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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.

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The Decorator Crab – Breaking Down The Costs Of A New Job Wardrobe

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Nov 15, 2013 in Interviewing Skills, Self Improvement

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Where most animals grow their own fur, hair, feathers, and other outer adornments, the decorator crab specifically adds flair from its environment to its shell such as seaweed, sponges, and stones, in order to blend in with its surroundings.

Starting a new job is more than just learning how the company works. One thing that many people tend to forget is the wardrobe. If you’re planning on working with a company that doesn’t require a uniform but has a strict dress code, you may be finding yourself heading out to the store soon to load up on some new clothing.

Since there’s a chance you’ve been without a job for a while, you may not want to break the bank, and most can agree with that. To help you budget for your wardrobe let’s take a look at the costs and how you can even save hundreds of dollars.
How much will it cost?

A. The Company Sponsored Shirts

Most of the time, retail stores and companies that deal with the public are going to provide uniforms and other accessories for either free or a small cost, usually less than $10. Depending on the company, some may require that you wear the uniform, while others may consider it an option. If you can take advantage of the low-cost uniforms, consider doing so. Most of the time, you will just be responsible for the pants, which will usually be khakis. You’re looking at around $35-$60 per pair of pants. If you were to purchase three $10 shirts with four pairs of pants, it’s best to budget at least $250.

B. Business Casual

If you’re on your own when it comes to the wardrobe you’re going to have to ask yourself where you’re going to be working. Are you going to be working as a sales professional where you’re dealing with clients? If so, you’re going to need a full suit. However, if you’re going to be a bank teller or teacher, you can get away with a simple business casual outfit.

Those who plan on working in the business casual atmosphere should invest in three to four pairs of pants, five to seven tops, five to seven dress socks, two pairs of shoes, and if you think you may need it — one nice suit. So taking this example, let’s break down a new wardrobe:

3-4 Pairs of Pants ($50 each) — $150 to $200
5-7 Tops ($40 each) — $200 to $280
5-7 Socks ($10 each) — $50 to $70
2 Pairs of Shoes ($80 each) — $160
5 Ties for men ($10 each) — $50
Full Suit ($250) — $250
Total: $960 on higher end

Now, this is going to more than likely be on the higher end. Of course, there are many ways to save money in this area, which I will talk about later.

C. Professional

Lastly, jobs that deal with the public will often have to wear full suits. This, of course, can get rather expensive. Taking the averages mentioned above, it’s best to have at least five suits. If each suit was an average of $250, again, on the higher-end, you’re looking at a total of at least $1,250+ for suits alone.

Are there extra costs to think about?

* Dry cleaning. With any professional outfit, it’s highly recommended that you dry clean your items. Depending on the garments, plan on spending at least $2 to $5 per piece every week. It’s good to get in the habit of professionally cleaning your clothes, especially higher-end items.

* Wear and tear. Any clothing is going to rip, tear or receive stains over time. Plan on replacing some pieces of clothing at least every six months.

* Accessories. While optional, women especially opt to wear jewelry that will complement their outfits. This, of course, will depend on your style and piece of jewelry you’re looking to invest in.

How to Save:

You may be looking at the costs up above and saying, “Phew! I can’t afford this!” Thankfully, there are a handful of ways to save hundreds of dollars. Don’t believe me? Here’s how it can be done:

– Thrift Stores
– Higher-end Department Store Clearance Sections
– Coupons
– Garage Sales in Professional Neighborhoods
– Consignment Shops
– eBay and Craigslist
– Discount retailers like TJ Maxx and Marshalls
– Borrow or Share from acquaintances and friends

Tips to Keep in Mind

– Mix up your colors. Make sure your wardrobe has a variety of colors.
– Set a budget every month and stick to it. Don’t make impromptu purchases!
– Don’t focus on brands. You can look great with no-name clothing brands.
– There’s no need to purchase everything at once.
– Be smart with your clothing to make it last longer.

The decorator crab dresses up for survival and makes its selections carefully. Choose your clothing wisely and take care of your appearance to get ahead.

This guest post is contributed by Stephanie. Stephanie is from the website How Much Is It?

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The Landscape – Surveying The Job

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jul 13, 2012 in Job Search, Lessons Learned

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“The Bare Necessities of any Job Hunt”

Whether you’re fresh out of college or a veteran of the workforce, establishing expectations is one of the biggest favors you can do for yourself when you’re searching for a job.

Many people are so consumed with obtaining a job they may have to forgo considering whether it’s a good job. Settling for a good enough for right now job is likely to be a poor investment, but unfortunately it is sometimes unavoidable. With so many dangers and pitfalls in the job search jungle, a survey of the landscape in any position will give you enough information about what kind of employment is right for you.

If you find yourself in a less than favorable position, turn it into a learning experience. Write down what you dislike about your work life, and consider what circumstances would make it better. This can give you a better sense of what you will want in your next position, and it could possibly inspire you to suggest changes in your current job.

For those young, bright-eyed college graduates who are not expecting the pitfalls such as office politics and income taxes, it’s easy to get blindsided by a job that seems appealing in the interview stages. The challenge is, without work experience, you may not know what you want.

In the jungle, you will need food, water, and shelter to survive. In the work world, salary, coworkers, and work environment are among the bare necessities. Here are some questions to help you whittle down your expectations to the bare necessities.

But first, let me explain that the bare necessities are different for everyone. Some people crave order and instruction, while others crave creativity and independence. Some people prefer benefits over salary, and some prefer great personnel dynamics.

How much money will I take home?

The least romantic (but most practical) question is often the first and only question that eager potential employees will ask. The answer to this question is more complicated than it seems. In addition to the salary, you will need to factor in the state’s income tax, cost of benefits and other costs such as commuting and purchasing new clothes. All jobs come with a price.

Employers are rarely upfront with starting salaries in the preliminary interview, which means you can be excited about a position only to be disappointed with the amount of money offered. Also, the opposite is possible. The job could sound iffy, but the money may be appealing.

Money is the bare necessity of any job, but it can’t realistically be your only gauge for whether a job will be a good fit. Before you step foot in an interview, know the absolute lowest amount you can afford to accept and be willing to negotiate based on the above factors.

Who is on my team?

This question isn’t just about who is on your team; it’s also about how your team operates. Office dynamics can ruin or strengthen a good work experience.

If you haven’t had enough experience to know what type of office environment suits you, consider what types of organizations or circumstances have allowed you to excel.

Think back to your strongest relationships among peers, employers, mentors, coaches, parents, teachers and professionals. Did you feel that the motivation was coming from a superior, your team or yourself? Chances are, you’ve found motivation in all three; but pick the one that made you feel the most successful and brand it as a bare necessity.

  1. I respect strong leadership from my superiors.
  2. I need a strong support system and open communication from my teammates on all levels.
  3. I prefer minimal supervision for maximum creativity and success.

Depending on which type of communication you prefer, you can use an above statement to open up a dialogue with your interviewer about team dynamics.  The right communication is vital to feeling motivated, inspired and fulfilled at your job.

What are the working conditions?

Considering the job, you could be on the road, at a desk or under the sun. Asking this question in advance can help clue you in to overtime expectations. It can also prepare you for the challenges of the office environment. (No office environment is perfect.)

In this instance, your health is the absolute bare necessity. Make sure your work environment offers plenty of breaks and that it won’t strain existing medical conditions. If you feel it’s appropriate, inquire about social activities (sports teams, happy hours or charity events) that allow for a sense of community beyond the office.

Whatever landscape you prefer, keep your salary, coworkers, and working conditions on your mind for your next position.

This blog post was contributed by Mariana Ashley. Mariana is a freelance blogger who primarily writes about how online education and technology are transforming academia as we know it. Having spent a good portion of her professional career trying to reform high schools in East St. Louis, Mariana is particularly interested in how online colleges in Missouri make higher education a possibility for students of all backgrounds. Please contact her at mariana.ashley031 if you’d like to discuss this article or education in general.

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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