Observing country-specific holidays in global companies

Employees of global companies, and those with global clients, find themselves learning of all sorts of holidays they didn’t know existed. On Labor Day, of course, Americans will be out of the office, enjoying backyard barbecues or maybe just a day to sleep in and putter around the house. Our colleagues around the world will be toiling away like it’s any other Monday.

At Tribe, we often work with programmers in Ukraine, so our timeline for a rush project this May had to take into account their Labor Day. Both May 1 and May 2 were national holidays for them. Fortunately for our workflow demands, Cultural Workers and Folk Artists Day on May 25 is observed without businesses across the board taking the day off.

We’ve just started work with a company headquartered in Japan, where employees customarily take extra vacation days around Bon, the festival honoring one’s ancestors. While their Japanese colleagues were traveling to their hometowns, taking their kids to visit grandparents and other relatives, our client in charge of the Americas and EMEA regions was able to catch up on a joint project.

The global pattern of country-specific holidays creates an interesting rhythm to the workplace. Regions take turns in the inhale and exhale of time on and time off. While one group is enjoying a vacation from work, others are continuing to move the business forward. In our post-recession environment, where employees are accustomed to doing more with less and can easily begin to see themselves as indispensable, these mismatched holidays are a reminder that they’re not.

In other words, the world doesn’t fall apart when you take a day off.


Why Your Company Should Care about Employee Photos

New York Magazine recently published a story about the importance of profile pictures on social media sites. The story, entitled “You Should Freak Out More, Not Less, Over Your Profile Picture”, highlights a study by the journal of Psychological Science that asserts the notion that certain facial expressions can cause misleading first impressions by potential friends, partners or employers.

The study found that even subtle differences in facial expression result in drastic assumptions about personality. For instance, a slight smile can trigger senses of trustworthiness and extraversion in the viewer. And different types of smiles denote certain personality traits. The photo below shows how subjects assigned these traits just by observing small differences in the same people’s pictures.


Furthermore, the study found that, when prompted to guess a person’s occupation based on a headshot, facial expression and posture made a huge difference in their response. These results were particularly staggering. As the author of the article so astutely noted, pictures #2 and #4 are almost identical. Almost. As you can see, that slight difference in look and even the angle of the man’s smile made subjects overwhelmingly think picture #2 looked like a villain. In picture #4? The majority chose “mayor” as the occupation. 


That’s right — a subtle difference in facial expression was the difference between “Mayor” and “Villain”. What does that mean for your executive team? Your managers? If your company has an Enterprise Social Network, company badges or even a directory with pictures, employees are looking at their colleagues’ or supervisor’s pictures and could be making these same sorts of assumptions.

And that could be hampering or even thwarting potentially fruitful relationships within your company, especially with remote employees who may never meet colleagues face-to-face. Company pictures are often brushed off as necessary evils. People don’t think about the impression their smile could make, but when your profile picture is your first or only impression on people, it can make a huge difference.

Tribe has always been a firm believer in making company pictures something employees are proud to put on their ID’s and ESN profiles. We’ve worked with a number of clients on intranet launches, and a professional photographer is almost always on-hand at launch events to snap profile pictures that employees would be happy to post on the company page.

A small investment in making these pictures perfect could go a long way in facilitating good relationships down the road. And, as this study shows, that is an investment worth making.


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