Top 10 Blog Posts of 2017

Scroll throughout our older posts to re-read these gems from 2017!

#1 – Trying an Unplugged Lifestyle (July 17)

#2 – Workplace Culture MATTERS (July 25) (See also graphic at left)

#3 – We can Learn a Lot from Our Dogs (May 29) (See also graphic below right)

#4 – Doing Your Part to Cultivate Civil Dialogue (March 14)

#5 – The Invisible Barrier (May 5)

#6 – Should Employers be Allowed to Read Emails? (September 5)

#7 – Being a Type B is A-OK (May 18)

#8 – How to Make Connections at Conferences (August 2)

#9 – EAR Being Added to EA Digital Archive (August 22)

#10 – Fake News, Biased News: Bad Journalism has Spread like a Wildfire (April 19)


Some Christmas Presents are Better than Others

It’s said that a writer needs to write from the heart, and about things that he or she knows. Therefore, I am going to resist the urge to write about something that’s been in the news a lot (sexual harassment), but which I know next to nothing about, and write instead about something I DO know – PETS.

And more specifically, getting a NEW pet. We lost Baxter, our Maltese, on May 13 at age 13, but now that number has come full circle with us adopting a part Dachshund, part Chihuahua on December 13 (which doubles as my wife’s b-day BTW.)  … (God is indeed good.)

What can I say? We haven’t even had her for a week yet, but Pepper Ann is already weaving her way into our hearts. (See photo below.) Every dog is different, so we have to try to resist the urge to compare her to Baxter. We found out early on that she likes to play hide-and-seek (mostly with a bone), and rip paper to shreds, sometimes even when her bone is nearby. A little frustrating, to say the least.

I think the older we get, the more we realize that the best presents are NOT found wrapped in a box with a bow, and placed under a tree. No, the best presents are things like good health, kids, loved ones, etc.

And might I add a new dog to the mix? After the heartache and emptiness we experienced earlier this year after we lost our Maltese, it seems to me that Pepper Ann is an extremely special Christmas present.  In fact, I don’t think I can come up with one as good – not even my treasured Hot Wheels cars I had as a kid.

I hope you all have a safe, happy and merry Christmas.

It’s OK to Say No to a Company Holiday Party – Part II

By Holly Caplan, guest blogger

A company holiday party can be a night of debauchery, drinking and fun, yet someone will always end up paying for it in the end.  You surely don’t want to set yourself up for a potentially bad situation. In our current [sexual harassment] climate, it is too dangerous and at the very least could result in you becoming the office gossip on Monday and at worst, could cost you your job.

if you feel yours will lead to a bad hangover and potentially some awkward and regretful conversations or activities, just say no. Here are three options to consider if you decide to skip the party this year:

  1. Politely decline. Say you are taking a rain check this year. It doesn’t mean you are not a team player, it just means that you would like to find another way to celebrate the holiday and your colleagues.  Your professional reputation and relationships are what should prevail and be your legacy, so not attending the party may be the best choice for you. But it is your choice.

2. Offer up another idea. Offer an idea to management that is a healthy way to celebrate with your colleagues.  It could be a holiday scavenger hunt, or a holiday decorating competition. Either way, these are still tea- building situations and are fun and productive.  You could even offer to organize it the following year to show your engagement.

3. Be your own host. Another way to celebrate time time with your “work family” is to host a Sunday brunch at your home or do it collaboratively with your friends as a potluck event. You can share your best ham, stuffing, eggs benedict, potato latkes, and fruitcake. This way, it is fun, celebratory, yet on your terms.

If something makes you feel uncomfortable about attending, than certainly opt out. Your job will still be there waiting for you to execute to the best of your abilities.

Holly Caplan is an award-winning manager and author of “Surviving the Dick Clique: A Girl’s Guide to Surviving the Male Dominated Corporate World” For more information, visit





It’s OK to Say No to a Company Holiday Party – Part I

By Holly Caplan, Guest Blogger

We all know that the awareness of sexual harassment and gender bias in the work place is at an all time high. The stories just keep on coming.  They do not stop. Every day a new woman comes forward and everyday a new man is vehemently apologizing on a major network.

In light of all of this, companies and employees are reevaluating their upcoming holiday parties, which often becomes the chance to drink heavily with your colleagues and act in ways you otherwise would not.

Before writing this, I reached out to a long time friend of mine who works as a human resources director.  She laughingly told me that the busiest week in HR is always the week after the holiday party.  Employees come in with complaints of sexual harassment and overall ill behavior. I could just see her shaking her head over our phone call. She said during the week after the holiday party she has a rotating door to her office.

What does this tell us?

It tells us that the holiday party can be a night of debauchery, drinking and fun, yet someone will always end up paying for it in the end.  That is why this year, you, the employee, should be looking at this differently. You surely don’t want to set yourself up for a potentially bad situation. In our current climate, it is too dangerous and at the very least could result in you becoming the office gossip on Monday and at worst, could cost you your job.

You should know, it is okay to say no this year, or any year. Depending on your company’s culture, you can make a decision that will be best for you. Some companies choose different paths for these events, but if you feel yours will lead to a bad hangover and potentially some awkward and regretful conversations or activities, just say no.

NEXT POST: Options to consider if you decide to skip the holiday party.

Holly Caplan is an award-winning manager and author of “Surviving the Dick Clique: A Girl’s Guide to Surviving the Male Dominated Corporate World.” For more information, please visit,



Give a Gift that Keeps Giving – a Subscription to EAR!

Need a stocking stuffer idea for a work colleague? In celebration of 20 years of service in the EAP field, Employee Assistance Report (EAR) wanted to let you know that we are continuing to offer our best deal ever! For just $99/year (that’s only $8.25 a month), you will receive four digital tools that you can download and use to help maximize utilization of your EAP.

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The Pros and Cons of Working from Home


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Whether you want to call it telework, telecommuting, or simply “working from home,” I can tell you from firsthand experience that having worked from home for more than 6 years, there are definitely pros and cons to it.

First the pros: The obvious one is setting your own hours, and not the hours you have been assigned by an employer. Some people claim they wouldn’t have the discipline to set their own work schedule. I don’t think that’s true in most cases. The main thing you need to do is set aside an “office” or other work space that is used for work – PERIOD – and when you are there, that is what you do. PERIOD. (Well, outside of a brief break now and then to surf the “Net or check your Facebook page.)

By setting your own hours, you find out pretty quickly that you’re able to be pretty efficient, because you’re working during times that work well for you as opposed to hours that aren’t a good fit for your biological clock. Let’s say, for instance, you’re like me and you’re not a very good early morning person. As opposed to having to down 2 or 3 cups of coffee at an office if you had to get up early, maybe you can get by with 1 because you’re more rested.

Then there is the commuting that you DON’T have to deal with. That can be a particularly HUGE advantage if you live in or near a large city with a lot of traffic. Even when this isn’t the case, like the largely rural area where I live, it still is pretty nice to look outside on a snowy day and know that while I might have to shovel or snow blow later, I DON’T have to drive in the slippery, white stuff! (Or scrape a windshield.)

Finally, in working from home you can stay on top of the dishes or laundry (or both), and not have to wait until the weekend to get all of your chores done. That is, provided that doing a chore (or two) doesn’t sidetrack you from your work day too much!

Now for the cons that I think some folks overlook: you get pretty lonely at times when you work from home. This has especially been the case since our dog passed last spring. I took his companionship a bit for granted until I had to find out what it’s been like without it. I am really looking forward to (finally) getting a new best friend to keep me company.

But before I risk sounding like a pity pot, let me also point out that there are definitely things you can do to relieve the tedium of being by yourself…. Going for a walk, bike ride, working out at a local gym, saying hi to a neighbor, maybe dropping by the library or going to a local diner for lunch with a friend. (One need not do this every day mind you.)

All in all, I’d have to say working from home is probably worth a try for a lot of people – that is, if you are the type that can dive in and get your work done without having to chit chat all day. However, if you’re an extremely social person in the workplace, I’d venture to say that telecommuting probably isn’t going to be a good fit.

That’s about the size of it – like a lot of things in life there is good, and bad in working from your home.

In Giving Thanks, the Little Things Count, too

I am long overdue in writing a post for this blog, and I apologize for my recent writer’s block! Thanksgiving Day is a natural for a topic since this holiday is now less than a week away. When giving thanks, I think most of us are pretty good at being grateful for the big things in our lives such as, a job, spouse, kids, and a roof over our heads (no given with the recent hurricanes).

I think it’s also a good idea to give thanks for the little things that are so easy to overlook in our busy lives. For instance, instead of complaining that you haven’t seen the sun in days, be grateful for a sunny day, and then follow up by going for a walk. Bundle up if you have to!

Instead of complaining about your bills (easy to do), thank God for the money to pay them. Rather than whining because it’s Monday and you have to trudge off to work, be thankful you have a job to trudge off to.

The list is endless, but a few other ideas might include:

* Thanking an especially cheerful clerk for brightening your day;

* Instead of just complaining about snow (easy to do for us Midwesterners), be on the lookout for the sunny day that often follows in which the newly fallen snow is often beautiful – and be thankful for it.

* Rather than lamenting having to drive to your elderly in-laws for a Thanksgiving meal, be thankful they are still around to go and see. (Holidays change a LOT when parents and/or in-laws are deceased.)

You get the idea – take a thought that would normally be negative, and turn it on its head, thinking of the positive in the situation – pretty much the glass half-full versus half-empty concept.

I’m not saying it’s always easy to do this, but when you do remember to have a positive, grateful outlook, it can really make a difference in being thankful for the little things that occur each day, and not just the big things on Thanksgiving Day.


Forget Halloween – Real Life is What’s Scary


Forget Halloween – real life is what’s scary at times! Don’t get me wrong, the first time I heard that chilling John Carpenter music in Halloween, I was frightened! And Psycho? The dramatic scene in which we finally get a good look at “Mother,” certainly that one gave me the hee-bee-gee-bees, too.

But for the most part, Halloween movies are often slasher flicks with little to no suspense. (No Alfred Hitchcocks around today.) We know who the bad guy is from the get-go, and besides, when you see two teens making out with no regard for their safety even though they know Jason is on the loose – you just know it’s their turn to get sliced and diced next.

Real life, by comparison, throws us lots of curveballs – an unwanted medical diagnosis, a bill you can’t afford to pay, your spouse says that he/she wants a divorce, or maybe you just lost a job, or even your home due to a natural disaster. How WILL you pay that bill? Cancer! How far along is it? You get the idea – it’s real life that, it seems to me, gets scary at times.

In addition, Halloween “conjures up” good memories for me, not scary ones because I met my future wife at a Halloween party! She was dressed up like a pumpkin, and I was dressed as an Arab sheik. (It’s an easy costume, you just need some sheets and a few pins.)

So if you plan on watching a horror film this Halloween, be sure to pass the popcorn, just don’t expect me to get scared. That is, unless you dress up like a mailman with countless bills you’re ready to give me.

Anxious? Here are Some Tips

Ever get butterflies in your stomach before a big presentation or job interview? Or maybe you’re NOT a frequent flier and are anxious about getting on that airplane. The truth is that all of us experience anxiety from time to time. But what to do?

Here are a few ideas, courtesy of Psychology Today:

Meditate. Calm is an inside job. Give yourself the gift of serenity and start the day with ten minutes of solitude and positive energy. Think calm, measured and open-minded, and your daily activities will correspond.

Practice self-care. Get a massage, a mani-pedi, or a haircut. Nothing says polished and well-maintained like a sexy, healthy glow. If money is tight, look for a discount salon or a training school which offers quality services for people on a budget. So they don’t serve peppermint tea on a silver tray — close your eyes and imagine that five-star service while you take in the pampering you deserve.

Eliminate soda. That morning jolt of Joe can jumpstart your day and provide warmth and comfort, but anything with high fructose corn syrup and 177 other ingredients will not. If you’re accustomed to that 3:00 p.m. Dr. Pepper, switch it out for a soothing green tea. Not only does the caffeine jack up your central nervous system, soda depletes vitamins and minerals from your diet and wreaks havoc on your smile. Teeth become susceptible to cavities when the acid level of your saliva falls below a certain point.

Get outside. When you spend time in nature, you give your mind and body a much needed break from the hustle and bustle which causes you to Google things like “How to get rid of anxiety” in the first place. Chances are no matter where you live, there’s a serene, interesting, and charming place nearby.

Go to bed early. This may sound impossible if you’re accustomed to staying up late to catch up on a to-do list. But this one’s a MUST. Sleep deprivation is a huge anxiety culprit. Inadequate shuteye can amplify the brain‘s anticipatory reactions, upping overall anxiety levels, according to research. Don’t burn the midnight oil in hopes of catching up on the weekends. Unused sleep minutes don’t roll over.

Challenge negative moods. Record your thoughts periodically. Pay attention to when you feel stressed out. Write the feelings that accompany the thoughts. Think one-word responses like frustrated, angry, worthless, and defeated, etc. Challenge reality. This is hard because we tend to lack objectivity about the truth. Is there proof you don’t deserve that job promotion? Were you written up because of shoddy work performance? If you commit to recording your daily thoughts and feelings, along with reality testing, you’ll see that many of your negative feelings are created in your mind, and not based in reality.
The good news is you created the negative thought, and you can uncreate it.

Which suggestions for reducing anxiety would you add? Did any of these surprise you? I know the one on cutting out soda surprised me.

Read more tips here

Finally, nobody deserves to feel bad. A qualified mental health professional is your best bet if your anxiety is unbearable.