Lunch Foods to Keep you Energized at Work

Lunchenergy_Jan_2012_webWe’ve all been there – 2:30 p.m. rolls around and our eyelids feel like they weigh 50 pounds. We start yawning, then stretch and squirm at our work station to stay awake. The mid-day food drain can impact your productivity at work and can be frowned upon by co-workers if you’re constantly yawning at meetings.

It’s time to ditch the drowsy and embrace the energy at work. By changing a few habits during your lunch break, you can find the energy you need to last the day and work stronger than ever. Here are some fun food ideas to help you stay awake and avoid the urge to take a nap at your desk.

Why Am I So Sleepy?
After eating, your body is diverting blood flow for the digestive process. While this blood flow can energize you, the heavier, fattier foods cause sluggishness. Eating sugary foods greatly increases blood sugar levels, causing the pancreas to release insulin. This causes the body to change the insulin into several enzymes until it finally gets into the brain and is converted into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel sleepy.

Like a Checkbook, Keep it Balanced
One of the best ways to keep yourself fueled throughout the day is to make sure your lunch is complete with carbohydrates and low-fat protein. The good kind of carbs come from fiber in foods like fruits and vegetables, nuts, beans, and whole grains.

One of the best ways to combine these foods is with the classic sandwich. You can combine whole-grain breads, wraps, or pitas with high protein foods like lean meats, such as turkey, chicken, tuna, cheese, or eggs. You can complete it with assorted greens, sprouts, onions, tomatoes, or cucumbers to help give you some extra long-lasting carbs to keep you energized.

Eating sandwiches every day may get boring and you might get back in the habit of eating out. To add some variety to your lunch, consider bringing leftovers from previous dinners. They are a great food to bring because you can control the calories and portions to ensure it will be healthy yet filling. It wouldn’t be hard to cook a little extra at nights and bring your black bean casserole, soup, or chili to work throughout the week.

Less is More
Many starchy and carb-loaded foods take time to expand in your stomach to tell your body that it’s full, which causes you to still feel hungry after eating. Big meals take more effort to digest, which works your body harder and results in less oxygen and nutrition reaching your brain.

Another way to keep your energy level up during work is to spread your meals into smaller portions throughout the day instead of a big meal at lunch. Eating frequent, healthy snacks will keep your metabolism going and help you feel energized. Foods like fruits provide long-lasting carbs full, leaving you feeling energetic hours after consumption. Eating fiber in granola and oatmeal can also help keep you from feeling hungry and give you a vigorous boost as the day continues.

You don’t have to struggle keeping tempo with your after-lunch work schedule. If you eat healthier, smaller portions, you can maintain a high level of energy while feeling full and content all day. What are some foods you like to eat at lunch that keep you going all day?

Foolproof Conference Calls: 3 How To Tips

Conferencecall_Jan_2012_webIf you’ve ever been asked to set up a conference call, you know first hand the anxiety that comes with meetings conducted this way. So many things can go wrong, from the phone conferencing system, or web conferencing software not working to attendees not calling in on time. Conference calls are normally necessary when a question is complex, a decision is trying to be reached, or an idea is being pitched, which can all be stressful conversations in person, without the added challenges conference calls can bring. Here are a few tips to take control of the situation, help you plan for the call, and conduct a successful meeting. 

1. Plan in Advance

When it comes to setting up a conference call, don’t leave anything to chance. Before you set up the call make sure you understand what is expected. Some technical questions to ask are:

  • Will you need to be able to share a slideshow or your computer screen?
  • How many people will be on the line and will you need to be able to mute the lines?
  • Will the audio call and/or the visual presentation need to be recorded?
  • How long will the call take?

You’ll want to schedule the call like you would schedule a meeting, using your calendar software to make sure that everyone involved will be available. Resist the urge to send an email with the details, instead send a meeting request containing the conference call logistics to ensure that it will show up on the calendars of the attendees and not be lost in their email inboxes. Prior to sending the meeting request, confirm the phone number, access codes, and online presentation link so that all of the information is included in the initial meeting invite. Don’t make it difficult to find the log-in information by sending separate emails and meeting requests – communicate clearly in one message. Also, include an agenda or list of questions that will be addressed. Giving your attendees time to gather information they need prior to the call will help you achieve your objectives and have a better discussion on the call. Conference calls can be effective ways to clear up confusion and seek direction, as opposed to several email threads or discussion threads trying to seek a resolution, if people are prepared in advance for the conversation .

2. Rehearse

If several individuals on your team will be involved in a call to make a presentation to a client, make sure everyone knows in advance who will be taking the lead. As the initiator of the call, you are expected to start the discussion and ensure all necessary items are communicated and decided upon with the meeting time. Again, if several of you will be talking during the call its best to rehearse the presentation to make sure everything flows together and the transition among speakers is a smooth transition. It’s important to keep callers engaged and a smooth presentation is a good step in doing that. When a call seems disorganized and lacks an agenda attendees can start to tune out and focus on the work at their desk instead of engaging in the conversation.

3. Set Up in Advance

About 30 minutes prior to the call, confirm the phone number and access codes of the call and make sure that was the information sent in the meeting request. Check to make sure your conference call was set up for the right date, in the right time zone, and for a.m. or p.m. With some conference bridges, an error in one of those fields will block callers from dialing in. If you’re hosting the meeting in a conference room, make sure the web conferencing and phone conferencing lines are all in working order and turned on 15 minutes before the call begins. If you have to download any software for the call, make sure you’ve done that the day before the call on the machines you’ll be using. You’ll reduce the stress of your fellow participants if everything is flowing smoothly before the call even begins. Prior to the call beginning, make sure you know how to mute/unmute callers and how to record the presentation and/or audio portion. One last trick for success is to dial-in with the call participant information from your cell phone after you’ve activated the call to make sure everything is working correctly. Also, let a teammate that is not on the call know the log-in information so they can direct anyone who has misplaced the information how to join.

All of the time you’ve invested prior to the call will pay off in a successful call, saving you time in the long-run. And your participants will appreciate your respect for their time with your attention to detail in hosting a successful conference call.

 

By Rachel Rudisill

4 Ways to Background Check a Potential Employer

Backgroundcheck_Jan2012_webAll right, super-sleuths. You sent a strong résumé, and the employer has called you for an interview. What do you do now? It’s almost certain the prospective company is already starting to research who you are and what you’re like outside of work, so it’s just as important that you thoroughly background check them too.

Even with slow economic conditions, choosing the right employer is imperative because you will be relying on them for continuous employment, a steady paycheck, and challenging work to help you develop and grow your skills.

Where do you start? Where do you go other than the main website? What do you look for? Don’t fear, job gumshoes, the Movin’ On Up Detective Agency will help you hit the street, put the finger on available sources, and get the information you need so you can put the screws on your potential employer and get hired.

Direct Approach

Even with the internet giving you more information at your disposal than ever before, some of the best information can be gathered on foot.

Bigger companies or nonprofits generally have an abundance of pamphlets, fliers, and other sources of information available at the front desk if requested. You’d be surprised how many organizations don’t put many details on their websites. Smaller companies and nonprofits are harder to find information for and can require outside sources.

Another old-fashioned way of finding information is through public resources like libraries.  Many public libraries subscribe to databases that aren’t generally available to the public, and those can open up riches of information on companies and non-profits. If you aren’t sure where to look, ask one of the librarians for assistance.

Online Sources

You should be finding out if your employer is a public or private organization. If it’s public, you can use all the sources from the library at your disposal, but if it’s a smaller, private organization, you’ll have to try different methods.

If you don’t have access to a college library and your public library is lacking, there are several websites out there to help you gather intel on potential employers.

Try looking for their new products and services, potential mergers, and their general financial future. Also, look into what their competition is doing to see how the employer is separating itself. Try using websites like Vault or GlassDoor to get general information and opinions on your potential employer.

Social Media Savvy

If you can’t find information on the organization’s website, try looking on their Facebook or Twitter pages. Many times, a company’s social media site will not only have more company information, but will have contact information for you to call or email if you feel like you need more data.

It’s also a good idea to check out the potential employer’s blog as well. This will give great insight to their feel, identity, what it’s about, and what’s important to it. Seeing what is on the company’s mind will give you some topics to discuss when you interview.

Man on the Inside

If you’ve graduated from college, don’t underestimate the value of your school’s alumni association. Try finding out if any of your school’s alumni work for your potential employer and see if they can give you any insight into the company, how the hiring went, and any other useful information they can give. Also, try looking at your LinkedIn connection levels to see if you have connections with anyone associated with that particular company.

If you don’t have access to any graduates or contacts from inside the company, you can always make connections by calling them to find out more information. Try calling the HR department or any recruiters to get more information or promotional material. Start conversing with them, and see if you can get any extra tidbits that aren’t listed in the promotional material.

You may feel like you’re behind the eight ball when it comes to giving your potential employer an up-and-down, but with these helpful hints, you’ll be ready for anything the employer can throw at you. What are some ways you have learned more about a potential company?

That Was Close! How Reporting Near Misses Can Keep you Safe

Nearmiss_Jan2012_webYou know what you can do to protect yourself from and to prevent injuries, but there is an often overlooked threat that lurks behind the scenes at the workplace. There’s a high probability that it’s happened to you, but you don’t really think about the implications it can have on you and those working around you.

Ever have something fall off a shelf, a shirt caught on a piece of equipment, or your ladder narrowly misses a power line?  To err is human. We all make mistakes from time to time, but incidents like those examples can not only put you in danger, but also endanger your co-workers down the line if not reported. It’s easy to shake-off near misses and chalk it up to good luck, but what was an avoided catastrophe now, might not be in the future. Here is some advice to help you learn the value of reporting near misses to your employer and what they mean to your safety.

No, Really. What is a Near Miss?

A near miss is an unintentional, unsafe occurrence that didn’t result in injury, fatality, or property damage, but had the potential to do so. These types of situations can happen at any time, no matter what field or industry you work in. Near misses often precede real accidents that can result in injury or death. Your employer won’t be aware of these potential threats on their own. It’s up to you to report these dangers to keep everyone safe.

It’s Your Early Warning System

Reporting near misses is one of the best ways to avoid serious injuries or even death in the workplace. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported nearly 3.1 million nonfatal work-related injuries in the private sector, and according to the National Research Council, nearly 6,000 Americans die from workplace injures every year.

Making sure you inform your managers about near misses is a learning tool for you and your company. When near misses occur they can be regarded as early warnings that something is wrong somewhere in the system. You wouldn’t want to work in an environment that wasn’t as safe as possible, so be sure to inform your supervisors of any potential hazards before you or your co-workers are put in danger.

You’re Not Causing Problems

Many near misses go unreported because workers feel their supervisors don’t appreciate having to stop what they are doing to investigate the issue. It may feel like management doesn’t encourage these kinds of reports and it’s just a hassle, but you and your co-workers safety and security should be the biggest priority at work. Don’t ever feel like reporting a near miss would be a distraction, inconvenience, or annoyance.

When reporting near misses, you’re showing initiative. You are keeping your colleagues and employer in mind by saving money and time when avoiding accidents. This type of investment in your company is what management looks for when promoting their workers. If your employer has a weak or non-existent near miss reporting policy, showcase your leadership skills by working with them to create an improved system. 

Don’t wait for the accident to happen before letting your supervisors know about it. It could be your life on the line. What are some ways you’ve stepped up to promote a safe work place?

I Know What You Tweeted Last Summer, Can Social Media Harm Your Job Search?

Dangersocialmedia_Jan2011_webSocial media has become an amazing tool millions of people use every day to meet, connect, and stay in touch with each other all over the world. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ help their users express themselves and meet like-minded individuals to share their thoughts and passions to build communities like never before.

They are also tools for potential employers to get a better picture of who you are outside of the interview or résumé. According to a recent survey conducted by the recruiting and applicant tracking software company Jobvite, 90% of employers will refer to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin before making a hire. Many employers feel that whatever you do in your normal social life will reflect in your work life. With the newest Facebook Timeline feature, it will be even easier for companies to see posts from your crazy college days, outbursts from teenage angst, or outrageous decisions as a young adult from two or three years ago. Here are some ways social media may keep you from getting hired and how to avoid it.

Trash Talkin’

Any vicious or ill-tempered comments you make on your social media sites can make you look bad. These are reflections on you as a person outside of the job interview where you are actively trying to put your best foot forward and impress.

One of the most famous examples of this is the “Cisco Fatty” incident in 2009. Job seeker, Connor Riley was offered a position with consumer electronics company Cisco. Later that day, Riley posted the on her Twitter account:

 

“Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.”

 

Soon, a manager at Cisco found the tweet in a search and responded:

 

“Who is the hiring manager. I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web.”

 

Needless to say, her job offer was soon withdrawn. Be careful when posting your thoughts and opinions online no matter what frame of mind you’re in at the time. You never know who is reading it. A safe bet is if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything.

Picture Postin’

Pictures are great ways to highlight the best memories from your past. They can also be proof of some of the most unprofessional and embarrassing moments in your life. What you do in your free time reflects the kind of person you are. Potential employers will not see you as a reliable, serious candidate if your profiles are littered with party and prank photos. You might also want to avoid showcasing your record number of tattoos or piercings if looking for a job with a lot of face-to-face and direct business meetings.

Go Googlin’

Have you ever typed your name into Google and searched yourself? What do you think you’ll find? You should search your name regularly during your job hunt to see what pops up. If you want to use your profiles for silly pictures and rants, set your profiles to private. It won’t keep everything from those looking for you, it will help. If you want your name to appear more professional, sign up for several other professional social networking sites like Ziggs, Ecademy, or Networking for Professionals, The more your name is out there producing positive content, the more good things will show up on Google.

Some employers really do use online profiles to help make hiring decisions. Online image company Reppler reports almost 65% of employers say they have passed on prospective hires after taking a look at their social profiles. What have you done to help boost your professional image online?

Find the Confidence to Speak up in a Meeting

Speakup_Jan2012_webThe famous author Mark Twain once said, “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.” For many, it’s this mentality that keeps talented workers from expressing their ideas and experiences during meetings at work. No matter what your reason for staying quiet in a meeting, it’s important for you to have your voice heard. 

Not only is your employer losing a valuable insight or idea, but you are also slowing your career path and putting your eligibility for leadership in question. Even if you don’t have experience working in meetings, here are some ways to find the inner courage to speak up at meetings and make your presence known.

Rhyme and Reason

There may not be an “I” in the word “team,” but each individual in the meeting is there for a reason. You have been invited to a meeting because of some talent, skill, or knowledge you possess. Before you start thinking of excuses in your head of why you shouldn’t speak up, remember that you are supposed to be there, and the chairperson wouldn’t have included you if your abilities weren’t necessary. If you aren’t sure, ask your manager or the meeting organizer why you are being involved. This will help you get a better understanding so you can develop a strategy before attending. 

Prepare to be an Expert

Unless your meeting is impromptu or short-notice, you’ll have time to prepare. You’ll be much more likely to participate if you have a strong understanding of the material being discussed or the topic at hand. Take 10 minutes out of your day to research what is being discussed, write down any ideas or solutions you come up with, and any information that supports your points. If you’re unsure about the material you came up with, present the information to your manager to see if you are on the right track. Even if what you have doesn’t address the point of the meeting, your manager will be impressed by your initiative and drive.

This Little Light of Mine

If you hide yourself in the farthest, darkest place in the meeting room, you’ll be more likely to stay quiet. If possible, sit in the front of the meeting area where you’ll get the most people looking in your direction. If meeting at a table or circular room, try sitting next to the chairperson or organizer for the group. The more you’re in front of the action, the more likely you’ll be involved with the action. If you don’t think that will be enough, tell a manager or meeting leader to keep you in mind and ask you questions throughout the meeting to better your chances of having your opinions heard.

Don’t Abandon Ship

You’re prepped, you’re in the spotlight, and now you have to remember one important tip: stand your ground. Don’t back down at the first sign of challenge. Many individuals who usually dominate meetings have an “iron sharpens iron” mentality, and they could challenge your idea to make it better. It’s not a personal attack on you. If you have your research ready, you should be able to explain your point clearly and easily. Someone could bring up a point that you didn’t expect, but don’t get nervous. Explore those counterpoints and ask questions. Even though you might have to go back to the drawing board, your peers and managers will note the initiative you took, positioning you for leadership roles as you gain more experience and keep bringing ideas to the table.

Meetings don’t have to be scary if you don’t let them intimidate you. Use your best judgment and if you honestly feel like you can’t contribute or it’s a waste of time, it’s ok to consider walking away. But if you want to make a good impression and have your hard work and ideas help your employer move forward, you can now position yourself to let your voice be heard. What have you done to prepare yourself to speak up during an important meeting?

Avoid Getting Sick This Season

Germs_Jan2012_webCold and flu season is upon us, and if your workplace is fighting off a mass of sick days there are a few things you can do to stay healthy. It’s important to know that germs can live on hard surfaces for up to 48 hours and that fingers carrying the flu virus can contaminate up to seven clean surfaces. So with that in mind, how are you going to prevent the spread of germs?

Keep Things Clean

While it may be hard to control whether or not your conference tables, door handles, and office equipment have been recently sanitized, you can keep your own hands clean. Make sure you wash your hands often throughout the day, with soap and water and dry them with paper towels or an air dryer. Keep hand sanitizer at your own work station, using it when you get back to your area after coming in contact with high traffic areas. Avoid touching your face after shaking hands or touching a door handle. Carrying germs into your airways through your mouth or nose is an easy way to get sick.

Clean your own work station as well. Think about your phone, keyboard, mouse, machines, and workspace. Consider cleaning them daily when colds are popping up around your office, it should only take about 10 minutes if you don’t have a lot of clutter, and the added benefit could be your increased productivity for having a clean workspace. Make sure you use cleaners that are safe on the surfaces you are cleaning and can kill germs. 

Don’t Share …, In Favor of Staying Well

Try to keep the things you share, like pens and staplers, with others to a minimum. Splurge on a packet of unique pens that you really like and always keep one handy so you aren’t tempted to use the office pen that is likely covered with germs. Take the extra steps back to your workstation to use your own stapler, scissors, tape, or other equipment to avoid the germs left behind on shared tools.

Stay Home When You’re Sick

It sounds easier said than done, but now is the time to use your sick leave or sacrifice a day out for the greater good. While you may feel pressure to come into work when you are sick, try to be reasonable about how productive you’ll be when you are running a fever and taking cough medicine every few hours. You may think you are helping your team by coming in sick, but you may be starting a round of sick days taken by your co-workers when you spread your germs. Additionally, if you work in a service position, consider how your customers will feel having to purchase something from someone who is sneezing and coughing everywhere. Nobody likes to be ill, and your co-workers don’t want to be around you when you are under the weather. If you communicate with your supervisor in an honest and direct way, you shouldn’t fear calling in sick. Taking a day out to prevent everyone else from getting sick also shows your dedication to your team.

Do you have any good tips to share on staying health this winter? What is your workplace plan for keeping everyone healthy?

 

By Rachel Rudisill