29 Sep

But I Didn’t Know!! | Poor Workplace Training

Articles, Blog 2 Comments by Melinda Williams


If you’ve worked enough jobs, you’ve had it happen.

You’re excited for your new job and ready to learn all about your new position. But the training you’re expecting, the very training that would put you in the position to really show your skills, never happens. You get a quick introduction to the system, a tour of the office or work site and … well, that’s it.

You try to muddle your way through, ask a lot of questions and eventually get the hang of it. But what if you had been properly trained?

That “what if” isn’t uncommon.

In today’s “do more with less” business atmosphere, companies (and maybe even employees) may feel that training wastes time that could be used working, but that’s shortsighted.

“You have to look at [training] as an investment for your company,” says Fiducial corporate recruiter Bryant Garcia. “It hurts your business more by not training the person.”

Without proper training, employees can’t work to their full potential. This can lead to lowered sales, underwhelming customer service or substandard work. Many times, that means expensive turnover, both through firing and because employees may not feel up to the work.

Not only is this bad for business in the short term (especially for small businesses in competitive circles), but in the long run, a business owner may find that, when the time comes, no one in the organization is ready to take on greater responsibilities and higher level positions.

For employees, poor training means unmet potential. Though completely capable, employees may never be able to show how good they can be at their job. At the least, that can lead to lost promotions. But it could mean capable employees are fired. And either way, as a worker, that means you miss out on advancement, both professionally and financially.

Sometimes, questions of poor training aren’t so cut-and-dry. For example, people around the nation are disagreeing about the New York Police Department’s response to the ongoing Occupy Wall Street protests. While some people feel officers are within their rights (and training) to pepper spray and arrest protestors, others feel they are treating peaceful marchers as criminals and are violating both rights and proper procedures.

But other cases are very simple. And police work isn’t the only industry where proper training is a matter of life and death.

In Fall River, Mass., a woman lost her life because of poor training of seasonal workers and procedures that fell by the wayside.

While coming down a waterslide with a child, 36-year-old Marie Joseph collided with a young family friend and simply never surfaced. Though a tragedy, the real indignity was much deeper. The pool water was so cloudy that, according to regulations, it shouldn’t have been open the day and that cloudy water prevented anyone from noticing her body for three days.

And in Washington D.C., a jailed man died while numerous people who were supposed to be trained for just such an occasion stood by and watched in confusion.

Guards watched, both through surveillance equipment and in person as Thomas Jones, 28, had what guards thought was a seizure, but was actually a cardiac arrest. Through a number of missed opportunities and incorrectly handled procedures, Jones languished on the floor of a jail basketball court, surrounded by guards who had forgone required CPR training and were slow to contact medical professionals. And once contacted, those medical professionals failed to meet standards for proper care, care that could’ve saved Jones’ life.

So what has your experience been when it comes to job training? Do you feel like you get enough or have you successfully lobbied for more training? Let us know!

20 Sep

The American Jobs Act: A Short Term Gain

President Obama delivered perhaps the most important speech of his presidency last Thursday, September 8th. Under immense political and economic pressure, the American Jobs Act, a legislation aimed at creating millions of jobs, was born. It’s difficult to judge whether this bill will pass in this fractured and pessimistic political climate. Below are four attributes and talking points from the American Jobs Act:

1. Cost:

The American Jobs Act will cost $447 billion. President Obama was quick to point out that funding will be covered by ending tax breaks on the wealthy without any tax hikes for the middle and lower class. More specifically, the AJA will be funded by: $405 billion by ending tax breaks from charity donations, $41 billion by tax breaks on oil and gas companies, $18 billion in taxes from top hedge fund managers, and closing a $3 billion tax break for corporate jets. In an increasingly lopsided economic climate, closing tax loopholes hopes to also lessen the divide between the haves and the have-nots. Obama continued in his speech “Do we keep the tax loopholes for oil companies, or do we put teachers back to work? Should we keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires – or should we invest in education and technology and infrastructure…” It’s interesting to note that his words present a division between wealthy and not. This gives the appearance that those who oppose his plan have chosen money over the good of the people, as symbolized by teachers and education.

2. What is infrastructure?:

“Infrastructure” is a broad term that appeared several times throughout Obama’s speech. The Works Progress Administration, passed in 1939, conjures up grand images of building interstate highways and national monuments. These man made objects became symbols of American imagination and innovation. Infrastructure, in this case, focuses on education and private business growth. The policy is an opportunity to rehire teachers while refocusing on strengthening an education system lagging behind many countries. On the business side, the AJA has several incentives for businesses to hire employees, including tax credits to hire war veterans and those unemployed for more than six months. Unlike the WPA, the AJA doesn’t appear to build immediate symbols of national pride – rather, it focuses on subtle issues where results won’t appear for a year, five years or perhaps a generation.

3. The political game:

There’s several issues from a political level that concern the passing of the American Jobs Act stemming from the already heated presidential election next year. The main question is “Will this pass”? Judging from the response of the GOP, the answer is clearly no. Some equate the ending of tax breaks to raising taxes, others are weary of passing another stimulus bill of this magnitude. On the optimistic side, the bill was derived from policy supported by both sides. Parts of the bill seem likely to pass immediately, while Congress debates the merits of others.

And of course, the election itself. A stagnated economy and high unemployment levels creates an opening for GOP candidates Rick Perry and Mitt Romney to take over the White House. House Speaker John Boehner said repeatedly that politics wouldn’t get in the way of millions gaining jobs. But much of the analysis of the AJA has revolved around a fractured political climate in Washington. Add that to a public already down on Congress and pessimism of all kinds prevail. More gridlock seems the probable outcome with no majority House or Senate

4. Will it “do” anything?:

The big question – will it work? First, it’s important to define success. Will the American Jobs Act promote high job and economic growth? Will the AJA promote more consumer spending? No to both accounts. But according to several economists, the AJA will immediately create jobs. Mark Zandi of Moody Analytics projects two million extra jobs. However, many of the positive effects will only be felt in a short term basis. The AJA does not address the housing market which is at the heart of the economic crisis. A pending European economic crisis throws another wrench into the equation. In that sense, the AJA does not get to the foundation of the recession and only papers over the cracks. Yet as many felt with the previous stimulus, doing something is better than doing nothing. Short term gains are tangible but not the basis for a long term strategy.

The American Jobs Act comes at a pivotal time in Obama’s presidency. A political divide, an economic divide, a recession, and uncertainty in the European financial market have created a cloudy picture. While many agree that passing the American Jobs Act will create an immediate impact, a long-term plan is much needed. Annual policies providing short-term benefits may be the new normal.

15 Sep

The “Office Spouse”: Weaving a Tangled Web or Increasing Productivity?

Articles, Blog No Comments by Rebecca Wilhoit

You might be 100% faithful to your real spouse, but if you’re reading this and you work in America, there’s about a 50% chance that you have a “work wife” or “work husband.”

The “Work Spouse” is a relatively new phenomenon, one that has received increased attention in recent years for its purported benefits and understandable risks. It’s a mixed bag, of course – 9 out of 10 work “marriages” are strictly platonic (leave it to that 10th couple to ruin it for everyone). But if you are someone who has clear-cut boundaries, a healthy “real-life” marriage full of honesty and devotion, and a challenging career, then a work spouse might be the best partner in crime you can hope for.

According to CNN, you pretty much know that you have a “work spouse” if the coworker in question has become so intimately attuned to your traits, idiosyncrasies, preferences, and hang-ups that they mimic the role your wife or husband might play in a similar setting. They might know just how you like your coffee or that you always leave your keys in odd places and have trouble finding them. They may be able to finish your sentences or spot your body language signals that a meeting is not going well. And if you have a work spouse, they will definitely be familiar with your favorite foods, music, books, the coworkers you love to hate, and the inside jokes that only the two of you are privy to.

All in all, a work spouse can be a great stress reliever in a tough work place, experts say. When the workload becomes overwhelming, having someone who understands the way you work to trade ideas with and vent frustrations with can be a huge help. A work spouse can actually help complement your strengths and weaknesses in the workplace, particularly if you work closely in the same department. For reference, studies show that those working in marketing, human resources, and sales tend to be most likely to have work spouses, while those working in finance and IT are least likely to have a work spouse.

But what about the pitfalls of a work wife or husband? Well, let’s not ignore the obvious: one or both of you could end up falling in love/lust, alienating your respective “real-life” spouses or significant others, at which point you two could end up having horribly forbidden and inappropriate interoffice sex, ruin your marriage, your life, and end up completely regretting it. Oh, and you could get fired. Does that about cover it?

But there are other potential negatives of having a work spouse that you must consider carefully. Your work spouse can end up alienating other coworkers and the two of you together could eventually come to be viewed as a modern day adaptation of the cliché old high school clique. For the sake of all interoffice relationships, it’s best not to alienate everyone in favor of this one person. Also, having a work spouse can upset your real spouse, even if you aren’t remotely sexually attracted to your work spouse and the relationship is completely platonic. Finally, sometimes in the workplace, the mere appearance of impropriety is almost as bad as the actuality. For that reason, consider that having lunch with your work spouse every single day, giggling like middle school crushes in the break room as you discuss your boss’s terrible hairpiece, or making plans to work late together on a pressing project may not be in your best professional or personal interest.

Do you have a work spouse? What benefits or burdens has your work relationship with your office wife or husband brought to your professional and personal life?