Weekly Wrap: Holiday Slacking, Job Bounties, Science of Checkout Lines

Editor’s note: This is the last Weekly Wrap of the year. Happy Holidays — we’ll return again in January 2011.

Here’s something you’ll appreciate during the Christmas season: Roughly one-third of managers in a recent Accountemps survey said employees don’t work as hard the week before a big holiday.

In other words, if you are goofing around reading this on your office computer, you’re one of those workers who has already throttled down for the end-of-the-year.

I wasn’t shocked by this survey. In fact if anything, I was surprised that the number seemed low. Only one-third of workers slacking off before a holiday? That sounds a lot better than I recall during my years of trying to manage a staff through the Christmas season.

And, it seems I’m right: employees ARE working harder around the holidays this year. The survey also reported (according to the Chicago Sun-Times) that “the good news for companies is that fewer workers apparently will be slacking off than five years ago, when a similar survey by Accountemps found 44 percent of managers said employees scaled back around big holidays.”

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The reason for the stronger holiday work ethic in 2010 is probably the same reason people have been working so hard for the last two years – they’re worried about their jobs as we slowly crawl out of the recession and economic downturn.

Here’s hoping that by Christmas 2011, our economy and jobless picture will have improved enough so that more employees feel comfortable slacking off around the holidays again.

There’s more than workers goofing off this holiday season in the news this week, and here are some other workplace and HR-related items you may have missed while doing your holiday shopping. Yes, this is a weekly round up of news, trends, and all sorts of information from the world of HR and talent management. I do it so you don’t have to.

  • Christmas tree flap in Sacramento – As a native Californian, take it from me: California can be a weird place with way too many touchy, politically-correct people. That’s why this flap over Christmas trees at a radio station in Sacramento is one of those incidents that make HR professionals want to scream. “Employers often have to walk a fine line,” the Sacramento Bee notes, “between encouraging holiday cheer and not offending those with different holiday faiths and practices.”
  • Tough year for freelance Santas — Even Kris Kringle is struggling with the unemployment thing this Christmas season. The Chicago Tribune reports that “for freelance Santas, this holiday season has been more ‘no, no, no,’ than ‘ho, ho, ho.’ Bookings have declined as paying $125 an hour for Santa to visit a holiday party has become an unaffordable luxury. It’s the second year of declining parties and events, Santas say.”
  • Some jobless are paying “job bounties” if they find work — Desperate times call for desperate measures, the saying goes, and some desperate job seekers are using a company called Career Element to help. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, it’s “ a Palo Alto start-up that allows users to post a bounty for anyone who can help them get their job of choice.” According to the newspaper, Career Element “aims to be the ‘Priceline for jobs,’ allowing high-end job hunters to offer thousands of dollars to the person who lands them a job. (And) for more blue-collar workers, San Francisco’s Job Rooster is developing a service that helps users find jobs using nothing more than text messages. “
  • Free yoga for the unemployed — Unemployed workers are constantly told that they need to be flexible during their job search. Well, here’s another way of looking at that. According to the Seattle Times, a new trend is “free yoga for the unemployed: a different kind of jobless benefit where former managers, laid-off limo drivers and others can turn to the grown-up version of nap time to ease the stress of being out of work.” The newspaper notes, “With national unemployment just below 10 percent, $20 yoga classes don’t qualify as necessities for many out-of-work people who’ve pruned luxuries from their budgets. So in a gesture that’s part send-good-vibes-to-the-universe and part community outreach, a handful of yoga studios have decided to cut the unemployed a break.”
  • Here’s why are those Christmas checkout lines so long. This nifty little video explanation by Engineer Guy Bill Hammack (and a hat tip to Mark Lacter at LABizObserved who wrote about it first) explains why that line at the department store is so long during this holiday season – and why changing to a single queue would speed it up for everyone.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.

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