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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Books on work-life balance

For my first column of the new year, I am highlighting the books that I found to be a worthwhile read when struggling to balancing work and a personal life. There are lots of great ones out there but a few have really helped me in my balancing act. I really like Woman First, Family Always by Kathryn Sansone. I also like Organized for Success by Stephanie Winston. I am preparing the rest of my list to appear in Wednesday's Miami Herald (Jan. 3) . I will publish the rest in my blog after they appear in the paper. If you have any you would like to recommend, let me know at

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

New moms want a job break

The trend today is for new moms to take short breaks from the labor force to raise their newborns. But 95 percent of moms who go back to work don't want to rejoin the companies the left. That's sure says a lot.
In today's Miami Herald, I wrote two articles on new trends discovered by researchers at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. My front page article addressed the fact that married Hispanic new moms are dropping out of the workforce in greater numbers than other ethnicities. Why? Some say it's their culture, which puts a big value on family. But the decision to stay home and the decision when to return to work may also have a lot to do with whether Hispanic women have family members here in the United States to help them care for their child when they return to work (many can't afford day care and don't feel its an acceptable solution.
My Balancing Act column addressed the fact that we are starting to see a change of attitude in workplaces. Clearly, not all employers are enlightened. Many don't realize that mothers need flexibility and if their employers can't accommodate them, those who can afford it will quit. Or find other work. If you have a story to tell on this subject, let me hear it.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Job hunt now? You bet!

Despite what you may think, December is actually one of the best months to look for a job, according to Most of us feel too crazed during the holiday season to look for a new job. Others postpone job hunting until the New Year, thinking they’ll have a better shot. Monster says that isn’t necessarily the case. During the holiday season, applications tend to slow down more than job openings do, tipping the balance in favor of those who do apply.
Indeed, I have a friend who just landed a great new job and gets to end 2006 knowing she'll be making more money and cut her commute time in 2007. So if you’re wondering how to get a jump on the competition AND get your resume noticed during the holidays, consider these tips from Monster:
· Work the Holiday Events: Whether you’re attending an employer-sponsored party or holiday networking event, make the most of social gatherings by planning in advance. Set a goal to meet, connect with and learn from three to five people at an event.
· Follow Up: After the event, send a handwritten, personalized thank-you note to each contact, including a copy of your resume, if appropriate.
· Keep Your Network Going: Find creative ways to stay on your contacts’ radar screens. Set a search engine alert - research your contacts and their interests, and stay in touch that way.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The right way to talk about work

Got job gripes? Of course you do, but don't discuss them in front of your family, says an article in this month's Parents Magazine. The concern is that complaining will make kids afraid of the workplace.
To put a more positive spin on your worklife, the magazine suggests that you don't say: "I can't stand my co-worker, Jimmy." Instead try: "I might not like everyone I work with but I try to be polite -- just like you should be to other kids at school.
And, instead of saying: "I wish I didn't have to go to work today." You might try something like this: "It would be fun to stay home. But working hard makes me look forward to spending the weekend with you even more."
And then there's the saying most of us utter at some point in our lives: "I'd quit this job if I could afford to." Instead try this: "Money isn't all I get from my job. I really like being part of a team."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tips for working the room

The holiday season can get tricky for many of us who struggle to find work/life balance. Every year, I choose two business holiday parties to attend. I squeeze those in with family and personal holiday celebrations. Today I read an e-mail from law firm marketing guru John Remson with 100 tips for working the room. If you are going to spend the time attending business-related holiday parties, you might as well make the most of them. These are a few of the tips I found useful. If you want the full list, click here.
Before you go to the event:
1. Think about who will be attending. Who do you want to meet? Who can you introduce to whom? 2. Practice a self-introduction. Think about what you will say when asked, “What do you do?”3. Bring a stack of business cards 4. Have some topics to talk about.
At the event:
1.Wear your name tag. 2. Avoid complaining. 3.Focus on introductions and relationships, not selling. 4.Resist interrupting. 5. Spend 95 percent of time asking questions about the other person 6. Ask for business cards. 7 .Don’t be afraid to say, “Excuse me—I see someone I need to say hello to.”
Happy Networking!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Balancing work and caregiving

Are you caring for an elderly relative, while celebrating the holidays and maybe even squeezing in holiday travel?
Carla Albano, executive administrator of Alternative Home Health Care in Fort Lauderdale, a provider of in-home care for the elderly, has some tips.
*Be organized. Make sure your loved ones and their caregivers know your travel plans and how to reach you.
* Be flexible. Make sure that travel plans are flexible to accommodate unexpected situations.
* Always think about health. Be careful when taking elderly loved ones around young children, especially if the children are sick.
* Be careful about unusual foods and alcohol. They could interact with your loved ones medications. You want to avoid the emergency room during the holidays.
* Be realistic about the emotional needs of your elderly loved one. Grief can become compounded during the holidays.
* Be prepared if your loved one reacts to a deviation from his or her schedule.
To learn more about Alternative Home Healthcare visit

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Are men afraid to ask for balance

A survey released today shows stereotypes are blocking the progress of employees trying to achieve work/life balance. The first Annual Work+Life Fit Reality Check found while corporate workplace flexibility efforts and media coverage continue to focus on women and moms, more than 90 percent of 981 full-time employed adults surveyed by telephone believe work-life balance is “An issue for everyone.” Yet, only 15 percent say they actually have work-life balance.
Here is what I found most interesting: Men are more concerned about what others might think of them should they make work-life balance changes. Men are significantly more likely than women, 32 percent versus 23 percent, to say “Others will think you don’t work as hard,” when asked what’s kept them from improving their work-life balance. Employees ages 25 to 34 were also significantly more likely than other age groups to worry about their colleagues’ opinions, and that they might loose their jobs.
“The good news is employees don’t think it’s a lost cause. But as long as they are afraid to ask, work-life programs are nothing more than web site promotion and employee hand book topics,” says Cali Williams Yost, author of Work+Life: Finding the Fit That's Right for You (Riverhead/Penguin Group, 2005). Yost also write a blog,

Do Your Own Reality Check:Click here for a quick quiz to determine your work/life balance.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Holiday office parties

A survey released yesterday found company spending on holiday celebrations is up and more employers are giving bonuses but not as much paid time with family. So which would you prefer, a paid day off, or a more lavish holiday party?
I really liked what small business owner Yvette Betancourt has planned. Her small Miami title company saw its business drop significantly this year. Yvette wants her employees to know she appreciates them. She plans to scale back the holiday party, and give smaller bonuses. But she will give her employees coupons for paid days off throughout the year. I'm sure her employees will love the idea. I would.
Most of us appreciate some gesture from our employers to celebrate the season. But I'm convinced most employees don't appreciate the lavish parties some employers host for the holidays. My advice, ask your employees what they want. Click here to read the BNA Year-End Holiday Practices Survey.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Paternity Leave

Jennifer Sabatini Fraone of the Boston College Center for Work & Family sent me an interesting publication on paternity leave. The good news, according to the center's briefing, is that more employers are making paternity leave available. (Employers list the need to be competitive as the number one reason they offer the benefit). If fathers are reluctant to take time off after their wife gives birth, here are some reasons to reconsider:
*Children with fathers who are actively involved during the first eight weeks of life, manage stress better during their school years.
* Greater paternal involvement with five-month-old infants has been positively correlated with greater social responsiveness and higher scores on infant development scales
*Fathers who spent time alone with their infants more than twice a week were found to raise more compassionate adults.
The Boston center highlights Sweden for its policies in parental leave; Swedish couples share 13 months of parental leave between them with the State paying 80 percent of lost wages per month. For more information see the centers website at