Make flexible working patterns work for you

With the end of ‘a job for life’, the ticking of the demographic ‘time bomb’, and the ever-increasing pace of new technology, employers are having to consider a wide range of new working patterns that take account of this rapidly changing work climate.

 

Types of flexible working

There are many well-established alternatives to full-time working:

  • Part-time working, which can vary greatly in hours worked and pattern of hours.
  • Flexitime, which allows staff to choose which hours to work (within pre-set limits), as long as they fulfil the required hours within a set period.
  • Staggered hours, whereby, for instance, some staff come in at 8am and leave at 4pm, whereas others start and leave an hour or two later.
  • Job sharing, where two staff do the job of one full-time staff member by sharing the work in an agreed fashion.
  • Shift working, which enables 24 hour coverage.
  • Unpaid leave, e.g. taking a sabbatical for a period of up to a year after an agreed length of service, or taking a career break whilst children are young.
  • Working from home, which is much easier in these days of tele-working and computer links.
  • Downshifting, where a member of staff agrees to less responsibility for less pay. This can be very useful in the run-up to retirement, and often goes hand in hand with choosing to go part-time.

 The benefits (and barriers)

In the past, an employer’s initial reaction to flexible working patterns was likely to be a downright refusal to consider these, on the grounds that it would cost money, be difficult to administer and make work, and that no serious career player would want to work anything other than full-time anyway. Nowadays such an attitude would be seen as short-sighted and counterproductive:

  • Staff want a better life-work balance at all ages. Those employers who can accommodate this by allowing flexible working patterns will be rewarded with more loyal staff who choose to stay and are absent less often. The company will have less problems with recruitment. Happier and less stressed employees are also more productive, and this in turn leads to more profits.
  • We live in a society where consumers are increasingly expecting their needs to be met 24 hours a day. To satisfy this is impossible without shift working, job sharing, part-time workers etc. Furthermore, machinery can be used to its fullest extent in a workplace where flexibility is built in.
  • Half the hours does not equate to half the effort (or half the commitment). Employees with the ability to manage their work-life balance better are more committed, not less. A company that exhibits this commitment to employees’ needs will get and retain talented people who will be prepared to commit their efforts in return.
  • An employer who can offer truly flexible working patterns is an employer of choice who will attract the best and most diverse workforce.

Despite these advantages there are still some barriers to be overcome – although these are steadily falling:

  • Attitudes must also continue to change. The culture of deciding that older people are unemployable will soon be illegal, but we need the perception of managers and colleagues to move with the times as well. There is still a macho culture in many workplaces, which says that anyone taking career breaks, working part-time, or not putting in very long hours, is not serious about their career. This is short-sighted and wrong but must still be overcome.

How are organisations reacting?

The majority of employers fall into one of three distinct categories:

  1. The ‘Proactive Group’. These are leaders in creativity and innovative thinking about how best to engage a quality workforce. In employee surveys they are invariably within the top 100 companies to work for.
  2. The ‘Reactive Group’. They know that flexible working is a good idea but tend to react to market trends and pick up initiatives from others. They often provide flexible working through fear of the consequences if they don’t.
  3. The ‘Change Resistant Group’. These are often small companies with less capacity (as they see it) for flexibility. They are likely to perceive that it only applies to their female, non-technical staff. They resist the idea because it looks risky and, at face value, is difficult to set up and administer.

These three groups may benefit considerably from the independent experience and expertise available through an external consultant. For example:

  • Group 1 may benefit from an objective forum for creating and analysing ideas, providing facilitation, quality assurance and risk analysis – and ideas the organisation may not otherwise think of.
  • Group 2 may need practical advice to help with increasing their knowledge and developing the new ideas needed to integrate flexible working into their company culture and ultimately move them into Group1.
  • Group 3 may need support to increase their knowledge, work through the risk factors, and in particular to remove their fear of change.

When considering the introduction of new patterns of working, it’s important to get it right. Early pioneers of home working, for example, did not appreciate the dangers of isolation and lack of support of their staff at home, and found that things often did not work out, with home workers sometimes ending up more stressed than in their original workplace. There are, however, ways of increasing the likelihood that flexible working will meet its objectives for both the employer and their staff, which is why it makes sense to get expert advice before introducing new work patterns – rather than to help deal with the consequences if this is not handled correctly.

Need a Motivational Speaker or Awards Host for your Next Conference or Boardroom briefing?  Work Stress Expert, Carole Spiers will deliver a charismatic, high-impact keynote presentation, ‘Show Stress Who’s Boss!’, based on her new book, at your next conference.  Contact us info@carolespiersgroup.co.uk or call + 44 (0) 20 8954 1593

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4 Easy Ways to Deal with Stress

Learn How to Deal with Stress:  Carole’s book, Show Stress Who’s Boss! shows you how to deal with stress, manage your stress & anxiety and overcome symptoms of stress.  You’ll find tools and stress management techniques to make your life stress-free.  Inside this book you’ll find 4 proven steps to relieve your stress symptoms. http://amzn.to/2sARfmd

Also available in Kindle version.

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Every Second Counts

  • Do you sometimes wish you weren’t always trying to beat the clock?
  • Do you seem to spend your day rushing around chasing your own tail?
  • Do you wish there were more than 24 hours in the day?
  • Do you envy those who can multi-task, seemingly without effort?

You may have attended time management courses, read books, used diary-planners [paper and electronic] to organise and plan your day but even with all these, there are always tasks outstanding at the end of 24 hours.  Sound familiar?  Well, you are not alone.

So, how well do you manage your time?  Well, if you are like many people, then the answer will be ‘not very effectively!’  Perhaps you often work late and are always trying to keep to another deadline.  Maybe you are a manager of a team which just manages to lurch from one completion date to another with just one hour before the due time.   In fact, what you have perfected is the art of ‘crisis management’ but that is not what you enjoy doing and, after a while, it becomes not only stressful but also demoralising.

On the converse side, when you do manage your time well, you are more productive at work and you are in a better mood when you get home, with your stress levels low.

So where is the key to utopia?  Is there one?  In fact, we all have it in our own hands.  We know that there are 24 hours in a day, no more, no less. The question is: how can we manage our time more effectively so that we get more out of each day?

Different types of time

There are two types of time: ‘real time’ and ‘personal time’.  In ‘real time’, there are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours a day and 365 days in a year.   Each day, time passes exactly as the day before.  When any two individuals turn 40 years old, for instance, they have both lived for exactly 40 years, no more and no less.

But in ‘personal time’, everything is relative.  Remember when you started your first, very boring job.  Time probably dragged and you counted the seconds before you went home.  But then you started an exciting job and your time then flew past.  So it all depends on what you are doing as to whether time drags along or flies by.

Ideally you want to enjoy your work and be motivated with what you doing. However, that is not always the reality as there are going to be some tasks that you are not enthusiastic about, yet they still have to be done.  There are also times when you don’t feel motivated and yet you need to find that motivation from somewhere.  And that means that you need to learn to be self-motivated by achieving any given task not only to the satisfaction of your boss, but also to your own satisfaction.

The good news is that personal time comes from inside your head and only you can create it.   And anything that is within your power to manage with the resources available, you can control – so that really is good news!  Real time is relevant, of course, because that is what deadlines are marked in, but as we live in personal time, we need to ensure that they are synchronised at some point

Are we then saying that this is a case of ‘mind over matter’?  Well, in many ways it is.  You cannot always avoid boring jobs but you can divide them up into small chunks to help you speed up the process of dealing with them.

And how many of you pride yourselves on procrastination?  Well, you can stop procrastinating and spending hours talking about what you don’t want to do, and spend more time actually starting it and getting it finished! And that may well kick-start you to do other things that you have been procrastinating about.

With over 25 years of providing support in the field of time management, contact the Carole Spiers Group if we can help in any way:  info@carolespiersgroup.co.uk

http://www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk/time-management-toolkit.php

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Are you going through a Mid-life Crisis?

 

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4 Easy Ways to Deal with Stress

Last week, it was reported in the international media that Google’s Main Board Finance Director, 52 year old, CFO Patrick Pichette had announced that he will be giving up his multi-million dollar job in California to spend more time with his family and maybe to go back-packing around the world.

So was this a mid-life-crisis action taken on the spur of the moment or a carefully considered decision made after examining all the priorities, in conjunction with his immediate family and friends?  Was it, possibly, a moment when he saw his world before his eyes and thought of his ‘bucket list’ with all those things not yet experienced, or completed, and then thought that he might be going to run out of time with all those hopes and dreams unfulfilled?

When does it start?

Midlife crisis can happen when someone suddenly thinks they have reached a point halfway through their life and for many, it can come as a complete surprise as they had thought that life was just beginning. They can start to develop anxieties that appear to indicate that everything is going backwards – or at least not moving forwards – both in their career and personal life, and can experience mood-swings or possibly bouts of self-doubt and even depression.

This crisis usually occurs, if at all, between the ages of 35 and 50, and can sometimes last for maybe five or even ten years. The term mid-life crisis was first coined in 1965 where early analysis suggested that it could happen anywhere between the ages of 40 and 60, but it is now shown to start much earlier.

Let us look at some of the signs that could indicate whether or not you could be heading for, or currently experiencing, your own mid-life crisis. Continue reading

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Are you an introvert?

'Show Stress Who's Boss!' provides tools and strategies that will show you how to deawl with stress.

Discover 4 Easy Ways to Beat Stress Today!

Do you sometimes get anxious when speaking to a new client?  Would you rather work alone and not in a team?  Would you often prefer to stay at home, than attend an after work party organised by your department?

If you can answer these questions with a ‘yes’, then you are probably an introvert.  But, before you start thinking that this is a negative trait, let’s look at some of the most influential people of our time who prove that you don’t have to be the loudest voice in the room to be heard.

Introverts commonly assume that they must conform to the extrovert mould in order to be successful, however, Bill Gates, Microsoft’s founder and philanthropist, is reported to have strong introvert traits but still develop his passions, successfully. He said, ‘I think introverts can do quite well.  If you’re clever, you can learn to get the benefits of being an introvert, which might be, say, being willing to go off for a few days and think about a tough problem, read everything you can, push yourself very hard to think out on the edge of that area.’

Being elected president of the United States and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces would seems to be an introvert’s worst nightmare.  But even though President Obama has caught criticism for his aloof personality, he has managed to leverage an introvert’s natural capacity for thoughtful communication. Continue reading

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Destress: Find out how to speak in public with no stress!

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4 Easy Ways to Deal with Stress

Did you know that speaking in public is one of the greatest fears for many people? So, if you are frightened to stand-up before an audience, let me tell you, you are not alone.

So what is your fear about?  You probably know your subject 100% and you are relaxed and confident when you are talking around a table with your colleagues.  But it is at that moment when you stand up and get to your feet that you become tongue-tied and nervous, perhaps even forgetting your key message.  Many people are so worried about speaking before others that they will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid it.

Of course, being on platform is certainly high-risk because you are the focus of attention.  Everyone is watching you expectantly, as well as automatically judging your appearance, your body language as well as your words.

No great speech just happens!  All the famous orators of our time, Martin Luther King, Barack Obama or Winston Churchill, may have had different styles, but it was the way in which they made their words come to life that inspired and motivated their audiences.

We are told that Margaret Thatcher even used a voice coach from the National Theatre in London to help lower her shrill tone to one that was deeper and more authoritarian.

If you listen to Martin Luther King’s famous speech ‘I have a dream’, you will hear him repeating certain phrases time and again for greater impact as his passion is transmitted to his audience. Continue reading

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Does being a Perfectionist Cause you Stress?

 

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4 Easy Ways to Deal with Stress

“That’s perfect Anita– well done.  Have a gold star!”  Remember those nostalgic days when you were in school and you were told to chase those straight A’s?  How quickly a perfectionist learns to live by the words ‘I’m so pleased, this term I was top of my class’ and to enjoy the thrill of impressing others – and themselves – at the same time.  A perfectionist would cry if they only managed a B+ or ended up only in second place.  Some children hated school, but the chances are that the perfectionist child loved it as his, or her, success was quantifiable by the results of exams, assignments and  teacher feedback —particularly when they made the grade.  The maxim of ‘work hard and succeed’ worked like a dream for them.

However, those gold stars can sometimes cause a lifetime of frustration and personal dissatisfaction.  In the adult world, success is measured differently and, not being structured in the same way as in school, there may well be times when you will miss the ‘good old school days’ where an A+ was all that to which you aspired.

Continue reading

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Being a Loner in the Workplace

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4 Easy Ways to Deal with Stress

No two people are the same and that is why, within your work-teams, there will be those with whom you get on easily and then those with whom it is often a challenge to communicate.  That is just a fact of life.

Let us look at Johan who manages a team of talented marketing professionals who need to collaborate, daily, on different projects. One of his team is Amelia who is a highly proficient, technically- skilled team-member but who likes to work alone and just get on with the job in hand.  But, she is not a good communicator and in many ways is a loner.  That is her style and personality which may not be a problem unless she is part of a team in which inter-communication is usually essential. We already know that any chain is only as strong as its weakest link and, in this case, Amelia is the link that weakens the chain because she often fails to attend meetings on time and is inefficient in communicating information to her team members, resulting in unacceptable delays and missed deadlines.

This leaves, Johan, the team manager, in a difficult situation.  With Amelia, he has a very talented, intelligent individual who is highly productive when they work alone but has very little interest in working with others.  He values her input but is acutely aware that her inability to communicate, damages the effectiveness of the team and frequently causes friction within the team.

So what can Johan do to keep Amelia in post yet at the same time, ensure that she is an integral part of the team? Continue reading

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Increasing your energy levels

work stress, keynote speaker, how to deal with stress, anxiety, stress symptoms, signs and symptoms of stress, stress free, Show Stress Who's Boss!, carole spiers, stress management, stress & anxiety, symptoms of stress, stress management techniques, stress-free, stress symptoms, de stress, wellbeing, mental health

4 Easy Ways to Deal with Stress

Everyone is familiar with the after-lunch energy drain when you feel demotivated and tired.  The days when you sit at your desk and feel your eyes closing.  Those times when you find yourself being irritable or even aggressive, for no reason. Well, it’s not just the daily challenges that you face that can affect your mood and energy levels but it can also be your lifestyle.  Fortunately, we can make changes to our daily activity at any time.

Diet:  What you eat has a direct impact on the available energy that you need to maintain constant throughout a busy working day.  The key is in balancing your blood-sugar so that your body receives an even supply of fuel.  To ensure this, your body needs to be able to metabolise and breakdown carbohydrate foods such as rice, bread, pasta, figs and dates etc into sugar for useable energy.  The body’s ability to regulate levels of sugar in the blood is essential to health, weight control and also your mood.  Fluctuations in blood sugar can cause irritability, aggression, confusion and forgetfulness.  These fluctuations are a natural response to changes caused by food intake [types of carbohydrate], fluid intake [caffeine, sugary drinks] and lifestyle [stress, smoking].   It is normal for blood glucose to rise and fall, but it is the degree to which it fluctuates that creates these symptoms. Continue reading

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Help to de stress me! My email is taking over my life!

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4 Easy Ways to Deal with Stress

‘As soon as I clear my inbox, a new batch arrives – consequently I spend my time reacting to every new message but not being proactive’.

Does this sound familiar?  Our lives are circumscribed around the Blackberry, iPhone, iPad, Android, or any device where one can get online: consequently we spend our waking hours reading, replying, copying and deleting.  Is any real work ever done and is this plethora of email really necessary?

However, email is here to stay: so here are my 5 top tips to help you manage it.

  1. Bin it!

Utilise your inbox for actions that you need to take: then get rid of the rest. Old emails just take up space.

  1. Get sorted!

After actioning your emails, put them in named folders for quick access. Tidy email folders are a lot easier to handle when you open your in-box. Continue reading

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Using your time effectively if unemployed

work stress, keynote speaker, how to deal with stress, anxiety, stress symptoms, signs and symptoms of stress, stress free, Show Stress Who's Boss!, carole spiers, stress management, stress & anxiety, symptoms of stress, stress management techniques, stress-free, stress symptoms, de stress, wellbeing, mental health

4 Easy Ways to Deal with Stress

Jane is a client of mine but is currently between jobs i.e. temporarily unemployed.   Her friends tell her that she is lucky to have time on her hands – however, she does not see it that way.  She wakes up in the morning with no reason to get out of bed.    Her husband, Gerry, gets ready to go to work, as usual, by 7.15 whilst she lies in bed thinking about what she can do to fill her day.

This is a time of great challenge for Jane.  The very word ‘unemployed’ fills her with anxiety.  She understands that she was made redundant because of re-organisation within the firm and that it was not a reflection upon her work.  Her boss was very understanding and said he would give her a good reference but they just had to ‘let her go’.

So, from one moment of being Jane Reese, HR Assistant, she became Jane Reese – unemployed!  She didn’t think it would matter to her.  She would catch up on emails, rewrite her CV, go for interviews and get another job.  It all seemed rather simple, initially.  It was Summer time so she would also use the period to recharge her batteries.  But then Summer came to an end.  She had psyched herself up for countless job interviews but nothing had materialised.  She thought she would certainly have found a new position by then, but she hadn’t.  Jane tried hard to keep positive but this was becoming harder as she received one refusal after another.  So what to do?  She knew she had to take some action to keep herself active, positive, alert and confident.

So, she came to seek my advice and we looked at various options for her: Continue reading

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