Laura Gordon: Work-life balance and Japanese ikigai

Opinion: Laura Gordon: Happiness, work-life balance and the Japanese concept of ikigai

Laura Gordon: Work-life balance and Japanese ikigai

OPINION: I’ve heard so many people talking recently about reassessing their priorities in life. Without a doubt the pandemic has played a role in that. For one, the terrifying mortality rates remind us how fragile and precious life is. On top of that we’ve all […]

Related: Ikigai Japanese Concept to Enhance Work-Life and Worth

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Rebecca Cafiero strategies to create work-home-life balance

Create a work and home life balance with a few simple strategies

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Rebecca Cafiero, a business and lifestyle expert, joined 17 News at Sunrise to share tips on how to create a work life balance while working from home. Cafiero says it is important to create a morning and evening routine with a “start and shut down […]

Click here to view the full original write up at

Fired From Your HR Job, It Doesn’t Exist In 2022 Future

Fired From Your HR Job

This is year 2022 and Coronavirus has drastically reshaped the economy and the labor force. I am therefore directed to inform you, that you are fired from your HR job. It doesn’t exist in this 2022 future.

Since Coronavirus rapid spread around the globe, we have experienced titanic shifts in how we work, where we work, and the technologies we use to stay connected.

We believe this is HR’s moment to lead organizations in navigating the future.

Such massive change is escalating the importance of HR’s role within organizations. Workers are turning to their managers and their HR leaders, in particular, for guidance on how to navigate their “new normal”.

Research indicates that 73% of workers depend on their employer for support in preparing for the future of work.

Your Chance To Survive The Future, Before You’re Fired From Your HR Job

Just as CFOs have greatly increased their scope since the 2008 financial crisis, CHRO’s now have that same opportunity to become central C-suite players.

We believe this is HR’s moment to lead organizations in navigating the future. They have a tremendous opportunity, and responsibility, to provide workers with guidance. With change, people need help on the skills and capabilities they will need to be successful over the next decade as new roles continue to emerge.

Work-life, The Future of Work and Future Workplace

With that in mind, The Cognizant Center for Future of Work and Future Workplace jointly embarked on a nine-month initiative. This is to determine exactly what the future of HR will look like.

The Center brought together the Future Workplace network of nearly 100 CHROs, CLOs, and VP’s of talent and workforce transformation. Their job was to envision how HR’s role might evolve over the next 10 years.

“The 2020s will be a reset moment for HR.”

Their brainstorm considered economic, political, demographic, societal, cultural, business, and technology trends.

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New Future Deal For HR – Starting From Over 60 New Future HR Jobs

The result was the conception of over 60 new HR jobs. It included detailed responsibilities and skills needed to succeed in each role. Each job was then ranked by its organizational impact. This narrowed the list to an initial 21 HR jobs of the future.

The Process: HR jobs were arranged on a 2×2 grid; the X-axis depicts time – over the next 10 years. Y-axis depicts “technology centricity”; that is, all jobs will utilize innovative technologies, but only the most tech-centric will actually require a grounding in computer science.

“Before it can be built, it has to be dreamed.”

The advent of Covid-19 compressed time like an accordion. A handful of these roles became “jobs of the now.” The 2020s will be a reset moment for HR. The Center in their report, fully expect to see more examples of these theoretical “jobs-made-real,” by visionary leaders in the coming months and years.

Five Core Themes Of The Top 21 HR Jobs of The Future

While some of the roles identified are entirely new positions, others are new responsibilities. They are becoming increasingly important as HR re-imagines and reboots its strategy in light of the pandemic. All 21 jobs embody five core themes that the Center came across in their research.

They are individual and organizational resilience, organizational trust and safety, creativity and innovation, data literacy and human-machine partnerships.

The Human-Human Relation Themes

Individual and organizational resilience. The future of work will include developing a stronger focus and a more holistic view of employee wellbeing. One that encompasses the emotional, mental and spiritual health of workers along with the physical.

Even before the virus, Gallup reported two thirds of full-time workers experienced burnout on the job.

Organizational trust and safety. HR professionals are in a unique position to be guardians and models of an ethical and responsible workplace. As organizations invest in digital transformation initiatives and establish a “data culture,” the Center believe the expectations to uphold this responsibility will increase.

LinkedIn research found that 67% of hiring managers and recruiters said AI saves them time as they source job candidates. But questions are now being raised around this technology and its potential for bias, inaccuracy, and lack of transparency.

Creativity and innovation. As business leaders envision new ways to grow their organizations in the midst of rapid change, a new role at the intersection of corporate strategy and HR must arise. 

The Future of Work Leader, would be responsible for analyzing what skills will be most essential as the workforce continues to evolve.

The Human-Machine Relations Themes

Data literacy. Currently, only a few HR functions are building analytics capabilities into their teams to solve key people challenges. This could be uncovering why one team performs better than another. Or how their organization can create a more diverse and inclusive culture.

In the future, HR teams will be a more data-driven function. Doing so would allow them to provide more accurate insights for engagement of C-suite leaders.

Human-machine partnerships. As the use of robots in companies continues to increase, it has become apparent that there is a need for human-machine collaboration in the workforce. Judgment is usually easy for humans, but still hard for computers.

Sorting out the balance of the “art of the job” (for humans) vs. the “science of the job” (for bots) will likely result in the creation of new HR roles. Such will be focused on how both can work together intuitively.


The 21 HR Jobs of The Future To Prepare For; Before You Are Fired From Your HR Job

Change is coming, and it’s best to get a head start. Companies and individuals that can anticipate their organization’s future HR roles will likely be in a position to outperform competitors. They are also squarely positioning HR and themselves as a strategic business driver.

This is year 2020, and you have been fired from your HR job. Cheer up, you are prepared ahead. Make a choice of your preference from the options below.

  • Director of Wellbeing
  • Director of Wellbeing
  • Work from Home Facilitator
  • Human Bias Officer
  • Strategic HR Business Continuity Director
  • The Future of Work Leader
  • VR Immersion Counselor
  • HR Data Detective
  • Human-Machine Teaming Manager
  • ChatBot Coach
  • Human-Machine Teaming Manager
  • HR Data Detective
  • Head of Business Behavior
  • Global Head of Employee Experience
  • Financial Wellness Manager

Visit the original write up for the full list of 21 jobs.

The Closing Before You’re Fired From Your HR Job Into Other Future HR Jobs

As new and existing roles evolve, the most successful organizations and individuals will have a clear understanding of what needs to change; what must change to meet future business priorities (both anticipated and unanticipated).

This is worth repeating, a handful of these roles have become “jobs of the now.”

You never know — one day soon, you might be recruiting someone to fill any of these 21 jobs. You may also be doing one yourself, if you escape being fired from your HR job.


Myfwl/Work-Place Feed adapted the write up by Jeanne C. Meister and Robert H. Brown for short minutes readers. Click here to view the full original write up at We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section.

Jeanne C. Meister is Managing Partner of Future Workplace. This is an HR Advisory and Membership firm. Co-author of The 2020 Workplace, and founder of the Future Workplace Academy.

Robert H. Brown is Vice President of Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions. He was previously a Managing Vice President of Research at Gartner, Inc., where he specialized in HR services.


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Office Clothes Is Changing As A Fading Fad

Another thing that will never be the same: Office clothes

Office clothes is changing and the demise of office attire has paralleled a steady erosion of boundaries between work life and home life. Even before the pandemic, office clothes was already showing sign as another thing that will never be the same for a long time .

The slow erasure of professional attire can be viewed as a symbol of some of the ways the economy, and the experience of white-collar work have changed for the worse.

It’s not a coincidence that adoption of ultra-casual workplace dress happened as America was swooning over the swashbucklers of Silicon Valley.

There was Steve Jobs in his signature turtleneck and jeans. Marc Zuckerberg in his hoodies, and countless deifying business magazine covers of tech dudes in bomber jackets, whiskered denim, sweatshirts and T-shirts.

The message was that they were rule breakers. That they were winning, not just despite thumbing their nose at your dad’s way of doing business, but because of it.

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Professional Attire Or Office Clothes Is Changing

Professional attire has been evolving for decades into ever more casual modes. For men, suits gave way to blazers and slacks. Then blazers and dark jeans. And then, just jeans and a button-up.

For women, pantyhose got dumped, and skirt suits became a relic. Leggings somehow got reclassified in wardrobe taxonomies as pants.

Now, thanks to this weird, extraordinary summer America is having, it’s finally happened; office clothes is changing, and becoming a fading fad. No, I heard you counter that, office clothes are officially dead!

Office Clothes Is Changing To Coronavirus Work Cloths

Desk jockeys have been toiling from home since mid-March. They have left whatever they thought of as work clothes in the back of the closet — or idling at the dry cleaner — ever since.

Why endure constrictive, belted trousers when your Zoom setup doesn’t show anything below your shoulders? Why wear your slickest power dress, when you might stain it during intermittent supervision of your kids’ messy craft project?

Every Change Comes With Winners and Casualties

The change that is happening has dealt a crushing blow to the cadre of already-fragile mall retailers who make money dressing customers for their 9-to-5 life.

J. Crew, a bastion of business casual, was the first to succumb, filing for bankruptcy in May.

J.C. Penney went into bankruptcy soon after. Pledging to close more than 150 stores. Thus reducing access points for affordably priced professional wear.

Hits in July:

“The malaise means that thousands of square feet dedicated to selling chinos, houndstooth jackets, pencil skirts and faux pearl necklaces are about to disappear.

Storied men’s clothier, Brooks Brothers filed for bankruptcy and said it would close about one-fifth of its stores. The corporate parent of women’s dress-wear seller, New York & Co. filed for Chapter 11 protection days later. Saying it may close all of its locations.

The following week, the company behind Jos. A. Bank, and Men’s Wearhouse announced plans to shutter 500 stores. Next fell Ascena Retail Group, promising widespread store closures including a “select” number in its Ann Taylor chain.

The pain continued in August, with Lord & Taylor filing for bankruptcy early in the month.

The Future, The Fear, The Fading Fad

The future for the remaining locations in these chains feels awfully precarious. Several retailers that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in recent years with the intent of reorganizing have ended up going out of business.

Competitors and scrappy startups aren’t likely to rush to fill the void. That means that even if you want to outfit yourself in the traditional costume of cubicle work, you’re soon going to have far fewer options for doing so.

Office Clothes Is Changing To My Boss Rumpled Flannel Shirt

But who is going to want to, or need to go back to traditional costume of cubicle work whenever some semblance of normal returns?

“At first, work-from-home arrangements felt temporary, and so, too, did the wardrobe adaptations. “

Recent announcements by different companies shows that many are not returning to normal office life this year. Google parent Alphabet, confirms that employees won’t be called back to the office until July 2021. Many workers would therefore be keeping up with this routine for a long time.

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So the boss has seen you in a rumpled flannel shirt. Your old-school client has gotten used to your Jon Snow mane. Tell me the point for and against reverting to pre-pandemic fashion pretenses. That’s assuming your dress pants still fit, after a long spell of the sedentary, stay-at-home lifestyle.


Am Liberated Into Another Box Where There Is Boundary Merger Between Work Life And Home Life

If this proclamation makes you rejoice, I get it. There’s something liberating about letting comfort, not presentation, be your sartorial compass every morning. But I’m not sure the triumph of casual wear is really a triumph for office workers.

“The demise of office attire has paralleled a steady erosion of boundaries between work life and home life.”

Thanks to smartphones, workers feel obligated to answer late-night emails from their managers. They also keep checking Slack for a project update from colleagues in a distant time zone. This always-on lifestyle encourages people to work longer hours. And it has been found to be correlated with greater stress and health issues.

The fact that we don’t dress differently for work anymore is a reflection of the fact that we can no longer compartmentalize it.”

Work is a state of being, something we may have to dip in and out of, at any given moment. That has consequences for our families, our ability to keep up with fulfilling hobbies, and so much more.


Myfwl adapted the write up by Sarah Halzack for short minutes readers. Click here to view the full original write up at We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section.

Sarah Halzack is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the consumer and retail industries. She was previously a national retail reporter for the Washington Post.


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Dubai Government Is Joining Flexible Working Train

Dubai Government to introduce flexible working for all employees

Sheikh Hamdan, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, inaugurates Dewa’s Future Centre for Customer Happiness at Ibn Battuta Mall. Wam / Dubai government is joining flexible working train

Dubai’s government will be introducing flexible working for all departments. According to Gulfnews, the Dubai Government Human Resources Department (DGHR) announced on Saturday, that they will activate the flexible working system across all government departments starting Sunday August 16.

Why Dubai Government Is Joining Flexible Working Train

The policy aims to increase employees’ happiness and improve their productivity. This is in line with the implementation of the directives of the Strategic Affairs Council of Dubai’s Executive Council.

According to Abdulla Ali bin Zayed Al Falasi, Director General of DGHR Department, the decision aims to ensure the safety of employees, especially in emergency weather conditions.

Abdullah Al Falasi said flexible hours could help ease traffic congestion during peak hours. It will improve work-life balance, motivation and give employees more time to devote to their hobbies.

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This is in addition to helping employees achieve job well-being, reduce attendance delays, and leave permission.

Dubai Government Is Joining Flexible Working Train, Driven by COVID-19

UAE firms were previously said to be slow to adopt flexible working practices. Even though this had become popular in some of the more mature markets, like the US, UK and Singapore.

That all changed with the outbreak of Covid-19.

Cautiously like the rest of the world, Dubai government employees returned to the workplace in phases starting from May. This followed the closure of offices in March due to the coronavirus.

Starting at 30 per cent, then 50 per cent, the full workforce returned to government offices in Dubai in mid-June.

Employees with compromised immunity, those with chronic health conditions, pregnant women and people with disabilities were told they should continue to work remotely from home.

Returning employees found their workplace very different. There were signs explaining social distancing protocols and reminders to frequently sanitize their hands.

What Will Not Be Compromised Even Though Dubai Government Is Joining Flexible Working Train

In the circular issued on Saturday, the DGHR department stated the period within the flexible working hours, in the morning period, when an employee can resume for work. Work can start anytime from 6:30am until 8:30am.

This is provided that the employee shall complete the number of official working hours as determined by the government entity that the person works for.

Employees whose roles require “continuous communication” with the public, and staff working in shifts, are not eligible.

To be eligible, their department must find a way to bring in flexible hours without impacting its services. And done without prejudice to the smooth running of their work.

The circular obliged human resources departments of government entities to amend the internal regulations related to attendance and departure hours. They are to provide a mechanism for implementing the circular, so it can achieve the desired goals.

When the implementation kicks off, they are to provide periodic reports and data on the results of the new working model, and submit to DGHR.

All Encompassing Benefits

“The world is not going to change in two hours, especially in the morning. There is nothing urgent to submit in those times. So it will definitely improve productivity and give more flexibility to the employee. There is also very little risk for the employer,” said Vijay Gandhi, regional director for Korn Ferry Digital, a global consultancy firm.

“The biggest benefit in these times of flexible hours is the adaptability with family situations, especially with online schooling,” said Mr Gandhi.

Parents are being given a choice to send their kids to school or not. This allows people in Dubai Government to be more flexible at home. Productivity is not impacted negatively in any way because employees are still working the same number of hours.

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Myfwl adapted the write up for short minutes readers. Click here to view the original write up at We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section.


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Additional Perks For Remote Home-Working Employees

Additional Perks For Remote Home-Working Employees

Business Insider/ Additional Perks For Remote Home-working

In the good old days, never mind my description of what was just last year. But times have changed and at the speed of a coronavirus.

Two years ago, in 2018, Mike struggled to allow his staff the freedom of using the company’s flexi policy of working from home. He just did not believe in it. Put differently, he did not trust one of his high performing staff.

When a truce was forced, and Drake was allowed to work from home, Mike will call several times to monitor his remote worker, especially if Drake is off line for a few minutes.

When I ask Drake, who no longer work with Mike, what he thinks of those times. He smiled and wish he too can know how Mike is licking the new milk.

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As usual, Mike will shrug it off, and blend easily into the new reality as a work place survival strategist

With more employees now forced to work from home, some employers are keeping an eye on their daily activities with remote monitoring technologies; tracking keystrokes, taking photos to see whether workers are sitting at their laptops and enforcing data security policies.

Why I Change My View On Additional Perks For Remote Home-Working Employees

For good reasons, some precautions are necessary. Fitness brand Garmin paid millions of dollars in ransom after an attack took many of its products and services offline, Sky News and Business Insider reports.

This is the big deal, a major reason for additional perks for remote home-working employees. I had thought, just working from home with the work life balance it offers should be enough.

Good Old Days Suite of In-house Perks to Entice New Talent and Retain Existing Employees

In recent years, sorry, in the good old days, companies were offering a suite of in-house perks to entice new talent and retain existing employees.

These services ranged from free on-site lunch services, pet-friendly offices, ping pong tables, and, at times, even cocktails and draft beer for employees to enjoy after office hours.

However, the traditional workplace has been dramatically transformed due to the coronavirus. Over the last few months, organizations around the globe have transitioned from the in-person office to the virtual workspace.

While organizations may have originally viewed this as a temporary, short-term solution, some companies are embracing remote work in the long term.

Classic Future of Additional Perks For Remote Working Employees

As employees continue to telecommute in the future, the classic perks and benefits package may need to adjust to the new normal of business operations.

Have you thought of some of the perks and benefits telecommuters should consider during the negotiation process?

Additional Perks To Negotiate As A Home-Working Employee

To start the conversation, below is a list to get you thinking. Which one comes top for you?

  1. Stipends for home office setup – you may be thinking of additional expenses to address ergonomics.
  2. Energy allowance – who should pay the extra energy cost, consumed for the additional work hours spent at home?
  3. Balance through calendar adjustments – opportunity to spread work and the working hours while handling other life calls.
  4. Enhanced medical benefits packages – go and recheck what is covered under your current medical package.
  5. Remote learning opportunities – shouldn’t this be a good opportunity to address those skills gaps without disrupting work and life?

“Many US businesses are seeing the key benefits to remote work, such as cost savings and increased efficiency, and as a result, are opting for distributed workforces permanently. However, with the massive shift to remote work, many of our traditional office norms and perks will have to evolve to address new employee needs,” said Zoë Harte, SVP, head of human resources and talent innovation at Upwork.

Getting The Future of Perks Wrong Before Coronavirus Pandemic

Writing under the heading, 9 Cool New Work Perks That Could Be In Your Future, LearnVest in 2013 included perks such as free valet parking, pets in the office with free walkers to take them out, and a Monday in a month not doing real work but day dreaming, innovating. Company paid customized diet menu, free groceries delivery, massages and a trainer were also on the list.

Closer by in early 2019, Cecilia Amador de San José stated in Employee Benefits That Will Dominate The Future of Work, that “Wellness has become a central topic in all discussions about work and the workplace. In the future of work, the line between work and life will continue to blur, if not entirely disappear”.

The wellness that people need now is a little different from the wellness she envisaged. It goes beyond offering on-site fitness classes, discounted gym memberships, meditation rooms, and workshops.

Cecilia hit the right cord when she stated that companies need to focus on “incentives and non-traditional compensation packages. Programs that will help individuals further themselves professionally and personally”.

Don’t take any perk called paid 5-week sabbatical, you are spending more than five months working from home. It is a working sabbatical!

Take a moment to reflect, in which future are you likely to be living and working in 2021?


Myfwl adapted the write up for short minutes readers. Click here to view the original write up at We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section.

Tips For Building Better Relationships

7 Musical Tips For Building Better Relationships

Business professional having virtual meeting with coworkers/ Tips For Building Better Relationships

Few days ago, I called one of my close friends. I gave him an update on a business prospect. And as usual, he already has several ways I could have done things differently. Good he could not see my facial expression, as I disapprovingly wave my hand in muted complaints. I wasn’t angry or consider his inputs to be of no value. I know he is genuinely interested in the success of the business.

“Healthy relationships are the bedrock of a good life. Instead of taking them for granted, fortify them.”

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize just how important relationships are. Healthy relationships can reduce stress , promote positive behaviors and give us a greater sense of purpose and well-being.

I admit that I wouldn’t be where I am today without my family, friends and employees.

It wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic hit, though, that I realized just how vital healthy relationships are to my personal and professional lives. Given the stresses of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s easy for relationships to hit a sour note. These seven pieces of musical advice can help bring them back into tune:

1. Friendship should rank high among the tips for building better relationships. So you can assume “We’re Gonna Be Friends.”

Having work friends is vital. A LinkedIn study likewise found that, globally, 46% of professionals consider work friends to be an important factor in their overall happiness.

“Feeling needed, valued and appreciated is a fundamental human need.”

“People are more creative and productive when they experience more positive inner work life,”explains Teresa Amabile, Harvard Business School professor and coauthor of The Progress Principle. “And one of the things that contributes to positive inner work life is a sense of camaraderie with teammates and close co-workers — a sense of bonding and mutual trust.”

2. One of the most awesome of all tips for building better relationships – show some “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”

A key component of healthy and productive relationships is being respectful of another person’s time. Whether it’s a family member, friend or employee, that holds true.

3. Know When to “Get Off of My Cloud.”

The point here is the importance of boundaries. That means everything from providing autonomy to not bombarding people. You may never know what they are struggling with too, and which could be of higher priority than your current issue or interest.

4. Get by “With a Little Help From [Your] Friends.”

Here is a balance to “Get Off of My Cloud.” Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end, help from friends is essential. Creating time for this, is priceless. When you notice that someone is struggling — maybe they’re ill or having difficulty managing their time — lend a helping hand.

“When we receive a compliment, it stimulates the same part of the brain that lights up when we get a monetary reward.”

If you’re in a sticky situation yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Just remember not to make someone feel obligated to give you a hand because you’ve helped them in the past. Instead, reach out to members of your support network when you feel like you’re underwater. It doesn’t make you a weakling.

5. Strive to Manage “Distractions.”

Distractions are inevitable and instead of wishing them away, find ways to manage them as well as possible. With necessary and thought out flexibility, try working with a priority list, a calendar or options to control calls, notifications or entrance into your pod.

6. When Necessary, “Call Me.”

Maybe you’re in a pinch, or you simply want to avoid endless email threads. When it’s urgent, pick up the phone and call.

To be courteous, ask in advance to make sure that it’s an appropriate time for a quick chat. And encourage others to do the same if they ever need to contact you at the last minute.

7. Is this the ultimate of all tips for building better relationships? Don’t forget to “Praise You.”

Recall a time when you received or gave a compliment. It felt pretty good, right?

That’s because feeling valued and appreciated is a fundamental human need. According to psychotherapist Marcia Naomi Berge, mutual appreciation is the foundation of relationships. The reason is, it’s what encourages us to cooperate with others.

When we receive a compliment, it stimulates the same part of the brain that lights up when we get a monetary reward. It should be no surprise, then, that research shows praising employees boosts productivity.

When giving a compliment, make sure that it’s sincere and specific. And when you receive a compliment, do so with grace.

Healthy relationships are the bedrock of a good life. Instead of taking them for granted, fortify them. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge others’ accomplishments or ask for help. The late Bill Withers was right: “We all need somebody to lean on.”


Myfwl adapted the write up for short minutes readers. Click here to view the original write up at We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit us on Social Media.

Work-Life Balance Initiatives And Ideas

Insights & Intuition 1

Work-life balance for me is no longer about the descriptive term or if it is achievable. Call it work-life effectiveness or work-life blending, the challenge and opportunities remain the same. If you are looking for how to turn around your organisation’s work-life balance initiatives and ideas, you just hit a gold mine.

Sometimes, the challenge is not about an imbalance that we see in the organisation where we work. But the opportunities for a ‘better’ life that we observe in the routines of those we love and care about; our friends, colleagues or relations. Choosing to look out for others with empathy, will ensure that any work-life balance initiatives and ideas that we come across is cherished and shared like a life saving device.

Every month, Prairie Business asks several regional business leaders a question or two about a relevant business topic. The question for August is: “What initiatives has your company implemented to help build a work-life balance for its employees?” Below is how four regional leaders replied.

Work-Life Balance Initiatives And Ideas For Success At Work And At Home

Noah Fischer, human resources and organizational development manager, EAPC Architects Engineers, Fargo, N.D.

We are proud of our culture at EAPC and continuously look for ways to improve it for the health and well-being of our employees. We recognize that our employees’ lives outside of work is incredibly important to them, whether it is their family, pets, hobby, life circumstances, or the need to just recharge.

“The challenge with work-life balance is that rarely anything in life is in balance, but rather intertwined as a constant push-pull.”

Our leadership recognizes that production, performance, and employee retention improve when we make concerted efforts to support our employees and what is important to them outside of work.

Some specific work-life balance initiatives and ideas that we have implemented include;

  • deploying an action team to review programs and processes on how we on-board and assimilate new employees,
  • surveying current employees on our corporate culture on what we do well and how we can improve, and
  • requiring each manager work with their employees to create a career development plan.

These initiatives are creating conversations, building rapport, and informing managers on what our employees need to be supported both at work and at home. Our goal is that the cumulative effect will position both the employee and the firm to be successful.

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‘Life’ Happens – But Work-Life Balance Initiatives And Ideas Don’t Just ‘Happen’ Into Existence

Steve Schmitz, president/CEO, First Community Credit Union, Jamestown, N.D.

At FCCU, we think of our staff as family. As such, our company culture puts family first because we understand how important a work-life balance is for the overall health and well-being of our staff.

The following are ‘normal’ initiatives and additional ideas that came up with the outbreak of COVID-19, especially with school closures.

  • Generous Paid Time Off (PTO) is one of the normal. But employees with limited PTO accruals were allowed to go up to 80 hours negative during COVID to ensure that no one missed a paycheck.
  • Another is flexible schedule whenever possible to accommodate appointments, kids’ activities, family time, etc. where staff can make up time later.
  • There is full access to Extended Illness Bank (EIB) so staff can be with their family during COVID. This is alleviate their concerns about lack of daycare, home schooling, underlying health conditions, etc.

From our Board of Directors and throughout our company, we constantly try to be understanding that ‘life’ happens. And we know that happy employees are the ones with a healthy work-life balance.

Technology And Flexible Work Schedules Creates Collaborative And Productive Environment

Sarah Aldinger, principal architect, Architecture Incorporated, Sioux Falls, S.D.

“The challenge of work-life balance is without question one of the most significant struggles faced by modern man.” – Stephen Covey

At Architecture Incorporated, we strive to create an office environment that allows our firm to interact with each other in a collaborative and productive way.

  • We take advantage of the latest technology, which allows us to provide flexibility in how we work as a team.
  • We also believe that family comes first. Offering a flexible work schedule allows our staff to make adjustments as needed, especially during these unprecedented times.

By supporting our staff in their personal lives, we in turn have staff who are vested in the success of the firm.

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Leadership Driven Wellness, Employee Assistance And Fun Family-Oriented Ideas

Jeremy Elbert, senior vice president, financial advisor and branch manager, D.A. Davidson, West Fargo, N.D.

D.A. Davidson’s have always had tools in place for strengthening work-life balance. The leadership is however especially cognizant of the importance of balance during the pandemic, when people are more isolated and face additional stress and health threats.

  • A major tool is the wellness program, which encourages associates to care for themselves physically and emotionally and the company provides helpful direction. The program includes fitness challenges, a health-information newsletter, and incentives for personal improvement. Many offices have designated wellness champions who help others with work-life balance.
  • An Employee Assistance Program that covers a range of mental health issues, such as abuse, depression, grief, stress, relationship and parenting problems, workplace issues and more. In addition, employees can be connected to professionals to discuss financial and legal issues.
  • Generous vacation, and scheduled family-oriented events focuses on having fun; from holiday events to celebrating milestones.
  • Generous leaves of absence allows time off for children’s school activities, adoptions, maternity and paternity leaves and more.

Probably most effective, however, is a leadership environment that encourages everyone to take time for themselves. We work to assure everyone that it’s critical to take time away from work responsibilities.


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Michelle Obama’s Quarantine Note, Navigating Family

How Michelle Obama Is Navigating Family Life and Protests in Quarantine

Photo credit: Pool – Getty Images/Yahoo/ Michelle Obama’s Quarantine Note

All over the world, the effect of COVID-19 is daunting. But how did Michelle Obama navigated family life during the quarantine? In a new podcast, Michelle Obama shares how she and her family are spending time at home as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The former First Lady shared that she and her family are having regular family dinners and doing group activities like puzzles and card games.

But, like many of us, Michelle has had low moments in the monotonous stay-at-home era. This was made even bleaker by the growing number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the United States.

Michelle Obama’s Quarantine Note Describes Way’s of Deepening The Bonds

After featuring an insightful and intimate conversation with former President Barack Obama in its debut episode, The Michelle Obama Podcast continues with a reflective conversation between the former First Lady and award-winning journalist Michele Norris.

The two discussed their relationships with themselves, especially amid an unprecedented global pandemic and movement of racial unrest.

Michelle knows from her experience in the White House that operating under a routine is necessary “in order to stay sane, and to feel like the human that you once were,” she told Norris. That means waking up around six or seven o’clock and working out.

Then, during the day, she, her husband, and their daughters, Sasha and Malia Obama, usually do their work in separate parts of the house before gathering at around five o’clock for a group activity and family dinner.

“I’m finding that in quarantine, we look forward to that,” she said. They usually do a puzzle, chat, and play games. “So Barack has taught the girls spades, so now, there’s this vicious competition. They wouldn’t have sat down but for this quarantine, to learn how to play a card came with their dad,” she added.

Is The Demonstration Of Love Intentional In Michelle Obama’s Quarantine Note?

Michelle Obama spoke about how she knew she had fallen in love with Barack Obama. The Obamas took a fond look back at the beginning of their relationship, having first met in 1989 while both where working at a law firm in Chicago.

Michelle explained that the reason she fell in love with Barack was due to the way in which he perceived other people.

She began by saying, “You know at the core of everything you have done politically, what I know about you as a person and one of the reasons why I fell in love with you is…” You know what, don’t look for the reason she gave or what Barack Obama said.

Reflect on your first crush, your current date, your spouse, why did you fell in love with the person? Oh, no wait, why did you break up? In my view, Michelle wasn’t just talking about love to fill in the minutes. Especially her private love life. You need to connect to her narrative and answer the question, where is your friend who makes you smile?

Two Questions For You To Go Tackle And Come Back Stronger

Why should how you succeed be of concern to others?

Speaking of the values that she holds dear in her life, Michelle said that she believes “it is not enough that I succeed on my own”, highlighting the importance of wishing success and happiness for others as well.

This is a question that raised serious concern about, making money, accumulating wealth and ‘what next, after having it all?’. The race is scheduled in such a way that, you don’t willingly step aside, except forced out by misfortune.

There is always an earnestness to make more money. An insatiable hunger not to be ‘foolish’ and leave monetary ‘value’ at the table. An uncontrollable desperation to pursue something higher, be the first, and ahead of the next special ‘class’ or ranking. And as a member of the new ‘top group’, start a new race.

What shaped your world view, what is determining your values and how are you living it?

“I can say that my family, my neighborhood, my notions of community growing up shaped that view. And shaped the choices that I made in life as I felt your experiences shaped yours,” Michelle said to Barack.

The concept of family is currently in trouble, not just in definition, but how it holds together. An African proverb says, it takes a village to raise a child. This means that an entire community of people must interact with children for those children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment.

This is why Pandemic Pods, Nano schools and Micro schools are gaining momentum as parents try to solve the pandemic induced education crisis on their own. Many parents have realized the agonizing truth about school this fall.

If it happens in person, it might not feel safe. And if it happens remotely, it will be inadequate, isolating and unable to allows kids to have fun and build social skills. The ‘village community’ will be left out in the development of the children.

Who Is Family In The Debut Episode Of The Michelle Obama’s Podcast?

During their sit-down conversation, the former residents of the White House also touched upon how they would like to leave the world for their daughters, 22-year-old Malia and 19-year-old Sasha.

This yet again pressured the question of who is ‘family’? Should it just be you, your partner, the child or children under your care if you have them? Can it be limited to you, your parents and siblings if you have one? Maybe if we can define ‘family’, it will help us to see the other person on the street, in our work-life community for who they are. Not the way prejudice or stereotype defines them.

The Obama’s expressed their hope that their daughters will live “in a country that respects everybody and looks after everybody. Celebrates and sees everybody”.

A lot of people live their life, less concerned about what happens to the next generation after them. No matter the safety net that you create, good or bad, the next generation, will impact your offspring. It is in your enlightened best interest to take a closer look across the hedge. Perhaps, even further away, a drive from your privileged and secured community. To slow down and taste life, and find purpose from unexpected circumstances of life.

“They’ll be fine. Right?”

“They’ll be fine. Right?” Barack said, to which Michelle replied: “Yeah. That’s absolutely right.”

Michelle Obama says that she has been suffering from “low-grade depression” because of the pandemic, racial injustice in America and the “hypocrisy” of the Trump administration.

The former first lady, 56, said she had been managing “emotional highs and lows” in response to the lockdown and political situation in the US.

When you and I think about what’s the inheritance that we would like to leave Malia and Sasha, more than anything. What it would be is that, they are living in a country that respects everybody and looks after everybody. Celebrates and sees everybody. Cause we know that if we’re not around, that those girls are in a society like that. — President Barack Obama

Going through Michelle Obama’s quarantine note, a columnist wondered how the Obamas are so preposterously well adjusted? How they could have spent almost a decade at the pinnacle of global power and then produce such a nice podcast? Why aren’t they all demented or power crazed?

These questions and many similar ones may also occur to you, listening to The Michelle Obama Podcast. It is available exclusively on Spotify.

Also, visit the story sources at Independent – Michelle Obama podcast and Yahoo’s How Michelle Obama Is Navigating Family Life and Protests in Quarantine


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COVID-19 Legal HR Questions. Illegal If You Can’t Help?

COVID-19 Legal HR Questions. Illegal If You Can't Help

When it comes to HR legal issues these days, it’s all coronavirus all the time. COVID-19 legal HR questions that people can and will ask, should therefore be welcomed.

For the HR professional, navigating this seemingly endless and ever-changing legal maze can be quite daunting. Which issues are most important? What questions must I get answered? Where should my primary attention be?

“The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has advised that employers excluding employees from the workplace on the basis of age are in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.”

Jathan Janove asked prominent employment law attorneys from around the United States to share their “favorite” COVID-19-related legal HR question. He also asked them to offer a suggestion or two on how to address it. Here’s what they had to say.

1. We’ve provided telework to our employees in response to COVID-19. Will that set a precedent for the future when an employee seeks telework as an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

According to Mark Tolman, an attorney with Jones Waldo in Salt Lake City, “it depends.”

Tolman explained that it is entirely plausible. That in post-pandemic times, an employee seeking telework as an ADA accommodation will point to the effectiveness of remote work during the pandemic.

The employee will point to this as evidence that onsite work is not essential or that telework does not impose an undue hardship.

As a practical matter, if your recent experience with telework is that it has been effective. That teleworkers have been able to productively accomplish all essential job duties. Such evidence likely will be used in the future to show that telework should be provided for an employee when necessary to accommodate a disability.”

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However, you could have provided telework strictly out of pandemic necessity, and at the sacrifice of some essential duties.

Good communication can go a long way toward reducing anxiety and finding creative solutions that enable employees to remain productive while taking on the added role of at-home educator.”

Tolman said the mere provision of telework now, should not prevent you from arguing later. For example, that onsite work is essential or that telework imposes a hardship.

Three Key Actions to Support Employer’s Position

He suggested three actions HR professionals should take to better support an employer’s position that onsite work is required in the future:

  • When providing telework in response to COVID-19 concerns, notify employees in writing that telework is provided only in response to the pandemic. And that the company understands that its employees will not be able to perform all of the essential functions of their jobs while working remotely.
  • When employees return to onsite work, notify them in writing that the company looks forward to the resumption of all their essential job functions.
  • Review and revise job descriptions for onsite employees. If onsite work really is essential to a particular job, explain why such work is essential in the job description.

2. If schools don’t reopen in the fall or follow a hybrid model with in-person and remote learning, what leave will employees be entitled to?

There are uncertainty regarding whether and in what manner schools will reopen in the fall.

The opinion of Attorneys Rita Kanno and Diane Waters of Lewis Brisbois, in San Diego and Dallas comes handy. Respectively, they believe it is critical for employers to understand the evolving leave entitlements under federal, state and local law.

“Under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act [FFCRA]—which applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees—there are two ‘buckets’ of leave available for school or place-of-care closures or child care unavailability related to COVID-19: emergency paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave. An employee can use both buckets for this type of leave, but only for up to a total of 12 weeks of leave.”

Kanno and Waters noted other applicable conditions to be eligible for this leave. Another “suitable individual,” such as a co-parent, co-guardian or the “usual child care provider” must not be available to provide the care the child needs.

If a school opens for in-person instruction, but an employee voluntarily chooses the remote learning option for his or her child, is FFCRA leave available?

According to Kanno and Waters, generally speaking, no.

Eligibility For FFCRA Leave – Role of Physical Location Of Where The Child Receives Instruction

“In order to be eligible for FFCRA leave, the physical location where the child receives instruction or care must be closed. If, however, the school is operating at reduced capacity to comply with social-distancing guidelines, such that the employee’s child has no choice but to receive remote learning, or if the school uses a hybrid model where in-person instruction is only provided on certain days of the week, FFCRA may be available.”

Kanno and Waters recommended that employers plan ahead by facilitating discussions with their employees. This is to learn how school reopening plans may impact their work schedules.

Whether remote work is or remains an option. And whether any added flexibility to their schedules, such as working around the school day or taking intermittent leave, may provide adequate solutions.

Good communication can go a long way toward reducing anxiety and finding creative solutions that enable employees to remain productive while taking on the added role of at-home educator.”

3. Our company has adopted a mandatory work-from-home policy in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. What are best practices for compensating employees for the expenses they have incurred as a result of working from home?

The shift to remote work, which for many employees is a requirement rather than an employer-offered convenience, presents some questions. For example, the question of whether employers must reimburse employees for expenses incurred while working at home.

According to Eric Mackie, an attorney with Ogletree Deakins in Chicago, some states require employers to reimburse employees for expenditures. This includes expenditures incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her employment duties.

Mackie also noted that under the Fair Labor Standards Act and its implementing regulations, employers are generally required to reimburse expenses incurred if those expenses would result in compensation below the federal minimum wage.

To minimize litigation exposure, Mackie said, employers should evaluate their employee expense reimbursement practices and refine or develop legally compliant policies.

Such policies could include, for example, a requirement for advance approval for any expenses over a specified amount. In all cases, effective communication and clear guidelines are key.”

4. Can I tell employees who are over age 65 to stay home from work for their own protection?

According to Jacqueline Cookerly Aguilera, an attorney with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in Los Angeles, the answer is no.

She noted that initially, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said people over age 65 were at high risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19.

Now, the CDC uses an age gradient. Meaning that the risk for severe illness increases with age. The older the person, the greater the risk. For example, those in their 70s are at greater risk than those in their 50s.

Employee Exclusion Base on Greater Risk Of Contracting Serious Illness

“Regardless, an employer should not exclude an older employee from the workplace merely because the employee is at a greater risk for serious illness than a younger employee. Even if the reason is to protect the employee.”

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has advised that employers excluding employees from the workplace on the basis of age are in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

However, certain state and local sick-leave laws may require an employer to reasonably accommodate an employee who requests an accommodation for COVID-19 reasons based on age.

“But even absent state or city laws,” Cookerly Aguilera said, “I nonetheless recommend that employers offer to accommodate any employee who may be more susceptible to serious illness from COVID-19. Either by allowing them to telework or, if that’s not possible, providing them unpaid leave.” 


The above is a reformatted version of the original. The original write up is by Jathan Janove, J.D. and it is available on the SHRM Weblink below.

SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, provides content as a service to its readers and members. It does not offer legal advice, and cannot guarantee the accuracy or suitability of its content for a particular purpose. Disclaimer. Access to some SHRM resources may be limited by membership.

Go to SHRM Weblink for more on 4 COVID-19 Legal Questions You Should Answer


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