Centerpiece

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Make faster work of plucking out the most critical messages queuing up in your Outlook inbox. The simple trick is to make messages appear differently, de­­pending on who they’re from or whom they’re sent to. It’s called conditional formatting.
A growing body of research confirms what you may have suspected: Looks matter, especially when it comes to making a first impression on others. Surprisingly, though, it’s also the way people draw conclusions about our ability to do a job.
The average pay raise will be modest this year—around 3%—compared to about 4% from 2005 to 2008, just before the economy tanked. Here are a dozen pay trends to consider as your organization weighs how to structure compensation in an age of diminished expectations.

Employees are often the best sources of ideas because they are closest to the daily details of the organization. But too often, employees are sitting on great cost-saving, business-generating ideas because they’ve never been specifically asked. Here are five strategies to help encourage their input.

Comp and benefits pros have three ways to make tax time easier on employees this spring. Work with your colleagues in payroll and accounting to publicize these conveniences—and protect workers from fraud.
A strong workplace search policy can safeguard against employee theft and other wrongdoing, but it must be applied fairly and consistently. To ensure search policies don't end up as fodder for employee lawsuits, employers must recognize the difference between legal searches and unreasonable invasions of privacy.
Romance may be in the air at your workplace this Valentine’s Day. A 2011 survey by CareerBuilder.com found that 40% of those polled said they have dated a co-worker. But while Cupid shoots arrows, workplace romances often blow up in a liability minefield.

A working mom writes that she likes her job and feels lucky to have it. But, she says, “I feel chained to the job and out of the loop at home and everywhere ... Working part time is not an option. Any advice for finding a better balance?”

Have you seen a lot more empty seats around the workplace these days? When asked to share the most unusual excuses their employees have given for missing work, employers offered the following real-life examples ...

Once upon a time, a company imagined a future where music, video and books were all digital, instantly available through a hand-held gadget. It saw itself as a big seller of that digital content. No, we’re not talking about Apple, but about Barnes & Noble.

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