The Snitch

Just a little of everything HR

Archive for September 2012

The Office Snitch: Office romance? No thanks.

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Office romance has made headlines again, thanks to new allegations at the BBC about co-workers knocking boots during and after office hours.

I can understand the lure of an office romance. There’s that whole impulsive risk-taking element to it that spices up an otherwise boring work day.

But despite having witnessed successful office romances – I am a product of office romance (my parents worked together for years before running off into the sunset) – I just don’t think it’s something I’d be up for.

Responding to the reports about BBC romances, novelist Jilly Cooper wrote in her book How to Survive the Nine to Five office romance is like “catching the measles”, The Telegraph reported.

“Once one director discovers another director is knocking off his secretary, he starts wondering why he shouldn’t have a bit on the side as well,” she said.

True. Another good point was made by romance novelist Jojo Moyers, who met her husband while working at the Independent.

“At work you see people at their worst as well as at their best – so you get the hung over mornings and the days when everything’s gone wrong, and not just the fully primped and preened person you might meet at the wine bar,” Moyers said.

It’s a bit like my theory about falling in love at the gym. If you’ve seen someone at the worst and still want to go home with them, then it has to be true love, right?

One of the reasons I would prefer to stay out of an office romance is simply because the office isn’t very big, people will talk, and a break up (should one happen) might make things awkward. I really don’t need someone in accounting feeling sorry for me because I broke up with that cute guy in circulation.

Another reason is the fact that I have to be with my significant other nine to five, and still have to deal with him at home. Yes, I know if its real love, you’d want to spend all your time together, but I like being able to come home and spill the ups and downs of my day with someone over a good dinner and some drinks.

I can’t really do that with someone who’s already seen (and probably was part of) what happened in the office that day.

But, if you’re convinced that boy or girl in marketing is the true love of your life, here are some tips courtesy of Forbes on how to come out of an office romance without a broken heart or too much gossip at the water cooler.

Don’t date up or down

Yes, there’s an extra thrill of dating someone you’re reporting to, or a subordinate, but you are just opening yourself up to a can of worms. Dating an employee who is reporting to you could lead to a sexual harassment charge if things ever go sour, and dating upwards would just spin the rumour mills faster.

Don’t keep it a secret

Some companies require dating colleagues to officially declare the romance and sign a “love contract” to confirm the relationship is consensual. It protects both employees and the company from complications if the relationship ends.

Keep it offline and out of sight

Avoid using your work email or IM services when sending those “I miss you xxx” and “Can’t wait for 6pm” messages. Just because you’re okay with the romance, doesn’t mean your colleagues are. Public displays of affection can make someone else in the office uncomfortable… or jealous.

Don’t date a team member

Can you imagine having to work with someone who broke your heart into a million pieces and did not reciprocate that love poem you wrote and published on Facebook? Awful. Just awful.

And here’s the biggest piece of advice on dating someone, and it comes from a source I trust – my editor, Rebecca Lewis. She met her partner at work (and they worked on the same team!) about five years ago, so she’s probably the best person to dish out some advice.

“Never, ever, act like a couple at work,” Rebecca said. “You want to be able to prove to your boss – who will find out about the relationship eventually – that having your beau at work does not affect your abilities to act professional and perform well in your job.”

She added another huge must do is to leave your personal relationship problems at the office front door.

“I knew I’d succeeded at this when a former colleague said to me, after she’d been with the company for six months, ‘Wait, you two are in a relationship? Since when?’ To her, we just looked like friendly colleagues,” she said.

So there you go. If you must fall in love at work, approach with caution. Like all relationships, it may or may not work, but at the end of the day, I’m still a romantic at heart, so carry on with the loving if you think you and your partner can manage it.

If you’ve ever been in an office romance, drop us a message. You know we always love a juicy story or two!

Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

September 28, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Has Mayer lost her marbles?

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Marissa Mayer’s appointment as Yahoo’s latest CEO has fascinated me from the get go. Maybe it was the company’s failure over the last few years to hold on to a leader (Mayer is the company’s fifth CEO in five years) or the fact that she jumped ship from Google.

Either way, I’ve been keeping close tabs on her first few months as the captain of a struggling ship, lapping up every article or comment on her leadership attributes.

In her defence, I think she’s been doing a super job. Not only has she got Yahoo back in the limelight, but she has streamlined its organisation to run more effectively in an ever-increasing competitive market.

But the latest development to pop up on my news feed is probably one of the most interesting – and relevant one yet.

Business Insider is claiming Mayer vets every resume that comes through Yahoo’s purple doors to make sure the next hire is up to her standards. The same article reports Yahoo has 15,000 employees and is on a constant hunt for new people.

I’m a journalist so I am rubbish at math, but let’s break down the numbers. A couple of articles (here and here) suggest recruiters spend 10 seconds or less reading a resume. So, let’s assume Mayer spends 10 seconds on a resume, give or take, and perhaps an hour a day on this task (I’m sure she has other Yahoo-y things to do, like give each employee a smart phone).

That brings it’s down to six articles a minute and 360 resumes an hour. For one, that does not sound like an easy task and secondly, how time effective is that?

Yes, bringing in the right people is mission critical to the success of any organisation, regardless of how big or small. But sources Business Insider spoke to said it was a process that is costing Yahoo good candidates because let’s face it, not everyone is going to stick around waiting when the job economy is still not as its peak (especially in the States).

There is no shortage of literature on the importance of screening talent from the moment they walk in for an interview. Companies are constantly falling over themselves trying to grab on to talent who have that extra edge.

However, in an organisation as big as Yahoo, one would think Mayer has a team capable enough to screen and weed out the best possible candidate available.

As much as I like Mayer’s no holds barred approach, I can’t help but wonder if she’s micro-managing a tad too much. Do you think Mayer should let go of the reins and allow talent to stream in as the organisation – and not just the leader – sees fit? Or do you agree that the CEO should have a strong input in who’s in and who’s out?

Leave us a note here or tweet us at @Mag_HR. Have a great weekend, and enjoy the thrills and spills of the F1 if you’re in Singapore this week!

Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

September 21, 2012 at 10:15 am

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The Office Snitch: The fate of my professionalism seems out of my control

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As we all probably know by now, I have a love-hate relationship with my Facebook account.

On one hand, there is no doubt Facebook is one of the biggest threads tying my social life together. Even as I’m writing this article, I am (and please don’t tell my boss) catching up with an old friend who has moved back to Canada, tracking the development of a story on a company’s news feed and checking out photos of a party I missed last night.

But on the flip side of that, Facebook has opened up an entire world that I am sometimes uncomfortable sharing with those outside my close circle of friends. That said, I did panic a little bit when I came across an article last night which revealed employers place a lot of weight on the comments left under profile photos when trying to get a better understanding of a candidate they are stalking – oops I mean – doing a background check on.

The study by the University of Missouri found those comments are one of the biggest indicators of your social status, so unless you’re spending your free time moderating comments left by your peers, you’ve pretty much left everything in their hands.

The research found, unsurprisingly, those with positive comments on their profile photos were perceived to be more socially and physically attractive, The Daily Mail reported, fueling human’s tendencies to believe opinions from others more than “self-generated information when forming impressions”.

“Thus, for social networking users concerned about forming a desired impression, being aware of other-generated information about oneself is paramount in the goal of achieving a positive self-presentation,” Seoyeon Hong, one of the  doctoral students who conducted the study, said.

It’s no secret employers have taken to the online streets when researching potential employees (although some have gone slightly overboard). Hence, it once again brings up the question of how much is really too much when one goes online.

Bianca Bueno, talent management consultant for the entire WPP family here in APAC, agrees information found on Facebook profiles are valuable to people like her when sourcing candidates. “A few snippets are more telling than a rehearsed answer to my questions,” she says.

“It’s like that old saying, ‘It’s not what they say about you, it’s what they whisper’.”

Did I immediately log onto Facebook and reread every single comment that’s been left on my profile photos since 27 September 2007? Yes. Did I do a bit of housekeeping? Yes.

My easiest solution to all this is to put my Facebook page on tight security lock down, making it accessible to no one outside my direct acquaintance circle. You know, just in case something unfavourable slips out.

Michael Wright, who heads up the talent acquisition team for GroupM in the region, is quick to agree with me, adding it’s not a bad idea to set high privacy settings because a clear distinction is needed between one’s professional and personal lives.

“I don’t believe it is a sound HR practice to take Facebook as a reference point for candidate’s ability to do a job,” he adds.

Fair point. Just to be on the safe side, I’m still putting everything on extra high privacy settings, but let me know your two cents on this. How public are you online, and do you really take into account comments posted on a candidate’s profile when listing out the pros and cons of the hire?

Leave a note here, or tweet us at @Mag_HR. Enjoy the weekend, I know I will – but I’ll definitely be avoiding taking comprising photos that might make it to your refreshed news feed. Cheers!

Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

September 14, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized