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work-life balance

Preventing Burnout In the Workplace

flexibleAt the beginning of the New Year, many CEO’s and managers will be considering what adjustments to make to the benefits package they provide their employees. This year especially, many may consider offering more intrinsic benefits. Over the past few years, it hasn’t been enough to offer salary and health care. Employees want to feel valued in a deeper way.

According to a recent LinkedIn survey, 63 percent of women define career success as having a job that allows them to balance their personal and professional lives. Men are less likely to value this, but still find it important.

This means offering employees flex-time to work from home, respecting vacation time and making sure new responsibilities are feasible before they are assigned.
According to a 2012 poll from the Society of Human Resource Managers, only 10 percent of companies offered formal flex-time.

However, this number is likely to increase. Technology is the main factor which will allow for such job perks. In many office settings, communicating with the fellow employees and/or clients is just as easy through outlets such as email, Skype, GoToMeeting and the phone. As long as the employee is organized, this option should work seamlessly.

Offering work-life balance benefits not only makes an employee feel more successful, but it can also attract top hires and keep them there at less cost to the business. Evidence shows that many people today are more likely to take a job, even if it pays less money, if they are offered flexibility. In addition, studies also show that overall moral will improve, absenteeism will decrease and motivation will be sustained if these benefits are offered.

David Posen, Oakville, Ont. stress doctor and author of Is Work Killing You?, explained the necessity of work-like balance benefits in this article by Harvey Schachter. “Work-life balance is not a luxury. It’s a necessity – for good health, energy and productivity. And there are serious consequences if our lives fall out of balance for too long. Balance is an antidote, a counterbalance, to chronic stress. Balance prevents burnout.”

To create a sustainable business, managers and owners need to maintain a culture that prevents burnout and promotes productivity. Proper work-life balance may be the best method.

 

Is Expecting Workplace Happiness Expecting Too Much?

Employee HappinessIf you’re like most working adults, you have a Linkedin profile that connects you with other professionals. This month, one particular article caught my attention.

The article, “Four keys to happiness in your job” by Gary S., a CEO of oDesk spoke on what a person needs to thrive in their career. To me, all the factors were pretty self-explanatory and even common sense: impact, growth and development, financial reward and work-life balance.

What got my attention wasn’t the content of the article itself, but the comment a man named Kevin Rockwell left in response. “Nonsense to your 4 points…Most people could care less about what kind of impact they’re going to have on the world, their growth and development within the company, or for the flipping work-life balance. Geez, that last one is ridiculous. People want to pay their bills… Here’s a suggestion, Gary – one night this week sit down with your family to a dinner of noodles with cream of mushroom soup as a sauce and a side of pinto beans. Then get back to me about how important your four points are.”

Regardless of who I agree with, this debate sparked my curiosity and caused me to ask some questions around the office. One coworker in particular surprised me when I asked him if he cared about the impact his job made on the world. The man I asked is one of those fit, All-American men with a cheerful disposition, a happy family at his remodeled home and a job that he’s good at. But when I asked him my question, he stared at me with a stumped look. He said he had never thought about it. He said that as long as his impact and integrity at home were positive, he didn’t care about his job.

Hmm…

Why are the two not intertwined, I asked. Well, I guess they are, he said. He then went on to describe a past job at a large corporation you’re quite familiar with where he made lots of money but he hated every second of it. For you Harry Potter fans, he compared his workplace to Azkaban and his coworkers to dementors. He was literally drained of happiness.

Obviously we work because we need to pay our bills, but beyond that, shouldn’t we work because we enjoy it, we’re good at it, and we care about what we produce? From serving tables to protecting the President, we all have a role to play and when a person is doing his or her best at all hours of a day, expressing fully his or her values and beliefs in a consistent manner, a habit is forged that produces character. Life becomes integrated. What is held to be true, good, and virtuous in one setting . . . is true, good, and virtuous in ALL settings. There is no switching from “work mode” or “work values” to “home mode” and “home values.”

What do you think? Have you thought about these keys to happiness before? Do you care about how your work and home life integrate with each other?

 

Thriving in a High Demand Work-Life

con•sci•en•tious: A person wishing to do what is right, esp. to do one’s work or duty well and thoroughly.

Thrive at work

After my first interview, I already knew that the attendees of the Michigan Townships Association convention would turn out to be a pretty conscientious bunch.

And like so many who serve, and who also have very demanding schedules, township officials can easily fall victim to the More With Less Paradox, in which the positive attributes of drive and responsibility, combined with a demanding schedule, trigger people to live in a way that sabotages their ability to reach their goals.

Does this sound like a day you might have?

•    The morning alarm blares. Snooze button. Snooze button. Snooze button.

Two important facts and a lesson: One, nothing sabotages a day faster than starting it off with a little procrastination. Two, there is no form of real, actual torture that will break your mind and body faster than multiple sleep interruptions.  The lesson? The snooze button is secretly plotting to destroy you.

•    With a grunt of frustration and physical aches, you get up, “Ugh, I’ve got so much to do . . .”

Snoozing yourself into being behind schedule creates a rushing energy, which in turn leads you to think first of stimulation (“Coffee, I need coffee!”) instead of connecting with why you are working so hard.  The speed and busyness of your day can fuel a lack of focus and a sense of disconnection with what is important. You may end up thinking of yourself as  “struggling” rather than as “thriving.”

•    “Breakfast? I’ll just grab some caffeine and get something to eat on my way to or at work.”

Caffeine can be very effective for productivity and health, but too much caffeine, on an empty stomach, creates the perfect biochemical storm for a monumental 3:00 p.m. crash.

•    You land at work, and it goes well . . . until around 9:30 a.m., when the first energy lull hits. Time for a little cubicle trick-or-treating or a break-room doughnut.

The first three hours of work are the most productive time in your entire day. You will never be in a better state to be productive, patient, persuasive . . . or any other P word that means you get a lot accomplished. This routine sabotages your peak work time, resulting in more work tomorrow, or even worse, work to take home.

•    Lunch. Open the menu and the debate begins. Heart-healthy option or a burger?  Living inside the More With Less Paradox, it is too easy to think, “You know, it has been a stressful day. I deserve that cheeseburger.”

BOOM, the post-lunch lull hits you head on.

This day continues, but its tone has been set. Your available energy reserves are low, but the need to keep going causes you to switch to an emergency stress-based fuel—cortisol. This might keep you going, but at a high cost. Cortisol is not a clean energy. It builds up and increases crankiness, reduces our ability to innovate, and increases our chances of dying from the top four killers of men and women.

You make it to the end of the work day, but often with lingering guilt at how long your to-do list still is. Unfortunately, that frustration bleeds into your downtime, and you find yourself thinking, “Why am I so cranky? Why can’t I be more organized? Why do I have so little patience? Why am I so wiped out?”

•    In a flash, it’s time for bed. “I’m exhausted, but why is it so hard to get to sleep or stay asleep?”

As soon as sleep starts to deepen . . . the alarm blares into action and it is time to start another day.

As an expert in stress, motivation and wellbeing, I’ve been researching adults in high demand jobs for 23 years. I’ve seen the More With Less Paradox sabotage good people from Penang to Port Lawrence.  Each time I immerse myself into a new field, such as township management, I find two categories:

Strivers – Those who work hard and often meet their goals at work, but who also struggle with high levels of stress and fluctuating levels of motivation.

Thrivers – Those who work hard, consistently meet their goals at work, and thrive professionally and personally.

Have you ever wondered, “Why do some hard working adults thrive, while others struggle?” I am obsessed with that question and, as a result, I’ve found a Core Truth.  Thrivers are rarely smarter than strivers, and they don’t care more about their work.  They just think and live better. The bottom line is that thrivers are better at:

• Mentally approaching their work, especially under pressure

• Keeping their energy up

• Having a clear understanding of why they are working so hard

• Designing the flow of their day

This article and my presentations at MTA on January 29th, 2014 will help you to build a day that fuels the Core Four elements of thriving in a high demand world.

As an example of the Core Four in action, consider a 2011 research study from the University of Michigan and Portland State University on what actually energizes us at work.

First, think about what you do when you are running out of energy at work.  Most people take a break of some kind, grab more caffeine, go for a walk, get a snack, switch tasks, etc.  But what works?  What fuels us best? Could you be accidentally tripping yourself while thinking that you are moving full steam ahead?

If you are like the majority of the 214 knowledge workers who were surveyed, you would:

1.   Check email.

2.   Switch to another task.

3.   Make a to-do list.

4.   Offer help to someone at work.

5.   Talk to a coworker/supervisor.

Of these most common breaks, which ones were shown to increase energy and vitality?  None.

What breaks were positively related to vitality? What steps can you take to help yourself thrive more at work?  What ideas can you pass on to your teams that will energize them at work?  Here are six evidence-based ideas that fuel the Core Four:

a.   More Goal-Setting, Less Reorganizing:  Setting a new goal and chasing it down, even if it is a small goal, will energize you more than reorganizing your to-do list.

b.   More Learning, Less Worry: Under stress, people thrive more by focusing on learning something new, not by worrying about failing, about what they might miss, or even by winning.

c.   More Feedback, Less Venting: Everyone needs to vent, but don’t do it at work. Venting in the workplace is one of the few double jeopardy work breaks, meaning that it is connected to both low vitality and high fatigue. Having high energy at work comes from seeking and giving quality feedback.

d.   Help More, Offer Less:  Human beings are at their best when they help others, give to others and show concern for others. Those who struggle with fatigue will, with open hearts, offer help to others.  Those who rated high in vitality more often actually do something to help others.

e.   More Meaning, Less Distraction: Reflecting on what gives you joy and meaning at work will energize you even more than taking a break.

To thrive in today’s busy world, change your day so that it includes more of these elements, and the Core Four will fuel your leadership for the greater good of your communities.

I look forward to meeting you January 29th, 2014!

If you would like to download Andy’s complete infographic on the Suprising Truth About What Energizes Us At Work, go here:  www.andycore.com/more-energy-at-work

 2013 MTA Conference Keynoter Andy Core is the author of the upcoming book, Change Your Day, Not Your Life.  He is an award-winning thought leader on increasing employee engagement, productivity, and wellness motivation; his talent lies in helping hard-working, conscientious adults thrive at work and in their personal lives.  www.andycore.com 800.605.8480

He is ofte

Increasing productivity through better work-life balance

n hired as a Keynote speaker, fitness speaker, wellness speaker, work-life balance speaker, stress management speaker, and as a work-life balance and peak performance expert for Sales, Leadership, Customer Service and Worksite Wellness Conferences and Events.

 

Tips to Get the Best Sleep

Lack of sleep can affect you negatively

Lack of sleep can affect you negatively

Andy Core is an expert in Work-Life Balance, Wellbeing, and Peak Human Performance.

In order to function properly, your body and mind needs adequate daily rest. You need to make sure that you get enough sleep by establishing decent sleep routines. 

It is not always easy to get enough sleep because our work, social and family lives place such a demand on our time. You must remember that if you do not get enough sleep, your mental and physical health with suffer and that will have repercussions for all areas of your life. Talk to a leadership speaker about how to achieve balance in your life.

Sleep is an important biological function that allows your body and mind to rest and refresh and prepare for the challenges that you may face in the new day. If you get caught in a bad sleep cycle, all aspects of your life will eventually begin to deteriorate.

Some helpful tips:

  • Turn off the bright lights in your home an hour before bed.
  • Stop using electronic devices at least 30 minutes before you go to sleep.
  • Have a routine set in place that tells your brain it’s time for sleep. Washing your face, stretching, or writing a journal entry may be things to incorporate.
  • Make sure that there are no lights in your room.
  • Turn on some white noise. I sleep with a box fan and it automatically tells my mind that its time to sleep.

You should try to get at least six to eight hours of sleep a night. It is impossible to get a perfect night’s sleep every night but you should try to get decent sleep as often as possible. If you are getting enough sleep you will have plenty of physical energy and your mind will always be sharp; that can only benefit you in your home and work life. A leadership speaker can help you reach the peace of mind that is a necessity for decent sleep.

To learn more on Andy’s programs.  

 

 

Don’t Despair: There is Always Hope

There is always a way forward

There is always a way forward

Andy Core is an expert in Work-Life Balance, Wellbeing, and Peak Human Performance.

Have you ever felt like you just can’t take any more and wish you could just stop the world and get off? If you have, chances are you made it through that tough time and you are stronger for it.

No matter how endless your problems seem to be, there is always hope. Nothing lasts forever and your fortunes will eventually change. Even in your darkest times you should never give up because your salvation may be just around the corner and arrive when you least expect it. Professional speakers can help you find the silver lining that you might be missing.

You have to keep pushing on. The tide will eventually turn and you will get the good things you have worked for. You can’t afford to be passive and just hope that something good will happen. You have to persevere and work hard and have confidence in your ability to reach your dream.

There will always be obstacles in your path and sometimes they might seem to be insurmountable but there is always a way forward. You just have to have the self-confidence to keep trying and believe that things will get better. You cannot control everything in life; you can only give your best and persevere until things improve. Listen to a professional speaker for advice if you can’t find the answers yourself.

To learn more on Andy’s programs.

 

 

 
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Change Your Day, Not Your Life
A realistic guide to sustained motivation, more productivity, and the art of working well
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About Andy Core
Author and speaker on work-life balance, productivity and wellbeing
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