William Greider’s New American Dream

Journalist William Greider, one of the most thoughtful analysts of political economy, writes in The Nation that “Americans need a new vision that helps them deal with reality, a promising story of the future that helps them let go of the past.”  That vision should be grounded in something deeper than material wealth or acquisitions:

Here is the grand vision I suggest Americans can pursue: the right of all citizens to larger lives. Not to get richer than the next guy or necessarily to accumulate more and more stuff but the right to live life more fully and engage more expansively the elemental possibilities of human existence. That is the essence of what so many now seem to yearn for in their lives. People–even successful and affluent people–are frustrated because the intangible dimensions of life have been held back or displaced in large and small ways, pushed aside by the economic system’s relentless demands to maximize yields of profit and wealth. Our common moral verities have been trashed in the name of greater returns. The softer aspects of mortal experience are diminished because life itself is not tabulated in the economic system’s accounting.

Greider’s articulation of the New American Dream is consistent with many of the themes raised in this blog about meaningful work and psychologically healthy workplaces.  In the workplace, the “markets and management” ideology that has led us to this difficult juncture should be supplanted by an embrace of individual dignity that affirms a decent day’s pay and fair treatment at work in return for a job well done.

Full article: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090525/greider

Work on TV: Friday Night Lights

I’m posting from Texas today in the midst of a week-long storm chase through Tornado Alley, so it’s time to offer up another thematic post:  It may be an underdog in the ratings, but “Friday Night Lights” is one of the finest dramas ever to grace the small screen.  FNL portrays small-town life in fictional Dillon, Texas, centered around Dillon High School and its standout football team.  The show is inspired by writer Buzz Bissinger’s book and the subsequent motion picture of the same name about the real-life Permian, Texas high school football team.

FNL features a truly ensemble cast, including a gifted cadre of young actors and actresses who play the students of Dillon High School.  But the show’s emotional core starts with the husband-and-wife team of Dillon head football coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) and Dillon principal Tami Taylor (Connie Britton).  These are two of the most emotionally intelligent characters you’ll encounter on TV, and the way in which they do their respective jobs is a lesson in restraint, decency, caring, and commitment.  They are pretty fine TV role models for high school coaches and principals in the real world.

FNL’s first two seasons (the second cut short by the writers’ strike) were on NBC.  Low ratings put the show at risk, but Direct TV stepped up with an unusual arrangement, offering a season of full episodes in the fall, followed by NBC running the same season in the winter and spring.  The Direct TV/NBC deal has been renewed for at least two more seasons.

If you haven’t given Friday Night Lights a try, do so.  Season 1 (a brilliant debut season) and Season 2 (uneven, but still very good) are available on DVD and Netflix.  The superb Season 3 has just been released on DVD.

U.K. Psychologist on Workplace Bullying

Leslie Taylor, personal coach and host of the blog Healing the Workplace, writes about the work of U.K. psychologist Noreen Tehrani, who has written extensively on workplace bullying.  Unfortunately, Tehrani’s works on bullying are not readily available in the U.S., but Taylor provides a nice summary along with her own commentary.  Here’s a sampling:

Noreen also writes about INSTITUTIONALIZED BULLYING which is condoned by an organization by allowing the following:

  • autocratic management styles
  • work overload
  • role confusion
  • a blame culture
  • unresolved conflict tolerating (or even promoting) aggressive behavior because it is believed to get results

Full post: http://healingtheworkplace.wordpress.com/2009/04/25/stop-bullying-at-work-thoughts-from-a-psychologist/

Study: Gender Discrimination Starts Early

Workforce Management reports on a multinational study, “Holding Women Back,” conducted by Development Dimensions International, indicating that gender discrimination at work begins well before women hit the so-called glass ceiling:

“Holding Women Back,” which is based on responses from 12,800 leaders in 76 countries, found that women face gender discrimination from the very beginning of their careers.

“Our data suggests that when you look at the things that would help people develop in their careers, women wouldn’t get the same opportunities as men did,” said Ann Howard, DDI’s chief scientist.

One of the main areas where employers fail to include women is in their high-potential programs, where they identify those employees who managers believe could make strong leaders someday.

For the full article: http://www.workforce.com/section/00/article/26/42/17.php

Learning about work: Kansas State OHP Certificate Program

Well folks, I’m here in America’s heartland this weekend, starting what is becoming my annual storm chase as a member of a caravan of some 20 people traipsing around Tornado Alley in search of bad weather.  (See one of my earliest posts for a profile of some of our professional guides: https://newworkplace.wordpress.com/2008/12/23/labors-of-love-chasing-tornadoes/).

In view of my temporary location, I thought this would be a good week to highlight an interesting program offered by Kansas State University: A graduate certificate in Occupational Health Psychology (OHP).  It’s a four-course sequence, delivered by distance learning, that provides students with advanced instruction in OHP, which “emphasizes the role of psychology in research and practice aimed at the prevention of occupational stress, illness, and injury.”

Students in the program take four courses, one each semester, in sequence: (1) Proseminar in Occupational Health; (2) Seminar in Occupational Behaviors; (3) Research Methods in Occupational Health Psychology; and (4) Practicum in Occupational Health Psychology.

This is a rare opportunity get advanced training in an important, emerging field via distance learning.  For those constricted by work and home responsibilities from enrolling in a residential OHP program, this is an attractive option.

Here’s the program website: http://www.dce.k-state.edu/artsci/occupationalhealthpsych/.

Namie and Namie, The Bully at Work: Updating a Classic

Drs. Gary & Ruth Namie have written a new and substantially updated and enhanced edition of The Bully at Work: What You Can Do to Stop the Hurt and Reclaim Your Dignity on the Job (Sourcebooks, 2nd ed., 2009).  Although marketed as something of a self-help book, The Bully at Work is grounded in research and evidence, and it serves as an ideal introduction to this topic for laypersons, employment relations professionals, and researchers alike.

The book is published in an affordable trade paperback format.  Here’s a link to Amazon.com, where you can peruse the table of contents and index, as well as look at sample pages: http://www.amazon.com/Bully-Work-2E-Reclaim-Dignity/dp/1402224265/.

Employee fraud: Startups pay heavily

Writing in The Business Forum, Boston-based consultant and engineer Thomas Faulhaber notes that emerging businesses pay a high price for employee fraud:

Emerging businesses are much more vulnerable proportionally to employee theft, and are much less able to absorb these losses than large corporations. Upon completing its 2006 analysis of occupational fraud and abuse, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) in Austin, Texas reported that businesses employing less than 100 persons “were the most vulnerable to fraud and abuse” by employees. Emerging companies were the victims of fraud more often than large corporations, and the resulting losses were much larger commensurate with their resources.

For the full article: http://www.businessforum.com/fraud01.html

Tom is the founding host of The Business Forum (http://www.businessforum.com/), whose target audience is small business owners and entrepreneurs.  He contributes many articles himself, and he also solicits guest writers.  (I published a piece on workplace bullying a few years ago.  See http://www.businessforum.com/Yamada_01.html.)  His site includes a deep and varied base of articles, all freely accessible, and is well worth an extended visit.

Management lawyer podcast on workplace bullying

As this blog has noted, American workers do not enjoy direct legal protections against workplace bullying.  However, the possibility of anti-bullying legislation, the potential of liability under current law, and the impact of bullying on morale and productivity have caused management-side employment lawyers to take this problem more seriously.

For example, this podcast featuring attorney Susan Lessack, a partner specializing in employment law at Pepper Hamilton, a major law firm based in Philadelphia, provides a concise (8+ minutes), informed assessment of workplace bullying from a management lawyer’s perspective.  She recommends, among other things, that employers include workplace bullying in their employee policies and handbooks and make clear that bullying won’t be tolerated.  Lessack aptly recognizes that employees “who are treated fairly are less likely to bring claims against their employers.”

To access the podcast: http://www.pepperpodcasts.com/pepper_podcasts/2008/10/workplace-bullying.html

(Hat tip to my brother, Jeff Yamada)

Happiness on the job index

Time Magazine features a “happiness index of American workers,” which allows readers “to see jobs ordered by worker happiness” in a wide range of fields and vocations.  The underlying stats are drawn from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.  Take a look — it’s fun to scroll through the list and compare!

Link: http://www.time.com/time/2007/america_numbers/job.html

Workplace bullying program in Boston, June 17


Workplace Bullying:

Current Law, Proposed Legislation, and Practical Strategies in the Interim

Massachusetts Bar Association, Luncheon Roundtable

Wednesday, June 17, 2009, noon to 2:00 p.m.

20 West Street, Boston, MA

In these difficult economic times, workplace bullying is a growing problem.  Although Canada has a law prohibiting workplace bullying, there are no such laws in the United States and few legal remedies to cover the myriad situations that arise.  Professor David Yamada of Suffolk University Law School will present his proposed legislation to remedy this gap, which has been introduced as Senate Bill No. 699 in the 2009-10 session of the Massachusetts Legislature.  MIT Ombudsperson Mary Rowe and Harvard University Ombudsman Lydia Cummings, who are highly experienced in addressing both the theory and reality of workplace bullying, will provide practical approaches to this difficult problem.  This program is free and open to members of the public, as well as members of the MBA.  Handouts will be provided.  Lunch will be provided.

Topics Include:

  • What are the common types of workplace bullying?
  • What potential causes of action exist in Massachusetts and what are the standards?
  • How will proposed legislation address the problem without being overbroad?
  • How can employers avert workplace bullying?
  • What procedures should govern the investigation of workplace bullying?
  • What remedies can be used when workplace bullying is established?


David B. Wilson, Esq., Program Chair, Hirsch, Roberts, Weinstein, LLP

Lydia Cummings, Ombudsman, Harvard University

Mary Rowe, PhD, Ombudsperson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

David C. Yamada, Professor of Law and Director, New Workplace Institute, Suffolk University Law School

Massachusetts Bar Association sponsoring sections/divisions:

Individual Rights and Responsibilities

Labor and Employment


American Arbitration Association

Labor and Employment Relations Association, Boston Chapter

RSVP to Jean Stevens at jstevens@massbar.org

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