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Via Ellevate : Work + Life: Balance or Collision? Why Workplace Wellness Matters

For the average person that works “full-time” for 50 years, it’s said that one-third of our lifetime is spent in the workplace. That’s 90K hours that I’d like to ensure is balanced with healthy activities that bring happiness to my life. The workplace has become highly competitive to recruit and retain high caliber employees. If an employer expects their staff to constantly be plugged in, we ought to ensure their mental and physical needs are met to attain ultimate productivity and gratification.

I grew up in the midwest with two brothers, raised by a single mom. We didn’t have a lot of money, so SpaghettiOs and Hamburger Helper were mealtime staples. The Happy Meal made an all-too-frequent appearance as a balanced dinner, and lacing it with ketchup was the closest thing to a nutrient-rich vegetable that we had in the fridge. The sad reality is that approximately 43% of US households are low-income and sustain on diets similar to this. It’s the perceived high cost of quality health foods that cause low-income families to choose lower-nutrient, cost-efficient foods.

I experienced the results of this diet firsthand, as I was the “chubby girl” in school. I was excessively picked on, obscenities were written on my locker, and throwing gum in my hair was a popular sport. Imagine this teenager: nearly 170 pounds, with no concept of what a healthy diet or meaningful exercise looked like. I didn’t know where to look to improve my physical and emotional situation.

My eating and exercising habits didn’t change much, even into my twenties. But then I moved to San Francisco, where I was shocked to find people buying organic veggies at local farmers markets and running the steep hills for exercise and fun. Being in this health-focused environment inspired me to find a personal trainer, who further peaked my interest in fitness and nutrition. He introduced me to natural vitamin sources, balanced dietary supplements, and the truth of what processed food does to the body. He showed me how to exercise with good form and how to push my limits without hurting myself.

The flame for fitness and nutrition was ignited within me. But, like 92% of our working class, I did my 9-to-5 duty in the corporate world, where I’d eat lunch over my keyboard. After a long workday in a drab office, I had little motivation to go to the gym.

With the rise of the always-on mobile workforce, a simple work-life balance is a thing of the past, making it even tougher for employees to find proper nutrition and exercise. Work environments are increasingly competitive, and there’s a rise in mental health challenges. Employees are expected to be responsive, even during hours they’re not in the office, yet aren’t afforded opportunities during the workday to have their mental and physical needs met. However, of those progressive companies that do offer wellness solutions, 61% report having a healthier workforce with increased productivity.

Moving on to 2013: I finally had a job I loved. I traveled, ate, and drank on my company’s dime. I made good money and had a great apartment, car, and boyfriend – all things I thought I was “supposed” to have at 30. However, I rarely talked to my family. I’d go out drinking with random people just to keep busy. While I had lost some weight, I was unhealthy inside and out.

Finally, I’d had enough of neglecting my wellbeing and starting making drastic changes. I made the decision to walk away from the corporate rat-race and cut alcohol from my life. I became a personal trainer and certified yoga teacher for companies. It was here that I was inspired by how these companies not only paid for their staff to take classes, but encouraged them to stop working for at least an hour each day to focus on their health. I was seeing firsthand how an employer-supported wellness program could improve people’s daily lives, and I knew I wanted to be a bigger part of it.

As I dug deeper to understand the impact corporate wellness could have, I uncovered countless studies showing that consistent, multi-faceted employer wellness programs build team camaraderie and engagement with their employer. This, in turn, heightens productivity, decreases absenteeism, and lowers healthcare costs. As a premier example, Johnson & Johnson estimates that wellness programs saved the company $250 million on healthcare over the past decade, with a return of $2.71 for every dollar spent.

I learned that when companies dedicate resources and invest in the well-being of their employees, they create loyalty and ultimately retain the best workers. Springbuk, a leading corporate health analytics platform, compiled stats from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) which indicates that 69% of employees would participate in wellness programs if provided by their company.

Soaking in all of this research and firsthand experience led me to found FitPros, a workplace wellness service provider with a clear mission: making healthy living accessible to people where they spend the most time – at work. Now in its third year, we’ve learned at FitPros that while one-off fitness classes are nice to have, they aren’t enough. Employees need to know that their employer truly cares and makes an investment in an ongoing wellness initiative that supports their physical, mental, and nutritional goals for the long-haul.

To recruit and retain high-caliber employees, it’s imperative that companies are competitive in offering wellness programs that support a healthy work-life balance. A fully-integrated, impactful program will not happen overnight, but it can succeed with ongoing, whole-hearted support from the top-down.

Via Forbes : The Evolving Definition Of Work-Life Balance

The term “work-life balance” has yet to lose its buzz in the last few years. This is partially due to the dominating presence of millennials in the workforce. Employers have been putting in a tremendous effort trying to determine the best way to appeal to millennial workers. With the millennial generation of workers projected to take up 75% of the workforce by 2025, many leaders think it’s time to redefine what work-life balance looks like.

Work-life balance is an important aspect of a healthy work environment. Maintaining work-life balance helps reduce stress and helps prevent burnout in the workplace. Chronic stress is one of the most common health issues in the workplace. It can lead to physical consequences such as hypertension, digestive troubles, chronic aches and pains and heart problems. Chronic stress can also negatively impact mental health because it’s linked to a higher risk of depression, anxiety and insomnia.

Too much stress over a long period of time leads to workplace burnout. Employees who work tons of overtime hours are at a high risk of burnout. Burnout can cause fatigue, mood swings, irritability and a decrease in work performance. This is bad news for employers because according to Harvard Business Review, the psychological and physical problems of burned-out employees cost an estimated $125 billion to $190 billion a year in healthcare spending in the United States.

By creating a work environment that prioritizes work-life balance, employers can save money and maintain a healthier, more productive workforce. But what exactly does work-life balance look like? Well, that’s where things can get a bit complicated. Work-life balance means something a little different to everyone. Over the years, the knowledge and approach of work-life balance has been constantly evolving, and it might be helpful for employers to identify the difference in opinions among the Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials.

Baby Boomers and Work-Life Balance

Born between 1945 and 1960, around the time of World War II, this generation was exposed to a lot of hardships at a very young age. Making a decent living was no small task, and in turn, this generation craved stability in the workplace and valued the opportunity for employment. Because of this, work-life balance wasn’t a main priority or concern. Baby Boomers tended to stay at companies for longer periods of time than following generations. Many of these employees are currently in senior or director level positions that require a high degree of responsibility. As a result, 80% of Baby Boomers report moderate to high levels of stress.

Gen X and Work-Life Balance

As the children of the Baby Boomers, Gen Xers (typically born around the years of 1961 and 1980) grew up witnessing the long hours and poor work-life balance of their parents. Many Gen Xers were exposed to the effect such a relationship with work had on the family unit. As a result, this generation put more emphasis on creating work-life balance in their own lives. Many of these employees prioritize spending time with their family and are more likely to utilize their PTO than the Baby Boomers. Because of this, Gen Xers tend to think of work-life balance as a necessary prerequisite to a company of employment. They look for perks such as telecommuting, extended maternity/paternity time and adequate vacation time.

Millennials and Work-Life Balance

Being a millennial comes with its fair share of stereotypes. Generally, for those born between the years of 1981 and 2000, work ethic is thought to be secondary, or ‘just a part of life.’ But for the generation born into the harshest student loan burden in history, finding stable employment to pay for the higher education of both themselves and their children – as well as soaring housing costs – remains amongst the highest of priorities. With this generation growing to over a quarter of the U.S. population and in their prime-working years, figuring out what attracts millennials remains one of the biggest HR decisions at any major company.

To satisfy the assumed desires of millennial employees, many employers overcompensate by adding game rooms and beanbags to spruce up the work environment. An entire industry has popped up surrounding making workspaces more “millennial-friendly.” WeWork, one of the most well-known of this new breed of property managers, recently made headlines by leasing an entire Manhattan office to IBM, an over 100-year old company that houses multiple generations of employees.

However, many millennials report that they don’t care for these types of perks. Instead, they are more interested in finding a career path that will support their “lifestyle”, which in this context means their life outside of work. While Ping-Pong tables and free coffee aren’t necessarily scoffed at in this generation, it’s important for employers to understand that the same factors that have pushed prior generations to choose which company to work for (pay, career trajectory, job location, etc.) are still the major differentiating factors to the largest working generation in the U.S. Unfortunately for millennials, the 2017 Workplace Benefits Report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch found that 59% of millennials report feeling worried about finding a career path that will support the lifestyle they’ve envisioned for themselves.

Going Past Generations – Creating a Flexible and Happy Work Environment for All

For an employer, promoting work-life balance can seem a daunting challenge. How can a company promote a healthy lifestyle, both physically and emotionally, without sacrificing employee productivity?

While employers can look to studies about what work-life balance means to millennials to gain some insight, it’s important to remember that work-life balance will always mean something a little different to everyone. Just because an employee fits into a specific generation, this doesn’t always mean that they will want the same things as another employee of the same generation. This is where flexibility and workplace happiness comes into play.

Creating a flexible work environment is one of the best ways to satisfy the work-life balance needs of most employees – no matter which generation they belong to. A flexible work environment has been shown to decrease stress, boost levels of job satisfaction and help employees maintain healthier habits. Employers should offer flexible work hours, the ability to work from home and unlimited PTO to create a more flexible work environment that appeals across generations of workers.

It’s important for employers to realize that work-life balance is about more than just hours. Besides promoting flexibility, employers should also strive to improve the overall workplace experience for their employees. Prioritizing a healthy culture and cultivating a happy workplace environment promotes work-life balance. When employees are happy in their roles, work will feel more like a second home, and less like working for a paycheck. Employers should prioritize competitive compensation, comfortable office conditions, opportunities for professional growth and opportunities for social connections.

Attitudes on work-life balance will continue to evolve with cultural, generational and economic changes. Flexible leaders can update or reinvent their workplace culture to try something new if employees report poor work-life balance. While maximizing employee productivity will always remain a constant goal, ensuring employees have the time they desire away from the office and enjoy their time spent in the office is the best way to retain talented employees and make them lifers, regardless of perceived generational differences.

Via The Balance Careers : 5 Tips to Improve Your Career Development

You Owe Yourself a Career Development Action Plan.

Career management isn’t just a nice-to-do, it’s a must do, if you expect to gain maximum success and happiness from the hours you invest in work. Face it, you are likely going to work 40 hours a week for your entire adult life. Why not make them the best 40 hours that you can create?

Career management in which you plan and work to obtain new skills, capabilities, and experiences, is the answer. Share your goals with your boss and you have created a partner who can help you broaden your experience.

You are chock full of talents and skills. Continuing their development will stretch your world and enable more of your unique contribution. This, in turn, will make your career success and progress a cornerstone in your fully-developed life. Does your world get any better than this? Not really.

Career Growth and Development Opportunities

When most employees think about their careers, they have not thought past their current job or the next promotion that they’d like to receive. They need to broaden their short-term thinking. As employees are promoted up the organization chart, fewer jobs become available, yet continuing to grow skills and experience should still be a priority for people obtaining value from and adding value to their career.

You can continue to experience career growth by taking the lead on your career development and progress. Here are a few ways in which you can collaborate with your boss to manage your career.

  • Job shadow other employees in your company to learn about different jobs.
  • Explore lateral moves to broaden and deepen your experience.
  • Attend classes and training sessions to increase your knowledge.
  • Hold book clubs at work to develop knowledge, and share terminology, concepts, and team building with coworkers.
  • Seek a mentor from a different department that you’d like to explore.

5 Tips for Career Growth and Development

Here are additional thoughts about career management. Dr. Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, Vice President and Managing Director of Apollo Research Institute and Visiting Scholar in Stanford University’s Media X program, recommends five additional career management strategies.

  • Could your career development and management use help to gain momentum? People who are the most successful and satisfied in their careers have proactively determined what they want from work. Once they’ve decided on their goals, they make a plan to accomplish the goals.
  • Developing a timeline with career goals and expected milestones is also an effective way to manage your career. Bringing your boss and his or her sponsorship and mentoring into the picture will ensure that you have an internal mentor who will help you manage your career.
  • Some companies have formal programs to help employees develop their careers. In others, you will need to informally pursue your career development. Companies with programs generally focus energy on helping employees develop and follow a career path.
  • The career path is discussed at several meetings bi-annually with the employee’s boss. The company doesn’t own the career path; the employee does. But, the company demonstrates its deep commitment to its employees by assisting where possible with resources of time and dollars.
  • Career paths are recommended for the same reason that goals are recommended. They are the written plan that can help each employee focus on what is most important to his or her fulfillment and success. Without a plan, you can feel rudderless and you have no benchmark against which you can measure your progress.

5 Tips for Strategic Career Management

Dr. Tracey Wilen, Vice President and Managing Director of Apollo Research Institute and Visiting Scholar in Stanford University’s Media X program, recommends these additional career management strategies.

“Succeeding in a demanding, changing workplace requires a strategic career management plan. Employers want to attract, hire and retain employees who provide the best value. So consider yourself a business with a product to sell, and create a strategy for marketing your workplace value.

“Data from the Apollo Research Institute on the future of education, work and careers suggest the following five career management strategies:

  • “Proactively engage your manager in a discussion about your career goals, and collaborate to create a career development plan. The most significant opportunity to exert influence is to involve your manager in the career planning process.
  • “Investigate short- and long-term skill requirements. If your goal is to become the Vice President of Human Resources, understand the education, skills, technology, and experience requirements, and develop interim career plans for achieving your long-term career goal.
  • “To increase your knowledge of career options, request one-on-one informational meetings with colleagues and managers. The purpose of these brief meetings is to gather information to help you make educated career decisions. People are generally willing to share their success stories and advice.
  • “Volunteer to complete challenging projects and assignments. One of the best ways to advance your career is to identify an organizational problem and propose a solution. By offering to implement the solution, you will not only increase your visibility as a problem-solver in the organization, but you might also expand your skills in the process.
  • “Consult the Human Resources department to learn about career development and job opportunities such as tuition reimbursement for a college degree or certification, in-house technical or professional training courses and available job openings. Take advantage of available opportunities. Maintain your momentum and commit to continuous skill building and improvement. By planning your career strategy, you are increasing your chances of staying employable and achieving your long-term career goals.”

Each of us has a certain number of years to invest in working and making a living. Having a job is fine, but creating a career will maximize your opportunities for success. To have a successful career requires that you pursue career management strategies like these.

A successful career doesn’t happen unthinkingly. It needs planning, tending, and frequent review. Are you ready to pursue these career development strategies?

Via Life Advancer : Boost Your Career Development with These 5 Self-Improvement Tips

If you seek to boost your career development, first of all, ask yourself the question: Can you distinguish the difference between a job and a career?

If your answer is yes, then you know that the latter requires constant development and dedication.

Those who see themselves as simply working a job are likely going to have no real passion for what they’re doing, and will simply endure it to make ends meet.

If you want to turn your job into a career and elevate your chances of success, you must pay attention to self-improvement.

The following are just a few ways to boost your career development through this:

1. Develop a Timeline and Plan to Achieve Goals

One of the largest mistakes that many make is that once they get into their job, they get too comfortable with their accomplishments and don’t plan their next step. If you are truly career-focused, you know that there is no top to the ladder you are climbing. Complacency does not facilitate growth. So, how can you keep yourself on the right track?

The first thing that you have to determine is the next step. Once you decide what it is you want to achieve next, it’s time to create a plan to meet that goal. A very large part of that plan is developing a timeline for each thing that you need to do to achieve the goals created.

When developing your timeline, you are going to need to make sure that you outline specific steps and put dates on them.

2. Volunteer Your Time

A key quality that a leader can possess is the dedication to the service of others. Not only does volunteering help your favorite cause, but it is also a chance to create some networking possibilities.

This is your opportunity to do something great for your community, whilst simultaneously learning new things about yourself that may not be prevalent in regular workday activities.

While volunteering is not about self-service, there are some definite benefits when it comes to self-improvement and career development. This is also a great way to meet people that you may not have the opportunity to meet otherwise. This tip is a very effective strategy to build your network.

3. Don’t Stop Being a Student

Depending on your career path, there may be several opportunities to expand your knowledge. There are also many skills that translate well across a variety of roles and businesses.

For example, if you are looking to make new connections and convince your peers that you’re worthy of your position, your communication skills need to be of the highest standard.

This includes writing, speaking and presenting and you’ll only get better with practice. If you think this is your area of weakness, get yourself enrolled in a public speaking course and overcome any issues or anxiety that you may be dealing with.

4. Expand Your Network

You’ve probably heard the cliché, “it’s not what you know, but who you know”. When it comes to crushing career goals, you want to make sure that you know the right people and the right people know you. Networking can be accomplished in several ways.

A huge and common mistake many people make is believing that networking in their own circles is sufficient. That couldn’t be further from the truth. You want to create a network of people that are both inside and outside of your company.

You also want to make sure that you include people that you are not competing within your network. That means rubbing shoulders with people that have nothing to gain by keeping potentially career-changing information away from you.

A great way to expand your network is to get a mentor. Your mentor can be anyone whose ethics you admire. They don’t necessarily have to be in the same business industry as you. This is also a way to get that additional knowledge in other areas of life. You can also expand your network by becoming a mentor.

5. Develop Trust Through Action

No one wants to simply hear what you can do; they want to see you in action. Therefore, it’s about time you stopped telling and start selling! When you are considering career development, talk is cheap. You want to develop a positive reputation for being a person that stands behind your word.

Your word is the most powerful thing that you have. You need to create a golden standard that will be synonymous with your name. People have the natural desire to surround themselves with trustworthy people.

It is also incredibly important to develop and maintain a trust for other people that are in and outside of your network. Having a mutual respect for those in your network is a must.

Overall, there are many different ways to ensure that you are successful and meet all of your career goals. It is important to understand that growing as a person is vital to your career development. This is just one of the reasons that many people feel stunted when it comes down to what they do for a living.

A goal without a plan is simply a dream. With the proper tools, you can turn all of your dreams into a reality.

You shouldn’t be afraid to take risks when it comes to your happiness and success.

Via Management Study Guide : Role of Personal Development in Career Growth

Who do you think is a valuable employee? An individual becomes a burden on his/her organization when he fails to perform additional tasks beyond his/her regular key responsibility areas. Multitalented employees definitely have an edge over those who restrict themselves only to a particular task and fail to contribute in other departments and areas. Organizations tend to retain those who show active interest in attending various training programs, seminars or relevant workshops in order to constantly upgrade their knowledge and acquire additional skills.

Gone are the days when employees could afford to just stick to what they have been doing for ages. In today’s scenario, individuals are expected to actively participate and contribute in other departments as well and also overall productivity of the organization. A front office executive is no longer expected to attend only phone calls throughout the day. He/she needs to constantly upgrade his/her skills and take active interest in other related departments as well such as administration, logistics, office transportation and so on. As a marketing employee if you call ten clients a day, brief them about your organization’s offerings and feel that your work is over, you are sadly mistaken. You need to find out and implement innovative marketing strategies and techniques to not only sell your organization’s products and services but also attract potential clients. Retaining customers is also one of the most challenging aspects of marketing. Trust me; you need to read a lot, and keep your eyes and ears open to reach to various unique marketing solutions. Constant up gradation of knowledge is the need of the hour.

Personal development plays a crucial role in one’s career growth. An individual who can contribute not only in his area of expertise but other domains as well are bound to get quick promotions and lucrative incentives and rewards. Trust me, personal development is imperative not only for career growth but also for mere survival in the organization. No organization would like to retain an individual who is resistant to changes and fails to perform in unpredictable and unforeseen situations.

Personal development helps you set goals and expectations for yourself. Any individual without a vision in life not only fails to deliver but also gets easily lost in the crowd. It is important to set expectations for yourself. There is a scope of improvement always. Never ever feel that you are the best and you know everything. Believe me, that there are many things under the sky which we still do not know and need to find.

Tom joined Organization A as a management trainee in the marketing department. Within two years he was promoted and was asked to lead a team of five sales representatives. Five years down the line, Tom was heading the entire marketing division of Organization A and had a major say in company’s policies and strategies. A management trainee was made the head of a particular department in just seven years. What do you think could be the reason? Being extremely nice to your Boss does not help always. It was Tom’s determination to constantly upgrade his knowledge, analyze and find out where all he needs to improve, acquire new skills which eventually helped him not only appear in the good books of the management but also climb the ladder of success within the shortest possible time frame.

Personal development makes you a confident and mature professional, two extremely important qualities for career growth. It helps you smile even in the worst circumstances. Upgrading oneself with time is extremely important as it not only prepares you for the present but also for the future.