Employee burnout, work-life balance, and overall employee well-being are huge topics of conversation right now. A lot of people will be able to relate to this reader note:

I feel used. I’ve been at my job for just over a year. My boss is aware of my work ethic and has enthusiastically expressed satisfaction of our department’s accomplishments. My peers say they don’t know how I do it. I know how: I work day and night. I sacrifice family and friends to meet the company’s ever increasing demands.

I’ve work a minimum of 65 hours per week since Day One. I’ve asked for qualified help in the form of at least two degreed experienced professionals. My manager hired a part-time high school kid. So many promises have been made and broken. Trust is severely damaged.

My manager received a new boss that was supposed to help alleviate the stress. So far with his “great ideas and strong leadership” I have more projects and more work. How do I get heard and get my life back? Do I even try?

I need to start my reply with an admission. I’ve worked over 65 hours a week for the vast majority of my professional career. I probably work over 65 hours a week now. But that being said, I don’t feel that I’m “sacrificing” my life.

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And that’s an important distinction. The issue isn’t how many hours you’re working; it’s how you feel about how many hours you’re working. I know people who feel the same way this reader does when they work 45 hours a week. So, here are some considerations when evaluating your work and life demands:

Establish priorities. We all need to decide the priorities in our life. This includes our health, family, friends, hobbies, faith, community, etc. Then decide the order of those priorities (aka prioritizing what’s important to us). For example, attending an event related to your hobby might be less important than a family celebration. Or vice versa. Chances are everything is not at the same level of importance.

Focus on priorities. Regardless of the number of hours, ask yourself, “Are your priorities being taken care of or ignored?” Also ask yourself, “Have I make it clear to my manager what my priorities are?” Your manager has their own unique set of priorities too. And unless you tell them otherwise, you’re asking them to guess what your priorities are.

Ask about priorities. I’ve learned about this one the hard way. I used to drive myself crazy because I thought everything was a priority. Then I learned to ask where projects fell in the list of priorities. Often my manager didn’t know what I was working on. Or if they knew, they didn’t have the specifics. So when they gave me a new project, they didn’t realize what they were doing with my workload. Instead of just taking on the extra work, I asked where the new project fell in their list of priorities.

It’s hard to know if this situation can be salvaged. I have seen employees speak with their managers about their priorities and managers make changes to improve the situation. I’ve also seen employees tell the company that everything is a priority and the company cannot possibly remedy the situation. The answer lies in whether employees are able to manage their work demands.

Organizations need to realize their employees have things that are important to them – their priorities. They vary by employee. It’s the job of a manager to find out what each employee’s priorities are and work to ensure that employees aren’t ignoring their priorities. Because when they do, resentment grows and it translates into and employee disengagement and poor performance.

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Quick Shots for #HR and #Business Pros – July 2014

by Sharlyn Lauby on July 25, 2014

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I love street art. Not talking vandalism here, but the bold visual images of an artist communicating with the public. This month’s image is from a neighborhood in Miami called Wynwood that is experiencing a renaissance as a design and textile area.

This month’s quick shots are all about change. Whether it’s changing the way we live, do business, or think, change is all around us.

Students at Florida Institute of Technology studied the impact of emoticons in business communications. Will we start seeing Emoji Writing 101 classes soon?

A new way to do research for meetings. Refresh is an app that links with your calendar then searches social media to aggregate information that you can use during your next meeting. If used incorrectly, this could be pretty creepy. But think of the practical business use – sales people can use it before client appointments. Job seekers can use it before interviews.

Monitoring bathroom breaks isn’t how you build employee engagement.

A question for every manager: Would your employees walk off the job to save yours? A group of employees did just that.

This summer’s viral video: “Weird Al” Yankovic’s Word Crimes. I’ve watched it more times that I care to admit. LOL!

And lastly, I’m very excited to be speaking in London this Fall at Tucana Global’s HR Change & Transformation conference. HR Bartender readers can get a discount on registration using this code: CT14SL1. I’ve never been to London before – got any recommendations on places to see, restaurants, etc.? Drop me your London musts in the comments.

Image courtesy of HR Bartender


The Importance of Context in Curating Information

July 24, 2014

I spoke at a conference recently and mentioned the idea of social curation. It appeared to be a rather new concept for this particular group. Effective curation involves consistency. If you’re curating information to help others, they need to be able to rely upon you. Conversely, if you’re following someone because they curate good information, […]

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Do You Want To Be Called an Employee or Associate [poll]

July 22, 2014

One of the core elements to a company’s culture is how they refer to the people who work there. Are they called “employees” or “associates”? Or maybe something else like Disney’s “cast member”? I’ve worked for companies that have used both terms. So I don’t consider one to be better or worse than another. However, I […]

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What to Do When an Employee Rejects their Performance Review – Ask #HR Bartender

July 20, 2014

I received this interesting question via Twitter. Sharlyn! For a post…if employee gets bad performance review and doesn’t agree with it, is there value in going to HR to complain? First off, let me say that I’m a firm believer than an employee’s performance appraisal should not be a shock to them. I don’t know […]

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Knowing How to Use Your Technology – Friday Distraction

July 18, 2014

(Editor’s Note: Today’s Time Well Spent is brought to you by Kronos, the global leader in delivering workforce management solutions in the cloud. Kronos recently added Certify, a leading cloud-based travel and expense management solution to their marketplace. You can read more about the announcement here. Enjoy the post!) I’m not sure how it happens […]

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The Reason Positive Feedback Works

July 17, 2014

As a management training consultant, I talk to people about the power of positive feedback. It’s important to give employees both positive and constructive feedback. I think we all understand why. But I was chatting with a colleague of mine recently and he shared with me a training activity he’s using to actually show participants […]

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