Archive for the ‘Work/Life Balance’ Category

Post-Vacay Blues: How to Get Your Office Groove Back

Monday, June 19th, 2017

back to workEven if you love your job as much as we love ours, getting back into the groove of things after a vacation can be quite challenging, especially if it was after an extended holiday. From the email backlog to nonstop “catch-up” meetings and events, sometimes your body is present at the office while your mind is still enjoying the sandy beaches and pina coladas! Everyone needs a break now and then to decompress and forget the duties and responsibilities of business, but the key to making the most of your stress-reducing vacation is knowing how to effectively get back in the swing of things after taking time off. Here are a few tips to ensure your return to work is smooth sailing:

1. Check out…but Check-In – A recent Harris poll of 2,071 US workers showed that 6 out of 10 people said checking their emails while on vacation made it easier for them to ease back into work. Staying in touch with the office, even if just to keep a watchful eye from afar, helps relieve that anxious feeling when its time to return.

2. Use that last day of vacation as a “rest and recovery” day – Take the last day off to rebound from your vacation. Relax and enjoy some quiet time. Turn in early and get a good night’s rest. Don’t wait to sleep on the plane or use the last few hours to down the remaining shots of tequila. Use the last day to transition back to the reality version of yourself so you’ll be prepared for the next day to work.

3. Keep your mood upbeat – If you just left the Mexican resort of your dreams, why not listen to the music that reminds you of all the fun you had while you’re on your way in to the office. Throw in a quick cardio workout to get the endorphins flowing and help you rebound from all the guacamole and margaritas. Start your day back to work in a great mood and hold on to it as long as possible.

4. Keep things simple and stick to a game plan – Not all 280 new emails need to be answered within the first hour of your arrival back. Prioritize by importance/urgency and don’t get overwhelmed. Follow up, in detail, with the people who have an immediate demand, and for those who don’t, send a quick email saying you will soon follow up.

5. Reassess your goals – Chances are, that tropical vacation and whatever took you out of your groove is probably still on your mind. Get your mind back to the present by writing out your goals for the upcoming week. Reassess what you want to accomplish now that you’re back in the swing of things, and you may even have a fresh perspective now that you’ve had a chance to clear your head.

Office Politics = Risky Business

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

Office PoliticsThe world often feels like a crazy place these days! It seems like each day brings a new headline that grabs our attention and forces us to take sides and promote our opinions. While it is important for each of us to feel like we have a voice and say in what’s happening around us, it can also be counter-productive and distracting if those opinions creep into our workplaces. We came across this article posted by Derrick Perkins, and found it extremely valuable in light of the most-recent headlines and political banter. We’ve included the article below:

“Talking Politics at Work Poses Risk to Employers and Employees!” by Derrick Perkins

This election cycle seems to be sparking more office conflicts than previous campaigns, but talking politics at work is a risky proposition for employees and employers alike.

Strife from the divisive presidential campaign season is bleeding over into the workplace, according to a recent survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management.

In a poll of 457 human resource professionals, 26 percent reported an increase in “perceived greater political volatility” in the office this election cycle. And the problems with talking politics at work may worsen as November approaches, said Evren Esen, SHRM’s director of survey research programs.

“Businesses need to be aware, even if they haven’t had any issues in the past, that this particular election cycle could be different,” Esen said.

For the purposes of SHRM’s survey, which was compiled in May, volatility means increased tension, hostility, or argumentation among coworkers directly related to the ongoing political battle for the White House, she said. SHRM released its findings at its annual convention earlier this month.

Of those surveyed, about 67 percent reported their organizations lacked a policy—written or otherwise—regulating political activities in the office. Esen believes that those that do likely adopted one after a workplace incident.

Regulating political speech is a tricky situation for employers, said Karen Glickstein, an attorney who specializes in employment law. She recently penned a column outlining tips and advice for supervisors after receiving a glut of inquiries—many related to on-the-job incidents—from clients.

Both employers and employees can take steps to protect themselves, Glickstein said. For supervisors, it can be as simple as reminding their staff about workplace harassment or discrimination policies. Employees, on the other hand, must recognize that the First Amendment does not always apply in the workplace, she said.

It’s a question that seems to come up with each election cycle, Glickstein said, though “I think it’s probably more this year than I can remember in past years.”

Where it gets trickier is during off hours, particularly with the rise of social media. Can action be taken against workers who list their employer on sites where they also espouse political views, like Twitter and Facebook? Not necessarily.

Though only four states explicitly protect workers engaging in political activity afterhours, Glickstein said the National Labor Relations Board increasingly has sided with employees disciplined for politicking outside of the office.

But “every situation is going to be different,” she said.

SHRM, which hasn’t before gauged the amount of workplace incidents stemming from political disagreements, plans to follow up in October. Esen said reaction from members has been positive so far, as many recognize that it could become an issue.

“Not a lot of organizations have policies, but this is something to consider and talk to employees about as well,” Esen said. “Even if they don’t have a formal policy, even if it’s kind of unwritten, encourage employees to be respectful of diversity. Really, this falls into the diversity of ideas and opinions and attitudes. Regardless of whether people agree with each other, they do need to respect one another.”

Share the ‘LOVE’ with Your Team

Monday, February 8th, 2016

employee praiseWe’ve previously referenced the article, “The Power of Praise in Business – and How to Do it Right,” written by Ross McCammon and published in Entrepreneur Magazine in February 2012. We thought February, the month of LOVE, is a fitting time to recap some of the main points of this great article as a reminder to “Show the LOVE” to your team as well. Here is the article in its entirety:

“Here’s what the psychologists think about praise: “Positive reinforcement works better than punishment.”

Here’s what the management experts think: “Employee recognition leads to profit.”

Here’s what the neurologists think: “Dopamine, which is released in the brain any time we hear something we like, is a powerful chemical.”

Here’s what the psychologists, management experts and neurologists think when someone in a position of power tells them they’re doing a great job: “Hell, yeah!” (That, of course, is the dopamine talking.)

How important is praise in business? Extremely important. Extremelyimportant. Research has been done. Analytics, even.

A 2010 study published in Harvard Business Review found that at Best Buy, a 0.1 percent increase in employee engagement drove $100,000 in operating income to the bottom line of each store per year. Now, employee engagement involves lots of things, of course: personal fulfillment, career advancement, free coffee. But according to Chester Elton–speaker, motivation expert and co-author of bestselling management book The Carrot Principle–at Best Buy and many other businesses the Harvard study looked at, simple recognition was the single most important factor.

“The number one driver of engagement is opportunity and well-being,” he says. “The number one driver of opportunity and well-being is recognition and appreciation. The Harvard study showed that you don’t just want employees satisfied, you want them engaged, because an engaged employee gives you their discretionary efforts.”

For psychologists, the wisdom of that investment is obvious. “Praising people for what they do right seems to be more effective, regardless of whether you think it’s nice or not,” says Dr. Laura Carstensen, a professor of psychology at Stanford University whose work focuses on motivation. “People buy lottery tickets, and mathematicians often say, How can you waste that money? Psychologists have a slightly different view, and that is, if buying a ticket for a fairly small amount of money allows you to dream and to think you might get to savor the anticipation of what that reward might look like, that’s probably worth the money.”

Praise is like that. It involves very little effort and produces a lot in return. It’s a no-brainer, even for people who are otherwise ingrates.

So that’s why you should give praise. But how?

How to Give It
Most management experts stress the importance of specificity. “You want to balance praise with constructive feedback,” says psychologist Dr. Wayne Nemeroff, CEO and co-founder of PsyMax Solutions, a Cleveland-based provider of “integrated human capital management tools.” Nemeroff suggests, “Recall a particular situation and describe a specific behavior; acknowledge the impact the behavior or action had on the group or the project or the action or on you.”

Here’s what Elton suggests in his book: Do it now. The closer the recognition is to the behavior, the more likely it will be repeated. Do it often. The more you message what’s important to you, the more people will focus on that. And finally, be specific.

Specificity is important, of course, but it seems to us that everything flows from sincerity. Sincerity will automatically lead to praise–and, most likely, impromptu praise. Which is the best praise of all, because it’s automatically perceived as sincere. It simply takes advantage of a moment that is already happening: an e-mail that you’re sending anyway, the beginning of a meeting that’s happening anyway, a team-building exercise. (“Bob, never has anyone so elegantly held an orange with his chin.”)

It’s hard to come up with praise on the fly. And the one being praised knows that. If you take advantage of a chance encounter–if the opportunity to praise someone was never even supposed to happen–then what you’re saying is perceived as authentic. The moment is simply an outlet for gratitude. (Important note: Never use the phrase “outlet for gratitude” when praising someone, or at any other time.)

How to Receive It
Giving praise is the easy part. You just have to be aware of other people’s feelings and be in tune with what’s going on in your business. Receiving praise is trickier–ulterior motives and all that.

When it comes to receiving praise, you want to subscribe to the gymnastics rule: Throw out the highest and lowest scores. Never put too much stock in someone telling you that you’re amazing, and never put too much stock in someone telling you that you suck. Listen to the stuff in between. (This also works with online hotel reviews.)

And respond like this: “Thank you,” or something just as straightforward. Anything else can spoil the moment. Praise should be as discreetly received as it is concisely stated.

The principle of positive reinforcement states that behaviors that are rewarded are behaviors that will be repeated. But this can be bad. If we keep repeating behaviors, we lose sight of the most important part of what we do, which is innovate. Praise should establish a new bar. We should accept the praise and then try to forget about it. We should repeat the work that was praised, but immediately move on to doing a better version of it.

What praise ultimately does is hold up a mirror. It acknowledges what people already think about themselves: that they’re good at what they do. You’re making someone happy and fulfilled and more excited to work with you. And for almost no effort at all.

Nice work.

Key Technical Matters

1. Praise should not begin with the phrase “You da ….”

2. Ending an expression of praise with “… and stuff” nullifies the praise.

3. Ending an expression of praise with “… now get back to work” also nullifies the praise.

4. In ascending order of forcefulness: e-mail, face-to-face conversation, handwritten note, bear hug.

5. No bear hugs.

6. A handwritten note is worth more than a $100 gift card.

7. But probably not more than a $200 gift card.

8. Easy on the superlatives: “hardest-working,” “most glorious,” “awesomest,” “best-smelling,” etc.

9. Praise followed by criticism is not praise.

10. Praise followed by praise is probably a little too much praise.

11. Praise followed by criticism followed by praise is a sandwich.

For more information on this article and full writer’s credits, visit http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/222573

2015 – What a Year!

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

New Year 2016What a year! Preferred Corporate Housing really made the most out of 2015 from being named “Provider of the Year” by the Corporate Housing Providers Association (CHPA), to winning several key client RFPs that will lead us through the years to come. Our team has grown together, laughed together and worked to create the best temporary housing experiences for each of our guests.

So as we close out this amazing year, we thought we would use the last blog post of the year to pass along some of our favorite quotes. The new year brings new ideas, new ventures and a fresh start. But it also brings new challenges and struggles to overcome to achieve these new goals. Here is a little motivation to get you started breaking through barriers and reaching your objectives in 2016!

1. “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it.” – Charles R. Swindoll

2. “If you can dream it, you can do it!” – Walt Disney

3. “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” – Jim Ryun

4. ” A good beginning makes a good end.” – Old English Proverb

5. “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one!” – Brad Paisley

6. “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice.” – T.S. Eliot

7. ““We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives…not looking for flaws, but for potential.” – Ellen Goodman

We are excited about the potential of what 2016 will bring. To all our friends around the world celebrating the start of this new year, we wish you a safe and joyous celebration, and we can’t wait to experience prosperity and success with you in 2016!

How to Prevent the “Performance Review Panic”

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

performance reviewAs we start winding down the 2015 business year, many of us have already started our year-end team member performance evaluations. Few employees actually look forward to the performance evaluation. In fact, when the words “performance review” are muttered, most employees will instantly tense up and begin to scroll through all the negatives in their heads. The only bright spot that may come to mind is the hope that the performance review results may lead to a bump in pay. One reason employees fear the review may be that they don’t know what to expect from the process. In order for you, the employer, and the employee to gain the most out of the review process, you’ll want to ensure they are relaxed and eager to participate. Here are a few tips to pass along to your team before a performance review:

It’s not just about the paperwork – Even though performance evaluations usually involve a certain amount of forms and documentation, these do not make up the entirety of the process. While paperwork has its place, remind employees that its not the point of the exercise.

Come prepared to participate – A performance review shouldn’t be a one-way conversation. At the very least, employees should gather their perspectives on their position and accomplishments and be prepared to discuss them with their supervisor. Preparation should include reviewing their job description, identifying significant achievements, and examining what may be preventing them from doing their best work.

Don’t save up issues – Your team should be talking to their supervisors all the time so everyone is consistently on the same page. If they only air complaints and/or ideas during the yearly performance review, a lot of time could be wasted in between. If you keep the lines of communication open throughout the year, there shouldn’t be any surprises when it comes time for a review.

Take an active role – An evaluation should be a healthy give-and-take session, sharing ideas and opinions freely. Employees should ask questions and take responsibility for understanding what you have to say.

How to Get More Out of Every Day!

Monday, September 28th, 2015

too much workIf you’re like most of us, you have too much work to do in too little time. Time is our most-valuable commodity, and although we all are allotted the exact same amount every day, there always seem to be those people who are able to get more done than we are! How do they do it? In our quest to maximize every minute, here are a few tips to increase your daily efficiency and productivity.

• Pick 3 goals for the day. Start your day (or plan the night before) by identifying three high-priority goals to accomplish. work on this first, without getting distracted by other tasks. If you finish them off, select three more important goals. You’ll feel more productive and less overwhelmed.

• Make quick decisions. Agonizing over every decision wastes time and energy. Try to make every decision in 60 seconds or less. A one-minute deadline will result in speedy decisions that are just as likely to be good as those you spend hours on.

time to think • Schedule thinking time. Spend a specified amount of time thinking about what you want to accomplish each week. Use that time to make plans, do research, analyze successes and failures, and give yourself permission to go off on tangents. Often you’ll get your best ideas when you let your mind roam a bit. The key here is to keep your “thinking time” confined within a specified amount of time. Once the time is up, get back on track!

• Make a “to-don’t” list. Identify those things on your plate that don’t contribute anything of value or don’t represent the best use of your time. Delegate those tasks to assistants/other team members, or cross them off the list altogether. This will give you more time to focus on your priorities.to dont list

• Finish your day right. Don’t wear yourself out by working into the evening. Establish a routine for the end of your work day: Save your work, clear your workspace, make your to-do list for tomorrow, power down and stop thinking about work. You’ll be able to get the rest your need to come back tomorrow ready to do great things!