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Via INC : The Happiness Value Of Work-Life Balance

There’s more to work-life balance than hours spent at home and at work.

The 2017 World Happiness Report reported that work-life balance is now one of the strongest predictors of happiness.

Unfortunately, more than half of Americans are dissatisfied with their work due to a lack of work-life balance. In the majority of cases, this is because workers feel overworked and underappreciated, with little control over their own lives or schedules.

Work-life balance and flexible work options have stepped in to improve job satisfaction and the overall happiness and health of employees.

In many cases, work-life balance means not being confined to a 9 to 5 timetable or an inflexible schedule. This kind of rigidity always prioritizes work before all else. Work takes up that chunk of the day no matter what else is going on in life.

This can throw off the desired “balance” that makes individuals happier, freer, and more productive.

Work-life balance is about expending energy to various parts of life: work, family, friends, health, and personal growth. This “balance” of well-roundedness and wholeness in life innately begets a sense of purpose, belonging, and happiness.

1. Work-life balance prioritizes social time.

Social interaction is one of the biggest predictors of happiness. The more time spent with people, the happier you’ll be. Studies have shown that social interaction is directly correlated to a person’s sense of belonging and joy.The World Happiness Report stated that “social capital” is a moderate predictor of happiness. This means that we need to be social in order to be happy, both inside and outside the office.

Work-life balance provides more time to spend with family and friends. You can better schedule your work around your life. With flexible work, you can take a Tuesday afternoon off to see your child’s soccer game and talk to the other parents at the game. You can make up the necessary work later that evening, the next morning, or over the weekend. You have the flexibility to prioritize people over projects when need be.

This actually improves productivity. Work-life balance encourages social collaboration, which leads to increased creativity, ideas, and productivity.

2. Flexibility enables a greater focus on health.

Health is the foundation to happiness and productivity. If you don’t have a healthy mind and body, you can’t work at peak capacity.

The 2014 National Study Of Employers from the Families and Work Institute found that employees with flexible work options are more likely to have: less stress, better mental health, better physical health, and improved sleep patterns. They’re also less likely to negative spillover from home to job and vice versa.

This is because they have the flexibility to prioritize the key “stressor” on their plate at any given time. If they have something going on at home, they can be present to handle it. If they have a big project at work, they can spend more time at work that week knowing next week they can take time off to be with their families.

Moreover, flexible work provides more time to focus on health as a key value. People can schedule doctor’s appointments and not have to worry about taking a day off of work. They can take time in the morning to workout, showing up to work later in the day when they’re more productive. They can take time off to recover from the flu and not infect everyone else in the office. Health can finally be a priority.

Flexible work allows individuals to take off when they need to, thus avoiding the $1,685 annual cost of absenteeism per employee. Flexibility also helps to prevent

Flex work options can also help workers avoid traffic, which is the number one cause of stress in our daily lives. People who don’t drive during rush hour have lower anxiety and stress levels with better overall health.

A healthy workforce lowers healthcare costs, improves safety of the workplace, and builds a high-performance workforce.

3. Self-scheduling balance improves autonomy.

The strongest form of work-life balance tends to stem from flexible work options that enable employees to pursue their own definition of “balance.” This naturally instills a sense of autonomy by putting the power of work-life balance in the hands of the worker.

Respondents of World Life Happiness Report stated that autonomy is directly linked to job satisfaction. The ability to control your actions and schedule impacts your happiness and efficiency levels. People who feel they have freedom at work are more engaged with their work overall.

4. Happiness at home produces happiness in the workplace.

There is an irrefutable correlation between personal and professional lives. Stress in one area bleeds out to stress in other parts of life. A study from Oregon University found that a happy home life begets happiness and productivity in the workplace as well.

If you want to be a happy person, you need happiness in all areas of your life. This happiness stems from living a work-life balance that aligns your values and priorities appropriately.

5. Happy workers are more motivated, engaged, and productive.

Workers who are happy are more satisfied with their lives and job. Studies show that even a short-term boost in happiness can lead to greater productivity. Long-term joy has profound effects on engagement and success in the workplace. This productivity can provide a huge return for the business.

Moreover, this motivation and productivity, in turn, leads to a higher level of employee loyalty. This increases retention rates and reduces costs associated with turnover retention. It also leads to a reputation boost for organizations. The greater number of happy employees you have, the better your company appears to the customer.

Ultimately, work-life balance and flexible work options create happy employees and a positive work environment. This translates to improved productivity, greater employee loyalty and engagement, greater bottom lines, and a stronger definition of success for employees and organizations alike.
It’s time to start demanding autonomy, flexibility, and happiness in your work.

Via The Balance Careers : How to Improve Workplace Satisfaction for Employees

Before you can improve employee satisfaction and employee engagement, you need to know what to improve. The annual Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) 2016 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Survey identifies the factors that are important in employee job satisfaction and employee engagement as perceived by employees.

The survey’s purpose is to assist employers to develop the right programs and practices when they seek to have an impact on these two factors that are critical to employee morale and motivation.

Understanding employee preferences provide guidance for the knowledgeable allocation of resources.

Otherwise, employers can spend thousands of dollars on programs and practices that their employees actually don’t want. And, here’s a secret you need to know aside from these official survey results which provide guidance.

You will learn the most about what will engage and satisfy your employees by asking them what they want the most. Then, as you can, reasonably accommodate and provide what they are seeking. Your workplace will flourish when employees meet their needs.

The Employee Satisfaction Survey

The survey explored 35 aspects of employee job satisfaction, divided into four topic areas—career development, relationship with management, compensation, and benefits, and work environment. Added in 2011, the survey also explored employee engagement.

Satisfaction Survey Results

According to this study,

  • 88% of U.S. employees report that they are overall satisfied with their current job. This is the highest level of satisfaction reported in the past 10 years.
  • The U.S. has a problem with employee engagement. U.S. employees reported that they were moderately engaged averaging 3.8 on a 5 point scale where 5 is highly engaged and 1 is unengaged.
  • “2016’s leading job satisfaction contributors include respectful treatment of all employees at all levels, compensation/pay, benefits and job security.”

Findings by the Gallup organization about disengaged employees were highlighted in the Wall Street Journal. Gallup found 19% of 1,000 people who were interviewed felt “actively disengaged at work”.

These workers complain that they don’t have the tools they need to do their jobs. They don’t know what is expected of them. Their bosses don’t listen to them.

Top 10 Contributors to Employee Job Satisfaction

Employees identified these factors as their top 10 most important contributors to their job satisfaction.

  • Respectful treatment of employees ranked first (67%) on the list of job satisfaction aspects that contribute to overall employee satisfaction.
  • Compensation and pay ranked second (63%).
  • Overall benefits were third (60%).
  • Job security which ranked first for employees during earlier surveys had sunk to fourth (58%) possibly because economic times have improved.
  • Trust between employees and senior management (55%) tied with:
  • Opportunities to use skills and abilities in your work (55%).
  • Financial stability of the organization (53%) remains important to employee satisfaction and is tied with:
  • The employee’s relationship with his or her immediate supervisor (53%).
  • Feeling safe in your work environment (50%) as manifested in feeling physically safe, with employers taking measures to prevent violence in the workplace and acts of terrorism.
  • Immediate supervisor’s respect for your ideas (49%).

Ranked 11-20 on the survey: the work itself (it is interesting, challenging, exciting, etc.) (48%), management’s recognition of employee job performance (feedback, incentives, rewards) (48%), communication between employees and senior management (48%), career advancement opportunities within the organization (47%), autonomy and independence to make decisions (46%), management’s communication of organization’s goals and strategies (45%), overall corporate culture (e.g., organization’s reputation, work ethics, values, working conditions) (44%), teamwork within department/business unit (43%), meaningfulness of the job (understanding how your job contributes to organization’s mission) (42%) and job-specific training (42%).

Generational Results

While Baby Boomers, Gen-X, and Millennials scored similarly in many areas related to engagement, they also exhibited some differences. According to the SHRM report,

“they value a few other aspects of their jobs differently. Millennials (88%) placed greater importance on career development opportunities than Baby Boomers did (76%), for example, and members of Generation X (89%) more frequently cited organization’s commitment to professional development as a contributor to job satisfaction compared with Baby Boomers (79%).”

Workers in all three generations placed a high value on compensation and benefits related factors. Millennials placed more importance on job-specific training, career development opportunities, and career advancement as contributing to their job satisfaction compared with older generations.

This is not surprising given the stage of their careers, but employers need to notice that differences exist now that Millennials are the majority of workers.

Employee Engagement Conditions

Employee engagement, according to the SHRM report, is more likely to occur when certain conditions exist. Employers can maximize employee engagement via improving these factors.

The percentages indicate the overall satisfaction of employees with the listed condition of engagement. The items are listed in order from the employee survey results: most satisfied to least satisfied with the condition in their organization.

  • Relationships with co-workers: 77%
  • Opportunities to use skills and abilities: 77%
  • Meaningfulness of job: 76%
  • The work itself: 74%
  • Relationship with immediate supervisor: 74%
  • Organization’s financial stability: 72%
  • Contribution of work to organization’s business goals: 72%
  • Autonomy and independence: 71%
  • Variety of work: 69%
  • Overall corporate culture: 69%
  • Communication between employees and senior management: 64%
  • Organization’s commitment to corporate social responsibility: 63%
  • Management’s recognition of employee job performance: 63%
  • Job-specific training: 61%
  • Organization’s commitment to professional development: 59%
  • Networking: 58%
  • Career development opportunities: 57%
  • Career advancement opportunities: 42%

With the percentages noted in both the satisfaction portion of the survey results and the engagement aspects of the survey, employers have some work to do to fully satisfy and, especially, engage employees. Are you up for the challenge?

Note that four aspects of employee career and professional development fall in the bottom seven for employee satisfaction:

  • Job-specific training
  • Organization’s commitment to professional development
  • Career development opportunities
  • Career advancement opportunities

Via The Business Woman : Why you need to have a career plan

Career success isn’t an accident, and at a time when how we work is fundamentally changing it requires increased focus and planning. This isn’t the traditional 10 year plan that people did in the past.

Ditch the linear plan

In the past, people were encouraged to think of their career as linear, where they entered the workforce after school or university, explored a few roles, and then mid-way through their career landed something that kept them employed until retirement.

Careers, these days, are fluid, flexible, organic and adaptive – taking a degree of reinvention. This means that people need to adaptable, ready to continuously learn and be prepared to take charge of their career development and planning.

Gone is the notion of working in one organisation for life. Gone is the notion of one role type or function for life. Gone is the notion that someone will plan your career for you. Gone is the notion that you can sit back and just let your career happen.

Disrupt yourself

As Salim Ismail, the author of Exponential Organisations and an expert in helping organisations leverage technology and strategy to grow faster, said: “Today, if you’re not disrupting yourself, someone else is; your fate is tobe either the disrupter or the disrupted. There is no middle ground.”

While his comments were directed to organisations, they equally apply to workers.

Organisations – particularly large ones – undergo constant restructures and organisational change. Five years ago the cycle was a restructure every two years or so, while these days it can be as frequent as every 12 – 18 months.

There’s also the growing casualisation of the workforce as the number of people in part time employment rises faster than full time employment. While the ‘gig’ economy is seeing more and more people hired for short term, contract and project based assignments.

Tim Ferris in his best-selling book, The Four Hour Work Week, radically shifted how people think about work. He challenged the notion of the orthodox 9 – 5 working week, and how it’s the value you add rather than the number of hours you work that is more important. He showed the choices that people can make with their career.

If a person sits back and waits for other people to manage their career for them they will quickly get left behind. They’ll also miss out on the opportunity to design a career that works for them and matches their lifestyle and life goals.

Lead your career

Now more than ever workers need to be comfortable designing and orchestrating their own career path. They need to become the leader of their career.

Great leaders:

  • Set direction and take action to get there
  • Back themselves and seek to continually develop themselves – knowing there is always more to learn
  • Surround themselves with people who will help them get the job done
  • Know themselves and seek to understand others

The same goes with career planning and development. People who plan and lead their career:

  • Take time to actively plan their career. They set aside time to reflect on the goals they want to achieve, progress made and key next steps
  • Don’t wait for the organisation they work for to develop them. They see learning as crucial to future success and therefore constantly seek out new ideas and ways to stretch themselves
  • Have a deep and broad network which they are keen to continue to nourish and expand
  • See the acquisition of deep self-understanding and emotional intelligence as important as their technical skills

When it comes to career planning doing it right doesn’t mean there is only one way or one path to follow. It’s about being proactive and deliberate about the choices a person makes, to lead their career in the way they want to be led.

Via Psychology Today : 8 Traits of Toxic Leadership to Avoid

Beware of these bad boss behaviors for your mental health

One of the biggest yet perhaps underrated factors in emotional health and well-being is our workplace environment. Given America’s cultural emphasis on prioritizing work, not to mention financial necessity, the workplace has become essentially a second home, even the main home for many people. So when relationships in the workplace become a source of stress for people, that stress can take a huger toll than we initially realize. Accordingly, a workplace structure that emphasizes positive mental health practices and emotional support is crucial. Sadly though, American workplace culture is lagging in terms of awareness or prioritization of these essential wellness issues. The bottom line predominates, instead of work-life balance. And oftentimes leadership is one of the most important factors in setting the tone for a workplace’s emotional culture.

Unfortunately, leadership can also be one of the major causes of stress in the workplace, when a leader displays certain behaviors and characteristics that contribute to a negative, even hostile working environment. The following traits and behaviors are warning signs that a leader or boss may be dangerous to your mental health:

1. Unwillingness to listen to feedback: Leadership is about leading people, which includes listening to those on the front lines, those at different levels of management, and all of their meaningful concerns. Some leaders unfortunately emphasize their own desires and ideas at the expense of any receptivity or openness to what those who work with them have to offer. A continued unwillingness to hear or respond to concerns meaningfully can lead to many conflicts and problems down the line, and employee dissatisfaction, resentment, and attrition.

2. Excessive self-promotion and self-interest: While it is important for leaders to provide guidance and clear goals to their employees, it should not be at the expense of any other goal except their own self-advancement. Narcissism has its limits; employees can easily detect when they are viewed more as pawns than people, and when the leader’s goals do not seem to relate to anyone else’s beyond their own naked self-interest. No one likes someone who never tries to share.

3. Lying and inconsistency: Nothing undermines a leader more than backtracking or shuffling on rules or guidelines they set up for their employees. This is not to say there shouldn’t be any room for flexibility or amendment on established protocols or procedures at a workplace; but those potential changes should be part of organized dialogue and reasonable consensus around a core of consistent philosophies and principles, communicated clearly and directly to everyone. When leaders create secret sets of rules for different parties or make up things or waffle as they go along without any genuine discussion, conflict and resentment can build and brew. And frank dishonesty always poisons morale and nearly always comes to light.

4. Lack of moral philosophy: Leaders need to have a guiding ethical core that informs their decisions and how they decide to prioritize and work with the people around them. They need to care about values like fairness, social justice, equitable behavior, empathy, and humanism. Sometimes these values can run directly in the face of other priorities like profit-building or fame or publicity or whatever inspires people to seek power. But in the end, a lack of ethics often leads to corruption and a human cost when people are thrown under the bus or even at times run into legal issues for committing crimes. Ultimately, their chickens may come home to roost.

5. Rewarding incompetence and lack of accountability: Bad leaders can sometimes be so disconnected as to refuse to see toxic or incompetent employees also poisoning the workplace around them, even if the leaders themselves are not engaging in those behaviors directly. If employees see a leader ignore or even reward and protect bad behavior, their morale and dissatisfaction will foment accordingly, and they will understandably blame the leader for their negative colleague’s running amok.

6. Lack of general support and mentoring: Leaders can sometimes be negative through indifference; if they don’t take time to nurture or help others under them develop their own career tracks or paths for future development, employees will feel stagnant and will also not work to their full potential. Also opportunities for mentoring need to be communicated and distributed fairly and not cherrypicked for grooming members of “the old boys’ club” only. Employees can easily see when they are picked last for the team in gym.

7. Cliquishness: Insecure leaders will often surround themselves with a small cadre of “yes” people who parrot and mirror themselves completely, leaving everyone else to feel like the uncool kids in middle school at best, or in line for the chopping block at worst. Cliquish behavior causes dissent and splitting within an organization, and breeds resentment. General unity and diversity and openness of perspectives within an inner circle, and fluidity with all employee levels should be a more harmonious goal.

8. Bullying and harassment: In the worst-case scenario, a leader may become frankly abusive and belittling to people around them, using attacking or foul language or threats or coercion. This behavior should not be condoned at any level of any organization.

Overall, leaders have to be held to a higher standard since they are responsible not just for themselves, but for the people they work together with. They are the ones who have the decision-making power to institute positive and helpful dynamics in the people in a workplace; but sadly, there are many times, past and present, where they choose to use power to just exert their own sense of control or self-serving goals. That misuse of power can easily trickle down into their employees’ psyches, causing incredible distress, betrayal, anger, and eventually can even lead to frank mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, even trauma. For those who see the signs above of a toxic leader and/or toxic work culture, it may be worth considering cutting your losses if at all financially or situationally feasible and looking elsewhere. And for those who cannot leave, it may be worth seeking out available resources like grievance boards, trusted coworkers and managers, employee assistance programs (EAP), and outside formal psychotherapy and/or mental health resources to help cope with difficult work situations and not feel isolated or alone.

Hopefully, greater discussion and awareness of workplace mental health issues and the types of healthy leadership that can foster a well workplace will continue to grow, given how much the workplace means to many of us.

Via Business Insider : How to create the perfect résumé, according to a CEO and former Googler

• Résumé tips often focus on mistakes to avoid.

• But Google alum and WayUp CEO Liz Wessel has a recommendation for what you should do that could help your résumé stand out.

• She said you’re going to need to avoid generic descriptions.

A résumé is basically a first impression in document form. So you don’t simply want to avoid making a faux pas. You want to be memorable.

Google alum and WayUp CEO Liz Wessel told Business Insider that checking your résumé before submitting it is the best thing you can do to avoid standing out in a bad way.

Watch out for spelling mistakes and issues with your contact information. You don’t want a typo to derail your résumé in whatever applicant tracking system you’ve uploaded it into.

But if you want to get ahead of the competition, you’re going to have to get specific.

“Under each section, under each responsibility and role that you’ve had, make sure that the bullet points are crisp and to the point of the actual accomplishments you’ve had at that company,” Wessel told Business Insider.

Let’s say, for example, you worked as a waitress at a restaurant. A standard set of bullets in such a résumé might read like:

• I greeted and seated customers.

• I waited tables and took customers’ orders.

• I communicated with customers to ensure they were enjoying their meals.

• I bussed tables and assisted with cleanup after closing.

Those bullet points aren’t terrible. They’re fine, actually, but they won’t help you stand out from the crowd, Wessel said. Most other people with waiting experience could probably accurately write the same exact thing.

Wessel said the key is focusing on accomplishments, not day-to-day tasks.

She had some suggestions on more impressive things a person with waiting experience could say:

• I was the highest-tipped waitress at this restaurant, thanks to my customer support skills.

• I waited tables 21% quicker than my fellow wait staff.

• I was promoted to maître d’ in recognition of my work ethic and excellent service.

Those examples don’t merely parrot an average litany of waiting-related tasks. They paint a picture of an exceptional waiter.

“Really try to show your accomplishments, because actions speak louder than words,” Wessel said. “And you can show those actions through metrics and other results.”