Beating the New Year blues & SAD

Essential advice for anyone who suffers from the New Year Blues or seasonal affective disorder (SAD)…

The first weeks after the Christmas break can be a challenge for many employees. Yet certain groups are more likely to suffer at this time of year; especially those affected by SAD.

Wondering how this fits into our positive January focus? There’s good news within!

How do you know if you have SAD?

According to the NHS website, SAD can encompass:

  • Persistent low mood
  • Loss of pleasure/interest in normal everyday activities
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
  • Lethargy (lacking in energy) and daytime sleepiness
  • Sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning
  • Craving carbohydrates and gaining weight

These symptoms can become severe and anyone struggling to cope is expressly advised to contact their GP.

Why this time of year can be especially hard:

As Personnel Today describes, there are many triggers that can make January a tricky month.

Gloomy days, financial worries, train delays and fare increases, alongside trying to get back into your work, and the pressure to get fit are all featured.

The good news:

Your solution to beating the January Blues and SAD doesn’t have to be complicated. This can include:

  • Making sure to get out in the daylight each day
  • Using SAD lamps in dark offices
  • Taking regular and ‘real’ downtime
  • Making efforts to reduce your stress levels
  • Consuming a balanced diet and having healthy snacks on hand at work
  • Reconnecting with friends and colleagues

Think it takes a more dramatic wellness plan to beat those New Year blues?

You might want to go easier on yourself. GP Margaret McCartney reminds that “achieving a healthy lifestyle should not be a complicated consumerist puzzle involving expensive memberships, diet books and deference to gurus”. Conversely, “some space, a pair of trainers and a bit of time may be all you need. If you are neglecting your family or work because of the need to do it, that doesn’t sound like wellbeing”.

All in all, the advice suggests that it’s the simple steps that can really help you feel better this January – and all the more ready to launch into your 2020 career plans! 

Let yours begin with a visit to our jobs page.



Christmas: some quality time off or time to job hunt?!

Should you use your Christmas break for some time off or as your prime time to job search? 

With Christmas Eve arriving tomorrow (whether it feels as if it’s arrived too soon or not!), it’s decision-making time.

Are you going to put your job hunt on hold for the duration of the festivities or are you going to step up your search ahead of the New Year? We’ll take a look at both options…

The pros of taking some time off:

If you’re already employed (and unless you work in retail, hospitality or similar), this is likely to be one of your longest breaks in the working year. It’s been a tough year for many professionals, with increasing numbers of people said to be at breaking point. It’s also the year that WHO expanded on its definition of burnout syndrome.

To top this all off, national productivity has plummeted and there’s even more research to prove that happy employees are more successful.

With all this in mind, the option of a break to unwind and enjoy yourself has clear benefits.

What’s more, it can sometimes take a proper break to gain a bit of perspective.

If you’re feeling run down, burned out and/or desperate for a break, it could be wise to use all or at least most of your leave for some time away from thoughts of work and job searching. You’ll likely feel more capable and confident as a result.

Why it could be the prime time to job hunt:

With many offices closed and (hopefully) now having a little more time to yourself, it can be an excellent opportunity to focus your mind on what you want to achieve in the New Year. It’s not uncommon to feel even more motivated as a result.

You’ll get the chance to research jobs more thoroughly, helping you to identify the most appealing and suitable opportunities.

The extra time can also allow you to put together a better quality CV than you’d compile on the average busy evening or weekend. You could even ask any willing friends and/or family to lend some thoughts on anything you might have missed out in your first draft.

It’s also a chance to make sure your CV is one of the first to arrive in inboxes ahead of the January return.

So, which is the best option for you?

This is a tricky question to answer. It’s most likely one that only you can answer – or someone very close to you who knows how you’ve been feeling lately.

Our best advice is to make sure you’re using at least some of your Christmas break to relax and recharge. However, providing as you’re not feeling unwell or burned out, you could also schedule some time for advancing your career. Perhaps following that period of proper relaxation to get the best of both worlds!

Reminder: if your stress is starting to interfere with the quality of your life (in and/or out of work), you should speak to your GP.

Also, if you’ve experienced a sense of career failure recently, please read this post. It may give you more confidence before those festive catch-ups!

Ready to start/continue your job search? Here are the latest opportunities.



The unproductive month + top December stresses!

Do you suffer from unproductive Decembers when work and festive commitments collide? If so, which elements do you find most stressful?

It appears that 1/3 of British professionals struggle to maintain their productivity during the run-up to the Christmas break.

Almost as many (30%) also regret using their holiday entitlement early in the month, as they’ll then miss out on the festive atmosphere at work.

Other December regrets include…

  1. Drinking excessively at the office party
  2. Leaving ‘too much work’ until after Christmas – and then feeling depressed on their return!
  3. Missing the office party due to personal commitments

The challenge of juggling work and social needs brings additional stress. Professionals most struggle with:

  • Picking the perfect presents (35%)
  • Trying to finish their work before the end of the year (21%)
  • Budgeting for gifts, food, and travel (14%)
  • The number of social commitments (12%)
  • Deciding what to wear to the office Christmas party (5%)

It’s not all negative though…

13% of employees don’t find December stressful. Plus respondents clearly find joy in the season, with these items topping their list:

  1. ‘Drinking with friends’
  2. ‘Eating delicious food’
  3. ‘Celebrating the years’ success’
  4. And ‘seeing directors having fun’

Want to boost your productivity this month? Havard Business Review has a free guide to help you avoid distractions ‘at work and in life!’ You can read the transcript or listen to the conversation in full. It’s less than half an hour long, so also offers a great way to make your commute more productive!

Tip: if you want to boost productivity in your workplace this December, why not hire a temp or two? Whether to cover your phone lines for your Christmas party day or to help handle a surge in seasonal demand. Please call the office on 01225 313130 or email us to discuss your needs. You can also register your CV for temporary (and/or permanent!) work.



Letting go of workplace grudges

Harbouring any workplace grudges? Perhaps you’re struggling to let go of that one thing your colleague did last week…or year?!

This is an important topic for every stage of your career. Your grudges can get in the way of your job search (for instance, making you appear negative during interviews), as well as being a nuisance for your daily tasks, workplace relationships, and even your promotion opportunities.

So what exactly is a workplace grudge?

Well, we all loosely know what a grudge is. It’s defined as ‘a persistent feeling of ill will or resentment resulting from a past insult or injury.’

But really, what is at the root of a grudge? According to psychologist Steven Sylvester, it’s actually when someone is “manifesting their frustration by pointing it at someone else. It’s a defensive tactic to explain away something we fear. If you have serial grudges, that shows a strong desire not to take full responsibility for what is happening in your life.”

This may sound far-fetched to you. Yet it’s worth asking yourself the following question, as posed by Sylvester – what does your grudge say about you?

For example, say your colleague embarrassed you in a team meeting. The colleague is clearly at fault for their actions, yet there’s also fear at the root of your response. You could be concerned about appearing foolish or maybe already worry that your superiors doubt your abilities.

Sylvester goes on to suggest 3 questions for each of your workplace grudges:

  1. What emotions are sparked by the person you’re holding the grudge against?
  2. What does that say about you?
  3. Plus how can you ‘self-correct’ the situation? In other words, what could you do in the future to alleviate the problem or prevent your grudge from taking hold?

If this sounds like too much hard work, it’s worth considering what could happen if you leave your grudges to fester…

The Plum has an article that highlights many of the ways workplace grudges can negatively affect the grudge holder:

  • By limiting workplace productivity
  • Making it harder to concentrate and problem-solve
  • Possibly also contributing to ‘chronic inflammation, high blood pressure and an elevated heart rate’.

They also offer another great piece of advice: “if the grudge relates to your current work situation, let it motivate you to work towards what you want.”

Know you want a new job? You’ll find the latest listings here. Plus don’t forget to keep up with our news page for more career insights and advice.



Are you experiencing burnout syndrome?

What is burnout syndrome and how do you know whether you’re affected by it?

This year, the World Health Organization (WHO) expanded on its definition of Burnout – which they only officially recognised last year.

Please note: it is listed in the ‘International Classification of Diseases’ as an occupational phenomenon or syndrome rather than a medical condition or disease.

WHO defines burnout as:

“A syndrome…resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” It comprises three aspects…

  1. ‘Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion.’
  2. ‘Increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job.’
  3. And ‘reduced professional efficacy.’

In this case, burnout only applies in an occupational context. In other words, any non-work overwhelm or exhaustion isn’t taken into account.

WHO will soon develop guidelines to help boost mental wellness at work.

Career considerations:

Certain roles and working environments place you at greater risk. Harvard Business Review describes a number of possible factors. These include:

  • ‘Unrealistically high workloads’
  • A poor sense of job control
  • Bullying and ‘incivility’
  • ‘Administrative hassles’
  • Poor social support
  • Reduced business resources
  • Stressed business leaders
  • Alongside negative ‘leadership behaviours’

If this all sounds far too familiar, you may want to read their article in full. After all, it includes a number of questions to help you decide whether to stay in your role. As they suggest, sometimes a new job is the best solution.

Further burnout resources…

  1. More symptoms (alongside the many ways burnout can affect your health and relationships).
  2. Four prevention tips.
  3. How remote and flexible working can contribute to the syndrome…
  4. And burnout’s relationship with ‘guilty vacation syndrome.’

Feeling there may be a better role to suit your career goals and lifestyle needs? Start your job search here.



The recruitment stats that matter

What’s happening in recruitment? How the latest recruitment stats can help you as a job-seeker – and why this is also relevant to anyone looking to recruit for their team…

You may have seen us mention the importance of knowing what’s going in the wider employment market. This sort of information can help you make the right choices for your career, along with gathering more specific data regarding the local market and your chosen industry.

Employers can also benefit from these stats, which can help inform recruitment decisions from salary offerings to interview process considerations.

With this in mind, we thought we’d share a selection of facts from a recent Onrec piece.

UK Recruitment stats – what’s happening in 2019…

  1. Job application figures have risen by 15.9% since 2018. Southern regions have seen the biggest increase. This means you may observe greater job-seeker competition in your industry; all the more reason to prioritise your job search approach (and CV)!
  2. Salaries for new job roles have increased by 17.7% in the most recent quarter, which may explain some of the more recent surges in applications.
  3. UK pay growth as a whole has risen by 3.1%, which is the highest rate in ‘almost a decade’.
  4. National employment is at a record high – 32.69 million people are now employed. This is 282,000 more than in 2018. This poses a challenge for employers who eagerly trying to source candidates with the relevant skills-base. This may offer an opportunity for job-seekers, however, there’s still a responsibility to highlight your skills effectively.
  5. The sectors which have received the biggest increase in applications include the charity sector (72.3%), hospitality (45.7%), IT (36.3%) legal (33.6%) and electronics (26.7%).

Plus…

  1. It’s the arts & entertainment industry that’s observed the biggest increase in job vacancies (up by 12.4% since 2018).
  2. 40% of employees are neglecting other non-work ‘aspects of their life’ due to a ‘demanding work culture,’ risking potential mental health troubles. This has become an increasingly common topic over recent months, with many employees nearing ‘breaking point.’ It’s important for everyone to think about how they’re spending their time in and out of work.
  3. Flexible working may be the future. 70% of small companies say they have ‘some form’ of flexi-working available. Plus 73% of employees believe this has increased their job satisfaction levels. In reality, however, it appears that many flexible working requests are still being denied.
  4. The average ‘job interview process’ stands at 27.5 days – almost a full month.
  5. 75% of candidates take the time to research a prospective employer via websites, social media and company reviews, which has caused many employers to increase their efforts in these areas. This knowledge should also serve as a nudge to the 25% of job-seekers who are not making such an effort!

Please call the office on 01225 313130 for further recruitment advice. You’ll also find the latest job opportunities listed here.  



The happiness, productivity & success connection

Your job happiness is directly linked to your career success. Here’s another big study to prove it…

If you’re trying to stick things out in a job that makes you absolutely miserable in the hope of becoming more successful, you may want to reconsider.

There have been many studies that prove happiness precedes job success, as opposed to the reverse. We discussed this back in the summer – when featuring the 1/5 of parents who want their ‘child to seek success over happiness, kindness or honesty‘.

What’s so different about this new study?

The research (which comes from Oxford University’s Saïd Business School) explores many of the same topics. However, it’s the first to provide an ‘exact measure’ of the relationship between job happiness and productivity and success. Their research finds that:

  • Happy employees are 13% ‘more productive and successful’ than their less happy counterparts.
  • The pool of call centre employees both performed faster and made more sales conversions when happier.
  • Multiple elements contribute towards workplace happiness, including higher salaries, secure work, and jobs that prove ‘more interesting and meaningful’.

How significant are these findings?

13% may not sound all that dramatic, yet it is a meaningful figure. Not only would most businesses be pleased to see such an increase in sales conversions, yet this may represent a vital clue as to what’s going wrong in many businesses.

It could be a great time for employers to review how happy their team truly is and take steps to support employee wellbeing.

Of course, employees can also take measures to review their own happiness in and out of work. You can always explore the latter while searching for your next role!



At breaking point + common job complaints

As two separate studies say employees are at breaking point, we take a look at what this means. Also sharing the most common job complaints…

An issued shared by 61% of male professionals:

The first survey (conducted by CV-Library and reported by Recruiting Times), reveals that…

  • 61% of men have reached their breaking point. In this case, saying they wish to leave their role due to its impact on their mental health.
  • Female respondents are more likely to admit to experiencing mental health issues in general. However, men are more likely to experience the ‘effects of poor mental health’ at work (81.8% of men versus 67.8% of women for the latter).
  • Sadly, 60.9% of men also feel unable to raise their concerns with their boss for fear of being negatively judged and/or misunderstood.
  • Men would actually be most likely to discuss their mental health experiences with their GP. Conversely, women tend to seek out their friends for support.

The findings also contain a number of proactive recommendations from male professionals. These include:

  • Efforts to ‘promote’ a better work-life balance
  • Counselling service referrals
  • ‘Reduced pressure’ regarding long working days
  • Enabling employees to ‘take time out’ when needed
  • More open discussions about mental health

2 in 5 UK employees are nearing their breaking point…

Separately, the Chartered Accountants’ Benevolent Association (CABA) has carried out research on employee stress levels. This shows that:

  • 40% of all UK employees are nearing breaking point due to increasing stress.
  • Professionals are losing an average of 5 hours’ sleep each week due to work pressure.
  • Respondents also feel stressed for a third of each working day.
  • 70% have ‘vented’ to someone about their experiences, yet 46% have done nothing beyond this – hoping the issues would simply disappear in time.

CABA’s findings also include the most common job complaints:

  1. General workload levels
  2. Poor sense of recognition and reward
  3. Salary/pay rates
  4. Their colleagues
  5. The day-to-day job role
  6. ‘Company culture’
  7. Long working days
  8. How their workload compares to their colleagues’
  9. Their clients
  10. Progression or career path potential

What does this all mean for employers and employees?

  • Both sets of data reflect recent findings regarding job satisfaction in general. Only last month we reported on the swathes of professionals planning to switch roles.
  • Poor work-life balance, high stress and a sense of not being supported all keep cropping up.
  • Employers need to be reading such data and working out how they can do more to listen to their team, reduce pressure levels and make everyone feel more supported. This is all vital for longer-term employee attraction and retention.
  • Employees also need to look at what they can do to improve their own working lives. At the lighter end of the scale, there are ways to increase levels of joy at work and make sure you’re doing enough of what you enjoy outside of your job too.
  • In more serious cases, when you (or someone close to you) see that work stress is really starting to affect you, you may need to seek the support of your GP.

Everyone reaches those times when they simply need to find a fresh environment more suited to their life and career goals. Visit our jobs page to see the latest vacancies. 



The parent trap!

How much time does the average working parent get to spend with their children? Plus does having a baby truly affect your career?

This post explores two separate news items from the HR News website. The first investigates how the ‘always on’ business culture impacts parents’ free time…

1) How much time do parents get to spend with their children?

  • British professionals are currently getting less than 30 minutes a day of quality time to spend with their kids, according to Trades Union Congress.
  • It appears that the nation’s working hours, commuting patterns and low energy levels are all contributing to this trend.
  • Parents and non-parents are also struggling to ‘disconnect from work’ at the end of each day, due to the ‘always on’ nature of the modern workplace.
  • Myers-Briggs deems quality time spent with family and friends to be a core contributor to employee wellbeing, highlighting how important this issue is to employers as well as team members.

2) Most Mums believe that having a baby has ‘hindered their career’

  • Sadly, 89% of Mums say that they’ve faced ‘career regression’ on return from maternity leave. They also believe that they are ‘overlooked for career progression’ opportunities.
  • 51% plan to leave their roles if they are unsupported by their bosses.
  • This problem is increasing levels of depression and anxiety among working mothers. 91% of the group used phrases such as ‘anxious, isolated, worried, overwhelmed, lost, stressed and guilt’, etc.
  • Mothers have shared many of the concerning conversations they’ve had with their employers, ranging from those being told ‘the team shouldn’t be punished for their lifestyle choice’ to the business leaders who ‘think maternity leave is a break’.

Are you worried about being (or becoming) a working parent?

  • It appears that many employed parents are facing somewhat of a trap – feeling they’re neither at the career stage they should be or getting to spend enough time with their children when out of work.
  • Employers should look to use effective and supportive strategies to attract and retain this key workforce during such competitive business times. After all, the nation’s skills shortage remains in full swing.
  • Flexible working is one such attractive employee offering, as discussed in the first of the featured posts. However, even taking the time to understand working parents’ ongoing concerns would be a great starting point.
  • Working parents should not need to fear their career opportunities. Where possible, discuss your concerns and/or needs with a trusted party. This could be a manager, business owner or HR professional. If you really feel unsupported, there may be better employers out there for you.
  • Always discuss your career priorities with your Recruitment Consultant. The best agencies don’t just want to submit your CV to a position that suits your experience, yet one that also provides a culture match.

You can apply for the latest vacancies via the jobs pageCV upload, or by email. Here’s what to include in your cover email if you’re emailing a Recruitment Consultant.



Doing more of what you enjoy

Why we could all do with discovering what we really enjoy in life. Including how to discover your next hobby and find more enjoyment in your work…

How much of your day do you spend doing something you find truly enjoyable? A worrying new stat suggests that the average person only experiences this 42 minutes per day, which equates to just 3% of your daily life.

What’s to blame for our low enjoyment levels?

According to the study’s authors at City Lit (a London-based adult education college), this could be due to several lifestyle factors:

  • UK employees work an extra 2.5 weeks a year compared to the average European worker.
  • Our daily commutes have also increased, meaning few people believe they have enough spare time to pursue a hobby.

However, psychologists remind us of the importance of using hobbies to relax and de-stress.

City Lit additionally notes how many people don’t know quite what they enjoy. To this end, they’ve launched a new ‘Random Course Generator’ to help you track down your next hobby.

It’s rather like a quick magazine quiz in that you’ll answer a series of personality questions which will help identify your most dominant trait (from the Big Five OCEAN list). You’ll then be offered a list of courses that could suit your character.

You may see this as just a bit of fun, yet perhaps it’s a timely reminder to work out what you enjoy and how you can do more of it. This brings us to another thought…

Why should you only enjoy your hobbies?

It’s a fantastic idea to find more enjoyment out of work, though what about that large chunk of your day spent at work?

If you’re relatively happy with your job and not looking for anything new just yet, you may still benefit from making some small changes to your days.

  • TheMuse has a list of 37 ideas to get you started. Number 19 is particularly useful and achievable.
  • Number 37 is also incredibly important. There are certainly times that a new job is necessary for your ‘mental and emotional wellbeing’.

Why not add more enjoyment to your days and start your job search here?!