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10 Ideas To Make Mental Health Support More Accessible For Employees

What are some ideas to make mental health support more accessible to employees? This question was posed to a group of talented professionals for their insights. From offering mental health holidays to flex work schedules, here’s what they had to say.

Offer Mental Health Days

Mental health Days are meant to be used when you have too much on your mind or when are feeling high levels of stress and anxiety. We can’t pre-plan how we will feel, so it’s important to allow employees to take unplanned days off.  Moreover, it is a great way to track the mental health of your employees. If someone is taking too many “mental health days” then you can reach out and support them! It’s easy to apply and simple, yet so few companies do it!

Annie Chopra, She TheQueen

Take Time to Communicate Benefits

In our brand new research on mental health, we found that employers rated themselves a “C” while the workforce rated employer support for mental health as an “F.” When you get into the data, you see that while companies are trying to make changes, these changes aren’t always felt by the workforce. We have to spend as much time communicating the changes and benefits we offer as we do actually selecting those benefits if we want to see real impact.

Ben Eubanks, Lighthouse Research & Advisory

Provide Health Coaching Sessions

Working with a qualified health & wellness coach has the potential to make a big difference in employees’ work and personal lives.  A health coach is NOT a licensed mental health practitioner. A good health coach IS a trained empathetic listener and motivator who works with people in groups or one-on-one. They help to create and work toward solutions to increase the enjoyment of life and work. 

Employers can offer coaching services onsite or remotely, in groups or individually.  The National Board of Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) certifies coaches who have completed specialized coaching training, demonstrated coaching skills, have experience working with clients, and passed a rigorous exam.

Ronel Kelmen, Attainable Transformation

Include Inspiring and Regenerating PTO Perks

We all understand that employees need sufficient high-quality PTO experiences in order to stay sharp, satisfied, and healthy at work. But what really makes PTO beneficial for our mental health is when that time is also inspiring. 

For example, we offer our employees three fully paid 24-hour days per year to participate in volunteer activities. Not only do these experiences give our team the chance to step outside their work and breathe, but while doing so they’re also engaging in work that can reignite and reshape their worldviews.

Tina Hawk, GoodHire

Promote a Work-Life Balance

Make sure your employees are taking time away from work on a regular basis. This means encouraging regularly scheduled vacations and not rewarding a burning the midnight oil mentality. You may get short-term results, but this type of schedule will often lead to burnout and far less productivity and motivation. 

A great leader challenges their employees to regularly rest, recharge, and connect with their loved ones. When employees feel valued, they will be much more motivated.

Mark Daoust, Quiet Light

Host Mental Health Fairs

One out-of-the-box way to make mental health more accessible to workers is to hold a mental health fair. These events function like traditional health fairs yet focus on psychological health. Booths can give out information on practices like stress management and avoiding burnout. Additionally, you can do activities like meditation and mindfulness worksheets. Beyond providing at-risk employees with resources, you can also use these fairs as a way to educate the workforce at large about mental health and help professionals to be better allies to psychologically vulnerable peers.

Carly Hill, Virtual Holiday Party

Encourage the Use of Wellness Apps

Employers can provide free resources and access to mental health apps. It can be a way for everyone in your company to get the mental health help they need, especially to prevent burnout amongst your employees. Using an app might feel less intimidating when seeking professional help from a therapist or psychiatrist.

You might not be there to visually recognize when an employee is overworking themselves. But with certain apps, they can get reminders to take breaks and maintain healthy habits during their working hours.

Scott Lieberman, Touchdown Money

Foster a “Life Happens” Culture

A healthy company culture understands that even the highest performing employees will face unideal circumstances that may take them away from work. A culture of ‘life happens’ understands that company needs shouldn’t supersede employee needs but ebb and flow. As we navigate turbulent times as a nation, we’ve all faced the universal truth that life happens, and sometimes things are out of our control.

Amrita Saigal, Kudos

Allow Flexible Work Schedules 

A remote or hybrid work schedule creates more flexibility for employees to take care of their physical and mental health how they see fit. Workers want freedom – time to spend with loved ones, take care of themselves, and travel – promoting one’s mental health on their terms. Allow the space and flexibility for your employees to take care of their mental health at their discretion.

Breanne Millette, BISOULOVELY

Train Leaders to Create Inclusive Environments 

Smaller businesses can make mental health more accessible to employees by equipping leaders with the tools and resources to have open, honest conversations and by creating a safe space for employees to speak openly without fear of judgment. 

Creating inclusive environments for conditions like autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and dyspraxia can go a long way in making sure everyone feels supported at work. By educating people about and accepting neurodiversity, you can create an inclusive and supportive workplace where everyone can thrive.

Dan Gissane, Huxo Creative

       

Photo by Chris Montgomery

How to Create an Emotionally Comfortable Remote Working Environment

How can companies create a remote working environment that is both productive and emotionally comfortable?

With offices forced to close for long periods due to COVID-19, many people have adapted well to remote working. They have found working from home offers benefits from more flexible working hours to fewer distractions. However, working solo can also make employees feel more isolated; they may struggle to separate work and home life. This can leave workers less motivated and affect their overall wellbeing.

Read on to discover four ways to create an emotionally comfortable remote working environment that supports your team while helping keep them focused.

Establish Boundaries Between Work and Home

Remote working often means more flexibility in working hours and no time spent commuting to and from the office. However, it can also make it harder to establish boundaries between work and home life. Employees might be tempted to work longer hours to maintain their productivity. Or they might feel like they need to be available at all hours of the day so can’t switch off.

It’s important to help remote workers establish a clear boundary between their working day and free time. Otherwise, their mental well-being may suffer. At the very least, their stress levels will likely increase.

Outline the hours, or at least the number of hours, staff should work. Even if an employee is flexible with their actual working hours, encourage them to not work beyond a certain time in the evening so they have a proper break.

Also, suggest ways in which they can keep work and home separate. For example: Setting up a dedicated office space away from where they would relax in the evening. Or switching off the computer at the end of the day and over weekends. And suggest they not check emails before their agreed-upon work-day begins or after it ends. Finally, share useful information about staying motivated when working from home like this post from the Productivityist blog.

And, of course, encourage people to take their annual leave. Even if they don’t have any holiday plans or the pandemic continues to make travel difficult, it’s important to take time off. And it’s crucial that every team member feels they deserve a break.

Ensure a Productive Home Office Setup

Even though we’re several months into the pandemic, not everyone has a perfectly productive space at home for remote working. But it’s important to do everything you can to set them up with a productive-as-possible workspace. Treat their home space the same way as you would getting someone set up in your office building. After all, space and equipment impact their ability to focus well enough to do their job well.

When possible, provide W-2 employees with all the equipment and furniture they need. From a technology perspective, provide a laptop, screen, keyboard, headphones, cell phone, and any job-specific equipment. Also, ensure they have a proper desk and an ergonomic good chair. To identify and resolve any issues, share a workstation evaluation checklist like this one from OSHA with all remote employees. Also helpful, StarTech has some useful guides sharing tips for ensuring fast internet connections, reducing eye strain, and creating a comfortable set up. Once an analysis is done, you can then send employees any extra equipment they might need such as audio cables, adaptors, wireless devices, and laptop stands.

Set Clear Expectations

When you’re working in an office, it’s fairly easy to have a quick five-minute catch-up conversation or ask questions about your work. You can spontaneously talk through projects and assignments. While face-to-face, it seems easier to provide a detailed handover of work.

To create an emotionally comfortable remote work environment, leaders and peers must ensure everyone is on the same page at all times. They must feel confident about what they are doing and who to talk to if they’ve got questions. Just as important, they need to know how to talk to people and when.

To generate this feeling of confidence, companies need to set up the right systems and procedures. It must be clear what someone is expected to do, specific tasks they need to complete, and how long it should take. Ensure you are effectively managing projects — provide clear, detailed briefs for work that covers everything they need to know and when it’s due. In all cases, expectations around deadlines must be properly set.

You can create a document management system by following the steps in this post from The Balance. The key: Keep documents stored in one easily accessible place, and establish a procedure for creating, organizing, and sharing documents or projects.

Maintain Regular Communication

Another important part of creating an emotionally comfortable remote working environment is keeping in regular contact with everyone. Your goal: To stop people from feeling isolated or alone. Remote workers can struggle to feel like they are still part of a team. Isolation can cause a loss of motivation, which may lead to a less engaged employee.

Use daily meetings to catch up on work progress. Arrange regular video call drop-in sessions where your team can talk about non-work related things and catch up. Also, add an extra five minutes at the start of scheduled meetings for everyone to chat a bit.

Every month or so, arrange a well-being check-in with individuals to see how they’re doing and to give them a chance to discuss any challenges. Regular staff surveys are also a useful way to connect and check-in with employees. You can use this survey template from SurveyMonkey to determine how your team is coping and the steps necessary to improve their remote working environments.

Create and Maintain a Comfortable Remote Work Environment

Overall, creating an emotionally comfortable remote working environment relies on maintaining contact between everyone in the business. It also means checking in to see how people are doing.

To successfully make it through the COVID pandemic, it’s important to make people feel like they are still part of a team, even when working alone.

 

Photo: Anika Huizinga

How to Stay Productive During the COVID-19 Crisis

Remote work isn’t new. In fact, working from home been on the rise since 2010. But this new decade brought with it COVID-19, triggering a complete paradigm shift for remote work, school and life — worldwide. As a result, how we communicate, learn, teach, and conduct business has changed. And staying productive has become a challenge all it’s own.

Back in April, FlexJobs reported more than half of all Americans were working from home. Since then, 65% said their productivity increasedIn June, Stanford reported that 42% of the U.S. labor force was working from home full-time, signaling a return to the office for many. But in July, COVID-19 cases soared by more than a million globally. More than half of all states in the U.S. that reopened (or planned to), closed in an effort to curb the virus. Given this ever-evolving context and data, we soon knew it would be a tough summer. 

How Do We Stay Productive?

Now that we roll into the fall, families and students grapple with how to return not just to school, but to some sense of normalcy. At the same time, organizations struggle with re-entry to the workplace. While Twitter says they’ll begin reintegrating employees into their offices soon, major companies like Amazon have decided to remain remote until the end of 2020. Google and Facebook have announce their employees will work remotely until mid-2021. 

So amid this ongoing crisis and uncertainty, how exactly do we keep stay productive? In the workplace, how can we find the balance between completely safe and fully engaged?

For many leaders, these seven strategies now serve as a roadmap that helps teams stay productive during the COVID-19 pandemic…

1. Focus on Priorities

Location shouldn’t matter as long as the work gets done, especially now. Employees should think about what work needs to get done, in what order, and how they should tackle that work. Managers, on the other hand, should think about the work that must be produced today while keeping an eye on what’s on the horizon. Combined, this strategy helps set realistic priorities while reducing stress and burnout.

2. Boost Communication

For a remote workforce to be successful, strong communication is key. So managers must integrate communications technology like Slack, Trello, Basecamp, and Zoom. By leveraging these tools effectively and in a balanced manner (no Zoom calls at 6:15am!), managers can easily check-in with employees – perhaps even more often than they did when sharing an office. The win-win: this boost in communication builds even stronger working relationships across the organization.

3. Adopt New Approaches

As the world of work changes, managers must change their approach. True, we’re no longer in the same office. But that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to build mutually-beneficial, one-on-one relationships. One example is making remote work feel more human. Other approaches range from more informal meetings (just to connect), to co-created checklists and to-do lists (to build autonomy). Bottom line: The same rigid approaches to work we used to rely on may not work well now.

4. Set Clear Expectations

Clearly stating expectations and setting common goals is more important now than ever. Just as vital: A clear of understanding of how work will be measured. This will help ensure everyone understands what productivity looks like. At this time, being autocratic may not be the right answer. So welcome input and questions. After all, when managers encourage curiosity it naturally empowers each of us to do good work.

5. Offer Respectful Radical Candor

Managers and leaders must lead by example. So, no more excuses to others — or ourselves — as to why we can’t get work done. To excel, we must be honest about why we can’t be efficient during these times. Let’s accept responsibility and ditch the lies to hack productivity. Let’s consistently offer respectful radical candor. We can then co-create solutions to the challenges we face. By working together, we can overcome whatever keeps us from being productive.

6. Use Stress to Your Advantage

Not all stress is bad stress. Some stressors actually motivate us to better maintain our focus, stimulating a better work performance with goals and deadlines at the forefront. Of course, sometimes stress becomes too overwhelming. When that happens, take a deep breath. Refocus on the highest priorities. Where possible, reset expectations. By focusing on an employees strengths rather than what feels like a weakness during stressful moments, managers can help reduce the bad kinds of stress. And use the good for good.

7. Employ Empathy

Remote work has always meant a flexible work location, work schedule and dress code. But now, empathy plays a role in flexibility. Today, many of us must think about the pressures of working from home. We must integrate family responsibilities, distance or hybrid learning for children, and other life commitments. Showing empathy, and specifically knowing what each of us might be going through during the COVID-19 crisis, helps maintain – and even improves – our work culture.

Leverage these seven strategies. Help team members and leaders stay productive. Enable a positive company culture. Do it well, and you’ll help everyone feel more at ease during a complex time.

Photo: Bill Oxford

5 Ways To Foster Belonging At Work

What’s the worst thing an employee can say on any given day? How about, “I don’t belong here?” The schism that takes place when an employee doesn’t feel connected with the work culture can have wide-ranging impacts across engagement, performance, team dynamics and the bottom line. Companies need to ensure they cultivate a workplace where employees feel a sense of belonging, whether that workplace is in-office or remote. As much as we talk about the power of employee experience and the dynamics of employee engagement, we first have to address the primary need to belong. That sense of true connection is the foundation for how we feel about work — and indeed, how we work.

I’ve been having some really insightful conversations with Iain Moffat, Chief Global Officer of MHR International, about belonging. It feels right for the times we’re in right now. Some employees have been rapidly sprung out of the tangible community of the workplace and are now working from home. And some workforces are still in the physical workplace, but under increasing pressure as we continue to endure the pandemic and its fallout. But building a sense of belonging isn’t just a fix for now. It’s a powerful talent strategy that has long-term outcomes.

Iain and I agreed that building a sense of belonging needs to be part of any serious endeavor to build an exceptional work culture. We also both noted that while some organizations are surprised by how comfortable employees are working from home, it may be, ironically, because they’re home. So how can businesses provide employees with that same sense of being in the right place?

First, five key points on belonging and businesses:

  • Given the push-pull of working from home or working through the turbulence and challenges of COVID-19, belonging bolsters our realization that we’re in it together, no matter where we are. It’s been linked to improved retention and a far more successful employer brand. Employees who feel like they belong tend to invite others to experience that as well. 
  • We all need to feel like we belong — and when we do, there’s a marked increase in our engagement, overall happiness and health. In that sense, belonging is a benefit that should be part of the employer’s offering to employees: working with us, you will feel like you belong, and we will be intentional about that. 
  • In our consumer-driven society, belonging is more than just a feel-good. It’s a strong driver of brand alignment. When we feel comfortable with a brand, we tend to stay with it. We feel like it speaks to our values, our sensibilities. That loyalty easily translates into the workplace context: employees want to stay with their employer because they believe in the brand and are comfortable with its values and purpose. 
  • Belonging isn’t just a social component. It should be seen as a business strategy that considers and addresses the real needs of your employees in terms of safety, career growth, feeling a part of a work community, and balancing work and life.
  • A culture of belonging doesn’t aim to homogenize everyone into a shared identity, but rather fosters diversity and inclusion as a way of improving and enhancing a shared culture. There’s a big difference. You don’t need to steamroll over differences to find the common ground, particularly in the workplace.

Marshmallows, Spaghetti, and Teamwork   

That said, what does a culture of belonging look like? Iain provided a telling example of the complex dynamics of belonging in action: the marshmallow challenge, originally created by Peter Skillman — and the subject of a great TED Talk by Tom Wujec. In this collaborative training exercise, teams of four have a fixed amount of time to build a tower out of spaghetti and tape that can support a marshmallow. The team with the highest tower wins.

“What’s interesting about the challenge is the pattern of consistently high-performing and low-performing teams,” when you compare kindergarteners and business school graduates, he said. What I found interesting as well is that in general, the five-year-olds outdid the business school grads. 

The children walked into the challenge with no training or preconceived notion of how to work together. So they just did — “in short bursts of collaborative effort, prototyping to find the best solution,” as Iain described. “They have no pre-fixed view of how they should act in the group and no hierarchy. Instead, they just focused on how to solve the problem.” They worked inclusively, unconcerned with status or protocols. 

 But the business school grads got hung up on who would be in charge, wasting valuable time jockeying for position. “They acted in a way they think they should behave given their lengthy investment in an advanced education,” Iain said. “They focused on trying to come up with a single solution rather than collaborating, prototyping, trying and doing. They were held back by a set of assumptions of how they should behave.” Often they ran out of time, or built a tower that collapsed.

We’re not building spaghetti towers, to be sure. But we do tend to walk into work with a sense of hierarchy and how we’re supposed to behave. If, instead, we’re free to abandon our certain assumptions on status and protocols and just work together, we forge a new kind of teamwork that’s far more productive. A team in a culture of belonging can simply focus on the task and the output, and is comfortable enough to be open to each others’ ideas and relish the collaborative process. The overarching attitude is: “Let’s try it, if it doesn’t work, let’s try something else.” Without anyone in charge, there’s no agenda besides tackling the problem. Instead of being driven by ego, the team is driven by the energy of working together. Instead of feeling pressure to arrive at a perfect solution, the team has the freedom and confidence to prototype until they get it. 

Two factors changed the outcome for the business school grads, Iain said: “First, when someone with facilitation skills joined the business school graduates, they often performed better, as the group was organized around the task.” Second, “If the group received feedback on their performance, and had the time to reflect and then perform the task again, they outperformed by several hundred percent.” 

We have a remarkable opportunity right now to foster a sense of belonging within our workplaces. So many of us have taken the veneer off: we’re meeting from kitchens, we’re video conferencing with children in the background; we’re seeing each others’ lives. We’re seeing how important it is to protect employees working on the front lines or out in public, and how to include their perspectives in how we better safeguard our workforce. 

The climate of working during a pandemic has removed so many of the assumptions we bring into the workplace, and replaced them with a basic understanding that on a fundamental level we are people, working together. When you can build on that understanding by meeting one of our most fundamental needs — to feel that sense of belonging – it drives peace of mind, focus, productivity, collaboration and performance. In so doing, it fosters everyone’s success — that of the business, and that of its workforce. If you want to see how cohesive and collaborative your work culture really is, break out the spaghetti and the marshmallows. Then build on that until those towers are as high as they can be.

This post is sponsored by MHR International.

Measuring the Business Benefits of Flexibility: A Win for All Sides

As always, I’ve been following the trends that are really going to change the way we work. Among them: the need to continue evolving our concept of the workforce and the tools changing how, where, and when we work.

Generation after generation is moving closer to a completely digitally-enabled form of working. We’re now welcoming the first wave of Generation Z into our organizations. For these digital natives, tech is simply part of their world. It’s not a novelty; it’s not an “other.” Technology is fully integrating itself into everything we do. It’s reached the point where tech is advancing us well beyond the traditional boundaries of workplace and workday, allowing us to expand, scale, and ease up on the rigid definitions applied to how we work.

Tech is also unlocking a surprising key to engagement and productivity — flexibility. From the youngest working demographic all the way to senior leadership, we’re all learning that being flexible has tangible and mutual benefits. We don’t necessarily have to work in the same place, at the same time, or even five days a week to perform at our best. In fact, according to Citrix CTO Christian Reilly’s perspective on the recent ‘Future of the Working Week’ report (PDF), “A four-day week is not the only option for creating a shorter working week, and there is no one-size fits all solution. But it is the creation of flexibility and useful working hours that is key, in striving for a healthier work-life balance, and more productive output.”

Furthermore, the recent study by the Centre of Economics and Business Research (Cebr) (in conjunction with Citrix) spells out the benefits of flexibility by the numbers. The bottom line: flexible work models are a win. Companies that leverage technology to enable flexibility can better attract talent and increase employee engagement and productivity. They can also potentially boost the US economy by as much as $2.36 trillion a year. Yes, that’s trillion with a “T.”

Measuring the Business Benefits of Flexibility: A Win for All Sides 

An Untapped Pool 

Remote work enables companies to tap into new talent pools, filling their talent gaps with what’s called the “home force” — a great name for a potential goldmine of talent at a time when we’re greatly in need. In terms of a business case, tapping into this segment of the talent market has irrefutable benefits. The home force entails a whole range of experience and life stages:

  • upper-level talent who has opted for better work-life balance
  • new parents
  • parents trading off a year of office time for being home with the kids
  • caregivers with aging relatives

And those are just a few examples.

If you think this home-bound population comprises only a small segment of potential talent, think again. The Cebr survey found that more than two thirds (69%) of people who are currently unemployed or economically inactive would be encouraged to start working if they had the opportunity to work flexibly. That’s what drives a couple trillion in economic gains.

More than Just Balance

The Cebr study also found that 95% of the knowledge workers polled who are currently employed (again, these are not self-employed) would work from home 2.4 days per week if given the chance. 60– 70% of respondents would work from local coffee shops, shared workspaces and other locations at least one day per week. It’s more evidence that flexibility speaks to a desired sweet spot in our lives. It’s not enough to strike a balance between work and life — there’s simply too much happening in both realms to maintain a workable split.

Integration is another element to consider. It breaks the seams between each in a way that better fits our seamless, digitally-enabled ways of functioning in person and via digital workplaces, driving better employee experiences. There’s also a certain symmetry between the integration of the physical and digital world with the integration that flexibility creates between our work lives and our home. “The future of work is dynamic and decentralized,” said Donna Kimmel, Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer at Citrix. “And businesses that create flexible digital environments in which employees can access the tools and information they need to perform at their best, from anywhere at any time, can deliver it today.” It’s clear why the company helps customers to better guide, manage and automate through a unified, secure and high-performing digital workplace with intelligent capabilities, known as Citrix Workspace.

Gallup found that workers who spend about three to four days of the week working offsite are substantially more engaged in their jobs than traditional counterparts stuck behind desks all day. Cebr’s study broke down the numbers to show just why we all stand to gain — and given the factor of financial stress in our lives, it makes sense.

The study found that flexibility and remote working can save many billions:

  • 5.8 billion hours annually saved by employees not having to travel to and from work.
  • $44.4 billion in savings on commuting costs.
  • $107 billion a year back in the pockets of US workers, given the savings in cost and time.

Engage Them or Lose Them

If you don’t build flexibility into your job offerings, you may lose great talent who prefers to work for an organization that’s more flex-friendly. In a little more than ten years, the number of telecommuters (not self-employed) has increased by 159%. Among millennials, some 76% of them would take a pay cut of 3% or more for a company that offered flexible office hours. And the Cebr study uncovered further incentive for leaders bent on improving productivity: 93% of respondents said virtual/remote working would enable them to manage their time more effectively and devote extra hours to work tasks. Read that again: your employees want to spend more time working. Working remotely would enable them to do so.

Which begs the question: what if you don’t give them the chance? Someone else will. We’re still at 3.6% unemployment. It’s not unusual for a company to poach its competitor’s workforce, and not just on the executive level. Organizations are trying to offer all the bells and whistles. But if flexibility is off the table, you may not get to an interview — so it’s a best practice to build the capability to provide it.

Tim Minahan, the Executive Vice President of Strategy and Chief Marketing Officer at Citrix, pointed out that from a business standpoint, flexible and remote is a key way for leaders to not only expand the talent pool but also tap into their skills to “unlock innovation, engage customers and move their business forward.” I’d agree, and add that the operative word here is forward. Leadership consistently reports that a primary challenge is recruiting talent with the right skills — and flexibility eases some of that pressure. One of the top three constraints facing new businesses is being able to hire the right talent, according to 60% of SMB leaders surveyed this year. Usually, in HR, we reject the concept of a magic bullet. But in this case, if you’re looking for the magic bullet, flexibility and remote working opportunities may be it.

Should Your Employees Have to Check in With the Office During Summer Vacation?

Your business doesn’t stop when an employee goes on vacation. There are still products and services that need to be sold, questions that need to be answered and day-to-day tasks that need to be handled. But when employees are on vacation, should business stop for them?

That’s the question we posed to Debra Corey, corporate HR director of Reward Gateway and co-author of “Build it: The Rebel Playbook for World-Class Employee Engagement.” Corey shared her operating instructions for communicating with employees while they’re on vacation.

“Should” Is the Operative Word

Research reveals that employees are already thinking about work when they’re not there. According to a recent study by Accountemps, 44 percent of employees lose sleep over work-related issues ranging from being overwhelmed by their workload to having disagreements with coworkers.

The fact that almost half of workers can’t sleep because of work anxiety speaks to the need to allow them time to rest and unwind. “The word that makes it difficult is ‘should’ — it should not be an expectation, it should be a personal choice,” says Corey. She believes that employees should be treated like adults and left to decide what they think is best. “You interview someone, you hire them because you think they’re the best person, but after hiring them, now it’s like you don’t trust them to make the right decisions,” she says.

Advantages of Employees Checking In

Clearly, there are advantages for the company if workers check in while on vacation, because business continues as it normally would. However, Corey says checking in can also be beneficial to some employees. “Some people get too stressed if they don’t check their email and would rather spend five minutes every morning checking in to be sure that everything is in good shape.” For these employees, it would be difficult to relax unless they checked in. “I admit that I like to check in because I see it as a way to control things and make sure that, when I come back, everything isn’t out of control,” she says.

Disadvantages of Employees Checking In

If employees are checking in, they’re never flipping the switch to turn off “work mode.” Corey says that some people want to completely separate from work when they’re on vacation. And while some employees feel better after checking in for five minutes, the opposite can also be true. “You can see that one email that upsets you the rest of the day, or even the rest of the week,” Corey says. “You’re almost holding your breath as you log in, because you don’t know what’s going to be in your timeline and how it will affect you.” That’s why she believes that employees should be able to decide what’s best for them.

“If you’re a grown-up, you don’t tell another grown-up, ‘You’re going to eat at this time or shower at this time,’ because you assume they’re going to handle the important tasks.” Corey says this strategy doesn’t just apply to vacations, either — it applies to every time an employee is off.

Setting Expectations

Some companies like to create policies regarding contacting employees outside of standard business hours. “I’m not a big believer in rules, because they put a divide between employees and management,” Corey says. However, depending on the company’s needs, she believes it might be a good idea to speak with the management team regarding expectations. “Talk to managers about how to best support their employees. It’s less about policy and more about giving managers and employees support.”

And the expectations have to match the message. “You can say it’s OK not to check email, but then you’re expecting something to be completed when they’re on vacation.” In this case, you’re sending a mixed message. Make sure your communication is consistent.

Driving Employee Engagement Will Drive Your Client Engagement

Happy employees lead to happy clients. Knowing that, why do so few companies focus on employee engagement?

At my company, we prioritize employee engagement for two reasons: First, disengaged employees are less productive at work, lowering the quality of deliverables and harming the company’s culture and reputation; and second, disengaged employees present themselves poorly to clients, creating negative impressions and reducing conversions.

To avoid a destructive company culture and disappointed clients, leaders should focus more on engaging their employees. Not only will this lead to greater efficacy and efficiency in the workplace, but it will also bolster client engagement and, by default, company success.

The Perks of an Engaged Workforce

A company that wants to foster employee engagement — and benefit from it — must engage all its people, not just the client-facing ones.

Engaged employees bring energy and innovation to the office — working harder, thinking differently, and investing more in their jobs as result of this stimulation. As a result, they’re able to solve complex problems with creative solutions, producing more revenue and outpacing their disengaged competitors.

Simply put, an engaged workforce renders a more successful company. There’s a direct correlation between employee satisfaction and client satisfaction. When employees are more positive and helpful in their interactions, this positivity translates to clients, driving stronger service and building better relationships. And clients reward this good service with repeat business and by spreading brand awareness — through either word-of-mouth advertising or posting online reviews.

What Leaders Should Know About Engagement

Though compensation is a primary way to create engagement, money isn’t everything. According to Gallup, while 54 percent of disengaged employees would leave their jobs for a raise of less than 20 percent, only 37 percent of engaged employees would do the same.

By treating each employee as an individual rather than as a cog in a machine and listening to what they value, leaders can better understand their employees and their individual needs and preferences, creating engagement outside of compensation. Mangers can then customize ways to engage employees within the company or provide the resources that can bolster an employee’s own engagement practices.

My company, for instance, encourages employees to hone in on and maximize what makes them most happy and most productive. While for me that may be flexibility, for others that might be the ability to work in different locations around the world. Others value the ownership they have on specific projects, the educational support or wellness perks they receive, or the time off our company offers. It’s all about preference.

More than salary, leaders should focus on company culture as an effective engagement strategy, and they can do this by following these three strategies:

  1. Schedule Frequent, Transparent, and Direct Conversations with Employees

Transparent leaders discover and solve employee problems more quickly, with 70 percent of employees being more engaged when their leaders regularly update them on changes in company strategy or goals. What’s more, effective communication can also reduce the impact or pervasiveness of individual problems.

While many employees may be afraid to approach their managers and talk things through spontaneously, leaders who arrange opportunities to sit down with employees one-on-one often find these opportunities are a great way to understand and address any issues or needs. Don’t beat around the bush during these meetings, though. Get the answers you need by asking the right questions: What keeps your employees engaged? What do they love about their jobs? What would make them love their job more?

It all boils down to frequent and direct communication, because the more you talk openly with your people, the better you understand what’s going on with them.

  1. Remove Barriers That Make Life Harder

While communication is the first step to understanding employee engagement, realize engagement largely hinges on giving people the tools and structures they need in order to flourish.

The larger an organization becomes, for example, the more convoluted workflows get, which can lead to worker frustration. To assess these workflows and how exactly your employees are affected, you can take inventory of the most necessary processes, break down unnecessary silos, or automate what can be automated. Making life easier for employees is a quick way to engage them.

If some employees don’t like a specific workflow or feel overworked given the way their roles operate, you should first discuss these barriers with them, then explore options that can make everyone work smarter and, finally, budget to accommodate that change.

  1. Acknowledge and Support Personal Goals

A company culture of engagement should account for both today and tomorrow, as few employees want to stay in the same role forever. Many of today’s workers aren’t wedded to a particular company, with only 13 percent of Millennials believing that they should stay at a job for at least five years before leaving. Acknowledging personal development goals and providing educational opportunities to help employees grow is essential to not only engagement, but also retention.

You must recognize that turnover is inevitable, but employees who feel valued and respected, achieve good work-life balances, and are more engaged in their jobs are more likely to stay. Not to mention that at an average hiring cost of $4,000 for a new employee, it’s far more expensive to hire than it is to retain top talent.

Employees want to perform at high levels, but companies don’t always make it easy for them to stay engaged. Opening up communication, building stronger interpersonal relationships, giving workers the tools they need to succeed, and creating opportunities for satisfaction inside and outside the office are great ways for leaders to promote engagement. Your devoted workforce will reward your efforts with higher client satisfaction, stronger revenue, and a happier culture. Who wouldn’t want to work at a place like that?

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Millennials: Helping the “Workaholic” Generation

We live in a world that is constantly in “on” mode. Smart phones, computers, emails, and phone calls; even after you clock off from work, it’s so easy to forget to actually “check out.”

This is especially true for the millennial generation. Despite common misconceptions, millennials appear to be more workaholics rather than lazy youngsters. Their relationship with technology often means they are constantly checking work emails after they’ve clocked off, or first thing when they wake up in the morning.

This raises a new question: is the lack of work-life balance a healthy transition? Could millennials’ work ethic be hurting themselves? In order to mitigate this imbalance, there are a couple of ways that Human Resources (and company leaders) can adjust the unequal lifestyle habits of millennials without taking away from their autonomy.

Why They Can’t Stop Working

There are a couple of theories as to why millennials are always working. Some say it is due to their upbringing, where children were constantly working on a schedule: soccer practice, piano practice, school, dinner, and sleep.

However, others think it is due to their delay in building a family. In fact, many millennials are still living with their parents well into their late 20s. This is at no fault of their own, as the economy is thrusting young workers into lower paying jobs than what their parents had when they first started. Not to mention the insurmountable student debt much of them carry after leaving college; it’s a wonder that millennials are able to make money at all.

But due to this delay in leaving their parents’ homes, millennials find they have more time on their hands to work. Plus, they are not going out and buying homes or starting their own families, which might otherwise limit the amount of time they would like to spend in the office.

Thus, millennials find themselves in this vortex: a lack of financial freedom, more personal freedom due to a lack of dependents, and technology that allows us instant access to emails, work servers, and messages from clients or coworkers. So, it comes as no surprise that they never quite “clock out” at the end of the day.

Health Concerns

It is widely known that burnout at work can be damaging to both employee’s personal health and the health of a business. Burnout normally results in overexposure to stress and lack of personal time.

Yet there is a rising concern among health educators that the younger generations, from millennials to current teens, are experiencing far more stress and anxiety than their parents.

“This April marks the 24th anniversary of Stress Awareness Month,” says Christine Carter, in a post for forbes.com. “…It’s no secret that the millennial age group, in particular, reports higher stress levels than any other generation and they appear to be having a difficult time coping with it,” she states.

Carter attributes an increase in millennial stress levels to increased responsibilities in the workplace, major purchasing decisions, issues with marriage, and parenting, or planning to parent. “According to the American Psychological Association, millennials rely on more sedentary stress management techniques than other generations. Given their fluency and comfort with technology, it’s not surprising that millennials are turning to less active solutions such as gadgets to cope with stress.”

This creates a unique dilemma for the “workaholic” generation: turning to technology to help manage stress and overexposure to stress and tech at work. Over time, burnout is sure to create problems for businesses and millennial employees. For the employees, this increased exposure to stress can lead to serious health issues down the road: everything from neurological issues like cluster headaches, GERD and other intestinal illnesses, to heart conditions. For businesses, this might cause increased sick days and lack of engagement, as well as turnover, all of which contribute to a huge loss in profits.

If you see this behavior pop up at work — where employees are admitting to checking emails constantly or staying late, and burnout is starting to affect your team — how can you create a healthier culture for them? How can managers and HR leaders make a positive adjustment to the lives of their workers?

What Can HR Leaders Do?

Although every company has different aspirations for success and company culture, there are some real tried-and-true ways that company leaders can build up healthy environments for their employees. One such way is to promote the 3Ps: play, purpose, and potential.

Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management suggests the 3Ps as a best practice method for building up company culture. Employees, especially millennials, want to work for companies that promote fun and creativity (play); that prove they are making a positive impact on the company, community, and world (purpose); and that keep them feeling motivated for achieving better standards and positions (potential). Pepperdine University also suggests providing employee activities — such as yoga, company outings, or educational lessons — to help promote healthy lifestyles and to help employees realize that the business is invested in their overall wellbeing.

Providing an environment for activities or relaxing work spaces is an easy way to subtly de-stress your millennial employees. Experts also suggest increasing autonomy for employees. This can be done through flexible work schedules and flexible or abundant vacation times. Millennials are already pioneering the flexible work schedule, so allowing them the freedom to work when they want to, and for as long as they would like, can cultivate an excellent work ethic and a positive work-life balance.

However, not every business will have the freedom to choose flexibility. In those cases, show your employees through example. Leave on time to prevent employees from feeling like they need to work late, or create special days that promise your employees a bit of a more relaxed atmosphere. One list suggests such days as “No Meeting Monday” or “Late Start Friday.” However, cultivating this culture takes more than just creating suggestions; it also requires accountability. Through example, you can show your employees that you will hold yourself accountable, and you will be able to more thoroughly hold your employees accountable too.

Millennials may be a new challenge for business leaders, and they are certainly challenging their limits, but creating a culture that meets their needs isn’t impossible. In fact, their blend of work-life balance could simply be a new form of workplace culture: making your work into a fun environment that enhances your life.

Through accountability practices, as well as a new twist on office activities, you could create a business that not only works for millennials, but for every generation that precedes them or follows them. A healthier work-life balance is in your hands.

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Corporate Perks: A Thinly Veiled Disguise

It’s no secret that there is a war going on… a tug of war to be exact. Companies are scrambling to find the best and brightest talent and many are failing miserably. One of the tactics used by many companies is to seduce candidates with profound and presumably attractive perks as a lure for employment. Further, these same tactics can be used as a retention tool with existing employees. In the short-term, perks are novel and with that may be considered interesting, but in the long-run, they are not the enduring enticement employers believe them to be.

Perks come in many shapes and forms and offer varying benefits. Some companies believe that free food, paid travel, and other offerings of the like are exactly what it takes to attract new talent and to keep the talent they have. Simply, this is not a solid long-term solution. What’s worse is when one company attempts to mimic a competitor’s perks in the hopes that they, too, can enjoy the same presumed successes and much to their chagrin it goes sideways and for good reason.

Company perks should be a reflection of the company’s culture and match the values of that specific organization. Since no two companies are alike, it’s an erroneous assumption to believe that what works for one company should work for another.

Give the people what they want

According to a survey conducted by Gallup, a sample population of job seekers were asked what matters most to them about a potential employer. The results of the survey revealed that the respondents were interested in a company’s mission, culture, growth, advancement opportunities, compensation and compelling statements as to why they should consider employment with one organization over another. Not a mention of free food, ping-pong tables or free haircuts was cited by anyone in this survey.

An article on Careertopia, supports the findings revealed by the Gallup survey. The articles goes on to state that the five things job seekers want from an employer are: career growth; work-life balance; fair compensation; great leadership; and alignment with a company’s mission, vision and values. Once again, perks were not mentioned as being an attraction factor.

The Millennials speak

In a different survey conducted by Gallup, they queried 1,700 U.S. workers to determine the attraction factors that appeal to the three employed generations. What the results of this survey revealed is that Millennials, who are presumed to be job hopping know-it-alls, are in actuality seeking out employers that cater to a generation thirsty for opportunities to learn and grow, to be managed by great leadership, to be engrossed in work that is interesting and which offers challenges, along with opportunities to advance their careers. Additionally, the survey results disclosed that a workplace with an informal and “fun” environment was not a high-attraction factor highly coveted by this generation.

Independent of the Gallup survey, Deloitte conducted a Millennial survey which revealed that compensation along with interesting work and work-life balance rose to the top of the results and what is most in demand by Millennials.

The Sandwich generation

For people born between 1965 and 1978, also known as Generation X, they too have stated what is important for them in the workplace. For this group, work-life balance rises to the top of the results. For this generation, the realities of managing parenthood along with taking care of a parent is becoming more commonplace with each passing year. To that end, having a flexible schedule that allows for care-giving is a big attraction factor. Further, Gen X has developed a reputation for being results oriented, problem solvers who seek out work opportunities where their feedback and opinions are welcomed. Free food, indoor putting greens and other perks of this nature were not mentioned.

The thing that really matters

As leadership scrambles around seeking out the next best shiny object to use in their recruitment and retention arsenal, they need to stop and revisit that which is already in front of them: their company culture. This one item is the biggest and best perk any organization can offer to potential and existing employees. This is what attracts and keeps needed talent. People seek out a culture that aligns with their personal beliefs. Servant leadership, 360 feedback, companies that take an interest in their employees’ well-being, opportunities to learn, good communication, respectful interactions, work-life balance, fair pay, and for job seekers, a shortened hiring processes and timely follow-through with communications all matter. All of these are indicative of an organization’s culture and what is being researched by job seekers and responded to by employees.

The irony is that the bells and whistles that many companies buy into are actually not what they need. People place more value on a relationship and a good work opportunity than they do a ping-pong table or free haircut. I guess the old expression is correct… sometimes people can’t see the forest through the trees.

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Is Work-Life Balance Dead? Depends on Which Generation You Ask.

Is striking a balance between work and life a priority for you?  You are not alone. 45 percent of employees said they don’t have enough time for personal activities according to results from a Workplace Trends Survey. Health professionals are reporting that people are working themselves to death. In direct contradiction is a multitude of research stating work-life balance is dead and nothing more than a myth.

So who should we believe?

It appears we are all in the right church but the wrong pew. Your seat assignment (and Kool-Aid of choice) is determined by your generation.

Boomers

This generation has been ready to “86” the entire conversation of work-life balance the moment Millennials got duped with its creation.  This “me” generation spent their entire careers concentrating solely on building just that…their careers. Remember why you wore that key around your neck, Gen X? It wasn’t because Mommy was striking a healthy balance between the office and home. She was burning the midnight oil to be considered only half as equal as her male counterpart. Think about what influenced Boomers – Suburbia, Vietnam, Human Rights Movements, Wade v Roe, etc. Boomers have been incredible influencers which they obtained through allowing their careers to become their life.

If you want to keep your Boomers engaged, allow them to work as many hours as they want, set up mentorship programs and let them complain about work-life balance.

Gen X

This generation is the poster-child of work-life balance. Gen X is the skeptical, middle child with abandonment issues (thank you, Boomers). Gen X wants nothing more than to be home by six for dinner, evaluate every study abroad program Sally just had to enroll in, and above all, continue to enable, what they term, “little monsters” at work— Millennials. Xers grew up fending for themselves and knew early on that if they wanted anything in life, they had to go out and get it on their own. Influencers were The Brady Bunch, (Oh no! Mom and Dad in the same bed together?) the energy crisis and the divorce rate tripling for the first time. Xers know how risky putting all their eggs in the career basket can be and ensure that they do not repeat the same mistakes their parents did.

Retain Xers through Flex scheduling, telecommuting, maternal/paternal leave and give them adequate time off.

Millennials

As a Millennial, I come with many labels such as entitled, lack soft skills, naïve, love Bernie Sanders, and enlarged thumbs, which I do see in many of my peers. However, one box I refuse to get thrown is work-life balance.

We HATE work-life balance!  Here’s a test to prove my point – as a Boomer or Xer, think about how often you talk about work to your family. Do you go home every day telling your spouse about a co-worker, project or upcoming promotion? Do you ask a family member for advice on how to handle minor issues at the office? The majority of Xers answer “never.” In contrast, Millennials see no difference between work and life and regularly discuss all aspect of their work with their families. All efforts in both are interwoven in a greater purpose, mission or passion. Ever wonder why we text and email you at all hours of the night? Frustrated with us always asking “why?” Do you think obtaining all those advanced degrees was solely due to the Recession? For many of us, work-life balance is dead because there is no need to strike a balance. It is all one big mission.

Keep us engaged through allowing us to work after hours emailing and researching from home. Show us how we can make an impact and then lead the initiative.

Creating successful engagement initiatives in our organizations is no easy feat. Because we have diverse workforces, we cannot take a canned approach to work-life balance or any other program. Let your teams waive their generational flags with honor while understanding their differences.

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#WorkTrends Recap: Forget Work-Life Balance & Start LIFEworking: Pick Yourself in the 21st Century

During today’s #WorkTrends show, we discussed the importance of forgetting the old “work-life balance myth” and how to start LIFEworking. #WorkTrends Founder and Host Meghan M. Biro was joined by Tim McDonald and Ayelet Baron, Co-Founders of CreatingIs and LIFEworking.

While we have been led to believe that we can separate our personal and work personas, we are only one person. We don’t need to have this separation and balancing act; it’s more about blending work into our lives.

During the event, we learned more about LIFEworking, is an approach that meshes life and work into an integrated existence. Most importantly, it is a way of living in which the individual and not the organization defines the meaning of success. To achieve LIFEworking, we need to first understand what success really means for us, and then systematically address the fears that stand in the way of change. These fears typically relate to personal anxiety and the social consequences of choice.

It was a lively #WorkTrends podcast and Twitter conversation. Participants had a lot to share about the topic, making for another successful #WorkTrends show.

Want to learn more from today’s event? Listen to the recording and check out the highlights below:

Thank you to all the TalentCulture sponsors, partners and supporters!

The TalentCulture #WorkTrends Show is all new on Wednesday, February 24, 2016, from 1-2 pm ET (10-11 am PT). Join TalentCulture #WorkTrends Show Founder and Host Meghan M. Biro as she talks about Leadership Lessons from Superheroes with author and leadership expert David Kahn.

Join our social communities and stay up-to-date! The TalentCulture conversation continues daily. See what’s happening right now on the #WorkTrends Twitter stream, in our LinkedIn group and on our Google+ community. Engage with us anytime on our social networks or stay current with trending World of Work topics on our website or through our weekly email newsletter.

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5 Reasons To Kill The Work-Life Balance Myth

Work or life? Nope. There’s no such thing as either/or. The work-life duality is a fallacy. One way or another, we all know, deep down, that it’s simply not a functional construct, particularly in 2016. Here are five reasons why.

  1. Passion is seamless

If we’re engaged in our work, we’re working from our passion — and passion is a key driver of success. It also means you don’t want to disconnect from what’s on your mind. Imposing a line of demarcation and isolating your work into a compartment can stifle your own creativity, as well as limit connection, opportunities and new ideas. The leaders we admire don’t separate one from the other — they are their work, and their work is who they are. And we expect that.

  1. A different business culture

Unwittingly or not, the culture of business has evolved into a new paradigm — which supports a different human paradigm. Purposeful integration is a vital thru-line; when organizational message, mission and method are integrated, each supports the other and converges into an authentic and transparent company brand. Moreover, an employee brand that does not acknowledge the human-ness of its employees (similarly to a brand that does not acknowledge the lives of its consumers) is not nearly as compelling or engaging — or sticky — as one that does.

  1. Purpose drives performance

We know this: according to the recent Workplace Purpose Index, (by Imperative and New York University), 28% of the workforce is driven by purpose. They know who they are as whole people, not just staffers, and they link their own purpose to the purpose of the organization where they work. This is a model of functional clarity by choice; the opposite of the company-man trope. Purpose-driven folks know the work they want to do in the world; and the study’s revelation uncovered that they outperform the rest of us in terms of money, advancement and competition.

  1. Recruitment is competitive

From an employer’s point of view, if you want the high performers, you’d best get your candidate experience in line. Studies of candidate experience show that even the first active contact with a prospective employer acts as a pivot either towards or away from engagement. Make sure it reflects the organization authentically. Lack of transparency is a sign that an employee’s human-ness is going to be devalued. For someone already clear on their purpose, they’re not going to waste their time with that kind of disconnect.

  1. We’re already past that

The zeitgeist approach is that once an idea takes hold, you can’t turn back — and we’ve reached that point in terms of work and life. There are already a number of different approaches on the issue of life and work. LIFEworking, for instance, affirms that it’s the individual and not the organization that defines what success means — and that boldness of choice, which goes into true innovation — has to do with the fearlessness of being genuinely self-aware. And even if you haven’t yet landed on the phrase that crystallizes it for you, the workforce itself has changed the context already. We are a contingency / consultancy / career not company / culture, assuming professional trajectories that accumulates skills and experience as opposed to jobs. We work in a more blended and disparate workforce than ever before.

If even the mobile, social, global, multigenerational, etcetera environment we live and work in supports this new idea of realistic and optimistic integration, perhaps it’s not as simple as choosing the right app, but it’s close. Flatter organizational structures, recalibrated views of parental leave, multiple platforms — all play a role in debunking the monolithic barrier of work standing in front of our life.

We’ve never been more prepared for the change. The fact is that work and life are seamless. It’s the quality of how they intersect that we have to attend to.

Are you interested in talking more about the “Work-Life Balance” myth? Join us for The TalentCulture #WorkTrends Show on Wednesday, February 17, 2016, from 1-2 pm ET (10-11 am PT).

A version of this post was first published on forbes.com on February 12, 2016

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#WorkTrends Preview: Forget Work-Life Balance & Start LIFEworking: Pick Yourself in the 21st Century

The TalentCulture #WorkTrends Show is all new on Wednesday, February 17, 2016, from 1-2 pm ET (10-11 am PT).

While we have been led to believe that we can separate our personal and work personas, we are only one person. We don’t need to have this separation and balancing act in our lives. For many, work has become how we define ourselves and why we need balance is because many of us no longer have a life outside of work.

We can buy into the work-life balance mythology or we can change the story and realize there is only life; no blending or integrating required. We need to become whole as people by figuring out what role work plays in our lives and our own relationship with money and power. Many people of all ages no longer want to live someone else’s stories and are picking themselves instead of waiting to be picked for a job or a promotion.  

LIFEworking is an approach that meshes life and work into an integrated existence, but most importantly, it is a way of living in which the individual and not the organization defines the meaning of success. To achieve LIFEworking, we need to first understand what success really means for us, and then systematically address the fears that stand in the way of change. These fears typically relate to personal anxiety and the social consequences of choice.

#WorkTrends Event: Forget Work-Life Balance & Start LIFEworking: Pick Yourself in the 21st Century

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Tune in to our LIVE online podcast Wednesday, February 17 — 1 pm ET / 10 am PT

Join TalentCulture #WorkTrends Founder and Host Meghan M. Biro as she talks about Forget Work-Life Balance & Start LIFEworking: Pick Yourself in the 21st Century with Tim McDonald and Ayelet Baron.

#WorkTrends on Twitter — Wednesday, February 17 — 1:30 pm ET / 10:30 am PT

 

Immediately following the radio show, the team will move to the #WorkTrends Twitter stream to continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community. We invite everyone with a Twitter account to participate as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: How can 21st century business encourage people to focus on a shared purpose?#WorkTrends  (Tweet this question)

Q2: How can organizations thrive when the focus is on individual success?#WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Q3: What’s an example of when you’ve picked yourself vs. waiting to be picked?#WorkTrends  (Tweet this question)

Until then, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #WorkTrends Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group, and in our TalentCulture G+ community. Feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!

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Keeping Staff When Your Employee Benefits Don’t Cut It

Attracting good employees as a small- or medium-sized business can be tricky. To get around it you hire inexperienced graduates and train them yourself, only to seem them walk off to a larger company with shinier benefit packages as soon as you give the qualifications they need to get in. It seems to be the way things are: you train fresh talent, and then bigger, wealthier companies with life insurance, an incredible insurance plan, and more paid vacation than you can afford poach them. The costs of training new employees and the constant hemorrhaging of your best employees drives down the quality of your work and prevents you from becoming a major player. So what can you do to hold on to those people so that you can grow your business?

Screen Your Hires

Big businesses can offer better pay and better benefits than your business. They offer stability and great wages to people who are trying to maximize their income, but they also tend to be rigid and very unadaptable. As a smaller business you should focus on hiring people who are unlikely to fit well into a large, slow-moving organization. Ask interviewees about their future plans, and take in those who are well qualified but also planning on pursuing further education, gathering new skills, taking care of children, or possibly even moving.

Be The Most Convenient Option

Offering work to these individuals makes you a convenient option for skilled workers who might otherwise be forced out of the job market. Accommodate them by offering flexible work hours and telecommuting options, in conjunction with a steady paycheck. This creates a favorable work-life balance for employees and makes it easy for them to stay on board while also putting them in a position where they would have to give up a lot of freedom if they wanted to work at a more established business.

Maintain Good Morale With Great Leaders

Running any team of professionals is tricky, and doing it with employees who have flexible schedules, or who work from home, is even more difficult. This puts an incredible strain on your leadership team, who will have to work very hard to keep their respective teams cohesive and on the same page. There are a lot of important characteristics that go into an excellent manager, and it’s especially important to screen potential leaders for their communication skills, their ability to motivate people, and their ability to inspire good cooperation and coordination between employees.

Work To Keep Individual Employees

Every employee has different needs, and when someone is looking for greener pastures it’s important to know why, and what you could do about it. Have an answer ready for what your employees can do to earn raises or promotions, offer training to develop employees professionally, and deal with interpersonal conflicts in the office. Never try to bully an employee into staying, and always be the one to offer solutions to a potentially departing employee rather than getting defensive.

Small- and medium-sized organizations have an uphill battle to retain skilled employees, but it is a battle that can be won. By carefully screening potential new hires, offering flexibility, maintaining good leadership, and determining why individual employees are leaving, you might be able to hold onto employees a little longer. Chances are they might leave down the line, but the company will have at least recovered the money spent to hire and train the individual.

About the Author: Samantha Stauf works in the marketing department of a start-up. She recently became a regular contributor at Ms Career Girl and Social Media Today.

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Creating Happier, Engaged Workplaces: A Conversation

Sadly, feeling disconnected from our work is not a rarity — and for all the attention focused upon the issue, progress has eluded us. To solve the greater work-life-happiness dilemma, it is becoming clear that we need to implement swift, concrete changes in the way we work. The construct of engagement, for example, has served as the basis for relevant debate, and remains a critical issue that deserves our deepest thought and undivided attention. However, we may be focusing far too much on measurement, and too little on specific strategies to affect the problems. Measurement is simply not enough — unless it leads to constructive change.

For many, workplaces do not provide the elements to help us feel satisfied or engaged. Although both employee engagement and job satisfaction relate to key organizational metrics (profit, productivity), we need to take next steps to afford progress. A lack of engagement likely represents a multitude of missed opportunities to take the right path in our workplaces. A neglect to align work with strengths — the constructive feedback, discussions of career paths and expressions of gratitude that for some reason never occurred. These overlooked opportunities are commonplace, and you shared your perspective concerning contributing factors, as well as what should happen next.

The following is an overview of comments following my LinkedIn post Americans Aren’t Happy at Work. What To Do? — the expressed concerns, shared experiences and courses of action shared. Readers responded with the honesty (and civility) that I’ve come to expect.

The Economy

Not surprisingly, the economy has taken its toll — and the fallout has shaken confidence in both our employers and the future of our own work. Moreover, the recession has likely disrupted the normal ebb and flow of job movement. We can assume that many have remained in roles that have not been positive for either “mind” or career. In fact, the weakened economy has created not only an uneasiness concerning financial security, but also a bubble of pent-up demand to shift toward better-fitting roles. As things improve, many will certainly seek more from their roles — something organizations may not as yet, be prepared for.

From reader Sean Cusack:

“Many companies assume (correctly unfortunately) that most workers cannot afford to walk. They still live in the “they are lucky to have a job” mindset and don’t believe they have to pay market wages to existing employees since they have no place to go. My guess is these companies are going to get a rude awakening in the coming months and years. As more positions are available the best and brightest will jump ship and the company will be left with C and D players and wondering what happened.”

As expressed by Michael M. Obradavitch:

“The full impact of the workforce’s expectations will not become evident until the economy returns to a ‘normal.’ If Americans are ‘not happy at work,’ it’s reasonable to assume that it is because of suppressed desires for real change. Managers should now be giving thought to how to accommodate these upcoming demands.”

The Role of Managers

Managers quickly became central to the unfolding conversation. There was heated discussion concerning managers who are not up to the task of managing others — a critical problem, looming in workplaces. Many expressed that more was needed from managers, including meaningful feedback and a respect for individual contributions. (Research on the role of managers has also been recently discussed at Harvard. Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup, weighs in on managers and engagement here.)

This from reader Alex Burdine:

“This article is a great start to the conversation all organizations need to have. As they say, ‘People don’t leave companies, they leave managers,” but what are companies doing to solve this problem?”

It seems the role of manager in general, needs to be examined seriously — and more support to solve problems is needed, starting at the desks of leadership.

From Darres McMahon:

“Have you seen at your company a complete training program helping your manager manage?”

Some things are working. Readers did share positive experiences — and expressed they were fortunate to have managers that embodied the role. Alvin Walters shared what his manager had communicated to him, displaying interest in him and his desired future:

“My job is to expand your knowledge and develop you so you’re not in this position 10 years down the road.”

A Solution: Dual Career Tracks

A number of comments focused on a career track that would allow established employees to remain in their source career path, without progressing into a role that forces them to supervise others. This option may limit ill-advised managerial choices from occurring. In fact, the topic has already been well explored. (See an overview of dual career paths here).

This from reader Neil Walsh:

“Poor managers may find they thrive in a specialist, individual role. If they’re really good, pay them the same or more. But get the right managers.”

This same idea, expressed by Michael Wiley:

“Business’ need to understand that the MAJORITY of us are not cut out to be managers. I would go so far as to say that the majority of us don’t want to be a manager. While a few of the more progressive and younger companies have come to this conclusion, the majority continue to hold on to an antiquated ‘ladder of success’ that inevitability leads one to move into a management role in order to gain more income and have more responsibility.”

The Quest for Balance

Achieving work-life balance was also a strong theme. However, achieving this requires more than a willingness from employees to the pursue an honest conversation. Organizations must seek balance as well — to foster feelings of trust — so these conversations can occur organically. (Then we might take that vacation.) The pressure and pace in many industries may cause the human element to be overlooked. To ensure this does not continue, the basic structure of modern organizations must evolve.

From reader Chris Bailey:

“Are organizations fundamentally structured to encourage meaningful work…or does the pursuit of productive and profitable value put this at odds? Do we know what we want from our work or are we stuck in thinking that purpose is just a “nice to have”?

This from reader Joyce Hersh:

“I don’t think it’s possible to spend nearly 1/3 of our lives (and nearly half of our waking hours) at something without needing to love it. We all know how satisfying unrequited love is. So why are people asking this question, again?”

Finally, from Shree Nair:

“Happiness is elusive without balance. We’re on a No-Return Mission.”

Let’s continue this conversation. What steps should we take to impact these issues?

About the Author: Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, consultant and speaker. She also writes the The Office Blend, recognized by Forbes as one of their “Top 100 Websites for Your Career.”

Note: This post is adapted slightly from Dr. Marla Gottschalk’s LinkedIn post “Building Happier, Engaged Workplaces: Your Feedback.”

photo credit: ashraful kadir via photopin cc

How Can We Be Happier At Work?

We seem to be working longer hours with greater intensity, yet feeling satisfied with our work lives has proven elusive for many of us. While we continue to invest more time and energy into our careers — we somehow remain disconnected from our work. We express that we are pushing far too hard, yet according to recent research we often leave our vacation time on the table. It seems that for every important aspect of our work lives, there is a study telling us that we just aren’t getting it right.

Disheartened with what I read concerning how we feel about our work, I have to ask: What is really going on here and how can we fix it?

As described in this HBR post, exploring how organizations struggle to make sense of “Big Data” — information about our work lives seems plentiful — yet much needed insights concerning how to conclusively solve what is “ailing us” are rare. If we are to impact the larger happiness/ engagement question, it might be the right moment to take stock and pause for deeper reflection.

Let’s hold the presses and concentrate on “connecting the dots” with what we have learned.

Where we might look:

  • Accept that our relationship with work is personal. This notion is not rocket science — how we view our work is filtered through our own gifts, personalities and experiences. As such, “One size fits all” workplaces are a thing of the past. Let’s embrace individual needs and stop debating common sense. What constitutes meaningful work is dependent on the individual, as evidenced by the importance of the Psychological Contract — so let’s move forward and integrate this into how we view our own work and how we craft management strategy.
  • Re-examine work-life integration. There is little hope of “work-life balance” if we can’t even begin to integrate the two worlds effectively. Although it is well documented that we all require “down time” to stay fresh and focused, many of us simply cannot secure quality time away from our work. Let’s explore realistic options to help employees seek the balance they require, so our work lives can become sustainable.
  • Consider that managers might hold the key. Identifying the myriad of problems in workplaces doesn’t seem to be the challenge. However, we may have overlooked that our first line of defense could be the pivotal role that managers play in our work lives. The best news? The puzzle as to what constitutes a great manager may be more easily solved than we might have thought. The real challenge? Moving people out of managerial roles who don’t belong there — and putting the right people in place.

What are we missing in the work-life happiness conversation? What should we do concretely to make Americans fall back in love with their work?

About the Author: Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, consultant and speaker. She also writes the The Office Blend, recognized by Forbes as one of their “Top 100 Websites for Your Career.”

Note: This post is adapted slightly from Dr. Marla Gottschalk’s LinkedIn post “Americans Aren’t Happy At Work. What To Do?”

photo credit: glindsay65 via photopin cc

Beyond Work-Life Balance – Finding Your Passion

What do you want to do with your life? I mean really want to do, not just what you’ve accepted to get by? Many of us believe in following our passions, but few actually do this. Following your passion — whether it’s the job you always dreamed of or something you stumbled upon unexpectedly — is the key to staying motivated and happy in your job and in your life.

Passion as a Motivator

You know that feeling when you’re itching to get out of bed in the morning and get on with your work? When the idea of starting on a task lifts your spirit instead of weighing it down? When halfway through the working day you feel elated at what you’re achieving, rather than worn down and watching the clock?

If you don’t know that feeling then seek it out by following your passion.

When we’re working on something that we care about we’re driven by intrinsic motivators. We’re doing the work because we care about that work in itself, not just because we want to get paid for it. It makes us excited and attentive. It ensures that we’ll do all we can to achieve a great outcome, not just one that’s good enough. It means that at the end we’ll look at the work with pride.

Passion as Happiness

That sense of intrinsic motivation is what allows entrepreneurs to put in the long hours and hard work that make them stand out. They care about what they do and so enjoy putting so much energy into it.

It’s not a matter of changing your work-life balance. The very idea of balancing those two implies that your work is somehow not part of your life, despite the huge amount of time you spend on it. In many ways it’s an absurd idea.

Finding the work that you’re passionate about, dedicating yourself to it, lets you step beyond work-life balance and into a better place where work and life are fruitfully combined, where the excitement that you feel at doing something you love fills you with energy and fuels the rest of your life.

It’s living every part of your life in a way that makes you happy.

Passion Not Pig-headedness

Some people treat this idea of finding and following your passion as an oversimplified, naïve approach. But that in itself is an oversimplified way of looking at a life built around your passion.

Following your passion doesn’t mean taking a simple view of it, but instead having a nuanced understanding of where your passion lies, of the difficulties you may face in following it, of the unexpected places you may find it, that following your passion isn’t the same as following a child’s simple dream. It doesn’t mean acting unintelligently, following impulses and blindly sticking to your guns no matter what. It means understanding and intelligently reflecting on the work you’re passionate about, so that you become a great practitioner, not a fruitless fanatic.

Find it, Follow it

Finding the work you’re passionate about isn’t always easy. But listen to your instincts next time you have options of what work to take on. Notice which things stir your blood and drive you to action. Go with those.

Follow your passion.

photo credit: drtel via photopin cc

Photo: Quinsey Sablan

Employee Well-Being In The Workplace

The concept of “employee well-being” is not a new one, but it has seen a resurgence in interest with the challenges in the world in the last few years, and employee well-being has been making its way to the top of company consciousness. This interest has many companies scrambling to develop a plan.

There are many definitions of well-being and employee well-being. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) — Europe’s largest professional institute for people management and development, with over 135,000 members across 120 countries — define it as: “Creating an environment to promote a state of contentment which allows an employee to flourish and achieve their full potential for the benefit of themselves and their organization.” The CIPD believes “that employee well-being at work initiatives need to balance the needs of the employee with those of the organization.”

Many smaller organizations would like to ensure their employees have a great sense of well-being when it comes to the workplace, but are hesitant to research or go forward with health and wellness plans as they are perceived to be costly. It is important to remember that a person’s overall well-being includes all aspects of life, not just the workplace. This article will address things any size employer can do at little or no cost to reap the benefits of employee well-being, such as increased customer satisfaction, increased sense of company loyalty and higher productivity.

There are a plethora of items that may seem inconsequential to some; however, they go a long way in employees’ minds and contribute to a feeling of safety, security and health. A few ideas are listed below:

  • Providing paid time off. This allows employees time to recharge their batteries & relax and/or care for themselves or a family member who may be ill, such as a sick child. UPDATE: As of July 2015, a new California bill signed by Governor Jerry Brown requires almost all public- and private-sector employers to give almost all workers in California at least three paid sick days per year.
  • Providing a comfortable area for breaks and lunches, so employees get a brief respite from the day’s work and stresses.
  • Equip the break / lunch room(s) with small appliances such as a toaster oven, microwave, water fountain, etc.
  • Small incentive programs like a special parking space for the employee of the month.
  • Spread the work around as to not overwhelm any employee. Chances are the high performers already have more than they can handle.
  • Encourage healthy living – offer healthy snacks such as fruits & vegetables and water & juice, instead of the usual fare in snack machines.
  • Research offering information on health-related employee benefits such as dental or vision. Many times the money employees pay in premiums can be taken from their paychecks pre-tax.
  • Be sensitive to employees who may be ill and assist them as much as possible with any options that may be available to them such as a leave of absence.

As mentioned before, the list above consists of items that all employers can do to show their employees that the organization is looking out for their health and well-being. There are firms that specialize in developing health and wellness plans for organizations, which are definitely worth researching if the budget allows.

The Surprising Reality Of The Working Dads Movement

We’ve all started hearing it — the term “working dad.” Some may be saying it with confidence, but others might be snickering away, thinking, “Great, here comes another phrase for people to go crazy over.” Reality is, it’s not a new concept. Working dads have existed since cavemen had babies. But as the workplace continues to grow beyond a 9-to-5 job and the corner office is no longer the most prized possession, we all need to sit up and take note of what real people, real dads, find value in.

The Working Dad of Today

So working dads are nothing new, but the role of today’s father is definitely more involved than that of previous generations. Even though working hours haven’t really changed, dads are more hands on than ever before. Consider the following statistics provided by What to Expect:

  • 60% of fathers take paternity leave. U.S. law didn’t even require paternity leave until 1983.
  • Dads spend 10 hours on weekly chores now, which is twice more than in 1965.
  • 60% of dads shop for groceries, while 50% do the actual cooking.
  • 60% also put their kids to bed and take them to the doctor

With fathers doing more at home while office requirements remain the same, many of the respondents to the survey said that they have little time for personal matters or have no control over their work schedule. In short, life’s becoming busier and more stressful for them.

Working Dads More Likely To Get Flexible Hours

According to a study conducted by Christian Munsch, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Furman University:

70% of respondents would “likely” or “very likely” grant a dad’s request to work from home twice a week to take care of a child as compared to only 57% for moms.

That’s a pretty staggering difference. The same study goes on to prove in numerous ways that employers still view moms to be more “distracted” from work because of children as compared to dads. What does this mean for working dads? That employers think dads are better able to achieve work-life balance than moms. Meaning they’re quite likely to grant requests for flexible work hours even if not’s a regular company policy.

3 Working Dads To Follow on Social Media

If you need some inspiration on men who seem to have it all down — from fatherhood to leadership, follow these guys on social media. They’re well known in their industries and provide some great advice on work-life balance for men.

1. Richard Branson – CEO, Virgin Airways

This world-changing globetrotter has the following advice to give regarding life and fatherhood:

“But rather than thinking of these two aspects [work and family] of your life as antagonistic, why not combine them? As I’ve often said, I don’t divide work and play: It’s all living.”

2. Robert Lanoue — Partner, Deloitte

As an obsessive scheduler, Lanoue — father of two kids — believes work-life balance is a necessity to retain key talent:

“Helping both new mothers and fathers through this transition is a key strategy for [companies] to make sure that they maintain talent.”

3. Scott Behson – Professor, Fairleigh Dickinson University

Another firm believer in the importance of work-life balance for families and the society, Behson says:

“I believe all dads deserve this opportunity, and that dads, moms, kids, families and our society all benefit when dads get to immerse themselves in the life of their children in such a uniquely intimate and transformative way.”

It’s fair to say that if the White House is taking notice of the changing role of fathers in the workforce, everyone else should probably be listening too. Perhaps “working dad” is not quite a movement, more like bringing the actual role of dads into the spotlight and making sure a conducive workplace is created for them. Whether it’s “Dad and Me” activities or more open-minded policies, there are a number of actions that any workplace can take. Would love to hear what you think works for you or the rest of your team.

photo credit: nrkbeta via photopin cc

Virgin Pulse + TalentCulture Team Up To Champion Workforce Engagement

Changing The Engagement Game Together

Nearly four years ago, we launched TalentCulture on a simple premise — that talent-minded professionals can transform the “world of work” through purposeful social connections. Our vibrant community continues to grow and evolve, fueled by three core values:

•  Desire to advance the “human side” of business;
•  Passion for innovation;
•  Commitment to open collaboration.

In this spirit we welcome Virgin Pulse to the TalentCulture circle — where we’ll work hand-in-hand to help develop better business organizations from the inside out.

Virgin Pulse — Not Your Father’s Wellness Program

Virgin-Pulse

Learn more about Virgin Pulse

Part of Sir Richard Branson’s famed Virgin Group, Virgin Pulse (formerly Virgin HealthMiles) is the leading workplace health engagement platform. Every day, its “Total Quality of Life” approach empowers more than 1,000,000 participants to improve their health in ways that are meaningful, fun and sustainable. This elevates employee performance and retention, while simultaneously building stronger, more resilient organizations.

The Virgin Pulse philosophy fits naturally with TalentCulture’s emphasis on “seeing employees in 3D.” Together, we aim to advance the concept of “bringing your whole self to work.”

Everybody Plays — Everybody Wins!

What does this alliance mean for you? In the months ahead, look for TalentCulture and Virgin Pulse to:

•  Examine core engagement issues facing today’s business and HR leaders;
•  Investigate the connection between healthy employees and business performance;
•  Exchange benchmarks and insights from our respective communities;
•  Share thought leadership that is shaping engagement standards and practices.

Today’s organizational challenges are highly complex. There are no easy answers, but diverse ideas can lead to innovative solutions. That’s why we welcome everyone to the TalentCulture table — including HR technology and services vendors. We believe that this inclusive environment encourages effective problem solving, and accelerates everyone’s path to progress.

Our relationship with Virgin Pulse promises to add an exciting new level of depth and energy to the TalentCulture conversation. We invite you to join us each day on our combined social channels, as we explore workplace issues that affect us all.

(Editor’s Note:  Save the date for a very special #TChat double-header (BlogTalk Radio interview and Twitter chat) with Virgin Pulse CEO, Chris Boyce on Wednesday, October 23!)

Image Credit: by Mike Baird on Flickr

It’s All Good: Employees Are People Too #TChat Recap

“Positive anything is better than negative nothing.”
–Elbert Hubbard

This week, the TalentCulture community pushed some buttons — as well as some boundaries — by exploring a topic that is seldom addressed openly in the world of work.

In some ways, we all struggle personally. And some of us struggle more than others. But what does that mean for our professional abilities? And why don’t organizations work more proactively to leverage the strength that can flow from our human weakness?

Celebrating The Fully Human Side Of Business

Knowing how tricky it is to navigate these mostly uncharted waters, we asked two of the HR community’s most respected thought leaders to guide us through this week’s #TChat events:

John Sumser, editor-in-chief of HR Examiner.
William Tincup, CEO of HR consultancy, Tincup & Co.

John challenged us with a compelling premise:

“All of the stuff that traditional organizations consider taboo — what if you bring it into the workplace, and figure out how to turn it into creative assets?”

William offered a business case that supports John’s premise. He noted that the process of talent acquisition is designed to eliminate outliers, in favor of a more homogenous workforce. This may make onboarding and talent management easier — but at what cost? If everyone feels obliged to conform for the sake of getting and keeping a job, are we sacrificing the diversity needed to drive world-class innovation?

Obviously, there are no simple answers — but these ideas certainly were conversation starters! After the radio show, the #TChat Twitter stream was blazing with ideas about workplace transparency, professional authenticity, and how to bring our whole selves to work.

(Editor’s Note: For highlights from this week’s discussions, see the resource links and Storify slideshow at the end of this post.)

Starting Small: Accentuate The Positive?

I realize that this week has been devoted to issues that are often repressed or rejected because they’re perceived as “negative.” But does positivity have a place in this discussion? How can leaders introduce constructive changes to create a more supportive culture for everyone? What would you do?

Alexa Thompson, a writer interested in workplace transformation, suggests these 5 ways to apply “positive psychology” principles. The goal isn’t to roll out sweeping corporate initiatives, but to initiate incremental enhancements, tailored to your particular environment. It’s about making small, simple, consistent improvements that build over time. Imagine the sort of progress we might see in personal fulfillment — as well as business innovation — if most organizations lived by these standards:

1) Practice Thankfulness the Smart Way  Employees may be motivated by many different things, but all crave recognition and praise.

2) Introduce Exercise for Fewer Sick Days and a Healthier State of Mind  Physical activity has long been known as a stress-reducer, and companies who include fitness and exercise as a part of their corporate perks generally register higher when it comes to work/life balance satisfaction.

3) Embrace Creativity  When employees are allowed and encouraged to share their thoughts, business processes can become better streamlined, new products can emerge, and communication can improve.

4) Make Use of Mentoring  Workers who feel like their company invests in their development and cares about their progress usually are more productive. They’re also more likely to remain than those who feel like just another cog in the wheel. A small effort to build knowledge-sharing connections can go a long way.

5) Engage a Happiness Trainer  Happiness trainers draw on psychological research and ancient traditions to teach inner peace, gratitude, kindness and resiliency in the face of adversity — of which there is plenty in today’s workplace.

Has your company tried any of these suggestions? What might work best in your environment, and why? For more ideas from this week’s #TChat interactions, see the resource links and Storify highlights below. This is clearly a topic we’ve only begun to explore, so let’s keep the conversation going. Share your ideas in the comments below, or post in the #TChat stream. In our world of work, everyone is welcome, all the time!

#TChat Week-In-Review: Daylight In The Dark Side Of Talent

SUN 9/29:

JohnSumser

Watch the preview hangout with John Sumser

#TChat Preview: TalentCulture Community Manager Tim McDonald framed the topic in a post and a brief video interview with guest, John Sumser. Read the #TChat Preview: “Finding Daylight In The Dark Side Of Talent.”

MON 9/30:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro outlined 5 issues for business leaders should be more open and authentic to achieve better business performance. Read: “5 Ways To Keep It Real At Work.”

WED 10/2:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen now to the #TChat Radio Show

#TChat Radio: Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman sat down with John Sumser and William Tincup for an unstructured discussion about norms and biases that keep organizations from making the most of employees who are struggling personally. Listen to the radio recording now

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, hundreds of community members gathered around the #TChat Twitter stream for an open-ended conversation about these issues. As you can imagine, the topic sparked a broad range of opinions, questions and ideas. For highlights from the event, see the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Highlights: Engaging The Dark Side Of Workplace Effectiveness

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-engaging-the-dark-side-of-workplac.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to William Tincup and John Sumser for shining a #TChat light on this topic. We look forward to continuing to explore this topic in more depth along with you in the future!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about how to organizations can be more effective at accepting and empowering employees as “whole” humans? We’d love to hear 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 is a very special week for the HR community, and for #TChat Events, too! If you’re attending the HR Technology Conference in Las Vegas, join us for a LIVE #TChat Roundtable, as a panel of experts gathers to take on employee engagement!

And next Wednesday we won’t host a radio show — but we will be hitting the #TChat Twitter stream for a lively chat about Age Discrimination in Today’s Workplace, along with Steve Levy and Heather Bussing. Watch for details here in the coming days.

Until then, we’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Pixabay

It's All Good: Employees Are People Too #TChat Recap

“Positive anything is better than negative nothing.”
–Elbert Hubbard

This week, the TalentCulture community pushed some buttons — as well as some boundaries — by exploring a topic that is seldom addressed openly in the world of work.

In some ways, we all struggle personally. And some of us struggle more than others. But what does that mean for our professional abilities? And why don’t organizations work more proactively to leverage the strength that can flow from our human weakness?

Celebrating The Fully Human Side Of Business

Knowing how tricky it is to navigate these mostly uncharted waters, we asked two of the HR community’s most respected thought leaders to guide us through this week’s #TChat events:

John Sumser, editor-in-chief of HR Examiner.
William Tincup, CEO of HR consultancy, Tincup & Co.

John challenged us with a compelling premise:

“All of the stuff that traditional organizations consider taboo — what if you bring it into the workplace, and figure out how to turn it into creative assets?”

William offered a business case that supports John’s premise. He noted that the process of talent acquisition is designed to eliminate outliers, in favor of a more homogenous workforce. This may make onboarding and talent management easier — but at what cost? If everyone feels obliged to conform for the sake of getting and keeping a job, are we sacrificing the diversity needed to drive world-class innovation?

Obviously, there are no simple answers — but these ideas certainly were conversation starters! After the radio show, the #TChat Twitter stream was blazing with ideas about workplace transparency, professional authenticity, and how to bring our whole selves to work.

(Editor’s Note: For highlights from this week’s discussions, see the resource links and Storify slideshow at the end of this post.)

Starting Small: Accentuate The Positive?

I realize that this week has been devoted to issues that are often repressed or rejected because they’re perceived as “negative.” But does positivity have a place in this discussion? How can leaders introduce constructive changes to create a more supportive culture for everyone? What would you do?

Alexa Thompson, a writer interested in workplace transformation, suggests these 5 ways to apply “positive psychology” principles. The goal isn’t to roll out sweeping corporate initiatives, but to initiate incremental enhancements, tailored to your particular environment. It’s about making small, simple, consistent improvements that build over time. Imagine the sort of progress we might see in personal fulfillment — as well as business innovation — if most organizations lived by these standards:

1) Practice Thankfulness the Smart Way  Employees may be motivated by many different things, but all crave recognition and praise.

2) Introduce Exercise for Fewer Sick Days and a Healthier State of Mind  Physical activity has long been known as a stress-reducer, and companies who include fitness and exercise as a part of their corporate perks generally register higher when it comes to work/life balance satisfaction.

3) Embrace Creativity  When employees are allowed and encouraged to share their thoughts, business processes can become better streamlined, new products can emerge, and communication can improve.

4) Make Use of Mentoring  Workers who feel like their company invests in their development and cares about their progress usually are more productive. They’re also more likely to remain than those who feel like just another cog in the wheel. A small effort to build knowledge-sharing connections can go a long way.

5) Engage a Happiness Trainer  Happiness trainers draw on psychological research and ancient traditions to teach inner peace, gratitude, kindness and resiliency in the face of adversity — of which there is plenty in today’s workplace.

Has your company tried any of these suggestions? What might work best in your environment, and why? For more ideas from this week’s #TChat interactions, see the resource links and Storify highlights below. This is clearly a topic we’ve only begun to explore, so let’s keep the conversation going. Share your ideas in the comments below, or post in the #TChat stream. In our world of work, everyone is welcome, all the time!

#TChat Week-In-Review: Daylight In The Dark Side Of Talent

SUN 9/29:

JohnSumser

Watch the preview hangout with John Sumser

#TChat Preview: TalentCulture Community Manager Tim McDonald framed the topic in a post and a brief video interview with guest, John Sumser. Read the #TChat Preview: “Finding Daylight In The Dark Side Of Talent.”

MON 9/30:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro outlined 5 issues for business leaders should be more open and authentic to achieve better business performance. Read: “5 Ways To Keep It Real At Work.”

WED 10/2:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen now to the #TChat Radio Show

#TChat Radio: Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman sat down with John Sumser and William Tincup for an unstructured discussion about norms and biases that keep organizations from making the most of employees who are struggling personally. Listen to the radio recording now

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, hundreds of community members gathered around the #TChat Twitter stream for an open-ended conversation about these issues. As you can imagine, the topic sparked a broad range of opinions, questions and ideas. For highlights from the event, see the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Highlights: Engaging The Dark Side Of Workplace Effectiveness

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-engaging-the-dark-side-of-workplac.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to William Tincup and John Sumser for shining a #TChat light on this topic. We look forward to continuing to explore this topic in more depth along with you in the future!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about how to organizations can be more effective at accepting and empowering employees as “whole” humans? We’d love to hear 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 is a very special week for the HR community, and for #TChat Events, too! If you’re attending the HR Technology Conference in Las Vegas, join us for a LIVE #TChat Roundtable, as a panel of experts gathers to take on employee engagement!

And next Wednesday we won’t host a radio show — but we will be hitting the #TChat Twitter stream for a lively chat about Age Discrimination in Today’s Workplace, along with Steve Levy and Heather Bussing. Watch for details here in the coming days.

Until then, we’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Pixabay

Putting Workplace Technology In Its Place

This summer while you’re on vacation, how often will you check email? Are you even taking a vacation? If you’re anything like me, the thought of a digital-free vacation is almost more stressful than coming to work.

Our smartphones have become integral to our daily activities. I need mine to tell time and take photos — I even use it as a flashlight. (I’m obviously not leaving that behind the next time I travel.) But while there’s no question that these devices enhance our personal and professional lives, misuse can actually diminish our productivity and erode relationships.

“Be Where You Are”

A recent #TChat Radio show took on the ever-pressing issue of how to manage our digital lives more effectively. The expert guests offered great tips on staying focused and building relaxation into our routines at a time when we are constantly online. For me, the biggest takeaway is to “be where you are.” This simple statement can change your workplace and your life.

Different roles require different levels of connection. But whether you’re an ER doctor on-call, a celebrity publicist, or a product marketing manager, you need to be present and mindful of the task at hand to do it well.

Here’s what that means for me — and for members of my organization:

1) Everyone has 24 hours to reply to all non-emergency emails

Building-in buffer time levels the playing field and relieves employees of the pressure to respond after work hours. A 24-hour response policy means we can focus on immediate tasks, if needed, without constant distraction. At the same time, it means that projects aren’t delayed unnecessarily. If I’m in meetings all day, I can’t answer your email. So let’s start by assuming I’m in meetings all day. Also, a response-time buffer leads to more thoughtful, thorough emails. Given time to gather and process information, we can create well-constructed messages that answer follow-up questions before they are asked.

2) Only essential laptops should be used at meetings

Truthfully, most people do bring laptops into meetings here. But our most successful meetings are laptop free, aside from the device used to present meeting materials. Engaged group discussion does not happen if you’re checking Twitter or doing other work simultaneously. Leave laptops at the door when you need to address issues with real conversation. And by the way, if you don’t need face-to-face communication on the issue at hand, why are you having a meeting?

3) When you’re away from the office, leave the office behind

I’m not saying don’t work from home or from the road, but I am suggesting not to mix business with pleasure too often. Create a workspace wherever you happen to be working. Leave work stress and planning in that space when you leave it. Your family wants you to be part of the dinner conversation. Your friends want your mind — or whatever is left of it — with them for drinks. Your work suffers and your relationships suffer when you try to work and play simultaneously.

4) During a face-to-face conversation, don’t check your phone

This is life advice, but it’s also critical in the workplace. Checking your phone means you think someone (even an unidentified caller) deserves your attention more than the person talking to you. In essence, you’re saying that absolutely anyone deserves your attention more than the person you’re with. That can’t be true. Keep the conversation brief if you have somewhere else you should be, but have the conversation.

Remember Who Is In Control

None of these guidelines is a new concept. But they don’t have to be new to make good business sense. “Be where you are.” It’s great advice for both individuals and for organizations. Use technology’s power for good. When managed thoughtfully, these devices can help us be more productive and better connected. Just remember that you are in control.

As the future of mobile devices and other workplace technology unfolds, this conversation becomes even more important. Tell us your thoughts about technology’s impact in the comments below. And learn the perspective of these HR thought leaders in this recent whitepaper.

Image Credit: Piotr Bizior/Bizior Photography

Developing Talent in a Social Business World

(Editorial Note: This is post 1 of 2)

Now more than ever, talent development is a life-long process, transcending education, career, technology and social media. It cuts to the core of why we’re here and what it means to be human.

We are here to become more — to maximize the development of our talent by improving performance in every aspect of living. And, we are here to guide and support others in doing the same.

Consider the countless number of hard and soft skills it takes to navigate a single day of living in the 21st century. We’re swimming in a contextual field of opportunities, challenges, goals and choices!

Social Business: What’s New?

Business has always been a social endeavor. Despite relentless change — including the recent arrival of revolutionary social media tools — many of the essential skills for business success have remained the same throughout history. No mystery there. Business is and will always be about creating and sustaining mutually beneficial relationships.

So what’s changing at a revolutionary level? According to “Social Era” author, Nilofer Merchant, the most successful businesses are adapting and integrating traditional relationship-building skills and processes into the digital landscape.

Professional Life and the New Social Norm

Of course, the implications of social business don’t stop at an organizational level. Work and personal life are merging, as workloads increase, and mobile technology and social platforms grow more prevalent. The traditional boundaries and walls that separated life roles are being erased. Social and mobile channels are morphing work-life balance into a work-life blend.

Our diverse roles are becoming synthesized into a single life style. We work, we play, and we live — engaging anywhere, anytime, with anyone we choose. Many people now live in a blurry space between “real” life and digital life, professional and personal, internal and external.

Filtering the Social Clutter

IBM estimates that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. What does that mean for social learning? We have too much information, not enough transformation. Despite extensive learning, education, training and development, people think, feel and react in the same ways over and over. Think about the volume of content you absorb on a daily basis. What percentage of that information actually helps you create a positive impact in your life, or the lives of others?

Here’s a tool to help cut through the fog and chaos of today’s deafening social noise. I call it the “social business contextual field.” This filter helps brings clarity and precision to individual and organizational goals, strategies, learning, development, communication and transformation. It is based on six core components.

Social Business Contextual Field

These six concepts represent all the complex relationships within social business. We can draw endless connections between words. For example, we think about how we feel. How we feel impacts how we think. Our thoughts and emotions largely determine our reactions and choices. We think about people, spaces and technology. We’re emotionally connected to people, spaces and technology. We physically engage with people spaces and technology.

Social business success hinges on learning how to develop and continuously improve connections, communication and collaboration among all aspects of the contextual field. Specifically, when individuals and organizations align, integrate and transform both sides of the contextual field, success follows.

Engagement-Performance Transformation

As I explained in a recent TalentCulture video, engagement-performance transformation is an essential social learning skill. It’s a  solution to seizing opportunities, overcoming challenges, boosting productivity, realizing goals and amplifying social business success.

In our work, we mash the two words “engagement” and “performance” into a single word, “engagement-performance.”

  • Engagement: The moment we recognize and seize opportunities to improve parts of the social business contextual field.
  • Performance: Everything that happens intellectually, emotionally and physically from the moment we engage, and as we move thorough the experience.

Engagement-performance transformation is above and behind all skill development. Consciously or unconsciously, we are engaging and performing every moment. Social talent development centers on transforming our capacity to engage-perform-produce more, better, faster, now — no matter what’s happening in or around us.

Three Steps for Engagement-Performance-Transformation

A culture of social learning, backed by engagement-performance transformation, does not happen by accident or good intentions. We must do three things to create and sustain engagement-performance transformation:

  • Take personal responsibility for transforming intellectual, emotional and physical engagement-performance.
  • Learn, practice and apply real-time power tool strategies for engagement-performance transformation in the midst of intense situations, persistent challenges and diverse people.
  • Proactively embrace the process of engagement-performance transformation, in self and others, from moment-to-moment, day-to-day, week-to-week, and year-to-year.

Editorial Note: This is Part 1 in a series by Michael Clark. Part 2 will be published soon. Sign-up for TalentCulture.com email updates or via RSS feed, to follow Michael’s posts.

Image credit: Stock.xchng

Work, Life and Peace: #TChat Recap

(Editor’s Note: All of us in the TalentCulture community mourn the loss of our dear friend, brilliant colleague and mindful mentor, Judy Martin, who passed away unexpectedly on January 31, 2014. Her message and her life are a lesson for us all. We will forever fondly remember her humor, warmth and wisdom.)

The TalentCulture World of Work community was rockin the Twitter stream yesterday, as #TChat-ters tackled the elusive quest for work-life balance. But before we delve into the pearls of wisdom that emerged from the chat, I’m happy to report some community news.

There’s an evolution taking place in the overall scope and reach of TalentCulture, as we move forward into our 3rd year. It’s not just about our popular Wednesday night Twitter chats, anymore. You may be noticing more content and channel choices, along with increased social media momentum. This action is purposeful – intended to add value for every one of us who participates in the weekly chats. We hope this enriches your community experience, and inspires you to invite others to participate. The more the merrier – and the richer, more diverse and more rewarding everyone’s experience will be.

“Work Life Week” in Review

#TChat Highlights

NOTE: To see specific highlights from yesterday’s “work life balance” #TChat session, watch the Storify slideshow at the end of this post.

Click to hear this week’s #TChat Radio interview

The #TChat crew came out of the gate with a discussion on how we track competing priorities in today’s social world and the types of HR technology that are crucial for prioritizing and relationship building. How do we use technology to separate the wheat from the chaff, and infuse meaning into our relationships without drowning in sensory overload?

Multiple people mentioned Yammer – a tool that makes it possible for businesses to create their own social networking sites and incorporate tools to help streamline workflows. This seems to be a big favorite for organizing technology and communications, although some said Yammer isn’t fully understood yet, and its capacity to organize still seems to be unfolding.

Most surprising, when speaking about planning and organizing ideas, classic paper “sticky notes” entered the discussion. It provided a chuckle and an interesting application of caveman like ideas melding with technology. Other ideas for ways to better manage workload and minimize stress included the simplicity of saying “no” to something that will only bring stress with it, and the need to recognize and respond when poor planning and others’ decisions have a direct impact your work.

A resounding proportion of contributors agreed that we are humans who are deeply connected “in real time” with and through our mobile devices.  Many extolled the virtues of virtual work environments and tools. For example, social media phone apps truly make life more livable, with work at our fingertips. But what constitutes smart usage? How do we control what I call the “expectation of instant gratification” when that bell tolls on the phone?

That led to the idea that too often, we get caught up in business demands and lose sight of the “people” part of the work equation. Perhaps it is possible to enjoy a superior quality of life and still be productive. This prompted discussion around balancing our working and living experience with more consciousness. How? Lots of talk about meditation, deep breathing (which I endorse, as you can see in the attached video), and taking time to move beyond the virtual realm and meet work contacts in person.

Staying focused is a skill, but being mindful of the choices we make is also a decision. Sometimes, the very technology that connects us also allows just enough separation between work and family so that we can accomplish several goals from both worlds, almost simultaneously.

The question is, how far can we push that without suffering the downside consequences of multitasking? Ah, now that’s the ontological question of our #TChat times. And each of us is ultimately responsible for finding the best answer for our skills, sensibility and situation. The answer is not just about external tools, structure and processes. Ultimately, the answer comes from within.

#  #  #

NOTE: To see specific highlights from yesterday’s “work life balance” #TChat session, watch the Storify slideshow at the end of this post.

#  #  #

Closing Notes & Highlights Slideshow

Did you miss the #TChat preview? Look here.

SPECIAL THANKS from TalentCulture to Judy Martin (who also wrote the recap above) and Cali Williams Yost – the stars of this week’s #TChat triple-header” (Google Hangout – BlogTalkRadio – Twitter Chat). You bring passion and insight to every interaction. Thanks for your commitment and contributions to our community!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: If this #TChat session inspired you to write about social learning or the value of work life balance, we’re happy to share your thoughts. Just post a link on Twitter (at #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll add it to our archives. There are many voices in this community, with many ideas worth sharing. Let’s capture as many of them as possible.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Join us next week, as we get into the spirit of the season with a very special theme, “Organizations and Social Good.” Tune in to #TChat Radio on Tuesday, Dec 11 at 7:30pm ET, when Mashable Community Manager Meghan Peters, and SVP of Social Impact at The Huffington Post/AOL, Brian Sirgutz talk with Kevin and Meghan about how organizations express gratitude and share with employees and the community at-large. Then join the #TChat  Twitter discussion on Wednesday, Dec 12, 7-8pm ET to share your ideas and opinions. Look for a full preview early next week via @TalentCulture and #TChat. Thanks!

Image Credit: Julia Freeman-Woolpert at stock.xchng

#TChat INSIGHTS Slide Show: Work Life Balance

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-the-quaint-notion-of-work-life-bal.js?template=slideshow”]

 

#TChat INSIGHTS: The Quaint Notion of Work Life Balance

Storified by TalentCulture · Thu, Dec 06 2012 07:23:05

#socialhrcamp and #TWI (tweeting while intoxicated)… #tchat influencer http://pic.twitter.com/5MjfkxXOlevyrecruits
Consumers are brand ambassadors. – #Recruiting 3.0 @jeffreytmoore @meghanmbiro at #socialhrcamp #tchat http://pic.twitter.com/UeHIdBXJSocialSalima
Q1 How do u teach competing priorities in today’s high tech social world? #tchatJudy Martin
A1. Having individual, office and division goals helps me deal with competing priorities #tchatGuy Davis
A1: The ability to optimize ideation, focus and to learn to use stressors and challenges to catalyze potential is real #tchatIrene Becker
A1: I believe that we have not even touched the surface of what we can do/accomplish while enjoying quality of life #tchatIrene Becker
A1. Dear 3M, Do you have a gig for a professional stickie user? #tchatMichael Clark
Love those stickies! :) MT @ReCenterMoment: A1 I do my absolute best thinking while running & track by writing notes on stickies #tchatExpertus
A1. Stickies and pen: Never leave home without them. #tchatMichael Clark
A1. if you say yes, give a realistic timeline so you arent left overwhelmed and scrambling #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A1. I do my absolute best thinking while running, tracking by stopping to write notes on stickies. #tchatMichael Clark
A1: Lists help – know what you want to accomplish and check your progress in the moment of choice #tchatAlli Polin
A1. I have a desk in my office dedicated to stickies. #tchatMichael Clark
A1. I have lists, lists for my lists, digital lists for my paper lists, paper lists for my digital lists. #tchatMichael Clark
A1 As an #ENFP I’ve had to learn to embrace lists. Hate them. But have to have them. #TChatChina Gorman
A1: Say “No” and Keep Good Relations #tchatNissrine Ghannoum
A1: If an email really can’t wait, someone will pick up the phone or come find you. #tchatAlli Polin
A1..try to do everything and you end up doing nothing..that has always served me well #tchatTrevor Acedne
A1. Research has proven that we spend half our time head tripping (spacing out) #tchatMichael Clark
A1 Focus on your output:what outcome is important to you & then break it down into small steps – mini actions that will get you there #tchatPrabhjit |KaurSkills
A1: If you try to do everything… most will not be your best effort – turn off to focus #tchatAlli Polin
A1. Where is your attention and energy flowing moment-to-moment. #tchatMichael Clark
A1: Set a couple of specific times during the day to answer emails and return phone calls. #TChatRobert Rojo
A1. The most essential skill: tracking moment-to-moment attention and energy. #tchatMichael Clark
A1: Competing priorities? This is where a great team matters – both in and out of the office #tchatAlli Polin
A1. You would not believe how far away from the short-term goal I can get in seven minutes. #tchatMichael Clark
A1. Mary Ellen showed me @Basecamp and I’m a little in love w/ the collaboration. Other than that, Project Pro is my best friend. #TChatCrystal Miller
A1: Have a schedule, know your priorities, be able to multitask and put out fires! #TChatRobert Rojo
A1. I’m using seven-minute timer on my phone. Set goal, hit timer, asses what happened when alarm sounds. Repeat. #tchatMichael Clark
I hear you!! +1 MIL @gingerconsult: A1: Boundaries – no is not a dirty word when you need to keep to task #tchatMeghan M. Biro
A1 you don’t teach competing priorites. You teach being effective, in that moment, moving on. Some self-knowledge re energy helps. #tchatFranny Oxford
A1 Focus and finish. #tchatRoger Veliquette
A1: Competing priorities always come down to choice – you can’t be the one to do it all #tchatAlli Polin
A1: Set priorities for yourself. Handle the most important ones first. #tchatRob McGahen
A1: Boundaries – no is not a dirty word when you need to keep to task #tchatJen Olney
@rezlady A1 My priorities are not in competition; they are more like in rank-and-file. #tchatSheree Van Vreede
A1. I must continuously recenter my performance, real-time tracking as I go. #tchatMichael Clark
A1: Priorities don’t compete if you know at your core what’s most important to do in any moment, and why. #TChatMaya Mathias
A1: When competing priorities are interactions IRL & the bing of your phone, be a role model & ignore it #tchatAlli Polin
A1: strategic priorities shldnt change due to tech, but tactical execution will. #tchatStephen Van Vreede
A1 Make planning a priority over firefighting. Let a few fires burn for a minute. #tchatRoger Veliquette
A1. Otherwise, same as it ever was: Teach preparation in outlining goals, prepare workspace, prioritize, assign deadlines/plan time #TChatCrystal Miller
A1) Competing priorities – gives you the test first and learn the lessons later. #tchatTom Spiglanin
A1: Priorities…what is most important and needs to be addressed gets done first and foremost #tchatJen Olney
A1 multitasking often seems like self imposed attention deficit disorder. #TChatChina Gorman
A1: Leaders at all levels must MODEL what they preach – walk the walk! It benefits the whole organization!!! #TChatNancy Barry-Jansson
A1. Moment-to-moment performance tracking has never been more challenging. #tchatMichael Clark
A1. Theoretically, the “high-tech” should make it a little easier to collaborate during prioritization phase. In Theory. #TChatCrystal Miller
A1 Impossible to teach multitasking anymore. Important tasks float to the top of the pile. People have to come talk to me now #TChatEnzo Guardino
A1. I have a schedule. I try to stick to it. This ensures I don’t forget anything but also makes sure I don’t over do it #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A1: Figure out the highest priority and tackle that and go from there. #tchatRob McGahen
A1. in a age where instant gratification makes you feel like everything needs to be done RIGHT then, you have to set boundaries #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A1: You don’t need to teach multitasking…and if you need to learn, you’re already too late. Ask your iPad wielding toddler. #TChatTalent Generation
Q2 What kind of HR Tech could you not live without, and how has it changed relationship building and productivity for you? #TchatJudy Martin
A2 maybe we should do a #TChat on leveraging Yammer! Sounds like lots of experience in group. #TchatCali Williams Yost
A2. Tech, like all opportunities and challenges, is a gigantic energetic opportunity to transform our performance. #tchatMichael Clark
A2 At the moment LinkedIn mobile app. Productivity Faster way to reach more people in merging markets (BRIC) #TChatSimplestream
A2 follow the medium that best engages individuals & preference – HR systems for operational tasks i.e pay & mail,phone,virtual meets #tchatPrabhjit |KaurSkills
A2. Tech and twitter are making me more aware of my power of attention. #tchatMichael Clark
A2. People before tech, and everything else for that matter (including $$$) #tchatMichael Clark
Oops meant to say A2 to my last answer. Not Q2! Sorry! First time participating in chat on iPhone! Tech I love but not perfect. #TchatCali Williams Yost
A2. We must never fo
rget that at best tech helps people. #tchatMichael Clark
A2 except for twitter chats & promoting brand, I don’t use twitter all that much any more. Facebook more fun. #TchatChina Gorman
A2. Behind every device is a beautiful human being with a story. #tchatMichael Clark
A2: in a widely dispersed and decentralized organization I am finding MS SharePoint to be invaluable in creating sense of community #tchatmatthew papuchis
A2: Online market surveys provide access to several “binders of data” in the comfort of your laptop. #tchatSalary School
A2 I can lead workshops at 3, 4, 5am and then go running, come home and take a nap until 8am when my “real” day begins #TChatMelissa Lamson
A2: I would find it difficult to live without social media as I believe it is a critical learning tool & opp to better orgs & wrld #tchatIrene Becker
A2. Smartphone, Google tablet, Laptop or desktop, I need them all have to connect to So Me and email to do my job #tchatGuy Davis
A2 #webex #gotomeeting all online teaching tools #TChatMelissa Lamson
@judymartin8 A2. Hard to argue against mobile phones as the most impactful piece of technology. #tchatJason Ebbing
A2: not “Hr tech” but phone and Skype still best for true client engagement #TChatStephen Van Vreede
A2. I can’t do without #Twitter, and I’ve only been here four months. #tchatMichael Clark
A2. social HR/online talent communities have helped me really learn more about my candidates outside of their resume. #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A2 @TheOneCrystal is right. In terms of hardware, can’t live w/out my smartphone. #TChatChina Gorman
A2. I COULD live without all of it, but the #smartphone sure has made my life easier, more fun, & much more socially connected #TChatCrystal Miller
A2: Online calendar in which I can maintain both work and personal commitments – everything in one place. #tchatKathy Herndon, GPHR
A2 not in #HR but can’t live without my social media apps to stay connected to my brilliant friends. #TChatChina Gorman
A2. oh, and @wilsonhcg has a great ATS platform that I most def. couldn’t function without on a daily basis :) #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A2 Can’t live without our proprietary Web Apps. Makes dealing with 3,000+ employees home/abroad a doddle. Months of work now in days #TChatEnzo Guardino
A2. social HR tech, online talent communities, thought leadership groups, web based platform like @adp #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A2: Some form of a computer. It’s easy for me to stay organized with an electronic calendar. #tchatRob McGahen
Q3 Hyperconnectivity is expected for those communicating in the world of work. How do you separate the signal/noise? #TChatJudy Martin
A3. Rhythm of performance transformation: see-assess-transform, see-assess-transform… for the rest of our lives… #tchatMichael Clark
A3. We’ve got to dig psychological ditches until the Seeing Moment strikes. #tchatMichael Clark
A3. Interesting response to Q3 – split between ‘sit back/observe/quieten your mind’ and ‘turn it off/avoid’. #TChatMaya Mathias
A3. We must realize that “work-life balance” is a hazy idea in our minds creating unnecessary stress, tension and unhappiness. #tchatMichael Clark
A3: The energy I use to complete projects (using tech or not) is how it is perceived. When I cannot give good attention, I rest #TChatNancy Barry-Jansson
A3: Balance is impossible if you spend all of your spare time decoding… get clear on what matters most #tchatAlli Polin
A3 Pause – always helps matters be put into perspective – reflect – identify who can help – be supportive & signpost – don’t indulge #tchatPrabhjit |KaurSkills
A3. FB: Whatever. LinkedIn: Sales directory and pipeline. Twitter: Real-time engagement and transformation. #tchatMichael Clark
A3 Stay focused on what’s important to you. Waste your time & it will show. Every tree bears the fruit of it’s labor. #tchatBeverly Davis
A3: I set my intention with each project, and use tech to support the *intention* with my *attention* #TChatNancy Barry-Jansson
A3: Noise adds to our stress, signal pulls us in to the conversation because we connect #tchatAlli Polin
A3 Be Human! You cn be active online and for work but- think about how long this tech had been around #simplicity #TchatMegan Rene Burkett
A3 – as a communications professional this is a question I ask myself everyday. It’s always a moving target too #tchatmatthew papuchis
A3 Turn off all devices for at least a few hours every day. Connect with your friends & family without distractions. #tchatHolly Chessman
A3. Speed reading and selective hearing helps :) #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A3: Don’t get mired in the crap that surrounds you at work. It just wastes your time. #tchatRob McGahen
A3: Sit back and observe and learn first – then strategize. #tchatLaTonya Wilkins
A3. Do you know how to stop thoughts? #tchatMichael Clark
A3. You want to cut down noise in your life? Stop thoughts, silence your mind. #tchatMichael Clark
A3. I’m OCD about deleting/archiving things. I do not want to see a ton of messages in my inbox/text #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A3 block time in your calendar 4 hobbies, friends, down-time, kissing your partner… #TChatMelissa Lamson
A3. Sometimes have to tune out or not respond to everything simultaneously. #tchatTerri Klass
A3) Be clear on time-sink vs value add… for me FB is usually time-sink #tchatAlli Polin
A3: Understanding the task at hand can help you avoid dealing with the garbage (and most of it is garbage). #tchatRob McGahen
A3. We can only do one thing per moment. One moment, one thing, one moment, one thing… Track that. #tchatMichael Clark
A3: Most of it is just noise. Learn to ignore it. #tchatRob McGahen
There is no replacement for face to face. @EnZzzoo A3 Multitasking is out. If I’m meeting face-to-face I try to avoid tech… #TChatRoger Veliquette
A3: Schedule time on different mediums – focus. #tchatKathy Herndon, GPHR
A3: The only way to separate the signal from the noise is by avoiding being baited by questions like that one. #TChatMatt Charney
A3. screen the signals – determine quickly if it is relevant – pass on what isn’t and focus on what is #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A3 Grabbing meditative moments for some deep breathing – it reduces heart rate and stress instead of shooting from the hip. #TchatJudy Martin
A3: Know what matters to you. SoMe isn’t just about chatting it up (well, for some it is) #tchatAlli Polin
A3. For me signal is an employer like many of you who needs recruiting svcs, noise is all those people trying to sell me stuff #tchatGuy Davis
A3: Focus on one at a time and limit the time on each #SM #TChatLori~TranslationLady
A3: Cut through the BS…if it doesn’t help you be efficient and productive, it is not worth the time #tchatJen Olney
A3. When I can’t think anymore? I shut it off. But truly, I don’t try to “filter” all that much – I tend to take in what I need to. #TChatCrystal Miller
A3 Multitasking is out. If I’m meeting face-to-face I try to avoid tech…only pen & paper. Slower pace but it’s more personal #TChatEnzo Guardino
A3: Be your own best filter of signal/noise. Configure & have filtering tools serve you, not the other way around. #TChatMaya Mathias
A3: Know what matters most in life/work, then invest time/energy there. The rest will come back around if it’s impt. #TChatMaya Mathias
Q4 We have to train others in what I call the CCC – co-creation of a conscious conversation about boundaries and priorities – #Tchat.Judy Martin
A4. We take an
annual two-week retreat to Big Sur, CA without devices and internet connections. #tchatMichael Clark
A4 So is it up to me to control expectation & admit what will be compromised by giving in to the ‘now’? > @ReCenterMoment #tchat”Prabhjit |KaurSkills
A4. We live with a subtle and persistent tension and expectation to be connected. #tchatMichael Clark
A4. Everyone (including me and you) wants everything NOW. #tchatMichael Clark
A4. There needs to be a universal change in expectations. We need to create more realistic turnaround times. #tchatTerri Klass
A4. Large, medium, small organizations and educational communities are looking at Tech-SoMe saying: Now what are we supposed to do? #tchatMichael Clark
A4: Hard lessons in circadian rhythm shifts and learning to manage those boundaries. #TChatNancy Barry-Jansson
A4: Global teams push us more towards checking email in the middle of the night #tchatAlli Polin
A4: I have had clients who have dropped the ball on projects, resulting in my having to live w/o sleep to finish by deadline~UGH! #TChatNancy Barry-Jansson
A4: I’ve worked w/recruiters that call me (candidate) 20 minutes after sending me their email asking if I got their msg #fail #tchatAlli Polin
A4: It’s common to jump to a solution! I’ve done it lots of times, in professional and personal life. I’ve learned to slow down. #tchatMark Salke
A4. It would be helpful if everyone had a better understanding of the natural cycles of human performance. #tchatMichael Clark
A4: I should have walked away b4 tak’g last job. Choppy recruitg was a precursor to poor mgt. #tchatbillallemon
A4 I am human, an individual it makes me sad that the immediacy of a response would ruin a relationship- I don’t do the work of a Dr. #tchatMegan Rene Burkett
A4: In a world where a four hour delay ticks people off, it’s hard not to annoy some folks #tchatAlli Polin
A4: Don’t get back to me? No problem, I’m moving on without you. #tchatRob McGahen
A4 Lost business opportunity to secure CEO due to lack of enough timely information to make a qualified decision.#TChatSimplestream
A4 I hear everyday about the frustration of not getting timely valuable/usuable feedback #tchatCASUDI
A4. I once forwarded a job reclassification request without having all the data. That cost me bigtime. NEVER again. #tchatGuy Davis
A4 Often about sensemaking – interpretation & expectation, which on reflection is about listening to the request & understanding need #tchatPrabhjit |KaurSkills
A4: I have delays due to time differences & tech overload… set expectations with clients up front (re: time) #tchatAlli Polin
A4: Cannot go backward…learn from mistakes and disappointments and move forward. #tchatKathy Herndon, GPHR
A4: There are times when some react in the heat of the moment without thinking about the response – that is problematic #tchatJen Olney
@gingerconsult @judymartin8 A4: The best answer is the right answer. Next best, a wrong answer. The only wrong answer is no answer. #tchatTodd MacGrath
A4: I think many ppl fall victim to knee jerk reactions and technology has exacerbated this. When in doubt, use old 24-hour rule #tchatmatthew papuchis
A4: I can’t see ‘too early’ being a problem, unless doing something too quick yields mistakes. #tchatRob McGahen
A4 Over the years, I’ve learned the wisdom of slowing down & reflecting before responding. It continues to pay off, even in crises. #TChatMaya Mathias
A4 Not asking the right questions isn’t the fault of soc med or tech. #TChatChina Gorman
A4 I’m nerdy & squeeze a lot from tech. Often business partners can’t keep up. I do a lot of back-peddling but not a massive problem #TChatEnzo Guardino
A4. I’ve had plenty of employees upset with me if their managers didn’t approve payroll before lock out. never a good situation. #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A4.yes!just posted a blog today about candidates needing to be more responsive otherwise another candidate will snatch your dream job #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A4: I’ve been slow to respond to people that get caught in my stream. Unintentional but do they feel slighted? #tchatAlli Polin

                                              Q5: What are the steps you use to deepen, improve your relationships in today’s world of work?

A5 Be authentic. People know and feel when you are true to what you believe. #TChatLori~TranslationLady
A5. 140 characters can be transparent, revealing people in profound ways. #tchatMichael Clark
A5. don’t let titles scare you.people are people-just talk to them openly.You’ll be surprised how laid back high status people can be #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A5 Show you care & really are interested /want their success #tchatCASUDI
A5. Be authentic. Let people know what you care about. Then be sure to ask them too. #tchatTerri Klass
A5. Lose your fear of engaging people that you find interesting. We are all the same! #tchatMichael Clark
A5. FOLLOW UP QUESTIONS. don’t let conversation die. #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A5: Locate those who want more than a virtual friend or retweets and show ’em I care #TchatMegan Rene Burkett
A5. Step one: Engage via SoMe. Step two: Engage via phone/skype. Step three: Engage IRL #tchatMichael Clark
A5. be yourself, say what you want, be open. you’ll find people w similar values who want to engage in convo with you #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A5: Talk to people! Be yourself. But don’t forget to get the job done. #tchatRob McGahen
A5. F2F mtgs outside the office for coffee or lunch and discuss needs of their (univ) dept. and how career ctr can help #tchatGuy Davis
A5: Old-school phone conversations and real-life meetings trump all else. Clients love knowing they can trust you! #TChatNancy Barry-Jansson
A5: Get to know WHO people are, not only WHAT they do #tchatAlli Polin
A5. I look forward to collaborating professionally with many of you. We have important work to do. #tchatMichael Clark
A5: Same thing I did without tech- show the real me, stimulate meaningful dialogue, continually chat with my soul mates :D #TChatMegan Rene Burkett
A5: Getting out from behind the desk, talking to ppl, try to learn and find out what’s going on in their lives. #TChatRobert Rojo
A5: Focus on giving rather than receiving. #tchatKathy Herndon, GPHR
A5: Focus on giving more than receiving. #tchatLaTonya Wilkins
A5: Be consistently transparent & genuine at work = better chance of reciprocity of same by co-workers. Relationships Improve #TChatKeith C Rogers
A5. #TChat’s taking engagement and collaboration off devices and into real-time-real-life. #tchatMichael Clark
A5: Being present, listening deeply & keeping it real. #TChatMaya Mathias
A5. If i’ve completed my work early I make sure I ask other coworkers “how can I help you” they appreciate it. #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A5: IRL is a gift – maximize the time together. #tchatKathy Herndon, GPHR
A5: Pay it forward. Always. #TChatMatt Charney
A5 Join a company based on its culture and values and if they align with yours. The relationships will develop easily after that. #TChatTheJobChaser
A5 Be helpful, supportive & giving without expectation. Engage & build trust. Work together & value team input. Be yourself. Inspire #tchatPrabhjit |KaurSkills
A5. Go out to lunch or coffee and share non-work stuff. #tchatTerri Klass
A5. I try to participate in employee engagement situations: I.e. volunteering, ornament exchange, s
ocial media team competitions #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A5. Best way to improve relationships in world of work: Don’t stop engaging. Ever. #tchatMichael Clark
A5: continue to learn, understand and appreciate different cultures, etc. to show respect for colleagues and clients around globe #tchatmatthew papuchis
A5: Doing the best job possible is the best thing you can do. #tchatRob McGahen
A5. Tweetchats are a great way to get to know others and their views. #tchatTerri Klass
A5. I work remotely so it’s extremely important to pick up the phone (even for something stupid) and actually talk to someone #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A5: Focused listening – Intently listening to the person speaking rather than preparing my next comment #tchatKathy Herndon, GPHR
a5: Focus plays a huge part! Giving other people my focused attention matters #tchatAlli Polin
A5: This doesn’t always work, but I never take myself ‘too’ seriously. #tchatMark Salke
A5. I try not to get too sucked into my black hole of work and occasionally “step out” and engage in casual conversation #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A5 There is no substitute for IRL #tchatCASUDI
A5: Make real time for real connection: listen, respond, ask questions… #tchatAlli Polin
A5. Being present, listening deeply and keeping it real. #TChatMaya Mathias
A5 I call my recipe “POLARITIES” > Politeness, Clarity, Smilies. :-) My correspondence blueprint…friendly and to the point #TChatEnzo Guardino
A5. Go beyond the twitter picture. Let others know me personally, not only the brand I represent. Though I do love my company. :) #TChatLexie Forman Ortiz