Tag Archives: deal

Why Holiday Office Parties Are Big Deal

Last night, my husband began telling me who wasn't coming to his company's holiday party for managers. The way he was presenting it to me was as if the two people who weren't coming were doing something extremely offensive. I turned to him and said, "Why is it such a big deal if they don't come?"

His answer surprised me. He sounded kind of exasperated and answered: "Because they are part of the team."

While some of us think of our holiday office party as no big deal, senior managers, like my husband, consider it crucial to showing you want to be part of the team.

I know you might be thinking… "I can spend my personal time how I want to spend it and if I don't want to hang around my co-workers on my time off, so be it." You might also be thinking, "I don't want to go alone or I don't want to be around my jerk of a boss after hours."

Those are good reasons. But not really.

If you are in a bad place, skipping the office holiday party will only make it worse. And, if you use the opportunity well, there is a lot to gain.

One year at my newspaper’s holiday party, I ended up sipping champagne with one of the top editors. It was the first time I had a conversation with her outside the office and about something other than business. I learned she actually had a sense of humor, a quality she rarely showed in the office. We joked about our college experiences and compared our favorite cocktails.

The next time I saw her at work, she treated me more kindly and seemed to have more time than usual to ask me what I was working on. I was thankful I had attended the office holiday party and I realized what a significant networking opportunity it had provided me.

When my brother-in-law told me he had no intention of going to his office holiday party, I told him to think about someone at his company with whom he wanted a better relationship and use the festive environment to make that happen.

At holiday parties, the dynamics are different than other times of the year. People attend to eat, drink and mingle with no specific business agenda. Whether it's your own company's holiday party, your spouse's or a professional organization's, the event is a chance to get in front of someone who can give you a future job, send business your way, or even make your work life easier. Holiday parties can be worthwhile for the opportunities they present when the atmosphere is festive.

Let's say you are at your spouse's holiday office party and you get one-on-one time with his boss. You can casually mention something your partner contributed that his boss might not be aware of or might have overlooked. Or, let's say you have had a hot/cold relationship with one of your co-workers. Sharing time outside the work environment might help you discover you have more in common than you realize. 

So, while you might initially consider skipping a holiday office party as no big deal, it's actually far from that. Drink in moderation, mix as much as possible and get in front of supervisors while they may be in a rare good mood. Just being there is a much bigger deal than you might think. Use the opportunity well and there is a lot to gain. 

The Work/Life Balancing Act

How involved fathers deal with work life balance

My husband coaches my son's sports teams, helps review spelling words, and spends most of the weekend shuttling kids to activities. He also works 10 hour days. 

The more time my husband spends with the kids, the more relaxed he seems and the happier he is at work and home. 

As research comes out on today's working fathers, we are learning that for men, being an involved dad helps them at work. The increased interaction with their children makes them more satisfied and committed to staying at their jobs. It helps them bond with other parents at work and better manage their staffs. And, it even can increases their productivity.

But men are walking a fine line. 

Research also found that many men feel stigmatized at work if they are too “conspicuously” involved at home  - if they use flexibility formally or take paternity leave. “Being a little bit involved is good,” Ladge told me. “Being too involved is perceived as a bad thing.”

Today, it's a given — especially with the younger generation — that moms and dads will be involved in childcare.  Yet, the workplace still operates as if men had wives at home doing all the childcare and housework. While fathers often work long hours and find themselves on-call at all times, many of them balance work and family by bypassing formal flexible work policies and just slipping out a bit early or coming in late. 
 
I randomly interviewed a dozen fathers and all of them talked about how they balance work and family life by moving between work and home in a way that has them answering emails at 10 p.m. but also coming in late if they need to take a child to the pediatrician. Some fathers even bring their children to work when needed. Spencer Gilden loves his job in sales because it allows him to work from home and spend time with his 4-year-old daughter, Julie.
 
Spencer
(Spencer and Julie)
 
 
When workplaces support involved fathers, the payoff is huge — especially when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. 
 
 
I received this email in response to my column in The Miami Herald on Working Dads' Changing Roles:
 

Dear Cindy, 

I loved your article today, especially because the first thing you see coming into our conservation studio is 6 month-old Jack's bounce chair.  His dad, Oliver, my senior conservator, has been bringing him to work since Oliver's three month paternity leave ended.  My kids grew up in the studio (yes, among Monet's, Dali's, etc.) and Oliver grew up in his dad's studio.  We love being baby Jack's village. 

Thanks for a plug for involved fathering….

Best,

Rustin Levenson

Director

ArtCare Miami

Here's another email from an involved father: 

Hi Cindy!

I wanted to tell you that I enjoyed your article about working dads being more involved in their kids’ lives. I am a father of two boys with my wife. One is three years old and the other is four months old. I own my own PR firm but I made a commitment to my wife and myself before the first one was born to be part of his life. 

And I agree on many things in your article! It was refreshing. I don’t want to work 80 plus hours to the point of burning myself out, and not enjoy these precious years of my kids’ lives.

Thank you again for the write up! I forwarded to several dad friends who have the same mind frame as me. 

Jose Boza

President & Digital Boss

Boza Agency

 

Fathers, how are you balancing work and family? Do you consider yourself an involved father? Has your employer made that easier or more difficult for you? 

 

The Work/Life Balancing Act

What’s the big deal about FMLA?

 

Fmla

 

 

This week, the nation celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act). For those of you who aren't familiar with the federal law, you should know that it is a big deal. It's the law that let employees take time off to have a baby or tend to a health issue without the fear of losing his or her job. It has been critical for working parents to maintain work life balance.

It hasn't been a perfect law. It only applies to businesses that have more than 50 employees. And, the biggest issue remains that many employees still don't receive paid sick leave so while they are eligible to take time off for medical concerns and their job is secure, they can't afford it.

Workers rights groups marked the anniversary with calls to expand the law, and for Congress to pass a new one that would provide paid leave. NPR did an excellent piece on this issue tied to the anniversary called "FMLA Not Really Working For Many Employees."

The National Partnership for Women & Families put out a new Q&A guide to the FMLA in honor of the 20th anniversary.  The guide is a great resource for employees, employers and anyone looking to learn more about taking FMLA leave and how to navigate the law. It's one of the best I've seen.

In Miami-Dade County, workers and their families held an event earlier this week to commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the federal law. Workers thanked the Miami-Dade County Commmission for being the first local government in the nation to pass a countywide Family Medical Leave bill locally in 1992. FMLA offers 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave, which workers can use to care for a new baby, a sick family member, or to recover from an illness. Unfortunately, the Commission shot down a proposed law earlier this year that would have allowed workers paid sick leave.

Earlier this week, I did an interview with WLRN's Rick Stone on FMLA. I spoke about the countless mothers I have interviewed, particularly during the recession, who wanted to use FMLA for maternity leave — some found it critically to keeping their jobs and bonding with their babies. Others, low wage workers living paycheck to paycheck, had to go back to work within days because they couldn't afford time off. 

A friend of mine just got diagnosed with cancer. FMLA will allow her to undergo chemo treatments and know that her job is there for her when she returns. This is a huge relief to her! For my friend, and any other employees who have used this law for legitimate reasons, I'm thankful it exists and you should be too. 

Happy 20th Anniversary FMLA!

 

 

The Work/Life Balancing Act

How to deal with an annoying co-worker

Annoying

This morning, I had to work on a project with a very annoying man. He was loud, bossy and he was a know-it-all. I hadn't eaten breakfast and I'm not a morning person, and which means I was cranky to start with so it took a lot of self control not to react when he got into my personal space and spoke way louder than what's acceptable.

At some point, most of us have to deal with someone in business who completely and utterly annoys us. I would like to avoid working with this person, but I can't. I'm stuck with him for two more weeks. But I realize I have to figure out the best way to deal with this situation because today, I let this guy put me in a very grumpy mood.

The reality is that we can't chose who we work with most of the time. (There's an entire website devoted to these people in the workplace with irritating habits: annoyingcoworker.com)

So what's the best way to cope?

Keep in mind that what you find annoying, your coworker may see as merely constructive, friendly or inclusive. This man who I find annoying is merely trying to be helpful. He's just so LOUD and in your face that no one wants to work with him — including me.

Experts say you have several options for dealing with an annoying co-worker.

1. Steer clear.  If you can avoid the person, do it. It you need to move your cubicle, move it. If you can switch to another team, switch.

2. Address it. Most people do not want to be considered annoying, and they are willing to modify their behavior to remedy the situation if you bring it to their attention with some sensitivity. Most often, the solution is simply to be straightforward and speak up for yourself in a matter-of-fact, professional way. Make it about you…tell them privately that it’s hard for you to concentrate when their voice gets loud or when they get into your space.

3. Repeat. Once you communicate, you may have to repeat yourself again, two days later. Be prepared because you may only get temporary results.

3. Take it up the ladder. If your polite requests for behavior change don't work, you may need to take it to your boss. If you do that, make sure you have a solution in mind for how to bring peace to the workplace.

4. Re-evaluate. Consider whether you have unrealistic expectations of your coworker. While some  employees truly are disruptive because of their annoying behaviors, sometimes  you just need to be more accepting. For all you know, your coworker could find you annoying.

5. Don't counter-attack. "When someone has bad behavior, don't engage in the attack or bad mouth him or her," says Kathi Elster, co-author of Mean Girls at Work: How to Stay Professional When Things Get Personal. "Instead of taking things personally, focus on acting professionally. Do not get into a power struggle or turn it into a negative interaction." Elster reminds us that there are all kinds of different personalities in the workplace. "It's a mistake to think that everyone operates in the same way as you do."

Readers, have you had to deal with an annoying co-worker? If you confronted him or her, how did that work out for you? Are you guilty of allowing your entire work life balance to get thrown out of whack by letting an annoying co-worker to make you grumpy and miserable? 

The Work/Life Balancing Act

How to deal with a child care emergency

It's Spring Break in South Florida and many working parents are scrambling to find childcare while they have to work. I wonder, have you ever found yourself in a child care emergency?

Today, my guest blogger is Melissa Anderson, Senior Vice President of Business Development at Sittercity. Melissa has some great advice for working parents who find themselves in this situation. She is pictured below with her son, Kyle.

 Melissa A and Kyle

Every parent knows that emergencies are just part of life…no matter how well you plan, things are going to happen; it’s simply Murphy’s Law.  For me, a working mother of two, life’s unexpected problems always seem to come at the wrong time.   They go wrong for stay-at-home mothers as many times as working mothers – so no one’s immune to this situation.

Recently, my nanny called me to let me know she had come down with the flu and would be out for a few days.  She was very apologetic and I certainly understood.   She is wonderful extension of the family and my children adore her; but to be honest, I didn’t want a sick person – not matter how wonderful they are – getting my kids sick too! So I was happy she was taking the responsible course of action to stay home to take care of herself; but I found myself in a situation which many can relate to: I was suddenly out of a sitter – and I had a big presentation that day.  I couldn’t stay home and neither could my husband. 

Parents can relate to this, and it can lead to a state of panic: Where am I going to find a trustworthy sitter to watch my children in a moment’s notice?

 Luckily, I work at Sittercity, the nation’s largest and most trusted online resource to find amazing babysitters and nannies. At Sittercity, I lead a team who provide companies with Sittercity’s child and eldercare benefit program. Many companies offer Sittercity as an employee benefit to help their team members to have a Plan B – or backup plan. So every day, my team and I work with other companies to help their employees solve breakdowns in childcare arrangements both planned (school vacations, holidays and caregiver holidays) and unplanned (sick children, snow days, flu season, sick, nannies).  Now it was time for me to practice what I preach and put my backup plan into action.

In planning for such a situation, I had previously interviewed a number of sitters and had a list of my Sittercity backup sitters who are available at a moment’s notice.  I emailed all of my sitters at the click of a button through Sittercity and one responded almost immediately that she was available.  Sittercity’s Short Notice requests are usually met in just over two hours, but my sitter was at my house within the hour and my childcare crisis was averted.  I could go to work with my mind was at ease knowing my children would be well cared for.

Sounds easy right?  It is, but there is a lot of advance planning that goes into a seamless backup plan.  Here are some steps you can take to be prepared when you need a Plan B-Backup Care:

  • Check with your employer to determine if your workplace has a backup childcare solution – and feel free to call me if it doesn’t!

 

  • If your employer doesn’t have a plan, sign up with a babysitting service like Sittercity.com.  Sittercity.com has monthly or annual memberships that connect you with hundreds, if not thousands of qualified sitters in your area.

 

  • Develop a pool of babysitters at the ready.  Sittercity recommends a four-step screening process . Step One: Read the online reviews and ratings listed directly on caregiver profiles on Sittercity.  Step Two: Conduct an interview with all caregivers.  Step Three: Check a caregiver’s references (also listed directly on caregiver profiles on Sittercity).     Step Four: Run a background check.  Additional available checks include an Enhanced Background Check and Motor Vehicles Record Check.

 

  • If you haven’t developed a pool of sitters, you can use last minute tools on sites like Sittercity called “Sittercity Short Notice” which help you find new sitters within a an hour or two.

I hope these tips can help you with backup care.  Do you have any additional tips that can help working parents find a backup sitter?

 

The Work/Life Balancing Act