Bring It On, 2019!

One thing that I’ve noticed over the years is that we always tend to give up on ourselves towards the end of the year. You start to see the social media posts in late summer/early fall where people will say, “maybe next year will be better.” Then when January gets here, we say “this will be our year;” it happens every year though. What I want to know is what exactly constitutes “my year?” A marriage? A baby? A new job? Something more devastating like a death of someone close to you that really makes you reevaluate life? And why is it that we blame our experiences for making the whole year bad, or good for that matter. But seldom do we hear, “this was my year!” Well, I can’t actually say 2018 was “my year” because again, I don’t know what is supposed to make that year mine, but I can say that a lot of great things happened in 2018. I came up with a handful of professional and personal experiences that I consider building blocks (or bricks as I’ll refer to them later) that shaped my 2018 and prepared me to face 2019 head on.  

I was accepted onto the SHRM Young Professional Advisory Council (YPAC) in December 2017 for a 2018 volunteer role. I was ecstatic because it was something I had dreamed about for several years. Little did I know that my role would lead me to so many things beyond my wildest imagination. 35549954_10156444150948523_5918989873380851712_oI started participating in Twitter chats like #nextchat and #HRSocialHour because I was going to be hosting #nextchat on behalf of the YPAC. I started connecting with professionals from the #HRTribe that I had never met, but I was excited to get to know. I had an opportunity to meet a lot these fantastic people when I attended #SHRM18 in Chicago, and it was like one big family. The connections I made there were invaluable. I was invited to record a podcast with the hosts of the HR Social Hour, Wendy and Jon. And later in the year, I was invited to be on an episode of HR Talk with Ricky Baez and JC Connors. My role on the YPAC also led me to becoming a regular SHRM Blog contributor and to co-hosting a weekly blog with my friend Lorena called “The Future of HR.” Who knew that one volunteer role would cause such a positive trickle-down effect.

Although my professional life revolves around a lot of volunteer work, it’s not my entire professional life. I do have a paid day job that I spend a lot of time at. In late 2018, my world there got turned upside down when I found out my company was being acquired and merged with three other companies. I had no idea what this would mean for my future at that company, but I was excited for the opportunities. There have been a lot of changes, and I’ve been pretty much non-stopped for the past four months, but I’m learning a lot. I feel pretty blessed to be a young HR pro experiencing what I’ve been through over the last couple of years.  

29214917_10156197032783523_975679860842168320_n.jpgOn a more personal level, I experienced a handful of things that made a huge impact on my year. While they don’t all feed back into one core experience, they all helped me prepare for what lies ahead. After losing my cat Roxi in November 2017, I didn’t think I’d be ready to adopt any more cats for a while. But I was introduced to two beautiful cats in December 2017 that I ended up adopting in January 2018. They are Zellie & Draco. Zellie was four years old and is the mother to Draco, who was not quite three months old at the time. I didn’t know it then, but they would become my everything. I got to take them on vacation with me in October. We took a 5-hour drive to Hilton Head where we met my parents for a wonderful week at the beach. My visits with my parents were a little different this year; different isn’t bad either. When I was home (West Virginia) for Christmas 2017, I basically said I was only coming home in the summer from now on. So, I took a trip home over the 4th of July weekend, and that was it. I spent that week with my parents in South Carolina and then they came down to Florida for a week right before Christmas. Let me tell you, it was a nice visit and we had a great time. But not being home / with my parents on Christmas, was so weird! As much as I dislike snow, I will most likely have many more Christmases in West Virginia; now I just gotta figure out how to get those kitties to go with me!

The last truly impactful thing that occurred in 2018 was when I found out about my Diabetes. It was hard to take in when I first found out. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I needed to do to be healthier. I decided to give up an amazing opportunity I had been given to be on the HR Florida Conference Committee; trust me – that was a very difficult decision for me. I am the type of person that says yes to everything and I tend to put others first. But the Diabetes was a wake-up call and I realized that 2019 was going to be about putting myself and my health first.

I’m truly excited to see what 2019 brings. My 2018 experiences continued laying the bricks on top of an already established foundation. They helped me prepare for what is next to come and gave me some things to look forward to. Recently Michelle Kohlhof, a member of the #HRTribe, wrote a blog on what her words to live by in 2019 would be and it opened the doors to a great conversation. It got me thinking and I decided my four words for 2019 are strength, connect, cherish, and presence.

  • Strength: because I want to become healthier and be around for a long time to come.
  • Connect: because I want to continue networking and growing my network.
  • Cherish: because we all deserve to be loved and cherish and I have a lot of love to share; especially with my newest non-biological nephew born on New Years Day.
  • Presence: because I need to make time for myself and be present in all that I do.

Bring it on, 2019!

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New Year New Goals

new year new youHappy New Year everyone! I am so happy to be back, I really missed writing but the month of December was a bit hectic with the Holiday stuff at work, GOSHRM, and of course my loved ones.  So we recently started a new year and as usual, we create goals for the year.  Some goals we give up way before we’re a few months in the year, especially when we realize they were harder than we thought. It has happened to me in the past. Last year was a bit different for me, I was able to achieve a health-related goal as well as a professional goal. This year I wanted to share a few professionals goals I have tried throughout the years, they might seem simple at first but they can be game changers if done right.

Read a Motivational Book, or two or three: 

I love reading but I don’t necessarily dedicate the sufficient time to read as much as I used to.  I usually blame Netflix and Hulu, but the reality is I am my own obstacle.  Which is why this year I am cutting down on the tv shows and making sure I can read a few books.  I love to read fiction but I have so many book recommendations from my HR friends that I have decided I will at least read 3 career-related books this year.

Learn a New Skill: 

I am not necessarily talking about an instrument class or a hobby per se, but talk to your work peers and see what they do that you want to learn.  Yes, you might be doing more work for the same amount of pay but this skill can be the boost for your promotion or a new job altogether.  Your job isn’t big on cross training? Then talk to peers and see what conference or workshop is worth paying for.   Remember the best way to invest in yourself is through learning; nobody can take away what you learned.

Constantly Update Your Resume:

Have you updated your resume since you got your current job?  Or maybe you already have your current job listed in your resume but you haven’t added any of your newer projects.  Make sure you make the time to periodically check your resume.  That way if an opportunity arises out of nowhere you don’t feel the stress to have to update that resume literally at the last minute.

Join a Professional Organization:

These are essential for learning and networking purposes.  I got my first job in HR through networking and keep my credentials up to date by going to monthly meetings.  If you’re already part of a professional organization find a way to participate more actively in it if that isn’t your thing push yourself to go to meetings at least once a quarter if possible.  Trust me you won’t regret it.

Volunteer:

This can be done through a professional organization, but if that isn’t your thing check out local colleges and churches. They tend to need volunteers for mock interviews, resume reviewing, or give classes on skills you can offer them. There are a lot of job seekers out there who need your help.

Do Good:

If none of these goals are things you care about or want to accomplish, at least try and do good in general.  Be kind to those coworkers who annoy you, they might be going through something which makes them act in certain ways.  Don’t engage in office gossip especially if it is at other people’s expense.  Whenever you can help lighten someone’s load, they will appreciate it so much.

Just remember that not all resolutions have to be a huge goal, sometimes just changing small things in your day-to-day can make your work more bearable and can prepare you for future opportunities.

What I Learned While Traveling in Ecuador

Those who know me know that I love traveling. Whether I do it locally, nationally or internationally.  I enjoy the romantic feeling of being in a place I have never visited before and taking it all in, breathing the air, looking at my surroundings, studying the people around me and what they are doing, and of course keeping my eye open for restaurants and food stands so I can also “taste” the culture.  This year I decided to make an extension to the Thanksgiving Holiday and take some time off to visit Ecuador, the country where my boyfriend is from, because of a wedding we were invited to.  I had the opportunity to visit three cities in Ecuador: Cuenca, Guayaquil, and Salinas.  Each one of these cities is very different from one another but the people’s hospitality and warmth was a common theme in each of them.cuenca

Cuenca is known as “La Ciudad de las Flores” or the city of the flowers.  You would see the prettiest and most colorful flowers around town.  The buildings downtown are a Spanish Colonial style that has been conserved since Spain invaded the country.  In Cuenca, people live a very relaxed and simple lifestyle.  A lot of residents are shop or restaurant owners; you do not see a lot of chain stores and the few you do see are Ecuadorian chains.  Another peculiarity I noticed is that a lot of Germans and Americans end up retiring in Cuenca, the cost of living is much lower than in their countries and they get to experience the small town feel that many retirees are craving to find.

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Guayaquil, my boyfriend’s hometown, is the most populated city in Ecuador, even more populated than the capital of the country, Quito.  Guayaquil is a very fast paced city with crazy traffic, here people aren’t wandering around; they are walking with a destination in mind.  In this city, there are a lot of large shopping malls, corporate offices and a lot of national and international chain stores and restaurants. When you first get into Guayaquil, it isn’t as enchanting as seeing Cuenca, but once you get used to the busy pace and noise, you start appreciating the history and surroundings. The food in Guayaquil is amazing, especially if you like shellfish.  I had the best Ecuadorian shrimp ceviche at this hole in the wall place recommended by both locals and tourists.Salinas

I only spent one day in Salinas; this is a much smaller town near the shore.  Since it isn’t their summer yet there wasn’t a lot of tourists and the beaches weren’t busy. Salinas is also known for their seafood and in tourist season, it has an amazing nightlife.  In Salinas, we went to a lighthouse that is located at the most western part of the country (excluding the Galapagos islands).  Although I prefer my Caribbean beaches, it was refreshing to swim in the Pacific Ocean for the first time.

Visiting Ecuador was an experience I will never forget. I fell in love with the country, its people, food, and rich history.  While I was traveling, I thought about all the Ecuadorians who have immigrated to the United States and added flavor to our culture.  The United States has so many immigrants from literally all parts of the world, who bring in part of their country, customs, and culture. Sometimes we don’t understand the customs they bring with them, which can lead to misunderstandings and separation between the different cultures.  As an HR professional who is always advocating for diversity and inclusion at the workplace I learned that traveling gets us closer to that. Traveling can be expensive, but there are so many ways you can travel within this great country and still get the taste of other cultures besides the “American culture”.  Many major cities have smaller communities within where you can experience their culture.  Visit those communities, eat their food, talk to the locals, hear their stories and share yours.  In the end, it’ll make you a better HR professional and more importantly, a better person.

 

Giving Thanks

It’s that time of the year where a lot of us think about the things that we are thankful in our lives. For the most part, I think we’re all pretty thankful for our friends and family, our health, our job, etc. But as I sit down and really reflect on everything I have to be thankful for, I realize I have truly been blessed. If you’ve been reading along over the past few months, you know I truly believe in everything happens for a reason. You may also remember that it’s important to be vulnerable if you want to gain the trust of others. So, in an effort to be vulnerable, I want to share something personal with all of you.

I want to preface this with, you should never take your health for granted. Over the past year, I have been visiting my doctor regularly for high blood pressure. I’ve been taking medication, but haven’t really taken any other measures to get it under control. To top that off, during one of my recent visits, my doctor ran some blood work and the results didn’t come back in my favor. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes because my A1C was off the charts. I was immediately put on a pretty aggressive medication and was referred to an endocrinologist. Whether she meant to or not, my primary care doctor used a pretty good scare tactic into making sure I turn this around. I was at the grocery store that same day reading every label and buying things that were much healthier than what I’m used to. I figured a healthier diet would be key if I wanted to start to turn things around.

6e96bcf6b10c82e6fc3d707ec2ae4e4cAlthough it is key, I also did some serious reflecting on my life. I have always been one to put others before myself. I am always volunteering for different things and I get involved with a lot outside of work. I had been so excited with my new flexibility at work, that I immediately signed up for something new without thinking about the implications it had on my health. While I sat there reflecting after my doctor’s appointment, I realized that the stress I’ve been putting my body through has only done more harm than good. It was time to make some changes and it was time to let some things go. For anyone that knows me, this was not an easy thing to do. When I commit to something, I commit; so to tell anyone “I’m sorry, I just can’t do this anymore” was a hard thing to do. I am fortunate that I have surrounded myself with great people and they truly understand the importance of a person’s wellbeing. 

So, in the spirit of giving thanks, today I give thanks to all of the great people in my life. I am thankful for my parents, my extended family, my friends from back home in West Virginia, my friends that I’ve made in Florida, all of my friends and colleagues from work, GOSHRM, HR Florida, SHRM, the SHRM YPAC, and the #HRTribe, and honestly everyone else in my life that has made an impact in one way or another. I believe that everyone comes into our life for a reason. Whether they stay for an hour, a day, a week, a year, or forever, each person is meant to be there. I am thankful for each and every person regardless of the end result because they have helped me mold myself into the person that I am today; and I am pretty proud of that person. I hope this doesn’t sound selfish, but as I wrap this up, I want to give one last thanks; I am thankful for myself. In my opinion, I think we should all be thankful for ourselves. We control our own lives and make them what they are. We make the decisions that have impacts on our own future. We are the ones that should take credit when our lives go right, but we also need to take the blame when things go wrong. We are the ones that choose to live a healthy lifestyle or not. I am fortunate that I was given the opportunity to make these types of changes myself instead of my health controlling my life. I am thankful for me. I encourage all of you: while you’re sharing your long weekend with those closest to you, take a minute to say thanks to yourself, because after all, you are the most important person in your life.

 Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your day to read about what I am thankful for. I am thankful for you, reader. What are you thankful for? Oh, and if you haven’t read it yet, make sure to read Lorena’s blog from last week about taking care of yourself. Her blog was my inspiration for this week’s blog.

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Are we taking care of ourselves?

Two weeks ago I decided to write about healthy habits you can implement in your workplace.  This week I want to continue this conversation, but focusing it on taking care of yourself before you take care of others.  This concept has so many stigmas behind it; as humans, we put this pressure on ourselves even before others put it on us.  Today, a lot of organizations are actively looking for ways to relieve our stress, whether it is by giving more flexibility or by giving better benefits.  Although not all organizations are at this point yet, I do believe we are headed into that direction.

Don’t get me wrong, work ethic is extremely important and shouldn’t just be put aside, but how can anyone expect you to be functioning 100% if you haven’t felt 100% lately.  You wouldn’t go to your doctor’s office to treat a cold if you knew that they have the flu.  There is no way a physician who has the flu has the energy to take care of their patients, and a physician in their right mind wouldn’t allow their patients to be exposed to a whole different illness by being seen by them.  In order for the doctor to give the quality care, they need to feel energized and healthy.  We work in a very similar way, we have been told to separate what’s happening at home from what’s going on at work and vice versa.  In an ideal world, this would be the perfect formula, but we are human and we know that if things aren’t going well at home it becomes a distraction, just like when you have issues with your boss; you sometimes come home in a terrible mood and unfortunately, your family will see that.  In order for you to tackle work at your maximum capacity, you need to make sure that you are already taken care of.

I know that this won’t always be possible.  I have had times where I need to meet deadlines no matter what else is going on in my life and that’s just part of life.  To avoid this happening too often, I always try to put myself in a good space and reiterate to myself that although I want to I can’t be everything to everybody.  We all play multiple roles for multiple people and entities.  I am a daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, coworker, leader, volunteer to name a few and reality is there is no one time I am equally devoted to all my roles.  During work hours I am more devoted to reaching goals and leading by example, at home I try to forget about that and focus on my different personal relationships.

In order to be able to handle all my roles and responsibilities, I make sure I have taken care of myself first.  Taking care of myself comes in different forms depending on what’s going on around me.  On my luckier days, I have the luxury of free time by myself and use it to catch up on reading, watching television, sleeping in, or catching up on different personal projects I have for myself.  Realistically speaking this doesn’t happen as often as I like and sometimes taking care of myself looks more like making good food choices, taking some time to exercise, making sure I go to my annual physical exam, among other basic things I should be doing on a regular basis.  When these things are taken care of I feel better about myself and more energized to continue working.

Whenever you feel burnt out, try to think about the last time you did something for yourself, chances are you haven’t in a while.  Make sure you take some time for personal wellness and add it to your routine, even if that means you need to let go of a few things.  It might be hard at first but you will thank yourself for doing so later on.

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Are Your Employees Engaged?

When I hear people talking about what they love most about HR, I always hear things like talent acquisition, benefits, employee relations, etc. While all of those things are great, I have more of a unique answer; I love employee engagement. My passion is helping others and making an impact, and I get to do that by focusing on employee engagement. Because let’s face it: our employees are the foundation of our organizations and they are also our number one customers.

As my friend Steve Browne says, it is so important to get out into our organizations and know our team members. I understand this can be difficult if you work in a large organization, but at least get to know the people that you are around every day as a start. I have been pretty lucky in my HR roles and have always had the ability to support employee engagement. Today, I really just want to share with all of you some of the things that I have found successful when it comes to engaging your employees. After you’ve read mine, I would love to hear about what you do in your organization!

 

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  1. Employee Survey. Create a survey to give to your new hires on their first day. Ask them questions like, what is their favorite desert or what is their favorite restaurant. That way when their birthday comes around, you will know what kind of desert to surprise them with or what kind of gift card to send them as a present. The funniest part about this is that after a few months have gone by, they’ll forget they completed the survey so they will be super surprised when you give them something they really like! You could also ask how they like to give back in the community. That way if you are planning a volunteering outing, you can customize the experience to something your team will hopefully feel good about personally.

 

  1. Appreciation. In your survey, you should also ask how your employees want to be appreciated. Believe it or not, some people don’t like to be publicly celebrated. You should understand how they want to be recognized or rewarded and show your appreciation in a way that makes your employees feel comfortable. Examples of appreciation are: hand-written notes, private emails, email including peers, public praise/recognition, peer-to-peer, and gifts.
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Special Olympics Plane Pull 2017
  1. Team Building Events. My employees really love this last one. Full-time employees put in between 200 and 250 days of work each year, at minimum. Work can be hard, stressful, and sometimes intense. So it’s important to get out and have fun every once in a while. Yes, I said fun! Hold a team building event where your team can get together and enjoy time out of the office. Over the last couple of years, I have organized events at Dave & Busters and at TopGolf. The employees love it! I even split them up into teams with people they don’t normally work with so they can get to know others in the company better. The one thing that I heard several times after the recent M&A announcement was, are we still going to have annual team building events? It’s important to them, and that’s what we should be focused on as HR.

 

I know that we have a lot of responsibilities in HR and putting efforts into employee engagement may not be top at your priority list. So let me leave you with this; if we aren’t putting efforts into our people, then our people aren’t going to put effort into their jobs.

How Healthy Habits Help Boost Productivity

Halloween just happened and you might feel a bit unproductive and it may not be for the reasons you may think.  Usually, offices do festivities, costume contests, pumpkin carving contests, office decorating, etc. Sure, these may be considered distractions but studies have shown that these activities actually boost productivity because employees feel more engaged at work where they usually spend most of their time.  The one thing that might’ve made you unproductive this week: Eating all the goodies.

Those who personally know me know that this year I decided to focus my new resolutions on two things: my professional development and my health.  I did well in the professional development portion and have bragged about it enough in social media (hey what can I say, I’m just proud of my accomplishments), but I want to focus a bit on how building healthy habits has made it easier for me to sleep better and get to work more focused on tackling my never-ending to do list. Yay productivity!  A few things I implemented on my daily routine were the following:

  • Taking walking breaks: I wake up, drive 40 minutes to work, get to my office sit down, walk to the cafeteria to lunch, I sit down and eat, walk back, continue working, walk to my car at the end of the day for my hour commute. See what’s trending here? The sitting down part.  I now try to walk 2-3 times a day around our building; on busy days I aim for at least one walking break.  A few things changed once I started this; I started to feel more energized which meant I was drinking less coffee and tea and actually spending more time talking my work, I felt less exhausted on weekends when I usually run around and do my errands, and I started to notice my legs were getting stronger.
  • Switching unhealthy snacks to healthy ones: Not going to lie this was the hardest thing for me.  I enjoy indulging in sweets and at work, we have a lot of chocolate and candy going around even if we aren’t celebrating any Holidays or birthdays.  I started to eat less and less of the goodies and started bringing more fruit and veggies from home.  Whenever I was craving something sweet I would eat my grapes or an apple, when I wasn’t craving sweets I would eat carrot sticks with my favorite Olive Garden Light Italian Dressing or a healthy portion of cheese and crackers.
  • Started exercising more on my free time: This is in addition to taking the regular walking breaks and what I continue to struggle with the most.  I have never been athletic; I was the kid that was picked last during P.E. class (unless my best friend was choosing teams haha!).  To this day I still have to talk myself into exercising.  What has helped me personally is walking while listening to a fun podcast, time goes by faster and sometimes I end up walking more than I originally intended to because of how engaging the podcast was.  When it comes to exercising there’s a lot of trial and error, some people prefer the gym, others prefer taking group classes, others listen to music and so on.  Once you find something that works for you, continue to do it as much as you can. Can’t exercise every day, aim for once or twice a week until you are in a place where you can add more exercise to your routine.
  • Aiming to go to bed at least 5 minutes earlier than my usual 11:00 pm bedtime: I love surfing the web, reading blogs, books, or watching my favorite TV shows on Hulu and Netflix, which have caused me to go to bed too late for my own good. Now I am going to bed earlier, but even if you’re super busy and don’t have the luxury to go to sleep that much earlier, try to go to bed 5 minutes earlier than usual for a week and keep adding more time if the 5 minutes actually worked for you.  A little extra sleep is better than no extra sleep.

Once I started to make these changes I noticed I was being more productive at work even when we spending part of our days on office festivities.  That’s when I realized that our habits usually make or break our days.  So try to apply some of these habits (or all) and see if you start feeling more productive at work.  If you have any other ideas to make your day more healthy and productive I would love to hear them.   Now that the year is ending I am thinking about what I want to do for next year’s resolution and I definitely want to continue adding more healthy habits.

Disconnect & Unplug

Vacations are a time where we are supposed to unwind, relax, and recharge. However, when we have a mini computer in our pockets with the ability to talk to others in an instant through voice calls or texts, our down time becomes more limited. When we say we’re going on vacation, its just fancy terminology for working remotely; or so it seems. Why is disconnecting so hard?

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The one picture that I posted from the Bahamas using Wi-Fi.

A little over a year ago I went on a cruise and was hit with a sudden dose of reality. When you’re on a cruise, you can’t make calls, send texts, or get on the internet without paying a ton of money for Wi-Fi. If you are like me, the first couple of days were hard. I still managed to make a couple calls and post a pic on Facebook from the Bahamas, but for the most part I was completely shut down from my so called “life.” It took me about three days to realize I needed to just enjoy living in the moment. I had finally stopped worrying about, “what if they need me for this or that.”

Fast forward about 11 months, I head out of town again for another real vacation. Prior to leaving, there was a lot going on at work that had me pretty stressed out. It was hard to leave knowing it would be 10 days before I could return and continue with my work. My new boss told me not to worry about anything, that we’d pick back up when I returned. However, not everyone thinks that way. There are still some people that continue to ask for things, even when you are supposed to be enjoying your time off. I appreciated being informed when a couple of issues were resolved that I had been stressed about. But there were also times when I was told, “I have so much to tell you.” I mean come on – when you’re on vacation, that’s the last thing you want to hear. You start stressing because you’re trying to enjoy yourself and other people are getting in the way. But in the back of your mind, you’re thinking, I wonder what the name for our new company is going to be, so you make sure you’re available to dial in for the webinar on Tuesday at 3:30 PM. Is it FOMO (Fear of Missing Out?) Who really knows. The good news is that I did refuse to carry my laptop with me. I left it in my bedside drawer and only pulled it out a couple different times. I tried to be strong and tell people that I wasn’t available because that was my time. I did respond to some personal emails, but mostly to tell people I was on vacation and that I’d get back to them when I returned. Lesson Learned #1: Don’t just put up an out of office on your work email, but an automatic reply on your personal email too so you don’t have to worry about replying to people letting them know you are on vacation.

dogsSo what is my life lesson this week? We need to learn how to truly disconnect. We need to teach our employers that when we are out of the office, we are unavailable. I think as young professionals we want to try so hard to please our superiors that we just give in and please them.  I envy hourly employees, because as a salaried employee, I feel like we always make ourselves available, when in reality, we need to try and stick to a schedule because we end up training our leaders that we are there for them whenever, wherever. Learn how to take time to clear your brain and how to recuperate from the stress and struggles of the workplace and life in general.  Learn how to say no to those that expect you to say yes.

Most importantly, don’t just wait until your annual vacation to disconnect and unplug. Find ways to do these things on a regular basis. Take time for yourself to just close your eyes for five minutes, relax, unwind, put yourself in a calming place, and know that whatever it is you’re working on will still be there once you’ve had time to unwind.

Believe it or not, life is still happening all around us. The conversations or events you could be experiencing with someone right beside you may never happen if you’re always looking down.

Lorena’s Updates

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So I wanted to change the tone this week and talk a bit about myself and what has been going on with my life lately.  I am very excited to say that my episode of the HR Social Hour Half Hour Podcast was published a little over a week ago and I had so much positive feedback.  People connected with me via Twitter and LinkedIn from literally different parts of the world, which is always exciting.  Jon and Wendy were excellent hosts and made me feel at ease (I’m not going to lie I was very nervous during and after recording).  I have really enjoyed the podcasting world and hope to find future recording opportunities!

On a different note, as I have mentioned before in this blog, in the past I used to be a student officer for two different SHRM student chapters as well as the Co-Advisor for the Rollins College Student Chapter.  I really enjoyed these roles and wanted to continue to support students but due to different circumstances, I had to say goodbye to my role at Rollins College Student Chapter for the moment.  I didn’t think I was going to be able to work with students directly for a while, but it is an honor to announce I will go back to supporting student chapters but at a different capacity.  In December I will be sworn in as Director of College Relations for the Greater Orlando SHRM chapter!  I have been on the board as Director of Internal Membership for almost a year and it has been a great experience, but I am ready to start a new challenge.  The SHRM student chapters were essential for my professional development and I really want to give back to students who want to enter the HR profession.  I have already started working with Nate, our 2019 GOSHRM president about a few things I want to tackle this upcoming year for College Relations and I can’t wait to share them with you all!

I am also working on making the Holidays special at work this year.  I started my current position back in November and between learning my role, tackling compliance, and recruiting for our newest office I had little time to plan Holiday related festivities at work.  I’m trying to get creative and think about inclusive activities we can do in addition to our usual “Secret Santa” and last year’s “Ugly Holiday Sweater Contest”.

Finally, on a personal note, I will be traveling internationally next month for ten days and plan to post about it once I get back (even though it isn’t necessarily HR related).  I think traveling helps us learn more about people and their cultures and HR is all about people and culture!  I will be taking a lot of pictures and taking mental notes about memorable places and moments on this trip.

So that’s basically it for now.  This post is shorter than usual and a bit more informal, but that’s what’s great about blogs, we can make them personable and fun! Very excited about what’s coming next!

P.S. Here’s a link to my episode of the HR Social Hour Half Hour Podcast in case you haven’t checked it out yet!

https://hrsocialhourpodcast.podbean.com/e/episode-36-jon-w…/

 

 

 

I’m Finally Here

I’ve been working in HR now for four years. At my first professional job, I started out as an Intern and then had an opportunity to stay on in a full-time non-HR role where I still had opportunities to support the HR team with a few things after the internship ended. My roles at that company was perfect for me at that time as I finished my degree because my team there was supportive and flexible. However, we all knew that once I reached the point of graduation, I would no longer be challenged enough and would need more.

An amazing opportunity came around to me about five months after graduation. I was given a chance to work as an HR Generalist in an HR Department of One. The first few weeks/months started out slow. I started out doing things I felt like I should do; I did an I-9 audit, created some policies, and got to know my team. But a lot of the time it would just be so slow that I’d put on a Netflix movie just to help the day go by. My mom told me I should start a journal so I could write about those days because one day I would miss them and would find it hard to believe that it actually happened. But then there was a point where it was like the light switch just flipped around the three-month mark. We started making a lot of changes around the organization. We started with our payroll company, then our FSA and 401k vendors, followed up by our insurance broker. Although my title is HR Generalist and I was doing HR work, something still felt off. The funny thing is though, I didn’t realize it felt off until about six weeks ago.

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The owner of our company decided he wanted our organization to grow extensively, which is great! So now we’re going through a merger and acquisition. Thankfully my job remained safe, because it is my understanding that sometimes that isn’t the case when a M&A happens. After I was informed of the news and started meeting some of the new leadership team, I started reflecting on some things. One thing that I felt was that I had never really worked for someone that appreciated the value of HR. I think we’d all agree that HR is a leadership role and I felt like I was “just an employee” at times. Maybe it was just my perception, but the feeling was still there. However, this new growth opportunity opened a ton of doors to me that I am still trying to wrap my head around. I finally feel that I actually work in HR now; I’m finally here. It isn’t because of all of the hours I’ve been putting in and all of the craziness we’ve been dealing with to make this M&A a success; it’s just the fact that I finally feel that the right people believe in the value of HR and that they will encourage us to be leaders.

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Now there is always a point to my stories, so what is the point to this one? I know that the younger generations (mine included) have a tendency to not feel challenged enough by entry level jobs so they don’t stay at them very long. We don’t give our employers a chance to train us over time to become the best we can be. We jump from job to job trying to find the most perfect role, but no role ever stays perfect for long. We look at those slow days sitting around watching Netflix as an opportunity to jump ship because we feel like this is the way it’s always going to be.

So here is my advice to other young professionals out there. Give your job a chance. Look for opportunities within your organization to grow, flourish, and shine. You may not always feel challenged enough, and I totally get it. There have been a lot of times in my last four years that I didn’t feel challenged enough. There were even times when I knew the job wasn’t going anywhere for me, but I still stuck with it because I was learning what I need to know so I could be successful when I did end up moving on.

The end goal is to be in an organization that trusts you and values you and the work you are doing. It may take time because trust doesn’t just happen; it’s something you have to earn. If you give it time though, and you put all of your efforts into being successful, you’ll have nowhere else to go but up. Then like me, you’ll start to miss the slow days. #DontGiveUp

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