Let's face it, probationary periods are hard. Whether you were unemployed or you moved jobs, you’re going to put yourself under a lot of pressure to succeed in this new position and the added pressure of knowing you’re on trial doesn’t help. Here are some tips that will hopefully help you pass your probation with flying colours. 1. Dress to Impress Firstly, make sure your personal hygiene is impeccable. One of the worst office habits is bad body odour. Secondly, dress smart. Dressing well will impress your superiors and your fellow colleagues. It will also give a little extra confidence while you’re finding your feet in your new job. 2. Timekeeping Traffic, public transport, school runs, they can be a nightmare in the mornings and we’ve all been there, but it’s no excuse to be late for work constantly. Want to make a good impression and pass your probation? Be on time! Even if it means you have to leave earlier in the morning. If you want to make a good impression you have to make real effort and show you are reliable. Bad time-keeping is a pet hate for managers and it’s a definite way to ensure you won’t pass probation. If it does happen that you are late, show you understand that time-keeping and attendance matters and always inform your manager. 3. Holidays and Sick Leave Myth Obviously during probation, you want to make the best impression possible and you don’t want to come across as someone who is not serious about their role. I have read several articles about probation, doing research for this blog and I’ve noticed that a lot of people say you shouldn’t request time off under any circumstances. Probation periods can last between 6 – 11 months and that’s too long a time to not take a day off. Don’t be afraid to speak to your employer about taking annual leave. Ask them what the most important dates on the calendar are that you need to be in work for and request time off around those dates. You should consider one day at a time and not block booking, at least until the probationary period is over. As for sick leave, when you’re sick there is very little you can do. Show your doctor’s note and apologise to your employer for the inconvenience. Employers know when an employee is not taking their job serious and when they are out of work for disingenuous reasons. Be fair with yourself and your employer about time off and you will be fine. 4. Socialise Part of your probationary period is not just to see if you can do the job you’ve been hired to do, but to see if you gel with the rest of the staff and integrate with culture of the business. It can be hard to come into a new place where everyone knows everyone and you’re the newbie but a little effort can go a long way. Go to work social events and ask different colleagues to lunch. Soon you won’t feel like such an outcast and part of a team. This will go a long way with managers as well as your colleagues. 5. Stop Being so Hard on Yourself You were chosen for this job. YOU not anyone else. You applied for the job and out of all the applicants you were chosen for interview and after your interview process, you were the one they offered the job to. So well done. Give yourself a pat on the back for coming this far. It’s so important during your probation to try steer your focus away from the negatives of being on trial and think of all the positives that got you the job in the first place. Cleary your employer saw something in you so why don’t you try see it in yourself? Always remember that probation is for you too. It gives you a chance to see the company and the role first hand and decide if it’s for you. Just as your employer can decide, you can also choose to leave at any time during your probation period. If you are considering leaving, get in touch with us at Sigmar and we can help you find something that will be a better fit.
We get a lot of emails. A LOT. Probably more than we can handle. And smartphones haven’t helped with constant access to your emails, along with social media apps sending you a notification every time someone even thinks about you. So rather than moaning about the number of emails you have, why not re-evaluate your email habits and see what changes you can make. Here are some tips we’ve put together to give you a helping hand. 1. Unsubscribe Email subscriptions is one of the biggest causes of unwanted emails so take a little time out to start unsubscribing. You’d be amazed at the amount of things you may have signed up to months or even years ago that you just automatically delete without thinking about it e.g. Google alerts, online shopping offers, group alerts from LinkedIn. Just think, is it something you absolutely HAVE to be notified about? Will the world end if you catch up on those offers in your own time, by actually logging in to the website and having a look for yourself? Probably not. 2. Send less emails It seems obvious but sometimes you don’t need to reply to every email. Responding leads to responses so just assume the other person doesn’t want as many emails in their inbox as well and you may notice things slowing down. This doesn’t mean you have to be rude; perhaps pick up the phone? You can say things far more effectively and save time by having a two minute call rather than a 20 email conversation. Besides, with email and chat taking over, a little social interaction is long overdue. 3. Chat A big part of email issues can be being included on email trails between colleagues that have no real bearing on the work day. Office chat and banter is great for morale but not great for productivity. It may be a good idea to remove yourself from group emails and avoid being overloaded by office spam. Management often see this sort of spam as negative for business and reflects badly on you so be selective in how many group emails you are involved in. 4. CC Folder A great trick is to create a folder where any email you have been cc’d on goes in to a separate folder, which you can view when you have the time. Let people know you’re doing this though so as to ensure you’re not missing important emails or deadlines. It will make a huge difference to your inbox and your workload. And also, don’t cc people who don’t have a real interest or bearing on the topic. Put yourself in their shoes – I’m sure they are also sick of being cc’d on emails. 5. Don’t delete Lastly, deleting emails is the most effective way of clearing your inbox but when you’re trying to find something from 2 months ago usually the easiest thing to do is ask whomever sent it to you to re-send right? Wrong. You now have that email twice, for no good reason. Start saving emails in folders. Not just in your inbox but on your hard drive.
Check out 10 ways you can become a superhero at work and become the employee that your employer really wants to hold on to! Being a superhero employee isn’t about becoming the “perfect” employee and you don’t need to develop extra special powers to achieve this. It’s about using your initiative and working diligently.
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be difficult but having a hectic work and home life with little time for preparation can lead us down an unhealthy eating path prompting us to reach for convenience foods. By not adopting a healthy eating mind-set and not choosing foods that boost your energy levels and carry a nutritional value, you are making life – and work – more difficult for yourself in the long run. Ask yourself the following questions: Do you feel fatigued when you wake? Are you bloated and de-motivated? Are you tired at 3pm? Do you struggle to sleep? Do you find you have brain fogginess and an inability to focus? Are you sleepy after a meal with more than half a plate of carbohydrates? Do you find yourself procrastinating over picking up the phone to make that all-important sales call? If you can relate to these points, then it is possible you have a deranged metabolism resulting from insulin resistance– in other words blood sugar – imbalance. So, what do we mean by ‘blood sugar’? Blood sugar is simply the amount of glucose (sugar) in our blood. Whilst glucose is the main fuel molecule used by the body to give us our energy, too much or too little at any one time can cause several health issues. This article focuses on the result being – low energy levels, de-motivation, elevated stress levels and general feebleness. For professionals in general, this is not ideal when you are trying to hit targets, handle extra work loads and dig deep to find motivation. How does this happen? When eating a breakfast or lunch that is loaded with carbohydrates, our intelligent and resilient bodies digest these carbs in the digestive tract (stomach and intestines) by various enzymes for absorption into the blood stream. It takes around an hour or two for the digestive system to break down the carbohydrate meal into its digestible (monosaccharide) molecule form – or as we commonly know it, glucose or sugar, the form in which we get our energy. Your blood stream is now loaded with glucose after a heavy carbohydrate meal, which then activates and releases a hormone called Insulin. This wonderful and hindering hormone senses the heavy load of glucose and removes it from the blood, storing it in our cells (to make energy) and muscles. If our cells and muscles are full from overeating and reaching our quota then in come the fat cells, particularly fat cells around our waist as that is where our vital organs are located. This sudden shift of glucose can result in you having no energy half way through your working day. Now you are faced with the 3pm slump, feeling quite de-motivated. This is a very general explanation but hopefully it paints a picture. How do you fix this? There are several ways you can counteract the 3pm slump and boost your energy levels throughout the day. 1. Eat foods low on the glycaemic index. These foods release energy (glucose) slowly into the bloodstream. You can probably guess what they consist of: Vegetables, legumes, some fruits (the darker in colour the better) whole grains, nuts, seeds, meat, poultry and fish. 2. Include a snack in between main meals (only if you feel you need to) This will allow you to stay nice and stable throughout the day, avoiding those slumps and becoming too hungry, however you don’t want to over eat or eat just for the sake of it. Protein rich and quality fats are best. Eating every three hours can be a good start. 3. Eat protein with each meal. This can benefit your energy levels when you eat carbohydrates, as protein is harder to digest making the release of energy more stable. Protein is the most satiating macro-nutrient, meaning it releases energy slowly, which helps signal to the brain that you are full. Quality sources include lean meats and poultry preferably not out of a packet, any wild fish, nuts, seeds and legumes for those who prefer not to eat meat 4. Eat breakfast. Make sure it includes protein and healthy fats. These satiating macro-nutrients are sure to keep your blood sugars stable and help prevent you from feeling weak and irritable and prompting us to reach for sugary foods. 5. Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates. These are the main culprits of blood sugar spikes. They include white foods that have been stripped of their fibre. Examples of these are white bread, white rolls, large white pasta dishes and sugary snacks. When eating grains choose those high in fibre. These include – whole grain foods, rye, spelt, buckwheat and any grain dark in colour. Whole grains are harder for the body to break down and offer an array of nutrients including B Vitamins which are required to make energy in the body. 6. Avoid sugar filled drinks. These are filled with sugars, artificial sweeteners and preservatives, which can lead to a hormonal imbalance and blood sugar spike. Don’t fall victim to effective marketing, read the labels be mindful that anything over 5g of sugar per serving is moving away from low sugar foods. Also, if you don’t understand the ingredients you can be sure it is not that good for you. 7. Reduce stimulants. Caffeine, nicotine, and even alcohol all cause our blood sugar to rise due to a spike in adrenaline.
From physical fitness to mental health, never before have employers been so aware of the benefits of workplace wellbeing. However, according to a survey commissioned by PepTalk in association with Sigmar Recruitment to mark the Workplace Wellbeing Live event taking place on Wednesday 20 September, 2017, just 14 per cent of employers have incorporated continuous wellbeing programmes sufficient to impact the longer term health and wellbeing of employees. A further 22 percent run no form of wellbeing programme at all. Commenting on the results, Marina Morrissey, Manager with Sigmar Recruitment says: “I am surprised and somewhat disappointed with these results. Never before have we been so aware of the impact that both physical and mental health has on not only productivity, but also happiness in the workplace; yet a mere 14 percent of employers would appear to be actively taking the mental and physical health of their employees seriously.” The largest impediment to implementing such a programme is financial with significant majority of respondents citing a lack of budget as the main reason why they do not offer such a programme. “This is a false economy,” warns Dublin footballer Bernard Brogan of PepTalk. “A happy, healthy workforce is a productive workforce and it is well worth investing in providing some form of wellbeing support from a productivity standpoint alone. At 70 percent, the survey would suggest that there is an enormous appetite amongst workers to take part in such a programme. This motivation is something that employers need to capitalise on. “While output is of huge significance in any company, employers also have a moral responsibility to look after their workers. It is increasingly becoming an employee’s market and perks such as wellbeing programmes do give a company a competitive edge in attracting and retaining talent. Our survey reflects this, with 86 percent of employers believing that companies will offer wellbeing programmes in the future as a means of attracting staff.” Marina (pictured above) is involved in designing and implementing a wellbeing programme for the 120 employees at her company. She says: “ At Sigmar, we take positive steps to encourage and protect the workplace wellbeing of our employees. We now run lunchtime and evening classes to include yoga and mindfulness, as well as organising challenges, such as the pedometer challenge; clubs, such as the cycling or running clubs; tournaments, such as the tennis or golf tournament; and fun events such as the “Runamuck” and trampolining events. We also encourage healthy eating and provide support in the form of food logs and providing fresh fruit daily. Nobody is under any pressure to partake in any of this, but we do find that there is a large uptake.”
Today we look at 5 ways to deal with a “bad” boss. 1. Take a look in the mirror Firstly examine your actions and behaviour. We all have a tendency to disagree with a person we don’t like simply because we don’t like them – could this be contributing to tensions between you? If so, clean up your act, make nice, and do your best to ignore distractions and concentrate only on the work. Then see if things change. 2. Focus on your boss’ needs Your boss may not realise that they are a bad manager. Just as in situational leadership, the definition of “bad” depends on the employee’s needs, the manager’s skills and the circumstances. Therefore whilst you may think that your boss is constantly looking over your shoulder and micromanaging, they may not realise their direction is insulting to staff members. Same as a hands-off manager may not realise that their failure to provide any direction or feedback may make them a bad boss to some. Employees respond to both roles differently, some prefer one type to the other or perhaps somewhere in between! So if you’re boss is a micromanager, work on building the trust in your relationship by not missing deadlines. Listen carefully to what they ask of you and follow instructions to a ‘t’. Communicate with them frequently over tasks and priorities as this will reassure them that you’ve got things under control. Hopefully by gaining their trust, they will relax and give you more freedom in your work. Similarly if your boss is more hands off, don’t be afraid to ask for more direction. This manager probably thinks he’s empowering his staff by not providing direction but if you prefer more direction, ask for it! 3. Show your worth Prove yourself to your employer. Document your achievements and call them to your supervisor’s attention. Keep him or her updated on the status of your important projects and initiatives and offer up new ideas and solutions. 4. Play the Game You’re first reaction to a bad boss may be to fight back. You may think that writing a critical letter of your boss and e-mailing it to HR is the answer but it isn’t. Fight that temptation, hard though it might be. If you maintain your professionalism, it will make a positive impression on those who are watching or those who hear about it — including possibly your boss’s boss. If you retaliate you may get yourself in more trouble and harm your position in the company. 5. Report them Talking to the boss of your manager or HR is a last resort — something you should do only after trying to resolve the matter yourself. If you go this route, document your boss’ actions and provide evidence such as e-mails, voice mail messages and witnesses. It is often helpful to band with other employees who are having similar problems, so that you won’t become branded as “difficult.” …and don’t burn bridges If you do part ways with your boss, you might be tempted to “let rip,” given that you have nothing left to lose. Fight that temptation and try to be gracious. Badmouthing your boss publically may come back and bite you when you apply for positions in other companies, as you may need a reference from the company at some point in the future.
We’ve all got responsibilities such as working and building a career, running a household and/or raising children which can all be very overwhelming and lead to lots of stress. Here are 10 things you can do to start feeling better and minimising stress: 1. Identify causes of stress What triggers your stressful feelings? Are they related to your workplace, children and family, friendships, finances or something else? Once you’ve identified the trigger, you can get down to the root of your stress and find the best ways to handle it. 2. Recognize how you deal with stress Are you using unhealthy behaviours to cope with work or life stress? For example are you using sleep deprivation, smoking, consumption of alcohol or junk food as a means of coping? 3. Get a good night’s sleep A lack of sleep can result in an increase in stress as a person will not be able to stay focused at work. Sleep deprivation also impairs our decision making ability as we are unable to think clearly. Getting 8 hours sleep a night will help improve a person’s health as you will be able to stay alert throughout the day. 4. Eat a balanced diet Hectic work schedules leave us short on time to prepare healthy meals for ourselves and people then have a tendency to grab fast foods. However eating a balanced nutritional diet will help you stay healthy and keep your brain alert. Deficiency in food nutrients such as lack of vitamin B in the body can result in depression and irritability. Also when a person is under stress, vitamins C and E may be lost. 5. Exercise When you exercise, your brain produces “feel good” transmitters called endorphins. Producing these endorphins will help you deal with stress healthily as people who exercise regularly have more energy. 6. Stay organized It is an overwhelming feeling to think that there are not enough hours in the day. Therefore it is imperative that you manage your time. Come up with a daily plan and keep a diary to keep yourself on track. 7. Do not procrastinate Work piles up when you keep on delaying tasks. There is no use putting off for tomorrow what can be done today. 8. Don’t take on more than you can handle at work Avoid creating your own stress by over-scheduling and failing to say no when too much is asked. Don’t overpromise, and give yourself time to finish the things you do agree to tackle. Don’t be afraid to ask for help/delegate if you can’t meet all the demands placed on you. 9. Ask for support Accepting a hand from supportive friends and family can help you persevere during stressful times. If you continue to feel overwhelmed by stress, you may want to talk to a psychologist who can help you manage stress. 10. Finally, treat yourself When you accomplish a personal goal or finish a project, do something nice for yourself. Go out for a round of golf with friends or take a weekend break with your family. Treating yourself between tasks can help take the edge off and prepare you for the next challenge.
This is a very popular question with interviewers as it helps them gauge how you have handled a stressful situation in the past. Stressful situations occur every day both in work and in life in general and stress affects people in different ways. Some people will take it out on others around them in the office and some people will bring it home with them. So to answer with the line “stress doesn’t affect me” is a lie as we all get stressed at times. So firstly acknowledge that stress in the workplace is a reality. A certain level of stress (good stress) is productive and can help us work better but how do you prevent bad stress? It’s important for your employers to know you won’t blow up at your boss if he pushes forward your deadline or you won’t flip out when a customer is testing your patience. The interviewer wants to hear examples of a situation where you encountered a stressful situation and dealt with it in a reasonable manner. Discuss how you used time management, problem-solving techniques or decision-making skills to reduce stress. They want to hear things like “I just take a deep breath, count to ten and deal with the situation” or “If a project is overwhelming, I break it into smaller steps and focus on each step one at a time”.
Here are 5 ways you can make the most of your summer (even when you have to spend most of the day inside the office!) 1. Bring summer into the office Can’t get outside during the day to enjoy the summer months? Try bringing the season inside. Craving that summer ice-cream, go to the shops and bring one back for everyone. Open your window, turn on a fan, take off your shoes and wiggle your toes! If you can bring a taste of the warm weather inside, it might just keep you from yearning for the outdoors. 2. Make the most of your lunch hour Another way to cope with summer fever is to schedule some time outside during your work day. Make the most of the good weather by making your lunch and having it in a nearby park and perhaps take a stroll afterwards. Or find a cafe with outdoor seating and enjoy the sunshine for a few minutes. Getting that break during the middle of your day will be sure to help you make it through the rest of the afternoon. 3. Look into flex time Some companies allow employees to be a little more flexible with their work schedules during the summer months. See if your company will consider a flexible arrangement. This could mean working longer Monday through Thursday in order to leave early on Friday afternoon, or coming in earlier so you can leave earlier to enjoy the extended daylight. If you can demonstrate that you will still get your work done, your company should be able to see the benefit of this flexibility. 4. Plan a Vacation Even if you’re very busy and can’t really afford to take a holiday, commit to using at least part of your leave time during the summer. If you don’t have enough money to take a week-long vacation, take a three- or four-day weekend getaway. Hotel prices in Ireland are after declining significantly over recent years so no better time to take a road trip and see some of the sights of Ireland. Once you have plans made you’ll be more motivated to work hard knowing you’ve something to look forward to. 5. Make the Most of Your Time Off If you can’t take time off, at least make sure you take advantage of your weekends. Get your projects done during the week so you can have a good rest on Saturday and Sunday. That means leaving your laptop at the office and leaving the e-mail and voice mail until Monday. The most important thing is to treat yourself to a real break in order to recharge your batteries. Seize the opportunity to make the most of the good weather and get outside, go hiking, biking, walking…. whatever tickles your fancy. Making the most of your weekend will make it easier to focus when you return to the office on Monday.