Is Google Going to the Dogs? The Benefits of Dogs in the Workplace

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Researchers have been telling us for years that dogs are good for us, even if they’re sometimes a little hard on our carpets, gardens, and shoes. Petting a dog can actually lower your blood pressure; having a canine companion may reduce depression and loneliness; and children raised with dogs less likely to have allergies.

A study conducted by the University of Missouri – Columbia has also demonstrated that petting a dog releases mood elevating hormones such as serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin, while decreasing stress hormones.

Nursing Homes and Assisted Living centers have been catching on to the health and mental health benefits of canines and felines alike. For many residents, visits from Pet Therapy volunteers mark the highlight of their week and a growing number of facilities now come equipped with full-time resident cats.

A handful of universities have likewise discovered the benefits of allowing students to keep a dog in their dorms. Being allowed to keep a dog reduces homesickness and depression. Students are less likely to stay out all hours partying or to oversleep and miss a class if they have a dog that needs to be fed and taken out on a regular basis. College is supposed to be as much about learning self-discipline, time management, and responsibility as it is about mastering academic material. What better way to practice those skills than by being fully responsible for a pet, especially when Mom and Dad aren’t around to help?

Now businesses are starting to catch-up. If your company operates out of an office building in Manhattan and you don’t want your employees distracted by having to be home at a certain hour to take Fido out, what do you do? Make every day a Bring Your Dog to Work Day. And that’s exactly what Google has done.

According to Google, dogs play an important role in enhancing the quality of life and  boosting office morale.

When I worked at Montgomery County Government‘s Human Resources Offices, we originally occupied a suite in a small building across the street from the County Courthouse, a building we shared with an audiologist. Our building backed up to an alley and we began noticing a medium size dog knocking over garbage cans in search of food. The little fur this dog had left (most of it having been lost to mange), hung in thick knots. Rags, as we began calling him, was terrified of people. None of us could get near him, but we were able to leave dog food and water out for him. We even took turns running up to the office on Saturdays and Sundays to feed him. Before Rags showed up, we had been a loosely knit staff, each of us holed up in our respective cubby-hole-of-an-office. Now we grew closer, our audiologist-neighbor included, as we worked towards the common goal of taming and  saving Rags.

Weeks of food, water, and kindness slowly paid off. Rags no longer bolted the moment one of us set foot out the back door, but waited some thirty feet away while we put down his food and water. Over time, that distance was whittled down to ten feet, then five, and then, miracle of miracles, he accepted an especially tempting morsel of food (from someone’s lunch, no doubt) from a human hand. Another week passed and we were able to lay a gentle hand upon his head, then stroke his back and, finally, slip a collar on him.

Rags was far less traumatized than we expected when Dennis, our Safety Officer, loaded him into his car and drove him home to his girlfriend who was a professional dog groomer. A few medicated shampoos and couple of trips to the vet later, Rags began growing a lovely, silky black coat which fell in gentle ringlets much like a Labradoodle’s.

In the meantime the audiologist, a gentleman well into his sixties, whose children were all grown and gone, convinced his highly reluctant wife that the one thing their meticulous, expensively furnished two-story home with a spaciouse fenced yard needed was a dog. And so Rags went from  a back alley life of rags and dumpster diving to an upscale suburban life of riches: two square meals a day, frequent walks, a bed to call his own, and all the toys and rawhide bones a dog could want. Unfortunately, the latter did not prevent Rags from chewing the corner of the rug. Luckily for Rags, by then  the couple had grown far too attached to him to toss him back out onto the streets. He had filled the hole their children had left behind, even if he had left a hole in their luxurious rug.

If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to boost employee morale, consider allowing your staff to bring their dogs to work with them. Or maybe your office could commit to fostering a dog for a canine rescue organization, with one employee taking on the responsibility of taking the foster dog home nights and weekends. You could even pick a breed to serve as your company mascot.

My husband and I own an air conditioning and heating company  and we have adopted not one, not two, but four rescue dogs, three of whom accompany me to the office each day and head home with me each night. (One pictured here as a puppy, fresh out of the animal shelter).  I may not work for Google, but at least I enjoy one of the same perks as Google’s employees: my dogs by my side.

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Sixteen Kick-Ass Resumes You Have to See to Believe

cv license plateDear Followers, Fellow Bloggers, and Drop-Ins   —  If you haven’t heard from me over the past couple of days, it’s because I’ve descended into the deep, dark hole of preparing month-end, quarter-end, and year-end employment tax reports, not to mention W-2’s and W-3’s.  Once this tax season is over with,  I’m going to need some serious WD-40 to lubricate my brain and get me going again. Either that or a few days on a beach beyond the reach of the polar vortex, the IRS, and those damn robo-callers who consume more of my monthly airtime than all other callers combined. I had this great idea to save their numbers under the contact name ‘x’ and assign every last one of them the no-ring ringtone. This was working quite well until about three months ago, when I tried to save the latest robo-caller’s number only to have my phone flash “Memory Full.”

That said, since I don’t presently  have the time to write a halfway decent, much less  indecent, post, I’m going to give you a treat to hold your appetite: a link to Business Insider‘s article “The 16 Most Creative Resumes We’ve Seen.

You will love it, once you get over the shame of how absolutely boring and archaic your own resume is.

Lindt ChocolateMaybe after I get through with all these tax documents and w-hatevers, I’ll take a whack at my own resume.  Maybe I’ll engrave an edible resume on a slab of chocolate to submit to Cadbury, See’s, Lindt, Dove, and Ferrero-Rocher. Surely they need experienced tasters.  Or a  [delete delete delete]. I can’t tell you the second one because I’m going to use it for real and I don’t want anyone stealing my idea, much less the position I’m after. But I promise to let you know if I get the job.

If you come up with a really fresh c.v. (creative vitae) of your own, send me a snapshot and I’ll post it on my blog.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – NSA Taps into Fiber Optic Cables

WebIt’s the sort of thing you would have expected if George Orwell and Jules Verne had been contemporaries and collaborated on a novel.  The Department of Defense creates a vast Hypertext Transfer Protocol Network and allows the private sector to take it over and expand it worldwide. Rather than passing through the pesky step of securing private data through the system’s service providers, the government simply taps into the data as it passes through the undersea fiber optic cables stretching from one continent to another. Suddenly the World Wide Web is one vast party line, at least from the NSA’s perspective.

That’s the theory presently being promulgated by investigative reporters with the New York Times. According to The Times‘ article, NSA May Have Hit Internet Companies at a Weak Spot , the data centers belonging to companies like Yahoo and Google are “are locked down with full-time security and state-of-the-art surveillance, including heat sensors and iris scanners.”   If anything, it’s easier for government spies to tap the Level 3 Communications Infrastructure, the so-called backbone of the  World Wide Web, made up of  high capacity optic fiber cables owned by companies like Verizon, the BT Group, and the Vodafone Group.

Nearly everything you and I do online passes through this backbone in route to its final destination.  I  guess you can say that the NSA has taken up global  spinal tapping: sampling the flow of information for infectious or inflammatory elements.

In 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Vernes wrote “The sea is everything. It covers seven tenths of the terrestrial globe… It is an immense desert, where man is never lonely, for he feels life stirring on all sides.”

This statement is perhaps more true now than ever before.  The sea is a very busy place indeed. And the NSA is one very busy body.

Bloggers Anonymous

Blogger’s Confession

Hi.  My name is Terry Portillo and I’m a blogger.

bloggerMy blog, Generation HR, was originally intended to be a forum for fellow Human Resources professionals. Sadly, most of the HR conferences  I attend are so boring they should be billed as Humanoid Discourses. So I decided to devote my blog to cutting edge, controversial issues rather than creating yet another digital drug for insomniacs. Consequently,  my merry band of followers now  includes a bear hunter in Alaska, a stoner in Colorado, a pastry chef in Texas, and  a street photographer on the island of Patmos.  Gotta love Social Media. It doesn’t get any more diverse than this!

 Blogger’s Nine-Step Program

1. We admit that we are powerless over Blogging and that it has taken over our lives.

2. We’ve come to believe that a power greater than The Internet can restore us to sanity.

3. We choose to become Followers of God as we understand Him.

4. We Google and take a fearless moral inventory of our online presence.

5. We admit to ourselves and our Followers the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. We’re entirely ready for God to delete all these defects.

7. We humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings and to  increase our Search Engine Optimization.

8. We make a list of all the people we’ve abused on Twitter and #makeamends.

9. Having had a social media awakening as the result of these steps, we share this message with fellow Gravatars.

 Blogger’s Prayer

God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
the courage to blog about the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Post-Script

I burned my family’s dinner while I was blogging this.

What Not to Do with Your 401K – Wendy Davis Takes Poetic License with Her Past

Throughout  the United States,  voters are putting a premium on candidates who are skilled at getting out of debt. If anyone has mastered that art it’s Wendy Davis, Democratic frontrunner for this year’s gubernatorial race.

Wendy DavisSenator Davis became famous, not just statewide but nationally, last summer when she filibustered a Texas State bill which would have banned abortions after the twentieth week. That was the beginning of her romance with Texas Democrats. Feeding on her press-fueled momentum, Ms. Davis painted a rags-to-riches story of herself as having been a single teenage mother living in a trailer park who worked her way up and into Harvard Law School.  Some of the details in her artfully woven tale are now starting to fray. On January 20th, the Dallas Morning News reported that Davis was twenty-one (not nineteen) when she and her first husband separated and that she only lived in a mobile home for a few months “before moving into an apartment with her daughter.

It has also come to light that her second husband, Jeff Davis, “cashed in his 401(k) to help fund her education.” (Hilary Hylton “A Storybook Tale Gets Some New Footnotes,” Time Magazine, February 3, 2014).  He paid for Ms. Davis’s last two years at Texas Christian University and kept their two daughters while she studied at Harvard Law School in Boston.

According to Jeff Davis, Wendy Davis “left him the day after he paid off her Harvard loan in 2003.” (Hylton). Following their divorce, he was granted custody of the two girls.

It seems Senator Davis has graduated from Ball-Busting to Filibustering.  This may not necessarily cost her the nomination, as Democratic supporters are treating recent revelations (or should that be clarifications) as a rabid attack by Republicans. As Dallas News correspondent Wayne Slater puts it:

Campaigns… understand that when critical stories appear, advocates on both sides respond like characters in the movie Dodgeball, running to the center of the floor, selecting a ball and ferociously heaving it at their opponents.

This should make for an interesting election year in the State of Texas. In the meantime, Men, hold on to your wallets and your hats.  Everyone knows it’s Wendy.

Writing Most Fowl – How Writers Differ From Ordinary Mortals

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Two characteristics which distinguish writers from ordinary, pen-wielding mortals are vision and style. A dozen people standing on a street corner may witness the same event: let us say a chicken crossing a road. The eleven non-writers will view the chicken’s crossing as a meaningless, mundane act. However the twelfth, the writer in the crowd, will see it as a rite of passage or as a window to some universal truth. To illustrate how an author’s vision and style characterize his writing, below are some fowl adaptations of a dozen famous literary works, with my sincerest apologies to the original writers.

When Mr. Bilbo Chicken of Fowl End announced that he would shortly celebrate his eleventy-first birthday by crossing the road, there was much talk and excitement in Henton. – J. R. Tolkien

Billy Chicken had become unstuck in time. – Kurt Vonnegurt

Last night I dreamt I crossed the road to Manderlay again. – Daphne DuMaurier

Cluck did not read the newspapers, or he would have known that trouble was brewing, not alone for himself, but for every chicken fromPuget Sound to San Diego. – Jack London

The chicken with black feathers fled across the road, and the Gunslinger followed. – Stephen King

Thou wast not born for death, immortal bird! No hungry vehicles tread thee down. – John Keats

You see a chicken who crosses the road and you ask, “Why?” I see a chicken who never crosses the road and I ask, “Why not?” – George Bernard Shaw

‘Twas a far far better road I crossed than I had ever crossed before. – Charles Dickens

And the chicken, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting, on the shoulder of that road. – Edgar Allen Poe

His was not to reason why. His was but to do or die. Across the road raced the chicken. – Lord Alfred Tennyson

The houses are haunted by white chickens. None of them made it across the road. – Wallace Stevens

To cross or not to cross, that was the question. – William Shakespeare

Why DID the chicken cross the road?  So he could blog about it.

Dutch Executives Seeing Green – How Millennials Are Reshaping the World

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Davos, Switzerland — If you can’t beat them, bribe them. Are the days of environmentalists versus capitalists coming to an end?  DSM, a global firm based in The Netherlands, is tying forty-percent of its executives’ short-term incentive pay to whether or not the company meets its environmental and sustainability goals. 

What is driving capitalism’s sudden interest in saving the environment? My guess is that it’s the Millennials, the twenty-somethings who make up the most rapidly growing demographic in our current workforce.  When  Millennials go looking for jobs, they seek out employers who are a cultural fit. That is, they want to work for companies which care about the same things they care about and which demonstrate that care both by the way they do business and by the non-business causes they support.  Outside of Silicon  Valley and the High-Tech world, Millennials have not yet made it to the C-Suite. However they are the force which is motivating a growing number of companies to select and act on a cause. Actions companies take may include realigning their business practices to support the cause they’ve adopted, allowing employees to perform volunteer work on company time,  educating their employees and their clients about the cause, or making outright donations to non-profit organizations.

Because they are tuned into and care deeply about such things as culture and branding, Millennials are making an impression on corporations not only as prospective employees but as prospective consumers of their products and services.  The radio station I listen to each morning (The Rod Ryan Show  on Houston’s 94.5 The Buzz) appeals  to a Millennial audience. In their sometimes R-rated, may-not-be-suitable-for-more-sensitive-listeners morning banter, the Buzz’s DJs make more references to “giving back” and talk more about what celebrity or what local business is doing what good deeds than any station I have ever listened to before. Not only that, the show itself supports its favorite causes. Its Drumsticks for Drumsticks campaign auctions off drumsticks signed by famous drummers to raise money for the Houston Food Bank.  In the fall, it raises funds to provide backpacks to underprivileged Houston school children. This spirit of giving back is being repeated by other companies throughout the United States whose clientele is primarily Millennials.

Because the Millennials’ manner of speaking (concise, direct, straight-from-the-hip) often comes across as curt, Baby Boomers tend to write them off as rude. But these young people have heart. They not only care about the world, they pay attention to how individual companies treat the environment,  animals, third world countries, and other underdogs, and they demonstrate their concern by choosing which companies they will or will not work for and whose products or services they will or will not buy.

The BBC reports that  “At the Davos 2014 World Economic Forum, a gathering of more than 1600 global business leaders in Switzerland this week, one of the hot topics is ‘doing business the right way’.”  In fact, the summit’s theme is Reshaping the World.

When I was growing up, Bob Dylan sang, in his awful twang, about “The Times, They Are A-Changing.”  Well, guess what. Nothing is static. The times are changing again, maybe, (sorry, all you doomsayers) for the better. Under pressure from our young people, corporations are recognizing that the bottom line and making the world a better place are not necessarily mutually exclusive. In fact, they may be more closely linked than we ever imagined before.