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Debunking Common Misconceptions: Parents In The Workplace

Debunking Common Misconceptions: Parents In The Workplace

Being a parent is tough. Whether you work full time, part time, from home, or not at all, it’s still hard. The many myths about parents circulating through the workplace it only make it harder. However, working parents make some of the best employees and leaders.

Here’s a guide to some of the most common misconceptions about parents at work and why they’re not true.

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Parents need more accommodations than other employees.

Asking for accommodations or flexible schedules is not unique to working parents only. I’ve worked with men that negotiated all air travel needs to be booked in business class or higher due to injuries. I’ve worked with twenty-somethings that requested to work a four day schedule so they could go back to school part time or pursue a volunteer opportunity. I’ve seen older adults in the workplace scale back their schedules so that they can spend more time at home with their significant others or to care for an ailing parent. Almost everyone has to cut out of the office every now and again for a doctor’s appointment or other personal matters.

Accommodations and flexible schedules seem to be synonymous with working parents, but in reality, they are not. Nearly every type of employee takes advantage (and is thankful) of accommodations in the workplace that allow work-life integration.

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Parents aren’t committed to their jobs.

This one is really surprising because it’s quite the contrary. There is actually strong evidence that parents are more committed to their jobs than many other employees. Traditionally, companies have rewarded men who become fathers with the “fatherhood bonus”, usually resulting in about a 6% increase in salary. Once you become a family man, you’re viewed as more dependable and more committed to your job since you now have to provide for a family. Women, on the other hand, experience the “motherhood penalty”, and many earn 4% less per child than they would have if they had remained childless. It’s based on the assumption that they are more distracted or will work less. However, working parents are some of the most efficient, focused employees out there. The constant juggle of managing a career with family commitments makes them well-equipped to prioritize and really be strategic about utilizing resources. Furthermore, parents are less likely to job hop than other employees. Stability is key when raising a family and the challenges associated with transitioning to a new work place or relocating are only considered when absolutely necessary.

Parents aren’t good team members.

Since parents have after-hours commitments, when they need to leave the office at 5 or aren’t able to come in before 9, most people think that the singletons on the team need to make up for it. In today’s technology embracing world, this is hardly the case. While many parents do limit their physical “in office” hours, most spend time on weekends, early mornings, and after work working. Limiting hours in the office isn’t unique to parents, many people with long commutes or global work spend only core hours in the office and complete a lot of their work at home before or after-hours. Besides, parents aren’t the only employees to take vacations. All team members usually have to cover for each other. Parents may be more inclined to take vacation during major holidays due to children’s school schedules, but putting programs in place that rotate vacation time periods during different holidays can help make sure that no one has to endure year after year with no time off during their favorite holiday.

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Don’t forget, parent’s are hugely efficient at scoping out job needs and responsibilities and getting work done timely – and usually within business hours. These skills can help any team be more productive.

Parents are at work only out of financial necessity.

Why would anyone want to leave their children behind and come to the workplace if they didn’t have to? Actually, a lot of people. Caring for children is a wonderful experience, but everyone needs a break. Many parents that pursued careers prior to becoming parents may still be interested in their field of work, finding the work intellectually stimulating and interesting. Sometimes, you need to connect with other adults and feel current in a world that doesn’t revolve around child rearing. Money is nice, and may be a main motivating factor for many people, but it’s certainly not the only reason that parents are there.

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The one issue that leaves parents at a significant disadvantage in the workplace is addressing last minute needs or a crisis that may crop up towards the end of the workday. This has little to do with anyone’s capability to deal with the issue, but more to do with the structure of childcare available for working parents. Most parents simply can’t extend their childcare past a certain hour without advance notice. While this may be challenging, I’d highly encourage dual working families to try to stay flexible and the parents help each other if one is experiencing an office fire towards the end of the day.

Alternatively, you could tackle the challenge by responding to the team with, “I’d like to take a few hours to evaluate this further. If it’s urgent enough, let’s plan a call tonight to review next steps, otherwise, we’ll regroup in the morning.” Most employees don’t want to be on a 9pm call and you’ll probably be able to restart in the morning.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Be Happy at Work and Find Fulfillment in Your Career

How to Be Happy at Work and Find Fulfillment in Your Career

If you’re going to spend 1/3 of our life at work, you should enjoy it, right?

Trust me, I know that’s easier said than done. Difficult coworkers, less-than-desirable tasks, or even just being in the wrong position can all lead to a lack of enjoyment and fulfillment in your work.

But what if I told you it doesn’t have to be this way? Or better yet, if you struggle with all of the above (and then some), what if I told you that enjoying your work and finding fulfillment regardless of those obstacles is possible?

Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you because I was there too. Before implementing the tips below, I struggled to get through each day, much less find real fulfillment, in the office. Now, even after the toughest days on the job, I still come away with feelings of pride, accomplishment, and fulfillment. The best news is, so can you.

If you’re ready to make those hours count and find happiness and fulfillment in the office, then read on to find out how to be happy at work and find fulfillment in your career:

1. Discover the root(s) of the problem

For this first step, we’ll need to think back to 8th-grade physics (humor me). We all know Newton’s 3rd law, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” When you think about it, the same can be said outside of physics, and we see this law play out in our daily lives, day after day.

Simply put, all the issues we deal with in the office (and life in general) affect us in a noticeable way.

If you’re appreciated at work, like the work you do and receive frequent praise, promotions, or raises, then this will probably have an altogether positive effect on your life in the office.

But what if we reverse this? What if you feel under appreciated, get passed up for promotions, or get denied raises? This is sure to affect the way you feel at work on a negative level.

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So, before you can implement the steps of feeling happy and fulfilled at work, we first have to discover the reasons why you don’t feel that way already.

Think about it, write a list, or make a mental note. Run through all the reasons you’re dissatisfied in the office, and don’t hold back. Knowing the exact obstacles you’re facing will make overcoming them that much easier.

In fact, as a side-challenge to this article, I recommend picking the top three reasons contributing to your dissatisfaction at work and using the following tips to tackle them.

2. Practice gratitude for an instant uplift

Did you know the simple act of feeling grateful can increase your happiness and make you more fulfilled at work?[1]

Well, it’s true, and it’s scientifically proven.

Dr. Lisa Firestone notes that practicing gratitude “reminds us of what we lacked in the past.” Meaning, it serves as both a boost to happiness and a bit of a wake-up call that things have been or could be, much worse.

Trying to conjure up feelings of gratitude can seem almost impossible when your work situation seems bleak, but hear me out: There are incredibly easy ways to get started and it doesn’t involve trying to “force” yourself to feel grateful about things that stress you out.

For an instant pick-me-up, try this:

Find a loose piece of paper, a blank sticky note, or anything you can write on, be it physical or digital. List just three things that you are absolutely without-a-doubt thankful for in your life.

Now here’s the trick: Don’t just list what you’re grateful for, you have to list why you’re grateful for them, too.

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For example, simply saying “I’m grateful for my kids” will probably make you feel good, sure, but what if we could amplify the warm, fuzzy feeling into real, lasting motivation?

Instead, write the reason you’re so thankful for your children. Is it because they make you laugh and forget about other stressors? Or maybe they help to remind you of why you go to work every day in the first place?

Whatever your reasons may be, jot them down and keep your list somewhere you can see it while you work. A quick glance at your gratitude list throughout the day can provide powerful, positive motivation to keep going.

Bonus:

If you can find just three things to be thankful for that specifically relate to your job, and list why those things make you grateful, your list can also help you find fulfillment in your work itself which can give you an even bigger boost of positivity throughout the day.

3. Take meaningful time for yourself

We all know creating a strong work-life balance can be crucial to feeling satisfied in our jobs, but rarely do we ever address how we’re spending our time outside of work.

Many of us survive a 9-hour work day and commute home only to find ourselves busy with our personal to-do lists, running a household, and taking care of a child (or 2 or 3, and so on).

If you spend all your time working, whether in the office or within your household, you’re going to feel drained at some point. This is why setting meaningful time for yourself every day is highly important.

Look, I get it: I don’t know anyone in the working world who can shun all responsibility for a 3-movie marathon or happy hour with friends whenever they feel like it. But finding time for yourself, be it just 30 minutes to an hour, can really make a difference in how you feel at work.

This works because you’ll have time to actually relax and let the day’s stress melt away while you enjoy something just for you. The to-do lists and stressors will still be there after you’re refreshed and ready to tackle them.

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No time for me-time? Try this:

If you have a busy household, you’ll need to capitalize on a block of time you know will be completely uninterrupted. The easiest way to do this: try waking up 30 minutes to an hour earlier than usual (or push bedtime back an hour if you’re a night owl, like me) and take time to do something you enjoy.

This could be reading with a cup of tea, catching up on Facebook, spending time on a passion project—anything! As long as it’s meaningful to you, it works!

Bonus:

Starting your day with meaningful time for yourself can set you up to have a positive mood that lasts well into office hours, and having your me-time in the evening can give you something positive to look forward to during the day.

4. Get productive and feel accomplished

Don’t you just love the feeling of checking the last item off of a hefty to-do list? That’s because self-motivation can be a huge driver of positivity and success.

When we accomplish something, no matter how small, it makes us feel good, plain and simple. Applying this tactic to your daily work can be the motivator you need to find fulfillment during the daily office grind.

While there are tons of steps to get more done at work, I’ll share my personal favorite: Prioritizing.

Now, many people handle prioritizing differently. Some like to tackle the little tasks first so they can spend focused time on the big to-dos. Others like to knock out the big items first and get to the smaller ones when they can.

No matter which camp you’re in, you may be missing one crucial step: Time management.

So how’s this work? When you factor in the amount of time your priorities will take, it can transform your productivity ten-fold.

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Say you have three top priorities for the day. You might jump into the smaller ones or the bigger ones depending on your preferred method, and then find yourself out of time and bringing work home with you at the end of the day.

This is prevented when you factor in time. Knowing how long each item will take, or deliberately setting specific blocks of time for your priorities can help you accomplish more in the same 8-9 (or 12) hours that you typically spend at work.

Try this:

Take a look at your priorities and consider how long they should take. Pop into your Google calendar (or Filofax, whatever works for you) and schedule time to work on your priority items around any important meetings or events of the day.

The most important thing to remember is to stick to your dedicated time.

Often, when we know exactly how long we have to work on something (and honor this time limit), we’re motivated to get more done on time to avoid taking work home at the end of the day.

The bottom line

There’s no need to waste 1/3 of our lives feeling unsatisfied at work. Luckily, you now have the tools to get started, take back your time, and become happy and fulfilled at work again.

The only question is — which tip will you try first?

Featured photo credit: Ellyot via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Psychology Today: The Healing Power of Gratitude

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