The Data Warrior

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Archive for the tag “work-life-balance”

Why four-day workweeks are best

In her book “White Collar Sweatshop,” author Jill Andresky Fraser writes about a culture of American workers being on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even as salaries and benefits decrease. That’s because, despite the evidence, we’re programmed to believe that working longer and harder begets great achievement. But what if working less is the real key to success?

via Opinion: Why four-day workweeks are best – CNN.com.

In this article on CNN.com, Peggy Drexler wrote about the experiences of some companies (and the State of Utah) when they switched to a four day work week. For the most part, the experiences reported were very positive with benefits to the employees (happier at work) and the organization (increased productivity and better talent retention).

How could this be?

“They were using the extra day off to spend time with their families, do errands and take long weekends away, but also to schedule appointments they might otherwise have taken an afternoon off to attend,” Gina said. People ended up taking fewer vacations days, and sick days disappeared almost entirely.

The article reports that we have been talking about a 4-day work week since 1950!

Yet we, in America, typically work well over 40 hours a week. Some jobs (like production support DBAs) are effectively 24×7 jobs with no real breaks. And with the advent of secure VPN and now smart phones it seems to be getting worse.

ve-workweek

Hopefully, that is just an impression I have and not what is really happening.

What do you think?

I for one, am all for everybody cutting back to four days at the office.

(BTW – Don’t forget to read the whole article).

Kent

P.S. Thanks to Jonathan Fields for tweeting this article.

P.P.S. Want more – check out my earlier rant on a this topic.

Mindfulness, Meditation, Wellness and Their Connection to Corporate America’s Bottom Line

Saw this great article on LinkedIn last week by Arianna Huffington and just had to repost it. Health and fitness are topics I am always interested in and have written about (here, here, and here). For us to be happy and productive we all need to be at our personal best. This article discusses some recent studies and why employers should pay attention to this as well.

On Tuesday Ill be guest-hosting CNBCs Squawk Box, a program that bills itself as the show that “brings Wall Street to Main Street.” As well as discussing Cyprus and a possible euro-crisis, we are going to discuss the growing trend in corporate America of taking steps — meditation, yoga, mindfulness training — to reduce stress and improve health and creativity.

One of my guests will be Mark Bertolini, CEO of the third-largest health insurer in the country with 30,000 employees insuring 17 million people. In 2010, Aetna partnered with Duke University’s School of Medicine and found that regular yoga substantially decreased stress levels and health care costs. Following this, Bertolini made yoga available to all Aetna employees nationwide and has a much bigger mission: to make sure there is research available to facilitate private as well as state and federal coverage of yoga and mind-body therapies.

Even a quick look at whats happening in the American workplace shows that its a seriously split-screen world. On the one hand, there’s the stressful world of quarterly earnings reports, beating growth expectations, hard-charging CEOs, and focusing on the bottom line — the world that is the usual focus of CNBC and Squawk Box. On the other hand, there’s the world populated by the growing awareness of the costs of stress, not just in the health and well-being of business leaders and employees, but on the bottom line as well.

There is a growing body of scientific evidence that shows that these two worlds are, in fact, very much aligned — or at least that they can, and should, be. And that when we treat them as separate, there is a heavy price to pay — both for individuals and companies. The former in terms of health and happiness, and the latter in terms of dollars and cents. So yes, I do want to talk about maximizing profits and beating expectations — by emphasizing the notion that what’s good for us as individuals is also good for corporate Americas bottom line. To do that, I’ll be featuring guests who have had great success at bringing these two worlds together and putting what at first might seem like abstract or esoteric concepts to very productive use in the workplace.

When we separate these two worlds, the costs come in two forms. First, there are the direct costs due to stress and its associated medical conditions, and, second, there’s the cost of lost creativity and diminished performance and productivity.

According to the World Health Organization, the cost of stress to American businesses is as high as $300 billion. And unless we change course, this will only get worse. Over the last 30 years, self-reported levels of stress have increased 18 percent for women and 25 percent for men.

Check out the rest of the article here: Mindfulness, Meditation, Wellness and Their Connection to Corporate Americas Bottom Line | LinkedIn.

Take care,

Kent

Being Part of the Solution: This Tech Company Got it Right!

Last week I posted an infographic about how many Americans are working more that 40 hours weeks and ranted a bit about how crazy we all are and asked are you part of the problem or the solution.

Well here is a tech company, FullContact, in Denver, Colorado, that decided to be part of the solution.

Well, actually one of the founders (and CEO), Bart Lorang, had this wild idea:

The past few years I’ve had this totally insane idea that just wouldn’t go away. It kept gnawing at me.

Last week, I finally decided to do something about it.

At our all-hands we announced the idea: something I like to call Paid, Paid Vacation. You can view the presentation in its entirety here.

In essence, not only do we provide employees minimum 15 days paid vacation plus the standard Federal holidays, but WE ALSO PAY FOR VACATIONS!

Here’s how it works: once per year, we give each employee $7500 to go on vacation.

There are a few rules:

  1. You have to go on vacation, or you don’t get the money.
  2. You must disconnect.
  3. You can’t work while on vacation.

via Paid Vacation? Not Cool. You Know What’s Cool? Paid, PAID Vacation. – FullContact.

I for one applaud his idea and love his rules to make sure people actually do take the time off.

We all need time away to relax and refresh but way too many people just don’t do it.

I know people who put in for vacation, took the time “off” and then worked through most of it!

Crazy right?

Well Bart’s move surprised many people. He even got a spot on Good Morning America to talk about it.

And…they are hiring.

Let’s hope a few more companies take a cue from Bart and follow suit.

Cheers.

Kent

TGIF – Are you part of the problem or the solution?

Yes, it is Friday and like many, you may be really looking forward to the weekend.

Relaxing with family and friends.

Eating some good food. Drinking some adult beverages.<wink, wink>

Watching some TV or a movie.

Maybe a little exercise perhaps? (50 pushups out to do it)

Ahh…the good life.

Then comes Sunday evening.

The black cloud of doom forms. <insert ominous music here>

Why?

Tomorrow is Monday.

Monday = Back to WORK

Why do so many people (at least in the USA) dread going back to work on Monday? Well there are tons of reasons  for sure but one may be that we are feeling burned out or overworked.

Below is a great infographic from OnlineMBA.com that gives us real stats on what is happening in the work place in the US of A.

We should all be appalled at these numbers and what they say about us as nation. As I stated before, this is a hot button for me.

My question to you is:

Are you part of the problem?

If you are an employer or manager, do you explicitly or implicitly encourage (and condone) this behavior?

If you are an employee, do you allow yourself to be treated this way?

Read the numbers and ponder your role in all this.

If it is not you, great! You can help others by your example.

If it is you, well….

Stay tuned. I will be posting some followups on this in a few days.

Let the campaign to bring back the 40 hour work week begin!

Enjoy your weekend.

Kent
Bring Back the 40 Hour Work Week Infographic
Source: OnlineMBA.com

Work is Killing You and 10 Ways to Stop It From Happening!

This has been a hot button for me for some time – if we don’t find a way to fit exercise, fitness, and some healthy eating into our sedentary lives (like we in IT tend have), we will not live as long as we hope. And life will not be as enjoyable as it could be.

This article really speaks to this all-to-common issue:

Every morning, you awaken to a new day and you launch into your familiar routines as you hustle to meet your daily obligations.

Ideally, your work excites you, energizes you, and brings joy to your life. If your work brings you more stress and fatigue than joy then now is the time to make some changes. You can introduce a renewed vigor into your work and upgrade your attitude.

You know that taking care of yourself should be your number one priority. Yet you often let your health and fitness levels fall by the wayside if you are consistently working 50 or more hours a week.

As a society, at what point did we take the wrong turn by focusing on work place productivity and relentless goal setting at the expense of our happiness and well-being?

Productivity does not have to be measured solely by the number of hours logged at work. Happiness will not be attainable when consistently working 50 hours a week. Furthermore, our choice, as a culture, to sacrifice fitness or physical play for other goals has had an impact on every part of our lives, including our fitness level and our overall happiness at work and outside of work.

The article goes on to detail 10 things you can do – today – to become more fit and healthy (and it is not just joining a health club). Check it out at  Work is Killing You and 10 Ways to Stop It From Happening! | Work Happy Now.

Get up and get moving! (after you read the article that is…)

If you want to get notified when I post articles like this, don’t forget to hit the Follow button at the top of the column to the right.

– Kent

P.S. If you are attending this years KScope conference next month in San Antonio, you can work on your fitness level by joining me each morning for some calming and energizing Chi Gung. We will meet on the lawn each morning at 7 AM.

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