Work and careers

My Examiner article from August 23, 2013.  Hopefully it’s helpful advice for budding freelancers.

September is “Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month.” Many writers and editors earn a living as freelance workers. A freelancer is someone who sells services to clients without the commitment of long-term employment to any one person. Freelance writers and editors are able to work on a variety of projects for various clients at fees that are agreed upon between the client and the freelancer. This allows freelancers to diversify their skills and improve their portfolios while working with different people.

Reasons for becoming a freelancer

Freelancing is wide open with opportunities for professionals in many areas. Forbes lists the writing professions as some of the top areas where freelancing continues to be a prosperous option. Many people begin freelancing to escape the routine of the traditional workplace. They want the freedom to set their own hours, rates of pay, assignments they want to work on and the ability to work wherever they choose. Some do it because of the lagging job market and the inability to find suitable work in the private sector. Still others choose to freelance because of family obligations such as child or elderly care issues or health concerns.

Read more here.

It has been a while since I added any new content here!  I hope to remedy that. Over the past year and a half, my wife and I have been busy being foster parents to two mischievous boys, ages seven and nine.  Well, they have now been back with their biological family for a month and the “empty nest” is starting to become more and more real to me.

Now that I am not playing “Mr. Mom” anymore – at least until a new placement comes into our home – I will have more time for one of my other great loves – writing.  Not that I have been completely dormant as a writer.  I have a few projects that I am working on, namely a children’s book and a sort of memoir, both revolving around the topic of bullying.  I also continue my assignments at as the Rockford (IL) Workplace Issues Examiner.  You can find my work for Examiner here.

As I progress on the books I am writing, I will give updates here. I also plan to post some excerpts as they become available.  I am targeting the middle of 2014 for publication of both books.  They will be available on Smashwords and Amazon.  Until then, keep reading whatever you can get your hands on, even if it’s just for a few minutes per day.  Keep your brain sharp and your heart open!

No fault absenteeism is a type of workplace attendance policy. Despite its name, it is not meant to imply that employers will allow employees to call off work as much as they wish. On the contrary – in workplaces where this type of policy is in place, there is no such thing as an excused or unexcused absence. Whether an employee calls off sick or they simply call off so they can take advantage of sales at their favorite mall, the day off is counted as an absence on a work attendance record.

Employers implement these policies for a variety of reasons, such as ease of use and as a way to eliminate favoritism. Employees with excessive absenteeism are subject to disciplinary action. One example would be if an employee uses more sick time than what is allotted in the employee benefits plan.

The very nature of a policy where all absences, regardless of cause, may lead to disciplinary action lends itself to negative criticism. Employees often feel there is a lack of flexibility in no fault policies. Even absences due to illnesses that require a doctor’s care (such as the flu) or a death not covered by a bereavement policy can lead to repercussions if an employee has excessive absences. This leads to questions of why absences such as these are held to such negative scrutiny. Employers argue that while they may be sympathetic to the cause of an absence, they must have a means to deal with lost productivity, dissatisfied customers and low morale that can be caused by a reduced workforce.

There are some exceptions to no fault absenteeism. Some of these are based on individual employer policies and others are state and/or federal mandates. These include:

Continue reading @ Understanding the basics of no fault absenteeism policies – Rockford Workplace Issues |

By Nina Amir

An enormous amount of content comes across the transom of social networks like Facebook. We share business and personal information, news, entertainment, inspiration, and a whole host of things in between. And we do this for a variety of reasons depending upon our goals. Those of us who engage in relationship marketing for business, however, want to attract potential customers and clients.

Call them friends, followers, tweeple, pinners, or a tribe, it’s all the same. We want our presence on social networks to work like a beacon shining into the darkness and guiding people to our pages on social networks and, ultimately, to our websites. Eventually, we also want the people who connect to us to purchase something from us. For that to happen, though, we first have to have something to say to these people. Actually, we have to have something worth reading.

It’s the words we write on these social networks that make people want to connect with us—to like our pages, subscribe to our updates, or follow us. And it’s by reading our status updates and the links we offer that they begin to trust and like us—and that’s why they buy our products and services.

Many relationship marketers don’t realize they are leaving one important potential product untouched—one they may have created already or could create as they continue their networking activities. It’s a product that also will enhance their trust factor and expert status. What is it? A book.

Stop and consider all the content you produce. It could be repurposed into a book, or, better yet, you could be writing that content as you network with the end goal of producing a book.

Continued @ How To Blog Your Book And Own Your Niche As An Author.

 The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates employers to maintain a safe workplace for employees. By creating a comprehensive workplace safety program, employers can take the necessary steps to protect workers from most injuries and illnesses while at work. Some of the starting points for an OSHA-compliant safety program include:

  • Wearing protective equipment such as goggles, helmets, gloves, etc.
  • Maintaining smoke/fire alarms, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors in good working condition.
  • Ensuring easy access to alarms.
  • Using surge protectors with all electrical equipment and banning the use of extension cords.
  • Keeping cleaning supplies and other chemicals in secure cabinets.
  • Cleaning spills, using non-skid rugs and removing trip hazards from walk areas.
  • Encouraging the use of appropriate lifting techniques to avoid over-exertion.
  • Making repairs or replacing broken equipment.
  • Ensuring that thermostats are in good working order to control heat and air conditioning.
  • Restricting smoking to designated areas.
  • Conducting safety inspections of the physical plant at regular intervals.
  • Ensuring that employees maintain a respectful workplace environment free of harassment and bullying. These behaviors create distractions that decrease employee concentration and increase the likelihood for accidents.
  • Implementing a risk management program that includes reporting procedures for unsafe equipment or practices, analysis of accident trends and corrective measures taken, and consistent review and revision of company safety policies.

Chemical Safety

OSHA mandates that employers have a hazard communication program in place that supplies employees information for each chemical used in the workplace. Employee training is required to ensure proper understanding of the hazard communication program. Employees have the right to know what chemicals they are using and how to properly use them. One form of communication used is the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). This form supplies the user with useful information about the chemical they are using, such as precautions to use when handling a chemical, how to dispose of it and what to do if it is accidentally ingested, inhaled or makes contact with skin.

Fire Safety

No matter where people work, fire is always a potential danger. Common causes of fires include defective electrical equipment or wiring and smoking. Employees must be trained in fire prevention procedures as well as how to handle a fire emergency. Fire drills can ensure that people are adequately prepared in the event of an actual emergency. Employers should also hold annual training in the use of fire extinguishers.

Continue reading at How employers can ensure a safe workplace – Rockford Workplace Issues |