Single Computer Screen Better than Double

I’ve written in this space before about workplace distractions, as in trying to have fewer of them. In thinking that most people would agree with that plan, I was a bit mystified as dual computer monitors became a quickly growing trend.

The research showed that productivity could be enhanced with two monitors. But that was if, and only if, you can avoid the interruptions — which can come twice as fast in the two-monitor world.

Farhad Manjoo, a personal tech columnist for The New York Times, summed it up in a recent column. He eloquently states:

In a switch that amounts to heresy among some techies, I’ve become a two-screen skeptic. Two months ago, about five years after becoming an ardent proselytizer for the Church of the Second Display, I turned off the extra screen on my desktop computer.

At first, the smaller workspace felt punishingly cramped. But after a few days of adjusting to the new setup, an unusual serenity invaded my normally harried workday. With a single screen that couldn’t accommodate too many simultaneous stimuli, a screen just large enough for a single word processor or browser window, I found something increasingly elusive in our multiscreen world: focus.

The column also noted that it can take workers as long as 25 minutes to regain focus after being interrupted. And constant interruptions create a stressful workplace.

Gloria Mark, a professor who studies workplace distractions (how does one get a job like that?) at the University of California advises that people turn off email notifications, and answer and write email in batches once or twice a day rather than every few minutes. She notes that taking up such habits requires both personal discipline and buy-in from your bosses and co-workers.

Manjoo concludes:

That gets to the blessing of one monitor. With a single screen, I was forced to fight my distractions. I had to actively prevent myself from falling into email and Twitter, from ever losing focus on my main window. It took some time for me to exercise that willpower. But by finding methods of sticking to my task rather than coping with my distractions, my single-screen machine ultimately improved how I work. It can for you, too — if only you resist the pull of two displays.

 

New Job, New Faces, New City

Congratulations! You’re about to embark on one of life’s most exciting experiences: starting a new job. It’s also one of the most stressful. Now let’s add another element to the mix: The position is in a different state. That’s right – it’s time to relocate.

Moving can bring many positive life changes (imagine all of the memories you’ll create in your new home!), but often not without some bumps along the way. So, where do you begin?

A story on Forbes.com provides several helpful tips. Staying organized, asking for relocation assistance (even if your employer doesn’t typically offer it), taking time to familiarize yourself with your new environment before you move and building a social support network can help ease the transition.

Check out Eight Tips for a Successful Job Relocation and share your input with us. What do you wish you would have known prior to moving to another city or state for a new job?

Charisma: Here’s How They Do It

A recent Inc. magazine posting explored the difference between a person who is likable and one who has great charisma. It offers the following top 5 behaviors to expand on if you prefer to be in the latter category:

  1. Charismatic people exude joy. The first thing you notice about charismatic people is the spark of life. Whether they are saviors or troublemakers, they have a strong passion that triggers powerful emotions in those around them. Even in anger, they make people feel happy to join a cause. They show obvious pleasure in experiences, and they invite others to share in the experience they are having. Enhance your charisma by sharing your passions with those around you and helping their passions flourish.
  2. Charismatic people inspire confidence. It seems that charismatic people have the world in their control. Their personal self-worth and confidence appear strong, even when they’re not. They have faith in their abilities, their knowledge, and their worth. They also know the line between confidence and narcissism. They don’t disparage or dismiss the people around them. Enhance your charisma by dampening your insecurities in favor of celebrating your strengths. Share your confidence with others so they feel stronger in your presence.
  3. Charismatic people share conviction. The times that charismatic people stand out the most is when they are driving a movement. Charismatic people believe in something powerfully and share that belief with others. Their conviction and consistent actions influence others to follow. Dedicated followers add exponentially to the energy that oozes from a charismatic leader. Apathy will kill charisma and momentum. Enhance your charisma by being diligent and committed. Inspire others by helping them engage in a common cause.
  4. Charismatic people are great storytellers. People don’t follow someone simply because they are told to do so. Moving someone to action requires context and motivation. Stories are the most effective way to get to the emotional core to break inertia. Charismatic people have a talent for spinning a yarn that connects deeply and relates directly to the action that needs to occur. Their voice, inflection, and manner are easy to listen to and pleasant. They have the ability to express drama and intrigue so people want to hear more. Enhance your charisma by learning to craft and tell meaningful, emotional stories. Practice the arts of humor, metaphor, and symbolism so you can entertain while you inform.
  5. Charismatic people connect empathetically. It has been said that when Bill Clinton speaks to you, he makes you feel that you are the only person on the planet. This is a talent of charismatic people. They genuinely and instinctively focus their eyes, ears, and soul on your being, not theirs. They make you laugh, they make you feel heard, they make you feel special or fascinated or safe or interesting. It isn’t the same feeling in every case. But people connect and stay, because they are having strong, positive emotions in the presence of someone truly charismatic. Enhance your charisma by focusing all of your energy and attention on the person in front of you. Shut down your inner voice and connect so you can see, hear, and feel the energy and information he or she is sharing.

Making Sure the ‘Service’ in Customer Service is Fulfilled

Interactive Intelligence is one of Indiana’s true technology success stories, a leader in internship efforts and, by the way, on the Best Places to Work in Indiana list for the eighth time in the nine-year history of the program.

But this post relates to a very interesting customer service experiment from chief marketing officer Joe Staples. I’ll set up the scenario below (in Joe’s own words from his initial blog post). Then check out the two links at the bottom for the very telling information he learned.

The airline in question here is not the focus; it’s customer service, no matter your organization, and what you can and should be doing whether responding to a good or bad customer experience.

In early January I had one of the most challenging travel weeks that I’ve had in a long time. Snow, ice, cold, all contributed to a series of missed flights, reroutes, and lost luggage. Now mind you, I travel enough each year to go around the world around seven times. I’m a million-miler and proudly carry my Diamond Medallion card like a badge of honor. So, I’m no travel wimp!

During my January travel troubles, I thought overall Delta provided great service. That said, over the space of the week I had good experiences and bad experiences. This got me to thinking …

Here’s the two-part experiment I’m going to conduct. Next week, as close together as I can, I’m going to send an email, launch a tweet, initiate a chat, and place a call into the service desk, all as part of my “desire to share my compliments for the great job Delta did” (I’ll cite specific examples). I’ll be sure I label my communications as a “service compliment.” Then three days later I’ll do the same thing. Only this time it will be to “voice my complaint” (again citing a specific example). I’ll label this set of communications as a “service complaint.”

My plan is to document everything: who responded; how long did the response take; what was the action taken; etc. My hope is that my experiment will show some distinctions between the various communications channels, as well as to show the difference in response to a compliment vs. a complaint.

Blog 2: Compliment

Blog 3: Complaint

Breaking Down the Pension Puzzle

I’ll summarize pensions in three short phrases: needed (in some form) to help prepare for retirement, difficult to understand and maybe even more difficult to write about.

I give it a shot in the upcoming BizVoice (available online on Feb. 28 and in the mail that same day) with the help of some really smart state and national experts. A couple of takeaways:

  • Indiana’s public pension system is in better shape than most, thanks to some long-term innovative and common sense practices
  • Traditional defined benefit plans in the private sector have largely given way to defined contribution programs (think 401{k})
  • There remain big (really big) concerns over whether Hoosiers and Americans are saving enough

Check out the numbers and the analysis in the March-April issue of BizVoice.

Got the Winter Blues? Life is a Beach at Alexin LLC in Bluffton

This Indiana winter can pretty much shove off. But today brings some welcomed relief as temperatures start to climb. Yet even more relief can be found at one Bluffton company that’s giving its employees a chance to blow off some steam at its own beach party this week. A press release has more:

Alexin LLC, a state-of-the-art aluminum billet casthouse, is planning an event to celebrate the dedication and hard work of their employees.

“This has been a tough winter for everyone in northeast Indiana,” shared Todd Johnson, vice president, technical services. “We wanted to thank our Alexin team for staying focused on business and making a difference for our customers despite the frigid temps. What better way than throwing a beach party in February?”

“It’s great to work for a company that takes time out to thank their employees in unique ways,” shared Jenny Oden, human resources manager. “I’ve been with the company for almost two years and they really show employees they care by taking time to stop and thank us in special ways like this beach party.”

The beach party will take place on Tuesday, February 18 and Thursday, February 20, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event will include palm trees, picnic lunches and signage to showcase the sunny festivities. As Alexin has multiple shifts each day, they are hosting the event over two days so they will be able to celebrate with each and every employee.

2014 Best Places to Work in Indiana Named; Rankings Coming May 1

A record-tying 100 companies, including 27 new honorees from last year, have been selected as a 2014 Best Place to Work in Indiana, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce announced today. Actual rankings for the companies will be unveiled at a May 1 awards dinner, presented in partnership with Hylant, at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis.

These top companies in the state were determined through employer reports and comprehensive employee surveys. The Best Companies Group, which handled the selection process, oversees similar programs in 21 other states.

Winners were selected from four categories: small companies of between 15 and 74 U.S. employees; medium companies of between 75 and 249 U.S. employees; large companies of between 250 and 999 U.S. employees; and major companies with 1,000 or more U.S. employees. Out-of-state parent companies were eligible to participate if at least 15 full-time employees are in Indiana.

This year saw the most number of applicants ever for the program, says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.

“We have a lot of great employers in Indiana that are providing a productive, employee-friendly work environment that also leads to success for the organization. We are happy to recognize those companies which took part in the program and encourage even more companies to join the process for 2015.”

For organizations on this year’s list that have displayed sustained excellence during the program’s nine-year history, there is additional recognition.

Hall of Fame companies are those that have been named a Best Place to Work in Indiana at least two-thirds of the time in the program’s history; a total of 23 organizations on the 2014 list meet that criteria. Two companies – Edward Jones and Katz, Sapper & Miller – have made the Best Places to Work list all nine years of the program. The Pinnacle recognition is reserved for those that have finished first in their category three or more times in a five-year period. The two Pinnacle companies are Microsoft (first in the major employer category in 2013 and in the large category in 2011-2012) and Edward Jones (tops in the large employer category from 2006-2008).

In addition to the May 1 awards dinner, winners will be recognized via a special section of the Indiana Chamber’s bimonthly BizVoice® magazine and through Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick – both of which reach statewide audiences. Additional program partners are the Best Companies Group, Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Indiana State Council of SHRM and the Wellness Council of Indiana. The 2014 Best Places to Work in Indiana awards dinner is open to the public. Individual tickets and tables are available at www.indianachamber.com/specialevents.

All companies that participated in the 2014 Best Places to Work program receive an in-depth evaluation identifying strengths and weaknesses according to their employees. In turn, this report can be used in developing or enhancing employee retention and recruitment programs.

For more information on the Indiana Chamber’s Best Places to Work program, go to www.bestplacestoworkIN.com.

In addition to Hylant, Best Places to Work in Indiana is sponsored by: Moser Consulting, Inc.; Hays Companies of Indiana; ADVISA; Elfcu, Eli Lilly Federal Credit Union; Jackson Lewis; Matrix Integration, LLC; Ogletree Deakins; and Smithville Communications, Inc.

Additional sponsorships are still available. Email jwagner@indianachamber.com for more details.

The 2014 Best Places to Work in Indiana companies listed in alphabetical order, no ranking:

*Hall of Fame companies

Small Companies (15-74 U.S. employees)
Company / Primary Indiana Location

Apex Benefits / Indianapolis
Bassemiers Fireplace Patio and Spas / Evansville
Bierman ABA Autism Center / Carmel
BlueSky Technology Partners / Noblesville
Borshoff / Indianapolis
Catalyst Product Development, Inc. / Indianapolis
Conner Insurance / Indianapolis
Courseload, Inc. / Indianapolis
Cripe Architects + Engineers / Indianapolis
Cushman & Wakefield/SUMMIT / Indianapolis
Delivra, Inc. / Indianapolis
Design Collaborative, Inc. / Fort Wayne
Diverse Staffing / Indianapolis
Diverse Tech Services, Inc. / Indianapolis
E-gineering, LLC / Indianapolis
FirstPerson / Indianapolis
Formstack / Indianapolis
Hanapin Marketing / Bloomington
Hollingsworth & Zivitz, P.C. / Carmel
Iasta.com, Inc. / Carmel
IDSolutions / Noblesville
Indesign, LLC / Indianapolis
Indiana CPA Society / Indianapolis
Indianapolis Indians / Indianapolis
Indigo BioSystems, Inc. / Indianapolis
Inovateus Solar LLC / South Bend
JA Benefits, LLC / Bedford
Leaf Software Solutions / Carmel
Mainstreet / Lebanon
National Trade Supply, LLC / Greenwood
netlogx / Indianapolis
Network Solutions, Inc. / Granger
Oak Street Funding / Carmel
One Click Ventures / Greenwood
PolicyStat / Carmel
Private Fleet Backhaul / Anderson
sgSolutions, Inc. / Indianapolis
Swagelok Indiana / Indianapolis
TinderBox / Indianapolis
Wessler Engineering / Indianapolis
Wilson Kehoe Winingham / Indianapolis

Medium Companies (75-249 U.S. employees)
Company / Primary Indiana Location

Allegient, LLC / Indianapolis
Apparatus / Indianapolis
Community Bank Shares of Indiana, Inc. / New Albany
Elfcu, Eli Lilly Federal Credit Union / Indianapolis
Financial Center / Indianapolis
Gibson / South Bend
HardingPoorman, Inc.* / Indianapolis
MJ Insurance, Inc.* / Indianapolis
MOBI Wireless Management / Indianapolis
Moser Consulting Inc. / Indianapolis
OurHealth / Indianapolis
Peoples Bank SB / Munster
Project Lead The Way / Indianapolis
Purdue Federal Credit Union / West Lafayette
Schmidt Associates* / Indianapolis
Software Engineering Professionals, Inc. / Carmel
Somerset CPAs* / Indianapolis
United Consulting* / Indianapolis
United Leasing Inc. / Evansville
United Way of Central Indiana / Indianapolis
Visiting Nurse and Hospice of the Wabash Valley / Terre Haute

Large Companies (250-999 U.S. employees)
Company / Primary Indiana Location

Appirio / Indianapolis
Ash Brokerage Corporation* / Fort Wayne
Blue & Co., LLC* / Carmel
Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company* / Fort Wayne
Centier Bank* / Merrillville
Draper Inc. / Spiceland
Duke Realty / Indianapolis
FORUM Credit Union / Indianapolis
Fusion Alliance* / Indianapolis
Hall Render Killian Heath & Lyman, PC* / Indianapolis
Hancock Regional Hospital* / Greenfield
Hosparus Inc. / New Albany
Hylant / Indianapolis
Katz, Sapper & Miller* / Indianapolis
Kendall Electric, Inc. / Multiple
Magna Powertrain / Muncie
Monarch Beverage / Indianapolis
Shiel Sexton Company, Inc.* / Indianapolis
Sikich LLP / Indianapolis
Traylor Bros., Inc. / Evansville

Major Companies (1,000+ U.S. employees)
Company / Primary Indiana Location

Aerotek / Indianapolis
Cassidy Turley* / Indianapolis
Columbus Regional Health* / Columbus
Eaton Corporation / South Bend
Edward Jones* / Statewide
Emmis Communications Corporation* / Indianapolis
ExactTarget* / Indianapolis
Hendricks Regional Health / Danville
Hilliard Lyons / Multiple
Horseshoe Casino Hammond / Hammond
Interactive Intelligence* / Indianapolis
Microsoft Corporation / Indianapolis
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. / Indianapolis
RCI* / Carmel
Total Quality Logistics / Indianapolis
Union Hospital, Inc.* / Terre Haute
WestPoint Financial Group* / Indianapolis
WOW! Internet, Cable and Phone / Evansville

Saying Thanks to the Court Reporters

I can honestly say that I didn’t give a lot of thought to the contributions of court reporters prior to coming to the Indiana Chamber and being part of our roundtable discussion in each issue of BizVoice magazine. It’s a court reporter who is capturing every word, allowing another team member or I to accurately summarize the discussions for our readers.

I also didn’t know until recently that there is a National Court Reporting & Captioning Week. It’s February 16-22. A press release from the National Court Reporters Association, with input from the Indiana Shorthand Reporters Associated, revealed:

  • A 14% growth in the profession is expected by 2020. The groups term it one of the leading career options that does not require a traditional four-year degree
  • Career options include court reporting, live-event captioning for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, and captioning for broadcast and specialized videography
  • “For years, members of the National Court Reporters Association have volunteered their time and professional skills to capture the oral histories of America’s disabled veterans. These transcripts, thousands of important histories that would have otherwise been lost, are preserved at the Library of Congress.”

Kudos to the 18,000-plus members of the national association and thanks to the team at Alliance Court Reporting in Central Indiana for their long-time partnership on BizVoice. We appreciate your efforts.

Email Flood Keeps Pouring It On

I’ve tried, unsuccessfully for the most part, to reduce the stranglehold of email on my business life. I’ve followed some of the guidelines — only check at certain times of the day, create folders for next steps, etc. — but that doesn’t seem to stop the unending flow.

A recent New York Times technology column noted that a research firm study calculated that people send 182 billion emails each day around the world. The annual total: More than 67 trillion messages. (In 2012, the numbers were 144 billion a day and 52 trillion total). Active email accounts increased from 3.3 billion to 3.9 billion, with 6% growth expected in each of the next four years.

Here are a few other observations in the Times column:

“It’s behavioral economics 101,” said Clive Thompson, author of a new book, “Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better” and an occasional contributor to The New York Times Magazine. “You make it easy for people to do something, they will do more of it.”

Studies have shown that all this email leads to an unproductive and anxiety-ridden workplace, said Gloria Mark, an informatics professor at the University of California, Irvine, who has been studying the effects of email in the workplace since 2004. Ms. Mark’s research has found that people who stopped using email at work felt less stress and were more focused and productive.

Mr. Thompson said that in the workplace, email had become a major barrier of efficiency. “People feel the need to include 10 other people on an email just to let them know they are being productive at work,” he said. “But as a result, it ends up making those other 10 people unproductive because they have to manage that email.”

Branko Cerny, founder of SquareOne, which bills itself as a stress-free email client, said that technology could help solve the problems of email on the receiving end, which SquareOne does by presorting and flagging important messages, but that only human awareness could stop senders from inundating us.

In the past, with physical letters, people put thought into what they were going to write before they sent it, Mr. Cerny said. With digital, it’s send first, think later.

The author closes with the following: “For those who can’t seem to handle the onslaught of email, there is always the extreme option. When messages pile up, select all, hit delete and declare email bankruptcy (his lead shared that was his strategy in going from 46,315 unread emails in his inbox on Dec. 31, 2013 to none on his first day back to work in the new year).”

Campaign Assists in Hiring National Guard and Other Veterans

The theme of the Indiana Chamber’s 2013 Annual Awards Dinner was a salute to the military. The video below highlights the impact of military service for some Indiana veterans and their organizations.

We’ve told you before about the American Jobs for America’s Heroes campaign and its efforts to connect employers with veterans and their in-demand skill sets. Here’s the latest:

The National Guard and other military branches are laying off soldiers at all ranks because of downsizing.  The Army National Guard is likely to reduce between 15,000 and 35,000.  The U.S. Army may lose 80,000 or more.   There will be thousands more veterans looking for jobs in addition to those veterans currently looking.

In 2013, almost 50,000 U.S. veterans of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq were homeless or in a federal program to provide housing (three times the number in 2011), according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Hiring National Guard members and other veterans creates real benefits for your company, your community and veterans and their families.  The nonprofit American Jobs for America’s Heroes (AJAH) campaign gives you free, direct access to highly trained National Guard members and other vets who are transitioning to civilian jobs.

The Guard trains in 107 occupational specialties.  Most members have put this training to work in high stress situations ranging from disaster relief to combat situations.  They are disciplined, reliable and drug free.  Guard members are focused on continuous learning and improvement so they excel in advanced job training.

Watch this short video on the success Phillips 66 has had in military hiring:

In the AJAH campaign, your free job postings flow directly to National Guard and other military employment counselors.  These counselors help you understand how military training and experience translates to your civilian requirements.

Visit the web site to learn more register online in five minutes.  A campaign counselor will contact you to set up your posting and answer questions.  All services are free.  More than 1,000 employers are already participating.