For the first time in my life, I’m feeling sorry for the people in the human resources department. I’m not talking about the challenges of finding workers in a rebounding economy, though. Really, I’m feeling their pain as they plan to bring workers back from their couches to their cubicles.
Companies large and small are demanding that employees return to the Mother Ship, possibly now and definitely by September, and you can measure the grumbling on the Richter Scale. People will be showing up angry and resentful, and it’s going to be the HR department’s job to rebuild cohesive teams.
Good luck on that one.
After 18 months of remote control, America’s workforce is about to be reintroduced to traffic jams, parking fees and doing laundry more than once a month. They’ll suddenly remember why they hated Eleanor from accounting and why everyone was in a big hurry to use the restroom before Fred arrived at the office. It won’t be pretty.
At the very least, HR departments can alleviate the pain by installing Keurig machines at every desk and keeping the lights as dim as possible. Beyond that minimum, it would be an excellent idea to avoid “team building exercises” and “social interactions” for at least a couple of months.
Meanwhile, returning workers should do their best to adjust their own expectations and behaviors in this brave old world. For example:
Welcome back to the office, everyone. What could possibly go wrong?
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My mom gave me a bunch of mail to look over and I was very, very impressed. Little did I realize that she is one of the most influential people in the country.
It must be true, though, and the United States Postal Service has delivered the proof. Every day, she gets a package with “Official Documents Enclosed” and an urgent request for her views on matters of national importance. And it’s all be hugely confidential, as evidenced by the warning that, “It is a FEDERAL OFFENSE for anyone other than the person listed below to open this letter.”
Clearly, she is so influential that companies are willing to offer her big bucks to give them her advice. Here’s an offer of a $100 gift certificate if she merely stops by for lunch--free!!--and shares her opinion about the newest in hearing-aid technology. I’m not sure why they need to ask, since the letter says 100% of patients are approved for these new devices, but clearly my mom’s opinion is just that important.
And so many checks, she must be in the 148% tax bracket by now. Here’s an envelope with “retirement benefits documents enclosed,” and you can see the check right through the address window. It turns out it’s just a picture of what a check might look like if she signs the petition and returns it before the deadline, but when her signature sways Congress, it’s raining Benjamins at her place.
Actually, there are a ton of letters like this, alerting her to the urgent crisis that could lead the federal government to reduce her Social Security check or fail to increase her Social Security check or delay sending her Social Security check. All is not lost, though. If only she signs the petition and returns it with seven bucks, or $25, or agrees to have her credit card dinged for a monthly contribution, or puts me into an apprenticeship program.
Here’s an urgent plea for a response and a donation of at least $15, “because some people in Washington are talking about cutting your Social Security benefits.” Well, I don’t know who those “some people” are, but they are a clear and present danger to say the least. Golly, I wonder if these fine organizations are reaching out to other elderly Americans, or if they are just relying on my mom to handle the burden?
Either way, I have nothing but admiration for all the groups protecting my mom from the financial catastrophe that awaits if she fails to sign the petitions, and I know it comes at a great financial cost to those organizations. One guy is courting bankruptcy, apparently, by springing for the postage-paid reply envelopes that accompanied his letter.
I really felt bad for him when I read, “The extra postage is an expense I really can’t afford right now,” In fact, he continues for several paragraphs about the burden of paying for return postage. Later on, though, he says a donation of $14.55 will enable him to send another 26 petitions to 26 other seniors. So, that’s 56 cents per envelope? Well, no wonder he’s going broke on this crusade. Some other guy sent a survey and he says he can send out more petitions for only 45 cents each. Maybe they could compare notes.
It’s heartwarming to know these selfless individuals and organizations are working tirelessly to take care of my mom and, I suppose, millions of other retired people. Obviously, they are in it for the public good, not profit, as shown by their willingness to lavish her with gift certificates and postage-paid reply envelopes. Anyone who doesn’t believe in guardian angels should just read my mom’s mail and they will see the light.
Please forgive us for spending so much time bragging about how popular mom is. We promise not to do it again if you’ll just click here to subscribe for future, less boastful posts.
Ignoring the rest of the world, a break for working stiffs, and our surprise when normal things happen…
It’s Independence Day and, like all loyal patriots, I will spend the day at a public reading of the Declaration of Independence, followed by a reenactment of the signing.
Hah! You fell for that? No way, Joseph. Like all my fellow countryfolks, I’ll spend the holiday at a barbecue, consuming huge amounts of food and way too much beer. Then I’ll look for the closest fireworks display and spend the night watching stuff go boom.
Even in our polarized nation, great holidays like Independence Day bring us closer together. I once argued with my neighbor about the relative merits of Maker’s Mark versus (boo, hiss) Crown Royal, but it’s really hard to keep up the rancor when you’re stuffing your face...and in a stupor.
That’s why we need more holidays in America and not just “historical” holidays like Independence Day, Juneteenth and Mother's Day. We need new holidays that celebrate all that makes our nation special today and every day. At the Holiday Viability Assessment Laboratory at Dad Writes, our research team has identified the ten holidays most worthy of celebration in coming years, including:
Have we missed anyone? Let us know your recommendations for new holidays and we will add them to the list that we deliver to Congress by way of our lobbyist friends on K Street. We can’t wait for the parties in 2022.
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Through an unusual sequence of events, I ended up investing in a small company alongside a famous financier. It’s kinda cool, since it makes me sound like I must know something about investing, but let’s just say it’s more serendipity than strategy.
Of course, if you want to think I’m an investment genius, that’s okay, too.
Anyway, I was comparing notes on the situation with a friend who's plugged into a lot of business deals, and he expressed some views about how to work with, or around, the big dog in this deal. I took his words to heart, considered how I might respond to various actions, and then I had a flash of insight.
My friend doesn’t know this other guy and he hasn’t worked with him on any deals. He was making some assumptions about the way a wealthy investor would act in various situations, but my friend really doesn’t know one way or another. He could be right, or not, but there’s no reason for me to accept his ideas with any sense of certainty.
But that wasn’t the real flash of insight.
The real lightning bolt was that I was now accepting one of those conspiracy theories that I rail against all the time. I was taking his opinion as fact and incorporating that “fact” into my plans. I’m on guard against this all the time, pointing out the failure of skepticism that turns my friends into chumps, and it took all of ten seconds for me to take the bait from a friend who has solid credentials…but no specific knowledge.
See how easy that was? A person with some standing in the world, maybe a doctor or a public official or a celebrity, presents a statement that’s really just an opinion and we add it to our arsenal of 100% true facts for future discussions.
The reason it slips by us so easily is that we’ve been learning this way all our lives. Mom said something when we were six and we’ve never questioned it since then. We watched a "based-on-a-true-story" movie five years ago and we believe we know all the details. Intellectually, we recognize that we don’t know which parts of the movie were fact and which were fiction, but we have nothing in our brains to refute any of the facts(!?) presented on the screen. Almost everything we think we know about the outside world comes at us this way.
As is often the case in situations like this, my friend’s predictions have not come to pass. He made a general observation that seemed more credible to me because there was a specific name attached, but that didn’t make his observation any more valuable than a general statement from my dry cleaner.
If my dry cleaner had said it, though, I would have discounted the view immediately as coming from someone who isn’t in that particular business. Because my friend is in a related field and knows many investors, I gave him more credence, which was more credence than appropriate.
Lesson learned, again.
The next time I buy into an urban myth, or a rural myth for that matter, our subscribers will be the first to share in my embarrassment. Doesn’t that make it worthwhile to click here and subscribe to Dad Writes?
Send this to someone you know who’s been stuffed in the wrong bucket...
I had the opportunity once to visit the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas for a tour and meet with the guy who was running the outdoor fountains at the time. He showed us how the system worked, discussed the ways they updated the sequences to keep it fresh, and generally displayed a ton of enthusiasm for the giant bathtub he played in every day. One of the guys in our group asked how much the hotel spent on the free water show and he responded with pride that the hotel made $millions from his work.
Huh? Anyone on the street could see the show for free, so how was he making money on it? Because, he explained, hotel guests paid a premium for rooms with a view of the show, and as long as he kept them happy, he was running a profit center.
I was thinking about that experience recently when I went to a hospital for a test and the lab had a note on the wall with their “cost center” identification number.
Huh? The lab generates fees for the hospital and those fees help pay the rent. So, really, this is a profit center and the employee is part of the team that drives revenue and earnings. He might not realize it, though, because hospital management has hung a sign on the wall to tell him he's a necessary evil.
It occurred to me that we sometimes do the same disservice to people who are helping us succeed in our own lives. Are there people in our companies, our associations, our social circles, or our families who deserve to be recognized as part of the winning team? Is there someone we're treating as a burden, when they’re actually part of our lifetime profit center?
Like the guy running the water show or the lab tech who’s booking tests, it makes a big difference if we describe people as benefits or as burdens. Too often, we mis-classify people at both their expense and our own. Maybe we should encourage someone to think about themselves differently. Maybe we can change their perceptions of themselves and their place in the world by letting them know they’re builders, not drags.
And, just maybe, we should start with ourselves. Perhaps we are the ones who need to change our personal narratives, shift our point of view, and rethink our contributions to those around us. Perhaps we’re looking at our contributions from the wrong side of the ledger and feeling lesser for it.
Today might be a good day to start.
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Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.