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Workplace Technology: Its Impact and Utilization in the Hands of Gen-Y

February 28, 2010

The Gen-Y workforce is technology driven and thrives on the use of technology for communication, research, and many other purposes.   Employers who are willing to invest in the latest forms of technology and encourage its use, will find that the new workface can work faster, more efficiently and ultimately be more productive and innovative.  As stated earlier, workers who use technological tools on a regular basis earn more. This can be a motivating factor for new employees who come into the workplace. The younger generation is adept to utilizing the computers, and downloading documents and applications to their mobile phone to access Portable document formats (.pdf), Microsoft Word and Excel, email, instant messenger. This tools are essential to finding, applying, and sharing information; it can also lead to new the formation of new information.

Technology has become an increasingly important tool of knowledge management process as it relates to the Gen-Y employee’s careers. The concept of knowledge management empowers individuals to search, store, distribute, apply and create knowledge. The internet and mobile technology has come a long way in aiding this concept through search engines, social bookmarking and applications such as Google apps that can be stored on phones. However, at times there are so many information options, that the young professional can become overwhelmed and not know what path to take to reach their goals. Companies can help employees starting out in their careers by giving them a framework for success as they progress in the company. This can involve teaching them both the hard and soft skills that are instrumental in progressing themselves and the organization. Internal and online software program tools can provide training and development to give them the initial tools needed for knowledge management process. Such as program is the Cornerstone on Demand’s software that Give each employee access to personalized learning portal for completion of critical documentation and access to development and orientation curricula.

Two important characteristics of these programs are they should be accessible and interactive. Accessibility allows the employee to obtain information from their phone or on computers away from the work environment.  Information should also be interactive for training and development to allow for the application of acquired knowledge. Cornerstone on Demand offers additional insights of training and development technology. The first benefit is employees have immediate access to single location for key orientation documentation. The second benefit is employees complete forms and access training and development online, at any time.

Another tool that employees can use for acquiring knowledge is professional social networking sites such as LinkedIn. According to Katherine Lewis, writer for About.com, employees can use LinkedIn to find business opportunities for their employer. They can also connect with other professionals in their specialty and learn how the professional does their job. Employees can use that information to improve their own performance. Another goal of these sites is to build the online mentoring relationship and eventually take it offline to an apprentice relationship if possible. Mentoring allows teaching skills; whereas, apprenticeship allows teaching and learning through hand-on training. For example, a young employee can find professionals in their departments or in the industry and build a mentoring and apprentice relationship with them, furthering the acquisition of departmental or industrial knowledge and its application. Only after the employees have the opportunity to acquire and apply knowledge can they distribute information. This distribution of information can take the form of mentoring, leading teams or possibly writing white papers on company research. The ultimate goal of knowledge management for employees is to create new products and services for the company. The knowledge management process motivates employees because  the tools gives them the opportunity to build business relationships, develop in their career thought training and teach others and eventually create new products and services that will aid in the growth of the company. The knowledge management process categories have many components. Below we highlight common uses of the concept as it relates to technology.

Talent management platforms can take place through online platforms that all employees to align individual goals with the departmental and organizational goals. This ensures optimal productivity for positive results. Typically it addresses the gathering, storing and application of the knowledge management process. These systems help employee identify areas that need improvement through easy to access and automated performance reviews. Employees should be able to find and access the information as needed so they can take the appropriate actions to improve before the yearly evaluations occur and ensure they are consistently performing on an acceptable level. It can help them to make SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely), drive accountability, and tie development plans to competency assessment processes. Feedback motivates the new workforce. It is important for the Gen-Y employees to received feedback. If feedback is provide as well as suggestions for training, poor performers are able to know what it takes to move to the next level of employment in their departments. Making this accessible, companies can aid in the process of knowledge management to aid employees for success.

Technology can be used for compensation management. This addresses the gathering, storing and application of the knowledge management process. Having immediate access to these tools help motivate the employee in making appropriate decisions such as deciding whether to stay at a company or perhaps leave for better compensations plans at another company.  If they have a chance to review the information they might reconsider their notice.  Gen-Y employees who view benefits as important, they can utilize the system to make changes toward better plans.

Lastly, technology can lead to innovative employee engagement and increased collaboration.  This addresses the distribution and creation of knowledge in the knowledge management process. Platforms for listening and responding to employees are vital.  It gives the opportunity for each employee to have a voice in innovation and development plans.  Tools such as internal forums, micro blogs, applications (i.e Google apps), and employee opinion blogs provide an impetus for such opportunities. The worst thing in the workplace for Gen-Y is to feel like they do not have a voice. These tools that allow them to make suggestions, voice opinions and can lead to increased collaboration.

Collaboration begins as others comment on postings and make suggestions of their own. Internal collaboration can help connect employees who would otherwise not know each other and build business relationships. Mutual exchanges of communication can lead to the improvement of current products or services and possibly even the creation of new products or services. These exchanges should be open to anyone in the company because all knowledge is not held solely by members of a single department. Collaboration should occur company-wide. Gen-Y employees who contribute will have a boost in their motivation and enthusiasm because they will feel that they were effective in contributing to the creation of new products or services. This could possibly lead to mentoring opportunities, apprenticeships or promotions.

As one can see, technology can provide many avenues for career development through the knowledge management process which we now find include access to talent management and compensation, and collaboration tools to help them make appropriate decisions and lead to new innovations.

These tools are becoming more utilized to keep a connected, well informed, and empowered workforce. The ability to have knowledge at one’s fingertips is greatly beneficial for young employees to increase performance and job satisfaction.  It is vital that managers understand the knowledge management process and create an environment where employees can utilize their skills. Using technology motivates and teaches young employees to do what they understand and enjoy. As a tool for in knowledge management process, it can improve performance through constructive feedback, and make appropriate employment decisions. Lastly, it can provide a platform to share information and create new products and services thorough individual and collaborative efforts.

Get the most out of your 2010 tax return: Begin with the basics!

February 10, 2010

Tax time seems to be one of the most nerve-wrenching times of the year for most individuals. As a tax preparer this season, I want to provide the best service for my clients to ease their worries! To that extent, there is some education that goes on for the client during the tax preparation. Tax preparers should be mindful to explain the process to their clients.

Many of the concepts are quite easy to grasp once you have done a few. However, one of the most common scenes I continually see is individuals who bring in a huge stack of paper, hoping that I will be able to utilize it to help them obtain a huge deduction. Majority of the time, I can’t use half of the paperwork because it does not qualify as an itemized deduction. Sorry, but gas receipts do not count for the home-work commute! Neither does electricity bills or purchases of appliances. I wish it did! Now, work facility to work facility commuting is a different story as you will see below.

Others times, a client might come in with only interest paid on home mortgage (i.e $1,000) and request to itemize. As a rule of thumb, it is more advantageous to itemize if the total exceeds your standard deduction. Well, what does that mean? You ask. First let’s take a brief look at your filing status. There are five: Single, Head of Household, Married filing jointly, and Married filing separately, and Qualifying widow(er). This year the standard deduction amounts are as follows:

  • Single: $5,700
  • Head of Household: $8,400
  • Married Filing Joint: $11,400
  • Married Filing Separately: $5,700
  • Qualifying Widow/Widower: $11,400

You are able to itemize if expenses fall in to the following categories:

  • Charitable contributions to a 501 3(c) organization (i.e. church tithes, United Way)
  • Medical and Dental Expenses paid out of pocket after insurance
  • Home Mortgage and Insurance Premium Interest
  • Paid Alimony
  • Business Use of Home
  • Business Use of Car that is not reimbursed by the company you work for.
  • Business Travel Expenses that is not reimbursed by the company you work for.
  • Business Entertainment Expenses that is not reimbursed by the company your work for.
  • Educational Expenses (i.e. tuition payments, interest paid on student loans)
  • Employee Business Expenses(i.e. uniforms, footwear, office supplies, unreimbursed)
  • Casualty, Disaster and Theft Losses

If your itemized information sums up to more than the standardized deduction in your filing class listed above, then it is best for you to itemize. If not, stick with the standard.

For example, my filing status is single, I drive my car between business facilities. My gas and mileage were not reimbursed by my company. It totaled $2,000. I paid $10,000 in mortgage interest. I WILL itemize because my itemization categories sum to $12,000 and my filing status is single ($5,700 std).

Here’s another example. Our filing status is Married Filing Jointly, our mortgage interest was 10,000. I WILL NOT itemize because it falls below the standard amount of 11,400.

Choosing the appropriate amount will lower your Adjusted Gross Income; thus lower the amount of taxes that you must pay! This could potentially give you a refund if you overpaid, which is always exciting.  I hope this helps you to understand the differences as well as the advantages of choosing itemized vs standard deductions! If you have any questions, feel free to ask me! I won’t charge you for a question!

Response Post: When Elder Care Brings Back Sibling Tensions

January 28, 2010

Below is my response posting to an article on Time magazine’s website entitled ” When Elder Care Brings Back Sibling Tensions”. I thought I would share it with you to receive your feedback on this topic of sibling tensions related to elder parent care and support. After you read the article, feel free to leave a comment on your experiences and suggestions on how siblings can provide mutually beneficial support. Here is my response:

Sibling rivalry is inevitable, but each sibling needs to provide mutually realistic expectations. I believe all siblings should have the obligation to provide support in one form or another. This support can come financially or psychologically, especially when the caregiver’s siblings cannot be present. The primary caregiver must also understand that siblings who live across the country cannot readily spend the money to fly back and forth across the United States, especially in this economy. Psychological or financial support is realistic and reasonable. I have commonly seen siblings who live 3 or more states out, provide financial support through non-medical home care and caregiver support. However, if the other siblings are local and/or sitting back and not providing any kind of help when they are able to, then it is reasonable to be disappointed. Just as the article mentions, it might be necessary to bring in a third-party mediator (clergyman, counselor, and elder care mediators) when these actions compromise the relationship of the family. Primary caregivers should not resort to the grandiose statements that make the other siblings feel in any way inferior because they cannot be present at all times. I believe the least that other siblings can do is give the necessary psychological support using a tool that costs a fraction of a month’s salary–a cell phone! Lastly, I very much like the idea of having “parent duty” where sibling take turns caring for their parent. Again, it’s realistic if siblings live in a reasonably close and/or they can afford it to be present as often as the caregiver would like.

Clinton Bush Haiti Fund

January 16, 2010

It is great travesty to see the sudden destruction that the people of Haiti are experiencing. We can only imagine what we would do if we were there. News scenes show people helping to rescue others from beneath the rummage, or trying desperately to contact family members who have a mobile signal. The injured who lay under tents await much needed medical attention. However, yet in the mist of the carnage, there was an eruption of praise for a spared life. It shows how people can still smile as they are surrounded by the pain and suffering. However, once the praise and thanks is over then comes the realization that there is a long road ahead to rebuild. I cannot–and unfortunately can–believe how and why people are trying to “cash-in” through creating donation scams. If you are skeptical on donating, I have provided an authorized donation page link and entry form print screen below. Presidents Clinton and Bush have come together to give support for the people,  and I urge you to give what you can. They have created a website Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. I have just made a donation and I hope that you do as well.

How the Entry Form Looks.

How the Confirmation Page Looks.

Personal Development: The Good and The Bad

January 10, 2010

The Good

I just got finished listening to Voice from the Top, and online radio show launched by Adrienne Graham. She is the Founder and CEO of Empowerme Enterprises and the Fearless Woman Magazine. I have had the honor of speaking with her a few times and she offers excellent advice on networking and entrepreneurship. I recommend that you tune in to her show on Monday’s and Fridays at 9am EST to get your dose of wisdom. I just set my three alarms so I can get up in the morning!

The Bad

Ten days into my weight loss program, I have messed up so horribly for the past two days. I went crazy, eating almost everything insight. Everything looked like Peach Coobler! The first night, I went in for one snack(chips and salsa), and ended up l eating two cups of pudding, a burrito, and cup of beanie weenies.  The second night, I went for a “snack” and ended up eating 4 hotdogs at 11pm. Way to go….Tron. Needless to say, I called my sister voicing my frustration. Come to find out the same thing happened to her. She, too, had a peculiar urge to eat a everything in sight..lol. I don’t know what was floating in the air, but I have to get back on track. I, at least, have to lose the 1 pound that I “innocently” gained. Here’s the game plan. I’m actually going to write out a plan including times to eat and types of exercises in which I will participate. Hopefully it works!

Women Abusing Men: Is it Justified?

January 7, 2010

Each year, almost 3 million men report being abused at the hands of a woman. Admittedly, I don’t typically watch the Tyra show; however, the previews sparked my attention. Today on the show a woman admits to abusing her boyfriend. Lets call him Larry, because I don’t remember his name. She has kicked him, hit in the face, spit at him, slammed his hand in the door. Another woman, Andrea, broke a man’s nose with a frying pan. Ouch, that must have hurt!!!

The other woman admits that she does this because he lies, is late to picking up the children, or he is not where he says he is going. She says that she wants him to hurt like she hurts because he tunes her out or he will walk out while she is talking….arguing. However, a lingering statistic remains, every 34 seconds a man is being abused in his relationship. Do you know of a man that have been the recipient of abuse in a relationship?

Is there a logical explanation for this? Is it because men are truly “dogs” who end up doing sneaky things? Or Are women like “just like men”, but hide it from the public eye? The common factor is each woman swears that she loves her significant other. This is the same rationale that abusive men give to women as they hold the ice pack to her eye.

Why do the men put up with this? It has to be mentally taxing and a major suppressor of his ego. Larry feels that she doesn’t love him. They have a child together, but he wants to raise the child as a family. In the beginning of the show, he places that ideology above hitting back or leaving. However, by the end of the show, he relents and decides to take a break from her.

Cooper Lawrence, a developmental psychologist says there is a rise in female aggression. It used to be that 1 in 10 men report abuse, now it is 1 in 4. Her rationale is at a young age, boys are taught to “stop it”, but girls are ignored and told “she will grow out of it”. I don’t agree with the that statement, because the statistics of males abusing women are higher. So would not the bottled up anger lead to the higher abuse towards women? This seems more plausible, but who knows. Abuse is abuse and it should not enter into the relationship. What do you think? Do you know of a man that have been the recipient of abuse in a relationship?

Ridiculous Parking

January 5, 2010

So,  I’m Googling and address for a business of interest and I stumble across this photo….