Karma in the workplace
While each religion has it’s own form of karma, today we are using the term in a general, non-religious sense to reference the good that you put out into this world, and the good you may receive. Many people are amazingly generous and kind outside of work, but when that office door opens and that threshold is crossed, those same kind people become hyper-competitive, and karma goes out of the window.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
You can be competitive and mindful of people around you, and there are some extremely simple ways you can improve your own karma at work.
1. Put it in writing
If you’re not the boss, every now and again, put your pen to the paper and send the big boss a note about someone who is doing good things. Remember when you called one of the other offices in your organization and the receptionist spent 10 minutes with you to resolve something when they could have patched you through to voicemail? Or what about when your graphic designer delivered something so much more amazing than you ever imagined and it was delivered early? Then, there was that time that you had to miss two days to travel to a funeral, and without asking, your team picked up the slack and made for a surprisingly seamless return?
Put it in writing. Tell your company founder or CEO two or three times a year that there are amazing people they’ve brought on that make this a fantastic place to be.
2. Apologize. No, not like that.
You’re 30 minutes late to a pretty important meeting, and the standard is to take your seat and mumble an apology. But to really do the right thing, email the key players after the meeting with a sincere apology.
You failed to email someone back for two weeks because, let’s be honest, you’re procrastinating because it will take a major time commitment to respond. Start your email off with an apology, but do so meaningfully – note the exact failure, deliver with the full response, and assure them that two weeks is not an appropriate or normal response time.
More importantly, however, apologize for when you’re wrong. You left a comment on an industry blog or news site, and it turns out your opinion was formed without your reading the entire article. The writer may call you on it, and in most cases, you’ll want to defend yourself because you’re in public, but don’t – if you’re wrong, say that they’re right, you apologize, and you’ll read again and form a more educated response. And afterward, tweet the story for good measure.
3. Don’t fall in love with candidates
If you’re a manager or business owner, don’t fall in love with the first viable candidate that applies for a position. There is a lot of great talent out there, but if you jump at the first match, you may be bringing someone on that is not a perfect fit. Fall in love with four candidates. Four.
When you have four to choose from, you’re not settling (which is unfair to you, and even more unfair to employees). When you meet the first candidate that is your dream candidate, although you must move quickly so they’re not snatched up by someone else, you can’t be the desperate dude in college who marries the first girl that says yes to a date with him. There’s no good karma in that.
4. Celebrate the little things
While some offices have entire committees devoted to birthday parties, and that’s great, I guess, there are more important things to celebrate that often go overlooked. Did a project get finished a day early? Celebrate! Did a major snafu get resolved? Celebrate.
This isn’t to say that every time someone meets a goal, you should have a kegger, it’s to say that you should celebrate the little things, learn from them, improve, and move forward with some pep in your step.
If you’re the boss, bring in some quality beer for an afternoon, or order the fattiest cupcakes you can get delivered. If you’re an employee without a budget, stop to celebrate your own accomplishments or acknowledge those around you who are kicking ass and taking names. Only focusing on the top accomplishments can lead to wear and tear on a team, so taking time to celebrate the little things can keep everyone motivated.
5. Never say what you can’t do
Make it a policy for yourself and your team to abolish the word “can’t.” How often do you call in to a call center for a simple question and all you’re told is “we can’t do that.” Don’t you want to throttle them and say, “then what CAN you do?”
It’s not a common sense mentality to focus on telling people what you can do, rather, our culture is trained to simply rush through problems we don’t think we can solve. When a coworker asks for your help on a project and it isn’t something you’re equipped for, explain why you aren’t a good fit, but go the extra mile and tell them that you’ll help connect them with So And So who is. If a client approaches you with a problem that you don’t have the power or capacity to solve, tell them immediately what is within your power.
There are endless ways that employers and employees can make the workplace better, but by doing good on your own, independent of policies or mandates, you will see positive results returned to you. It’s the way of the world.
Big retailers are opting for refunds instead of returns
(BUSINESS NEWS) Due to increased shipping costs, big companies like Amazon and Walmart are opting to give out a refund rather than accepting small items returned.
The holidays are over, and now some people are ready to return an item that didn’t quite work out or wasn’t on their Christmas list. Whatever the reason, some retailers are giving customers a refund and letting them keep the product, too.
When Vancouver, Washington resident, Lorie Anderson, tried returning makeup from Target and batteries from Walmart she had purchased online, the retailers told her she could keep or donate the products. “They were inexpensive, and it wouldn’t make much financial sense to return them by mail,” said Ms. Anderson, 38. “It’s a hassle to pack up the box and drop it at the post office or UPS. This was one less thing I had to worry about.”
Amazon.com Inc., Walmart Inc., and other companies are changing the way they handle returns this year, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The companies are using artificial intelligence (AI) to weigh the costs of processing physical returns versus just issuing a refund and having customers keep the item.
For instance, if it costs more to ship an inexpensive or larger item than it is to refund the purchase price, companies are giving customers a refund and telling them to keep the products also. Due to an increase in online shopping, it makes sense for companies to change how they manage returns.
Locus Robotics chief executive Rick Faulk told the Journal that the biggest expense when it comes to processing returns is shipping costs. “Returning to a store is significantly cheaper because the retailer can save the freight, which can run 15% to 20% of the cost,” Faulk said.
But, returning products to physical stores isn’t something a lot of people are wanting to do. According to the return processing firm Narvar, online returns increased by 70% in 2020. With people still hunkered down because of the pandemic, changing how to handle returns is a good thing for companies to consider to reduce shipping expenses.
While it might be nice to keep the makeup or batteries for free, don’t expect to return that new PS5 and get to keep it for free, too. According to WSJ, a Walmart spokesperson said the company lets someone keep a refunded item only if the company doesn’t plan on reselling it. And, besides taking the economic costs into consideration, the companies look at the customer’s purchase history as well.
Google workers have formed company’s first labor union
(BUSINESS NEWS) A number of Google employees have agreed to commit 1% of their salary to labor union dues to support employee activism and fight workplace discrimination.
On Monday morning, Google workers announced that they have formed a union with the support of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the largest communications and media labor union in the U.S.
The new union, Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) was organized in secret for about a year and formed to support employee activism, and fight discrimination and unfairness in the workplace.
“From fighting the ‘real names’ policy, to opposing Project Maven, to protesting the egregious, multi-million dollar payouts that have been given to executives who’ve committed sexual harassment, we’ve seen first-hand that Alphabet responds when we act collectively. Our new union provides a sustainable structure to ensure that our shared values as Alphabet employees are respected even after the headlines fade,” stated Program Manager Nicki Anselmo in a press release.
AWU is the first union in the company’s history, and it is open to all employees and contractors at any Alphabet company in the United States and Canada. The cost of membership is 1% of an employee’s total compensation, and the money collected will be used to fund the union organization.
In a response to the announcement, Google’s Director of People Operations, Kara Silverstein, said, “We’ve always worked hard to create a supportive and rewarding workplace for our workforce. Of course, our employees have protected labor rights that we support. But as we’ve always done, we’ll continue engaging directly with all our employees.”
Unlike other labor unions, the AWU is considered a “Minority Union”. This means it doesn’t need formal recognition from the National Labor Relations Board. However, it also means Alphabet can’t be forced to meet the union’s demands until a majority of employees support it.
So far, the number of members in the union represents a very small portion of Google’s workforce, but it’s growing every day. When the news of the union was first announced on Monday, roughly 230 employees made up the union. Less than 24 hours later, there were 400 employees in the union, and now that number jumped to over 500 employees.
Unions among Silicon Valley’s tech giants are rare, but labor activism is slowly picking up speed, especially with more workers speaking out and organizing.
“The Alphabet Workers Union will be the structure that ensures Google workers can actively push for real changes at the company, from the kinds of contracts Google accepts to employee classification to wage and compensation issues. All issues relevant to Google as a workplace will be the purview of the union and its members,” stated the AWU in a press release.
Ticketmaster caught red-handed hacking, hit with major fines
(BUSINESS NEWS) Ticketmaster has agreed to pay $10 million to resolve criminal charges after hacking into a competitor’s network specifically to sabotage.
Live Nation’s Ticketmaster agreed to pay $10 million to resolve criminal charges after admitting to hacking into a competitor’s network and scheming to “choke off” the ticket seller company and “cut [victim company] off at the knees”.
Ticketmaster admitted hiring former employee, Stephen Mead, from startup rival CrowdSurge (which merged with Songkick) in 2013. In 2012, Mead signed a separation agreement to keep his previous company’s information confidential. When he joined Live Nation, Mead provided that confidential information to the former head of the Artist Services division, Zeeshan Zaidi, and other Ticketmaster employees. The hacking information shared with the company included usernames, passwords, data analytics, and other insider secrets.
“When employees walk out of one company and into another, it’s illegal for them to take proprietary information with them. Ticketmaster used stolen information to gain an advantage over its competition, and then promoted the employees who broke the law. This investigation is a perfect example of why these laws exist – to protect consumers from being cheated in what should be a fair market place,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.
In January 2014, Mead gave a Ticketmaster executive multiple sets of login information to Toolboxes, the competitor’s password-protected app that provides real-time data about tickets sold through the company. Later, at an Artists Services Summit, Mead logged into a Toolbox and demonstrated the product to Live Nation and Ticketmaster employees. Information collected from the Toolboxes were used to “benchmark” Ticketmaster’s offerings against the competitor.
“Ticketmaster employees repeatedly – and illegally – accessed a competitor’s computers without authorization using stolen passwords to unlawfully collect business intelligence,” said Acting U.S. Attorney DuCharme in a statement. “Further, Ticketmaster’s employees brazenly held a division-wide ‘summit’ at which the stolen passwords were used to access the victim company’s computers, as if that were an appropriate business tactic.”
The hacking violations were first reported in 2017 when CrowdSurge sued Live Nation for antitrust violations. A spokesperson told The Verge, “Ticketmaster terminated both Zaidi and Mead in 2017, after their conduct came to light. Their actions violated our corporate policies and were inconsistent with our values. We are pleased that this matter is now resolved.”
To resolve the case, Ticketmaster will pay a $10 million criminal penalty, create a compliance and ethics program, and report to the United States Attorney’s Office annually during a three-year term. If the agreement is breached, Ticketmaster will be charged with: “One count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusions, one count of computer intrusion for commercial advantage, one count of computer intrusion in furtherance of fraud, one count of wire fraud conspiracy and one count of wire fraud.”
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