Monday Mornings with Madison

Is Employee Turnover the Workplace Epidemic of 2021?

Word Count: 1,312
Estimated Read Time: 5 ½ Min.

With over 50% of the U.S. population now vaccinated (specifically half of all people ages 12 and over in 26 states have had at least one shot) and all states now officially fully re-opened for business, the U.S. economy has started the long, slow process of recovery.  As companies reopen physical locations, employees are being asked to return to work.  But what that will look like going forward is likely to differ from how it looked before March 2020.  No one doubts that there will be a New Normal.  That’s because although it took time and money for businesses to shift all of their employees to remote work, shifting them back may be even more costly, difficult and – in some cases — impossible.  The reason:  many of those employees don’t want to shift back.

Most U.S. employees have embraced “work-from-home” or WFH.  They don’t want to return to the hassles of ‘going to work’.  Work, yes.  Going to, no.  They don’t want to go back to workplace attire.  Uncomfortable.  Expensive.  Dry cleaning.  They don’t want to hassle with the troubles associated with commuting to and from work.  Time waste.  Traffic.  Parking.  Gasoline.  Car repairs.  Car accidents.  Traffic tickets.  They don’t want to resume paying for childcare and aftercare for their kids.  It’s not surprising that going to work is far more taxing, demanding and expensive for employees than working from home.  And WFH affords much more flexibility. Continue reading

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Sense of Humor and Success, Part 3

Word Count: 1,398
Estimated Read Time: 5 ½ Min.

Humor, Laughter and Power

What do we know about laughter?  Everyone knows it feels good to laugh.  But have you ever marveled at how we laugh at just the right times?  We do it without consciously knowing why.  Laughter is not only totally spontaneous but also primarily social.  In fact, we are also 30 times more likely to laugh when we are with others than alone.  So, while laughter may make us feel good, it relies heavily on an audience.  Research confirms that laughter is a social construct, much like language, except that it is an unwitting response to social and linguistic cues.  When we laugh, we do it much more for others than for ourselves even though the serotonin released when laughing feels great.

What else do we know about humor and laughter?  What fundamental purpose does laughter serve?  Here’s what researchers have found. Continue reading

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Sense of Humor and Success, Part 2

Word Count: 1,727
Estimated Read Time: 6 ½ Min.

Appropriate Humor at Work

Most working adults don’t laugh much… and especially not at work.  A study shows that babies laugh, on average, 400 times a day whereas adults over the age of 35 laugh only 15 times a day.  Laughter starts to decrease around the age of 23, right around the time that people start working full time.  That’s likely because jokes, gags, slapstick comedy, and especially pranks are frowned on at work… seen as a waste of time or distraction from work.  Even mild humor like puns, irony and parody provokes eye-rolls as often as chuckles.  And not knowing how often to joke and what kind of humor is appropriate at work creates all kinds of HR problems.  So many workers opt to avoid humor altogether rather than get in trouble for kidding around in ways that offend, harass or are seen as just plain lollygagging. Continue reading

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Sense of Humor and Success, Part 1

Word Count: 1,409
Estimated Read Time: 5 ½ Min.

Did you hear the one about the Spanish-speaking magician?  He told the audience he would disappear on the count of three.  “Uno.”  “Dos.”  But he disappeared without a Tres.

That may not have made you laugh (except maybe for its corniness), but laughing is good for us.  Humor acts a mood enhancer and a kind of grease that soothes friction points between people.  It’s like WD 40 for the soul.  Reframing a negative event in a humorous light acts as a kind of emotional filter, preventing the negativity from triggering depression.  In fact, studies have shown that it actually helps people who suffer from depression from relapsing and those at risk of depression from having a depressive episode. Continue reading

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Being Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

Word Count: 1,624
Estimated Read Time: 6 ½ Min.

Comfort.  We all desire comfort; lots of elbow room and loads of personal space. The word itself conjures images of luxury.  We want our homes to have pillow top mattresses, plush cushions, soft blankets, and reclining padded chairs.  We want to wear comfortable clothing like sherpa-lined hoodies, fleece-lined jogging pants, and luxuriant terry-cloth robes.  We want to eat comfort foods, like gooey grilled cheese sandwiches, creamy mashed potatoes, warm buttered biscuits, soft banana bread, and, of course, mom’s chicken noodle soup.  And when it comes to our emotional and mental well-being, we all strive to stay ‘in our comfort zone’… that place where things are familiar, balanced and even a little predictable. Continue reading

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Overcoming the Positivity Paradox

What could possibly be wrong with being positive?  People love a person with a positive attitude.  Positive people are usually smiling, cheerful and enthusiastic.  At work, they have a can-do disposition and a cheerleader-like energy.  They want to encourage everyone around them to do their best and be their best.  Super positive people always look at the bright side of any situation and are unflappable in their genial disposition.  These perpetuators of positivity are ready to praise every plan, support every initiative and embrace every idea.  When they aren’t using their hands to applaud, they are busy patting coworkers on the back or high-fiving colleagues in the hallway. Continue reading

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Driving Your “Me” with Your “My”, Part 2

Word Count: 1,760
Estimated Read Time: 7 Min.

A century ago, the idea of conservation, preservation and sustainability was still fairly novel.  Manufacturing was changing the way the world made and consumed goods.  Assembly lines and piece work were becoming the norm.  Manufacturing lowered the price of goods making it possible for the multitudes to afford tools that allowed them to live easier, more comfortable lives.   Thanks to manufacturing and technological advances, men and women became more independent, self-reliant and free to pursue education and opportunities.  Free from the grind to survive, people could focus on taking care of “me/I” and worry less about taking care of the greater good.  With all the advances, population soared.  What emerged was consumptive consumerism, waste and pollution. Continue reading

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Driving Your “Me” with Your “My”, Part 1

Word Count: 1,651
Estimated Read Time: 6 1/2 Min.

Most companies are driven by a desire to “do well” — make money, grow, increase brand reputation, gain influence, etc.  Professionals are usually driven by the same desires – make money, gain prominence and respect, increase power and control, rise through the ranks, etc.  Doing well is inner-focused.  It is driven by I and Me, as in ‘I lead a profitable company’ and ‘This raise is a financial boon for me’.   In the U.S., admiration is bestowed on individuals and businesses that do well according to these measures.  It is a competitive landscape that rewards self-interest and self-promotion.

Then there are those who are driven to “do good.”  “Doing good” is different from “doing well.”  Doing good is outwardly focused.  It is about helping those in need, making the world a better place, solving global problems, and caring about the community and collective.  It is outward-focused and other-centered.   It is driven by My and Our… as in ‘My community matters’ and ‘We need to care for our planet.’  Doing good is fueled by a sense of personal responsibility for the greater good. Continue reading

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Why Personality Type Matters at Work – Part 5

Word Count: 1,688
Estimated Read Time: 6 1/2 Min.

Hiring and Neuroticism

Call someone “neurotic” and it will surely be taken as an insult or slight.  But the truth is that everyone has some degree of neuroticism in their personality.  It is not an insult, any more than saying that being introverted or casual or reticent is an insult.  That’s because Neuroticism is the fifth of the personality traits in the OCEAN Model or Big Five Personality Model.  (Over the last month, we already looked at the other four areas: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, and Agreeableness.)  Naturally, we left neuroticism for last.  It just sounds so negative.

So what is neuroticism?  Neuroticism reflects how a person deals with negative emotions including fear, sadness, anxiety, guilt and shame.  These are emotions everyone experiences, but how much they affect us and how we deal with them varies from person to person.  This reflects their degree of neuroticism on the spectrum.  On one end are those people who have a high degree of neuroticism.  Those are people who experience negative emotions more intensely and/or more often.  On the other end of the spectrum are those who have a very low degree of neuroticism and are not affected by negative emotions as much. Continue reading

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Why Personality Type Matters at Work – Part 4

Word Count: 1,645
Estimated Read Time: 6 1/2 Min.

Hiring for Openness

Openness is one of the Big Five personality traits.  It is the trait that most people are happy to possess in the extreme.  No one readily admits to being closed-minded or enjoying repetition and ruts.  Few will own that they don’t have a single creative bone in their body.  But the truth is that people come with a variety of personality features, including degrees of openness.  So how does the openness personality trait manifest in reality, and how does that impact a person professionally? Continue reading

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