Attitude Equals Profits: Take Your Vacation Days to Improve Your Attitude and Improve Company Income
Attitude equals profits: satisfied workers drive company results according to the Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement who found a direct link between employee satisfaction and a company’s fiscal performance. I say, “Duh! – what have we been saying from anecdotal evidence and other research all these years!” It’s time to take your vacation days to improve your attitude. If you won’t take time off for yourself, then do it for your colleagues or for the bottom line of your organization.
At any rate, key findings of the study included:
1. High employee satisfaction is often the result of strong internal communications efforts throughout the organization.
2. Another satisfaction driver: internal competition among work teams to implement organizational goals.
3. Satisfaction leads to a status called “employee engagement.” Organizations with engaged employees have customers who use their products more.
4. Employee attitudes affect those of customers.
5. It is less expensive to foster employee satisfaction than it is to acquire new customers.
6. Organizational culture is the single greatest driver of employee satisfaction levels.
Here are some additional reasons to take your hard-earned and well-deserved vacation days:
- According to a recent survey of 1400 US workers, by www.Careerbuilder.com, more than one-third of workers will be taking work with them on vacation by either carting along their laptop, checking emails, or being in voice mail contact. 16% said their supervisors expected them to check in during their holiday and 19% said they would check in voluntarily. Of these workers, 61% said they would check their voice mail and email daily.
- In the same survey, 40% said a vacation of 3-5 days is enough to feel refreshed, 17% said they would take a shorter vacation or no time off this year, while 44% plan to take more than 5 days.
- Not surprisingly, half of the workers said they feel stressed at the office and 22% of these workers indicate some stress while taking time off because they have to check in. They also indicated that vacations were the #1 event they have postponed in order to progress in their careers.
Sometimes our personal or professional lives spiral out of kilter, or the demands on us at work or at home are overwhelming, or there just isn’t a good fit for us anymore. At those times when the heat is turned up and we are moving at the speed of light just to keep up, or just get by without going crazy, here are some tips to understand burnout and how to deal with it.
We move through four basic stages of burnout:
- Physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion (emotional takes up most of the space on the exhaustion scale)
- Shame and doubt about yourself, your decisions, or that you aren’t enough or a good fit
- Cynicism and callousness about your situation, sometimes anger or similar energy
- Failure, helplessness, and crises mode when we feel our situation is getting the best of us and we can’t concentrate, nor move forward like we used to
Once we recognize we are either rusting out or burning out, we need to take steps to rectify the situation before it cripples us. It starts by recognizing the stress you’re under, why it’s happening, and listening to your body if it starts to break down such as more accidents, more sickness or allergic reactions, more joint and muscle pain, and general lethargy or depression. Taking action while we still feel strong and capable of dealing with the situation will stop the burnout faster than if we wait until we are incapacitated by our mental, emotional, or physical state. Moving forward while we are still in a position of power to do so is much more likely to start the inertia than if we wait until we are in a weaker state where we may not have the courage, stamina, or resourceful thinking to gain momentum out of the burnout phase.
If you find yourself burning out, here are some steps to ward off the fire:
* Enlist the support of family, friends, and colleagues, especially if they have been in that situation before
* Practice the art of self-care – be adamant about creating time for yourself to clear your mind, be good to yourself, take care of your body, and replenish it with good food, exercise, rest, and things you love.
* Get very clear about what it is you’re about, what is your purpose, your ideal day, your vision for your ideal life. If you were brave, what would you do or change or create in your life that isn’t there now? What type of work or living situation would you want if you were being truly authentic to yourself?
* Take some time off to refocus your energies and remove yourself from the stressful situation to get a better perspective.
* Research similar fields or other jobs in your organization or industry if you like the work, but need something to best fit your skills, style, and personality.
* Become more self-aware of your work style, communication style, and personality style and seek a career that best uses your strengths. (I offer the Strength Deployment Inventory ® for those who want to learn more about their motivations behind their behaviors, and their communication and conflict management style.)
* Entertain the thought of retraining, going back to school, or starting your own business doing what you love. Test drive a new venture part time to see where your energy goes.
* Recognize that burnout carries a sense of loss of control or an abandonment of a goal you once had. Sometimes it turns into a sense of hopelessness if it goes on for too long. Avoid burnout by recognize the first signs of restlessness, stress, overwhelm, and agitation. Look at your situation and assess if it is a short-term project or a long-term situation before taking action and keeping cool instead of fuming and fanning the flames of burnout.
I know from my experience and the research on humor and healing, that we need to laugh through a hard time to help us get through it – known as the Biology of Hope (when we anticipate an enjoyable event and laugh at a situation, our good stress, eustress, hormones beta endorphins and growth hormones kick in and help our immune system.)
Here are some proven ways to reduce stress with everything else going on around us:
Wake up 15-30 minutes earlier and get your day started at a more leisurely pace with enough time to have a proper breakfast. You can get much done while it is quiet such as exercising, yoga, meditating, getting your day organized. It also helps to have clothing selected and lunches prepared the night prior so you don’t have to think too much.
Write down everything (and do back-ups) – as we get older, our brains can’t hold all the info it once used to. Give your brain a break and keep all your notes in one place – either electronic, paper, or both so you won’t stress over what will happen to your info if your batteries die. We now know that stress kills our brain – as it also does our heart. Stress affects the hippocampus, the memory and retrieval system of our brains. You know you have brain cells dying from stress when you’re in a grocery store aisle and you have no idea why you are there…stress.
Do it today – stop procrastinating and make a decision. Procrastination and clutter are just postponed decisions. Figure out why you don’t want to make that decision and go about it in a different way, just do it.
The Law of Entropy states that everything without work or force applied to it will break down over time. That includes cars, gardens, our health, communication, or relationships. Focusing on prevention will help alleviate the stress caused by things breaking down. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Get rid of as many irritations, aggravations or energy drains that you can. It’s the culmination of all those little sniggly things that add up to big stress. So fix the broken towel bar, the squeaky door, the rip in your couch, or throw out the pitcher that is too heavy to lift. All those little drains add up to an empty energy tank.
Plan ahead – live for today and plan for tomorrow’s events or emergencies. Have contingency plans in place for the probable causes that may affect you. Living in Germany for 10 years, we had to have a NEO plan in place – a Non-combatants Evacuation Plan. We were supposed to always have at least a half a tank of gas in our car, our medical information and family info easily accessible and important documents within reach in case we had to evacuate in a conflict situation. Friends in California tell me they have an emergency kit in case of fire or Earthquake with all their important items in it near the door. Make sure all your documentation is in order and look towards the future.
The contented cow syndrome – how to keep a happy herd and keep them from wandering off:
- We know that contented cows give more milk and it’s the same with workers – contented workers produce more.
- Identify realistic expectations about the job, responsibilities, and the organization.
- Ensure there is a fundamental match between the job and the person hired to do it – personality styles, work styles, communication and conflict management styles as well as team vs. individual focus. When there is an alignment between personal and organizational values and goals, there is a better fit and longer retention and less stress for the worker.
- Offer frequent feedback and open communication about the person and their work – let them know how they’re doing and acknowledge their efforts. Generation X and Y, in particular have been used to getting feedback every 60 seconds on how they were doing with computer games. A once per year evaluation isn’t going to cut it.
- Focus on flexibility for family and work and ensure there is a good work-life balance program so workers don’t feel overwhelmed, stressed out, burnt-out and rusted out trying to juggle personal and professional responsibilities.
- Cultivate trust, confidence, and honest, open communication between all levels – show you genuinely care for people and combine the heart and the head level in people to bring out the best in them.
Blah –buster tips for beating depression in the workforce:
- Recent labor studies found that depression costs companies nearly $12 billion in lost work each year and more than $11 billion in other costs accrued from decreased productivity. Here are some tips to improve on those statistics.
- Exercise and a healthy diet combined with vitamins.
- Expressing emotions verbally with a therapist or a friend or through journaling.
- Fresh air and sunshine, or at least full-spectrum lighting that mimics the sun’s rays. Studies have found that people are 25% more productive when using full-spectrum lighting and natural light as compared to fluorescent lighting.
Satisfaction with your work, feeling successful and that you are doing something that matters. Find out what you’re good at, what ignites your passion, and what can combine your preferences with a good income.
We’re a nation of over-doers, over-schedulers, and over-achievers which makes us fatigued both emotionally and physically. I offer some ideas from past clients on how they fight fatigue in the workplace along with my personal experience and research in fighting personal fatigue. Read on to help energize yourself and your workplace.
- SAS of Carey North Carolina, a privately held software company with a turnover rate a fraction of that of its competitors. They offer free amenities on their park-like campus including a health club, medical care, M & M’s every Wednesday, a chance to have lunch with their kids at the subsidized childcare center, and subsidized country club memberships to the company-owned golf course. They have also arranged for local businesses to bring their services on campus such as dry cleaning and car detailing to save worker’s energy, effort, and downtime from work running errands. They know that if workers are being taken care of and are happy, then they won’t feel fatigue, and will take care of the customers and that will make the owner as well as the customers happy. It’s all about removing the everyday irritants and obstacles to living a balanced life so workers can focus on their work without extra stresses of running errands and juggling life priorities.
- I asked one of my clients, trucking industry executives, what they did to energize their workplace and here are some of their answers:
- Have a spring bonnet contest with each department entering one bonnet to be modeled by one of their team members. Judges for this Alabama company selected the one with a live chicken on it as the winner. The gentleman in the audience declared that his bonnet would have won if he had known the use of livestock was allowed.
- One Fedex exec goes out on the floor and sings happy birthday to each person on their special day and he also sends candy bars with notes attached for those doing a great job.
- Another Fedex manager has found that asking his customers to supersize their order (similar to the fast food industry) is helpful as a recovery strategy. When following up with a customer whose package went astray, the liaison asks for another chance to do an even better job and it has resulted in tens of thousands of extra income – just by asking them to supersize their order.
- A Hilton Generational Time Survey of 1220 adults asked Americans how they felt about their lives:
- Need more fun – 68%
- Need a long vacation – 67%
- Often feel stressed – 66%
- Feel time is crunched – 60%
- Want less work, more play – 51%
- Feel pressured to succeed – 49%
- Feel overwhelmed – 48%
- When we look at these statistics, it seems even more important to evaluate how our workplaces are helping our employees balance their personal and professional lives and to make it easier for them to do the job we pay them to do.
- Seven Kinds of Tired:
- tossing and turning tired – not enough sleep
- everybody-but-you tired – overdoing it, too busy
- ditching-your-diet tired – skipping meals, overeating, unhealthy choices
- allergy tired – worn out seasonally, watery eyes
- hard-times tired – troubled home, lost your job
- under-the-weather tired – listless and groggy
- exercise-overdose tired – always on the go, overactive and stressed to fit your fitness in
That are you doing to fight fatigue at work? What are you doing to energize your personal life and your physical self? Take steps now to enjoy freedom from fatigue – you’ll be happier in the long haul.
As a former Recreation Professional (yes we got paid to play); we knew that it wasn’t just about the leisure activity we provided that provided the benefits to our participants, it was their mindset when they were participating.
Come to think of it, I’m not sure ‘former’ is appropriate, maybe ‘recovering’ would be a better term. I will always have a recreation and leisure outlook on life and will always embrace the importance of play, fun, re-creating, re-charging and renewing my mind, body and spirit.
I digress…. You see, we can be gardening, playing in the garden or working in the garden. It can be the same activity, but our mindset while we are doing it can be very different and thus create very different outcomes. Is cooking a joy and a creative experience to show love or is it a chore you must do to get fed? What is your mindset towards your activities?
What once was a joy can become a burden simply because of your mindset. Sort of like what attracted you to a person, may become annoying? Sound familiar? Minding our mindset when we are involved in the moment, in an activity can influence our material outcomes and our emotional/stress management outcomes as well.
Are you in the flow and in the moment? Are you fully aware and experiencing what you’re doing in that moment, or are you distracted, pre-occupied, thinking in the future or worrying about the past, or just not into it? Being in the flow, where the challenge meets our skills and time disappears is renewing, refreshing and fun.
If you’re doing an activity and finding yourself in a negative mindset, then you’re likely not reaping the benefits of your actions. If you’re just going through the motions, you may need to find another motion that’s more fulfilling or building more resilience to stress, rather than producing stress.
Minding our mindsets can help us fully engage in our lives, fully express and experience our activities and fully be in the moment without regard to the outside influences. Being conscious of our mindset throughout our day, whether work or play (or is it all play?) can help us reap greater rewards for a richer life.
In light of the recent Icelandic ash incident and all the news about stranded travelers; it reminds me that we have little control over what happens to us. It’s what we do about what happens to us that really makes the difference. The news was filled with irate travelers who were ‘stuck’ in Vegas for a few extra days. Hmmmm, millions dream of being here, yet some were outraged they had to spend some extra time here. Maybe they were out of money. It’s all about managing your expectations.
Being a seasoned traveler as a Professional Speaker and former Outdoor Adventure Director in Europe, I was on the road or in the air 3-8 times per month every single month for over 20 years. I’ve had my share of delays and detours. As an experienced entrepreneur for about 14 years, I’ve had my share of re-routings in that arena as well.
The best advice I can give comes from a couple friends. One said to me, if I was planning on traveling to Rome, had my heart set on it, packed for it, learned some Italian phrases and bought the guidebooks. And my flight was re-routed to Paris and I ended up spending the trip in France instead, what would I do.
Would I spend the entire time in Paris lamenting that I wasn’t in Rome, or would I re-group, assess the situation and remind myself I’m in a wonderful place on a wonderful adventure and then start enjoying Paris on the fly and be more spontaneous and figure it out as I went, asking for help, directions and recommendations as I went along.
It’s the same way with being an entrepreneur, we can’t have every single flight path planned out before we even start. We need to loosen our grip, go with the flow, enjoy Paris if that’s where our path leads us, even though we may have had our sites set on Rome. Enjoy the journey, make course corrections when we can, have a plan, but scrap it if it isn’t working. Delays and detours are bound to happen, we need to just be fluid to them and keep moving forward.
Another friend once said she saddles the horse in the direction it’s going. It’s much easier to work with what is moving in that direction, preferably forward. As a former horse owner, I also know it’s much easier to put the saddle on correctly and sit facing forward – the views are much better.
So the next time your path takes you off course, ask for directions, be spontaneous enough to figure it out and enjoy the views while you’re there. You just may discover something new and exciting that you were supposed to learn.
We do it to ourselves. We are our own task masters and sometimes work ourselves harder than any boss would ever dare to do. It begins with our out-dated thought process that we have to get all our work done before we can play. Here’s the first clue – we will never get all our work done. There will always be more.
It starts with a DECSION. A decision that we set boundaries on our time, boundaries for when others can contact us, boundaries on when we start and stop work each day and how we want to live our daily life.
I live in the Pacific time zone and used to be at the computer by 6am because the East coast was up and working and I didn’t want to miss a sale. The problem was I also worked until 6pm for the West coast folks. I didn’t have time for myself and didn’t have balance because I didn’t have boundaries.
Once I DECIDED to not allow others into my life before 10am, or Monday mornings and Friday afternoons; I found more balance with more boundaries. Instead of me moving my schedule around to meet other people’s schedules, I just stated my schedule and allowed them to meet my criteria for connecting. I now have Me Mondays – I can do anything I darn well please that morning so I can ease into my week. It can be personal or professional development or a pedicure.
Often it’s when I create my content, create and send greeting cards to connect with others via mail (it puts me in a good mood to send positive energy to others), dream my big dreams and visualize what I want to do with my work to serve others better. My mornings are my creative time and I need to honor my own bio-rhythms to capture that most important time of the day. Otherwise I’m too brain-dead in the evening to be creative and the dreaming and creating won’t get done. What works best for you? When are you most creative and when are you brain dead – work around those boundaries for more balance.
Fun Fridays are currently just the afternoon, but it will be moving into a full-blown day to reconnect and socialize with friends or just have fun and be creative, explore, discover and meet new people and try new things to expand my world. We cannot be Energized Entrepreneurs, if our energy tank is on E. We must fill up our tanks before we can have it to give out.
Guard your energy as fiercely as you would an appointment with anybody else. You can’t give what you don’t have. You need to take care of you so you can give out the best you possible and serve your clients to the best of your ability. You can’t do that if you’re tired, cranky, feel overwhelmed, stressed out and burnt out. Decide how you want to live your life and work your business and then do it. You are your own boss.
For our readers, I’m offering a free Special Report on Energizing Your Work, Wealth, Workplace & Well-being. Send me an email toGail@GailHahn.comand put Special Report in your subject. Grab other free articles atwww.Funcilitators.com.