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Archive for the 'Professionalism' Category

Generational differences abound in the workplace, but few are quite as visible as body art: tattoos, piercings (other than ear lobes), and hair dyes in unconventional colors. According to survey data from the Pew Research Center, people younger than 40 are much more inclined than those over 40 to display some form of body art. For example, people 26 to 40 years old are four times more likely to have tattoos than people who are 41 to 64 years old.

With such profound differences, it’s no surprise that body art has become a contentious issue in many workplaces, between employees wanting to express themselves and employers wanting to maintain particular standards of professional appearance. As employment law attorney Danielle S. Urban writes in Workforce Management, the issue gets even more complicated when religious symbolism is involved.

Who is likely to win this battle? Will the body art aficionados who continue to join the workforce and who are now rising up the managerial ranks force a change in what is considered acceptable appearance in the workplace? Or will they be forced to cover up in order to meet traditional standards?

Have your students expressed any opinions about their right to display body art in the workplace?



Millions of bloggers, tweeters, and forum posters appreciate the free-wheeling nature of online communication, but a growing number are learning that free speech sometimes has a steep price. As Santa Clara University’s Eric Goldman emphasizes in this helpful overview article, “Most people have no idea of the liability they face when they publish something online.”

Anonymity is no safeguard, either. Even anonymous posters have been sued for negative remarks after the websites on which they left comments were forced to reveal their identities.

These legal and ethical issues in online communication offer intriguing and sometimes troubling examples to discuss with students. To find cases to cover in class, a good place to start is the “Legal Threats Database” maintained by the Citizen Media Law Project.

We’d love to hear about your experiences teaching online ethics, etiquette, and associated legal matters as part of a business communication course.

 



This blog post from the developers of the FreshBooks online business accounting system demonstrates audience focus in multiple ways, starting with the effort behind the message. Every business worries about how quickly customers will pay their bills, so FreshBooks analyzed the customer data it had on hand to see which payment terms and invoice messages generated the quickest responses. This alone is remarkable customer service; the audience-focused presentation of the information makes it that much better.

We have annotated a copy of the post that you can share with your students (on two PowerPoint slides).

(The PowerPoint slides were updated on 10-09-10 to correct two of the annotations.)