At Work

Poll Question: How Much Influence Did Your Parent(s) /Guardian(s) Have on Your Career Path?

Have you ever said or done something and realized that you’re slowly morphing into your parents or guardians?

It happens. But that doesn’t mean you’re a direct copy. For this month’s poll, we’re trying to see what type of influence your parents or guardians had on your career. Maybe your dad was a police officer and you enrolled in the academy to follow in his footsteps. Or perhaps your mother was a nurse but you pretty much faint at the sight of blood and never considered that as an option.

Some take over the family business or go to college at their parent’s insistence. Others rebel, choosing career paths that make sense to them but are hard for their parents to understand.

Whatever your situation, we want to hear about it. Let us know your thoughts in our poll!

How to Vet Child Care Centers

When you have a family, finding a job isn’t as easy as choosing whatever employer offers you the most cash. You have to take into account barriers to employment such as transportation and the always-important proximity to child care.

Once you’ve made a list of all the nearby child care providers (preferably half a year before you need child care, since the best ones reach capacity quickly), what’s next? How can you be sure your child is well taken care of? Check off these qualities.

They Have an Up-To-Date License and Minimal Infractions

Have you ever seen a TV commercial with a talking animal telling you to check out a used car’s history report before buying? Child care center licenses are kind of like that.

An up-to-date license doesn’t mean a facility is perfect, but it does tell you that certain baseline requirements have been met. If your state requires licenses for child care facilities, that means they are at least meeting base levels of safety and quality concerns. Although you still need to do your own research, a facility that doesn’t have any type of license is one to stay away from.

Check online for a child care database. Depending on where you live, this resource might show not only whether a particular location is licensed, but also how many infractions they have had. While you might be able to overlook a paperwork infraction, anything involving chemicals or not having a thermometer in the freezer should raise red flags.

There’s Plenty to Do

When you first visit the child care facility, look at what the kids are doing. Are they all sitting around watching TV? That’s not a great sign.

As BabyCenter.com notes, “The best daycares have structured schedules that include plenty of time for physical activity, quiet time, group programs, individual activities, meals, snacks, and free time.”

You want your kid to have a well-balanced experience. That means healthy meals, exercise, time for imaginative play, etc. If you’re not sure about their curriculum, ask!

They’re Qualified and Agree with Your Parenting Philosophy

Great child care centers cost more than other child care options (such as babysitters and friends or family) because they typically have well-trained employees. As BabyCenter.com notes, “Daycare center employees should be educated, with at least two years of college, a background in early childhood development (though many states don’t require this), and CPR and other emergency training.”

But education isn’t everything. Watch how the daycare providers interact with the children when  you visit. Are they kind and peppy or tired and slow? Do they know the children by name at first glance? You want a staff that has high energy levels to keep up with your little one.

You also must make sure the staff agrees with your parenting style. What kind of feeding schedule do they adhere to? How are naps handled? Is their discipline style something you can work with? Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A good child care provider isn’t going to think of you as an overconcerned parent—they know how important these questions are.

They Work With Your Schedule

One of the hidden costs of child care is late pickup fees. When does the child care facility close? Will you be able to get there in time after work? Some facilities charge higher fees after a certain time, given that the staff must stay late in order to watch over kids. Choose a facility that lines up with your own schedule, or work out a plan with family members to pick up your child.

Once you find a child care provider that you’re comfortable with, working away from you children becomes much easier. You know that they’re in good hands, and you have peace of mind to feel fulfilled at work.

Have any more questions about vetting child care providers? Let us know in the comments section below!

 

 

Does Your CEO Connect with Frontline Workers?

Most companies dedicate substantial time and energy to researching, planning, and implementing communication strategies that build stronger relationships with their customers, but the most successful also dedicate an equally significant amount of energy to communicating with their employees.

Legendary former General Electric CEO Jack Welch once said, “There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow. It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”

Why Employee Communication Matters

Employee communication is vitally important to building a successful company. In addition to building an informed workforce that clearly understands the why and how of the work they do each day, effective and genuine communication between a company’s senior leadership and its frontline workers can make or break employee engagement. For instance, if your CEO sees you in the hall every day and never remembers your name, you’re probably not going to feel valued as an employee. But if he or she both knows your name and asks for your opinion on big company changes? You’ll know you’re valued, and have a tangible company goal to work toward.

According to a Gallup study, only 22% of employees “strongly agree that their company’s leaders have a clear direction for their organization. And only 13% strongly agree that their organization’s leadership communicates effectively.” Similarly, a study by IBM and Globoforce found that “44% of employees do not feel their senior leaders provide clear direction about where the organization is headed.”

In many cases, a company’s senior leadership may very well have a detailed plan for the organization’s future, however, if it’s not being effectively communicated down the line to workers like you, it’s more difficult for employees to rally around a common goal. Opening the lines of communication with frontline workers makes it easier for everyone to work together toward a common goal.

Where Companies Fall Short in Their Communication Strategies

A poll from the Harvard Business Review highlighted some of the top communication issues that prevent effective leadership, including “not recognizing employee achievements” (63%), “not giving clear directions” (57%), “not having time to meet with employees” (52%), “not knowing employees’ names” (36%), and “not asking about employees’ lives outside of work” (23%).

The Solution

Whether it’s implementing a formal internal communication tool or organizing a weekly “coffee with the CEO” roundtable in the breakroom, it’s in a company’s best interest to make a deliberate and genuine effort to bridge the gap between the “C-suite” and frontline workers.

In fact, according to a study from Towers Watson on how businesses capitalize on effective communication, “Companies that are highly effective communicators had 47% higher total returns to shareholders over the last five years compared with firms that are the least effective communicators.”

Bottom line, employees care more when leadership takes the time to get to know them. They want to know where the company is headed. The less mystery, the better.

Does your CEO care about frontline workers? Let us know in the comments below!

The Highest Paying Trade School Jobs

Have you considered trade schools?

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again—the traditional four-year college experience isn’t for everyone. If you love to work with your hands, why not consider trade school instead?

Also known as technical, career, or vocational school, a trade school is defined by PrepScholar as “a post-secondary institution that’s designed to give students the technical skills to prepare them for a specific occupation.” They frequently offer two-year programs and cost much less than the traditional four-year college experience.

Trade schools are open to all students with high-school diplomas or GEDs, regardless of age. This makes them a perfect option for both fresh high-school grads or those looking to make a career change later in life.

But what about career options? Is it possible to make a good amount of money with a trade school degree? Yes it is. And here are some options to prove it, courtesy of Trade-Schools.net and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Dental Hygienist

  • Median pay—$72,910
  • Top pay—$100,170 or more
  • Job growth—20%

Dental hygienists clean teeth. They keep an eye out for tooth or gum problems and support the dentist in several ways, including taking notes and data input. They’re also available to answer general dental health questions.

Electrician

  • Median pay—$52,720
  • Top pay—$90,420 or more
  • Job growth—9%

Electricians are unsurprisingly the experts of all things electrical. This means installing, maintaining, and fixing electrical wiring, equipment, and fixtures in buildings. They can work in homes, businesses, warehouses, and anywhere else with electrical wiring. Some jobs can be outdoor, while others are indoor.

Heavy Equipment Operator

  • Median pay—$45,890
  • Top pay—$80,200 or more
  • Job growth—12%

Heavy equipment operators, also known as construction equipment operators, drive or operate heavy machinery. If you’ve ever wanted to embrace your childhood dreams of driving heavy construction vehicles, you might consider this position.

Equipment used includes excavators, wrecking balls, and all sorts of other hulking vehicles. They use this equipment to build everything from roads and bridges to buildings and more.

Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurse

  • Median pay—$44,090
  • Top pay—$60,420 or more
  • Job growth—12%

If you care for others and want to help them stay healthy, consider a job in nursing. A licensed practical or vocational nurse does not need a degree.

These nurses provide basic care while working under registered nurses and doctors. Job environments can vary, from nursing homes and hospitals to physician’s offices and even private homes.

Looking for further information on other job types? Check out our Job Spotlight blog series.

Do you have one of these jobs? Are you interested in one? Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

Can You Be Friends with Your Coworkers?

Or will you only end up hurt in the end?

In a given year, many adults spend more time with their coworkers than with their friends or family. That lack of socialization can make it tempting to turn your coworkers into friends. A day spent talking about new projects and meetings can turn into a social outing after work; you can be productive and get your social fix at the same time.

But is it really the right choice to turn your coworkers into friends? Honestly, it depends on who you want to be friends with, where you work, and a ton of other factors. Before trying to start up a workplace friendship, ask yourself these questions.

What’s at Stake?

First, let’s define what we mean by “workplace friendship.” We’re not talking about the cubicle buddy you make fun of the dress code with, or that guy in accounting that told a great joke before the 8 a.m. meeting. A “workplace friendship,” as we define it, is a relationship that combines your personal life with your work life. Meaning that you meet up after work for meals or go to events together.

There can be plenty of benefits to having a close friend at your place of work. They can inform you of project progress in a different department, chat with you about your strengths and weaknesses, or help you figure out how to tackle a particularly difficult work problem.

However, whenever there’s a large group of people, cliques are certain to form. Whether it’s the playground, high school lunchroom, or the nearest breakroom, it’s hard for people to be friends with everyone. And cliques result in people feeling left out, feelings they might act on by gossiping about you or just being difficult to work with.

When you begin a workplace friendship, that means opening yourself up to the possibility of that friendship failing and still having to work with that person. Maybe you complained about a coworker when you were friends but then got promoted, causing jealousy and frustration. They tell that coworker you said something negative way back when and suddenly you’re the office tyrant.

Are They Your Boss?

How good are you at setting boundaries? Some people are able to separate work and personal issues to such an extent that talking to them about deadlines is like dealing with a completely different person than the one you planned an upcoming get-together with.

If you can’t be that person, it’s probably not a good idea to pursue a friendship with your boss. That opens you up to a whole world of criticism. If it goes well, you have to deal with other employees thinking you get special treatment. If it turns out you aren’t actually that big a fan of your boss outside of work and no longer want to spend time with them, you’ll be in the awkward position of feeling like you have to meet with them after hours to keep your job. And you’re not being paid to be anyone’s friend.

As noted by Monster, Dr. Jan Yager, author of “Friendshifts: The Power of Friendship and How It Shapes Our Lives,” said “Same-level friendships are the easiest to maintain. Problems can arise if one friend has to supervise or evaluate the other.”

But what about when your friend gets promoted and is now your boss? The key is to set boundaries. Gone are the days when you could make fun of upcoming training classes or analyze a recent managerial decisions together. If you value the relationship, keep overly personal conversations to after hours and weekends.

Do They Want to be Friends with You?

The Week is pretty clear on where they stand on this issue in their article, given that the title is Your Coworkers are Not Your Friends. And to be honest, they’re right. This quote best sums up what they’re trying to say:

“That is not to suggest we cannot or should not make friends on the job. But it is to say most of our coworkers will only ever be coworkers (take a moment to think about how many of your friendships with former colleagues have any meaningful existence outside of Facebook), and inside the office, they should be treated accordingly.”

Nobody in the workplace is there to make friends. At the end of the day, most of us are here to make a paycheck. Liking your coworkers gives you more of a reason to come in every day (and those that like their coworkers enjoy their jobs to a much higher degree), but it’s not the base reason you work.

What that means is you shouldn’t assume your coworkers want to be your friend just because you do. If they do, great! But if they don’t seem comfortable with high-fives or keep rejecting your invitations to get dinner or hang out on the weekends, don’t take it personally. Although being friendly is often a must to thrive in the workplace, being friends is not. People are free to have their own interests and spend their personal time on their own terms.

Do you have any experiences with friendships gone wrong (or right) in the workplace? Let us know in the comments below!

Safety Month: Workstation Ergonomics to Maintain a Healthy Back

June is National Safety Month, and what better way to celebrate than a few workplace safety tips?

Proper back support, correct lifting techniques, and eye protection tips can seem tedious, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth discussing. Since looking at a few short points can save you from chronic pain or injury, we think it’s worth it.

Here are a few ergonomics tips to ensure your cubicle doesn’t cubikill your back.

[Download a PDF of this poster here]

 

 

Overcoming Barriers to Employment

What’s keeping you from your dream job?

Usually when we talk about how hard the job search is, we focus on resumes, interviews, or the best websites to check out. Today, we’ll discuss logistical concerns.

What does “logistical” mean when it comes to the job search? Think of it as all that fun stuff that comes with being an adult: transportation, child care, elder care, and more.

Transportation

If you don’t have a car, it can mean having to cut yourself off from job opportunities outside of your local area. And if you can find a way to work using public transportation, even the slightest change in plans (a child’s illness or other family issue) can become a huge time commitment.

Although Uber and Lyft are great ridesharing services, they aren’t always do-able on a budget.

Luckily, other transportation options are available. Don’t say no to a job opportunity until you’ve exhausted these options:

  • Carpooling. Numerous apps, such as Rideshare and Waze, allow for a carpooling option. This can cut down on costs. You’re also free to seek out others that work near your new job and ride with them. If you’re working with a staffing agency, ask them if they offer carpooling options.
  • Public transportation. If you’ve had bad experiences with public transportation in the past, try not to let that keep you from checking it out for each new job opportunity. You might find out there’s a route available that makes sense for your commute.
  • A bicycle. Although this may seem like a ridiculous suggestion, if your job is within biking distance, you can ride there until you’ve saved up enough money for a used vehicle.

Childcare

This is a huge challenge for working parents, both married and single, especially during the summer months. On average, infant child care can cost $10,000 a year, which is just under 20 percent of the median family income of $55,000.

Other opportunities for childcare include:

  • Family (In-Home) Day Care. A family daycare is run out of an individual’s home, and subject to certain state regulations. As noted by csmonitor.com, according to ChildCare Aware of America, “full-time family childcare for infants ranges from an average of $4,544 in South Carolina to $10,358 a year in New York. For a 4-year-old, the numbers dip only to $4,095 and $9,620.”
  • A Nanny. Although nannies are traditionally thought of as high-end expenses, there are different types of nannies for a wide variety of purposes. These range from live-in to part-time, and more. Some are available for $10 to $20 an hour, while others are much more expensive. You may also nanny share—pooling funds together with other parents, and hosting the nanny and other children at your home. However, it is up to you to research a prospective nanny’s experience and background.
  • Family Members. Although this is a common option, we wanted to include it. This is because some individuals feel that burdening their parents with childcare is rude or impolite. Although situations do vary, many grandparents are more than happy to care for their grandchildren. If you find yourself in dire straits, don’t be afraid of having that conversation.

Lack of Resources

Although it can frequently feel like your numerous responsibilities are keeping you from a job, there are ways to overcome these barriers. Nonprofits are available to help with many common struggles, including medical expenses, clothing, shelter, food, rehabilitation, and 24/7 support.

Check out the Express nonprofit guide for specific resources.