Thursday, November 17, 2005

Staff Retention and Morale

I know of an IT organization of around 25 people. This group, a unit within a larger company, claims to have morale issues and staff who just are not happy in the workplace. They groan and grumble, moan and complain. The group's managers spend a significant amount of time and attention on the matter but little seems to have a positive effect.

You would think that such a group would be exhibiting a high turnover rate. But, in this case the 2-year voluntary turnover rate is 0%. That's right, nobody has left voluntarily. That isn't to say that there were absolutely no exits. There were three; an internal transfer to another unit and position, one whose family relocated to another state, and one that lost his battle with cancer.

So here is the question; if things are sooo bad, then why do people stay?

Its a given that some stay for the good benefits, as they are good. But they aren't heads above everyone else. Is it the opportunities? Perhaps, but that isn't obvious. Maybe its the people and co-workers then? Well, given that they complain as much about each other as they do about their work I can't put much on that being the answer either.

I'd like to invite my readers to respond. Share your own similar stories and anecdotes.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Visitor behavior

Through all of my visits to Walt Disney World, I have seen both the best and worst of behaviors. But I have to say that the last two days takes the cake. Of course the Food & Wine Festival produces its fair share of inebriated visitors. I've been known to do that once or twice myself. But the actions I saw yesterday made me stop to rethink if it was worth it.

I am not die-hard anti-smoker, but I believe that Disney has generally done things right. They have discouraged it, yet setup a fair number of locations where those in need could satisfy their cravings without interfering with the enjoyment of non-smokers. All of those rules seemed to be out the window at EPCOT lately. There were people smoking all over the park and they were providing the best possible reasons for a smoking ban. Smoking around the eating areas drove off a lot of folks who were looking for somewhere to consume their food from the small huts and pavilions. The ground all around the World Showcase was littered with butts. Janitorial castmembers were doing their best to sweep up but I even saw one group of five, all with cigarettes, walk by and throw their lit butts down in front of the castmember.

When I was in line to buy food in the temporary Australia area, a woman a little ways behind me in line was burned on her leg by another guy standing in line with a lit cigarette at his side.

I was very curious as to why there seemed to be zero enforcement of the rules. I had the opportunity to ask a castmember in France about it and she said that they were instructed to not approach smokers during the Food & Wine Festival so as to avoid an altercation with someone who may be under the influence. I completely understand the safety issue, but there is something inherently wrong with this. I can't quite put my finger on it. Perhaps its that there isn't a larger Security presence in a park full of kids where the alcohol is flowing so freely and often. I don't know.

Feel free to add your own opinion in the comments.

Saturday, November 5, 2005

Podcasts - not just for iPods

I had a colleague approach me about my last post. He didn't have an iPod and wasn't particularily interested in getting one. I told him he didn't have to. To make the experience easy and user-friendly, all you need is the iTunes software on your Mac or Windows PC and access to the Internet. The podcasts are free and you can subscribe, manage, and listen to them all through iTunes.

This led to a lot more questions but in the end, he went away informed and happy. It seemed he was hung up on the fact they were called PODcasts and never really understood that they were simply recorded audio files playable on almost any computer. I also took time to explain that they were not like audiobooks that went for hours, but most were short shows; with a few being under 5 minutes.

Don't let yourself get stuck on this idea either. In fact, if you have a CD-R or CD-RW drive, you can even dump the podcasts to CD for easy listening in the car as you drive to and from work.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

A New Source of Education: Podcasts

I have had an iPod for years, but the exercise of updating it and carrying it around wasn't always the most convenient for me. The unit, an original 10GB, was a little too heavy for my shirt pockets and a little too large to comfortably carry in coat pockets. Then, my headphone cords didn't quite make it if I tried to carry it in my pants pocket. A belt-clip was possible, but I already had a phone there. So, it was relegated to recreational use a few times each month.

Recently, I passed the iPod on to one of the kids and treated myself to an iPod Nano. Now I had a truly portable unit that fit my lifestyle. This also caused me to spend a little more time on iTunes that I had been spending with the old iPod. When Apple updated the software to iTunes 5, Podcasts started to get my attention. Yes, they were there before but I just really didn't pay attention.

After finding several of the more popular ones to my liking, such as:
  • This Week in Tech with Leo LaPorte, John Dvorak, and Patrick Norton, and
  • Diggnation with Kevin Rose, I went exploring for others that would be of interest. By the way, you might have noted that most of these are from the original The Screen Savers TV show that used to be on TechTV before Comcast ruined it.
On my journeys, I managed to find a few targeted at managers and executives. I subscribed via iTunes and found them worthy of taking up the valuable space on my 4GB Nano. Here is a short list of the podcasts I listen to. Besides these business related podcasts, you can find some that will teach you to speak a foreign language, offer tips and tricks with technology tools and toys, and many special interest items. Most major news sources are now releasing podcasts of their news offerings too, so it might be a more convenient method of keeping up-todate on such matters.
I am still going through the myriad of podcasts currently out there, and there are new ones added all the time. As I find some I feel to be of use, I'll share them here.