Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A No-Vacation Nation?

Recent studies have shown that America is on its way to becoming a “no-vacation nation.”  In "Save the American Vacation" from takebackyourtime.org, Jack Dickey points out that in 2013, only 19% of American workers used all their accrued vacation time and 3.2 vacation days per worker were left unused on average.  Essentially, according to Dickey, Americans “did $52.4 billion worth of work that year for free…”

Research has suggested that happier employees make happier companies.  Even among the responders who did take a vacation, many reported that they still engaged in work activities during their time off.  The questions must be raised: Are we becoming a nation of workaholics, and how will the effects of working ourselves so hard affect our future as a society?  Is work becoming a central time in more peoples’ lives?  Are more people able to work remotely, and if so, does this make us more inclined to work even when away from the office?

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Working a Job or Following a Passion

Do you view work as just a job or are you lucky enough to follow your passion?  In a recent article, Jason Powers, M.D., asserts that following your passion is a brave choice that pays back over the years with increased happiness and better health.

Powers references a controversial TED talk, Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career, by economics professor Larry Smith.  As Smith later said, “We’re all worse for it if the person who should be an actor isn’t, or the person who should be an accountant isn’t.”  Following your passion isn’t just a smart career move; it leads to greater fulfillment and an increased sense of purpose.  Melding your passion into your career may not be the easiest task, but is worth it in the long run.  As Larry Smith wrote, “Some passions may afford a career and some may not.  But look for another passion.  Keep searching.  Don’t live for the weekend and hope that you can golf enough to get you through another week.”

Powers shares the experience of being chastised by a friend for “not bringing more cowbell,” referencing the classic Saturday Night Live sketch with Will Ferrell.  In other words, in order to make our work important and bearable, we must bring the maximum amount of character strengths and passion for life that we possess.  As many of us will be working later into our golden years, it is vital that we rekindle our professional passions and find our niche in the workforce.

Have you made the choice to follow your passion at work?

How can we follow our passion and still pay the bills?

Should we encourage young people to follow their passion when selecting a career?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Driving Us Crazy: How Long Commutes Decrease Employee Productivity

Many factors drive workers’ productivity.  Recent research from the U.K.’s Office of National Statistics found that people with a commute of 45 minutes or longer reported feeling less satisfaction in their lives and higher rates of anxiety.  They also rated their daily activities as less worthwhile than those who travel shorter distances to work.   The average worker spends five weeks per year commuting, which demonstrates that our daily commutes impact our everyday lives both in and outside of the workplace.  

The mode of travel utilized for commuting to work has a significant impact on how employees felt about their commutes.  Individuals who took the bus to work reported much lower levels of satisfaction with their lives than their non-commuting peers.  Those who took a train reported higher levels of anxiety.  Additionally, studies have shown that employees with long commutes cut healthful activities out of their lives, allowing exercise, sleep, and preparing fresh food to fall by the wayside.

Higher levels of stress can likewise increase individuals’ dissatisfaction with their jobs, which can lead to greater staff turnover.  As employees work with unhappy coworkers, they may internalize these feelings and choose to leave the company themselves.  A vicious cycle begins with decreased productivity among employees as staff turnover lowers the amount of productivity even further.

Should companies offer other options for employees with a long commute?
Can workers overcome the negative impact of long commutes through their own stress-relief practices?
What do you do personally to improve the experience of commuting?