Posts Tagged ‘New Year’

Practicing Mindfulness In The New Year

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

mindfulnesshcwThe post below is a guest blog from Meaghan Roach who serves as Health Management Advisor for CAI’s employee benefits partner Hill, Chesson & Woody.

As 2015 has come to a close and we begin to embark on the adventure of another year, many of us will be making resolutions, promises to ourselves and our loved ones for a happier, healthier, better 2016.

But the reality for most adults is that we are too busy, too stressed, and have a to-do list a mile long. Frankly, when are we ever going to catch up on our daily activities, let alone find the time to better ourselves?

The answer may be found in mindfulness. UC Berkeley defines mindfulness as the practice of “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.” Mindfulness can be cultivated through quiet periods of meditation, focused breathing techniques, and intentionally noticing your surroundings through each of your senses.

The Harvard Business Review recently published an article chronicling the success of a mindfulness and meditation program at Aetna. While most business leaders are spewing the standard “do more with less” and “increase productivity by working harder, faster, longer” jargon, Aetna’s CEO Mark Bertolini is taking a different route. Aetna began a mindfulness training program back in 2010 to teach employees how to better manage stress and center themselves throughout the day through yoga and meditation.

Aetna isn’t the only company instituting mindfulness practice into employee lives. Other major companies, like Intel, General Mills and Google, have created their own mindfulness programs. Google offers over a dozen courses on mindfulness to their employees, and the most popular of these courses – “Search Inside Yourself” – is now offered to other companies as a way to train leadership teams on bringing the practice into their own organizations. The list of participants in the SIY Leadership Institute yields more high-profile companies and institutions, including Ford, Comcast, American Express, and several universities.

Clearly, mindfulness is taking the corporate world by storm, and for good reason. Aetna’s program resulted in a 36 percent reduction in perceived stress by participants, and has increased participant productivity by an average of 62 minutes per week, which computes to $3,000 in increased productivity per participant each year. In addition to reducing stress, mindfulness has also been shown to improve your ability to focus, boost productivity and creativity, and increase your Emotional Intelligence, a key indicator of job success.

The New Year is the perfect time to interject mindfulness practice into your life and the lives of your employees. The holidays are often synonymous with stress and over-indulging, but the New Year brings the promise of a fresh start, in which we can shape our present lives to better fit our ideals for the future.

So, how do you begin? The idea of jumping headfirst into meditation may seem daunting, but that is not the only way to cultivate mindfulness in your daily life. Try creating a small habit at the beginning of each day: when you arrive at work, sit quietly for two to three minutes, doing nothing but feeling your breath and taking note of your surroundings.

For a beginner’s course in attentively using your senses, consider the raisin. This popular practice in mindfulness, especially mindful eating, has the participant experience a single raisin through sight, smell, feel, and taste.

For more information on starting a mindfulness program, and promoting employee well-being in a broader sense,  please reach out to HCW’s Health Management Department.

Transform Your Business With These 5 New Year’s Resolutions

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

In today’s post, CAI’s HR Business Partner Tom Sheehan shares the important resolutions HR professionals should be aiming to tackle in the New Year.

The New Year is here, and I imagine many of you will have already set goals you hope to achieve by the end of 2016.  As HR professionals, odds are attracting and retaining talent will be some of your top priorities for the year.  To meet these goals, I would like to call your attention to five resolutions that if followed will be instrumental in creating success for your business this year.

  1. Narrow the Front Door to Close the Back Door
    Commit to improve the screening and selection processes to ensure that poor fit candidates don’t join the organization. In particular, use structured interview questions to assess for cultural fit, and incorporate realistic job previews. In short, by acting as the ‘gatekeeper of talent’ and narrowing the front door, you will reduce the unnecessary turnover of employees leaving via the backdoor.
  2. Hire for Attitude, Train for Skill
    Winston Churchill famously said that ‘Attitude is a little thing that makes a BIG DIFFERENCE.’ It is much easier to train a new hire on a set of work skills than to correct issues with their attitude. If you want to know about their attitude, check their references thoroughly.
  3. Onboard New Hires with Real Purpose
    Make certain that the new hire process utilizes a formal, scripted plan for the first 90 days. Include check-in points for an HR representative to make sure things are still on track. Hold the hiring manager accountable for ensuring that the process unfolds according to plan.
  4. Dump the ‘once a year’ Performance Review
    Resolve to make the performance management process something more than a ‘check-the-box’ exercise. Train managers on how to give performance feedback on a regular basis. Encourage managers to have weekly one-on-ones with their staffs. At a minimum, there should be a formal mid-year check-in between the employee and the manager.
  5. Do Less Better
    In our zeal to please (and support) our internal customers, HR has traditionally had a hard time saying ‘No’. As a result, we are often overextended and inefficient. Endeavor to prioritize your HR initiatives and select fewer projects to start. In doing so, you will improve execution and results.

Follow these resolutions and you will likely find a positive impact across your organization. Not only can it help transform your business for the better, but it also will improve the credibility and faith in HR and establish a reputation and culture for doing things the right way.

For further questions about how to achieve your HR resolutions in the New Year, please contact our Advice & Resolution team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

5 New Year’s Resolutions to Enhance Your Career

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

fireworksThe beginning of 2015 brings new opportunities, goals and resolutions. Some common New Year’s resolutions people have include losing weight, volunteering, quitting smoking and spending more time with family. While these resolutions are very important, you should also consider making New Year’s resolutions to enhance your career and work life. These 5 New Year’s resolutions have the potential to lead to a happier and healthier career in 2015.

  1. Obtain a positive work/life balance

For a happier and healthier career, you need to be able to balance time at work with the other aspects of your life such as family, hobbies, vacations and other leisurely activities. You should be able to feel accomplished at work while happy with the time spent doing other things. For some this may mean working fewer hours to make time for other things, but for others it may be picking up more hours so the proper amount of time can be devoted to accomplishing tasks and projects.

  1. Learn a new skill

This resolution could enhance your job performance at work as well as your marketability if you are seeking a new job in 2015. Find out what skills are in demand for your profession, and then think about taking a class, attending a workshop or signing up for webinars to enhance your skills. This will help you career not only in 2015, but in years to come.

  1. Expand your Network

There can never be too many people in your professional network. Try expanding your network by attending conferences, joining local professional groups or even community service groups. Do not limit yourself to networking with people only in your profession. Extend your network to other professions to widen your opportunities for 2015.

  1. Be receptive to change

One of the great things about the start of a new year is that it initiates the possibility of change. Consider the benefits that change can bring to your career, workplace, and business. In 2015, changes can be seen with technology, office culture and workplace policies. Be open to changes in policies and have a positive attitude even when co-workers may not. You will be able to adapt to the changes so that your career is not hurt by them.

  1. Make time for new projects

At some point in 2014, you probably had a great idea for a new project or initiative that you then decided to put on the back burner, thinking “I’ll get to it eventually.” Make 2015 your eventually! The new year is a great time to start new projects and generate new ideas and strategies to excel your business and career.

By making any of these New Year’s resolutions, you are setting yourself up to make improvements to your career that could last well beyond 2015. These five resolutions are not the only ways to have a successful 2015, but they are great starting points for a successful year.

For additional tips for creating New Year’s resolutions for your career or workplace, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Start the Year Right with a Doable Plan: Try an Anti-Resolution

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Today’s post features a short video from CAI’s CEO and president, Bruce Clarke. In less than three minutes, Bruce explains why anti-resolutions are better commitments to make at the beginning of a new year:

Bruce gives reasons why resolutions, like eating fewer cookies, are sometimes unrealistic. He says if you’re trying to give up cookies, it typically means you enjoy them. When you eat one, you’re immediately satisfied. Not only are you satisfied, but the problem of what happens when you eat too many cookies is not on your mind and it usually isn’t. So you eventually forget about your resolution and never complete it.

Instead of forgetting the many resolutions you were determined to keep at the beginning of the year, Bruce suggests making an anti-resolution. The anti-resolution gets the pain and gain in the right order because this is something you want to do, it brings immediate satisfaction and the end result is an even bigger pay off.  

Bruce lists several examples of what your anti-resolutions can be in the video above. The key things to remember when making an anti-resolution are that it’s something that you want to do and something that has a clear pay off to you. In addition to creating an anti-resolution, Bruce suggests forming a plan that details necessary actions to achieve your anti-resolution. 

Make your 2013 great by developing an anti-resolution. Remember, it’s something that you want to do and not something that someone told you to do.

To receive more information on forming attainable goals for the year, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-989-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Help Employees Include Fitness in Their Plans for the New Year

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

office wellnessEmployees spend a large portion of their time at work. Hitting their deadlines and entertaining clients are often more important to them than making sure they make it to the gym three times a week. Although it’s an additional thing for employees to add to their busy lives, exercising brings a number of benefits when done regularly. You can help employees improve their concentration, feel less stress and sleep more by encouraging them to incorporate fitness in their goals for 2013.

Sometimes employees won’t be able to make it to the gym or the park down their street. If that happens, help them stay fit with some work-friendly fitness tips:

  • Tell employees to take breaks to stretch throughout the day. Stretching reduces risk of injury and improves mental alertness.
  • Start a fitness club. Organize different activities to do with your employees. Try a yoga class one day and a walk around your facilities on another. Offer activities during lunch or after work throughout the year. Participation should be optional.
  • Replace office snacks high in sugar and low in nutrition with healthier options. Also provide plenty of drinking water in your break rooms.
  • Have flexibility in your office start time and end time for those employees who want to work out before they come in and those who want to work out when they leave.
  • Hold lunch and learns for your staff on the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Include healthy lunch options for your employees to try.
  • Ask your employees if they have all the resources they need to complete their jobs or a specific project. Ensuring that they have everything they need to perform well will reduce their stress.
  • Have employees move around more by encouraging them to a visit a coworker in their office when they need them instead of buzzing them by phone or writing an email.      

For more tips to improve the overall health and wellness of your employees, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: lululemon athletica

Help Your Employees Create Achievable Goals in 2013

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

new work yearA new work year has begun so the time to develop goals with your employees is now. Helping to establish annual goals with your employees is a good way to keep them loyal, as goal making will enhance their personal and career development. Not only is it a good morale booster for your workforce, employees who achieve their goals or make a good effort towards them will boost the performance of your overall business.

Goal setting is an important part of the manager/employee relationship because it allows opportunities for both parties to provide the other with feedback. Employee strengths and weaknesses can be assessed during the process, as well as factors that motivate good performance. Aid your team members in forming assessable goals that will accelerate their careers and bring results to your organization.

There are a couple of aspects you and your employees will want to consider when creating goals. Here are a few to get started:

Stay Focused

Goals that are meaningful to the individual employee and your organization are a good place to start. Work with your employees to pick goals that align with the company’s areas of focus. Make sure to ask your employees for their input so you know the results they’re hoping to achieve.

Make Them Attainable

Setting unrealistic goals is a surefire way to decrease the morale of your staff.  The talents of your employees should be stretched, but working towards goals that are impossible will have everyone in your organization frustrated. Work with the available skills your organization has to create success.

Offer Support

Frequently check in with your employees about progress they’re making on their specific goals. Play an active role in encouraging them to perform their best or identify areas in which they may need some assistance.  Be there for them when they need a question answered or recognition for a day of good work. Commit to helping your direct reports reach success.

If you’d like more information on creating suitable employee goals, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-669-7746.   

Photo Source: Sean MacEntee

4 Workplace Habits to Break By the End of the Year

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

break habitsIn less than two weeks, 2013 will be here. A new year can conjure up an array of emotions: scared, excited, hopeful, exhausted, doubtful—the list can go on. Choose to focus on the positive emotions, and do something beneficial for your work life. Paying more attention to your responsibilities at the office will push you to perform better, benefiting other parts of your life like your health, sleep and relationships.

Creating an efficient work routine will help you achieve your work/life balance goals and improve your workplace attitude. Before you develop your routine, take time to acknowledge inefficient habits that you’ve gotten used to relying on at your organization. Break these habits to plan a successful 2013.

Below are a few examples of habits that will harm your performance. Review the items below, and work hard to break or avoid these office blunders:

Frequent Chitchats

Conversing with your coworkers is not a bad habit. Chatting actually helps build trust and create workplace friendships. However, excessively talking with your workplace colleagues is a bad habit that you should attempt to break. Getting along with your coworkers is ideal, but if you’re missing deadlines or not paying attention to your manager’s requests, you might need to realign your priorities. You don’t have to cut out chitchat all together, but save it for less busy times of the day, such as lunch time or the late afternoon.

Email Obsession

Numerous surveys show that employees receive and respond to a large number of emails each workday. Responding to the different email requests you receive throughout the day can kill your productivity. Email is incredibly important, but understanding the difference between urgent and not urgent will help you complete other tasks that you have on your plate. If a response is not needed immediately, reply back after you finish more pressing tasks.

Stepping Up

Do you feel like you’ve missed an opportunity for a raise or promotion? Instead of lamenting over the fact they you aren’t where you want to be, do something about it. Ask your manager for more responsibilities or find new ways to challenge yourself and make your job more exciting. Only you can really change your circumstances. Work harder and be more helpful. Remember, if your company doesn’t acknowledge or appreciate that you’ve stepped up your game, you might not be at the right place.

Working Too Hard

Eight hours for five days a week are dedicated to your organization. You work hard to create innovative projects, make deadlines and recruit talent to keep your business running successfully. Sometimes you spend too much time making sure the company is running smoothly. Make sure to strive for work/life balance in the new year. Enjoy the other important aspects of your life.

For additional information on strategies to improve your work performance, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Victor1558