Older Moms. New Babies.

Jan-OlderMother-imageYou see them jogging with strollers or walking in the baby food aisle. Maybe you’re one yourself. Today, more women ages 40 – 44 are new mothers. After decades of decline, there has been a jump in the increase of older moms. In a new analysis of census data by Pew Research Center, 86 percent of women ages 40 – 44 are mothers. And perhaps nearly as striking, 55% of these older moms have never been married.


So why are women waiting to have children later? Taking time for more education, improved job prospects, recovery from the recession, or stagnant wages are among the leading reasons women are delaying having children.


Less obvious reasons are the advances in in vitro fertilization that have allowed older women to develop careers or extend their education before having children. Fertility drops after age 35 with the chance of having a baby at age 40 of about 10 percent. However, improvements in IVF treatments have helped more women become mothers into the early 40’s. And if conception isn’t an option, adoption or surrogacy might be solutions for single women and those pursuing a career.


Becoming a Mother After 35 May be More Difficult

It’s possible for women over 40 to carry a child, but pregnancy can be more difficult because of less frequent ovulation. However, if a woman freezes her eggs before age 35, she has a greater than 50% chance of producing a live birth. Becoming pregnant later in life also increases the risks of pregnancy complications including greater chances of miscarriage, diabetes, or the need for a C-section delivery. Talking to a health care provider and taking care to have a healthy diet and exercise regularly is important.

The Advantages of Being an Older Mom

Older moms with more time or financial stability may be better prepared to care for her baby. Typically, a 40-year or older mom has a good sense of identity and an established career. Life experience is often stated as an advantage over being a young mom who is just starting out. And often for older moms, friends who have already become moms are a great resource.

Forty is the New 30

The average age of first-time mothers has climbed in every state in the U.S. And while the number of babies born to women 45 and older is relatively small, that number has more than tripled over the past decade. With more women choosing to have their first baby at 40, American family sizes are getting smaller. Today the majority of older women, especially those using IVF, are stopping at having one child.


And What About those Babies?

Children are likely to do well when their moms are older. In addition to a more secure financial foundation, children of older parents are more likely to do well in school. Older moms have the advantage of being able to share experiences of their 20s and 30s with their young children. And surprisingly, research indicates that women who have one or two children in their 30s and 40s have a greater chance of living into their 80s and 90s. For many older moms, knowing that they may not see as many grandchildren as a younger mom is something they accept, but wouldn’t change a thing about.

Family Planning: Daycare or Stay-At-Home?

Jan-childcare-imagePlanning for a family can be an exciting and daunting step, when you think of all the changes having a baby leads to. There’s the rewarding feeling of creating a bond with a tiny little human, even when you’re too tired to see straight. And then there’s the financial drain that comes with an extra person who must be fed, clothed and cared for 24/7. Child care, alone, is often one of the largest monthly expenses for working parents, unless you’re lucky enough to have a friend or relative who can’t get enough of changing diapers. This leaves many weighing the benefits and implications of child care vs. staying home with a new baby.


Those most impacted by this life-changing financial decision are millennials. In 2014, millennial moms accounted for almost 90% of all moms that year, up 50% from a decade ago. According to reports on the average salary for a millennial, in 2013, the median annual earnings for millennial women working full-time, year-round were $30,000, compared with $35,000 for their male counterparts. According to the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, the cost of center-based daycare in the United States can run up to $18,773 a year ($361 a week). With less than half their salaries left over, many millennials have some soul searching to do about what’s best for their families.


Assuming one has some financial flexibility, and can go without what’s left of his or her salary after childcare costs, how does one take on this decision? There are several factors to consider. Are you happy in your career? Are you driven to move your career forward? Do you dread the thought of being away from your child? Ultimately, you need to decide how this decision will affect the well-being of you and your family.


These days, American companies are starting to wake up to the idea that better parental leave is good for business. They are able to compete for a higher standard of employee by offering longer paid leaves. In addition, a new mother or father with an 8-week-old baby is not getting the quality of sleep he or she should, and may suffer at work. It may sound obvious as a parent, but companies are starting to recognize this as a priority benefit. These companies often combine short-term disability leave and paid parental leave, as their parental leave strategy. A few companies even offer on-site child care as a benefit to their employees, offering the best of both worlds.


An expectant mother or father can spend days, weeks or even months trying to figure out what to do. But when that little human comes into the world, everything changes. It’s good to have a plan. But it’s also good to be open to changing that plan. You may find that work is the perfect escape from the trials and tribulations of parenthood.

Three Ways to Impact Retention This Year

Jan-Retention-imageOne thing that keeps many HR directors up at night is the threat of losing employees. Whether it be a promising new hire or someone who has been with the company for over 20 years, having someone give their notice (or just stop showing up altogether) can be enough to throw things off for weeks at a time. Improving employee retention can be difficult, but there are plenty of things you can do to push things in the right direction.


Approximately ⅓ of new employees will quit a job within their first six months. Tired of losing valuable people? Here are three things you can do in 2018 to improve retention.

Focus on Maintaining Mutual Clarity

There’s no better reason for someone to up and leave their job than not understanding what their role is. Given the nature of siloing, however, scenarios such as this play out all the time in corporate settings. It is a supervisor’s responsibility to ensure that employees are never in the dark about performance, earning potential or expectations being held for them. Without providing this necessary framework, your employees will not only have a hard time succeeding—they’ll dread getting out of bed each morning to come to work. The answer? Regular, one-on-one sit downs, during which you can discuss performance, motivations and goals.

Offer Flexibility

No one wants their day to be characterized by a rigid work environment where they’re being watched 24/7 and expected to track every last second of their time. Flexibility means everything to the modern workforce, and with such options as hoteling and telecommuting becoming more and more common, there’s little reason to not embrace these needs. Offering additional flex-time and the option to telecommute to employees when it makes sense can not only help to reduce stress levels within the organization—it may even serve as a tool for saving on overhead.

Develop an Inclusive Company Culture

Creating a culture for your organization can be a lengthy process, and there’s really no right or wrong way to approach it. The culture of a company is the combined result of values, goals, interests and vision—it should speak to what the business is truly all about. This is where employee engagement comes in, which can have a huge impact on retention. Employees that feel engaged and actively involved in the culture of an organization will be much more likely to stick around than those operating on the fringe. Foster a safe, positive work environment that looks to all employees for feedback/development, and company culture will build upon itself in time.


Don’t lay awake at night thinking about employee turnover. Take the right steps, and you can enjoy high retention rates in the years to come.

Put Muscle Into Your Metabolism

Jan-BuildMuscle-imageHow’s your metabolism these days? If your body isn’t looking or feeling the way you’d like it to, maybe it’s time to take a closer look.
As we get older, especially in our 40s, our metabolism tends to slow down. Even for people who jog or cycle a few times a week and maintain an average weight, their metabolism can continue to decline. What’s going on?


The basics of your metabolism are simple. You eat food, most of it becomes glucose (sugar), insulin delivers the glucose to cells, and how well all of this happens is your metabolic rate.


For too many Americans, diet is the primary cause for a slowing metabolism. Consuming too much sugar or carbohydrates can lead to more stored body fat that sets off a chain of problems involving blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure.


Faster at Any Age

How to speed up you metabolism is simple, but first there are some misconceptions to get past. Getting older doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about your metabolic rate. In fact, with some important changes, an older person’s metabolism can outperform that of a 20 something. Being thinner isn’t necessarily an advantage for having a faster metabolism. And regular exercise such as running, cycling or walking is all you need to help manage your metabolism.


Muscle for Metabolism

To create a healthy metabolic rate, building muscle is the answer. More muscle burns more sugar for fuel. And the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolic furnace runs. Strength training – yes, working with weights – is absolutely essential to ward off useless fat. You don’t have to be a gym rat to change your metabolism. Simple resistance training even at home can start to build more muscle mass.


With a focus on strength training, you’re engaging the most important metabolic tissue in your body. A pound of muscle burns far more calories than a pound of fat. Unlike cardio training that is important for the heart and lungs, weight training consumes more sugar and delivers more strength. All you need to do is to start resistance work on the muscles you have. You can start at sixty and older and still get great results.


Getting Started

If you haven’t done resistance training before or it’s been a long time since you last did, here are few suggestions to get started. Like anything new, start slowly to avoid burnout or injury. If you have any concerns about lifting weights or using weight machines in a gym, be sure to consult with your physician. Begin with light weights and work on good form. You’re looking for a complete range of motion with good posture and alignment. You can start a program at home, but to really get results, visit a nearby gym and seek the advice of a good trainer. Just spending two–three days per week doing resistance training will start putting good muscle into your metabolism.


Avoiding Winter Employee Burnout

Jan-MillennialMeeting-imageWinter is in full-swing, which has many people excited to either hit the slopes or hunker down for the next few months. While the dead of winter is a great time for reflection, it can also lead to burnout for even the most productive employees. Between the cold weather, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and short days, winter can be enough to make anyone not want to give it their all at work.


Fortunately, there are a number of things that HR directors can do in order to keep employee burnout at bay during the winter—here are just a few ways to get started.

1. Implement the Morning Meeting

One of the most effective ways to ensure your entire staff is on the same page is to implement a morning status meeting each day. During the morning meeting, all projects should be discussed, as well as who will be handling which tasks. This gives everyone a high-level view of daily expectations and can also help employees feel more engaged and part of the puzzle than if they were to simply show up each day and begin working on their own. Strive to keep your morning meeting short—15-30 minutes to cover the day’s major priorities.

2. Show Your Appreciation

For those who live and work in cold weather climates, just showing up to the office on time can be challenge during the winter months. One way to help ensure your employees don’t end up on autopilot is to show your appreciation for their work during this tough stretch of the year. A random coffee gift card or other token of appreciation on a snowy day can go a long way in terms of boosting morale, and since small gifts typically count as business expenses, there’s no reason not to show your appreciation from time to time.

3. Lead as an Example

Anyone who is in a management role needs to ensure they’re acting exactly how they’d like their employees to act. When it comes to productivity and avoiding burnout, this means leading by example yourself—showing up to work on time, making strides to improve processes, and staying as productive as possible during the week. If an employee sees his or her boss slacking on the job, they’re likely to follow suit—don’t be the reason for burnout.

4. Consider Personal Check-ins

If your staff is relatively small, it should be easy enough to check in with all of your employees regularly to ensure that they have what they need to perform their work properly and aren’t experiencing any issues. In larger organizations, however, employees can easily fall through the cracks, and their experiences at work may be unknown to anyone other than themselves. Making it a point to check in with all of your employees individually throughout the winter months can help you identify burnout before it occurs.


Winter burnout is real, but it’s also avoidable. Be there for your staff, and spring will be here before you know it.

The Biggest Financial Mistakes Millennials Make Today

Jan-YoungManBudget-imageBorn between 1980 and 2000, Millennials are perhaps the most informed of any generation thanks to having grown up surrounded by modern technology—they’re also poised to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. That said, millennials actually have quite a bit working against them in terms of finding and maintaining stability, from disappearing pensions to growing home-buying difficulties. When it comes to managing money, millennials are quite a bit different from past generations.


Here are just a few of the biggest financial mistakes made by millennials today, all of which can lead to money management headaches.

Not Budgeting

There’s no quicker way to live beyond one’s means than to avoid putting together a budget. For many millennials, however, creating a budget is easier said than done. Other priorities, such as finding a job and paying on student loans tend to cloud the need for creating a budget, which is essential for avoiding problems down the road. Fortunately, there are a number of budgeting tools available online that make putting together a proper budget easier than ever.

Avoiding Student Loan Payments

No one enjoys paying their student loans each month, but the fact is that they’re not going to just disappear. Avoiding loan payments can quickly lead to arrears, penalties and fees, all of which can make getting out of debt even more difficult. If you’re having a hard time paying your student loans each month, call your lender and discuss getting set up on a different payment plan. Whatever you do, don’t just stop paying on them in hopes that they’ll go away—they won’t.

Not Planning for Retirement

As important as it is to live in the present, everyone needs to plan ahead in order to achieve financial comfort later in life. This is where setting up a retirement plan comes in. With nearly 50% of millennials having not yet set up a retirement plan, however, many are also losing out on free money, such as matches from an employer in a 401(k). The longer you wait to start saving for retirement, the more aggressive your saving strategies must be. Starting earlier can help to mitigate stress related to saving for retirement.

Constantly Renting

Renting an apartment is certainly easier than purchasing a home at face value, but in the end, it’s one of the worst financial mistakes a person can make if they continue renting for decades or longer. While home ownership is an investment (and one of the best available), all of the money that goes to renting an apartment ends up in someone else’s pockets—the renter has nothing to show for it after eventually moving. While renting can be a good means to an end, it shouldn’t be the end-all. Unfortunately, millennials simply aren’t buying homes the way past generations have.


While millennials have a great deal of potential for financial success at their fingertips, they’re often dragged down by issues such as those highlighted above. Fortunately, financial roadblocks can be overcome by adopting a better, more mature mindset about money.

Help Your Staff Beat the Back to Work Blues

Dec-BackToWork-imageIt’s a new year, a new beginning. We’re feeling refreshed after a season of holiday cheer and celebrating with family and friends. Maybe some of us ate and drank a little too much. And maybe we spent our entire year-end bonus on presents that the kids are already tired of playing with. But we all feel rested and recharged after some much needed time off, and we’re anxious to get back to work. Right?

That may be true for a few, but returning to the work after the joys of Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, Festivus, and New Year’s Eve can be a real let down for many.


Holiday Stress and Anxiety

A recent survey conducted by Appreciation at Work found that a growing number of employees consider the holiday season more trouble than it’s worth. They cite increased traffic, expense, pressure to complete end-of-year work tasks, and holiday work events among the top reasons to dread the most wonderful time of the year.

Another survey, conducted by the American Psychological Association, found that 56% of respondents felt an increase in work-related stress during the holidays. Those surveyed blamed low salaries and lack of advancement opportunities as factors most likely to contribute to increasing stress levels.

However, despite the anxiety that many experience during the holiday season, the majority of employees do look forward to time away from work at the end of the year.


Facing the New Year

Returning to work after time off, whatever the season, is always tough. Days spent celebrating with friends and family are suddenly replaced with days of email, ringing phones, and an impossibly long to-do list. But time off during the holiday season seems to compound the problems. We enjoy being with loved ones, but the hustle and bustle of the season doesn’t leave much time to relax and recharge. Exercise often goes out the window. We eat too much, drink too much, and sleep too little. Instead of returning to work refreshed, we’re often more tired than before we left.

And all the excitement of the holidays is gone, leaving us with nothing but January and the dark, cold winter ahead.


But You Can Help Your Employees Get Back Into the Routine

Want to help your employees beat the post holiday blues?

  • Allow your employees time to ease back into the routine. Hold off on big meetings or project kick-offs for the first few days of the new year, and give them time to catch up on emails, phone calls, and leftover loose ends.
  • Provide something fun for employees to look forward to, like a team breakfast or lunch.
  • Encourage new habits for the new year, such as regular stretching.
  • Set new goals with your staff. Help them focus on opportunities in the year ahead, rather than just working to clear their email inboxes.


Now might be a good time to think about preparing for the next holiday season. Here’s a tip: Employers who don’t force holiday cheer and who give their staff the time needed to both complete work requirements and enjoy time away are typically rewarded with a happier, less stressed, more appreciative team.

Holiday Flavors that are Actually Healthy

Dec-holiday-spices-imageWhile the North Pole’s most famous resident may work hard to keep up his jolly weight, with a steady intake of full-fat milk and cookies, many Americans go into the holiday season dreading the inevitable weight gain and planning their return to the gym in January.

And even though research conducted by Cornell University has shown that the weight gain isn’t as dramatic as people may fear – the average American puts on 1.3 pounds from October through New Year’s – they also found that it may take as long as five months to loose that same amount.

Holiday Flavors can be Healthy!

Many of the great tastes that we associate with holiday treats have significant health benefits. Cut back on the breads, butter, cream, and sugar, and focus on these ingredients for a tasty and healthy holiday.

  • Cinnamon. Of the most commonly used herbs and spices, cinnamon ranks first in antioxidant power. It’s also known to be anti-inflammatory, helps protect against diabetes, and even helps ward off certain cancers. So go ahead and drop a cinnamon stick in your hot apple cider, or whip up a batch of low fat cinnamon rolls, and enjoy the immune-system boosting power of this favorite spice.
  • Nutmeg. Since the days of ancient Greece, nutmeg has been used as to improve brain function and relieve fatigue. We now know it promotes healthy neural pathways, and has even been shown to help those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It also works to detoxify your body by boosting liver and kidney health, and even encourages healthy gums. Include it in a healthy pumpkin pie, and enjoy all of its benefits, along with those of our favorite orange gourd.
  • Ginger. Like its nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger is a known anti-inflammatory, and also thought to help promote healthy brain function and fend off age-related brain issues, like Alzheimer’s disease. This superfood relieves nausea, chronic indigestion, and even menstrual pain. Gingerbread cookies are a seasonal favorite, and this healthy recipe means you can enjoy them guilt-free.
  • Chocolate. Long known as an excellent source of anti-oxidants, the cocoa in dark chocolate is also loaded with fiber and minerals, including iron, magnesium, and potassium. And cocoa lowers LDL cholesterol, which means it helps reduce risk factors for heart disease. It may even help improve blood flow to the brain! While all these benefits are found primarily in dark chocolate, even it’s fatty friend, milk chocolate, has some positive power (in moderation).
  • Peppermint. A hybrid of watermint and spearmint, indigenous to Europe and the Middle East, and now cultivated across much of the world, peppermint is widely used to treat indigestion, anxiety and depression, and the common cold. It helps with the pain and bloating of irritable bowl syndrome, and cancer patients have found that peppermint helps calm nausea from chemotherapy. Whether you enjoy it in tea, cookies, or homemade candy canes, peppermint is another holiday treat with healthy benefits.


Nobody wants to put on extra weight during the holidays. But you don’t have to miss out on the flavors of the season. Leave the excess sugar and butter-filled cookies for the big guy in red, and give your health a boost, while still enjoying your favorite treats.

Millennials Got Older, but Their Financial Attitudes are Young

Dec-AgingMillenial-imageIf you still think Millennials are “young,” you may be a little off. They became adults in the year 2000, and today most are over the age of 30. Some are even grandparents. Looking back 17 years ago when Millennials were the “kids” in high school or college, the future looked wide open and bright. And in many ways, it was, as they became the first truly “digital generation.”


An Entrepreneurial Spirit

However, for many of them, economic and employment realities have taken the luster off their bigger dreams. Though Millennials are the most educated generation in history, they also have the highest student loan burdens of any age group. Many are living paycheck to paycheck and barely 25% of then have enough savings to last at three months. And those without income protection are even more vulnerable to financial stress. Not surprisingly, Millennials have shorter-term financial goals and are delaying important financial decisions like saving for retirement.


And though they often feel overeducated and under-employed, strong optimism is still a theme for many Millennials. Rather than following traditional employment paths, a large percentage want to launch their own businesses in the near future. With the right resources, 54% would quit their jobs and start a business next year.


Financing for the Future

For Millennials who are more secure financially, their view of the future sounds, well, very adult. Many are looking at getting their second mortgage, not their first. And having survived for years driving high-mileage beaters, many Millennials are considering buying their second or third car.


To make those kinds of purchases and to manage their finances, Millennials have turned the way people bank inside out. As the digital-from-birth generation, 74% of them prefer mobile banking instead of desktop banking or banking in person. They access their financial accounts via a mobile app nearly three times more often than any other group. And, according to a Vocalink study, more than half of Millennials prefer mobile banking with an iPhone.


However, banks don’t need to fret. Increasingly, Millennials are beginning to make more branch visits to seek expert advice for mortgages or for business planning. They even use ATMs more frequently than their non-Millennial counterparts.


Embracing New Technologies

As Americans of all ages are increasingly relying on mobile and online banking, Millennials are still setting new paths. While most people are just getting use to voice-activated devices from Amazon, Google and Apple, voice banking is being quickly adapted by Millennials. Nearly 68% of them would check their balances by voice commands and 46% would feel at ease paying bills by voice.


Though they more in debt and working harder to get by, many of today’s Millennials don’t look at work as simply a way to make money. They have disrupted the workplace forever by bringing more focus on creativity, entrepreneurship, working collaboratively and yes, by still trying to make a difference in the world.

Essential Supplements for Immune System Support

Dec-Supplements-imageWith cold and flu season here, many people are understandably searching for ways to keep their immune systems in tip-top shape. As many as 20% of Americans come down with the flu each year, resulting in 10+ billion in hospitalization and outpatient visit costs, not to mention a great deal of missed work. While there’s no surefire way to avoid getting sick this winter, there are a handful of things you can do to help boost your immune system so that you have a fighting chance against what’s out there.


Scared of getting sick and losing work? Here are five supplements that may bolster the effectiveness of your immune system, all of which are common enough to be found at your local specialty foods store.

Vitamins C, B6 and E

When attempting to supplement the immune system, vitamins are a natural area to focus on first. Vitamins C, B6 and E in particular are all capable of benefiting the immune system. Vitamin C deficiencies can actually lead to illness, and B6/E help to support biochemical reactions within the body that offer additional immune system support. While all three of these vitamins can be found in foods such as leafy greens, fruits and nuts, boosting your daily intake in supplement form can be an easy way to ensure you get enough.


The benefits of echinacea when it comes to the immune system are quite powerful and supported by scientific studies that have shown effectiveness against recurrent infections and prevention against the common cold. An herbaceous flowering plant that helps to stimulate the immune system, echinacea is available in supplement form and can also be taken as a tea.


Elderberry often gets mentioned alongside echinacea as being one of nature’s best supports for the immune system, and for good reason. For one, the fruit is packed with flavonoids, which have the potential to fight congestion. One study on elderberry even found that extract from the fruit can assist in reducing flu symptoms by as many as three days—a veritable eternity for anyone who is sick with the virus.


Probiotics are the “good” bacteria that make up the body’s microbiome and can have a major impact on overall gut health. As much as 70% of the immune system actually lives within the gut, and when a microflora imbalance exists, it can lead to poor immune function and chronic illness. Though probiotics can be found in certain fermented foods, they’re most effective when taken in large concentrations as supplements.


Ginseng has long been taken in supplement form to boost vitality and energy levels, but it can also help to strengthen the immune system. The plant’s roots, stems and leaves can all help to maintain immune system homeostasis, which results in a more dynamic defense against unwelcome pathogens. Look for Panax ginseng for best effects.


So don’t hide at home in fear of getting sick during cold and flu season! Focus on protecting your immune system, getting enough sleep and eating a balanced diet to stay healthy this winter.