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 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?

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.

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    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.

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    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

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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.

The Benefits of Scary Dreams

Scary dreams

Nightmares suck. No matter the age, they feel real. As a kid, it’s hard to go back to sleep and as an adult you try to analyze the meaning of them which keeps you up. But when are scary dreams a benefit?

When they are your desired dreams. If you evaluate your dreams and they’re not big enough to scare you, they’re probably too small. Size matters and there’s no reason to dilute your dreams because of your life stage. Sure, as you get older your situation becomes more complicated, even layered, but now you just need to be more disciplined to make it happen.

Most of the time you know WHAT your dreams are, but HOW to achieve them is a completely different story. That’s why during this 8-week online bootcamp geared towards achieving work-life balance we’ll break down what it takes to get there. Dreams appear monumental until you break them into smaller steps. As a coach, that’s what I help my clients do. Register here and we’ll turn your dreams from scary bad to scary good.

Soaring Over California…Or Wherever You Live

Soaring

The first time I went on the Soaring Over California ride at Disney’s California Adventure I was in awe. Most of the scenic icons in the Golden State I’d seen before, but not at a bird’s eye view. In addition to the sights, they added smells and sounds that made you feel you were right there on location.

Disney has a knack for transporting you to grand experiences by using the five human senses: touch, taste, smell, sound and sight. But what they really do best is offer: perspective. Rarely do they create something new, but they enhance the ordinary way you look at things and make it better.

What if you took this approach to your personal life? Rarely can you change your circumstances, but you can change the way you choose to view it. That’s the daily choice you have: “re-framing” your life. That’s what I’ll discuss in this 8-week online bootcamp geared toward work-life balance. It’s making little choices that make a big difference. Sometimes it’s about looking at life in a different way. Choice is a powerful thing and during this course I’ll help you become the 2.0 version of yourself.

Why You Shouldn’t Grow Up

Imagination

Being a parent these days, there’s more pressure to help your kid advance than ever. Start applying to a good preschool once they’re born, research the best elementary and middle schools early and what high school gives them to best chance to get into a good college?

Slow down. There’s things that kids do much better than adults, such as imagination. Kids don’t need to be told to dream big because they already do that. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, we were told our dreams need to be scaled down to realistic. Maybe it’s from rejection, failure or being told “you can’t do that.” Whatever it is, it needs to stop.

Some people ask me, what does your ideal client look like? Honestly, it’s someone who has an open mind and is willing to try new things even if they don’t fully believe it can work. It’s the “right brain” that has to be opened up in order to imagine big possibilities. So if you’re struggling to find the free time to dream again sign up for my 8-week online bootcamp geared towards work-life balance. Just because someone told you to stop dreaming doesn’t mean you have to listen to them. Let’s go back in time and start dreaming again.

What Work Life Balance Really Means

work life balance

70% of people struggle with work-life balance, but what does that mean? Essentially it’s when either your personal or professional life is dominating the other. Here’s two examples, if you’re a career driven individual who finds yourself in your 30’s and out of the dating scene for a while because working overtime is the norm OR if you’re a stay home mom who manages a household of 5, but never has any time of your own that’s work-life imbalance.

Easy to identify, difficult to resolve. At the core of work-life balance is feeling a lack of control. Autonomy is one of our primary motivators in life, according to Dan Pink, so when our professional or personal life is overwhelming the other we feel like the victims of our consequences. The same reason why entrepreneurs start their own business is what the average person striving for work-life balance wants: freedom.

There’s a big movement in the entrepreneurial world that doesn’t involve making more money. It’s a little thing called lifestyle design. It means you want to spend your time doing what you want, where you want, when you want. Sounds like a glorified vacation, but it’s much more than that. Fast forward your life until you’re in your 80’s. If you looked back at your life at that point, what decisions would you wish you made differently? Probably anything that deals with spending more time WITH others or ON yourself. That’s why time, not money, is the most valuable currency.

If you’re still confused, let’s talk about the exact opposite of work-life balance: living with regret. People who struggle with work-life balance experience this “inner-tension” of feeling guilty for not taking action. As a Career Coach, most of the clients I’ve worked with over the past 8 years pay me to help them make a career transition, but you know what they really need help with? Confidence.

I can’t force anyone to do anything. That may not sound very marketable, but it’s the truth. I can make suggestions, but ultimately it’s up to the client how much effort, openness and passion they put into accomplishing the goals they set to achieve. But this is where work-life balance fits in. You know what your desired goals are, but you may not know how to get there. That’s where I come in. Work-life balance is about prioritizing. Goals aren’t the same. Some are more important than others. You are a specialist. If you were good at everything, you wouldn’t need anyone’s help. Therefore identifying your strengths, then maximizing them is crucial to achieving work-life balance because your strengths are a “means” to an end (your goals). Work-life balance is a constant challenge. In fact, it’s not a destination, it’s a journey. You need accountability, milestones and motivation to get there. I want to help.