Archive for the ‘work’ Category

Glass Ceiling


How thick is that glass ceiling? Astonishing stats published last week have revealed that there are more CEO’s named John running big companies in America than there are women.

For every woman chief executive of a S&P 1,500 firm, there are four men named John, Robert, William or James.

As part of our new series ‪#‎InequalityUncovered‬ we’ll be looking at stats and facts that expose just how unjust the world we live in still is…

Thanks to AP

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The psychological damage caused by unemployment is greater than previously thought, according to a study led by researchers at the University of Stirling.

Stirling’s behavioural scientists have found that , well-known to cause substantial drops in personal wellbeing, can also cause large changes to a person’s core personality.

Personality is typically considered stable across time but the researchers found that the experience of unemployment led to reduced levels of conscientiousness, agreeableness, and openness; signifying that individuals lose motivation, become less considerate and sympathetic, and less curious about the world around them. These changes were greater the longer an individual spent unemployed.

Lead researcher Dr Christopher Boyce, from the University of Stirling’s Behavioural Science Centre, said: “The results challenge the idea that our personalities are ‘fixed’ and show that the effects of external factors such as unemployment can have large impacts on our basic personality.”

Participants in the study completed at two time-points, four years apart. All participants were employed at the time of the first test. At the time of the second test, they had either remained in employment, been unemployed for one to four years, or were re-employed after a period of unemployment.

The results showed that compared with those who had remained in employment unemployed people experienced significant patterns of change in their agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness. Re-employed individuals experienced limited change.

The study suggests that the effect of unemployment across society is more than just an economic concern. The unemployed may be unfairly stigmatised as a result of unavoidable personality change, potentially creating a downward cycle of difficulty in the labour market. Public policy therefore has a key role to play in preventing adverse personality change in society through both lower unemployment rates and offering greater support for the unemployed.

Dr Boyce said: “A high national may have significant implications across society. For example, high unemployment may hinder the development of desirable social and economic behaviours, such as participation in social activities and better health behaviours.

“Policies to reduce unemployment are therefore vital not only to protect the economy but also to enable positive personality growth in individuals.”

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Lack of labour market data casts doubt on forecast of jobs needed over next decade


A new government ad publicizing a loan program for apprenticeships says Canada will need one million new skilled tradespeople by 2020

government ad to promote the new Canada apprentice loan program claims the Canadian economy will need “one million skilled tradesmen and women” over the next decade.

But independent forecasts and even the government’s own projections tell a different story.

The government pointed CBC News to “a combination of industry estimates,” several of which were written by Rick Miner, the president of Miner & Miner Ltd., a management consulting firm specializing in labour market issues.

Miner concluded that Canada will face a “major problem” with skilled worker shortages if nothing changes over the next 16 years.

But he told CBC News his projections are for overall labour and for skilled labour, not specific to the trades.

“I think you’d have a tough time finding somebody who is going to back that unless they have a real broad definition of both the trades and a broad definition of what they define as shortage,” Miner said.

“If somebody said … right now there’s a shortage of a million workers in the trades in Canada, I’d say that’s an inflated number. That’s not true.”

Asked if he could point to labour data showing Canada would face a shortage of “one million skilled trades” workers over the next decade, Miner said he could not.

The government also pointed to a 2013 estimate by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. But Sarah Anson-Cartwright, the chamber’s director of skills policy, told CBC News those forecasts originated from Miner’s older reports, which are not specific to the trades and have since been reviewed.

“The Canadian chamber does not cite the forecasts from Miner’s 2010 and 2012 reports since they are out-dated now.”

Skilled workers vs. trades

The government also pointed to a 14-year-old Conference Board of Canada report that found the labour shortfall could reach nearly a million workers by 2020.

But the non-profit think-tank revisited the report a little over a year ago and publicly said the so-called “million worker shortfall” was “not possible” and widely “misunderstood.”

“In that same report, we explained that a worker shortfall is ‘logically impossible,'” wrote Pedro Antunes, the deputy chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada, in a commentary published on Nov. 11, 2013.

“Essentially, the economy has to operate with the workers that are available — by substituting labour for capital and reducing production,” he wrote.

Antunes told CBC News the Conference Board of Canada saw fit to revisit the 2000 report because “we were seeing the number bandied about and it was an old forecast that was done over a decade ago.”

He also said the decade-old report was about overall employment and not just about the trades.

“Trades is absolutely part of it but when we talked about skilled workers, it was in general … it was not specific to trades.”​

Shortages in ‘high-skilled’ jobs

In announcing the new loan in B.C. this week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was more careful, citing “one million additional skilled workers” — not a shortfall of “trades” workers.

Even the government’s most recent projections, by Employment and Social Development Canada, show that labour shortages over the period of 2013-22 are projected “mostly in high-skilled occupations.”

According to the government’s outlook, 47 occupations are expected to face shortages by 2022, with the majority of those in the health sector.

Only six of the 47 occupations facing labour shortages are in what the government calls “trades, transport and equipment,” which includes electrical trades, heavy construction equipment crews and welders, among others.

The government does not give a projection for workers in the trades, but it does provide a forecast by different skill levels.

Occupations with significant health and safety responsibilities, such as firefighters, police officers and nurses, are assigned to skill level B, a category that also includes chefs, electricians and plumbers.

The report shows that while jobs in this wide-ranging category are “overall … projected to be in balance” over the period of 2013-22, 18 occupations in this category are projected to face a shortage of 846,000 workers.

Other estimates in the mining, oil and gas, and construction sectors predict labour shortages ranging from 116,800 to as many as 300,000 workers over the next decade, depending on the industry.

Miner said part of the reason there is no national data specific to labour shortages in the trades is because there is an absence of good labour market data overall.

Even Employment Minister Jason Kenney has acknowledged a weakness in Canada’s labour data and promised to take action, beginning with two new labour market studies at a cost of $14 million.

Apprenticeship loans

The new government ad also claims students registered in a Red Seal trade apprenticeship will be able to apply for “interest free” loans of up to $4,000 per period of technical training, but the terms of repayment make it clear the loan will have to be paid back with interest once the training is completed.

The government said ESDC consulted Advertising Standards Canada before airing the ads and verified that “requirements under the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards were met.”

The department would not say how much it was spending on the 30-second television ad.

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Architects, lawyers compared with secretaries and sales clerks

Architects, lawyers compared with secretaries and sales clerks

Regardless of IQ, people who work at complex jobs have a slightly higher chance of being better thinkers as they age, a recent study suggests.

“When we look at the association between complexity of work with people or data, we see that those in more complex jobs generally do better on a range of cognitive ability measures,” said Alan Gow, one of the study authors.

“That’s not necessarily surprising . . . but we were able to add an interesting twist,” said Gow, an assistant professor of psychology at the School of Life Sciences at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The researchers knew from earlier work that complex jobs might help protect cognitive ability later in life. So they added the childhood IQs of 1,066 people in Scotland from a 1936 study to their analysis.

They also grouped the people from that study according to profession – for example, architect, engineer and lawyer (higher thinking jobs) or typist and salesperson (requiring less complicated thinking).

The study participants, all age 70 during the new analysis, took cognitive tests that determined general thinking ability, speed and memory. Their educational and criminal backgrounds and access to services were also factored in.

By including data on IQ from the participants when they were 11 years old, “the association between more complex jobs and better cognitive outcomes is reduced, but there remains a small additional benefit for our cognitive abilities from being in more complex jobs,” Gow told Reuters Health in an email.

Childhood IQ explained about half of the difference in later thinking ability in the participants. And complex jobs were responsible for about 1 to 2 percent of the cognitive differences betweeen people later in life, according to the results in the journal Neurology.

Similar benefits to not smoking

The researchers said the cognitive benefit of a complex job was similar to the benefits of not smoking on later cognition.

“It’s been proposed, for example, that more complex work with people and data might require the deployment of various cognitive abilities; this may develop these skills, or at least protect them from decline, and people are exploring what those suggested mechanisms might actually look like in terms of changes in the brain,” Gow said.

He’s been looking at a variety of lifestyle factors that might predict cognitive ability in older people, including leisure and physical activity and social networks and support.

“The reason I focus on factors like these is that many, though not all, of course, are amenable to change. If we can identify the things that protect or harm our cognitive abilities, we will be able to provide clear information or design better interventions,” Gow said.

“I think the opportunity to use our thinking and reasoning skills and continually use them throughout our lives likely contributes to our ability to stay sharp,” said Sian Beilock, a psychology professor at the University of Chicago.

“So being able to do complex thinking and reasoning in our profession is one way to continually flex our cognitive horsepower or brain power,” said Beilock, who was not involved in the study.

Other ways to ward off cognitive decline include exercise, and remembering our strengths, rather than dwelling on what we’re forgetting, he said.

“Doing things to get rid of those worries, whether reminding yourself you have lots of experience or jotting down things (like worries) in notes . . . can help ensure you can use all the brain power at your disposal,” Beilock said.

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Earlier this year, Container Store CEO Kip Tindell said one of the most important things a leader can have is high emotional intelligence.

“Emotional intelligence is the key to being really successful,” he toldBusiness Insider’s Jenna Goudreau.

Perhaps that’s why more and more companies are asking interview questions that are designed to measure a candidate’s emotional intelligence — which is the  ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions.

According to Phil Johnson, founder of Master of Business Leadership (MBL) Inc., an online coaching platform, these are some of the most common ones:

  1. How will this role help you to achieve what you want?
  2. What makes you laugh?
  3. When is the last time you were embarrassed? (What happened? How did you handle the situation?)
  4. What activities energize and excite you?
  5. How do you have fun?
  6. What are two personal habits that have served you well?
  7. How good are you at accepting help from others?
  8. How good are you at asking for help?
  9. What is one of the internal battles to have each day?
  10. What makes you angry?
  11. What aspect of your work are  you passionate about?
  12. How could you create more balance in your life?
  13. Who inspires you? Why?
  14. On an “average day” would you consider yourself a high or low energy person?
  15. On an “average day” is your main focus on results and tasks or people and emotions?

“Emotional intelligence multiplies the results and effectiveness of intellectual intelligence,” Johnson writes in a  LinkedIn post . ” Emotional labor is the most difficult type of work to do and up until now, the easiest to avoid. It is the essential education we need to embrace the unimaginable.”

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CHICAGO (Reuters) – Thousands of U.S. fast-food workers and supporters marched in nearly 200 cities around the United States on Thursday including Chicago and Boston to advocate for a $15 minimum wage and other labor rights.

About 200 demonstrators marched in downtown Chicago starting near the Rock ‘N’ Roll McDonald’s, the largest in the city, chanting “We can’t survive on $8.25.”

Behind a thick, colorful scarf, Halle Smith, 20, was among about 50 demonstrators in frigid pre-dawn temperatures outside a Milwaukee Taco Bell.

“I shouldn’t have to have two jobs just to survive,” said Smith, who said she has earned the minimum wage for about three years and works 60 hours a week at two jobs, a Sonic restaurant and a group home.

Organizers said Thursday’s protests, under a banner organization called Fight for 15 and including the home care and airline industries, were the most expansive to date, increasing to about 190 cities from 150 in a similar protest in September. No arrests had been reported as of Thursday afternoon.

Workers planned strikes and walkouts at fast-food restaurants such as McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s, and major airports including John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City.

The union-backed actions are part of a push since 2012 for an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour from $7.25, where it has held since 2009.

Jonelle Walker, 29, a home care worker from a suburb west of Chicago who said she serves as the legs, eyes and ears of a Vietnam veteran, was among the marchers on Thursday. She said low wages in her industry hurt clients and workers, because of high turnover.

No one wants a different person in and out of their house working,” Walker said.

Marching in cold for higher wages

In the Boston area, scores of fast-food workers and their supporters filled a McDonald’s and a Dunkin Donuts in working-class Chelsea, Massachusetts, early Thursday.

Sharera Fernandez, 30, a McDonald’s worker at the Boston protest who also cares for a disabled aunt, said fast food workers are misunderstood.

“From the outside, it looks like there’s no skill involved, you’re flipping burgers,” Fernandez said. “But from our perspective, we do a lot. Sometimes you have to do more than one person’s job … It’s not easy at all.”

Melinda Robinson of Kansas City, Missouri, and her 5-year-old daughter, Mercy, marched Thursday with about 100 people in downtown Kansas City, Kansas, seeking a $15 wage and union.

“We need a living wage to be able to support our families. They don’t think we deserve it,” said Robinson, who has six children and makes $9 per hour working at a Subway.

In Knoxville, McDonald’s employee Diamond Jackson, 18, said she wants to be a nurse like her mother, but cannot afford school. “I make $7.25, and we’re out here telling people that we can’t get by on that,” she said.

About 650 federal contract workers in the nation’s capital walked off fast food jobs at landmarks like the National Zoo, organizers said. Workers said they need more than the $10.10 per hour President Barack Obama approved for workers on new contracts in January.

“We are still too poor to afford the American Dream,” said Jessenia Vega, who works at the Pentagon McDonald’s.

Advocates of higher hourly pay say full-time workers are kept below the poverty threshold for a family of four at the current wage. Opponents say the protests are tainted because they involved major labor organizations.

Fast-food chains say their locations are largely owned by independent operators who are responsible for pay rates of employees.


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Isn’t it amazing that some people you know always seem to be working hard, but never seem to get anything done? As an entrepreneur, you need to avoid partnering with these people, or hiring them at your startup. The challenge is to find people who get things done, as well as work hard. LinkedIn profiles and resumes still focus too much on responsibilities rather than results.

The best entrepreneurs never confuse motion with results. It’s easy to find people in every organization rushing around from one meeting to the next, often working overtime to generate more work for themselves and other people, but rarely taking the action to close an issue or contract. We all need more people around us who make every motion mean something.

So how do you recognize those few people on your team who are getting things done, or even recognize ahead of time those who have that potential? Such people are different, but are not necessarily the smartest or the most skilled. But they do seem to have some common characteristics and approaches that you can look for.

1. Possess street smarts, as well as skills and experience.

People like this quickly figure out how businesses really work, and how to resolve the challenges in their business. They have a special ability to cut through the confusion, dodge any head-on collisions, and negotiate compromises leading to required actions and resolution.

2. Able to avoid or navigate the politics of the organization.

Understanding politics is not the same as being a politician, or using political clout. People who get things done don’t worry about building their own image, but they are politically astute enough to find alternate routes around the political and power bastions.

3. Recognize what it takes to get leverage, but don’t blatantly use it.

The key is to be open and listen to recommendations from those who have to be moved, and find a way to create win-win situations, rather than win-lose. They get things done by using their power to get recognition for key players, rather than for themselves.

4. Maintain a laser focus on narrowing the scope, rather than expanding it.

This means effective negotiating to eliminate sidetracks, combat opinions with facts and finding the glass half-full. It requires being able to accurately assess the position of others, find some common ground and snapping people back to reality.

Related: 8 Entrepreneurial Qualities That Contribute to Success

5. Able to negotiate agreements without committing to future paybacks.

People who get things done are driven by an insatiable desire to make progress and help others. They are not looking to build a cache of favours or special attention, and are not willing to make deals that compromise the solutions and can come back to haunt them.

6. See every problem as an opportunity to innovate, rather than a chance to fail.

Obstacles are seen as innovative and creative challenges, not barriers. All the reasons something can’t be done are replaced by better ways to get it done, quicker and at less cost. Nothing is immutable, even the culture of the organization or the business.

7. Able to balance the paradoxes of highly effective leaders.

People who know how to get things done can be analytical as well as intuitive, aggressive or patient as required, and confident and humble at the same time. They instinctively know when and how to escalate issues to the right level, without stubbornly entrenching their position.

To get things done more effectively, people need to really think about each element of their work before they make a move. By culture and habit, many of us expect most of our daily work and personal activities to be pre-defined, and we just go through the paces (the way it’s always been done). We need to practice overt thinking about desired outcomes to make them a reality.

If your desired outcome is to move up in the organization, or just to get more satisfaction from your daily efforts, now is the time focus on the attributes listed above, and emulate the people on your team who get things done.

If you are the entrepreneur or executive in the organization, make sure you are the role model in execution and in hiring. That’s the only way to win in the long run.

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Introverts have been having a bit of a moment in the spotlight lately. (Ironic, since that’s the place they’re least likely to enjoy themselves.) A few dozen Buzzfeed quizzes, a New York Times bestselling book and even a viral TEDtalk have all recently celebrated what life is like on the shy end of the spectrum.

By now most of us have gotten the message that our introverted brethren aren’t actually confirmed misanthropes or constitutionally awkward.

Introversion and extroversion, as personality types, have more to do with how and where a person gains and expends their energy.

Extroverts get charged up around others and wind down when they’re alone, while an introvert’s emotional batteries are refreshed in solitude and used up in social encounters.

Introverts make up about a third of the population, but modern workplace cultures and practices are strongly geared towards the extroverted personality type.

The ways we traditionally assess, identify, and celebrate communication, creativity, and leadership qualities can lead to overlooking the unique and highly valuable ways that introverts can contribute.

Worse, the current workplace environment can stifle the development and expression of those qualities in introverts before they even get started.

This is a huge loss for both introverted employees and the organization as a whole. The good news is that it’s easy to adjust the way you work in order to help introverts shine.

The best bosses already make a point of valuing each worker’s individual attributes, and this is no different.

What Introverts Have To Offer

If you take a look at the qualities celebrated by management manuals and self-improvement books, you’re likely to see the portrait of an extrovert. Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, describes it as:

“The Extrovert Ideal — the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight.”

From job listings to annual reviews, the language describing a “perfect” employee with leadership potential is familiar: confident, take-charge, charismatic, upbeat, team player, outgoing, enthusiastic.

While some of these are qualities that many introverts possess in spades, their expression of these traits may be very different than expected, and consequently easy to overlook.

Extroverts are happy to push their ideas forward, speak up in meetings, take a risk on untested innovation, and exploit the power of interpersonal relationships and networking.

The value of this working style is clear in a corporate environment, but a quick look at some of the biggest bungles in the business world will show how terribly wrong things can go without balance.

Unchecked egos, unbridled enthusiasm, and unbounded ambition can cause a divisive and inefficient workplace at best, and corporate scandals at worst. That’s where the introverts come in.

The specific qualities of introverts are a powerful counterweight to extrovert excess. What can look like disengagement or hesitation from a distance is actually deep listening and careful thought.

Introverts also believe in self-management/autonomy, so it makes it easier on both managers and the companies. Here’s a quick CultureTalk on the subject:

What may be dismissed as a lack of enthusiasm is actually a profound respect for other viewpoints. These quiet strengths add an amazing dimension to a team if they are appreciated.

A recent study showed that in many circumstances, introverted leaders actually produce better results than their brasher counterparts, largely because they are willing to give proactive and extroverted employees the room to run with their own strengths and ideas.

This isn’t a matter of one style trumping the other, but of the harmony that a careful recognition and distribution of complementary qualities can bring to an organization.

What We Can Offer Introverts

From hiring practices to the day-to-day workflow right through promotions, bringing out the best in introverts really only requires a slight shift in perspective and a few simple changes.

For example, you don’t have to be an introvert to find meetings challenging. Competing opinions or intense brainstorming sessions can create a pressurized environment for anyone, but for introverted team members they can be completely counterproductive.

Reducing the frequency of meetings and capping the headcount wherever possible can help a lot.

It’s also a good practice to go back around the table a few times to give quieter members a chance to speak up after they’ve had some time to process.

It may be easier for an introvert to contribute one-on-one than as part of a group, so make a point of personally inviting introverted employees to meet with you privately.

As introverts often express themselves better in writing, you may also want to consider asking for follow-up ideas by email after the meeting.

Open plan offices, despite their many weaknesses, are a fact of life in the modern workplace. While the distractions, germs, and inefficiencies of this model are a trial for everyone, they are especially detrimental to the concentration and productivity of introverts, who may be overstimulated to the point of severe stress in this environment.

You may not be able to offer a private office to everyone, but consider setting aside a conference room or other quiet space for certain periods of each day, and make it available to those who could use the time alone to think and process.

Under these circumstances, the creativity of an introvert can blossom, and they may be able to get a lot more done in a lot less time.

It’s also good to remember that the rough-and-tumble nature of a dynamic office can be especially bruising to introverts. Interactions that roll off an extrovert’s back may stick much longer with an introvert: a bit of extra attention to office courtesy can go a long way.

Contrary to stereotype, introverts are exceptional team-players. They may struggle with the social aspects of working in a group, but a recent study found that over time they are ranked higher than their extroverted teammates because of their devotion and focus to the task at hand.

Helping them flourish in a group may mean ensuring that they have time and space away to recharge.

A friendly working lunch may be heaven to an extrovert, but leave introverts feeling drained and cornered: it’s okay if they prefer to eat their sandwich alone in a private corner. They’re not lonely or left-out, they are relaxing and regrouping.

It’s also important for leaders to keep a close eye on the group dynamics. Introverts are not only more likely to be the target of workplace bullying, they are also much less likely to report it or ask for help.

In general, helping introverts feel that they are a valued part of the team is important, but may require a slightly different approach. Introverts love people, and they often love company: they just often relate better person-to-person, in a calm environment, and with plenty of time.

A boisterous breakroom or the cluster around the water-cooler that are so valuable to extroverts in building their “work family” can be intimidating or off-putting to introverts.

Taking time to regularly stop by their desk for a quick check-in, remembering special dates with a quiet card, and inviting them out for a coffee now and then are much better ways to build relationships and foster a sense of belonging.

The care and feeding of introvert employees isn’t rocket science, and introverts are not fragile or exotic specimens. Understanding their habits and ideal habitats, and making a few small tweaks to accommodate their differences can have a transformational effect on a company’s cohesion, creativity, and productivity.

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