31 Days, 32 Revelations: Striving For Quality of Life

Image courtesy of Pinterest

Series Introduction

Every year, I like to find a different way of celebrating my favorite day: my birthday. Since I am turning 32 next month (I know…awww…), I’ve decided to share 32 revelations I have had during the course of my life about everything from life in general to business. Think of it as daily inspiration for you and therapy for me. It is a challenge for me, because I don’t think I have ever published a post everyday in the entire existence of The Aristocracy of HR. Plus, I recognize that while I am fairly generous in sharing on social media and here, I have only just scraped the surface on sharing who I am when I’m not pontificating how HR and Business can do better. Let’s use the month of March to get to know one another better. I hope at the end of the month, you walk away with something you can use in your own life or business.

Day 17 of 31- Living Simply

A few years of ups and downs, twists and turns and a few failures will whip you into shape emotionally and personally. It is as if hurdles were strategically placed throughout my journey to provide new insights and perspectives. This has been my life the past few years. Even my horoscope speaks about this “period of renewal” I have been dragged through for the past four years. Allegedly, I am at the end of the cycle and moving into smoother waters now. Good, bad or indifferent, I have figured out that I want to live a simple and peaceful life.

I am convinced that the pace here in the US allows for one scenario for us working Joe’s and Jane’s- you work and work and work, pass go retirement and then you die. I know that sounds terrible, but the reality is we live and work in a country obsessed with work, material possessions and money. Don’t get me wrong I have an appreciation for all three. I just think there is more to life than racing around frenetically trying to be the fastest, the best, or appearing to be successful when all you’re really doing is killing yourself.

Before I started working for myself, my schedule was frenetic and unsustainable. My days went like this:

I was up at 5am. Had to bathe and dress three kids. Drop my two little ones to day care (on days when my husband was held over- my trips were in three because I had to get the oldest to morning care), deal with the daily HR headaches, breast-feed, pump additional milk so I kept enough for home and work, leave work at five pick up the youngest two, then race across town to get my oldest from after-care with sometimes a minute to spare before I was charged a late fee. I would get home have to do homework at 6:30pm- while finding out how school was and cooking dinner. After we read, said prayers and everyone was settled, I started my second job which was to continue building my current business- writing blog posts, creating scopes of work for potential clients, taking client calls and working until approximately 2am many days.

To be fair, I knew my first full year in business was going to be rough because I was working two full-time jobs. Ultimately, my intended rise up the ranks at the day job wasn’t worth it and neither was the paycheck. I have not only gone into business for myself, but I am altering my life for simpler joys these days. I meditate, I’m having fun, I’m more alert and attentive where my children are concerned and  I work how and when I want. In return for a simpler life, I made a lot of sacrifices. I never knew that was part of my journey when I left my day job. Apparently, I was due for a complete overhaul.

I am grateful to finally be living and not just existing. I used to feel like I barely had time to enjoy my home (that I pay quite a bit for). Now I’m enjoying it.  Life isn’t a complete bed of roses, but I am finding ways to make things simpler and less frenetic for myself -because I deserve a better me and so does my family. I guess I am striving for a better quality of life.

I know I’m not alone in having experienced this frenetic lifestyle that we all have grown accustomed to. To prove my point, check out the chart below from Social Progress Index to see how the U.S. is lagging on quality of life. Pay particular attention to “Health and Wellness” as well as “Tolerance and Inclusion” along with other indicators .

 

What kinds of things are you doing to make your life simpler? 

 

Czarina’s Lesson: Life should be an inner-body experience not an outer-body experience. Live-don’t just exist.

Getting Back To Me

Hey HR Aristocrats! It has been awhile- two months to be exact. As many of you may know, I recently had my third child. With the busy schedule I had at the end of my pregnancy doing speaking engagements, putting things in place both in my day job and business and just being plain tired-it wore down my writing mojo. I had nothing. Everything I thought of I started to pen only to find that I hated the idea and it felt forced. Note:  Nothing I have ever written anywhere has been a forced idea. I write from a purely organic place where things inspire me and I feel the need to share my thoughts.

Most will say that it is blasphemous to allow you blog to go dormant for two months, but I really needed to step away and get back to me. A house in shambles, new baby, child in school, another being potty-trained (or so I thought) and a road to recuperation that had me feeling less than inspired were the realities I needed to live with.

Once I walked away, there was inspiration popping up everywhere. Additionally, it allowed me to think and remember that life takes precedence over churning out content. It was never my intention to be a content mill. I just want to write and do things that are meaningful and helpful.

That said, sitting back and enjoying the sight and smell of my new bundle and just enjoying my family allowed me something greater than creating and that was to watch. What I found is that every social media platform is over-saturated with content. There’s a content rat race going on.

Some of it is fantastic and other stuff is just not useful. That said, my evaluation of the social landscape and what I am doing has me prepared to get back to writing but also to explore and further fine-tune some other projects I set out to do. There’s a lot more to me than HR and I am on a mission to pull it all together.

The moral: those of us in business have to be ready to pivot as I mentioned earlier this year. That means remaining open to new or modified ideas, different approaches etc. The beauty of stepping back and learning is so you can become better. I can tell you in two months I have become better just by watching and taking time to get back to me, my interests and life.

I look forward to wooing you all back here for great content and my beautiful journey.

New post drops on Monday, June 23rd and look out for new content from me on the Performance i Create blog on Friday, June 27th.

Oh and I should mention that I have been having a ton of fun with Instagram lately. For pics of me post-partum, my little ones, and a sprinkle of inspiration in pictures follow me on Instagram.

 

Enjoy the weekend!

 

CzarinaofHR

HR’s Role in Making Work-Life Balance

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photo credit: Kathy Colaiacovo

Work-Life Balance. Its on the mind of your managers and employees, especially now that we are on the brink of summer. I’ve always thought that people think of “work-life” balance as options for working from home or the freedom to “come and go” as you please. Its really much more than that to me. Its the opportunity to work and recharge at my pace and with some flexibility in regards of what is meaningful to me. While I think that ultimately it is up to the individual to strike the right accord in regards to work-life balance, I do think that HR professionals have a role in helping to set the standard.

 Lay the Foundation

Laying the foundation of programs that offer better work life balance and flexibility may be easier said than done. First off, one size does not fit all. We all come from different industries and businesses — half days, working from home, flex schedules, job sharing will not work for everyone. Even within a single organization one option will not work for all jobs. I think that the biggest mistake in starting these types of programs is that managers or HR come up with a list of possibilities for flex programs and find that its poorly received. It could be due to the rollout or the change management — but I think its even bigger than that. Ask your employees what do they want and value. What helps bring balance to them? It may be volunteer time, on site day care, a concierge service — its not always in the bucket of “how do you get people time away from work to do other things.” Several years ago, as recognition of work that I was doing on a large project implementation, I got two weeks worth of prepared meals. Talk about bringing some balance back to my life! The convenience allowed me to put my time and energies elsewhere when I was at home with my family and to this day is one of the best rewards that I’ve received. Not having to get groceries, meal plan, or prepare meals went a long way to my “balance” during that project. If someone had just given me time off, I wouldn’t have gotten the same relief or feeling of balance at that time.

 

The point is, HR should do a thorough review, including a survey of employees’ desires, to help create a program for managers and employees to follow. One more note — lay the foundation means just that — help get things going, but allow employees and managers actually build the program. It will be much more successful if the program is developed by the people and not just another HR thing. Be a champion of work – life program options.

 

What are your thoughts on work-life balance and who owns what — does HR still have a role or is it squarely on employees and managers?

 

Andrea Devers (@thegirlinhr) is an expert in HR Technology, HR process and programs, HR Service Centers, Shared Service, change management,  project management, and six sigma. Feel free to connect with her on her blog, The Girl in HR, or follow some of her musings on Twitter.

 

Flex Work- Are You All-In or Being Trendy?

Image Courtesy of StockPhotosForFree.com

Image Courtesy of StockPhotosForFree.com

I was inspired by the TLNT wrap-up written by John Hollon last week discussing the demographics of people participating in flex work and questioning why there is a lack of women teleworking. For more on what he said- read here.

As someone who considers herself fortunate to telework, I can tell you that merely referring to the arrangement as “fortunate” is part of the problem. You see there are many employers that still see this flex work as the ultimate privilege. It is almost as though they should be crowned best employer and have employees kneel before them for bestowing such an honor. They put unnecessary and onerous hurdles in front of employees that are afforded flex work and in turn it becomes a less desirable option.

Women in particular have been made to disclose every nook and cranny of their home arrangements. Some are subjected to presumptuous questioning regarding whether or not they have a nanny to watch their kids during telework time. While other flex work infractions have to do with being exclusive to a certain subsection of employees- leaving those with other non-familial obligations feeling singled out from the possibility of teleworking.

When the strategy becomes this entitled all or nothing process, you have to ask yourself are companies really all-in regarding flex work or are they slapping a policy together to appear as though they are a part of the growing trend?

I like what Cali Yost of CEO of Flex+ Strategy Group said in a recent press release, “Telework is not a perk and it’s certainly not just for moms and Gen Y. Rather, it’s an operational strategy.”

If you have a flex work option for your employees, is it being treated as an operational strategy or is it a wild-card policy that you pull out of your bag-of-tricks to appease employees?

It needs to be an operational strategy. Your employees both men and women are stretched at home and at work; with or without children. If the job lends itself to some flexibility- give it to them. Like most concepts of giving- try to give flexibility without ultimatums and ridiculous demands in return for this alternative.

Here are some rules of engagement if you are serious about offering your employees more flexibility:

1)  Focus on results. It is none of your business who watches their kids, if a nanny is present during telework hours, spouse’s work hours etc. As long as you are receiving their work and it is quality, focus on the results; not how they got there.

2) Trust your employees to do the right thing. If you don’t ask your employees to document what they do every minute of the day in the office, why would you do it when they flex work? Trust your employees to do the right thing unless you find out otherwise.

3)  Do not offer flex work unless you believe in it as an “operational strategy”. Everyone wins when trust and flexibility are given. The second you start to micromanage or make your flex work policy an elitist offering it will do more harm than good for the company and your brand.

According to a recent infographic by Flex+Strategy Group, 31% of workers are working from home, a business center or another location. Employers can expect decreased absenteeism and tardiness, less employee burnout, increased employee productivity as a result of offering flex work.

So I ask employers that are still hesitant about flex work- what are you really losing?

Need some innovative ideas on flex work strategies- contact us.

 

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