World’s 2nd Richest Man Advocates 3 Day Work Week

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The Financial Times recently reported that Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim suggested that workers shift to a three-day work week. During a speech at a conference in Paraguay, Slim advocated his suggestion for radical change in the typical five-day work week.

The paper quotes him as saying, “People are going to have to work for more years, until they are 70 or 75, and just work three days a week—perhaps 11 hours a day.” Based on estimates, Slim is the world’s second richest man, thanks to the wealth earned from Telmax, a telecom company. Workers at Telmex are now able to retire before they are 50 years old in some cases. However, reports also indicate that those eligible for early retirement are given the option of a four-day work week at full pay upon reaching retirement age.

“With three work days a week, we would have more time to relax; for quality of life,” says Slim. “Having four days [off] would be very important to generate new entertainment activities and other ways of being occupied.”

Presently, employees in Mexico work more hours than their counterparts in any other country, according to a study by the OECD, an international economic forum. The study demonstrated that workers there work 2,317 hours a year, or 44.6 hours a week, compared to an average of 1,798 hours a year in the United States.

In 1938, the 40-hour, five-day work week became a standard for U.S. workers. Despite gains in productivity and predictions of a significantly shorter work week that would follow, it has remained the standard for more than 75 years.

Though the standard work week is still the most common arrangement for full-time U.S. workers, 43% of employers offer at least some workers the option of a shorter week, according to the latest survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management.

Currently, the concept of working a compressed week is popular with employees. In 2008, a survey of workers by the Families of Work Institute found that 46% of workers that were offered the option of a shorter work week chose to work it at least some of the time. Additionally, of those not offered the option, 59% of them would like the option of a more compressed week.

Would you want to work a compressed work week? Do you think that it would be beneficial to workers and businesses?

Handling the Office Bully

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Researchers Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield recently conducted a study for their organization, VitalSmarts, in which 96 percent of survey respondents said they have experienced bullying at work. Though it is evident that bullying is an issue in the workplace, the definition isn’t what most expect.

For starters, researchers who have studied bullying among children have found two different kinds: physical and emotional bullying. Typically, young boys will engage in physical bullying by threatening, intimidating, hitting, shoving or tripping. On the other hand, girls tend to employ emotional bullying by excluding others, gossiping, humiliating and withdrawing friendship. Researchers who have studied workplace bullying focus very narrowly on physical bullying.

Grenny and Maxfield took a more broad approach in their research and found that emotional bullying is far more common in today’s workplace. More than two-thirds of the respondents experienced emotional bullying, while less than one-third experienced physical bullying.

If you are in an unfortunate scenario in which you are dealing with an office bully, follow the specific tips below to handle the situation:

1. Reverse the thinking
Many employees opt to suffer in silence because of the perceived risks associated with speaking up. However, individuals who do speak up and hold others accountable do the opposite by not thinking first of the risks. Change the order of the risk assessment in order to increase your likelihood of taking action and carefully speaking up.

2. Provide the facts first
When discussing the problem, be sure to remove any judgmental or provocative language from the conversation. Be very specific and stick to the detailed facts of the conflict.

3. Validate concerns
Bullying behavior is typically triggered by a legitimate concern. Validate that need while also conveying unwillingness to tolerate the way the situation was handled.

4. Share natural consequences
When you address the problem, clearly communicate to the bully that there are consequences to their way of handling their concerns for employees, customers and work projects.

5. Set boundaries
Moving forward, establish expectations for the bully’s behavior in the future. Request a commitment and determine what the next step will be if there is a recurrence.

Research has demonstrated that bullies can change if someone stands up to them and helps them see the consequences of their actions. Instead of writing the scenario off and considering it a lost cause, follow the steps above to communicate effectively and resolve the problem.

 

Business Under Fire for Monitoring Restroom Breaks

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A Chicago company, WaterSaver Faucet Company, made news this week after it was announced that the business installed a new system that monitors bathroom breaks and penalizes employees who spend more than six minutes a day in the restroom outside of their normal breaks.

Nick Kreitman, an attorney for Teamsters Local 743 which represents 80 workers at the plant, stated “The HR woman literally goes through every person’s bathroom use and either hands out a reward or discipline.” According to Kreitman, employees who do not use extra breaks get a dollar a day while others who exceed more than one hour in a 10-day period will get a warning, which can potentially lead to termination.

Back in December, the union-represented employees had to swipe their badges in order to gain access to the restrooms. Within three months, 19 employees were disciplined for excessive use. The company provided a 12-page rule list to employees and also outlined strict guidelines about how to take care of personal business at the company. Some of the guidelines include, “place all toilet paper in the toilet and make sure that the toilet is completely flushed,”; refrain from “malicious gossip”; and do not “make derogatory or inflammatory comments about the company.”

Kreitman stated that the bathroom-monitoring part of the policy was put into place just four days after the union requested paid sick days for its members. Teamster claims that current workers are employed under a month-to-month extension of their current contract, earning $11 to $16 an hour. So far the bathroom guidelines only apply to the 80 union employees at WaterSaver who work on the production line, but not the 60 who work at the sister company, Guardian. Allegedly, the swipe card rule only applies to union members, and not to other employees. Additionally, sick days are not allowed, however employees do receive vacation days and some medical coverage. Within the 7.5 hour work day, workers are given a 30-minute lunch break, a 10-minute morning break, a 15-minute afternoon break and five minutes of cleanup time.

A company spokesperson disputed several of the Teamsters’ numbers in an email to CNBC. Additionally, in a statement sent to CNBC on Wednesday, the company president and owner Steven Kersten called the union version of events “a media issue in an apparent effort to influence current negotiations on a new contract.” Kersten’s statement did not address whether bathroom monitoring is taking place and he declined to answer questions regarding the policy.  However, last week Kersten told the Chicago Tribute that the excessive bathroom breaks amounted to 120 hours of lost productivity in May.

Wendy Patrick, an attorney who teaches business ethics at San Diego State University in California stated, “Regardless of the legality, should a company be regulating this kind of thing?” She goes on to point out that this is an example of a rule that might be legally permissible but not ethically desirable. She also points out that the company may be opening itself up for a disability claim if a worker has a medical condition that requires multiple restroom breaks.

The Teamsters have filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board over the rule and are attempting to negotiate a new contract with WaterSaver Faucet and its sister Company, Guardian Equipment.

Apple and IBM Partner

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On Tuesday, tech giants Apple and IBM announced a partnership that could make Apple a major player in the business market. Although Apple is traditionally a consumer brand, the new partnership will allow IBM to create a class of more than 100 business applications exclusively for iPhones and iPads to run on Apple’s iOS platform. In exchange, IBM will sell Apple’s products filled with 100 industry-specific apps to its clients worldwide.

In the release, it was announced that some of the services IBM will provide via iOS include device management, security, analytics and mobile integration. Apple will also provide support for the applications using their AppleCare service.

Apple CEO Tim Cook told CNBC that the partnership is about “transforming enterprise,” and aims to “deliver on the promise of mobile in a big way.” IBM CEO’s Virginia Rometty also commented that the one priority of the partnership will be security. The issue has become an increasingly important topic as cyberhacking and surveillance become more ubiquitous concerns.

The news of the partnership comes as a potential threat to the one-time industry leader in enterprise mobile, Blackberry. Blackberry is currently attempting to right itself after years of declining profits and fleeing clients.  Additionally, the new partnership is expected to place greater pressure on Microsoft, which is presently making its own push into cloud and mobile services for enterprise clients.

Google Begins Work on Smart Contact Lens

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Google recently teamed up with healthcare giant Novartis, the parent of Alcon, to begin working on a “smart contact lens.” The Google X project has gone from patents to partners, working with the healthcare provider known for producing some of the most-widely used contact lens products on the market, including Air Optix, FreshLook and Dailies. Novartis is looking to help turn Google’s conceptual project into a reality, providing smart contact lenses for people around the world.

As a product of Google Research, the smart lenses are expected to look like traditional contact lenses, but will be used for a variety of ocular medical uses. Alcon, the company’s eye care division, will license Google’s smart lens and help to co-develop them for the various medical uses.

One use will include ophthalmic electrochemical sensors that are designed to measure glucose levels and offer real-time updates to an app on a connected mobile device for people with diabetes. The patent for the technology was already secured by Google earlier this year. The lenses may also be able to offer vision correction for people with presbyopia, an age related eye condition that makes it difficult to focus on objects nearby.

Google founder Sergey Brin wrote in a Novartis press release, “Our dream is to use the latest technology in the miniaturization of electronics to help improve the quality of life for millions of people.” He went on to express his excitement over partnering with Novartis on their latest venture. Alcon’s division head, Jeff George, also released a statement stating that the companies aim to “unlock a new frontier to jointly address the unmet medical needs of millions of eye care patients around the world.”

Details on when the first Google-powered Alcon smart contact lenses will arrive have not been released. According to Alcon’s director of global external communications, Elizabeth Harness Murphy, is it “way too early in the agreement and way too early in the prototype development” to predict when the lenses may become available in the market.

Applying X-Men Abilities to Your Job Search

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Sometimes during our job search it can feel like we require super human strength. The process can be draining, overwhelming and easily zap our energy. However, every job seeker has their own special abilities, or superpowers, to help them succeed in finding a job. Take a look at the list The Savvy Intern recently put together of the X-Men Superpowers that you need during the job search:

Wolverine: Healing Ability
As one of the most recognized X-men, Wolverine has the special ability to heal himself upon injury. Although he may be slowed down, beaten up and knocked out, he always gets back up and is seemingly impervious to injury. Having this ability during your job search can be incredibly useful. The job search process can be a rollercoaster with several different ups and downs. Though you may get knocked down, it is important to stay on track and continue moving forward like our favorite X-men with metal claws and awesome sideburns.

Mystique: Shape Shifting
Although Mystique is a bit of a villain to the X-Men, she is incredibly powerful in her ability to shape-shift into any form. As a job seeker shape-shifting can help you fill all the different roles that you will play. During your search you will have to adapt to the needs of the position, selling yourself to the interviewer and highlighting your many different talents. To successfully impress the interviewer, use your ability to shift into different roles.

Professor X: Telepathy
Professor Charles Xavier, better known as Professor X, has telepathic powers that make him one of the most powerful mutants in the Marvel Universe. His powers allow him to read and control minds, a trait that could, for obvious reasons, be useful in an interview. When trying to secure a new job, the best way to apply this telepathic power, is to already know what the employer is looking for. Prep for your interview, and learn to anticipate the types of questions that will be asked. Map out responses through research and careful thought. If you prepare for your interview thoroughly, then you’ll practically feel like a mind reader, anticipating the questions and answering effectively.

Magneto: Control Magnetism
Magneto has rightfully earned his title as one of the most popular X-men villains. Magneto possesses the ability to control metals through magnetism. In the job search, having the ability to control the attraction of the interviewer by being a magnetic person and using an effective resume, cover letter, professional profile, and job interview etiquette can be beneficial.  Grab the attention of the employer by being personable, magnetic and attracting would-be employers to you.

Storm: Control the Environment
With the ability to control the weather, creating rainstorms, lightning and other environmental changes, Storm is considered one of the most popular X-Men. Though it may be a stretch, having the ability to exert some control over the interview environment would be a great ability to possess. When preparing for the interviews implement the STAR method in an attempt to do this. For each question you anticipate being asked, consider the situation, task, action and result of it. Developing responses using this method will ensure that you keep a level of control in the situation.

Perfect your “superhero” job search skills by implementing the different techniques listed above as provided by our favorite X-Men characters. Practicing the methods provided can help to ensure that you land the job and prove to the employer that you are the hero their company needed.

Quitting in Style

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Quitting a job is far from easy and there are many different ways to go about it. Some people burn bridges by abruptly leaving, others put a lot of thought into the process to ensure positive references in the future, and some people avoid the scenario all together, staying in a position that they dislike. Ideally, employees should find the right balance when it comes to quitting. In order to successfully quit in style, follow these 6 tips:

1. Timing
The standard for most companies is to provide two weeks’ notice, but before talking to your boss be sure to check your contract. Although it can help your boss to provide a month or more of notice, it isn’t necessarily going to help you. Colleagues may treat your differently and you may be pushed out of projects, so sticking to the standard is a good rule of thumb.

2. People
As enticing as it may be to announce to friends or co-workers that you’ve received an exciting new opportunity, try to refrain from letting them know until the time is right. Even among close colleagues, the information can slip out unintentionally in casual conversation. Avoid having your boss find out long before you intended to tell them by keeping the information to yourself.

3. Paper
Even if a written notice of resignation is not required, go ahead and provide one to your boss. Type up a note that states you are resigning from the position and request that your last day of work be whatever date you have chosen. You are not required to go into detail as to where you are going or why you are leaving.

4. Exit Interview
Some companies will schedule exit interviews with HR prior to your last day. During the interview, you are not obligated to tell them everything about why you are leaving. Avoid speaking negatively about your boss or the experience, because you never know when you may require a recommendation further down the line or if your future employer will call for information about your personal qualities.

5. Email
Before leaving, pay attention the norm in your office for others who have left the company. Did they send out a companywide, “I’m leaving” email, or only send it to a select few? If your boss or HR asks you specifically not to send something out, then only send it to your closest colleagues with your contact information or let them know in person.

6. Old-fashioned notes
In order to make one last strong impression, leave some handwritten notes for your close colleagues and boss. Let them know that you enjoyed working with them and include your contact information.

Leaving a job can be incredibly difficult, and there is an appropriate and inappropriate way to do it. Be mindful of the guidelines above in order to maintain strong working relationships and effectively transition into a new role.

Top 12 Technology Companies for Women

Last month, Facebook disclosed data on its workplace diversity revealing both good and bad news regarding female employees. The good news, was that women hold 47% of non-technology jobs, such as in sales, marketing and finance. The bad news, was that just 15% of its engineers and computer scientists are women. Facebook isn’t the only technology company that has a lot of work to do when it comes to their workplace diversity. Though many companies are struggling to improve the balance, some have found an easier time hiring female techies than others.

Entelo, a startup that analyzes social data to help corporate recruiters spot promising candidates, compiled a list of tech companies that have some of the highest percentages of female technologists. Although companies are the only ones who precisely know their gender breakdown, Entelo was able to analyze hundreds of different companies and come up with very close estimations to the real life numbers. In fact, Google recently revealed that 17% of its technology employees are female, roughly the same number that Entelo had previously estimated.

View the list of the top 12 companies with some of the highest percentages of female technologists:

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Entelo, who has customers including Facebook, Salesforce and UPS, recently began a service specifically for companies who are looking to increase their hiring of women, Hispanics, blacks and people with military experience. As companies continue to strive to diversify their workplace, new opportunities are opening up for a variety of different workers. Visit Gigats.com to see what opportunities may be available with the companies on the list and other great organizations to work for.

When to Say “No” to an Extra Assignment

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Most professionals will come to the realization at some point in their career that in order to advance, they must demonstrate relevant experience. In order to do so, workers will demonstrate their potential to grow beyond their present roles by taking on additional assignments. In fact, a 2003 Cataylst report revealed that 40% of women in corporate leadership positions stated that seeking out difficult, highly visible assignments had been a very important advancement strategy. The statistic demonstrates that learning new skills, making your talents visible and demonstrating your readiness to step into a role that goes beyond your current one is a great way to advance professionally.

Although there are several obvious benefits to taking on those extra, high profile assignments, there are times when an extra workload can actually be detrimental. Before taking on an assignment, you should set boundaries to prevent yourself from becoming stretched too thin. Being highly selective about the assignments you take on is necessary in ensuring you get the most out of the process. To avoid stressing yourself out and seeing minimal career benefits, take a look at the checklist for when you should say “no” to an extra assignment:

1. Assignments that stretch you too thin
Before accepting a new project, conduct a risk assessment. Ask yourself if you risk overreaching, taking on too much, or compromising your ability to complete your regular responsibilities. Weigh the obvious factors such as whether a side project will take from your main priorities, how it will affect your personal life, and if you can accommodate extra hours at work. If the task runs the risk of being detrimental to your work and home life, then respectfully decline to take on the assignment and look for something that will challenge you without overwhelming you. It is important to focus on the quality of assignments that you accept, versus the quantity.

2. Assignments that don’t build your strengths
The best assignments are the ones that require workers to build expertise, skills or leadership ability. Before accepting a new project, ensure that it has the potential to expand your skill set and allows you to demonstrate your potential to go beyond your current position. There is no point in stressing yourself out with a new set of responsibilities if they will not help you develop further in your career.

3. Assignments that don’t meaningfully expand your network
In addition to building skills and expertise, a stretch assignment should also provide relationship-building opportunities. Employees should go after projects that allow them to build stronger working relationships and demonstrate their expertise to managers and peers. Taking on special assignments that do not normally fall underneath your typical responsibilities allows you to interact with new people, including managers, and demonstrate you intelligence, energy and reliability.

4. Assignments that don’t build the reputation you want to be known for
Finally, if a project does not align with the personal brand that you are trying to build and promote within your organization, then avoid taking the assignment. The assignments you accept should reflect your brand and provide you with opportunities to showcase your accomplishments and make your value visible to management.

Overall, keep in mind that extra assignments should be selected in order to build your skill set, network and organizational brand. Avoid taking on projects that will simply turn into busy work and prevent you from accomplishing your regular assignments. Be selective about the projects that you take on and align new assignments with where you want to go next in your career.

Gigats Odd Job: Netflix Taggers

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If you have ever binge watched a television show on Netflix, you might have asked yourself, “Why can’t I be paid for this?” The good news is Netflix has decided to do just that. Currently, Netflix employs a team of part-time “taggers” who are responsible for assisting with the personalization process.

Taggers are responsible for watching movies and shows that will be available to stream in the future, analyzing them and describing them using tags. Netflix then uses an algorithm to provide recommendations based on your watching history and the tags used. Netflix seeks candidates who demonstrate a “passion for films and TV programmes, as evidenced by a degree in film or film history and/or experience directing, screening writing or filmmaking.” Candidates who have analysis experience are also considered to be well suited for the position.

As a part of the Netflix team, Taggers receive various perks including flexible hours, the ability to work from home and the obvious perk of being able to watch hours of movies or TV shows.

Currently Netflix is looking for a new tagger in the UK or Ireland, but the company has plenty of other great opportunities available.  Can you see yourself working in an odd job like this one? See what non-traditional and traditional positions are available at Gigats.com.