Work/Life Balance

Poll Results: How Do You Cope With Workplace Stress

stress_poll_March2014Toward the end of April we asked Movin’ On Up readers how they coped with workplace stress. Stress can cause a variety of health problems, from slight headaches to major anxiety, so we wanted to see what our readers were doing to get through it.

Results

The results were fairly close across the board. Just under 22% prefer to listen to or play music, 17.5% work through their problems by talking to others, and 14% exercise. Thirteen percent turn to hobbies, while an additional 12% take time to meditate or practice breathing exercises. Seven percent opt for a relaxing massage, and only 4% choose to look at cute animal pics. Just under 10% selected “Other,” with responses ranging from watching Netflix or TV to playing video games or praying.

So how can job seekers use this information? Everyone has their own “thing,” their own way of dealing with stress. That’s the first thing job seekers need to do—figure out what their “thing” is! Look at all of the survey options and figure out what really calms you down. And if that doesn’t work, invent some of your own. Everyone has different levels and types of stress, so the way each person deals with it is going to vary too.

Anything else you want to tell us about how you deal with workplace stress? Let us know in the comments below!

Is Lack of Sleep Killing Your Career

Awake At WorkAccording to the National Sleep Foundation, many workers don’t get proper sleep and feel tired throughout the day. Chronic drowsiness and sleep deprivation cause many people issues at work, and many say they feel their work is “sub-par” because of it.

A 2008 Sleep in America poll discovered that 29 percent of employees polled admitted to falling asleep or becoming “very sleepy” at work during the previous month. An additional 12 percent said sleepiness caused them to be late to work within the last month.

Swing shift workers, those who juggle multiple jobs and people with irregular work hours seem to be the hardest hit by sleep issues. Chronic sleep deprivation is also tied to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression.

Chronic Issue
Sleep is often the first thing people give up when faced with heavy workloads, parenting responsibilities, irregular work schedules and time-consuming challenges. The same NSF poll of sleep habits and the workplace found that while workers said they needed an average of seven hours and 18 minutes of sleep per night to be at their best the next workday, they reported an average of six hours and 40 minutes.

Even modest amounts of sleep loss accumulate over time, so a few nights of poor sleep can have a major impact on daily functioning, according to the NSF.

Loss of sleep isn’t just an inconvenience either. In high-risk fields such as medicine, the NSF discovered that when on-call residents work overnight, they have “twice as many attention failures, commit 36 percent more serious medical errors and report 300 percent more medical errors that lead to death than those who work a 16-hour shift.”

Tell-tale Signs That Lack of Sleep Is Affecting Your Career
Sleep deprivation can lead to “tremendous emotional problems,” according to Dr. Steven Feinsilver, the director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

Signs that employees are suffering from sleep problems include increased hunger, weight gain, memory problems, difficulty in making decisions, reduced motor skills, emotional fluctuations, poor vision and frequent illness.

These symptoms can lead to consequences that have a major impact on your career.

Quick Tips to Get More Sleep

Employees who have these symptoms or think that lack of sleep is hurting their performance can take steps to reverse the trend.

  • Get evaluated by a physician to identify or rule out a treatable medical condition.
  • Take advantage of sleep diaries and other resources from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and the National Sleep Foundation (NSF).
  • Ask a physician to refer you to a sleep specialist or center.
  • Evaluate your career and priorities. Ask to reduce irregular hours or consider a job that does not require shift work.
  • Have an honest conversation with a supervisor about how lack of sleep is affecting your performance and try to find a mutually-beneficial solution.
  • Stick to a sleep schedule in which you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on days off.
  • Keep electronics out of the bedroom.
  • Limit stress by engaging in relaxing activities before bed, like meditation, reading or taking hot baths.

Although everyone has the occasional sleepless night, chronic sleep problems should be taken seriously before they negatively impact both you and your career.

Top Struggles Working Moms Face

Balancing kids and co-workers on a crazy schedule

Beautiful Adult Business and DaughterRegardless of whether you’re in the office or at home, being a mom is tough. Stay-at-home moms have to deal with subordinates that are more likely to fling food on the ground than turn in a project on time. And at least in the office, Shelly from IT won’t throw a temper tantrum or draw on the walls. Hopefully. She’s not two, right?

Working moms, on the other hand, face an entirely different, yet no less difficult set of problems. Does that new job come with a nice daycare nearby? What do you do when the daycare calls saying little Timmy bit his best friend when you have a conference call in five minutes? Do you present at the national conference or go to Lisa’s school play? It’s her debut as Tree Number Two, after all.

The life of a working mom is a constant balancing act full of challenges. We want to (once again) recognize those challenges in celebration of Mother’s Day.

1. Flexibility Issues

A working mom has two full-time jobs constantly competing for her attention. She has to balance parent meetings, child performances, school awards, and other activities with office deadlines, conferences, and company trips. And often Dad’s doing another balancing act with his own complicated schedule.

How does a working mom manage the her work and life? Unfortunately, most of it comes down to situations she can’t control—the company culture and her boss’ managerial style. All she can do is communicate, let her boss know the situation, and convey how important the event is to her kids. But even with constant communication, odds are she will not be able to make every single event.

So what can a mom do to avoid becoming overwhelmed? She can get the school calendar for the year and combine it with her work schedule. That way, parent-teacher conferences and school plays won’t appear without warning. She could even ask if certain parent-teacher meetings could take place over the phone. Communication with any other caregivers is important—coordinating schedules is a colossal effort, but worth it if one of them can make it to the event in the end.

2. Guilt

Any given workday is full of decisions that have to be made between children and career. Choosing one over the other can make working moms feel guilty. Congrats for clinching that promotion, but now you have to explain to your son why you have to go on a business trip rather than attend his little league game. Not to mention how difficult it is to arrange childcare for business travel.

Missing a week of work for a sick kid is another source of guilt. A working mom knows that she has to be home to take care of her child, but somebody else at the office has to pick up the slack while she’s gone.

3. Social Pressure

In the mid-1900s, raising a family and taking care of the home were typically seen as a mother’s career path. A married woman was expected to stay at home. Although times have changed, working moms still receive occasional flak for not continuing this tradition.  Other moms at the elementary school might gossip about her store-bought cake, or criticize her for not showing up to the monthly PTA meeting.

Judgement can also come from co-workers, particularly those who don’t have any children of their own. Some (although by no means all) just don’t understand what it takes to nurture both a kid and a career. When they see moms taking “too much” time off to care for their kids, it looks like an abuse of vacation time. When in reality it’s anything but a “vacation.” It’s either paid leave, sick leave, or it’s unpaid—it’s not a favor or perk.

4. Job Search Gets Complicated

Being a mom makes the job search even more complex. Finding the time to look for a job is a chore in and of itself. Interviews are even worse. If it’s an in-person interview or a longer phone interview childcare has to be arranged. That could mean paying for a chance at a job.

When it actually comes down to accepting a position, a mom has to think about not only location and salary, but also hours, benefits, whether or not there is a good daycare nearby, any childcare incentives, the company culture, maternity leave, and any policies concerning flexibility. If there’s a job available at her dream company but the pay doesn’t outweigh the costs of childcare, she may have to find something else.

5. Networking is Difficult

During the day, she’s working at the office. After work, she cares for the kids. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for a personal life, much less any sort of networking. Building connections is nearly impossible when you don’t have the time to commit to them. A mom can’t really make the weekly happy hour because it means sacrificing time from her family. If her boss stops by to socialize right before 5 o’clock, a working mom can’t sit to chat. If a mom is late to pick up the kids, the daycare charges overtime.

Why Do They Love It?

It depends on the mom.  Some have been working their whole adult lives—why should they stop now? Working gives them a sense of fulfillment. Many of them invested money in a college, post-secondary, or other education, and they want to keep using it.

Others would like to stay at home, but there just isn’t enough room in the budget. So they work, sometimes at multiple jobs, to put food on the table. They may not be with their kids in every moment, but their kids are why they work.

Still others just can’t see themselves as a stay-at-home mom. They love their kids, and will work to provide for them, but they desire to achieve goals and learn at the same time. They want to work their way up the corporate ladder so that they can provide a variety of opportunities for their children.

But every mom is different, with her own reasons for working. It would take thousands of blogs to cover every working mom’s unique situation. So hopefully this salute is enough. Thanks working moms, for doing all that you do!

Are you a working mom? Why do you love it? 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.

It’s Time to Break the Millennial Mold

MillenialsJobSearch_Sept2013_webEach generation has a stereotype. There’s the Traditionalists, the Baby Boomers, and the Generation Xers. Now, as more of the generation known as Millennials enters the workforce, stereotypes are increasingly prevalent.

You’ve probably heard the stereotypes about Millennials, or those born between approximately the years of 1980 and 2000. They’re seen as entitled, needy, self-absorbed, and privileged. They’re known as job-hoppers and “the trophy generation.” They’re famous for technology addiction.

If you’re a Millennial who doesn’t feel like part of that stereotype, you’re not alone. Research conducted by Beyond.com shows that it takes more than a feeling to shut down those stereotypes. In order to get bosses or potential employers on your side, you have to prove that you can break the Millennial mold.

Be a team player

In a national survey of Millennials and veteran HR professionals, Beyond.com uncovered striking differences in the perceptions of this generation. For example, the survey revealed that 60% of Millennials identify as team players, but only 22% of HR professionals think the generation works well on a team. In other words, recruiters think only one out of every five applicants possesses the ability to work well with others.

You can prove that you’re one of those team players by showcasing your experience working in teams and highlighting those skills in interviews or through networking. If you volunteer with local organizations, share how those experiences helped you grow. Explore your role as a team member in any school projects or previous jobs and explain how you worked well with others. If you can, collect references and letters of recommendation from people who can speak to your specific teamwork skills.

Communicate well

65% of surveyed Millennials believe they possess great interpersonal communication skills. However, only 14% of HR professionals agree. With such a large gap in perception, you have a significant opportunity to stand out from the crowd and break the mold.

Start by brushing up on your communications skills. Consider taking an online class in important communication practices. Join a group like Toastmasters to advance your public speaking experience. Or, read articles and books that share tips about communicating with older generations, as well as communicating through email, phone, and writing. By taking the extra step to learn these important skills, you not only become a more well-rounded employee, but also show recruiters and potential employers that you possess the initiative to grow.

Work harder

If you consider yourself a hard worker, you’re not alone. 85% of surveyed Millennials identify with the trait, in contrast to only 11% of HR professionals who believe the generation works hard. To further break that number down, only one in 10 Millennial jobseekers is perceived as a hard worker by potential employers. While this may sound disheartening, it means there is room for you to stand out.

One of the easiest ways to break the Millennial mold is to simply give your best every day. Luckily, you don’t have to be an existing employee to prove your work ethic to an employer. Start before you are hired by building a network of professionals who will speak to your skills. By showing up to work on time, staying late when a job needs to be finished, or taking on extra assignments, people will notice that you’re a hard worker. And chances are, they’ll be willing to serve as a reference or write a recommendation for you in the future.

Be a leader

Even if a leadership role isn’t on your current career path, it’s important to sharpen your leadership skills if you want to stand out. Less than half of Millennials identify as leaders (40%), but even fewer (9%) of HR professionals recognize leadership potential in younger employees.

As older generations begin to retire and exit the workforce, it will be up to Millennials to fill the void. Employers recognize this and make hiring decisions accordingly. They look for new employees who show leadership potential, have skills that make them great mentors, and aren’t afraid of challenges. If you’re hoping to land a job, you need to show potential employers that you possess the leadership skills to keep their business thriving in the coming years.

Consider joining industry organizations and volunteering for leadership roles within them, like secretary or treasurer. Volunteer your time as a mentor or tutor for local schools, organize a neighborhood committee, or assemble a team of colleagues to tackle a company initiative. When you show the initiative to lead, you position yourself as an ideal candidate in a changing workforce.

Focus on loyalty

In perhaps the most striking of findings, the survey revealed that 82% of Millennials define themselves as loyal. But only 1% of HR professionals agree. Are you part of that perceived 1% of your generation who embrace workplace loyalty? If you want to stand out from the competition, you should.

Millennials are often referred to as “job hoppers,” or workers who don’t stay with an employer for long before moving to the next one. While this lack of tenure is common in early years of employment, it’s important to not make a habit of it. Be mindful of the applications you send out and jobs you accept. If you don’t think you’ll be happy at a company, or think you’ll look for another job as soon as you start, it may not be the best fit.

While you can’t always turn down a job that isn’t a great fit due to financial reasons, you can help enact positive changes in the workplace. Offer suggestions, join committees, and try to get involved. And remember to focus on the benefits of the job, like health insurance, wellness initiatives, or paid time off.

When you focus on showcasing traits that contrast popular stereotypes, you can break the Millennial mold and prove your workplace value. Remember, you can’t just tell bosses and potential supervisors that your talents are a perfect match for the job. You have to show them, too.

How do you break the generational molds? Share your tips in the comments section below!

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

12 Ways to be Thankful for Your Career

give thanks

November is National Gratitude Month. And, there’s a lot to be thankful for in our every day lives.

When we think of the things we are grateful for we automatically think of our personal lives—family, friends, and experiences. But what about our professional lives? We should also consider what we’re thankful for at work. We spend approximately 2,080 hours at work yearly. Surely, there’s got to be something to be grateful for during our careers.

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4 Tips for Setting a Personal Budget

Save Money at WorkFor many, the word “budget” is a negative term often compared to a diet in the way that you have to give up things you love. A personal budget is a plan to help you build a solid foundation of financial wellness so you can do and have the things you want without hurting your financial future. At the core of budgeting, there is one common principle—track all of your expenses to see where your money is going.

After tracking your expenses, you may realize that you are spending more than you’re making. Draw a line between your wants and needs. Remember living within your means can keep you from drowning in debt.

Keep it simple

1.  Outline your financial goals.

Are you saving to purchase a car or house, pay off debt, or save for a vacation? Be specific on how much you need to save and how long it will take to achieve your overall goal. This should help you plan how much to save monthly. Make sure your goals are achievable.

2.  Track Your Income and Spending

The main idea of a budget is help you spend less than you’re bringing in. To get started, list your income and monthly expenses. Keep track of all your expenses, everything from your morning cup of coffee to property taxes to see where the money is going. Remember, expenses like your mortgage or car payment likely won’t change over time, however expenses like your electric bill can vary depending on the time of year.

3.  Identify Ways to Save

Develop a wants-and-needs list to help identify where to start trimming your spending. Most financial experts recommend earmarking 40% of your earnings for necessities such as housing and utilities and 10% in an interest-bearing account or a tax-favored 401(K) plan. Look for creative ways to save, for example make coffee at home instead of spending $4 a day; $20 a week, or $80 a month. Remember small savings can add up to a huge surplus.

4.  Stick To It

  • Review your budget on a regular basis.
  • Stay focused on your goals.
  • Be sure that the budget accurately reflects your spending and be prepared to make additional adjustments.

A surplus in your monthly budget is right around the corner and puts you one step closer to achieving your overall goal.

Do you have tips for setting and sticking to a personal budget? Let us know in the comment section!