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A Balanced Ecosystem: How to Improve Workplace Culture

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Dec 6, 2017 in Thinking Positive

CityA workplace also functions like an ecosystem. There is a natural energy flow or work process that is in place to ensure that the company functions and contributes to the overall industry. Employees (the living) have to interact with non-living things such as computers, pens and documents to accomplish tasks and contribute to the team.

However, like animals in the wild, an employee cannot productively contribute in the office if the surroundings are toxic and when natural resources are in shortage. To make sure employees get to live up to their full potentials, they need to thrive in a balanced workplace ecosystem – where their needs are being provided, their roles are well-defined and their environment is a conducive place to work in.

One way of ensuring that the workplace does not become too toxic is by improving workplace culture, below are a few tips:

  1. Let employees live/work freely.

Like a bird locked up in a cage, employees can easily feel demotivated and unproductive when they are limited to the four walls of the office or their cubicle all day. That is why you should learn to loosen up a bit and allow your employees to work outside the office once in awhile. You can let them work from home during certain days, or allow them to work from a cafe or other co-working space where they feel more comfortable.

  1. Improve collaborations and cultivate relationships.

A balanced ecosystem is also about harmony. A harmonious working environment is created when all the employees work well together, and no cloud of negativity is lurking between teams or co-employees.

To avoid brewing up toxicity in the workplace, make time for weekly consultations and open forums where everyone can freely say something and confront others about certain issues. Go out on team building activities every other month, and try to diffuse any kind of tension in the workplace before it blows up big time.

  1. Make the office more conducive for work and productivity.

The ambiance and surroundings of your office can help increase the mood and productivity of employees. When there are enough resources, natural lighting, a clean and cool air and comfortable work desks, employees can thrive and become efficient at what they need to do. You can also add in relaxing music to stimulate everyone’s creativity and technical ideas.

You can rearrange your office’s interior design and add a board where employees can track their daily tasks and progress. Make the office more interactive with trackers, a lounge area and even an entertainment nook for breaks and refreshments.

  1. Weed out the bad stuff once in a while.

Weeds can grow anywhere and they are almost unnoticeable up until they grow big enough and become a nuisance. This is why it is best to pluck out weeds when they are still small. And in an office setting, weeds could come in the form of stockpiled documents, trash, or even an inconsiderate employee. Don’t waste time when it comes to these issues – clean and straighten things up before it is too late.

Assign one day each month wherein employees can do a general cleaning. Put away all documents and office stuff that are not needed anymore. For papers that you still need as reference, put them away in a filing cabinet or storage.

  1. Value time-off.

Your employees need rest – not just during the weekends, but also right after their designated work hours. Once they are out of the office, avoid contacting them about work (except if it is a matter of life and death), or this would only add up to their stress levels. Allow them to zone out once their time at the office is up. This is their time to recharge and devote time to things that they are most passionate about.

Remember, a workplace culture should not just be balanced, it should also be harmonious as well. If a new organism (employee) is introduced in your corporate ecosystem, make sure he/she settles into a role that will still be connected to all the others. Otherwise, it could disrupt the balance and result to company losses and damage.

Unlike an ecosystem where organisms are only driven by their nature, employees in a corporate system can be taught their roles. As long as communication is done right, it will be easy to fit into the company’s ecosystem.

 

This Guest Post was contributed by Gemma Reeves. If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

Author Bio:

Gemma Reeves is a seasoned writer who enjoys creating helpful articles and interesting stories. She has worked with several clients across different industries such as advertising, online marketing, technology, healthcare, family matters, and more. She is also an aspiring entrepreneur who is engaged in assisting other aspiring entrepreneurs in finding the best office space for their business. Check out her company here: FindMyWorkspace

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15 HR Recruiting Statistics for 2017 (CAPTERRA.com)

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Oct 31, 2017 in Lessons Learned, Thinking Positive

Having a hard time hiring? 45% of small businesses struggle to find qualified job applicants. (NFIB)

If your typical interview process feels like it’s dragging, that’s because it is. Interviewing takes an average of almost 23 days. (Glassdoor)

We’re booming! Hiring volume in the U.S. increased 58% over the course of 2017. (LinkedIn)

It’s a well-researched, judge-y world out there. A typical applicant will read at least six company reviews before forming an opinion. (Glassdoor)

Everyone’s using software. A full 75% of talent professionals use ATS or some other type of recruiting software to facilitate the hiring process. (Capterra)

It costs the typical small business $1,872 to make a new hire. That’s a lot of money for a little business to shell out! (Monster)

If you can’t get a job, it’s because you’re not on your phone enough! 41% of hiring managers schedule interviews via use text messaging. (CareerBuilder)

Interview scheduling tools had a positive impact on the decision making process for nine out of ten recruits. Software make hiring easier for you and your recruits. (Yello)

By the end of this year, HR cloud software will account for 50% or more of all HR technology spending. Yay, cloud! (Gartner)

What are your employees really up to? 37% of interviewees reported looking for jobs while at their current workplace! (Jobvite)

It’s a buyer’s market. 40% of employers believe that there’s a talent shortage. (ManpowerGroup)

Being personable really does matter. 80% of candidates say they would make a decision because of relationships made while interviewing. (Devskiller)

Good hires vanish fast. It only takes 10 days for the most in demand job candidates to be off the job market. (OfficeVibe)

If your candidate has a bad time, they’re telling everyone72% of candidates who had a negative hiring experience will tell others about it, often online. (Career Arc)

Glassdoor know what’s up when it comes to their rankings. Of employees on the Glassdoor Best Places to Work List, 86% would recommend their employer to a friend, compared to just 49% of general Glassdoor users. (Glassdoor)

https://blog.capterra.com/hair-raising-hr-statistics-recruiters-need-to-know-in-2017/

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The Owl – Seeing Through The Counter Offer

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Apr 17, 2017 in Career Path, Lessons Learned

OwlOwls have excellent vision at night and in low light and are farsighted. When they want to see all around them, they can rotate their heads as much as 270 degrees. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Owl

Recently, I read the clearest, most persuasive article on “Why not to take a counter offer” that I have run across in my career as a recruiter. The article addressed 4 areas of interest that you should take into account, and be aware of, including what to do before you resign your current position and what to expect after you resign. It outlined why you should not accept a counter offer, what your Manager may be thinking after you resign, and finally some tactics that your Manager may use in order to try to keep you.

I often send this article to candidates when they are being countered. It gives that candidate food for thought and helps them to see that they need to look forward instead of looking back.

Here is that article for you to read and keep all of your options in sight like the owl:

Do not accept a counter offer!!! Here is why..

When you have received an offer of employment which you are inclined to accept, you must consider very carefully whether it really solves your problem and offers you the opportunity you are seeking before you resign from your current employment.

If you choose to accept the offer and to resign from your current employment, you must be prepared to resist powerful, persuasive tactics which your employer can use to change your mind.

It is invariably a costly irritation for employers to recruit your replacement and often they will do everything they can to keep you. They may offer large sums of money or increased benefits, titles and promises for the future. They can also apply strong emotional and psychological pressure. It can be attractive and tempting to accept.

However, once they know you are discontented, they will regard you as a ‘problem employee’.

Nationally compiled statistics show that nine out of ten people who accept counter offers have left their employment within six months, either because their employers arrange a replacement in their own time, or because the real reasons for wanting to change your job in the first place, have not gone away.

Twelve Reasons for Not Accepting a Counter Offer

  • You have now made your employer aware that you are unhappy. From this day on your commitment will always be in question.
  • When promotion time comes around, your employer will remember who is loyal and who isn’t.
  • When times get tough, your employer will begin the cutbacks with you.
  • When your employer replaces you after six months and ‘lets you go’, it’ll be harder to turn them around than it was for them to turn you around.
  • Accepting a counter offer is an insult to your intelligence. You didn’t know what was best for you.
  • Accepting a counter offer is a blow to your personal pride, knowing you were ‘bought’.
  • Accepting a counter offer rarely changes the factors that drove you to look for a new job in the first place.
  • Where is the money for the counter offer coming from? Is it your next pay rise early?
  • Statistics show that if you accept a counter offer, there is a ninety percent chance you will be out of the job within six months.
  • What type of a company do you work for if you have to threaten to resign before they give you what you’re worth?
  • Why didn’t they pay you that before? It was because they didn’t think you were worth it.
  • Why are they paying it to you now? It’s because it’s easier and cheaper for them to keep you for the time being, while they sort the problem out.

What really goes through a boss’s mind when someone quits?

“This couldn’t be happening at a worse time.”

“He’s one of my best people. If I let him quit now, it’ll wreak havoc on the morale of the department.”

“I’ve already got one opening in my department. I don’t need another right now.”

“This will probably screw up the entire vacation schedule.”

“I’m working as hard as I can and I don’t need to do his work, too.”

“If I lose another good employee, the company might decide to ‘lose’ me too.”

“My review is coming up and this will make me look bad.”

“Maybe I can keep him on until I find a suitable replacement.”

“We’re working with a skeleton crew already. If I lose this one, we’ll all be working around the clock just to stay even.”

What will the boss say to keep you in the nest? These comments are common:

“I’m really shocked. I thought you were as happy with us as we are with you. Let’s discuss it before you make your final decision.”

“Aw gee. I’ve been meaning to tell you about the great plans we have for you, but it’s been confidential until now.”

“The VP has you in mind for some exciting and expanding responsibilities.”

“Your raise was scheduled to go into effect next quarter, but we’ll make it effective immediately.”

“You’re going to work for who?”

“How can you do this in the middle of a major project? We were really counting on you.” (Just a stall tactic)

Let’s face it. When someone quits, it’s a direct reflection on the boss. Unless you’re really incompetent or a destructive thorn in his/her side, the boss might look bad for allowing you to go. It’s an implied insult to his management skills. His/her gut reaction is to do what has to be done to.

DON’T ACCEPT COUNTER OFFERS!

Source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/do-accept-counter-offer-here-why-lushia-van-buuren

Jake Hanson

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The Quagmire – Limits of Unlimited Leave

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Oct 3, 2016 in Career Path, Lessons Learned

quagmireWhen a company uses an unlimited leave plan to attract people, what’s really going on behind the scenes is a culture that drives the highest performers higher and enables lower performers to fall by the wayside into a professional quagmire.

Webster’s dictionary defines quagmire as: “an area of soft, wet ground: a situation that is hard to deal with or get out of: a situation that is full of problems.”

Companies who have this policy are generally known as high performing companies. Top spots are competitive and expectations are high. Work assignments are distributed to those employees who have proven themselves as reliable, dependable and willing to put in the extra time necessary to get a job done on time and within budget. High performing professionals do an excellent job of prioritizing work and combining that with balancing their personal lives, vacations and family commitments.

Lower performers choose personal life over work, and work to live, not live to work within a balanced framework. Employees who are seemingly unavailable are often passed over for both prime assignments and promotions which often leads to them being laid off or let go for circumstances that are actually easy to avoid.

Having a clear and complete understanding of what the employer’s expectations around deliverables is the number one contributing factor to an employee’s success and to prevent themselves falling into a performance quagmire they most likely cannot emerge from.

Use your performance review process to clearly identify and establish what both meeting and exceeding expectations looks like with your supervisor. Use common language and have both qualitative and quantitative goals that both parties agree to in writing. Avoid using generalizing terms like always or regularly and replace them with terms like daily weekly or monthly which are clearer for both parties.

Should your supervisor change, having these in writing to discuss with your next supervisor will ensure a smooth transition and allow as a starting point for discussions around their expectations as your new boss.

Remember, there is no free lunch, and unlimited leave does, in fact, have limits. Meeting expectations is good, but exceeding them is great.

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The Bosses – Thoughts from the Jungle

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Sep 30, 2016 in Building Confidence, Career Path, Job Search

jungle3As a recent graduate starting out in your career, or a seasoned professional looking to make the next move, the most influential person you will interact with in your new position will be your boss. The majority of our waking interactions during the week are going to be at work with our boss. That is a lot of time to spend with one person. A boss has the opportunity to make you feel completely inadequate to the point of wanting to reevaluate your career path OR so empowered and encouraged that you can move mountains with a click of a mouse. Much like choosing a major in college, where often times we end up picking our academic career based on one teacher who changed our perspective, the decision to continue on a career path can be dependent on the bosses you encounter.

A good boss doesn’t just want you to fill a gap or need within an organization. They want you to grow into an employee that is able to do much more than a job description requires. They want you to move towards the tasks that are in line with your interests so that they can see the passion your eyes. They want to challenge you to exceed expectations and go out of your comfort zone so that you are prepared for the position that comes next. A good boss wants to hear your ideas and welcome new perspectives outside of their own while trusting you to accomplish your work unsupervised and without micromanagement.

When faced with a job offer, always make sure you really know who it is you will be reporting to. It may seem like an obvious thing to do but depending on the role, you sometimes only have the opportunity to interview with the head of the department or other members of a team, for example. You want to make sure that before you accept a job, you are able to at least meet your manager face to face. If possible, try to see if there would be an opportunity to shadow a team member in a similar role to you. That way, you are able to see not only how the team interacts with each other but also with the boss. It is important to know your work personality to identify which management style aligns with your needs. There are some people who enjoy the structure of clear guidelines while others prefer flexibility to stay creative. Young professionals believe earlier in their careers that a boss is just someone you will be working FOR to pay rent, but really, it is someone you will be working WITH, day in and day out.

At the end of the day, people don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses.

Tori Zalewski

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The Howling Sessions – How To Communicate Effectively With Your Colleagues

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Aug 10, 2016 in Self Improvement

HowlingWithin the Job Jungle, plenty of animals work in packs. Wolves, monkeys, many kinds of birds – all of these rely upon group coherence to survive. And the most successful packs are the ones which can work together effectively. In order to work together, pack animals need to be able to communicate clearly and well, without conflict or confusion. If you want to join one of these successful packs, you, too, will need to demonstrate these exemplary communication skills. Here’s why communication is important, and how you can improve your working communication skills.

Without Effective Communication, There Is Chaos

Every company, and everyone working within a company must balance the needs of the collective with the needs of the individual. Humans are social animals, and a large part of our brains is given over to working with others. However, we’re also individuals, and our own individual needs and desires often clash with the needs and desires of others in the group. When this happens, conflict occurs. In most cases, conflicts within organizations work to the detriment of the organization as a whole. Conflict can sometimes be an essential precursor for necessary change – but in order for this to be the case, the conflict needs to be framed within civilized communicative boundaries. On a lesser level, failures to communicate effectively can result in tense working environments, frustrations, and even damage to the fabric of the company. A surprising amount of insurance claims result from people misusing equipment etc, simply because what they were supposed to be doing and how they were supposed to be doing it had not been communicated effectively. In order to create and preserve constructive working relationships, companies need people who are good at both talking and listening. If you can prove that you’re good at communicating, you’re more likely to get the job than someone who’s otherwise highly qualified but can’t communicate as effectively as you.

Listening

When people think of ‘communication’, they tend to think of chatter and words. However, a huge part of what makes someone an effective communicator is their ability to listen. This doesn’t just mean staying quiet while someone else talks – your mind really needs to be on what they’re saying, absorbing their words, and considering the implications of them. Listening is as much a character trait as a practical skill. If you’re the kind of person who decides on their line and sticks to it whatever the other person says, you’re not really listening, however much you ostensibly hear their words. Chances are that you’re using the time while they’re talking to think up counter-arguments, rather than critically and open-mindedly assessing what they’re telling you. Listening well does not necessarily mean agreeing with your co-converser. But it does mean giving their words a chance. It’s also worth noting that good listeners tend to be more respected and liked than those who are less skilled at listening A good listener will:

  • Not talk over other people. Don’t interrupt, and don’t finish their sentences for them. If you really feel the need to engage while they’re talking, do so through non-verbal cues like nodding and smiling.
  • Encourage the speaker. They won’t display disinterest or frustration. They will signal that they are interested and focused and wish the speaker to get their point across.
  • The listener will not let their attention stray from the speaker, either visibly or invisibly. They will concentrate on what the speaker is saying, and let their meanings fully sink in.
  • The listener will do their best to understand and empathise with the other person’s point of view. This does not necessarily mean agreeing with them – simply appreciating where they’re coming from, and the experiences or considerations which have led them to this viewpoint.
  • Be patient. Sometimes it can take a while for speakers to get their point across. A good listener will have the patience to wait this process out and remain engaged throughout, even when they feel that they know where the speaker is going.
  • Listen to volume, tone, and body language as much as words. Non-lexical cues can tell a good listener a lot about what the speaker is really saying, and add a valuable dimension to their comprehension of the speaker’s point of view.
  • Work out the bigger picture. Rather than snatching isolated soundbites, a good listener will try to look at the bigger picture which the speaker is painting.

Speaking

Speaking is, obviously, another aspect of effective communication. To properly engage with your colleagues, you will need to be able to talk to them in an equable and clear manner. People who can’t make themselves clear through speech, or whose speech isn’t received well will not be as able to get their ideas or points across as well as they might, which can cause conflict-creating frustrations. Nor will they be as able to make friend and form effective team bonds. If you wish to be a good speaker, try thinking about the following things:

  • The pace of your words. Often, if we’ve grown up with our words marginalized, we may speak in a rush to try and get our points out before someone else speaks over us. There is no need to do this. If someone speaks over you, that is a problem with their listening skills – do not make it become a problem for your speaking skills. Pace your speech comfortably, so that people have time to absorb your words, and you don’t come across as desperate, harried, or panicked.
  • The thought behind the speech. Don’t launch in without thinking first about what you’re saying, and the implications of that. One well thought-out piece of speech is worth a thousand vague and inconsequential words!
  • Get to the point. While a good listener will stick with you while you go off on tangents and beat around the bush, it’s still best to avoid doing this as much as possible. If you’ve thought out what you’re going to say, you should know the point you’re trying to make. Get to the point while talking, and don’t waste unnecessary words. You can explore avenues arising from your point in ensuing conversation.

Also – be yourself. Ok, so we’ve just told you to control what you’re saying, and now we’re telling you to ‘be yourself’. What if the ‘real you’ speaks quickly, beats around the bush, and doesn’t think before they speak? Don’t worry – you can still be the genuine ‘you’ while taking care to make your speech clear and concise. Simply make sure that you’re staying true to your own ideas, and keep your mannerisms and tone natural. People appreciate and will listen to someone with integrity – and staying true to your own self is a great way to demonstrate integrity.

This Guest Post was contributed by Gemma Matthews.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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The Sick Parrot – Why You Should Take Time Off If You’re Ill

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jul 25, 2016 in Lessons Learned

Parrot2The parrots are one of the most beautiful and lively features of the jungle. Always active, always cheering, always loud and colorful, the parrots provide joy and inspiration for the other animals. Unless they’re sick. The sick parrot is a marked contrast to his healthy fellows. Rather than flying around the treetops in streams of wild colour, he sits on a branch, feathers ruffled, shoulders hunched, looking thoroughly miserable and making everyone who sees him miserable as well. If he retreats to a safe perch and rests until he feels better, the sick parrot does not impact upon the life of the jungle too much. Often, however, sick parrots try to hide their illness so as not to appear weak. This rarely works out well for the other parrots. If the sick parrot tries to fly with the other parrots, he’s likely to disrupt the aerial display, infect his fellows, and add a distinctly duff note to jungle proceedings. The sick parrot is a great exemplar of why, despite our yearnings for productivity and excellence, we really should take time off to recover if we’re sick.

Infection

Time taken off for illness is, it cannot be denied, a big issue for many companies. It results in lost productivity, and sometimes on claims to the company’s health insurers, which can prove to be an administrative headache. However, most companies are far more concerned about people faking sickness in order to get time off than they are about genuinely sick people staying home from work. If your boss seems to have a bit of an attitude about sick leave, it’s probably because they’re worried about people faking it rather than an actual desire to force people to work through sickness. Indeed, if you’re genuinely sick, the majority of bosses would probably rather that you stayed away. Why? Well, there are a number of reasons, top of which is probably the risk of infecting others. If you’ve got some horrible virus, it’s better that you stay away and keep your germs to yourself rather than passing them around the office. Better to have one person sick than to have twenty people sick – that’s basic common sense! There are things that can be done to reduce the risk of infection (good hygiene practices, for example) – but there’s only so far that these can go. In general, the best way to prevent a workforce from succumbing to viral infections is to isolate the initial carrier at home, and stopping them from exposing everyone else to the virus.

Motivation

You may feel well capable of working through your sickness, and you may well be right. However, if you’re not feeling 100%, you’re unlikely to be able to act 100%. You may be tired, moody, dull. You are likely to be quite ‘down’, and this can correspondingly bring the mood of the entire workplace down along with you. If people are stepping on eggshells around you because you’re irritable, or worrying about your state of health, or simply absorbing your low energy and feeling lethargic themselves accordingly, productivity is likely to diminish. We all have bad days, and we all sometimes find ourselves bringing the workplace energy and vibe down, but if the reason you’re doing so is because you’re ill, it’s probably better to phone in sick until you feel well enough to perform at your optimum. Better to lose a day or two of work from one person, than to diminish everyone else’s productivity exponentially.

Image

If you’re working in a customer-facing role, or interacting regularly with clients, it does not present a good corporate image if you’re obviously ill. If you’re sniffling, sneezing, bleary, or in pain, customers will not be left with a positive image of the company. This doesn’t mean that you have to be perfectly beautiful, bright-eyed, and bushy-tailed in order to do your job – but it does mean that you’re better off working when you’re capable of summoning some enthusiasm and positivity. Which, as we all know, is pretty hard to do when you feel like crap! Stay home and get better rather than leaving clients and customers with an image of a sickly company!

This Guest Post was contributed by Gemma Matthews.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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The Jungle Pets – The Benefits of Bringing Pets to the Workplace

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jun 29, 2016 in Thinking Positive

PetIf you work in an office that doesn’t allow pets on the premises, you probably envy friends working in atmospheres were pets are welcome. Management that does not allow pets in the workplace often cite mess, distraction and possible annoyance of clients as good reasons for their decision, yet those who actually work in the companionship pets will tell you that this is far from the case. Most well-behaved pooches are content to relax in a comfy bed by your desk, waiting patiently until the next walk. Moreover, most offices with pets will probably tell you that clients usually enjoy seeing and interacting with dogs when they do visit your office – very few (or none) will probably mention anything negative about their close encounter with the furry kind.

The benefits of bringing pets into the office far outweigh any hassles (such as having to take a short break every few hours to take them for a quick walk). Research has shown, for instance, that pets significantly reduce stress levels, so much so that they are being employed across the nation to help those suffering from conditions such as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), ADHD and addiction. Indeed, some of these patients report that since spending more time in company of a dog, their anxiety and panic levels reduce dramatically, so much so that pets do away with the need to switch or increase any medication they are taking. Pets have been found to increase levels of feel-good hormone, oxytocin, thereby decreasing levels of stress hormone, cortisol.

Pets also help by encouraging a state of mindfulness – the latter is a buzzword in many recovery centres, and all it involves is ‘being in the here and now’; enjoying the present moment instead of allowing oneself to get stuck in the past or to worry about the future. Regret, guilt and panic are powerful triggers for a host of conditions, including anxiety and depression. Across the globe, millions of people are turning to mindful activities such as yoga and Tai-Chi, in an effort to battle stress and mental disease. Pets allow us to achieve a mindful state in a much quicker and more direct fashion, and nowhere is this more important than at work, when we need to keep our mind on the task at hand and on our ultimate goals. Having a pet in the office allows us to utilize our free moments between tasks in a positive manner, by interacting with our pets, enjoying a break without the need to escape from the present moment.

Dogs have been found to alter our autonomic body functions – this means that without even thinking about the effect they are having, we benefit greatly from the presence of a calm dog. Our blood pressure and respiration rate are decreased, as is our oxygen consumption and muscular tension. Interacting with pets has also been proven to release endorphins, which enhance brain functioning by improving our problem solving skills, stimulating our imagination and strengthening our communication skills with others. It is no wonder that some of the best managers are waking up to the positive effects that pets (particularly dogs) can have on the workplace – clearly, the office itself has plenty to gain from workers who are more alert and creative, thanks to the presence of pets.

Scientists at the American Heart Association have concluded that having a dog in particular can lower the risk of heart disease, thereby increasing our lifespan. People who have dogs have been found to live longer, and it isn’t only because they are forced to be more active and take their dogs for walks. Because having dogs lowers blood pressure and stress, they are more likely to be less vulnerable to the effects stress can have on their health, and be more likely to survive a heart attack. One study, carried out in 2001, observed a group of people with high blood pressure and high stress jobs who committed to adopting a dog or cat. Six months down the line, their blood pressure lowered significantly when they were stressed, compared to those who did not adopt a dog or cat. Another study followed 369 people with heart disease, to see the effects pets could have on their condition. One year later, those who owned a dog where four times more likely to still be alive.

It could be argued that dogs are not only beneficial to a workplace, they are actually necessary owing to the many effects they can bring to the health not only of their owners, but rather, to everyone in an office. Stress busting, mindfulness inducing, heart healthy dogs should be part and parcel of every work environment that values the mental and physical health of its workers

This Guest Post was contributed by Gemma Matthews.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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The Monkey – Flexibility In The Jungle

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jun 17, 2016 in Interviewing Skills

BranchFlexibility. Flexible Schedule. Flex-Time. What does that mean? Why does it matter?

Well, if you are a monkey swinging from tree to tree in the jungle, flexibility is key. You need to be flexible in order to grab the next branch to continue on your way and you need the branch to be flexible enough to hold your weight or it will snap.

In the workplace, or during an interview, flexibility is a far different thing. 14 years ago, when I first started in recruiting, I had never heard the term “flexibility” or “flexible hours” or “flexible work schedule” come up in conversation. I did hear candidates ask about the ability to leave work early if there was an emergency such as when a child was sick or the ability to work from home during a snow day.

Today, people think that they are entitled to work when they want, where they want, and how they want. They disguise this entitlement by using the term “flexible schedule” which sounds innocent enough, but is a loaded term. If the employer is not able to meet their demands, then that employer is “inflexible” and the company is potentially labeled as a bad place to work.

This week, I had a candidate who asked the client during the interview if she could work a “flexible schedule”. This question was asked during the first 5 minutes of her interview. The client was quite surprised by her question and asked for clarification. With a straight face, the candidate said, “I need to leave by 3pm each day.” The client was shocked. The client later related to me that she would not have minded a discussion on work hours later in the interview process to address any special needs that the candidate may have, but the timing and the severity of the restriction on time from their core business hours instantly put the candidate in an unfavorable light in her eyes.

Work is just that, work. You are not doing the company a favor by working there. You are applying to a position to gain employment to earn a living. You are offering your expertise to solve a business issue or need for the company. They do not owe you anything. It’s work for pay.

The appropriate time to discuss any special needs that you may have is not in the first 5 minutes of your first interview. The best time to approach the topic of “flexibility” is during the salary negotiation phase of the hiring process. Even then, you need to have realistic expectations and stay flexible yourself. If a company has core hours, see if there are alternative solutions you can explore before asking your employer or potential employer to change their policy to accommodate your needs. See if you can carpool to use HOV lanes or if a neighbor can watch your children for an hour after school so that you do not need to leave early. When all else fails, then approach your employer. Remember that you also earn trust over time with an employer. Often, flexibility is given to trusted employees after they have proven themselves in their current role. You should not expect to be given the same consideration right away when starting a new job as employees who have been with the company for a long time.

Flexibility is a 2-way street. Consider your request for “flexibility” before you ask for it, or you just might find yourself falling from that branch that you were so sure could hold you.

This guest post was contributed by Jake Hanson of the Merito Group.

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The Deciduous Forest – Question of Quality

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jun 8, 2016 in Career Path, Lessons Learned

Forest2The job search jungle includes all biomes and species that are all indicative of Carolyn’s vast experience in her field. My name is Cammy Cohen, and as a summer intern at Merito Group I feel I am qualified to speak metaphorically on only one ecosystem. I have chosen the Temperate Deciduous Forest because of its seasonal changes. Unlike the Tropical Rainforest, which has the same temperature and weather patterns from season to season, my summer, winter, spring, and fall are all very different. I am currently a student at Virginia Tech and love being a Hokie. In Blacksburg, everyone is wearing maroon and orange on game day and you can order pizza bigger than your face until 2am. I want to share my glimpse into the professional world and my view as a college student. I truly cannot express my gratitude enough to Carolyn and everyone in this office for investing in me and immediately making me feel like part of the team!

People are always taken aback by the fact that I want to be a recruiter. It seems to be a job that most just people find themselves in rather than set out for as a career. I suppose I am the exception to my perceived rule but so far, I believe this is the right path for me. I believe recruiting is an incredible use of my marketing degree. I don’t just want to market products, I want to market people’s skill sets and ambitions. I want to bridge a company’s needs with what my candidate wants, and market my firm in the process. I want to help people with the next step in their career by reviewing resumes and conducting interviews. But above all, I want what everyone should want from their career- to feel passionate about the work and to know that it has significance.

In the summer months the warm temperatures and ample sunlight harbor the growth of lush vegetation in the forest. In my current position, I am learning and growing as a professional every day. I am currently on a project with one of our clients who is a large government contractor. I am part of a team conducting the initial screening process of many diverse individuals every day.

My peek into the recruiting world has been a fantastic experience thus far, but not without falters in confidence. What I struggled with most was understanding the reason for implementing specific metrics- or why we have metrics at all. My idealistic view of recruiting was focusing on the candidate’s potential, finding the perfect job, and then making a “happy every after.” I was spending upwards of 10 minutes with candidate running through a conversation that should take no longer than 5 and stumbling through the computer software. I was reassured that I was still just learning, but that I wasn’t meeting my metrics meant that I wasn’t doing my job. This weighed on me and made me ask the question “at what point does quantity override quality and does this signify the nature of the industry?”

One day, after staying late in the office I asked this question to two of my colleagues. The question that had been nagging at me every time I opened my underperforming excel sheet. Both of them seemed surprised. My project deals with a high volume of candidates and they assured me I would get the hang of it. But that wasn’t what was concerning me; I wanted to know if this was truly representative of recruiting. They told me they felt the metrics kept them on track and was a fair, quantitative way to monitor progress. I left feeling unsure determined to understand the balance.

The next day I came back a new intern determined to streamline my efficiency without sacrificing the quality of my candidates. I found the best way to navigate the software and strived to keep my conversations concise and meaningful. Everything from this point on has clicked (which is the reason I have time to write this, might I add.) My point here is that everyone was right, I just needed to see it to believe it. So my first lesson has been learned- in a corporate environment there are quantitative standards you are required to meet but the true value of a recruiter is bringing quality alongside those metrics.

This Guest Post was contributed by Cammy, our fabulous summer intern! To see if Cammy has a position for you, apply here: Merito Group Career Opportunities

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