- Friday, 21 March 2014 08:59
Quote of the week: “Employee of the month is a good example of how somebody can be both a winner and a loser at the same time.” Demetri Martin
The Bane of Binge Working
There was an article recently published in Forbes magazine about the health hazards of employees working beyond 8 hours per day and over 60 hours per week. Family, friends and health professionals are reporting signs of stress at the very least, and even death at its extremes, of employees who “binge work.” Heart disease and psychological stress are the leading causes of medical complications.
Workers slogging through relentless overtime hours often submit to unhealthy habits of junk-eating, over-eating, excessive drinking, e.g., coffee to keep going and alcohol before bedtime, and foregoing any form of exercise that could aid in releasing stress. This becomes a precursor to immune system imbalances, exhaustion, and depression, which results in more absenteeism. In some case studies, researchers concluded that binge working creates diminishing returns in productivity and that both employees and companies are better off if staff worked a regular 40 hour week.
Some company cultures actively promote the practice of binge working as a sort of red badge of honor, courage and persistence. And staff who work themselves into the ground are given promotions to positions of greater responsibility, which compels them to work even more hours. Does being employee of the year trump the long-term health consequences, or even death?
Death in this regard is no exaggeration. Last year there was a relatively young woman of 31 years who died after working a 30 hour shift non-stop at her call center. The younger generation wants to make an impression and build a future with their employer, which can lead to one-upmanship with their co-workers in logging long hours. Those in the twilight of their careers simply cannot keep up, and if not failing in their health are forced to early retirement, depriving the younger ones of their guidance, experience and expertise.
When both employee and employer step back and examine this issue from a broader purview, the question of work/life balance comes into play, and striving for happiness. The cultural conditioning of working hard enough and making “X” amounts of money to ultimately become happy typically puts one in striving mode at all times, and seldom in being happy where they are in life now. Quality time for self, family and friends is as important as work, and one can nourish the other. If this time is used consciously and creatively, it revitalizes the body, mind and spirit in a way that prepares for the work day with more energy. For the employer, commitment and encouragement with policies in place to monitor and enforce working hours is called for to support staff well-being, along with the company bottom line.
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- Friday, 14 March 2014 09:07
So much of modern medicine is about treating symptoms, then taking more medications to treat new symptoms created from treating the initial symptom. It becomes an entrapment, a vicious cycle of endless drug taking to deal with a perpetuating series of symptoms.
In January a rash developed on my arms, chest and stomach. The timing was concurrent with a succession of dry Santa Ana winds (coming from the desert in Southern California where I live). I learned from a friend of mine that those dry winds can cause what is known as the “Winter Rash,” which can manifest in considerable discomfort from itching. My friend has struggled with this problem often.
I went to see a doctor who claimed to have experience in treating rashes. After a cursory examination, she determined it was nothing serious and prescribed a treatment. A week passed and no progress was made. Since I had a work assignment in the Amazon I was hopeful that the humid environment would alleviate the rash, but it grew worse. In Colombia I visited a dermatologist, whom upon close examination gave me an emphatic diagnosis: "You have Scabies!" It sounded like I’d just won a new Lexus on a TV game show. He prescribed three medications, one topical, two ingestible. One ingestible made me drowsy and disoriented. A week transpired with no recovery whatsoever.
Essentially, scabies are parasitic mites that burrow just under the skin. I started to research online about scabies, and the more I read the more alarming it became – sufferers reporting chronic, intense itching for months, even years, and forced to launder bedding, clothing, and towels daily. It was approaching one month for me in dealing with this scourge - intense itching, daily laundering, and a major disruption to my normal life.
After searching and querying several people who could point me to some much needed help, I made an appointment with a doctor of Chinese medicine recommended by another friend. Part of her treatment regimen was a topical herbal wash, but her primary focus was internal. “A strong immune system with a pH that is slightly alkaline will deter any parasites from using your body as a dinner table,” she asserted. After an acupuncture treatment, she sent me away with the topical wash and several herbs to be consumed as a tea. And I started to closely monitor my diet, eating mostly alkaline foods and avoiding the most acidic foods.
A week later the improvement was dramatic. The itching dialed down on a scale of 1-10 from 9 to 3, the redness becoming faint. As the condition proceeds to fade, I continue eating a predominantly alkaline diet. As I expand my reading about how diseases from parasites to cancer thrive on an acidic environment, I become more convinced that consumption of alkaline foods may be the best preventive medicine for anyone.
Here’s a link to an informative page, including an icon to download an acid/alkaline food chart: http://www.acidalkalinediet.com/Alkaline-Foods-Chart.htm
Here’s to good health!
CARTOON FROM THE CLINIC
- Friday, 28 February 2014 08:09
One of my Linked-In groups recently posed a question that warrants sharing. ”What is the most memorable ‘takeaway’ you received from a motivational speaker at an event?” Some of the more compelling comments from group members following, with speaker crediting:
“Over-communicate! People may assume others are in the know, or they just still believe in this day and age that holding back important information to themselves is power…that's the one that continually stays in my head.” (Speaker: Patrick Lencioni)
“…not only can our words positively affect a child and their self-esteem, but our words can also destroy them. Every time I heard this part of his speech I cried. It made me reflect on things I say to my nephew and nieces, that even a ‘well that was stupid’ passing statement might negatively affect them forever because they look up to me.” (Speaker: Stephen Peters)
“…that ‘things’ do not bring genuine happiness, rather what comes from within ourselves and our attitudes bring happiness in our lives and others around us!” (Speakers: Rita Connors, Chip Conley)
The greatest speakers are masters at truthfully sharing personal trial and tribulation stories, or defining moments of vulnerability or failure ultimately transformed into triumph from their experience, yet the stories are universal in that they connect to most everyone on a profound level. The audience reaps the benefits by identifying with the issue or circumstance and understanding how they can apply it in their own lives for positive outcomes.
Oftentimes humor is integrated into the story because it gives us a fresh and refreshing perspective on problems and life in general (universal in its appeal). And, if music is the universal language, it rightfully deserves a place within any great presentation. As oregano and sweet basil are the essential spices to enhance a pasta sauce, humor and music are compulsory ingredients to a complete presentation. If you’re a speaker, next time you get up there to the platform, add these essential spices and start cookin’ up your own memorable takeaways.
BEST MOTIVATIONAL QUOTES
“Life is a daring adventure, or nothing.” Helen Keller
“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” Albert Einstein
“Falling down is how we grow. Staying down is how we die.” Brian Vaszily
“People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Cavett Robert
“Those who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Ben Franklin
TAKE AWAY MORE TRAVEL BENEFITS
Airlines are starting to re-route their frequent flyer programs with revenue-based incentivizing as opposed to miles flown. Yesterday, Delta announced fundamental changes to its frequent flier program and will reward those who buy its priciest tickets, as opposed to those who fly the most miles.
If you’re a frequent flyer and covet the idea of maximizing your miles redemption, apply for Barclay’s Arrival World Mastercard. Other than the Capital One Venture Visacard, it’s the only credit card that earns double miles per every dollar spent on any purchases made with the card, AND allows you to choose any airline, hotel, or discount travel site with no blackout dates or seat restrictions. Where Barclay trumps Capital One and all others is with a 10% mileage rebate every time you redeem for travel. No cap on miles earned or redeemed, and no foreign transaction fees. Only catch: to be approved, you must have very good credit! Decent credit will do for Capital One. www.barclaycardus.com http://www.capitalone.com/credit-cards
- Friday, 07 March 2014 09:13
The short and simple answer: If the best employees continue to be engaged, trained, and appreciated, they are likely to stick around and stay motivated to make the optimal contributions per their capabilities. For the company, it makes for a more productive work environment and saves the company money spent to hire and train new talent.
Paying someone more money, while effective for some people generally isn't the key to earning loyalty. A company doesn't necessarily have to pay more than competitors for top talent, but shouldn't be paying less. Studies have shown that compensation has a threshold. Once an individual has attained a satisfactory income for their efforts, its importance diminishes vis-à-vis the loftier tangibles of growth opportunities and special expressions of appreciation.
Reward programs specifically for high performers should reflect the interests and passions of the individual. What are their favorite hobbies, food, weekend getaways, preferred relaxation and entertainment choices? Generic rewards will not work, especially for the cream of the crop. The best talent is what I call “high impact individuals.” They want to etch their footprints and fingerprints upon the company they work for and be a difference-maker. Speak to their soul, and they will actively listen and respond from their deepest sense of commitment, giving their employer the best of themselves.
Top talent is the first to leave when opportunities are cut to save on the bottom line, or because a bad quarter sparks fear and rumblings of layoffs, or perhaps a new set of managers are hired who ignore the human side of the business of employee retention. The best talent in an organization needs to be identified, and sought after to solicit their opinions and feedback. Find out what really matters to them, and what drives their motivations. Draw out any negative feelings they may have about their job and ask for their solutions. Make them feel that they are an insider to the decision-making process of management. Invite them to meetings when appropriate. Ask them to be part of a research group to improve upon some area of the organization. Ask them to present findings to senior management. Whenever possible, ask them to collaborate with other top talent. This should prove to be an exciting new challenge. Also of importance is to note how their manager is handling an up-and-coming star in their department.
People in almost any industry will stay with a company if they get on well with their immediate superior, add value to themselves on a continuing basis with the help and support of the company (training), get along well with co-workers and feel appreciated for the work they do (if they do it well), and receive helpful guidance about how to work better in a constructive way.
A company could develop a career path system that parallels the growth of top people with the growth of the company. Inform them with regularity of their impact, perhaps including metrics in the form of units of measurement, as well as the human touch such as inviting the families of top people to special functions and learning the names of their husbands, wives, and kids. Don't wait for an annual review or event to do this.
The best employers understand what it takes to retain their best and invest a human touch to stay connected with them, not around a nebulous notion of corporate loyalty, but around meaningful work, flexible terms, professional and personal growth opportunities, regular two-way feedback, and consistent expression of caring and appreciation. These are what compose a value proposition.
A talented worker who is fortunate enough to work for a value-minded employer may still take their skills elsewhere. But they are more likely to stay when their services are valued and aspirations are nurtured.
ABSURD QUOTES HEARD ‘ROUND THE WATER COOLER
“What I need is a list of specific unknown problems we will encounter.”
“This project is so important, we can't let things that are more important interfere with it.”
“We know that communication is a problem, but the company will not discuss it with employees.”
(Senior management memo) "This is to inform you that a memo will be issued today regarding the subject mentioned above."
“Lucent Technologies is endeavorily determined to promote constant attention on current procedures of transacting business focusing emphasis on innovative ways to better, if not supersede, the expectations of quality."
- Thursday, 20 February 2014 21:53
The blog title today is a quote attributed to an ex-girlfriend of mine from many years past, in reference to fulfilling any latent desires. Today I revisit the notion as a culmination of a three week journey that began in the Amazon as an adventure/writing assignment, continued forward to a stay in the beautiful mountain city of Manizales, Colombia, and finally a week-long stay in Medellin where I played three restaurant gigs with a local band.
As I am on the cusp of collecting my first Social Security check next year, the thought to start this edition rings emphatically true. Last night in my hotel room I flipped on the TV and landed on a movie I first saw about 10 years ago. The protagonist of the film is Burt Munro, played brilliantly by Anthony Hopkins in “The World’s Fastest Indian.” Based on a true story, Munro was a man of 68 who refused to sit and decay his life away.
He broke the mold of beliefs about aging by setting the world’s land speed record with his aging motorcycle. An endearingly eccentric, cash strapped, but resourceful backyard mechanic, Munro tinkered in the garage with his 1920s contraption for several decades, improvising mechanical parts as he steadily upgraded his “sickle” to a culminating triumph on the Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah in 1967.
His simple, steadfast, and single-minded determination enrolled others in his adventure that took him from his modest rural home in New Zealand half way around the world to America. Upon arrival at “Speedweek” in the Nevada Salt Flats, he was initially turned away because he didn’t pre-register; then, rejected when his bike and protective gear didn’t pass inspection. However, his charm and resolve inspired the officials to tinker with the rules, and the rest is history as he blew away the sleek contemporary competltion.
Munro had a sense of urgency that I can relate to. My sense of adventure had subsided in my 30s and 40s. Now almost 61, adventure has reincarnated as my experience heightens for how rapidly life speeds by, as if I was riding Burt Munro’s motorcycle.
QUIRKY QUOTES ABOUT AGING
“I’m not as old as I used to be.” Terry Braverman
“At my age, I get standing ovations for just standing.” George Burns
“True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.” Kurt Vonnegut
"A midlife crisis is that moment when you realize your children and your clothes are about the same age." Bill Tammeus
“You know you’re getting old, when you walk past a cemetery, and two guys chase you down the street with shovels.” Rodney Dangerfield