30 years away

As the joke goes, nuclear fusion is 30 years away…and always will be. An article on the €15bn International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) which is being funded by an international coalition, including the EU, the US, China, India, South Korea and Russia,

…Yes, €15bn is a lot of money to be spending building ITER. But, by comparison, the global cosmetics and perfume industry is worth some $170bn a year…

Another comparison is that the EU pays out c€50bn in subsidies on the common agricultural policy. Every year. Who/what organisation/entity is the biggest recipient of subsidies in the UK? Answer under the fold…

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Post for the weekend: Your going to like it’s contents alot

One for my kid sister, a timely reminder of grammar mistakes that make you look dumb.

This guy really should have paid attention. There’s the underclass, and the bad in class…

Enjoy the weekend.

Do you have any questions?

A few blog postings around job interviews have come my way recently.

Some questions to ask when asked if you have any questions:

  1. Why is this position open? Are there any key changes since the last person held the role? – This will give you information about the position, the company and anything that might have taken place upon the absence of the previous employee. It gives you a feel for what role you would be possibly stepping into.
  2. Why did the last person move on? (wait for answer) Is this a trend over the recent few years? – This puts the ball in your court, shows you are confident and gives you important information about the position you are considering stepping into.
  3. If I were the person to take this role, how would you like me to perform in the role as compared to the previous person?
  4. What are the main objectives of this role?
  5. Of those objectives, what is most pressing? What would you like to have done in the next 3 months?
  6. How would you describe your management style? (If you are feeling really confident ask: How would your colleagues describe your style of management?)
  7. Of the people that you’ve seen join the company at my level, can you name a few reasons why they failed?
  8. Do you think the culture here is similar to X (name rival company)? What are the strengths of this culture?

And a good question to ask if you’re the one doing the interviewing:

  1. Tell me the last time you made a mistake.

Expect to hear that it was their fault, otherwise they may have a “victim” personality, trying to deflect blame to others for their screw-ups.

I hope you like my post

An article in Scientific American on a study analysing the use of pronouns. The author noted that:

…the person with the higher status uses I-words less (yes, less) than people who are low in status…when undergraduates wrote me, their emails were littered with I, me, and my. My response, although quite friendly, was remarkably detached — hardly an I-word graced the page. And then I analyzed my emails to the dean of my college. My emails looked like an I-word salad; his emails back to me were practically I-word free.

What do people who lose their jobs do with their time?

One number in particular in this study of how American households spend their time caught my eye. It’s an estimate of how the time that would have been spent in work (market hours) is reallocated between housework, home improvements, etc (non-market work), childcare, leisure, etc. when people lose their jobs.

…less than 1% of the foregone market work hours are allocated to job search

That seems too low to me.

The rest of the breakdown is more plausible, and includes:

  • 51% of foregone market work hours are allocated to leisure (including 20% to sleep, 12% to television watching)
  • 30% of foregone market work hours are allocated to non-market work
  • 12% goes towards time investments in their own health care, their own education, and civic activities
  • 6% is absorbed as childcare

Here are how the 168 hours in a week are spent on average:

More motivation

Following on from yesterday’s post I came across this related article on bonus payments.

The payments were up to $50 (AUD) and made to members of sales and sports teams.

While neither sales nor sports teams improved when people were given money to spend on themselves, Norton and his colleagues found vast improvements for those who engaged in prosocial spending.  While they were purchasing a gift for a teammate, they also became more interested in their teammate and were happier to help them further in multiple other ways.




Motivation to go

An article on Pret a Manger on how to motivate low paid staff. Their staff turnover is around 60% per year, compared to an industry average of 200%. Most of their techniques appear to be on rewarding the group rather than individuals.

Some excerpts:

New hires are sent to a Pret a Manger shop for a six-hour day, and then the employees there vote whether to keep them or not. Ninety percent of prospects get a thumbs-up. Those who are voted out are sent home with £35, no hard feelings.

Pret also sends mystery shoppers to every shop each week who give employee-specific feedback. (”Bill didn’t smile at the till,” for instance.) If a mystery shopper scores a shop as “outstanding” — 86 percent of stores usually qualify — all of the employees get a £1-per-hour bonus, based on a week’s pay.

Every quarter, the top 10 percent of stores, as ranked by mystery-shopper scores, receive about £30 per employee for a party.

When employees are promoted or pass training milestones, they receive at least £50 in vouchers, a payment that Pret calls a “shooting star.” But instead of keeping the bonus, the employees must give the money to colleagues, people who have helped them along the way.