Archive for January, 2009

100 Best companies to work for in 2009

January 31, 2009

Fortune magazine has just posted the 100 best companies to work for in 2009. Google has slipped from no. 1 to be replaced by NetApp – their policies include ditching a travel policy for common sense, writing future histories instead of business plans, and leave includes adoption aid. 

They also have a perks list which includes: 100% of health care premiums, encourage work-life balance and telecommuting, and some even help with buying a home and scholarships for kids. 

What does your company do that makes it a great place to work? 


Book makes national papers: How to enjoy your job…even without it!

January 27, 2009

In the last week I have been laid off, and have found another fulltime position. I was also interviewed for MX, a commuter newspaper for Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Australia. They used tips from my book, “How to Enjoy Your Job” to help people looking for work, and I took my own advice! 

Here’s the article and the full page is below. 

MX article 27 Jan 09Here’s the full article. 

MX 27 Jan 09

Stress Management: Develop your self-efficacy in work situations

January 26, 2009

Self-efficacy is your belief in your own capability to do something. It may be a proven capability based on something you have achieved or it may be the belief that you can do a new thing given the opportunity. If you believe you can do something, you will feel more in control and therefore less stressed.

If you try something new and it works, you will feel you have achieved. You will have increased your self-efficacy. If it doesn’t work, then you can learn from it and the lesson will also improve your self-efficacy.

 It is about how you perceive the situation.

For example, I have started three businesses. Each folded within a year after much hard work and money spent. As much as the experience was painful, I learnt a great deal each time that has enabled me to go on to later success. I perceived that the failures increased my abilities to eventually run a successful business so my self-efficacy improved even though some would say that I “failed”.


“If you want to succeed,

double your failure rate.”

Thomas Watson, founder of IBM.


Your comfort zone is where you are happy doing your work or using your abilities. Part of developing self-efficacy is to stretch these comfort zones and increase skill level so you can function without being stressed in the outer limits.

If you don’t challenge yourself, you will never know what you are capable of.

Here are some ways to improve your self-efficacy in work situations.  


  •          Identify what you have achieved – at work or in other areas of your life. Really look at what you have done and acknowledge that you have skills, and that you are valuable.
  •          Identify where your comfort zone is. Where are the boundaries of your skills? Where do you lose your self confidence? For example, you may be happy speaking in front of colleagues at a staff meeting, but not at a conference of 500 people.
  •          Find ways to apply the skills you have to the boundaries of your comfort zone in order to extend it out further.
  •          List ways you could improve in specific areas by developing new skills.
  •          Aim to put yourself in these situations in manageable ways in order to increase your comfort zone without being too stressed.
  •          Once you have tackled a new situation, add it to the list of what you have achieved and learned. Celebrate another step forward!

Meetings: Necessary…or a waste of time?

January 21, 2009

A friend of mine just started an office job after working in a different industry and noted how many meetings he was suddenly involved in. Many of the meetings did not have an agenda, and there were not clear actions afterwards. He felt that sometimes the communication could have been done by email. Are all your meetings necessary? or are some a waste of time? 

A recent NY Times article notes that many meetings are not productive (even when they are discussing workplace productivity!). Here are some tips from the article to make your meetings more successful. 

  • Have an agenda and set clear objectives for the meeting. What do you need to achieve in this timeframe? 
  • Think about opportunity costs for the meeting. How many people do you really need? Do you need all those senior managers? 

Here are some more tips: 

  • Have stand-up meetings as they don’t go on for so long 
  • Minute action points and follow up – ensure there is a lasting benefit from the meeting
  • Know the difference between a meeting and a workshop, and when just an email communication will suffice

How effective are your meetings?

Stress Management for Workplace Stress – Part 1

January 20, 2009

Take control of your stress – Part 1. 

1. Assess why you are stressed

What are the situations in which you get stressed? Who makes you feel stressed? Here are some examples of workplace stress to help you identify your stressors.  

  •          Trying to do a job that doesn’t match your values or skills
  •          Conflict with other people
  •          Working long hours which leaves you so tired you can’t function at home or do things you enjoy
  •          Not enough time to do a quality job and then being criticised for under-performing
  •          Lack of support from other team members


There are many more things in the workplace that are stressful. Write down the things that particularly affect you. 


2. Use time management techniques


You might feel stressed because you do not have the time to do everything that you need or want to do. The key is to actively manage the situation and bring it under your control. Try the following time management techniques.

  •          Write down everything you have to achieve and by when. Even the small things add up.
  •          Estimate how long these things will take and rate them in terms of urgency and importance (although this list will keep changing, sometimes it is necessary to write it all down so you can get some perspective).
  •          Review your work related items with your manager so they are aware of the competing demands on your time and ask for more help if necessary. You may find that they are unaware of your workload and there may be others who can help you with it. Managers prefer to know in advance if deadlines will be missed.
  •          Ask people to book your time rather than turning up at your desk with impromptu requests.
  •          Start saying ‘No’ when people ask you to do things outside the boundary of your prescribed job. This may be very difficult for some people who want to be helpful all the time, but it is essential if you are to be less stressed.
  •          Some workplaces have “no meeting days” or only have meetings in the mornings so people also have time to achieve their actions by the next meeting. You could suggest this for your workplace or your team.  
  •          Only check your email twice a day, or turn off your email program when you are doing a piece of work. This prevents regular interruptions from incoming mail.

In what ways you could implement time management techniques to make your work life less stressful?

3. Take control

If you blame your stress on aspects of your life which are not under your influence, you will not be able to reduce or control your stress.


Take ownership of what is stressing you and be in control of it.


If you acknowledge that you have control over what stresses you, you can deal with it by actively solving the problem. If you believe it is someone else’s fault or responsibility, then nothing will change.

Own it, change it.



“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery

None but ourselves can free our minds.”

Bob Marley, Redemption Song


Lost your job? What you need to do now

January 18, 2009

Unemployment has been rising steadily for the last 6 months as the global financial crisis deepens. Many white-collar professionals have been laid off including management, sales staff and office workers. 

So what can you do if you have lost your job? 

  • Use all the information and help that your company will give you to improve your chances of re-employment. Take any courses you can that they will pay for and use the work time you have left to its best advantage. 
  • Update your resume – you may need to include more detail about aspects of other jobs you have had to broaden your appeal in the market
  • Cut back on expenses and look at your budget
  • Use the time to think about what you really want to do for a job. Maybe this is your chance to move into something new?  
  • Try to stay positive – there are jobs and it is not personal. Your skills can be used elsewhere, you just might have to be flexible in what you do and for how long. 
  • Actively search for work opportunitiesget a profile on LinkedIn or other social networks and see what is out there. Many jobs are not advertised, but if you know someone who can submit your resume, you might just find something. 
  • Remember temp agencies if you have office skills. Many companies may lay off staff and then find themselves without key people. They will use temp agencies to fill the gap instead of employing staff. You may be in a different place every week, but many people also find fulltime work after being placed with a company. 
  • Consider being a contractor or self-employed. You can offer a daily rate making it easier for companies to afford you short term. 

Global Layoffs: Safest and riskiest jobs in 2009

January 18, 2009

My contract has been brought to an early halt by the global economy altering my company’s share price. So I am joining the list of those people looking for work.

Is your job safe? A new report shows what the safest and riskiest jobs are in 2009. 

Safest jobs include: Biotechnology, Online Information Services, Online shopping and surprisingly, waste disposal!

Risky jobs include: Car retailing, real estate, investment banking and bricklaying

Stress in the workplace

January 15, 2009

Stress can actually be positive if the work is challenging as it brings an edge from the adrenalin of achievement. Unfortunately, most people will suffer negative stress at work.

Negative stress is now a constant in the working life and is not considered unusual. But how do people get the right balance? They are either too stressed and spend life rushing from one thing to the next, or they are not challenged enough and are stressed with boredom, repetition and frustration!

Negative stress happens when the job you do is mismatched with what you really want, when you work long hours at something you don’t enjoy, and when you don’t have time to relax and recover. Too much of this can damage your health and your relationships. Different people have different responses to levels of stress, but it becomes overwhelming when the ability to cope is outweighed by the number of stressors in your life.

Look at these statistics on negative stress. It is not to be taken lightly!

  •          “People’s jobs are the single biggest cause of stress with over a third (36%) of Britons citing it as one of their biggest stressors. 45% of those who have felt stressed have been depressed as a consequence”. (Source: Hazards Magazine)
  •          “26% of adult Americans reported being on the verge of a serious nervous breakdown”. (Source: American Psychologist)
  •          “Workplace stresses can double the rate of death from heart disease. High demands, low control, low job security and few career opportunities contributed to the overall stress measured in the study”. (Source: Centre for the Advancement of Health)
  •          “Work-related stress (including job insecurity) and fatigue may increase the risk of cold, flu and stomach inflammation. In one study, employees in demanding jobs developed colds 20 % more often than those in less demanding positions”. (Source: Centre for the Advancement of Health)
  •          “Seven of the top-selling drugs worldwide are either antidepressants or anti-ulcer medications, and stress is cited as a prime factor in the need for both”. (Source: Behavioral Healthcare)
  •          “Studies show that the greatest number of heart attacks in North America and Western Europe occur between 8am and 9am on a Monday morning”. (Source: Women’s Heart Foundation)

  •          “Japan has its own word for death from overwork – karoshi. The major medical causes are heart attack and stroke due to stress. Factors that indicate karoshi are: excessive working hours in a short period, long term excessive work burdens, irregular work hours, infrequent breaks, frequent business trips, shift work, late night work and work-related stress. It is now indicated that Western nations are suffering the same “disease””. (Source:


Stress is now so commonplace in the workplace that a growing industry exists just to manage it. Psychologists investigate it and employers’ bring in massage therapists and send people on “mental health” days because of the rising cost of workplace stress. Office workers in particular don’t do back-breaking physical work anymore, but many are exhausted by the sheer pace of modern work, the pressure to succeed or progress – or the frustration that comes with the inability to do exactly that.

Working with other people can also generate negative stress. Many people say that the friends they make at work are the reason to go in, but there are also people who can make it more stressful. It could be a manager with poor people skills who treats you badly or bullies people, or a co-worker who makes life difficult for everyone. Negative stress from people dynamics can impair thinking, so rapid and poor decisions can be made in error. Negative stress can be passed on in the haste to get out of the situation. Social stress can cause people to protect themselves by being hostile and over sensitive.

What triggers your stress? If you know you get stressed but are not aware of what triggers it, try keeping a weekly log. Notice what triggers you and then use strategies to avoid or mitigate the situation.

Dream job: Caretaker on Barrier Reef Island – Featured book “How to enjoy your job”

January 14, 2009

There is currently an opening for someone to spend 6 months looking after Hamilton Island, on the Barrier Reef of Australia. This global search has sparked worldwide interest – but only one person can get it. 

Reading book on TVIf you don’t get that, there are ways you can improve your job right now. My book, “How to Enjoy Your Job”, was featured on “A Current Affair”, an Australian news program on the segment discussing dream jobs. 


You can watch the video here for tips!

Social networking: Using Facebook as a workplace tool

January 11, 2009

One company grabbing the social networking trend is Serena Software, who have introduced Facebook Fridays for their staff. On Fridays, staff can spend an hour updating their sites and contacting friends and co-workers, using the site as a de-facto intranet and watercooler. Building stronger relationships within the workplace and also encouraging social interaction with potential clients and employees is obviously important, and social networks like Facebook are the way people are now doing it. You can now use social networking to get a job, as well as check on potential employees’ social lives. Recruitment is also moving online with LinkedIn becoming the professional choice. 

Contact me on Facebook 

Contact me on LinkedIn