Newsletter

WHEN CO-WORKERS QUIT … AND THERE’S PRESSURE TO JUMP SHIP

By Brenda Smyth

Some workplace turnover is healthy. In fact, it’s necessary—and averages between 15 and 20 % annually. If you’ve been in the business world long, you know this—people get bored, they want more money and they leave. Businesses also work to stay trim, periodically cutting from the bottom—replacing their least productive employees.
But if you’re a Millennial working for an organization with a lot of other young workers, turnover (especially when it seems high and it’s from colleagues quitting) can evoke a lot of uneasy feelings ….
A conversation with my 23-year-old niece revealed her concerns of “being the only one still there.” She’s been with her organization for a short 1 1/2 years and has slowly watched newly found work friends jump ship for better pay and “more interesting” jobs. She’s been successful there, being named employee of the year in 2016, but she’s struggling to stay put, admitting that the exodus is making her question her own job and the solidness of the company. It also causes her to magnify the flaws in her own job and the organization.
It’s important to remember that some turnover is normal and that any decision to move on should be based on solid evidence and facts and not that feeling of “being left behind on a sinking ship.”
Some illuminating Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) turnover data: “Quits” data did indeed show an upturn in 2016. But, it is accompanied by an upturn in hires and job openings. This would be an expected outcome as the job market continues to return to prerecession (2006) levels. So with a lower unemployment rate, greater hiring rate and higher number of job openings, of course workers are confident and more able to quit.
A few interesting highlights from a bls.gov report and several other sources:

  • “Hires have increased since their low in June 2009 and are near their prerecession levels. In December 2016, there were 5.3 million hires.”
  • “Quits have increased since their low in September 2009 and are near their prerecession levels. In December 2016, there were 3.0 million quits.”
  • “Job openings have increased since their low in July 2009. They returned to their prerecession level in March 2014 and surpassed their prerecession peak in August 2014. There were 5.5 million open jobs on the last business day of December 2016.”
  •  “The number of quits has exceeded the number of layoffs and discharges for most of record-keeping history. During the latest recession, this relationship changed as layoffs and discharges outnumbered quits from November 2008 through March 2010.”
  • The difference between the number of quits and the number of layoffs and discharges has been increasing since April 2010. In December 2016, there were 1.3 million more quits than layoffs and discharges.
  • Employees stay with a company longer as they get older. “Median tenure of workers ages 55 to 64 was 10.1 years, three times that of workers ages 25 to 34 years at 2.8 years.” In 2016, slightly less than half (44%) of Millennials surveyed expect to leave their current employer in the next two years.
  • Employee tenure (“quits” not separated) by age bls.gov figures show:*
    •  ages 20 to 24 from 2006 to 2016 steady at 1.3 years (rising to 1.5 in 2010)
    •  ages 25 to 34 at 2.9 years in 2006, 3.1 in 2010, 3.2 in 2012, 3.0 in 2014 and     2.8 in 2016
    •  ages 35 to 44 at 4.9 years in 2006, rising slightly in 2010-2014, and back to     4.9 in 2016
    •  ages 45 to 54 at 7.3 years in 2006, and steadily rising to 7.9 in 2016
    •  ages 55 to 64 at 9.3 years in 2006, and slightly higher after to the 2016 level of 10.1
    •  ages 65 and over at 8.8 years in 2006 to 10.3 in 2016
      •  *This bls.gov table shows older data.
  • “Younger workers do tend to change jobs more often than older workers, but that’s always been true as far back as the 1980s. Every month, about 3 percent of young workers (those between age 22 and 29 ) change jobs, compared to about 4 percent in the 1990s,” from fivethirtyeight.com.

When a work colleague leaves, it’s normal to feel pressure, especially as the departing colleague talks excitedly about his or her new venture—the “amazing” benefits, the “perfect” boss (justifying, rationalizing, celebrating his or her decision). This pressure is the reason turnover often happens in waves, suggests getlighthouse.com.
When you feel this pressure, do take time to reevaluate your situation honestly (remembering that the age of the workers quitting could be a big factor). See the opportunities (more responsibility, advancement) as well as the negatives. Realize the grass is always greener and that every job has negative aspects. Be happy for your colleague. Don’t let inertia keep you from moving on. But also don’t feel compelled to leave simply because others have. Sometimes, if the opportunities are there, staying takes courage.

Lower Your Risk for Alzheimer’s

By Paula Spencer Scott

Beating Alzheimer’s is not one size fits all. About 40% of risk-reduction strategies depend on factors unique to you, like genetics and physical condition. Some people can do everything right and still get Alzheimer’s. Still, the other 60% of ways to lower your risk apply to everyone. Start here:
Know your numbers. Get basic blood tests to find out your      cholesterol, blood glucose and homocysteine. Learn your blood pressure (hypertension in midlife is a key dementia risk), body-mass index (BMI) and waist circumference. The good news: All are risk factors you can change if you’re outside normal ranges; any doctor can show you how.
Take a cognitive test. It’s useful to have a baseline of your current thinking skills to compare over time. There’s no single best test, though it ideally should be less simplistic than the basic            mini-mental state exam (MMSE) used to screen for AD. One you can try at home: the 15 minute SAGE test. For a link go to www.alzu.org.
Hang on to your muscle. We lose 1% of muscle mass a year if we don’t do anything about it. A mix of aerobic and resistance/weight training helps burn the fat that leads to a more risky        apple-shaped body.
Maintain a healthy weight. There may be no such thing as “fat but fit” according to recent studies.
Eat “green, lean and clean.”  Almost every brain benefits from a plant-heavy diet (veggies, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds) with lean protein (fish especially) and low-fat dairy. Sourcing seems to matter: Grass-fed dairy and meat have less fat, and more of it is healthy. Use extra-virgin olive oil for everything.
Go fishing. It really is brain food. Fatty fish to eat twice a week include salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, lake trout and sardines. Some people benefit from omega-3 supplements with DHA and EPA. They’re pricey and are best used under a doctor’s supervision.
Pass on late-night eating. At least a few times a week, try to hold out from after dinner until breakfast for 12-14 hours of no eating, or at least no carbs. This helps your body burn stored fats.
Put devises to bed. Sleep is likely as influential as diet and exercise.  Hit the hay in time to get at least 8 hours. Stop texting, checking email and watching TV at least 30-45 minutes before bedtime.
Balance stress with downtime. Every 4.5 years of work stress lead to 1 additional year of brain aging. Yoga, acupuncture and regular vacations all help.
Keep busy and connected. Hobbies and friendships both relax and challenge the brain to learn new things. Social contact protects it. The word on brain games and crosswords is mixed – remember there’s no one magic bullet.
Visit the dentist and eye doctor. Surprise: Untreated tooth and gum problems can cause problematic inflammation. And if you’re having vision or hearing loss, treatment can spare you the resulting social isolation that is its own risk.
Take up an instrument. There is a growing body of research on music’s benefits to the brain. Even listening revs you up for exercise and calms stress, but playing or singing is even better.
Don’t smoke. But you knew that.
Consider genetic testing. Let’s be clear: It won’t tell you whether you’ll get the disease. Only a few genes have been linked to Alzheimer’s so far. The best studied is APOE, which helps regulate fats. We get one copy of it from each parent. The rarest variation, APOE-2, is protective against Alzheimer’s. APOE-3 is neutral. APOE-4 slightly elevates your risk. But you can have 2 copies of APOE-4 and still avoid Alzheimer’s, or not have any and get it. So why find out? It can be a good motivator. Preliminary, unpublished data suggests that when people find out, their compliance to interventions increases. Knowledge is power. Doctors also use this info to shape treatments.
Join a clinical trial. Early intervention is our best chance to cure the disease. The first person cured of Alzheimer’s disease will be in a clinical trial. Search for studies you might qualify for at www.clinicaltrials.gov.

Dont Try to Be a Great Leader… Just Be an Effective One

By Dan Rose

To be honest, we tend to go overboard when describing “great” leaders at work when what we should be discussing is effective leadership. Even the term, “leadership” has become so overused that it is losing its meaning. Take a look at Twitter for any length of time if you’re following any trainers, consultants or business leaders’ personal accounts, and you’ll see 1,500 inspirational quotes an hour about leadership. Actually, when our current crop of politicians in Washington do something stupid, you’ll see 1,500 quotes a minute. It has all become white noise on the Web and much of its meaning has been lost.
There are only a handful of truly great and inspirational leaders, and I tend to think of people like Dwight              Eisenhower, who commanded the Allied forces during D-Day. For more than a year, he coordinated the invasion, eventually consisting of more than 850,000 personnel, 148,000 vehicles, and 570,000 tons of supplies, while fighting the war all over the world AND kept bickering allied forces working together. The successful invasion eventually led to the end of the war in Europe 11 months later when Hitler and the Nazis were defeated. And, on top of that,             Eisenhower managed to keep the exact details of the invasion a secret from a hoard of Axis spies running around.
No offense, but that’s a bit more impressive than your company’s mid-level manager who boosted production in the 7-member accounting department by changing a few work processes.
Trying to be great can lead to frustration and disappointment … try effective leadership instead
But it isn’t my point to belittle that accounting manager, because what that person did for the department and the organization as a whole is vital for its long-term health and success. My point is to stop trying to make everything “great” and just make it effective. That accounting manager does have something in common with Eisenhower, and it’s not the ability to defeat evil regimes. It’s the ability to bring people together through the common traits that effective leaders share.  Effective leaders find a way to get more out of their people than many would think possible. No matter the situation, effective leaders tend to achieve outstanding results by outperforming the competition and surpassing their goals. And when things are bad, no matter how bleak the situation, their team always finds a way to come out on top.
You’ll learn many skills in your career, but the most potent aspect of effective leadership is accountability. Once you make yourself accountable for your progress and learning, you will excel at any new challenge. Be aware that there is always something new to learn and learning itself is not always an easy process.
The primary leadership characteristics you should develop are vision, integrity and compassion. No leader becomes successful alone. They learn to gain the trust of people through integrity and compassion, and then share their vision. Then, they make their vision a reality by inspiring others to buy in and participate.
The three qualities that effective leaders share are:
Vision:
Effective leaders have a clear vision of their objectives and how to get there. Leaders are “big picture” thinkers. They can be dreamers to a point, but with the knack of getting others to buy into their dreams and participate. Their dreams are grounded in reality; leaders plan and set objectives and establish deadlines for achieving these objectives.
Integrity:
Integrity involves sticking to the “unvarnished truth” regardless of the consequences. It means making restitution for wrongs even though no one asks for restitution. Integrity is honesty and fair play in all of your business dealings. There can be no effective leadership without       integrity.
Compassion:
The compassionate leader is by necessity an introspective one.   Compassionate leadership demands first looking into your own style or contribution when things go amiss. The compassionate leader exercises all options before issuing reprimands or    discharging personnel. He or she recognizes that creating fear in constituents creates stress and reduces productivity immeasurably over a long time. Workers who are afraid of their boss don’t respect them and are constantly searching for an escape route.
Many people say that leaders are made, not born. Others, just to tick off the other side probably, say that leaders are born, not made. I don’t buy either side 100 percent. I believe some people are born with some inherent traits of effective leadership which makes it easier for them to become an exceptional leader later in life. But, I also think nearly everyone can learn how to become an effective leader. Oh, you may not save the world like Ike did back in the 40’s, but you can take the point in your department or your work team and make everyone better.