For the Class of 2014, work/life balance wins out over the needs of the wallet. Companies that meet them halfway could be the winners.
For the Class of 2014, work/life balance wins out over the needs of the wallet. Companies that meet them halfway could be the winners.
Last night I was channel surfing and caught an interview on Bloomberg West with Yahoo Chairman Maynard Webb. It was eye-opening. My favorite part was when he spoke directly about how he wants to see more women CEOs. He says future CEOs will need some of the same attributes as current CEOs. In the future, he said CEOs will need to be more visionary and way more in tune with how fast everything is evolving. "At the end of the day, every CEO just plain has to work hard," he said.
People want to work with someone who has vision, Webb pointed out. But he says "I don't know a CEO who hasn't made mistakes long the way. It's how fast you learn from them and correct them.
Below is my column in today's Miami Herald:
Wherever I go lately, people tell me they want better work/life balance in the new year. My response is to ask, “What does work/life balance look like for you?”
Finding a balance between work and personal life is not like reaching balance on a scale with equal weights. It is not about working less. It is about spending your time in a way that brings satisfaction. In a survey by the University of Scranton, one of the top New Year’s resolutions for 2014 is to enjoy life to the fullest. In a society where stress levels have soared, that’s a good goal for all of us.
As 2013 came to a close, I heard such statements as this: My family life and my health have suffered because of work, and I am not going to let that continue. I also heard the opposite: I want to acquire language skills or get a certification to finally advance at work.
Experts say we need to get more specific about what personal fulfillment looks like and define our path to find it because less than half of us will keep our resolutions past the first six months. Does fulfillment and better work/life balance mean eating dinner as a family a few nights a week? Does it mean reclaiming Saturdays to take rides with a bike club? Or taking on a new project at work that excites you?
“Narrow it down and set one important intention, because behavioral change is hard,” says Shani Magosky, executive coach and owner of Vitesse Consulting in Fort Lauderdale “Our brains are hard-wired to reinforce habits that exist.”
Once you know exactly what a better work/life balance looks like, Magosky suggests you figure out what you need to do to make it happen. Remember creating a habit or breaking an old one takes time and practice. It requires change. What specifically are you going to do to make sure that change happens?
If your goal is to eat dinner more often with your kids, post a photo of you doing it somewhere you will see it each day — maybe on your computer desktop. “You need some kind of reminder to keep the intention in the forefront of your mind,” Magosky says. Digital reminders with built-in alerts are catching on, too, and often provide the nudge to get a late-night dweller out of the office at a scheduled time.
If you find yourself spending a Saturday at the office instead of with your bike club, don't fret or give up. Change the background on your mobile phone to yourself on your bike as motivation for making it happen the next week.
The key is to examine what is at stake if you don’t make a change. For example, if you are on the phone or online all the time, will your health suffer, your relationships become strained, your children become resentful? “Considering the consequences will help you get clear on why you should put forth the effort to make that change,” Magosky says.
Judy Martin consults stressed employees who want to feel better, work better, and live better. Studies highlighted by the American Institute of Stress show that jobs are by far the major source of stress for American adults, and that job-related stress levels have escalated over the past decade. If your work life has you feeling pulled and anxious, Martin, founder of Work Life Nation, recommends taking baby steps toward change in 2014. “The secret sauce is in the planning. Plan out the change you need to make and the actions you need to take.”
For example, Martin says, one client in middle management felt stressed every night by trying to get home early enough to spend time with his family, yet complete his job responsibilities. Together, they came up with a plan for him to go to the office an hour earlier, use the quiet time to more strategically plan out the day and work while it is quiet, and leave an hour earlier to enjoy family time. “It wasn’t just about changing work hours,” she explains. “It was also about giving him time to switch modes and start the day more positive.”
Business consultant Nigel Marsh notes: The companies we work for aren’t going to create work/life balance for us. We have to take control of and responsibility for the life we want to live.
Often in January, people become convinced they need to change jobs to feel like their work and personal life are more in synch. Tom Connelly, an executive recruiter with Boyden global executive search in Coral Gables, said he already has seen a flood of résumés from people who feel unfulfilled in their current jobs.
“It’s not just a pondering about their professional situation, family stuff comes into play. Over the holidays, people are spending time with family and everything bubbles up into a volcano and they think if they find a new job everything will be OK.”
If you do feel that way, Connelly suggests you network and find a business coach to help identify your weak areas and improve on them as steps toward a job search. The economy is expected to show more life in 2014, which will present workers with a number of opportunities, he believes.
But Connelly cautions that a new job does not guarantee better work/life balance, regardless of whether you work fewer hours. You can have satisfaction with work, despite having a work profile that would scare the living daylights out of the 40-hour work week.
Christine Denton, a Miami Mary Kaye executive sales director, said accomplishing her work goals fuels her. She enjoys inspiring her team to become a million-dollar sales unit and that motivates her as she puts in nights and weekend hours. This year, she will keep a photo of a pink Cadillac Escalade on her desk as she aims to hit her sales goals and become a national sales director even while giving birth to her first child in April. Denton said the baby, the Escalade, and the idea of leading by example are motivation as she resolves to use her time wisely in 2014 and establish the boundaries that will allow her to feel satisfied at work and home.
As many of us have learned, you can have more personal time but spend it in ways that aren’t fulfilling. If you’re coming home from work just to pick up where you left off, it’s time to draw a line in the sand. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. As a blogger on WallStreetOasis.com notes: “Having more ‘free time’ won’t make you happy. Having a job to which you want to contributeand a life that you're enjoying every minute of will.”
It will take some planning and discipline, but if work/life balance is your resolution, you really can accomplish it in the new year.
Christine Denton, a Mary Kay Elite Executive Sales Director, and her hubby get ready for their first child, scheduled to arrive in April! ( photo by Cristina Morgado)
Christine Denton keeps this photo of a pink Escalade on her desk as motivation!
This was a challenging year for both employers and workers as we tried to adjust to the new norm in business — doing more with less. Now changes are afoot from how our offices look to who runs them and what equipment will be used.
• Employee engagement. There’s no polite way to say it — workers have had it. In 2012 we lost our happy-to-have a job mindset and now we want appreciation. For some of us it’s been a few years since we’ve had a raise or bonus. An October survey by by MSW Research and Dale Carnegie Training found only a mere 29 percent of employees are fully engaged. Experts say if our employers want us more engaged, they need to boost our confidence in senior management and look for ways to reward us. “Companies are going to have to decide, do we want to invest in our people again?” says John Hollon, vice president for editorial at TLNT.com, which follows workplace trends. “They will need to reconnect with workers in ways haven’t had to worry about for about 5 years now.”
• Top performers are lifelong learners. It hasn’t been easy, but American workers finally realize we need to take control of our careers. Most companies cut way back on training and on education reimbursement at the same time we discovered a need to add to our skills toolbox. Being the top sales person, or even the best doctor now means we have to keep up with new technology, trends and approaches and we have to do it on our own time and our own dime.
• Social media at work is a complicated mix. Through social media, companies now have an amazing way to market their handbags or food delivery services. But this new outlet for driving sales is also driving management crazy. As American workers turned to Facebook and Twitter to rant about cheap bosses or snotty customers, we saw employees getting fired and employers getting sued. Meanwhile labor lawyers are busy drafting social media policies for companies trying to protect themselves by letting workers know what’s acceptable. The rise of social media in the workplace isn’t likely to slow and employers will have to prepare themselves for the benefits — and the hazards.
• Flexibility is king. Sure we want to be paid well. But more importantly, we want to know that our employers “get it.” We want the day-to-day flexibility in how, when and where we work to better manage our lives. This year, we even saw reports that claim almost half of all workers would give up some of their salary to get more flexibility. We also saw smart employers of all sizes begin to position flexible work as part of their culture. Guillermo Rotman, president of Regus Americas, predicts more businesses will offer their employees flexible work options going forward, particularly as technology untethers us from our desks.
• We’ve got to get up. This was a breakthrough year in understanding how we work affects our health. Sitting at our desks, staring at a screen all day is making us fat and unhealthy. We saw a new pressure on employers to encourage workplace heath initiatives and pay more attention to physical activity at work. And we’ve realized we need to work differently, to get up and move around because mini-breaks, just one minute long throughout the day, can actually make a difference.
• Wellness programs are on the rise. Our employer really does care if we eat that doughnut or go for the apple. In fact, he cares so much, in many instances, he’s going to pay us to lose weight or participate in a wellness program. By now, employers realize that if we engage in healthy behavior, they benefit from lower healthcare costs. Expect this trend to get even more attention because The Affordable Care Act will expand the ability of employers to reward workers who achieve health improvement goals.
• Overtime. Is stopping on the way in for doughnuts for coworkers considered on the clock time? It could be. Companies are running into trouble with workers who claim there’s a rampant disregard for overtime pay provisions. In 2012, employees filed more than 7,000 federal lawsuits commonly known as wage-and-hour cases against their employers or former employers, records show. Losing these cases proved costly for some employers, and lawyers say they see these types of lawsuits continuing in 2013 along with a new interest in management training on what counts as a violation.
• Boomers retiring. We’ve been told it is coming, now it is happening. Experts say 2013 is the year that kicks off a wave of boomers retiring from careers they held for decades. “Some industries already are very focused on how to replace those exiting employees,” says Jennifer Schramm, manager of workplace trends and forecasting for the Society of Human Resource Management. Others will have to work hard and fast to develop the next generation of corporate leaders. At the same time, retirement creates a need for older workers to find ways to stay productive. Look for retirees to seek out opportunities to find work that helps them contribute to the greater good or causes they care about, says Marci Alboher, VP of Encore.org and author of The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life. “They will be looking for opportunities to do something impactful.”
• Newly designed workplaces. Our workspaces are changing along with our work habits. As collaboration becomes more important, we are finding that workplaces that allow for sharing ideas are the new norm — open floor plans and collaborative work environments, standing work stations and dual monitors. We also see an increasing number of co-working or shared office space and virtual offices, preparing us to say goodbye to office cubicles of the past and look forward to opportunities for better networking. And while we’re at it, we will likely be bringing our own device with us to the office of the future. A Cisco study showed a staggering 95 percent of organizations permit employee-owned devices in the workplace. This includes laptops, tablets and smartphones.
Leading organizations recognize the challenges and opportunities that these trends bring. For most, the belt tightening is over and 2013 will be the year to refocus on top talent and move forward together.