September 05, 2014

Work Life Balance Joan Rivers' Way

                                                 Joan

 

Life was not always easy for Joan Rivers, but in her struggle to balance her life as a comedian with her role as a mother and wife, she had one thing going for her. Joan liked to laugh.

It was humor that took her through the toughest times in her life.

Humor. 

Joan made jokes about issues that others considered taboo: Her husband's suicide. Her plastic surgery. Her weight. Her so-called lack of sex appeal. Her husband's one leg. 

For Joan,  it was work that fulfilled her, the pursuit of laughter. Joan never relaxed, always looking for the next and better punchline, according to her obituary. It was a trait that kept Joan in the limelight --  even at age 81.  

During a brief time in the 1980s, Joan's career seemed in shambles.  She even became estranged from her daughter. Struggling with grief, Joan made jokes: "Think positive. Make a list. One, I don't life in Bosnia. Two, I never dated O.J."

In the end, it wasn't just Joan's ability to laugh at herself that I found admirable. It was the close relationship she eventually formed with her daughter, the way she eased Melissa into show business and the way she was proud for the world to see her as a mother and career woman. 

When your morning routine goes awry, your client gives you grief or you have an argument with your spouse, kid or boss, think about Joan. Would she melt down, or laugh it off? Would she say it is just too hard to overcome the setbacks that life throws your way? Or, would she turn up the raunchy humor and pursue on?

The New York Times says, that around Joan's 80th birthday when an interviewer asked her whether she planned to retire, there was no laughter in her voice as she replied, "And do what?"

Clearly, it wasn't fame and fortune that Joan was after. She drew fulfillment from an audience that enveloped her in laughter.

R.I.P. Joan and may we all incorporate the lessons you taught us into our work life balancing acts. If we follow your lead, we will know what fulfills us in life, use laughter to release stress, and never give up when the going gets tough.

 

August 04, 2014

Will blocking social media make you more productive?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facebookvacay

 

My favorite part of summer has become looking at vacation photos on Facebook. I love seeing where my friends are traveling and how they are enjoying their summers. And, I admit, I often log onto Facebook during the work day to take a peek at who just posted a cool vacation pic? Doesn't everybody?

Social media has become a part of the world we live in, including the workplace, but the jury’s still out on whether employers should care about employee time spent on Twitter and Facebook and whether they have a real need to ban it in the workplace.

A recent survey by Proskauer Rose shows nearly 90 percent of companies use social media for business purposes. And on the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog, attorney Jon Hyman examines the question posed in an article in The Next Web, “Productivity vs. Distraction: Should you block social media at work?” Hyman says trying to stop workers from tweeting or posting photos on Facebook is a losing battle.

I like to argue that using social media at work can be productive. On social media sites you can learn about trends, new laws, news events and client needs. You can learn the bits of personal information about a customer that can help you create a bond. Currently, about 94 percent of recruiters are using social media as part of their hiring toolbox. 

After a quick look at Facebook, I feel like I just got up from my desk and chatted with a friend. I'm ready to return to the prior task with more focus. A short break to scan Facebook, look up a recipe on Pinterest, or engage in a conversation on Twitter might actually be the brain break you need to refocus and get more done.

Of course, there is a downside to allowing social media in the workplace. Employees posting negative, inappropriate, or downright inflammatory content can really put their employer into hot water. And, there are always workers who take it too far. Social media abuse can be a performance problem, but odds are the employee already has performance concerns. In that case, a boss should provide counseling and discipline if too much time is being spent on it.

Hyman suggests employers embrace the fact that employees will access their accounts from work and put policies and procedures in place to minimize problems and distractions. The best way to limit issues, says Hyman, is to train your workers about the various things that may come up when using social media (professionally or personally) and ensure that they understand what the company policy says.

Blocking social media at work won't necessarily make your employee more productive. With much more marketing happening online, it may become a necessity for more of us to use social media during our work day, anyway. Now all we need is to master self control.

 

 

July 24, 2014

Why is binge-TV watching worth your time?

I admit, I'm perplexed. I'm constantly told by people that they don't have enough time to read newspapers, exercise, keep up with friends, travel. Yet, people who struggle to find work life balance have huge chunks of time to binge TV watch. I wondered how and why they are getting the time and I set out this week in my Miami Herald column to find out....

 

Binge-watching TV: an escape zone?

 

 
 

Many workers say that on their time off, marathon viewing sessions of television shows is a pleasurable way to keep the world at bay.

 

(Above: Breaking Bad)

BY CINDY KRISCHER GOODMAN

BALANCEGAL@GMAIL.COM

On a rainy Saturday in South Florida, Gabriela Garcia lay in her bed watching another episode ofCastle. She could get some fresh air, or even read a book or two, but watching Richard Castle investigate the homicide of a reality-show contestant had her enthralled. Before the day was out, she watched five more episodes of the TV series on Netflix.

“It’s my therapy,” says Garcia, a 37-year-old compliance officer at a Miami bank. “I work hard during the week and on weekends, I want to be lazy.”

It’s now easier than ever to get lost in marathon TV viewing sessions — a refuge that is becoming increasingly popular with America’s workers in their off hours. But how does the TV time-vacuum square with complaints about increasing workloads, hectic lifestyles and struggle for work/life balance? If workers value free time so fiercely, why spend that time glued to the tube?

A new study by Harris Interactive on behalf of Netflix shows 61 percent of us binge-watch TV regularly, watching at least three episodes of a single series in one sitting. Almost three-quarters of the public view binge watching as a positive experience and nearly 80 percent say that feasting on shows actually makes them more enjoyable.

“People are looking for refuge from the constant press of business,” says Grant McCracken, a cultural anthropologist who helped conduct the Netflix research. “At the same time, the stories are getting better than they used to be.”

Dramatic series such as Breaking Bad, The Wire, Downtown Abbey, Orange is the New Black andGame of Thrones are breaking the traditional rules, making TV even more complex and binge-watching more fun. At the same time, more people have signed up for Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime to get TV content streamed right into their television, laptop, tablet or smart phone, giving them a library of shows at their fingertips. And viewers are logging on in droves; just this week, Netflix reported it increased its total of paid subscribers to 47.99 million in the second quarter, up 34.7 percent from the same period last year.

Viewers say watching multiple episodes in order makes the sometimes-complicated plot lines easier to follow. But there is more behind the trend. Some workers admit they have binged to catch up with the current season so they can participate in conversations and inside jokes in their workplace lunchrooms or staff meetings.

It was water cooler conversation at her office that led publicist Mary Sudasassi, 43, to watch The Walking Dead. Sudasassi says she quickly became addicted to watching multiple episodes in a row. “After work and dinner, I would look forward to it like a prize.”

This summer, she and her husband, a mechanical engineer, are spending entire weekends diving into series that capture their attention. One Saturday, the couple watched eight episodes in a row of Game of Thrones. “We had to stop ourselves because we knew we should be doing something more productive.” But at the same time, Sudasassi says she looks at it as a fun couples’ activity. “It’s a way for us both to escape from stress.”

McCracken found the word “binge,” typically tinged with guilt or shame, has evolved into something different when it relates to television. Instead of vegging out like couch potatoes, television viewers now are called on to pay more attention to the action — and they are rewarded for it.

“There’s an ‘Oh My God’ reflex that comes out of new TV,” says McCracken, that causes views to look beyond the surface to explore the plot and their responses do it. “It’s not really that [Americans] are binging but rather they are feasting on good TV.

Much of this new “feasting” behavior is triggered by control. With DVRs and streaming, viewers can watch shows when they want, where they want, how they want and at the pace they want – in the middle of the night on a plane on a laptop, for example. Netflix studied viewer behavior and reacted to it “when given option, people were watching at least a couple of episodes in a row,” says Jenny McCabe, a spokeswomen for Netflix.

Those findings were behind its decision to release all episodes of House of Cards out at one time. Netflix’s research showed that 25 percent of subscribers who watch its 10 most popular shows cram an entire 13-hour season into two days; another 48 percent watch the entire season in a week. McCabe said Netflix intentionally eliminated commercials and the replays before each episode to [enable] viewers to use TV time efficiently. Or, as one lifestyle blogger, wrote, content producers are basically saying “Take the weekend, watch all 13 hours of this thing. DO IT.”

A working mother of young children, McCabe admits she binge-watches, too, catching up on multiple episodes of her favorite shows when she goes on a business trip. “I don’t’ have to share the TV with my significant other and I can just power through something.”

National branding guru Jay Leopardi, co-owner of Bad Boy Branding agency in Miami, says not only has he marathoned while on business travel, but he has watched multiple episodes late at night, sacrificing sleep and giving in to the urge for ‘just one more.’ “I’m an extremely busy person, but I have stayed up and watched House of Cards for five hours straight while my wife and kids were asleep,” says Leopardi. “It hooked me. It was that good of a show.”

In our instant-gratification society, the new content-providers, like Netflix, have realized that there is something satisfying for viewers in knowing that if an episode ends in a cliffhanger, in a few minutes they can see what happened. Leopardi says this is true for him: “I have zero patience. I don’t want until wait to next week to find out what happens.”

Regardless of when or where it happens, marathoning represents a huge time commitment. Watching the entire five-season series of AMC’s Breaking Bad, the highest rated show of all time, requires the devotion of more than 46 hours.

“When you put it like that, I feel embarrassed,” says Robert Yanks, a 24-year-old Fort Lauderdale advertising executive. “When you’re watching, it never seems like a big commitment because it is at your leisure.”

Over a weekend, Yanks said he and a friend might spent up to six or seven hours on the couch in a TV marathon of provocative dramas, illustrating that binging isn’t necessarily a solitary act. Among those who streamed multiple episodes of a TV series in a row, a combined 51 percent prefer to watch with at least one other person and talk about it afterward, research shows. Many even turn to social media for discussions.

Experts say people are giving up movies, books and exercise to escape into the world of Breaking Bad’s Walter White or Scandal’s Olivia Pope. McCracken says it’s clear to him why: “There is pleasure in the ability to sit at home watching episode after episode of great TV with the world kept at bay.”



July 17, 2014

Lying to the boss about family obligations

Liar

 

A friend of mine who held a high position in an entertainment conglomerate told me that one afternoon, she lied to her boss about where she was going. She was going to her daughter's dance class. She had missed every class since her daughter enrolled. But she told her boss she was going to a business meeting. When she got to the dance class, she couldn't believe what she saw -- a top executive at her company who was there to watch his daughter. She begged him not to say a word to anyone and he seemed shocked that she would be worried about her job enough to hide her whereabouts.

I completely understood why she did it.

Working Mother Magazine reported today that some working parents (23 percent) admit to bending the truth to their bosses in order to meet family obligations.  

The Modern Family Index, sponsored by Bright Horizons Family Solutions, reveals that 48 percent of parents are afraid their family commitments and obligations could put their jobs in jeopardy. And 39 percent believe family responsibilities could prevent them from receiving raises. Many working parents also think that tending to family duties may prevent them from being considered in key projects (22 percent) and excluded from important meetings (19 percent). 

After giving birth for the second time, I asked for flexibility in my schedule. I remember feeling almost immediately that Iwas viewed in a new light and no longer included in brainstorming meetings about bigger projects.  

This new study found more than half of participants would think twice about asking their boss for reduced hours, working remotely or placing boundaries on responding to calls or emails. No wonder work life balance is a huge concern!

In spite of efforts in this country to promote and offer family-friendly workplace policies, many working parents still hesitate to tell employers that they need to tend to family responsibilities—and even fear job loss, according to the study.

Parents, what do you think about lying to the boss about family obligations? Is it necessary in some working environments? Do you think most bosses understand family commitments or as a country, are we not there yet?

 

July 07, 2014

Unplugging from technology: a daughter's perspective

On several occasions, I've asked my son a question only to realize he's glued to his smartphone screen and hasn't heard a word I've said. It's hard competing for a teen's attention when his entire social circle can be access by a few touches on a screen. 

One of the struggles with work life balance today as a parent is making time for our kids when our kids want to make time for us. My guest blogger today is Jamie Goodman (no relation to me).  Jamie's parents got divorced when she was 2 and her brother was 7. The kids now live in St. Louis. Over the years, her father, Rick Goodman of Pembroke Pines, he has talked to his children on the phone, and they've visited him in Florida. However, he found when they were with him, they were tweeting and texting and not talking with him as much as he hoped.

So, he invited his daughter on a summer trip abroad to connect more with her. Before leaving on the 24-day trip to Europe, Rick set some ground rules. Jamie had to leave technology behind. No smartphone and no computer.  Jamie journaled during the trip and her resulting book, "Jamie’s Journey: “Travels with My Dad,” recently climbed to #4 in the parenting & relationships category on Amazon.com.

 I hope you enjoy Jamie's perspective as much as I did.

Rick and Jamie

 (Above: Rick Goodman and daughter, Jamie)

 

When my father approached me with the idea to travel the world for twenty-four days without technology, my initial reaction was, “You’re joking, right?” Well, I assure you he was not, and after three months of planning we were to begin our journey.  Throughout our trip we had our fair share of arguments and moments where all we wanted to do was escape one another, but at the end of the day I wouldn’t have changed my experience for the world.

Each day my dad and I documented the sites we had seen, the fights we had, the lessons learned, and advice to other parents and kids. For example one piece of advice I give is that, “ Most of the time dads can be annoying, so enjoy the days he isn’t. They don’t happen too often!” These short entries and pieces of advice paved the way for what is now my book entitled “Jamie’s Journey: Travels With My Dad”. 

Our trip, unplugged from technology, allowed me the opportunity to learn more about my dad and gave us the chance to reconnect and create a stronger relationship. From our journey I learned many things, but the most important being that you are never too old or too young to connect or reconnect with someone. It’s never too late.

Though my dad has lived in Florida almost my entire life, he has never missed a day of calling my brother or I. My dad never gave up on his relationship with his children, and this trip allowed me to show him that I had not given up on trying to reconnect with him.

For the next thirty days I am asking all of you to reconnect with one another, to put down your cellphones, computers and escape from technology. The only way we can truly connect with one another is to interact face to face, and that doesn’t happen when technology is involved. 

Click here to see Jamie and her dad on the news talking about experiencing one on one time. 

Rick's take away:  "It's never too late to reconnect with family members. There are so many ways to connect on a daily basis.(if you both leave behind your smartphones) You don't have to spend a lot of money. You can go to local attractions together."

So readers, hearing what Jamie and Rick got out of the experience, I'm wondering...Would you be able to take on Jamie's challenge? Could you go for 24 days without your smart phone?  

June 30, 2014

Should you break unwritten rules in the workplace?

In my previous newsroom, there was an unwritten rule that no one could park in the covered parking area unless they were an top level executive. Yet, the parking spots there were plentiful. One day, a friend of mine decided to break the unwritten rule and park there. No one said a word and she enjoyed getting into her nice cool car after work.

It's odd how unwritten workplace rules get started.

This morning, I read an article in The Denver Post about unwritten workplace rules. It noted that some have been universally followed for generations - things like pay your dues, don't go over your boss' head and stay off the executive elevator.

The article went on to say that Millennials, the generation currently entering the workforce in large numbers, are seriously upsetting those conventions: They have taken a confidence into their jobs because they are digital natives and are used to knowing more about technology than their teachers and parents. 

"The workforce of the future doesn't get the unwritten rules of hierarchy," said Seth Mattison, founder of FutureSight Labs.

Mattison offered an anecdote shared by the chief executive of a distribution company with $4 billion a year in sales after a new crop of interns started. He was deluged by a steady stream of 22-year-olds rolling into his office asking to meet for coffee.

Reading that made me wonder if all of us, regardless of our generation, should break some of the unwritten rules. The only reason I began writing about work life balance was because I broke the unwritten rule of staying in the newsroom hierarchy and brought the idea of a work life balance column more than a decade ago to the publisher of the newspaper.

Sometimes, breaking unwritten rules pays off. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes the risk is worth taking the chance. Millennials, more often, are taking that chance. For example, they believe age isn't a factor in who generates great ideas. They are willing to break unwritten rules to make their ideas heard, often going right to the top to get their ideas recognized quickly. 

That attitude should be embraced by all of us. 

Mattison says breaking unwritten rules successfully comes from earning small wins that build credibility. In other words, prove yourself first.

I've found the key to fulfilling work life balance often comes from proposing ideas that may seem, on the surface, to break the rules. In my experience, breaking unwritten rules can be a good thing --- if done smartly after you've earned some respect.

June 09, 2014

What's killing your productivity and what to do about it?

We all know that the key to work life balance is to be super productive at work. Getting more done in less time means more free time. 

So what's killing your productivity? Texting? Surfing the Web? Chatting with co-workers around the water cooler?

New research from CareerBuilder identifies behaviors that employers say are the biggest productivity killers in the workplace. 

As expected, use of technology is one of the leading culprits behind unproductive activity at work. One in four workers (24 percent) admitted that, during a typical workday, they will spend at least one hour a day on personal calls, emails or texts. Twenty-one percent estimate that they spend one hour or more during a typical workday searching the Internet for non-work-related information, photos, etc.  While they might not seem like an efficient use of time, I understand why people do these things at work.

When asked what they consider to be the primary productivity stoppers in the workplace, employers pointed to:

  1. Cell phone/texting – 50 percent
  2. Gossip – 42 percent
  3. The Internet – 39 percent
  4. Social media – 38 percent
  5. Snack breaks or smoke breaks – 27 percent
  6. Noisy co-workers – 24 percent
  7. Meetings – 23 percent
  8. Email – 23 percent
  9. Co-workers dropping by – 23 percent
  10. Co-workers putting calls on speaker phone – 10 percent

 

Okay, I admit to getting caught up in several of the productivity killers listed above. Here's what Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder, suggests we do to be more productive:

1) Organize and prioritize – De-clutter your workspace and clearly lay out your game plan for the week. What do you need to accomplish each day? How much time will each project take? Which projects have the highest priority?

2) Limit interruptions – Incoming calls and co-workers dropping by to chat about their weekend can break your concentration and eat up time. Block off a conference room to work on a project to avoid distractions at your desk. Read your email at intervals instead of opening each one as soon as it comes in. Consider telecommuting on certain days.

3) Avoid unnecessary meetings – Don’t set aside an hour to meet about an issue or initiative that can be addressed with a quick phone call. Politely decline the meeting invitation and follow up with the organizer.

4) Get personal on your own time – Whether you want to call a friend, take advantage of an online sale or post a picture of your dog on your social profile, do it during your lunch hour or break time or after work.

5) Communicate wisely – Don’t spend 20 minutes crafting an email to the person sitting in the next cubicle. Save time by picking up the phone or walking over to your colleague’s desk.

6) Don’t delay the inevitable – Finding other things to do so you can put off a less preferred project will only end up wasting more time. Don’t procrastinate. Dive in and tackle the task at hand.

When it comes to work life balance, it's getting more difficult to keep work and our outside lives seperate. It may be a productivity killer to take a personal call at the office, but sometimes you just have to do it. 

So, what do you think are your productivity killers? Could you survive being all business, all day while at the office?

 

June 05, 2014

Learning to Juggle Work Life Balance While Still In College

W-l college

 

 

Today my guest blogger is a senior at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania pursuing concentrations in Finance & Management and top contributor to WallStreetOasis.com, Wall Street Oasis is one of the largest and most entertaining finance communities online. This Ivy Leaguer has a lot to say on the topic of work life balance even though he hasn't even graduated college. He didn't want me to print his name because he's in the proccess of applying for full time positions. He says he plans to pursue a career in investment banking after graduation because he finds the field of work fast-paced and exciting. 

 

Here is his take on work life balance: 

In the spring of 2011, I was accepted into my dream college. After meticulously double-checking (no, triple-checking) the word “Congratulations” on my acceptance letter, I broke into tears of joy and relief. As I cried like a baby, I recalled the years of leadership activities that I hoped would make my candidacy stand out compared to that of my peers, successful and failed SATs & AP exams, varsity sports, and the amount of studying I had to do while balancing the other aspects of my life. I thanked my parents for their Draconian teachings and God for standing by my side. Like any other immature high school student, I thought my life was set.

As I glance back now in retrospect as a junior in college (still immature), I realize I was so wrong.

 

Since coming to college, I have felt like an ant in a world overrun by giants, a soldier in a war-torn battlefield, and David standing in front of Goliath. Every peer was intelligent, cunning, and built for success in the field of finance. As a prospective student interested in pursuing a career in investment banking, I had to stand out once more against my colleagues. In order to do so, this past fall I decided to pick up a an investment banking internship in addition to juggling my academics, on-campus activities, and my social life. Quite frankly speaking, the work/life balance was difficult at first.

 

My typical day started with classes at 9AM that concluded at around 2PM. Afterwards, I ran back to my apartment to switch into my suit, pick up a banana or a yogurt for a quick snack, and left to catch a subway that would take me to a train transit station. After a brief train ride, I would walk twenty minutes or so to my office that was located in suburbs outside of my city. All in all, the commute took approximately an hour. In between my train rides, I would study for my classes or brush up on my outstanding work for my firm. On Friday’s when I did not have any classes, I would spend the whole day at the office from morning to evening.

 

Unfortunately, the work of investment banking varies quite frequently, making the work/life balance all the more difficult to maintain. At times, I would get off work on time at around 7PM, but if the office were flooded with transactions, I would have to stay until much later to finish the work. Once I left the office, I went straight home to change, and try to pick up dinner with my friends. If not, I did whatever I could to study with my friends in order to make sure my social life was still intact and separate from the work itself. Of course, I would miss weekday lunch/dinner reservations at times because of work, but that naturally made my weekends more valuable and time for friends.

 

In regards to my academics, I knew falling behind would be so easy. In hindsight, this aspect was the most difficult one to maintain in my work/life balance during this period. I made sure to attend every one of my classes, put in my utmost effort to stay awake through every single one of them, and write copious amount of notes for review. After I had dinner with my friends, the remaining amount of time was left for study. Even then, I did not perform well on certain exams at times. However, once I got accustomed to the schedule, my grades did not fluctuate.

 

Within this strict routine, I still kept one hour of each day for myself to watch my favorite TV shows, workout, nap, cook, or even just bum around as a couch potato. The hour was no one else’s, but mine. It was truly a time that allowed me to get away from everything and focus on myself. In a way, it was a sanity check.


Throughout the three months, I questioned myself frequently why I am putting myself through the routine. Of course, I completely understand that many professionals or full-time parents who are reading this post may feel that I am just a fragile college student complaining of another day at school. However, at least for myself, the three months were difficult and rigorous.

Nevertheless, I do not regret them at all.

While I may have complained back then, in retrospect, I really enjoyed the work, the people I was with, and the routine that I set for myself. Again and again, through the experience, I matured and grew. Everyday was a challenge, and overcoming it in and of itself was exciting. As I gear myself ready for my full-time summer investment banking internship, I am not worried because I am going to do the same thing I did for the three-month work: live everyday to the fullest, but not forget to recount each and every moment.

 

 

May 31, 2014

Surviving end-of-school-year madness

If I had to bet, I would say that by now, most working parents are exhausted. As we get down to the end-of-the-school year, celebrations and activities are coming fast and furious. Can you find time and energy to always be there...physically and mentally? Here's why you might feel swamped: Because of a rising interest in rituals, ceremonies have proliferated, marking nearly every life transition—from preschool to college graduation—and making each the focus of festivities. As a result, families face a long list of must-attends including class parties, award ceremonies, tournaments, recitals, picnics and banquets. They happen all in the few weeks leading up to summer, making this time of year the busiest season of all for many households. I just have to look at the Facebook posts to see how my friends are bouncing from one event to the next. Fortunately, I have some flexibility at my job to attend my kids end of school year activities because I work from home. Sadly, many parents do not have flexibility or understanding bosses. Many of us working parents beat ourselves up for not getting to all of these events. It’s especially awful when our kids really want us there, points out mommy blogger Wendy Sachs. Remember, this is the time to use your goodwill bank -- call in those favors you've done for other parents at work or at school to get some help with the driving. If you can't stay for the entire class party or recital, make sure you speak to your child about the portion you observed: something like, "I enjoyed watching because you were concentrating so well.'' If it's an event you absolutely don't want to miss, offer a solution to your boss or client -- something like "I will come in early tomorrow to tackle that project if I can leave for a few hours mid- day today? " How are you handling the end-of-year madness? Do you find your workplace gives you the flexibility to attend school activities? If not, are you resentful?

May 22, 2014

2014 College Grads Want a Job -- and Work Life Balance

You would think 2014's college grads would be so desperate for a job that they would take whatever they could get -- as long as it pays a decent salary. 

Not true.

This group wants work life balance and they are steering away from jobs  -- and internships -- that seem too demanding. 

Let me know what you think of the mindset of today's college graduate. Will they get the flexibility and work life balance they seek? Will employers have to bend a little to accommodate these young workers?

(The Miami Herald, May 22, 2014)

Many new college graduates seek work/life balance, flexibility as they look for jobs

 

Here come the 2014 college graduates, flooding the highly competitive job market over the next several weeks and bringing their workplace expectations.

University of Florida graduate Stephanie Savage is one of the 11 percent nationwide who has successfully landed a full-time job. Yet, she notices an interesting trend with some of her friends who still are searching: “They’re picky.”

With their notably high debt from student loans, you would think new college graduates would jump at any job they could get. Instead, some of this year’s crop are selective in their job searches, reluctant to be stuck in a cramped cubicle from 9-to-5 each day and looking to be wowed by the jobs they land, career experts say.

“The idea of not being in a job they love is stressful for them,” says Christian Garcia, executive director of the Toppel Career Center at the University of Miami. Garcia said he has had students shy away from jobs in which they’ve heard the boss is difficult, the hours or commute long or the job description “boring.”

“They want to feel each opportunity is THE opportunity. Some can afford to be picky, but there are a lot of students who can’t. I bring them a reality check.”

Savage, 21, who will work as a preschool teacher, sees the same thought process in her peers. “They realize the job market is horrible but they still say, ‘I don’t know if I want to work for someone like that’ or ‘I don’t like the job requirements.’ ”

The pickiness is perplexing considering this is the sixth consecutive graduating class to enter the labor market during a period of profound weakness. However, the Class of 2014 is uniquely optimistic and expects to find positions in their chosen fields, according to an employment survey released this month by consulting firm Accenture. These graduates also are determined to find work/life balance in their jobs — or come up with ways to obtain it.

In fact, for the past few years, work/life balance has been the number one career goal among students in the global surveys by Universum, which offers research and services worldwide to help employers attract talent. More than leadership opportunities, security or prestige, these college graduates seek balance. They want their jobs to reflect who they want to be and the lifestyle they want to live, one that might include training for a 5K or giving back to the community.

 

Fortunately for the 2014 grads, they are the first generation that can easily expect to find a telecommuting or remote job in their fields, according to FlexJobs.com, a website designed to help people find flexible work options. Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs, said almost every flexible position on her website has entry position levels — and college graduates are applying for them. Many pay salaries equal to onsite positions.

“Telecommuting options are a natural fit,” Fell says. “The younger generation is mobile by nature. They’ve grown up with technology and without having to do location-specific tasks.”

In compiling the best remote jobs for college grads, FlexJobs says some of the jobs to consider are accountant or bookkeeper, online teacher, market research analyst, computer systems analyst, business consulting, data entry positions and customer service posts. “With flexible work, we’re seeing a real broadening of types of opportunities available at all levels,” Fell says.