Halloween at the Workplace

Halloween at workOctober 31 is just around the corner. Trick-or-Treaters will be filling the streets, and in some cases, the office hallways.

Each organization and company has its own unique way of celebrating Halloween. Allowing employees to bring their children in and have them trick-or-treat amongst the cubicles is one way many organizations participate. While some companies can’t be flexible in their dress code, others allow their workers to join in on the festivities, with some even participating in all out inter-department costume contests.

We’d like to hear what your company does to celebrate Halloween. Share your stories and some of your best “work appropriate” costume ideas in the past and what you plan to wear this year.

How to Call in Sick When You’re Truly Ill

Call I Work SickFlu season in the U.S. usually begins in November and lasts through March, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite preventative efforts, you’re still vulnerable to illness. If you feel under the weather and determine you’re too sick to be productive at work, it’s time to call in sick. But, what is the proper way to call in sick without sounding like a knockoff Ferris Bueller looking to play hooky? Following these tips for proper call-in-sick etiquette will help you stay on your boss’s good side while recovering at home.

  • Speak to your boss directly. To prevent red flags going up, don’t send an e-mail or text message, or leave a voicemail when calling in sick because it’s too informal. Also, unless you’re physically unable to talk on the phone, never have your spouse call in sick for you. This makes you look unprofessional. Plus, your boss might suspect you really aren’t under the weather if you don’t speak to them directly and may require a doctor’s note.
  • Always be truthful. If you’re too sick to come in to work, just simply say so. There is no need to go into great detail about your symptoms unless asked. Doing so will make you sound like you planned it all out.
  • Stop with the act. Unless you have an Academy Award in hand, don’t purposely add coughs and sneezes to try to convince your boss that you’re sicker than you are. You can’t be that good of an actor and your boss will only become more wary.
  • Call before you’re scheduled. Try to inform your employer as early in the day as possible. They will appreciate that you gave them time to prepare for your absence. Even though they’ve lost you for the day, your boss might be able find someone to cover your shift with enough notice or cover your projects in the office.
  • Contact your staffing agency. If you’re a temporary employee, you should follow the same tips and notify your staffing agency as well. If they can find a replacement for your shift that day, your employer won’t be short a worker and it will lessen your chances of repercussion.

When calling in sick, remember to be honest, talk to your employer directly, and give them proper notice. Showing that you respect the company will help build your value to the employer. Good employees are hard to find, and your employer will remember that, even when you’re sick.

Don’t Job Hunt at Work and Other Tips

Job HuntingMy friend was telling me how she has a job but is looking for a new one. Now, she is escalating her job search, much like many other U.S. workers. According to a survey by Salary.com, 57% of workers are intensifying their job hunt within the next three months despite fears of recession.

Inadequate compensation, lack of career advancement and professional development, insufficient recognition, and boredom were the top five reasons for leaving a job.

But, she set off warning bells in my head when she told me that she was surfing the internet for job opportunities while at work. Searching for other employment opportunities on the job can lead to being reprimanded or worse, termination. To avoid ending up jobless and without any job leads, conduct your job hunt discretely while employed. Follow these job search dos and don’ts:

  • Don’t advertise your job search around the office. How do you expect others to keep your job hunt a secret when you can’t keep from opening your mouth?
  • Do ask for confidentiality. When needing discretion, simply ask prospective employers for the respect of confidentiality and to not contact your current boss. It won’t hurt your chances of getting a job offer. Use former employers as references if needed.
  • Don’t use work telephones and e-mails for contact information. Since work phones and e-mails can be monitored and are considered company property, use personal phones and home e-mail addresses on résumés or employment forms. Also, make sure to use cell phones while away from your desk, out of earshot from others. Make sure to use your own time on breaks and at lunch, and not on company time.
  • Do schedule an interview before work, during lunch, or after work. Not interviewing during work hours shows respect toward your current employer, and good recruiters are usually prepared to accommodate. If you must schedule an interview during business hours, use PTO time.
  • Don’t wear interview clothes to work if you normally dress casually. Dressing out of the ordinary will draw attention to yourself. If you have an interview before, during or after work, find time to change in between.
  • Do your job search on your own time. Never browse for job opportunities while your boss is paying you to work. Save the search for break time, lunch hours, or after-hours, but don’t use the company’s internet.
  • Don’t job search with company money. Using the company paper and printer to print out résumés is a major no-no. Mail them out with your own postage. Your current employer is not financing your job hunt. Make sure you do all of this at home.

Following proper job hunting etiquette while still employed will show your potential employer that you are respectful toward employers, and will keep you from being terminated before you’re ready to make a move.

Chuck vs. the Professional Crossroad

In the season two premiere of NBC’s Chuck, full-time computer technician Chuck Bartowski is finally offered the assistant manager position his family and friends thought he’d been hoping for. But, the events leading Chuck to become a super-secret, super-nerdy version of 007 also lead him to realize his full potential. His fellow spies tell him that his skills could help him be successful at whatever he wishes, but he feels that taking the promotion would be one step closer toward a dead end. Unlike Chuck, you don’t have to wait for a government super computer to download to your brain for you to reconsider your career goals. If your current job isn’t taking you where you want to go, check out these tips?

Reevaluate Your Goals
Over time, priorities and circumstances change. What you want as a recent college graduate might change when you start a family. Volunteer efforts might lead you to discover another more fulfilling and refreshing vocation. If your goals have changed, there’s no reason to dedicate your hard work to something you no longer want. So it’s important to occasionally re-evaluate your career and life aspirations to make necessary changes so you’ll be fulfilled and successful.

Consider Different Career Options
After you assess your career goals and find out that your current job can’t get you where you want to go, it’s time to rethink your career options. If you find a more rewarding calling, what is keeping you from making the career change? If the job change is constantly on your mind, make a conscious effort to do more research and see if you really want a career change or just a change of pace from your current duties. If you’re just looking for a way out of where you’re working, you may simply be experiencing job burnout, and could revitalize you with a new job in the same field.

When coming to a professional crossroad, remember to take all things into consideration before making a move. With today’s unemployment rate, a job search could take several months. So, make sure you carefully consider all your options, and what you’re willing to do to make a change.

Have you been considering a career change? What are some of the factors holding you back?

Job Burnout: Part 4 – Beating Job Burnout

We know what job burnout is and what causes it. So if you recognize that you’re in that state, you can finally address your situation. Try using these tips to help you break away from burnout.

Avoid boredom – Jobs and tasks can get boring after awhile if you let them. If a job offers little challenge or becomes incredibly uninteresting after a while, job burnout can set in. To combat this, talk to your boss about a possible role rotation or for new assignments and responsibilities. Also, put the monotonous tasks together and get them out of the way at the beginning of the day. This will free up the rest of the day for you to do things you enjoy working on, as well as prevent the constant dread of anticipating the unwanted tasks.

Don’t overwork – People who have a tough time saying “no” to anything work-related leave themselves exposed to the threat of job burnout. Although you try to project the sense that you’re a team player and take on others tasks, you can quickly begin to feel like a doormat being stepped on. It’s OK to help a colleague when the need arises, but learn to say “no” when you need to so your workload is manageable.

Leave work at the office – Bringing the stresses of work back home only compounds your problems. Take your time away from the office to recharge your mind and focus attaining on a great work-life balance – especially on the relationships closest to you. Joining a community organization or increasing your social life can help offset the constant worries at work.

Exercise and stay healthy – You may wonder why your health is a concern for your work-life, but a major sign of job burnout is chronic fatigue. Exercise and a healthy diet will help you keep your energy supply ample while making it through another day.

Take a vacation – Sometimes the best remedy is to just get away from the work scene for awhile, so remove yourself completely from it. Take a trip if you can afford it, or go on your own “stay-cation.” Everyone – from the president of a company to a secretary to someone who’s self-employed – needs a little time away from work.

Make a career change – If you are truly feeling miserable and everything that you’ve tried has only been a quick fix, realize it may be time for a change. You don’t have to be stuck in a rut at the same job. A career change – or simply switching departments within the same company – can infuse you with new vigor. If you simply don’t know where to start, try a staffing agency. Through taking a variety of temporary assignments, you can experience different fields of work. And if you do find a job you like, many temporary positions lead to permanent work.

Though it may seem impossible to escape burnout, try using these tips and see what happens. Make the effort now to get out of job burnout, and you’ll be happier and healthier sooner than you think.

Job Burnout: Part 3 – Signs and Symptoms

Do you know your burnout level or if you’re in danger of job burnout. The impact to job burnout can grow exponentially and burn you out well before you realize it. By knowing the signs and symptoms in advance of burnout, you can avoid or prevent further damage.

Stress vs. Burnout
While unrelenting stress can contribute to burnout, stress alone isn’t the same as burnout. To be able to tackle your misery head on, it’s important to be able to differentiate between the two to identify if you’re experiencing job burnout or just stress.

With stress, there is an overwhelming feeling and an inability to cope. Stress primarily deals with “too much” – too much piled on, too much to do, too much to handle. The effects of stress often lead to psychological and physical issues, such as heart problems and high blood pressure.

On the other hand, job burnout is about “not enough.” As a result of unrelenting stress, someone burned out feels empty, has little to no motivation, and simply doesn’t care. The effects of burnout translate to emotional issues, such as apathy and depression.

One important difference between job burnout and stress is that you’re usually aware of stressful situations, but job burnout can be present for weeks or months before you notice it. When experiencing workplace stress, you tend to care too much, but with burnout, there is a constant pessimistic attitude. This is usually how you can differentiate a few bad workdays from job burnout.

Causes of Professional Burnout
Constant stress isn’t the only attributing factor to job burnout. When you dealt with stress in school, friends were readily available and “the light at the end of the tunnel” (graduation) was always in sight. In the professional world, the next step is hard to visualize. Unrealistic goals – whether set by you or by others – and the inability to constantly achieve them can result in job burnout. Even if employees enjoy the work that they do, they’re at risk when they feel underappreciated and underpaid. Matters out of their control also cause professional burnout including – being pushed around by the office bully, undermined by co-workers, or micromanaged by your boss.

Though these factors can contribute to burnout, there’s no one combination. It’s different for everyone. However, there are some tried and true solutions for dealing with it. Don’t miss our next post to learn more.

Job Burnout: Part 2 – 12 Questions to Diagnose Burnout

Job burnout can be hard to handle. Not only is it emotionally exhausting, it can impact your health and performance as well. So, how do you know when it’s the real deal? Ask yourself the following questions to find out.

  • Are you more cynical, negative, critical, or sarcastic at work?
  • Do you have to drag yourself to work and have trouble starting once you get there?
  • Do you lack the energy to stay consistently productive?
  • Do you no longer feel satisfaction from your achievements or do you question the value of the tasks that you perform?
  • Are you feeling under-compensated for your work?
  • Are you disillusioned about your career?
  • Are you constantly fatigued?
  • Do you lose your temper easily?
  • Are you thinking about a career change?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed or stressed most of the time?
  • Do you feel like you have little or no control over things at work or at home?
  • Are you just “going through the motions” to get through your shift?

If you’ve answered yes to four or more of the questions, chances are, you’re bound for job burnout if you’re not already there. In our next blog, we’ll discuss tactics to avoid and deal with professional burnout.