October 2010 Archives
All too often, people try to have it all! They want a career that fulfills them, they want a family life that they value, they want to pursue hobbies, friendships, and an active social life.
Is it a surprise that trying to have too much can actually lead to greater levels of stress and burnout?
Instead, we should be giving more thought to how we allocate the limited personal resources we have. People often forget that they have a limited amount of time, energy, and money to leverage in responding to life’s demands. Anything that takes time, energy, or money taxes those resources - even if it’s something we want to do (rather than have to do).
Most people are motivated to monitor the amount of resources they allocate to activities that are “required” (things we don’t like to do). But many people fail to monitor the way they allocate resources to “preferred” demands (like hobbies, family, or sports). This can lead to difficulties in responding to all of the different demands that we face (both required and preferred), which can lead to fatigue, burnout, work-life conflict, and other negative outcomes.
Instead, people can find a better balance by paying attention to how they allocate their resources. Some ways to do that include:
- Managing your time – Figure out how to best use your time
- Finding more efficient ways to do things – Acquire new competencies and skills to improve the speed with which you accomplish tasks
- Learning to prioritize preferred demands - Figure out which preferred activities are most important to you and allocate more resources to those
- Taking opportunities to exercise your autonomy – Learn to say “no” when necessary and be more proactive (when possible) in planning your schedule
Though there are ways to increase the amount of energy (such as through exercise or nutrition) and financial resources (such as through promotions or bonuses) we have, if we fail to effectively manage our resources, then we will likely end up in the same place as before – taking on too many demands for our existing resources – which puts us back to being exhausted and depleted.
So, give some thought to how you currently manage your personal resources. What might you change or improve? How can you make those changes or improvements a reality? I’d love to know what you think on this topic.
Texas A&M University just received a grant from the National Science Foundation to set up a center that will help increase the representation and advancement of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) faculty positions.
How do they plan to do this?
It turns out that the cornerstone of their proposal for the center is “encouraging a psychologically healthy workplace.” In fact, they explicitly state that the center will be guided by APA's Psychologically Healthy Workplace (PHW) principles.
You can read more about the program here.
It's exciting to see our PHW model serve as the foundation for a new program designed to promote employee and organizational outcomes, especially one that supports both science and diversity.
I look forward to hearing more about the center as they move forward with their efforts at A&M and hope to be able to share some of the lessons learned along the way.
What aspect would be the most important if you were looking for a new job today? This is the question we posted in our recent poll. Almost half (45%) of the respondents answered that pay and benefits would be most important, followed by flexible work options (26%) and then company culture (25%).
Compensation has consistently been in first place on employee satisfaction surveys (SHRM, 2007). Nevertheless, on a previous survey of job seekers (December, 2009) developed by Right Management, career prospects appeared as the first factor (40%), followed by work-life balance (21%) and innovative company culture (15%), competitive compensation and benefits was in the fourth position (12%), while good rapport with manager came in last (8%). At the same time, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reported recently that employees are reporting cutbacks in this area.
It may be that the economic environment has increased the importance of this factor for job seekers. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that prospective employees fitness with the organizational culture is an important factor for the new employee success.
You know you are doing something right when people start talking about how great you are!
When I came across a blog about a family from Ohio visiting the zoo, it took a second glance to see the relevance. This is from the Hazard family: “…we decided to check out the Columbus Zoo which received the very prestigious Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award [from the Ohio Psychological Association].”
How cool is it to realize that the work you do affects people on different levels? For employees, a psychologically healthy workplace is great – turnover stats support that. Our PHWA winners also tout how much people really want to work for them and the number of applicants they get for each job opening. Being an employer of choice is one of the many benefits a psychologically healthy workplace enjoys. In this case, a family considered the fact that the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium won the local-level award to be important enough to actually go there! That makes me feel like people do get it. They see why a psychologically healthy workplace is important and they want to be a part of it.
Ok, maybe the wildlife had something to do with it.
Photo Credit: G. Jones / Columbus Zoo and Aquarium