paul drinking a coffee

How Gas Station Coffee Saved My Sanity

The clock on my dashboard read 6:17 AM. I didn’t bother to look at the temperature on my screen since my windows were frosted over.  I hadn’t slept well in three nights, I had more deadlines to meet than I could remember, and worst of all my gas tank was on empty. Of course I noticed this as I backed out of my driveway. 

I pulled into the gas station all I could think about was how bad I wanted to get to the airport as soon as possible; a fact that was made worse by the fact that the gas pump kept rejecting my credit card. Remind me again how chips on cards are supposed to make life easier?

I filled my tank and grumbled my way into the store to pay.  

The lineup at the register was unusually long and instead of cursing out loud (like I wanted to do), I decided to walk a lap around the premises. That’s when the aroma of coffee caught my attention. For a moment I was relaxed and dare I even say calm?

I staggered towards the five large carafes and took another whiff. I then glanced at the titles of the different coffee flavors. 

There was hazelnut, dark Columbian roast, Sumatran Medley, and premium decaf (two words that should never go together).  I began to wonder if the coffee really came from Sumatra. And what about it made it a blend? They never mentioned what they were blending with Sumatra.  And did the Columbian coffee come from Columbia? Would Juan Valdez and his crazy mule appear behind me if I purchased it?  

And then….

I laughed….

Loud enough for others to hear. 

I didn’t care.

It felt good.

I hadn’t laughed in a long time.  I decided to treat myself to a large and delicious cup of Sumatran blend with a splash of premium decaf and topped with Coffeemate’s finest French vanilla creamer that came from an enormous dispenser. I tried not to think about how long the creamer had sat there.  All of it for the fabulous price of $1.09.  

As an added bonus if I bought five cups I’d get the next one free.

And just like that a new addiction (and tradition) was born.  These days, every early morning that I fill up my tank I get the gas station coffee. I’ve earned 4 free cups since I started this.

I don’t know why reading coffee titles sparked my creative mind and made me giggle like a high schooler but it did. For me it has become an important ritual; a way of giving thanks for making me laugh and reminding me that life doesn’t always have to be so serious.

It’s a ritual I look forward too even though the coffee isn’t what most would consider drinkable.

Every time I select and create a caffeinated concoction I find that my long morning drive is more enjoyable and I experience better inner peace. 

HAVE YOU FOUND YOUR GAS STATION COFFEE?

Our lives can be stressful and complicated and in that grind we sometimes create processes and expectations that are toxic or at the very least, keep us away from happiness and self-care.  It is important we create rituals and processes that center us and bring us to the happy place. 

It doesn’t have to be coffee. It can be an exercise routine, watching a show that you love, or a call with a family member or friend who knows how to supercharge your happiness. 

But whatever it is, guard it fiercely and visit it often.

I think my tank is empty again. Time for another cup.

*

Dr. Paul Artale is a motivational speaker, author, and organizational coach who helps organizations create high performance culture through understanding employee needs and leveraging their strengths. 

For more information visit www.paulartale.com

#shrm #hr #humanresources #worklifebalance  #leadership #manager

a piece of metal in the shape of the number 7

7 Habits of a Positive Work Life Balance (Part 1)

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People had such a great impact on me and the Franklin-Covey training I received years ago shaped me as a leader and a person.  In honor of Covey,  the next few blogs will show how his 7 Habits can be used as a cornerstone for positive work-life balance.  This week deals with the first 3 Habits or the Habits that deal with going from Dependence to Independence.

Habit 1: Be Proactive

Aint this the truth.  Work-life policies and opportunities often do not fall into place.  We have to work at them.  Proactivity in this area means educating, advocating, and negotiating your way to a better work-life situation.  Proactivity carries the mindset of “I impact the world” vs “the world impact me.”  Being proactive means looking for alternatives and positive outcomes and by doing so we grow our circle of influence.  Remember, most family-friendly and positive work-life policies come from employees taking the initiative to ask and create these opportunities.  They also come from managers who go to bat for their staff because they want to keep them on as happy and effective members of their team.  In either case, the improved situation did not magically appear; someone made it happen.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind.  Simply put, what’s your end game?  What is it you want to achieve on your work-life balance journey?     Are you interested in a compressed workweek as a short term or long term goal?  Is telecommuting something you want to do for a year or two so you can spend time with your young children or do you want it to be the standard norm?  When you know what you want, you will be in a better position to clearly communicate that supervisors, policymakers, and coworkers.  This will lead to less conflict or at the very least, misunderstandings about expectations.

Habit 3: Put first things first.  Amen!  Not all jobs are created equal in terms of work-life balance so you have to sit down and prioritize what is most important to you.  Are you a work-centered person?  A family-centered person?  Are you trying to be balanced between the two domains?  Add to the mix your hobbies, side jobs, ambitions, etc and things can get sticky in a hurry unless you rank and prioritize what is most important to you.  Doing this not only gives you a better sense of who you are (and who you want to be) but allows you to put forth a constant effort towards achieving those goals.  This habit also focuses on committing your time to activities that progress you goals.  Spending your time on tasks that are not urgent and not important becomes an illogical choice, especially when compared to working on tasks that are not urgent but extremely important (this is where the good long term planning is done).

Final Thought….

What is awesome about the first three Habits is their ability to help us define what we want and lay a foundation to go out and get those things.  Mastery of these steps takes us from dependence on a system, a boss, or life circumstances and moves us towards independence.  Independence gives us much more control over our lives and our situations and in the case of this blog, work-life balance.  As a leader moving from dependence towards independence means you are someone who makes things happen and does not use company policy or culture as the framework for all decisions.  Authentic leadership makes you a rockstar!   As great as independence is the next three steps move us even further along towards interdependence.  We” touch on that next week.

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Paul Artale is a motivational speaker who specializes in Labor and Industrial Relations.  He is also a keynote speaker and facilitator.  Please visit http://www.paulartale.com for more information.

a piece of metal in the shape of the number 7

7 Habits of a Positive Work Life Balance (Part 2)

The first 3 habits discussed steps we need to take to be independent; in other words, personal (private) mastery.  The next 3 Habits add the team (Public) dynamic into the equation.  Positive work-life policies and practices are largely dependent on the ability of different parties to communicate and cooperate effectively.  Let’s dive into it.

Habit 4: Think Win-Win.   Many of my blogs on this topic mention negotiation and discussions with other coworkers in some form.  The research shows that many organizations are not open to the work-life policies even when they offer them!  The bottom line is that when we are discussing different work arrangements, setting boundaries, or justifying actions to our family or boss, we have to do so from a point of view where all sides benefit.  Positive work-life policies help every body involved.  Let’s dissect this briefly:

Management/“The Company”: Positive practices and policies (say that fast 3 times) have been shown to strengthen output and more importantly decrease employee stress and health problems.  Not only is this more humane, but the company benefits by having less health claims which in turn contributes to keeping insurance premiums low.  Plus, work-life policies have been shown to increase employee loyalty and decrease intent-to-leave and we all know how costly rehiring is!

The Employee: This one is pretty obvious but employees benefit by having a senses of control and enjoyment over the various domains in their lives.  This increases their satisfaction, performance, and quality of overall life.

The Family: Those not directly involved in the business relationship also benefits as rates of work-to-family and family-to-work spillover tend to decrease.  Spending more time with loved ones is what life is really about (sorry if I am getting sappy here).   Having to listen to a family member groan or vent their angry on a constant basis because of work is just not pleasant.

Enacting positive work-life policies means thatthe company gets the same (or improved) output, increased loyalty, and fewer health costs while the employees are happier due to less conflict in their lives which is greatly appreciated by the family.  This appreciation increases employee satisfaction, decreases family-to-work conflict and benefits the company.  Now that’s WIN-WIN!

Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.  With all my pleas for self-advocacy this habit may seem counter-intuitive at first.  Before we can start asking for changes or accommodations we need to understand where the other side is coming from.  For employees there may be reasons as to why you may get that call or home or have to pull in extra hours beyond your boss being a controlling jerk.    There may be legal reasons or company policies that prohibit certain work arrangements as well for whatever reason.  Employers should listen to why their staff want changes in their current situation.  At its most base level, an employee coming to a supervisor asking for a change in the routine/practice/policy is a sign of some form of discontentment and should be listened to.  That discord could be as simple as a misunderstanding about job functions/expectations and as serious major problems at home or within the office.  In any case, understand the entire situation before conclusions or arguments are made.

Habit 6: Synergize.  Synergy says 1+1=5.  When people are working together, listening to each other, and looking out for everybody’s best interests then a powerful and addictive positive synergy is created.  What I love about synergy as a work-life concept is that it embraces multiple alternatives and truly is focused on the end goal (see Habit 2).  That’s what success and leadership is about.  Finding what works in any situation is at the heart of effective work-life balance implementation as well.

Final Thought…

As we move from independence to INTER-dependence we see a shift from me to we.  When work-life balance becomes a team effort then we come up with the most effective and fair ways for all parties to be successful.  Moving towards interdependence also means we are focused on long term success rather than trying to put out short-term, immediate fires.  Next week….the 7th Habit and the one that is all encompassing of work-life balance: Sharpening the Saw.

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Paul Artale is a motivational speaker who specializes in Labor and Industrial Relations.  He is also a keynote speaker and facilitator.  Please visit http://www.paulartale.com for more information. Posted

a team working at a table

Managers: The Key to Positive Work-Life Balance

A job in itself does not sentence a person to long hours, family conflict and a generally unhappy life.  Sure, some lines of work require more hours or intensive types of work but the boundaries and expectations related to our jobs are influenced heavily by one group of people: managers.

Managers are the ones who regulate hours, workload, and set the tone as to what is appropriate in terms of work and personal life.  Sure, we have company policies but quite often it is up to the manager to interpret that policy.  Beyond policy, the standards employees are evaluated on (whether they be billable hours, output goals, clients called etc) are created by some level management.  At some point, somebody in the hierarchy said “we value this if people want to get promoted or raises.  Spread the word.”  Once that word is spread then a culture begins to form.

Here are some things for those in managerial roles to consider as it relates to their ability to impact work-life balance for employees.

1) Controlling the schedule is power: use it wisely.  Consider the effect of calling an earlier or later than normal meeting has upon your staff; especially if it is called at the last minute.  Is it essential that all personnel are there?  Can some employees Skype/conference call in if appropriate?  When you’re in an authoritative role “Yea boss…no problem” doesn’t necessarily mean employees are ok with the extra meeting.

2) Educate yourself!  Knowing company HR procedures, benefits in addition to some basic law can go a long way in improve employee work-life balance.  This is definitely the case when it comes to major issues such as parental leave.  Many employees do not take full advantage of parental leave policies because they are worried about stunting their career advancement or flat out retribution.  What a shame!  Becoming an advocate for your staff will go a long way in terms of retaining staff and improving morale which both saves and makes the company money.  Now that’s a Win-Win situation!

3) Analyze: What do you reward? I recently read an article where a woman would show up to the office once a week at 2 am because her manager applauded the effort and it helped her get a promotion.   This woman admitted she usually worked from home at that time but she received such a favorable reaction from her boss that she decided it was better to get up earlier and come to work.  She also admitted that it was putting strains on her personal life but felt she had to do this in  order to succeed in her job.    As a disclaimer, this was a very driven software engineering firm that was accustomed to strange and extremely long hours.

Nevertheless, the point is: what behaviors and efforts do you and your company reward and what can you do to make sure that they are more conducive to a better quality of life for your workers?

4) Be flexible!   If we expect employees to be able to work longer hours or adjust their schedule with little notice then at some point as managers need to be flexible about things that may occur in their employees lives.  This could mean allowing people to work from home on occasion, allowing them to leave early or come in later, or even compressing their workweek.

5) Vacation!  As in let them take it.  Every year many employees don’t take all of their alloted vacation time and in many cases, lose that time altogether.  Encourage your employees to take time off and to maximize that benefit.  This may require being more strategic or strongly encouraging employees to take time off during certain times of the year.  One of my former supervisors allowed me to leave during an extremely busy time so that I could attend an important family function.  It took some discussion, lots of work before I left, a little work from the road, and communicating with those who would pick up the slack.  In other words it wasn’t easy but we made it work.  Not only did the company achieve their outcomes but I was able to take part in an important part of my family life.  I was very appreciative to my boss and the company for letting me have that precious time.

Final Thought:

Arthur Miller once wrote: “You can’t eat the orange and throw away the peel.  A man is not a piece of fruit!”  As a manager one is in a position of power and influence.  Managers often have the power to create culture and expectations that directly impact their employees and quality of life.  At other times managers have the ability to inform, educate, and guide their workers in a direction that leads to a better quality of family and professional life.  There are also occasions when being in a supervisory role means advocating for a more positive work-life balance.  Deadlines and organizational goals are important.  We all want the company to stay afloat.  Every once and a while, though, we need to unplug ourselves from the grind and recognize the human element that is behind facts, figures, and bottom lines.  By doing so we take great strides not only towards long-term productivity from employees, but we also decrease chances of employee stress and illness.

Dr. Paul Artale is a motivational speaker, author, and organizational coach who helps organizations create high performance culture through understanding employee needs and leveraging their strengths. 
For more information visit www.paulartale.com

#shrm #hr #humanresources #worklifebalance  #leadership #manager #teamwork

a cup full of jelly beans

What’s Your Work-life Personality Style?

It’s 10:30 AM and you are on the treadmill at the gym.  It is your late day at work and are not due to check into the office until noon.  Your exercise program beeps at you and you begin to kick it up a notch.  You’re starting to work up that good sweat when your phone rings.  You glance down at the screen and see it is the office calling.   Do you:

a) Pick up the phone: it must be really important if they are calling you during your off time.
b) Ignore it:  you will deal with whatever it is at 12 PM when you get in.
c) Finish your workout and call your office back afterwards:  this is your time and 15 minutes probably won’t hurt the situation one way or another.

Your response to the above question can reveal your preferred boundary style.  Boundary management in the workplace is becoming an important issue for both employees and managers.  The integrated use of digital and cellular technology in our lives has often led to the blurring of
lines between work and family time.   Add the fact that alternative work arrangements such as tele-commuting or compressed work-weeks are becoming more common and we can see how the landscape becomes hazier.

So… does a phone call or email after your office hours count as overtime or comp time?   A recent law in Brazil states that workers who answer emails on their smartphones can count that as overtime.  Clearly this is an issue that needs to be addressed at several levels.

3 Boundary Styles

Regardless of what policies might get constructed from the “higher ups” it is important that we all know our own boundary style.   Most people fall into one of three distinct boundary styles.

1) The Assimilator.  Assimilators love to mix work and family time and are comfortable with an irregular schedule.  Assimilators love the freedom that comes with shifting work and family demands and relish in the fact that there are no clearcut hours for work or play.  Flexibility is important to them so that 10pm email is not a problem if that means they can leave early one day to catch their child’s soccer game or meet some friends at a restaurant.

2) The Divider.  Divider’s have a more traditional approach to work and family.   When they are not at work or at a company sponsored  function they do not want to be bothered.  Work time is work time, personal time is personal time and the two should never ever cross.  Getting emails or calls at off hours frustrates them and often feels like an invasion of privacy.

3) The Chameleons.  Chameleons enjoy the best of both worlds.  They generally like to have a separation between work and family time but also recognize that there are times when work seeps into personal time and that is OK to them.  Emergencies occur, coworkers sometimes need help, and some times of year are just plain busy.  An intrusion of personal time is OK in small and predetermined doses but a return to regularity is preferred at the end of the day.

Why is this important?

Knowing which boundary style you are and which boundary style the organization prefers is vital in determining whether a place of employment is a good fit.  Both employees and managers should take note which styles their employees prefer or are more comfortable with as this may eliminate workplace conflict.   Everybody has a different perspective on how work and family/personal life should mix and thus the key to eliminating conflict and maximizing employee morale is open and honest communication.

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Dr. Paul Artale is a motivational speaker, author, and organizational coach who helps organizations create high performance culture through understanding employee needs and leveraging their strengths. 

For more information visit http://www.paulartale.com

#shrm #hr #humanresources #worklifebalance  #leadership #manager #boundaries #flexstyle

people working together by a sunset

The Pros/Cons of Community Involvement and Work-Life Balance.

The last few weeks have been pretty theoretical and a lot of focus has been on work in some form.  This week I want to focus on the balance part of work-life balance.  Specifically let’s talk about the part of the equation that deals with giving one more purpose, relieves stress, and adds another dimension beyond both work and family.  Let’s talk about community involvement.

As a bit of a disclaimer, there are many activities one can do outside of work to restore balance to the force such as exercise, cooking for fun, and gardening.  Community involvement is an interesting aspect however as it has the power to enrich or deplete one’s sense of happiness in life.  Let’s get started with the pros.Pros:Being committed to something outside of work can be a great experience and here are some reasons why you should consider it:

1) It gets your mind off of work:  If you’re like me then you probably have trouble shutting off your “work brain.”  Involvement in community groups of any kind allows you to forget about the daily grind and actually enjoy life a little more.

2) Form friendships and contacts.  As Spock would say, “it is logical” that when you are around people with similar interests you are bound to make a few friends.   Work friends are great, but sometimes its nice to interact with others who share common interests and passions.

3) Stress relief.  Involvement in other groups can typically reduce your stress.  Since you want to be in that environment you will naturally become more relaxed and open to having fun.  If all goes right, you will become excited about attending meetings, events, and functions.

4) Giving back!  Do I really need to explain this one?Cons:As great as  involvement is, there are a few drawbacks.  Beware if:

1)  Involvement drains too much time!   Having a hobby or group you connect with is great but make sure it does not take significant time away from your work or your family.  This can be very challenging for eager beavers and workaholics alike.  Have fun but know your limits.

2) Involvement turns into more work!  Giving back to the community should not feel like another job.  This should not be confused with doing any work since that is often part of the process.   If filling out paperwork, meeting deadlines, recruitment, meeting organizational performance standards, and committee meetings no longer energize you then consider scaling back your commitment.  This should be a life giving endeavor!

3) Involvement turns into more involvement.  This is not necessarily a bad thing but being involved in one group can lead to involvement in other groups or different branches/chapters/clubs of the same organization.  By all means maximize your experience as long as you don’t fall into the traps sprung during points 1 and 2 in this section.

Final Thought
….

As a Higher Education professional I have many conversations with students who are over-involved with clubs, associations, and other groups on campus.   “You don’t have to be a part of 15 things….try being a major force in 2 or 3.”  Hopefully that sticks with them past their college days.I am great supporter of community involvement as it has helped me overcome some tough times in professional and personal life.  That being said, we must make sure that involvement doesn’t take away from professional and family growth.  The good news is in most cases community involvement enhances both of those aspects; as long as we know our limits and stay true to our priorities.

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Dr. Paul Artale is a motivational speaker, author, and organizational coach who helps organizations create high performance culture through understanding employee needs and leveraging their strengths. 

#shrm #hr #humanresources #worklifebalance  #leadership #manager #virtualwork

a paper with the word time burning

What’s the Deal with Comp Time?

ave you ever had that crazy workweek where your contracted 40 hours turns into 60?  Have you ever been comforted by the fact that the extra time you put in can be banked as comp time/bonus time somewhere in the near future?   Weeks later you find a great deal on a 4 day weekend getaway to Vegas and you decide “I am going to cash in my comp time and take a long weekend” only to have your boss or an HR manager tell you that you can’t do that.   They utter the words that I so often hate to hear “Comp time does not officially exist at our company.”

*cough* bullcrap *cough*

I think the idea of comp time has its origins in an innocent and simple truth: people were willing to trade hours that were supposed to be worked at a later date in order to complete a task that requires an immediate effort.  It’s a fair trade off.  Most businesses have a slow time and trying to fit everything into the 9 to 5 bubble doesn’t always work.  Fair enough.

So why then can comp time be such a difficult thing to peg down?  Does being a salaried employee automatically mean we should accept working longer hours with no reward except for  a company tshirt or smoked meat at the holidays?

I don’t think so.

If the same person was an hourly employee they would be paid for those extra hours.  Comp time is not illegal is it?   No, it isn’t.  According to the Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA) time off can be substituted for extra pay when an employee exceeds working the standard eight hour day.  The parameters of this policy are subject to state and/or county law, institutional policy and contracts with unions or other labor groups.

Companies: what’s the big deal about making it official policy?   I know why an organization may keep the rules grey but that does not mean that I agree.  We know that stress and overwork (a topic of future blogs) leads to poor employee health and higher turnover.  If companies don’t want to run their employees into the ground (and according to most official policies…that is not an objective) then I would like them to ponder these points of consideration:

1) If comp time is arranged between a manager and employee then keep it that way.  Whether it is official policy or not I am always frustrated to hear about a comp time arrangement being interfered with by a superior.  For tho who manage managers, trust that those directors/deans/vice-president’s etc will make the right decisions regarding their staffs.  They do know them better than anyone else in the company.

2) Have a policy.  I know that the “P” word can be a dirty word to some but some policy is better than no policy.  Although I don’t personally like the “no comp time, some weeks you work more, live with it” mentality at least I can respect the honesty.  Keeping things grey is shady in my opinion….and we all know how many shades of grey there are.

3) Give employees choice.  I love it when comp time is an open policy in a company.  That being said, I am not a fan of the “hey you worked hard this week, take Friday off if you want comp time” approach.  Don’t get me wrong, some comp time is better than no comp time but I recommend giving employees the ability to choose when they can use those hours.  Maybe this Friday or a two-week window doesn’t work.   As long as it does not conflict with essential duties then what’s the harm?

4) Don’t rob the bank.  Managers often ask employees to record extra hours to keep tabs on how many comp hours are in the bank.  If  this is the system then respect the hours recorded.  A colleague’s supervisor once asked him to record all his extra hours which he gladly did.  During their weekly one-on-one session, the boss looked at the hours and declared: “that’s too many.”  In the end, my colleague lost some hours.   As a manager, if you’re going to ask someone to officially document the extra time they put in then be prepared for the reality that the results could be very high.

*The above example is based on HONESTLY recording hours.  Inflating the hours you work can get you fired and it is just bad practice.  Likewise, use some common sense when recording hours.  If you worked an extra hour one day but breaks went a little longer than expected then you may be best off not claiming that time.

5) Ebb and flow approach.  If counting hours is not your thing then consider the ebb and flow approach.  Hours aren’t counted or stored but if an employee needs to take half a day here or there or work extra hours earlier in the week in order to get another day off then go for it.  This may actually cause less conflict than haggling over hours or over an unofficial policy.  Beware, it is more art than science but in healthy working relationships may be a strong tool.

Unless you work in a highly unionized or systematized environment comp time will be an issue in some form.  Addressing the issue up front and clearly will help define expectations and avoid conflict.

___

Dr. Paul Artale is a motivational speaker, author, and organizational coach who helps organizations create high performance culture through understanding employee needs and leveraging their strengths. 

#shrm #hr #humanresources #worklifebalance  #leadership #manager #virtualwork #comptime

For more information visit www.paulartale.com

a woman working by a computer outdoors

The 5 Elements of Successfully Working from Home

Working from home can be both a blessing and a curse.  On one hand you don’t have to worry about traffic, subway lines, forgetting (insert object) at home, or being unable to care for loved ones.  On the other hand, working from home can blur the lines between work and family and have the potential for decreased effectiveness and who wants that?

Here are steps you can take to make sure your work-from-home experience:

1) Have your own (distraction free) workspace.   A separate office used solely for work is ideal.  If a solo office does not exist create a work area somewhere in the house that is free of distractions.   The coffee table table in front of the tv may not be the best location unless you have great discipline.

2) Set your hours.  People telecommute for different reasons.  Regardless, setting your hours will help get you on schedule.  For 9-5 type jobs it is pretty simple.  Things get a wee bit more complicated when your schedule may be irregular due to family or personal commitments.  These commitments are not bad (they are often the reason we do telecommute) but this is not an excuse not to block off the required work time on a calendar.

3) Communicate with your office.  Make sure your hours are clearly posted and accessible to coworkers.  Also, it is helpful if coworkers know how and when to reach you.  If work does not provide a telephone line then you have to decide, will you use your home phone, your cell phone, Skype etc to communicate with others.  Those who work away from the office sometimes  feel isolate or are even neglected in decisions because coworkers (and even supervisors) are not always sure how to reach people or what times are appropriate.  There is often a stigma of laziness associated with telecommuting.  Letting people know how and when to communicate with you is important in making sure you are still part of the team.

4) Embrace Distractions- they happen!    If a life circumstance makes this difficult make sure to be upfront with others about it.  For example, if you are working part time to spend more time with your preschool children you may want to give that client a heads up if they are not familiar with the situation. Ideally you want a distraction free zone but life happens, so embrace it.

*Point #5 is for those who are going from a traditional office environment to a work-at-home environment on some sort of basis.

6) Tell them why.  Telecommuters are sometimes thought of as slackers or as having it easy.  I am not recommending airing your personal affairs but consider telling colleagues who work closest with you what is happening.  It can help diffuse gossip or odd sentiments.

Final Thought…

Telecommuting is here to stay as companies can save money on brick and mortar costs.  For employees, telecommuting offers a part-time or alternative work arrangement that can help them meet the demands of personal commitments.  In either case, approaching your job with the same professionalism and work ethic one would approach site based employment is vital in decreasing workplace conflict and increasing personal satisfaction.

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Dr. Paul Artale is a motivational speaker, author, and organizational coach who helps organizations create high performance culture through understanding employee needs and leveraging their strengths. 

#shrm #hr #humanresources #worklifebalance  #telecommute #manager #virtualwork

For more information visit www.paulartale.com

a bowl of chili

The Chili Factor: Keeping Your Sanity in Toxic Work Environments

It wasn’t the greatest place to work.  The pay was miniscule, my resources were limited, and in recent months the president of the company invaded my personal space, revamped the terms of my contract without notifying me, and micromanaged every decision my coworkers and I performed.  The stress from these situations bled into my personal life on several levels; including my marriage.

I wanted out….badly.

The problem was that searching for a new job is often a slow and cumbersome process; especially during a recession.  There was not much to look forward to and I resented being at work just about every single day that I was there.

Many of us were in similar boats.  We had our moments of sanity but if there was one thing that united us and gave us hope and lifted our spirits it was CHILI MONDAY!

At 11:40 am every Monday those two words would chime throughout the hallway and collectively we would all trek the cafeteria for a bowl of hot, tasty, honest-to-goodness chili.  Ok, in hindsight it was most likely made with leftovers from meatloaf night but at the time it was golden!

I don’t miss much if anything about that employer.  That being said, occasionally I do think about Chili Mondays, the excitement it created, the fun we had huddled around the table eating and sharing a few laughs.  Other lunches were good too but Mondays were special.

Unfortunately we don’t always work in dynamic and friendly environments. Scientifically speaking, sometimes our work situations suck but we have to weather the storm and stick it out until better opportunities arise.  Chili Monday taught me three things that made that work environment a little less toxic.

1) Get excited!  This can seem impossible when you are in a toxic work environment.  Maybe we got excited over chili because on some days, it was the only thing to get excited about.  You may have to dig hard for this one but it exists, trust me.  Sometimes it is a routine such as your morning cup of coffee while at other times it may be a special event.  Having something to look forward to makes the day(s) go bye just a little bit faster and keeps the positive juju flowing on some level.

2) Small victories and moments matter.  When things are terrible it can be difficult to find the good in any situation.  It is also very easy to focus on the negative.  Within every day there is always SOMETHING that is positive.  Focus on that as much as you can and the bad stuff will fade away….for a little while at least.

3) Isolation = Decimation.  The decimation of your sanity and happiness in particular.  I had some great coworkers with great senses of humor that improved the quality of many days.  Congregating in the cafeteria every Monday was an expression of that.  It was more about the comraderie than it was the chili.

Final Thought…

Toxic work environments can bring us down and can threaten to keep us there for a very long time.  Nobody wants to “live” in a place where fear, misery, and anger prevail all the time.  The next time things at work have taken a turn for the worse, take a moment and find your chili factor.  It can make the difference between sanity and insanity.

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Dr. Paul Artale is a motivational speaker, author, and organizational coach who helps organizations create high performance culture through understanding employee needs and leveraging their strengths. 

#shrm #hr #humanresources #worklifebalance  #burnout #motivation

For more information visit www.paulartale.com

The Work-Life Resolutions You Need To Consider

It’s that magical time of year where you may indulge in Holiday parties, reconnect with loved ones, and begin to reflect on the year that was.  You are days away from setting your new year’s resolutions.  After all, you want to start 2018 off on the right foot, right?  Before you do that, I want you to consider some work-life resolutions in addition to those that center around losing weight, saving money, and taking that dream vacation.  Here they are.  In in 2018 I want you to consider these four resolutons:

  1. SPEND MORE!  That’s right, don’t save it; spend it!  If you think I am talking about money, then you are wrong.  I am talking about spending more TIME on whatever you value most.  If that value is family, spend more time with them.  If you feel like you don’t have enough time for a hobby, spend your time there!  Success with time (as it is with money) is most effective if you tell it where to go.  It’s as simple as conducting a simple analysis of time spent, finding the deficiencies, and making a change.  Not sure how to do that?  Click HERE to get my simple time analysis activity worksheet.
  2. INCREASE YOUR INVESTMENTS!  Buy low, sell high right?  Luckily you aren’t going to get stock advice from me.  2018 is the year you should consider investing more in yourself.  My recommendation is to invest in personal development that helps you build a skill set you want to strengthen.  This could be professional in nature such as getting strengths coaching or personal as in hiring a personal trainer.  There are countess possibilities but the most important part is to do it.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot but it does have to grow and stretch you.

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