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  • The holiday spirit of office gift-giving is alive and well this year, according to a recent survey from Accountemps. Most HR managers feel it's appropriate for employees to give gifts to their managers and for managers to return the favor. But if your budget is tight, don't fret: You shouldn't have to spend more than $20 on this tradition. Still, before whipping out your credit card here, you should get a sense of your office culture, as well as your relationship with the intended recipient. "As much as people enjoy giving presents, this can be a sensitive issue in the workplace, and it becomes a personal decision based on individual relationships," said Bill Driscoll, district president for Accountemps. "More important than the dollar amount, the focus should be on giving something meaningful to the recipient. The best gifts are thoughtful and demonstrate care for others." To offer a more humorous perspective on the topic, Accountemps has also come up with the following six "incredibly inappropriate" real-life office holiday gifts, and we've included those here. More than 300 U.S. HR managers took part in the research.

  • 'Tis the season for … a large chunk of extra cash? That may be the case if you've been a "nice" employee this year. In fact, a growing number of companies intend to give their employees holiday bonuses in December, according to a recent survey from Accounting Principals. What's more, the average size of the bonus is likely to be bigger than last year's, sometimes reaching the four-figure level. Even the organizations that aren't providing a bonus during the holidays are looking to give employees something, such as perks or bonuses that will be awarded at another time of the year. The report also states that employees can boost their chances of earning a bonus by staying motivated and having a positive attitude. It would also help by volunteering for additional job duties in order to demonstrate that you're a committed team member. In providing additional insights into organizations' recruitment plans, the survey also indicates that, if you're planning to land a new job in 2017, you should start looking now. An estimated 500 U.S. human resources or hiring managers took part in the research.

  • A significant number of IT professionals expect to be working for a different employer next year, according to a recent survey from Spiceworks. The resulting "2017 Tech Career Outlook" reveals that tech employees are seeking more promising opportunities to expand their technology skills and make more money. They'd also like to work for a company that recognizes and understands the value of IT initiatives. The findings convey a number of lingering frustrations on the part of IT staffers. Most anticipate continuing difficulties in getting managers to understand the importance of IT department priorities, as well as challenges in gaining approval for important technology projects. The tech pros are also wary about future data threats, outdated infrastructure and systems, and ineffective disaster recovery tools and strategies. On the positive side, survey respondents said they feel appreciated by their bosses and co-workers—but that alone may not be enough to keep them around for another year. "Businesses rely on IT professionals to protect company data and make sure the devices and services they rely on 'just work,' but many IT professionals believe they're underpaid and their department is underfunded," said Peter Tsai, IT analyst at Spiceworks. "This is leading many tech professionals to take advantage of the favorable job market expected next year and seek employers that prioritize their IT department, invest in tech talent and provide adequate resources to be successful." Nearly 500 global IT pros took part in the research.

  • With cyber-breaches and cyber-security in the news on a daily basis—and demand for security experts on the rise—one would think that the field would deliver a robust career path. However, according to an October 2016 report from the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) and independent industry analyst firm Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), "The State of Cyber-Security Professional Careers," this simply isn't the case. The two organizations polled 437 information security professionals located in all regions of the world and found that industry rhetoric doesn't necessarily match reality. Many cyber-security pros aren't sure how to proceed with their career path; many aren't receiving the training they desire or need; relationships between business, IT and security teams are lacking; and too many organizations accept "good enough" rather than very good security. Moreover, many organizations are using a broken model. Among other things, many security executives are not getting enough face time in the boardroom—a significant factor that contributes to turnover. And organizations are struggling with internal relationships among the cyber-security, line of business and IT teams. Here's a look at some of the key findings from the report, along with how these factors are affecting security careers.

  • Want to hear some good news? The vast majority of employees actually like their bosses, according to a recent survey from Accountemps, a Robert Half Co. The resulting "State of the Manager-Employee Relationship" report indicates that the relationship is in great shape. Most employees said their manager is aware and responsive when it comes to the challenges they face. They also feel that their boss recognizes their potential and that, overall, they enjoy a professional relationship with their supervisor. (A significant number of them even consider their boss a friend.) What's more, many sympathize with their manager and the added stress he or she has to deal with—some even admitting that they wouldn't want the job. "Managers can sometimes get a bad rap, but, in reality, most professionals understand that the job is tough and complex and may not be for everyone," said Bill Driscoll, district president for Accountemps. "The challenge for many bosses today isn't just identifying a successor, but convincing that professional to step up to the challenge." More than 1,000 U.S. workers took part in the research.

  • While Baseline has reported extensively that IT professionals are in high demand for available job openings, it would be inadvisable to walk into an interview assuming that "I've got this one in the bag!" Expressing assertive confidence is a good thing, but arrogance and cockiness are major turn-offs. Candidates also need to know that every corporate job posting attracts about 250 résumés, according to research. One-third of managers admit that they know within the first 90 seconds of an interview whether they want to hire that person. The vast majority base such judgments on factors such as eye contact, posture, clothing choices and personality. But beyond these basic essentials, you can stand out from the crowd by considering the following nine recommendations from Glassdoor. Many convey the critical need to prepare in advance: No company is exactly like another one. Each comes with its own culture, values, industry challenges and mission. Fortunately, in the digital age, it's easier than ever to research companies ahead of time. In addition, you can take advantage of social media and other resources to learn more about the people who will interview you. These recommendations—along with other interview success drivers that can help you effectively engage with employers while conveying a compelling "you" story—should help you land the job.

  • Data scientists will have to convert a growing volume of data into meaningful insights on a massive scale, sparking the need for next-generation data scientists.

  • Employees are spending a significantly smaller portion of their workday focusing on their primary job duties, and that's keeping them in the office longer, according to a recent survey from Workfront. While the vast majority of professionals surveyed said they feel productive, they also indicated that they're constantly getting sidetracked by useless meetings, excessive emails and unnecessary oversight, i.e., micro-management. Many said they'd get more accomplished during the day if they had uninterrupted blocks of time, more efficient work processes and better business tools. "Meetings and email are a necessary part of today's workplace," said Joe Staples, chief marketing officer at Workfront. "Unfortunately, they are often misused, decreasing, rather than increasing, productivity. … It's really about providing the tools that allow businesses to focus on the right work, create their best work, and deliver that work faster than ever before." In addition, the findings provide insights into workplace morale, team-related conflicts and even the shrinking "lunch hour," and we've included those here. More than 600 U.S. workers took part in the research, which was conducted by Regina Corso Consulting.