We need a four day week!

How many people today are aware of the reason behind the Labour Day holiday known as Eight Hours Day in Tasmania and MayDay in Tasmania? As recorded in https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/australia/labour-day ‘During the mid to late 1800s the working day was long and arduous, where some employees would work up to 12 hours a day, six days a week.’ From 1856 to 1873 with the action of Australian workers, agreements were made around the country to win an 8 hour work day (48 over a week) and marches to celebrate this improvement to workers lifestyles and work hours have been held ever since on Labour Day.

However it is now 2019, 150 years later and what progress have we really made? How many are still working 48 hours a week, maybe more hours than 48?

As a semi retired person I have time to reflect and do all the things that I was not able to do in full time work. I am healthier, more energetic, enjoy many varied pursuits, can take long weekends, enjoy travel. I believe consequently I have better social and emotional health than ever before. On the flip side I see younger people trying to balance work, families, friends, health and struggling and business and industry floundering.

Isn’t it time that we came a lot smarter as a society to manage our workforce. Imagine how a 4 day week would work? I know there are some forward thinking employers who are already trying this with good results. But let’s imagine if the normal for full time work was 4 days!

Benefits for workers – obviously more personal time, time to consider and prepare healthier food habits, time for exercise, more time with family and friends, opportunities to do things that give them more pleasure if their work does not satisfy them, time to volunteer and contribute to the community.

Benefits for employers – less sick days and employees should have better social and emotional health. Less tension and stress in the workplace, more harmonious employee relationships.

Benefits for society and the economy – more people in work so less unemployment benefits and social problems associated with unemployment, infrastructure like roads and public transport managed better since people have staggered work hours, childcare places more available and flexible as parent’s hours of work decrease so reduced funding to childcare, health system released from massive costs associated with physical and emotional illnesses caused by working too much or unemployment, the dwindling volunteer ‘army’ required to operate schools (canteens, reading support, maintenance working bees etc) and sporting clubs would be boosted as workers had greater availability and in a better ‘headspace’ to help out.

The ‘elephant in the room’ is of course how do we pay for this?! Working 4 days would see a drop in pay but with changing tax scales this could be minimised. Industry savings due to a more reliable healthier workforce should allow some pay increases to offset this. Government savings in healthcare and childcare could be given back in tax cuts to employees.

I am not an economist however in the 21st century I believe it is imperative that we consider changes to our traditional work styles that are based on an industrialised society of 100 years ago. We have new social problems caused by unemployment and underemployment of some, and the high expectations and overemployment of others. It is time that government and industry work together and become creative and innovative to meet the current and future needs of workers and families, our most precious resource. A four day week would be a good start!

2018 – small changes to lead to big successes

Over the next few days much will be written about New Year resolutions and how to be a better you in 2018. Many people start the year with new ideals and new year resolutions that usually just end up in disappointments and another example to them of why ‘ I am no good!’.

I believe the new year is a great opportunity to make a fresh start but it has to be done very carefully not to actually put you back even further in your quest to lead a more satisfying life. The key is to think small so that you can make and achieve a small change that becomes the foundation of more smaller changes leading to ultimately a big change overall. Once you have made a small change and it becomes part of your normal routine flushed with this success you can add another change…….and so it goes!

Lets look at some examples. Many of us want to make changes in Health, Relationships and Career so lets look at these three.

  1. Health – forget taking out the new expensive Health Club membership that you will probably forget about the first week or two! Think about one thing that is really getting in the way of your health. Is it too many drinks after work? Is it the sugar fix you crave in the afternoon? Is it being unable to get of the couch? Once you have identified one thing make your plan to change that. Maybe it is to have some alcohol free days? Maybe you need to take some savory snacks with you to work or wherever  you are tempted by the cake shops? Maybe park the car further away so you have to walk that bit further to and from work to add that little bit of exercise to your day?
  2. Relationships – maybe it is with your kids or your partner that you feel things could be better. Once again try and focus on the root of the problem.
  • Is it that terrible drama about the messy bedroom that starts the arguments with the kids?
  • Is it a friend that keeps interfering with the relationship you have with your partner?
  • Is there an annoying habit that you or your partner has that seems to set things off?
  • Think logically about this and see where you can make a small change to minimise this issue. Maybe rearrange the kids bedroom with them so that it is easier for them to keep tidy, maybe just expect that one day a week it will be tidied up together , the rest of the time ignore it! Maybe a frank discussion with partner or friend to make a truce!

3. Career – this is the one where I am probably best qualified to give some ideas! Not happy at your current work? Don’t have a job or enough hours? Current work is poorly paid or not challenging or too stressful or you don’t like the other staff or don’t like the management or you think they don’t like you? There are many reasons why we can feel frustrated at work.

Often a change of attitude towards work can make a big difference and this can be a small change that can easily pick up speed. Think about your own attitude and see where you can change – what if you put in more effort? what if you didn’t take work home with you? what if you had a friendly but firm discussion with whoever is troubling you or in a position to change the work and/or the work environment? what if you smiled more? what if you got to work a little earlier each day so you could start in a good frame of mind? I am sure you can think of other small changes that might improve the day to day.

But then maybe a bigger change is necessary  – like a different job, a promotion, a total career change so what are the small changes you can make to build towards that big change? Start putting together all your previous experience and skills into a draft resume, even if you may need professional resume help later by thinking through what you have done and putting information together you can save a lot of time and money later. Start talking to people in other jobs – what do they do, what do they like or not like about that job? Research the many careers website – www.myfuture.edu.au Consider some vocational testing to see what your top abilities are and how they may be best used. Go to Career Expos and talk to trainers, educators and other employment agencies. Locate a career professional and arrange an appointment.

All these small actions can not only lead you on to more and more changes they will give you a feeling of success as you achieve some practical changes. You are taking charge of your journey through life not letting it take you!

May you make some small but amazing changes in 2018 that will really impact on your future and lead to amazing big changes!!

Enid Stein

Careers Practitioner

Year 12 is done – so what now?!!

Many Year 12 students and parents are probably asking this questions right now. Unemployment statistics for the West of Melbourne are the highest in the state at 9% according to the Department of Employment, September 2017 more details

It is reasonable to be concerned about the future of those just trying to enter the workforce. What we do know is that those with Year 12 or higher are in a better position to gain employment. So having completed year 12 is a tick!

But now you have an ATAR what are the options for a University course? It might be sobering to know that GOING to university does not necessarily guarantee you a job, and some of Australia’s best universities have the worst employment outcomes for graduates. New data released by the Good Universities Guide reveals about 30 per cent of undergraduates left university without any job prospects and were struggling to make inroads into the competitive job market.

Some key questions are an important part of your research before choosing a course. What are the employment prospects? What programs/ opportunities are there during the course to be exposed to the workforce and network with future employers?

Consider that some industries are declining in employment growth and others are likely to show strong growth. ‘Health Care and Social Assistance is projected to make the largest contribution to employment growth (increasing by 250,500), followed by Professional, Scientific and Technical Services (126,400), Construction (120,700) and Education and Training (116,200). Together, these four industries are projected to provide 61.5 per cent of total employment growth over the five years to May 2022.’ according to government statistics Sept 2017.

Think carefully before embarking on an expensive degree program, a shorter course at TAFE (Diploma or Certificate) to give you an insight into an industry can be a great pathway. If you are not passionate about a career area or course consider taking a Gap Year and try to get some real work- paid or volunteer to clarify your interests. Consider a trade qualification, a growing number of government infrastructure projects like the Rail Link are employing. more information

Talk to a school, university or private careers adviser to assist with what is best for you. It may well save you expense and disappointments in the future.

Enid Stein, Private Careers Practitioner enid@careersadvice.com.au

Work life balance

‘Work life balance’ is a term that is a bit of a buzz phrase these days. And while everyone seems to think it is a great idea very few are able to get that balance right. Lets look at worklife balance from a different perspective. Undoubtedly our life at work and our actual life impact on each other. Consider this though how much does our happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment come from our work and from our life? If one is going well more than likely so is the other. It is impossible not to have one influence the other. For example, had a bad nights sleep, a tiff with the partner or the kids it is very likely that our work performance and attitude is going to be detrimentally affected by this. Similarly a bad day at work is likely to impact on our relationships and state of mind when we get home.

Think about work life balance as your ability to separate the two activities in your life – work vs home/self! So the trick is to try and keep the two separate. If we allow one to over influence the other then our life overall is going to spiral down. Switch off from work physically, electronically and emotionally as soon as you leave. If you do work from home keep it within a set number of hours. When you work or are at work make this your 100% focus. You will be more productive and efficient and then able to get on with the life part outside these hours unencumbered by work issues. Will take some practice to compartmentalize the work from the life but in the end it will improve your work life balance.

Interested to hear from others on how they maintain a good work life balance in this competitive environment.

I don’t like my job!

How many times has someone said that to you or how often have you said that yourself? The usual reaction or response is to try and find another job however a more realistic option and satisfying option may simply be to change your attitude, change your viewpoint to your current job.

The reality is we cannot change a lot of things that happen around us but we CAN change the way we respond to them. Think about how this may apply to your work situation.

Common situations that cause unhappiness at work and how to change them!

  1. The boss ( or other colleagues) are difficult – they don’t like me! they expect me to do everything! they are never satisfied with what I do!

TACTICS – first thing to acknowledge is that this is actually not personal even though it can feel like it. It will only become personal if you react emotionally. Be open and honest with the person causing you grief and explain that you are wanting to do better and how could they help you do this. This will often diffuse the situation and open more effective lines of communication.

2.  Hours of work  – The hours are too long, start too early, work too late!

TACTICS – analyse the reason behind the hours. Is it that you must be at work these hours? Is it because there is too much work to do in the allocated time? Are you work practices efficient? First thing is to make sure you are being as efficient as possible. Maybe consider doing a time management course – look at things like use of emails, time spent with customers/other staff/ coffee breaks. Keep a record of time spent on different tasks and see where the time is going. Sometimes with greater efficiency you can negotiate your work hours accordingly.

3. Travel stress – does it take you too long to get to and from work?

TACTICS – look at all the travel options. Could you car pool? take public transport? adjust start and finish times to avoid peak travel times? Consider negotiating some work from home options sometimes.

4. Nature of work – too challenging? too boring?

TACTICS – what are the options in your workplace to change or adapt your role to make is more or less challenging? Consider enrolling in a course that will develop your skills and knowledge to help you in your current job or prepare you for the next step. Talk to your supervisor about your concerns and goals!

It is good to talk to a friend, a colleague or a career counsellor to help you work through your options. Life is too short to be in a job your hate!