November 09, 2017

Work Life Balance Is Important, So Is Staying Current

 

This morning, I was walking with my neighbor and she announced she was super stressed. She explained that she already has a giant workload and she's just been asked to take on a new project. The solution seems simple to me as someone who has been writing about work life balance for more than a decade.

"Tell whoever wants you to take on the project that you have too much on your plate right now to be successful in adding another responsibility," I told her. "No matter what argument you get in response, repeat that you have too much on your plate already. 

For the rest of the walk, she repeatedly said, "I have too much on my plate already" practicing her new response. 

It's not easy to say no. It's not easy to keep from feeling overwhelmed. It's not easy to navigating how to have a career and a successful home life.

But I see another challenge ahead that might be equally as pressing: staying current in your field and in life. Keeping up to date on trends and emerging technology will be critical to being successful in the next few years.  

The biggest barrier to doing the work to stay relevant is often the feeling that you don't have time to fit in professional development. But you HAVE to if you want to stay employable and advance in your field.

Don't worry, I have your back. I have launched a new blog to keep you up to date with what you need to know to stay at the top of your game.

My new blog is called: CindyKeepsUp.com. So, keep up with me and let me hear from you!

 

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November 06, 2017

How to Work From Home and Enjoy Life

 

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Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

 

Today my guest blogger is Lucy Wyndham who spent over a decade in HR before taking a step back to spend more time with her growing family. She now works as a freelance writer and editor specializing in helping people take control of their careers and managing work-life balance as a parent. Lucy works from home so these tips come from her personal experience. If you work from home, I  think you will find them useful.

 


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4 Ways To Achieve Work-Life Balance And Enjoy Life

For most work-from-home moms, achieving work-life balance can sometimes feel like chasing after a mythical creature. Women are busier than ever as a new survey reveals that 79% of working mothers are still taking on the bulk of household chores. If you work at home, it’s likely that you do even more to care for your family as you strive to balance your career with your family life. It’s also highly possible that you experience emotional distress as a poll indicates that one in four working moms cry once a week due to the stress of trying to have it all. If this is your situation, don’t despair—it’s possible to achieve work-life balance and enjoy life while you work-from-home. By getting organized, staying disciplined, and asking for help, you can earn a living, tend to your family’s needs, and be happy as you work at home.

 

Create a schedule

If you’re in the habit of doing whatever needs to be done at odd times, then you’re at risk of burning out. Create a schedule of things that you need to do and place it a highly visible area so you’re reminded of your tasks for the day. For instance, after preparing breakfast and doing the morning clean up, you can designate the next few hours for doing deep work. Stick to your schedule as much as you can and you’ll find that you get to accomplish more tasks this way

Take productive breaks

Even the busiest work-from-home mom needs to take a break. But instead of watching YouTube videos or going on Facebook, try having a productive break. You can take paid online surveys to have some extra money or meditate for a few minutes. You can even squeeze in a good workout by taking a walk around the block or doing some yoga in your living room. Or sit at your favorite spot in your home and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee. The point is to do something that will benefit you physically, mentally, emotionally, or financially, so whatever you choose to do during your break, make it count and make sure that it does you good.

Ask for help

Most moms who work at home tend to take on the lion’s share of the chores, but you don’t have to do everything yourself. Learn to delegate some tasks to your kids or partner to reduce your stress levels. Even pre-schoolers can do simple chores such as matching socks and putting away chores. Resist the urge to do simple tasks for your family because you think you can do them faster or better—the more you let your loved ones take over these chores, the more adept they’ll become in doing them in the future.

Schedule a proper “me time”

Work-from-home moms need and deserve a day off, but to enjoy it, you need to schedule a proper me time at least once a twice a week. Don’t try to squeeze in a few errands on your me time. The point is to take a few hours—or a whole day—to take care of yourself. This is the perfect time for you to schedule a massage, a manicure, or a haircut. It’s also a good opportunity to window shop and browse to your heart’s content, to try eating at that new restaurant that your kids would never go to, and to indulge in your hobbies, such as meeting with your book club. Don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself and keep in mind that investing in your personal wellness is just as important as taking care of your family’s needs.

 

Achieving work-life balance is a challenge, but it can be done. Remember to look after yourself while you earn a living and care for your family, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Happiness can be achieved if you remember to take care for yourself while maintaining a well-rounded lifestyle.

 

 

 

October 31, 2017

Shelley Zalis Shares Insight on the Power of Female Connections

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Shelley Zalis sits comfortably on the auditorium stage of the Celebrity Equinox cruise ship docked in Miami. The audience of more than 200 women are hanging on her every word in this unique venue for a women’s leadership event.  I am among them, trying to absorb every morsel of business wisdom this go-against-the-grain leader has for us.

Zalis, is the former chief executive of a Hollywood research firm and the leader of an effort to advance corporate women.  After the $71 million sale of her research firm to a bigger entity, Zalis has moved on to her next big thing. She has become the founder of the Girls’ Lounge, which she started four years ago as a gathering spot for women at the International Consumer Electronics Show when she invited women to meet in her room, and bring girlfriends. This year, Zalis, who lives in Los Angeles, will take the Girls’ Lounge to nearly a dozen major business events. In addition, Zalis also heads TheFemaleQuotient.com, a consulting firm that helps companies advance gender equality in their workplaces.

Zalis tells the audience: “There is a place in heaven for those women who help other women. There is power in collaboration. I have seen it in action. Mentorship is not from the top down or the bottom up. It is the wisdom we learn from people all around us.” 

IMG_7522Seated on stage next to Zalis is Katie Kempner, another formidable business woman who asks Zalis the questions on all our minds. In the next hour, the women attending The Commonwealth Institute South Florida 14th Annual Leadership Luncheon hear how to break the rules and profit from it, how to spot a need and launch a business to fill it, and how to create a support team of women to bolster your chances of success.


Here is what I learned from Zalis:

Break the rules

Zalis is not one to abide by the rules of business, particularly those that exclude women. It is how she built a company, started a movement and landed a show on Bloomberg television called Walk the Talk.  “I break the rules to create new ones,” she said. “Doing it for the first time is scary, especially when you have no formula for success.” Initially, Zalis tried to conform to the male business world.  Early in her career, she dressed in conservative clothing like the men, until she met Penelope Queen, a well-known researcher, who greeted her in a purple leather suit. “That’s when I realized you cannot create the new norm if you follow the same patterns.”

 

Think carefully about opting out:

Zalis realizes the tension of work life shows no signs of easing and recognizes companies are losing great leaders to caregiving. She explains that women are opting out to care for children or parents when they reach middle management levels. About the time they become mid-level managers, women are gaining responsibility at home and work. “They have three choices. To opt into leadership, they must conform to rules that make no sense, or they can leave to start their own company, or they can opt out completely,” she said. “If they opt out completely, getting back in is difficult. They never get back to where they were.” As a consultant, Zalis is working with companies to change the dynamics, something she says will happen in small steps.

Take diversity seriously:

Zalis believes it is of critical importance to have women in executive leadership where they provide a healthy counterbalance to the men.  Diversity is good for business, Zalis explains.  Yet, she realizes that male leaders need to believe in advancing women, and follow through with action. “It takes a leader saying I want to be better. I will be better, but I need to be conscious about being better.”  The first step toward a mindset shift is not a drastic change. “It’s a leadership conversation about where we are and what we want to work on first,” she said

  

Be confident:

Women often have an obnoxious roommate in their heads telling them they aren’t qualified to take a risk or make a change, Zalis says. She warns women not to listen to that voice. “Perfection does not exist and if it does, it’s boring. Blemishes make you interesting,” she said. “Believe in yourself. Be yourself. If you’re not perfect have people around you who complement you.”

  

Encourage mandatory parental leave:

Zalis said mandatory parental leave would create a more level playing field in the workplace. Hiring bosses would be less skeptical of hiring young women, and men would be better positioned to help more at home. “The rules were written 100 years ago, by men for men. We need to cut the cord and move forward. With mandatory parental leave, the bias against women kicks out. We must go in that direction if we want a modern workplace for today’s modern workforce.”

  

Take risks:

In her first job, Zalis said she took a risk by doing the sales job her way, thinking she had a perfect performance and insisting she deserved a raise. Her boss did not see her performance the same way.  “It was the worst review I have ever gotten. My boss told me I was spending too much time with clients. I told him, ‘You’re so wrong. Relationships are what business is about.’ “ Now, she does a job the way she thinks it should be done, even if it hasn’t been done that way before. “I love getting uncomfortable. I am comfortable being uncomfortable because I know I am trying something new.”

 

Stay relevant:

At 53, Zalis is gaining momentum, making connections and moving in a new direction. Zalis recommends trying something new as often as possible. “Invite a new person to dinner. Watch a different kind of movie. Try a different type of food. That’s how you evolve and stay interesting. If you do the same thing you don’t evolve and you get boring.”

 

During our short time with Zalis, she has helped the audience of businesswomen see her as the girlfriend who has our back, our inspiration for banning with other women, and a mentor for those who want to take risks and embrace change. Most of us will walk away acknowledging her guiding principle: “A woman alone has power, together we have impact.” Now, it will be up to us to act on it.

 

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October 20, 2017

Awesome insight from a woman at the top of her field

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Can you be a big corporate big wig and have a personal life? Can you stay at the top of your field as a woman, in a male-heavy industry?

Yes you can!

When Lonnie Maier spoke at Nova Southeastern University’s Women’s Success Series recently, the college students arrived eager hear what she had to say on those topics, and a good number of adults came to hear her, too.

Lonnie, vice president of Enterprise Sales and Marketing for Fibernet Direct, told the audience about her personal journey to become an executive at a leading national telecommunications company. Lonnie Maier is vice president of enterprise sales and marketing for Fibernet Direct, a company with operations throughout Florida and the Southeastern United States.

As a successful corporate executive, she had plenty of advice to share on work life balance and Bay O’Leary, a NSU associate professor, chair of the marketing department and one of the creators of the series asked her the right questions to draw out those pearls of wisdom:

On her biggest work life challenge….

Early in my career, I commuted to Miami from Fort Lauderdale. I was never late to work, but I was always late coming home. I would make a commitment to my family to be home by a certain time and then I would be late. At work, I never wanted to say no so I would take on more than I could chew and then I would be late. Eventually, I had to learn to prioritize my family so I didn’t continuously let them down. They would joke about “Lonnie’s time” referring to my being late all the time.

 

On giving herself a work life balance report card….

Giving myself a report card is tough. My daughters are 27 and 22 and when I look at them I would say I earn an A+ all the way. I am celebrating 35 years of being married so I get high grades there, too. When comes to work though, I am always trying to do more, and with me it’s never good enough. There is always another project, another result I want to achieve. I have high expectations of myself.

 

On advice to young women new in their careers….

Prioritize and don’t personalize. As young people new to business, we tend to say yes to everything. There comes a point where the only way you can become good at certain things is to say no to other things, in a nice way. Early in my career, if I wasn’t included in a meeting, I might personalize something. Eventually, I realized you can’t do everything and be included in everything. If want to be involved, I reach out. I wanted to get involved in economic development. I got involved. After a while, people would say, “Lonnie can you head up this committee?” I would have to say, “I have a full-time job and I need to focus on my job.”

 

On what she looks for in her team…..

People who can articulate why they are a good fit for the job. I look for candidates who are proud of their accomplishments.

 

On how she handles an employee who is struggling with work life balance…

I try to be flexible with schedules and offer ideas or solutions for problems. But if it becomes an ongoing issue, then I need to sit down and talk to that person.

 

On changes or cracks in the glass ceiling in Corporate America….

I have seen a willingness from men to listen more over the years. Still, I see lot of men at top and not as many women. My company was sold and when I met with prospective buyers, there were few that had women in decision-making seats. It was frustrating to see the glass ceiling was still there. We had a lot of women on our management team at FiberNet and we were getting things done. Overall, there are not many women at the top in telecommunications. It’s an opportunity. Young women should feel there are no limitations for them, just opportunities everywhere. It’s our job as leaders to help them see that.

 

On finding mentors…..

If you have problem, don’t be afraid to ask for advice. A lot of informal mentoring can take place just by asking. If you see someone with a similar path to the one you want to take, ask them questions. Often, women see asking questions as a weakness. The best way to show it is not a weakness is by being there for them when they need it.

 

On self-care….

 

I go on long walks and before I go bed, I take time to reflect and do my praying.

 

On personal work life choices….

 

I look at my friends in the C -suite and they don’t have kids. That was personal choice they made. At one point, when my boss retired I was told “you can become president” but I said “no thank you I like what I do.” You must know what you are good at and where you need to be to get the results. You don’t need to feel you must be at the top to lead a fulfilling career. 

 

On supporting other women…

 Whatever level you are at, you need to be supportive of other women. The people who propelled me, who pushed me the most were other women. You need a gang of girls around you to need to leverage their strengths. Don’t ever look at other females as competition.

 

Thanks Lonnie for awesome advice!

 

 

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Bay O'Leary asking Lonnie Maier about her experience in Corporate America

 

October 04, 2017

Investing in "What Matters" Over "Having it all"

 

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(From R to L: Monique , Paula Glickenhaus, Kathleen Procario, Claudia Chen)

 

 

A least 100 women are gathered in a conference room -- and two men.

We are waiting to listen to a panel discussion on Investing in "What Matters" over "Having it All" at the S.H.E. Summit Bacardi in Miami. The panel looks interesting to me as I gaze at the white board with bios on the speakers. And then, the discussion begins....

Here is what I take away from the conversation that follows:

1. Investing in your relationship with your spouse, partner, significant other should be high on your priority list. (It matters!)

The moderator is Claudia Chan, founder of SHE Summit and author of This IS How We Rise.  Claudia tells us she is struggling with raising a two year old, seven month old, writing a book,  keeping her marriage strong, and running her organization. I've heard discussions on work life balance many, many, many times. But Claudia brings up a point that rarely gets mentioned. She aims for balance not as an individual, but as part of a couple. Claudia prioritizes she and her husband "getting on the same page." When investing in what matters most, she considers her marriage her top priority.

"If you're good as a couple, your children will feel more confident when they see mom and dad in good place," she said. "Your relationship with your partner is your most important relationship."

2. Outsourcing will look different for each of us, depending on our income, but it can be crucial to having time for priorities. 

Panelist Paula GlickenhausVice President of Global Indirect Procurement with Bacardi Limited, travels often for her high-powered job. She has a grown daughter who is 22 and a son who is 9. To keep up with her many responsibilities, she exercises wherever she is in any way she can..."If I am in Miami, I swim. If I am in New York, I do yoga. If I am in Switzerland, I run." But to have me time, work time, spouse time and child time, Paula outsources. She outsources A LOT. "I do procurement ...so even at work I outsource everything I can." Paula said the goal of outsourcing is to ensure family time is the best quality it can be.

When prodded, Paula detailed exactly what she outsources:

  • Homework: "I can't help my kids with homework. I have no patience. So I find a tutor who can help them until the age they don’t need help anymore. I did it with my daughter and now with son."
  • Sports. "My son is good at soccer, but the coach said he needs to practice more. I found a coach online and recruited a few other kids in the same boat who can be coached as a group." 
  • Driving. "I have a nanny, but she is not full time. She picks my son up from school and takes him to activities."
  • Lunches. I tried to get my son to buy the school lunch but the quality came time and he wanted to bring a lunch box. Rather than take that extra half hour in the morning, I use FreshDirect to make his lunches. They also have some amazing snacks." 

3. Set your priorities one day at a time. 

Kathleen Procario, HR & Talent Management  for Southern Glazers Wine & Spirits, said you can’t do it all, so you need to start to focus on what’s most important today. Most of us wear many titles: sister, brother, husband, wife, friend, parent, employee. "We have to figure out which of those jobs matter right now," shw said.

 

4. Going "all in" at work is okay, but get your partner on board. 

Monique Catoggio runs a business from home. So does her husband who also is an entrepreneur. She wants to give her business a lot of attention, so does her husband. So they take turns with the home stuff to give the other person the ability to focus on work stuff.  "We both prioritize making our business profitable so we have learned to find harmony in our home," she said.

To keep that harmony, they speak up when they need something from the other. "When I see resistence, I tell him you're not supporting me in the way I need you to and we have to talk about it," she said. Monique said it can be challenging to find time for those conversations. "Usually when the kids go to bed, that’s our time.  Sometimes we have a heart-to-heart over TV shows."  The biggest risk is not communicating, she said. "Don’t let it get far down road."

5. Someone needs to deal with the logistics. They matter.

There are bills to pay, appointments to make, home repairs to deal with and supplies that need to be restocked. Someone has to handle the logistics of daily life and running a household. When there are children, the logistics rise exponentially. Those small things can build resentment if one person in a household feels he or she is handling a disproportionate amount. However, if the other person takes on the task, there can be no second guessing, or nit picking. "When you divide and conquer whatever your partner takes on, let them do it their way," Monique said.

 

6. Don't ask, tell.

Paula said she doesn't ask her husband if it's okay to go to the gym. She tells him when she is going. She doesn't ask her boss when she can take vacation. She tells him to put it on his calendar. Investing in what matters over having it all means asserting yourself to get what matters to you.

 

7. Take a pause, often.

People get stuck or feel overwhelmed because they don’t find time to understand themselves, Monique said. "We make ourselves busier than we should be."

That's why we need to create more moments of pause...to make time to figure out what matters most.

"It doesn’t have to be two hours. When you give yourself time to create clarity, you can think about what you want your relationship to feel like and if it's not the relationship you want, you can do something about it," she said.

 

While these business women might not have all the solutions, I think they had some great wisdom to share -- for both the men and women in the room!

 

 

September 27, 2017

How to take stuff off your schedule

 

Overwhelmed

A friend call me today to tell me she wants to do more networking to further her career. She has come up with a great idea for workshops she wants to offer, and now she wants to go out and meet the right people to hire her. 

I could certainly relate to her ambition. However, my friend has four children under the age of 10, which limits her free time and challenges her work life balance.

The first thing I told her is that she needs to figure out how much time each week she can devote to networking and she must get a clear idea of who she considers her ideal business target. Figuring that out takes some honest contemplation, a marketing plan, and a hard look at her weekly schedule. I told her she likely will need to take some existing tasks off her schedule if she wants to make time for networking.

"What? Take something off my schedule?" she asked me, surprised at my suggestion.  She confessed she didn't know where to begin. My friend's scenario is common. It's easy to say we want to do more of something - spend more time networking, hanging out with family, prospecting new customers - but taking tasks off our schedule to make it happen gets tricky. My conversation with my friend inspired me to create a guide for how to take tasks off your schedule. So, here are my five tips for how to do it.

  1. Take a really hard look at where you spend your time.

      Often, we waste hours on tasks like browsing Facebook or checking email. It's easy to fill up time when           you don't have a plan. Those wasted hours are the ones you want to take off your schedule. You then can       use that time for your high priority tasks.

 

       2. Know where you have flexibility and where you don't. 

       Be honest with yourself about what tasks you choose to do and which you must to do to keep your work         life balance and your sanity. Know where you have flexibility in your schedule, and where you don't. A        friend insisted she be the one to pick her child up from daycare  at 5 p.m. It led to numerous             confrontations with her boss. When she finally agreed to let her mother pick up her child, taking that        one task off her scheduled alleviated her stress level and improved her workplace relationships. 

      

       3. Figure out what you need to accomplish, and what you can outsource.

         Can you get someone else to do the driving to and from your children's soccer games? Can you ask an         assistant in your office to take over making copies? Can your spouse drive your child to school so you          can go to morning networking breakfasts?  Many successful networkers have the time to devote to it         because they are awesome outsourcers.

        4. Decide which tasks no longer have the meaning they once did.

        My friend is on the board of her local library. She has decided there are other, less time consuming ways         to be involved with the library. She has decided not to continue after her term is up. That will free up         time for her to network in new ways and new places.

 

        5. Get creative. 

        Technology creates the ability to do things differently, from paying bills to managing our calendars to         sending certain email directly into folders. By automating some of the things we do, we can take them         off our schedules.

 

 

The key to better time management is being honest with ourselves about how we spend our time, and being willing to make trade offs. Fall is one of the busiest times of the year. As you consider taking more on, it may be the ideal time to take stuff off your schedule, too.

September 20, 2017

What we learned from Hurricane Irma about losing internet

                             No-wifi

In the week after Hurricane Irma, life stood still. Power was out. Internet was down. People in Florida were on the verge of insanity. 

Many of us didn't know how to handle being disconnected from Wi Fi. And so, the true test of our obsession with connectivity began to emerge. 

Two days after the storm, my sister-in-law called to tell me she had set up a temporary office in Dunkin Donuts. My sister in law said couldn't stand hanging around in her hot home without power, television or Internet. So she took her daughter to the doughnut shop, which had wi fi,  handed her daughter an iPad and set up her laptop. "I'm back in business," she said, sounding as if she had just won the lottery.

Across town, I had friends who lived in areas where there was no where to go for Wi Fi because businesses in their area were without power and closed. Even when those friends called to tell me their power had come back on, they spoke as if they were completely out of sorts because they still had no Internet.

Yes, we are a nation that wants to be connected. As much as we complain about the fact that work follows us home, and as much as we complain about our lack of work life balance, we don't want to disconnect. Let's admit the truth: we have developed such a compulsion for checking email, googling information and texting from our devices that we don't know how to balance our lives without Internet service.

On the flip side, I had friends who relished the days while their offices were closed and the kids were home from school. Sure it was hard to get out of the daily work/school routine. But there was an upside to the post-Irma chaos in that it provided some quality time with family and friends.

Once there was a time when people chanted the lyrics, "I want my MTV."  I think the lesson we learned from Irma is we now want much more than our MTV. We want power. We want cell phone use. We want Internet. We want connectivity and we're willing to sacrifice some downtime, balance and maybe even some of our sanity to get it!

September 05, 2017

Hurricane Irma is coming, must I go to work?

As South Florida prepares for the hurricane coming our way, many people want or need time off to start preparing their homes. And as the week goes on, the schools may close before our workplaces shut leaving us with no childcare. It's only natural to wonder what the law is about employers requiring we go to work. I wanted to repost an article I wrote in 2008 for The Miami Herald that may help answer questions on employees' minds.

Storm's here: must I go to work?

Each hurricane season workers have to juggle their jobs with preparing for a storm. But many have three big questions about work: Do I have to go? Will I be paid? What do I do with my kids? The Miami Herald spoke to a few local labor lawyers to get their input.

Q: I need to miss work to prepare for the hurricane . Can I be fired? Will I be paid?

A: Yes, you can be fired. Florida is an employment-at-will state, which means that an employee can legally be terminated for any reason other than discrimination or actions like whistle blowing.

Getting paid will depend on your job classification. Hourly workers are paid only for time worked, so employers aren't legally obligated to pay you anything if you're not at work. If you are a salaried employee (and don't get overtime), an employer can force you to use your vacation time.

Q: My boss says I have to work during the storm. Can I be fired if I refuse?

A: Yes. Again, because Florida is an employment-at-will state. Still, while several lawyers say they can't think of a law that makes it illegal to force employers to work during a storm, they often advise common sense on the part of employers during a hurricane . A good rule of thumb is if the people in charge of the business don't want to be out on the roads, no employee should have to be.

Employers should post a hurricane work policy so everyone gets treated the same. If your employer isn't doing that, ask for a policy. Mark Cheskin, a labor lawyer at Hogan Lovells in Miami who represents employers, said he would tell employees to approach the boss and ask what the policy is to make clear you understand your workplace's rules. Cheskin said employers should make the rules clear for all employees.


Q: Can I be forced to use vacation days or personal days during a hurricane , even if the business is closed?

A: Yes, if you are a salaried employee (and don't get overtime) and your place of business is closed because of the hurricane for less than a week. According to the new Department of Labor opinion, employers can ask workers to use vacation time, which can include personal days, even if the workplace is closed. The only good news: According to the new opinion, if you have run out of vacation time, or won't have enough left to make up the time missed, then your employee has to pay you for the entire week.

Q: School is closed, most day-care centers are closed, and I don't have a place to put my kids. Can I bring them with me to work?

A: Your boss isn't obligated to provide room for your children. In fact, labor lawyer Cheskin thinks he would tell his clients that's not a great idea.

"I'd probably advise my clients not to do it, we don't want to have that kind of liability," said Cheskin. But, he says, that's "completely up to the employer".

Q: My workplace is closed before the storm and says it will reopen afterward. Will I be paid?

A: Again, it depends on whether you are a hourly or salaried worker. Companies aren't obligated to pay hourly workers, although after last year's storms, several did. In most cases, employers are obligated to pay salaried workers a full week's salary, even if they are closed, but they can make you use your vacation or personal days.

Many labor lawyers, even those who represent employers, say that companies that follow the letter of the law risk seriously damaging employee morale.

While it often depends on the size of the company, if an employer can afford to pay the workers, it's probably best to do so, says Michael Casey, a labor lawyer with Duane Morris in Miami.

"It's more difficult for small employers to pay people who don't work a couple of days. Larger companies are better positioned to absorb those extra costs," he said, but added: "Most employers want to treat people fairly and help them. This would be a good time to do that."

August 14, 2017

How to survive a hostile workplace

A friend works for a woman who has made her work life difficult. Rather than bringing any concerns directly to my friend, the woman goes above her and complains to their boss. The boss then scolds my friend. This has happened repeatedly and my friend now wants to leave her job, convinced the woman is a backstabber.

I suspect there are other people who have been in a similar scenario. People skills seem to be diminishing and more employees are complaining about toxic co-workers and bosses.

Let's say that you find yourself in an unpleasant workplace situation like my friend wondering...what's the best way to handle a workplace bully or office backstabber? A Fast Company article titled,  5 Common Workplace Bullies and How to Deal with Them, may help. As the article points out, sometimes, you have to keep detailed notes of someone's behavior. Other times the best way to survive is to find another supervisor or leader in the company who can intervene on your behalf.

I asked workplace culture expert Jerry Acuff, founder of Delta Point in Scottsdale, Arizona, for his thoughts on how to handle workplace conflicts, office backstabbers and toxic co-workers. He had some helpful suggestions.

1. Try to build a  better relationship with the backstabber or the co-workers causing you grief. It may be painful to do, but Acuff says you might say something like..."We don't  have the relationship I wish we did and I'd like to change that."

2. Have a courageous conversation. If you have made the decision that improving your relationship is not possible, have a courageous conversation. "Make it clear you will not be treated like that," Jerry says.

3. Build relationships with company leaders, people in positions of authority. "Sometimes that means taking on assignments that are important to senior level people, such as chairing the company United Way campaign," Jerry says. "You have to try to insulate yourself from the idiots and backstabbers. 

4. Address the issue head on. Jerry says confront the person causing the conflict and turn the tables. You could ask something such as... "Why did you put me in that situation? I can't imagine you would want someone to do that to you."

5. Consult a mentor. "You will always find people looking to get ahead, or people who got ahead and don't have training. "If someone is putting you in a bad light in your workplace, you may have to face it head on and figure out the best way to do that.  That's where a mentor is valuable," Jerry said.

I asked Jerry if he thinks you can tame an office backstabber. It's a question I have been pondering for years as workers in various professions complain about toxic people their workplaces.

"I think you can at times, but it depends on how evil the person is," Jerry said.  "Trust is rare. I  am not saying be skeptical, but rather be real."

If it is not one person who is toxic, but rather the workplace itself, you may feel comforted in knowing many others feel that way, too. A new study of 3,066 workers by the Rand Corp., Harvard Medical School and the University of California, Los Angeles, found many Americans feel their workplace is grueling, stressful and surprisingly hostile.

The Associated Press reported the findings earlier this week and summed up the study's bullet points:

Among the findings:

— Nearly one in five workers — a share the study calls "disturbingly high" — say they face a hostile or threatening environment at work, which can include sexual harassment and bullying. Workers who have to face customers endure a disproportionate share of abuse.

 — Nearly 55 percent say they face "unpleasant and potentially hazardous" conditions.

— Nearly three quarters say they spend at least a fourth of their time on the job in "intense or repetitive physical" labor. "I was surprised at how physically demanding jobs were," says lead author Nicole Maestas, a Harvard Medical School economist.

— Telecommuting is rare: 78 percent say they are required to be present in their workplace during working hours.

— Only 38 percent say their jobs offer good prospects for advancement. And the older they get, the less optimistic they become.

— About half say they work on their own time to meet the demands of their job.

I always enjoy hear from people who feel their co-workers are their second family. It makes going to work so much better. If you are someone who feels camaraderie with co-workers, consider yourself fortunate. If you aren't, it might be time to make a change.

 

 

 

August 05, 2017

Inside a food truck and the struggle for work life balance

One day, I was walking around the Wynwood Second Saturday Art Walk when I came across Michael Kritikos and his The Original Greek food truck. His gyros were yummy and his smile was big, so I decided to find out a little more about the highs and lows of operating a food truck in South Florida.

Is it fun? What are the challenges? Do the rewards outweigh the challenges? Most important, how does a food truck owner find work life balance when every minute you are cooking and serving is money in your pocket and time off is lost income?

Michael had just returned from his first vacation in many years and had a lot to say about the challenges of running a mobile food business and balancing a personal life.

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Here is Michael set up and ready to serve his yummy Greek food at Wynwood's Second Saturday Art Walk. You can tell from this photo that he loves what he does for a living.