4 Reasons Why HR Pros Can Benefit From Candy Crush Saga



Last week some Facebook friends got into a conversation about the video game Candy Crush Saga (CCS). More specifically, their conversation was about spending money to play CCS.

It was very disheartening to me to see these friends – people who work in or around the HR space – make comments that were misguided, possibly malicious. At the very least they were highly judgmental.




My first reaction was, “Hey! I don’t pay to play this game,” as if I needed to justify my playing habits to these friends based on their comments. But  then I realized that it really didn’t matter, because I have certainly paid-to-play other video games before. Did that make me “stupid” or an “idiot” as the comments suggest?

Of course not.

But that exchage did make me think about myself, my motives, and my reason for liking and playing CCS, even more than Angry Birds or Bejeweled Blitz (other games I have played a lot and enjoyed). And that reflection made me realize that CCS offers some real developmental benefits – four of them – that I wasn’t able to find in the same degree from other games. And I also realized that the reason I don’t pay-to-play CSS is because the first two reasons below get an even greater workout without the advantage that paid help gives.

1. Strategic Analysis and Implementation of Goals – Each level of CCS has a different primary goal (clear the jelly, fill the orders, bring down the ingredients, etc.), as well as the general goal of highest possible points. In order to successfully complete each level, it is important to consider the strategic movement of game pieces in order to achieve the goals, because the player is also working around obstacles such as limited number of moves, time bombs, and fudge (don’t ask). Those goals, and the strategies necessary to achieve them, are different -and harder – as player ascends each level. Developing strategic skills with an eye toward reaching specific goals is certainly something that all HR practitioners should work at.

2. Dedication and Perseverance – As the player ascends levels, CCS becomes increasingly hard. That, coupled with the fact that players have a limited number of “lives” – or chances to play – means that some levels take a very long time to complete. The only way to get to a new level is by successful completion of the previous level. If you get stuck trying to complete a level it could take weeks – or more – before you are successful. Teaching people to keep trying, over and over, until they reach their goal, is a valuable lesson.

3. Conversation Starter – HR bloggers often talk about the value of connections, and how important it is to make them. I agree! You can’t be successful at HR unless you are a person that likes to talk with people – in the line at the store or in an elevator. So how does CCS help? I often find myself playing CCS in waiting rooms or restaurants, because I live alone part-time and have only myself for company in public. But if I am playing CCS –  with the sound off – someone notices. And other players never hesitate to start the conversation. “Isn’t it fun? Addicting, isn’t it?” “So what level are you on?” At dinner a few nights ago I found myself in a robust conversation with 3 other people about strategies necessary for completion of higher levels. People pay a lot of money to go to HR conferences and have similar conversations. That’s why this comment is just wrong.



4. Deepen Existing Connections  – CCS is really big on Facebook, although it can be played through their website and through mobile apps. I find myself talking to some Facebook friends about and through CCS that I don’t interact with as much by status updates or comments. It reminds me of the diversity of my friends and their different, but valid, interests. Developing deeper bonds with others through CCS acts as a constant reminder that connections are like a garden – they need to be properly tended to or they will wither and die.

Of course, an HR pro could spend a couple of thousand dollars at a major conference to be inspired to do these things, too. But be prepared for someone to say that you are stupid, a deadbeat, or just plain wasting your money. 😉

Do you play? Tell me how you feel about it. Not a player? Do you agree with the Facebook comments? I’m stuck on Level 213. Anyone have any strategies to share with me?




The NLRB Facebook Cases – What Was Your Employment Lawyer Thinking?


Today's post is my 100th!


When I was in law school I had a professor who was positively gaga about policy. It was her belief that  students who understood what policy objective the courts and legislatures were trying to achieve would have a better understanding of and rememberence of any given law. It would also help those future lawyers, when confronted with facts and situations that had not been previously addressed, analyze those facts within the existing law and come to some type of reasonable conclusion (especially on her exam ;-)).

I used that technique to a large degree myself when I was a law professor, and I found it an invaluable way to keep sight of a law and its potential impact when faced with an endless series of “but, what if  . . .?” questions from my students.

So it puzzles me a bit that there is such a fuss about the NLRB and the so-called “Facebook cases”.  After all, the Wagner Act, or NLRA, has been the law for 75 years. Not exactly a new, untried law. Under the NLRA, all workers have the right to engage in concerted activity for the purpose of mutual aid and protection, and, if you think about it, the workers of today have always had that right. The policy objective underneath that act is to protect and encourage the formation of unions, which takes a whole lot of communication between employees about their common grievances.

So why would any employment lawyer worth his or her hefty fee advise a company to write a policy that forbids them from discussing work on social media sites such as Facebook? Or draft  a policy that forbids an employee from making a “negative comment” about their employer?

The many lawyers who advised their clients to adopt such policies, or even suggested outright social media bans – and based on these cases there were plenty – forgot the policy behind the NLRA. They forgot that this law was intended to protect certain kinds of communication among employees in order to keep them safe from those activities that might lead to unionization.

Not only did the lawyers forget the policy behind the law, they were so concerned about risk avoidance and so frightened of social media that they didn’t take the time to understand that it constituted an essential shift in the way that Americans, including workers, were communicating with each other.

Maybe the lawyers who advised employers to adopt these overly broad policies just simply forgot about the existence of the NLRA and its commitment to helping workers discuss their joint concerns about wages, hours, and working conditions.

Whatever the reason for the lawyer’s failing, it was not just a situation of “the rapidly changing law”, as many want you to believe. So if you have an overly broad social media policy suggested by a lawyer, that you are now struggling to change in light of the NLRB’s recent activity, you may want to throw out the lawyer as well as the policy.




Whose Privacy Is It, Anyway?

My husband, Sy, hates, hates, HATES it when I mention him on Facebook. Sometimes he positively snarls a demand: “Don’t put that on Facebook!” Other times he just whines a little: “You’re not going to put that on Facebook, are you?”

Sy is a really private, very old fashioned guy who thinks that nothing he does is anyone else’s business – often not even mine. He can also be one of those cranky, irascible old men who say inadvertently hilarious things. In fact, when I first started following @shitmydadsays on Twitter, I showed it to my older daughter and her immediate comment was, “Why didn’t *I* think of that?”

I really wouldn’t mind doing as he demands asks, though, except for one little problem: me. I am a pretty transparent person all across my social media life, and I try to tweet, post, and update the real me, whatever that entails. I want to have real conversations and I want people to talk back. So sometimes discussing “me” also requires discussing my husband.

The most recent example of this happened just this past weekend, when my husband became suddenly ill and required emergency medical treatment (see my previous post for more information). I began putting out tidbits on Facebook and Twitter for two reasons: (1) I was due to leave for a professional conference and wanted my many connections to know why I wasn’t coming, and (2) I like telling people when real, stressful things are happening in my life, because I love and appreciate the honest and thoughtful wishes I always receive. In this particular instance, the thoughts, wishes, and prayers I received on Facebook and Twitter were instrumental in preventing me from falling into a depression over my lost conference opportunity.

Did I violate my husband’s privacy by posting what was happening? He certainly thinks so. But I can’t think of any other way to be transparent and real about my life without involving him (I did leave out some of the most embarrassing parts). Would I be the same person if I had not shared?

When Justin Halpern started tweeting shit his dad said, was he violating his dad’s privacy?


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Facebook and the NLRB – Don’t Believe Everything (Or Maybe Anything) In the Blogs

You know about this case, right?

I’m talking about the case of the Connecticut ambulance company that fired an employee after she posted negative comments about her boss. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed an action against the company maintaining that the firing was illegal; the ambulance company and the NLRB reached a settlement last week. There is so much misinformation and inaccuracy floating around the Web right now about this case that it’s ridiculous to even list or link to them all. If you insist, here, and here are a couple of offenders. Here’s why they are wrong:

1. FREE SPEECH – This case isn’t about free speech at all. Not one single, solitary sliver. The firing didn’t impact the employee’s free speech rights, and the settlement doesn’t validate any free speech rights. The case is about “protected concerted activity“, which all employees are allowed to engage in pursuant to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).  The law states that employees have the right to discuss wages, hours, working conditions, etc. without fear of retaliation or punishment. That is NOT constitutional free speech, but a worker right granted by statute. If these writers don’t understand the difference between the Constitution and a statute, they need to go back to high school civics.

2. UNION OR NON-UNION – The NLRA applies to all employers and employees, with some specific exceptions that are not relevant here. When articles say that non-union employers are not impacted, they are dead wrong, because ALL employees have the right to engage in protected concerted activity. It is the conversation about wages, hours, and working conditions that allow employees to make reasoned choices about unionization, which is why it is allowed by statute. At least that is the theory.

3. AT-WILL EMPLOYMENT – Employers in an “at-will” jurisdiction do not have to have a reason to terminate an employee.  BUT – they cannot terminate an employee for an illegal reason, like sexual or religious discrimination, or whistle-blowing. Commentators who say there is no impact in an at-will jurisdiction don’t understand the concept at all, and are dead wrong. Even at-will employers cannot legally fire someone for talking about their working conditions.

The issue in this case is simple: Was the employee Facebook post, and her comments in response to others, a conversation about working conditions at her place of employment? If so, it is protected concerted activity that the employer may not legally prevent or punish.

Since Facebook posts are pretty clearly an attempt to start a conversation or to encourage someone to listen to you, I don’t see why this is even questionable, unless the employee was writing about her dog or cat and not about working conditions.  The case is really no different than if the woman was standing around the coffee shop talking with her co-workers about her boss.  Facebook is just digital conversation around a virtual water cooler. This is what the NLRB wants employers to recognize.

Some bloggers want to turn it into more than this, or into something else altogether.  Don’t believe them.

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Snowpocalypse 2011 – Man Up or Wimp Out?

Last Tuesday, the day before the Detroit area was to receive a major blizzard, I asked my husband if he intended to go to work the next day.  After he glared at me with a withering look, he answered, “We’ll see.”  His withering look and dismissive answer told me how foolish the question really was.  I have lived with him for almost 25 years, worked at his food processing business for over 10 years, so I should have known this without asking: you don’t close the business for weather.

That’s not to say that he would never close the business for a weather related emergency, hence the cryptic “we’ll see.”  His point was that a true weather emergency is, by definition, sudden and unexpected.  If Wednesday came and there was no way to drive the 25 miles to get to work, then he would decide not to go.  Deciding not to work in advance does not, in his opinion, make good business sense.

His attitude got me thinking about my long work experience and the days when the phrase “snow day” didn’t even exist.  I remembered the Great Blizzard of 1978 and specifically recalled one of my fellow police officers calling the station and saying, “I can walk up to Ford Road if someone can get to me and pick me up.”  That is exactly how he got to work when he couldn’t get his car out of his driveway.  In other words, he sucked it up and went to work. So did the rest of us.  No excuses, and, more importantly, no expectations that it should be any different.

Of course I understand that sometimes weather emergencies are so bad that people should not risk their safety for their job. Hurricanes or tsunamis come to mind.  My point is that it’s pretty difficult to tell a full day in advance, particularly with snow, if the weather is going to create that type of a risk.  Before Snowpocalypse 2011 even arrived, though, people were fully expecting to take the day off.  Many businesses announced on Monday – two full days in advance – that they were going to close.

Maybe the reason that Ford Motor Company didn’t need to be bailed out by the government (unlike GM and Chrysler), and is now posting record profits, is that they make careful and sensible business decisions, like not canceling production solely on a weather prediction.  People got to work safely last Wednesday, even if they were a little late. (My husband got to work in one hour, which is about 20 extra minutes.)  If half of the Ford workforce “didn’t show up”, as this man posted on Facebook, perhaps FoMoCo will decide that they don’t need that many workers after all.  That certainly wouldn’t help any employees.

Tell me what you think!  Is it in the best interest of workers if companies cancel the work day for snow or other weather related emergencies?  Should it be done in advance, or should a company wait until the full effects of the emergency are known?

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Blog Like No One’s Reading

I usually hate “chain-letter” emails or Facebook posts.  You know the ones I mean: “Cut and paste/ forward this message to all of your friends because if you don’t you are a heartless b*tch/ you hate puppies/you will be hit by a bus”.  But I received one of those emails today, and here’s what it said, in part:

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly.  As I’ve aged, I’ve become kinder to myself, and less critical of  myself. I’ve become my own friend.. I don’t chide myself for eating  that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn’t need, but  looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be  messy, to be extravagant.

I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before  they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

It landed in my inbox at a perfect time, because I had already decided that I made a mistake 6 months ago when I started blogging with two different blogs.

When I started blogging, I was really fearful about  mixing personal and business, HR and handicap parking.  I was worried that no one would read what I wrote, because I was either not serious about cutting edge HR, or I was boring those people who don’t give a crap.  So I started two blogs, one for personal musings and one for HR/business.  I wasn’t happy with this format, though. Then I watched this video:

I’m not worried anymore.  Like the quote says, I am old enough not to care. So this is my “new” blog – which just combines what I liked best of both.  HR University is closed; now I’m Just Joan.

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Carnival of HR – Special Employment Edition

Maybe I should have called it the “Special Unemployed” Edition, because the purpose of this special Carnival is to highlight HR professionals who are unemployed, and these people are all pretty special!

Last week President Obama signed a jobs bill called the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act.  This bill allows companies to avoid paying the employee‘s Social Security payroll tax for the rest of the year, AND allows the company to get a tax credit for next year if they keep that person working a year.  It’s a good deal, so tell your employers to hire one of these people!



Shauna is the ringmistress of the Carnival of HR, as well as the founder and co-host of the highly popular HR Happy Hour radio program.  She blogs as the HR Minion and can be found on Twitter using that name.  She is from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area of Minnesota.  You can read here, here,  and here why she is a valuable hire right now.


Ben hails from Cincinnatti, Ohio.  He has his MBA, and blogs at RethinkHR.  You can also find him on Twitter as @benjaminmcall.  If you want to see why he may be right for your organization, read his profile here.


Bob lives in Virginia, but he would like to relocate to the southwest (Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico) or northern California. He was profiled in the blog Do The Work by Franny Oxford, and you can read about Bob here as well.


Kim is brand new to the blogosphere (here), but she certainly isn’t new to the HR profession.  With 20 years of experience, she is now seeking work in the greater NYC area.  She has been profiled by Tammy Colson‘s Junkyard HR here, and you can find additional credentials on LinkedIn here.


Jim blogs and writes as HRPufNStuf, and goes by the name @jmdcomedy on Twitter.  He is a talented recruiting manager who lives in Minnesota, but is completely open to relocation.  Don’t hesitate!  Read more about him here and here.


Shennee is from  the York, Pennsylvania area and needs to remain nearby.  She blogs at Deeply Rutted and is the co-host of Compassionate HR. Here’s her profile from her archives:

I come from a strong Recruiting/Staffing Industry background. I am passionate and compassionate about the “human” in the Human Resources. What I enjoy the most about human resources is that no day is ever the same, and the challenge of making it work.  Everyday, I strive to learn something new, network, and be inspired by others. Personal/Professional development is a priority to me. Making  a Difference in people’s livelihood is what get’s me going in the morning.  My Human Resources background includes large and small organizations.  I started a blog and I am connected through Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  I really LOVE working , and really want to get back to it!

What I am looking for:

  • I am based in Manchester, PA South Central PA Area. I am looking for a local commute. Virtual employment would be fantastic. I am married to an IT pro.
  • Human Resources is my focus.  I enjoy Recruiting/Sourcing/Training/Social Media
  • I am looking to collaborate with others,continue to develop my blog, and step outside of my “comfort zone”.
  • I am available to discuss part-time or full-time employment opportunities.

If anyone wishes to discuss this with me. I am available at: www.twitter.com/shennee_rutt www.linkedin.com/shennee

Looking forward to connecting with you soon. Ready to hit the ground running!


Fluent in French, and conversant in Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, this talented woman needs a job in the greater New York City/New Jersey area.  She also blogs at Life Analyzed and can be followed as @ataratus on Twitter.  In her own words:

I am a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources with ten years of progressive experience as a human resource generalist, primarily in the field of legal HR.  I started my career working mostly on international recruiting, but over time I was promoted and given additional responsibilities in talent management, succession/workforce planning and policy development.  I am skilled at evaluating current processes and developing innovative solutions to on-going problems.  I am always looking for ways to be more efficient and effective in my work and encourage others to do the same.  As a leader, I believe that it is important to value my employees’ input and that I can motivate them by helping them to see why their efforts are important in the big picture.  I am looking for a manager or director of HR position in NJ/NYC for a mid to large size organization, focusing on talent management and strategic workforce planning.  My ideal company is one that is invested in their staff, offering training, career advancement and performance compensation, and having a commitment to work/life balance.  For more information about my background and to contact me, see my LinkedIn profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/ataratuski.  I also maintain a blog at http://analyzedlife.blogspot.com.


That’s me!  I’ll wrap this up by saying that I live in the Detroit area but I am open to relocation anywhere.  I have been profiled on Punk Rock HR (here) and Do the Work (here). Links to my LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter profiles are on the right column of this page.

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