Tag Archives: work/life balance

Fight Stress, Stay Healthy

The Japanese concept of “Karōshi” can almost literally be translated as “death from overwork.” The term first came into common usage in Japan during the 1980s after rising concern following the sudden death of several high-ranking business men who showed no signs of previous health issues. “Karōshi” has been attributed to a wide variety of stress-related medical issues, such as high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke, to name a few.

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Why Do So Many People Hate Their Jobs?

Why are we so dissatisfied with our work?

You’ve heard about it in the halls. Around the water cooler. At parties. When you pick up your son or granddaughter. No matter where you go, at least one person is complaining about their job.

But it’s still surprising to see the statistics around work. The Conference Board recently published results regarding their latest survey on job satisfaction. They found that 51% of employees feel overall satisfaction with their jobs. Although this is actually an upward-trending number, the fact that 49% of workers remain unsatisfied is concerning, to say the least. In addition, workers noted disappointment in regard to the professional development aspects of their job. Meaning they gave the lowest marks to educational/job training programs. Other low categories include workload, the performance review process, and promotion policy.

But what else goes into hating a job? And what can you do about it?

Perceived Lack of Choice

Think of this as the “work just to get a paycheck” mentality. At a base level, many people only work to afford living expenses, pay student loans, enjoy hobbies, and fund college for kids. The majority often end up working for other reasons (parents’ expectations, to get married, to support children, etc.).

You might have dreams outside of your current company, but can’t risk pursuing those dreams because of monetary obligations. So, sometimes you sit at the same job, day after day, working on autopilot, just waiting for retirement.

The only way to get around this is to break free of constraints. If you truly hate your job, you should quit. But the future is scary. As a solution, consider working other jobs part-time, and think of it as a trial run. And if you just plain hate the industry you’re working in? Seek out online classes or night school to learn a new trade.

Office Drama

Your cubicle mate chews loudly, every day.  Amanda in Sales is jealous of your promotion. Your boss refuses to let you advance because he needs you to keep reporting to him. You just can’t get past that glass ceiling.

Office drama comes in many shapes and forms, from annoying coworker habits to illegal activity at the top of the food chain. No matter the severity of the drama, it can easily affect your work satisfaction.

For smaller issues, try contacting managers to discuss options. Or if you have a horrible boss, you can ask to move departments (just make sure to document all abusive behavior).

But for problems up at the top? It might be time to leave. To ensure that you don’t end up encountering another unstable company culture, check out Glassdoor, a site where employees can review companies. That way you’ll have a better idea of what you’re in for.

You’re Underpaid

This is a big one. Earlier we mentioned that, at a base level, most of us work to get a paycheck. If you’re working more than what your paycheck is worth, you’re going to be unhappy.

You see other people get promotions or raises and just grow even more unsatisfied with your job. You work harder than them—why haven’t you gotten a raise?

In many cases, this is because you haven’t asked for one. Asking is tough; we get that. That’s why we’ve provided the tools you need to negotiate a raise. And if they won’t pay what you’re worth? Start looking elsewhere. The job search can be intimidating, but what have you got to lose? In a worst case scenario, you’ll keep working where you are. But you deserve the chance to find something better.

And Express Employment Professionals can help. Let us do the job search for you. We work with employers all across the United States and Canada, and we know exactly what they’re looking for. Odds are, you’ll make the perfect candidate for one of those companies. Register online or locate an office near you.

Do you hate your job? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments section below!

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!

 

 

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.

 

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!

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.