Reversing Burnout Series :: Nailing Your To-Be List

by Peter Atherton, AE Growth and Impact Expert, Consultant, Speaker, Author of Reversing Burnout
The Win-Win: Life Balance for High Performing Workers,  Sustained Growth for Your Organization


The previous parts of this series included  mastering the pastseeing our own big picture, and knowing when it may be time to pivot have helped us know where we stand.  We can continue to use our “margin” time to map out the places we would like to be in terms of our career, relationship with family and friends, finances, personal growth and development, and our connection to others.  In order to effectively design the path to connect us to our best selves and better future, we need to be sure of our starting point and the obstacles that could be in our way.


 

Imagine Your Best Self

Imagine how much more content and less stressful life would be if you could “do you” really well and effectively… and do so ALL the time?
The first steps in the process is to imagine being your best self, and for most this includes:

  • doing excellent work
  • doing what we do best every day
  • growing and advancing
  • having a life and impact beyond our career alone

The good news is that these are ALL possible and in our control.  Once we imagine them, we can begin to take the necessary steps to realize them.


 

Get in the Flow

Getting in the flow of our best selves will typically require that we answer “yes” to the following:

  • Do I strive for excellence at work?
  • Do I routinely deploy my best skills, talents, assets, gifts, and experiences?
  • Do I seek opportunities to continuously grow personally and professionally?
  • Am I known and revered outside the office?

These are high bars for sure… but don’t we all at least have that small voice inside reminding us that we aspire to achieve them?… and don’t we also want to inspire others to reach for these too? At any given time, we fall short… but at any given time we can also close the gap.


 

Analyze the Gap

We can perform a gap analysis and design a strategy to close the gap once we know: where we stand, where we want to be, and what’s holding us back. The previous parts of this series related to mastering our pastseeing our own big picture, and knowing when it may be time to pivot have helped us know where we stand.   We can continue to use our “margin” time to map out the places we would like to be in terms of our career, relationship with family and friends, finances, personal growth and development, and our connection to others. In order to design the path to connect us to our best selves and better future, we need to be sure of our starting point and the obstacles that could be in our way.

If you answered “no”, “I don’t know”, or “I’m not sure” then ask “why” at least four times to get to the root issue.

For example, why don’t I strive for excellence at work the way I once did?

  • Answer: I don’t really feel it anymore.  Why?
  • Answer: I have lost my motivation.  Why?
  • Answer: I’m doing the same old thing.  Why?
  • Answer: The work is the work and nobody is talking to me about anything different.

Real issues to be considered:  Loss of efficacy, burnout, disengagement, no paths available for growth, employee connected with an ineffective boss.

 

Another example:

I can’t say that I routinely deploy my best skills, talents, assets, gifts, and experiences.  Why?

  • Answer:  They’re not called for in my job.  Why?
  • Answer:  Ok, it is expected that I keep growing and leverage my work skills, talents, and experiences on the job, but not that other stuff.  Why?
  • Answer:  That’s just not part of the work; work and life are mostly compartmentalized.  Why?
  • Answer:  I guess that’s just the way it’s always been.

Real Issues to be considered: a lack of awareness of what each of these elements are and/or a lack of knowledge on how best to develop and leverage them to improve engagement, growth, and performance in today’s workplace. Once we know the real reasons for each of the “non-yes” questions above, we can begin to retarget toward the places we want to be.

 


 

Take Action

Identify three steps to move closer to where you want to be in terms of work, family and friends, finances, personal growth and development, and connections with others. As a way to get started, many high-achieving professionals and business owners identify steps from answering some version of the following questions. Take one step toward your targets each week… and then keep going.

Work: In terms of work, it could be establishing a long-term career plan and then sitting down with your supervisor to begin a new dialogue about creating a better future.   

  • What stops me from excelling at work?
  • Does work allow me to see, develop, and leverage my skills, talents, assets, gifts, and experiences?  If not, what other pursuits would allow me to develop and deploy them?

Family and Friends: In terms of family and friends, it could be scheduling a date-night with your significant other or picking up the phone to call a friend to make plans.

  • Do I have all the relationships I want at home and with friends?
  • Are the relationships I have in development, growing, maturing, or peaking phases… or are they in a decline and in need of a refresh?

Finances: In terms of finances, it could be establishing that long-term plan for more financial freedom.  

  • Do I have a savings and retirement “number”?  Am I on track?
  • Does my income exceed my expenses… and how can I increase the former and decrease (and avoid adding to) the latter to create more financial freedom?

Personal Growth and Development: In terms of personal growth, it can be reading a book, subscribing to a podcast, and committing to an exercise plan.

  • Am I growing personally, spiritually, and in terms of my physical health?
  • Am I taking on new experiences that push me out of my “comfort zone” and expand my horizons?

Connection with Others: In terms of connecting with others, it could be reaching out to a local non-profit to take a tour and learn more.

  • Do I know my passions outside of my work and family?
  • Am I learning more about issues that upset me and the causes that inspire me?… and am I taking action to make a difference?

Once we retarget, we can develop our “to-do” list and begin to bridge the gaps.  This process of moving forward step by step helps us to revitalize.

  • Begin to Revitalize  

 

In my case, in order to stay on track and begin to realize the full life I desired, I needed to see all my priorities at once.  To do so, I redesigned my weekly “to-do” list.  A previously “all-work” list transformed to a 6-box list with 2 columns and 3 rows with a “to-do” box related to: work, family, personal growth, professional growth, non-profit and community connection activities, and other items related to miscellaneous appointments, errands, or home projects.

Well informed and developed “to-do” lists can be designed to take us from where we are to where we want to be.   Taking action is what moves us to become our best self.   We can celebrate each step toward our targets as one step closer to being able to say… “nailed it!”


 

This article originally appeared on ActionsProve

Related Articles:

 




Reversing Burnout Series :: Knowing When to Pivot

by Peter Atherton, AE Growth and Impact Expert, Consultant, Speaker, Author of Reversing Burnout
The Win-Win: Life Balance for High Performing Workers,  Sustained Growth for Your Organization


Many of us have a sense that something may be off. That is, we may be tracking off-course, or that we may not even be on the right track anymore.  As a result, many of us are considering whether we need to pivot.
Given the desperate need for good talent and the high cost of employee turnover in today’s job market, this is a scary proposition for many employers. It shouldn’t be, however, if they are seeking to truly engage and develop their employees.

The fact is, some form of “pivoting” is the only way to avoid a decline.  Even if we know we are on the right track, we need to continuously pivot to progress and refresh along the way. Individuals who understand growth cycles, work-life seasons, and what is means to live a full life will be positioned to enjoy continued growth and success at the office and beyond.  When top talent has the choice to stay, be engaged, and grow, employers will be more apt to embrace cycles and design strategies to support that demand, and create opportunities for growth.


 

Cycles Within the Cycle

Just like cell regeneration patterns and planetary movements, as humans, we have growth changes within our overall career life cycles.  Over the course of my 24-years as a professional engineer, there were several sets of “learning and development”, “growth”, and “peaking” stages at each level of career advancement.  My movement from project engineer to project manager to principal to senior executive to “what’s next” were clearly marked in 5-year increments.  Each cycle along the path was critical to keeping me moving forward.


“Knowing exactly when to begin the pivot or refresh process requires the knowledge of cycles, vision of where you want to be, and the courage to act.”

 -Peter C. Atherton


 

The Personal Refresh

High-achievers, in general, follow a similar pattern of continuous growth through a series of advancements. Traditional leaders and organizations encourage and endorse this. However, especially today when is it clear that top talent wants more than just traditional success, this approach is short-sighted.  Once we’ve “mastered our craft” and “made our name,” pure professional pursuits begin to lose luster, even for the most driven employees.  Many successful professionals and business owners with 15 or more years of experience are feeling discontentedburned-out, and disengaged with business as usual.

Personal career stagnation can occur and a “personal refresh” needed, even when their organization has taken intentional steps to improve workflow and culture, .  This reset is needed personal growth and development that provides balance for our professional success. Once refreshed, we are in a position to regain perspective on both our lives and careers. Only then can we begin to develop a plan for continued and sustained success.  That success could be continuing on our current path, refreshing in place, or pivoting in a new direction. Without some form of continuous personal growth and development (or at least mid-career reboot), we are likely to realize the fate of most senior staffers and leaders in terms of losing emotional intelligence.

Regaining and maintaining our self and overall personal awareness is key to our overall professional growth and effectiveness.


 

The Process

The process of a refresh or a pivot is just that – a process.  The optimal time for either option is during the later portions of a growth phase. The goal is to continually push off the peaking and decline stages as illustrated in the graph below.

This is a process. To get through it, I needed a time-out with patience, support and tough love.  Allowing myself this opportunity,  helped me to understand where my  professional and personal interests and passions intersected. Ultimately, it pushed me to design a pivot from a comfortable and lucrative career I could have coasted in for decades.  This process is ideally done with the aid of an experienced coach, one who can guide you through the various steps and customize them for your unique career path, personal situation, and work-life seasons.  You can view some tips for starting your refresh on my blog as well.


 

This article originally appeared on ActionsProve

Related Articles:

 




How Companies Can Ensure Employees Feel Supported While on Leave


By Gene Lanzoni, Marketing, Thought Leadership, Customer Insights 
The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America


 

With the expansion of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) more than a decade ago, employers have become more aware of their responsibilities with not only how to stay compliant, but the role they play in helping employees return to work. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lost productivity due to absenteeism in the U.S. cost employers $225.8 billion annually, or $1,685 per employee. In today’s competitive labor market, many employers are looking for ways to retain their employees and adopting leave practices that help employees return to work from an extended absence due to injury or disability is becoming a priority.

As such, employers are responding with more personalized leave management and more robust stay-at-work (SAW) accommodations. Guardian’s most recent biennial Absence Management Activity Index and Study–“The Value of Leave Management Integration,” found three in four employers with a high level of return-to-work (RTW) and SAW programs reported decreased absenteeism, compared to only 40% of companies with no formal SAW program.

Guardian’s study also reveals employers are paying greater attention to the employee experience, one that offers a more supportive environment with additional flexibility, resources, and education. Employers seeking to upgrade their absence management programs to generate positive outcomes like high employee satisfaction and retention should consider the following:

Better Return-to-Work and Stay-at-Work Accommodations 

While it’s important to communicate with employees throughout their disability leave, it’s equally important to provide them with a smooth transition back to work. Employers should establish a strong RTW program that guides employees in a way that makes them feel supported. Guardian’s study indicates 70% of employees who completed an RTW program feel their employer cares about them. Additionally, companies that have four to six RTW initiatives see a 78% reduction in lost time, compared with 48% of companies that have no RTW initiatives. 

Employers have become more aware of their responsibilities under the ADA and are identifying ways to help their employees stay at work following an absence. These activities have expanded beyond traditional vocational rehabilitation to include interactive processes, transitional work plans, and worksite modifications to accommodate employees with disabilities. Providing employees with resources like nurse case management and duration guidelines can help reduce the likelihood of a relapse. Guardian’s study found organizations with the most comprehensive RTW programs appear to achieve greater success reducing lost time and improving employee retention. 


Flexibility and Personalization Go a Long Way 

Today’s technology makes it easy to communicate and inform a company’s workforce through various channels. So, it’s not surprising our study reveals that the accessibility of information has a great influence on employees when they are on leave. Every employee has a preference of how they’d like to communicate with their employer about leave, and Guardian’s study finds the majority of employees prefer to have 24/7 access to personal and mobile communications.

Employers that leverage new technology, including automated dialers, text messaging and chats are leaders in the absence management space because they demonstrate a willingness to accommodate to an employee’s schedule and individual needs. In fact, Guardian’s study reveals 21% of Index leaders use automated dialing technology, compared with 9% that lag on program improvements. The same goes for interactive voice response systems – 16% of Index leaders leverage this technology, compared with only 7% of those that rank lower in the Index. 

At the end of the day, many employees want to work for a company they feel cares about their well-being and that will help them navigate the journey through their disability. The data collected from Guardian’s Absence Management Activity IndexSM and Study supports the notion that employers who prioritize these programs see positive results in employee satisfaction and overall retention.


Unless otherwise noted, the source of all information is from the 2019 Guardian Absence Management Activity Index℠ and Study – “The Value of Leave Management Integration.




Single Women’s Guide to Financial Wellbeing



If you’re a single woman today, you’re in good company: The number of single adults in the U.S. continues to increase—from 39 percent in 2007 to 42 percent in 2017, reports the Pew Research Center. The rise shows no signs of abating. Many people are choosing to wait until later to get married, if at all. Although there is freedom in spending your money as you wish, as a single woman you might be slightly apprehensive about your financial future. A study by MassMutual finds that indeed women are more anxious about their current and future financial status than men—more apt to worry about household finances now and less confident in their eventual retirement security. But the good news is that there are several doable steps that single women can take to feel financially confident


SIX Ways Single Women Can Watch Out for Their Own Financial Wellbeing: 

  1. Have a Plan for Retirement Savings

Most couples find it easier to save because they have two incomes coming in—and they are sharing costs such as housing expenses, which can make it easier to allocate more for savings. However, single women need to approach their savings goals as aggressively, and it seems they aren’t. The MassMutual study found that women were three times more likely than men to say that they couldn’t afford to contribute to their retirement savings plan. But, that can be catastrophic because you will potentially not have someone to share bills with now or in the future. In fact, it turns out that women need to save more for retirement in the first place—simply because they are more likely to outlive men. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that women tend to live about five years longer than men.

  1. Boost Your Financial Literacy

A survey for Merrill Lynch found that half of women lacked confidence in managing their investments—a gap of 16 percent between women and men—even though they reported feeling nearly equally capable as men in other financial tasks, including budgeting and paying bills. In fact, 61 percent of women would rather talk about their own death than money, the study reports. But learning about investing is not only necessary—it can be fun and fascinating.

Vow to sit down with a financial advisor. Discuss vehicles that might be right for you, from IRAs to mutual funds. Ask your human resources department if they offer any financial education; it’s quite likely they do as it’s a growing benefit—today 83 percent of employers offer a financial wellness program, up from only 20 percent in 2015, finds a study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

  1. Regularly Contribute to Your Emergency Fund

Planning for an emergency is wise. As we know, taking a loan or putting an unexpected expense on your credit card can just extend the pain in the form of interest rate payments. If you are single, you might need a more ample emergency fund than your married counterparts. In fact, a recent article in Kiplinger says that some financial planners recommend single women, specifically, keep between nine and 12 months of living expenses available, compared with only three to six months for couples.

  1. Take Care of Crucial Paperwork

A wedding often spurs couples to consider their financial future. From living wills to power-of-attorney forms, it forces them to focus on serious life considerations. As a single female, you should make sure you have updated sets of paperwork; you can access advance directives specific to your state here, and a sample power of attorney can be accessed here. Your doctor may also have a form you can fill out specific to that hospital and practice. Talk to a financial advisor to find out about other paperwork you should have. Be sure it is notarized as appropriate.

  1. Buy a Home If and When It Makes Sense for Your Situation

If you’re contemplating a home purchase as a single woman, you’re not alone: Women now are the second largest homebuying group following couples, surpassing single male homebuyers, finds the National Association of Realtors®’2018  Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. Just make sure you’ve thought through all the costs related to a home, including maintenance and insurance, to ensure that it’s a financially savvy move, compared with renting.

  1. Don’t Skimp on Insurance, Including Disability Insurance

In a new survey of the awareness and ownership of disability insurance across today’s workforce, The Council for Disability Awareness (CDA), uncovered that among all single women in the U.S. whether never married, divorced or widowed – nearly 1 in 3 said they were “extremely unprepared” for any period of disability if they should lose their income. That number equates to roughly 10-million women in America. What would you do if you were forced to take a leave from your job because of an accident or extended illness?

Without a partner to cover the bills, this work lapse can be devastating to a single woman. That’s why disability insurance may be even more important for single women, considering that more than a quarter of today’s young adults aged 20 will likely be out of work for at least one year at some point in their career. Make sure to talk with your human resources department about your options as a way to safeguard your income.While single women often have more freedom with their finances, that comes with responsibility as well. Take care of your financial wellbeing is a gift you give yourself.  




Celebrating the Modern Dad: Transitions and Wellbeing for Today’s Family



The presence of a loving father greatly increases a child’s chances of success, confidence, resilience, physical and mental well-being.

Family Dynamics of the Past

Not too long ago, society deemed dads incapable of caring for their children.  At least that’s what the television ads would portray. Picture this: a bumbling dad burning dinner and twisting the baby’s diaper in a knot, only to be saved by dear old mom.  At the time, fathers were simply the breadwinners, and had no business in the kitchen or caring for the children.

But that was then.  

The historically significant shifts in technology, alongside the evolution of gender roles, over the past 70 years, both at home and in the workplace, have changed that.  Now, dads are just as likely as moms to say that parenting is important to their identity.  According to Pew Research, it is now less common for dads to be the sole breadwinner of the family.  In 1970, 47 percent of families were supported by the working dad alone. Today, that number has dropped to 27 percent.  Most two-parent families with kids have both parents working in some capacity.  Along the way, society has done away with stereotypes about what fathers do. 

If there is a strong evidence to prove the importance that fathers be around and be involved, then they now have a stronger argument to be home.” 
– Paul Raeburn.

The Modern Dad: Fathers as Caregivers

The modern-day father comes in various forms. Today’s father is no longer always the traditional married breadwinner and disciplinarian in the family. He can be single or married; externally employed or stay-at-home; gay or straight; an adoptive or step-parent; and a more than capable caregiver. More fathers are actually making the conscious choice to stay home to raise their children.  According to Pew Center, in 2016, 24% of stay-at-home dads reported that this was the main reason they were at home, up from just 4% in 1989.

As more and more dad’s take on the caregiver role, new studies are being conducted on the science of fatherhood that investigates the role of fathers in their children’s and families’ lives.  According to author, Paul Raeburn,  “Fathers who play with their kids have children who have fewer behavioral problems in their school years, adjust better to their transition to school from toddlerhood, and have less likelihood to be involved in delinquency or criminal behaviors as teenagers and even more as adults. This has a lifelong effect on children and it’s really only in the last few years that this has begun to be recognized.”  

The NEW American Family and the Need for Comparable Paid Family Leave Laws, Disability Insurance

As dad’s role in the family dynamic becomes more equalized with that of what the stay at home mom’s role used to be, the need for paid leave programs for all workers has come into the public and political conversation. Today, only a few states have laws requiring paid leave for various circumstances. And while many companies have their own, more generous policies, the benefit is not as widespread as you might imagine: The National Partnership for Women and Families, a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy group, estimates that only 17 percent of workers in the United States have access to paid family leave through their employers.

To help working mothers, paid parental leave – for moms and dads — may be the next frontier. Employers and governments are now talking a lot more about giving fathers a break so they can be the dads they want to be – and so the daily work-parenting load will be more equally distributed. In fact, the Trump administration has reportedly drafted a budget that would require states to offer six weeks of paid parental leave. So far, there are no signs of any progress on the plan, mostly because there are no specifics about how to implement it yet, but the fact that such a priority is even on the budget at a time of massive spending cuts is good news. 

Whether or not your state or company offers ample paid leave, disability insurance (or, as we like to call it, “income insurance”) is another benefit more employers are considering as additions to their benefits packages, and one more families should consider during their company’s open enrollment. Although fewer than 40 percent have access to personal medical leave through short-term disability insurance that is provided by their employer, most workplaces offer you the option of purchasing more. It’s a decision that can save a family’s finances should the unexpected happen.

Proactive Steps Dad Can Take for Longterm Health and Wellbeing

Outside of benefits and income protection, and as primary caregivers, it is important for men, like their female counterparts, to take a proactive approach to healthcare, something most men historically do not do. According to a recent article by the Wall Street Journal, men are notoriously bad patients. Compared with women, they avoid going to the doctor, skip more recommended screenings and practice riskier behavior. They also die about five years sooner, live with more years of bad health and have higher suicide rates. Now, with the growing recognition that treating preventable causes of death and disability could close the medical gender gap, the health-care industry is mounting a new push to get men the care they need.  

The first step is prevention. As we know heart disease the number one cause of illness and death for the American man.  Families can help the dads in their lives think about their own health and lifestyle choices and ensure they are taking the right steps to look after themselves.  The Centers for Disease Control, offers families a simple guide to help the men in their life get and stay on track with their health.  Here are some tips: 

  1. Gather for the Family Meal.
    While you are at it, have dad eat his fruits and vegetables every day.

  2. Get active!
    This Father’s Day, find fun ways to exercise together. Regular physical activity has many benefits. It can help dad control his weight, reduce his risk of heart disease and some cancers, and can improve overall mental health and mood.
  3. Don’t Forget to Breathe.
    Help the men in your life recognize and reduce stress.
  4. Schedule the Check Up.
    Men can prepare for doctor’s visits. Certain diseases and conditions may not have symptoms, so checkups help identify issues early or before they can become a problem.
  5. Know the Signs of a Heart Attack:
    • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back
    • Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint
    • Chest pain or discomfort
    • Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder
    • Shortness of breath
  1. Know the Signs of Depression: They include persistent sadness, grumpiness, feelings of hopelessness, tiredness and decreased energy, and thoughts of suicide.

A father’s influence has changed over the years. For example, today there are more stay-at-home dads by choice and those that are able to take paid leave for a new baby.  This has created a cultural shift placing a father at the core of caregiving. As a result, it is having long term positive effects. As the number of dads who are in the caregiver role increases, it is ever more important they take advantage of employer paid leave benefits, and at the same time, take proactive steps to maintain optimal health… not just for their own good, but the good of their families (and society in general).  

Happy Father’s Day!




Your Guide to a Successful Yard Sale



Your Guide to a Successful Yard Sale: 
Clean Your House and Make Some Cash

There’s truly no better example of the adage “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure” than a yard sale. And if you’ve been dying to Marie Kondo your house, this is the ideal time to host a yard sale and make a little money for your summer fun. Here’s your complete guide to getting the most bang for your buck.

Before the Sale

  • Team up
    A sale that includes other families or neighbors is bound to draw more traffic so ask around to find others who want to participate in a multi-family sale.

  • Advertise: The old-fashioned strategy of putting signs around the neighborhood is one of the best ways to seek traffic, but you also should spread the word on social media channels like your town’s Facebook or Nextdoor page.

  • Assess Value: Make no mistake: Yard “salers” are looking for bargains and aren’t going to value your collectibles or designers goods as high as you think they should. So before you put something special out, search around on sites like Poshmark for clothes and shoes, or Glyde for tech gadgets. Use these resources to see if you might garner more money in a specialized forum. However, don’t neglect to account for the added hassle of listing, corresponding with the buyer and shipping the item.

  • Organize: The best way to ensure you don’t go crazy getting your sale ready is to group things by type and then give a blanket price. So, for example, you might list books at a quarter apiece or children’s’ clothes at $1 an item. If some items are of obvious better quality, you can consider a tiered approach with different color stickers. This complex system is not recommended if your ultimate goal is to simply to get rid of stuff.

  • Display Your Items (Attractively): It’s all about organization and space management. If clothes are in a heap or books are piled up, a shopper may not be interested. In fact, a messy display could deter someone from even stopping his car. If you do make the effort to create a nice display, expect things will get out of order over time. 

    You can stay organized by supervising the merchandise throughout the sale. In fact, a good idea at the start line up some display structures.  You can borrow boxes or bins, or hanging racks for clothes, and create ample table space to spread items out. This will make your “store” pleasing for the buyer, and easier for them to check out your goods.  

Day of the Sale

  • Be Ready: Yard “salers” are typically early birds so even if you say your sale starts at 8, they might start arriving at 7:30. You can be gracious and allow them to start viewing your items. However, it is perfectly fine to request they wait until you are ready. It can be challenging to avoid long conversations that could distract you from getting your items ready…try to stay focused and alert, sometimes theft can happen when you are distracted.

  • Be Careful: Plan to keep your attention up all day. Professional thieves can easily team up to distract and take items of value. Your best bet is to have multiple family members or friends help out. One can oversee sale items and organize the merchandise display. Another friend could answer questions and manage the money. And with safety always a priority, don’t let anyone into your house to use your restroom.
     
  • Have an Extension Cord Handy: If you have small appliances like blenders or fans, guests will want to see if they work but you don’t want them traipsing into your house to try it out.
     
  • Prepare to Bargain: People are always going to ask for a little less, and you might be willing to accept those offers if your goal is just to get everything out of the house. Your best strategy is to make a concession when people are buying multiple items. This helps to clear out the merch more quickly, rather than just making less.

  • Offer Bags or Boxes: You want them to take more goods off your hands. Providing a tote or box makes it easy for them to pack up their treasures.

  • Have Change Ready: You’re going to want to have lots of $1 bills at the beginning so you can easily make change if they pay for a $4 item with a $5 bill. Of course, you can make your transactions simpler by pricing things in easy increments. However, you don’t want to overcharge where it’s not warranted.

After the Sale

  • Do Not Bring Leftovers Back In: If all your items don’t sell, you might be tempted to bring it back in…and almost inevitably it will then find a home. Don’t be tempted! Put the items in your car immediately and take them to a donation site so that they can become someone else’s treasure—and you can take the tax write-off.

  • Treat Yourself: Yard sales can be exhausting so use some of that hard-earned money and treat yourself to take out or prepared meal! You deserve it!

 


 




How to Reduce Employee Financial Stress for a Healthier Workforce… and Bottom Line

 

This content was provided by the Council for Disability Awareness Member Lincoln Financial Group®

 

Employee financial wellness is a hot topic today, and for good reason. A recent survey shows that employees spend five to 13 hours per month worrying about their personal finances while at work.  Without the necessary support, employees are more stressed, and thus more distracted. For employers, this translates into a nearly $250 billion loss in healthcare, productivity, and lost wages every year.1

Some studies show that financial stress, especially in the workplace, is at its highest level in five years.2 And, while every employee’s situation is different, many face the same financial stresses – the most common monetary challenges facing employees typically include:

  • Heavy debt
  • Vanishing pensions
  • Retirement savings
  • High student loan debt
  • Increasing healthcare premiums
  • Out-of-pocket health expenses such as deductibles, copays, and coinsurance

How Employers Can Help Employees Reduce Financial Stress

With employees spending the majority of their day at their designated places of work, employers have an opportunity to incentivize change and offer solutions to this population.  Employers can help employees better manage their concerns with a mix of financial wellness programs and quality voluntary benefits.  Click here for tips to help employees learn about how to build financial literacy.

Financial Wellness Programs

Employee financial wellness programs can help employees find balance and control over their finances, now and throughout their lifetime. Gaining in popularity, these programs have become a key workplace trend in 2017.3 because they can meet the needs of employees by educating them on how to manage and overcome personal finance issues. Some of the more popular financial wellness programs include:

  • Debt management and reduction
  • Budgeting tools and resources
  • Investing and financial market basics
  • Asset management and saving for home purchase, college, retirement, and other goals.

Employers can approach financial wellness by engaging employees throughout their lives, with a focus on guiding employees towards action. One important objective is to help employees reach their goals for every stage of their financial lives, whether it’s saving for a house, a car, college, or retirement. The key takeaway for these types of programs is to select the right financial wellness program that addresses the specific needs of employees in your business and offer them the resources they find valuable.

Organizations have every reason to want their employees to be financially sound. An effectively designed employee financial wellness program can help employers:

  • Bolster productivity, because employees aren’t distracted by financial worries.
  • Drive more predictable workforce flow throughout the organization.
  • Result in improved physical health (people with high levels of financial stress are more prone to sickness).
  • Increase employee engagement and retention.
  • Create more affordable retirement opportunities for all employees and enable career advancement opportunities for younger employees.

Having a clear understanding of the business benefits of financial wellness, integrated within the overall wellness and HR talent/acquisition strategy ensures corporate commitment and is key to a successful financial wellness program.

Voluntary Benefits

As an employer, you understand how employee well-being impacts the workplace on many levels,  and will want to ensure it is not affected by financial stress. Not every employee understands the many benefit options that are available to them. Therefore, it is worth investigating ways to help them really understand the benefits your company can offer to ensure they are equipped with the financial knowledge they need.

A thoughtful mix of voluntary benefits can help employees better manage unexpected medical costs associated with a critical illness or accident. That is to say, voluntary benefits plans are easy to implement and cost-effective for employers as the employee typically selects the plan, and pays the premium. Three of the most popular voluntary benefit product offerings are:

  • Accident
    Provides a lump-sum for a wide range of covered accidental injuries from simple fractures to third-degree burns
  • Critical Illness
    Provides a lump-sum benefit if an employee is diagnosed with a covered critical illness
  • Hospital Indemnity
    Provides a lump-sum when a covered illness or injury results in hospitalization


Voluntary benefits offer key advantages:

  • Most policies are portable
  • No copays, deductible, or coinsurance
  • Benefits paid directly to the employee
  • Employer group rates are generally lower than an employee can purchase separately.

Employers can provide employees with special financing vehicles that may have tax advantages, including: health flexible spending accounts (FSAs) using pre-tax dollars to pay eligible healthcare expenses, dependent care FSAs for eligible dependent care services, and a health savings account to help employees pay expenses in a high-deductible health plan.  Your voluntary benefit options send the message to your employees that you’re listening to their concerns and priorities. Get it right, and your benefits dollars will be well spent and will pay off in terms of employee satisfaction and retention. In fact, Sixty-two percent of Millennial and 50 percent of Gen X employees say that their loyalty to their company is influenced by how much the company cares about their financial well-being.2 Employers that implement an employee financial wellness strategy and clearly communicate available benefits resources can make a positive impact in the workplace: for employees, and for the company… a win/win.


Sources

[1] Mercer Survey. “Inside Employees’ Minds – Financial Wellness, Volume 2.” 2017. Retrieved from https://www.mercer.com/newsroom/financial-stress-could-cost-us-employers-up-to-250-billion-in-lost-wages-annually-finds-new-mercer-survey.html

[2] PwC. Employee Financial Wellness Survey. 2017. Retrieved from https://www.pwc.com/us/en/ private-company-services/publications/financial- well-being-retirement-survey.html

[3] S Miller. Is 2017 the Year of Employee Financial Wellness Programs? Society for Human Resource Management. Jan. 17, 2017. Retrieved from:
https:// www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/financial-wellness-trend.aspx

 




The Value of Disability Insurance as Income Security


By Gene Lanzoni, Marketing, Thought Leadership, Customer Insights 
The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America


The ability to earn an income is essential to modern living, yet more Americans often prioritize protecting their home, car, health, and teeth over helping protect their income with insurance. When a life event that causes a disability occurs, even in the short-term, it can disrupt an employee’s financial security, especially if they are unprepared for a work absence.  In fact, according to the American Council on Life Insurers, over 50 million Americans are without disability insurance.  Here’s why it matters:

Even a short unemployed break can cause financial instability. Given that more than half of working Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck, most cannot go without one for a single pay period, let alone three or more months. Let’s put this in perspective – working adults have about $5,000 in emergency savings, which disappears quickly considering the U.S. median monthly cost for housing, food, and transportation is roughly $3,000.[1] Those who’ve had a disability leave report emergency savings of just $2,500.[2]

We recently released our latest set of findings from Guardian’s 6th Annual Workplace Benefits Study for a financial wellness report titled Income Protection: The Role of Disability Insurance in Financial Wellness,” which finds only 54% of working Americans have disability insurance. The report validates that there are still a lot of misconceptions around the value of disability insurance. For example, many adults believe the product is for people who suffer from disabilities that are catastrophic or that it’s for disabilities which happen at work and covered by workers compensation. This is where education plays a critical role in helping employees understand that disability insurance serves as income replacement should you be out of work for an extended period of time.

While a competitive salary is important, especially in today’s low unemployment job market,  candidates will also be pushing for the best options in benefits. For employers, including disability insurance as part of your overall employee benefits offering can demonstrate that you care about your workforce’s financial security and wellness. Disability insurance has benefits everyone, regardless of age, gender or profession, should consider:

  • Income Protection
    While living paycheck-to-paycheck, workers don’t save for emergencies, such as an unexpected, unpaid leave of absence or disability. Emergency savings go fast when they have to cover pay regular monthly expenses on top of medical bills. Guardians’ study found 49% of those surveyed that did not have disability insurance withdrew from savings, investments or retirement plans to pay for their injury. Disability insurance provides an extra layer of income protection, which can make it easier to take care of financial responsibilities and not have to leverage other financial sources

  • Understanding Disability Insurance

    Guardian found only one in 25 consumers exhibit a high level of disability insurance knowledge. Today’s disability insurance programs now offer a variety of features to help employees navigate and understand their benefits. Some of those features include online enrollment payroll deduction and no medical exam to enroll. Even if certain employers can’t offer employer-sponsored disability insurance, they can provide access via an employee-funded disability insurance product. That shows flexibility and commitment to employees’ long-term financial health and well-being.
     

  • Improved Worker Satisfaction

    Guardian’s study indicates offering disability insurance can enhance overall work satisfaction (71% vs. 54%), as employees feel their company truly cares about them. Companies that offer return-to-work programs see an extra boost in satisfaction, as 70% feel their employer cares for them after completing a program.

  • Integrated Absence Management

    Absences can be hard on both an employee and an employer. Integrating an absence management program with disability insurance can help employers navigate the ever-changing paid leave laws that vary by state. Consultants and benefits carriers can work together to deliver a holistic, integrated plan that will keep employers covered and deliver a seamless employee experience.  With all these benefits available, employers and employees should re-evaluate the way they think about disability insurance plans. Signing up for disability insurance is really a way for individuals to help protect their incomes.

Disability insurance offers protection and satisfaction to both employers and employees, making it one of the most valuable products in a benefits portfolio. Nobody can predict the future, but it’s always wise to prepare for the unexpected. For more details on the financial wellness paper,click here.


The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, NY. Unless otherwise noted, the source of all information is Guardian’s 6th Annual Workplace Benefits Study, report titled: “Income Protection: The Role of Disability Insurance in Financial Wellness (2019).

2019-79673 (5/21)

[1] 20 Something Finance, (2019) “The Shocking Percentage of Americans that Live Paycheck-to-Paycheck.”

[2] Guardian’s 6th Annual Workplace Benefits Study, Financial Wellness Series, Part 2,“Income Protection: The Role of Disability Insurance in Financial Wellness,” (2019) p. 10.




Mothers or Caregivers – Ways Employers Can Support Them

Employers are good resources of support for caregiver employee population

A Nation
Of Caregivers: Five Ways To Support Your Employees

We are an aging nation, and that means the caregiving population is
growing exponentially; in fact, many professionals are part of the “sandwich
generation,” caring for both elderly parents and younger children.

A Pew
Research study estimated
that almost half of adults in their 40s and 50s have a living parent who is
65 years or older while simultaneously raising a young child or financially
supporting a child age 18 or older. Of those, 30 percent say their parent needs
help managing some aspect of their life.

And that can take a toll on the caregivers at your workplace—and make
no mistake, your workplace is likely full of caregivers. One study conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving and
AARP found that  more
than 34 million Americans had provided unpaid care to an adult
age
50 or older in the prior 12 months. And that number is sure to increase, given
the aging of our population: The
U.S. Census Bureau
says that by 2030, 20 percent of U.S. residents will be
of retirement age.

Human resource executives have a unique position in helping support employees who face the responsibility and pressure of caregiving. Here are some strategies you can provide to help them:

1. Awareness — Think How It Impacts Your Workplace

As the numbers above show, caregiving is not an isolated issue. But what
you might not realize is the effect it can have on your workplace. A study on “The Many Faces of Caregiving” found = that 14 percent
of employee caregivers reduce their work hours or take a demotion, and another
5 percent give up working entirely, which can have a chilling effect
on retention in today’s tight labor market.

Further, the
AARP and the Family Caregiver Alliance
found
that employee caregiving costs employers costs up to $33 billion annually from
lost productivity; $6.6 billion in costs to replace employees who retire early
or quit to focus on caregiving; and $5.1 billion in absenteeism.

2. Connection – Think How You Can Offer Resources

Helping connect caregivers to resources can help them manage some of
the “mental” workload associated with caregiving. Unfortunately, that important
benefit seems to be on the wane—just when we are needing it most. In fact, in a
puzzling development, the Society
of Human Resource Management’s 2018 Benefits Survey
found that the
percentage of employers offering eldercare had dropped 10 percentage
points—from 13 percent in 2017 down to 10 percent, with an equal drop in those
offering referral service benefits.

There are many ways you can help
support these team members. If there are a number
of caregivers
at your business, consider hosting support groups or inviting
guest speakers to brown bag lunch meetings to share insight and best practices.
You also could consider starting a repository of local or online resources that
might be available. A few to consider are:

3. Work Time – Consider a Flex Work Hour Structure

Does “face time” really matter? In some workplaces of course, it’s
pivotal that employees be at work for the hours they are supposed to,
particularly if they handle customer-facing functions. For others, a modicum of
flexibility could allow a valued worker to handle both their full-time job and
their caregiving duties. While they might need to attend doctor’s appointment
with their loved ones during the day, they could take care of writing reports
or doing research in the evening hours.

The great news is that offering flexibility can help promote satisfaction
and reduce turnover—a study found
that 87 percent of
workers whose
employers enable them to manage life in and outside of work are more loyal and
satisfied.

4. Wellbeing – Encourage Healthy Habits for All

While caregivers in particular can benefit from stress-relieving
activities like yoga classes or meditation, cultivating healthy habits and an
overall workplace culture focused on wellness can be important for all
employees. Many caregivers tend to neglect their own health, so prioritizing workplace
wellness ideas
, such as offering ideas for healthy cooking and incorporating
exercise into the day, can benefit your entire team—but certainly caregivers
specifically.

5. Transparency – Help Caregivers Understand Benefits

You want to make sure that caregivers are using all the
benefits available to them
, such as short-term disability leave options or
the Family Medical Leave Act. Make sure they know who is covered and how they
can access these benefits. You also can provide information on access to any
mental health services they might need. After all, it’s in everyone’s best
interest to keep your employees able to do their job while still managing the
important caregiving duties that have befallen them.


Related articles:




The Path to Financial Literacy

path to financial literacy

Financial literacy is not something that just happens to you.  In fact, it is a skill that involves education and practice.  And while you might believe you are financially literate because you make and stick to a budget, in reality, it is so much more than that. On the path to financial literacy, having a budget is but one of the many steps in the right direction toward being financially responsible. But being financially literate involves practicing and building on the skills you need to make sound decisions with your finances over a long period of time.

If you are a young or newly independent adult just starting out in the world, you will likely feel daunted by the trend in today’s high cost of living, especially if you are entering the workforce and learning what it means to balance new income with your new expenses. In fact, a recent survey from Merrill Lynch/Age Wave finds that 70 percent of adults aged 18 to 34 depend on their parents financially—whether for everyday expenses, like cell phones and groceries, or even rent or mortgage.  Despite this help, the survey found three-quarters of millennials define adulthood as being on their own financially.  So if this is the case for you, certainly you’re not alone.  

How Can You Build Financial Literacy? 

The topic of financial literacy is a timely one – April is National Financial Literacy Month – and here we provide some concepts for you to think about on your journey to a more financially literate future.

Create a Budget Consider Disability + Life Insurance
Start an Emergency Fund Plan for a Home Purchase
Check Your Credit Protect Your Apartment or Home
Maximize Retirement Options

Understand Your Health Insurance

Learn to Invest

Create a Budget

A personal monthly budget allows you to plan for how you’ll spend and/or save your money each month and also keep track of your spending patterns. Creating a budget may not sound exciting, it’s an important exercise in keeping your finances in order.

With a budget, you can begin to prioritize your spending and better manage your money and financial future.

Start an Emergency Fund

Charging an unexpected expense on a credit card can be financially devastating as high interest charges accrue. And yet, only 40 percent of Americans say they could cover an unexpected $1,000 bill with savings. While that sounds high, you could easily be hit with a staggering bill in one visit to the emergency room, the vet or the car repair shop. Building an emergency fund cushions the blow so you don’t have to rely on your credit card—or your parents.

Check Your Credit

What you don’t know can hurt you…and your financial future. We’re talking about your credit score…and if you’re like half of Americans, you haven’t checked your credit score recently.

A credit score ranges from 300 to 850, and anything over 700 is considered pretty good. A high credit score is a great advantage when you want to take out any kind of loan, including a mortgage. On the path to financial literacy, you’ll have lower interest rates, which saves you money in the long run.

It takes time and effort to build good credit by consistently paying your bills, but you can decimate your credit fairly quickly by defaulting on loans or filing for bankruptcy.

A study by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) found that about 20 percent of consumers discovered an error when checking their reports, and that number could be even higher considering the recent spate of data breaches. A strong credit score ensures you are offered the best possible rates for credit cards and mortgage and auto loans. Not sure how you measure up? See if your credit card offers a free credit report as one of its perks, or visit Annualcreditreport.com to take a look at yours.

Maximize Retirement Options

Even if you don’t plan on retiring for decades, it’s important to start saving now. If your employer offers a retirement plan, don’t wait to sign up.  Many companies even offer a match up to a certain percentage, and if you don’t contribute at least that much, you are literally leaving money on the table.

If your employer doesn’t have a 401k plan, you can look into a Roth IRA. Whatever route you take, make sure you’re putting away enough money so you’ll be comfortable in your retirement years.

While saving for retirement can seem futile when you have so many needs now, we promise that your future self will thank you—a lot—for saving early when you have the longest potential time to take advantage of compounding interest. Need some saving inspiration on your journey to financial literacy? Check out this chart that shows what happens to your money if you start saving early, compared to later. 

Learn to Invest

Once you have your emergency savings set aside and you’ve signed up for a 401k or Roth IRA, it’s time to start thinking about investments. Investments include mutual funds, stocks, bonds, and real estate—but be sure you don’t put all your eggs in one basket. This means you should diversify your investments. That way if some parts of your portfolio aren’t very profitable for a few years, your other investments will help make up the difference.

Consider Disability and Life Insurance

Think you’re invincible? Think again—the scary truth is that more than one-quarter of today’s 20-year-olds can expect to be out of work for at least a year due to a disabling condition before they reach retirement age. While on your path to financial literacy, consider getting disability insurance; it can help you pay your bills until you are back to work.

And while you especially need life insurance if anyone depends on you financially, it’s a smart benefit for anyone to have, since the policy can cover funeral and burial expenses. The next step on the path to financial literacy is to make sure to check with your HR department to see what your company offers in terms of disability and life insurance—and make sure you take advantage of this important benefit.

Plan for a Home Purchase

Along the path to financial literacy, you might find yourself considering the purchase of your first home. And while it is easy these days to be priced out of homeownership in many markets, in other places, a monthly mortgage payment can be close to the same amount as rent. (This calculator will help you determine the viability of buying vs. renting.) And if the common down payment of 20 percent sounds daunting, there are a wide array of programs that can get you into a home for substantially less. If you are relatively settled in your locale, it’s worth talking to a real estate agent and mortgage broker to find out the true cost of home ownership, as it’s still a tried-and-true avenue to long-term wealth.

Protect Your Apartment or Home

If you are not ready to buy, and you plan to rent, you might not think you need insurance, but you’ll regret skimping on it if your apartment gets broken into or your dog bites a visitor. Renter’s insurance will cover your belongings in the case of theft, fire, water damage, etc., and also can cover liability for a variety of scenarios—and it’s typically surprisingly affordable, averaging less than $200 a year.

If you own a home, chances are good that you probably have homeowners insurance as a requirement from your mortgage provider, but double-check your policy to ensure it covers as much as you think it should—such as the actual “replacement value” of your items, rather than just cash value, and short-term lodging in the even you are displaced.

Understand Your Health Insurance

PPOs, HMOs, HSAs…the alphabet soup of health insurance is enough to give anyone a headache. But if you don’t know what your insurance covers, you could be on the hook for an unexpected high bill…or you might be delaying services that would be covered. Some plans even offer free telemedicine services or other perks that you could take advantage of if you only knew.  Log in to your health insurance portal and click around a little to find out what’s covered and where…certain insurance only works at specific hospitals, for example. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to seek out your HR department. They are there to help make sure you understand your coverage and limits inside and out.

As life changes occur,  you naturally grow, learn, and build upon your experiences. In this way, it is important to understand that getting on the path to financial literacy is an ever-evolving journey; it takes time and perseverance. And while you may find one concept relevant now, you might find another one more relevant to your life situation later.  Each part of the process is not wasted, only propelling you to a more secure financial future.


Related articles: