How Do Busy People Ever Go Home On Time Like this …
By Dan Rose
It’s become the norm for professionals to work 60 or more hours a week … not ending the work day until late at night … and spending time on work during the weekends. On one hand, this may display an intense dedication to a company and the roles and responsibilities bestowed upon employees. But on the other, working that much might not allow many to be as productive as possible. Busy people in the office isn’t always a good thing. This may seem counterintuitive, but burnout and resentment are real things that can affect attitudes and working environments, according to professional lifestyle expert Geoffrey James..
Time management seminars are useful in this era of overworking, because they provide the opportunity for professionals to see that their current regimen isn’t working to their benefit. They will be better suited running their day with more structure and making an effort to make a 40-hour week work. This will not only help employees fulfill their responsibilities more effectively, but also manage their work-life balance better. Managers can benefit from emphasizing a 40-hour work week and thinking of ways to make this more possible.
Here are a few tips we’ve gathered over the years to help you busy people get started and hopefully get you home at a decent hour:
1. A little self-reflection never hurt anyone. If your 40-hour week has edged closer to a 60- or 70-hour week, it’s time to review your efforts. How do you spend the majority of your time during your work day? If you find yourself wasting a significant amount of time managing your inbox or in meetings, it may be time for some restructuring.
2. Eat the frog first thing. Humorist Mark Twain once said that if you eat a live frog first thing every morning, you can go through the rest of the day knowing the worst part of your day is over. It’s the same with projects. Do the biggest one first every day. Rearrange your schedule to ensure you hit the ground running every day by knocking out bigger projects as soon as you get to work. While it might seem like a challenge to take on harder tasks in the wee hours of the morning, you’re actually at peak performance earlier in the day. Save your less important tasks for the afternoon to make your day more manageable.
3. Bring the overworking problem into the open. Managers can communicate to employees that working more than 60 hours a week is not healthy and not productive. If they make the effort to point that out and outline the expectations for a proper work day, it will make workers more cognizant about how they should manage their time.
4. Create a schedule. Map out what a proper day should look like and allow employees to create schedules that best fit their work patterns. Allocating a specific amount of time for projects and designating certain parts of the day for meetings can create more structure and allow staff to better run their days.
5. Work against interruptions. Interruptions can be detrimental to the work day, because once a person is off-task, it is incredibly hard to make up for lost time. While it is important for managers and employees to be available for discussion and meetings, it’s time to eliminate unnecessary Internet use, phone calls and chatting with employees throughout the day.
6. Be honest. While there will always be more work to do and it can be good to get ahead, it’s important to be honest with yourself about when it is time to power down and go home. It’s OK to say no instead of pushing on. Burnout can create a volatile atmosphere to work in.
Why Older Workers Might be More Stressed Than Younger Ones
By Steve Bent
Older workers tend to feel more stress than younger workers when their employers don’t provide them with the support and resources needed to do their jobs well, according to a new Portland State University study. The study is part of a larger project aimed at improving employee health, safety, work-life balance and well-being.
The research team surveyed 243 municipal public works employees between the ages of 24 and 64 over the course of a year. The study found that both younger and older workers had lower levels of overall stress when they were given more autonomy on the job, had good relationships with their bosses and felt they were respected and treated fairly at work. But when such resources were lacking, older workers reported significantly higher stress levels a year later than their younger colleagues.
The authors say the findings are especially important as the number of workers who are 55 and older continues to grow. The U.S. Labor Bureau estimates that older workers will account for nearly a quarter of the workforce by 2020.
Among the study’s recommendations:
Rather than require that employees complete tasks a certain way, employers should, when possible, give workers the flexibility to bring their different skill sets, strengths and years of accumulated job experience to the table
Training for supervisors should emphasize leadership skills about how to build strong relationships with workers of all ages so they feel like trusted and valued members of their team
Since older workers appear to be more susceptible to stress in the face of unfairness, organizations can help workers by being transparent about how decisions are made and implemented, not discriminating, valuing employee input when making key decisions and providing channels for employees to voice concerns
The researchers suggest that future studies should look at diverse worker groups across industries, jobs, gender and ethnicities to generalize the study findings, and explore the types of resources that are important to younger employees’ well-being.
How to Strengthen Your Relationship
By Cameron Bishop
Millions of appreciative employees go into work each day thanking their bosses for the support, encouragement and guidance they receive throughout the year. Unfortunately, others have poor relationships with their managers. It is to these employees that I want to dedicate today’s blog. As a CEO myself, there are behaviors that I expect from the people who work for me. When they happen, there will be few, if any, problems from me. However, I’m also human, and there are things employees do that drive me crazy and can lead to problems. If you’re having issues with your boss, please think about your employer-employee relationship, and think about ways to strengthen it. It’s important for all sides to maintain a good working relationship. As an employee, it’s critical to have a strong, or at least a healthy, relationship with your boss for a variety of reasons.
First, your boss has a tremendous amount of influence over workplace stress, whether real or perceived. He or she can make the workplace exciting and something to look forward to each day, or a place that you dread visiting. In short, your health is at stake.
Second, bosses hold the key to your advancement within the company, and sometimes outside of it as well. Without a good relationship, they may not speak highly of you—or consider recommending you for other positions, departments or companies—regardless of your performance.
And third, having a good relationship with your boss just makes sense. Work consumes most of your time usually, and having good relationships will make things more enjoyable and lead to opportunities.
Good relationships need constant care
The boss-employee relationship is much like others we need to manage in our lives. As long as both parties are committed to the relationship, we get out what we put into them. If both parties aren’t clear in communicating their expectations and giving feedback when expectations aren’t met, little issues can snowball to the point the relationship is no longer sustainable. Setting a good example for behavior doesn’t always translate into a strong relationship. Employees might not get the direct and constructive performance feedback they need to elevate their career—or the boss isn’t all that invested so he or she doesn’t push the team to consistently achieve and grow. In order to grow, learn and advance in their careers, employees need to be on the same page with their supervisors about their goals, objectives and career path. And, employees should start this dialogue so that they can open the lines of communication with their supervisors and engage them in this process. According to several recent studies, many workers rate their relationship
with their supervisor as good, great or excellent. However, for the percentage of people who rate their relationship as weak, it could be related to trust. Strong relationships are based on trust from both parties, and it takes an open line of communication from both the employee and the supervisor to make that happen.
Other reasons some employees have such weak relationships with their bosses can be the very nature of the boss-employee dynamic.
If an employee has someone who is constantly telling him or her what to do and, in many instances, how to do it, this can easily cause friction and resentment. It piles onto an already stressful workday. In addition, there are many employees who are jealous of their bosses and perhaps feel that they, not the bosses, should be the ones in charge. Again, this causes resentment toward the one person at work who has the most control over your career. But it is imperative to have a great work relationship with your boss because he or she controls your destiny. You don’t have to love your boss, but you need to be able to work well together. One of the main reasons employees leave their job is because of their boss. A troubled relationship with your boss can negatively affect your morale, your productivity, your happiness and, of course, your career. A positive relationship can improve your morale, productivity and happiness, which could lead to more career success in the form of promotions, raises and higher self-esteem.
Here’s how to strengthen your relationship with your boss:
Put yourself in your boss’s shoes
Figure out the challenges your boss will encounter that day in respect to your work, a project the team has or even bigger issues affecting the organization. Then, be prepared to offer solutions. Anticipate the questions that your supervisor may ask about your work or a project, and have thoughtful answers or next steps to take. Thinking ahead can really show that you’re an invaluable team member. And I’ve yet to meet an executive or member of management who doesn’t appreciate an employee who thinks big picture. On the other hand, I know it can be easy to resent your boss, especially if he or she treats you a certain way. However, realize that your boss has a job to do as well, and sometimes the stress is enormous. There’s a lot about your boss’s job that you don’t know about or see, so don’t assume that he or she is out to get you. Perhaps there are higher-ups putting pressure on them—so try to be understanding.
You’re employed because at some point, you showed you could add value to the organization. Make sure that you’re adding value to the organization and/or your position. Bosses want employees not only to agree with them, but also be willing to speak up about the realities and challenges in the business that need to be addressed. Be the person who speaks with facts, confidence and reasonable suggestions that produce results. This builds your boss’s confidence in you.
Represent yourself—and your boss—well at all times
Everyone cares about their work reputation, or at least they should. If you can make your boss look good, he or she will be happy—and if your boss is happy, you’ll be happy. Whether your boss attends or not, be prepared for every meeting. Your reputation does precede you. Don’t correct your boss in front of others. It’s embarrassing for your boss, even if he or she is wrong about something. You’re better off addressing their mistake with them after people leave. At all times, display a level of professionalism that not only benefits you personally, but also reflects highly of your boss. You’re a reflection of your boss’s leadership.
Know when and how to communicate with your boss
Does your supervisor like one-sentence emails or prefer a detailed account of what’s going on? Does he or she want to receive an outline of where your project stands? Or do you need to provide all of the details? Learn how your supervisor likes to communicate and receive communication, and mimic this style.
Finally, ask yourself questions like: “What time of day would my boss prefer to answer questions I might have?” and “What day of the week is the best time to approach him or her?” “Knowing this in advance can greatly improve the relationship. If you don’t know the answers and can’t ask your boss directly, ask your boss’s administrative assistant if applicable.