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The movement to unplug from work so you can plug into life is gaining steam. While you often hear about this concept in relation to parenthood or traveling, it’s equally important when at work.
Technology has transformed the workplace in many positive ways, but it has come with some negative consequences. Multitasking is the new norm, plus phone alerts and beeps create plenty of non-work-related distractions throughout the day.
It seems counter-intuitive, but silencing your phone, closing social media and ignoring email alerts just might be the secret to being a superstar worker. That’s because you have only so much brain power at your disposal, and if you try to balance too many tasks at once, you spread that power out so thin that you’re no longer as effective as you should be.
A recent CNN report, for example, looks at an MRI of someone driving. Then, that MRI is compared to another that shows the driver trying to multitask. “If you just layer in one more thing — if the person is listening while they are driving — all of a sudden the amount of attention, the amount of brain bandwidth going toward driving decreases by about 37 percent. So you’re not multi-tasking, you’ve actually reduced the amount of attention you’re now paying to your driving.”
Now think about that and how multitasking impacts your work. “A study at the University of London found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines that were similar to what they’d expect if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night. IQ drops of 15 points for multitasking men lowered their scores to the average range of an 8-year-old child,” according to Forbes.
So even though you think you can talk on the phone, send an email and read a text message all at once, you’re really just impairing your cognitive control and ultimately becoming a less effective worker. To work smarter, not harder, it’s time to unplug.
In general, people can focus on tasks for a maximum of 90–120 minutes at a time. If you can create a schedule that allows you to work in increments with breaks in between, you just may find you get much more done in the day.
This strategy is called time blocking. Planning ahead in this manner allows you to be mentally prepared, have better focus, feel less stressed and be more productive. Essentially you block out your entire day with tasks and try to stick with the schedule as much as possible. It’s not just good for work projects, either. You can also block time for checking email and taking a lunch break.
For time blocking to work well, it’s essential to unplug. Silence your phone, close your email, turn your IM to busy and resist the urge to check social media for cute pictures of your niece. Do this for one week and see how much work you get done. I have a feeling you might be surprised.
A male colleague asserts himself at a meeting and everyone discusses his potential as a future leader within the company. A female colleague asserts herself the next week in a similar manner, however, and people consider her cold and too bossy.
We all would like to think there’s an even playing field at work, but what we’ve been taught about perception, communication and gender proves that’s not the case. Even well-meaning professionals subconsciously make judgments that are highly influenced by a person’s sex.
Gendered communication is becoming a hot topic with the recent movement toward equality in the workplace, and more women are striving to be notable leaders, get that promotion and break the glass ceiling. That means being confident and speaking out is essential to getting noticed.
Both men and women are guilty of making judgments based on gendered communication. Just look at the presidential election. Clinton is often criticized for her inability to show emotion with political pundits telling her to be more personable, show flashes of humor and smile more — but none of that fake-smile garbage! And just as many women criticize her as men.
Another example: Women are negotiating as often as men, but often hear negative feedback when they do. Women who negotiate for a promotion or compensation increase are 30 percent more likely than men who negotiate to receive feedback that they are bossy, too aggressive or intimidating, found the Women in the Workplace 2016 study released last week from McKinsey & Company LeanIn.Org.
Bossy is a word that is particularly searing to many women. Sheryl Sandberg has deemed it “the other B word.” In an editorial for The Wall Street Journal, Sandberg recalls accounts when she was called bossy, and just like many other women can attest, criticism starts at a young age.
“When I was in junior high and running for class vice president, one of my teachers pulled my best friend aside to warn her not to follow my example,” Sandberg wrote in the essay. “‘Nobody likes a bossy girl,’ the teacher warned. ‘You should find a new friend who will be a better influence on you.'”
Scientific research shows that men and women are often very different in regard to how they speak, listen, express emotion and feel appreciated. That means whether you like it or not, many stereotypes aren’t inherently wrong. Where we can inject much-needed change is in how we respond to language and communication in the workplace, especially when it bucks the norm.
Are you treating all of your colleagues equally or do your responses create tension and bias? Being aware and thoughtful about how you react will help break gender and cultural norms to level the playing field for everyone at work (and at home, for that matter).
It’s particularly important for managers to be aware of the nuances of gendered communication so they can effectively lead teams and drive evolution. Check out this Forbes article that does a great job at summarizing common gender communication blind spots.
Remember, your team is always watching you. Make sure you’re leading by example.
Although there are still a few months left in the year, it seems apparent to me that one of the overriding themes of 2016 is that, to put it lightly, nothing is coming easy these days. Across seemingly every aspect of life, from politics, global affairs, the economy, race relations, the environment, and the capital markets, to name just a few, it seems as if achieving success, or even just maintaining forward momentum, has become brutally difficult if not downright impossible. And even when progress is achieved, it’s typically been a case of two steps forward and one step back, or even worse, victories that are soon wiped out, rendered obsolete or irrelevant, or are at risk of being reversed in the near future.
Truly, it’s hard to not be utterly depressed when you look at what’s been going on around the world this year. Syria, Brexit, global warming, ISIS, terrorism, Zika, cyber-terrorism, epic levels of inequality, social injustice, racism, bigotry, misogyny….the list of horrors is overwhelming. And at a time when the need for quality leadership has never been higher, we get, instead, Donald Trump. His candidacy is so far beyond dismaying that it’s nearly impossible to even begin trying to put it into words.
And while Trump and, to only a slightly lesser extent the GOP in general, have set an unfathomable low in American politics (and yes, I am fully aware that a Senator was once nearly caned to death in the Senate Chamber), business has certainly had its fair share of abominations this year. From Theranos and EpiPen to Martin Shkreli and most recently the Well Fargo crime wave and CEO John Stumpf’s stupefying testimony in front of Congress, the headlines in the Wall Street Journal are just as dismal as those in the New York Times.
It’s no wonder that cities are burning and opiate addiction has reached historic levels throughout the country. This whole year has been one long grind as we all slog from one depressing news cycle to the next towards perhaps the end of civilization as we know it on November 8th. And while Hilary will most certainly win in November (she has to, right?!?!), the fact that the race isn’t over yet is terrifying. It just shouldn’t be this difficult. So much of what has transpired this year just should not be so difficult.
And that’s where we turn to the U.S. economy, the labor market, and the Fed’s inevitable move to raise rates, because there, too, things should just not be as difficult as they’re proving to be. Despite all the noise being generated by the global economy, corporate earnings, Europe’s debacle, exports, the election, and the markets, the strength and resilience of the U.S. labor market is indesputable.
As we have argued since April/May, we are most definitely in a Full Employment environment and sustained labor demand has been and will continue to broaden and accelerate wage inflation. It turns out, in fact, that that phenomena has been happening for quite a bit longer than most have realized. Jobs are being added across virtually every sector of the economy, companies are hiring people at a faster pace than at any point since last August, and labor demand remains quite strong.
But the difficulty people are having in assessing the situation arises from the fact that monthly payroll gains are declining, wage growth has been somewhat muted, and the labor force participation rate remains at historic lows. So while the underlying fundamentals are strong, ascertaining that perspective remains challenging. As we wrote in our analysis in August:
The challenge for economists, the Fed, and forecasters, however, is that there is tremendous uncertainty as to how much slack there is in the labor force, the rate at which the underemployed and ‘marginally attached’ will return to the workforce, the impact of rising wages on the gig economy, the structural impact of technological changes to the U.S. workforce, the rate of baby-boomer retirement, and the persistently low labor force participation rate. All of these factors are wreaking havoc in trying to assess what type of job gains we can expect each month given the continued strength of the job market.
Unfortunately, these challenges will likely persist with Friday’s non-farm payroll (NFP) report, when the Labor Department announces that only 125,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in September, somewhat below consensus forecasts.
Our forecast is based on the monthly declines since July in total job openings in LinkUp’s job search engine which indexes 3.5 million job openings every day, directly from 30,000 company websites. And in September, those declines accelerated a bit further, with new and total job openings falling 7% and 3% respectively.
But don’t let the noise obfuscate the underlying fundamentals. After 71 months of monthly net job gains, a period during which 13.7 million jobs were added to the economy, monthly job gains should be expected to start tapering off to some degree. But make no mistake, the labor market remains strong, companies are hiring, and they are filling job openings at an increasingly faster rate. The encouraging Job Duration trends we highlighted last month, in fact, accelerated further in September, falling from 47 days to 42 days.
So consistent with the theme of 2016 that nothing comes easy these days, Friday’s jobs report is likely to come in below consensus forecasts, causing more consternation and further gnashing of teeth at the Fed and in the markets. But much like the Presidential election, where it’s critical to stay focused on good data, the fundamentals of the U.S. labor market remain strong and will, at the end of the day, prove themselves over time.
Hop on Facebook and you’re likely inundated with posts about essential oils, nail wraps and weight-loss products. You’d expect these to come from advertisers, but these days they are probably coming from friends and other personal connections.
Welcome to the age of multi-level marketing.
“Also known as network marketing,” according to the Better Business Bureau, “MLM is a system of retailing in which consumer products are sold by independent salespeople (distributors). Earnings in MLM are based on effort and ability to sell consumer products supplied to the distributor by the company.”
MLMs like Pampered Chef, Beach Body, YoungLiving and Stella & Dot serve an important role in the employment landscape. An estimated one in seven U.S. households include someone involved in direct sales. For people who are ambitious yet require a flexible schedule, these might offer an appealing opportunity. As Sheryl Sandberg encourages women to lean in, it’s no surprise that participants skew female.
Do the constant sales posts get annoying? Sometimes. But when it comes to people you love and respect, you want them to succeed. You may even be a fan of some of the products and happily support their business. Even so, skepticism has probably left you wondering whether they really make any money.
The unfortunate truth is few MLM people make enough money to really impact their budget. In general, it’s the top 1 percent who earn a significant amount of money, and that takes many years of hard work networking and building up the business. If you want to know more about typical rep incomes, look at the financial disclosures on the company website.
Bottom line: Most people are not getting rich selling MLM products, and it certainly isn’t happening overnight.
What’s arguably most concerning is that too many people are signing up for these programs — which typically require an initial investment of $100–500 — without really understanding what’s needed to succeed. Not only do you need to sell products every month, but you must build a team that’s enthusiastic and effective because you get a small cut of their sales. That’s right, you’ll be trying to get your friends to sign up, too.
All of a sudden, MLMs are starting to feel like pyramid schemes and look notoriously similar to a job scams.
While you will find corporate jobs for these companies on LinkUp (hello, salary and benefits!), you won’t find listings to become an MLM rep. That’s because we promise to never include duplicate, fake, or scam job listings, and most MLM opportunities feature several of the job scam red flags we caution, such as requiring payment to assume the position, being offered the job without question, and unrealistic promises of amazing things.
Does that mean you should avoid the allure of an MLM opportunity? That’s an entirely personal decision. If you are interested in joining an MLM to supplement your income, you must do your research, understand your responsibilities and have realistic expectations. That’s the only way to wisely decide if it’s a career path you’d like to pursue.
Kids across the country are back at school, and that means millions of parents are child-free once again during the day. For some, starting a new job is now an attractive option. The school day, however, doesn’t coincide with traditional business hours, which means parents must choose between putting kids in extended-day care or continuing to not work.
An emerging employment trend may be just the solution to this parenting dilemma — “Mother’s hours,” which employers are offering more frequently. These jobs feature flexible hours that often mirror when children are in school, like from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., for example. This structure allows caregivers to maintain a career and still be there for their kids when they get on and off the school bus.
This movement is proving to be a win for employers, too. Because most of the country is in full-employment mode, a talent shortage is stressing many industries. Consider a professional mom who took five years off to raise her babies. Previously she worked 12 years as an analyst in the finance sector, and now she wants to use her skills again but she doesn’t want the typical full-time hours. There is a great opportunity for an employer to gain a highly skilled employee by offering flexible hours.
This isn’t an option for every business, of course, but when possible these hours can be really enticing to a large, valuable section of the workforce, providing a great competitive advantage. Companies that participate can build a strong team while creating a fantastic brand reputation. Employees become brand ambassadors and, all of a sudden, the talent pipeline is full with candidates coming to you.
Countless studies have shown that work-life balance is huge right now. When employees feel their employer genuinely prioritizes this balance, they are more engaged and productive at work. What’s more, they stick around. We all know the astronomical cost that comes with replacing an employee. When good employees stay, though, you don’t have to dump money into recruiting or training new ones.
Finally, when employees work a part-time schedule, benefits can be adjusted accordingly. You may get top talent at a bargain price because you not only avoid taking on a full-time salary, but you don’t have to offer traditional full-time benefits such as PTO or 401(k). That’s not to say you shouldn’t offer some perks, but they may not necessarily be the same as what’s offered to full-time staff.
For employers looking to take advantage of this trend, start by integrating the proper terms into job postings. For example, McDonald’s currently has multiple openings associated with the term “mother’s hours.” I’d argue, though, that you should update your keywords and use “parents’ hours,” as fathers may be just as interested in flexible schedules as mothers. Why limit your potential reach with a single word?
Do you think companies would attract more candidates if they were to offer these types of opportunities when possible? Is this the solution to the ongoing talent shortage? Please share your thoughts.
For years the average U.S. citizen has been hearing headlines about economic improvement after the Great Recession. Yet for many, it hasn’t felt that way. Stagnant income has meant less purchasing power as the cost of living has continued to rise. As companies have celebrated gains, employees have been feeling left behind.
A new report shows things are changing for the average American household. Reuters recently reported Census Bureau data that shows 2015 income levels increased dramatically. In fact, “median household income surged 5.2 percent last year to $56,500, the highest since 2007, in large part due to solid employment gains. The jump was the biggest since record keeping began in 1968,” states the report.
What’s more, these increases are being experienced by virtually everyone. Nearly every age group for household heads felt increases, as well as most racial groups. What’s more, further gains are expected in 2017.
This is great news for the American worker, but how does it affect employers? Well, it backs up what we have been saying for a while: America is in full-employment mode. This means the labor supply in many markets is tight. The challenge to attract and keep top talent becomes more fierce every day.
How can companies successfully recruit in this battleground landscape? They need to go the extra mile to come out on top. Here are some strategies that will help you win the talent war.
Recruitment marketing is the pre-applicant activity you use to build brand awareness as an employer to stimulate interest in becoming an employee. Savvy organizations have adopted a Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) strategy to deliver their recruitment marketing message. HR will need to partner with marketing to create a robust plan that incorporates powerful strategies, such as creating quality content, social outreach, email automation and re-targeting initiatives.
The application experience
Once candidates are interested in a company, it’s essential to have an excellent application process and candidate experience in place. A clunky, uninformative or time-consuming experience will cause them to turn to competitors. Stock the career page with valuable information. Make sure the application process is headache-free, including on mobile. Maintain clear messaging and good communication about next steps so applicants feel empowered.
Create an amazing interview process
Consider delivering a standard communication package to candidates a few days before their interview with important background documents to ease preparation. Then, plan the entire interview to leave every candidate elated. From greeting candidates to planning necessary snack breaks, you should have a solid itinerary. During the interview, go beyond shop talk. Be sure to convey the culture to ensure a good personality fit on both ends. This is the time to bring up any unique benefits that make your company great to work for (i.e., flex time, onsite day care, unlimited sick time).
Reject with dignity
You can only select one candidate, but how you treat others will influence your future recruitment efforts. Maintain a positive brand image and leave a lasting impression by providing timely and tactful rejections. Some recruiters state how many people applied to convey the level of competition, and if applicable, they tell candidates they’ll keep their resume on file for future openings. You never know when a good applicant will be suitable for a future job opening, after all, so it’s best to keep all options open. Furthermore, people talk, and if they have a negative experience you can bet they’ll tell their network.
The majority of K–12 schools in Minnesota start the week before or week after Labor Day. Even kids who dread the classroom feel excitement at the prospect of a new year. Connecting with friends, learning new things and discovering passions is why the back-to-school season is so exhilarating.
Nostalgia sets in for many parents, too, as they fondly remember the fun they had while in school. When you’re young, the world is your oyster and it seems like anything is possible. Sitting in a stark cubical and working a boring job is quite the contrast to all that joy and optimism experienced ages ago.
If you’re feeling stuck in your career, it’s time to be inspired by the electric energy of your kids’ return to school. This is the ideal time of year to find your motivation to discover your next career move so you can fully enjoy your work. Not only will you be more satisfied and engaged, but you’ll also be a better role model for your children.
Here are five back-to-school steps that can help you re-energize your career and put you on the fast track to a brighter future:
Meet the teacher
Before school starts, students are given the opportunity to meet the teacher and other key staff members. These are the people who will help guide them to success. For working professionals, it’s important to have a close relationship with “teachers.” These are the people who play a pivotal role in your career development. Find a good mentor, befriend industry influencers and network as much as possible.
If you feel you’ve hit a career plateau, additional education can help you spruce up your skill set and help you be more marketable to future employers. Research continuing education classes, certifications and college courses that will supercharge your career. Ask if your employer has a reimbursement program to cut costs.
Select extracurricular activities
These days there are myriad extracurricular options for students. These enrichment opportunities help students grow their interests while they also meet like-minded individuals. For professionals, extracurricular activities come in the form of becoming a member of a professional organization or industry association. You may also consider volunteering at a nonprofit.
Get the right supplies
The school-supply aisle at the local store is full of stressed parents desperately looking for the 24-pack of crayons when all they can find is the 12-pack. Having the right supplies is essential to academic success, and it’s also true for professional achievement. Is it time to upgrade your technology at home or at work? Do you need to invest in modern office tools? The right supplies will ease your journey down the path toward success.
Choose your major
For juniors and seniors in high school, it’s time to start researching colleges and consider what major to pursue. For unhappy professionals, it’s time to do some reflection. If you feel like you’re treading water, it may mean it’s time for a new career. This could include creating a plan to get a promotion or changing careers completely. Spend time thinking about your options and follow your heart and head.
In a fascinating article in the New York Times earlier this week entitled “There’s Good News and There’s Bad News,” two macro economists articulated their polar opposite perspectives on the state of the American economy. In the article, Stephanie Pomboy’s rather bleak, glass-totally-empty outlook on the economy stems from her conviction that the current low growth environment is the result of a weak consumer, still battered from the Great Recession, who is now being further pummeled by rising healthcare costs. She further states, rather emphatically, that her “economic forecast in no way justifies another raise in rates,” and that, “we would be lucky to see job growth of more than 100,000 per month going forward.”
For her sake, I hope MacroMavens has closed early for Labor Day weekend and that no one is in the office tomorrow morning when the Bureau of of Labor Statistics releases its Employment Situation Report for August. Not only will tomorrow’s jobs report come in well above consensus estimates, but our data suggests that labor demand in an already strong labor market is growing and that robust job gains should continue through at least September and into Q4.
To be certain, forecasting job gains in a Full Employment environment presents a unique set of challenges, particularly when labor force participation is so low. (As an aside, we’ve argued since at least April/May that the U.S. has, without question, been in a Full Employment environment). And yet despite those challenges, we are forecasting a net gain of 220,000 jobs in August based on LinkUp’s new and total job openings over the past few months.
What is really interesting about our data over the past 3 months is that while new job openings have risen by an average of 5% month over month, total job openings have declined by 5%. To some extent, this has been the trend throughout 2016, with month-over-month growth in new job openings on LinkUp averaging 1% while month-over-month growth in total job openings has averaged -2%. As comparison, those numbers were 4.6% and 3.1% respectively in 2015 and 3.4% and 3.5% in 2014. So unlike the two previous years, what is happening so far in 2016, and especially in the past 3 months, is that companies are posting more and more new job openings while at the same time, decreasing total job openings, presumably because they are filling those positions with new hires.
Granted, the average growth rate of new job openings this year is less than last year, not surprising given that 13.5 million jobs have been added to the U.S. economy since October of 2010. So while the volume of hiring may be down slightly from last year, that divergence between new and total job openings suggests that the pace of hiring is accelerating, job churn is increasing, and labor demand remains robust. And indeed, additional data from LinkUp confirms the phenomena.
Job Duration, or the number of days that job openings are active on an employer’s corporate career portal, has dropped from 56 days in February to 47 days in August, indicating that jobs are getting filled faster than they were 6 months ago.
That acceleration in velocity of hiring is driven by the significant growth in the number of jobs that are being filled in less than 15 days. The chart below includes, for each month, the number of job openings that have rolled off of LinkUp’s search engine in the previous 6 months, presumably because they were filled with a hire (a pretty safe assumption). Since April, not only has the number of ‘Filled Jobs’ during the previous 6 months increased from 2.6 million to 3.6 million, but the number of those jobs that were filled in less than 15 days has risen from 888,000 in March to 1.36 million in August, an increase of 53%.
As the chart below indicates, as hiring velocity accelerates, job duration declines and the number of jobs getting filled increases.
So based on all of our data, we are forecasting a net gain of 220,000 jobs in August, above the consensus estimate of 180,000 jobs in Bloomberg’s monthly NFP survey of economists.
And as stated previously, not only will tomorrow’s jobs number surprise to the upside, we see continued strength in monthly job gains into the fall. In August, new job listings on LinkUp rose 6% and total job listings rose 4%. Even more encouraging is the fact that gains were seen essentially across the entire country.
Those gains in new and total job openings point to sustained momentum in the labor market into the Fall. So leaving aside for the time being whether or not the Fed will raise rates in September (they will), it will undoubtedly become clear over the next few jobs reports that the New York Times article should have been titled:
“There’s Good News and There’s More Good News.”
You started your career working in construction. After 20 years, the physical demands of the job became too difficult so you transitioned to a management position at a local manufacturing plant. A decade later, the company outsourced all positions. Now in your 60s, you’re not quite ready to retire but you’re also having a tough time finding work. You’re struggling with what many other older individuals face — aging out of the workforce.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a blue or white-collar worker, when you get to a certain age, job-hunting rules seem to change. Options often narrow significantly once you surpass 55, and if you don’t have an education, opportunities can be microscopically thin.
Why not just retire, then? For many, it’s not that simple. Lots of aging workers lack adequate retirement funds. Unlike previous generations they don’t have pensions, and unfortunately the recession hit their savings hard. Even if money is not a concern, though, some older workers want to stay busy via satisfying work.
For this demographic, finding a job and getting a respectable salary are two crushing obstacles. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College recently published a brief titled, “How Job Options Narrow for Older Workers by Socioeconomic Status.” It references research that found, “Occupations that require extensive training, computer use, numerical aptitude, and union membership were less open to older job-seekers.” What’s more: “…hiring was concentrated in ‘old person’ occupations: low-paying, low-status jobs, such as night watchman, retail clerk, or crossing guard.”
Old-person occupations. Ouch.
What can older workers do to uncover hidden opportunities so they can find a job they not only enjoy, but one where they can earn a decent wage? These five ideas will help give you an edge in the job market.
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Your personal and professional networks are your top resources for finding a job at an older age. Tap your resources and spread the word you are looking for work. Organic job search methods like this are incredibly effective.
Re-frame aging conversations
You score an interview with a supervisor who is half your age. Rather than stress about the generational difference, address age head-on. Speak about how long you’ve worked in the field and give examples of how that experience will directly benefit the organization.
You have plenty of experience, but are your modern skills sharp? You don’t have to go back to college, but it’s important to update important skills. Consider professional certifications or community education courses to give yourself an edge.
Seek telecommuting positions
Not finding job opportunities where you live? Don’t be limited to your location. Search for jobs on LinkUp.com and use “telecommute” along with your other keywords. The results will show a variety of positions with flexible work arrangements.
Consider freelance or self-employment
Freelance and contract work can provide older workers the flexibility they desire while providing a livable wage. Alternately, if you’re looking for a change, consider self-employment by turning your hobby into a job. If you’re talented at restoring cars or gardening, you may find your skills in high demand.