10 Best Employers for Work-Life Balance in 2010

best employer for work-life balance

Is your company one of the 10 best employers for work-life balance?

Fortune recently released their list of the top 100 companies in America to work for.  Included in that list were the top 10 Best Employers for Work-Life Balance.  According to Fortune, “These are the companies where employees feel encouraged to balance their work and personal life.”

Best Employers for Work-Life Balance

Here’s the list of the 10 best companies for work-life balance, ranked from 1-10. The number in parenthesis to the right of each company’s name is their ranking as part of the 100 best companies to work for.
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Sometimes, it Pays to Work for Free

Yesterday, I shared Four Things You Can Do TODAY to Help You Find the Work You Love in a Down Economy. They are:

  1. Build Your Personal Network
  2. Volunteer for a Cause or Organization You Care About
  3. Take a Good Look at Yourself
  4. Start that Business You’ve Always Wanted

I mentioned in that post that one of the best ways to change your life, and career, is to volunteer for a cause or organization that you care about.

This is a great strategy for those who are unemployed or under-employed, because it helps you build your personal network, allows you to immediately use your skills (or learn new ones), helps you to immediately live your passions, and if you’ve been out of work for a long time, gives you a boost in your self-esteem.

And…it just MIGHT lead to a job with the organization you’re serving with.  That has happened to me on four occasions.

The first time happened when I was a university student.  It was my senior year and I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do, after graduation, with my degree in political science.  One day, I read in the newspaper about an organization in our community that had world-wide influence.  It was involved in public policy, economics, and freedom from a religious perspective – all topics that interested me as a student of political science.

I contacted them to ask if they had any internship opportunities.  I came in for an interview and was “hired” to begin working or them once or twice a week.  That was in January.  By April, with graduation approaching, they offered me a full-time position.  The internship was great because it gave both them and me a no-cost, or low-cost (they didn’t pay me a salary, but they did buy my lunch!) opportunity to get to know each other.  And it gave me the opportunity to prove my worth to the organization.

Three years later, while still working for that same organization, I began volunteering once every two weeks with an organization I learned about at church.  This group was involved in crisis intervention for mentally-ill homeless people in our community – people who, through no fault of their own, had “fallen through the cracks” of our community social service system and were living in abandoned buildings, along the railroad tracks, under loading docks and bridges.  After two months of volunteering with this organization every couple of weeks, I felt it was time to make a career move in order to work with them full-time.  This was a huge commitment because I had to raise my own funds in order to work with them.

Three years later, while still working for this organization, I began helping our church develop financial management, job training, counseling, and other programs to help low-income people in the church’s rapidly changing neighborhood.  Eventually, this led to a full-time position at the church.

Seven years later, while still working for the church, I was invited to serve on the board of directors of an organization that was involved in leadership development and economic and community development in indigenous Native communities in the U.S. and Canada.  A few years later, I was hired as the group’s executive director.

Is my situation unique?  Maybe.  But it does illustrates the power of volunteering to help you find the work you love:

  1. It allows the organization to achieve its goals through your experience.
  2. It allows you to make a difference and do what you love.
  3. It opens up doors of opportunity, either directly as in my case, or indirectly by putting you in contact with people who can be on the look-out for the position that is right for you.  This is especially important even if you have no desire to work for a nonprofit organization.  If you want to work in the corporate world, chances are good that the people you need to connect with are involved as volunteers or members at your local community, civic, charitable, and arts organizations.

Has anyone else out there secured a job, either directly or indirectly, through volunteering?  Please share your experience.

How to Find the Work You Love – Even in a Down Economy

In today’s economy, most people who are employed are glad to have ANY job – even if it is one they hate or feel unfulfilled in.  Because having ANY job is better than having NO job, right?

If this describes you, do you just resolve yourself to wait until the economy gets better before making a career switch?  Or is there something you can do now – TODAY – to find the work you love?

And if you’re unemployed right now, do you just take ANY job that comes your way, or can you really find your dream job in today’s environment?

Here are Four Things You Can Do TODAY to Help You Find the Work You Love in a Down Economy – whether you’re currently working or not:

1.  Build Your Personal Network – Today, with all the social networking websites like Facebook and MySpace, it is easier than ever to build your personal network.  That old roommate from college, whom you haven’t talked to in 15 years, just may know someone who has open positions that you’re looking for.

I’m not sure if it is still true today, but a few years ago, I read that only 12% of the jobs that are available are advertised.  The rest are promoted, and found, by word-of-mouth.  I know that’s been true in my own life.  Several of my previous jobs were not advertised.  In fact, some were created just for me.  I’ll tell you more about that another time.

So take the time to connect with old friends and acquaintances.  Let people know what kind of job you’re looking for.  Chances are, someone you know knows someone who is looking for you!  In fact, I just called a friend a few days ago to ask if they knew of anyone who could do some work for me.  They immediately had a person in mind, and I connected with them right away.

2.  Volunteer for a Cause or Organization You Care About – If you’re unemployed, or under-employed, a great way to build your network, use your skills (or learn new ones), live your passions, and find your dream job, is to volunteer for an organization or cause that you care about.

It could be your place of worship, a community or civic group, or another non-profit or non-governmental organization.  There’s always a chance that you might be hired by the organization you’re volunteering for.  That has happened to me on four occasions!

But even if that doesn’t happen for you, you’re now in a place where you’re doing what you love for a cause you care about.  You feel good about yourself and have a renewed sense of energy, making it easier for you to do the job that pays the bills, but you’re not so excited about.  And you’re meeting interesting people and building your network of connections.

3.  Take a Good Look at Yourself – Now is a great time for a little self-assessment.  What are your unique skills and abilities?  What are your personality traits?  What are your values, dreams, and passions?

Taking the time to know who you are and what you want out of life will help you in every aspect of your life – not just your career search.  Don’t make the mistake of just settling for the job you went to school for (if you don’t like it anymore), or the one you thought would pay the most money.  There is no lasting fulfillment in that.

Check out my Ten Pillars of Lifestyle Design for strategies to help you assess your current reality, identify your skills, abilities, and personality traits, and clarify your values, dreams and passions.

4.  Start that Business You’ve Always Wanted – If you’ve aspired to start your own business someday, either full or part-time, that someday is TODAY!  It has never been easier to start something small and grow it big…whether it be retail sales, consulting, Internet sales, services like cleaning or cooking, etc.  Lots of websites offer help in how to do this.  Even the government does, through the Small Business Administration.

Which one of these tips, to help you find the work you love, have you tried?  Or which one sounds like something you want to do? Why or why not?

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3 Ways to Keep Your Resume Off the Pile of Death

The last few posts here at Life Compass have been career-related, and the next few will continue on that theme. This might seem curious for some readers who are used to other “lifestyle design” sites that mostly talk about how to be independently wealthy, live like a rockstar and travel the world.

Don’t worry – if that’s your dream, we’ll cover topics that’ll help you get there…like how to start your own business full or part-time, and how to take bold action to achieve your dreams.

But for many, their dream life isn’t about self-employment necessarily, but about doing the work they love and creating more balance, freedom, and fulfillment in their life and work.  For many, their lifestyle design plan may include switching jobs or careers.  So that is a topic that we’ll definitely talk about here, too.

A friend mine at FreeMoneyFinance recently shared some tips on the best techniques for writing a resume.  His post, and the comments that followed, got me thinking about a bigger question related to resumes:

How to get your resume noticed, and how to keep it from ending up on the “resume pile of death” with the other 500 resumes the company has just received.

One thing that will set you apart from the others is creativity in how you deliver or package your resume.

Here are three creative tips to get your resume opened first:

  1. Send it via Priority Mail or FedEx. Sure it’ll cost you more, but your resume will get attention immediately.
  2. Send it in a unique package – one that fits the industry or company, somehow relates to a benefit you’ll bring to the company, or creatively expresses the reasons why you want to work for them.  This won’t apply to everyone, but if it does for you, use it.  For example, if you’re applying to a food service company, send your resume in one of their food containers (clean, preferably!), and put a “new and improved” banner across the top.
  3. Send it in an oversized package, or put something “lumpy” in the package. Lumpy mail creates intrigue.  (And sadly, in today’s environment, it can also create fear – so I’d stay away from using any white, powdery substances!)  You might include a few mints and a note that says, “I know some job candidates can leave a bad taste in your mouth during the hiring process, but I won’t.  Here’s why….”  Then list three bullet points on why they’ll want to talk to you.

It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway…you can get as creative as you want in getting your resume at the top of the heap – and these techniques will certainly help…but once that door is open, you’ve got to be prepared for a great interview by phone or in person.  If you missed yesterday’s post on How to Get a Competitive Edge at Your Next Job Interview, click here.

Do you have any other ideas on how to get your resume opened first?  Please share your comments.

Four Ways to Take Your Job from Ordinary to Extraordinary

This week, I’m doing my civic duty by serving on a jury in my local court system. The juror parking area is about a mile away from the courthouse. So I’m supposed to arrive by a certain time each morning, park in the appointed lot, and hop on the free shuttle bus to the courthouse.

On Monday, I was expecting an ordinary ride on the bus to the courthouse, but was treated to an extraordinary one instead. The bus driver, who drives the same bus on the same route, day in and day out, made the ride a fun and interesting experience for us all.

First, he greeted everyone warmly and with a great big smile.  He made us feel special and he brightened our day.

Second, he made up some kind of poetic rhyme as he announced each bus stop (there were two stops before I got off at the courthouse). Each time he performed his song-song routine, everyone chuckled.

Third, when passengers exited the bus, he yelled out a hearty “Thanks for riding, and have a great day!”

When I got off the bus, several other passengers remarked about how funny the driver was, and how he took his otherwise ordinary (if not boring) job and made it an extraordinary experience for himself and everyone else.

Later, while we were all waiting to see if we’d be selected to hear a case (I was), I couldn’t help but think about my experience on the bus.

I came up with four ways in which we all can take our jobs, no matter how mundane, boring, or “dead-end,” from the ordinary to the extraordinary:

  1. Make it fun. Find some way to liven things up a bit and make it more enjoyable for your co-workers and customers.  If you’re limited in what you can do to make it fun for everyone, find a way to at least make your job more fun for yourself.  Maybe you can try a practical joke every now and then (on the right people at the right time), or  bring in donuts or bagels.  Maybe you can decorate your work space, add some pizazz to your personal dress style, or enlist your co-workers in a charitable cause you believe in.  Regardless of the job or the boss, I believe everyone can find some way to make their job a little more fun.
  2. Make it memorable.  Find a way to leave your mark.  Think of something positive that you want to be known for – and make it your personal trademark or brand.  Maybe it’s gag gifts of appreciation that you give out when someone ought to be thanked or rewarded.  Or maybe a certain positive action you do or a saying that you want to be known for.  Maybe it is a special theme tie or outfit that you wear at holiday times.  Or perhaps you simply focus on being a better listener and being fully present when others have something to say.
  3. Ask “What can I learn”.  Even in “dead-end” jobs, we can all find something to learn.  So keep your eyes open for things you’d like to learn or ways you want to improve.  Who is one person you’d like to learn from?  Ask them.  You can easily find one new thing to learn each week.  In no time, you’ll increase your marketable skills, add value to your company, and grow in your personal relationship network.
  4. Ask “Who can I help”.  There’s probably someone at work – a fellow employee, boss, or customer, who needs something from you.  Maybe it is a word of encouragement or praise, maybe it’s a tip or suggestion, or perhaps you have some special skills or abilities that others would like to develop.  Take a good look around you.  Pay attention to what’s going on.  Find someone you can serve or help today.

I believe everyone can do something to take their job from the ordinary to the extraordinary.  Give it a try.  It just might change you.  It just might change your work place.

What do you think?  And does anyone have any other tips or ideas to share?

Is Your Job a Gift From God?

On Sundays, I write on Spirituality, Faith and Ethics.  Click here to read why.

A few years ago, I heard Marcus Buckingham, one of Gallup’s lead researchers and author of Now Discover Your Strengths, speak at a conference.  He said something that absolutely floored me:

80% of Americans feel unhappy and unfulfilled in their work.

That number, he said, was up from 70% a few years before!  My mouth dropped open when I heard the news!  I had no idea.

Could it really be true that eight out of ten men and women, maybe even you, work at a meaningless job that doesn’t match their purpose and calling in life?  Sadly, it was true.

And then a thought came to mind – actually, it was a verse of scripture – that really gave me something to think about!

That each person finds pleasure in his work…this is a gift from God. – Ecclesiastes 3:13

These were the words of Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived.  I sat and thought about the verse for a few minutes, and then I asked myself,

How is it that God intends for each person to find pleasure and meaning in his or her work…and yet only 20% of Americans actually do.  Is God really playing a cruel trick on the other 80% who don’t find pleasure in their work?  Or are they missing something somewhere?”

Later, I had an “A-ha” moment and wondered if the key to the whole thing was the word “gift”?  What if God does give each of us meaningful and pleasurable work as a gift…but few people ever take the time to look for the gift or to receive it?”

After all, someone may give me a gift by placing it under the Christmas tree.  But that gift isn’t really mine until I look under the tree, find the gift, pick it up, shake it, open it, and eventually use it.

That’s just the way it is, I believe, with our work, if we see it as a gift from God.  I believe God gives each of us a calling in life and work we’re meant to do.  But He doesn’t often make it so plain for us to see, does He?  We don’t typically hear a declaration from heaven saying, “John Smith, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to…”  Life sure would be simpler if He did!

Instead, He wraps up our calling like a gift and places it inside of us.  Then it is up to us to unwrap the gift and discover it for ourselves.

How do we do that?  You can learn how by reading the post Ten Pillars of Lifestyle Design – #3 “Clarify Your Life Purpose”.

So, let me ask you, friend…Does your job feel like a gift – or is it more like a curse?  Do you find satisfaction and fulfillment in your life and work?  Are you at peace with who you are and what you do for a living?

If not – Do something about it!  Don’t waste another minute working a job that isn’t fulfilling.  Life is too short!  Keep reading, because the purpose of this Life Compass site is to help you achieve your dreams and find more freedom, purpose and fulfillment in your life and work!