The Daily Grind

Are You a Workaholic?

Because most people are.

It happens all the time. When you’re playing with the kids. When you’re at the doctor. When all you want to do is fall asleep.

You can’t stop thinking about work.

Regardless of whether you hate your job, we’re a nation of workaholics. A recent survey from OnePoll, revealed the average employee works four hours a week without pay, and spends another four hours each week just thinking about their job. Forty-eight percent (48%) thought of themselves as modern-day workaholics, while 53% were stressed out as they took the survey!

In the study, researchers found three main symptoms of workaholism. Let’s dig in.

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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!

Workplace Wearables: Smart Tips for Your Smart Devices

Modern businessman focused on his phone and smart watch

Do you own a smartwatch, fitness tracker, or other technological device known as a “wearable?” If so, you’re not alone. In fact, according to Forbes, just under 50 million wearable devices were shipped in 2015. And in 2019, 125 million more are expected to be purchased.

Millennials, the newest generation to enter the workforce, are known as technology-savvy. So, it’s no surprise that the majority of people (48%) who use wearable technology are part of this generation. And, 71% of younger workers want to own wearable tech if they don’t already.

The technology behind these devices has been around for decades, but the greater availability of internet access has made them significantly more useful in recent years. If you’re considering investing in the trend, make sure you know when and how it’s appropriate to use your smart devices.

A Growing Trend

Today, one in six consumers owns and uses wearable technology, which means these devices are becoming increasingly prevalent in the workspace. To take advantage of this growing trend, many companies have begun testing wearables for workplace security, time management, and communication purposes.

Luckily for employers, early studies have proven the trend may pay off. According to the University of London, employees who own wearable technology reported an 8.5% increase in workplace productivity. Additionally, they experienced a 3.5% increase in job satisfaction.

Be Aware of What You Share

As the workplace shifts toward the future, many companies will begin integrating their internal systems with wearables. This means, they may use your wearable (or provide you with a company-owned device) to track your productivity and health. If you have a fitness tracker that records your workout and sleep patterns, your employer may be able to locate that information.

This information could then be used to make changes in the workplace that improve your work experience and productivity. While there are benefits to this information sharing, it’s important to understand what information you may be giving your boss.

Study Your Habits

If you’re going to wear your fitness tracker or smartwatch to work, take advantage of the data these devices provide by tracking your habits. Doing so may help you increase productivity and implement changes that will have a positive effect on your work.

For example, if you notice you’re significantly less active between 2 and 4 p.m. every day, set a reminder to get up and walk around for a few minutes during this time period. You’ll be more active, alert, and healthy.

Pay Attention

During an important meeting, interview, or event, you wouldn’t look at your phone, right? The same applies to wearable devices. If you own a smartwatch and receive phone calls, emails, or text messages on your wrist, avoid the temptation to look when it’s not appropriate. Recruiters and potential employers will notice if you spend the majority of the interview checking your watch, and it may look like you’re in a hurry to leave. Don’t make the mistake of sending the wrong signals.

Remember to Take a Break

According to a Workplace Options survey, 84% of workers age 18-29 report working two or more hours per day after their work day ends. They’re spending time on their mobile devices, checking email and making calls. As the rise of wearable technology continues, it’s easier than ever to stay connected to your workplace when you’re at home. Now, just a simple glance at your wrist could reveal emails or phone calls that prevent you from truly disconnecting.

In fact, Ernst & Young reports that 24% of U.S. employees find it difficult to maintain work-life balance. Since work-life balance is essential to your overall health and happiness, don’t let your wearables upset that equilibrium.

Do you own a wearable device? How do you stay productive in the workplace? Share your tips in the comments section below!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Calling Cupid: How to Love Your Job

ThinkstockPhotos-153429186For many employees, much of their time is spent in the workplace. So, being happy in your job is a very important part of your overall health and satisfaction. But, finding that happiness isn’t always easy.

If you don’t enjoy your work life as much as you could, take some time this Valentine’s Day to fall in love with your job. To help you channel your inner Cupid, we’ve outlined eight tips below!

Set boundaries

When you want to stand out in the workplace or make a great impression on your supervisor, it’s easy to let your work bleed over into your personal life. Answering a few emails at night, or working on a timely presentation during the weekend is fine, right? Not always. In fact, setting boundaries that encourage a strong work/life balance can help you better recognize the value in your job and increase your performance. According to the Huffington Post, setting boundaries “does require that you make your work hours more productive, but by not working outside of work, you’ll get the rest you need to be energized, and get more done while you’re there!”

Recognize your value

It’s easy to think your work is lackluster if you don’t understand the benefit you provide your company, or its customers. Take some time to evaluate the positive impact your workplace has on others, and determine where you fit into that experience. For example, if you work in customer service, explore the ways in which you help customers solve problems or offer solutions. If you work in a manufacturing company, think about the end use of the products you help build. Chances are, those products add ease, entertainment, or benefit to the lives of your customers. When you can recognize the value you add to your company, or even your community, you may discover a stronger sense of purpose in your work.

 

Focus on the perks

Even if you’re truly dissatisfied with your job, there’s bound to be at least one thing you do enjoy about your work. Take a moment to list all of the things you like about your job, as well as the benefits your company offers. This may include health insurance, opportunities to volunteer, paid time off, holiday time, or other benefits. What about the company dress code? Is there coffee in the break room? Does your workplace offer a cafeteria, gym, or park? Maybe it’s your co-workers who make your day enjoyable. Whatever the perks may be, write them down and put them into perspective.

 

Eliminate boredom

If you’re bored at work, you’re probably not going to enjoy it. Instead of dwelling on repetitive tasks or projects that bring you down, challenge yourself to look for things that may bring you more joy. For example, if you’re required to perform the same series of tasks every day, try to liven up your routine. This may be as simple as getting up and walking around the office after you complete a task, or competing with a co-worker to see who can be more productive. You may also consider volunteering for new assignments and projects, if your schedule allows. This way, you can try new things and show your supervisor that you’re willing to step in when needed.

 

Grow your skills

When you allow yourself to learn a new skill, you open up a world of possibilities. Plus, you may find renewed enjoyment out of your work. Consider signing up for an educational program, joining a group in your industry, or researching trends that are relevant to your business. You could even start a group among your co-workers to read new books, present findings, or learn from each other. Chances are, the skills you learn will help you in your role, as well as reignite your passion for the work you do.

 

Find your happy place

We’ve all heard the advice to “find your happy place.” But, what does that actually mean? In short, it’s just a reminder to find a mental state that encourages you to relax, recharge, and calm down. When your workday gets stressful or you feel overwhelmed, find your happy place. It could be the beach where you last vacationed, the recliner in your living room, or the kitchen of a family member. Wherever your happy place is, create a strong mental picture and explore that image when you become bogged down. According to a Forbes article, “The very action of directing your attention away from your work opens up the door in your day for a respite, a restart, and a new view. It’s reviving and centering at the same time.”

 

Respect your clock
If you’re not prioritizing your tasks, you may sacrifice both productivity and happiness. Instead of working around the clock on the wall, learn to work around your biological clock. When you wake up and start your day, your energy levels are typically pretty high. You haven’t exerted much energy yet, and your body isn’t as tired as it may be later in the day. Use that time to tackle difficult tasks on your to-do list, and save easier tasks for the afternoon slump. This may help you prioritize your work, increase productivity, and eliminate burnout.

 

Take a break
Ask yourself this question: Do you take breaks at work? Not bathroom breaks or trips to the water fountain, but actual breaks that allow your mind and body to recharge? If you’re not taking small breaks throughout your day, you may overwork yourself, which can lead to dissatisfaction in the workplace. When your schedule allows, take a few minutes to stop what you’re doing and recharge your batteries. Simply standing up and stretching can help you refocus on your work and eliminate stress. Consider adding a reminder to your calendar that will alert you every few hours to stand up, get a drink, or take a look outside. When you find ways to relax and reconnect with your work, you may learn to love it.

 

What do you love about your job? Share your stories in the comments section below!

 

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

New Year 101: How to Handle Change

ThinkstockPhotos-510570474Of the few things guaranteed in life, change is one of them. We live in a fast-paced world that is constantly adapting—and chances are, not every change will be a positive one. In January, those changes are especially noticeable as people begin focusing on their resolutions and looking to do better in the new year. So, how do you move forward when faced with unexpected change? These four tips can help you remain focused this year.

Find the Positives

It’s easy to spot the negative aspects of change, but it’s often harder to find the positives. The truth is, most changes have both good and bad elements. Instead of focusing on the speed bumps or road blocks, try to keep the end goal in mind when faced with a new project or process. If a change to the way things are done is implemented, it was likely because a better end result is expected. Keep that in mind as you navigate through the transition.

Make Your Mark

When a change is forced upon you, it can be hard to accept. But, finding a way to become actively involved with the change can help you feel better connected to it. When you’re part of the process, you may be able to offer solutions or explain how the changes may affect your job. Try to find ways to involve yourself, when possible, or offer suggestions to those who are in charge. Chances are, change won’t seem so bad when you’re able to engage with the process.

Stay Ahead of the Game

Trends are important to all industries and are often the first indicators of changes to come. You can help anticipate such changes by staying up-to-date on trends and industry information. If you are an office assistant, for example, take some time to research what new computer programs or office systems may be coming soon. Then, anticipate how those changes might affect your work, as well as the company as a whole. Communicating what you find, as well as providing solutions for adapting to or staying ahead of trends, will help you stand out in the workplace.

Don’t Stress

We all know the importance of eliminating stress from our lives, but it’s not always easy. Often, change can induce stress, making change even more difficult. Looking for the positive aspects will help reduce the stress you may feel when encountering change, as can focusing on the things you can control. Unfortunately, when it comes to change, most things are usually out of our control, and focusing on them will do more harm than good. Learn to let go of things you cannot control, and focus instead on where you can actually make an impact. Improving your diet, establishing an exercise routine, and making time for yourself will also help reduce your stress level.

 

This year, resolve to accept that change is unavoidable. Focus on the positives, anticipate trends, find ways to be involved, and reduce your stress so you’ll be better equipped to deal with changes in your personal life and in the workplace. And remember, change may be scary at first, but it’s not always bad.

 

What tips do you have for dealing with change? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Competition and Productivity: A Balancing Act

Best and Worst Jobs 2013When you think about competition, your first thoughts probably drift to sports arenas and the like. Yet, competition also lives in the workplace. And, while competition can breed productivity, it’s important to know how to balance the two to create the best workplace environment for your company and your career.

Competition Can Increase Productivity
The relationship between competition and productivity has been studied by numerous scholars, and most agree that competition can be beneficial in producing a higher level of productivity and efficiency.

Healthy competition among your co-workers is a natural way of pushing each other toward team goals. When members of a team are competitive in an appropriate way, there’s more focus, drive, and determination to provide quality work.

Along the same lines, competition in the workplace drives efficiency. As this happens, goals are met more quickly, things get done, and the company can see profitable benefits.

Finding the Balance
For competition to create productivity in the workplace, it has to remain healthy. When co-workers become overly competitive, stress levels go up, trust declines, and the overall team can deteriorate. It’s important to find the balance between being competitive enough to drive productivity and being so competitive that you drive away anything beneficial.

Here are a few ways to help you find that balance:

  • Learn from mistakes – You will inevitably make a mistake, but when you do, figure out how to learn from it. Sometimes when competing, you may let your competitive drive overshadow the bigger picture, allowing a mistake to happen. If and when you do make an error, take time before you react. Give yourself a breather, relax, and regroup.
  • Focus on relationships – When competition becomes unhealthy, it could be due to poor relationships. You won’t always get along with everyone you work with, but you have to learn to work well with others and grow relationships with those who can help you put your energy into generating productive outcomes.
  • Be a classy competitor – Unlike the sports world, you have to continue to work with and around those you’re competing against on a daily basis. Avoid putting others down and focus on your long-term growth at that company. Let your work be proof of your determination and skill, and if anyone tries to create an unhealthy environment for competition, maintain your integrity. The reputation you build as a classy competitor will speak volumes to your employer.

Do you have any tips for balancing competition with productivity? Let us know in the comments section below!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Apps to Keep You Organized

Mobile AppsKeeping organized is a trait that many professionals struggle with daily. Between hundreds of emails and texts, meeting requests, and last-minute assignments, it can be hard to remember to keep on top of important tasks, meet deadlines, or even finish projects.

Luckily, technology is on our side. Thousands of smart solutions exist to help you stay organized in your busy life. From organizing finances to note-taking, apps for smart phones, tablets, and desktops offer unique and easy ways to compartmentalize your life and make prioritizing less painful.

Many of the apps are free or inexpensive, and having the ability to track expenses, tasks, or projects is worth its weight in gold.

Here are a few of our favorite apps:

Evernote
Evernote is perfect for taking notes in meetings or calls. This app also allows you to attach documents, relevant information and more to keep everything consolidated for future reference. Additionally, Evernote lets you record speech right into the note, so you don’t have to worry about writing down information during meetings. It also syncs the desktop version to your smartphone or tablet.

Dropbox
If you keep work in multiple folders, Dropbox is a must. Because it’s online storage, you have the ability to work on projects from anywhere on any device. The upload feature for documents and pictures is easy to use, and you don’t have to worry about losing important information if a computer crashes or is lost. Basically, you can use any device to log into the Dropbox account to access your files.

HabitList
We all have habits we could improve on, and HabitList helps you to do just that. Whether you want to set habits like eating more vegetables or meeting deadlines, HabitList keeps you motivated by showing your trends, progress, and streaks. It reminds you of your habits with positive reinforcement and can make dull or mundane tasks a bit more fun with progress charts.

Google Now
Google Now, the “intelligent personal assistant” for iOS, Android, and desktop, organizes everything you can think of and is available 24/7. All of your work, personal information, and tasks are organized into “cards” that put your important stuff into one place without having to search around. 

Quip
This popular new virtual office app is used by giants like Facebook, Quora, and Instagram, and works as a virtual office space. You can collaborate with others on spreadsheets, checklists, and documents, as well as check in with team members or other people in your network. You can create and import documents, allow others to edit, and log on to review edits as well.

EasilyDo
This free iPhone app serves as your personal assistant by connecting your online services, like email, calendar, Facebook account and others. EasilyDo uses an algorithm to help you find things it can help you with, like add details of contacts or notify you of important dates and birthdays. Designed as a productivity app, EasilyDo helps you tackle a variety of tasks quickly.

Venmo
Need an app to help track money and spending? Venmo is a new app that allows you to transfer money and keep track of what you’ve paid. It not only reminds you to pay a client, it also shows which clients owe you a payment. This app lets you pay anyone with a Venmo account instantly using money you have in Venmo, or you can link your bank account or debit card quickly.

What are your favorite productivity apps? Share your favorite productivity and organization apps with us in the comments section below!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.