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Loose change

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 28, 2002

REACH OUT AND FIRE SOMEONE: At least some of the 7,000 staff members being laid off by Arthur Andersen will learn their fate by voice mail. A spokesman says the firm is trying to inform staffers in person, but if a person can't be reached, a voice mail message will be left with the news. Management experts decried the impersonal delivery, but acknowledge layoff by voice mail "regrettably is becoming a more common practice. It was unheard of 10 years ago."

LONGER HOURS: A recent survey of 150 managers and executives found that more than a third are working longer hours than they were five years ago. The average workweek of those polled is 54 hours, according to staffing service Robert Half International. Consequently, company chairman and CEO Max Messmer warns that more executives need to step back and reassess their needs and the demands of their jobs to prevent burnout.

ECONOMICS LESSON: Your view on whether the economy is on the rebound may depend on the degree on your wall. Employment among people with college degrees rose 2.4 percent between December and March, representing about 900,000 jobs. Less-educated workers saw decreases or little improvement. And better-educated workers tend to see their fortunes rise first, Princeton University economist Alan Krueger says.

HANGUPS: More companies are telling workers to refrain from using a cell phone while driving on the job. Wheels Inc., a Des Plaines, Ill., fleet management company, polled 125 companies and learned 59 percent of them have a policy regulating the use of cell phones behind the wheel, mostly for liability and safety reasons. Of companies that don't have policies, more than half said they're working on one.

AMERICAN PIE IN THE FACE: Amid the turmoil over Hewlett-Packard's planned merger with Compaq, some HP employees are engaging in acts of rebellion, from leaking memos and other sensitive company information to coming up with silly songs, drawings and other gags. Here's the chorus from one such song, based on Don McLean's American Pie: "Purge, purge Ms. Technology Scourge; drove my Beetle to the needle, now my job's on the verge; them Compaq boys were drinking Starbucks and Surge, singing, "This'll be the day that we merge; this'll be the day that we merge.' "

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