Monthly Archives: June 2016

How To Simple Improve Your Work Life Balance

Everyone wants a healthy work-life balance, but it seems that few are able to achieve it. Some even say that true balance is unattainable, because it doesn’t exist in the modern world — smart devices ensure that workers are connected to the office 24/7, eradicating the line that once existed between “home” and “work” time.

“Smartphones are the modern professional’s biggest blessing and biggest curse,” said Lewis Howes, entrepreneur and author of “The School of Greatness” (Rodale Books, 2015). “Because of them, I can work from anywhere at any time and be really efficient with my downtime. However, there’s [also] no stopping me from working ’round the clock.”

With no clear boundaries, work-life balance does appear to be a goal that’s just out of reach. However, as many experts on the subject have pointed out, balance isn’t about building an impenetrable wall between your personal and professional lives, but finding ways to connect and integrate the two.

In their speaking series CEO Real Talk, entrepreneurs and business experts Garnett Newcombe and Kay Woods frequently cover the topic of work-life balance, and acknowledge that it’s difficult to navigate the high demands of both career and home responsibilities. Newcombe and Woods told Business News Daily that employees often lack the ability to prioritize and balance their work and family life. Workers also have trouble overcoming the guilt of working long hours and accepting the need for individual personal time.

So what can workers do to stop stressing and start getting work-life balance right? Here are six actionable ways to help you adjust your attitude and feel more in control right now.

Recognize the role of work. Work plays a significant part in life. It keeps the lights on, pays the mortgage, makes the car payment, funds retirement and permits yearly vacations, Newcombe said. Adopting the right mind-set allows you to celebrate and enjoy the fruits of your labor, rather than making your job seem like endless drudgery.

Develop one calendar for work and family. A calendar keeps you accountable to both work and family. When a calendar is implemented, Woods said, you will be able to schedule work activities during the work day and establish a cutoff time to be with family.

Create (and stick to) a daily routine. Like maintaining a calendar, implementing a strong daily routine will help keep you on track to achieve the balance you want. Howes noted that setting strong habits, such as sleeping 8 hours, avoiding checking your email for the first couple hours of the day, getting outside daily, and taking time to eat right and work out, will make you healthier and happier.

“It will absolutely reflect in your mental clarity, emotional capacity, relationships and creativity,” Howes said. “Those are the traits that make up the greatest leaders and most successful people.”

Learn to breathe. Work can get so demanding that you experience anxiety or become overwhelmed, causing you to literally or figuratively hold your breath. Neither state can be maintained for long if you want to be healthy. Relax, release and breathe, Newcombe said. As you slow down, it gives you the opportunity to regroup and assess where you are.

Make time for yourself. Feeling overwhelmed with work? Clear a small block of time on your schedule today to truly disconnect from your job (that’s right, shut your phone off) and do something that relaxes you.

“Whether you take a walk in the park, get a massage or [take] a hot bath, it’s important to always set aside an hour a week to do something for yourself,” said Mark Feldman, vice president of marketing at Seven Step RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing). “If you don’t, the time will seem to fly by, resulting in your stress levels and exhaustion going up.”

Be present, consistent and accountable. Being present requires you to be attentive at home, at work and during free time, Woods said. Where you spend your time and energy has a direct connection to how successful you are in achieving work-life balance.

Know More About Cool Job Perks That Keep Employees Happy

Today’s employers place a high premium on keeping workers happy. After all, research shows that happy workers are the most productive.

A strong mission, like-minded co-workers and a great company culture can be rewarding, but there are other, unique perks that can both attract prospective employees and keep your existing ones motivated and engaged. Here are 15 awesome perks offered by large and small businesses across the country.

1. No official work hours
What 9 to 5? At Netflix’s California headquarters, vacation days and work hours aren’t tracked. The company only measures what people get done — so, as long as employees do their work, it doesn’t matter when or for how long they’re in the office. But Netflix’s staff members know better than to slack off: Abusing this policy gets you a one-way ticket out the door.

2. Tons of time off
When you work hard, it’s nice to have an employer that lets you play hard, too. Some big-name companies, such as Glassdoor and Virgin Group, offer unlimited time off. However, this type of policy usually discourages employees from actually taking vacation days because there’s no incentive to “use it or lose it.” Boston-based Metis Communications does put a cap on its employees’ paid time off, but the amount is incredibly generous: On top of the standard three weeks of vacation time (four, if you’ve been there four years or more), staff members get their birthdays off, a bonus vacation week during the last week of December and, after five years of employment, summer Friday vacation days. [See Related Story: 5 Ways to Cultivate Happy Employees]

3. Focus on family
Forget standard maternity leave. Facebook offers some incredible perks for parents and parents-to-be. New moms and dads get four months of paid parental leave, reimbursement for day care and adoption fees, and up to $4,000 in “baby cash” after their child is born.

Similarly, fast-food restaurant chain Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop allows its on-staff parents to take time off, no questions asked, to attend their children’s events and activities.

4. Food for thought
Lots of companies offer employee enrichment programs, but for most, these beneficial lectures and events typically happen only a few times a year. But footwear brand BucketFeet sponsors a monthly Learning Series, an hour-long gathering where employees listen to a guest speaker and ask questions. Co-founder and CEO Raaja Nemani said the team really values these informal sessions, which usually have a clear tie to the company’s mission and values.

5. On-site health services
Everyone seems to want to work for Google, and for good reason: It’s the king of amazing employee benefits. There are lists dedicated to all of Google’s perks, but it’s the company’s commitment to its workers’ health that sets it apart: In addition to medical doctors, you’ll find physical therapists, chiropractors and massage therapists on the Google campus.

6. Total wellness
It may not have on-staff physicians as Google does, but the Institute for Integrative Nutrition does a pretty good job of making sure its employees have what they need for physical and mental wellness. A professional chef prepares a healthy organic lunch for the staff every day (breakfast and snacks are also provided), and fresh flowers are placed on everyone’s desk. If biweekly chair massages and in-house yoga classes aren’t enough to de-stress you, just go on the staff yoga retreat.

7. Continuing education
Higher education is undoubtedly valuable to any employee, but it’s a privilege that not everyone can afford. Starbucks offers a College Achievement Plan, a program that allows all eligible U.S. employees (those who work 20 hours or more per week) to earn a bachelor’s degree through Arizona State University’s online program, with full tuition coverage.

While smaller companies may not be able to afford four-year degrees for their staff, they still find ways to invest in their employees’ personal development. For example, Los Angeles-based Konnect PR offers financial assistance for employee classes and other educational interests.

8. Midday surfing
It makes sense that a company selling outdoor clothing and equipment would want its employees to stay physically fit. Based in California, Patagonia provides company bikes, volleyball courts and on-site yoga for its workers. Employees are also encouraged to catch a wave or two in the middle of the workday: The reception desk posts daily surf reports and makes companywide announcements on especially good surf days.

9. Volunteer hours
Millennials are known for their social consciousness, and numerous studies have shown that this generation, in particular, values brands and employers that emphasize doing good in the world. That’s why companies like The Goddard School, Jennifer Adams Worldwide and Zimbra give their employees paid time off and/or flexible work hours to engage in volunteer projects. In another Business News Daily article, Zimbra CEO Patrick Brandt said civic engagement is a necessity in the modern workplace, and ultimately boosts staff morale.

10. Event tickets and transportation
Employees of Quicken Loans don’t get into all events for free — just the ones happening at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Quicken CEO Dan Gilbert owns the Cleveland Cavaliers, so workers get transportation and tickets to home games. They can also snag seats for the various concerts, comedy shows and other events happening at “The Q.”

11. Game time
Quicken Loans’ employees may get to attend basketball games, but Zynga staff members actually get to play on the company’s full-size courts. The San Francisco-based gaming company (perhaps unsurprisingly) also has in-house relaxation lounges with classic arcade games and Nintendo, Xbox 360 and PS3 gaming systems for its workers to enjoy.

12. Extra credit
At Weebly, every employee gets a company credit card, presumably for anything the company’s workers might need during the workday (with no set hours, just like Netflix’s policy). As if that weren’t enough, the web-hosting company also provides a $50 monthly credit to Exec, a housecleaning and errand-running service, for when its workers are too busy enjoying their free meals, gym membership or bimonthly massage.

13. Student loan debt reimbursement
As many recent grads struggle to pay off student loans, some companies are offering an attractive perk: student loan debt reimbursement. For example, PwC offers its employees $1,200 a year strictly toward student loan debt.

14. Freedom (and money) to travel
For every five years employees have been at Epic Systems, they are eligible for a four-week paid sabbatical. In addition, if they choose to travel during this time, the company helps fund the trip for each employee and one guest.

15. Snow days
Snow days aren’t just for students: Employees of Burton celebrate “snow days” with their season ski passes, courtesy of the company. Burton is based in Burlington, Vermont, which offers beautiful scenery as well as ski resorts within an hour’s drive, so workers are guaranteed some fun on the slopes.

Some Bad Habits That Are Hurting Your Career

Have you ever skipped out on happy hour with your colleagues? Speculated with an officemate about those two co-workers who are getting a little too friendly? Gone to a networking event you didn’t care about just because someone influential would be there? For most people, the answer to at least one of these questions is yes.

On the surface, these all probably seem harmless; you may not even think twice about them. While declining a few social invitations certainly won’t get you fired, habits like these could damage your professional reputation over time. Here are six common actions that are worse for your career than you may realize.

Engaging in office gossip. Smart workers know better than to spread rumors about their colleagues, but many people get sucked into the occasional game of “he said, she said” in the office. Or perhaps you don’t contribute to the conversations, but you’ve listened intently when someone else told a juicy story. You spend most of your waking hours with these individuals, so it’s only natural that they’d be the subject of less-than-professional conversations now and then, right? Not necessarily, said Cristin Sturchio, global head of talent at business research company Cognolink.

“You might think that everyone does it and it’s no big deal, [but] office gossip is harmful,” Sturchio told Business News Daily. “If you align yourself with gossips, your reputation will suffer, because people know who the gossips are in a company and they are not trusted. Besides, if someone is talking to you about someone else, what do you think they’re saying about you when you’re not around? Be brave and politely tell the people around to stop gossiping.”

Being a “yes man/woman.” You’ve seen them in movies and TV shows, and probably even know some yourself: the people who take the boss’s word as gospel and never dare to disagree. Sucking up and telling the boss exactly what he or she wants to hear may seem like a smart strategy to stay on management’s good side, and you should support your manager if you genuinely agree with his or her approach. But the truth is, no one likes a sycophant.

“What is the value of an employee if he or she doesn’t bring anything to the table?” said Ruslan Fazlyev, CEO of e-commerce solution Ecwid. “Companies hire different individuals for their unique perspectives and skills. So do not hesitate to speak up when you think there is a better way to address something.”

Skipping workplace social events. You’re tired. You’ve already made other plans. You don’t want to be out late. These trite excuses are your ticket out of an after-work group outing you’d really rather not attend. It’s technically not part of your job description, so you may not feel any obligation to spend more time with the people you just clocked eight-plus hours with today. However, you might want to reconsider your stance if you hope to bond with people who could one day boost your career.

“Not everyone loves going to office social gatherings, but if you don’t go to any, you miss out on building relationships with colleagues,” Sturchio said. “You can’t get results without relationships — they go hand-in-hand. These events are also opportunities to get in front of people you may not interact much with in the office.”

Faking an interest for the sake of networking. The opposite career-killing problem occurs when a person attends every event they possibly can, even if they have no interest in it, just for the chance to network with someone influential in the individual’s industry. This is especially true in the higher levels of the corporate world, where golf outings and tennis matches are the ultimate work-leisure activities. But Suni Munshani, CEO of data security firm Protegrity, advised against feigning interest in anything in the name of networking.

“I’ve seen people take up [sporting] activities thinking that they will be able to form friendships with powerful executives who like those activities,” Munshani said. “However, the people who really enjoy those things can see right through someone who is just doing it for networking opportunities.”

Munshani suggested pursuing your own interests outside of work before taking up someone else’s hobby. When you engage in things you’re passionate about, the right networking opportunities will occur naturally, and you can develop business relationships based on mutual respect, he said.

Staying at a job for the money. Struggling with the choice between a job that pays well and a job you genuinely love is more common than you think. The big paycheck is nice, but is it really worth it to be stuck doing something you hate? If your financial situation allows for it, it’s always better to take an opportunity that lets you pursue your passion. You may have to give up a few luxuries, but at least you won’t be stressed and miserable going to work every day.

“If you choose a job that you do not enjoy because of the higher income, then you’re trapped,” Fazlyev said. “Doing something you don’t like will negatively impact your career development. Your peers who chose to pursue their dream job will see a steady growth professionally and income-wise, while you will most likely not because you lack the passion. Your personal life could also be affected if you do not enjoy your job.”

Walking away without fixing issues. Any professional who’s had a rough week (or month or year) has likely contemplated throwing in the towel and looking for a new job. If you’re having problems with your job duties or co-workers, it’s best to try to work through your issues before deciding to quit.

Munshani gave an example of a former employee who was unable to effectively communicate with his team and supervisors when market changes forced the company to take a new approach. When it was time to implement a plan, the employee couldn’t explain what he needed his team to do, nor could he explain to management what the team needed in order to be successful through the transition.

“Rather than work on improving those skills or asking for help from others, he ended up leaving the company and giving up a potential $1 million in compensation he could have earned if he had seen the transition through,” Munshani said.

Information About The Worst and Best Jobs For Your Health

Police offices and firefighters over the age of 45 appear to have more risk factors for heart disease and stroke than people in any other profession, according to new research,

The study from the American Heart Association found that among police officers and firefighters, 90 percent were likely to be overweight or obese, 77 percent did not have ideal total cholesterol levels and 35 percent had high blood pressure.

To assess worker health, the researchers examined workers over the age of 45 for seven modifiable risk factors: blood pressure, body mass index, total cholesterol, blood sugar, physical activity, smoking and diet quality. Participants’ health in each of the areas was scored as “ideal,” “intermediate” or “poor.”

Workers earned ideal scores if, without medicines, their blood pressure readings were lower than 120/80 mm Hg, total cholesterol was below 200 mg/dL, and/or blood glucose was lower than 100 mg/dL while fasting or 140 mg/dL without fasting. Besides nonsmoking status, other ideal traits were a body mass index below 25 and engaging in intense, break-a-sweat activity four or more times a week, including at work.

“Older U.S. workers are not destined by age to have a poor cardiovascular health profile, but some workers have more barriers to achieving ideal levels than others,” Capt. Leslie MacDonald, the study’s lead researcher and a senior scientist at the U.S. Public Health Service and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the Centers for Disease Control, said in a statement.

Employees in service occupations — including workers who prepare food, do building and grounds keeping, perform cleaning services, and deliver personal care — had the second highest risk for heart disease and stroke. The research found that this group of workers had the worst diet profile, with more nearly 80 percent having poor eating habits.

Sales workers and office and administrative support workers also had high risk for future heart disease. The study revealed that 69 percent of sales employees did not have ideal cholesterol, while 82 percent of office and administrative support workers did not do enough physical activity.

Those working in management or as white-collar professionals had better cardiovascular health than did employees in any other job. Specifically, one-third had ideal body mass, 75 percent were at least moderately active and only 6 percent were smokers.

That doesn’t mean workers in these jobs excelled in all areas. Nearly three-quarters of white-collar professionals employed in business and finance had poor eating habits.

Health care practitioners —as well as employees in arts, entertainment, sports and media jobs — also rated well in cardiovascular health.

There are several reasons why certain occupations are more prone to health problems than others, the study’s authors said. Certain conditions, such as long work hours and low job control, have been previously linked to metabolic and behavioral risk factors, which may contribute to the differences found in the study, the authors said.

Job stress may also deplete workers’ resolve to prioritize their health, MacDonald said.

There are several small steps all workers, regardless of occupation, can take to improve their health. This includes using lunch breaks to go for walks, parking farther away from destinations or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. MacDonald said that, over time, these small steps will accumulate into improved health.

“It’s important to take small steps and not get overwhelmed or discouraged,” she said.

For the study, researchers evaluated 5,566 employed men and women who did not have a history of heart disease or stroke at the beginning of the study. The research team classified jobs using U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics occupation groups, and accounted for differences among the groups in age, race, sex and whether workers lived in the Southeast, where stroke rates run high.