MONEY Business Travel

How to Keep Fear of Flying From Grounding Your Career

An anxiety filled flight can make it tough to give your best at work. Jupiter Images—Getty Images

If your job requires you to get on a plane, this anxiety could hold you back at work. Here's how to cope with your worries.

It’s understandable if the recent spate of high-profile airplane crashes around the world has made you nervous about flying.

Three airline disasters in eight days last month have pushed the number of dead or missing this year to more than 700, putting 2014 on track to be the worst year for airline fatalities since at least 2010. With 464 fatalities, July was the fifth worst month in aviation history, according to the Air Safety Network.

In the aftermath of these tragedies, aviation experts and many news outlets issued the standard post-crash reassurance that flying is still much safer than most forms of travel, including driving a car.

But even if flying isn’t more dangerous, the fear of it can have a big impact on your life and your career. If you’re anxious about air travel, you may turn down opportunities to attend important business conferences. And even if you can get on the plane, you may be too anxious to sleep and emerge from the trip exhausted. If you need to work during the flight, anxiety can sap your productivity.

The medications you might take to cope can leave you fuzzy just when you need to be sharp for a client meeting or a speech. At its worst, a fear of flying may keep you from rising the corporate ladder.

“The impact on careers is pretty clear and often striking,” says Dr. James Abelson, director of the Anxiety Disorders Treatment program at the University of Michigan. “We regularly see people who shy away from jobs that would require them to fly and even turn down promotions.”

Who Suffers the Most

Exactly how many people suffer from a fear of flying is unknown. Some surveys find that about 25% of people are nervous about air travel. In a July poll, 36% of Americans said that recent political turmoil has made them afraid to fly internationally. But true aviaphobics make up just 6% of the population, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Whatever the stats, there’s no doubt that millions are anxious about getting airborne.

The phobia is more common among those who are successful, says Dr. Martin Seif, a psychologist who specializes in anxiety disorders and operates a fear of flying program called Freedom To Fly. That may be because people with hard-driving, Type-A personalities get uncomfortable when they aren’t in control. Plus, workers in management and executive positions are more likely to have to get on a plane for the job, says Seif.

Indeed, a number of successful celebrities, from sports stars like Wayne Gretzky to entertainers like Aretha Franklin, suffer from a fear of flying that has affected their careers.

What You Can Do

Whether you’re a celeb or a worker bee, you can take advantage of online resources, in-person programs, and even apps to get your fears under control and limit the damage to your career.

Several airports and airlines offer workshops to help nervous flyers, according to USA Today. At Phoenix Sky Harbor International, a fear-of-flying class convenes monthly, with an advanced session that allows students to test their coping strategies on an actual flight. Captain Ron Nielson, a commercial airline pilot for 40 years, runs the Fearless Flight program. Milwaukee’s General Mitchell airport’s Overcome Your Fear of Flying program is headed by Dr. Michael P. Tomaro, an aviation psychologist and certified flight instructor. San Francisco’s International airport hosts a fear-of-flying clinic that will run five workshops this year. A few international airlines, including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, also offer programs.

Seif’s Freedom to Fly program is airport based. Students go through the airport security, board the plane, and take short flights to learn how to deal with anxiety management. He also offers individual counseling sessions.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America offers a number of articles and lists resources for overcoming fear of flying.

SOAR, an organization started in 1982 by Captain Tom Bunn, a licensed therapist and airline captain, sells DVDs and one-on-one counseling sessions. It has also developed an app to manage anxiety on the go, with videos, relaxation exercises, and turbulence forecasts for your flight. The VALK Foundation, a Dutch institute that studies and treats the fear of flying, also has an app to help anxious passengers.

Simple techniques, such as doing slow controlled rhythmic breathing, can also help. The best cure for fear of flying: flying.

“The active ingredient in overcoming any fear is exposure,” says Seif. “The more you fly, the easier it is.”

TIME

4 Extremely Easy Ways to Fake Confidence

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Thomas Barwick—Getty Images

Expert advice to bluff your way to the top

Confidence is crucial for advancing in your career, but a lot of Americans today are suffering from a lack of confidence with their jobs and the state of the economy. This doesn’t mean that you’re relegated to the sidelines until circumstances improve, though. You’ll just have to fake it. Afraid you’ll be as obvious as Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally? Here’s some advice from experts on how to bluff your way to confidence.

Be shameless. “Confidence rarely equates to competence,” points out Tom Hayes, founder and owner of marketing company Riley Hayes. “sometimes the most competent people are the least confident and that the most confident people are the least competent.” Research shows that people unconsciously defer to people who project an air of confidence, regardless of whether or not they “should be” in charge. Yes, taking those first steps can be excruciating, but if you can just get the ball rolling, your colleagues will automatically perceive you as having confidence and leadership qualities.

Spend your down time studying what leaders do. Even if you’re not feeling it, having the right tools to project an air of confidence can go a long way, suggests Heidi Golledge, co-founder and CEO of CareerBliss.com. “We have noticed employees using their free time to join ToastMasters… programmers reading the latest management and technology books as well as taking a weekend to join a conference in their field lead by creative industry leaders,” she says.

Or don’t. Doing something you enjoy in your free time — an activity or hobby that has absolutely no bearing on your job — can still have a positive impact on your career confidence, Golledge says. So what if you’re a database manager or an administrator — if taking art classes or running obstacle races revs you up, go for it. Then, when you’re back in the office, recall the confidence boost that comes from doing something you like, even if you’re never going to become an expert.

Focus your efforts. If you’re an introverted type, faking confidence and being “on” all the time can be exhausting. In a Harvard Business Review blog post, consultant and speaker Dorie Clark suggests grouping your to-do list so you’re not facing social interactions where you have to project confidence every single day. “Batching my activities allows me to focus, and alternating between social and quiet time enables me to be at my best when I do interact with people,” she writes. If you can pick a day’s worth of tasks that won’t require you to put on a “game face,” you’ll be refreshed for the next time around.

MONEY office etiquette

3 No-Fail Ways to Handle a Coworker Who’s Too Loud

Businessman plugging his ears
Anthony Lee—Getty Images

Q: My colleague makes loud personal phone calls all the time. I work in an open office and sit right next to him. How can I get him to be more quiet without creating an awkward situation?

A: Dealing with noisy neighbors is one of the many curses of working in an open office space. (You’re also more likely to get sick and be less productive).

Nearly 70% of offices now have open layouts, according to the International Facility Management Association; plus the average square footage per person has dropped from 225 to 176 between 2010 and 2012—and is expected to fall to 100 by 2017, according to corporate real estate association Corenet. So some ambient noise is to be expected.

But being cozied up to your colleague doesn’t mean you have to settle for an earful of his high-volume personal calls.

You’ve got a few options for how to resolve the issue.

Ideally, a professional and polite conversation with your co-worker will solve the problem. “Sometimes it’s just an awareness issue,” says Bill Driscoll of staffing agency Accountemps. “Your coworker may not realize that everyone can hear their personal business.”

But if you don’t want to say something directly, ask your manager to speak to him. Rather than ratting out your colleague for doing personal business on work time, says Driscoll, simply tell your boss that the loud talking is distracting you from doing your job. Your boss should be empathetic when you pitch it in terms of the impact on the results you are able to deliver.

A final option is to ask your manager if you can move your desk to a quieter place in the office, with no naming of names.

Whatever you try, keep this in mind: “We spend almost as much time at work as we do at home,” says Driscoll. “This isn’t something you should have to live with.”

MONEY Tech

6 Horrible Things the Sharing Economy Is Being Accused Of

A Lyft car drives along Powell Street on June 12, 2014 in San Francisco, California.
Lyft, the ride-sharing company known for its iconic pink mustaches, is involved in what's called "Tech's Fiercest Rivalry" with competing service Uber. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

You'd think that businesses that are part of something dubbed the "sharing economy" would play nice. Well, think again.

While sharing economy businesses such as Airbnb, Lyft, Uber, and TaskRabbit were created with the idea of connecting people and empowering individuals as entrepreneurs, they were also designed to disrupt existing business models. That process can be ugly, as it occasionally wreaks havoc not only on big industries like hotels and taxis, but also on how people make a living and where they can afford to live.

There’s an argument to be made that the sharing economy is not really about sharing at all. Rather, it’s a semi-regulated, tech-enabled, blatantly capitalistic peer-to-peer business model. Sure, it helps people earn a few bucks or get services cheaper than usual, but we must admit that the model can be brutally cut-throat in the way seemingly everything and everyone is monetized. Given such, it’s not all that surprising that sharing economy businesses are being blamed for some pretty nasty stuff lately. For example:

Sabotaging Each Other
The Wall Street Journal described the battle of ride-sharing competitors Uber and Lyft as “Tech’s Fiercest Rivalry” due to tactics such as giving cash bonuses (up to $1,000) to recruit drivers away from each other. In a particularly ugly turn, Lyft accused Uber of booking—then cancelling—more than 5,500 rides since last October, just to mess with Lyft drivers and the company in general. (Uber denied Lyft’s claims.)

Price Gouging
This summer, Uber agreed to limit surge pricing during natural disasters and emergencies, but that doesn’t mean its hated price hikes during peak demand have gone entirely away. Fans who attended a recent music festival in San Francisco were subjected to surge pricing that was five times the normal rate, meaning a short Uber ride through town cost hundreds of dollars, Valleywag reported.

Inviting Squatters and Scammers into Your Home
Following in the footsteps of an Airbnb host being disturbed by renters holding an orgy in his apartment, there’s the story of an Airbnb host being outraged by squatters who refused to leave (or pay) for their rental.

Wrecking the Housing Market
Critics say that Airbnb rentals turn homes and apartments into quasi-hotels, and landlords in desirable, touristy destinations such as San Francisco and Marfa, Texas are being accused of evicting long-term tenants so that units can be used as more lucrative short-term rentals. The sharing economy pioneer has also been linked to soaring rent and housing prices in general, and also the idea that the comfortable atmosphere in apartment buildings and entire neighborhoods is being destroyed by the presence of too many loud, unruly tourists.

Illegal Currency Trading
A group of taxi companies in India has accused Uber of violating local laws for credit card transactions. It is against the law for Indian citizens to conduct business in India using a foreign currency, and that’s what the group is saying is happening every time someone there uses Uber.

Ruining Wages, and Not Only for Taxi Drivers
Cab drivers are the ones who have been most up in arms about the way rideshare upstarts like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar have been disrupting their livelihoods by wooing away customers. But the brutally competitive nature of these businesses and the sharing economy in general has been causing trouble for other workers as well—like Uber and Lyft drivers themselves.

Professional UberX drivers supposedly earn $90,000 per year in New York City, but that figure doesn’t factor in many business expenses, including parking, gas, insurance, or the maintenance of one’s vehicle. And as rideshare companies engaged in price wars recently, some drivers have seen their wages cut significantly.

The dark side of the sharing economy is that it commoditizes all sorts of skills, services, and workers overall, and puts downward pressure on how valuable they are. The recent changes at TaskRabbit, the peer-to-peer site where people can book (and offer to handle) outsourced chores, has resulted in something of a race to the bottom in terms of money people can earn, mostly because it has become more difficult to beat out the competition for gigs.

[UPDATE: TaskRabbit reached out to clarify that it recently adopted a minimum rate of $11.20 per hour for the tasks coordinated on its site. The company points out that the rate is much higher than any state's minimum wage.]

In a vehemently pro-sharing economy column published this summer by the New York Times’ Tom Friedman—it was was more or less an extended interview with Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky—Chesky envisioned a future in which people multitasked at several jobs rather than serving as employees of a single company. “You may have many jobs and many different kinds of income, and you will accumulate different reputations, based on peer reviews, across multiple platforms of people,” Chesky said. “You may start by delivering food, but as an aspiring chef you may start cooking your own food and delivering that and eventually you do home-cooked meals and offer a dining experience in your own home.”

This vision sorta makes it sound like one day we’ll all be TaskRabbits, hopping from gig to gig and competing against other taskers at every step. This is cause for concern. To quote a notable recent headline: “If TaskRabbit Is the Future of Employment, the Employed Are F***ed.” A New York Times story published this past weekend that followed the day-to-day existence of some sharing economy “microentrepreneurs” shows that this vision of the future has already arrived for many workers–and the reality is one of grim uncertainty and tough competition.

As for drivers operating taxis or rideshare cars, well, they have more to worry about than diminishing wages. Not long ago, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick made it clear that down the road, he expects that Uber will not employ any drivers at all. Instead, rides will be provided by self-driving cars. And presumably, all the people who would otherwise be drivers will have to jump into the scrum and compete with the rest of the rabbits for whatever work is available.

MONEY Careers

3 Easy Résumé Fixes to Help You Make a Career Change

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Rob Chatterson—Corbis

Ready to move to a new industry or a new kind of role but can't get employers to pay attention to you? You might need to tweak your C.V., says career coach Caroline Ceniza-Levine.

Recently, I coached an experienced healthcare executive who wanted to switch industries. She had substantive experience in business development, research and project management, but had been sending out her résumé with little response.

This is a common problem of career changers: Your résumé points employers in the wrong direction—to your past. It represents a field that you no longer want, so don’t get called in for the jobs you do.

However, with these easy adjustments, your résumé can help—rather than hinder—your career change.

1. Highlight qualifications that cut across industries and roles

When you describe your roles, take out any industry-specific jargon. You want your prospective employers in other industries to be able to see you working for them. The healthcare executive that I was working with needed to focus on general research skills, rather than make specific references to clinical research or medical research. What skills do you have that cut across industries—sales, project management, people management, marketing, analysis, financial acumen?

2. Demonstrate relevancy

Employers will be reluctant to hire someone whom they have to teach about the industry or the job. So you need to show that you have already have demonstrated some movement in that direction. Professional work experience is an obvious choice to demonstrate expertise…but then you would no longer be a career changer. Courses or certifications, professional associations and conferences, and volunteer work are more realistic ways that you can get hands-on experience with an industry, and this activity gives you something to put on your résumé . What can you use to prove that you’ve done something related to your new career area?

3. Reference emerging trends

In growth areas, demand for talented candidates exceeds supply, so employers in those fields are more open to considering outsiders. This healthcare executive had led business development for data-intensive projects, which relates nicely to the red-hot area of Big Data. By referring to her sales focus with phrases like Big Data or market analytics, she emphasizes an expertise for which multiple industries are competing, not just healthcare. What hot skills can you highlight—digital marketing, social media, customer engagement, Big Data?

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of SixFigureStart® career coaching. She has worked with professionals from American Express, Condé Nast, Gilt, Goldman Sachs, Google, McKinsey, and other leading firms. She’s also a stand-up comic. This column will appear weekly.

Read more from Caroline Ceniza-Levine:

 

MONEY Second Career

Why You Need a Second-Career Matchmaker

Dave Dardis worked for over 39 years at IBM in management roles in sales, marketing and business development. He retired about six years ago, spending his newfound free time volunteering at nonprofits in Silicon Valley. He found the volunteering work deeply unsatisfying.

“They were along the lines of ‘Can you help us for several weeks and then we’ll wave goodbye,’” Dardis, 68, recalls.

But in a parking lot conversation following a nonprofit event, Dardis learned about The Encore Fellowships Network. He was intrigued.

What The Encore Fellowship Is

The program was created by Encore.org (whose slogan is “purpose and passion in your second act”) to serve as a matchmaker for private-sector professionals and nonprofits. It typically lasts six to 12 months and comes with a stipend.

In 2011, Dardis applied to become an Encore Fellow and, after being selected, was asked to choose among three nonprofits. He picked the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley (HFSV), which spearheads local educational initiatives. Its draw? Dardis’s parents were both teachers; so is his wife.

The part-time Fellowship paid $25 an hour for 1,000 hours. When it ended, Dardis was hired as HFSV’s chief operating officer where he works three days a week on fundraising in his “unretirement.”

Says Dardis: “I am doing things that leverage my skills from IBM. I am having fun. This is a gas.”

The 20-hours-a-week schedule gives Dardis time to run errands, cook dinner for his wife and spend relaxing weekends watching his grandchildren play soccer. Financially, he’s doing fine with a pension from IBM, Social Security and two checks a month from HFSV (earning close to what he made during the Encore Fellowship).

From Creating Ads to Helping Ex-Cons

Beth Kempner worked in New York City for Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising for 25 years, where she became a Senior Vice President. When Kempner’s kids were in high school, she decided it was time to “retire” and spend more time with them before they left for college.

In her “retirement,” she did a project for the Taproot Foundation, a pro bono consulting firm, and got a certificate in the Funder and Grantmaking Program at New York University. Then, while browsing the Internet, Kempner chanced upon the Encore Fellowship program. She applied and became an Encore Fellow in 2011, working in public affairs for the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), a nonprofit that helps ex-cons get and stay in jobs.

Like Dardis, Kempner (now 55) stayed on when the Fellowship finished. She was hired as CEO’s part-time Director of Public Affairs, leveraging her advertising and marketing skills. “It’s a wonderful job,” she says.

Kempner has been with the organization for three years, working three three days a week. She’s passionate about the work, but loves the free time that has let her rediscover tennis, revive friendships and take classes.

The Encore Career Gap

Many others in their 50s and 60s are inspired by the fledgling encore career movement where Durdis and Kempner are foot soldiers. But some are unsure about which encore career to pursue, how to find a good opportunity and whether the finances will work out.

That may explain why a new Encore.org survey of Americans age 50 to 70 found that although 55 percent believe it’s important to take their skills to help others, only 28 percent said they are ready to make the leap into an encore job.

Structure and Support

It’s also why a structured, focused program like the Encore Fellowship Network can ease the transition. There are now Encore Fellowships in 15 cities in the U.S. and England, with more in the works. Each is run slightly differently, with its own application season and process.

“Not only did they [the Fellowship management] help direct me to this new ‘life’ but the support system in place in fantastic,” says Kempner. “Over the year of the Fellowship, we had speakers from every part of the nonprofit world come to speak to us and share their transitions and experiences.”

Adds Dardis: “The Fellowship isn’t a once and done kind of experience.”

Dardis and Kempner said the Encore Fellowship’s application process forced them to think about their skill sets and what they wanted out of their next chapter. Although Kempner said she had doubts whether she was qualified to assist a nonprofit for ex-cons, a meeting with the group’s former head convinced her to take a risk.

Both have found their “unretirement” work extremely fulfilling. That’s often true for people who transition from full-time professional jobs into encore careers.

Nicole Maestros, a Rand Corporation economist and author of the study, “Back to Work: Expectations and Realizations of Work After Retirement” found that 26 percent of full-time employees who retired reversed their decision and returned to work (either full time or part time) within a few years. They did so mostly because they found retirement less satisfying than they had expected, Maestros says.

The Evolving Fellowships

The Encore Fellowship model is evolving in interesting ways. For the past two years, Intel has been offering its U.S. employees who are eligible to retire the opportunity to apply for Intel Encore Career Fellowships. So far, more than 200 Intel employees have become Fellows.

More nonprofits are learning about the Encore Fellowships and snagging its talented men and women. But too few people who could become Fellows know about the program. Dardis learned about it through a chance parking lot conversation and Kempner by browsing the Internet.

The Encore Fellowship is also only one piece of a much bigger unretirement and encore career infrastructure puzzle. There are many more on-ramps to be built. Still, the Fellowship is a practical path for some boomers to thoughtfully transition from one career to another.

Check it out.

Chris Farrell is senior economics contributor for American Public Media’s Marketplace and author of the forthcoming Unretirement: How Baby Boomers Are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community, and The Good Life. He writes about Unretirement twice a month, focusing on the personal finance and entrepreneurial start-up implications and the lessons people learn as they search for meaning and income. Tell him about your experiences so he can address your questions in future columns. Send your queries to him atcfarrell@mpr.org. His twitter address is @cfarrellecon.

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MONEY Second Career

These New Programs Help Workers Retire at Their Own Pace

The federal government will allow employees to phase in their retirement by working part-time. But private companies are slower to offer this benefit.

Gwendolyn Ross will turn 66 in November, but she isn’t ready to retire. A deputy comptroller for the U.S. Coast Guard in Miami Beach, Florida, she hopes to work until she’s 70—but she would like to cut back her hours.

“I have some health issues that require a lot of visits to the doctor, and I’d love to have more time to visit my family in Michigan,” she says. At the same time, she needs to keep working to prepare for retirement. “As I get closer to it, I realize I’m not as financially ready as I thought I would be when I was younger. The time went by really quickly.”

Ross is a great candidate for a new federal government program that will allow workers to opt for a phased retirement. Participants in the program, which launches this fall, will be able to work half-time while collecting half their pensions after they reach the eligible retirement age.

For the government, the program is expected to be a money saver. The Congressional Budget Office estimated recently that 1,000 employees might take advantage of phased retirement annually, and would continue work for three years. That would cut required contributions to the government’s pension system by $427 million from 2013 to 2022, and boost worker contributions by $24 million.

But phased retirement also will help the government retain talent and expertise at a time when the “brain drain” from an aging workforce is a major concern. About 600,000 people, or 31% of the federal civilian workforce, will be eligible for retirement by September 2017, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Phased retirees will be required to spend at least 20% of their time mentoring younger employees.

“It can help people who want to phase out over time, but it makes sense for the whole workforce,” says Kevin E. Cahill, a research economist at Boston College’s Sloan Center on Aging and Work. “Younger workers can tap into the knowledge that the older crowd has, and make sure it doesn’t get lost lost.”

Worker interest in a flexible glide path to retirement is strong, and it’s not limited to the federal payroll. A survey this year by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found that 64% of workers—of all ages—envision a phased retirement involving continued work with reduced hours. For workers closest to retirement, frequently cited reasons for continued work included financial need (34%) and a desire for income (19%). But 34% had a desire to “stay involved” or said they enjoyed their work.

Employers have been slow to respond. Just 21% of respondents to the Transamerica survey said their employers offer phased retirement—and that figure may be too optimistic.

The Society for Human Resource Management reports that 11% of employers provide some version of phased retirement, with only 4% having formal programs. Cahill’s research shows similar employer disinterest in phased retirement programs.

“Sometimes there are institutional or administrative restrictions,” he says. “And some employers may have good reasons not to offer flexible hours.”

Much more common, he found, are workers who find what they need by changing jobs. “These are bridge jobs that carry people through from their careers to withdrawal later on from the labor force,” he says.

Some experts think phased retirement options will become more popular as the economy improves and labor markets tighten, particularly as demand for specialized skills rises. And the federal government’s move could be a catalyst for change in the private sector.

Each federal agency will write its own eligibility rules, and phased retirement won’t be a guaranteed right for all workers. But basic eligibility will depend on which of the two major federal retirement programs covers an employee.

The government has a legacy Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), a traditional defined-benefit system, and the newer Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), a defined-contribution program with a small traditional pension component.

CSRS employees will be eligible for phased retirement at age 55 with 30 years of service, or at 60 with 20 years of service. FERS employees must be 60 with 20 years of service, or have 30 years of service and have reached their minimum retirement-eligible age.

Interest in the program is strong, according to Jessica Klement, legislative director of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association.

“The number of phone calls we get from members tells me there are a lot of people waiting for this,” she says. “Many of them are ready to take a step back, but they don’t really want to quit yet.”

TIME Careers & Workplace

These Are America’s Best Companies to Work For

The Latest Mobile Apps At The App World Multi-Platform Developer Show
The Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. company logos are seen on an advertising sign during the Apps World Multi-Platform Developer Show in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013. Bloomberg/Getty Images

A surprising number one

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This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247wallst.com.

By Douglas A. McIntyre, Alexander E.M. Hess, Thomas C. Frohlich, Alexander Kent, Brian Zajac and Ashley C. Allen

No one knows more about a workplace than its employees. Employee opinions reflect basic measures, such as pay, perks, benefits, and hours worked. But they are also influenced by factors such as a company’s culture, internal politics, and even general mood — intangibles that can be lost in internal audits and consultancy surveys.

While companies have websites, public relations teams, and recruiters to tailor their message to prospective hires, employees have far fewer forums to communicate their views. Glassdoor.com, a career community website, provides the opportunity for employees to give their own opinions, and for potential employees to research the company. To identify the 75 Best Companies to Work For, 24/7 Wall St. examined company ratings provided by current and former employees to Glassdoor.com. (See how we made our list on the last page of this article.)

MORE: Ten States with the Fastest Growing Economies

Employees in certain sectors are far more likely to offer a positive opinion of their employer than others. Technology companies are certainly well represented among the highest-rated employers, as are consulting firms. Of the 75 best companies, only 12 received an average rating of 4.0 or higher out of 5. Of these, four are in the technology space — Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Riverbed Technology — and three are consulting firms.

Being a market leader also appears to help. Many well-reviewed companies are the leaders in their respective industries, and as a result are financially successful. Apple, Intel, Procter & Gamble, and Walt Disney are all among the top-rated employers on Glassdoor.com and among the largest public companies in the world by market capitalization. Others are leaders in public relations, like Edelman and auditing giant EY, formerly Ernst & Young.

Many of the best companies to work for have cultivated an extremely strong reputation among the broader public as well. American Express, Facebook, Google, and SAP are all among the best companies to work for and among the top companies by brand value, according to brand consultancy BrandZ. Top employers also perform well according to other measures of brand awareness, such as CoreBrand and Interbrand.

MORE: Ten States with the Slowest Growing Economies

Not surprisingly, companies with strong employee reviews also give CEOs good grades. It would seem leadership matters, not just for running a company and producing returns for shareholders, but also for promoting employee satisfaction. Among the 75 best companies to work for, 38 have CEOs with an approval rating of 90% or higher. In all, just 10 CEOs have an approval rating below 80%, and all have the endorsement of at least two-thirds of their employees.

Employees at these companies also frequently cite a good office culture and work-life balance. In many cases, employees also praise a company if it promotes learning or training opportunities and career development. At several of these companies, employees also note a good benefits package, which is uncommon in many industries, such as retail.

These are America’s Best Companies to Work For

1. LinkedIn
> Glassdoor rating: 4.5
> CEO rating: 97% (Jeff Weiner)
> Employees: 5,045
> Revenue: $1.5 billion

According to the company: “Founded in 2003, LinkedIn connects the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. With over 300 million members worldwide…LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network on the Internet.”

LinkedIn is the nation’s best company to work for, based on ratings awarded by current and former employees at Glassdoor.com. Of course, high pay doesn’t hurt employee morale. According to Glassdoor.com, the average software engineer reported an annual salary of $127,817, while the average senior software engineer reported an annual salary of $145,192. Like other technology companies, LinkedIn has excellent perks and good, free food, but employees at the company also rave about good work-life balance and a confident, inspired leadership. In fact, 97% of reviewers have a high opinion of CEO Jeff Weiner, higher than all but a few other CEOs. However, LinkedIn is also proof no employer is perfect — the company recently agreed to pay $6 million to hundreds of employees for unpaid overtime, plus damages.

2. Facebook
> Glassdoor rating: 4.5
> CEO rating: 96% (Mark Zuckerberg)
> Employees: 6,337
> Revenue: $7.9 billion

According to the company: “Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.”

Facebook is a rapidly growing and highly profitable company. It is also increasingly successful at reaching users on their mobile phones. The company’s success has not only captivated investors — Facebook’s market capitalization is currently $189 billion — but also potential employees. In fact, technology giant Google was so worried about employees leaving for Facebook that it began to provide a counter offer to employees recruited by Facebook within one hour, The Wall Street Journal recently reported. Strong benefits and perks are just one of the repeatedly mentioned advantages of working at Facebook, according to Glassdoor.com. A relatively flat hierarchy and a fast-paced workday are other characteristics of the company that employees enjoy.

ALSO READ: Customer Service Hall of Shame

3. Eastman Chemical
> Glassdoor rating: 4.5
> CEO rating: 91% (Mark J. Costa)
> Employees: 14,000
> Revenue: $9.4 billion

According to the company: “Eastman is a global specialty chemical company that produces a broad range of products found in items people use every day.”

Specialty chemicals maker Eastman receives rave reviews from employees. Workers at Eastman frequently cite work-life balance, helpful colleagues and strong teamwork, as well as a good corporate culture in their reviews. Workers also praise the company’s dedication to workplace safety. According to the company, safety forms one of Eastman’s core values. The company publicly tracks and discloses its own safety track record, as well as its internal goals for workplace safety. The small town nature of Kingsport, Tennessee, where Eastman is headquartered, is among the few complaints occasionally mentioned in Glassdoor.com reviews.

4. Insight Global
> Glassdoor rating: 4.4
> CEO rating: 94% (Glenn Johnson)
> Employees: N/A
> Revenue: $918 million

According to the company: “Through a nationwide network of 37 regional offices, Insight Global provides clients exceptional IT technicians and consultants to meet the demanding technology challenges of today.”

Insight Global is an IT staffing firm, filling over 20,000 positions a year, according to the company. Workers who were assigned jobs through the company rave about its staffing practices, noting that Insight Global’s recruiters are polite and exceptionally helpful. Many reviewers on Glassdoor.com also note that they were placed very quickly. In one such review a worker notes, “I literally got a job in under 24 hours!” Insight Global says it is on track to exceed $1 billion in annual revenue by the end of 2014.

ALSO READ: Customer Service Hall of Fame

5. Bain & Company
> Glassdoor rating: 4.4
> CEO rating: 99% (Bob Bechek)
> Employees: 5,500
> Revenue: $2.1 billion

According to the company: “Bain & Company is one of the world’s leading management consulting firms. We work with top executives to help them make better decisions, convert those decisions to actions, and deliver the sustainable success they desire.”

Bain & Company is the highest-rated consulting firm on this list, surpassing rivals McKinsey & Company and Boston Consulting Group. Bain notes on its website that, historically, client companies have dramatically outperformed the S&P 500. Also indicative of the company’s success, current worldwide managing director Bob Bechek received a nearly unanimous approval rating of 99%. Employees praise the company on multiple fronts, citing its emphasis on professional development and the quality of the workplace culture at Bain. When employees do complain, it is about long hours and demanding travel schedules.

For the rest of the list, go to 24/7Wall St.

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TIME Careers & Workplace

7 Ways to Become Your Boss’ Dream Employee

Christian Hoehn—Getty Images

Become a pet in just a few steps

themuselogo
This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

By Lea McLeod, M.A.

When my client Angela needed help sorting out a number of career-related issues, her relationship with her manager was at the top of the list.

Frankly, it was in shambles. Their working relationship was terrible, they couldn’t get along, and Angela even admitted she thought her boss regretted hiring her.

While I’m sure Angela’s boss had his own faults, I began to realize that Angela had forgotten the fundamental rule of employment: You are there to make your manager successful. Angela was contentious and argumentative, and I could see how her boss might not consider her someone who made his life any easier. (Related: How to play nice with a boss you hate)

On the other hand, when I look back at the best staff I had as a manager, they were the ones doing whatever was needed—and with a great attitude—so that we could all be successful together. In short, they made my life easier.

The good news is, aiming to do the same doesn’t just help your boss out. When your goal is to make your manager more successful—rather than just yourself—you’ll grow as an individual performer, as a professional, and as a part of the team. You’ll learn a lot about what it takes to be a leader, expand your empathic skills, and develop your capacity for leadership. Plus, your boss will likely become your mentor and advocate—which will put many more opportunities within your reach.

It’s not complicated; it just requires a decision and commitment on your part to make it happen. Here are some starter tips for making your manager’s life—and job—easier on a daily basis.

1. Get to Know Your Manager

You can’t make your boss’ life easier if you don’t understand how he fundamentally operates. So, your first step is to figure out what he needs from you—and how you should deliver it.

Does he prefer updates delivered in written form or verbally? Spreadsheets or PowerPoint slides? Does he want information conveyed via email, during a team meeting, or on a voicemail?

Getting to know your manager and his preferences will help you deliver the information he needs, the way he needs it. And who doesn’t appreciate that?

2. Know Your Boss’ Goals

As an employee, you may be so focused on your own goals that you forget that you’re actually there to support your manager achieving her goals. So, make it your job to understand the goals, numbers, projects, and other deliverables your boss is accountable for.

It’s as simple as asking your manager as part of your one-on-one meetings, “If I’m aware of your goals and priorities, I can better support you in achieving them. Can you share these with me, so that I can help you succeed?” Once you understand her goals, you’ll be able to produce deliverables that support her success.

3. Never Let Your Manager Be Blindsided

One rule I always asked my teams to abide by was to never let me be blindsided. In short: No surprises.

So, if you suspect that one of your customers is getting really ticked off and is about to escalate over you—and over your boss—to the VP of customer service, you need to let your manager know. Otherwise, she’ll be completely blindsided by the situation, unprepared to handle it, and likely, not too happy with you.

A blindside creates frustration and chaos that usually ends up in a major time-wasting fire drill. Avoid it, and believe me, your manager will thank you.

4. Don’t Expect Your Boss to Spoon-Feed You

It may sound harsh, but no manager wants to babysit an employee. So if you have questions about health insurance, where to find the pencils, or how to file an expense report, find a colleague who can help you get your answers.

Save one-on-one time with your boss for work-related matters that require collaboration; issues that allow you to flex your intellectual muscles and prove your worth as an employee.

5. Meet (or Beat!) Your Deadlines

When you get an assignment from your manager, enthusiastically commit to the deadline (this means “I’m on it!” not, “I’ll see what I can do”). Then, aim to deliver it at least a day early.

This gives your boss time to flex and adapt in case something comes up—and it always does—rather than sweating it out for you to deliver something at the very last minute.

6. Offer Solutions, Not Problems

Your job is not to constantly point out problems that arise, but rather, to proactively start thinking about what solutions could help address those challenges.

For example, you should never walk into your boss’ office to complain about how the shipping department can never get anything out on time. Instead, you should first go to the shipping department, have a conversation about what can be done to improve the situation, and see what you can do to help.

Then, when you do go to your boss about it, you’ll be able to let him or her know the action you’ve already taken to start solving the problem.

7. Do What You Say; Say What You Do

If you say you’ll finish a report by Friday for the team update, but you come in Friday morning unprepared because “other things came up,” people will probably complain to your manager.

And if that’s not enough, if your manager was counting on that report to take the next steps on a project or to present to the executive team, it will inconvenience (read: annoy) him or her even further.

People who are accountable for their actions and follow up on their commitments are dream employees—and their bosses know they can count on them, no matter what.

Employees who work to make their managers successful are golden. Your manager has a tough job—the stress and pressure of which may not be abundantly evident to you. So, help your manager out and develop your own skills at the same time, by doing everything you can to make your boss’ job easier. When you’re a manager, you’ll appreciate the same.

TIME Careers & Workplace

9 Ways to Become More Creative in the Next 10 Minutes

Creativity is developed; it's not a birthright

This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published atInc.com.

By Larry Kim

Modern culture often labels creativity as natural gift. Artists get showered with praise and proclamations of “you’re so talented,” but truthfully, talent has little to do with it.

Creativity is a skill to be learned, practiced, and developed, just like any other. Juggling takes practice, as does surfing, coding, and driving a car. Creativity is no different. The more you make creativity part of your daily life, the more it will grow.

So how do you make creativity part of your daily life? Here are 9 suggestions–and guess what? You can get started on them all in the next 10 minutes.

1. Doodle Something

Although we may have been reprimanded in school to “stop doodling and pay attention,” it’s time to bring back the doodle. Doodling, contrary to popular opinion, does not demonstrate a lack of focus. In fact, doodling can help you stay present and engaged during an activity in which you might otherwise find your mind drifting.

Suni Brown, author of The Doodle Revolution, notes that some of the greatest thinkers–from Henry Ford to Steve Jobs–used doodling to jump-start creativity. Doodling can enhance recall and activate unique neurological pathways, leading to new insights and cognitive breakthroughs. Some companies even encourage doodling during meetings!

9 Ways to Become More Creative in the Next 10 Minutes

2. Sign Up for a Class in Something You’ve Never Done Before

Creativity flourishes when you push yourself outside of your comfort zone and learn something new. Many communities offer evening adult education classes. These classes are often very casual, with plenty of beginner offerings. Try painting, pottery, or woodworking. How about learning a new language, picking up a new instrument, or taking a cooking class?

3. Create the Right Environment

The truth is that every single individual (yes, even you) can be creative. You simply require the right environment, stimulus, and support. Kids are awash with creative energy in part because they have not yet learned to fear the criticism of their peers or experienced embarrassment from failure. This is now why failure is lauded in adults–it reflects creative, risk-taking endeavors. Though not all creative ventures will work out, ultimately some will (and be very, very successful).

This is why Google goes to great lengths to provide employees with fun perks such as beach volleyball courts and free beer, a setup almost resembling an adult playground. The goal is to create an environment that lets employees feel relaxed and comfortable with vocalizing creative, even wacky, ideas. Businesses that value creativity need to do their best to foster a creative, safe space where unusual ideas are celebrated and where creativity is nurtured.

4. Pause the Brainstorming and Move Your Body

Though old-school business practice dictates group brainstorming as a powerful way to generate creativity, modern research has found that the group collective isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be.

Instead, try new approaches to creative problem solving. Go for a walk. Physically move your body and consider your project problem from different locations. Physical movement has been shown to have a positive affect on creative thinking, just as theater pros suggest practicing lines in different poses and positions to generate new character approaches.

5. Start a Sketchbook

Sketching is a great way to preserve memories and make constructive use of time that might otherwise be spent fiddling on a phone. Buy a small, lightweight sketchbook that can easily fit in your bag. Start sketching whenever you have even a few spare minutes–draw the salt and pepper shaker on your table while waiting for your coffee, or the crumpled pile of newspaper on the subway.

Though you may be disappointed in your sketches at first, the more you draw, the better you’ll get. Don’t overanalyze your results–simply draw for the enjoyment of the process, not the end piece. Creativity seeps across activities, so sketching just a few minutes a day can result in a major boost of workplace creativity.

6. Keep Toys on Your Desk

Many creative design companies encourage employees to keep toys on their desks–from Legos and Lincoln Logs to Play-Doh and origami paper. Building something physically with your hands, as opposed to typing on a keyboard, can be just the creative jolt you need.

7. Engage in Flash Fiction

Flash fiction is a form of writing consisting of extremely short pieces. There are many flash fiction writing groups online in which members write 100-word stories based on a provided prompt. That’s right, just 100 words. No one can say that’s out of their league.

Have your own try at flash fiction writing. Join a community online, or start your own at work. No pressure, no need to share; it’s just a chance to get those creative juices flowing!

8. Try the 30 Circles Test

This great creative exercise comes from researcher Bob McKim, and is featured in Tim Brown’s TED talk Creativity and Play.

Take a piece of paper and draw 30 circles on the paper. Now, in one minute, adapt as many circles as you can into objects. For example, one circle could become a sun. Another could become a globe. How many can you do in a minute? (Take quantity over quality into consideration.)

The result: Most people have a hard time getting to 30, largely because we have a tendency as adults to self-edit. Kids are great at simply exploring possibilities without being self-critical, whereas adults have a harder time. Sometimes, even the desire to be original can be a form of self-editing. Don’t forget–good artists copy, great artists steal.

9. Role-play Away

Role-playing isn’t just for the geeks at Comic-Con (no judgment; we love you guys). Role-playing can help you develop new solutions to existing problems by putting yourself in the shoes of a client or customer.

Even if you’ve already made efforts to enter the client’s mindset, physically role-playing situations with co-workers can generate powerful revelations and project solutions. As children, role-playing is how our imaginations thrived, from baking mud pies and playing house to fighting off baddies and exploring the jungles in our own backyards. It’s time to bring back the power of play.

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