5 Things to Talk About On Your Lunch Break

In case you missed it, it’s hard keeping up with all of the news and trends. We have you covered. Before you head out to lunch, here are 5 trending topics that will make you look like a smarty pants!


This just in: 211,000 jobs added in November

Friday morning the Labor Department announced that the economy added 211,000 jobs in November; the unemployment rate remains unchanged at 5%. According to The Wall Street Journal, “The report suggests employers have shrugged off recent stock-market turmoil and economic weakness abroad, including a slowdown in China. November’s solid hiring lifted average monthly job growth to 218,000 over the past three months, up slightly from the solid pace over the past year.”


Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan plan to donate 99% of Facebook shares to charity

In the open letter read around the world, Mark Zuckerberg announced that he and his wife would donate 99% of their Facebook shares – worth $95 billion – to charity. The heartfelt letter written to their daughter Max discusses the hopes that their contributions will help her generation advance human potential and promote equality. The newly formed Chan Zuckerberg Initiative – which was formed as an LLC – is focused on “personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities.” Since the announcement several media outlets have speculated on the formation of the unconventional philanthropy. Check out some of the coverage!



Fewer companies are throwing holiday parties this year, but why?

This week SHRM released its annual survey on end-of-the-year office holiday parties. The results? Thirty percent of HR professionals surveyed said their company does not usually have year-end parties for all employees. The reason? One could speculate lack of interest, risk of over excessive drinking, or financial strains. Are office parties fab or drab? You weigh in the comments below!


Sizzling! The hottest jobs in 2016

Our friends over at CareerBuilder teamed up with Economic Modeling Specialists Inc. to dig through data on the trendiest jobs they expect to see in 2016. So if you’re looking to shift careers, or just want to see if your career of choice made the list, here are the top ten!


  1. Registered nurses: 199,082 more jobs posted than people hired
  2. App developers: 83,649 more jobs posted than people hired
  3. Marketing managers: 83,183 more jobs posted than people hired
  4. Sales managers: 52,808 more jobs posted than people hired
  5. Medical and health services managers: 51,833 more jobs posted than people hired
  6. Network administrators: 51,068 more jobs posted than people hired
  7. Industrial engineers: 47,279 more jobs posted than people hired
  8. Computer systems analysts: 46,852 more jobs posted than people hired
  9. Web developers: 45,790 more jobs posted than people hired
  10. Financial managers: 39,906 more jobs posted than people hired


For more insights on the data and trends, check out Jessica Stillman’s article on Inc.


What telecommuting looked like in 1973

In 2015, telecommuting is part of everyday business structure, but back in 1973 the idea of telecommuting was just a budding theory. The Atlantic published an article this week covering the founding document of telecommuting, which is a 1973 book called The Telecommunications – Transportation Tradeoff. According to the article, in the book, “lead author Jack Nilles, former NASA engineer, proposed telecommuting as an ‘alternative to transportation’—and an innovative answer to traffic, sprawl, and scarcity of nonrenewable resources.”


Research for the book was sparked largely in part by the energy crisis of the 1970s. With gridlocks and traffic jams becoming increasingly common, the authors looked to redesign how employees commuted. They urged companies located in big cities to open offices in less populated areas within the region, alleviating the commute for employees in that location.


While they couldn’t predict the Information Age, they did mention that new technologies “have the potential for acting as catalysts that could radically change the structure of American society in much the same way that the automobile acted as a catalyst on our way of life during the first half of this century.”


Check out the full article for more info!


ICYMI: The realities of unpaid overtime, the aging workforce and HR

Well, we can’t say we didn’t see this coming! In case you missed it (ICYMI) millennials took over the American workforce this week. According to Pew Research, for the first time, those kids aged 18 to 34, are now the largest segment of the workforce. But enough about millennials, let’s go through this week’s trending topics on the workforce, learning and development, and human resources!



The fight for overtime pay

Eighty percent of respondents to a Public Policy Poll said that that individuals making more than $23,000 annually should be allowed to receive overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours a week. Even more so, 65% of respondents indicated they supported overtime pay for people earning up to $75,000 a year.


According to the New York Times, President Obama, “direct[ed] the Labor Department to revamp its regulations to require overtime pay for several million additional fast-food managers, loan officers, computer technicians and others whom many businesses currently classify as ‘executive or professional’ employees…”


As of today, employers are prohibited from denying overtime pay to salaried employees making less than $455 per week or $23,600 a year, if they go over 40 hours a week. “Executive employees” are exempt from the overtime pay.


Read Fortune’s article, Extra pay for all! Americans want almost every worker to earn overtime, for more information!



To do better in the world, we need better HR

HR bashing isn’t anything new. And, many HR departments are making great strides to debunk their reputation and change their perception and value. This week, The Atlantic published an article titled, To Do Good in the Word, Get a Better HR Department, which highlights what the workforce wants from HR and various ways HR can drive positive change.


Let’s rewind back to millennials for just a minute. The Atlantic article cites two surveys that frame the state of the workforce:


“According to a Deloitte survey earlier this year, 47 percent of Millennials believe that the “purpose of business is to ‘improve society/protect the environment.’” Eighty-three percent of the 3,000 MBA students polled by the nonprofit Net Impact would take a 15 percent salary cut “for a job that makes a social or environmental difference in the world” (a positive difference, one would presume).”


According to The Atlantic, here’s how to drive positive change in HR:


  • Stop the “seemingly pointless paperwork”
  • Help the company do good (and they’re not talking about employee engagement programs!)
  • Proactively eliminate the “unconscious bias”


Check out the full article packed full of great advice and real life examples!


It’s not just you: Work-life balance is getting harder

A recent Inc. article confirms what we already know to be true – maintaining a work-life balance is getting harder. The article features an Ernst & Young poll of 9,700 workers in the U.S., Germany, Japan, China, Mexico, Brazil, India and the U.K., and  1/3 of the respondents agree that it has become increasingly more difficult to find a work-life balance in the past five years.


Get the full skinny on the difficulty to achieve a proper work-life balance, here!


The aging workforce: Use it or lose it!

Kate Everson, an associate editor for Chief Learning Officer Magazine, commented on a study republished by Science Daily, which examined how engaging, stimulating activities affect the brain even after older employees have moved into retirement.


The article takes a learning and development approach to the study. Here are two great suggestions from the article that are worth reading (and maybe even doing!).


“Learning leaders can help to instill a habit of prioritizing passions. Have a 50-something employee who wants to know more about web design? Include them in a training session that challenges them to learn advanced HTML coding.


Or kill two learning priorities with one mentorship. Lodi-Smith said retirement can be particularly difficult for those who love their jobs and include them as part of their identities. For example, “I am an accountant.” Well, as of your 65th birthday, not so much. Consider setting up a mentor relationship with your devoted retirees so they can transfer their knowledge to the younger set and stay social and engaged in what they love.”


Read the full article on CLO, here.


That’s all for now!

Eat. Pray. Work.

I am getting ready for vacation and asked a few friends for book recommendations. I wanted something fun (and dare I say trashy) that I won’t be humiliated to be seen with reading at the pool or beach.


A friend of mine recommended Eat, Pray, Love, a book that I love (not so much the movie), but already read. All of this got me thinking about taking paid time off (PTO) and the overwhelming guilt we feel taking time for ourselves.


Unfortunately enough we live in a society where people live in fear of taking paid time off. A recent survey from the U.S. Travel Association reported that 41% of American workers do not plan to use all of their PTO, despite it being part of their work compensation plan. Yet, of those surveyed, 96% recognized the importance of taking time off.

Why can’t we just relax and enjoy some well-deserved recharging time?

We know that taking vacation time helps reduce stress and has benefits for both our physical and mental well-being. It has been proven that when people take a break from the daily grind their health improves – lower blood pressure, reduction of anxiety and increased sense of wellbeing.  Vacation time helps us come back to the office refreshed and ready to face the challenge of another day.


So, how do you feel less guilty about your time away, and make things easier on your colleagues while you’re gone.

Here are a few tips I found worked for me:

  • Baby steps – instead of a weeklong vacation try long weekends. Who doesn’t love a 3 or 4 day weekend?
  • Plan ahead – make sure you send out a reminder that you will be out of the office (OOTO) to your team a week before leaving. Try to schedule your leave during a slow time or when you know there are no looming deadlines.
  • Complete your list – get all of your work done before you leave and make sure you have a POC to answer any questions or issues that come up while you are away.
  • Shut down – try to avoid checking your phone and email while you are OOTO. I know this will be the hardest to do (and I can’t say I even do this myself) but I promise the office won’t fall apart without you checking your email every 5 minutes.


I know I need to take my own advice and just relax but I am a work in progress. So, I vow to try to feel lessguilty while sitting on the beach reading my (trashy) books and trust that my colleagues will keep the lights on.


P.S. – Here are few of the titles I will be taking with me:


  • The Vactioner – I heard this was hilarious and timely
  • The Power of Thanks – I am always looking for insight into making customers and employees feel appreciated
  • Latest copy of InTouch & InStyle magazines – pretty much any magazine you find in the grocery checkout aisle with a celebrity on the cover.



Inspiring Change in the Federal Workforce

Government agencies and military organizations are under intense pressure to build, train and sustain their workforces. To support this critical initiative, federal agencies must continually and meticulously assess their workforce by asking if they have the right people with the right skills in the right jobs at the right time.


Successful agencies are achieving greater efficiency, improved visibility and increased productivity by directly aligning human resource initiatives with the strategic goals of the organization.


At the HCMG conference last week, I heard about some fantastic programs within the federal government aimed at acquiring and retaining top talent.


Savvy federal agencies are:


  • Recognizing in-house talent and making the financial commitment to development programs, like ‘grow your own engineers.”
  • Building interest at a young age by developing relationships with the future workforce. Programs include sponsoring science and technology camps for middle school students. Or, inviting the interested students to take part in internships or summer work programs and giving them real assignments to expand learning and retain interest.
  • Partnering with other agencies to collaborate on training and apprenticeship programs. (Which is a fantastic option for smaller organizations that cannot finance something like that on their own!)


Success is reliant on the right technology in place to support these initiatives. Meridian Knowledge Solutions brings a deep public sector knowledge to solving problems of critical importance to the public sector. Meridian’s learning management solution allows organizations to more closely align their workforce with business strategy by enabling them to identify key trends, analyze gaps and risks in the existing workforce, and develop scenarios so they can ultimately implement the right workforce strategy.


Contact us today to see how Meridian can help you!