The Bullseye - September 2007

Saturday, September 1, 2007

In This Issue:
What is a 40 Hour Work Week Anyway?,
Alumni Update,
Key Tips for Effective Business Emails,
Index Suggests Economic Expansion,
Mortgage Meltdown,
Ten Ways to Reduce Commuting Stress

What is a 40 Hour Work Week Anyway?

Is a seventy-hour workweek becoming the new standard for salaried employees? Today, more companies are striving to keep up with the 24/7 mentality of the Internet and expecting their employees to follow suit. Employees who work a mere forty hours per week are considered slackers by fellow employees and not dedicated by upper management. 
The Center for Work-Life Policy, a non-profit organization focused on parenting and workplace issues, reports that approximately “1.7 million Americans hold extreme jobs”. Extreme jobs are defined as, “long hours plus five key performance pressures”. The study reports that this increase in hours is due to globalization, Blackberries and Type-A personalities. This weekly grind comes with personal costs as well as a threat to the overall stability of an employee’s state of mind. And, the employee is not the only one who pays. Long work hours contribute to high turnover and employee errors. Recruiting costs can run into the tens of thousands and finding an employee with the appropriate qualifications can be brutal.
How can employees and companies find balance without compromising their competitive edge? Fast Company magazine suggests confronting the problem in two ways. First, we may work longer hours in the office, but we need to be able to leave the office in the office, and give outside contacts such as a spouse, children and friends, the same attention and concentration that are given to work tasks. Therefore, both outside contacts and your CEO garner equal focus.
Structure is the other key component. Release the idea of balance and recognize that different periods of your life will be dedicated to different things. Some periods may be more geared towards work, other times on family. This takes away the idea of choosing “one over the other” and creates a lifestyle that ebbs and flows at different periods and in different times. 

The seventy-hour work week may be the new normal, but balance can be achieved by utilizing different strategies. At least for now, these suggestions can help us to cope until the next chapter in life presents itself.

Alumni Update

I was placed into a great job with Orion International a few years ago and I have since been grateful for the opportunity and level of preparation that Orion gave me during my military-to-civilian career transition.
I thought I knew what I wanted when I got out of the military.  I gave Orion my criteria and nothing seemed to come up that suited me for a few months.  On several occasions I turned down pharmaceutical sales opportunities because I  “didn’t want a sales job” It turns out that my time carrying a rifle around several countries, jumping from planes, and sleeping on the ground, while adventurous, didn't provide me with an accurate view of what a "sales job" would be like.  After many opportunities were presented and I was somewhat nudged to give it a try, I was hired with a small pharmaceutical company.  After a year, I realized that this career was what I was supposed to be doing, and 3 years later I have accepted a position with a larger company with additional benefits. 
I have been promoted at my new company, and I am currently on track for a Sales Manager position in the future.  I am very pleased with my job, my company, and my life in general.  I owe many thanks to Orion for giving me something that I didn't realize I wanted, but is something that I now truly enjoy.
Do you have an update to share with us?  Did you get promoted, have a new addition to your family or any other news you’d like to share?  Click here to tell us about it.


Key Tips for Effective Business Emails

Trying to say something in writing may be difficult for some people. But in today’s office, e-mails are an integral part of communication. Workers are often inundated with e-mails, so keeping them short and effective is a must. Here are some critical tips:
1. Create a topic-oriented subject line. Treat the subject like a newspaper headline or book title. Realize that the subject (a.k.a. headline/title) will either grab your reader’s attention or immediately turn your e-mail into trash.
2. Relay only essential information. Do not tell the receiver about what you had for breakfast. Keep the e-mail brief, and elaborate only when necessary.
3. Include one subject per e-mail. If several topics need to be discussed, write separate e-mails for each subject. This way, you receive a fast response to subjects that need less thought. Also, it makes it easier to track down e-mails because the subject line pertains to the topic.
4. Specify the result you are looking for.  If your e-mail needs a specific reply or action, be sure to include that information. Do not expect the reader to intrinsically know what you want. Spell it out in a brief, but polite, request.
5. Always respond. If someone sends you an e-mail, be sure to respond as quickly as possible and provide the information that was requested. This will ensure a healthy e-mail relationship with co-workers.
Using these tips can help you to create concise and effective e-mails. E-mail, until the next “hot” technology arises, is the mainstay of the corporate workplace. Using it effectively is essential to employee success in the workplace.


Index Suggest Economic Expansion

A major indicator of future economic growth used by The Conference Board has been demonstrating an erratic pattern, edging up in July after a decline in June, preceded by an increase in May.  This behavior suggests the economy will continue experiencing growth, but at a slower pace. It also denotes the volatility of the market.

While overall economic output jumped this spring, there are downside risks that come with growth.  Consumer confidence and defaults on subprime mortgages could lead to recession and leaves some economic uncertainty for 2008.

Click here to read original article.

Mortgage Meltdown

One couple’s battle with a bank over terms of their mortgage was just the beginning for homeowners and their lenders. The couple won their case and the judge certified it as a class action lawsuit. In today’s market, many borrowers feel forced to take action against their lenders.
While many buyers are accusing banks of misleading them, many times it’s just a case of the broker being overzealous, and buyers are receiving loans they simply shouldn’t have. In many instances, loan officers and brokers often counted on falling interest rates and buyers' ability to refinance. Clients were told not to worry.  But with credit standards being much tighter today, refinancing has become much more difficult. 

Deceit plays a role as well.  Many borrowers exaggerate their income to get a larger loan, while appraisers have been known to increase the value of a house in order to make a deal work.  This leaves the buyer in a house he cannot afford to keep or sell.
Class action lawsuits currently seem a probably way for the borrower to get his money back, although this might become difficult in the future.  An appeals court in Boston ruled that mortgage rescission cases didn’t apply in class actions, leaving the buyer with legal fees and a home that he cannot afford.

Click here to read original article.

Ten Ways to Reduce Commuting Stress

1. Get everything ready the night before.  This includes everything you need for the coming workday, including your lunch, clothes and documents. 
2. Get a good night’s sleep. A full night of sleep reduces stress and provides your body the energy it needs.
3. Vary your shift.  Some employers offer flexible shifts.  Instead of working the standard 9 to 5, look into a shift that fits your lifestyle and avoids the majority of commuter traffic. 

4. Carpool. Studies show that riding with a friend on the way to work reduces stress and saves on gas.  

5. Utilize your time in the car.  If traffic is backed up or at a stand still, use that time to listen to a book on tape, the radio or meditate. 

6. Make your drive more comfortable.  A pillow tucked behind the lumbar section of your back can help keep you from getting stiff during the ride. 

7. Visit your gym.  Get your workout in during the main commuting hours when traffic is the worst. 

8. Take a break.  It may be a good idea to take a personal day off to give your body and mind time to unwind. 

9. Work from home.  Some companies offer the option to work from home some days of the week. Alternating your work schedule is another great stress reducer. 

10. Vary your routine.  Try taking different routes to work, or different means of transportation.  Walk or ride your bike to work if it’s an option, or take a bus to let someone else drive for once.