Should You Grab that Cuppa?

January 18th, 2016

Should You Skip Your Morning Joe?

For so many of us, a morning cup of coffee is not just a ritual — it’s a necessity. We treat coffee like water, a vital source of energy to power us through a hectic day. We’ve all heard the warnings about our beloved pick-me-up beverage: dependency, withdrawal, afternoon caffeine crashes, insomnia, indigestion, and even dehydration.

Is drinking it a good idea? Well, it depends on your personality type.

There is a new warning for coffee drinkers from Cambridge psychologist and author Brian Little. In his book Me, Myself, and Us, the Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being, Little suggests that there is another layer to The Great Coffee Debate. Little hypothesizes that there is no absolute when it comes to the “goodness” or the “badness” of coffee. Instead, he writes, the positive and negative effects of coffee are determined by personality type.

Introverts May Want to Rethink Their Premeeting Latte

Little’s research has led him to the conclusion that introverts and extroverts have distinctly different reactions to caffeine. He writes:

After ingesting about two cups of coffee, extraverts[sic] carry out tasks more efficiently, whereas introverts perform less well. This deficit is magnified if the task they are engaging in is quantitative and if it is done under time pressure.

For an introvert, an innocent couple cups of coffee before a meeting may prove challenging, particularly if the purpose of the meeting is a rapid-fire discussion of budget projections, data analysis, or similar quantitative concerns. In the same meeting, an extraverted colleague is likely to benefit from a caffeine kick.

New York Magazine Science of Us interviewed Little upon the release of his book. In that Q&A session, he explained that his conclusions are based upon Hans Eysenck’s theory of extroversion and research by William Revelle of Northwestern University.

According to Eysenck’s theory:

  • Introverts are naturally more aware of their environment than extroverts.
  • Introverts naturally operate above the optimal level of alertness.

So, Little suggests that caffeine can actually impede performance for these individuals, especially in stressful situations where the introvert already feels overwhelmed.

That’s not to say that introverts should avoid coffee altogether. When it comes to caffeine, timing may be everything. Little suggests that introverts may respond better to an early-afternoon cup of Joe rather than a morning cup, but he cautions that introverts should avoid caffeine before stepping into an important meeting.

The Science of Timing a Caffeinated Pick-Me-Up

Little is not the first scientist to suggest that timing matters when it comes to consuming caffeine. Our circadian rhythms — the natural cycle of hormones that tell our body when it’s time to power up for the day and power down for the night — may have an impact on our response to caffeine.

According to Steven Miller, Ph.D, cortisol significantly influences the ways in which caffeine affects the body. Cortisol is the hormone that helps the body feel awake and alert. The production of cortisol peaks in the morning and then lessens throughout the day. Consuming caffeine when it’s not needed means the body will build up a tolerance to caffeine, and the “buzz” it gives will diminish over time.

The takeaway?

You don’t have to eliminate coffee from your daily routine, you just might want to push it back to mid-morning or mid-afternoon in order to truly achieve a pick-me-up.

Coffee-loving introverts who just can’t imagine cutting out their morning cup of coffee should consider switching their morning beverage to uncaffeinated tea, decaf coffee, or even hot chocolate. Consuming a decaf hot beverage in the morning can help ease the transition — allowing for the morning ritual of a hot drink, without the potential negative effects of coffee.

And if you’re a true extrovert? Enjoy your morning cup of coffee, as it may just help you get ahead in the long run.

– See more at: http://resources.superior-staffing.com/i/70173077l2?utm_campaign=&utm_medium=&utm_source=Are-you-killing-your-company&utm_content=[2]-should-you-skip-your-morning-joe#sthash.4DSH8Ql0.dpuf

Fact of the Month: High-Value Activities? Most employees are in the dark.

January 18th, 2016

According to a Harris Interactive / Franklin Covey survey of over 23,000 people, 80 percent of employees don’t understand which behaviors, actions or activities generate the most value — or contribute to their employer’s success.

 

Fact of the Month: High-Value Activities? Most Employees are in the Dark

 

ADP: Companies added 158,000 jobs in March

April 3rd, 2013

By Paul Davidson, USA TODAY12:29p.m. EDT April 3, 2013

Businesses added 158,000 jobs in March, payroll processor ADP said Wednesday, fewer than expected and possibly raising concern about the government’s closely-watched employment report for March, due Friday.

Economists had forecast that ADP would report private-sector job gains of 215,000. They expect the Labor Department on Friday to report 195,000 net jobs added in March. That figure would include the private sector and federal, state and local governments, although governments have been cutting payrolls.

Professional and business services led job gains with 39,000, trade and transportation added 22,000 and financial firms, 9,000. Construction companies added no net new jobs after several months of solid gains during a housing rebound.

“Construction employment gains paused as the rebuilding surge in the wake of Superstorm Sandy ended,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, which works with ADP to compile the report. “Anticipation of health care reform may also be weighing on employment at companies with close to 50 employees. The job market continues to improve, but in fits and starts.”

Small businesses and midsize businesses accounted for most of the job gains for the third straight month. Small businesses added 74,000 jobs; midsize ones, 37,000 and large companies, 47,000.

ADP often reflects the same broad trends as Labor’s report, but the firm has had mixed success forecasting. Last month, ADP estimated businesses added 198,000 jobs in February while Labor reported 246,000 gains.

Total non-farm payrolls rose 236,000 in February, and the unemployment rate fell to 7.7% from 7.9%, the government said.

The economy has remained resilient despite a recent rise in payroll taxes for working Americans and across-the-board federal spending cuts that started to take effect March 1.

This week, an index of manufacturing activity fell slightly, but its measure of factory employment ticked up.

Meanwhile, consumer and business spending have held up, and the housing rebound has picked up steam. Many economists are revising their estimates for first-quarter economic growth higher, to near 3%.

Cutting Costs with Staffing

March 20th, 2013

As a strategic tool, staffing can enhance your company’s profitability by controlling employment and hiring expenses.

 

Build a better bottom line

Daylight Savings Time

March 7th, 2013

At 2 a.m. on March 10, 2013, groggy Americans will turn their clocks forward one hour, marking the beginning of Daylight Saving Time (DST).

The bad news? Yes, one less hour of sleep this weekend!

The good news? You won’t be driving home from work in the dark anymore!

The very good news? Spring is right around the corner!

February 12th, 2013

Top 10 supervisory survival tools for 2013

By: A. Kevin Troutman

As the new year unfolds, supervisors may have even less time to manage all the complexities that arise in the world of employment law. With goals and deadlines to meet, well-intentioned managers may be tempted to rely on experience and “common sense” to guide them.  Unfortunately, this approach often creates headaches and even litigation, despite managers’ good intentions.

Today’s alphabet soup of employment laws (ADA, ADEA, FMLA, OSHA, NLRB, etc.) is simply too vast and complicated for most supervisors to digest on their own.  Other issues are so subtle or counterintuitive that even seasoned HR professionals can find it difficult to recognize and/or deal with them.

But there is a silver lining to this cloud.  A few basic practices can help supervisors avoid many problems, or at least recognize when to turn to HR for guidance.  With this in mind, here is our “Supervisor’s Top 10 Survival Rules for 2013.”

1.  Always tell employees the truth 

This rule encompasses more than avoiding outright falsehoods.  Instead, it emphasizes the importance of making sure that employees always know how you assess their job performance.  Of course this includes telling employees what they are doing well.  But perhaps even more important, it means telling them how and where they are not meeting expectations.  While many supervisors may prefer to avoid delivering “bad news,” this rule is an increasingly critical aspect of their jobs.

Performance evaluations illustrate this point.  Audits routinely show that well over half of all evaluations rate employee performance above average, a defacto impossibility.  Unfortunately, evaluations that overrate employees’ job performance can be devastating during litigation.   Judges and juries are generally unsympathetic toward supervisors who suggest that they did not really mean what they wrote on a performance evaluation.  This simple rule is so important that companies should consider discontinuing annual performance evaluations unless they can be done accurately and honestly.

2.  Communicate clearly and directly 

Going a step beyond Rule No. 1, supervisors should expect employees to do their jobs and cannot let “politically correct” language obscure their message. Specifically, they must communicate clearly without being insensitive or disrespectful.

For example, instead of telling an employee that he or she has an “opportunity” to improve, identify what specific aspect of performance is below expectations and what must be done to improve.  Offer to assist, but make it clear that you expect improvement.  When documenting these communications, be succinct and explicit.  Always try to address, “who, what, when and why.”  (As simple as it seems, this includes ensuring that documentation is legible, dated and signed where appropriate.)  This rule applies to policy violations, poor attendance and simple coaching or reminder sessions.

3.  Avoid surprises 

Many lawsuits result from anger or hurt feelings, which may be the result of an employee being surprised by disciplinary action or a termination.  Remember, a supervisor’s silence is typically interpreted as approval. But if communication is consistent, clear, and direct, employees should never be surprised by disciplinary action.  They may not agree with the supervisor’s decision, but they should never be able to say truthfully that they did not see it coming.

4.  Always get both sides of the story 

It’s surprising how often supervisors violate this simple rule. As a practical matter, there should be no exceptions to it.  No matter how egregious or clear-cut the facts appear to be, always give accused employees a chance to tell their side of the story.  (The only possible exception might be when there is a legitimate, objective, safety concern that would prevent this from occurring.)   Consistent with this rule, do not document conclusions or prepare termination paperwork until the investigation is finished.

5.  Keep your promises

And don’t make promises that you cannot keep.  Supervisors who promise to meet periodically with employees or to provide periodic feedback must do so.  Again, jurors are unlikely to forgive supervisors who criticize an employee’s job performance, but fail to  abide by their own follow-up schedule.  So do not set deadlines or timetables that you cannot meet.  Instead, maintain some flexibility.  And don’t make oral promises such as, “as long as you do your job, you will always have a place here.”  In some states, these promises can be legally enforceable.

6.  Do not ignore protected status in making employment decisions 

At first blush this rule may seem illogical, but when considering disciplinary action it is always important to consider how you have handled similar situations in the past.  If an employee in a protected classification (race, sex, religion, age, disability, etc.) is treated differently under the same circumstances from someone who is not in the protected class, supervisors and HR must be able to justify the reasons clearly.

When considering which employees fall in a protected classification, don’t overlook employees who recently took FMLA leave, sought an accommodation under the ADA, or provided information in response to an investigation of alleged workplace discrimination.  These activities protect employees from retaliation and likewise require consideration of comparable situations where no employee had engaged in protected activity.

7.  Think before hitting “send” 

Email traffic provides increasingly fertile ground for both sides in employment cases.  Supervisors must therefore recognize that their email messages are potential trial exhibits.  A quick, off-hand message has the potential to be extremely embarrassing if presented, out of context, to a jury.  Therefore, it is never a good idea to fire off quick responses, especially when emotions are running high.  Wait a few moments before hitting “send” – and be especially carefully about using the “reply to all” button.

8.  Document important facts when they’re still fresh

Important details can easily get muddled in today’s fast-paced work environment, so make a habit of jotting down those key facts when they occur.  When doing so, be sure the documentation is dated, legible and understandable (see Rule No. 2).  Always include objective language describing “who, what, when, where, why” and identifying any witnesses.  Identify the author of the documentation.  Sometimes nothing can be more difficult than retrospectively trying to determine who prepared unsigned material.

9.  Send it to HR 

When supervisors keep files containing notes or information that has not been forwarded to HR, it almost always creates problems when litigation ensues.  This can force the employer to change a representation it has already made to the EEOC or plaintiff’s counsel.

More importantly, it can support a plaintiff’s contention that the supervisor (who is usually the alleged wrong-doer) cannot be trusted or is hiding something.  On a related note, always refer employment verification and reference inquiries to HR, who will ensure companywide consistency in responding.

10.  Never forget that you are the boss 

Even during meal breaks, after hours, on weekends, or away from the workplace, supervisors still carry the mantle of company authority.  Unguarded, inappropriate, or “joking” comments can and do come back to haunt supervisors who forget this.  When an employment relationship goes bad, seemingly innocuous comments often emerge.   Comments made in jest rarely look good in front of a jury.  This is a critical and sometimes painful lesson for supervisors to learn.

Bonus Rule 11 

Always strive to be fair, considering, “how would this look to a sceptical third party (like the EEOC or a jury) who knows nothing about me or the employee?”

The workplace is complex and demanding, especially for supervisors striving to meet deadlines, maintain positive employee relations, and avoid legal pitfalls.  While they are not a “cure all,” these Survival Rules for 2013 can help supervisors manage more effectively and save considerable time by keeping many small issues from mushrooming into big ones

Quote of the Month

January 22nd, 2013

“You don’t get paid by the hour.  You get paid by the value you bring to the hour.”

-Jim Rohn

Terminations: A True Test of Your Company Culture

December 21st, 2012

by Jim Roddy

All of us have heard about messy terminations, and some of us have witnessed them firsthand. The most memorable are the employee who is escorted from the building, scowling at managers on the way out, or the guy who punches a hole in the conference room drywall in a fit of frustration. There’s also the person who quits without confrontation or communication, packing up their things when nobody’s watching, and leaving an “I Quit!” note for their supervisor.

The circumstances around other terminations are just plain awkward, and when you see the ex-employee in the grocery store, you unknowingly head to the Tampax aisle (even though you’re a single guy) just to avoid the conversation.

How can you avoid ugly terminations? Here are four suggestions for building the right culture:

  1. Don’t hire based on skill and personality only. Hire high character people. Don’t  think of character as honesty alone. Character includes kindness (considers others feelings), service (good steward and peacemaker), humility (admits personal faults), respectfulness (treats others with  dignity), and gratitude (shows appreciation). Ask questions that give you insight into these traits.
  2. Actually care about the people you hire. Some of the best advice I received as a young manager was, “Care about Aunt Martha’s big toe.” In other words, your concern for employees should go beyond their productivity at work.   Genuinely care about them as people, and they’ll return the sentiment.
  3. Share your organization’s principles and explain the “why” behind your company’s actions. When      employees don’t have all the facts, they frequently fill in the gaps with erroneous information. The more data you provide your people, the fewer gaps they’ll need to fill in on their own. This takes time, but it’s worth the investment.
  4. Stay close to your people. Don’t manage through reports only. Don’t assume your best or most veteran employees are fine and don’t need to talk with you regularly. Make sure you get out from behind your desk and engage in as many face-to-face interactions as you can. Have at least monthly  meetings or lunches one-on-one with your direct reports. There’s no substitute for a competent manager staying close to a person. Be that manager.