News and advice on management and the business environment — January/February 2016

An Australian court rejects an accountant’s defamation suit against a colleague who posted bad reviews about him on Facebook. Plus, a new study shows that the desk job is dead.


Bad Facebook review of accountant allowed as “honest opinion”

An Australian accountant’s defamation suit against a former client who called him “unprofessional, rude and obnoxious” on Facebook has been thrown out, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. Stephanie Massey wrote a series of bad reviews about Perth accountant Barry McEloney on a Facebook page for UK emigrants, advising users against hiring him to prepare their tax returns. The judge who heard the case found that the claims made by Massey “were, at least substantially, true” and that potential clients would approach social media reviews “with appropriate caution and a bit of skepticism.”


Cut free snacks at your peril

Free snacks in the office 

If you’re looking for low-hanging fruit to cut from this year’s budget, resist the urge to lop off free office treats and beverages (assuming this is a perk your company offers). While some firms in the US, such as Sprint and Kraft, decided to do away with free snacks in recent months, the move may actually end up costing more than it saves, Bloomberg reports. Not only do employee snack-runs account for billions of hours in lost productivity, but the “psychological effect” of losing what many workers view as a gift can erode employee engagement, experts say.


Can we talk?

Canadian accountants want to have more frequent chats about their careers with their managers, a Robert Half survey finds. In an online poll of more than 370 finance and accounting professionals, 41% said they would like to have these conversations quarterly and another 45% said yearly would be optimal. Nearly one in three (28%), however, said the boss never discusses their career paths with them.


What drinking costs the workplace

Of all the economic costs associated with the overconsumption of alcohol — from car accidents to healthcare — the largest is the toll on productivity, says the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The data, which comes from the US Centers for Disease Control, shows that alcohol cost American workplaces US$90 billion in lost productivity and absenteeism in 2010, which is more than a third of the total US$249 billion that drinking cost the US economy that year.


Office work, sans office

The desk job is dead, concludes a North American study by IT services firm Softchoice. In a survey of 1,700 full-time employees, nearly eight in 10 (78%) said they highly value the ability to access work outside of the office, and 70% said they’d quit their job for one that offers more flexibility — including working remotely more often. The majority (62%) of employees also believe they are more productive working outside the office.