Work/Life Balance

When It’s Time to Quit Your Job

Do you like your job?

According to a recent Gallup study, 51% of employees aren’t engaged at work. Meaning they just do what they have to do to get through the day, but don’t really have dreams for advancement. Another 16% are “actively disengaged,” meaning they complain all the time and bring the entire mood of the workplace down.

That’s about 2/3 of the workforce who don’t really like their jobs. But these individuals don’t quit. They keep working. Why?

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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!

 

 

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.

Do You Suffer from the Winter Blues?

There may be more at play

In the United States, many of us are currently experiencing one of the coldest winters on record. With cloudy days becoming the norm and sunny scenes still weeks away, it’s understandable if you’re feeling low.

However, if your bad feelings are starting to heavily impact your job search, it might be possible that something more serious is going on. Maybe you’ve started to snap at your friends, or keep sleeping through your alarm clock. You never really feel awake—not even a third cup of coffee helps. You might be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Look no further than the infographic below (provided by BetterHelp.com) for the major SAD signs. If any of these symptoms sound familiar, get in touch with your doctor to discuss ways to combat the disorder.

How Has Work Changed Your Life?

Share your stories with us!

Many jobs provide a whole new work family, a new culture, and a new experience. Work can truly change our lives. We can learn new skills, meet new people, and go to exciting new places.

What about you? Has a job or any step on your career path ever changed your life? Maybe a degree or certification opened new doors, or perhaps you met a mentor in your first job that set you on an entirely different career path. It’s even possible you met your spouse on the job!

If you have a life-changing story to share about your career, let us know in the comments below. Or, if you’d prefer to let your social media friends know, use the hashtag #LifeChanging on Facebook or Twitter. We’re encouraging people across the nation to share their stories, and now we want to hear from you.

Has any step on your career path been #LifeChanging? Let us know in the comments below!

Pros and Cons of Technology’s Impact on Work-life Balance

There are very few parts of life that remain untouched by technology in one way or another. From medicine to autonomous cars, we’re advancing at breakneck speed, and in many ways, our lives are greatly improved because of it.

In the workplace, advances in technology allow us to work in new ways that weren’t possible in the past. Constraints, like location, have become more of a non-issue, and we are more connected to the office than ever before. However, when it comes to balancing those capabilities with our personal lives, it presents several pros and cons for work-life balance.

We’re always accessible
With an entire suite of communication tools found on a single, pocket-sized device, it’s easier than ever to get in touch with just about anyone these days, no matter where in the world they may be. And that includes your boss or employees. According to a Workplace Trends study, “65% of employees say that their managers expect them to be reachable outside of the office.” However, such easy accessibility, when taken advantage of, often comes at the expense of work-life balance.

The key is to set boundaries and expectations to find a happy medium. Easier accessibility isn’t always a bad thing. Smartphones have become a communications hub, and research from Accenture found that 77% of professionals believe such technology enables them to have more flexibility in their schedules.

It’s easier to work remotely
Technology that helps make us more accessible has also made it easier for many employees to work remotely—an organizational structure that has only increased in popularity in recent years. Working from home, a coffee shop, or on the road is commonplace for many companies, and according to the Workplace Trends study, such arrangements are being more openly embraced by employers because of benefits including improved employee satisfaction, greater productivity, and increased retention.

Of course, the ability to do many jobs from anywhere there’s an internet connection or phone signal also makes it easier for work to intrude upon personal lives. Research from Accenture found that 75% of professionals report they work “frequently” or “occasionally” during paid time off, which can significantly affect work-life balance.

So, despite mounting deadlines and work commitments that show little mercy, it’s important to learn how to draw a line between where the office ends and personal life begins.

We’re becoming more efficient
Advances in technology are also making the workplace more efficient. From time-saving apps to digital storage options that help reduce clutter, workplaces are adapting in ways that let employees make better use of their time. Many everyday tasks are being automated, leading to increased efficiency that allows us to work smarter and focus attention on the most important aspects of work while getting rid of redundancies and wasted effort. And with better efficiency comes more time to devote to passion projects, take a vacation, or spend time with friends and family.

We’re getting more done than ever before, but it’s getting done in a way that also helps enhance work-life balance.

But, only time will tell what the workplace of the future will look like as technology continues to advance and our work and personal lives become even more entwined. Regardless, it’s a pretty safe bet the ongoing struggle of finding work-life balance will always be a priority.

 

Poll: Will You Retire?

Group of Senior Retirement Friends Happiness Concept

From financial reasons to loving your job, we want to hear about it!

In the past, retirement was pretty much a given. That’s why you spend your younger years working so hard—so that there would eventually be some sort of payoff. But now, things are changing. As noted by Bloomberg, about 20% of Americans over the age of 65 are still working. Twelve percent don’t ever plan on retiring.

Maybe you want to help your children buy their first house. Or perhaps your work is incredibly fulfilling. Maybe you just don’t have any savings to fall back on. Regardless of the reason, we want to hear about it!

Do you plan on retiring? If not, why not? Let us know by taking part in our poll!

Choose all answers that apply.