4 Tips for Beating Procrastination

b loehr - procrastinationThe “simple” definition for procrastinate, according to Merriman-Webster.com is:

“To be slow or late about doing something that should be done: to delay doing something until a later time because you do not want to do it, because you are lazy, etc.”

Ouch, lazy? That cuts pretty deep. I mean everyone procrastinates from time-to-time, right? It’s part of being human, right?

Webster’s “full” definition leaves out that ugly four-letter word.

  1. To put off intentionally and habitually
  2. To put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done

Still not a pretty picture.

Did you know there is a science to why people procrastinate? According to the UPMC Healthbeat, there’s a chemical reason we prefer relaxing activities versus those “have to” things that we find so easy to put off. The intense urge to avoid work by focusing on more pleasant or satisfying activities is an actual  battle between the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is less developed and thus weaker, so often the limbic system wins out, leading to procrastination.”

Before you get all kicked-back and in the so-it’s-not-my-fault-at-all zone, consider the very real pitfalls of procrastination. For instance, putting things off can cause stress later when you have to double or triple-time it. And we all know how stress wreaks havoc on your overall health – your immune system in particular – not to mention how relationships between stressed out people suffer.

Factor in the bad rap your reputation will get. Also, how repeatedly succumbing to procrastination will squash both your drive to succeed and the likelihood of realizing your dreams. And those are but a few of the myriad ways procrastination can lead to trouble.

Understanding the science behind procrastination is all well and good, but what most of us need are practical tips for beating procrastination.

  1. Dismiss the notion of perfection

 If you’re waiting for everything to line up perfectly before diving into whatever it may be, just don’t. Not only will you accomplish next to nothing, but you’re giving procrastination a foothold in your life. Get your ducks in a row as best you can – then dive in.

  1. Change things up

 Realize that different environments have a huge impact on your productivity. A writer friend of mine finds one distraction after another at home, but can buckle down at the corner coffee shop where laundry, dishes, and a million other chores are not front and center.

  1. Remember how to eat an elephant?

 Big tasks or projects often saddle you with a crippling sense of being overwhelmed before you even get started. Which makes it ten times harder to get started. So, break the assignment into bite-sized pieces . . . Err, smaller tasks. And make it a priority to bask in the sense of accomplishment, for just a wee bit, after each step.

  1. Create the adult equivalent to a sticker chart

Remember the sticker chart that worked wonders to get your preschooler to behave? That same reward principle can work for adults too. Establish little reward incentives along the way then treat yourself to something special when the task is finished, on time in a quality manner.

Get a grip on procrastination before it becomes the middle name that even the dog knows you by.

Now here’s a biggie. Don’t procrastinate about contacting B Loehr Staffing. You are our priority at B. Loehr Staffing. That’s why both our Client and Candidate Toolboxes are chalk full of resources to assist you. Check them out today.

Preparing for Generation Z – Part II

b loehr - gen zGeneration Z has been dubbed “the reality-check generation,” a title they earned as a result of expectations and aspirations tempered by uncertain economic conditions during their formative years. By the year 2020, they’ll make up 20% of the workforce.

Like their predecessors the Millennials, they value creativity and innovation, but they place greater importance on stability and are seen as more pragmatic than Generation Y. They will arrive in the job market looking to build their careers on a solid foundation, and they’ll need managers who understand them to help them get off to the right start.

What should companies expect from Generation Z?

• While many businesses boast of friendly workplace cultures, flexible schedules, and transparent salaries to pique the interest of potential candidates, it appears more career focused perks will get the nod from Gen Z.

Today’s college students ranked opportunity for career growth as the most important aspect of their first job (36%) followed by fulfilling work (19%) and stability (19%). Friendly work environments (10%), flexible schedules (7%), and the highest salary (6%) rank lower in priority.

To attract the top talent in Generation Z, companies will have to demonstrate an interest in and ability to assist their employees in reaching their most important career goals.

• While it’s expected the job-hopping tendencies of Millennials will carry over to the next generation, Gen Zers’ yearning for stability and the establishment of a firm career foundation will provide employers with some ammunition in the retention war.

Companies who make effective and frequent training a priority and who strive to offer a variety of professional development opportunities will realize the greatest opportunity for maintaining a steady, qualified workforce.

It might come as a surprise that this i-everything generation places a high value on key relationships. Being fluent in a world of social media, text messages and email hasn’t usurped their desire for genuine conversations and connections, especially with those in places of authority over them.

They long to be taken seriously, to have their energy and enthusiasm encouraged rather than stamped down. They fear that older generations won’t give them a chance as they actively seek to be part of a team that will embrace their knowledge and skills. They want the opportunity to present their ideas and to join forces with employers who share their passions.

Generation Zers will find their niche within companies who value employee development, who encourage and appreciate their drive to climb the ladder, and who take employee engagement seriously. Companies who aren’t too afraid to embrace this promising generation will benefit from this generation’s technological savvy as well as their focus on continual learning.

B. Loehr Staffing is already striving to attract top-notch talent from among the brightest and best of Generation Z. Allow our staffing experts to match these rising young stars with your company’s open positions. Contact us today.

Preparing for Generation Z – Part I

If you’ve yet to meet the newest crop of kids on the block, it’s time to get acquainted with them.  Meet Generation Z, born in the mid-1990s through approximately 2010. Though the bulk of this generation are still in high school – or younger, a full 15% are pursuing bachelor’s degrees, almost 10% are in some stage of vocational education, 3% are pursuing master’s degrees, and 3% have already joined the workforce.  These Gen Zers will burst upon the global workforce in the coming years, bringing with them a mighty wave of change.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Gen Z currently makes up 25% of the population. They outnumber their older siblings, the Millennials, by nearly one million.

Generational studies are considered more art than science, as proven by the differing opinions for what birth years make up this newest segment of the population. Still, valuable insights can be gleaned from a look at the national and worldwide landscape around which this generation matured.

Many experts label Millennials as the “innocence lost” generation, having grown up during the boom times and relative peace of the 1990s, only to see their sunny world dashed by the September 11 attacks and the economic crashes of 2000 and 2008. Generation Zers, however, don’t remember a time before September 11, the war on terror and the recession-ridden 2000’s. Therefore, they tend to be more cautious and less entitled than the dissected-to-death Millennials.

To say this segment of the workforce is internet savvy doesn’t quite cut it. Sure, their predecessors, Generation Y, also grew up in an online/cellular phones world. They were considered “digital natives,” but most Generation Zers have always had a computer in their pocket next to their smartphone—which has always been “smart.”

“We are the first true digital natives,” said Hannah Payne, an 18-year-old U.C.L.A. student and lifestyle blogger. “I can almost simultaneously create a document, edit it, post a photo on Instagram and talk on the phone, all from the user-friendly interface of my iPhone.”

Maybe your head is spinning while trying to imagine that scenario, and it could be you admit to no one but yourself that you’ve yet to figure out half the features on your smartphone.

So, what can you expect from this new generation as they join the workforce? Stay tuned for next week’s post as we explore what lies ahead for the workplace in Part 2 of Preparing for Generation Z.

At B. Loehr Staffing we understand how challenging it is to have the right people in the right places.  Through our specially designed Staffing Systems and Management Programs, you can be sure of finding the staffing solution that suits your organization’s specific needs. Contact us today for assistance with all of your hiring needs.

Interview Tips for Recent College Grads – Part 2

It’s projected that throughout the 2015–16 school year, colleges and universities will award 952,000 associate’s degrees; 1.8 million bachelor’s degrees; 802,000 master’s degrees; and 179,000 doctor’s degrees. These numbers reflect increases in three of the four categories with a slight decrease noted in bachelor degrees.

That’s a whole lot of grads searching for a job. If this scenario is playing out in your life, don’t let these statistics cause you to despair.  According to a new survey from CareerBuilder, two-thirds of employers plan to hire from this year’s crop of college graduates, up two percentage points from 2015, making this the rosiest outlook in a decade.

So check out these key interview do’s (last week we delved into key don’ts) and prepare for success in your future job interviews.

Do:

  • Make yourself stand out

How can you be memorable amongst a sea of qualified candidates? Consider a short video to introduce yourself, your experiences and passions. Put together a portfolio or other visual compilation of past achievements that relate specifically to this job.  Be sure to inject a bit of your personality.

  • Do your homework

Leave no stone unturned while uncovering what this company needs most right now. Talk with anyone you know on the inside. Check out the entire job opportunities listing within the company. Read through every word on their website and peruse recent news articles or press releases for morsels of information. Determine how you can be a solution to an issue they’re facing and highlight during the interview why you’re a great fit to help the company achieve its goals.

  • Prepare a Reverse Interview

Rather than wait for the interviewer to ask for your questions at the conclusion of the interview, ask probing questions throughout the meeting. Why? Because such questions will demonstrate your interest in the position, your knowledge of the industry, and the potential enthusiasm you would bring to the job. So, prepare a set of specific questions you can ask of the interviewer, making them unique to this job opportunity.

  • Expect the unexpected

 Because many interviewers have changed things up when it comes to the how, when and where of interviews, a go-with-the-flow attitude will serve you well. That way, a “Let’s grab lunch while we chat,” request won’t ruffle your feathers. And when you enter the office to find not one, not two, not three but FOUR people waiting for your arrival, you’ll not faint dead away. Your response to an out-of-the-ordinary approach will be on display so make a positive impression backed by a genuine smile.

B. Loehr Staffing is eager to offer recent college graduates a job that aligns with their career goals and fits their lifestyle. We offer a competitive pay package as well as opportunities to increase your skills and experience. We’ve given you a heads up on interviews – now the ball is in your court. Contact us today.

 

Interview Tips for Recent College Grads – Part 1

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????You’ve aced interviews in the past. That one for the cafeteria job your freshman year and just last winter you nabbed a spot on the groundskeeper’s crew after a very successful interview. When you think back, though, those interviews were pretty much a formality. Your roommate recommended you for kitchen prep – actually, she begged the manager to hire you so she’d have a friend on the work team. And with the early, snowy winter, the grounds keeping crew were short-handed, big time, so the interview lasted maybe four minutes before the supervisor pronounced you hired.

But now that your college days are behind you, and you’re officially on the prowl for a “real” job, the game has changed. This is the big leagues. The real deal. The realization that those past interviews did nothing to prepare you for landing a real-world, honest-to-goodness, 40-hour-per-week job causes your stomach to knot.

Don’t let the prospect of a job interview send you into a tailspin. With some preparation and attention to detail, you can successfully navigate a “real world” interview. This week we’ll delve into several key “don’ts” and continue with the “dos” in next week’s post.

Don’t:

  • Focus too heavily on college accolades

In the “real world” grades, extracurriculars, and such matter less than they did in your pre-graduation days. Of course, you’ve every reason to be proud of your accomplishments and will want to note them on your resume. But this potential employer will be most interested in how your knowledge and skills will translate into on-the-job know-how. Focus on the experiences that have prepared you for this position.

  • Focus on everything but the job itself

 It’s fine if the company “perks” have you psyched. The culture and benefits and the location – surrounded by awesome eateries – not to mention that cool coffee shop on the first floor. But none of these topics should dominate the interview conversation. You’ll make a much better impression if you focus on how you’ll give 110% to the job rather than drool over the vending machines. 

  • Forget about non-verbal communication

While interviews are mostly about talking, it’s crucial to be aware of the impression your body language makes. You want to come across as confident so don’t fidget or allow your eyes to dart around the room. Sit up straight and sit back rather than hover on the edge of your seat. You want to project enthusiasm so smile sincerely and focus on the conversation. Speak with “a smile in your voice.” 

  • Expect perfection

Even the best interview has its low points. The one question you dreaded the most, whose answer you stumbled over. The awkward silence when nary a coherent thought could find its way from your brain to your mouth. It happens to everyone at some point. So cut yourself some slack. If you go in accepting that something will probably not go exactly as you’d hoped or planned, you’re likely to be calmer and make fewer bloopers.

Stop by for next week’s post on key “do’s” for navigating successful job interviews.

At B. Loehr Staffing we are continually searching for the highest caliber candidates to become our employees. An interview with us might be that all-important first step in your new career.  Don’t waste another minute.  Contact us today.

The Many Benefits of Positive Thinking

b loehr - positiveWhether your attitude reflects a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty outlook, it will impact every aspect of your life. The benefits of positive thinking are particularly impactful on your health and overall well-being. In fact, a sunny disposition can increase lifespan, reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, lower cholesterol and increase resistance to the common cold. Positive thinking lowers rates of depression, lessens stress, slows aging and improves coping mechanisms for dealing with the inevitable bumps in the road of life.

All of these benefits should be reason enough to strive for an optimistic outlook. But according to Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, there’s even more to gain. An optimistic outlook can impact your job skills and create lasting, impactful value in your work life as well.

Fredrickson refers to this as the “broaden and build” theory. Positive emotions create a broadened sense of possibilities and open your mind to potential opportunities. This encourages a person to seek out, build and develop new skills and resources that can provide value across all areas of his/her life.

A sunny disposition is often accompanied by a can-do attitude, a characteristic that certainly makes an employee more desirable—not to mention more teachable/trainable and pleasant to be around. A positive thinker commonly appears on the list of most sought-after “soft skills”.

Many see positive thinking as simply a personality trait. While some folks are naturally more optimistic, those who find themselves prone to negativity don’t have to allow a pessimistic attitude to rule their lives. Choosing to shut down gloomy “self-talk”— the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head—can make a huge difference. Minimizing negative self-talk and intentionally redirecting one’s mental monolog paves the way for a more optimistic overall outlook.

While some of this ongoing internal conversation comes from logic and reason, some self-talk results from misconceptions or a lack of information. Get the facts—assuming almost always leads to a blurry picture—then refuse to allow a gloomy Gus attitude to sabotage a positive approach.

When life throws you a curb, it’s tempting—and takes little effort—to succumb to woe-is-me thinking. But fight the urge to expect the worst and focus instead on the bright side. Because expecting good things to happen actually increases the chances of a positive outcome.

So, Debbie Downer and Negative Ned, make way for Positive Patrick and Optimistic Olivia!

The caliber of B. Loehr Staffing’s Field Associates, as well our clients has earned us the reputation as a solid premier provider of quality staffing in the greater St. Louis area. Whether you are a candidate looking for a position or a company seeking talent, building a “positive” partnership with us will provide a timely solution. Contact B. Loehr Staffing today.

Be a Problem-Solving Employee

At the slightest setback in the day’s plans, Ms. K threw up her hands and backed away. “I can’t do this!” she exclaimed, her arms crossing defiantly over her chest as her head shook in firm agreement.

Cooler, calmer demeanors stepped in immediately – it was obvious this was not a first-time occurrence. The relatively minor issue was handled efficiently and effectively, with a minimum of raised eyebrows and widened eyes at their co-worker’s behavior, and the day proceeded.

This employee did not possess even the most basic of problem-solving skills. How long will she last in this position? Probably not long.

Problem solving combines logic and the knowledge of past experiences with an imaginative sense of “what if?” to dissect a situation and determine an intelligent solution. A number of important skills factor into successful problem-solving including resilience, analytical thinking and creativity, as well as a bent toward asking the kind of questions that dig below the surface and peel away the layers to get to the core issue.

Consider the IDEAL model, described by Bransford and Stein in their book Ideal Problem Solver. It breaks problem-solving into the following stages:

  • Identify the issue
  • Define the obstacles
  • Examine your options
  • Act on an agreed course of action
  • Look at how it turns out, whether any changes need to be made.

While the process sounds simple, it takes time – which is completely different, of course, from thumb twiddling to pass the time, so it looks as if you’ve invested deep thought into resolving the issue.

The best resolutions result from a purposeful, strategic process.

  • Identifying the problem must involve a thorough understanding of the situation. Minor glitches can be resolved with a brief run through of the above steps. But major issues often involve many contributing components that must be defined before they are addressed.
  • Define the obstacles – with pen and paper or a whiteboard, get a visual of every facet of the problem, listing even the most minute aspect. Make an effort to approach the situation from every angle.
  • Examine every possible option to ensure a great idea won’t be pushed aside because it appeared less than feasible. The first thought that enters your mind or comes up in the group setting discussion may not be the best solution. That’s okay. It’s this kind of thinking, reaching, and grasping that will ultimately lead to the best resolution.
  • Act – when it’s time to move, go for it. Forge ahead with confidence and resolve.
  • Look at the outcome – utilize the acronym ART that stands for Assess, Review, Tweak. Objectively assess the results, thoroughly review every part of the resolution, determine what tweaks will better the outcome.

Typically, problem solvers like to learn, can reason well, think creatively, aren’t fearful of decision making, and possess planning and organizational skills. A purposeful approach to dilemmas will make you a valued employee. So, if you lack in any of these crucial areas, choose one skill to work on and resolve to become a better problem solver.

At B. Loehr Staffing we value employees whose problem-solving skills set them apart from the crowd. It is the outstanding performance of our employees that has helped to build our reputation as a premier provider of quality staffing. Contact us today for assistance in finding a position that will utilize your unique skill set.

 

 

The Work-life Balance vs. Work-life Integration Debate – Part 2

b loehr - integration

Which do you strive for – a work-life balance with distinct boundaries between work and life OR work-life integration that purposefully melds it all together?

Were it possible to create a perfect equation of work and personal time – and sustain it – then work-life balance would get the nod.  Achieving a hardline separation, while doing justice to both, is indeed a worthy goal, but it’s also a tall, tall order. And maintaining that clear line for the long run? Next to impossible.

Employees long for happiness and contentment on both fronts. Why wouldn’t they? And employers desire the same for their workers because a satisfied, engaged workforce will get the job done right.

It seems any strategy designed to better the lives of management and staffers alike will pay dividends. After all, work takes up a chunk of our lives. A Harvard study found that 94 percent of people work more than 50 hours a week with almost half of them putting in more than 65 hours a week.

Although the work-life balance theory still pops up in headlines and water cooler discussions, other concepts are entering the conversation. Things like greater flexibility, energy management, and fulfillment. Because the ability to lead inspired, engaged lives across all facets – work, family, personal well-being – is the true goal.

David DeWolf shares a real-life, hands-on experience that exemplifies the essence of work-life integration.

“Last school year, I brought my three oldest kids (8, 7, and 5 at the time) to the office to experience what Daddy does every day. I made them dress appropriately, bring their school work and work diligently. I taught them how to interact with professionals and  . . . That’s not balance –  that’s integration!”

It’s no surprise that the most innovative companies have catapulted far above the idea of balance to allow the necessary options their engaged, industrious workers need to mesh work and life in a plan that fits their individual lives. The employee has some input as to when/where their tasks are accomplished – providing appropriate deadlines are met. The bottom line is that the job gets done.

Not such a novel concept considering the results of a time diary study of 1001 days in the lives of high-earning women and their families. A full 75 percent of the time, logs showed personal situations – family, school, health related and the like – happening during traditional work hours. On the flip-side, 77 percent revealed work outside the normal workday – making calls after their kids went to bed, writing reports on weekends.

Are late night calls or Saturday afternoons at the computer ideal? Probably not but if it gets mom and dad home for dinner with the kids, homework and bath time, it’s not such a bad trade-off. The only possible way some parents can work and tend to their family is to find a job that embraces work-life integration.

  1. Loehr Staffing understands the demands of life and family facing today’s workforce. We also appreciate how much our client companies need a qualified, productive workforce. Our staffing specialists work hard to provide top quality service, innovative solutions, and the perfect client /candidate match every time. Contact us today.

The “Work-life Balance” vs. “Work-life Integration” Debate – Part I

The once hot topic of “work-life balance” is losing support in favor of a theory that doesn’t sound all that different but is claimed to be not only better but more attainable.

The newer-kid-on-the-work/life/balance-block is work-life integration.

What are these two theories and how do they differ?

Kelsie Davis provides these basic definitions of each philosophy:

Work-life balance suggests “employees shouldn’t be entirely consumed by work responsibilities.  Companies who advocate balance “are more likely to have generous, but still defined, vacation policies” and “encourage employees to work a pretty normal schedule (9-5ish) with a little flexibility. They also discourage workaholics.” Companies support an approach that’s more of a “hard, defined line between work and life designed to keep one from encroaching on the other.”

Work-life integration suggests an incorporation of “work and life into one conglomerate, fulfilling purpose…” Supporting companies are likely to have an undefined vacation policy with the understanding that employees won’t abuse it. They are “more likely to have a ‘just get the job done’ attitude . . . not caring in which hours the work is getting done . . . creating a more blurred line between work and life (but ideally, employees don’t become overwhelmed by work or too consumed by life).”

As one would expect, each philosophy has it advocates and nay-sayers.

Team work-life balance maintains:

 People need a definite end to the work day.

  • This hard line protects them from being always “on call”.
  • Defined hours provide accountability.

Team work-life integration claims:

  • Allowing people to work when and where it best suits them is preferable.
  • Taking full advantage of the flexibility afforded by technology is a win-win situation—even at 10 pm.
  • People can “manage” themselves and be trusted to get the job done.

The advancements in technology have progressed to where being “always on” and “always connected” are considered the norm. Therefore, it’s easy to see how a hard line between work and life has become much more difficult to maintain and to some employees, is now seen as less desirable.

In today’s world and across many employment scenarios, life and work surely have meshed—a situation that more closely relates to “integration” than it does to the idea of “balance.”

While for some, the idea of after-hours work is at best unpleasant, at worst unthinkable, others see it as somewhere between a solution to a hectic schedule and the best possible scenario.

Personal preferences aside, work-life integration continues to gain traction as a more viable way to attain both the career achievements and the family/leisure life most people desire. In the next installment, we’ll delve further into the pros, cons and specifics that distinguish the two theories.

Loehr Staffing can offer you a career that fits the freedom and flexibility your lifestyle demands. We also offer a highly-competitive pay package along with a benefit program that includes portable medical insurance, a referral program, and skills enhancement training. Contact us today.

 

Economic Growth Causes Retention Crisis

b loehr - recruit retainIt’s a good news, bad news situation.
The good news: including figures through December 2015, the U.S. has experienced 69 consecutive months of private sector job growth. Yay!

The bad news: this trend, a major reversal from the financial crisis and recession period of 2007 to 2009, has created recruiting and retention challenges and even talent shortages in some areas of the workforce. Boo.

“It’s the No. 1 issue for H.R. professionals,” according to Chason Hecht, president of Retensa, an employee retention consulting firm. Hecht notes the problem is “pervasive across industries, but some are hit harder than others — like health care,” a sector scrambling to meet the demands of an aging population.

As the economy improves, and job options flourish, it causes employers concern about retaining their most valuable asset – a productive workforce.

So, what’s a business to do? Begin addressing the situation by grasping how the employee’s view of the entire employment picture has changed.

Past generations considered a lifetime position with one company the desired goal. A worker was likely to be content with whatever pay and benefits were offered because job security topped the list of employment aspirations.

Younger generations no longer hold to this way of thinking, a fact proven by how employees “shop” for jobs every few years in the same fashion they “shop” for a new car. The Internet has opened a plethora of doors to anyone seeking a job or simply checking in on “what’s out there.” There are more ways than ever before to “shop around” your skill set and qualifications.

Money still talks, but engagement often talks just as loudly. While a pay increase may head off an immediate departure, job engagement is where it’s at. Many employees will stick around – some even for less pay – if they truly love the position, feel valued by the company and believe they are an integral part of the “bigger picture.”

On the other hand, retirement concerns have begub to take center stage as traditional pensions have all but disappeared. For today’s employees, retirement confidence is strongly tied to their access to a retirement plan whether it be a defined contribution (DC) plan, a defined benefit (DB) plan, or an individual retirement account (IRA). The portability of 401(k)s are an added incentive to change jobs should the right opportunity present itself.

Communication and transparency are also keys to retaining employees. Workers want to know how the company is doing and receive explanations concerning the how and why of financial decisions that affect them and their pay. Being left in the dark suggests they are valued less to the company and will nudge them toward the door.

Considering all these factors, strategize with your management team about specific ways the company can actively seek to retain the trained workforce you’ve worked hard to assemble.

B. Loehr Staffing recognizes how the rapidly changing business environment can force quick, significant shifts in workforce requirements, and we offer a reliable resource to meet those needs. We will communicate clearly, frequently and honestly concerning your hiring needs. Contact us today.