What do Home Maintenance and Career Development Have in Common?

We have lived in our house for over 15 years and it wasn’t new when we got here.  Over the years of raising a rambunctious family, the house has suffered from some chipped paint and plaster, dripping taps and a burst pipe or two.  We’ve taken these things in stride, some we’ve managed to turn a blind eye to and others have required more immediate attention.

More recently, it became apparent that we could no longer ignore the state of the walls beyond our two bathrooms.  The paint was peeling and plaster behaving unusually.  Calls were made to the insurance company and they identified that the grout in the shower recesses wasn’t holding its own.  Apparently, this stuff is not made to last a decade, let alone a lifetime and it needs to be repaired and replaced regularly to maintain its capacity to keep the wet areas separate from the rest of the house!  Who knew?

This has created an uncomfortable time in a busy household.  I’ve had to contact contractors, get quotes and be available for workmen coming in and out of the house to undertake the necessary repairs.  With a family of teenagers, the scheduling of two bathrooms can be difficult but restricting ourselves to the use of one room at a time over several days had to be approached with military precision and conviction.

As I have been juggling these activities with my other responsibilities, it struck me that this is a similar process to that we face in ongoing careers.  Many people will take a different approach to managing these housekeeping issues.

For instance, if I had regularly checked-in and scheduled, perhaps an annual review of the condition of those bathrooms, I may have noticed that the grout was looking tired and could have undertaken some short-term home maintenance to keep on top of the issue.  Eventually, the replace and repair would have needed doing - but it would have been less of a process and probably not caused the damage to the external walls of those rooms and required less down-time, fewer workmen, less discomfort and reduced expense.

Career management is a little like my house.  With regular review and care, you can identify the small shifts that need to be made to stay on course (or indeed, to check that the course you are on is still in line with your strengths and interests).  This can result in undertaking small learning opportunities, shifts in behaviour or identifying new assignments (side projects) or roles that will offer improvement and refreshment along your career journey.

The alternative is to wait – as I did with my bathroom – for the wheels to fall off and be faced with a daunting project of rehabilitation which requires a large investment of both time and finances to return to the status quo.

When my bathroom walls have been repaired and repainted, no one will notice but me – despite the paint on those walls being fresher (which will probably lead to me having to paint the surrounding ones - more expense!)  but I’ll know that the house will stand a little stronger for a little longer.  More than this, my bathrooms look clean and sparkling and I’m enjoying them more and finding them easier to clean.  I shouldn’t have to contemplate a complete remodel of these rooms for a few more years.

But I’ve learned my lesson and have set a date in my diary to conduct an annual review to ensure that I don’t miss any other small issues that could grow into big headaches.  I wonder, what do you need to do to put your (career) house in order?

Here at Strategic Career Management, we love working with people to develop a career life plan that will work and grow with them through their career life-span.  If you’re struggling with these issues, call us for a confidential discussion on how you can start your Planned Career Maintenance Program.

Cruising on the lazy (career) river?

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In the last school holidays I found myself taking a collection of children to the local swimming pool for some fun on the water slides and in the lazy river.  Ahhh, the lazy river, where the only thing you have to do is keep your head above water and go with the flow.  It's easy.  No need to think or make any deliberate moves.  Just cruise and see where it takes you.  If you see something along the way that takes your fancy, swim sideways and pause for a while, then jump back in.  The river is in charge of what you experience and where you go.  Easy! 

It got me thinking - this is rather like the way many people manage their careers - go with the flow and wait to see what opportunities present.  Not really thinking about whether they want to go in that direction or what they might be missing out on.  Perhaps not really thinking about who they are, what they have to offer, what they want and where they might find it.  Waiting for their boss to offer them the next step.  This isn't a big problem if you happen to be sure you've landed in the right place and are happy, engaged, productive and successful.  But if you've been cruising the lazy river and lack direction or are not happy or successful at work it's a different story.  If it's not you, perhaps you have team members like this who aren't really engaged at work and it's affecting your results, culture and ability to succession plan.  

Is it time for you or your team members to stop cruising on the lazy river, take control and make deliberate, purposeful choices towards a fulfilling role where you can really contribute? 

Contact us to find out how we can support you.

Occupational wellness – the missing piece in your workplace wellness strategy?

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With employee engagement at staggeringly low levels (approximately 25% in Australia and New Zealand) companies across the land are putting more time, money and energy into developing workplace wellness programs. 

Designed to reduce absenteeism and increase productivity, these programs typically provide services and support to employees intended to create a healthier and happier workforce.  Initiatives include free health checks, stress management support, on-site massage services, weight loss programs, gym memberships, health and lifestyle coaching and opportunities to volunteer for causes close at heart.   

These are all commendable and valuable initiatives but they only go so far in addressing engagement issues. 

It’s widely accepted that a positive organisational culture and belief in leadership play a massive role as do relationships with co-workers.  For millennials however, who will comprise half of the workforce by 2020, the opportunity to use their skills and abilities, find meaning in their work and access career development and advancement opportunities is significantly important, ranking in the top 5 drivers of employee satisfaction.  

So, could occupational wellness be the missing piece of the jigsaw and what is it?

Our definition of occupational wellness is the extent to which people find satisfaction, enrichment and meaning through their work.  At its core, occupational wellness is about making sure that people:

·      Are satisfied with their career

·      Have opportunities to use their skills and abilities in their daily activities

·      Are happy with the balance between work and life

·      Have a manageable workload

·      Are motivated, inspired and challenged at work

·      Are developing professionally and feel supported in doing so

·      Are moving towards their career goals

·      Believe they are being fairly compensated

The lower the level of occupational wellness, the higher the incidence of workplace stress and conflict which translates to reductions in employee satisfaction and engagement. 

Occupational wellness also impacts the effectiveness of learning and development initiatives.  Organisations with low occupational wellness levels investing in training may well be wasting their time and money. 

Having historically been viewed as somewhat of a luxury spend, employers of choice now see occupational wellness initiatives as a business essential and crucial driver of employee satisfaction, engagement and productivity. 

If you’re interested in future-proofing your business, contact us to learn more about Strategic Career Management’s occupational wellness programs.