At Work

Poll: Do You Like Your Current Job?

Jobs are tough. We have to spend hours away from our friends and family doing something we might not love so that we can afford to pay our mortgages, utility bills, and many other things.

But for those who love their jobs? The paycheck becomes a bonus to the work instead of being the sole purpose of working.

We want to know how you feel about your current position. Whether you love it, hate it, or are indifferent about it. And, given those feelings, do you see yourself leaving anytime soon?

Let us know by voting in our poll!


Are You Too Nice to Your Co-workers?

When never saying “no” turns into a problem.

It’s a question they ask. Every. Single. Interview.

“Are you a team player?”

There’s only one right answer: “Yes.” Followed by examples of how great you are at working with a team.

And it’s true—if you can’t work well with others, you’re probably going to have trouble in any workplace.

However, there’s a limit. If you accommodate every single person’s request, from picking up lunch for a group meeting to taking notes, you become everybody’s “go-to guy (or gal).” It’s flattering to be thought of as the co-worker who can get any task done. But that can take a toll on you, both mentally and physically.

Here’s a few ways to tell it might be time to start embracing the word “no” (or a suitably polite equivalent).

You Say Yes. A Lot.

As noted by the Wall Street Journal, many employees now spend 85% of their time working with other team member in emails, meetings, conference calls, or instant messaging. That’s why it becomes a problem when you tell everyone you can handle anything.

You want to do a great job. So, you email a friend in a different department that you’ll send their request to your manager, help every customer (via phone or in-person) with any requests they have, and tell the front office coordinator you can cover the desk while they’re on lunch break. You like being reliable.

But before you know it, it’s two hours before you’re supposed to go home and you haven’t even started your own projects for the day.

You’re (Too) Stressed

When you say you can do several things for several different people, even if they’re all small, it all adds up. And saying “yes” makes you accountable. You said you’d do it, and don’t want to let everyone down.

But now you’re juggling too many things. You almost forget what you’re working on, who requested it, and when it’s due. And even if you can keep all those things straight, you still have your own responsibilities as well.

You’re Becoming Bitter

Eventually, initial feelings of pride over being the reliable person can turn sour. You don’t even remember why you started doing these things that aren’t in your job description in the first place! Why did people even ask you to handle responsibilities that aren’t yours? Why don’t they do it themselves! But now it’s too late to say no. You’re buried with no way out.

Or are you?

You’ve Accepted You’re A Yes (Wo)Man; Now What?

First off: you’re not alone. Being overwhelmed is a real problem, all across North America.

According to Robert Cross, lead author of an eight-year, 28 employer study on collaborative demands, “The volume and diversity of collaborative demands on employees have risen 50% in the past decade.”

But not all hope is lost. The article goes on to note that “changing just a few behaviors can regain 18% to 24% of the time spent collaborating.

These include:

  • Taking time to focus, whether through meditation or whatever else relaxes you.
  • Not answering every email. It’s okay, not everything is meant for you to respond to. If you’re addressed directly, feel free to forward it to the appropriate person.
  • Having hard discussions. Sitting down with your boss or a particularly demanding co-worker to let them know you’re a bit overwhelmed. If you’re handling odd jobs for multiple people, it’s likely each person doesn’t know the full extent of everything you do.

And if you’re resolved to continue doing everything for everybody? At least try to schedule your workload down to the minute. Once you go past your scheduled time on a task, stop it and move to the next one. Prioritize your own projects and let people know you’ll be handling those responsibilities first.

 

Have you ever ended up as the workplace go-to person for basically everything? If it became overwhelming, how did you handle it? Let us know in the comments section below!

Poll Results: Are Companies Offering the Flexible Work Employees Crave?

And how do workers define flexible work?

Open up any employment news report these days and you’ll see that workers want flexible schedules.

But what does that even mean? And does it mean the same thing to workers as it does to employers?

We decided to find out with two polls. One here on Movin’ On Up, and one on Refresh Leadership, our blog for business leaders.

The Results

Job seekers listed “freedom to adjust your schedule to accommodate personal family needs” at number one, with 22% of the vote. Just under 25% of business leaders agreed, making this the most popular response for both groups.

The number two definition for jobseekers at 19% of the vote was “freedom to adjust your own hours/schedule.” Number two for employers was “options to work outside the traditional 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. business day,” with 20% of the vote.

And rounding out the top three for jobseekers was “options to work outside the traditional 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. business day” at 18%, while 15% of employers chose “freedom to adjust your own hours/schedule” as their number three choice.

Beside that slight difference, responses were more or less the same. We’ve listed the remaining results for both job seekers and business leaders below.

What Flexibility Means to Jobseekers:

  1. Working extra hours each day to accommodate a 4-day week: 10%
  2. Working from home part-time: 9%
  3. Working remotely from another city or state/province, etc.: 7%
  4. Working from home full-time: 5%
  5. Working part-time: 4%
  6. Unlimited vacation/paid time off (PTO): 2%
  7. Job sharing: 1%
  8. Doing freelance/gig work: 1%

What Flexibility Means to Employers:

  1. Working extra hours each day to accommodate a 4-day week: 11%
  2. Working from home part-time: 10%
  3. Working remotely from another city or state/province, etc.: 8%
  4. Working from home full-time: 3%
  5. Working part-time: 3%
  6. Unlimited vacation/paid time off (PTO): 2%
  7. Job sharing: 2%
  8. Doing freelance/gig work: 1%

What does this mean?

Job seekers and employers mostly agree on what flexible work means. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that flexibility is being provided. Conversations should be had between employers and employees to work toward a suitable solution to the flexibility question.

About Express

Headquartered in Oklahoma City, Express Employment Professionals is a leading staffing provider in the U.S and Canada with over 800 locations. If you have any questions about part-time work in your area or job search in general, feel free to contact your local Express office or fill out our online contact form.

Does your employer offer a flexible work situation? Let us know in the comments section below!

Why Do So Many People Hate Their Jobs?

Why are we so dissatisfied with our work?

You’ve heard about it in the halls. Around the water cooler. At parties. When you pick up your son or granddaughter. No matter where you go, at least one person is complaining about their job.

But it’s still surprising to see the statistics around work. The Conference Board recently published results regarding their latest survey on job satisfaction. They found that 51% of employees feel overall satisfaction with their jobs. Although this is actually an upward-trending number, the fact that 49% of workers remain unsatisfied is concerning, to say the least. In addition, workers noted disappointment in regard to the professional development aspects of their job. Meaning they gave the lowest marks to educational/job training programs. Other low categories include workload, the performance review process, and promotion policy.

But what else goes into hating a job? And what can you do about it?

Perceived Lack of Choice

Think of this as the “work just to get a paycheck” mentality. At a base level, many people only work to afford living expenses, pay student loans, enjoy hobbies, and fund college for kids. The majority often end up working for other reasons (parents’ expectations, to get married, to support children, etc.).

You might have dreams outside of your current company, but can’t risk pursuing those dreams because of monetary obligations. So, sometimes you sit at the same job, day after day, working on autopilot, just waiting for retirement.

The only way to get around this is to break free of constraints. If you truly hate your job, you should quit. But the future is scary. As a solution, consider working other jobs part-time, and think of it as a trial run. And if you just plain hate the industry you’re working in? Seek out online classes or night school to learn a new trade.

Office Drama

Your cubicle mate chews loudly, every day.  Amanda in Sales is jealous of your promotion. Your boss refuses to let you advance because he needs you to keep reporting to him. You just can’t get past that glass ceiling.

Office drama comes in many shapes and forms, from annoying coworker habits to illegal activity at the top of the food chain. No matter the severity of the drama, it can easily affect your work satisfaction.

For smaller issues, try contacting managers to discuss options. Or if you have a horrible boss, you can ask to move departments (just make sure to document all abusive behavior).

But for problems up at the top? It might be time to leave. To ensure that you don’t end up encountering another unstable company culture, check out Glassdoor, a site where employees can review companies. That way you’ll have a better idea of what you’re in for.

You’re Underpaid

This is a big one. Earlier we mentioned that, at a base level, most of us work to get a paycheck. If you’re working more than what your paycheck is worth, you’re going to be unhappy.

You see other people get promotions or raises and just grow even more unsatisfied with your job. You work harder than them—why haven’t you gotten a raise?

In many cases, this is because you haven’t asked for one. Asking is tough; we get that. That’s why we’ve provided the tools you need to negotiate a raise. And if they won’t pay what you’re worth? Start looking elsewhere. The job search can be intimidating, but what have you got to lose? In a worst case scenario, you’ll keep working where you are. But you deserve the chance to find something better.

And Express Employment Professionals can help. Let us do the job search for you. We work with employers all across the United States and Canada, and we know exactly what they’re looking for. Odds are, you’ll make the perfect candidate for one of those companies. Register online or locate an office near you.

Do you hate your job? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments section below!

Diffusing Tension in the Workplace

Resolve conflict and bring peace to the work world

The workplace is complicated. It doesn’t matter if you work on an assembly line, type away at a cubicle, make cold calls in a call center, or take customer orders at a dinner table; you always deal with other people.

We’re all human and we have bad days. And sometimes you might do something inadvertently to make someone’s day worse. It could be a miscommunication via email, perhaps you chew loudly, or maybe there’s a scheduling conflict you just can’t agree on. These little things add up and suddenly there’s tension between the two of you.

Getting rid of that tension is one of the most important workplace soft skills. An employee who can effectively resolve conflict is priceless. So, how is this accomplished?

There are five main styles for managing conflict, according to Thomas, Kenneth W. Thomas and Ralph H. Kilmann originators of the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. The key is to figure out the right mix of styles for any given situation, and recognize your coworker’s preferred conflict management style.

Here are those given conflict management styles, as outlined by SourcesOfInsight.com.

  1. Accommodating

Think of this as killing your enemy with kindness.

Basically, if accommodating is your style of choice, your tendency is to give into the other person’s desires without making sure you get what you want. Maybe you think your boss’ idea is less than great, but don’t tell them because that would make waves.

Although it might sound cowardly on paper, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the accommodating style. All styles are valid. For example, it’s usually better to defer to those with more experience when you’re new to the job.

  1. Avoiding 

With this style, you avoid conflict at all costs. You never win arguments and prefer to stay out of the combat zone entirely. You don’t want to say no so you end up saying nothing. Think of this as the “let well enough alone” mentality.

Avoidance is a great for when emotions are running high and you need time to think, when you know you can’t win, or just don’t feel like the situation is worth the effort. Why engage when there will be minimal gains?

  1. Collaborating

Think of this as the “win-win” scenario. You want to work with your coworker in order to achieve common ground and for everyone to get what they want.

This is a great conflict resolution style when everyone is already on the same page. You trust each other, value teamwork,  say what you mean, and don’t have to worry about hurt feelings. It’s not a great choice when emotions are running high or people’s viewpoints are diametrically opposed.

  1. Competing

This is the “might makes right” mentality. You want to get what you want no matter what, and the opposing side’s wishes aren’t important.

Again, this sounds like the angry boss who intimidates his direct reports into getting something done. In that case, it’s not the best decision. But if you’re an accountant on a deadline and someone on another team is trying to tell you how to do your job, competing is a perfect response. You know your job better than someone in a different department, and don’t have time to worry about hurt feelings.

  1. Compromising

Think of this as standard negotiating procedure. The “give and take” approach. You and your coworker both work toward a solution by giving things up until common ground is reached.

The main problem with this one is that it takes time and isn’t affective when someone is unwilling to give anything up. That means it’s best used when you need a temporary solution or when both sides have important goals. However, beware: compromising can frequently be the result when collaborating is the better choice because it’s easier to get done. But if everyone can get what they want with a bit of hard work, why not go that route?

If you’re partial to any of these conflict resolution tactics, ask yourself if you’re trying the same solution in every situation and not getting the results you need. If you are, you might want to explore other methods to get rid of the problem.

Have you ever had to solve a workplace dispute? How did it go? Let us know in the comments below.

4 Flexible Work Arrangements Your Boss Should Consider

In the age of rapidly advancing technology and constantly evolving work-life balance priorities, workers expect more flexibility than ever before. And, given the current talent crunch many businesses are facing, companies that do not embrace at least some flexibility may end up a casualty of the talent war.

In a recent poll on RefreshLeadership.com, the Express Employment Professionals blog for business leaders, readers were asked, “What does flexible work mean for you?” The top answer provided was “freedom to adjust schedules to accommodate personal/family needs.”

Additionally, according to research by Zenefits, an HR software developer, 73% of employees surveyed said “flexible work arrangements increased their satisfaction at work.” And 78% said “flexible work arrangements made them more productive.” The research also revealed that 77% of employees “consider flexible work arrangements a major consideration when evaluating future job opportunities.”

So, for many companies trying to attract and retain top talent, creating a more flexible work environment may be the key. Here are four of the more popular flexible work arrangements, along with a few pros and cons of each.

Telecommuting
One of the most common flexible work arrangements, telecommuting allows employees to work from home or other locations outside of the office via email, telephone, and/or internet.

  • Pros: Better work-life balance, employees are more focused and efficient without the distractions of a busy office. Avoiding long commutes. Employers may not need to maintain as much office space.
  • Cons: Less interaction between coworkers, including fun or teambuilding opportunities. Employers have less oversight over how employees are managing their time and staying on task.

Flextime
In most cases, businesses require employees to be in the office during a “core” period (i.e 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.) However, during the hours outside that period employees choose their own schedule.

  • Pros: Freedom to schedule work around life and family events. Employees have more freedom to work when they feel the most productive. Employers can better address peak or odd business hours.
  • Cons: Similar to telecommuting, face-to-face time with coworkers is reduced. Complicated logistics of keeping track of everyone’s differing schedules. Opportunities for employees to abuse the privilege.

Compressed Week
In this arrangement, employees “compress” a full 40-hour work week into fewer than the standard five days. A common example would be working four 10 hour days Monday – Thursday with Fridays off.

  • Pros: Extended hours during busiest workdays. Employees have more time away from work to pursue personal interests.
  • Cons: Longer work days can be more grueling. Employees may find it difficult to arrange childcare during atypical hours. Vendors and other outside contacts likely still work a traditional work week.

Job Sharing
Job sharing involves two employees who work on a part-time or reduced hours basis to perform a job that is typically performed by one employee working full time.

  • Pros: The two employees’ skills may complement each other, creating more well-rounded performance. Time off can be staggered so the position is always covered. Employees have better work-life balance.
  • Cons: Inversely, the two employees may not be compatible and work slips through the cracks. Pay and benefit structures in such an arrangement can be more challenging for employers.

In the end, the type of flexible work arrangement a company implements—if any at all—comes down to their individual business needs. What works for one workplace may not be suitable for another. However, no matter which arrangement you choose, communication with employees is vital in order to ensure everyone benefits.

Navigating Complex Workplace Situations; Or: My Coworker Smells Bad—How Do I Tell Him?

We’ve all been there. Maybe someone in your cubicle row breathes loudly. Or someone on the assembly line just won’t stop talking. And then there’s the case of the coworker that smells … less than good.

These are all real problems, but you’re working with this person every day. How can you politely let them know that their behavior is negatively affecting your performance?

Honestly, it’s really a three-step process.

  1. Calm Down and Think Rationally

It’s easy for issues like these to fester and become bigger in your mind than they actually are. After behavior like this goes on for months on end, it can seem like they’re personally targeting you.

But in all honesty, they probably have no idea they’re doing whatever it is that annoys you so much. People aren’t going to have a reason to change their behavior if they don’t know it’s causing problems for other people.

Also, take time to consider the facts. Is this something that the person is even capable of changing?

Human behavior is complex. Most people aren’t setting out to bother the rest of the workplace every day. Perhaps they keep talking because they’re nervous and want to impress you. Maybe they just breathe oddly because that’s how they’re built.

  1. Don’t Speak to Them Directly

But don’t gossip about them either. Take their manager aside and talk to them about the issue. Don’t be accusatory. Let them know that it’s totally possible there is a cultural or behavioral reason for the offending behavior. You don’t want the coworker to feel called out for something they didn’t know was wrong! Put yourself in their shoes. Of course this tactic helps you as well; you don’t want to look like your complaining about what looks like a relatively small problem.

  1. Observe and Adjust

Okay, you’ve done all that you can do. You’ve let their manager know. If the behavior continues, consider changing your own behavior to block it out. If they talk to much, let them know when you have to work and put headphones on. If they emit an offensive odor, grab a scented oil dispenser or some scented spray. Though it may be annoying to change in a bid to adapt to someone else’s behavior, it’s far better than telling them they stink and dealing with the ensuing awkwardness for years.

Have you ever had to deal with an awkward work situation? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments section below!