Article 43

 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Altruistic Boomers

older-workers.jpg

Some Boomers retire to jobs that allow them to help others

By Richard Wolf
US Today
February 1, 2011

After college, Pat Daly wanted to “save the world” by working with children, but the money wasn’t there. So she went into investment banking, became a director of her firm and opened offices around the world, eventually earning in the “high six figures.”

Along the way, Daly got involved in philanthropy, took a course in fund raising and began to volunteer. When her job at Credit Suisse was eliminated in 2008, she chose to pursue a second career - working with kids.

Now 57, Daly is the New York regional director for an international robotics organization that promotes science and technology education. The job offers a much smaller salary but “huge satisfaction,” she says. “I have absolutely no interest in going back to corporate.”

Daly is part of the growing “encore careers” movement - an effort to match OLDER WORKERS who can’t or don’t want to retire with public service jobs that benefit society. The movement, begun in the late 1990s, has spawned non-profit groups and programs from Boston to Portland, Ore., aimed at helping older workers find new work. Many of the programs are run by people who have made the transition.

At a time when 77 million Baby Boomers ages 46-65 are moving toward traditional retirement age, analysts say the movement could grow exponentially in the coming decades. A 2008 survey by MetLife Foundation and Civic Ventures, a national think tank on boomers and work, found more than 5 million Americans in encore careers. Half of those ages 44-70 expressed interest in them.

Moving from one career to a more altruistic job late in life isn’t easy, however. Analysts say there aren’t enough of those jobs yet, the pay is usually low and employers often favor younger applicants.

Even so, several factors point to a surge in second careers, particularly of the giving-back variety:

· Many older workers can’t afford to retire. In Schenectady, N.Y., Elaine Santore runs a program that has helped about 600 elderly families stay in their homes, thanks to the help of other seniors. The 143 retired workers do housekeeping and maintenance and provide transportation and companionship.

“They’re making a little extra money, just enough to tide them over,” Santore says, referring to the $12-an-hour pay. “We provide them with the opportunity to do something meaningful.”

· Today’s job shortage may soon become a labor shortage. Unless those 55 and over stay in the work force longer, the nation could be short up to 5 million workers by 2018, says Barry Bluestone, dean of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University.

“We’re going to need all of them, plus all the immigrants,” Bluestone says. He volunteers with the Boys and Girls Club in his spare time, teaching 12-year-olds in inner-city Boston the marvels of math and statistics.

· Older workers are marketable. They have more skills, experience and stability than their younger competitors. In Chicago, Chris Campbell’s Executive Network Group helps downsized execs find volunteer opportunities in the non-profit world that can lead to new jobs.

“The opportunity to help other people and use my skill sets ... was very satisfying,” says Campbell, who was paid $250,000 annually as a marketing executive before joining the non-profit in 2008. Between that job, consulting, making furniture and rehabilitating apartments, he says, “I make half as much as I used to, but I enjoy it twice as much.”

· Boomers tend to be altruistic. Like Daly, many of those born between the World War II and Vietnam War years only deferred thoughts of saving the world in order to make a living. Now they want to return to their roots.

Gary Maxworthy emigrated from England in the 1960s and thought about joining the Peace Corps. Instead, he rose to become president of a food brokerage company, with a six-figure salary and a desire to “give back.”

In 1994, when he was 56, he joined the VISTA program as a $7,000-a-year food bank employee. Six years later, he founded the Farm to Family program, which last year delivered more than 100 million pounds of fresh produce to California food banks.

For all those reasons - economic, social, altruistic society must create more opportunities for boomers, says Laura Carstensen, director of the Stanford University Center on Longevity.

“The older people are, the more interested they are in doing something that is socially meaningful,” Carstensen says. Boomers “may be just the generation to make this change. Future generations will follow if we start.”

Returning to earlier ideals

The idea of second careers that help “save the world” grew out of older Americans’ involvement in community service. Federally funded programs such as Experience Corps, which puts volunteers 55 and over into public schools to help struggling students, motivated the tutors and mentors as much as the kids.

From that experience grew Civic Ventures, the leading national think tank promoting encore careers. Marc Freedman, its founder and CEO, sees its focus as a third, pre-retirement stage of life for people ages 55-80.

“People are hitting the reset button,” Freedman says. “There is a tremendous feeling of kind of returning to earlier ideals.”

Among the groups that have cropped up across the country, most run by people in encore careers themselves:

· Coming of Age, which began in Philadelphia and has expanded to five other cities, is led by former screenwriter Dick Goldberg. Seeking to use his writing skills in a more meaningful way, Goldberg, 63, had volunteered with the Anti-Defamation League, drafting sermons for rabbis to use on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur condemning global anti-Semitism.

“That was a little more satisfying than getting people to laugh when I wrote a Kate & Allie episode,” he says of his work on the 1980s sitcom.

· Transition Network, based in New York with 13 national chapters, targets women older than 50 with workshops and peer support. It’s led by Betsy Werley, 55, a former corporate lawyer and banker at JPMorgan Chase who took a severance package five years ago and decided it was time for a change ח and a 75% pay cut.

She left a company that employed 160,000 to become her current employer’s second hire. The experience, she says, “has been incredibly energizing and is a whole new lease on my professional life.”

· Discovering What’s Next, based in Newtonville, Mass., was founded by Caroline Greenfield to offer older workers a bridge from their first careers to retirement. “We really just wanted to change the view of aging from a liability to an asset,” she says.

One of her employees is Christine Osborne, 63, a former advertising copywriter and creative director who can recall the times when she stayed overnight at the office. “I had my big-chair job,” she says. Now, “part of the pay is feeling good about what you do.”

· Life By Design, based in Portland, Ore., was founded by Jay Bloom, who coined the term “returnment” as a giving-back alternative to retirement. Now in Hawaii, Bloom, 59, is a 30-year veteran of non-profits who coaches people on “vital aging.”

“Unless you’re engaged in your later years, you’re just dying longer; you’re not living longer,” he says.
Negotiating the hurdles

Once older workers decide to make the transition, they face a maze of potential obstacles as well as opportunities.

About one in four people older than 50 moves into a new line of work, but the attraction usually is fewer hours and responsibilities, says Richard Johnson, a retirement expert at the Urban Institute.

“How many of these fulfilling, socially useful jobs are there? And are there people willing to pay you to do this type of work?” Johnson says. “I’m skeptical about the notion that a lot of people can really donate their time for the public good in their 50s and 60s.”

Older workers also face the daunting prospect of convincing employers that they’re still up to the job. “The person interviewing you is going to be about 30, 32, and they’re going to see their mother when they see someone 50, 55 walking in the door,” says Karen Shimada, executive director of Life By Design. She says older workers should take community college courses or get trained in “transferrable skills.”

While older adults want to continue working, “the world hasn’t caught up with what they might have to offer and how to help them offer it,” says Jackie James, research director at the Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College.

One way to start, experts say, is by volunteering sometimes for a minimal stipend. Federal programs such as Senior Corps provide opportunities for hundreds of thousands of older workers and retirees.

An example is Experience Corps, run by Lester Strong, a former local television anchor in Boston, New York, Charlotte and Atlanta for 25 years, who launched a second career in non-profits. He ran a foundation for yoga and meditation in Upstate New York, then a non-profit for struggling elementary school children in Boston.

“I felt that there was more I wanted, needed to do, that there were skills and interests that I had that had not been cultivated,” Strong, 62, says.

ReServe, a New York-based program that gets federal support, pays $10-an-hour stipends to adults over 55 who work at non-profits. Its workforce of about 400 people had been mostly in their 60s and 70s, but “with the change in the economy, our median age is getting younger,” says communications manager Jesse Dean.

The federal government offers another option for boomers. Its workers’ average age is 47, and 150,000 leave each year, says Max Stier, president of the Partnership for Public Service.

“The federal government’s a one-stop shop for Baby Boomers who want to give back,” he says. “From astronomer to zoologist, the federal work force has it all.”

Growing numbers of non-profits also are reaching out to older workers. At the Rochester, N.Y., YMCA, the effort began with a “silver sneakers” program to encourage seniors to exercise. Then the Y recruited many of them to work, usually part-time.

“They have the least amount of sick time and injury,” says Fernan Cepero, the organization’s vice president of human resources. “They’re here, like the postman, through all types of weather.”
‘Most important thing’

What binds many older workers together is the desire to work directly with people after careers that were more impersonal.

For Michael Schade, 66, that meant switching from the high-tech industry to a part-time job as executive director of the Watertown Community Foundation in Massachusetts, where he works with children, seniors, low-income residents and others.

“I was making six figures, and now I’m making five figures ח very low five figures,” Schade says. “Most of the time, I don’t even think about the money.”

For John Colligan, it meant leaving his building maintenance and security job at the American Bible Society in Manhattan after 40 years and finally using his English literature degree to teach English as a Second Language at a Queens public library.

“Now I’m dealing directly with people,” says Colligan, 62. “They need to know things like, ‘What’s an idiom?’ “

For Will O’Brien, it meant leaving the computer industry after more than a quarter-century and teaching environmental sustainability at Clark University in Wooster, Mass.

“I think it’s critical to leave the Earth in as good a shape or better shape than when we found it,” says O’Brien, 68. “I genuinely believe this is the most important thing I’ve done.”

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 02/15/11 •
Section Dealing with Layoff
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Happy Workplace

What Makes a Happy Workplace?

By Pamela Gardapee
eHow

Everyone wants to work in a positive and happy environment. No one wants to work at a job in which everyone is bickering and just putting in his or her time to get paid. If you work in a company that is just not a happy environment, maybe you can suggest a few changes to make a happy workplace.

Praise and Recognition

A happy workplace is one in which management and other employees recognize and offer praise to workers for their good work. An employee that does a good job and gets the job done correctly likes to hear some appreciation for his or her work and efforts. Without any recognition or praise, an employee doesn’t know if her work efforts are known or appreciated.

Materials and Equipment

When a company has the necessary equipment and materials to make a job easier to do, the employee can do his job more proficiently and correctly. A company that is constantly having down time because of outdated equipment or shabby materials will see a decrease in performance and employee morale.

Encouragement and Treatment

A happy workplace is one that offers words of encouragement to employees. How a company treats the employees will be reflected in their work. If a company treats employees with little regard, they have no motivation to complete the work. A company should treat each employee with respect and talk to that person as a person and not just as an employee.

Co-Workers and Friends

A workplace that has happy employees has some teamwork. Co-workers work together to complete projects and help each other. They form friendships that may spread to outside of work. The employee comes to work happy and leaves happy because she enjoys her job and her friends. However, some workplace friendships tend to ignore others in the workplace, and cliques are formed that can make others feel alienated. Happiness in the workplace should include everyone, not just a select few.

Room to Grow

Employees like to have something to look forward to in a workplace. If any employee feels as if she has no room to grow in the workplace, it can cause a lack of interest in the job and can affect production. Promotions aren’t the only way to grow in a company. Being in charge of a special group or the company picnic can make an employee feel as if she has room to grow.

SOURCE

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How To Create a Happy Workplace

By Kirsten Smith
How to Do Things

Is your company’s atmosphere helping you succeed or paving the road to failure? In these increasingly difficult economic times, an enjoyable office can translate into a competitive advantage for your business. Escalating workplace happiness can benefit a company with increased productivity, reduced turnover, and greater employee flexibility. Happy employees may be more likely to shift gears, take on additional responsibility, and do whatever is necessary to help you stay in business. A manager or business owner can do several things to facilitate an enjoyable business environment including:

Step 1

Communicate, communicate, communicate: Excellent, two-way communication is the cornerstone of a happy workplace. Employees feel valued when their ideas are heard and they are trusted with important or confidential information. From the bottom up, encourage opinions and suggestions, give employees a part in their own goal setting, and seek out any hidden challenges or frustrations so you can lend a hand. From the top down, communicate regularly and honestly about company direction, ideas under consideration, and changes taking place in the workplace.

Step 2

Exhibit confidence: Instill confidence and optimism within employees by portraying it yourself. A positive attitude can lead an employee to persevere and think creatively in challenging times. 

Step 3

Set high expectations: Believe that employees can grow and progress and encourage them to push themselves to reach new heights. If you believe in them, they will believe in themselves.

Step 4

Make goals attainable: Give employees what they need to obtain goals including suitable staffing, proper training, cross-departmental support, and necessary technology. Providing the proper tools will help employees achieve and aspire to improve.

Step 5

Reward exceptional performance: Recognize and reward employees who have achieved goals, put forth extraordinary efforts, and fostered a positive company environment. A suitable level of appreciation goes a long way in motivating employees to continue to do their best.

Step 6

Trust employees: Empower employees to think through important decisions on their own, providing the necessary mentoring and support along the way. An employee who plays an important role in the business is more likely to derive fulfillment and happiness from the job.

Step 7

Supply advancement opportunities: Offer education, training, and opportunities for advancement. Encourage employees to take on new skills and responsibilities to realize their desire for growth. Employees are often happier when they are developing and learning.

Step 8

Provide entertainment: Use and encourage humor, social activities outside of work, celebrations, and impromptu rewards for a job well done. Proactively make the workplace an amusing place to be so employees enjoy spending time there.

Step 9

Encourage life outside of work: A balanced employee who has time for friends, family, and outside interests can be much more dedicated and focused when at work. Be flexible with time when possible as long as the work is getting done. Get to know employees by taking an interest in their lives outside of work and value each of them as a person, not just as an employee.

It is up to business leaders and managers to create an enjoyable work culture that encourages communication, ideas, growth, and work-life balance. Taking a proactive role in cultivating this environment can result in a workplace that fulfills, motivates, and inspires employees each and every day. 

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 02/15/11 •
Section General Reading
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Friday, February 11, 2011

Toxic Workplace

What Is A Toxic Workplace?

Here’s one definition:

A workplace where there is total focus on the bottom-line and it’s leadership has forgotten that though the bottom line is important, far more important is our humanity, our human-ness, our spirit as individuals and as a collective.

It is a workplace that has not learned to balance the need for profits with concern about the heart and soul of its people.

How Do You Know A Workplace Is Toxic?

People go there to do what they feel they have to do (with minimum effort) in order to pick up their wage. They get the heck out of there as fast as they can (the most dangerous place to be is at the front door at finishing time) so they can go and be and do what it is that really excites and engages them.

Even organizations that look and feel like they are extremely successful: high profits, a charismatic and well-thought of CEO, brightness of future, its people say it’s a wonderful company to work in, can carry elements of TOXICITY.

Here Are Some Signs Of A Toxic Workplace

High Absenteeism (except for those too scared to take time off sick)

High Turnover (except for those that CAN’T FIND a new job)

Slovenly or poorly performed work

Turf wars and OTHER TYPES of conflict

Verbal or physical INTIMIDATION

Sexist or racist comments

Foul language

High workers compensation claims (except for those too afraid to file)

People not turning up to social functions (unless bullied by the boss to show up)

High number of personality conflicts

People refusing/avoiding overtime where before they were willing to pitch in

Sure, short-term organizations that have some of these symptoms may achieve results but it is unlikely they will become a great company that is still here in 100 years.

In the investigation into the Atlantis Shuttle Disaster in which seven people died it was stated ...

“the agency’s willingness to continue flying without fixing these problems is part of a failed organizational culture that must be fixed if the shuttle is to return safely to flight. NASA engineers, they say, are too willing to assume the best, in order to keep the shuttle flying and control costs” (Reported in the Orlando Sentinel 27/8/3)

Most of us work in environments that may not see such startling displays of the results of being a toxic workplace, however, the effects of toxicity are no less tragic to the day-to-day lives of the people who are living within them. It is insidious day-by-day soul death, rather than in-your-face instant physical death.

Many people have become, in their workplace, the living dead.

You have a responsibility both as corporate citizen and as an individual to do what you can to engage the heart and soul of the people you interact with each day.

It is your moral obligation to value human dignity and respect over the traditional bottom-line. Certainly profits are exceptionally important, but not more so than the people who are helping you to deliver them.

You may well be asking:

“Why should we bother with this stuff?

We’ve been doing okay for a lot of years”.

So to divert for a quick moment: “How did you get to work today?” Quite possibly it was by car. Why didn’t you use a horse and cart?

“What did you do last night when you wanted light in a room?” Did you flick a switch or light a candle? For hundreds and hundreds of years people used candles to light their way and horses to get them from Point A to Point B. So why don’t we still use them?

Simply because we have found newer and better ways. Once people have seen others read by flicking a light switch and being brightly illuminated - a candle is no longer good enough; Once they have seen someone get from Point A to Point B in 10 minutes vs 2 hours - a horse is no longer good enough.

The organizations that will survive in to the future are those that understand the need to respect and dignify the heart and soul of the people who work there. Organizations who give as much focus to human spirit and dignity as they do to the bottom-line. Why? Because the people who are entering organizations now demand that it be so.

In fact, you probably don’t have the choice to stick with the traditional toxic model. Gen Xers and Gen Ys will not allow you to go back to the traditional ‘candle’. They will expect to have the switch flicked. The baby-boomers are slowly moving from the workplace, and being replaced by the dot.comers. You have only a few years before your current business model, if it produces the signs of a toxic workplace, is no longer relevant.

Is it easy to change from being a toxic workplace to a high performance workplace?

Yes and No. But if you want people in your company who are filled with passion - and who stick around then you’d better get changing!

Besides, leading and participating in a non-toxic workplace is a much nicer. You spend at least 1/3rd of your life at work - and work certainly has a great impact on the rest of your life - so why not be a good leader implement the strategies and systems that help make work a passionate, energizing place to be.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 02/11/11 •
Section Dying America • Section Workplace
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Thursday, February 10, 2011

9% Unemployment Rate is a Statistical Lie

By Greg Hunter
USA Watchdog
February 7, 2011

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the latest unemployment figures last Friday. 

There was a stunning drop to 9% from 9.4%.  How did that happen?  Is the economy really getting better or is the government up to its old statistical tricks.  According to the mainstream media, the economy is getting better and the so-called recovery is alive and well.  Here’s how the Associated Press reported the story, The unemployment rate is suddenly sinking at the fastest pace in a half-century, falling to 9 percent from 9.8 percent in just two months the most encouraging sign for the job market since the recession ended.  More than half a million people found work in January. A government survey found weak hiring by big companies. But more people appear to be working for themselves or finding jobs at small businesses.  (Click HERE for the complete AP story.)

More than half a million people found work in January.  How?  The BLS reported there was only a tiny gain of 36,000 workers to the payrolls, and even that number is a statistical lie, according to economist John Williams of Shadowstats.com.  In his latest report (last Friday), Williams said, Incredibly, despite ongoing regular overstatement of payrolls by the BLS, the BLS appears to have upped, not lowered, the excessive biases in its latest rendition.  Without the higher bias, the reported January 2011 payroll gain of 36,000 would have been a decline of 52,000.

As for the big drop in the unemployment number down to 9%, you can credit that with something the BLS calls “seasonal adjustments.” The government takes into consideration things like cold weather and snow when it puts together unemployment figures.  Williams thinks these seasonal adjustments have been distorted by the dismal economy during the past few years.  Williams says, ... the extraordinary severity and duration of the economic duress in the United States during the last three to four years has destabilized traditional seasonal-factor adjustments and the related monthly reporting of certain economic series.  The unemployment rate rose in January 2011, not seasonally adjusted.  The 0.4% decline reported in the headline January unemployment rate appears to be a seasonal-factor issue.  In other words, seasonal adjustment jobs are created out of thin air and are not really there for people.  In reality, unemployment increased slightly.  It did not decrease.

While we are on the subject of reality, after one year, the unemployed are no longer counted in government statistics.  If unemployment was computed the way BLS did it prior to 1994, the true unemployment rate (according to Shadowstats.com) would be 22.2%.  I wonder why the mainstream media feels compelled to only do stories that support government statistics.  There is bona fide analysis that can show government numbers are rigged to make things look better than reality.

Yesterday, millions of Americans celebrated the unofficial holiday called the Super Bowl.  In closing, I would like to share part of a comment I received recently from a regular reader named Samantha.  She writes, “We are living in Roman circus-like times!  Keep the people entertained and they don’t have to THINK too much and certainly don’t have to notice the corrupt activities of our elected officials.” The Stupor Bowl is an intentional dumbing down of our society.  Things are a lot worse than the government would like the public to know.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 02/10/11 •
Section Dying America
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