February 03, 2015

How a beauty queen handles work life balance

It might seem glamorous being a beauty pageant winner. But once that sash goes on, it's a title and a job. There are responsibilities involved and charity events to attend that often conflict with raising a family. My guest blogger today has been involved in beauty pageants since age 12 and gives us a glimpse into what her life is like as Mrs. South Florida International. 

 

Lindsey


By Lindsey Berman (www.lindseyberman.com

One word comes to mind when I look at my day-to-day obligations and responsibilities to my husband, three small children and carrying the title of Mrs. South Florida International  --  priorities. I am lucky to have a steadfast support system and have no problem having my kids in tow for appropriate charitable commitments.

I’m happy to say that when it comes to my personal life my husband and I run a pretty tight ship. We keep our life simple and focus on the good. It may seem like a lot for one person to juggle, but I like to keep my demeanor cool, personality agile and simply roll with the punches. By nature I am a very organized person, have always enjoyed multi-tasking. I don’t mind asking for help when I need it and at the end of the day, I realize I am only human.

You will most likely see me on the fields during the weekends, with my oldest two children being quite active in youth sports. “There’s nothing better than cheering your child on and seeing their face full of excitement as they score a goal or hit a home run!” 

I fully acknowledge that only so much can get done in one day and that helps me from feeling overwhelmed from time to time. I am not going to say there aren’t those moments where I am rushing around trying to figure out how I am going to get it all done.

However, I have found that keeping a clear perspective about what’s important and knowing that I get to participate in making a difference in the lives of people actually keeps me going.  I feel honored to be chosen to carry handle this task. Some days it feels like work, but most days I know how lucky I am. I feel gratitude from every aspect of my life. This is what I do and it’s something I pursue with genuine dedication and earnest passion. 

 

Here are a few questions I asked Lindsey:

(Cindy) What are the requirements as Mrs. South Florida International?

(Lindsey)  As Mrs. South Florida International I will be competing for the Mrs. Florida International pageant May 29-31, when all the state finalists will be judged on Interview, Fitness Wear, Evening Wear and our ability to eloquently answer On-Stage Questions.
 
(Cindy) Has it been more time consuming than expected?
 
(Lindsey) When I decided to represent South Florida in the Mrs. Florida International pageant, I made a commitment to truly make a difference in my community and ultimately throughout the state. It was a decision I did not make lightly because I knew how time consuming it would be. Although my community involvement and charity work is time consuming, for me it is more of a way of life. I am passionate about keeping kids safe through education to decrease preventable injuries. I truly enjoy being able to make a difference in the community. The more you give back, the more rewarding it is.
 
(Cindy) For how long do you hold the title?
 
(Lindsey) If I am fortunate enough to win the Mrs. Florida International title, I will hold it for a full year and ultimately compete for the Mrs. International title in July 2015.
 
(Cindy)How many years have you been involved in pageants?
 
(Lindsey) I started doing pageants in high school and held the titles of Miss Florida Junior Teen and Miss Florida Teen for the American Co-ed pageant system. Pageant weekends were a special time for my mom and I to spend quality time together and go on trips that truly made us the best friends we are today! I not only enjoy pageants as a contestant, but had a wonderful experience as Producer of the Miss Florida Gator and Miss University of Florida for two years while I was in college. I believe in everything that pageants have to offer girls and women of all ages, and I am the accomplished and confident woman I am today because of my involvement.
 
(Cindy) What don’t people know about being a pageant winner?
 
(Lindsey) I believe there is a big misconception about pageant winners with most people looking at them as just a pretty face that won a competition. In reality, titleholders are inspiring women working to make a difference. For me personally, pageants are not about winning a beautiful crown and holding a prestigious title, but about being a role model for others and making a positive impact in the community. I work tirelessly to give back to the community and be a voice for many worthy causes.
 
(Cindy) What do you want your kids to know about charity work?
 
(Lindsey) I strive to teach my children the importance of community involvement. Not only is giving back to your community simply the right thing to do, but it touches and changes your life along with the lives of others. My children are very involved in my charitable work, often making appearances with me. They even host their own fundraisers. We have made it a family tradition that instead of having traditional birthday parties, they host a children’s party where we collect items in need and donate them to local charities.

January 28, 2015

Bouncing Back from Failure

                                                    Failure or success

 

 

Did you make an expensive mistake in 2014? Did you experience a setback in business or in a personal relationship? At some point, we all face rejection or failure and that's okay because at least we tried.

Now is a great time to bounce back while you still have most of 2015 ahead of you. I've reached out to people who have been there to get you some great advice for how to turn things around with your business, career or home life. 

* The first step is acknowledging your situation. This is not an easy step. It's really easy to wear blinders and believe everything is okay.

* The next step requires searching for the root cause of what went wrong. “It’s usually not what people think it is,” said David Harkleroad of Chief Outsiders, a consultant to CEOs of small and mid-sized businesses.  Usually, listening carefully to customers, team members and trusted advisors reveals a clue for how to course correct: “It requires listening to understand, not listening to respond.”

* Now it's time to evaluate your options. You will need to figure out whether to simply pivot or completely shut down operations. “You have to be decisive but you also have to live with your decisions,” says Vincent Smith, a Miami pharmacist and serial entrepreneur whose latest product is PopScope.  “I learned you don’t want to go on too long if you’re not making money and you don’t want to be too connected to an idea where you no longer become objective. Whether you’re the guy who introduced McPizza to the McDonald’s menu or the one who expanded Pollo Tropical into an underperforming market, recognizing the signs for when to give up and reading the signs can be critical to long-term success.
 
* Take a team approach to reversing failure. Success often requires a team who can cover each other’s blind spots. “To get that means you sometimes have to give up control,” says Johnson of ActionCoach. “If you get the right people in the positions they are wired for and empower them, that will reverse failure because it is leverage as opposed to you trying to micromanage everything yourself.”

* Hone your network. If your business or strategy fails, your business relationships will become crucial. Your network should include  mentors, future employers or team leaders who will give you a job, point you down the right path or give you the support to build back your confidence.  

Kenneth Rader and his twin brother Josh Rader founded The Cereal Bowl in 2006. The fledgling novelty concept selling dozens of cereals for about $4 a bowl was unable to survive the 2009 recession when credit tightened and disposable income became scarce. But when the business shuttered, the Raders bounced back by using existing connections and applying learned skills in a new way. “Walking away was hard to do, but we made good relationships and gained mentors,” Kenneth says.

* Learn from your mistakes. Kenneth says running a business, particularly one that failed has given him invaluable business knowledge. “Mitigating risk is an important skill that we learned and use even in our current jobs.” Adds Josh: “You get that ability with failure to look back and see what we should have done, learn from it and move forward.”

 

 

January 26, 2015

Is stress contagious?

                                                Stress


Some days when I feel stressed about work deadlines, I complain to my husband about everything on my to do list. After a few minutes of listening to me vent, he tells me I'm stressing him out. 

He may not be experiencing stress to the degree I am, but it doesn't surprise me that new research has found stress is contagious. It's pitiful but there's just so much to be stressed about these days -- demanding clients,  never ending streams of incoming email, huge bills from the vet or daycare provider, a parent that's showing signs failing health. Work life balance issues are a huge source of stress.

While we may not even realize it, we experience stress and then pass it on to others through what we say, the facial expressions we make and the way we physically show tension. 

Research found when we become aware of stress of others, it sends a signal to our brain and our bodies release the stress hormone cortisol. It doesn't matter what's causing stress for our spouse, co-worker or best friend, it only matters that we observed the other person in a stressful situation. How strange is it that our bodies actually process other people's stress?

It's no wonder we're seeing shorter tempers and higher levels of impatience! 

Of course, if it isn't stressful enough that we pass along stress through personal interaction, now, there's a new way to expose others to our stress -- social media. 

Just today, I saw on Facebook that my friend's adorable dog Charley, has cancer. It worried me because I know she lives alone and has a close bond with her dog.

Pew Researchers are calling the heightened stress we're feeling from learning on social media about undesirable events affecting our friends or relatives "the cost of caring." They say this is adding to a growing pool of evidence suggesting stress is contagious.

So while we might be venting on social media to make ourselves feel better, our posts about rough patches that we've hit or disappointing life events are stressing out the people near and dear to us who read what we write. 

In other words, while increased levels of stress have us searching for ways to blow off steam, we're blowing it right on to the people we count on to prop us up. Pathetic, right?

Think about how much stress we would save from multiplying if we just learned how to manage our stress through simple activities like breathing, walking or visualizing calm.

Or am I fooling myself by thinking the solution is that simple? 

January 19, 2015

Former lawyer says work life balance is not impossible

Today my guest blogger is Yuliya I. LaRoe, founder of Confident Entrepreneur Business & Leadership Coaching. LaRoe is originally from Vladivostok, Russia. She immigrated to the US in 1997 and quickly set her sights on becoming a lawyer. After graduating from the University of Southern California Law School, she spent about 8 years working as a business and international law attorney in a large law firm in Los Angeles. I found her perspective on work life balance interesting and wanted to share it with all of you.

 

YuliyaMy pursuit for the "perfect" balance between work and life started with my first job as a lawyer. The realization of how hard it was to juggle work assignments with family obligations and still wanting to spend time with friends, on hobbies and to travel (which I love) was a bit of shock to me. School was much easier in that sense - show up to classes, do your homework, and pass the exams. But work was much more demanding. It required long hours, work on the weekends, and at times felt all consuming. I spent about 8 years working as a business and international law attorney in a large law firm in Los Angeles. 

 

And then in 2011, I came to a (quite shocking!) realization that the practice of law was no longer satisfying. I decided to shift gears completely and become a business and leadership coach. I wanted to help women business owners and professionals grow their business or career, while becoming more focused and confident about they really wanted, connecting with their purpose, and infusing more balance, and happiness into their daily lives.

 

To be frank, it took me months to make the transition happen, during which I experienced my own version of "Eat, Prey, Love" (I spent 2 months volunteering in Costa Rica, traveled to South Korea and Russia, completed a 4-month yoga teacher certification course, back-packed around India for a month, and attended a 10-day SILENT meditation retreat). 

 

Recently, I bought Sharon Lechter's book "Think and Grow Rich for Women: Using Your Power to Create Success and Significance and found one particular passage to strike a cord with me. In it the author says:

 

"For years, women have been taught that they should be able to have it all. They should be able to choose to work full-time or part-time, or work from home while still getting married, having children, and managing a household. But there were no rules or guidebooks on how to have it all and keep your sanity in the process. 

 

Think and Grow Rich for Women debunks the work/ life balance guilt trip that women struggle with. I personally believe the word “balance” was created by a group of old male psychologists who saw the rise of women in the workplace and wanted to make sure they had a steady stream of female patients— women tormented with guilt and frustration with their inability to achieve the psychologists’ definition of balance.”

 

This resonated with me because many of my clients deal with this issue on a daily basis, and my own failed search for that proverbial "perfect balance" was one of the reasons I struggled in my past career as an attorney.

 

At some point, I had resigned myself to the idea that I couldn't "have it all" and that I just had to choose one thing, my work. But as we all know, all work and no play make anyone a dull person. Slowly I began to get that feeling that my soul was being crushed. Sounds dramatic, I know, but that's how it felt.

 

Now, years later, I realize that balance itself was not impossible. The secret that no one tells you about is in how we define "balance". Most of my clients, when we first begin working together, place such high demands on themselves - to be the perfect professional, the perfect spouse or partner, the perfect parent, the perfect friend, the perfect child, etc. All of that while achieving the "perfect balance." 

 

We drive ourselves into exhaustion by trying to achieve and overachieve. Plus, add the guilt that comes when we realize that we are "failing." I recently had one of my clients apologize to me for not creating and mailing her family photo Christmas card to me because she had so much on her plate that she "was going nuts" (hardly necessary to lose one's sanity over a postcard!).

 

What I tell my clients is what I had to tell myself: carve out some time and get clear on your true priorities in life. Start by asking these questions: "How much of what I am trying to accomplish is what I truly want and how much of it is driven by societal and cultural pressures? What would my life look like if I relaxed at least some of my standards? At what point does trying to "have it all" while having "the perfect balance" begin to work against me?" 

 

The answers will set you in the right direction.

 

Join Yuliya at Any of These Upcoming Events! 

  • January 22, 2015: Thelma Gibson Awards hosted by the Women's Chamber of Commerce of Miami-Dade County
  • January 29, 2015: SCORE Miami workshop – Featured Presenter, “'You Said What?' Boost Your Business Etiquette Skills to Ensure Success of Your Business" @ 2000 Ponce Business Center
  • February 4, 2015: WIFS (Women in Insurance & Financial Services) South Florida's Annual Kickoff Meeting  – Featured Presenter, "Plan to Win & Make It Happen! 3 Key Strategies For Success"

January 15, 2015

Where work life balance is headed in 2015

I recently had a conversation that enlightened me. I spoke with a 2014 college graduate working at an accounting firm, who is assigned to the Miami office. She told me she also works from other Florida offices or from home. She explained that her supervisors know when she is working because the company system shows her logged in, but they don’t know her exact location, which makes it easy to work from home. “I love that about this job,” she told me.

Yesterday in The Miami Herald, I outlined my predictions for workplace trends in 2015. One of the trends I feel most strongly about relates to flexibility and this conversation.

I believe in 2015, more employees, like this young accountant, will quietly use flexibility. While many companies are considering policies on flexible work arrangements, their workers are quietly working from outside the office whenever possible. Working where you want or when you want and is a perk employees will put a premium on in 2015.

Those workers who can work from home on occasion tell me they plan to stay in their jobs as long as possible, because not having that flexibility would cost them in commute time, babysitter fees or missed parenting opportunities. Most workers say they are more productive on the days they work from home.

Expect to see lifestyle choices over money when it comes to career decisions in 2015. Alex Funkhouser, CEO of Sherlock Talent, a Florida staffing firm for technology and marketing talent, says seven out of every 10 job candidates he encounters would make a move if he or she could work remotely at least two days a week. “They even would take a pay cut just so they wouldn’t have to commute into an office,” Funkhouser says. Smart employers will recognize and embrace that trend to attract and retain loyal employees, particularly now that their upgraded systems make it easier to work remotely.

 
I also believe America's workforce will struggle even more for work life balance. Google marketing experts are telling us our smartphones are the new remote control for our lives. They are where we go for finding movie times, answering work emails, playing games, communicating with our teens. The more data our smartphone has, the smarter it will be, and the more it will simplify our life — or tether us to the office and distract us from making face to face connections. In 2015 more of us must decide if we use mobile technology — even wearable mobile technology — as a new powerful tool to work and communicate, or if we let it dictate our lives.

“We have to define what’s important for us at which time of the day, the week and the year, and act consistently,” says Geoffroy de Lestrange, a marketing professional.

With our laptops and cell phones tempting us to bring work home, we are going to have to work harder this year to keep work at the office and protect our personal and family life from the demands of work. That will be a focus for my blog this year. I look forward to sharing my tips and hearing yours.

 
 

January 13, 2015

One theory on dealing with email overload

Over the winter break, I spend two deals cleaning out my personal and work Inboxes.  It took more two days and just to get my three Inboxes to a total of 60,000 emails. I realize I'm still doing something wrong. Email is my biggest work life balance challenge! I hate deleting because I use my Inbox for story and blog ideas. I guess there is a way to organize email better but I haven't made the time commitment to do it.

Last week, I was telling tech recruiter Alex Funkhouser, founder of Sherlock Talent, my email woes and he told me he has a completely different approach. He NEVER deletes email. He considers it a waste of time. Instead he flags important email and stores everything else on the cloud. Alex told me this approach is the key to his work life balance because it saves time he would spend in his Inbox and makes that time available for more productive tasks.

My friend Jessica Kizorek, co-founder of Two Parrot Productions, has told me that she keeps a VERY slimmed down Inbox by voraciously deleting email as it arrives. She swears staying uncluttered is the key to better work life balance.

Alex's approach is interesting to me but I haven't adopted it. I get too many junk emails to be okay with never deleting. Still, it works for him and saves him time.

What are your thoughts on Alex's approach to email overload? Are you a deleter, a saver, or do you have another approach?

Email overload

 

January 11, 2015

How to actually take vacation, time off in 2015

                                       Vacation

 

 

Close you eyes and for a moment imagine yourself relaxed, happy and at your best at work. When I do that, I envision myself about a week after I have returned from vacation, all caught up at work and in a much better mindset than before I left.

 

Being my best self at work affects how I lead, treat others, show compassion and patience, and exhibit creativity. Most of us need a break from routine, a chance to decompress, to be our best selves. But surveys show we are not taking that crucial opportunity.

 

Just less than 42% of Americans didn't take a single day of vacation in 2014, and women took fewer vacation days than men, according to Skift, a travel intelligence site. The findings show many full-time employed Americans have at least 10 days of allotted vacation. Because workplaces often have use it or lose it policies, not taking vacation is like leaving money on the table.

 

What's going on?

 

There are all kinds of reasons people gave. Some said they were reluctant to use their vacation time for fear of appearing replaceable or concern about their work piling up. Some didn't have money to go on vacation or believed there was no one who could cover for them if they took time off.

 

Right before my vacation this summer, I felt like any story ideas I came up with were stale. I felt tired and disengaged. Most of us recognize we are not at our best when we haven’t been able to disconnect from work physically and emotionally for a long stretch of time.

 

Vacations don’t have to be costly or long to be revitalizing. Now is the time to think ahead for 2015. Start by establishing expectations that you will take time off, guidelines for how you will disconnect and back up plans for when you are on vacation. Help your boss (or client) get into a routine of contacting others for some issues that he’d normally contact you about. Do this even when you are in the office to train those who will cover for you.  You want you boss to gain more confidence in them and allow you a real vacation from work.

 

Even in workplaces that don’t encourage time off, let others know that they will benefit from your post-vacation rejuvenation. I feel like taking vacation in 2015 is doable if you keep your “best self” vision in mind and plan for it now.

 

January 06, 2015

Getting What You Want in 2015

Startswithyou

 

 

For me, January feels so much less exciting than December, but it’s actually an important month for planning. It is the month to look ahead and figure out what we want from our jobs and our personal lives and how to get what we want.

Over the years, I have made some mistakes in getting what I want at work, such as more money, more flexibility, more vacation time, better assignments. I have made some mistakes getting what I want at home, too, such as more quality time with my husband or some help with the dishes at night. My biggest mistake was waiting for what I wanted to come to me, without asking for it.

With the benefit of hindsight, and advice from experts, I’m going to share ideas for asking for -- and getting -- what you want in 2015.

Come to the negotiating table prepared. Raises, promotions, even flexible work arrangements are driven by the value you bring the organization. If you have demonstrated the drive to stand out from the crowd and delivered more than expected, speak to your boss and come prepared with the data to prove it. At home, if you want more help from your spouse, come prepared with how and why giving you help will result in an improvement in household morale for all. 

Know the market. If you want a raise at work, find out what the going salary is for your position in your geographic area and what the standard raises have been for the last few years. There are lots of websites to help with research. PayScale.com is one of them. On the home front, if you want to go on weekly or monthly date nights, research the cost of babysitters and websites where to find them before you bring the idea up with your spouse. 

Rehearse. It pays to practice with a trusted friend or mentor how you will ask for what you want. Look for someone who can help you think through potential objections and take the emotion out of the negotiation. 

Don’t make it personal. A boss doesn’t care that you need more money to pay for your divorce attorney or your child’s school tuition.  Higher personal expenses are not a legitimate reason to ask for a raise or receive one. Outside the office, your close friend or gym partner doesn't care why you keep backing out on plans. He or she just wants you to stick to a commitment. If you want a closer friendship or a better physique, go get it. Convince your buddy you want another chance and this time, make it happen. 

Don’t compare. If you find out your co-worker earns more than you, make your request about your value to the company. Sell your boss on why you should earn more, or seek out an internal mentor who will advocate on your behalf. Outside the office, stop convincing yourself everyone has a more incredible life than you.   Map out one or two things that will bring you more happiness in 2015 and your plan to achieve them.

Highlight your contribution. If you have done something outstanding and believe you deserve a raise or promotion, bring it to your boss’ attention – even if it’s not time for your annual review. At home, if you've done something outstanding, bring it to your spouse's attention or your child's. Waiting around for a pat on the back only leads to disappointment. If you want more appreciation in 2015, be proactive in seeking it. 

Be strategic. If you are struggling financially or having a rought time balancing work and family, ask your employer how you can increase your value to the company in order to earn more money, or more time off.

Research shows most people who ask and make their case, get what they seek. Wishing you success in negotiating what you want in 2015!

December 31, 2014

How Work Life Balance Evolved in 2014

Would you speak up if an employee or peer were working himself close to a hospital stay — or maybe even to death?

It’s a query I raised earlier this year, and one that drew lots of reader reaction. As I look over the workplace trends I wrote about in 2014, it is apparent that struggle for balance has become an increasing challenge.

Because we live in a culture that applauds overwork, stories of bosses or peers working themselves to death or collapsing of exhaustion force us to look at what has become the new normal.

In a Sept. 30 column, I noted that many of us hesitate to speak up when we see a bleary-eyed co-worker reach for another cup of coffee, looking every bit like he has slept at his desk for the past week. We resist saying something when we hear a fellow manager has postponed his vacation, again, to cater to client demands. When multiple 15-hour workdays get met with a pat on the back rather than a look of concern, we need to figure out our role in workplace well-being. Based on reader response, I foresee more intervention from those witnessing colleagues or loved ones working themselves to the brink.

Another column that drew feedback addressed men and workplace flexibility. For the past decade, men have been an afterthought in conversations about workplace flexibility. In my Nov. 4 column, I referenced a report commissioned by Working Mother that found men are exercising flexibility in their own informal way. Unlike working mothers who push for formal flexible work arrangements, working dads are using flexibility under the radar, working at home as needed to care for a sick child or shifting their hours to coach their child’s sports team.

Of the men surveyed for the Working Mother report, most said they prefer a mix of working from home and the office. With working dads taking on more childcare responsibilities, I think we will see the conversation around flexibility become broader and more relevant in most workplaces.

BLENDING WORK, LIFE

In our struggle to do it all, it looks like many of us have figured out a key strategy: blending our worlds. While we are logging on to work outside of traditional work hours — from our bed or a soccer practice — we are also taking time for our personal lives during our workday.

In a Sept. 23 column, I detailed how almost everyone, from the office secretary to the store manager, makes a personal digital escape thoughtlessly throughout the workday. We use our cellphones to text our kids from our cubicles or check Facebook from our lunchrooms. Work and home no longer are separate spheres.

Laura Demasi, a researcher at Ipsos, says technology has transformed work into something we do, rather than only a place we go: “More broadly, it has created a new kind of ‘life on demand’ culture, where we do what we want, when and where we want.”

TIME TO SLEEP

In these stressful times, sleep issues are an increasing problem. Laurie Sallarulo, CEO of the Leadership Broward Foundation in Fort Lauderdale, admits she doesn’t sleep much. After a full day’s work, she will eat dinner with her son and get back on her computer to work some more — often until 1:30 a.m. And then, it’s up early the next morning to start her day again. When exhaustion sets in at the office, Sallarulo turns to coffee for a boost.

And so it goes in America. We’re working, working some more, sleeping less and drinking coffee — or Red Bull — to keep us awake.

In an April 30 column, I noted that some high-profile business leaders want us to change our behavior because getting enough sleep can make us better thinkers and decision-makers. Donna Shalala, the high-energy president of the University of Miami, has become an outspoken advocate for a good night’s sleep, as has Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group.

WORKPLACE FAIRNESS

In March, my column that tackled the topic of workplace fairness drew a big response. In an effort to be family-friendly, some workplaces may be inadvertently penalizing childless workers. Jennifer Verdeja, a massage therapist at a South Florida spa, talks excitedly about her job until the conversation turns to the unfairness of her work schedule: “Just because I don’t have children doesn’t mean I should get the Saturday night shift every week.”

As businesses make more effort to accommodate working parents, the resentment from nonparents is rising. Early results of a new study of 25,000 workers shows two-thirds of nonparents say they carry an undue burden at the office and are expected to work longer hours than workers who have children. “There has to be an objective measure in place that applies rules equitably to everyone,” says Donna Flagg, the author ofSurviving Dreaded Conversations and founder of The Krysalis Group, a management consulting firm. “Only a handful of companies have achieved it, and most are a long way off.”

ONLINE GAMES, WATCHING TV

Even with multiple demands on our time, I discovered that American workers are indulging at least two guilty pleasures: online games and binge TV-watching. After a day of negotiating legal contracts, Gail Serota sinks into her couch with her iPad and immerses herself in playing Candy Crush. The Miami real-estate attorney finds that playing the mobile game relaxes her: “It’s a good stress relief.”

On July 22, I noted that whether for relaxation or diversion, full-time workers also are making time for marathon TV-viewing sessions. 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.

“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.” With a steady stream of new series debuting on TV and online, I expect this trend to continue.

MINDFULNESS

Mindfulness in the workplace is another trend I saw unfolding in 2014. In the rush to accomplish multiple tasks or respond to job pressures, people often lose connection with the present moment. They stop being attentive to what they’re doing or feeling and react from a place of stress. Mindfulness is the practice of focusing awareness on the present moment.

Teaching and encouraging mindfulness in the workplace has become a part of corporate efforts to reduce stress and prevent burnout. Miami attorney Paul Singerman said not only is he personally working on mastering mindfulness, but his law firm, Berger Singerman, has sponsored workshops for clients, employees and colleagues: “I really believe mindfulness can make you more effective and enhance your prospects for success.”

 

NEW YEAR

As 2014 closes out, it marks more than a decade of my columns on work/life issues. What has changed most is the widespread acknowledgment that work/life balance is not a problem just for women or a concern that is going to be solved: It’s an ongoing challenge. I look forward to another year of providing you discussion and solutions around your work/life challenges.

 

 

December 30, 2014

Feeling The Workplace Malaise? You're Not Alone

This is the time of year that some of us feel workplace malaise. We feel like we should be out partying or vacationing and instead we're at work and we're not really thrilled with our workplaces. My guest blogger today is Amy Chen, communications manager for TINYpulse, a tool that offers leaders a way to keep a light, ongoing pulse on how happy, frustrated,or burnt out employees are before retention sinks. It also gives employees a way to be engaged and to give feedback to their leaders without fear of retaliation. Amy, a millennial, shares her personal experiences in the workplace and gives some insight into why employers would want to keep their workers happy.

 

 

AmyWhen I stepped away from my second startup, business was great, but I wasn’t. After founding and building two companies, I was unmotivated and burned out. I used to think that all I needed to be professionally fulfilled was to be part of growing a successful business. But personal experience showed me it just wasn’t enough.

 

It was one of the reasons I became part of TINYpulse. I wanted to give managers a way to directly measure what motivated and energized their employees, and what was frustrating and burning them out.

 

So, imagine my surprise when we started exploring the nature of sentiment in our Employee Engagement & Organizational Culture Report and I discovered those same feelings I had years ago are hitting today’s workplaces just as hard. Here are just some of the damning pieces of evidence we uncovered:

 

 64% of employees do not feel they have a strong work culture

 

 66% of employees do not feel they have opportunities for professional growth in their organizations

 

 Only 21% of employees feel strongly valued at work

 

 49% of employees are not satisfied with their direct supervisor

 

I was shocked to see such poor numbers around engagement. With so much information in the business press about the links between workplace satisfaction and retention, innovation, and bottom line growth, I expected a greater investment in organizational culture. Our report’s findings show this is simply NOT happening.

 

Luckily, there is a simple, 3-step process any organization can take to turn lackluster cultures into positive, thriving environments:

 

1. Learn what your employees are thinking: Pulsing employee engagement surveys, like the TINYpulse survey tool, are effective ways to get real-time insights into employee sentiment. With just one question sent every week, managers can see quickly and easily how employees are feeling.

 

2. Share any and all feedback: While it might be uncomfortable, sharing survey feedback with the team is critical to keeping the team invested in the process. Sharing both the positive and negative comments shows your team you are actually listening.

 

3. Create an action plan with that knowledge: It’s not enough to know the problem. You need to create a plan to tackle it. This is what ultimately changes your workplace for the better, and it shows your employees you are truly invested in their well being.

 

Sometimes, I think our clients say it best. When I asked Amy Balliet, Co-Founder and CEO of Killer Infographics, a Seattle marketing agency, why she uses surveys, she got straight to the heart of the matter. “As a creative agency, it’s paramount that our team can let their imagination run wild. Surveying our employees with TINYpulse gave us insight into process issues that, if left unattended, would have easily hampered our team’s ability to come up with some of the great ideas that have delighted our customers.”

 

Balliet also makes a great point about her company’s commitment to action. “We hold TINYpulse meetings every Friday at the same time, so that we can go over feedback as a team and discuss solutions. This allows us to unearth larger problems at times, quickly solve small problems, and keep the team working together towards the greater good."

 

If you’re ready to turn your workplace stagnation around, consider leveraging employee surveys in 2015. You might just find those employees who were considering changing jobs in the new year will be ready to stick around a bit longer.