Over 40? Don’t Work More Than 25 Hours a Week

clockHave you heard about the recent study released by the University of Melbourne’s Neuroscience Institute?  In their Applied Economic and Social Research study, they looked at the optimal number of hours a week an employee should work.  Their findings were surprising, to say the least.  Research showed that for every hour you work up to 25 hours a week, your cognitive function steadily increases.  Any hours worked above that threshold sees a decline in cognitive function.  They also say that workers over 40 who work more than 25 hours a week have a harder time recovering from any loss in cognitive function.

If this is true, you can only start imagining the implications.  When you think about the employees that are the decision makers in an organization, it is typically people over 40 years old who work more than 40 hours per week.  In fact, many work 50- 60+ hours a week.  What does it mean when you have your leaders losing cognitive function, yet making major strategic decisions?  Is this something we should worry about?  Additionally, when you think of the traditional 8 hour workday, there are many employees that waste several hours a day at work, so are they already working 25 hours per week?

In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think this study will make anything change overnight.  However, it does give food for thought as we look to ways of working smarter and more collaboratively.  Some questions that come to mind:

  • Would providing a more collaborative workplace be able to support employees working fewer hours?
  • Are there certain times of day where decision-making is optimal?  If so, could concentrating work hours around those times lead to being able to work fewer hours?
  • Are there process changes that can be made to better support employees working PT hours?
  • If workplace changes were made, would employees even agree to work fewer hours?  Would this mean less pay, or more productivity in fewer hours?
  • What are the cost savings associated with more PT workers?
  • Do these findings better support the claim that by 2020, as many as 40%- 50% of jobs will be held by contingent workers?

Like many research studies, there are more questions than answers.  The next thing we know, researchers will be telling us to drink at work.  Oh wait, they already have.  At any rate, it’s fun to think about all the implications.  What do you think?  Would working fewer hours be good for you?  For your organization?  I welcome you to tell me what you think in the comments.

 

 

 

5 Ways to Avoid Job Burnout

pg-job-burnout-signs-05-fullBlogging is interesting because sometimes you research and report, other times you give pure opinion.  Today is an opinion day, and it’s a fine line between doing that and becoming “preachy”.  The truth is that there have been times when I’ve been nearing job burnout during my career.  Face it, we all have those times.  It’s important to think about ways to head that off instead of waiting for things to get to that point.

One of the most stressful, and best, moves I’ve made has been working for myself.  I have to generate all the sales and then deliver to my clients.  That alone is enough to keep me up at night.  The strange thing is that as soon as I started working for myself in a position that fully aligned with my values, I began sleeping through the night again.  That had not been the case before.  I wondered what was different, because the workload and stress certainly was not less.

I came up with several things I had changed to make my working experience better for me.  I find these work, and I hope they work for you.

5 Keys to Avoiding Job Burnout

  1. Focus on your health- First and foremost, I learned that all the bad habits I had working for other people carried over to working for myself.  For example, I realized I am not good about taking breaks to eat lunch or a snack.  I’m bad about making time to exercise or even move around much during the day.  The first real change I made was to adopt a clean eating strategy.  This is not about weight loss or being on a diet.  It’s about telling myself every day that I mean something.  I’m important.  I don’t know why this has been such a revelation, but I feel that dedicating that extra time to cooking good food for myself instead of skipping meals has had so many benefits.  For a great guide to start eating clean, check out the Clean Eating online magazine.  There are some great meal plans to get you started.  Surprisingly, you’ll start to feel exponentially better within a week.
  2. Prioritize and purge-  We’ve all heard, ad nauseam, that we need to prioritize our workload.  Well, when you work for yourself, you are suddenly plunged into not having enough hours in the day.  Literally.  So, the only option was not only to prioritize my work, but to purge anything that didn’t align with those goals.  Looking back over the last 11 months I’ve been my own boss, I can see how beneficial this has been.  The main result is that I really feel less stressed.
  3. Reward yourself-  Sitting back and seeing all the companies that give employee recognition makes me smile.  For example, Globoforce is doing great things to bridge that gap for companies and employees.  I buy into this whole idea of making work “More Human” and as I’ve followed Globoforce and their efforts in this arena, it really makes sense.  The difference for me is that now, I’m the only person who can choose to recognize me.  At first, it seemed a little half-baked, but as I’ve started doing this, it really works.  I don’t have a regular schedule, and some weeks are more hectic than others.  I’m finding that even running out for a frozen yogurt in the middle of the workday is a nice way to treat myself.  The real difference is that now I am mindful that I’m rewarding myself.  Whatever the psychology, it works.  So….how are you going to treat yourself today?
  4. Make friends at work-  For years, working in HR, you learn that HR is no one’s friend.  Sure, I have managed to make a few over the years, but for the most part, working in HR you have to be a lone wolf.  Now that it’s just me at work, you’d think I have no hope.  Quite the opposite.  I’ve made a point to partner with industry colleagues who not only are smarter than me in many areas of HCM, I can rely on them to have my back.  What an awesome feeling!  For example, in this past year, I joined forces with some HCM colleagues in forming the HR Federation.  By having a trusted group of people, it’s amazing what it does for your psyche and your productivity.  Point being… get a friend!
  5. Take a retreat-  This is another tip I never bought into in my corporate life.  I boldly took my first retreat this past January and I cannot even tell you how many great things have come from taking this time.  Much like a reward for myself, I felt that as a working Mom, it would be selfish for me to go away alone.  I also travel for work, so taking a separate trip seemed unfair to my family.  I WAS WRONG!  I spent a long weekend at the beach by myself.  I didn’t keep the TV on.  I walked a lot.  I thought a lot.  I enjoyed eating alone and just observing the world.  The beauty of this was that I not only had time to be quiet and uninterrupted, I was able to make some major business and personal decisions because I finally made time to listen to myself.  For more about the benefits of a personal retreat, check out this HR Happy Hour episode I recorded with Laurie Ruettimann.  She also took a retreat this year and shares some great learning from her journey.

All these actions lead to a more human work experience for YOU.  Take a moment today and think about what you can do for yourself.  In addition, consider joining me at Globoforce’s WorkHuman event May 9- 11 in Orlando.  We’ll learn and practice even more ways of focusing on how to humanize the work experience.  Use discount code WH16TM300.

Are You the Grit of the Company?

gritI was listening to NPR this morning, as I do every morning after dropping my kids at school.  Normally, they are doing the market report when I’m in the car, but today, my timing was off and the show hosts were discussing how difficult it can be to predict the future of organizations with a former Intel futurist.  As he described the role and how he handled it, at one point he referred to himself as the “grit” inside the organization that often had to tell other leaders what no one else would say.

I started thinking about how I behave inside organizations and ultimately, how you behave too.  There are many times I’ve found myself being the grit in organizations.  Grit, or being abrasive, is thought of as a negative.  I don’t think it has to be a negative label though, it’s quite the opposite.  Being seen as the grit should mean you’re a go-to person who will be honest and tell leadership where the gaps in thinking may be.  In fact, it goes beyond that to being able to tell leaders which paths they should not be taking.

The key to being the “grit” in a positive way is finesse.  One thing I’ve learned over the last twenty of my career is that being disruptive may be fun, but it does not make for the ability to bring change on a consistent basis.  Since many people still enjoy working for one employer for a long period of time, understanding how to be influential without being completely abrasive is an art.  Those are the leaders that actually drive change in organizations.  I found a fascinating article on Forbes that details the 5 Characteristics of Grit.  I encourage you to check it out to see which characteristics you have.  Things like resilience,  endurance, excellence, conscientiousness, and courage are all important in determining the level of grit you have.

So now that we’ve determined that grit can be a positive in the workplace, how can you tell if you’re style of grit is disruptive vs. influential?  

DISRUPTIVE OR INFLUENTIAL?

  • Do the C-Suite execs avoid you because you are constantly telling them to do things differently?  Disruptive
  • Are you the first person the executives call when they have an issue?  Influential
  • Have you tried, unsuccessfully, to “sell” the same idea to every executive and can’t get anyone on board? Disruptive
  • Do you curse or swear a lot at work for no real reason? Disruptive
  • Do people eventually come around to your ideas, even if they need a little time to digest the idea before embracing it?  Influential
  • Are you honest?  Influential
  • Brutally honest at all costs?  Disruptive

Like most people, I want to change the world.  I’m sure you do too.  And while there are a few “disruptors” who make a name for themselves and get positive change in spite of their approach, most people prefer to be influenced.  I learned early on that being influential is not about your job title.  It’s all in your style and the way you bring other people over to your way of thinking.  It’s also about being open to new ideas….even if it means discarding your own ideas.

So, which are you? I’d love to hear from you…

What is Your Work Personality?

We hear a lot about office culture lately because of it’s impact on a candidate’s job selection decision as well as the employees’ decision to remain with the company.  Since the culture of workplaces are made up of a hodgepodge of personalities and each one adds a unique twist to the mix, it’s this uniqueness that keeps most of us coming back to the workplaces we love.

I recently came across a link on the National Pen website for a fun quiz that determines your office personality.  It reminded me of a post I wrote a few years ago about What You’re Known For At Work.  This quiz is along those lines, so I thought I’d share.  Are you more of a “Debbie Downer” or are you one of the most dynamic personalities in your office?

Click the link to take the quiz: What’s Your Office Personality
toy-guy

Now, fun aside, there is a serious side to knowing your own work personality as well as recognizing the personalities of your colleagues.  The reason it’s important is that depending on who you associate with or work for, it can impact the type of work you produce.  According to the 2014 Productivity Impact Study conducted by Taskworld,  of the 1,000 adults aged 18 and over who were surveyed, nearly half attributed a decline in their productivity to deadlines missed by their colleagues.  They also reported that this decreased productivity affected employee morale, satisfaction, and motivation.

Those are big claims, backed up by data.  When you think about all the people you come into contact at work, I bet you can quickly group them by the following:

  • Helpfulness
  • Knowledge
  • Work-related skill
  • Level of distraction
  • Attitude
  • Trust

So, what was your result?  Do you think your style impacts your colleagues positively or negatively?  I’d love to have you share your thoughts in the comments.  By knowing your style and those of your colleagues, it should help you all embrace your inner selves.

HR Can’t Be Strategic If They’re Busy Being Your Mother

noseI’ve been honored to work in the HR industry for twenty years.  Honestly, with all the perceived negatives, there are so many more great moments that make working with people worthwhile.  But, as I sit here as an analyst, conducting research surveys and interviewing HR leaders, I find it sad that we are not really moving the needle as much as we should.  Why?  Because organizations ask HR to be more strategic while making them take care of the unusual, mundane and sometimes gross aspects of people management.

Unusual?  Gross? Mundane?

Yes, HR leaders and their teams are still doing the “dirty work” that managers don’t want to handle.  Do you have an employee with body odor and don’t want to handle it?  Just go to HR and they will address it for you.  What about the employee that dresses inappropriately, showing just a little too much of their stuff?  Yes, just take that one to HR too.  Here’s one for you….employees rubbing boogers on the men’s room mirror?  Yes, even that can come to HR to address.  I know these may sound like things a parent would address with a child, but I assure you these are all very real in our workplaces.

I don’t know how the HR department became the keeper of all these great incidents, but I am ready to hear that the managers in the organization are stepping up to handle them.  Then, and only then, will your HR teams have time to actually work on strategic things to help drive revenue or support the business goals of the company.

What about you?  If you work in HR, are you still spending time on these issues, “mothering” employees and leaders, or am I just happening to get a lot of stories from the trenches that are not true?  I’d love to hear your comments….

Suffering at Work: The Skeleton That Supports the Flesh of Genius

whiplash-2014-movie-review-car-accident-playing-drums-bloody-andrew-neiman-miles-tellerFor those who know me or listen to me on HR Happy Hour, you’ll know that each year, I rush out and binge on as many of the Oscar-nominated movies as I can.  There is something magnetic about a movie intended to make you really think compared to all the summer blockbuster action movies that are just around the bend.  Well, this time last year, I had the pleasure of watching Whiplash.  It’s a movie about the complex relationship between a student and his conductor of a jazz band.  But more than that, my takeaway then was that it’s about the need to go through harsh feedback and sometimes pain in order to develop.

When I wrote Cringeworthy Feedback: How to Take it and How to Dish it Out, I was so close to seeing the film that it was all I could think about.  Now, a year later and after watching the movie a few more times, I see it’s like an onion and I’m peeling the multitude of layers back to reveal even more significant meaning.  So you see, it’s the perfect Oscar movie because it continues to make me think about what lessons come from examining the relationships.  Dr. Matt Stollak, beloved friend and professor at St. Norbert College, shared an article with me that made me want to revisit some of the themes from Whiplash.  The article he shared was a review by Matt Zoller Seitz called 30 Minutes on Whiplash.  In his article, Matt says:

“This formulation is insidious, cruel, reductive, joyless. It turns the pursuit of artistic excellence into a referendum on the ability to endure shame, rejection, public humiliation, doubt and physical punishment. It’s as singleminded in equating endurance and transcendence as Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.” Nevertheless, as a indicator of future success, the ability to withstand suffering is hard to beat. It might in fact be the skeleton that supports the flesh of genius.”

As I read that, I focused on the suffering.  Do we need to suffer for our art?  Do we need to suffer in order to experience greatness and excellence?

I don’t believe I’ve ever thought about these questions in relation to greatness or excellence at work.  I’ve had a more practical approach and that is if you work hard, it leads to success and excellence at work.  When I really think about those key moments in my life that made a difference in the way my work habits developed, they involve failure.  They involved hardship, doubt, insecurity and many feelings that are negative.  From that, the work that was forged became more meaningful to me because I felt that I really had to work even harder to overcome the obstacles.   I wonder if I would have achieved many of the successes I have without the hardships.

I think not.

So, what about you?  If you have reached levels of excellence in your career that you’re proud of, were you able to get there without suffering?  I’d love to hear your perspectives in the comments….

 

Recruiterbox and the Facets of a Robust Recruiting Strategy

When it comes to recruiting candidates, there is no shortage of advice or recommended tools.  As someone who doesn’t jump on every trend, I tend to watch the market and analyze how things are shaping up before I weigh in.  Each year, I evaluate countless tools and technologies in the Talent Acquisition space.  I recently came across one tool that stands out and deserves your attention.  Why?  Because it addresses many of the tenants of recruiting that I hold dear as a former practitioner:

  • Business needs
  • Organizational culture
  • Finding the most qualified employees
  • Solid understanding of budget and the actual cost of hire

Recruiter Box Logo

These facets are widely accepted as some of the most important when determining your talent acquisition strategy.  With many organizations now spending time and money on specifically creating world-class recruitment strategies, they are putting a lot of thought into each facet. In terms of business needs, organizations used to open a ton of positions just because someone left the company. Today, there is much more mindful consideration regarding whether or not there is a true business need for a specific role. Organizational leaders have found that spending the time to rethink and reevaluate a specific role’s requirements often leads to different and better candidates.

With regard to the organizational culture, this is now something that is a major aspect of planning and hiring. Organizations think about how their employer brand impacts their ability to attract better, more qualified candidates who will outperform their predecessors. Lastly, having a solid understanding of budgets and how the cost-per-hire changes from industry to industry (and position to position) has a major impact on hiring. As leaders have become more educated, so have their hiring decisions. With that in mind, savvy leaders are looking for tools to help support their focused talent acquisition strategies.

Recruiterbox is one tool that can help incorporate those facets into your own strategy.  What is Recruiterbox? It is a type of recruitment software that simplifies and optimizes your hiring process. You can post job openings, manage candidates, collaborate with colleagues, and use data to help you make an informed decision – all in one place.  And the brains behind this software even provide advice on how to improve your hiring process, too.  Just check out this video they created on the cost of a bad hire.

Having tools and solutions that help make your recruitment process a winning one is, well, worth your time and money.  I encourage you to check out Recruiterbox to see how this software can help transform your talent acquisition process.

 

 

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HR Happy Hour #231: Employee Financial Wellness

HR Happy Hour 231 – Employee Financial Wellness

Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

Guest: Steve Wilbourne, CEO, Questis

Listen HERE

This week, join Steve Boese and me as we discuss the increasingly important topic of employee financial wellness and well-being with guest Steve Wilbourne, CEO of Questis, a software and services provider of employee financial wellness technology and resources.

We talked with Steve W. about the issues many employees are facing with financial planning, financial readiness,  unforeseen expenses or challenges, and the benefits to organizations and to employees in providing more modern, personalized, and affordable tools for employees to help manage their finances.

In addition, Steve (the host Steve), made a semi-serious pitch for the return of employee pensions, I shared a preview for the widely anticipated HR Happy Hour Oscars show coming soon, and Steve shamelessly appealed for some big-time corporate sponsors to come on board, (are you listening Delta and Dr. Pepper?).

You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or by using the widget player below (Emaill and RSS subscribers will need to click through)

This was an interesting and informative show about employee financial wellness, many thanks to Steve Wilbourne from Questis for joining us. To learn more about Questis, please go towww.myquestis.com.

Thanks for listening and remember to add the HR Happy Hour Show to your podcast subscriptions in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, or any of the major podcast apps. Just search for ‘HR Happy Hour’ to subscribe.