Work/Life Balance

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.

 

Just Say “No” to Working on Vacation

Sometimes you really need to unplug from the office.

Young woman using laptop on a beachRegardless of whether we like our jobs or not, they can be stressful. Ideally, going on vacation should refresh us and let us return recharged and ready to work. However, this doesn’t always happen. Your phone follows you everywhere, which means your boss and the rest of the workplace do, too.

So how are you supposed to handle all of this? By knowing how to tell your boss no without actually saying no. Sounds hard, right? We’ve got you covered.

1.       Communicate with Your Boss

If your boss has a tendency to interrupt your pool time, it might be time for a discussion. The number one thing to remember is that this is communication, NOT confrontation. As such, you need to be open to understanding you boss’s reasons for contacting you constantly. Perhaps they simply don’t trust anyone else to do your job effectively. Or maybe they just feel a need to control the situation.

Begin by politely telling them how these work interruptions are affecting you. Maybe it’s taking time away from the kids or putting a strain on your relationship with your significant other. Let your boss know that, in the end, uninterrupted vacation time is best for the both of you. You get the relaxation you need, and they get a freshly charged employee.

Once you’ve established why vacation interruptions are a problem for you, it’s time to assure your boss that all of your responsibilities will be covered in your absence.

2.       Work Ahead

In order to ease your boss’s worries (and make them less likely to contact you on vacation), work as far ahead as possible before you leave. If anything is due the week of or even the week after your vacation, it should be done before you leave. And even if you don’t work in a deadline sensitive environment, there are still duties you can take care of before you leave.

These include touching base with your contacts and letting them know you’ll be gone, going through any outstanding voicemails or emails, and cleaning your workstation. In addition, make sure to update your voicemail and email to reference your vacation. You should include not only the duration of your vacation, but also the name and contact information of your stand-in for use in emergencies.

3.       Create a Back-Up Plan

Reassure your boss by clearly laying out how all responsibilities will be covered in your absence. Provide a point person that will act as your stand-in while you are away. This person should be able to handle any deadlines that could be missed while you are gone.

When you talk to a stand-in, make sure they know where all of your files are located, as well as any other information that might be helpful while you are away. It’s similar to hiring a babysitter, except in this case, the baby is your job. And instead of telling them where the bottles and diapers are, you’re letting them know about files, contact information, and conference calls.

Ever had to tell your boss you wouldn’t be taking calls on vacation? Let us know how you did it in the comments below!

How Working Dads Achieve Work-Life Balance

As a father, how do you juggle your responsibilities?

Busy Father Working From Home With SonBalancing your work and home lives can be a challenge. Can you coach your son’s little league game and still nab that promotion? Does taking time off for your daughter’s play make you less likely to get a raise?

Traditionally, moms (even working moms) were expected to handle most of the child-rearing responsibilities. However, times are changing. More fathers are involved in their children’s lives than ever before. The Pew Research Center’s Modern Parenthood Survey revealed that 50% of working fathers found achieving work-family balance to be “very/somewhat difficult.”

How can you, as a dad, achieve work-life balance?

1.       Share the Workload

Working dads frequently have to manage multiple responsibilities: parenting, their job, finance management, future planning, and more. The first step on the way to achieving work-life balance is to share some of these responsibilities. As far as parenting is concerned, it’s a good idea to sit down with your partner and coordinate schedules far in advance. That way at least one of you should be able to attend any school events that might come up.

You can also get in touch with any other potential caregivers, such as parents or other relatives. See if they can take care of the kids once in a while so that you can spend an evening out with your partner or go on a vacation out of town. Parents’ day out programs are also an option.

Finally, if you are able to afford it, you may want to look into hiring a financial planner. Such a person can help cut down on your time spent organizing your finances, freeing up that time for your partner or children. At the very least, an expert’s opinion on your current investment strategies can’t hurt anything.

2.       Embrace the Give and Take

No matter how well you plan, something can still come up that throws all of those plans out the window. Perhaps you promised your wife that you would make little Molly’s ballet recital on Wednesday so she could attend a conference, but the boss needs you to stay late to finish a huge project. You can’t say no because that could mean saying goodbye to any sort of raise or career advancement. Instead, you have to call your wife explaining that you actually won’t be able to make the recital. Your daughter’s feelings might get hurt as well.

Is there anything you can do to avoid this? Probably not. Being a working dad is all about balance. As horrible as it sounds, there are moments where you will have to prioritize work over your child’s event in the short term in order to better provide for them in the future.  Make sure to communicate as much as possible with your spouse and children to ensure that they understand why you have to skip the event.

Hope isn’t lost, however—you just have to accept that work-life balance is all about the give and take. If you stay late one night to complete a career-defining project instead of attending that ballet recital, you’ll need to skip out on a smaller project or networking opportunity in the future. Find an employer that allows you to have flexibility—if you feel like you’re constantly having to choose your career over your kids, you might want to look into a different job.

3.       Unplug at Home

And when you are home? Try to unplug from work as much as possible. Spend time with your kids, kick a soccer ball around, go to the park, or just watch cartoons together. Even if you can’t dedicate your entire weekend or day off to the kids, try to schedule at least one or two fun activities.

You can even declare an hour or two each night as “no-screen” time, where everyone engages in a fun family activity that doesn’t involve phones, computers, or the TV.

4.       Fight for Flexibility

Once you’ve moved up in a company, you may have the ability to negotiate for more flexibility. The worst thing they can say is no—they’re not going to fire you for asking, especially when you’ve made significant contributions to the company.

Such flexibility may come with a reduced raise, but if that’s worth the flexibility to you then you’re golden. If your position allows for it, you could even ask about working from home occasionally.

However, do make sure to gauge the climate at your company first, just as you would before asking for a raise. If layoffs are happening and everybody is running around like their hair is on fire, it’s probably not a good time to ask for more time off.

Hopefully this helped you working dads out in one way or another. Happy Father’s Day!

Have any tough experiences as a working dad to share? Let us know about it in the comments below!