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Being Human at Work

When our oldest child entered middle school, we found it necessary to meet with his principal. At that time of course, school was his full-time job — and there were developing signs that it was the wrong job. As parents, we felt the need to discuss a strategy to address the job-person fit. To be frank, the over-riding goal was not to boost his grades, but to protect him as a developing individual.

As things stood, his role was clearly a frustrating exercise. Sadly, he was showing signs of complete exhaustion. One very astute teacher put it this way: “He actually has 7 bosses and they all want something a little different. That’s not an easy task.” I couldn’t have put it better. He was drowning amid the demands he faced. None of this emphasized his strengths — only his clear weaknesses in the executive functioning realm.

Our son brought himself to his role as student. But more importantly, he was a human being that was faced with the learning environment as it was presented. We held no judgements as to what was “right” or “wrong” about that environment — only that his experience with that environment was both unique and challenging.

What we asked of his principal was quite simple: 1.) That he had an opportunity to explore/discover something that brought him feelings of competence and 2.) that he still loved (or at the very least, respected) the process of learning when he left her care. She was the needed glue to help him to sift through the noise and find the signals.

Being human at work poses a related challenge.

When you ponder your work life, what immediately comes to mind? Do you feel supported? Respected? Are you challenged? Are you developing in a manner that is meaningful? Are the unique qualities that define the positive foundation of you, a part of that work life? Or like our son, are you faced with poor job-person fit?

These may sound like unusual questions. But, they shouldn’t be.

When I discuss negative work experiences with clients, expressions of feeling “drained, “lost” or “frustrated” are mentioned. When we are fighting for the elements that uniquely define who we are, we suffer. Our employers may miss out on our strengths. Our customers do not benefit from our talents.

We wage a talent war that no one can win.

This realization drove me to take a step back.

What might help explain why this dynamic — that when ignored can become utterly devastating. I recalled humanistic psychology. A reaction to behaviorism and the tenets of psychoanalytic thought (made known by Freud), humanistic theory offers an interesting framework as we approach the job-person fit. Humanism explains that we possess a drive toward becoming self-actualized. In other words, a drive to maximize our creative potential. (This line of thought came to the forefront through the work of psychologists Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow.)

Its direction and tenor could easily apply to work life:

  • When considering people — the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
  • There is a drive to achieve congruence between our “real self” and the “ideal self”.
  • Some measure of unconditional positive regard is necessary to fully develop as an individual.
  • An individual is greatly influenced by his/her environment. Social interaction is key to development.
  • We are fully aware and can make a conscious choice. Our past experienced help drive future behavior.
  • Human beings are uniquely capable of intentional thought and goal directed behaviors.

I wonder how we can build this respect for individuals into every organization. How might current trends in HR support this effort?

I know there are many of us fighting for this. Is one of them you?

Photo Credit: wesuggestsoftware Flickr via Compfight cc

The Sharp Drop-Off in Worker Happiness and What You Can do About it

Worker happiness has fallen every year for the last 25 years–in good economic times and bad. Today, over half of American workers effectively hate their jobs. Once the economy picks up, that could mean a mass exodus from your ranks, unless you take action now.

A friend of mine resigned his long-time bank management job this week to take early retirement. I learned about it on Facebook.

As I began reading his announcement, I fully expected it to be an animated recounting of all the new hobbies he planned to pursue and exotic trips he intended to take. But it quickly became clear that this was no ordinary farewell note. He was truly upset about ending his career prematurely and wanted everyone close to him to understand why.

It was painful to discover that my former colleague had grown profoundly disheartened by the way his organization’s leadership had been treating him. With over two decades of service behind him, he called it quits simply because he couldn’t take it anymore.

“I felt like no one cared about me as a person there, and finally decided to extricate myself from the grind. I know many of you feel the same way now in your jobs…trapped and unappreciated.”

There was a sense of relief in his words, as if I was reading about someone who had been imprisoned, found an escape route, and wanted to show others the way to freedom.

“You may not be able to retire quite yet like me, but please do yourself a favor and look for something more satisfying. It might take a while (it took me eight months once I made the decision), but it’s been so worth it. If you’re old like me, then think about early retirement. If you’re young, look for a more satisfying, fulfilling career path. Don’t let these companies drain off your sense of worth, pride, health, energy, honesty and ethics. Are you listening [XYZ Bank]*? Of course you’re not.”

I share his words as another illustration that our common approach to workplace leadership is failing. And experts have been trying to tell us this for years.

New York’s Conference Board, a century-old research firm, began studying employee satisfaction and engagement 25 years ago. Their work shows that worker happiness has fallen every year since–in good economic times and bad. Today, over half of American workers effectively hate their jobs.

But it’s the past four years that have brought employee discontent to new and highly charged levels.

“People were already unhappy, but the recession years have made things much worse,” says John Gibbons, formerly of the Conference Board and now Vice President of Research and Development at the Institute For Corporate Productivity. “Whether we realize it or not, workers have been under constant duress. Because of scarce resources, few opportunities for development and promotions–not to mention the fact that people often have been required to do the work of more than one person–a lot of our workforce is burnt out. Employees across the country feel overworked, under-rewarded and greatly unappreciated.”

The recession has been hard on managers too, no doubt. Delivering great customer service, and achieving KPIs and revenue goals all have been a tremendous challenge during this extended period of limited means.

But it’s clear that many leaders have lost sight of what matters most to people at work. Appreciation. Support. Recognition. Respect. And when people feel disillusioned and virtually convinced things have to be better somewhere else, they do what my friend did. They quit.

According to the U.S. Labor Department, 2.1 million people resigned their jobs in February, the most in any month since the start of the Great Recession.

Dating back to mid-2011, numerous studies have reported that at least one-third of the American workforce planned to jump ship in 2012. Since very little action has yet to be taken on that threat, however, those predictions have come to be seen only as “Chicken Little exaggerations.” Business leaders, therefore, have grown less concerned.

But the government’s new “Job Opening And Labor Turnover Survey,” (JOLTS), holds the reminder why more employees haven’t (yet) departed. Jobs have remained scarce; 12.7 million people remain unemployed in the U.S. today, while only 3.5 million job openings exist. That translates into nearly four people chasing every one job–not including already employed workers seeking greener, and more respectful, pastures.

Simply because 2.1 million people were able to find new jobs, February’s mass exodus may prove to be the watershed moment when turnover becomes the problem it was predicted to be.

However, there still may be time for managers to re-recruit their employees before they leave. This won’t be easy and it will most definitely require a significant change in leadership practices. Here are three things leaders should learn quickly and never forget:

  1. What makes people happiest in their jobs is all profoundly personal.“Do I work for an organization whose mission and methods I respect?” “Does my boss authentically advocate for me?” “Is the work I do meaningful?” “Am I afforded sufficient variety in my day?” “Do I feel valued and appreciated for all the work that I do?”

We know that all these matter more to people than their compensation–and workers generally don’t quit jobs when these basic needs are met. According to a worldwide Towers Watson study, the single highest driver of employee engagement is whether or not workers feel their managers are genuinely interested in their well-being. Today, only 40% of workers believe that.

  1. People only thrive when they feel recognized and appreciated.In a recent Harvard Business Review article, “Why Appreciation Matters So Much,” Tony Schwartz reminds us that all employees need to be praised, honored, and routinely acknowledged for their efforts and achievements. Consequently, leaders must allow themselves to manage more from their hearts.

Our brains are great at building strategies, managing capital, and analyzing data. But it’s the heart that connects us as human beings, and its what’s greatly lacking in American leadership today. This is what now must change.

  1. Your employees will stay if you tell them directly you need them, care about them, and sincerely plan to support them.Any time someone quits a job for a reason other than money, they’re leaving in hope that things will be better somewhere else. So, everyone who works for you must be made to feel that they matter. Plan one-on-one meetings and re-discover the dreams each person has at work. Tell people directly how valuable they are to you. To be successful, all your future behavior must demonstrate to your employees that their best career move is to remain working for you.

Being human and treating one another with dignity and respect is something the heart already knows to do. Leaders would all do well to follow it.

*His former employer, one of the U.S.’s largest financial institutions.

A version of this was first posted on fastcompany.com

Why You Need To Lead With Your Heart

If you think your brain makes you a great leader, you better check your head.

According to the Conference Board, job satisfaction in America has been on a steep and steady decline for an entire generation. The century-old research organization reported this summer that more than half of all US employees are unhappy in their jobs today–effectively an all-time low.

Recent Gallup studies not only validate that people feel worse about their work, bosses and organizations than ever before, they reveal a remarkable 71 percent of American workers are either not engaged in their jobs–or have become actively disengaged.

Clearly, all this discontent is bad for business. Gallup estimates that it’s costing $300 billion in lost productivity every year.

Given all that’s at stake, and with all the great business minds presumably attacking the crisis, we’re left to wonder why we’ve yet to stem the tide? How is it that we haven’t yet identified what it will take to re-inspire our nation’s workforce?

Drawing upon recent scientific discoveries, it appears it’s because the solution contradicts one of the most widely accepted and long-enduring paradigms in business. We now know that the path to engaging workers is through their hearts.

What We All Were Taught: “Keep The Heart And Emotions Out Of Leadership.”

The idea of bringing the heart into workplace leadership widely is seen as being a soft and weak approach that inherently undermines productivity and profitability. Traditional leadership theory assures us the best managers are the brainiest and most analytical–intentionally insulated from emotions.

But according to research conducted by the Institute of HeartMath, organizations that will endure and even thrive will be those that reject flat-earth attitudes about heart and leadership, and accept that both feelings and emotions play an enormous role in driving employee (human) behavior.

If your desire is to be a leader who attracts and retains the best people all-the-while producing truly uncommon and sustainable performance, here are two things you must know about the power and influence of the human heart:

The Heart is the Primary Driver of Optimal Human Performance

HeartMath’s research largely has been focused on the physiology of optimal human performance–what has to go on inside of a person’s brain, body and nervous system to be able to think clearly, maintain composure, and perform to one’s full potential.

According to Dr. Rollin McCraty, HeartMath’s Director of Research, they’ve discovered the heart, as “an organ of perception and intelligence,” is a huge part of the equation.

“We now know that the heart and the brain are in a constant two-way communication and that the heart sends more information to the brain than vice versa. The signals the heart sends affect the brain centers involved in our decision-making and in our ability to perceive. In other words, each beat reflects our current emotional state. If we’re angry, irritated or frustrated, the heart beats out a very chaotic message. Conversely, more positive emotions create harmony in our nervous system and the heart rhythm pattern we have when we’re in our most optimal state.”

Coincidentally, a Towers Watson study recently showed that the greatest driver of employee engagement worldwide is whether or not people feel their managers and organizations have genuine concern for their well-being. Heartmath’s corresponding insight: More caring leaders set off the neural machinery that produces optimal workplace performance.”

Emotions Drive Performance

The prevailing belief in leadership is that emotions undermine good decision-making and other cognitive tasks and have no place in the workplace. But the new research is very clear that the repression of them greatly inhibits human functioning.

“While it’s obvious that certain kinds of emotions drain our energy and thereby negatively affect our performance,” McCraty says, “we now know it’s our emotions that drive our biochemistry–not the other way around. Feelings and emotions, therefore, determine our level of engagement in life, what motivates us and what we care about.”

Initial cynicism toward this information is something McCraty routinely experiences firsthand. The US military has contracted with HeartMath to teach its soon-to-be deployed personnel how to maintain psychological composure when enduring the most stressful wartime circumstances.

Here’s how McCraty successfully persuades a room full of sceptical soldiers that feelings and emotions are the driving force in their lives:

“Some of you joined the military for the paycheck, but I’ll bet it’s not the majority of you. I’ll bet you’re here because you care about the country and its way of life, right? Raise your hands.”

All hands go up.

“And you have the courage to stand up and do something about it.”

Everyone nods their heads.

“You have the integrity and dignity to stand up for America.”

McCraty then hammers home the point: “Are these not emotions?”

“Yes, they’re the strongest emotions we have. Courage gives you the power to do things others wouldn’t or couldn’t. Dignity is doing the right thing when no one is looking–that kind of integrity. These are all the emotions that really motivate us and determine what we care about in life…why we choose to do the things we do in life.”

The Bottom Line

It’s long been believed that a job and a paycheck was sufficient motivation for workers to perform. But pay in all of its manifestations now ranks no higher than fifth in importance globally as the reason why people excel in their jobs.

While the idea of managing people with greater care may strike some as intrinsically wimpy, the Conference Board’s ongoing employee engagement research has proved that workplace leadership cannot succeed without it.

What matters most to people is how they are made to feel by the organizations that employ them, and by the bosses who manage them. So, demonstrate to your employees that they’re authentically valued. Provide them with opportunities to grow and to contribute at a higher level. Appreciate their work. Make people feel they matter. Do all these things and more–knowing it’s rarely an appeal to our minds that inspires any of our greatest achievements.

Mark C. Crowley is the author of Lead From The Heart: Transformational Leadership For The 21st Century. Reach him on Twitter @markccrowley or via his website.

A version of this was first posted on fastcompany.com

5 Profound Insights On Success From A Wharton Prof Devoted To Understanding It

When Wharton Business School professor Richard Shell was faced with a life-threatening illness, he was forced to think about the big picture. What was success to him? Since then, Shell has dedicated his life to helping folks find true meaning in their own lives and work.

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.

—Henry David Thoreau

In 2013, Parade magazine and Yahoo! Finance jointly surveyed 26,000 Americans and discovered that nearly 60% of them fully regretted their career choices.

That’s an incredibly sad statistic, of course—especially when you consider that job satisfaction has become the most critical factor to a person’s sense of well-being and overall happiness with life.

So how is it that so many people have found themselves in careers that leave them feeling empty and unfulfilled? According to Wharton Business School professor Richard Shell, one likely reason is they didn’t ask the right questions at the start.

“I think that for a lot of these people,” says Shell, “they hadn’t thoughtfully defined what success would look like in their own terms before pursuing work that aligned more closely with family, social or cultural expectations. They hadn’t thought at the beginning to look for a suit of clothes that would fit them.”

Shell speaks from experience. In the early 1970s, immediately after earning an undergraduate degree at Princeton, he had no clear idea of the work he wanted to do—or to which he was ideally matched. He took jobs as a house painter, a social worker and a fundraiser, and found himself miserable in all of them. Lost and unsure of what to do next, he became a modern-day Odysseus traveling aimlessly around the globe. That is until he fatefully contracted hepatitis in Afghanistan.

It was the sudden and life-threatening illness that ultimately shifted Shell’s perspective, and influenced him to dive deeply into understanding his own motivations, interests, and talents. He learned the basics of Buddhist meditation and devoted himself to long stretches of contemplation and soul searching. From this pivot point in his late twenties, he enrolled in law school, went on to work as an attorney and, at the not-so-tender age of 37, began a university teaching career that has proved to be his life’s calling.

Over the 27-year span since he first became a professor, Shell never stopped thinking about the concept of success—and the process by which people best discover their own values and purpose. He read Aristotle, Plato, Charles Lindbergh, Dale Carnegie, Benjamin Franklin, and myriad others before finally distilling the collective wisdom into a university-wide seminar called, “The Literature Of Success.” With clear intention, Shell designed the curriculum he “would have wanted to have taken when I was a senior in college” to ensure his students left school far better prepared to make the important life choices that lay ahead for them.

After teaching his course to students and faculty for more than a decade, Shell now has documented his lessons in his recently released book, Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search For Success.

Regardless of whether you are just about to finish college or are at the threshold of considering a career change, Springboard is written to help you discover what gives your life the greatest meaning—so you can set your own path and define success on your own terms.

Here’s what I found to be five of the author’s most profound and helpful insights:

  1. You Must Decide What Success Means For You.

Shell is convinced that the career choices many of us make are greatly (and often unconsciously) influenced by family expectations and cultural beliefs. One reason so many people are unhappy and disengaged in their jobs today is because they took on work that fails to match with their skills, interests, and passions. Consequently, Shell insists we ask ourselves: “What makes my heart sing?” “What is success for me?”

“One of the great ironies in the study of success,” Shell writes, “is that many people believe the secrets to achieving it lie ‘out there’ somewhere—in a far-off, hard-to-find place. The truth is much simpler: The answer lies within yourself.”

Even when armed with sufficient self-knowledge, however, it’s all too easy for people to still take the safe career path—rather than one they find more deeply inspiring.

In hopes that we’ll all choose to be far braver and more daring with our choices, Shell invokes Steve Job’s poignant observation: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life . . . And, most important, have the courage to follow your own heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become.”

  1. We Discover Our Purpose By Trial And Error.

“Finding out what success means to you often involves trial and error,” says Shell, “not just theoretical contemplation. It involves taking risks and experimentation. Success is not a static, one-done process; it’s dynamic.”

To that end, Shell directs us to become observers of our own lives and to the unfolding of our experiences. “Your activities allow you to experience life—and from these you learn what works, what excites you and fulfills you,” he says. “You also recognize when things feel empty, hollow, cynical ,or materialistic in a way that doesn’t satisfy you, and you learn to reject those things.”

In my recent conversation with Shell, he emphasized that devoting focused time to this kind of reflection is essential to the process. “The amount of stimulation that’s available today via social media can easily distract people from having the kind of discernment that will help them discover what they might do in their lives.”

  1. Discover What You Do Better Than Most.

“Success starts with the things you do better than most,” says Shell. “It usually resides in the unique combination of capabilities you bring to what you do. The future opens up when your past interests, experiences, and skills start resonating perfectly with an opportunity you find in the present.”

Shell believes that it is human nature to assume our own unique talents are far more widely shared by other people than they actually are. When making an inventory of our abilities, therefore, we must resist the impulse to negate any of them and scratch them off our list.

Shell also suggests we solicit the observation of our peers, friends, and even bosses, as they each have a unique optic into our strengths, weaknesses, personality, and capabilities. “We learn a lot when we see ourselves reflected in the looking glass of other people’s perceptions,” he says. “And gaining a greater and more accurate self-understanding is essential to finding the kind of work that will fulfill us.”

  1. There Are Two Sides To Success.

In evaluating the success we’re having in our lives, we tend to employ two different scorecards.

The first relates to the inner feelings of fulfillment, satisfaction, and happiness that we derive from our families, relationships, and having meaningful work. The second, outer perspective ties directly to our desires for achievement, social recognition, and respect.

While some people measure their success primarily in terms of achievements—and others specifically in terms of inner satisfaction and fulfillment—most of us seek some kind of balance between the two.

After arguably spending more time pondering the concept of success than most people on the planet, Shell makes clear which side of the fulcrum he believes leads to the greatest happiness in life.

He tells the story of a lecture where he asked his students to share their ideas on what a happy life would look like. After several students contributed, an elderly man (obviously not a student), stood up and said, “Happiness is just three things: good health, meaningful work, and love.”

From Shell’s perspective, this “wise angel” was basically correct. “Although earning a lot of money can be very good for your sense of pride and self-esteem, money has very little effect on the day-to-day joy you experience, and none whatsoever on the larger, more spiritual dimensions of happiness that many consider the most important in their lives.”

  1. Ask The Lottery Question.

Acknowledging that not everyone reading this holds a workplace leadership position, Shell’s final insight, nevertheless, is fascinating and useful to us all.

He advises managers to ask this one important question every time they interview candidates for a job on their team:

“Imagine you’ve won the lottery, and money no longer is a primary motivator. Your family is now taken care of, and you’ve earned a certain amount of notoriety by having the winning ticket. What would you do next in your life?”

Shell believes that the candidate’s answer to this one question provides direct access into their hearts. “If they want to be of service to something, that tells you the kind of work they find very meaningful. If they want to teach, this tells you what people find fulfilling right now.”

Having “meaningful work,” philosopher Bertrand Russell once wrote, makes all [people] happy in their soul, in spite of all outward troubles and difficulties.” So, before you ask the lottery question in a job interview, you might first ask it of yourself.

This post was first published on Fast Company.

Photo Credit: grafeco Flickr via Compfight cc

Opportunity Cost Be Damned

More CowbellTwo middle-aged men walk into an elevator. The taller and heavier of the two points to the other’s t-shirt. It’s an Saturday Night Live t-shirt with a silkscreen silhouette of Will Ferrell in the “More Cowbell” sketch.

“Very nice,” he says. “Classic.”

The other guy, the one with a mostly white goatee beard wearing the Rush baseball cap, gives him a thumbs up.

“I know. One of the best.”

“Yes, it’s my favorite.”

“Where did you get it?”

“At the SNL store at 30 Rockefeller Center. I’m on vacation with my family.”

“Excellent. That’s a great buy. Can never have enough cowbell.”

The guy in the SNL t-shirt shrugs and says, “You’re right, but not really a good deal. It was thirty bucks out the door, but it’s a must have and we were there. Plus, if I had ordered it online and added in shipping costs, it might’ve been a wash, or maybe I would’ve saved. Who knows.”

The bigger guy winks then smiles and says, “Maybe, but that’s the price we pay for the opportunity cost, right?”

“You are correct,” I say. I was energized that this kind stranger gave me a economics reference with a lighthearted wink and a smile.

Opportunity cost, a core concept of economics that ensures we use limited resources wisely and choose accordingly, although there will always be a cost (not always monetary either) associated with not choosing the other choices other than the first one we choose, like a missed opportunity we’ll never know we missed.

Got that?

Like choosing a career path for the first time, or choosing a new job from a few offers (if you’re sought-after folk), or choosing the people you want to work for your business (if you’re in the people-choosing profession). Any way you slice it there’s an opportunity cost associated with these choices, one that you may never fully comprehend because there’s no way to get to the “what if’s” in the real world.

You can imagine and project based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data, salary data, population demographics, and other types of workplace market data readily available today. I mean, I could’ve been a civil engineer or an architect.

But that doesn’t matter now, and it doesn’t matter for any of us once we’ve progressed beyond choosing the career or the person to fill that career – at least, not until we choose again.

According to the latest Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement research report, the choice rewards are up slightly and the opportunity cost down, with 86 percent of U.S. employees reporting overall satisfaction with their current job, an improvement of five percentage points since 2013. In fact, this percentage matches the highest level of satisfaction over the last 10 years, which was in 2009, and between 2009 and 2013 the levels of job satisfaction had gradually declined.

Plus, according to the same SHRM research, the top five contributors to employee job satisfaction in 2015 included:

  1. Respectful treatment of all employees at all levels
  2. Trust between employees and senior management
  3. Benefits, overall
  4. Compensation/pay, overall
  5. Job security

Now, 26 percent of these respondents were Millennials, the soon to be if not already majority of the workforce. My mothership PeopleFluent is actually on a mission to capture new insights from these kids today and our Millennial research will close on July 17 (Millennials can take the survey here). In the meantime, we’ve uncovered some a few things that I think are worth sharing, a couple of which align with the above SHRM research:

  • 75% say they’d leave their current job for better pay (isn’t that most of us?)
  • Nearly 80% are more engaged when they have mentorship programs at work (respectful treatment and trust are born from these)
  • More than 26% expect their next role is with an entirely new employer (ah, more opportunity costs)

We look forward to uncovering more and you can register now for the full independent research report to be published in September.

We all know what happens to employer brands when the current employees aren’t satisfied and engaged – there’s a poison that seeps into the people pools and taints them for miles and miles.

But when they are satisfied and engaged, they will evangelize your company culture in an authentic, transparent way, something we discussed on the TalentCulture #TChat Show with Stacy Donovan Zapar, an 18-year recruiting veteran for Fortune 500 tech companies and Founder of Tenfold, a boutique recruiting consultancy and training firm.

We agreed that, although we all long for flexibility and fun, work is actually really hard at times, and it will be stressful and mind-numbing and soul-sucking, regardless if its full-time or contract work. But if those individuals and organizations who employ have an “satisfying” employer brand and offer fulfilling work experiences, it helps those who are seeking to choose a potentially better career path and a more rewarding job. And it helps those HR and recruiting professionals choose those who are seeking, rounding out that magical economic equation of supply and demand.

The part when you wink and smile and think opportunity cost be damned.

Busting The Burning Myths About Job Hopping

A relatively recent term, “job hopping” is now used in mainstream society as a way to describe the phenomena of hopping from one job to the next job, rather than maintaining one job or career throughout the course of a lifetime. Here’s what you need to know about job hopping, as well as some myths we will dispel about it.

Classically, as children we are taught to be loyal, hardworking, and dedicated. This carries over into our careers in school, then into the workforce. Years ago, in the Baby Boomer generation, to “job hop” carried a very negative stigma, which some still fear to this day. There are a lot of pros and cons with job hopping, but certain myths have linked a kind of social stigma with the term.

In previous generations, it was the social norm for one to graduate college, enter the workforce and then stay with the same company until retirement age. Very few dared to hop from one job to the next. These days though, we live in a very different world. Evolution of our thought process is necessary to keep up with how everything is changing. Let’s look at some myths about job hopping.

3 Common Myths about Job Hopping

  1. If you job hop, it means you aren’t loyal or dedicated.
    Many who fear job hopping worry they may come across as flaky or disloyal, or think they may be seen as too self-serving or lazy. In reality, none of these negative traits have anything to do with job hopping. In fact, according to IT staffing expert Daren Hicks, “Some of the hardest working, dedicated individuals are also job hoppers. Being dedicated to one’s work should not equate to staying in a position where growth potential is limited.”
  2. Having a resume that looks too “busy” is a bad thing.
    Most people are of the opinion that if you have too much going on with your resume, this will be seen in a negative light. While it’s important to have a concise resume, maintaining the same job for years and years may have more negative connotations these days than positive ones. Although it shows you can hold a position for a long time, what it doesn’t show is growth, versatility and a variety of experience. These days, more employers are likely to hire you if you have a wider skill set, which is generally obtained from working in more than one position in more than one company.
  3. You will lose the stability and expertise of your current position.
    While it’s true that changing jobs can be scary, the truth is that for the most part “job security” is an illusion, and is not what it used to be. Even if you work the same position all of your life, you are still at risk for being terminated for financial reasons, because there are always others who are willing to work for less pay. Just because you care about your company does not always mean it cares about you. If a position or company no longer fits you, this generally means it’s time to move on. Although no one wants to be the new person at a company, this opens you up to endless possibilities as well as career advancement. Not only will you be able to learn a number of new things, but you also will expand your network as you interact with new people in a variety of new situations.

There are pros and cons to job hopping; we’re always told that job hopping is bad for a career, but during your 20s and early 30s, it’s actually a good idea. Unfortunately, some hiring managers who are used to the old practices of hiring may be more likely to overlook someone’s resume that has job-hopped. It would benefit them greatly to keep an open mind about this though, because job hoppers have consistently been proven to be positive risk takers who can benefit a company tremendously.

Not only are many job hoppers leaders as opposed to blind followers, but they also are often the types of people who have a lot of drive and ambition, and are innovative. Job hopping is essential for this current generation particularly because of the current job market as well as technology that plays a big role. For professionals in the IT field, for example, this point is extremely important because they must keep up with current technology and systems. Since the job market is so competitive, it’s prevalent to keep up to date with your skill set. Moving from one company to the next can sometimes be the only way to expose yourself to different types of technology as well as the latest developments in your field.

For those who are looking to job hop, it’s important to keep these points in mind:

  • Do present the creative, innovative parts of yourself that adapt easily to change particularly in fast-paced environments
  • Don’t be afraid to put your career first. Job hoppers benefit from being more challenged and more fulfilled, as well as earning more money than their counterparts
  • Do follow your passion so you can figure out what you really love, while expanding your skill set
  • Do endeavor to have a variety of different experiences, to improve your versatility
  • Do take advantage of a good opportunity. You have one life to live, so you may as well do what you really want to do

The good news is, in most ways, job hopping has nowhere near the negative connotations it used to. It’s becoming easier than ever for those wanting to job hop to be able to, and to find the career and position they really want. Not only do job hoppers benefit from changing jobs, but companies benefit from choosing to hire those who have attained that variety of experience.

About the Author: Ava Collins is an online marketing associate with Hicks Professional Group as well as the IT staffing company’s HR manager.

photo credit: jkjen via photopin cc

Behavior In Business: 8 Human Insights Leaders Should Know

It’s impossible to be in the business world each day and not feel psychology at work. Each of us brings our human nature to a job — regardless of our title, expertise or organizational setting.

Leaders who value the psychological aspects of work life are much more likely to gain trust and inspire top performance from their teams.

These concepts may seem simple, but they can complicate workplace dynamics, and their impact is often measurable. That’s why they deserve attention from anyone who works with and through others to achieve business goals.

Are you thinking today’s leaders already “get it”? If so, this may surprise you…

Leadership Has Evolved? Not So Fast

Recently, the Wall Street Journal published an article, “Now You Know Why Your Boss Is Such An Ape.” It reminds us of how strong and predictable the force of nature can be — especially in a business context. It can be easy to forget that we’re animals — yet we share 99.9% of our genes with apes. In fact, if we compare their behavioral patterns with ours, the similarities are striking.

For example, in both cases, leaders often act cold, or even show disrespect to subordinates in an effort to claim dominance as the “alpha male.” On the other hand, those same leaders are likely to display an incredible amount of respect when interacting with their superiors.

8 Key Behavioral Concepts For Leaders

Psychology offers many more striking insights. Here are 8 that should serve every leader well. It’s not important to remember the terms — but if you remember the concepts, you’ll have a clear advantage in the world of work:

1) Observational Learning

Human learning begins with observation. This is vital for leaders to remember, because employees tend do what you do, not what you say. Those who look up to you will want to model themselves after you. And if your words and actions don’t align, the consequences can harm your organizational culture.

This kind of behavior starts early in humans, as was illustrated in the famous Bobo doll experiment — where children were asked to spend time in a room with an adult. After witnessing the adult display aggressively and verbally abusive behavior toward the doll, children acted in a similar way.

2) Social Contagion

This is the theory of how ideas and emotions spread and go viral. It’s important to recognize this tendancy, especially within a company culture. If a few employees become disengaged, the negativity can spread across the entire company quicker than you might expect.

This concept was illustrated in a University of Michigan study that monitored the spread of eating disorders throughout college campuses. It’s important to look for early signals and work proactively to reverse the impact.

3) Groupthink

Groupthink can be particularly dangerous, so it’s important to remain alert. It’s tricky, because team building activities are beneficial, but too much cohesion can be detrimental.

Groupthink tends to surface when teams take on a mind of their own — usually because members want to avoid conflict within the group. This leads to poor decision making, because groups don’t fully evaluate circumstances, and members are influenced by the rest of the group to comply.

Sometimes groupthink can be an unintended consequence of brainstorming. Rather than creating an atmosphere where multiple participants are inspired to generate a broader spectrum of creative ideas, the brainstorming process itself dampens the creativity of each member.

4) Minimal Group Paradigm

We’ve all seen “cliques” develop in schools and other social environments — that’s essentially minimal group paradigm in action. It’s about arbitrary distinctions between groups (for example, differences in the color of clothing) that lead people to favor one group over another.

Of course, harmful cliques can develop among adults in corporate cultures. However, leaders can avoid this by encouraging team building that reaches across arbitrary boundaries, and supports everyone as part of the same larger group.

5) Social Loafing

Initially I assumed this was about people who lie on the couch while browsing on Facebook — but it’s really much more interesting than that. Over 100 years ago, a study found that people put in 50% less effort when playing tug of war in a team of 8 compared to playing it alone. In other words, we tend to slack off when our efforts can’t be distinguished from the efforts of our teammates.

As important as team building is, autonomy and individuality is an important way to keep people motivated. This sounds counter-intuitive to need for humans to feel they belong to groups. However, there’s a delicate balance between motivating humans as individuals and as team members.

6) Stanford Prison Experiment

This is one my favorite lessons from the realm of psychology. In a Stanford University experiment, participants were assigned roles as prisoners and prison guards in a pseudo prison environment. Guard adapted to their new roles much quicker than expected, and guards became very authoritative and abusive toward prisoners.

This is obviously important for leaders to understand, because job roles clearly have an effect on our perception of ourselves and others. Be careful how you assign titles and responsibilities, and how you manage those expectations within your ranks, over time.

7) Prisoner’s Dilemma

This is another famous psychological experiment that underscores the importance of accountability within teams.

The prisoner’s dilemma is a game where the “rewards” are prison terms. There are 2 prisoners, A and B. If both prisoners betray each other, they each serve a 2 year jail sentence. If prisoner A betrays prisoner B, prisoner A goes free and prisoner B gets 3 years (and vice versa). If they both remain silent, they each serve only 1 year. Of course, it’s in both players’ best interest to stay silent. However, typically, the fear of betrayal leads both to betray each other.

This reminds us that trust and communication is essential for individual and team success — and that the definition of “success” is influenced by self interest.

8) Halo Effect

The halo effect is a popular concept among brand marketers, but it also can apply to perceptions of an employee. In marketing, humans develop positive perceptions of a product when respected sources describe it in positive terms, or when the brand develops strong associations with other attractive brands.

In the workplace, the halo effect involve bias that is either positive or negative. For example, when a leader likes an employee, they may attribute other positive traits to them (e.g. they’re smarter or more committed than others) even if it’s not accurate. This can obviously become a problem, if it affects the leader’s decisions. The best way to avoid this trap is to focus on objective measures of performance.

Obviously, this is just a taste of the behavioral research that can inform workplace leadership. But anyone can learn more — there are tons of great learning resources available online.

How do you see psychology at work in your organization? What has worked for you and what hasn’t? Share your thoughts in the comments area.

JacobShriarAbout the Author: Jacob Shriar is the Growth Manager at Officevibe, an employee engagement platform. He’s passionate about company culture, and he blogs regularly on productivity, employee engagement, and career tips. When he’s not reinventing the world over a glass of scotch, he likes to find new skills to learn. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more.

 

Does Your Workforce Feel The Love? #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you looking for full highlights and resource links from this week’s events? See the #TChat Recap: “Employee Engagement: Say It Like You Mean It.“)

At one point or another, all of us have felt it.

You know what I mean. That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, when you suddenly realize someone you desperately want to pursue is simply just … not that into you.

Talk all you want about The 5 Love Languages or 50 Shades of Grey. No amount of self-help advice or passionate persuasion is likely to alter the destiny of that relationship.

Employer Love: Beyond Hearts and Flowers

Fortunately, it’s a different story for relationships between employers and employees. Even companies that haven’t connected with their workforce in meaningful ways can turn a lackluster situation around. But what’s the best approach? And is it really worth the effort?

That’s the topic the TalentCulture community is taking on this week at #TChat Events. And we’re fortunate to be welcoming two guests who understand the importance of developing solid employer/employee bonds: Chris Boyce, CEO at Virgin Pulse, and Kevin Herman, Director of Worksite Wellness at The Horton Group.

Sneak Peek

Both of these executives see tremendous potential in strengthening employee loyalty and engagement by focusing on lifestyle fundamentals — health and well-being. Last year, Chris explained in a Bloomberg broadcast interview why it’s wise to invest in workforce wellness, especially in the face of rising healthcare costs and reduced benefits. Watch now:

Recently, Chris contributed a TalentCulture post expanding on this concept. In “Workplace Wellness: The Story Starts With Healthy Culture,” he makes the business case for embracing next-generation wellness programs — not just to promote employee health, but to build a more resilient business, overall.

What do you think about the importance of wellness programs and other employee engagement strategies in demonstrating employer “love”? This topic affects all of us in the world of work, so we hope you’ll join the #TChat crowd this week and add your perspective to the conversation.

#TChat Events: Love Your Employees, They’ll Love You Back

#TChat Radio — Wed, Feb 12 — 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Chris Boyce and  Kevin Herman about why and how employers should demonstrate their commitment to workforce well-being. Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Feb 12 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and our guests will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community, in a dynamic live chat.

Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we address these 5 related questions:

Q1: Why does workforce recognition and engagement matter more than ever?
Q2: What are the best ways employers can demonstrate this kind of “love”?
Q3: Where have you seen engagement in action, for better or worse?
Q4: What technologies help nurture workforce engagement?
Q5: What kind of engagement metrics are relevant and useful?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, and on our new G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Soul Search — Then Job Search

Written by career consultant, Maggie Mistal

Most of us assume that the best way to find a job is to look at what’s available in online listings, or to follow someone else’s advice. However, these methods often lead to unfulfilling career choices.

You only need to look at the latest job satisfaction surveys to recognize how unfulfilled most workers feel. For seven straight years, The Conference Board has reported that less than half of U.S. workers are satisfied in their careers. So what can you do to find job satisfaction and fulfillment while still making a great living?

Uncover Your Core Genius

“Core genius” is the special contribution that each of us brings to our professional life. It’s what you are in this world to do that only you can do. It’s the unique package of skills, experiences, passions, interests, talents, abilities and attitude that you possess.

Take my client Laura Rolands. Laura was a hard-working Human Resources executive at Chrysler. She’s also a mom. When Laura’s son was diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), she got to work and investigated how to best help him with attention strategies at school and in life. Through this experience and through our career coaching work together, Laura realized she had a talent and an interest in helping people with attention issues.

It led Laura to start an attention coaching business shortly after accepting a voluntary buy-out from her position in the automotive industry. Her business is in a relatively new field, focused on coaching people to overcome challenges associate with ADD or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Actually, you don’t need a diagnosis to benefit — anyone who feels overwhelmed or distracted in today’s hyper-connected environment will find value in Laura’s services. Her clients have developed time-saving personal routines, and have improved their academic and business performance.

The Path to a Successful Career Fit

In 10 years of coaching, I have seen that we are each uniquely built to fulfill a specific purpose. And I am proud to have many success stories such as Laura Rolands. However, too often people take their unique talents for granted. In fact, the real challenge is that most people have no idea what their purpose is. That is where I help.

I believe the best way to find your purpose — your core genius — is to conduct a formal Soul Search, and get specific about all the elements of your ideal career. It starts with helping clients assess themselves in 8 essential dimensions, as part of the “Soul Search, Research and Job Search” process I developed.

These elements include: 1) your top interests, 2) key motivators, 3) skills you want to employ, 4) ways you want to contribute, 5) best qualities, 6) best work environment, 7) activities you enjoy most, and 8) salary and benefits.

Soul Search Before Job Search

By working through exercises and self-reflection questions, we prioritize what’s most important and brainstorm career possibilities that match those elements. You can gain even deeper clarity with my downloadable (PDF) Soul Search workbook.

This workbook contains over 30 pages of exercises to help professionals uncover the eight core elements of your core genius. The insights developed from each exercise are designed to correspond with a section of your own personalized career guide. This helps you easily organize and interpret the information as the basis for brainstorming new career possibilities and making sound decisions about the best options for you.

So stop looking at want ads and instead start talking to anyone and everyone about the ways you are already of service. Carefully process all of that input, and you’ll see viable new options ahead. Take seriously the value you bring to the table, and (like Laura Rolands) believe that you can get paid to deliver it. Let others know about the high-value service you are prepared to provide. Then deliver it consistently and professionally. Soon, you’ll find you have more than enough work in your new role — and you’ll be making a living while loving what you do.

Have You Discovered Your Core Genius?

Are you in touch with your core career strengths? What steps did you take to gain that awareness? And how have you applied it to your career? Share your thoughts in the comments area.

Maggie Mistal(About the Author: CNN dubbed Maggie Mistal “one of the nation’s best-known career coaches.” A former Learning & Development executive at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, she is a certified life purpose and career coach who, for seven years, hosted “Making a Living with Maggie” on SiriusXM, and now airs a monthly podcast on iTunes. Maggie has been featured across major media, including NBC’s Today Show, Fox Business, CNN and The New York Times. Connect with Maggie on Twitter, or LinkedIn or Facebook.)

(Editor’s Note: For a limited time, in conjunction with her February 2014 appearance at #TChat Events, Maggie is offering special pricing for her “Soul Search” career planning workbook to anyone who mentions #TChat when contacting her. Don’t miss this opportunity to get a fresh perspective on your core genius!)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Careers: Better Choices Mean Better Business #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you looking for full Storify highlights + resource links from this week’s #TChat Events? Read the #TChat Recap: “Bring Your ‘Genius’ to Work.“)

Happiness at work
. Passion for your profession. Finding your bliss.

These days, we hear a lot about the importance of being emotionally connected with our careers.

Sounds like a nice idea — but it’s much more than that. Research shows that it’s a key driver of professional performance. It’s also an essential aspect of employee engagement. Yet statistics show that, for most of us, it remains an elusive goal.

Bucking the Trend

This week at #TChat Events, we’ll look at how each of us can defy those statistics by gaining better understanding of our individual strengths and motivations — and by putting those insights to work through better career choices.

We’ll also look at why it’s smart for business to encourage this kind of investigation and discovery.

And who better to help lead this discussion than career management expert, Maggie Mistal? Before establishing herself as the personality behind the long-running SiriusXM radio show, “Making A Living,” Maggie was Director of Learning & Development at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Also joining us is Laura Rolands, a former HR executive at Chrysler, who, with Maggie’s guidance, launched a rewarding practice as an ADHD coach.

Sneak Peek: Finding Your “Career Core”

To frame this week’s events, I spoke briefly with both Maggie and Laura about how and why it pays for all of us to pursue careers that leverage our strengths. Watch the hangout now:

This discussion has potential to help each of us find more fulfilling work lives, while helping organizations develop more effective talent strategies. So join the #TChat crowd this week to share your ideas and opinions with other “world of work” professionals!

#TChat Events: Claiming Your “Core” Career

#TChat Radio — Wed, Feb 5 — 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

TChatRadio_logo_020813Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Maggie Mistal and Laura Rolands critical about how to find and claim your core career “genius.” Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Feb 5 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and our guests will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community, in a live chat moderated by Dr. Nancy Rubin.

Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we address these 5 related questions:

Q1: How can we align our career aspirations with our strengths?
Q2: When a job isn’t fulfilling, what can we do to take charge of our career?
Q3: How can we continually identify and develop skills and talents?
Q4: What value does business gain from encouraging “career genius” in employees?
Q5: How can new technology help us redirect and manage our careers?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, and on our new G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Your Digital Domain: Who's The Boss? #TChat Recap

“With great power comes great responsibility.” -Voltaire

Do you suppose this is what it felt like back in 1967, during the “Summer of Love?” Our country was weary from years of war and civil unrest, and people were searching to reconnect with their humanity. That’s when “peace” took on new meaning as a symbol of promise for individuals and a new world order.

Flash-forward to today, when many among us are weary and searching to rediscover our humanity — but in a different way. This time, it’s fueled by the digital revolution. Why? We’ve been deeply engaged for so long with so many forms of networked communication that it seems we’ve reached a point of diminishing returns. Even the most intrepid “wired” geeks openly yearn for a certain kind of peace. And now, that discomfort is leading many to pursue serenity — either by dialing back on social channels or temporarily unplugging altogether.

Defining A Digital Destiny: To Each His Own

Grand as it may be, today’s “always on” social business experiment is taking a toll. And if this week’s #TChat forums are any indicator, workplace leaders are just starting to understand and respond to the consequences of an over-extended 24×7 workforce.

When do the productivity benefits of digital connections cross the line from the sublime to the ridiculous? When does hyper-connectivity become a drain on employee engagement and performance? How can workers maintain a healthy mindset in a world of nonstop demands? And how can leaders develop and sustain a healthy “connected” organization?

The TalentCulture community has only begun to crack the code on this issue. However, this week’s discussions revealed three key considerations:

1) Employers can no longer afford to ignore the cultural aspects of unrelenting hyper-connectivity. It’s actually a big-ticket business issue with implications that reach far beyond obvious security and privacy risks. Employee health costs, productivity and turnover are all expensive factors in this complex equation.

2) There are no single silver-bullet answers. However, there are a multitude of choices. The best solution for each organization will be different. But to find that solution, decision makers must take a mindful, active part in the process. As the digital realm unfolds before us, and choices expand, that responsibility becomes increasingly important.

3) This isn’t just about employers. Certainly companies must create processes and policies that address business interests and respect employee well-being. But at the end of the day, each of us is responsible for our own productivity, performance and peace of mind. The fundamental question rests with every individual: When and how should I leverage digital connectivity to improve my professional and personal life?

With so much at stake, #TChat-ters were grateful to welcome two work-life management experts to lead the way this week:

Their insights helped us frame the issues and expose new ideas, as we engaged the community in our weekly “world of work” dialogue. Below, we’ve captured event highlights (including a tweet-by-tweet Storify slideshow from Twitter) and other resource links.

We hope this inspires further discussion within your organization and professional circles. As ideas emerge, don’t be shy! Let us know what’s on your mind. For those at the forefront of work-life integration, the responsibilities may be great — but together, this journey of digital discovery is always better!

#TChat Week in Review: Connected Work-Life Reality Check

SAT 7/6

JudyMartin2JPG

Watch the G+ Hangout with Judy Martin

#TChat Preview: On the eve of his own one-week digital sabbatical, Community Manager, Tim McDonald, asked Judy Martin to frame this week’s topic in a G+ Hangout. See “Digital Breaks: Rethinking Connectivity”

SUN 7/7

Forbes.com Post: In her weekly Forbes column, TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro, opened up about her own attempt to disconnect. Read “The Digital Realities Of Work/Life Blending.”

MON 7/8

Related Post: While preparing for her #TChat appearance, Judy offered helpful guidance about how to frame this work-life integration issue and gain a sense of control. Read “Digital Detox vs Digital Redux in the Work-Life Merge.”

WED 7/10

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio show now

#TChat Radio: 30 minutes prior to #TChat Twitter, radio hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman sat down with Judy and Heidi for a lively discussion about work-life integration — what it means for individuals, as well as employers, in today’s digitally dependent world. Fascinating stuff! If you missed the session, listen now to the recording.

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, our entire community came together on the Twitter stream to share ideas in real-time about the pros and cons of digital connections at the core of professional and personal life. Thanks to everyone who contributed opinions and ideas! To review highlights, watch the slideshow below:

#TChat Twitter Highlights: “Digital Breaks: Rethinking Connectivity”

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-digital-breaks-rethinking-connecti.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Judy and Heidi for helping our community think more carefully about how to manage the demands of digital life in more productive and personally satisfying ways. Your passion and perspectives are inspiring!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about work/life integration issues? We’d love to share your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week at #TChat events, we’ll continue our summer “professional reality check,” as personal branding expert and author, Dorie Clark, helps us look at how to “Reinvent Your Personal Brand.”

In the meantime, the World of Work conversation continues each day. So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, or on our new LinkedIn discussion group. And feel free to explore other areas of our redesigned website. The gears are always turning at TalentCulture, and your ideas and opinions are always welcome.

See you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Your Digital Domain: Who’s The Boss? #TChat Recap

“With great power comes great responsibility.” -Voltaire

Do you suppose this is what it felt like back in 1967, during the “Summer of Love?” Our country was weary from years of war and civil unrest, and people were searching to reconnect with their humanity. That’s when “peace” took on new meaning as a symbol of promise for individuals and a new world order.

Flash-forward to today, when many among us are weary and searching to rediscover our humanity — but in a different way. This time, it’s fueled by the digital revolution. Why? We’ve been deeply engaged for so long with so many forms of networked communication that it seems we’ve reached a point of diminishing returns. Even the most intrepid “wired” geeks openly yearn for a certain kind of peace. And now, that discomfort is leading many to pursue serenity — either by dialing back on social channels or temporarily unplugging altogether.

Defining A Digital Destiny: To Each His Own

Grand as it may be, today’s “always on” social business experiment is taking a toll. And if this week’s #TChat forums are any indicator, workplace leaders are just starting to understand and respond to the consequences of an over-extended 24×7 workforce.

When do the productivity benefits of digital connections cross the line from the sublime to the ridiculous? When does hyper-connectivity become a drain on employee engagement and performance? How can workers maintain a healthy mindset in a world of nonstop demands? And how can leaders develop and sustain a healthy “connected” organization?

The TalentCulture community has only begun to crack the code on this issue. However, this week’s discussions revealed three key considerations:

1) Employers can no longer afford to ignore the cultural aspects of unrelenting hyper-connectivity. It’s actually a big-ticket business issue with implications that reach far beyond obvious security and privacy risks. Employee health costs, productivity and turnover are all expensive factors in this complex equation.

2) There are no single silver-bullet answers. However, there are a multitude of choices. The best solution for each organization will be different. But to find that solution, decision makers must take a mindful, active part in the process. As the digital realm unfolds before us, and choices expand, that responsibility becomes increasingly important.

3) This isn’t just about employers. Certainly companies must create processes and policies that address business interests and respect employee well-being. But at the end of the day, each of us is responsible for our own productivity, performance and peace of mind. The fundamental question rests with every individual: When and how should I leverage digital connectivity to improve my professional and personal life?

With so much at stake, #TChat-ters were grateful to welcome two work-life management experts to lead the way this week:

Their insights helped us frame the issues and expose new ideas, as we engaged the community in our weekly “world of work” dialogue. Below, we’ve captured event highlights (including a tweet-by-tweet Storify slideshow from Twitter) and other resource links.

We hope this inspires further discussion within your organization and professional circles. As ideas emerge, don’t be shy! Let us know what’s on your mind. For those at the forefront of work-life integration, the responsibilities may be great — but together, this journey of digital discovery is always better!

#TChat Week in Review: Connected Work-Life Reality Check

SAT 7/6

JudyMartin2JPG

Watch the G+ Hangout with Judy Martin

#TChat Preview: On the eve of his own one-week digital sabbatical, Community Manager, Tim McDonald, asked Judy Martin to frame this week’s topic in a G+ Hangout. See “Digital Breaks: Rethinking Connectivity”

SUN 7/7

Forbes.com Post: In her weekly Forbes column, TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro, opened up about her own attempt to disconnect. Read “The Digital Realities Of Work/Life Blending.”

MON 7/8

Related Post: While preparing for her #TChat appearance, Judy offered helpful guidance about how to frame this work-life integration issue and gain a sense of control. Read “Digital Detox vs Digital Redux in the Work-Life Merge.”

WED 7/10

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio show now

#TChat Radio: 30 minutes prior to #TChat Twitter, radio hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman sat down with Judy and Heidi for a lively discussion about work-life integration — what it means for individuals, as well as employers, in today’s digitally dependent world. Fascinating stuff! If you missed the session, listen now to the recording.

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, our entire community came together on the Twitter stream to share ideas in real-time about the pros and cons of digital connections at the core of professional and personal life. Thanks to everyone who contributed opinions and ideas! To review highlights, watch the slideshow below:

#TChat Twitter Highlights: “Digital Breaks: Rethinking Connectivity”

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-digital-breaks-rethinking-connecti.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Judy and Heidi for helping our community think more carefully about how to manage the demands of digital life in more productive and personally satisfying ways. Your passion and perspectives are inspiring!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about work/life integration issues? We’d love to share your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week at #TChat events, we’ll continue our summer “professional reality check,” as personal branding expert and author, Dorie Clark, helps us look at how to “Reinvent Your Personal Brand.”

In the meantime, the World of Work conversation continues each day. So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, or on our new LinkedIn discussion group. And feel free to explore other areas of our redesigned website. The gears are always turning at TalentCulture, and your ideas and opinions are always welcome.

See you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng