MONEY working in retirement

This Is the Toughest Threat to Boomers’ Retirement Plans

Most employers say they support older workers. But boomers don't see it, and age discrimination cases are on the rise.

As the oldest boomers begin to turn 70 in just over a year, an important workplace battleground already has been well defined: how to accommodate aging but productive workers who show few signs of calling it quits.

Millions of older workers want to stay on the job well past 65 or 68. Some are woefully under saved or need to keep their health insurance and must work; others cling to the identity their job gives them or see work as a way to remain vibrant and engaged. At some level, almost all of them worry about being pushed out.

Those worries are rooted in anecdotal evidence of workers past 50 being downsized out of jobs, but also in hard statistics. Age discrimination claims have been on the rise since 1997, when 15,785 reports were filed. Last year, 21,396 claims were recorded. Not every lawsuit is valid. But official claims represent only a fraction of incidents where older workers get pushed out, lawyers say.

One in five workers between 45 and 74 say they have been turned down for a job because of age, AARP reports. About one in 10 say they were passed up for a promotion, laid off or denied access to career development because of their age. Even those not held back professionally because of age may experience something called microaggressions, which are brief and frequent indignities launched their direction. Terms like “geezer” and “gramps” in the context of a work function “affect older workers” and erode self-esteem, write researchers at the Sloan Center.

These are serious issues in the context of a workforce where many don’t ever plan to retire. Some 65% of boomers plan to work past age 65, according new research from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. Some 52% plan to keep working at least part-time after they retire. In a positive sign, 88% of employers say they support those who want to stay on the job past 65.

But talk is cheap, many boomers might say. In the Transamerica survey, just 73% of boomers said their employer supports working past 65. One way this skepticism seems justified: only 48% of employers say they have practices in place to enable older workers to shift from full-time to part-time work, and just 37% say they enable shifting to a new position that may be less stressful. Boomers say the numbers are even more dismal. Only 21% say their employer will enable them to shift to part-time work, and just 12% say their employer will facilitate a move to a position that is less stressful.

These findings seem at odds with employers’ general perceptions about how effective older workers are. According to the survey:

  • 87% believe their older workers are a valuable resource for training and mentoring
  • 86% believe their older workers are an important source of institutional knowledge
  • 82% believe their older workers bring more knowledge, wisdom, and life experience
  • Just 4% believe their older workers are less productive than their younger counterparts

The reality is that most of us will work longer. The Society of Actuaries recently updated its mortality tables and concluded that, for the first time, a newborn is expected to live past 90 and a 65-year-old today should make it to 86 (men) or 88 (women). The longevity revolution is changing everything about the way we approach retirement.

Employers need to embrace an older workforce by creating programs that let them phase into retirement while keeping some income and their healthcare, by offering better financial education and planning services, and by declaring an age-friendly atmosphere as part of their commitment to diversity.

For their part, employees must take steps to remain employable. Most are staying healthy (65%); many are focused on performing well (54%), and a good number are keeping job skills up to date (41%), Transamerica found. But painfully few are keeping up their professional network (16%), staying current on the job market (14%) or going back to school for retraining (5%). Both sides, it seems, could do better.

Read next: How Your Earnings Record Affects Your Social Security

MONEY Holidays

Who Can You Get Away With NOT Tipping Around the Holidays?

holiday envelope full of cash
Jamie Grill—Getty Images

The holiday season is tipping time, when you reward all the hard-working people in your life with a little something extra. Or not.

Tipping, fraught as it with misconceptions and confusing “rules,” is an especially stressful prospect around the holidays, when tips are expected to represent a year’s worth of gratitude for the people performing services in our lives. Still, there’s hardly any consensus on how much to give. According to a Care.com survey, 31% of people give no holiday tips whatsoever, while 14% of say they spend less than $50 on holiday tips, 45% spend more than $150, and 17% are heavy tippers that drop more than $300.

What’s more, even though the issue of holiday tipping arises annually, there are still thorny questions that pop up. Sure, you can look up what you’re supposed to tip your hairdresser or pet sitter at a guide like this, but what about instances in which it’s unclear if you should tip, or situations when certain kinds of tips may be inappropriate or send the wrong message.

Here are a few tricky situations—and answers from etiquette experts.

Are there people I should avoid tipping altogether?

Tipping isn’t always appropriate in certain circumstances, depending on someone’s position. “You have to think about who’s receiving it, and what potentially a tip could say in that situation,” says Lizzie Post, author and spokesperson for the Emily Post Institute. “For instance, staff at a nursing home might not be allowed to receive cash gifts because it might look like a bribe.”

Likewise, it’s bad form to tip high-paid professionals with cash or a cash equivalent, such as a gift card. “You don’t tip dentists or doctors or accountants or lawyers,” says Diane Gottsman, national etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Texas. “That’s a commonly asked question that people don’t really understand.” If you really want to give them something, go with homemade holiday treats, a gift basket, or bottle of wine, along with a nice handwritten note.

In other situations, employers may enforce strict guidelines on what workers can receive. United States Postal Service employees, for instance, are not supposed to accept cash or gift cards, and holiday gifts valued at more than $20 are not allowed either. Cash tips might also be limited for delivery drivers, school bus drivers, teachers, and flight attendants. A quick Google search or a call to the employer will generally shed light on the situation. If there’s someone you’d like to tip who cannot accept cash, consider a nice note, a gift card or a small (thoughtful) gift within permitted value limits.

Everyone knows you tip the doorman if you live in a city. Who do you tip if you live in the suburbs?

If someone comes to your house to perform a service regularly, that’s someone you should at least consider tipping. Who these people are will differ depending on your lifestyle and where you live. “In Vermont, one of the biggest people you have to tip is the plow guy,” Post says. For others, the top household service category for tipping might be the landscaping company.

Two people regularly clean my house, but occasionally a third person joins them. Do I tip all three? Equally?

It’s appropriate to tip the third person in relation to her time at your house. “If they accompany the other two cleaners a quarter of the time, for example, you can give them a quarter of what you pay to have your house cleaned,” says Jacqueline Whitmore, an etiquette expert and founding director of the Protocol School of Palm Beach, who recommends a holiday tip amount of roughly the cost of one cleaning.

Do I tip my new nanny/babysitter as much as one who has been with our family for years?

Remember: A holiday tip is a gift. It’s not mandatory, and it greatly depends on your relationship with that person. You probably wouldn’t give a friend you’d just met an extravagant holiday gift, and you’re not obligated to give an extra week’s pay—the fairly standard holiday tip amount for a nanny or sitter—to someone who’s only worked for you for a month or two. “You want to be courteous and generous, but within your budget and within what feels comfortable to you,” Gottsman says. “You might want to give half a week’s salary or a gift card or gift from your child, which might be something you know they need or want.”

Should I tip the personal trainer? The workers who babysit my child at the gym? The school crossing guard?

If you feel these people make a big difference in your life, or that they go above and beyond what’s expected on the job, by all means tip. For personal trainers, a holiday tip is traditionally up to the cost of one session. Daycare workers at the gym will appreciate a small gift, but it’s by no means mandatory. School crossing guards aren’t traditionally tipped, so that one’s up to you. “If there’s someone that you see and you would like to make their season brighter, go for it,” Post says. “You’re looking to say ‘thank you for all you do.’”

Obviously you don’t tip the boss, but is a gift appropriate?

Again, it’s not mandatory, and depending on where you work, it may not be remotely expected. When a gift does seem like a good idea, it’s best to give your boss something from the group of workers as a whole, etiquette gurus say. “If you want, you can bring your boss something special that you know he or she likes, like a package of ground coffee or a box of fruit or something you’ve made from home,” Gottsman says. “But you’re not going to give him or her anything personal, like a sweater or a tie.”

Related:
The Ultimate Guide to Holiday Tipping

MONEY Workplace

Why Smart People Send Stupid Emails That Can Ruin Their Careers

Producer Scott Rudin and Sony Pictures Entertainment Co-Chairman Amy Pascal attend the Sony Pictures Classic 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards Party held at The Beverly Hilton hotel on January 16, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California.
Producer Scott Rudin and Sony Pictures Entertainment Co-Chairman Amy Pascal publicly apologized for racially insensitive emails. Neilson Barnard—Getty Images

High-profile email leaks show, once again, the danger of assuming that what you write is for the recipient's eyes only.

What were they thinking?

When Amy Pascal and Scott Rudin were exchanging their now infamous emails, leaked in the Sony Pictures Entertainment hacking scandal, they clearly weren’t worried about what would happen to their careers if anyone else read their notes.

You have to wonder why not: Companies routinely monitor worker communications. Email is regularly used as evidence in lawsuits and criminal investigations. Now hacking is another threat. Email isn’t private. Everyone knows that.

Pascal, who climbed the ranks at Sony Pictures Entertainment to become co-chairman, and Rudin, an Oscar-winning movie producer, are not stupid people. Yet they are just the latest example of high-profile executives who send email without a thought about what would happen if the outside world read them.

Remember David Petraeus, the four-star general and CIA director who resigned from his job after an FBI investigation inadvertently turned up emails that exposed an extramarital affair? Ironically, Petraeus didn’t even send the emails. He wrote them and saved them to his drafts folder. He and his girlfriend shared the password and simply logged in to read the drafts.

Then there’s New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who fired his chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly after it was revealed that she sent emails joking about traffic tie-ups caused by lane closings on the George Washington Bridge. The closures, an alleged retaliation against the mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing Christie’s bid for governor, spawned a scandal that continues to affect Christie’s presidential prospects.

And most recently, a Harvard business school professor publicly apologized last week for an epic email rant that went viral, in which he threatened to sic the authorities on a local Chinese food restaurant that allegedly overcharged him $4 for a dinner delivery.

Even though senders should know better, “there’s an illusion of privacy, because the truth is, most of us haven’t been hacked or even know if higher-ups are reading our email,” says Dana Brownlee, president of Professionalism Matters. When it comes to successful people, she says, ego often trumps common sense. “Those with power often reach a point where they let their guard down because they feel somewhat invincible.”

It’s a trap that any of us can easily fall into, particularly in today’s time-crunched workplace, where it’s often easier to shoot off an email or text rather than pick up the phone—or, better still, walk down the hall—to discuss a sensitive issue. “We all have to be really careful about using email almost exclusively to communicate,” Brownlee says. “It’s dangerous.”

Brownlee suggests giving yourself this simple test: How comfortable would you be if your boss, a co-worker or the person you are writing about read it? Not sure? Don’t send it.

“Warning flags truly should go off in your head any time you prepare to hit send on anything you wouldn’t want to read on the front page of the paper,” says Brownlee. “Save the jokes and snarky or personal stuff for one-on-one time. You’ll be glad you did.”

MONEY workplace etiquette

How to Handle a Co-Worker Who’s a Chronic Complainer

Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: One of my co-workers is always complaining about our boss. I have a good relationship with both of them, but I don’t want to seem unsympathetic to my co-worker. What should I do? – Darin, Arlington, Va.

A: Everybody needs to let off steam once in a while. But be careful about getting sucked into a gripe session about your boss. What you say could come back to bite you.

You are probably not the only one to whom your colleague is complaining. So if you join in to say something negative (even if simply in the spirit of sympathy) about your boss, your co-worker may pass on the message to others that you are unhappy, too, says Dana Brownlee, president of Professionalism Matters.

“Make sure whatever you say you would also be comfortable with if someone repeated it to your boss,” says Brownlee.

How best to handle the situation depends on what your co-worker is complaining about, says Brownlee. If you agree with the complaint – maybe your boss is a micromanager—and you want to help, talk about how you deal with the issue. You might say something like, “I know John can be controlling. But I made sure I was very proactive about giving him updates on the project, and he eased up.”

If there’s a serious issue that should be addressed, encourage your colleague to raise the problem with the boss directly—and suggest a tactful way to do it. “It’s not going to solve your colleague’s problem just talking to you about it,” says Brownlee.

On the other hand, if your colleague is a chronic complainer who is more interested in moaning about things than fixing problems, it’s time to short circuit that aspect of your relationship.

Constant complaining wears you down and distracts you from your work. Plus, turning a sympathetic ear will only encourage your colleague to come back to with a subsequent rant. “Complaining is like a fire, it needs oxygen,” says Brownlee. “And complainers seek out people who will feed that fire.”

When you see a bitch session forming, steer the conversation in a different direction. Say something like “I’m tired of talking about work. Let’s talk about something else.”

If your colleague launches in anyway, listen, nod but don’t comment, and then change the subject. Or, play the work card, and just say you don’t have time to chat.

Do this enough times and your complaining colleague will go elsewhere to vent, says Brownlee.

Got a workplace etiquette question you need answered? Send it to drosato@moneymail.com!

MONEY Workplace

Colleague or Criminal? The Sneaky New Cyberthreat You Face at Work

colleague in thief mask looking over cubicle wall
Ryan McVay—Getty Images

Criminals have upped their game to convincingly impersonate your colleagues via email.

The latest greatest swindlers in the cybercrime racket know you’re onto their digital three-card monte, and they’ve made a few adjustments, putting yet another wrinkle in the corporate-hacking game by targeting top-level employees for major profits.

These hackers appear to be based in North America or Western Europe, and they know a great deal about the companies and industries they’ve been cracking. They could be “white-collar hackers” or just good studies of character. It really doesn’t matter. Here’s what counts: They are hatching schemes so nuanced you may not see the hack that takes out your company till the smoke clears.

These hackers may have worked for your company, or one like it. They are going to know how your teams communicate. They’ll use the lingo and shorthand that you see every day. Emails may be super simple, like, “I need another pair of eyes on this spreadsheet about [term of art only people in your business would know].” They may know what you are likely to be talking about after certain kinds of industry news releases, and they’ll have a good idea of what times of day get busy for you so that you are more distracted and less likely to think before you click.

“The attacks are becoming much more sophisticated than anything we’ve seen before,” says Jen Weedon, a threat intelligence officer at the Silicon Valley-based cybersecurity firm FireEye.

The New York Times reported this week about one such group of hackers targeting senior executives at biotech companies with a goal of garnering insider information to game the stock market.

FireEye has been tracking the group, which they call Fin4—for a year and a half. (The “Fin” designation is assigned by the company to indicate groups where the main goal is to monetize proprietary information.)

“Fin4 has reached a threshold of capability that sets them apart,” Weedon told me during a phone conversation. “They are very thoughtful about who they target. They go after specific companies and are a lot more scoped in their approach.”

Attacks of this kind may start with the studied e-impersonation of trusted colleagues, business associates or anyone from a constellation of contacts—compliance officers, regulators, legal or financial advisers—with the single purpose of getting someone in a senior position to personally, unwittingly hand over the keys to the castle. Once they are in, sensitive—potentially lucrative—information can be accessed and put to use.

“They will send a very convincing phishing email,” Weedon said. “It may prompt a link that looks just like Outlook.” The target enters their credentials to see the attachment, not realizing that they were not in Outlook at all. There may even be a legitimate document on the other side of that fake login page, but it’s a trap. Once the hacker gets into a key person’s inbox, Outlook settings have been reset to send any messages containing the words “hacked” or “malware” directly to the user’s trash folder, thereby giving the cyber-ninja more time in the system to collect information about mergers and acquisitions, compliance issues, press releases, non-public market-moving information—anything that can be used to make a smarter stock market trade.

According to Weedon, the group has been able to infiltrate email accounts at the CEO level.

Once they’ve gained access, the hackers may simply collect everything in the CEO’s inbox or take an attachment found there and plant malware that then spreads throughout the company thereby exposing still more information. The difference here is that the hack relies on legitimate credentials to gain access, so it’s a much lighter touch with potentially much more information being comprised. If the hackers forgo malware, there aren’t necessarily any traces at all of the compromise.

The “old” way these breaches worked—one still very much practiced by Chinese and Russian groups—involved the use of general information, kinda-sorta knowledge of the target’s business and hit-or-miss English. Because there is often less specificity and more variables in these kinds of softer attacks, the dodge is easier to spot. It’s more likely to find a lower-level employee falling for it. In most cases, these targets don’t have the kind of access to information that can cause major damage. Having gained whatever access is possible through their mark, old-school hackers move laterally into the organization’s environment, whether by recording keystrokes to exploit privileged employee credentials or blasting a hole in the company firewall. They might as well be Bonnie and Clyde robbing a bank. The goal is to siphon off information that can be turned into an easy profit, but the process leaves traces.

What’s so worrisome about Fin4 is that they can come and go—gaining access to everything and anything pertaining to your company—and you may never know it. For the numerous healthcare and biotech companies that they targeted, the only real-life consequence could be an advantageous trade that somehow anticipated the announcement of a new drug, or shorted a stock associated with a failed drug trial.

If you are the target of choice, you will have to be exceptionally well trained by a cutting-edge information security professional and completely tuned in to the subtleties of your workflow to avoid getting got. These fraudsters will have at their fingertips the kinds of information that only an insider should know, and the bait they dangle in front of you will be convincing.

While the art is very different, the basic mechanism is the same. Company-killing compromises require human error. While more common hacks rely on a weakest link that can be exploited, the more hackers evolve, the more we all must evolve with them.

More from Credit.com

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

MONEY job search

How to Ace Your Next Phone Interview

Man on phone interview
Simone Becchetti—Getty Images

Make sure you're not eliminated before your candidacy has even begun. Career coach Caroline Ceniza-Levine offers four strategies to wow a hiring manager when you're not face to face.

Phone interviews are becoming an increasingly common first step in the hiring process.

For hiring managers, they’re a more expedient way to narrow the applicant pool.

When I was working as a recruiter, I would often ask for a brief call to discuss the résumé, and from that short interaction determine who I would invite for a longer, in-person interview. That way I didn’t waste valuable time on applicants I’d otherwise nix five minutes into an hour-long in-person interview

While a time-saver for people like me, the phoner is yet another hurdle for candidates to overcome on the road to getting a job. To pass the bar with flying colors, you’ll want to do the following:

1. Focus on the words you’ll use.

In a live interview, you have your presence, your hand gestures, your smile, and eye contact. And all those non-verbal cues can be used to establish credibility and develop rapport. Communication is 80% or more about these non-verbals.

But on a phone call, all of this is taken away; you have only 20% of your power. You are left with the words you choose, the pace at which you speak, the inflections you give, and the clarity of your articulation.

It is that much more important that you focus on these verbal communication skills as you prepare for the interview (see steps #2 and #3).

2. Do a practice run

Don’t just wing a phone interview. Practice in advance.

A great way to do this: Leave a voicemail message for yourself with an interview response—talk about yourself or explain why you’re interested in the job.

Then assess how you come across by phone.

Do you sound enthusiastic? Do you speak clearly? Do you have the right volume—not too loud, not too soft? Do you speak at a good pace? Are you concise?

3. Align yourself to the job description

No one gets hired on the strength of the phone interview so you’re not trying to close the deal right away. You’re simply trying to get to the next round, and establish that you are strong potential match for the job at hand.

Therefore, plan what you will say based on how it matches to this job.

When you give an overview of what you’re doing, highlight where your current skills and expertise overlap with the job requirements. When you talk about why you would consider leaving, mention things that this new job offers, thereby confirming your interest in this very job.

4. Remember that it’s a conversation.

In a live interview, you can see that you need to wrap up your answer and move on if the interviewer’s eyes are glazing over, he glances at his watch, or he leans forward to interrupt you.

In a phone interview, you won’t get any such clues.

So keep your answers concise, and leave space to ensure that your interviewer can get in a word and ask the next question. This ensures you’re covering everything the interviewer needs to move you to the next round.

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of SixFigureStart® career coaching. She has worked with professionals from American Express, Condé Nast, Gilt, Goldman Sachs, Google, McKinsey, and other leading firms. She’s also a stand-up comic. This column appears weekly.

Read more from Caroline Ceniza-Levine:

MONEY Workplace

Meet The People Who Work On Thanksgiving (So You Don’t Have To)

policeman watching the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade
John Minchillo—AP

Here's what the people forced to work on Thanksgiving have to say.

On Thanksgiving morning, Claire Graves will not be sleeping in, nor will she be getting a turkey into the oven. Instead, at 7 a.m. Graves will be at Columbia University Medical Center starting the first hour of a 24-hour shift as a general surgery resident. While her family is in Atlanta digging into a turkey dinner, she will be over 700 miles away in New York City, working the hospital’s trauma beat.

“I’ll probably leave the hospital around 9 or 9:30 a.m. the day after,” she guesses. “My mom is not happy, but she’s known it’s been coming.”

Graves is one of roughly 1 in 4 Americans, according to an Allstate/National Journal poll, who will be working on either Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Day. Society still has to function, holiday or not, and it’s this 25% of the workforce that helps make it possible for the rest of us to enjoy our time off.

What’s it like being part of the Thanksgiving labor force? We reached out to a variety of different professions to find out.

The Doctor
Graves isn’t exactly happy she’s working on Thanksgiving, but for her, it’s part of the job:

“I expected it to happen. I’m grateful I’ve gotten to spend the past two Thanksgivings with the family. One of us has to be here… I’m expecting it to be fairly quiet”

Any Turkey?

“The nurses always have potlucks so the food is fantastic. They always feed the residents.”

The Retail Worker
Marie Baldwin, a 20-year old Minnesota resident, has worked three Thanksgivings at various clothing stores, and she’ll be on the job again this Thursday. Understandably, she’s not look forward to it:

“[In the past] I’ve been at the store at 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving, so it cut everything short. Thanksgiving isn’t really a holiday for me. I get to see family, but it’s really short, whereas Christmas I have the time to relax. There’s no impending doom of Black Friday so it’s a lot less stressful.”

Could it be worse?

“I worked for Ralph Lauren for two years. One time, I had a 7 p.m. shift on Thanksgiving Day, and the next day a shift at 1 a.m., something just really awful.”

Are the customers insane?

“Uhh Yeahhh, there’s definitely a type. If you’re going Black Friday shopping, you’re really there to get a good price. The people who go out, they’re just not afraid to really get angry.”

“There have been a few customers just not having it at 4 a.m… I’ve had a lot of merchandise thrown at me.”

“People always expect more on sale than what retailers are offering so they’ll try to barter with you—which is ridiculous because there’s nothing I can do—and they’ll get really mad if you don’t give that ‘yes’ answer.”

The Police Officer
Chris James has worked for the Riverhead, Long Island police department for 20 years. During that time, he’s worked roughly 15 Thanksgivings.

What are your holidays like?

“On Thanksgiving, we do the quiches for breakfast and then the family does Thanksgiving afterwards and I get the leftovers. After 20 years, I can honestly say that feels like my norm, as difficult as it sounds.”

How does your family feel about it?

“You know, my kids have dealt with it since they were born. As they get older it wears a little thin on them. It takes away from the holiday spirit, but they accept it.”

“When the kids were young I would try to switch with other guys, the older guys, so at least I was around at Christmas morning for the kids. Not so much for Thanksgiving. That’s something they learned to live with.”

On the workload:

“With holidays like [Thanksgiving] you tend to be a little on the busy side. The alcohol and everything else kicks in… It tends to be a little busy as the evening goes on… There have been disputes where things got very ugly, but that’s mostly on Christmas.”

The Firefighter
Jim Long, director of public information for the Fire Department of New York, gave us some insight into as to how city firefighters celebrate the holiday.

On the big meal:

“Most firehouses will probably take time out to cook a traditional seasonal meal, in this case turkey and all of the other items that come along with it. All the fixins, whatever they choose. But they are working, and there’s a day crew and a night crew.”

On work/life balance:

“I’m sure they take some time to spend with the family and acknowledge the holiday. Some might do a brunch, some might do an early dinner. You understand when you come on the FDNY that you will sacrifice a lot to family time, especially in the holiday season.”

The Retail Techie
Sharon Khander, a recent college grad working for a large national clothing department store’s website, is responsible for making sure your online shopping experience goes smoothly during the holidays.

What’s your job right now?

“Before Thanksgiving we move all the content from the staging environment we use for testing. Going from that staging environment to the live site, there can be a lot of differences.”

“On Thursday morning at 4 a.m., before shoppers are awake, we test all the features, like doing a fake checkout with a fake card to make sure everything goes okay… We have to constantly monitor all the popular products and put a sold out message up right as we’re about to run through all the stock.”

“I should be out of the office by noon and off to Thanksgiving, but it’s still difficult to wake up that early on a holiday.”

MONEY workplace etiquette

When It Is—and Isn’t—Okay to Text Your Boss

Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: Is it okay to text my boss?

A: The answer depends the signals you’ve received in the past from your supervisor and on the information you’re trying to convey.

With the rapid rise in smartphone usage and the huge number of millennials now in the workforce, texting is indeed becoming more acceptable as a professional way to communicate, says Praful Shah, senior vice president of strategy at Ring Central, which makes business communication products.

“There’s been a huge shift toward businesses using texting for communicating with customers, partners and employees,” he notes. “For the younger generation of workers, it’s a natural part of their life and they are bringing behavior from their personal life into business.”

Still, it’s not right for every situation.

How to Tell if Your Boss Is Open to Receiving Texts

While surveys show that Gen Y is more attached to their mobile devices than older folks, across all generations more than 90% of people who own a smartphone text regularly. So age shouldn’t be a factor in deciding whether to contact your boss in this manner.

Rather, look out for one of these two clues that your boss would be okay with hearing from you by text:

1) He or she has texted you in the past.

OR

2) He or she has provided his or her cell number on the staff directory or in an email signature.

How to Tell if a Text is the Right Way to Communicate

A text is best reserved for situations in which you need an immediate response or want to provide a quick important piece of information, says Shah. But if you need more than a few brief sentences, an email is more appropriate.

Also, when the information is sensitive—such as a project being cancelled—it’s usually better to talk in person or by phone (though you could request the person’s time by text).

Timing is important, too. If it’s late at night or you know your boss in is in a meeting, a text can be intrusive and disruptive, says Shah. “For information that can wait, use email so your boss can decide when to respond.”

Accurate, real-time salaries for thousands of careers.

You should also limit frequency. You may text back and forth a lot with friends. But you don’t want to annoy the person who decides your raises.

Finally, your texts shouldn’t be as casual as the ones you send in your personal life. Use emoticons and abbreviations sparingly. “An occasional thumbs up symbol is fine,” says Shah.

You’re probably not writing full sentences, so grammar isn’t that important. But spelling is. “No matter what form of communication you’re using is at work, you look sloppy if you have misspellings,” says Shah. Read a text before you send it so that you won’t have to blame autocorrect.

Do you have a question about workplace etiquette for our experts? Write to Career@moneymail.com.

 

TIME mental health

Women in Positions of Power Show More Signs of Depression Than Men

A study found that women in the workplace experience more symptoms as they gain job authority, while the opposite is true for men

Symptoms of depression become more prevalent for women as they obtain job authority but less prevalent for men, a new study from the University of Texas at Austin suggests.

Researchers looked at 1,300 middle-aged men and 1,500 middle-aged women for the study, “Gender, Job Authority and Depression,” which appears in the December issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. Women with the ability to affect pay and fire and hire others had more symptoms of depression than women without such authority. Men with similar authority at work had fewer symptoms of depression than those without, the study reports.

“What’s striking is that women with job authority in our study are advantaged in terms of most characteristics that are strong predictors of positive mental health,” said sociologist Tetyana Pudrovska. “These women have more education, higher incomes, more prestigious occupations, and higher levels of job satisfaction and autonomy than women without job authority. Yet, they have worse mental health than lower-status women.”

One explanation is that women face more stressors at work when in positions of power because they are faced with overcoming more stereotypes and resistance to their leadership. Men, on the other hand, don’t appear to face such obstacles.

“Men in positions of authority are consistent with the expected status beliefs, and male leadership is accepted as normative and legitimate,” Pudrovska said. “This increases men’s power and effectiveness as leaders and diminishes interpersonal conflict.”

MONEY Workplace

Why Coworking Is Hot

shared workspace
Hero Images—Getty Images

These shared workspaces for freelancers, entrepreneurs, and other independent workers tend to feel hip, fun, and casual -- but their success is about much more than cool design.

Coworking spaces – where freelancers, entrepreneurs, and other independent workers pay a fee to share a workspace and benefit from working in the presence of one another – are hot. More than 160,000 people worldwide are members of over 3,000 coworking spaces, according to a recent report by DeskMag.com and Emergent Research, up from just 20,000 workers in 500 spaces in 2010.

My colleagues Gretchen Spreitzer and Lyndon Garrett and I set out to understand what draws people to coworking and what accounts for its success. We surveyed members from over 40 coworking spaces around the United States, analyzed the websites of over 100 U.S. coworking spaces, visited a handful of spaces in major U.S. cities, and spent several months as participant observers in one local coworking community in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Given the coolness factor of coworking spaces – especially those that attract members with hip design and high levels of service – we figured that their design had something to do with the success of the phenomenon. But we wondered what other factors drove the success of the coworking model. Several interesting insights emerged.

Coworking fosters personal growth and community building

In his recent book, The Purpose Economy, social entrepreneur Aaron Hurst writes how coworking spaces are a powerful tool for cultivating community among a new class of workers who are driven to organize their professional lives around continuous personal growth, meaningful relationships, and the service of something greater than themselves.

One of the aims of the coworking movement is to provide people with a safe space where they can be themselves at work. But it also encourages members to explore shared interests with one another and collaborative opportunities that go beyond daily work routines. Grind, for example, a New York-based coworking space that participated in our study, offers tips to its members on how to move beyond their natural comfort zone and meet fellow members.

We also found learning to be a necessary component of what makes coworking a successful model. Member education is an explicit part of the mission of many coworking spaces. We saw spaces supporting member education, member support networks, and access to professional development opportunities and mentorship. Many spaces also host social events like happy hours, networking events, and guest lectures in order to reinforce learning and community building.

The most successful build “just right” communities

That is, just right in that they involve newcomers as much or as little as they want, without any pressure.

Unlike a traditional shared rental office where people largely want a quiet professional space to work without being bothered by others, many coworking spaces curate an experience that allows potential members to try the space and meet other members to see if there is a fit.

But unlike a traditional work organization that does this through the hiring process, coworking has low switching costs for members and doesn’t actually commit them to any aspect of the work experience that is meaningless to them. The result is that coworking gives a non-overbearing sense of belonging to those who want to be part of the community.

Coworking isn’t just for start-ups and freelancers

Although the earliest coworking communities were organized to provide an alternative to coffee shops or working at home to freelancers and entrepreneurs, we learned that coworking spaces are reaching diverse segments of the workforce. We found some spaces catering to writers and artists by emphasizing affordability and an atmosphere of creativity, for example. Others, including some of the most welcoming communities in our sample, attract women entrepreneurs.

But coworking also helps people keep good jobs with conventional employers in cases when, for example, they are forced to move for a spouse’s job change. In fact, 21% of U.S. sites explicitly market to remote workers, and one-third of our survey respondents were employed full-time by some other company. On average, these individuals are spending 65% of their time working from a coworking space.

“We have seen individuals who come in to avoid the commute to their traditional office space,” says Michael Kenny, managing partner of San Diego-based Co-Merge, a space that participated in our study. At Co-Merge, users from Accenture, Groupon, and Citrix are using the space on a regular basis. Co-Merge also has members who remotely work full-time for companies in other major cities such as Baltimore, Chicago, and Washington.

It’s the authentic sense of community where intrinsically motivated people who experience a sense of purpose in their work and thrive together that substantiates the coworking movement. Given these qualities, we expect to see a growing number of flexible workers try coworking — and a growing number of employers embracing coworking as a tool to help their increasingly mobile and flexible workforce to do their best work.

Peter A. Bacevice (@Bacevice) is a researcher with the Center for Positive Organizations (@PositiveOrg) at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business (@MichiganRoss) and senior design strategist with the New York office of HLW International (@HLWIntl). Gretchen Spreitzer is the Keith E. and Valerie J. Alessi Professor of Business Administration and Professor of Management and Organizations at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Lyndon Garrett is a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.

 

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