Archive by Author | Jim Mikula

Study Shows Workers Still Not Engaged in Their Jobs

According to numbers published in a Gallup poll, less than a third of all American workers (approximately 31.5 percent) were considered to be “engaged” in their jobs in 2014. While this is the highest level since Gallup first began tracking employee engagement, the amount of employees who qualified as “not engaged” (51 percent) and “actively disengaged” (17.5 percent) still vastly overwhelm those who are engaged.

Gallup’s definition of engaged employees is an employee who is enthusiastic about, involved in and committed to his or her workplace. These numbers are based on interviews conducted by Gallup Daily between January and December 2015. There were 80,837 employees represented in the study.

Perhaps not surprisingly, engagement levels were highest among executives, managers and officers, who were engaged at a 38.4 percent rate. Employees that work in production and manufacturing were at the lowest levels (23 percent).

In terms of generations, Millennials were the least engaged group (28.9 percent) while traditionalists were the most engaged group (42.2 percent), followed by baby boomers (32.7 percent). Millennials are not as likely to be getting positions they desired out of college, and they also respond that they have not had the opportunity to “do what they do best” in their work.

Based on these numbers, one thing is clear: if a company is able to provide workers with a job that they can truly care about and engage with, it has an advantage in terms of attracting and keeping employees over approximately two thirds of the market. Engaged employees are more likely to do great work, so companies should make every effort to increase engagement in their teams.

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You Let Other People Steal From You

Let’s take a closer look at another point from Tim Hoch’s great article on Thought Catalog, “10 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be.” Point #8: “You let other people steal from you.”

It can refer to basically anything, but for our purposes we’re going to focus on not letting other people steal your time.

Your time is the most valuable item that you have in your possession. Chances are, you live a busy enough life without having to give your time to every person who asks something out of you. This isn’t to say that you should never help out a friend who is in need, but rather that you should be extremely careful about who you give your time to. You should never feel as though you’re obligated to allow people who are negative or disrespectful to steal your time from you especially if it’s doing something you don’t believe in or aren’t passionate about.

Focus on guarding your time as much as you possibly can. Only give your time to those causes you’re passionate about and to people who are important to you.  Ultimately doing things you’re not passionate about and surrounding yourself with people who you don’t have a meaningful relationship with is another way to make your life harder than it has to be.

Today’s Employees Want the Chance to Make a Difference

Today we are going to look at one more point from Impending Crisis. It’s the idea that employees in today’s business world are more concerned than ever before about wanting to make a difference in their career.

The social values that people have are becoming increasingly important in the job market. People want to know that in addition to the work they do, they have the ability to make some kind of impact, whether it’s through the work itself or through additional opportunities that a job provides.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that more companies have become more heavily involved in their local communities. They might lend financial support to charitable organizations, or get involved at local charities. They could sponsor or participate in events like run/walks, food drives, clothing drives and more.

What’s great about getting your business more involved in charitable work is that there is no downside. You will strengthen the bond between your employees and your company.  Your employees will feel more connected and therefore more loyal to your company.  Finally, since this will help your employees see a bigger meaning/purpose in their work, they will be more engaged with their job, their company and be less apt to leave the next time a recruiter comes knocking on their door.  In addition, charitable work builds good will in your local community, provides some truly important help to people that need it and can act as a tax write-off if you contribute financially to nonprofit organizations.

Take the opportunity to make a difference in the world with your company. Your current and potential employees will greatly appreciate it, as will so many others.

How to Handle a Behavior Event Interview

A lot of times when you go to an interview, you’ll get questions that ask you to describe how you handled a difficult situation with a customer, boss, co-worker or subordinate. You may also be asked to talk about a specific example of how you improved a process with your work, or made things more efficient. These are what we call “behavior event interviews,” and they can be challenging if you are not prepared for them because the questions are so open-ended.

Fortunately, these are also the kinds of questions that you can prepare for ahead of time. As you do so, consider the acronym BAR:

  • Background: At the outset of your response to any behavior event interview question, you will want to give a background of the project in question, or the relationship that you will be discussing. The point is to give the interviewer a glimpse at the big picture for some context.
  • Action: Next, give an overview of the specific actions that you took to resolve the situation in question. The key word here is “specific,” so give whatever examples you can, including how you collaborated with others, what analytics you used to determine a project’s weak points, etc. Give your interviewers a look into your thought process. This should make up the bulk of your answer.
  • Results: Finally, close your response with the results that your action had and how it improved either your company as a whole or your relationship with someone in your business.

This system is a simple way to prepare yourself for any BEI-type question. Keep it in mind the next time you go in for an interview!

Don’t Base Your Happiness On Other People’s Lives

Another key point from Tim Hoch’s article in Thought Catalog, “10 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than it Has to Be.”

The seventh point of the article is “you constantly compare your life to others.” Chances are, we’ve all had moments where we take a look at what other people have (money, jobs, success, relationships) and get green with envy. There have even been a lot of studies performed recently about the effect that social media has on a person’s overall happiness — seeing the highlights of other people’s lives can occasionally make us feel depressed, because we feel as though we have to compare what we have to what others have.

But there are many problems with this. For one, we need to realize that when we compare ourselves to others, we tend to idealize the lives that other people have, when in reality everyone has their own unique challenges and hardships that they face on a daily basis. “The grass is always greener on the other side.”

The biggest problem, though, is that the need to compare ourselves to others will never produce happiness. We cannot control the lives of other people, but we can control our own lives and, therefore, our own happiness. If there is something in our lives that we are unhappy with, we have the ability to change it.

Good Compensation Means More than Just Cash

Once again we turn our attention to Impending Crisis by Roger Herman. Today we are discussing another point in his book, the importance of good compensation and benefits.

It’s no secret that employees’ decisions to remain with a company or take a new position elsewhere are based heavily on the kind of compensation that they can receive. However, compensation and benefits mean more than just the salary level they can enjoy. They’re also very much concerned with benefits like insurance coverage, profit sharing, direct deposit, childcare and more.

Now, not every company can necessarily afford to provide the same benefits, or the best insurance and retirement packages available. But what is important to employees is that you clearly invest yourself in their wellbeing and their morale as an employee. Having a strong set of benefits, even if it’s not necessarily the best possible benefits available, shows employees that you care about them and want to keep them on your team.

Additionally, you have to consider the kind of fringe benefits that you can offer as well, including flexibility, personality, paid time off, sick leave and more. Have you considered pet insurance? How about giving your employees one or two days off a year to volunteer at their favorite charity? Do you have enough of these kinds of extra benefits to convince people to want to stick around?

Review the benefits and compensation that you offer at your company, and be honest with yourself: would they be enough to make you want to stay with your company? If not, it’s time to consider making some changes.

Are Smartphones the Big New Addiction?

Just about everyone has a smart phone these days, and those devices are always in constant reach. So as these devices become more and more powerful, are Americans slowly growing addicted to them?

According to a recent report from The Washington Post, it’s tough to diagnose an addiction to these devices when you consider how often these devices are used and how one device has taken the place of so many others. Think about it — smartphones are now phones, web browsers, shopping portals, calculators, game systems, cameras and so much more.

While the use of cell phones doesn’t cause chemical addiction in the same way that drugs, alcohol or cigarettes do, some experts compare cell phone use to gambling or video games in that they can still cause behavioral addictions. So while you don’t necessarily get a high or a buzz from constant use of a smart phone like you do from certain drugs, there is still the chance of losing control over the amount of time you spend on your phone. After all, a primary characteristic of addiction is fractured relationships, as well as poor work performance.

In the end, it’s important to remember that addiction isn’t just something that you do a lot. For a person to be truly addicted to a smartphone, there has to be a loss of control involved.

Do you see that addiction manifesting itself in anyone you know, or even yourself?

Good questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you take your phone with you and look at it at a restaurant?
  • Is it sitting on your night stand at night?
  • Do you take it on vacation?  Do you check work or personal emails while on vacation?
  • Do you pay more attention to your phone than your loved ones…spouse, children, etc?
  • Do you spend more time looking at your phone than when you’re watching your favorite tv show?
  • Do you look at it while driving?
  • Do you look at it while walking around the office or just walking down the street?

If you’ve answered the majority of the questions with a ‘yes’…maybe it’s time to take control of the device and turn it off…or put it away for a while.