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The Recruiter is a blog for workers in technology and professional markets to learn about hot fields and hiring trends from your friends at Yoh.
Yoh is one of the largest providers of talent and outsourcing services to customers in the United States. With over 374 million USD in total sales, Yoh operates from more than 75 locations and provides long- and short-term temporary and direct placement of technology and professional personnel, as well as managed staffing services, for the information technology, scientific, engineering, health care and telecommunications communities. For more information, visit yoh.com. Yoh is part of Yoh Services LLC, a Day & Zimmermann Company.

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Editor: Bill L.
Writers: Amy D., Anna M., Connie V., Roseanne D.

 

 

October 09, 2007

Go eMail free this Friday

I know it’s a little early in the week to be thinking about Friday (well, maybe it’s never to early to be thinking about Friday…), but I came across a post from Michelle Kessler at USA Today’s Technology Blog and it got me thinking.

Michelle highlighted a trend that’s starting to take hold with companies like U.S. Cellular and Intel—eMail-free Fridays. Sounds crazy, right? An entire day at the office without using eMail? But then it hit me—how many times have I sent an eMail to the person in the office next to me, rather than getting up from behind my computer screen to discuss the issue at hand? More times than I can count.

And while I don’t think I could ever delete my entire Inbox as some prominent techies are doing, the idea of spending a day without it sounds highly appealing.

But for those of you who manage your workflow through your Inbox and absolutely cannot eliminate it even for a day, there are still ways to reduce and simplify your time spent in your Inbox.  Web Developer Edward O’Connor offers a few tips in Michelle’s post, but here are a couple others:

-   Divide and conquer.  Customize your account so that incoming messages from particular senders are sent automatically into corresponding folders. 

-   Color code. Mark all incoming messages from individual senders in a certain color. For example, all eMails from your boss can be coded red, while eMails from your spouse can be blue. Also, use colored flags to designate tasks, such as marking eMails that must be responded to immediately in red.

Set up your spam filter.  Doing so will automatically route incoming junk mail into a designated folder and reduce Inbox clutter.  Check it once at the end of the day or week to make sure legitimate messages didn’t get sent there.

Personally, I think I’ll take a stab at eMail-free Friday this week, or, at the very least, I’ll make a concerted effort to not check my Inbox constantly throughout the day. Wish me luck!

Posted by Anna M.

July 26, 2007

Making Time for Yourself

In a recent article on Monster.com, Socrates’ famous words "the unexamined life is not worth living" stood out to me, and I realized how true they are in today’s busy workplace. The article reminded me how important it is that we all make some "me time".

In today’s hectic workplace, employees wear themselves thin by not setting aside enough time for themselves, or to think about the work they’re providing for their employers—something we might not think about frequently. This is especially true for technology professionals who are constantly under pressure to produce fast results. Without taking the time to think about your work, how do you know you’re making progress or meeting the goals you’ve set for yourself?

Google has a great program in place, called "20 Percent Time." It allows its engineers to think about and work on their own projects, once a week. As a result, Google has had greater employee satisfaction and an enhanced quality of work among employees.

So, whether you make more of an effort to get away from the office on your lunch break, or simply set aside 20 minutes for yourself each morning, make sure you reflect on your assignments, and how they are affecting the over-all quality of your project or goals.

Posted by Anna M.

July 03, 2007

Fourth of July Festivities

Happy Fourth of July! It’s time for barbeques and fireworks, and of course, time away from the office. With the Fourth falling in the middle of the work week this year, you might think that the “Full-Week Fourth” is causing some problems for employers. But that may not be true.

Yesterday’s The News Journal had an interesting article on the impact of the Fourth falling on Wednesday. With 93% of businesses closed on Independence Day, according to SHRM, this is second only to Christmas and New Year’s Day, with 96%. Employers are finding that employees are taking advantage of this timing by turning their Fourth of July holiday into a five-day weekend, taking either Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday off as well.

But employees who are planning for the long weekend may actually be helping their bosses. Not only does time off improve an employee’s job satisfaction, but during a week with a vacation day in the middle, employees might be unmotivated to be in the office.

So, if you’re taking the time off, enjoy it, you may be helping out your employer in the long run. If you’re just spending this Wednesday celebrating, enjoy the break in what may have been another long week. Happy Independence Day!

Posted by Anna M.

June 04, 2007

Working hard, or hardly working?

There was a great article in today’s New York Times that caught my eye: “Time Wasted? Perhaps It’s Well Spent.”  The writer talks about several studies that have come out recently on efficiency in the workplace.  There are some different theories, but the theme running throughout is that Americans are not really hard at work for 8 hours a day.  Whether it is useless meetings or surfing the web, chances are you’re being pulled away from your work countless times during the day.

The other side of the story is that we are working far less traditional schedules than used to be common.  Whether you are in a program like ROWE, or just someone with a Blackberry, most of us do not walk out of the office at 5:00 and leave work behind.  In fact, the article states that almost of half of small-business managers in the U.S. are checking eMails and making phone calls while driving, while 18 percent are even checking in with their eMail in the bathroom.

The question that comes to mind is which came first, the chicken or the egg?  Are we shopping online and reading blogs during the day because we work too many hours, or do we have to work extra hours because we’re not finishing our work between 8 and 5? 

The article is definitely worth checking out and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.  Does this sound familiar, or do you think that you’re able to stay focused on work?

Posted by Christy H.

May 29, 2007

Best Buy takes work-life balance to new level

If you haven’t read about it yet, Best Buy has instituted a new policy for employees in its corporate office that’s been getting a lot of attention.  The program is called ROWE, which stands for Results Oriented Work Environment. 

The general idea is that employees are judged based on output, not based on the number of hours in the office.  Workers can basically come and go as they please without making excuses.  According to J.D. Bliss’s blog, voluntary turnover has decreased significantly, while productivity is up an average of 35% since the program’s implementation.

As we’ve seen in the past few years, an emphasis on work-life balance has been more and more important for people when looking for a job.  But is this taking it too far?  Will employees do the bare minimum required to be considered productive, or will the flexibility motivate workers to go above and beyond?

I haven’t seen anything concrete about how employees are being paid, but presumably this program could work for both salaried and hourly employees.  For salaried workers, as long as they meet their goals, they get paid.  As for hourly workers, they can still work their 40 hours, but the hours could be put in overnight, or from their couches in theory, as long as the work is getting done.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this program and whether this is something that would attract you to a job.  Do you think you could stay motivated enough if you could leave work whenever you felt like it?

Posted by Christy H.

May 17, 2007

BlackBerry Addiction

Always checking your eMail after work hours have ended? You’re not alone. The New York Post did a piece on the downside of always being connected. Sara Stewart’s “Being Plugged in Lets You Work Anywhere—and that’s the Problem” definitely resonated with me, as I’m sure it will with a lot of you.

Let’s face it, there are a lot of benefits to being able to work from home. As the article points out, it allows you to spend time out of the office. And if there is an emergency situation at the office, you can be reached to diffuse it. However, always being available has its downfalls, the major one being that it blurs the line between work and play.

It’s important to keep some time for yourself after the work day ends. Yes, many bosses expect their employees to make themselves available, but that doesn’t mean you need to keep your BlackBerry glued to your side all night. Why not set aside time once a night to check your BlackBerry or eMail? This way, you won’t have to worry about missing an important call or eMail, but you also won’t have to sacrifice valuable free time.

If you have any other suggestions for being disconnected after office hours, I’d love to hear them.

Posted by Jim L.

January 23, 2007

Managing Expectations

Now that we are in the season of performance reviews and new projects, it is a good time to think about how you will manage expectations on your projects and initiatives throughout the year so that you don’t hear the dreaded phrase, “you should have managed their expectations better.”

A recent article by Jared Sandberg from the Wall Street Journal’s Career Journal, should particularly be of interest to all you project managers out there.  The excellent title aside, “Why Preparing for Failure Can Bring You Success,” the idea of managing expectations by budgeting time delays for projects is nothing new; however, some of the reasons why people lower expectations are of interest.  It turns out that it’s not just procrastination - psychology is also involved. 

According to Sandberg’s article, “One explanation for why managing expectations downward works so well may be the psychological phenomenon of ‘anchoring,’ or the tendency to overvalue an early piece of information, such as an expectation set by an employee.” 

Even as new information surfaces, notes Max Bazerman, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, "We adjust insufficiently. Wherever we start from has a significant influence on our final estimate."

So while we at The Recruiter will never recommend padding excessive delays into your next project, make sure the expectations and estimates that you set early are accurate and can be measured.  This can be achieved by listening to your clients and making sure that you understand their expectations, not what you think they want. 

Posted by  Janet F.

October 20, 2006

Manage Your Time

Are you using the same techniques that you used last year and four years ago to manage your phone calls, your eMail, and your long-term projects? This could be adding to your daily stress levels. An increased pace at work along with new technology demands that you have a method for integrating changes. Denise Landers gives clear-cut advice on how to get organized in Time Management: Defining Stupidity.

After reading her article, we thought we’d share some things that could help you improve your productivity.

  • Find ONE system of organization that works for you and run with it.
  • Start and finish each day with a clean desk. It will help you have a clear head to tackle the days work.
  • Have no more than 6 items on your to do list each day. This has been said to increase productivity by 20%. More than six items in one day is probably not going to all get done. If  a task is missed, place it in one of the first slots for the following day.
  • Do not be easily distracted by eMails, coworkers and phone calls. If you are in the middle of a task, complete the task first and then address the other issues in time.

Denise Landers offers more tips and a self evaluation on how you can become better organized in your office.

Posted by Stacey A.