Work frustrations

I know this is going to sound like a bit of a ranty blog and it probably is but I need to release some of the pent up frustration of the day. I’m not out to offend or insult anyone but since I haven’t visited the gym, kickboxing is on the back burner until finances improve and yoga can only do so much so writing is my outlet.

Ever get days where you thing that all the planets have aligned so that all the difficult people are sent your way on the same day just to challenge you? If that is the case then in some ways I feel that I succeeded and rose above that challenge by remaining calm then in other ways I failed miserably and got somewhat annoyed.To counter balance this I was on the caffeine and sugar,  yet the spawns of Satan kept coming in my direction. Maybe I was being punished for something in previous life or the past few days, who knows.

Bit of background, part of my job is updating the company website, working with the different teams in the company to update their web pages. We could give everyone their own access to the website so they could update their own webpages..only if we wanted the website to look like a child had been let loose on it or we want to get sued. So I’m polite, I’m patient but no matter how much I may wish it, I am not a unicorn and I cannot scatter fairy dust create miracles. So you can imagine my frustration when I am trying to accommodate a request and may have to use Google to find the answers only to discover the person making the initial request already knew the solution but for whatever reason didn’t do it. Bit unfair I think especially when I do have other work to be getting on with. By this point there wasn’t enough caffeine in the world that was going to placate me.

I’m not ashamed to say that despite there being times where I do feel like I am banging my head against a brick wall I do enjoy my job. It has enabled me to learn a lot and opened me to new skills. As a result I do feel a bit protective over the website, it’s not that there aren’t other people  who also update the website but I am one of the main people who are know for updating the website. Not saying I’m perfect, I make mistakes too but if there is a breakdown in communication, work is duplicated and then to top it off it’s not done properly you can imagine I’m not an impressed bunny. As you can tell I am a bit agitated but I also know this will pass and things will calm down, there will eventually be a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities in place until then it looks like there are going to a lot of smiling, internal Tourette’s, occasionally that is also external and lots of mugs of tea in my near future.

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How do your hobbies make you better at your work

I came across this question from Dave Kerpen on LinkedIn; How do your hobbies make you better at your work?

Exercise, reading a book, painting picture etc things we associate with winding down, relaxing and forgetting about work. Many of us try so hard to keep our personal life separate from our work life that we don’t always realise that experiences in our personal lives can actually make us better at our jobs. This question got me thinking about how my own hobbies and without realising how they have helped me in my work and shaped the person I am.

Kickboxing

Over the years my range of hobbies have varied, up until the middle of last year I regularly attended a kickboxing class. Finding the right class with the right people is important, the activity itself is a contact sport but it also teaches discipline and respect for each other. We don’t all walk into the class as black belts, it takes hard work, determination and practice to get the moves right. None of this happens if you don’t have the support of your club, your team and your instructor. Everyone at all levels working together to encourage and teach, you have no idea the positive effect a few words of encouragement can have when you think you haven’t got enough energy to survive that last minute in a round of sparring or if like me your lower body isn’t very flexible when you can finally get your round kick that little bit higher. It is those qualities that can be transferred to the workplace. Support and encourage your team, we all fall down sometimes and need a little help to get back up again knowing you have your team in your corner can make all the difference to how you progress, handle certain situations and projects.

Reading

My other hobbies include reading. When needs must, I have resorted to reading a book on my mobile phone using the Kindle app, but you can’t beat reading from a physical book. Yes they take up space and to the untrained eye can be seen as clutter, however there is something about a good book that can help you escape from the drama of life and help you relax. I’ve recently discovered audio books on YouTube and when I want to block out the world oddly enough having my headphones on and a book playing in the background helps me to concentrate, maybe I’m just odd like that but whatever works to help make me productive can’t be a bad thing.

Yoga

I’ve not ever been a fan of yoga until I discovered the online videos which I can do at my own pace and to my own ability. I’ll not ever be able to move in those pretzel shapes but just doing the short bedtime and morning yoga videos help me feel a lot calmer, the tight muscles and knots get stretched out and I feel much better within myself. The breathing techniques learnt from yoga help me bring myself back to a much calmer place when I’m feeling stressed at work. I have been known to have essential oils at my desk like peppermint to help my sinuses and altogether feel ready to tackle the task at hand. The office can smell of peppermint but who doesn’t like that scent?

As individuals we are always learning and changing, I’m a believer that depending on the job role our personal and work lives can and do influence the other. I know from working for the NHS has benefitted me and changed my thinking for the better.

So, how do your hobbies make you better at your work?

Don’t tell me what to wear..or can you?

97512d1d1af297885d868deb929ad4b5I came across an article on the BBC News website about a petition that was created over a pair of high heels,  it isn’t as trivial as it sounds. A woman was sent home from her ‘…temp job as a secretary after refusing to wear shoes with a “2in to 4in heel”.’ Following the actions of the temporary employers the woman set up a petition calling for a ‘…law to stop firms from requiring women to wear high heels at work’  which garnered over 100,000 signatures. This petition no longer became just about women being made to wear high heels at work but about their entire appearance from makeup, hair, clothing and footwear with some women being asked to ‘ …wear shorter skirts and unbutton blouses, and of dress codes detailing nail varnish shade and hair root colour.

There are places of employment that have uniforms which you would think would solve some of the problem and the confusion as to what is appropriate and what isn’t, for example waiting and airline staff. A uniform is considered a form of marketing, promotion, a reflection of the company as well as supposedly showing a level of professionalism, Not sure about others but I don’t need to be done up like a Barbie doll to do my job. But how far can an employee be allowed to go when deciding the appearance of their staff? As long as appearance rules;  looking presentable, no flip flops in the office etc. are adhered to, can an employer then go further to decide what type of clothing, footwear should be worn even down to the brand?

Weighing in on the high heels debate television presenter Piers Morgan who initially compared women being told to wear highs heels all day at work the same as men being asked to wear a tie, not really an equal comparison but there we go. Trying to make a point Morgan appeared on a morning television show wearing a pair of silver heels, from his own experience he ‘… told co-presenter Susanna Reid and the show’s Entertainment Editor, Richard Arnold: ‘I have to be honest, away from all the bravado, it was one of the painful things I have ever had to wear on my feet…
Hahaha, any woman who has ever worn high heels could have told him that, your toes are squished into a point whilst the rest of your foot is positioned at an angle that can cause agony on the ankles.

The outcome of the initial petition (152,420 signatures) and the attention it has received resulted in MPs deciding that ‘…‘troubling’ cases of sexism, including forcing women to wear high heels or revealing clothes, are evidence Equalities Act 2010 is inadequate’ It’s a shame that a petition, of all the things happening around us, over wearing heels in the workplace has led to thousands of women coming forward with their own horror stories, some of the behaviour of the employers involved would be considered highly sexist.

When it comes to work clothing or clothes in general us women do have more choices than men, we can wear trousers, skirts, dresses where men are stuck with changing up what colour shirt to wear, smart trousers in some places wearing a tie is optional. Makeup wise, I wear it because without it I would look unwell though there are people I have seen throughout the years who don’t wear any makeup to work to those who have a full face of varying colours. Fortunately the company I currently work for have far more important things to concern themselves with rather than what size heels if any I am wearing. When public facing I make more of an effort but when holed away in my office I can tell you that the neat and fresh faced person (some days) you see in the morning is not the same look I have going home at the end of the day!

Whichever look you go for it isn’t always a reflection on your ability to do your job the perception others have when it comes to your ability to do your job based on your appearance. Granted you wouldn’t want to get on a plane if the pilot looked dishevelled and looked like he had just crawled out of bed, or want to take advice from a solicitor who is dressed like they are going to a beach. But then common sense also needs to be used, tattoos and facial piercings used to be an issue but have become more acceptable. I doubt it’s a death knell for the high heel just yet, us women like shoes, including the ankle destroying, toe pinching high heel.

Links used

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38737300
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38745506
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jan/25/law-must-be-tougher-over-dress-code-discrimination-say-mps
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-36278641

Sometimes all you need to do is listen

This question was posted onto a LinkedIn group ‘Some (if not all) of us have dealt with troublemakers, whiners, pessimists or other difficult co-workers or bosses. How do you keep negativity from infecting you at work?’

There were some answers you would expect to see, such as ‘I tend to avoid people like that as I don’t want to surround myself with people like that’ or ‘how a negative person can bring morale down and best to try and not speak / listen to them’.

I know there are people who are only happy when they are complaining about something but then there are others who just want / need someone to listen. You don’t have to offer an opinion, you don’t even have to understand their situation, for them being listened to is what they need for that moment.

I found out a person I work with is seeing a counsellor and that she has depression. Can she be a pessimist? Of course, but not everyone is always a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day, sometimes we all need a bit of help. Considering the number of hours you spend at work it could be the only people you can speak to about things are your work colleagues. Perhaps someone is dealing with a work bully and it is starting to affect them and their ability to do their job. Or a work colleague is struggling with a more personal matter such as a divorce, all they need is a bit of support to help maintain some kind of normality whilst they go through a difficult patch.

Many of us will have grown up watching Robin William’s films, it’s difficult to imagine how someone with the unique ability to continuously make so many people laugh could also be facing some personal demons of his own in secret. On the outside he would this happy jovial character who would go out of his way to make others laugh and forget their own troubles yet behind the scenes he was battling alcohol and depression. He may have not been a pessimist or a whiner but how many people really knew what was going on his head? It has now been made public the actor was in the early stages of Parkinsons which may have contributed to his state of mind at the time of his death.

So next time someone appears to be constantly whining or this new term I’ve learnt, being a ‘Negative Nancy’, think if someone is being negative for the sake of it or if there could be a little bit more to it. A bit of empathy can go a long way.

Want your manager contacting you outside of work hours?

banner-blueYou’ve left the office then hear a beep on your phone? You’ve received a work email, do you reply to it or do you wait until you are back in the office? Not only does France already have a strict 35 hour working week but the country have introduced new rules aimed at protecting those who work in the digital and consultancy sectors, as part of a deal employees will have to switch off their work phones and not be pressured into reading / responding to work emails outside of hours.

France are not the only country to enforce such rules. Germany’s labour ministry already do this but have gone one step further by also banning work calls outside of business hours.

No doubt there are workers who will be cheering that finally when they finish work and leave the office they can enjoy the rest of their evening, holiday without being bombarded with work related issues.  It seems a shame that Law is a required to stop employers adding pressure to its employees to work longer and harder. The UK has always been very keen to offer opt out to employees regarding the work-time directive, so will the UK look to adopt the newer ideas yet provide a way out for employees/employers?

There have been suggestions that British bosses should follow suit, the problem with this is for some work does not end at 6pm whether they are in the office or not.  As can be seen in the case of young bankers. Wall Street Investment banks have agreed to ease up on the number of hours junior staff are expected to work without decreasing the work load. In theory this may sound like a great idea as junior staff get to spend a leisurely Saturday to themselves that otherwise would have been spent working. In reality many junior staff now feel under more pressure to complete their work before the Saturday or spending more time than they would have liked on subsequent days in order to meet deadlines.

These employment rules are meant to benefit employers and employees alike, but if we were to look at the unemployment statistics from EuroStat, Germany may have one of the lowest unemployment figures with 5.1% yet France’s unemployment sits at 10.4% with the UK in the middle with 7.1%. Austria has the lowest unemployment rate with 4.8% but unlike France the country have a maximum working week of 40 hours (50 with overtime).

I’m all for a good work life balance but in some jobs this isn’t always possible. People running their own businesses, new start-ups can’t afford the luxury to disappear off the grid until they have done all they can to keep the business ticking over.  As the unemployment figures have shown, compared to their counterparts France’s employment laws do encourage a healthier work life balance but when it comes to the unemployment figures it would appear the countries that put in the hours also have more people in work.

You can also view this article on Jobserve

Rising childcare costs

Many of you know that my sister had her third child in October. At work a colleague has found out his wife is pregnant with their first child. In both cases the mum / mum to be are considering their options of going back to work vs becoming a stay at home parent.

With her first two children my sister went back to work full time with the children either being looked after by grandparents or going to nursery. At that time even with childcare vouchers and the children only attending nursery three days a week the cost was over £1,000 a month. With the third child here and her eldest son starting primary school in September there is the decision of whether it would make financial and emotional sense to go back to work? Though my work colleague and his wife are only on their first child it is something they are also thinking about.

Just over 12 months ago the government said it ‘“good for the economy” that the Coalition was helping parents to pay high nursery fees so that they could overcome “obstacles” to work.’ Yet this year it is being reported that childcare costs are spiralling out of control with ‘many parents paying more for childcare than average mortgage’.

This BBC news article have shared some of its reader’s experiences of childcare costs.  For some of the families mentioned in the article going to work is not just about money, it is also about having something in place for once the children are grown up and leading their own lives. It is also about setting an example for their own children. Regardless of the reasons why both parents choose to work they feel that childcare providers are taking advantage of working parents by charging extortionate fees and ‘the government should stop thinking about subsidising childcare costs and focus on reform.’

On the flip side there are many people, those with and without children who think the government shouldn’t need to intervene to make childcare more affordable if it will result in costing the tax payer. If a couple decide to have a child / children and decide to work then then they should also be able to pay for the childcare.

Sounds logical however it would appear that whilst childcare fees may increase many peoples salaries haven’t making childcare for many unaffordable.

Every person’s circumstances are different, I have seen how those around me have had to make the decision to become a stay at home or a working parent. It’s not as straightforward as some people would like to think.

It’s great if a family can cope with the cost of childcare, be able to work and maintain a certain lifestyle but then there are those who have no choice but for both parents to work. Others have opted to become stay at home parents which by no means is an easier option.

We can all go on about how one parent should stay at home to look after the children as it is better for them in most cases this will be the mum, financial aspect aside not everyone is cut out to be a stay at home parent. Maybe it’s the idea that as women we no longer want to be seen as just a ‘mum’ we also want to be seen as a breadwinner, a mult-tasker who can manage both their family and career. Saying this the number of stay at home dads is on the rise.

Future 

There appears to be an imbalance between childcare costs and what people earn. Why would both parents work, pay for childcare and have nothing to show for it at the end of the month? When they could stay at home and forgo the additional costs of childcare, they wouldn’t be gaining or losing anything financially as the majority of one salary was going on childcare to begin with.

Childcare providers are within their rights to charge whatever fees they want but does the care they provide justify those fees? Others can say then place your child in a cheaper nursery, if that nursery can provide everything the more expensive nursery does then it is only a matter of time before all the spaces are gone so the only option is the more expensive one.

Should the government intervene? If wages are not increasing then just how much of a subsidy are the government expected to offer to make it easier to afford childcare?

I don’t know what my sister or my work colleague and his wife will decide to do when the time comes. The government have yet to announce this year’s budget, maybe the issue of rising childcare costs will be addressed.

It would be interesting to hear from others who have had to decide whether it was better for both parents to work or for one to become a stay at home parent.

Work Colleagues

You know you work with a good group of people when they;

  • Listen to you go on about baking
  • Help you to come up with baking design ideas
  • Are willing to test your baking creations even if there is the possibility of it tasting awful!
  • Listen to you cry about the pain you’re in from kickboxing / climbing, even though they laugh
  • Don’t think you’re weird when you talk about a zombie apocalypse instead they join in and offer their own survival tips
  • When you’ve being sitting in traffic with hopes of getting through it before lunch time are fading you eventually make it in and find a mug of tea waiting for you. That was my journey today,  I cheered up when I saw this. I’m going to go on good faith here that they didn’t do anything menacing to my tea!20140129_103646MugOfTea[1]

Work Colleagues

business_people_set_58297I know I should be solely focusing on driving when going to work, but it is a 45 minute journey and sometimes the radio is just full of rubbish so my mind wanders. The same thing happens when I’m at the gym. I was thinking that I spend more time with my work colleagues than I do with family and friends. I was also thinking about how working with these individuals has been a bit of an education for me.

I work in mostly a male environment though there are other women which allows my girlie side to rear itself now and then. I am by no means a ladette (can someone who doesn’t drink be a ladette?), and I definitely look female! Though compared to others I am considered innocent minded. Not saying women can’t be crude  but sometimes the guys do forget to put their filters on and speak as if there were no women around; that is always amusing for me especially when I ask them to explain some of the words I’ve not heard before. That can make them squirm and point blank not tell me. 😀 There is one manager at work who has no problem explaining the meaning of some words / phrases that I most definitely will not be using ever! I don’t mind that, saves me from having to Google it.

I like how the topic of conversations are not always about work. We are comfortable enough to share certain aspects of our lives. Though looking back, some of the things we have spoken about have been completely silly but seemed serious at the time. Discussion about ‘The Matrix 1, 2 and 3’ is crucial to my sci fi film education. FYI, I was disappointed with the 3rd installment.

Seeing the same people every day you begin to develop a rapport, some turn into friendships outside of work. However there is such a thing as over sharing. Not really sure how to react and what to say when someone I am OK with saying ‘morning’ to and making small talk with whilst making a cup of tea, out of the blue decides to share various intimate details of their marriage. Information that a treatment of hypnosis is the only way to bury that knowledge for all eternity. Or how when joking about prescribed ‘happy pills’ a colleague comes out with ‘they are already on them’. :-o. Fortunately I get on well with this particular individual so my level of sarcasm in response would be better received than me being nice. He would only worry and become suspicious of my behavior if I deviated from my normal personality trait. 😀 In otherwise more awkward situations I’m pretty much already standing in a hole, to avoid being buried I let that person talk, for whatever reason they needed to share (albeit possibly with someone closer to them or their therapist). The over sharers are good at their respective jobs; let’s face it, who doesn’t have problems outside of work?

I’ve been fortunate to have a decent enough relationship with those I sit with and my managers.  I accept that I am not going to get on with everyone I work with or even every department, I’m ok with that. In some circumstances you have to remain professional even when others aren’t. So I’ll slap on a smile all the while knowing that at some point karma will be paying those people a visit, I may even be lucky enough to be around when that happens.:-D

Take my germs..please!

I’m all for getting rid of a cold by passing on the germs to others, I’m just that caring sharing type of a person. However there are some exceptions to the rule; a minor cold with a few sniffles we can let that go, germs that can lay you out for a few days; keep them at home! These said germs came from one main source and have already taken down two managers. Despite being in close vicinity of the germ incubator, I’m doing my best to fight them off.

Last week was the sore throat that felt like I had swallowed pins with the disgusting metallic taste. That has been replaced with sniffles, headaches and the occasional need to get my head down. With the aid of drugs; paracetamol and the chocolaty goodness of a mini roll, I’m resembling a human of sorts. It’s just a case of here in body, spirit I have no idea where it’s gone it didn’t even leave a note.

I have nothing against sweating out the germs by going for the first of my weekly kickboxing class only I’m not yet convinced I would even have the energy to put my boxing gloves on let alone punch a pad, or anyone!

Being a Tuesday my darling, demonic nephews are at my parents so I doubt I would find solace there today…I’m the auntie that even at my age still runs around with them like a kid, none of that will be happening today. Plus side I will get food and some kind of magic potion from my mum to make me feel better. 😉

I am at work and determined to return the germs to its original host…by coughing over his mug. Childish? Maybe. Satisfying…of course! 😀

Employment: Job Hopping

job-hoppingOnce upon a time frequently changing jobs was frowned upon. With changes in the economic climate, the stigma once associated with job hopping is not as severe as what it once was. This isn’t to say that job hopping is suited for every industry and every person.

In the past employees may have remained with the same company perhaps even in the same position until they retired. Many of us would like to have that kind of job security, though in today’s world of employment that is not always the case.

There are a variety of reasons people frequently change jobs. They may be contractors, other times it is not the person’s choice. In April 2013, UK unemployment rose to 2.56 million. For many it is more important to be employed rather than be concerned with the nature of the job and its future career prospects. This may mean taking on a number of temporary roles.

A survey carried out by career advisors, AGM Transitions, found that a third of UK business decision makers were looking to change careers in 2013. Employees want to develop their skills and progress. Some employers can cater to this change others may find that in five years’ time the employee they hired and trained no longer feels the company can cater to their career needs so finds a company that can take their career further. This could be in the way of learning new skills or an entire career change.

Attitudes towards working in general have also changed. There are many people who want to have a more equal work life balance. An option often looked for in companies by those changing jobs, is promoting remote working. A total of 59% of employers who responded to a survey in 2011 were offering teleworking, up from 13% in 2006. If a role can no longer accommodate a person’s personal life, they feel more inclined to look elsewhere.

More mums have to re-enter the work force so rely on part time opportunities, not to say a successful career cannot be forged from part time employment. All depending on the nature and demand for the role.

But how different are today’s employees to those of the baby boomer generation? According to the article Job-hopping millenials no different than their parents’, it is suggested that those of the baby boomer era job hopped almost as much as the current generation.

Job hopping can be a benefit or a hindrance. Think about some of the pros and cons before embarking on a path of job hopping.

Pros

  • Enables the worker to increase their skills base and knowledge.
  • Try out different roles until they decide which career path to follow.
  • With each move the employee may be able to negotiate more money based on their improving skills set.
  • Build up a diverse network of people.

Cons

  • Employers may be reluctant to invest time and money on an employee that is not likely to stay with the company very long.
  • If the company needs to make some job cuts, knowing your job history the employer made decide the job to go will be yours.
  • The grass may not always be greener. The job you go to next may not be the great opportunity you thought it would be.

You can also view this article on www.jobserve.com.

References

http://money.cnn.com/2013/04/09/news/economy/millennial-job-hopping/index.html

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/03/08/the-pros-and-cons-of-job-hopping/2/

http://www.fastcompany.com/3008410/downsides-job-hopping-and-how-grow-where-youre-planted

http://realbusiness.co.uk/article/17071-a-third-of-uk-decision-makers-looking-for-a-career-change-in-2013