83% of Women Over 25 are Postponing Family to Focus on Career

February 27th, 2017 Comments off
2 in 5 Workers Have Had an Office Romance

Can you truly have it all – a successful career and a family? For many women the answer may be yes, but with a caveat. They are concentrating first on building successful careers before starting their families.

According to a new CareerBuilder survey, 83 percent of women over the age of 25 who plan to have children are postponing starting a family to focus on their careers. This is compared to 79 percent of men who say the same.

Wanting to earn and save enough money to provide for their families was the top reason given by both women and men who plan to have children (50 percent and 53 percent, respectively), followed by the desire to become more established and get ahead in their careers (28 percent and 33 percent, respectively).

Fifteen percent of women who plan to have children say they are waiting until at least age 35 to start a family, while 63 percent are waiting until at least age 30.

What Does This Mean For You?

Women and men may be more comfortable starting families if they know they have the support of their employers. That’s why companies with paid leave policies for new mothers and fathers are highly attractive to workers in this competitive job market. While paid maternity and paternity leave may not be an option for every company, having an inclusive, flexible work culture can still go a long way toward helping employees achieve success both professionally and personally.

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This Year’s Most Bizarre Excuses for Being Late to Work

January 26th, 2017 Comments off
Retro alarm clock on wooden table

We’ve all been there. That time your alarm mysteriously didn’t go off, you couldn’t find your keys and the train was late. But, there’s another breed of latecomers out there — those who don’t seem the least bit bothered by clocking in late for work.

According to a new CareerBuilder survey, when asked how often they come in late to work, more than 1 in 4 workers (29 percent) admitted they do it at least once a month — up from 25 percent last year — and 16 percent say it’s a weekly occurrence for them — up 3 percentage points since last year.

Most of the time when people are late, the excuses are pretty common. But other times, the story gets stranger — which can make it harder to believe. When asked about the most outrageous excuses employees have given them for being late, employers shared the following:

  • I forgot it wasn’t the weekend.
  • I put petroleum jelly in my eyes.
  • I had to watch a soccer game that was being played in Europe.
  • I thought Flag Day was a legal holiday.
  • My pet turtle needed to visit the exotic animal clinic.
  • The wind blew the deck off my house.
  • I overslept because my kids changed all the clocks in the house.
  • I was cornered by a moose.
  • My mother locked me in the closet.
  • The pizza I ordered was late being delivered, and I had to be home to accept/pay for it.
  • The sunrise was so beautiful that I had to stop and take it in.
  • My mother-in-law wouldn’t stop talking.
  • My dad offered to make me a grilled cheese sandwich, and I couldn’t say no.


What Are the Rules?

Some jobs require adherence to a specific schedule in order to maintain quality service levels and precise hours of operation. Other jobs can be successfully performed with very flexible hours. Nearly 2 in 3 employers (64 percent) and employees (64 percent) believe the concept of “working 9 to 5” is an antiquated practice, but more than half of employers (53 percent) expect employees to be on time every day, and 4 in 10 (41 percent) have fired someone for being late.


What Can You Do About It?

While coming in late once in a while may be unavoidable, chronic tardiness must be dealt with professionally and firmly. Here are three steps to make sure the issue is confronted before it gets out of hand:

  1. Call your employee into a one-on-one meeting.
  2. Discuss any factors causing your employee’s tardiness.
  3. Write up a list of escalating consequences for tardiness


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7 Ways to Help Employees Achieve Work-Life Balance

September 23rd, 2016 Comments off
work life balance

Why should you care if your employees have a healthy work-life balance? Because a healthy work-life balance among employees can benefit your small business – in more ways than one. Research has shown that shown that employees who feel they have a healthy work-life balance are more productive, more satisfied in their jobs (which increases retention) and healthier (which lowers medical costs and absenteeism). There’s another benefit, too: Companies that provide a healthy work-life balance are also more attractive to job seekers, making it easier to attract and recruit excellent employees.

Here are seven ways you can help your employees achieve a better work-life balance – and be happier, healthier (and more productive) employees as a result.

  1. Set the example. Employees model their behavior after their leaders. If you’re not setting the example by creating a healthy work-life balance for yourself, they won’t, either. This means leaving the office at a reasonable hour, taking lunch breaks and actually using your vacation time (see No. 4 below).
    2. Say no to after-hours email. Thanks to smart phones and tablets, we can work from anywhere at any time, making it hard to truly “disconnect” from work – even when we’re not there. Research shows that checking work email at night, however, can actually harm productivity, due to a phenomenon called “telepressure.” Unless there are extenuating circumstances that require you to check in to work at 10 p.m., make a vow to turn your phone off after 6 p.m. – and encourage employees to do the same.
  2. Be open to flexible scheduling. Work with employees to set schedules that better fit their lifestyles without disrupting the business. This may mean letting them come in earlier and leave earlier, or taking Friday afternoons off in exchange for working longer hours on other days.
  3. Offer a work-from-home option. If at all possible, let your employees work remotely once a week or a few times a month, which can save them time commuting, which frees up more time to take care of personal errands.
  4. Encourage employees to use their vacation time. Employees may feel reluctant to take vacation for fear they will appear as if they are slacking off (particularly at a small business, where their absence is more noticeable). But not only is taking time off every once in a while good for employees, it’s good for the business. Employees are likely to come back refreshed and with renewed energy to dive into their work. (In fact, you might even consider going one step further to offer unlimited vacation time.)
  5. Be a friend to pets. Approximately 20 percent of U.S. companies let employees bring their pets to work. Having a pet-friendly office not only eases the burden of looking for a pet-sitter during the day, but it can also lower stress, improve morale and spur creativity – among other benefits of allowing pets at work.
  6. Be vocal. Communicate the importance of work-life balance to your employees. Make sure they know that their time is valuable and that you are committed to helping them achieve a healthy balance. Check in with them on a regular basis to make sure they are satisfied with their work-life balance, and work with them to make any adjustments if they aren’t.

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.


Understanding the New Overtime Regulations

May 20th, 2016 Comments off
Business woman working alone in dark office, late night

Earlier this week, the Obama administration and the Department of Labor announced new regulations that will increase the salary threshold for overtime pay. Effectively, when the new regulations take effect in December, millions of workers will be entitled to time-and-a-half pay when they work more than 40 hours in a week.

Who qualifies

These new regulations will mainly affect salaried workers, as hourly workers are generally already guaranteed overtime pay regardless of their earnings level. Eligibility for salaried workers is based on two factors – how much they earn and the nature of their work.

Since 2004, to qualify for overtime pay, salaried workers had to earn less than $23,660 a year. These updated regulations increase that threshold to include salaried workers earning less than $47,476 a year.

Workers earning above the salary threshold are also subject to a duties test to determine whether they are eligible for overtime. There are a number of exemptions from federal overtime regulations, including for workers classified as executives, administrative employees and professionals.

How employers can comply

The Department of Labor suggests four main ways to make sure they comply with the new regulations:

  1. Raise these workers’ salaries to above the new threshold.
  2. Pay the mandated time-and-a-half overtime for those workers who put in more than 40 hours a week.
  3. Make sure workers don’t work overtime.
  4. Some combination of the above.


These new regulations will likely meet some resistance from the business community. But it’s important to remember that the goal of these overtime regulations is to promote a healthy work-life balance – which is essential to a happy and productive workforce.


61 Percent of Workers Say Lack of Sleep Negatively Impacts Their Job

March 14th, 2016 Comments off

 Have you noticed some of your employees showing up to the office with bags under their eyes? Do you see them fighting to stay awake during meetings? Have you overheard them bragging about the all-nighter they pulled binge-watching “House of Cards”?

It’s true – workers just aren’t catching enough zzz’s these days. According to a new CareerBuilder survey, nearly 3 in 5 workers feel they don’t get enough sleep and 44 percent say thinking about work keeps them up at night.

What’s more, 61 percent say lack of sleep has had an impact on their work in some way, including the following:

  • It makes the day go by slower: 30 percent
  • It makes me less motivated: 27 percent
  • It makes me less productive: 24 percent
  • It affects my memory: 17 percent
  • It makes me crabby with co-workers: 13 percent
  • It takes me longer to complete tasks: 13 percent
  • It makes me make mistakes: 13 percent

What does this mean for you?

If workers aren’t getting enough shut eye, it can impact the work produced – and your bottom line. While you can’t really go to their houses in the middle of the night and pry the TV remote from their sleep-deprived hands, you can take steps to encourage work-life balance.

According to Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, “We see more and more workers check into the office at all hours of the day, give up vacation time and work even when they’re sick. Yet, it’s not necessarily making us more productive, and companies are starting to recognize that.”

Haefner says organizations are seeing the benefit of employee wellness and work-life balance, and are providing employee “perks” such as designated nap rooms, encouraging them to take advantage of their vacation time or just allowing for more flexible work schedules.

By promoting mental breaks during office hours and the shutting off of work email after office hours, your employees will get a better night’s sleep – and have a more productive workday.

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How to Juggle Work and Family Like a Boss

February 17th, 2016 Comments off
How to Juggle Work and Family Like a Boss

Sticking to a routine, meticulous planning and delegating responsibilities are just a few of the secrets one busy executive offers up to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Get a glimpse into the personal life of Jason Lovelace, president of Hub Sales at CareerBuilder, who juggles a high-powered corporate role while prioritizing the needs of his family.

Take a page out of the playbook of this busy executive who feels he achieves work-life balance all the time. Here’s our Q&A with Jason.

CB: What does your morning routine typically consist of?

JL: I get up between 4:20 and 4:30 a.m. I usually work out from 4:45 till 5:30 or so. I then have breakfast, shower and drive to the office. It takes me about 40 minutes to get to work, and I’m usually in the office about 7:15 or so and then my day begins.

CB: Do you maintain a rigid schedule every day in terms of when you leave the house and when you get back to force you to balance work and life better?

Yes, I have to maintain a rigid schedule. I have 4 kids, so even when I’m home I have things to deal with. Typically, mornings are my time — I’ll catch up on the news in the morning, whether it’s on television or reading what’s in my newsfeeds. I listen to News Radio during my car ride every morning to make sure I’m staying up to speed on what’s happening. Also, CBNC is always on in my office so I can stay current on what’s going on in the world.

CB: What does work-life balance mean to you? What does it look like in your world?

JL: I think the word “balance” is what work-life balance means — it’s equal balance. You have to fill your tank — meaning your personal tank — whether that be spiritually or through knowledge or whatever support you need. In my world, it’s exercise. I make sure I carve out time for myself.

It’s also about eating right, taking care of yourself and [the most important thing for me] would be making sure I have time for my family. My kids are older now, so they’re independent even though they still live with me. But I need to make sure I’m there for them with their academics, with their life decisions, with their sporting events — and with four children, that can take up a lot of time. I have a senior in high school, a junior in high school, an eighth-grader who are all boys, and then a daughter in fourth grade.

CB: Was there ever a time in your life when you felt like you achieved work-life balance? Do you feel like you have it now?

JL: I think I achieve work-life balance all the time. It’s about sacrifice.

A lot of times I’ll find myself putting too much emphasis toward work and try to shut it off, which as we all know is impossible. I think the beauty of technology is that it’s the dual-edged sword — you can always check in, but because you can always check in, you can stay current on things that are happening and then shut down and come back to it quickly to get what you need.

Do I get reprimanded for that from time to time? Yep, I do! But with this job comes responsibility — not only for individuals, but also revenue accountability and business issues, so I’ve got to make sure I’m on top of things.

CB: Did you take any time off in terms of paternity leave after your children were born?

JL: I took off the week they were born, but I was still dialed in to work.

Did your wife get more time off?
JL: She wasn’t working at the time — we have 4 kids and she was a stay-at-home mom, but now she’s back to work.

If your babysitter/daycare option unexpectedly falls through as you’re walking out the door to work, what would you do?
I’d stay home and get my daughter off to school. My two older boys drive and can babysit, so I have live-in babysitters. My wife is a registered nurse, so sometimes she works the night shift. If she does and can’t get home in the morning, then sometimes I’m expected to make sure my daughter gets to school, but that’s only on a rare occasion.

CB: When you travel for work, does your wife have to adjust her schedule?

JL: Yes, and I travel every week. We have to take into account all the kids’ schedules and everything that goes on at school to make sure we have appropriate coverage. They’re all in sports and my daughter is in dance, so they are always busy and all over the place. That’s why we do Sunday planning. Every Sunday night, we sit down and plan out the week. We have a huge calendar on the wall, which looks like the matrix.

I’ve never heard of that activity, but that makes sense because it keeps the family on schedule for the rest of the week.
We have to figure out. For example, my oldest son has to be home for my daughter, who gets done at 3:30, but he has to take her to dance at 5, and my other son has to pick her up from dance at 6:45, and somebody has to make her dinner, etc.

CB: Do you plan for backups just in case?

JL: No, they’re really good about it. If anything were to fall through, we have some people we can call and we figure it out together.

CB: What tips do you have for other working parents who are also trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance, and who may find it hard to shut off when they leave the office at the end of the day?

JL: There’s never a good time to shut off. When we were having our fourth child, I was traveling and doing my MBA. At the end of the day, it’s all about sacrifice and making decisions on what you’re going to do because you can’t do everything. As an executive, you need to be able to delegate — not only making sure you’re assigning projects out, but also following up on those projects.

CB: Do you think you’d be able to survive without your phone for a day?

JL: No! Was that a quick enough response?

Should I be able to survive? Yes. Could I? Probably not.

I did have to though when we were on a family vacation for spring break last year and my phone went kaput. I was able to get my iPad to least allow me to text, but I had to go four days without the actual phone.

CB: So…not by choice!

JL: No!

CB: Do you feel pressure to always be “on” 24/7 thanks to technology?

JL: No. Because I have a routine, I get up fairly early and I check emails when I get up right away.

The pressure for this role is you’re always “on stage.” Anything I do, any action I take, I’m always being watched. And so you have to make sure you’re always living and breathing the values and goals of the organization because what you do becomes acceptable for everyone else – and that’s true in parenting, too. I’m interacting with people and I’m “on.” They’re looking at me and if I do something, they’ll say “Oh, that’s OK to do.”

This is the fourth 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 heresecrets to work-life balance here and secrets to a great morning routine here.

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.

Does Working from Home Actually Work?

August 18th, 2015 Comments off
Does Working From Home Actually Work?

Work-life balance is just an infinite dream unfulfilled.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Thanks to the ever-increasing performance of new technology, telecommuting has become a reality, as more and more people work from home. So, yes, we CAN work from home, but SHOULD we?

The big question is whether working from home is in fact productive: As managers, we wouldn’t want working from home to turn into shirking from home. Unfortunately, until recently there wasn’t much hard evidence on the productivity impact of working from home.

New research about working from home

There comes amazing new research by Bloom, Liang, Roberts and Ying about the benefits of working from home. Why is this research amazing? One of the authors, James Liang, is the CEO of a top Chinese travel agency, and he wanted to find out if working from home actually, well, works. So, he teamed up with researchers and ran a randomized controlled trial — just the sort of trial that is necessary to authorize a new drug.

So what did the study find?

1. Working from home increased employee productivity by 13%.

For the study, call center employees were offered to work from home four days a week, and come to the office one day a week. Those who were allowed to work from home saw a 13 percent increase in productivity. This productivity boost was mostly due to a 9 percent increase in minutes worked per shift. This is because — perhaps surprisingly — employees had fewer distractions at home. In particular, they didn’t need to go far to get coffee or lunch.

2. Employees who work from home were 50% less likely to leave the company.

Employees who could work from home reported higher job satisfaction. In particular, they were happy to avoid the hassles of commuting. And they followed their heart: Those who could work from home were 50 percent less likely to leave the firm! A pretty remarkable achievement in an industry like call centers where turnover is high.

3. Working from home saved the company an amount equivalent to 40% of employees’ earnings.

Working from home not only made employees happy and productive, it also produced substantial cost reductions for the company. Most of the cost saving was achieved through a reduction in the cost of office space. So, don’t forget the less obvious benefits of telecommuting: Less office space is needed!

Let employees choose!

So should all employees who can do it work from home? As it turns out, working from home is not for everyone. Some employees in the experiment who first chose to work from home decided to come back to the office after trying it out. In the end, those who chose to work from home were those who tended to be more productive at home.

In other words, there is a lot of benefit in letting employees choose their own working arrangement. About 50 percent of the participating employees’ pay was based on performance, so employees had an incentive to make the right choice.

If telecommuting is possible and your employees are paid for performance, working from home seems like a miracle drug!

Does your company allow telecommuting? What has been your experience so far?


Like this? Read more about work-life balance and flexibility in the workplace here.


August Twitter Video Chat: The Work-Life Balancing Act

August 17th, 2015 Comments off
CareerBuilder Twitter Video Chat: The Biggest Recruiting Issues Right Now

With the warm weather and bright sunshine calling workers out of their offices, the topic of work-life balance is as hot as afternoon asphalt. As an HR professional, what do you need to know about current trends to ensure your employees strike the right balance?

Our resident talent advisors Laurie RuettimannTim SackettJennifer McClureSteve Browne and Neil Morrison and CareerBuilder’s Mike Erwin got together to discuss how work-life balance is evolving, from changes in parental leave policies and the trend of unlimited PTO, to how company leaders can set an example by modeling good work-life behaviors.




>> Follow our amazing talent advisors on Twitter: @CBforEmployers @lruettimann @jennifermcclure @timsackett @sbrownehr @neilmorrison @jamiewo

We welcome all human resources professionals, recruiters and talent acquisition leaders to become part of the evolution! Sign up now to start getting Talent Advisor in your inbox.

In case you missed it, catch up on last month’s Twitter video chat from July: The biggest recruiting issues right now. We welcome all human resources professionals, recruiters and talent acquisition leaders to become part of the evolution! Sign up now to start getting Talent Advisor in your inbox.

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?


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. 

The Leader’s Challenge: Modeling Good Work-Life Behaviors

July 13th, 2015 Comments off
How leaders can promote work-life balance

Work-life balance, work-life integration, work-life flow, work-life rhythm: Whatever you call it, it’s a challenge for many of us in today’s fast-paced and “always-on” world.

And if you’re in a leadership position, that challenge is multiplied not only by the people on your own team — but also by the other employees in your organization. Because, like it or not, employees throughout the organization are observing how you handle the challenges of prioritizing and managing your work, family and personal responsibilities – and they’re modeling their behaviors after yours.

As someone who is guilty of letting the work side of my life often dominate the personal and family side, I’ve spent years researching the best methods for not only taking charge of the issue personally, but also setting a better example for others that work with and for me than I have in the past. (I’m still a work in progress, BTW.)


1. Take control of your schedule at work.

We tend to think about work-life balance in the context of managing our calendars to ensure that we are home by a certain time, or off on an important date to be with family. Meanwhile, our schedule during the workday is crammed full of meetings, leaving little time to actually work on the business or develop team members.

To ensure you’re able to be at your best, and also to set an example for your team, you’ve got to get your calendar under control.

Consider regularly blocking out “open” time on your work calendar that can be used for thinking strategically about the future, for reflecting upon the state of the business, for personal growth and development, or to just take a walk and clear your mind.

Think busy leaders or executives can’t do this? Not true.

After finding his schedule too crammed with meetings to actually work on improving the business and himself as a leader, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner began scheduling daily “blocks of nothing” on his calendar to allow time for proactive thinking – rather than constantly reacting to what was going on around him – and he protects this time in the same manner he would meetings with advisors or employees. In a blog post on LinkedIn, Weiner advises:

…don’t leave unscheduled moments to chance. The buffer is the best investment you can make in yourself and [is] the single most important productivity tool I use.”

2. Set and communicate reasonable boundaries for work and “not work.”

Too often as leaders, we say that we value work-life balance for both ourselves and our employees, but then we’re the ones who stay late at the office to catch up on projects, send emails after hours, or call employees on the weekend to get a head start on the workweek. If we expect our employees to achieve a healthy work-life balance, it’s got to start with us.

My friend Dawn Burke, VP of people at Daxko — a leading provider of software and services for nonprofits nationwide – recently decided that she not only needed to take charge of her schedule to prevent personal burnout and remain fully engaged at work, but that she would go public with her commitment. One of the steps she has taken is to enable an after-hours email auto-response that reads as follows:

Hello Friends,

I hope you are having a great evening! Just a heads up: In order to achieve better work balance, I will not respond to emails after 6 p.m.

Many of us struggle with email burnout and overload. I’m trying an experiment that should be to your benefit. Unplugging at night should allow my brain to function at full capacity tomorrow.

I’ll do my best to respond tomorrow. In the meanwhile — have a wonderful evening.

Thank you for your flexibility!

By communicating her availability and commitment to being fully present during work hours to her co-workers and stakeholders, Dawn is setting an example for other executives and employees at her company, and living up to Daxko’s commitment to encouraging work-life balance for their employees.

3. Put systems in place so you can unplug when you’re away from work. 

I once worked at a company where the prior CEO held a personal belief that no one should be able to take a two-week vacation, because if an employee could be gone for that length of time, they must not be needed. Not only did this unwritten policy foster fear and distrust, it fueled an environment where employees felt that they had to be present in order to prove their worth – rather than focus on performance and results.

Needless to say, as a leader it’s important that you set an example of what’s expected from your team, and that includes demonstrating that you can unplug by delegating responsibilities appropriately and having systems in place to ensure that things run smoothly when you leave work for the evening (or when you’re backpacking around Europe with your family for two weeks).

Contrary to my CEO friend above, I believe you’re actually not doing your job as a leader if you can’t be away from work without being completely plugged in — and you should expect the same from your team members.

As leaders and talent advisors, it’s important for us to recognize that work-life balance is not something a company can mandate through policies and procedures, because each individual’s circumstances and needs are different. However, by demonstrating empathy, setting an example, and communicating expectations, leaders can be the models for work-life balance in their organizations, and everyone will be better because of it.

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 You Should Consider Unlimited PTO for Your Company

July 10th, 2015 Comments off
The case for unlimited PTO

It’s summertime, and I believe talent advisors are in a unique position to influence the way in which our employees benefit from much-needed time away from work.

Time off is essential. It gives our colleagues a chance to relax, re-energize and refocus. And as much as is written about work-life balance, that balance doesn’t occur until people can fully detach from their day-to-day roles.

The untapped potential of systems

Talent advisors serve two vastly different parties: systems and employees. Systems are needed to provide structure and direction to companies. Many leaders don’t see systems for what they can be: tools to increase engagement and happiness. A vacation policy is a system that can be both a blessing and a curse for many workers. All too often, HR uses a system as a set of rules and regulations to control and discipline people. This method doesn’t work. It never has.

The system of “unlimited PTO” is a great case study to consider, because a recent movement to allow unlimited PTO and not have a set schedule has been picking up steam. When this topic is discussed among HR peers, people express a tremendous amount of angst, confusion, and anxiety. They say a system without boundaries is unthinkable.

Or is it?

The case for unlimited PTO

Having a system of unlimited PTO would present challenges, but it could work — and even thrive — in some environments. Yes, there are some environments that require certain staffing levels in order to get the work done (such as manufacturing environments, hospitality environments and restaurants). However, talent advisors could do some basic operational math and create a policy with the look and feel of unlimited PTO, while still accounting for the company’s need to conduct business.

I like the concept of unlimited PTO, which challenges my role in the restaurant and hospitality industry. I like the idea because it removes a system that feels like a compliance-driven and punitive attendance system. If we are only using PTO to keep track of people, and most companies do this, then paid time off is not really much of a benefit.

It’s hard for talent advisors to look at systems that challenge the status quo. Very few of us take the time to step back and envision things differently than how they currently exist. It may be because we don’t know how, or it may be that we are concerned what would happen if we altered the existing methods of how work is done.

My challenge to you

I would like to challenge everybody to experiment more with new systems. Develop scenarios to see how things would work. Identify gaps and propose theoretical solutions. Instead of dismissing new systems (like unlimited PTO), evaluate the idea to see how it could come to life. Be open minded and think about whether or not it makes sense for your employees and your business.

I’m not sure unlimited PTO will work for your company or mine, but I like the approach. When I consider the system, it allows me to stretch my thinking and see how I can change my ways and bridge the gap between systems and people. I hope you do some stretching in the future, too.

Maybe you could take some PTO and think about it.

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.