To the delight of animal lovers everywhere, awareness of the physical, mental and emotional toll taken by stress is leading progressive employers to create take-your-pet-to-work programs.
(BPT) - If you’ve ever felt tense, anxious or simply unable to relax while performing your job, you’re far from alone.
A recent survey by the American Institute of Stress found 80 percent of U.S. workers across industries have felt stress in the workplace; nearly half say they could use help dealing with it and 42 percent said their co-workers could use some relief.
To the delight of animal lovers everywhere, awareness of the physical, mental and emotional toll taken by stress is leading progressive employers to create take-your-pet-to-work programs. For example, for the past 20 years Purina has encouraged its associates to bring their pets to work, and in a typical week hundreds of dogs and cats enjoy spending time with their owners at the pet food maker’s St. Louis campus.
"Pets bring a wealth of benefits — both physical and emotional — to pet owners and their families, so it's no surprise those same benefits also apply to the workplace and employees," notes Dr. Kurt Venator, Purina's chief veterinary officer. "Whether a pet helps provide a calming sense during a challenging situation or encourages employees to take a walk during their lunch break, here at Purina we experience the benefits of pets at work every day, and want others to as well."
As more and more companies adopt a pets-at-work policy, consider these facts based on a recent Purina report about the many advantages of such programs:
* They can benefit health: Pet-employee interaction has been shown to reduce the employees' blood pressure and cholesterol levels in addition to alleviating anxiety.
* They can improve employee retention: Sixty-three percent of employees in pet-friendly workplaces say they’re very satisfied with their work environments — nearly twice as many as those in other workplaces. In fact, respondents rank the option of bringing pets at work as the second most-valuable employee perk — more valuable than free coffee and parking. Overall, three in five survey participants wish their workplace would institute a pet-friendly policy.
* They can alleviate loneliness: Eight in 10 employees who can bring pets to work say that activity makes them feel more happy, relaxed and sociable. That's partly because talking about pets can be an ice breaker, making it easier for people to approach co-workers and get to know them better.
* They can promote physical activity: Many employees spend breaks and lunchtime playing with their pets or taking them for walks, boosting their own aerobic activity at the same time.
* They can increase pets’ happiness: Rather than staying home waiting for their owners to arrive, pets get to socialize with new people, play with other pets and enjoy more activity. Nearly nine of 10 people in the survey agree that bringing their pets to work strengthens owner-pet bonding.
In light of the proven benefits, Purina encourages other employers to consider allowing pets in the workplace. A toolkit with tips and information is provided at Purina.com.
“Our goal with our report is to continue to raise awareness of the benefits of taking pets to work and to arm employees and employers with insights that can help facilitate pet-friendly environments within their companies,” notes Dr. Venator.
It’s time for America’s workforce to wake up. If you are one of the tens of millions of adults sleeping fewer than seven hours each night — the amount recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) — you are likely jeopardizing performance, increasing accident risks and putting everyone in danger during commutes. Getting enough sleep every night is key to improving productivity, safety and quality of life. Here are some tips to make sleep work for you.
(BPT) - It’s time for America’s workforce to wake up. If you are one of the tens of millions of adults sleeping fewer than seven hours each night — the amount recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) — you are likely jeopardizing performance, increasing accident risks and putting everyone in danger during commutes. Getting enough sleep every night is key to improving productivity, safety and quality of life.
Here are some tips to make sleep work for you.
Don’t burn the midnight oil
Working late nights might impress your boss, but restricting your sleep can lead to trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling emotions and more, severely affecting your productivity at work. The National Safety Council reports that workers who sleep fewer than six hours per night cost employers six days a year in productivity.
Sleep for safety
Workers who sleep less than six hours per night are also at higher risk for injury, according to the Sleep Research Society. Cognitive and motor performance impairments caused by sleep deprivation can be comparable to drinking alcohol. If you make it a daily priority to recognize the signs of fatigue before, during and after work, and refuse to drive drowsy, you can reduce the risk of serious injury for yourself and others. This may be especially true if you work a job that involves manual labor or heavy machinery.
Strategies for non-traditional work hours
Some of the more high-risk professions involve working irregular hours. Shift workers — who can be nurses, law enforcement officers, emergency responders, transportation operators and more — work overnight or early morning hours with irregular or rotating shifts, causing upheaval in the body’s circadian rhythm and natural sleep/wake cycle. According to the AASM, shift workers may sleep up to four fewer hours per night than those working traditional hours, increasing the risk for injuries, accidents and drowsy driving. The CDC reports that serious long-term health problems are a concern, too.
However, there are ways for shift workers to combat this problematic sleep schedule.
Tips for 'wake time'
* Avoid exposure to sunlight if you need to sleep during the day, and wear sunglasses if you must go outside.
* Use moderate amounts of caffeine in the early part of your shift.
* Use public transportation, rideshare or take a cab, or arrange rides from friends or family after a work shift.
* Take a 20- to 30-minute nap during a work break or before a night shift.
* Get help from a sleep specialist to reinforce your body clock with strategically timed bright light therapy.
Tips for 'sleep time'
* Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the hours before you go to bed.
* Plan for any major changes in your shift schedule by altering your sleep time a few days in advance.
* Try to keep the same schedule on workdays and days off and create an effective “wind down” routine before going to bed.
* Keep your bedroom at a cool temperature, turn off all electronics and only do relaxing activities like reading or journaling.
Use the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project’s bedtime calculator, which helps you find your ideal bedtime based on when you need to wake up for work — even if that’s in the middle of the night.
Getting at least seven hours of sleep isn’t just a matter of feeling alert for productivity and safety on the job; it’s a necessary component of good health and well-being. If you’re having trouble sleeping, you should talk to your doctor, who may refer you to a board-certified sleep medicine physician at an accredited sleep center for help. For more information go to www.sleepeducation.org.
The rapid pace of change in jobs means the era of one-and-done learning is over. It no longer matters what you learned in the past — to stay relevant you need to upskill. So if you want to improve your marketability and get ahead in your career, it’s time to think about the valuable skills that could open the door to new opportunities. The good news is with tools and online courses on platforms like LinkedIn Learning, you can explore and develop critical skills and interests — right at your fingertips anytime, anywhere.
(BPT) - The rapid pace of change in jobs means the era of one-and-done learning is over. It no longer matters what you learned in the past — to stay relevant you need to upskill. So if you want to improve your marketability and get ahead in your career, it’s time to think about the valuable skills that could open the door to new opportunities. The good news is with tools and online courses on platforms like LinkedIn Learning, you can explore and develop critical skills and interests — right at your fingertips anytime, anywhere.
"Experience never gets old, but your skills can," says Marci Alboher, author of The Encore Career Handbook and upcoming LinkedIn Learning instructor. "Re-skilling throughout your career will position you to ensure you’re finding meaning in your work, growing in your profession and making an impact along the way."
Here are three tips for kick-starting your learning efforts.
1. Find the time!
The #1 career goal for professionals in 2018 is to learn a new skill — but not everyone knows where to fit learning into their daily lives. Here’s a tip: In today’s ever-connected digital world, we’re living in the era of bite-sized learning, where new skills can be honed in minutes on the subway, or while you’re eating breakfast.
Start by picking 5- to 10-minute windows in your daily routine — you don’t need to find hours, minutes are fine. For example, try skimming through courses on a Sunday night, and make a wish list of courses to view throughout the week, whenever it’s convenient for your busy life.
2. Make it a habit
They say a habit is formed in 21 days. Whenever you slot learning into your daily schedule, try to pick a time when you can make it routine — whether it’s on the bus during your morning commute, or in the 10 minutes after you brush your teeth at night. You’ll be growing in your skills before you know it. Fun fact: LinkedIn Learning also sets a reminder for you, so it’s one less thing you have to remember in your day.
3. Pick your skills
Today’s skills landscape is changing faster than ever — with new technologies and digital techniques emerging at every turn. Whether you want to advance your existing career or begin a new one, start by identifying a few key skills you’d like to hone. For example, people in every job can benefit from learning soft skills that teach you how to get things done or achieve your goals. Soft skills, such as communication and critical thinking, will give you a competitive advantage in the workplace, and you never know when you’ll uncover a new passion or side project along the way.
LinkedIn makes it easy to identify the skills you need by alerting you to the most in-demand skills for your job and industry, based on your LinkedIn profile, from project management to leadership.
One of the most important skills for keeping your passions alive is to learn how to be a lifelong learner. In any industry, in any phase of life, there are always new skills to be gained, and new knowledge to explore. Committing yourself to being someone with a constant appetite for learning will enrich you not only today, but throughout the course of your career.
To learn more about LinkedIn Learning and explore business, creative and technology skills to achieve your personal and professional goals, visit www.linkedin.com/learning.
(BPT) - It’s fair to call Charger a bull in a china shop. Well, at least a pit bull. The charming nine-year-old has a full-time job in the marketing department at dinnerware giant Replacements, Ltd.
“Charger’s been coming to Replacements since I rescued him from the side of a road as a puppy, so he’s really grown up here,” says Kevin Boyd. “Coming to work is great for Charger because he’s able to engage with people and other dogs so it’s really helped him become more sociable; he has so many friends who give him treats or want to take him for walks. Having him here helps me relax because I know he’s not home alone and really creates special moments in the day, like having him sit in my lap while I’m working.”
Charger is among dozens of pets you’ll find at Replacements. A walk through the warehouse and you’ll see dogs riding on carts pushed by their owners or perhaps encounter a cat or two. An opossum riding high on the shoulder of her human friend even graced the company's retail store with a visit.
Replacements implemented its pet-friendly policy more than 20 years ago, after Founder and CEO Bob Page received a dog for his birthday and couldn't bear to leave him home alone. Fast-forward two decades, and national and international media have repeatedly recognized Replacements as one of the top pet-friendly businesses in the country. The company invites all employees and customers to bring their pets to work or shop; in fact, Replacements’ front doors read, "All Well-Behaved Pets Welcome."
Gaining scientific support
Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University spent a week at Replacements, focusing specifically on the impact of dogs in the workplace. The VCU team monitored stress levels among three test groups: those who brought their dogs to work every day, dog owners who left their pets at home, and those who do not own any pets.
"We were surprised to find that stress actually decreased throughout the day among those who brought their dogs to work, while stress levels significantly increased for those who left their dogs at home," says principal researcher Dr. Randy Barker. "About half of those who bring their dogs to work said their productivity increased with their dog present. Some employees even commented that the presence of pets increases cooperation and builds relationships among coworkers.”
Barker also notes employees overall had higher job satisfaction than industry norms. He believes establishing pet-friendly policies could be a great benefit that doesn't hamper a company's bottom line. "I think leadership in many organizations may be hesitant to allow animals in the workplace, but our study indicates pet presence may serve as a low-cost wellness intervention that may enhance organizational satisfaction and perceptions of support."
Getting started as a pet-friendly workplace
Replacements hears from large and small companies across the country wanting to start similar practices and policies. Their best advice? Start small.
“Consider having a pilot day to gauge how a pet presence works for your organization,” says Public Relations Manager Lisa Conklin. "You might try allowing pets for a half day or a Friday to determine the best fit for your employees and your business. Being pet-friendly is truly a huge part of our corporate culture — so many of our employees tell us it’s one of the best benefits the company offers."
Replacements' formal pet policy requires all animals must be current on vaccinations, polite to people and other pets, and stay on a leash near their owners unless contained in an office or cubicle space. Owners are also required to clean up after any accidents.
Conklin adds pet owners must be sensitive to the fact some people have allergies or may be fearful of animals. Likewise, other employees aren't allowed to aggravate or intimidate pets. "We've seen many instances where employees actually got to know each other better through their pets. Seriously, it's hard not to smile when you're greeted by a wagging tail and friendly face!"
(BPT) - Picture this: After months of networking and polishing your resume, you managed to make the necessary connections, get in front of the right people and land an interview.
You deserve to be here. After all, you have an impressive background, great experience, fantastic references and are confident you can exceed the requirements of the job. The interview is really just a formality.
For many, the hardest part of the job hunt is simply getting an interview. However, many top candidates get passed over and are surprised when they are not offered a job. The reason for this is they often spend a lot of time practicing how to answer questions and explaining their qualifications, but forget about the soft skills.
A successful interview is about making the right impression, and these five soft skills are essential to making the impression that leads to a job offer.
1. A memorable appearance. We all know you need to dress your best before going into an interview, but you should go the extra mile to ensure the person you meet with remembers you. In addition to looking clean, tidy and professional, dress in a way that makes you feel confident and will make others notice.
2. Be ready to floss on the go. If someone notices something in your teeth, a piece of spinach or fleck of cereal, they won’t be able to see anything else. Before any interview, be sure to have a pack of Plackers Flossers with you. Made with strong floss that can quickly remove any gunk stuck in your teeth, these convenient one-handed flossers also double as a toothpick. Don’t leave home without them!
3. Exude confidence. Beyond just making you look good, the big reason behind dressing well and double checking that your teeth are clean and free of gunk is because this will give you confidence. Hiring managers can tell the difference between someone who is confident and someone who is not. Needless to say, they’re more impressed by confidence! So even if you’re nervous, dress up, keep clean, give a firm handshake and—if you have to—fake it until you make it!
4. Keep it positive. How you answer questions is often just as important as the answers you give. Always frame what you say in a positive note. In describing difficult managers or poor work conditions at other companies, frame it as a challenge you were happy to take on, an opportunity to learn and grow. Most importantly, remember to smile!
5. Eat well. You might be nervous and lose your appetite, but be sure you eat well the night before and the morning of the interview. Whole grains and foods loaded with fatty acids, such as salmon, eggs and kale, can help you feel great and relaxed for the interview. Just remember to have a few Plackers Flossers on hand so that energizing meal doesn’t become an unsightly mess in your mouth!
(BPT) - Did you know that in an average week, 75 percent of Americans skip doing something for themselves because they didn’t adequately plan or allow enough time for it? Does looking at your to-do list feel so daunting that it discourages you from making any progress at all?
You’re not alone. A new Post-it Brand productivity study found that more than 1 in 4 Americans feel completing everything in their weekly to-do list is harder than running a marathon.
Juggling multiple tasks at one time, along with a never-ending to-do list, is a common challenge for everyone — even those at the top of their game. Two professionals in the culinary and fitness industries share some of their tips to help you take control of your to-do list and increase your productivity.
The ‘write’ way
You’re 42 percent more likely to get something done if you write it down, according to research from the Dominican University of California. Creating a to-do list is an efficient way to visualize and prioritize your tasks, both short-term and long-term. Celebrity chef Russell Jackson is always looking for ways to be more productive and stay inspired. “Writing items down helps me feel that I’ve taken the first step in conquering the task,” he says. “I like to think of lists as a roadmap to help me visualize what I need to achieve.” Post-it Super Sticky Notes, 4 inches x 6 inches, are a perfect tool for jotting down tasks, goals and to-dos, and when paired with flags and tabs, it’s easy to keep important information at your fingertips, stay organized and take your to-do list wherever you go!
Break it down
Too often people attempt to improve their productivity by tackling large projects in a single session. The results may be disappointing and, in many cases, the project is left unfinished. Instead of getting bogged down in the entire scope of a project, take time to break down to-dos into digestible actions, and goals into specific, manageable categories and tasks. This allows you to focus on handling each of these smaller objectives so you can transition some goals from to-do to done.
Toss your tech
“Technology isn’t always the answer to checking things off your to-do list,” says Jackson, adding that even a tech lover such as himself needs a tactile method to spark creativity. Without a screen limiting you to seeing only the small tasks at hand, take advantage of a large surface and use Easel Pads to move big ideas around so you can see everything you are trying to accomplish. Seeing how fluid tasks can be can relieve some stress.
Clear your mind
If you find your current strategy isn’t working, don’t be afraid to switch it up. Go for a walk or clear your head by taking 15 minutes to do something you enjoy. For world-renowned fitness artist and celebrity trainer Nicole Winhoffer, even a 10-minute jog can help bring fresh ideas. She uses Post-it List Notes to write down her post-workout inspirational thoughts. “When you come back to your task after that quick sweat session, write down the first things that come to mind — those can spark ideas that you might never have thought of.”
Post-it Brand created a quiz to help you learn more about your list-making style and to find solutions and tools to help you be productive, tackle your to-do lists and achieve your goals. Visit www.post-it.com/quiz to take the short quiz and find solutions tailored for you to boost your productivity.
Survey details: The Post-it Brand Productivity Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (www.wakefieldresearch.com) among 1,021 nationally representative U.S. adults ages 18+, between March 30 and April 5, 2017, using an email invitation and an online survey.
(BPT) - Medical professionals are in greater demand than ever before, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), by the year 2025, the United States could need as many as 90,000 more physicians than it actually has, and the demand for nurses and other health professionals could be even higher.
Given those numbers, the time couldn’t be better to consider a career in health care.
Historically, the path toward becoming a doctor or nurse has been a rigid one — and, as a student, you were either on that path or you weren’t. But today, new options are opening up, as even the best-established medical schools seek to expand their offerings and encourage a greater number of medically inclined students to enter the field professionally.
New options for health care-inclined students of all ages
Just take what Harvard Medical School is doing. This spring, the school — whose typical acceptance rate is under 4 percent — announced its first-ever online certificate program that’s open to all aspiring clinicians as well as the general public.
The program, called HMX Fundamentals, is designed to give students a taste of what a top-tier medical education entails, while building crucial expertise in four foundational subject areas: Immunology, Physiology, Biochemistry and Genetics. These highly immersive courses emphasize real-world applications and experiences, integrating real-life case studies and offering a first-hand look into real medical facilities — a significant step beyond the traditional, passive learning and slide-show presentations that are common in some other online programs. The idea is to provide foundational knowledge in a meaningful context, making the information as relevant as possible.
By offering wider access than ever before to some of the school’s top physician-scientists, Harvard Medical School is hoping to change the game, and encourage more health-curious students and professionals to explore medicine seriously.
Whether you’re a highly motivated high school student, a recent college graduate or a young professional considering a transition into health care, this summer’s HMX Fundamentals program could be the first step in your path toward a career in medicine.
Expanding access without sacrificing quality
While HMX Fundamentals courses are open to students at virtually any phase of their academic or professional career, they do require a basic understanding of chemistry, biology and physics. To ensure that students are prepared to succeed, prospective students are asked to submit a brief application, both to confirm they’ve completed the recommended prerequisites and to give HMX a sense of what they hope to achieve through the program.
Applications for the program will be accepted through May 30, and the inaugural summer installment program will begin June 20. Tuition for HMX Fundamentals courses is tiered, beginning at $800 for a single course or $1000 for a two-course bundle. Partial scholarships are available on a limited basis.
(BPT) - If you feel like you're working more, but getting less done, you're not alone. Employees are working an average of 44 hours per week, of which only 29 were considered to be productive, according to a new survey of 1,200 full time office workers.
The recent "Productivity in the Workplace" study commissioned by Fellowes found respondents feel the key to productivity is making adjustments within the existing workday versus working more hours. Chatty coworkers top the list of productivity killers, with unnecessary meetings, cell phone disruptions and problems with office equipment also on the list. Respondents identify productivity boosters as cutting back on meetings, having more quiet spaces to work, schedule flexibility and more up-to-date technology.
Laura Stack, also known as "The Productivity Pro," travels the country helping organizations of every size improve their employee and team productivity. She shares the following tips to help people make the most of their hours in the office so they can get back to business.
1. Give disruptions the boot. Resist the urge to constantly check email and turn off email notifications. Put your cell phone on airplane mode, instant messaging on Do Not Disturb, and let calls go to voice-mail.
2. Speak up. Need something new in the office to help your coworkers and you stay more productive? It never hurts to ask. Office equipment, like printers and shredders, are now being made with advanced technologies that can make your job easier and help you get back to work.
3. Cut down on meetings. Ask yourself if you really need to have a meeting. Can you cover agenda items via email? Cancel meetings if face time isn't imperative and give colleagues more time to get their jobs done. Also, try to schedule one day a week on your calendar that is meeting-free.
4. Don't multi-task, single-task. When you do have a meeting, make sure you are 100 percent focused. You don't want to miss crucial updates and next steps on projects, it will only hurt your productivity later on.
5. Practice "on, in, around, or shred." Eighty-eight percent of people use paper in the office. Keep items you work with daily on your desk, those you work with weekly in your desk drawers, and those you work with monthly around your desk, in archives, or filing cabin Use an automatic shredder for everything else, like Fellowes' line of AutoMax shredders, which shred up to 500 sheets of paper at a time with the simple touch of a button -which helps avoid disruptions.
6. Break it down. If you have trouble getting started with a big task, break it into smaller chunks. Ask yourself, "What is the next action step I need to take to see progress on this project?" Then set a timer, leap into action, and focus on the next step.
7. Vary activities. For mental and physical alertness, vary sitting activities with standing ones, mental activities with physical ones. It will help prevent fatigue and keep your efficiency high.
8. Put some fun into your work. Turn boring tasks into a game. Make a deal with yourself that when you complete the activity, you will do something fun afterward - like taking a walk or having a piece of chocolate. By creating internal enthusiasm, you can stay focused longer.
9. Change of scenery. Try to work in a different setting once a week. Whether you work from home, the library, or a nearby park, new surroundings can inspire ideas and give you the energy you need to tackle your to-do list.
To learn more about Laura Stack and the "Productivity in the Workplace" study, visit www.fellowes.com or www.TheProductivityPro.com.
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