Friday, October 24, 2014

Funny Reasons Why Employees Call in Sick

Career Builder recently released statistics on some of the most outrageous excuses for missing work. Over the past year 28% of employees called in sick which is an improvement over the 32% the previous year.  When probed for a reason 30% stated they simply didn’t feel like going to work, 29% said they wanted to relax, 21% to attend a doctor’s visit, 19% to catch up on sleep and 11% wanted to avoid bad weather. 

Considering that employees in professional positions don’t generally provide a reason to use their personal/sick days there is little reason to track these statistics. One could simply decide to watch reruns of Lost and that would be excuse enough under company policies. Those who do not have an allotment of sick or personal days must call in with a reason or risk termination. 

Some of these excuses boarder on being quit funny and seem to beg employers to question their legitimacy. A few interesting top responses employers reported are:
  1. Employee just put a casserole in the oven.
  2. Employee’s plastic surgery for enhancement purposes needed some "tweaking" to get it just right.
  3. Employee was sitting in the bathroom and her feet and legs fell asleep. When she stood, up she fell and broke her ankle.
  4. Employee had been at the casino all weekend and still had money left to play with on Monday morning.
  5. Employee woke up in a good mood and didn't want to ruin it.
  6. Employee had a “lucky night” and didn’t know where he was.
  7. Employee got stuck in the blood pressure machine at the grocery store and couldn't get out.
  8. Employee had a gall stone they wanted to heal holistically.
  9. Employee caught their uniform on fire by putting it in the microwave to dry.
  10. Employee accidentally got on a plane.
Employers sometimes require the employee to provide some type of proof.  Sixty-six percent (66%) of employers required a doctor’s note, 49% called the employee and 15% drove by an employee’s house.  When unconvinced 18% of employers stated they fired employees for not being honest about their reasons. 

Employers should use wisdom when cracking down on employee sickness in low-wage fields where employees don’t have the same flexibility as other jobs. At times managers may not allow employees to schedule a day off in advance, may not want to discuss their medical issues with their employer, or may have an appointment they can’t get out from.  

On a positive note a total of 53% have gone into work even though they were actually sick. A total of 38% went into work sick because they could not afford to be set back on their paychecks.  It would appear that the far majority of employees seek to come to work even when they are not ill and generally don’t miss work when unless they have to. Managers should consider these statistics before assuming employees are being dishonest.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Teaching Business Graduates to Apply Theory

Students enter graduate school with an abundance of hopes and enthusiasm to transform themselves into the next guru CEO that transforms companies to great profit. Sometimes that enthusiasm dissipates when they realize the equally abundant amount of work that is necessary to learn the skills needed to achieve that success. The ability of students to understand higher levels of theoretical material and apply that material to solve important problems for “real world” performance is beneficial for life success.  Graduates who know how to understand theory and apply it are worth more than those who cannot.

It is through this application that theoretical models are adjusted to working models that adequately function within the business world. When theories are adjusted and refined they provide a level of feedback that helps to ensure the theory continues to adjust to a more practical end. The development and attempted application of theory is part of the process of business development.

Some students, unfortunately too many students, read information and rephrase it without trying to understand the information at a deeper level. Graduate students should be more like working scholars that read, understand, and apply best practice theories to solve everyday workplace problems. Their ability to move beyond simple citation and regurgitation is important for future growth and success. 

Graduate students should receive their Master Degree Diploma’s with a level of knowledge and skills that transfer to the modern workplace. Unfortunately, many business school students’ graduates lack sufficient writing, interpersonal communication, and critical thinking skills to effectively navigate their work environment (Everson, 2014).  Making them seek relevant information and communicate about it is important for their development.

The use of theory to solve practical problems can have strong business implications that can better bridge the gaps between the business community universities. For example, business and communication students at a large university in the U.S. competed to solve authentic business problems proposed by a Fortune 500 Company (Brozovic & Matz, 2009). The company was impressed with some of the recommendations and implemented them into their operations while students were able to learn how to apply theoretical knowledge. 

Such collaborations between the business and the academic world are unfortunately rare. Higher education has a responsibility to adequately prepare students for successful employment while business should ensure that business colleges are teaching appropriate curriculum that suits their needs long-term needs. Building connections between the two worlds can only be helpful for the development of both.

Students may resent having to look in the library for materials, read those materials thoroughly, and then formulate an opinion on how to apply the concepts but this is vitally important for successful business management. Business is about solving consumer and market problems and those future executives that can apply knowledge to difficult problems are not only likely to be more effective but also increase their value through continuous learning. 

Brzovic, K. & Matz, I. (2009). Students advise fortune 500 company: designing a problem-based learning community. Business Communication Quarterly, 72 (1). 

Everson, K. (2014). Shrinking the business school skill gap. Chief Learning Officer, 13 (9).

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Improving Student Outcomes: Using Causal Analysis To Determine Which Interventions Actually Work

Date: November 4 ~ 3:00-4:30pm (Eastern)
Type: online webinar

With the proliferation of interventions in all levels of education, it is imperative to know which interventions actually work to improve student outcomes. As such, it is also important for administrators and instructors alike to know the fundamental concepts of causal analysis, or studies that help determine whether an intervention is actually causing outcomes to improve over time.

This webinar will introduce participants to the basic concepts of experimental design, with a focus on randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-experimental methods, such as difference-in-differences and regression discontinuity designs. We will also discuss the concept of matched comparison designs using propensity scores. This webinar is an introduction to the fundamentals of causal analysis and is appropriate for anyone interested in knowing more about cause and effect. Participants will leave the webinar with an understanding of how causal analysis can be used to improve student outcomes on their campus. 

* Understand how to use causal analysis to assess interventions and improve student outcomes
* Learn the basic concepts of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and why they are considered to be the “gold standard” of causal analysis
* Understand the difference between levels of assignment to treatment and comparison conditions, as well as levels of inference
* Discuss other options for running a causal analysis study if RCTs are not possible
* Discover the importance of measuring baseline equivalence in non-RCT studies

Web address:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Failure to Innovate in Higher Education- A Problem of Low Hanging Fruit

Education is a classical American institution that helps develop intellectual capital to encourage successful national growth. Sometimes institutions can work against their core purpose by failing to grow or develop beyond current limitations. Innovation in higher education is an important predictor of the success of both the higher education institution and the preparedness of a nation. Failure to reach beyond low hanging fruit in higher education causes stagnation and decline in the form of cost overruns and poor outcomes. 

Despite having strong support through state spending, family savings, and student loans the system has increasingly become unsustainable and hasn’t kept up with the life-long learning needs of working families. Throwing more resources into a clunky system that hasn’t changed only prolongs the eventual financial and educational reckoning that will occur if costs start to outstrip revenue. 

Online education has disrupted the assumptions of traditional education and provides a credible modality many government and higher education officials scoffed at just a decade ago. We can call this the process of innovation and implementation (Parker, 2012) whereby new technology creates chaos in the system and then becomes part of the mainstream until the next development occurs and the process starts all over. All developing industries rely on this innovation-implementation model for growth. 

Online education is a trend that reaches across for-profit and not-for-profit higher educational institutions. Students demand for flexibility in their studies should not be ignored. In 2010 enrollment in online courses increased 29% with 6.7 million (1/3 of all students) enrolled in online courses (Jaggars, et. al. 2013). A total of 97% of two-year colleges offer online courses while 66% of post-secondary universities also offer online courses. 

The far majority of schools in engage in online education and it is no longer a disruptive technology. It has grown because the market has demanded it grow. Online education may not offer the front page grabbing sports teams or large buildings that dotted the landscape in the 20th Century but does offer solutions for the 21st Century. This assumes that higher education is more about learning than maintaining tradition without consideration of long-term national costs. 

Experimentation in higher education is absolutely necessary to develop the institution to a higher level of existence. The quality of education is in a continuous process of change where new models influence traditional models by making them more efficient. In turn, innovative development is slowed and improved for mainstream consumption by traditional education stakeholders. There should be a balance of innovation and integration to ensure maximum relevancy of higher education institutions. Innovation and change avoids the need to reach for low hanging fruit that raises the cost and burden on society as a result of not considering long-term interests or risks.

Jaggars, S., Edgecombe, N. & Stacy, G. (2013). What we know about online course outcomes. Research Overview. Community College Research Center, Columbia University.  ED542143

Parker, S. (2012). Theories of entrepreneurship, innovation and the business cycle. Journal of Economic Surveys, 26 (3).