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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Are employees abusing FMLA?

Did we abuse a good thing? Employers suggest we did. Twelve years ago, one of the best things happened to workers at businesses with more than 50 people -- the Family Medical Leave Act. The law allows us to take time off after childbirth, adoption or for sickness. It created more family-friendly workplaces -- allowing for time off without the fear of losing our jobs.
Now, the Labor Department wants to know if all is well with how this law is used and employers are speaking up. They say its not the people using FMLA for family leave that are the problem, but those using it for medical leave. We were supposed to use FMLA for time off when we had serious health conditions. Instead, employers say some of us are using it to stay home Monday morning after a weekend of partying or when we have stomach aches -- not the serious health conditions intended when the law was approved. So these employers groups want the Labor Department to make changes. They also want the right to call our doctors and ask more questions about medical forms that document our need for time off when we get seriously sick. What do you think about FMLA? Is there a need for clarification?
Click here to read my article in today's Miami Herald on FMLA.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Satisfied or turned off?

So many times over my nearly 15 years of work at The Miami Herald, I've been on the verge of quitting. Life just seemed easier without being pulled in so many directions. The reason I stayed employed: money and satisfaction. I like what I do for a living. I enjoy being a role model for my children and I like contributing to the household income. But it seems I'm in the minority.
Fewer people are satisfied in their jobs each year, according to a new survey by The Conference Board, a business research organization. In a recent poll, only 47 percent of Americans say they're satisfied with their jobs, a sizable drop from the 61.1 percent who expressed satisfaction in a similar survey 20 years ago.
The survey found that job dissatisfaction is greatest among workers under age 25.
The findings show that "employers may get the talent to come in the door, but they've got to work on keeping them," said Lynn Franco, director of the board's Consumer Research Center.
What makes us satisfied?
The very highest satisfaction ratings were recorded when workers said they were satisfied with their co-workers (57.7 percent) and with their commutes (57.1 percent).
What kills our satisfaction? Money, of course.
Only about one-third of respondents said they were satisfied with their income. When asked about fringe benefits, nearly half were happy with their vacation and sick leave policies, but all other leave, health, pension and retirement plans were sources of discontent for more than six in 10 of those surveyed. (Read more online at

Monday, February 26, 2007

Don't tell me you don't like the pork chop

It's the nemesis of every working person I know: The dreaded boss, co-worker, client who becomes toxic. Last week over lunch, author Stuart Levine said one way to aim for more productivity and better work/life balance is to stay away from toxic people.
"You've got to kick people out of your life that are sucking the lifeblood out of you,'' Levine told a group of about 10 of us in the Miami conference room of Tannenbaum Weiss.
Levine says he and his wife no longer dine with people who complain the whole meal about their veal chop. "People who are toxic get less of my time,'' he says, suggesting we apply this in our work day.
Levine also advocates being direct. His book Cut to the Chase is filled with more tips on how to do that. But here's one he shared with the lunch group: when asked to attend a meeting with your boss or a client ask, "What's the agenda?'' I think that's a great way to cut to the chase.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Too busy for sex

A whopping 73 percent of women surveyed by Working Mother Magazine said that they're unsatisfied with either the quantity or quality of sex they're having. One women said she and her husband were intimate so infrequently that she felt like she had her grandmother's sex life. But guess what? Our grandmothers had more sex than we do. Back then, the average woman had sex at least twice a week. Two third of today's young wives say they are too tired to match that rate. That's a pretty high number!
Between our demanding jobs, the house, and child responsibilities, our partners get short shrift. Some advice from the expert: put sex on your to-do list. Some advice for husbands: pick up the vacuum. Survey respondents said they would increase their husbands' odds of getting lucky more than anything else is to help more with the housework.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

One Person/Multiple Careers

Great new book out by Marci Alboher, One Person/Multiple Careers. It's filled with real life examples of people who move between multiple careers and still make time for friends and family. The author calls them people living slash lives, such as poet/computer programmer or real estate agent/musician.
Multiple careers seems like a great way to avoid burnout or to keep a safe job and venture into something more risky. But how do you overcome obstacles and negotiate work arrangements? Some tips from Alboher: keep multiple business cards, multiple resumes, and find slash-friendly employers.
A big advantage: A frustration or challenge in one type of work is offset by the complementary nature of an entirely different kind of work.
Visit the author's website at

Thursday, February 15, 2007

You can't pick your team, Tim Hardaway

Wake up Tim Hardaway! In the workplace, you can't pick your team. When asked on the radio how he would deal with a gay teammate, former Miami Heat star Tim Hardaway said yesterday, "First of all, I wouldn't want him on my team. Second of all, if he was on my team, I'd really distance myself from him...I'd ask to be traded....I'd let it be known, I don't like gay people''
Well guess what Tim Hardaway? In business, you don't get to pick your teammates and basketball is business. Today, every business in our country must compete in a global economy. Basketball is no different from any other workplace, large or small. Teamwork is critical today and bosses must assemble the best team. And Mr. Hardaway, most of us need to work for a living and that means we must play with others regardless of what goes on in their personal lives.
If you were to get traded, Mr. Hardaway, you would be part of another team and chances are high that someone on that team would be gay or maybe they would be someone who sleeps around. Do you like people who sleep around? Well, if you don't, too bad. They're on your team and you can't control what they do in their personal lives. That's what the workplace is today, Mr. Hardaway. It's a melting pot of people who must play as a team, and play well, regardless of what lifestyle anyone leads in their off hours. Welcome to the global economy, Mr. Hardaway.
Until now, Mr.Hardaway you had been making public appearances for the NBA. Of course, when the NBA learned of your comments, they removed you from further appearances. Wake up, Mr. Hardaway. In business, this is how the game is played.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Couple aims for better balance

Chris Rago, 38, found himself planning a wedding and honeymoon, job hunting, combining households with his fiance and writing thank you notes for the gifts that arrive each day. Just job hunting alone is a full time job, even for an experienced marketing executive. Rago shouted out for help bringing more balance to his life and The Miami Herald came to his rescue. The photos show Rago taking tips from time management guru Leo Tonkin of Distinction Inc. He also received advice from Jeremie Barbar of ClutterBusters of the Palm Beaches and Albert Gutierrez of 1800GotJunk. All three experts donated their services to the winner of the newspaper's Balance Makeover contest.
With the help of our experts, Rago cleared his home of clutter and set up a system to schedule his time and daily tasks. Rago says the process was mentally and physically exhausting but he's thrilled with the end result. He actually purged a full bag of garbage and feels more productive in his office.
His fiance, Alexis Skigen was in New York on business when this process took place. I spoke to her before she had a chance to see her new clutter-free home office/guest room. It was eye-opening just how much clutter can affect people.
"With my current job, I'm traveling to New York every week,'' Skigen told me. "When I come home it's stressful because I'm surrounded by clutter. I make tea and go in living room to relax, but I pass by the dining room and the table is covered in papers, the couch is covered in laundry, the office is cluttered with magazines. There is no space to relax in.''
Skigen says Rago e-mailed her a photo of the de-cluttered office and she's excited to go home: "I'm so looking forward to going into the office and doing last minute wedding stuff. Now we just need to maintain it."

Monday, February 12, 2007

24/7 relationships

I can't imagine working with my husband. But plenty of couples survive and thrive in 24/7 relationships. What's the secret to being in business with your spouse?
For Kim and Carl Bolufe, who run high-end fashion boutiques in South Florida, success comes from each having their own job responsibilitiess. That gives each some personal space at the office.
The Bolufes met during a college fashion show, married and in 1993 founded Bolufe boutique in Mizner Park. They now have three locations. Kim chooses the merchandise and trains the employees, and Carl is behind the scenes handling finances.
To avoid friction, Kim says they acknowledge and except each other's abilities and limits. And, when they travel for work, they make some time for romance. The couple says working together helps their relationship: "There is a level of trust that you both are giving it your all to achieve the same goal."

While the TV crews congregated outside the Hark Rock Hotel on Friday, inside this reporter discovered more relevant news than the death of Anna Nicole Smith: Women are losing ground in Florida business. And, no one knows why.
Cindy Kushner, a partner at KPMG public accounting firm, told an audience of the top names in Florida business that fewer women than ever hold the highest paying jobs at Florida public companies. This info comes from a survey by Women Executive Leadership.
Why do fewer women hold positions in the executive suites in our state? Are they opting out because they can't balance work and a personal life?
Evelyn D'An of Women Executive Leadership, ventures this guess: Some women are starting their own companies, while some are choosing to lead a company division rather than move to the corporate executive suite. I would love to see this issue studied further.
The good news is that more women hold board seats at Florida's largest public companies. Evelyn Follit, a former senior vice president of Radio Shack, sits on the boards of Florida's Winn-Dixie and Catalina Marketing.
Follit thinks the tide will turn and we will see more gender diversity at top levels of management. Her reasons: Boomer-age executives are retiring and companies will consider women who have the right expertise. Do you agree?
For the full Miami Herald article, click here. To see the complete survey go to

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith is more interesting than our jobs

By 4 p.m. today, most of South Florida was abuzz with the news of the death of Anna Nicole Smith. I listened to the press conference on my radio in my car and my cell rang with friends asking me if I had heard the news. It quickly became clear to me: In offices around town, instead of working most of my friends were online trying to find out any bit of info they could on this celeb. Who can blame them?
Forget work. Forget deadlines, projects, e-mail waiting to be sent. One friend is so fascinated with this news, she's giving me ten minute updates. To me, it's now clear. It's way too late for the debate about using work computers for personal use. When we need the 411, we need it now - whether we're in a work cubicle or our family rooms. So on this day, when Anna Nicole Smith's death is more interesting than just about any legal matter my friend might need to finish, I'm enjoying the juicy details that websurfing allows. And, I know that many workers in cubicles nearby are enjoying them too.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Florida has great places to work

Want a few bucks to help out in an emergency? Or would you prefer some stock in your company? Maybe you should land at job at one of Florida's Best Places to Work. Four Florida companies landed on Fortune Magazine's 2007 list of Best Places to Work. Companies that grabbed a spot this year are JM Family Enterprises of Deerfield Beach at #41; Baptist Health Care of Pensacola at #54, Publix Super Markets of Lakeland at #57; Baptist Health South Florida at #81;
If you think landing on this list is no big deal, you're mistaken. It's a huge recruiting tool but its even more important for the employees who work at these companies.
I spoke with one employee at JM Family Enterprises and he told me just how important a good work environment can be. Rob Steinberg, a 29-year-old information technology professional at JM Family Enterprises in Deerfield Beach, can get his hair cut, his suit dry cleaned, and visit a doctor without leaving his workplace. While his digs the benefits and people-oriented work environment, he also enjoys having the most updated tools to do his job. And that pays off for an employer, too.
"It makes me want to work above and beyond what's expected," Steinberg says.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Want Dungy as your boss?

I would want Tony Dungy for my boss. Miami Herald sports columnist Dan Le Batard has given me reason to draw parallels between sports coaches and CEOs. And, from his description of Dungy, I would want play on his team, wouldn't you?
When the Dolphins chose Cam Cameron Le Batard gave him this advice: "the drill sergeant coach no longer fits among grown men who play a rabid insane game but enjoy pedicures, facials and massages of the body and mind." Le Batard says: "Today's most successful leaders don't bark and bite." My thoughts: Isn't this also true of bosses?
Le Batard points out that Phil Jackson, L.A. Lakers head coach, lights incense, asks his players to meditate and gives them books to read. His team respects him. In today's Miami Herald, Le Batard points out that Tony Dungy, the new winning Super Bowl coach, isn't a dictator and cringes at the idea of yelling at players or cursing.
This should be an "ah ha" moment for every boss. If you want victory in today's global business world, you need team work. And, business teams no longer respond to bark and bite!