Unwind from the Grind
As an increasing number of Americans work beyond the typical eight hour work day, the distinction between work and personal life is slowing disappearing. In addition to staying late or going in early, employees are now expected to bring their work home with them. In fact, a recent Good Technology study shows that 80% of people continue to check their email and answer phone calls after they leave work for the day (Good Technology, 7/2/12).
Improved technology through smart phones, tablets, and laptops makes it much easier to work outside the office and creates a new level of connectedness among businesses and customers; customers want a near-instantaneous response time when they have needs, and employers expect workers to stay connected, even after hours.
As a result, workers (especially those on salary) are finding themselves checking in at all hours of the day, every day of the week. According to the study, roughly 70% of people check their emails both before they head into work, and before they go to bed. It seems as if “off the clock” has a whole new meaning in this world of technology. Whether on vacation, sick at home, or on a family outing, people are not leaving work behind.
In fact, the average workers spends seven extra hours a week staying connected to their work—that’s almost an entire extra day of working per week that the employee is not getting paid for.
But why are people sacrificing their personal time to keep working unpaid hours? In today’s economy and job market, there is always someone else out there willing to work longer and harder hours. People are working the extra hours in order to keep their jobs and continue driving business, which will keep the boss happy.
The problem with working so many extra hours lies in employee productivity and motivation. It’s hard to stay motivated, as well as positive and driven about one’s job, when one never gets a break from it. That’s why it’s crucial for businesses to encourage their employees to take a break. People need down time to recharge both mentally and physically. After all, aren’t we all striving to “work to live, not live to work?”
Here are a couple of tips for unplugging from work:
• Communicate with your management: It’s important that you and your boss come up with realistic deadlines for projects you have due. If you feel that you need more time, be sure to communicate that and be prepared to give reasons why. And as always, as stuff comes up along the way, communicate that to your boss so that you can shift deadlines as needed and make room for other responsibilities.
• Set a stop time: Each day, set aside some time to unwind. Giving yourself set periods of personal time that are truly yours will make the times when you have to work long hours much more manageable.
• Keep your family first: It may seem as though work can’t wait, and you are too far behind to stop; however, nothing will make you feel more balanced and good about your work then if you make your family time truly family time.
posted by TradePost in Economy, Employment
With another disappointing job report, many are left wondering if we could be sliding back into recession. The May Economic Situation Summary showed that unemployment rose a tenth of a percentage point to 8.2% the first increase in nearly a year. Non-farm payroll added 69,000 jobs (down from 77,000 in April and 143,000 in March)—a depressing number after seeing an average monthly gain of 223,000 jobs in the first quarter. True to form, just as May’s job report was released, we saw a plunge in the stock market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 200 points.
Long-term unemployment rose from 5.1 million to 5.4 million, and the number of part-time workers due to economic reasons increased to 8.1 million. The industries that saw job growth were health care (+33,000), transportation & warehousing (+36,000), and wholesale trade (+16,000). Construction, on the other hand, lost jobs in May.
posted by TradePost in Business, Human Resources
Last month’s job report was an indicator that our economy is starting to make a turnaround (TradePost, 3/9/12). The unemployment rate (8.3%) has declined 0.8 percentage points since last August, and the economy has continued to add jobs and show signs of improvement. Also changing are the numbers of Americans who are taking advantage of these rose-colored economic glasses to find a new job. As a result, retention is becoming a hot topic among employers looking for ways to keep their top talent.
In a down economy, companies need to cut costs. Perks that were once provided to employees, such as coffee or snacks in the break room or 401(k) matching, are cut as businesses look for ways to drive down costs and reduce overhead. Dissatisfied as they may be with the removal of such benefits, employees feel lucky to have a job when so many do not – and stay put… for the time being.
With the economy building speed towards a recovery, employees are starting to look around for better job opportunities and environments. Consequently, businesses experience higher rates of turnover and all the costs that accompany it. Not only do companies risk losing their top talent— those who produce their best ideas, the most revenue, and bring the best results—but they also are impacted by the costly price associated with hiring replacements. A new hire means a hit in productivity and lost time, not to mention the costs associated with recruiting, screening, and training new employees.
In view of that, we’ve got several tips for you to help you hang on to your top talent and avoid the costly price of turnover.
1) Benefits: There is more to a job than getting paid, which is why offering a solid benefits plan that includes life insurance, health insurance, and a retirement plan is a must! Soft benefits such as paid lunches and telecommuting are an added bonus.
2) Advancement: The go-getters and top talent that you strive to keep in your company are looking at their position and determining how it fits in with their career as a whole. As their employer, it’s important that you show them a future with your company and how you plan on advancing their professional careers, whether it is through promotion or new job responsibilities.
Which leads us to our next tip…
3) Career development: Your top talent is also looking at how they can increase their value as professionals. Wherever possible, provide your employees with new training, education, and skills to develop them professionally so they have more incentive to stay on board with your company.
4) Incentives: Your top producers are competitive and driven by nature, so keep them interested and motivated in their job by challenging them through contests and added bonus opportunities.
5) Wellness Programs: Offering wellness programs to reduce costs of health benefits is beneficial to both your business as well as your employees. Rewarding your employees by implementing smoking cessation programs and offering discounts to employees who maintain a healthy lifestyle gives employees more control over their health care costs and ability to drive prices down (TradePost, 11/3/11).
Some of the above tips will cost your company money, but not all of them will – and there are ways to spread the costs across your entire workforce in many cases. Yet, the value of the investment back into your human capital will surely pay for itself in employee retention.
posted by TradePost in Business, Management
People are changing the way they do business and more employers are jumping on board with flexible work options. A reported 44% of employers support telecommuting, up from 19% in 2007 (Fox Business, 2/11/11), and 1-in-5 employees worldwide now telecommute to work on a regular basis (2Sustain, 2/6/12). In fact, 82 of CNN Money’s “Best Companies to Work For” allow telecommuting – well-known companies that topped the list are Cisco, Intel, & S.C. Johnson & Son (CNN Money 2011).
Traditionally, businesses have employed an 8-to-5 schedule located in an office environment. However, as technology increases our capabilities and the economy continues to waver in its recovery, employers are branching out and allowing their employees to telecommute anywhere from one day a week to a full-time basis. Technology such as smart phones, the Internet, tablets, and remote login mobilize business and give them new capabilities in the workplace.
Why the change in pace? Surprisingly, research indicates it is to a business’s advantage to allow telecommuting. Young professionals want flexibility, and telecommuting is a way that employers can provide that to them. Telecommuting also increases employee morale and lowers tardiness and sick time; employees are also more productive because they experience fewer interruptions from coworkers and they are better at self-regulating themselves (LJWorld.com, 1/3/11). Not only does telecommuting make for happier employees, but providing flexible working options gives businesses a wider pool of applicants they can select from and reduces overhead costs (less office space and fewer office supplies).
Flexible options are lucrative for the workforce also. Telecommuting saves people the cost of commuting to work, eating out for lunch, and paying for a professional wardrobe. Beyond the tremendous savings people experience, a flexible schedule gives people more options and freedom to organize their schedule around their personal lives; parents have more flexibility with attending to their kids.
Is telecommuting for everyone? Not necessarily. This type of working environment is conducive to those who are self-disciplined and independent—it’s important that workers are able to organize a schedule and stick to it. Telecommuting is also not a good fit for those who need social interaction as it can cause feelings of exclusion from office culture and important assignments.
posted by TradePost in Business, Management
Dress codes are something that we all have to deal with as working professionals. While the industry we work in generally sets the standards, employers still have some flexibility to the degree employees have to dress up or down. And despite other considerable work-related issues like vacation time, health benefits, salary, and so on, the dress code for employment remains to be a fundamental topic that people really care about. Last week, “Job Talk with Anita Clew” published an interesting article, Addressing the Dress Code, which really seemed to resonate with readers and stir up quite a few opinions.
In the article, Anita notes a trend of the “corporate” dress code moving toward a more “business casual” standard. While there is certainly less individuality when dressing up for a “corporate” dress code, Anita remarks on the ease of pulling together this type of professional look because the only real decisions that have to be made revolve around the color of ties and shirts for that day. This in turn makes it easier for businesses to maintain a professional look for all of their employees and create uniformity amongst the entire company. Instead, dressing for a “business casual” look can be a much trickier task. The ability to mix casual with formal requires much more fashion insight, especially where women are concerned.
And speaking of women—what about the pantyhose requirement in the workplace? According to Anita, this is one dated requirement that employers should do away with, or at the very least, make optional. While yes, pantyhose do in fact come in handy for providing a more polished look, the fact is they frankly can be a huge pain!
At the end of her article, Anita wraps it up asking her audience to weigh in on both dress codes and specifically pantyhose for women. The answers were pretty much unanimous—workplaces need to employ some type of dress code for their employees. One reader observed a link between dressing casually and taking their work less seriously, especially in the case of “Casual Fridays,” while another reader remarked on the inappropriateness that ensued from “Pajama Fridays.” The fact is, discrepancies will always occur when employers lack clear-cut policies regarding dress codes at work because people hold different judgments about appropriateness in the workplace.
Surprisingly though, the consensus on pantyhose was not widespread—some readers hate them, others see their use but feel they should be optional, and one reader even went as far to say that they should be mandatory for all professional dress codes. But what about that old adage that says you should always dress for the job you want, not the job you have? In many cases, this means wearing pantyhose and professional attire.
posted by TradePost in Business, Human Resources, Management
When effective leadership comes to mind, most people think about perfecting the art of time management, mastering the skill of delegation, and so on. True, these topics are important. But they have also been said over and over again. So why not explore some new areas – or at least areas that have not been thoroughly exhausted?
Speaking of “exhausted,” our first tip is to…
1. Get More Sleep
Yes, we said it. Get more sleep! As a person in your career, you want to put your best foot forward every day you step into the office. But you can’t do this if you are sleep deprived. Your list of To Dos might seem endless, and it might feel as if there are not enough hours in the day to get things done, but at the end of the day, we all need sleep. In fact, 95% of people need 7- 8 hours of sleep per night (Harvard Business Review 3/3/11). So this year, make sleep a priority. Give yourself a set time to put down your work and stop for the evening. This will lead to more productive work days, so you will be on top of your game and sharper than ever.
This paves the way for our next point…
2. Learn to Say “No”
Just as much as you need more sleep, as a businessperson, you need to learn how to channel your energy. You can’t do it all! Saying “yes” to opportunities and to challenges has gotten you far into your career. But saying “yes” to some opportunities means you must say ”no” to others. Embrace this change. The ability to be honest with yourself about your time constraints and capabilities will launch you further into your career than you think. By being realistic about what you have time for, you will be able to set clear expectations for both yourself and those working with you – reducing the stress of not being able to get things completed on time and allowing you more time to focus on the more important tasks at hand.
3. Make Time for Your Family
Forbes recently published an article titled “5 Leadership Tips for 2012,” and among the advice was a novel idea – “make your family the priority.” Balancing work life with family life is never easy, and all too often, people make the choice to put work before family. They aspire to work hard, so they can provide a good life for their families. But the inability to balance work and family time brings added stress and tension – which ultimately will affect your work productivity and leave you feeling less satisfied.
Sure, the management skills we talked about in the first paragraph will make you a better supervisor, but being an effective leader means you have to also work on your body and ability to balance.
posted by TradePost in Business, Human Resources, Management, Employment
We plan to tackle “Smart Hiring” for Part 3 of our “Start of the Year Planner” – and who should know better about that topic than a staffing agency?
The hiring process is one of the most difficult tasks managers face. A bad hire can cost a business money, time, and productivity, and put you further behind in accomplishing your business goals for the year. It’s time to fine-tune the hiring process to get higher-caliber employees on board that will go the distance for both you and your company.
So where to start? First you need to know where to look, and we’ve got several recommendations.
1. Referral Programs
It is a well-known fact that some of the best hiring comes from referrals. Research shows that referred employees tend to be both more productive and stay with the company for a longer period of time, consequently reducing the cost-to-hire ratio. Additionally, hiring through a referral program allows you to cheaply find candidates who already understand how your company operates and the type of working environment they will be working in (Inc.com, 12/9/11).
2. Social Media
Job seekers are utilizing such social media sites as LinkedIn and Facebook more and more to find jobs today. Not only are people using social media to do background research on companies, they are also using it to network with other professionals and find open positions. So it’s critical that your company not only has an online presence on these sites, but that you are utilizing these sites to find job candidates. (TradePost, 7/21/10)
But how do you know where to start? LinkedIn, for example, is geared toward networking professionals. This site allows users to customize their profile as if it’s a resume, and even allows colleagues to recommend each other’s work. Businesses can find those candidates’ LinkedIn profiles individually or through industry-related groups, giving hiring managers the ability to assess someone as a potential job candidate by seeing what type of knowledge a user has on a subject.
3. Staffing Companies
The hiring process is not only tedious and time-consuming, but also costs businesses a lot of money and is not always fool-proof. It’s critical that you have the right people lined up to assess your job candidates. That’s where staffing agencies like Remedy Intelligent Staffing come in. These firms are experts at writing and placing ads to find job seekers, interviewing candidates and assessing them for your position, and verifying their resumes and references. They also have pre-qualified candidates just waiting for a position like yours to open up. Finally, the staffing firm absorbs the costs of benefits, payroll taxes, workers’ comp, and other employer burdens – making the cost of outsourcing the hiring process comparable to what you could do in-house. Truly, if you do not have the resources, or are not confident in your ability to hire the right candidate, hiring through a staffing firm is your best bet.
Readers: Where do you find your best candidates? How do you see the hiring process changing in 2012?
Safety doesn’t happen from behind a desk! Bogging down safety managers with excess paperwork and training duties can deter their focus from where it really needs to be. The more time a safety expert can spend in the middle of the action, the better chance your company has of identifying serious hazards and abating them before any injuries occur. Safety managers who take a “hands on” approach become more familiar with company processes and can quickly react to trending risks with practical and immediate corrective actions.
posted by TradePost in Government, Economy, Business, Employment
Good news in the New Year! The unemployment rate (8.5%) continued to trend down in Decemeber according to the most recent BLS Employment Summary – that’s a 06.% drop since August.
We are finally starting to see more jobs, with nonfarm payroll employment rising by 200,000 (1.6 million increase over the past year) and the private sector rising by 212,000 (1.9 million increase over the past year). The areas with increases in employment are transportation and warehousing (+50,000), manufacturing (+23,000), health care (+23,000), and retail (+28,000).
Meanwhile, the number of discouraged workers, those not seeking job opportunities because they do not believe job are available, came in at 945,000, which is a decrease of 373,000 over the past year. What’s even better? The average hourly earnings for all private nonfarm payrolls increased to $23.24, an increase of 4 cents. The economy still has a long way to go, but the economic situation is not looking nearly as bleak for many.