Workplace Flexibility to Workplace Inflexibility

In the age of work-life balance and flexible work schedules the U.S. Department of Agriculture (Agriculture) is taking a step backwards.  I saw a news report last week where they are moving from employees being able to work remotely four days a week to one day a week.  Amazing!  The idea of teleworking in the federal government started at least twenty years ago Telework Guidance and Legislation.

The reason given was to build a sense of community among Agriculture employees.  The high-ranking official that was interviewed said this change in policy is in response to a complaint by employees that work in the office.  These employees said they have experienced and are experiencing a lack of connection with their colleagues that telework.  My first reaction was, how many employees are in the office on a daily basis to complain and why aren’t they teleworking?

This new policy is supposed to go into effect July 1, 2018.  The report said this will put approximately 5,000 people on the roads in the Washington, D.C. area.  When I heard that I flipped out!  I live and work in the D.C. area.  I also telework two days a week.  I can’t imagine the effect that is going to have on the commute in this area.  The D.C. area already has some of the worst traffic in the U.S. How Bad is Traffic in DC.

In the next few months it will be interesting to see how this is plays out.  Hopefully it will work out in favor of Agriculture employees and the rest of us that live in this area.  If officials at Agriculture truly wanted to resolve the issue of comradery among their employees they could have found a better way Three Pitfalls Facing The Federal Distributed Workforce.

A Lack of Leadership Leaves Employees in Limbo

If you poll everyone you know in the workforce you will find that all managers aren’t good managers. Whether you’re a front line manager, mid-level manager, or in upper management the people you manage expect you to lead. I’m not talking about mentoring or coaching I’m talking about being the decision maker. The line “I’m not a leader, the only way I could get a promotion was to take a management position” is outdated.

I agree, in many organizations the only way to move up is to become a manager. The flip side of that coin is everyone doesn’t want to be a manager and everyone isn’t built to be one. By default people end up in management positions where they do not want to be, or are not built for. This post isn’t about analyzing the structure of companies, it is to highlight many managers leave their employees in limbo.

Regardless of how managers got to their positions, employees expect managers to lead. Employees need leadership when things are good and when things are bad. Leadership qualities shine in the midst of a bad situation. If a manager can lead their employees out of a bad situation they will be an instant hit. If a manager doesn’t lead when things are good or bad they create a leadership vacuum.

Leadership vacuums not only occur when a manager isn’t leading they also occur when a management position is left open too long or there is a leadership merry-go-round. A leadership merry-go-round is when a management position is occupied by several people in a short period of time. When employees have more than one manager in a short period of time it’s difficult for them to get their bearings. When a leadership vacuum occurs employees are left in limbo. They don’t know what to expect on a day-to-day basis and are left in a state of confusion.

When employees experience a leadership vacuum morale can go down. Morale goes down because the employees don’t trust the current decision maker(s). Employees will blame the current decision maker(s) for everything that is going on. Low morale can lead to a decrease in production, a decrease in the quality of work, and could ultimately lead to employees leaving the company/organization. If managers lead they will not leave employees in limbo.

If you have questions about this blog post or anything else please contact me at corjoejen@yahoo.com and www.linkedin.com/pub/cornell-jenkins/11/476/897/

Self-Care Part 1

I intended to write one post about health issues but I realized I was trying to squeeze too much information into one post. However, self-care is an important issue and desirous of two posts.  As human beings we don’t take care of ourselves the way we should.  Overall those of us that live in first-world countries have better health than those that live in third-world countries.  That being said those of us that live in first-world countries can take better care of ourselves than we currently do.

Are you healthy?  Whether it’s personal or professional your productivity or lack thereof is dependent upon your health.  As a Human Resources (HR) professional my concern is for you, the employee.  Every HR professional knows their organization can’t function at a high level if the well-being of their employees is neglected.  A healthy employee is a productive employee.

In the United States (U.S.) many times when people talk about overall health they don’t always include mental, spiritual, and emotional health.  In this post I’m going to address the mental and spiritual aspects of one’s health. In the next post I’ll address the emotional and physical aspects of one’s health.

Twenty to thirty years ago mental health was not as big of an issue in the U.S. as it is today. With the increase in mass shootings and other societal issues mental health has become the topic of many conversations.  These conversations have and are taking place in a broad range of places, from HR departments to state legislatures to Capitol Hill.

It is important for employers to pay attention to the mental health of their employees. As a general health concern you and I should also pay attention to our mental health.  The American Psychological Association says depression is the most common mental disorder.

In the workplace we shy away from conversations about religion or a person’s spiritual health.  When talking about spiritual health we don’t necessarily have to talk about organized religion. I’m aware that everyone doesn’t believe in organized religion and as an HR professional it’s not by responsibility to suggest or recommend that anyone believe in organized religion.  As an HR professional I’m suggesting that you be cognizant about the spiritual aspect of your being.  There are many ways to take care of the spiritual aspect of your being.  Choose which way best suites you.  We should pay as much attention to our spiritual health as we do our physical health.

Your mental and spiritual health is just as important as your physical health. Self-care is the most important care anyone can receive.  If you don’t take care of yourself who will?

If you have questions about this and more please contact me at corjoejen@yahoo.com and www.linkedin.com/pub/cornell-jenkins/11/476/897/

Empty Vessel

Chris hit two homeruns yesterday and today. Yesterday’s post was about your professional development and today’s post is about your personal development. These are two things all of us need to pay attention to all the time. Without a healthy personal life your professional life is irrelevant. Take the advice Chris offered today and yesterday.

ChristopherinHR

Fill yourself.

Yesterday I spoke of the need for professional development. While this is important it’s only half the picture. What we really need beyond just that is personal development.

Some professions – health care, managing people, teaching – take a lot out of us. These are fields requiring a great deal of giving, time, compassion and nurturing. The very nature of these disciplines is one in which, to be any good at them, we have to give and give. And at times we run the risk of emptying ourselves out.

The fact is most of our institutions and organizations are not designed to notice this emptying out before the fact. We always say we know following some critical incident that something wasn’t right, that so and so was tired and so on. But most of us are so busy responding to our own demands we don’t notice other’s needs…

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