The X-Factor For Employee Retention

x-factor

I admit I believe in work-life separation, but even an old dog can learn new tricks.

Being a corporate newbie (former FT entrepreneur) I can relate to that Scrubs episode where Dr. Kelso stepped one foot out the hospital and started whistling like he had no cares in the world.

Am I heartless? Far from it. But as I moonlighted as a contractor I walked into companies as a hired gun. I enjoyed getting to know people, but subconsciously I never mixed business with personal. It’s my way of keeping boundaries.

But now being an employee I’m starting to see things differently. I’ll never be that guy who grabs a drink after work with co-workers for 2 reasons: 1) I want to see my kids and wife as soon as work is over 2) I don’t drink. It’s not something I’m against, more so a different time in my life.

Yet what’s changed for me in the past month or so is my view towards friends at work. I’m completely fine with putting my head down, banging my work out and leaving unnoticed. But something happened along the way…

My role at work is to support our employees (online tutors). It happens over Zoom (video conferencing) weekly. Ironically I wasn’t taking the same approach to work relationships, but my shift in behavior has made me re-think work.

Maybe it’s the remote environment of the company I work for, but outside of compensation who you connect with at work is the X-factor of retention. This is a quality, not quantity issue. You can bond over work projects, but the natural foundation of a true friendship is built over common interests and reciprocity. Effort alone guarantees nothing, but without it you’ll get nowhere. The interest has to be mutual.

Honestly I’ll never be that guy who calls his work friends his best friends, but knowing there are more than a handful of people at my company I am interested in connecting with outside of work is a huge step in the right direction for me.

So where do you fall on the friends at work spectrum?

Why You Shouldn’t Set New Year’s Resolutions

new-years-resolutions

With the start of a new year, resolutions come to mind, but come mid-January (or February at the latest) you’ve already broken your promise. Why is that?

Resolutions, similar to goals, are set up to fail from the start. Here’s why:

The main reason why accomplishing your goals have such a low success rate is because even the best effort doesn’t result in perfection. This isn’t a scapegoat for not trying, but rather working the odds in your favor.

New Year’s Resolutions can be compared to starting a new business. The failure rate within the first 3 years is 80%. Now 3 years is longer than one month, but the concept is the same. Resiliency and patience are hard to come by. Call it a result of our fast-paced society, but we suck at waiting for results.

There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious, but making behavior changes is hard work.

If you’ve ever set a goal and failed at it, you remember the feeling. You’ll do whatever you can to not revisit that feeling because its debilitating. Hence the reason why we avoid goal setting in the first place.

Instead shift your focus to creating good habits. Not only are habits better than goals, but they are process-oriented meaning progress is the desired outcome not perfection.

For example: losing 20 pounds is a goal while living a healthy lifestyle is a habit. You may lose the weight (doubtful), but chances are you’ll gain it back and then some shortly after. But if you decide to workout 3 times a week (on average) and cut your weekly sugar intake not only will you lose the weight, but it’s a sustainable change because you give yourself grace for special occasions.

It’s popular to set New Year’s Resolutions in January because the calendar is a trigger for fresh starts. Beyond that there’s not a real good reason why then is the best time.

When you want to fix or achieve something following the the right process is almost more important than the desired outcome. At it’s core nothing is wrong with goals, but if you want to set yourself up for success in the new year focus on habits and the results will come in time.

Why Startups Are Overrated

startup-life

Follow your passion. Chase your dreams.

Bad advice depending on your age/life stage.

The startup life is glorified from the outside, but those inside the ropes think differently.

Your corporate 9-5 job may suck the life out of you, but imagine working 40+ hours and getting paid less.

Think the grass is greener on the other side? Try turning grass over. It’s brown.

Similar to entrepreneurship and parenting, everything you see/read/learn doesn’t equate to first-hand experience.

Working for a startup is grueling. Long hours for little pay isn’t for everyone. Age/life stage should be your determining factor.

In your 20’s your career is most important, so working hard for something you believe in takes priority.

In your 30’s relationships (dating/marriage/family) are most important, so working hard to support your desired lifestyle take priority.

In your 40’s planning for retirement is most important, so working hard to secure your future takes priority.

Startups are ideal for people in their 20’s or younger. Fewer responsibilities means less concerns about work life balance.

Once you enter your 30’s boundaries become important. The difference lies in what you do after work: going to the bar with friends vs. going home to see your family.

There’s nothing wrong with chasing the American dream, but the better question to ask is: when are you chasing it?

Why The 40 Hour Work Week Needs To Die (Part 2)

sweden

Have you ever wondered where the 40-hour work week originated?

Henry Ford actually scaled it back from 48 hours back in the early 1900’s.

The fact we have to go back almost 100 years shows how outdated the model is.

Recently Amazon is in the news for enforcing the 30 hour week, at a reduced rate, yet it’s a step in the right direction.

Sweden boasts a 6-hour workday which is based on research that a person is only productive for 6 hours a day anyway.

I’ll take it a step further and propose a four-day, 24 hour work week.

Salaries would decrease, but in the gig economy most people earn additional income from a side hustle. Corporate wellness exists mainly because of the negative repercussions of over-worked, stressed and distracted workers. Reducing the work week to 24 hours would nearly eliminate sick days, burnout and lack of productivity.

As I mentioned in an earlier article, stop upholding tradition and start focusing on results. With the advancements in technology, scaling “human” work stands true also.

Although Millennials are leading the charge, lifestyle matters more than passion. We work to support the type of lifestyle we want to live. The quicker companies embrace that, time spent/off becomes the greatest currency.

In business, we must evaluate our current procedures to see if there is a more efficient way it can be done. Sweden and Amazon are leading the way, the rest of Corporate America needs to catch up.

Keeping Your Millennial Workforce Happy

Guest post by Faith MacAnas

hi-five

One of the key features of the millennial generation is their focus on job satisfaction and life fulfillment is a lot higher than their predecessors. Happier employees have a better and higher quality output; this has made the necessity for employee satisfaction strategies more important than ever. These following examples are just a few areas where adjustments can be made that will motivate your millennial workforce and optimize your business.

• Flexibility

For the first time, young workers are prioritizing their work-life balance over their paycheck. They want to be able to travel, balance their family and social life or pick up side projects. While full remote working conditions are inadvisable, providing some level of flexibility is a great tactic. This offer could come in the form of career breaks or simply the opportunity to work alternate hours from home on occasion.

student-with-mentor-on-computer

    Crisp Technology

Millennials have grown up at the forefront of technology; they have always had the latest editions and expect their technology to be in good working order. Companies that can’t afford the latest pieces now allow staff members to work on their own devices. While this can save money, it does also require ensuring the security of confidential company data on machines that will leave the office. You can guarantee protection by investing in a company-wide Virtual Private Network program for all staff members to use or by creating an internal system where work can be shared exclusively.

    Career Paths

Today’s young workers live in a shaky economy, and they know it. While they worry about the promise of work, they also will quickly jump ship if their jobs don’t appear to provide them with the opportunity to progress. Give your millennial workforce a voice; allow them input into innovation ideas and company policy. Ensure feedback channels are open, and offer opportunities for training courses or department transfers. Show that you are willing to invest in them, and they are much more likely to invest in you and your company.

woman-holding-money

    Cash Incentives

If all else fails, then there’s one language everyone speaks: cash. Nothing gets motivation going like the promise of a bonus, and there are none who don’t relish the opportunity to make more money. However, there are both pros and cons to this strategy. If, for example, you set a goal for workers to achieve to secure the bonus, and they do not succeed, it’s possible to disenfranchise them further. It’s wise to set goals that are both realistic and progressive.

Millenials are some of most forward-thinking workers around today. They naturally possess crucial knowledge and hold to the key to the future. If you haven’t already implemented strategies to ensure you keep them motivated and dedicated, then now is the time to start doing so!

About the Author: Faith is a blogger and marketing and strategy expert. She specializes in internet security. She enjoys sharing what she’s learned with other business owners online.

My Achilles Heel As An Entrepreneur

employee-entrepreneur

5 years ago I tore my left Achilles tendon while playing basketball.

Like the stories I heard before, it felt like someone kicked my calf from behind.

When it happened it didn’t hurt, but I knew something was wrong. I remember grabbing my cars keys and limping to the car. It was a 6 month recovery to get back on the basketball court.

Post-recovery I’ve never been scared of re-injuring myself, but I’ve become much more in tune with my body. If my Achilles feels sore, I don’t push my body. I listen to it.

As an entrepreneur, I have a Achilles heel too.

Leaders create a “wake” of relationships built and tasks accomplished. What I realized is the one that means more to me determines the trajectory of my career.

I’ve had my business for almost 10 years now experiencing ups and downs financially. Starting out I was willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. It was my own startup that I was willing to work overtime for and be underpaid purely to build my “brand.”

But being married and 2 kids later my priorities changed. Time became the most important currency and I’d rather spend time with my family than always work hard. In work-life balance terms, I want a separation between the two.

I always believed working a full-time corporate job meant waving the white flag…settling. I did everything I could to avoid it, until about a month ago.

Reluctantly, I took a position at a tech startup because there was “no good reason not to.” Not exactly inspiring stuff, but the truth.

Fast forward to now, I realize it was the right decision.

The side of the wake that matters more to me is: relationships. If it were tasks, I believe I’d never take my current position because I would have already been rich.

What I realized is money is more important than people. Some say that, but my actions validate it.

The thought of a 9-6 was nauseating even a few months ago, but I started listening to my heart.

Not only am I enjoying the work I do (similar to the coaching I’ve been doing), but once I leave the office I leave my work there. That’s something I could never do as a business owner.

Do I still coach? Yes. But around my full-time job.

My Achilles heel as an entrepreneur is my love for connection. It’s much stronger than my desire to sell.

I still love to dream up and implement new ideas, but not at the cost of a steady paycheck and allowing my wife to stay at home with our kids.

I haven’t given up on entrepreneurship.

I just became more in tune with my desired lifestyle.

Work Life Balance Simplified To One Word

boundaries-sand

Boundaries.

The only way to separate your personal from professional life is to define your boundaries.

Boundaries are hard to identify until someone crosses them.

The reason work-life feels like a blur is because you allow it.

As an employee it’s a constant tug-of-war with management. You have to draw a line between what they want and what they can legally expect of you.

If you’re an entrepreneur, no paycheck is guaranteed so you have to hustle more, but at what expense? Ask most business owners why they started their own company and most would answer with reasons other than money. But as your own boss, if you don’t draw the line, your boundaries will be abused.

Start defining what’s inside and outside of your boundaries. Stand up for what matters and what’s right.

In the end you have no one else to blame for work-life balance: except you.

Why Work Life Balance Is A Unicorn

unicorn

Work Life Balance is extinct.

Compartmentalization is so last year.

The concept used to be a Venn Diagram with the left circle representing your professional life, the right circle your personal life and the overlap the “balance.”

Now your life is just one big circle, a.k.a. Work Life Integration.

If you’re unhappy at work, you’re unhappy in life (and vice versa).

That doesn’t necessarily mean follow your passion (although nothing’s wrong with it). It means focus on your desired lifestyle and find a career to support it.

Job turnover isn’t just a Millennial thing. It’s reality moving forward.

Admit it. You’re most likely not going to work your current job for the rest of your lifetime (the benefits aren’t that great right?), so job-hopping becomes the norm.

Blame it on the following reasons: Boredom. Multi-Passionate. Uncertainty.

But the biggest reason: Life Stage.

If someone asks me how I feel about entrepreneurship now vs. when I started (almost 10 years ago) my response is: I’m married and have 2 kids.

It doesn’t mean I don’t love being my own boss anymore. It means my family is more important.

So using the lifestyle analogy, I’ll stick with being an entrepreneur as long as it supports me financially enough to control how much time I spend with my family.

Your career (and life too) goes through seasons of change.

Balance isn’t achieved by being proactive.

The tension between battling priorities in your life sharpens your choices.

Choose what’s most important to you based on the most valuable currency: time.

That’s no myth.

3 Millennial Travel Trends & The Workplace Impact

Millennial-Traveler

Millennials love to travel. Timing (having less responsibilities) and adventure-seeking are the two biggest motivators, but their tendencies shed light on how Corporate America should market to them.

Here are 3 ways:

Culture – When Millennials travel they want to immerse themselves in the local culture. Touristy spots aren’t a given, instead planning ahead and leaving room for exploration is the preferred method. In the workplace, diversity and the ability to connect with co-workers matters. Entrepreneurship is down amongst Millennials because it’s riskier than working for an established company. Travel destinations are usually known for at least one thing, what is your company known for? The answer defines your culture which is your brand.

Peer Recommendations – Travel sites are only appealing to Millennials if they contain reviews. Want to know where Millennials vacation? Ask their friends. Travel agents are basically instinct because part of going on an adventure is planning it yourself. Millennials are strong brand influencers, so if your company is labeled as a “cool place to work” applicants will come knocking on your door (not a bad recruiting strategy right?) The purpose of offering perks shouldn’t just be to attract Millennials, but at a deeper level tie into their desired lifestyle. For example, providing yoga classes and organic food on-site is a wellness perk. Millennials who desire that type of lifestyle become your company’s brand ambassadors to prospective candidates. Get your younger worker’s buy-in because Millennials trust their friend’s recommendations over expert’s.

Shareable Experiences – Where social media thrives visually is through beautifully taken photos and videos. Great design is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also shareable. Instagram and Snapchat have exploded with Millennials because of sharing. Forward-thinking companies take photos/videos of everyday life at work. Not stock images that are orchestrated, but a peek into a day in the life at your company. Similar to hotel websites, Millennials check your company’s digital footprint across different platforms to get a feel for your brand. We spend more than 50% of our waking hours at work, so hopefully it’s share-worthy. User-generated content can be one of your company’s biggest recruiting tools, but only if you’re intentional about it.

Retaining Millennials starts with understanding Millennials. Since work-life integration has become the norm questioning “why” Millennials make specific decisions matters. Use travel trends as insight into engaging your Millennial workforce. Companies are starting to offer unlimited vacation (hmm, I wonder why) for increased customization of schedule. Smart companies will use market research such as travel trends to recruit, retain and optimize the best Millennial workers out there. Will you? 

Let’s Start A Workplace Revolution Together

josh-allan-dykstra

Josh is a good friend I met for coffee over 6 years ago. We were both at different places then, but our similar views on leadership and work kept the conversation going. Since we connected both of us became authors and dads. Josh is someone I always bounce ideas off of because he’s such an insightful and bright human being. He’s always been supportive of me and I am a big fan of his. I hope you enjoy a peek into this thought leader’s mind:

1) You truly are a thought leader. What does that term mean to you & how does it influence your work?

To me, leadership (for anyone) is about one thing: doing something that’s worth following. To that end, I’m always trying to spread thoughts, ideas, and stories that help others envision a better future for work, and inspire them to come along on the journey. Right now, for the vast majority of people on the planet, work truly sucks. It doesn’t have to be this way. We have all the tools we need to fix this—it’s a desire and design problem, not a capability problem. I want us all to start believing we can create something better… because we can.

2) At the core of what you do lies in making organizations better. Explain your philosophy briefly.

Most of us optimize many different parts of our organizations: marketing, finance, operations, etc. What we typically don’t maximize as a business driver is our culture—the human size of our business. What I mean is, every person in your company has a choice at every moment: will they bring their best self to their work, or will it be something less than their peak performance? We create organizations where people choose peak performance as often as possible, improving results across the board.

3) When we first met, we were both “kidless,” but now as a parent how has that affected the way you view/do work?

Being a dad has made me acutely more aware of the opportunity cost of my time and the finite-ness of my energy. I’ve always had some vague understanding that choosing one thing makes something else impossible, but that notion is now technicolor. And, at the same time as we added kids to our family, I’ve also added more colleagues to my company. Both changes are amazing… and also extraordinarily challenging. I’m doing my best to leverage the benefits of both these things: learning to continually do the things that are the highest and best use of my time at work and to find partners on my team to help make all the other stuff happen, in order to maximize the time I get with my kids. It’s remarkably difficult, but I’m slowly getting better!

4) You recently picked up and moved to a new state, what has that transition to a new “home” been like?

We recently moved to Denver after being in Los Angeles for a decade. We’ve been here now for about 6 months, and I’m afraid I’d be lying if I said we were somehow “settled!” My job has changed very little—in fact, that part of my life has mostly been made better as I’m now closer to a better airport—but the rest of life was completely uprooted, of course. Starting over isn’t easy for anyone, far as I can tell (and moving to a cold climate in the middle of the winter was just a serious bummer), but I will say that the wonderful folks of Colorado have been very kind to us. I’m extremely optimistic that this will be an excellent home for us and our kiddos!

5) You and I are strong advocates of leveraging personal strengths, tell my readers about the Strengthscope and how it can benefit them and their companies!

Let me put this as simply as I can: if your organization doesn’t have a strengths-based culture, you are simply NOT getting peak performance out of your people. Period. Here’s what I’ve learned over the last decade: humans are physically incapable of producing sustained excellence if we’re not utilizing our strengths in our work. My consulting group utilizes an assessment called Strengthscope® to jumpstart these conversations and help people re-orient their mindsets towards a path that’s far more productive and positive! We love it.