Author Archives: Jessica Rozitis

The Myth of Work-life Balance

Work to live. Live to work. We’ve heard that before.

Nigel Marsh is the author of “Fat, Forty and Fired” and “Overworked and Underlaid.” In this TED Talk video, Nigel has an interesting approach to the concept of work-life balance, and really gets down to the core of what is really important.

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What would you do if you couldn’t be a rock star?

Have you ever contemplated a drastic career change? Sometimes the thought could be frightening or exhilarating. Jobs come and go. As well, specific responsibilities and the scope of some jobs change. What we want out of work also changes, with our values shifting as we get older. Are we all happy doing what we’re doing right now, this very moment? Could we think of doing anything else?

I was watching TV the other night, and caught the last 20 minutes of the classic 1984 mock ‘rockumentary’ This is Spinal Tap. This funny movie left us with many iconic pop culture lines such as “It’s like, how much more black could this be? and the answer is none. None more black.” and “Put it up to eleven.”
“Eleven. Exactly. One louder.”

Some of the best lines are at the end when they are running the credits.  The documentary filmmaker, Marty DiBergi, played by Rob Reiner asks the bandmembers “If you could not play Rock and Roll, what would you do?” Some of the answers are hilarious, but my favourite is the exchange between Marty DiBergi and lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel played by Christopher Guest at the very end. Start watching at 4:30


Nigel Tufnel: [on what he would do if he couldn’t be a rock star] Well, I suppose I could, uh, work in a shop of some kind, or… or do, uh, freelance, uh, selling of some sort of, uh, product. You know…
Marty DiBergi: A salesman?
Nigel Tufnel: A salesman, like maybe in a, uh, haberdasher, or maybe like a, uh, um… a chapeau shop or something. You know, like, “Would you… what size do you wear, sir?” And then you answer me.
Marty DiBergi: Uh… seven and a quarter.
Nigel Tufnel: “I think we have that.” See, something like that I could do.
Marty DiBergi: Yeah… you think you’d be happy doing something like-…
Nigel Tufnel: “No; we’re all out. Do you wear black?” See, that sort of thing I think I could probably… muster up.
Marty DiBergi: Do you think you’d be happy doing that?
Nigel Tufnel: Well, I don’t know – wh-wh-… what’re the hours?

I don’t know about you,  I just can’t picture Nigel Tufnel being happy selling hats. 🙂

Perks at Work

Yes, we’ve heard about company perks that big employers like Google and Facebook can offer their employees. But, what can smaller companies do? With limited budgets, it can be challenging, but offering attractive low-cost perks encourages creative ideas that will keep employees engaged and happy.

Some good perks to many employees are flexible schedules, telecommuting, and extra vacation days. Depending on the environment and culture, some employees enjoy the benefits of Take Your Dog to Work Day. There is also job sharing for new parents, or a paid day off per year to volunteer for a favourite charity. These are just some of the benefits that enable employees to work well and live well.

Many years ago, I worked at a company where the Director of our branch office did a lot of corporate travel. He racked up the air miles points, enough to be rewarded a long haul flight, and every year at the staff holiday party he drew a name out of a hat. I remember one year, the winning staff member was our long time receptionist who used the air miles to go on her honeymoon to the Caribbean. Although only one person really benefited from this perk, we all felt great about it.  It did wonders for morale.

A tricky thing about introducing a new perk, is the sustainability of it. When financial times are tough, sometimes it’s those little perks that go away first. It can be awfully hard to take back those pizza Fridays that everybody enjoyed for the past year. Outrage may occur, and companies don’t like being the bad guy.

That being said, it can be fun to change things up a bit. Replace one perk with another one. A great morale booster is a peer-led recognition system, whereas the staff nominates one of their fellow co-workers as a star employee for going above and beyond their regular work.  The company provides the prize – anything from a paid day off or gift cards. With a values-driven culture, the company should be in tune to their employees’ interests, and the awards can be highly personalized.

While going above and beyond the standard benefits can help boost moral and create a loyal workforce, keep in mind that it is not the dollar amount that matters. Taking a philosophical approach to values and culture, and the thought you put into it will create a culture of happiness and fun in the long run.

What you do first thing in the morning matters

Quick. Think back to early this morning.

What was the first thing you did? Hit the snooze button? Check work email on your phone? Creep on facebook?

Let’s try to switch up some habits, and incorporate new, healthy ones. I’m totally guilty for grabbing my iPhone from the bedside table and checking the weather app etc. Next thing I know I’m checking email, reading the news etc. I’ve got to stop this habit as it is eating into some precious time. And really, am I better for it when I check stuff online on my phone from the comfort of my bed – when I could be doing that during my commute to the office?

I should just get up, and get started on my day in a healthy way. After all, I seemed to get by several years ago when I didn’t own a smart phone.

The choices we make regarding our daily routines can define
our state of mind and focus for the rest of the day. Why not get a jump-start on our day by focusing on morning rituals that will provide us with balance, improved health, focus and self-discipline.

They say the best way to rid of a bad habit is to replace it with a good habit.  No matter your morning routine, here are a few habits that would add benefits to your day:

meditate – reduced stress, improved job performance, improved relationships. These are just a fraction of benefits one can attain from meditation. Even if you just give yourself 1 or 2 minutes of silence and focus, that’s a start.

stretch – actively stretch in the morning to loosen muscles, increase circulation, increase balance and coordination, attain better posture and boost your mood.

smile – A study in England revels that  a warm smile can create a “halo” effect, helping us “feel more optimistic, more positive, and more motivated.”

hydrate – drink a tall glass of water before you eat or drink anything else. Even better, add lemon to reap the many benefits that lemon juice provides including vitamin C, aiding digestion, and fight hunger cravings

When we start the day off right, it’s easier to make the best choices for ourselves the rest of the day.

photo: klarrej.tumblr.com

Bullying in the Workplace

We all know that bullying occurs in schools amongst children and teenagers, but we often forget that bullying also takes place in offices all over.

Bullying can take many forms in the workplace.  Some include being falsely accused of mistakes, being constantly criticized, use of double standards, yelled at, criticized for appearance, deriding comments, etc.

A recent study found that 35 percent of workers reported they have felt bullied on the job and 17 percent decided to quit their jobs to escape the situation.

Many incidents of aggressive or unreasonable behavior against a co-worker go unreported, but when they do, over half the time the HR department has done nothing to take action.

In an article earlier this month, BC Business magazine offers some advice on How to Handle an Office Bully.

It is important to be are aware of the tone we use not only in our voice, but in our internal email communication with co-workers. Even an exclamation point can come across the wrong way.

What are you thankful for?

CEO, therapist and life coach, Dr. Laura Trice shows us in this 3 minute TED Talk video below that genuine praise is what we all need and should not be shy to ask for.

We can all learn to apply this in the workplace, as Laura has done in her own company. The following is how she praises her employees into three categories:

1) Verbal praise, recognizing a job well done. This is also effective with vendors and customers;

2) Compensation-based praise happens here twice a year; and

3) Individual spontaneous gifts or benefits based on exceptional performance, so long as they are not overused.

I think we can all benefit when we take the time to thank someone for the work that they do.

Thank you.

Sweet Sixteen

On the 23rd of September 1996, Sarah McNeill and Cheryl Nakamoto founded McNeill Nakamoto Recruitment Group, affectionately known as McNak. Recently, I met with Sarah and Cheryl separately to ask about the road they have traveled these past 16 years. Interesting how in sync these two are.

Congratulations on 16 successful years. How does it feel?

Sarah:  I think I love McNak more with every passing year. It truly only gets better!

Cheryl:  Pretty incredible given most partnerships don’t endure the test of time.  We have been able to create a strong brand and have lots of fun doing it!

What was your vision for McNak when you started in September 1996?

Sarah: To stand out in the vast sea of staffing agencies and provide the best staffing experiences for our customers.

Cheryl:  To be a great recruitment firm in terms of getting the RIGHT FIT from the onset. Also, an agency that cares equally about exceeding the expectations of our clients as well as the candidates. Having been a candidate at one point I know the struggles of looking for work and having some compassion – care to treat them with respect was top on my list.

Regarding business partnership, how do you ‘make it work’?

Sarah:  Cheryl and I are very different people with complimentary skill sets. We make a perfect yin/yang partnership. And we share a love for fun and for seeing the ‘glass half full’.

Cheryl: Really listening to each other and playing to each others’ strengths then trusting the other to make the right choices when implementing decisions that were made jointly.  Not acting unilaterally without consideration for the other.

You are very successful entrepreneurs. What advice would you give to someone just starting out in business now?

Sarah:  It’s a shark tank out there. Put your best ideas forward and hire the best people to execute your plan.

Cheryl:  Have passion for what you are wanting to accomplish otherwise it becomes too difficult to push through those tough times.  You need to know it’s going to be hard work and some long hours and seek out help in areas where you know you need direction.

Why is Corporate Culture important?

Sarah:  Without corporate culture the business is just a machine with no soul. The best employees want to be a more of something greater than just the product or service.  We wanted to create even just 10% of what the best brands have with their teams in terms of corporate culture.

Cheryl: Corporate culture is so important in that is defines the company.  With the enormous growth around using social media, corporate culture is even more important now.  People can get a sense of your culture and share this information with others, make opinions quickly and you are even more “exposed” to the public.  Brand and corporate culture are so closely tied together.  If you build a strong corporate culture then it can attract and help to retain top talent!

How do you make it FUN to work at McNak?

Sarah:  We embrace our inner quirks and let others do the same. It’s never ‘just another day’ at the office.

Cheryl:  We laugh at least 10 times a day…I just laughed at a joke right now with my team!  We harness and embrace all our inner quirks and it makes it a fun place to work!

What’s next for McNak?

Sarah:  To always remain true to our original McNak vision and to keep having fun!

Cheryl: Excited about building in our 2 areas of expertise- Finance and Real Estate and a new partnership formed that will allow us to offer Global Recruitment to our clients.

photo credit: bookgrl