Workplace News….Employee Recognition Important during Holidays (And the Rest of the Year)

Newswise — Whether it’s a festive holiday party, an end-of-the-year bonus or a thoughtful gift, many employees can expect something from their employers during this holiday season.

Although giving gifts and parties can certainly be appreciated by employees, do they offer employers any long-term benefits?

It seems many organizations think they do.

A recent CareerBuilder survey of more than 4,000 workers and more than 2,600 employers shows organizations are more likely to provide holiday parties and perks this year. According to the survey, 40 percent of employers plan to give their employees holiday bonuses, up from 33 percent in 2010. Fifty-eight percent of employers are planning a holiday party for their employees, up from 52 percent, and 30 percent of employers plan to give holiday gifts to employees, up from 29 percent.

Research on employee recognition demonstrates that sincere, credible recognition is appreciated by employees and can enhance their motivation and performance, said Tom Becker, chair and professor in the Department of Business Administration at the University of Delaware.

“This is likely to be true whether the recognition is provided during the holidays or at other times,” Becker said.

Providing parties, bonuses and other forms of acknowledgement, including gifts, for employees’ work has symbolic value beyond the objective value that may be attached. “They send a message that the employment relationship is more than simply a transactional one. That message is especially important to convey if employees have endured a year of no raises, extra workloads, threats of layoff or many of the other conditions common in workplaces right now,” said Kimberly Merriman, an assistant professor of management and organization at Pennsylvania State University.

The key to gift giving and other forms of recognition around the holidays is being sincere, explained Robert Eisenberger, a professor in the psychology department at the University of Houston. He studies perceived organizational support—what makes employees feel supported and cared about—and has recently published a book titled “Perceived Organizational Support: Fostering Enthusiastic and Productive Employees.”

“What’s important is the genuineness of what you do,” he explained. “If the employer just goes through the motions of giving a gift that doesn’t really indicate they value employees, then it doesn’t count for much. What, really is important is a genuine indication of valuation and caring.”
What type of a gift or recognition will seem genuine to employees?

“One is the amount of time you are willing to spend on indicating you care about employees. For example, taking employees or subordinates out for a meal shows you really care about them, because it’s easy to give them a few dollars, but taking the time to treat employees to a meal involves effort and planning,” Eisenberger said,
It’s important to know employees’ needs and values, said Becker. “That’s a key principle of management. This allows managers and others to select a form of recognition or reward that employees will welcome. For some it might be money and for others a simple and sincere verbal acknowledgement of a job well done.”

Becker said non-monetary recognition can be just as effective as a bonus. “Forms of recognition besides money include written or verbal praise; symbolic rewards, such as plaques and certificates; small, meaningful gifts; or anything else that employees perceive as sincere recognition of their contributions and accomplishments,” he explained.

It’s important to be consistent, according to Merriman. If gift giving is eliminated after years of doing it without a credible explanation, employees are likely to be upset. “The motivational effects may be most obvious in the absence rather than presence of such recognition, since employees anticipate receiving something,” she explained. “For instance, one organization I know of experienced employee backlash when it stopped giving out holiday turkeys. The company wisely reinstated the tradition the following year.”

In order to manage employee entitlement perceptions, like the turkey example, organizations should separate financial rewards from the tradition of holiday recognition and instead provide a form of recognition that can be maintained each year, Merriman added.

“The trick is finding something that can be maintained—even in lean years—but still has value to employees. Here are two creative things a company might consider: providing free on-site car washes to employees for the day or providing free on-site gift wrapping. Of course, most employees would most value some extra paid time off during the holiday season if possible!”

Although general recognition such as parties and gifts can be expected to improve morale and help employees feel support from their organization, most of the benefits come in the form of positive assessment and appreciation, said Robert T. Brill, an associate professor psychology at Moravian College.

Because this show of holiday recognition is general and not tied to any one employee’s work, employers should not expect it to impact employees’ work habits, Brill said.
“It will go a long way toward morale and the worker’s sense of commitment and gratitude to the employer, but changing performance usually will require a more ongoing, systematic approach to performance feedback and management. A one-time reward for basically being a part of the organization does a great deal for attitude and emotional connection, but little for long-term performance change.”

Although many organizations may not have time for it during the hectic holidays, Brill said individual recognition—such as performance bonuses instead of blanket holiday bonuses—by employers would be most effective at improving motivation.

Eisenberger stressed that it is important for employees to feel supported all year, not just around the holidays.
“If people aren’t supported and card about the rest of the year and then a show of that is made just around holiday time, it isn’t taken very seriously,” he explained. “If you just do it on one occasion during the year, it’s not going to have much effect. It needs to be part of a pattern of indicating that employees are valued and cared about. It’s just like with relatives, you can’t be nice to relatives on the holiday and not be nice to them the rest of the year.”

Released: 12/12/2011

Source: The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP)

Related Link:

http://www.newswise.com/articles/employee-recognition-important-during-holidays-and-the-rest-of-the-year

Looking Ahead to the New Year…..Top Tech of 2012

Newswise — Retinal Prostheses: Implantable chips will apply a grid of photosensors to the optic nerve, giving blind people a form of vision.

LED Lighting: Super-efficient, affordable bulbs based on the Philips L Prize winner and other designs will replace incandescents and, in many cases, compact fluorescent lamps.

Windows 8: Microsoft has so far been sidelined by the industry-wide move to mobile platforms, such as smart phones and tablets. This new operating system is the Redmond, Wash., company’s last, best hope to turn things around.

Chinese Supercomputers: For the first time China is building world-class supercomputers based on home-grown processor chips, and experts say this could be the beginning of that country’s push into the highest-tech regions of high tech.

3-D Printing: This idea, which began as a tool for designers and evolved into a toy for hobbyists, is now maturing into a new, one-off kind of fabrication, one that will find its way into routine manufacturing as well as the production of spare parts.

Plug-ins Proliferate: This will be the year in which plug-in gas-electric hybrid cars go from curiosity to mainstay, as the number of manufacturers offering models rises and the market for their wares matures.

EV Charging Stations: A fast-charging infrastructure, partly based on super-powerful direct current, will begin to service pure-electric vehicles, thus allaying drivers’ “range anxiety.”

3-D Chips: A long-anticipated foray into the third dimension will turn flat chips into thick cubes, increasing the density of elements in integrated circuits in an entirely new way and thus giving Moore’s Law a new lease on life.

Extreme UV Lithography: This is the year of decision for an expensive chip-fabrication technology that uses hard-to-handle extreme ultraviolet light to draw finer-than-ever features on silicon chips. Whether EUV lithography succeeds or fails, the result will be of critical importance to the industry.

Private Spacecraft: Millionaires are doing what government cannot–they are creating companies that will take people and cargo into space at a fraction of the cost of NASA launches.

Exoskeletons for Paraplegics: People who have suffered from spinal-cord injuries will for the first time strap themselves into robotic exoskeletons. Initially, these machines will help rehabilitate patients; later, the exoskeletons will take them where their own legs cannot.

4G Networks: Smart phones and other mobile platforms will carry real-time video and do other network duties with a zip never before seen, thanks to this new and very capacious wireless standard.

Grid-level Batteries: As the electric power distribution system–the grid–comes to depend on variable sources of energy, such as the wind and the sun, it will increasingly smooth out the power by using enormous battery stations.

Another Earth: New telescopes and instrumentation will guide astronomers to hundreds of planets orbiting foreign stars and will reveal candidate planets of a size, composition, and temperature suitable for life as we know it.

Released: 12/22/2011

Source: IEEE Spectrum Magazine

Related Link:

http://newswise.com/articles/top-tech-of-2012

Top 5 Winter Activities that Land You In The Emergency Room

Newswise — The first day of winter is Wednesday, December 21, and many states are bracing for a season of snow and ice. Broken bones from snowboarding and sledding top the list of common visits to the Emergency Department (ED) during the winter months. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-quarter of all emergency hospital visits are attributed to snowboarding accidents, and half of all cases were for broken bones and sprains.

“Chicagoans embrace winter with gusto largely because of the great love for hockey, sledding and ice skating,” said Gottlieb Memorial Hospital orthopaedic surgeon Daryl O’Connor, who formerly cared for U.S. Olympic ski and winter sports athletes in Salt Lake City, Utah. Dr. O’Connor is board certified in orthopaedic surgery and now specializes in sports medicine in the Orthopaedic Department at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, part of Loyola University Health System.

Here are Dr. O’Connor’s evaluations of the top five winter sports:

1. Sledding – “More than 700,000 injuries are reported each year in the United States due to sledding. More than 30 percent are head injuries, caused by collisions,” O’Connor said.

2. Hockey – “Lacerations, as well as neck, shoulder and knee injuries are common in hockey. Many injuries are caused through contact with another player, the ice, a puck or actual skate blade,” he said.

3. Ice skating – “Injuries to the wrist as well as head and neck are most common and most injuries are caused by falls,” he said.

4. Snowboarding – “Wrist and elbow injuries are caused by falls on outstretched hands,” he said.

5. Skiing – “Knees really take a pounding and injury is often caused by extreme twisting force-propelled by the skis,” he said.

Snitching on Skitching

“This is not even a sport; it’s just being foolish,” said Dr. O’Connor of the practice in neighborhoods of daredevil teens grabbing a car’s rear bumper and sliding on their feet, or being pulled by ropes on inner tubes or sleds through icy streets. “In addition to broken bones, neck and shoulder injuries, young people can suffer fatal head trauma. Please, resist the skitch at all costs.”

Released: 12/21/2011

Source: Loyola University Health System

Related Link:

http://www.newswise.com/articles/top-5-winter-activities-that-land-you-in-the-er

It’s Good to be Good: Dr. Stephen Post on the Scientific Evidence

Newswise — STONY BROOK, N.Y., December 21, 2011 – Giving during the holidays, or at any time, not only helps others but helps ourselves and appears to lead to a happier and healthier life. This conclusion by Stephen G. Post, Ph.D., Professor of Preventive Medicine, Head of the Division of Medicine in Society, and Director, Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics, Stony Brook University School of Medicine, is based on a review of scientific and medical studies covering several decades on the benefits experienced by individuals who act sincerely for the benefit of others. Dr. Post’s findings are detailed in the online edition of the World Health Organization’s The International Journal of Person Centered Medicine.

Dr. Post, author of The Hidden Gifts of Helping, has studied the benefits and links between altruism, compassion, happiness, healing and health for nearly two decades. In “It’s good to be good: 2011 5th annual scientific report on health, happiness and helping others,” he points out that happiness, health and even longevity are benefits that have been reported in more than 50 investigations using a variety of methodologies.

“In total, the research on the benefits of giving is extremely powerful, to the point that suggests healthcare professionals should consider recommending such activities to patients,” says Dr. Post. “However, there is a caveat in that we need to balance our lives and should know our limitations when giving of our time and self to others, as overdoing may affect us negatively.”

Dr. Post points out that remarkably, in a recent national survey of 4,582 American adults, 41 percent of Americans volunteered an average of two hours per week; 68 percent of volunteers agree that volunteering “has made me feel physically healthier”; and 96 percent say volunteering “makes people happier.” In addition, the survey results indicated that volunteers have less trouble sleeping, less anxiety, and better friendships and social networks.

“If you could create a pill with the same results as indicated by the survey of American volunteers, it would be a best seller overnight,” says Dr. Post.

In the review, Dr. Post explains that the convergence of the benefits of giving in relation to happiness and health includes studies encompassing a variety of populations but largely those of everyday people who engage in helping or who are coping with some type of illness, rather than on helping professionals themselves. For example, the convergence of health, happiness, and helping others is seen in studies on recovery from alcoholism, addiction and depression; on coping with severe diagnosis and pain; longevity in older adults and in youth followed over their lifetimes; and in patients with multiple sclerosis.

Some of the recurring concepts related to giving and health based on the review of the results of scientific studies include:

• Giving and even just thinking about giving in a spirit of generosity are linked to health and well-being.
• People who think too much about themselves and their own desires – or their own troubles – are not very happy.
• Helping is also a form of self-help when the giver has experienced the same problems as those receiving.
• Volunteerism has positive impacts on happiness, mood, self-esteem, physical and mental health.
• Giving can be a lifelong benefit for those who start young.

• Altruism is associated with a substantial reduction in mortality rates and is linked to longevity.

“After examining the many studies it is difficult to dismiss the idea that it’s good to be good,” emphasizes Dr. Post. “The right ‘dose’ of good will varies from person to person and there is no detailed prescription for everyone, but the principle can at least be established scientifically.”

Released: 12/21/2011

Source: Stony Brook University Medical Center

Related Link:

http://newswise.com/articles/it-s-good-to-be-good-dr-stephen-post-on-the-scientific-evidence

Resolution Solution: How Making a Plan Can Help You Meet New Year’s Goals

When making New Year’s resolutions this year, committing to a specific plan for when and where you are going to accomplish each goal will make you more likely to succeed, says psychologist E.J. Masicampo. In a recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, he found that committing to a specific plan to accomplish a goal not only makes it more likely to be done, but also gets it off your mind so you can think about other things.

Newswise — When making New Year’s resolutions this year, committing to a specific plan for when and where you are going to accomplish each goal will make you more likely to succeed, says a Wake Forest University psychology professor.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Assistant Professor E.J. Masicampo found that committing to a specific plan to accomplish a goal not only makes it more likely to be done, but also gets it off your mind so you can think about other things.

“Once a plan is made, we can stop thinking about that one goal,” says Masicampo, who studies goal setting and will power. “This frees our minds to focus on other tasks or simply enjoy the current moment.”

But, not just any plan will work, he says. “The ones that work specify exactly what you are going to do, including when and where you are going to do it.”

He describes four essential elements of a successful plan:

1. Specifies exactly what you’re going to do and in what situation (where and when)
2. Is under your control and not dependent on someone else’s actions
3. Includes specific opportunities to meet the goal in situations likely to occur
4. Focuses on a goal you are motivated to accomplish

Most importantly, he says, “You have to picture yourself carrying out your plan. That’s where the power of the plans lie, in imagining yourself completing the tasks.”

Imagining doing something has a similar effect on the brain as really doing it. Since keeping resolutions is often about creating new habits, this gives you a head start on developing the desired behavior.

“It’s all about making a habit out of the goal. A plan is like creating a habit ahead of time,” says Masicampo, “before you have actually done anything.”

This sort of planning works best for less complex goals. He suggests breaking down New Year’s resolutions into steps, so the overall goal can more likely be attained. Someone with a goal to lose weight, for example, should make “if, then” plans for specific situations that can help them accomplish the overall goal. “An ‘if, then’ plan pre-decides how you will act in a given situation,” Masicampo says. For example, if you visit a particular restaurant, then you will order a salad instead of the cheeseburger and onion rings. The plan gives you a cue to act. If you commit to the plan, all you have to do is wait for the cue. When the situation arises, you just do it because you already know what you’re going to do.

“Making a plan is like setting an alarm because you don’t have to think about it until the alarm sounds and then you’ll act.”

A typical person is juggling as many as 15 different goals at one time. Planning makes it possible to stop thinking about one goal until the planned time and place.

“Every time you make a plan, you tether a goal to a future context, and it can stop floating around in your head and distracting you from your other goals,” Masicampo says.

So, with good planning, this may be the year to check more than one New Year’s resolution off the list.

Released: 12/16/2011

Source: Wake Forest University

Related Link:

http://www.newswise.com/articles/resolution-solution-how-making-a-plan-can-help-you-meet-new-year-s-goals

The Paradox of Gift Giving: More Not Better

Newswise — Holiday shoppers, take note. Marketing and psychology researchers have found that in gift giving, bundling together an expensive “big” gift and a smaller “stocking stuffer” reduces the perceived value of the overall package for the recipient.

Suppose you’re trying to impress a loved one with a generous gift this holiday season, says Kimberlee Weaver, assistant professor of marketing in the Pamplin College of Business. One option is to buy them a luxury cashmere sweater. A second option is to add in a $10 gift card.

If their budget allows, most gift givers would choose the second option, as it comprises two gifts — one big, one small, Weaver says. Ironically, however, the gift recipient is likely to perceive the cashmere sweater alone as more generous than the combination of the same sweater and gift card. “The gift giver or presenter does not anticipate this difference in perspectives and has just cheapened the gift package by spending an extra $10 on it.”

Weaver is part of a research team that recently discovered, through a series of studies, what the team has called the “Presenter’s Paradox.” The paradox arises because gift givers and gift recipients have different perspectives, Weaver says. Gift givers follow a “more-is-better” logic; recipients evaluate the overall package.

“People who evaluate a bundle, such as a gift package, follow an averaging strategy, which leads to less favorable judgments when mildly favorable pieces (the gift card) are added to highly favorable pieces (the sweater). The luxury sweater represents a generous ‘big’ gift. Adding on a ‘little’ gift makes the total package seems less big.”

The same contradictory effect can be found in other situations, says Weaver, whose research article, “The Presenter’s Paradox,” co-authored with Stephen Garcia and Norbert Schwarz of the University of Michigan, has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Consumer Research.

“People who present a bundle of information assume that every favorable piece adds to their overall case and include it in the bundle they present,” she says. However, notes Garcia, associate professor of psychology and organizational studies at the University of Michigan, “this strategy backfires, because the addition of mildly favorable information dilutes the impact of highly favorable information in the eyes of evaluators. Hence, presenters of information would be better off if they limited their presentation to their most favorable information — just as gift givers would be better off to limit their present to their most favorite gift.”

Weaver and her co-authors found that the paradox was strongly evident in seven studies across many product domains, from bundles of music to hotel advertisements, scholarships, and even “negative” items such as penalty structures.

When asked to design a penalty for littering, for example, those who were put in charge preferred a penalty that comprised a $750 fine plus 2 hours of community service over a penalty that comprised only the $750 fine. However, perceivers evaluated the former penalty as less severe than the latter, Weaver says. “Adding a couple of hours of community service made the overall penalty appear less harsh and undermined its deterrence value.”

The discovery of the Presenter’s Paradox sheds new light on how to best present information, says Weaver. “Whether it is a public relations expert pondering which reviews to include on a book jacket, a music producer considering which songs to include in a music album, or a legal team building up arguments for a case, they all face the important task of deciding what information to include in their presentations. So do consumers who apply for a job and homeowners who try to sell their house.”

All of them, she says, run the risk of inadvertently diluting the very message they seek to convey by their efforts to strengthen it. “Fortunately, there is a simple remedy: take the perspective of the evaluator and ask yourself how the bundle will appear to someone who will average across its components. Doing so will alert you to the fact that others will not always share your sense that more is better.”

“Prompting consumers to consider the overall picture entices them to adopt a holistic perspective, which allows them to correctly anticipate evaluators’ judgments,” says Schwarz, professor of marketing and psychology at the University of Michigan. “But when left to their own devices, presenters are unlikely to notice that evaluators do not share their more-is-better rule.”

Released: 12/12/2011

Source: Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)

Related Link:

http://newswise.com/articles/the-paradox-of-gift-giving-more-not-better

Some Great Ideas on How to Minimize Your Stress During this Holiday Season

Photo Credit: Royalty-Free image, Minimize your holiday stress by making time for yourself and getting a good night's sleep, says a Ryerson University psychology expert.Newswise — The holidays are a festive time of year filled with friends and family. But with our focus so much on others, we can forget ourselves and become inexplicably stressed and sad. The key to enjoying the upcoming season is being aware of the things (and people) that affect us:

1. Manage your expectations: With so much going on, particularly with other people, this may not be the best time to expect perfection. Don’t set yourself up for undue stress by hosting parties for dozens of people, complete with a gourmet menu and stunning décor. Starting with modest and achievable expectations increases the likelihood that you will avoid disappointment.

2. Add a good night’s sleep to your “to-do” list”: Don’t deprive yourself of sleep to get more done. Sleep deprivation is a major mood killer—consider scaling back your to-do list and get some rest. An irritable host will be noticed long before the place cards and napkin rings that you stayed up until 2 a.m. to finish.

3. Mind your sleep schedule over the holidays: Sleep is a major factor in mood. With a holiday schedule full of late night parties, hours of travel, shopping, cooking and cleaning you quickly find yourself deprived of a few hours night after night. Adopting a sleep schedule that is radically different from the schedule you keep during the year can produce jetlag-like symptoms of fatigue, insomnia, and poor mood. Children are especially susceptible to this: watch your young child’s mood disintegrate with a later and more varied holiday schedule.

4. Avoid “crashing”: The holidays are filled with foods that initially boost our mood and then produce longer term sugar crashes, sluggishness, and bloating. Eat healthy meals throughout the holidays and snack on healthier options such as fruits and vegetables before a party so that you are less likely to fill up on junk food and sweets. Including healthier foods in your diet will stabilize your blood sugar, rather than cause it to spike, which means a happier and more energetic you.

5. Know your limits: We all know the holidays can be a prime time for the airing of family issues and grievances. If visiting a particular relative ruins the holidays for you, devise a new plan that limits your exposure to that person or situation. If having dinner with a cantankerous aunt leaves you with resentment and ill feelings for days afterwards, skip it. It’s better to exercise good self-care over the holidays than to agree to plans that will result in a tense atmosphere and hurt feelings.

6. Make time for you: People often forget to prioritize themselves throughout the year and it gets even worse over the holidays. Take some time just for yourself. If you haven’t had a chance to do this during the day, set aside time before bed to wind down and relax. Even a half hour walk or soak in the tub at the end of the day will make a world of difference.

7. Still tossing and turning all night?: If you find yourself lying in bed with visions of budgets, menus and obligations running through your head – get out of bed. Leave your room to find something that relaxes you and return to bed when you are sleepy. Being upset or awake in the place where you should be finding rest can lead to longer term associations between your bed and stress and anxiety.

Released: 12/8/2011

Source: Ryerson University

Related Link:

http://www.newswise.com/articles/minimize-your-stress-this-holiday-season-ryerson-expert

Do You Hear What I Hear?…The Sounds of the Holidays Can Help a Person Recognize Hearing Loss

Newswise — Los Angeles, CA – December 9, 2011 – Jingle bells, carols, and holiday greetings are all the sounds that help make the holiday season special. But, those holiday sounds also give people an opportunity to recognize if they are having trouble hearing. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), of the 36 million American adults who report having a hearing loss, an estimated 26 million of them between the ages of 20 and 69 have a high-frequency hearing loss caused by too much exposure to loud sound.

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is usually painless, progressive, permanent, and completely preventable. NIHL happens when a person is exposed for too long of a time to sound pressure levels of 85 decibels or more, resulting in damage to the sensory hair cells of the inner ear. It can be the result of exposing your ears to a sudden, intense impulse noise like an explosion or gunfire or extended or repeated exposure to loud machinery and recreational activities, such as loud music and video.

The process is so gradual that people often do not realize they have a hearing loss until it affects the ability to carry on conversations in daily life. With NIHL softer high frequency sounds are difficult to hear, which means a person can hear what is said but they cannot understand what is said.

How can people recognize if they have noise induced hearing loss?

“When a person frequently has trouble understanding conversations at holiday parties, family gatherings, and in noisy restaurants it might be a good time for a hearing test and ear examination,” said John W. House, MD, president of House Research Institute and physician at the House Clinic. “We recommend for people to pay close attention to how well they can hear in different situations.”

The holidays give family and friends the opportunity to notice a change in a loved one’s hearing as well. People with hearing loss may have trouble participating in conversations because they miss key words.

“We hear from our patients that they first noticed a change in their hearing several years before they finally come in to the House Clinic to have their hearing checked,” said Dr. House. “Often it is a spouse or family member who urges a patient to get their hearing tested.”

Physicians in the House Clinic recommend patients come in for a hearing test at the first sign of a change. There are some forms of hearing loss, which are not noise-induced, that can be treated with surgery to restore the patient’s hearing. The sooner a hearing loss is identified, the sooner the patient can learn about the treatment options that may help.

If you know someone who is having trouble hearing, you can help give the gift of hearing by encouraging them to schedule a hearing test as well as by supporting the research and education programs of the House Research Institute to improve hearing loss treatments and knowledge of hearing loss and related disorders. For more information, log on to http://www.houseresearch.org.

In 2006, House Research Institute launched the nation’s first NIHL prevention education initiative focused on encouraging safe hearing choices among teens and young adults, called It’s How You Listen That Counts®. To learn more, visitwww.earbud.org.

Released: 12/9/2011

Source: House Research Institute

Related Link:

http://newswise.com/articles/do-you-hear-what-i-hear

Worth Remembering As The New Year Approaches….Resolutions Are a Waste If You Don’t Plan to Achieve Them

Newswise — Those resolutions you promise yourself you will keep each year probably look a little like this — lose weight, exercise daily, quit smoking, save money, etc. Though these are great personal commitments to make, one University of Alabama at Birmingham expert says New Year’s resolutions are, for most, a waste of time.

“Many of us wind up making short-lived changes that rarely pan out. We resolve to be different or live better, and then spend a year not achieving these goals. We waste time making unmet resolutions yearly,” explains Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., a UAB clinical psychologist and author of the book, Living SMART: Five Essential Skills to Change Your Health Habits Forever.

This is not an excuse to throw in the towel and get fat or lazy. Klapow says Jan. 1 is a great time to start living the way you want to be. But, you have to be serious about it and create a game plan so the resolutions are implemented and not squandered.

“Without a course of action, these changes will not fall into place. It’s not enough just to be inspired,” Klapow explains.

If you want to achieve it — say losing weight, for example — you have to be detailed about it. Klapow says you have to outline the days and times you will go the gym, the menu adjustments you will make and who in your circle can help keep you accountable for these goals.

But before your plans get too elaborate, Klapow advises you to do a gut-check.

“Ask yourself, ‘do I really want to do this?’ If your heart isn’t in it, it’s not going to happen. It’s better to be honest than to fail,” says Klapow.

Other tips while planning for the new you:
• Don’t bite off more than you can chew — shoot for success instead of the stars
• Make resolutions reasonable by setting short- and long-term goals
• Be prepared and willing to make adjustments to your resolutions

Once those resolutions are in place, and the New Year has begun, it’s time to implement them. Make promises for change that is life-long instead of temporary.

“Monitoring your progress is very important, but simply keeping a mental track will not cut it. If you are dieting, write down the foods you eat. If you want to spend less, write down your expenses. This will give you a visual account of what is working and what is not,” explains Klapow.

A written record also can help you with the three-day rule: If you’ve missed three days of your new habit, write down the reasons you stopped, pick an exact date to re-start and put this somewhere you will see it. Klapow says this is a way to return to good habits.

Noting the barriers that exist between you and your goal also is important.

“You have to arrange your life for success. Buying junk food for your family while you are trying to diet is not going to help. If you want to save money — stop carrying credit cards. Control what you can control to make your goals more easily achievable,” Klapow says.

Last, and most important, Klapow says you must have incentives to meet your resolutions.

“Treat yourself. You have to be good to yourself and your new behaviors. The principle is simple: Reward a good behavior, and it will happen again.”

Released: 12/8/2011

Source: University of Alabama at Birmingham

Related Link:

http://www.newswise.com/articles/resolutions-are-a-waste-if-you-don-t-plan-to-achieve-them

Professor Offers Holiday Tipping Advice During the Economic Downturn

Newswise — DURHAM, N.H. – With pocketbooks stretched even more during the holidays this year, Americans may find it difficult to tip their service providers as much as they would like to, but according to a University of New Hampshire professor who researches service expectations, consumers should do their best to give something.

“Giving a gift during the holiday is a fundamental part of every joyful season, and one such holiday extra is the giving of a ‘tip’ to those individuals that have provided a service during the year. However, extra money for many Americans has been tight this year due to the economic times which many have not recovered from. So this time of year, when we feel obligated to buy presents and tip our various service providers, it may be difficult to decide who to drop from your gift list or reduce in tips if money to spread around is limited,” said Nelson Barber, associate professor of hospitality management at UNH.

“During the holiday season, tipping is more a gesture of thanks to individuals who provide services on a regular basis to you and your family,” Barber says. “We all know that both gifts and tips are great, and for many, holiday tips can make a huge difference in their annual income.”

How important are tips? According to a survey by PayScale, personal-care workers, including makeup, barbers, hairdressers, nail technicians, and cosmetologists, receive 25 percent of their income from tips.

Barber offers the following tipping advice:

How Best to Tip?
Prioritize your most important service providers by considering those who have provided you services and the extent of interaction with them, particularly those who may not be that obvious, even if you may not have tipped them regularly. “Do not make your tipping decision solely based upon ‘an implied obligation.’ At the top of your list should be those individuals that enhance your life considerably,” he says.

Think about the valued housekeeper or the barber that squeezes you in or the individual that delivers your newspaper to the front door when it is raining or snowing saving you the walk down the driveway. “These are the people that should receive the top dollars rather than infrequently used service providers,” Barber says.

How much should I tip?
When deciding how much to tip, remember that tipping is discretionary. Consider the length of time you have been receiving the service and whether you live in an urban or rural setting where tipping levels may vary. Consider the relationship to the service provider. Are you close? Is the relationship informal?

“If you don’t think tipping is necessary in a particular circumstance, then don’t tip. The following is a guide and amounts have been adjusted for today’s economic conditions. It is not implying a moral duty to tip. If you are using a service that is widely known to be a tipped service, such as hair salons and valet parking, then tip for good service,” Barber says.

Some suggestions for minimum tipping are:
• Day care provider: $20 and a gift from your child
• Parking garage attendants: $20 or a gift
• Housekeeper: no more than one week’s pay or a gift
• Nanny: no more than one week’s pay or a gift from you and your child
• Newspaper carrier: $15 or a gift
• Package carrier: a gift of no more than $15
• Home caregiver: no more than one week’s salary or a gift
• Pet groomer: 25 percent the cost of a session or a gift
• Baby sitter: no less than half one evening’s pay
• Hairstylist for women: minimum half the cost of one visit. Tipping the owner who provides you the service: yes at your discretion.
• Hairstylist for men: minimum half the cost of one haircut.
• Manicurist: $10
• Sanitation worker: $5 to $10
• Mail carriers working for the United States Postal Service may not accept cash gifts, checks, gift cards, or any other equivalent.

If consumers need to reduce their tipping amounts, Barber suggests adding a note of thanks with the tip.

“I find, depending on the service provider, including a note expressing how much you appreciate them adds value and can make the gift mean more even if the amount given is less,” Barber says. “Service workers depend on these gifts as part of their income. So unless you’ve lost your own job, or are having financial troubles of your own, try to give.”

Released: 12/5/2011

Source: University of New Hampshire

Related Link:

http://www.newswise.com/articles/unh-professor-offers-holiday-tipping-advice-during-the-economic-downturn

Previous Older Entries