advice for handling these touchy office situations? Let us know in the comments!
Posted by Erik Even on Apr 17, 2009 in Advice
Chances are, today is “Casual Friday” at your office. As of 2,000, 50% of American businesses have a Casual Friday.
Even businesses that don’t require suits, ties and skirts will relax their already lax rules on Friday.
Unfortunately, many employees make the mistake that “casual” means “wear whatever you want.” This is almost never true. Unless you work in the adult entertainment industry, your workplace will have rules and expectations regarding “casual” dress.
Pay attention to what your colleagues wear, both on Casual Friday and during the rest of the week. Take your cues from them. Don’t worry about what people in other departments and at different levels wear. Just because they let that guy in Shipping wear shorts, doesn’t mean you can wear them at the Friday business development meeting.
Casual doesn’t mean sloppy, dirty, old or torn. If you’re firm is going to let you wear jeans, a t-shirt and sneakers on Fridays, make sure they’re relatively new and in excellent condition.
It is never appropriate to dress provocatively at work, and Casual Friday is no exception. No skin-tight clothes, no bare midriffs, no inappropriately plunging necklines. Of course women are in greater danger here. If you’re wearing a sexy dress to work because you’re going out Friday night, just cover up with a jacket or vest.
Sexually provocative clothes aren’t the only problem. Don’t wear clothes with inappropriate slogans on them, such as t-shirts with religious or political themes, or profanity. And those jeans with the word “sassy” embroidered across the seat? No.
Work is not a gym. Unless you work at a gym. So no workout clothing, please.
No sandals or other unusual shoes. It’s Casual Friday, not a Grateful Dead concert. And I know your Birkenstocks are probably the most expensive shoes in the building — save them for the weekend. Also, I once knew a woman who caused an uproar at work by wearing clear plastic high-heeled shoes that lit up when she walked. Save them for the stripper pole.
Finally, unless you have some kind of important business meeting with a client, or a funeral, or a secret job interview with a rival firm, don’t wear conservative business attire on Casual Friday. You’ll make everyone who is more casually dressed feel uncomfortable. Be a team player — go get a casual collared shirt and some Dockers. You’ll be glad you did.
Posted by Erik Even on Mar 27, 2009 in Careers
We’ve all seen those signs by the freeway offramp, advertising work-at-home jobs for big, big pay. But seriously, do you really want to work for someone who advertises on a plastic sign stapled to a telephone pole?
As the economic meltdown continues to melt, more firms are saving money by allowing employees to telecommute. Here are some tips on working from home.
1.) Don’t let your home distract you from work. It’s easy to wander off for “just a few minutes” to see if the SciFi Channel is showing that episode of Star Trek: Enterprise where Jolene Blaylock takes her top off. Next thing you know, you’re behind on your work.
Create a home office. You don’t need to build an addon to your house; just create a workspace that contains nothing except what you need to do your work. Make sure you can’t see a TV from where you sit. During work hours, keep your mind on work. It’s the same thing with family issues and the cable guy stopping by — you’re not at home, you’re at work, even if you’re physically at home.
2.) Back up all of your work. If your computer at work goes down and there aren’t any backups, that’s IT’s fault. If it happens at home, it’s your fault. Back up all your work files and emails to an external drive or an Internet data storage service; and use one of several free online services to store your work-related browser bookmarks.
3.) Don’t call yourself a “cloudworker.” It’s fatuous.
4.) Let your employer know where you are and what you’re doing. Employers’ biggest problem with telecommunitng is not being able to directly track workers.
Stay in communication with your boss and coworkers. If you have to do something during the day, like a doctor’s appointment or a personal emergency, treat it the same way you would if you worked in an office. Let the right people know. Don’t just sneak off.
If you want to be trusted, you have to be trustworthy.
5.) Write off all your at-home work expenses. Keep all your receipts. It’s worth the hassle.
Got any advice for telecommuters? Let us know in the comments!
Posted by Erik Even on Mar 19, 2009 in Employment
Unless you’re a $3-an-hour slave laborer in a downtown Los Angeles garment factory, you probably have the opportunity during work hours to deal with issues from your personal life. Largely, these issues are dealt with online or via email.
Unfortunately, your personal business on your work’s computer network may not be as “personal” as you would like.
Of course, if you conduct business using your work email, your company can archive and read everything you send and receive. You would think this was obvious to everyone, but news stories pop up all the time about employees conducting inappropriate business via their work email address and getting fired or sued over it.
What’s less obvious is that your company may have the right to track everything you do over their computer network, even if it’s your own personal private business. If you’re checking your own personal email account, perhaps through Gmail, your company can read over your shoulder because you’re using their network.
They are also free to track your web surfing, and to hold you over the coals for anything they don’t like — or, more importantly, anything that can get the firm in trouble, like adult sites or questionably legal gambling sites.
The best thing to do is to ask about your company’s Internet policies (and look at the contract or NDA you signed when you were hired), and then don’t violate them. If your employer allows a certain amount of personal Internet use, you still need to be smart. Don’t discuss sex, race or religion if you’re on the company network. Watch out for inappropriate humor, or “NSFW” web content. You can indulge in all of these activities freely at home.
Be sure to watch for inappropriate communications via instant message, as well. Not only can your IT department monitor what is said, but most IM programs store a log on your hard drive of all conversations. If your boss has dome something to piss you off, wait until after work to tell your buddies all about it.
Just follow common sense rules of professionalism, and you should be fine.
Posted by PRGUY222 on Nov 21, 2008 in Uncategorized
On Monday, we used the new James Bond film to remind you to strive for a “cool” job–at least, a job that’s cool for you. Today’s release of “Twilight” allows us another opportunity to offer you some workplace advice. The much-anticipated teenage vampire flick that chronicles the romance between Edward Cullen, a 150 year-old vampire who will remain 18 forever, and Bella, a quiet new kid in the small town of Forks who’s never been in love. Because it’s in Edward’s vampire nature to feast on humans, being around Bella is difficult, made all the more so by the fact that he loves her and wants to protect her.
So what, do you ask, does teenage vampire romance have to do with the workplace? Two words: Office Romance. No, your burgeoning attraction for Jeff in Accounting is not quite as scintillating as the forbidden vampire/human attraction. But, in many cases, becoming involved with a co-worker can be every bit as foolish, dangerous, and reckless as falling in love with a gorgeous vampire god.
Why? Coupling up with our co-workers can mean distraction on the job and decreased productivity. This may not seem like a big deal, but if the relationship ends (and according to a 2006 MSNBC poll, 53% of office romances are over within a year), the workplace could become very uncomfortable for you, your ex, and your co-workers. Further complications could arise if one member of the relationship is a subordinate of the other one. Although many companies may have a written policy against managers dating their reports, not every organization is clear on their stance.
Of course, many couples do meet on the job, and their relationships and careers both turn out fine. With most professionals spending at least 40 hours a week with other people with similar interests and ages, people getting together is inevitable. If your attraction toward Heather in Purchasing remains undeniable and you both know you were meant to be together, then do your best to maintain professionalism–even if things don’t work out.
And if they don’t, or do and the company kicks both your butts to the curb, there’s EmploymentCrossing waiting to help. Heather can get a new purchasing position at PurchasingCrossing and you can find your new gig, too.
For any teens reading this, don’t worry; I devoured Twilight, too. And if you happen to be in need of a little extra cash, we have TeenagerCrossing for that…and a free trial, too. Yep, we’ve got everyone covered.