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Everyone has a theory about how to boost employee productivity and morale in the office. Some firms try to do it with perks and money, and others with making small changes around the office. It's important to gauge how employees experience the workplace, but one study has found that one thing employers have been taken for granted: the power of compassion.

'Culture of Compassion'

A recent study conducted by Wharton Professor Sigal Barsade and George Mason University Professor Olivia O'Neil shows the benefits of "companionate love" in the office, reports Inc. And no, there is nothing inappropriate about companionate love. It's merely the act of showing compassion, and showing your employees that you care; the authors explain that coworkers "are careful of each other's feelings. They show compassion when things don't go well."

It's a heck of a business model: Start your own firm. Then hire unpaid interns and post-bar clerks, many of whom are so desperate for a few lines of experience on their resumes that they will gladly take anything.

If they quit, hire another intern or two. If they stay, have them handle your research, writing, and other grunt work, preferably with their school-provided research accounts. And if an intern proves to be truly valuable, hire them at something approximating a living wage once they pass the bar, and provide them with their own set of interns.

This may sound unethical. It may sound like a labor law violation. It's probably both. But guess what? Everybody's doing it!

First, there was a debate about what direction women should lean, and now, the debate of the month is whether we should "ban bossy" or not.

The Ban Bossy Campaign

Ban Bossy? Yes, if you haven't heard it's the new campaign from Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In Foundation, was trending last week on Twitter and Facebook, has Beyonce as a spokesperson and is in partnership with the Girl Scouts of America. Here's the gist of the campaign:

When a little boy asserts himself, he's called a "leader." Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded "bossy." Words like bossy send a message: don't raise your hand or speak up. By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys -- a trend that continues into adulthood. Together we can encourage girls to lead.

As a business owner, it's up to you to give performance reviews to your employees, and next to actually having to fire an employee, it ranks up there with "stuff I'd rather not do." But, to be a truly effective employer it's necessary to give your employees the feedback that will make them better at their jobs, and make your business more successful overall.

If you're used to being on the receiving end of performance reviews, and need some help on how to approach them, here are five tips to keep in mind.

"Sounds like somebody has a case of the Mondays!" Egad. Just the phrase brings to mind that woman's face, and makes me want to react violently.

I suspect I'm not alone, either.

That doesn't make her point less true, however. Mondays are a productivity nightmare. How can you pummel the sluggishness, reticence, and annoyance of the initial hours of the work week?

Hogwash! Ask your associates questions? Surely, you must be joking. What would you ever want to ask an associate, besides, "Is my coffee ready yet?" or "You call this research?" Associates are to be seen, and not heard!

If you think like that, quite frankly, you are a miserable failure as a leader. Sure, associates know far less than you, the almighty real-life Denny Crane, but if you've hired the right associate, that person can act as a sounding board, an alternative point of view, and hopefully, a revenue stream in training. And so long as we're encouraging associates to speak up and ask questions, we'll encourage you to do the same.

Conversations. Feedback. Professional development. It all helps you make sure that you get the most out of your associates.

Thanksgiving, is quite possibly the best holiday ever. It has little to do with personal beliefs, and everything to do with stuffing your face. What's not to like? As you get ready for the weekend of all weekends, make sure you take these steps so you can actually enjoy a few days off (yeah right).

As lawyers, we spend most of our days sitting at a desk, working on a computer. And while our ever-expanding concern over our ever-expanding "office chair ass" is legitimate, there are more important things at stake -- like our health.

Are Your Contract Attorneys 'Independent Contractors'?

Are you thinking about hiring your first (or next) contract attorney? How can you be sure that he or she is actually an independent contractor and not an employee? The IRS has compiled a list that can help.

Misclassifying your worker as an independent contractor can lead to some dire consequences. In one case, a law firm had to pay $160,000 when it failed to prove that its so-called "contract" attorneys were truly independent contractors, according to the Oregon State Bar.

So, while hiring a contract attorney may seem like a good idea in these penny-pinching times, you'll want to be careful in how you treat and classify them:

Last week we discussed tips and considerations for hiring your first employee. Suppose you already cleared that hurdle and you have a team of administrative staff and paralegals. What if you're ready for the next hurdle -- adding attorneys to your team?

A good way to test the waters is by hiring a contractor. So, here are five reasons why you should consider hiring a contract attorney to grow your small practice.