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7 in 10 Nurses Feel Burned Out at Work

May 8th, 2017 Comments off
TF_Uber_May8

Just in time for National Nurses Week, CareerBuilder released a study on the state of nurses in the workforce, particularly as it pertains to job satisfaction. According to the study, 70 percent of nurses say they feel burned out, and 54 percent report high stress levels. When asked what was causing the burnout, 50 percent of nurses reported feeling tired all the time, 35 percent cited sleepless nights, and 33 percent reported weight gain. High anxiety and depression were also contributing factors.

But nurses aren’t the only ones struggling in the workplace. Nursing jobs, which have grown 6 percent since 2012, are expected to grow 7 percent over the next five years, and employers are having a hard time keeping up with the demand. According to the study, 56 percent of health care employers currently have open positions for which they can’t find qualified candidates.

What Does This Mean For You?

When it comes to alleviating burnout, employers do not offer much support. Seventy-eight percent of nurses say their employers don’t offer classes or programs to help employees manage stress. Putting programs in place to help employees manage stress, however, could be a wise business decision.

High stress levels among workers have been linked to lower productivity, higher turnover, increased absenteeism and more on-the-job mistakes – all of which can have a negative effect on the business.

Stop burnout before it starts. Make sure you are checking in with your employees on a regular basis to ensure they are getting the support they need to perform their jobs, manage their workloads and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Get more details from the study here.

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A Busy Executive Reveals Her Work-Life Balance Secrets

December 8th, 2015 Comments off
A Busy Executive Reveals Her Work-Life Balance Secrets

Juggling a high-ranking corporate leadership job while raising two young children is all in a day’s work for Hope Gurion, CareerBuilder’s chief product officer — but she doesn’t do it alone. 

Read on as Hope dishes on work-life balance, leadership, productivity and more.

CB: What does your morning routine consist of?

HG: My morning routine involves getting on a conference call relatively early — because the people I work with are either on Central or East Coast — or occasionally doing international calls. On the days I’m fortunate enough not to have an early phone call, I’ll try to exercise — those are the two things you’ll most likely find me doing early in the morning.

I work from home, and we have a live-in au pair because both my husband and I work intense jobs, and we have two young children who need to get to school in the morning and we need to make sure they’ve got their homework and lunches and all that. She’s a dream helping us with that. Having people you can rely on both at work and to help you manage at home has certainly been helpful for us.

CB: What does work-life balance look like in your world?

HG: One of the things I really appreciate working at CareerBuilder is that people tend to stick to working during the week. Any time it’s bleeding outside of work it’s largely initiated by the individual. I think that has a major impact on making work-life balance achievable.

There are certain days or times that are busier than others, but as a company when we’re on vacation or when work is done, there’s not an expectation of emails being answered within an hour or anything crazy like that. That’s a great thing and I try to make sure that if I’m sending emails, I don’t expect that my team will answer immediately.

For me personally, my days might be jam-packed with meetings and discussions but I try to keep it within the work day and that enables me to spend time outside of work doing the things that I love with the people I love.

CB: You bring up an interesting point that, as a leader, if you set the example of ‘I’m not going to be responding to emails at all odd hours of the day’ and set the expectation for my team to do that, that’s huge. If you feel like your boss is online the entire time, there’s a certain amount of pressure you feel to respond in a timely fashion.

HG: I actually am online a lot largely because I don’t ever want to be a bottleneck. I want to be able to respond to people quickly, but I don’t think there’s ever been a time ever where I’ve said, ‘I can’t believe you didn’t respond to my email in an hour’ or whatever. I’m just a terrible sleeper because I start the day early so I do check and respond to emails at all crazy hours.

CB: We live in a 24/7 technology-driven, plugged-in world where you have your phone handy even on an airplane, for example, which was inconceivable even a few years ago. Do you feel even more pressure to be connected (“I have to be on because everyone else is”) or is it something you take on by choice?

HG: I think it’s a good thing. I work from home, which is not usual, so it’s important for me to be accessible to other people. There are video chats and many other options that enable people to live where they want to live and [still attend] parent-teacher conferences or doctors’ appointments or whatever. I don’t think that’s nearly as disruptive because of all the capabilities that our connected technology affords.

CB: Did you take time off (maternity leave) after your children were born?

HG: Oh sure, the full maternity leave [available].

CB: What was your life like during that transition coming back? What’s your advice to other women taking time off and transitioning back into the workforce?

HG: I think it’s important to take the time if your company offers it. Some people feel they have to come back in six weeks, but if you’re known for creating value, people can tolerate you being gone for the full 12 weeks of maternity leave [that CareerBuilder offers] because they know that when you get back — even if it’s different projects because certain things happened while you were gone on maternity leave — they know you’re going to come back and add value with whatever the next important thing to accomplish is.

The other thing about being a leader, and this is also a secret to productivity, is you’ve got to have a team of people that can rely on one another and cover for one another because everyone is going to have situations — whether it’s maternity leave, a health issue, a parent issue — there’s always the potential for something to be disruptive in your life that’s going to take you away from work. But if you have a team of people that’s supportive and capable, it doesn’t matter and it’s not that disruptive.

CB: That’s a good point about teamwork and having each other’s back. Do you have any other productivity tips that have worked well for you?

HG: I used to do one-hour one-on-ones with my direct reports and that was our time to catch up with issues, make sure we were communicating what was most important and I actually cut that back to 30 minutes and I have found that time restricting it to 30 minutes forces both of us to focus on the most important things.

I’m also a stickler for agendas. I think that anybody requesting a meeting or hosting a regular meeting without a clear agenda — what’s intended to be accomplished or decisions that have to be made during that window — I find it disrespectful if they don’t have that, so that’s something I try to model and I expect from my team. I make a point of mentioning it every time there’s a meeting requested if there’s no agenda. That’s the only way everybody has a chance to be productive and have their time used in the best possible way and for people to opt out and say, ‘You’ve got this covered.’

Sometimes there are people who want senior people in the meeting maybe because it’s an important decision or they don’t want decisions to be second guessed. But if it’s not critical for me to be in the meeting, I have enough trust and confidence in the decision-making capabilities of my team that if they need to need to loop me in after the fact because there is an unresolved issue that they will do that, and that I don’t have to be present in every single meeting.

You only have 40 hours in the week — you’ve got to make sure you’re making the best use of that time.

CB: Some CEOs are taking steps to ensure that their workforce sticks to a 40-hour work week — that will assist with work-life balance and being more productive during the 40 hours.

I think it’s good; it helps people to hold each other accountable — let’s make our working time as efficient and productive as possible and then have a life outside of work. I’m also an avid reader, so having the time outside of work to read things that are inspirational to you personally or that give you the opportunity to learn how things are working in other companies and other businesses — that’s a very valuable use of time, and it’s hard to make time for that within the 40-hour work week, but then you could be bringing those ideas into the next 40-hour work week.

CB: What tips do you have to help other working parents maintain a healthy work-life balance?

HG: This is not a revolutionary tip, but it’s one that rings true for me: I make sure that everything I’m going to do during the day is in my calendar. [For example, if] I’m going to go to my son’s school for an event in his classroom, I’ll block out that time; I’ll block out the travel time. I want to make sure that I’m really intentional and [outlining] the day in the calendar helps me do that.

This is the third in a series of blog posts featuring CareerBuilder executives discussing everyday topics to help you live a better life both at and outside of work. Topics range from work-life balance tips to productivity hacks. You can read about secrets to a productive day here and secrets to a great morning routine here.

Recognition and Engagement Starts with Reflection

November 6th, 2015 Comments off
Better recognition and retention starts with reflection

Many years ago, I worked as a human resources leader for a professional services firm. I loved it. I was surrounded by hard-working and high-performing people who sat at their desks all day long and logged billable hours for clients.

But something wasn’t quite right.

It was the first role I held where I learned the power of reflection. Up to this point in my career, I was taught that action was the basis of success. There was no time to sit back and think because “thinking” was viewed as being unproductive — especially in a company that billed time for its services.

I took the risk and chose to be reflective. That’s when I realized our employees were very talented as professionals, but disconnected as people. Morale was low. People were isolated. Turnover could be better.

When I reflected on what I could do to change the culture, I became passionate about recognizing exceptional people — not just outstanding work.

Most recognition efforts are misses.

Recognition starts with stepping back and acknowledging people as human beings in the first place. This idea may seem rudimentary and benign, but the reality is that many companies expect people to show up at work to work and nothing else.

Today’s workplace is nonstop and very similar to the professional services firm at which I worked earlier in my career. We were more concerned that employees were visible at their desks, and clocking billable hours, versus any contributions they may have offered.

Talent advisors need to take recognition back to the basics.

Believe it or not, this will cost you nothing but your personal time. Create patterns and behaviors and consistently exhibit them to have others learn and mimic what you do.

I went back to basics by meeting with every manager who had direct reports. I told them a new performance expectation of theirs would be to say “hi” to every single one of their reports, face to face, every day.

Greater recognition yields engagement.

My program wasn’t some cute “HR touchy feely” effort. It was an earnest expectation, and I had the full support of senior management. I asked our company’s leaders to give me three months to improve morale and retention. The contemplative effort of making people acknowledge each other, on purpose, completely reframed work as we knew it.

Morale grew, and less complaining occurred. Attrition dropped. Managers were inclined to give timely, positive feedback to their staff every day. I had to address some skeptics with this back to basics approach to recognition, but numbers don’t lie. Better recognition strategies yield better talent outcomes.

Recognition costs you nothing but time. And if you do it right, the return on your investment is worth every effort.

 

Throughout the month of November, our resident talent advisors are focused on how recognition is vital for both talent acquisition and retention — and how the right technology tools can help you move the needle. Subscribe to Talent Advisor to stay on top of the latest blog posts and discussions.

A Busy Executive’s Secrets to a Productive Day

October 7th, 2015 Comments off
A Busy Executive's Secrets to a Productive Day

We’ve all been there: You walk into the office on a Monday morning to find your to-do list for the day is longer than the stream of comments on a new One Direction video. (They’re still a thing, right?) The struggle is especially real around mid-afternoon when the caffeine in your bloodstream has run dry and the thought of watching yet another clip of Kendall Jenner at Paris Fashion Week cat video on YouTube doesn’t seem half bad.

So how can you keep your productivity levels up on a hectic day in the office?

Get some inspiration from CareerBuilder executive Scott Helmes, who dishes on his morning routine and spills the secrets to staying productive even in a slump.

Here’s our Q&A with Scott, managing director at CareerBuilder.
How do you stay productive throughout the day? What are your top 3 productivity tips?
1. Coffee
2. Todoist.com (or the app)
3. I get up and take a walk over lunch. Get out of the office and get some fresh air.

How much caffeine do you consume on a daily basis?
Two coffees, then nothing but water.

Are you a morning person or do you not speak to anyone until you’ve had your coffee?
Three questions in, and I’m mentioning coffee for the third time. I’m definitely better after 9:30 a.m.

You have a big day — starting with a presentation at 9 a.m. What would be on your playlist that morning?
I am all podcasts all the time. While getting ready in the morning, I stream on the NPROne app. My commute is usually yesterday’s Fresh Air podcast, This American Life, Planet Money or, my latest obsession, Switched on Pop.

What do you do to get your energy levels up and stay focused?
I try to take a break and get a quick walk in — even if it is just to get a glass of water once an hour.

If I don’t make time to stop and clear my head, my energy will definitely fall.

If you haven’t started your day off on the right foot, what do you do to turn it around?
I’ll change the scenery. I will simply pack up my laptop and move to a new location — either a common area in the office or a coffee shop.

What can you not go without saying or doing for even a day?
Checking something off my to-do list.

Sometimes work is unpredictable — your day can quickly get away from you, and soon it is the end of the day and you haven’t gotten to the work you need to complete. Rather than head home, I’ll tack on 10-15 minutes to at least get through one or two items from my to-do list. It’s amazing how much better I feel knowing I at least got one thing done!

Do you think you could survive without your phone for a day? Would it improve or decrease your productivity?
Absolutely not! It’s my book, assistant, entertainment and computer. Before there were smartphones, I used a palm pilot — so we’re talking about 15-plus years of connectivity here.

How do you get your daily news? Newspaper? Local news? Morning shows? Twitter? Other?
Podcasts and social media. Before I’m even out of bed, I am streaming news to see what happened the night before. Twitter and Facebook definitely provide a quick snapshot of what’s controversial or new in the worId. After working abroad for seven years, I have a fairly geographically diverse social media group spread across the U.S., Asia and Europe — so you definitely want me on your pub quiz team.

What are your hours typically like? Are you more 9-to-5 or are you always on? Do you have the mentality that work/life is constantly blended? How do you shut off over the weekend?
Unfortunately, I’m always on Monday through Friday, but I really try to unplug over the weekend and while on holiday. I don’t think work/life has to blend for everyone — and don’t expect it to do so for my colleagues. However, with global teams I do try to take advantage of being able to connect with my colleagues during their work day to keep projects moving forward smoothly.

That said, I always remind myself: We’re not doctors. We’re not saving lives. You have to draw the line somewhere.

This is the first in a series of blog posts featuring CareerBuilder executives discussing everyday topics to help you live a better life both at and outside of work. Topics range from work-life balance tips to productivity hacks.

4 Ways to Be Less Busy at Work

September 29th, 2015 Comments off
How to be less busy at work and find better time management

Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future…”

                                                                       — from the epic “Fly Like an Eagle”

Iconic rock legend Steve Miller, in this lyric, captured how talent advisors feel every single day. When you work with people, it never seems like you have time to yourself.

There is truth in that. When you work in HR, you are meant to be present for others. I can understand how incredibly frustrating that can be. The fallout of this is toxic for organizations, however. If we become frustrated with employees because they carve into our time, we project our frustration on them. It is not a healthy way to practice as a talent advisor.

I’ve never been a fan of formal “time management” programs because they often backfire and result in endless to-do lists that continue to bleed over from day to day. I’m also not a fan of set models where someone promises that if you follow “x” amount of steps, your life will turn around. Our jobs as talent advisors aren’t like an infomercial. We are dealing with real-world people situations that take time. This isn’t something that should be viewed negatively. Remember, without people your HR jobs don’t exist.

I do, however, believe in advice. The thing about advice is that you can take it and decide what you’d like to do with it.

Here are four things I have used to give me more time than I need each day.

“I’m not busy.”

Whenever you meet talent advisors and ask them how they are, the response is, “I’m busy.” That’s a cop out. I’m sure your days are full, but when your attitude is that you’re busy, you imply that you can’t be bothered with items because you have so much going on. If your day is full of busywork, then strip it out and get rid of the tasks that waste your time. You need to sit back and look at what your day entails and see how much doesn’t need to be done. If things aren’t adding value to your role or your organization, get rid of them. Trust me, no one will notice.

Everybody’s time is important.

This is something that everyone forgets. We often think only our time is important, and that is one of the main reasons we get internally upset when people impose on it. If you remember that everyone’s time is valuable, you won’t get frustrated. Help others understand that your time is important so that the time you spend with others is valuable and not frivolous.

Be a college professor.

I fondly remember professors who had office hours and told us when they would be available. It wasn’t a schedule for more appointments or meetings; it was a time set aside for students. If someone popped in, great. It was fine if no one stopped by, too. The reason “office hours” works so well is that people know when you’re available. Doing this takes discipline, and it isn’t rude. People like structure. The key is that if you do this, be consistent. Train your “students” to know when to stop by.

Do what you love.

You already do this, but you don’t see it because you’re focusing on the minutia of your job. Trust me. You take the time to go out to eat, watch TV, and spend time with friends. You always have time for that. Look at your work as a talent advisor and use the same approach. Looking at the positive side of what you do will allow you to allocate your time throughout the day. When you do this, interruptions won’t throw you. You’ll embrace them because you’ll have more time than you have ever had before.

I hope my advice resonates with you. I firmly believe that “having more time” is about making better choices. Try my four pieces of advice and see what works for you!

Like this? Subscribe to Talent Advisor to stay on top of the latest blog posts and discussions to help take your professional game to the next level.

Make Peace with your HR Nemesis

September 11th, 2015 Comments off
3 ways to make peace with your HR nemesis

Looking back on my 20-year career in human resources, I know that I helped leaders negotiate their way out of trivial political standoffs. I facilitated active listening sessions. I lectured my clients about the healing power of forgiveness and compromise. I encouraged hugs.

But then I’d leave those meetings and fire off a petty email to my nemesis in the compensation department — without any regrets. This is the conversation I would have in my head.

Julie is a piece of work! How dare she send me a nasty memo and copy the VP of HR! She’s only a level 10, and I’m a bonus-eligible level 15 employee! The nerve of that woman!

Man, I sucked. Don’t be like me.

Here are three ways to make peace with your nemesis in HR:

1. Realize that everybody is fighting a hard battle.

I once worked with a guy in HR who threw me under the bus for something incredibly small. Then I learned that my nemesis had cancer, and he was preserving his reputation within the company. People operate in mysterious ways, and it’s important to remember that abnormal behavior often comes from a place of fear — and not loathing. My HR nemesis didn’t hate me. It wasn’t even about me. And, almost 10 years later, I cannot remember his name.

2. Imitate your nemesis.

For fun, read an email from your enemy aloud and use a ridiculous voice. Imitate her slouchy walk or mimic her dumb face when she eats a burrito in the cafeteria. Go over the top. Be crazy, be funny, be wacky. I promise that imitating your nemesis is the most fun you’ll have today. Also, this crazy behavior helps to remind you that your high-stakes approach to low-stakes drama is stupid, too.

3. Know that competition isn’t always bad.

I’m not very good at sports. I once kicked a soccer ball in ninth grade, and my teacher demanded I apologize to my classmates for being so bad at soccer. That’s a true story, and it’s a larger metaphor for how I deal with conflict at work. I used to assume that my HR colleagues were trying to humiliate me if they disagreed with me. Now that I’m a little older, I can see that two people can be on opposite sides of an issue without the world coming to an end. I still can’t kick a soccer ball, though.

ONE MORE THOUGHT…

The quickest way to make peace with your HR nemesis is to offer an olive branch. Even if you don’t mean it, the act of being brave and bold enough to take the high road makes you look awesome to your colleagues. If you can’t stand the idea of making peace with someone you hate, at least you can seem like the bigger person.

That’s worth something right there!

Throughout the month of September, our resident talent advisors are focused on offering tactical advice for human capital management professionals. Subscribe to Talent Advisor to stay on top of the latest blog posts and discussions to help take your professional game to the next level.

5 Simple Steps to Recovering from a Mistake at Work

September 8th, 2015 Comments off
5 ways to recover from a mistake at work

There isn’t a person on this planet who wakes up from their slumber, stretches out their arms, lets out an audible yawn and says, “I can’t wait to make my first mistake of the day!” As a matter of fact, we spend the majority of our lives dreading those inevitable missteps, doing everything in our power to remain absolutely perfect. The problem is, that’s not realistic. At some point in time — likely more often than we hope — we will all err.

I know that’s not what you want to hear — and this isn’t going to be a checklist on how to live a perfect life. No, the topic I’d like to delve into is one that makes most people squirm: making mistakes at work. And not just any mistakes, but those mistakes that leave you wondering if you should just grab a box and start packing.

So here you are, reading this article while still sulking over that huge blunder you’ve just caused. Don’t go burying your head beneath the sand — instead, take a look at these five steps to help you recover from (most) mistakes in the workplace.

1.     Breathe.

I’m not saying this because you’re likely hyperventilating — but if you are, please breathe for that reason as well. I want you to realize that Albert Einstein spoke the truth when he said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” And that’s the truth! Understand that even if you’ve just committed the godfather of all mistakes, there is likely someone who, in turn, has simultaneously committed the godmother of mistakes. You’re not alone… you’re just human. In order to move forward, you must be able to maintain composure.

2.     Own It.

Once you’re able to think rationally, the next step is to be able to call the mistake your own. Identify what went wrong and what role you played. If you were part of a team, were you the lead? Were there other members with equal responsibility? I’m not suggesting that you lay down as a martyr, but I am telling you that you must be able to admit to wrongdoing in order to start to move forward.

3.     Make a Plan.

The beauty of all mistakes is that each one is an honest-to-goodness learning experience. Your parents knew what they were talking about when they said the best part of a mistake is the ability to learn from it. Analyze how you could have prevented the mistake and what you are willing to do to make sure you avoid something similar in the future.

4.     Have “The Talk.”

Now that you are comfortable admitting the mistake, go to your manager to discuss the incident. First and foremost, say you’re sorry. If it really was a mistake, you should be sorry, so this should be easy. Be prepared to explain the circumstances that led to the issue, no matter the severity. Your manager should have no doubts that you understand what led to the error. Additionally, if you have an action plan to help avoid the mistake, lay it out, step by step. While you may have done a thorough root cause analysis, don’t be alarmed if your boss offers a few additional suggestions as to what you could have done better.

5.     Set it in Motion.

The biggest way to shove this behind you is to follow through on the plans you’ve drawn. Failure to follow through — or even worse, repeating the same mistake, will not bode well for your integrity and the trust you want your employer to have in your abilities.

While I can’t speak to any one manager or organization, I can safely say that good — and even great — employers know that all employees have the potential to make mistakes. Some will be small, some will be large, but in the end, they are a part of life. Remember that, with time, even the greatest of mistakes can be overcome.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Kruse has helped countless job seekers find success as the editor and content manager at ResumeEdge. With more than 10 years of experience recruiting for companies like Novartis and IBM, she has firsthand experience of what recruiters are looking for, and she shares that insight with those who need it most. She writes regularly to provide advice on resume writing and interviewing not only because it’s her job, but because it’s her passion.

Work-Life Balance: What’s That? My Life as a New Parent

July 31st, 2015 Comments off
Work-life balance: My Life as a New Parent

I had my daughter, Beatrix, just five months ago. The first week after she was born, my husband was able to use PTO and stay home with me (Paternity leave — say what?), and it was a full-on tag team effort of feeding her, taking turns power napping — because full-on sleep is not an option — and trying to keep the dog from getting too jealous and the house from getting a knock on the door from the producers of “Hoarders.”

It was one of the best weeks of my life.

The First Half

After that first exhausting but blissful week, a week in which I wasn’t sure if I was forming coherent sentences or speaking in tongues, I had a routine down (let’s be honest — a mish-mash of activities that sometimes included taking a shower) to figure out with Bea, and a recovery to deal with when it came to my own body and mind.

As a new parent, my days were long and busy, though I couldn’t tell you what I did half the time. The first six weeks was a lot like Groundhog Day: eat, sleep, change diaper… repeat. Soon I forgot what day it was, and then I didn’t really care. Hormones were still out of whack, and I would sometimes cry while marathoning “Hart of Dixie,” simultaneously feeding Bea and having a sip of the coffee I’d heated up for the fourth time that day.

Then there was the other part — the moments that made me feel like no amount of time with her would ever be enough time. I remember leaning over her crib in the middle of the night one night, my eyes fighting to stay open as I tried to soothe her to sleep. As I peered down at her, begging her to just go to sleep, she suddenly looked up at me and, wide awake and bright-eyed, gave me a bigger smile than I think I’ve ever given anyone at 3:30 in the morning. At that moment, I felt like I understood happiness in a new way.

The “Oh Sh!t” Half

Before I knew it, all this time I thought I had was quickly screeching to an abrupt end. I had a month! I had two weeks! Holy sh#t! These are some of the phrases that may have come out of my mouth during those last few weeks of leave:

“We have to figure out childcare.”
“I can’t stand the thought of leaving my 3-month old with a stranger.”
“How are we going to make this work?”
“I’m not ready.” (This was often said both in a literal and figurative sense.)
“That episode of ‘Hart of Dixie’ was soooo good.”
“Oh look — she pooped again.”

It was an overwhelming set of adjustments and compromises and anxiety and sadness when I had to stop being in denial: My 24/7 time with my new child was over, and I didn’t know when I would get that much uninterrupted time with her again. I wasn’t ready to go back to the “real world” yet. I was just starting to feel like I was getting the hang of this new parent thing — or at least like I was no longer speaking in tongues (though I still could have used a shower). She was finally starting to interact with us, and the days were spent taking as many pictures and videos as I could while still doing all of those other things (see “The First Half).

The new parent work-life struggle

I am so grateful I had the opportunity to stay home with Beatrix for the first three months of her life. I was fortunate that my company gave me some paid time, and the FMLA granted me the rest of the (unpaid) time. Yet, I’m also frustrated that 1) too many new parents don’t get any time off after a baby, paid or unpaid, 2) it’s not legally required for companies to give it to them, and 3) we’re putting up with it.

Instead of celebrating this wonderful event and giving new parents the time and the support to not only take care of their new children and themselves, workplaces seem to penalize new parents. It’s as if work should continue to happen, and life shouldn’t get in the way — though we know that that’s just not realistic. At least not anymore.

While companies may be focused on whether supporting parenthood impacts their bottom line, they may be forgetting about all the costs associated with employee turnover — and that good people can’t always easily be replaced. Stylist and designer Rachel Zoe realized this and decided rather than lose good employees, she would build a nursery at the office so they could work, be near their children, and ultimately be more productive. And you know what? She says it’s “one of the best business decisions I’ve ever made.”

Can’t build a nursery? That’s OK — as a talent advisor, you still have the opportunity to help push new policies and practices within your own company walls.

Here are four things to consider:

  1. Not maternity leave, but parental leave.

    Matthew Stollak has a ton of great reasons for you to consider paternity leave. Better yet, why not promote gender-neutral leave and help spread the word that traditional roles have evolved, and it’s important for both parents to have opportunities to bond with their babies? I had my husband home with me for a week, and I can’t imagine how much harder that week would have been by myself. Yet, many women have to do it all on their own. Bringing more men into the fold also helps ease the burden for women as they transition back into the workplace. Sweden realized this back in ‘74 and shifted its vocabulary to “parental leave” to “ensure that women and men enjoy the same opportunities, rights and obligations in all areas of life.”

    2. Longer leave.

    Companies like Google, Reddit and Facebook are blazing the path toward better parental leave. (UPDATE: Netflix’s new parental leave policy just blew everyone else out of the water.) Longer paid leave gives new parents time to bond and adjust to the transition of both parenthood and of returning to work — and it eliminates a potential financial crisis. It makes employees happier and more productive when they actually do return. My hope is that the generous types of policies common at tech companies trickle into other workplaces all over the U.S., but it can’t happen without advocacy from talent advisors everywhere.

    3. Treat parenthood like onboarding.

    Helping new parents adjust after leave should be treated in a similar way to successful on boarding of new employees. It shouldn’t end after the first day back — after all, most parents are still waking up throughout the night and in a semi-zombie-like state. They’re trying to figure out logistics of childcare and time spent at the office, commuting woes, who’s doing what when, how dinner will be made (let alone consumed), and how to squeeze every last possible moment in with the baby before it’s time to do it all over again the next day — while still being productive and valuable employees.

    Consider building in more flexibility for ALL of your employees around things like expected business hours and working from home — after all, it’s not just new parents who struggle with work-life balance.

4. Create a nurturing environment.

If new moms are breastfeeding, they’re pumping at work — and while you legally must provide the time and space for them to do this, don’t penalize them for it. In fact, make it as pleasant of an experience as possible; it’s stressful enough carving out time to do it, and it can be a pain. It’s not so hard to provide rooms that lock, as well as a fridge, sink and comfortable seating. Work to foster an environment that doesn’t make employees feel guilty. I’m a member of a “working moms” group on Facebook, and I’m amazed and saddened to hear about employees having to pump in the car on the way to work because their employer discourages the practice at work. This shouldn’t be the norm, but it is.

You get what you give

Parenthood is beautiful, and life-changing, and challenging — and workplaces can help ease those challenges by giving new parents the flexibility they need to be happier, better and more productive employees. By giving employees the space and energy they need to give back on a personal level, they’ll find it easier and more rewarding to give back at work, too.

Throughout the month of July, our resident talent advisors have been discussing issues around work-life balance. Subscribe to Talent Advisor to stay on top of the latest blog posts and discussions — and catch up on July’s posts around unlimited PTO, modeling good work-life behaviors as an employer, working from home, gender differences and PTO, maternity and paternity leave, and more. 

 

The Global Challenges of Work-Life Balance

July 29th, 2015 Comments off
How to navigate the challenges of global work-life balance
Everyone has a different work-life balance, but we give the impression that there is a formula that exists that we should apply to every single employee. The trick as a leader is to recognize this, and not to assume that because you like to work one way that other people do, too. Remember that you’re setting the organisational culture through your behavior.

First, let’s talk about email.

The mobile device is a cool thing if you love Tinder, but it’s also the biggest challenge to work-life balance that exists. We’ve all done the “I’ll just check and see whether…” routine. And, as a result, you forward on or reply to something that then arrives in someone else’s inbox who is also “just checking” and so the whole cycle moves on. As a leader, if you send emails over the weekend you’re setting the tone of expectation. You may be happy to work in your downtime, but that’s your choice; don’t impose it on others. I was talking to a CEO recently who made a conscious effort to save any emails that he did over the weekend in his drafts and only send them on a Monday. He’d realized that his role was to set the tone.

Next, it’s deadlines, which has a specific global resonance.

If you work in the U.S., you’re a minimum of five hours behind Europe (not to mention the rest of the world). It means anything sent from noon onwards shouldn’t be expected to be read until the next day. And if you send something on a Friday afternoon for a COB deadline on Monday, you’re telling someone they should work on the weekend. If you are a global business, you work with global time differences. Get an app that shows you the different time zones, or have them printed on your wall. Look and learn what the time is for your recipient, and ask yourself before you send something whether it’s reasonable. After all, there’s more to life than the east to west coast difference.

Which brings me to my final point, meetings.

My clear view is that any meeting scheduled outside of normal working hours should be voluntary. Regardless of the diversity issues raised, it’s just plain arrogance to assume that because you are happy to work irregular hours, others are too. And if you work in a global business and expect business to happen around the clock, it means you might be the one setting your alarm for 4 a.m., rather than assuming that someone else will. But then, you’re the schmuck that called the meeting, so it’s your fault.

Throughout the month of July, our resident talent advisors have been discussing issues around work-life balance. Subscribe to Talent Advisor to stay on top of the latest blog posts and discussions around unlimited PTO, modeling good work-life behaviors as an employer, working from home, gender differences and PTO, maternity and paternity leave, and much more. 

Great Vacation Policies: Ideas, Tips and Advice

July 22nd, 2015 Comments off
Great vacation policy tips, ideas and advice

One of the key responsibilities of talent advisors is to maintain continual awareness of trends related to the changing needs and wants of the workforce. This is necessary to ensure the companies they work for are able to attract, recruit and retain the talent needed to meet business needs.

 

And just what is it that the workforce seems to want these days (beyond more pay – which few would turn down)? According to research conducted by Accountemps, employees want more time off, ranking “more vacation days” ahead of better benefits, more schedule flexibility, additional training and free food at work.

While it’s probably not surprising that employees say that they would like to have more time off, a study conducted by GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications, in conjunction with Oxford Economics, revealed that Americans are actually taking less vacation time than at any point in the last four decades.

The study also revealed that more than 40 percent of employees in the U.S. fail to take advantage of all of the paid time off they’re granted each year, increasing the potential for burnout and workplace stress:

There was a clear correlation between those who have more unused PTO [paid time off] days and those who reported feeling ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ stressed at work, particularly for those employees who leave more than 11 days unused.”

So, how are business leaders and talent advisors getting creative in an effort to address the fact that employees desire more time off — but seem reluctant to take it?

FOUR VACATION POLICY IDEAS TO ENCOURAGE WORK-LIFE BALANCE:

1. Unlimited Vacation

Popularized by Silicon Valley startups and some high-profile companies, only a small percentage of companies have been brave enough to offer unlimited vacation time — a situation in which employees can take as much time off as they want, as long as their work gets done. And while there have been some spectacular and highly publicized failures, quite a few companies have also reported great success, including Netflix, Virgin America and several others.

2. Mandatory Vacation

Unlimited vacation may sound like a simple concept, but some employers have reported that employees feel pressure to take less time off than their boss or others on their team. To address this, they’ve provided guidelines in regard to how much time is “typical” or “expected,” or have moved to requiring or incentivizing minimum vacation time amounts. For example, Hubspot has a mandatory two-week vacation policy (in addition to unlimited vacation) and Evernote encourages employees to take at least a full week of vacation at a time by offering a $1,000 bonus for doing so.

3. PAID, Paid Vacation

If your employees are super stubborn and still won’t take time off, follow the lead of companies like FullContact, which pays employees $7,500 to go on vacation (on top of their paid vacation) – but only if the employee commits to disconnect and not work while on vacation. Or Moz, which reimburses employees up to $3,000 of vacation-related expenses each year. Moz’s founder and current “Wizard of Moz,” Rand Fishkin, wrote that the benefits to the company and to the employee outweigh the costs: “…it’s in all of our employees’ great interest to take time to do what they love with friends, family, whomever (we’ll pay their vacation expenses too so long as you go with them) and disconnect for a few days, or a few weeks.”

4. Summer Hours

If your company is not ready to go all of the way with unlimited or paid, paid vacations, another popular option is to offer summer office hours for employees. Our friends at CareerBuilder have seen great success with this benefit – offered during the months of July and August – which allows employees to shorten their workweek and have Friday afternoons available for relaxation, personal hobbies, or time with family or friends. The shortened summer workweek is a popular benefit mentioned in annual employee engagement surveys and is well received by potential candidates who are considering the company as a place to work.

To attract and retain top talent today, companies have to continually evolve their pay and benefits offerings and consider how they can build a workplace that not only facilitates employees being as productive as possible while on the job, but that also encourages them to disconnect and recharge in order to maintain their sanity, relationships and enthusiasm for the work.

Considering how your organization can meet the desire for more time off – and actually get employees to take it – may be the ticket to increased productivity, profitability and success!

Throughout the month of July, our resident talent advisors are discussing issues around work-life balance. Subscribe to Talent Advisor to stay on top of the latest blog posts and discussions around unlimited PTO, modeling good work-life behaviors as an employer, working from home, gender differences and PTO, maternity and paternity leave, and much more. 

Why the 24/7 Workplace Isn’t That Bad

July 17th, 2015 Comments off
I like the 24/7 workplace -- and here's why

I am a husband and a new father. I am a partner with an IT staffing firm in Chicago. And I am a millennial, whatever the heck that means.

On a recent Friday night, I met a good friend out for some adult beverages. My phone rang, and I thought about letting the call go to my voicemail. I saw the caller ID and noticed that it was a client of mine who was calling to offer feedback from an interview that I scheduled for him earlier in the day. It was an important call about a software developer opening.

I looked at my friend and grabbed my phone and walked outside so I could take the call. The feedback was great, the client wanted to make an offer, and I thought, “What a good way to close my week!”

I walked back into the establishment with a smile on my face. My friend looked upset and asked, “Do you ever unwind or unplug from work?”

Life is Work — and Work is Life

I have countless examples where something with work pops up during dinner or on the weekend. I have been on vacation with my family and I turn my attention away from what I’m doing for a brief moment. In all reality, the 24/7/365 workplace isn’t a bad thing. I find time to unwind and turn my attention to my newborn daughter or wife, but I believe in a simple saying: “Life is work, and work is life!”

I am lucky to work for an employer who provides workplace flexibility. I’m also lucky to have a wife who understands that I might have to take a phone call in between giving our daughter a bottle and making dinner. With technology, you can get access to your CRM system from your smartphone. You can have an app on your phone that delivers your office voicemail to you. And you can have a laptop with VPN access.

Technology allows you to watch a Bulls game — or be out on the golf course — and still accomplish your goals and meet your deadlines. You just have to be at peace with knowing that your attention might turn toward work after the office door closes and the lights are turned out.

I believe that work and life balance go hand in hand; if you are good at your job, you are likely good at the balancing between your work life and your home life. Thank goodness for technology. Now if I could just build an app to cold call and set meetings for me…

Throughout the month of July, our resident talent advisors are discussing issues around work-life balance. Subscribe to Talent Advisor to stay on top of the latest blog posts and discussions around unlimited PTO, modeling good work-life behaviors as an employer, working from home, gender differences and PTO, maternity and paternity leave, and much more. 

Unplugging From My Smartphone: Want Versus Need

July 6th, 2015 Comments off
Unplugging from my smartphone: Want versus need

I gave up my iPhone for two days just to tell you about how it felt. and let’s face it: Being without your smartphone for a couple of days isn’t a big deal. It’s just an electronic device.

Here’s how it all went down.

Day 1

I woke up on the first day of this experiment and had a baseball game to go to, and the skies didn’t look promising. “Let’s just jump on the phone and open the weather app and…oh, crap!”

So I asked, “Hey, Coop. What’s the weather going to be today?”

My youngest son is eleven, and he has an iPhone. Problem solved.

Like anything else in life, when you need information, you go and find it. So the next two days of being unplugged were pretty boring and a little tedious. It was me, taking longer than necessary to get and gather basic information, but gathering it nevertheless.

I also found myself constantly feeling for my phone that wasn’t there. For those who wear a watch or a wedding ring that you forget to put on in the morning — or at an HR conference — all day you feel it not there.

All day I felt my smartphone not “being” there.

Day 2

My wife and I had a date night. We made a quick stop at Pottery Barn. Normally, I can go and find a nice, comfortable chair while she shops. I can catch up on a baseball game.

But with no smartphone? Okay, fine, I’ll just sit here in this nice, comfortable chair and “people watch.” So this is what being super old feels like?

We checked out at Pottery Barn, and my wife had a 20 percent off coupon on her phone. Yes, we are as boring as it gets on a date night. My wife had unplugged for our date in solidarity with me, so we left the store without the purchase.

(She said that she can buy her purchase online from the desktop site at home. Oh great, now it’s like we’re Amish! )

Dinner was unusual in that I didn’t Swarmapp, Tweet or Facebook my location. Isn’t it weird when two people go out and let everyone know that they’re having dinner and eating Chang’s Spicy Chicken? Is that love? It begs the question: if you go out on a date night and you don’t check in or post a pic, did you indeed go on a date night?

Without our phones to distract us, my wife and I had to talk on our date. (Here is where the real sacrifice begins, CareerBuilder. Just kidding.) We mostly laughed at how our three sons couldn’t text or call us to ask us questions that they could probably answer on their own. We tried to teach them how to access their brains. Sometimes we fear that the smartphones have won.

We had a great dinner, however, and thought more people should try date night without smartphones.

What Did I Learn?

In the end, I survived my weekend without my mobile devices. It wasn’t hard, but it was a bit unnerving. When you are accustomed to having instant access to information, there is no turning back.

I think “unplugging” comes down to want versus need. Technology starts out as a luxury, but at some point, it becomes a requirement. As a talent advisor, I might be at a competitive disadvantage without my smartphone. Could I recruit without it? Probably, but the extra work needed to be successful would be crazy.

The technology we have available to us should make our lives easier, personally and professionally. If it doesn’t, and if you are burdened by your phone, you have the wrong technology.

Throughout the month of July, our resident talent advisors are discussing issues around work-life balance. Subscribe to Talent Advisor to stay on top of the latest blog posts and discussions around unlimited PTO, modeling good work-life behaviors as an employer, working from home, gender differences and PTO, maternity and paternity leave, and much more. 

Work-Life Balance: How to Turn Off the Noise

July 3rd, 2015 Comments off

I have never seen “Working Girl” with Sigourney Weaver and Melanie Griffith. However, when I hear people complaining about “not having it all,” I see an image in my mind’s eye of two women with blue eyeshadow and big shoulder pads lamenting the state of the workforce.

(Cue the wind machine! Carly Simon singing, “Let the river run!“)

I don’t know much about life beyond my view as a human resources consultant, but I do know that nobody has it all. Not famous actresses, not management gurus, and certainly not talent advisors. And I also know that — from Istanbul to Omaha to Sydney — people around the world have tackled the issues of work-life balance and said, “Enough is enough.”

It is possible to have healthy boundaries and turn off the noise, the bright lights, and the distractions. Here are a few steps.

1. Have Someone’s Back.

Cadillac had a commercial for its SUV called “Stacy’s Mom.” If you haven’t seen it, a hot mom wearing a good suit drops off her kids in a carpool line.

All the dads are like, “Whoa, that mom has got her act together!”

I’m sure we can all agree that it’s nice to see a hot mom on TV. But that hot mom can drop her kids off at school because someone — a colleague, her assistant, her supervisor, or even her life partner — has her back. And if she’s doing it right, that hot mom will offer social support to others at the office. She will provide cover so that another mom, hot or not, can have a few extra minutes in the morning with her kids, too.

2. Be the Change.

So many of us are all talk and no action. Unless you are the ruler of a sovereign nation, turn off the phone and pay attention to the real world. Your job doesn’t require you to be on call in the middle of the night and on weekends. Start small and set up a device-free zone in your house. Turn off your mobile devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Don’t send emails on nights and weekends.

Think you can’t get away? You are delusional. No talent advisor has ever been fired for being competent, leading by example, and taking a vacation day with his kids. Change has to start somewhere. Why not with you?

3. Failure Means You’re Trying.

I recently had the privilege of listening to Gadadhara Pandit Dasa talk about incorporating meditation into the everyday lives of workers. He ran a nine-week mindfulness course for 30 executives at a very large company. Every week, he had 100 percent attendance in his class. However, nearly 100 percent of the class told him that they struggled to find time to incorporate five minutes of meditation into their lives outside of that class.

That doesn’t surprise me. But let’s give it some context. Thomas Edison once wrote, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”

Maybe meditation and mindfulness aren’t for you — so fight like hell to find the one thing that gives you a sense of peace and calm in life. Maybe it’s running. Maybe it’s quilting. Maybe you need one night that’s dedicated to doing nothing but catching up on old magazines that are accumulating on your dining room table.

(I can’t be the only one.)

Whatever it is, do it.

One More Thing…

Don’t feel that accepting the noise and chaos of life is your only option. I was lucky enough to hear Shawn Achor speak at a human resources conference about happiness, and he emphasized that noise kills productivity and innovation. If you take a child with ADHD, remove her from a noisy situation, and give her mind an opportunity to rest (and learn) in a quiet environment, she will begin to thrive. Simply put, your brain processes noise first. Remove the noise, and you have better outcomes.

I truly believe that the only way to turn off the noise and end the chaos of life is to take a stand and turn it off. In my eyes, failure is not an option. I’ll keep trying, and I hope you will, too.

 

Throughout the month of July, our resident talent advisors are discussing issues around work-life balance. Subscribe to Talent Advisor to stay on top of the latest blog posts and discussions around unlimited PTO, modeling good work-life behaviors as an employer, working from home, gender differences and PTO, maternity and paternity leave, and much more. 

Work-Life Balance Doesn’t Have to be a Lie

July 1st, 2015 Comments off
The July theme for Talent Advisor is all about work/life balance

It’s summertime, and the living is easy.

Here in America, we’re gearing up for fireworks, parades and lots of unhealthy food that tastes great but wouldn’t pass muster in a wellness program.

As I think about summertime, I think of how work-life balance is just an infinite dream unfulfilled. The idea that talent advisors can stash away their smartphones and take a family vacation without any short-term and long-term repercussions seems relatively naive. For every single email you ignore on a Monday, two similar emails appear on Tuesday. If you do the math, your inbox is awash in chaos when you return to work the following week.

But what if you could decompress without drama? What if you could take a vacation and turn off your phone and trust your colleagues to have your back? Wouldn’t it be great if we empowered our employees to manage their calendars, take a holiday as needed, and come back to work with a fresh perspective on life?

tackling Work-Life Balance

Those are the types of questions we’ll be tackling in the month of July. Our talent advisors will provide you insight on how some of the best companies manage PTO policies. We’ll discuss paternity leave, requesting vacation when the answer might be no, and how to model healthy work-life behaviors as executives.

One of our talent advisors even turned off his phone for a few days, and the results are rather amusing.

We also have a guest writer who will make the case that a 24/7 work environment isn’t as bad as it sounds. His smartphone is a tool for success. He can work from home, on the couch, while feeding his new baby and also watching TV. He is an adult, he is empowered, and he can manage his time. He doesn’t need HR to nanny him.

So please join us in July for excellent content on the best vacation policies, global tips on achieving work-life balance, and how to chillax during the summer months. And if you’re looking for me in mid-July, I’m taking a few days off with my husband to visit Turks and Caicos. I am due for a vacation, and I’m trying to model good behavior for all of you.

It’s a tough job to be a talent advisor, but somebody has to do it!

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Do Workers Feel Well-Protected at Work?

June 18th, 2015 Comments off
When it comes to workplace security, do workers feel well-protected?

It’s not often brought up in the interview, but most workers expect their physical safety to be accounted for while in the office. However, as a new survey from CareerBuilder shows, not all workers are confident their company has taken the necessary precautions when it comes to workplace security.

In fact, nearly 1 in 4 workers (23 percent) say they wouldn’t know what to do in the event of an emergency that posed a physical threat to their workplace.

The Human Element

When it comes to emergency scenarios, workers are most worried about threats posed by other people. Only 30 percent of workers say their workplace is well-protected from physical threats posed by another person.

Planning ahead may help put workers’ minds at ease. Forty percent reported that their company does not have an emergency plan in place for a physical attack from another person.

Mother Nature

Workers aren’t particularly concerned about more common natural disasters. The majority — 85 percent — say their workplace is well-protected in the case of fires, floods or similar disasters, and 83 percent say the same about threats posed by extreme weather.

Still, 21 percent of workers say their company doesn’t have an emergency plan in place for fire, flood or other similar disasters. While these threats may not be a pressing concern in most workers’ minds, employers should still put a plan in place and communicate that plan to employees.

Non-physical Threats

While physical security is always a top priority, in the digital age many workers are also concerned about protecting their data. On this front, most workers feel secure, with 70 percent saying their workplace is safe against digital hacks.

 Ensuring a safe and secure work environment should be of the utmost importance in any workplace,” says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer of CareerBuilder. “Keeping employees protected means not only putting measures in place to keep them safe, but making sure employees are aware of the policies and procedures they can protect themselves.”

 

How do you communicate your security and emergency protocols to your employees? Tweet at us @CBforEmployers.