MONEY Workplace

How to Handle Your Worst Work Nightmares

box of office supplies on desk
Adam Gault—Getty Images

When you're done breathing into a paper bag, read this.

Your career is sailing along just fine—until one day you get an email from HR, and suddenly it isn’t anymore. While there’s no shortage of advice out there for how to handle the loss of a job, a blow like having your team downsized or being asked to take a pay cut can leave you reeling and without a sure sense of what to do next.

The silver lining, career experts say, is that you can bounce back—and even thrive—if you make the right moves. Career experts offer their advice for turning around these all-too-common professional setbacks.

You’re passed over for a promotion. First, try to figure out what happened, says career coach Todd Dewett. Maybe you had a hand in dealing your fate, maybe you didn’t—either way, it’s better to know. “You want to know if you were part of the cause, what the main cause might be if not you, and whether or not you should expect this to happen again,” he says.

If your performance is up to snuff, consider that there could be something in the way you look or act that could be holding you back. A recent CareerBuilder survey found that bushy beards, gossiping, even keeping your workspace a mess can be enough to keep you from moving up.

You have to take a pay cut. People like to point out that money isn’t everything—which isn’t the most helpful advice when you have to figure out how to get by with less of it. There are two steps to take here. The first is to think about what else motivates you to go to work every day. “Emphasize other aspects of the job or organization that have value… beyond money and position,” says James Craft, professor of business administration at the Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh. For instance, are there social benefits or personal perks (like being to negotiate one Friday a month off) that can ease the sting of that hit to your bank account? “Essentially, redefine what the value is in this employment,” Craft says.

If you come up empty—or if your budget is simply stretched too thin—then dust off that resume and move on to plan B. “Draw on personal and professional contacts to see what other job opportunities would be available elsewhere to continue to move toward [your] overall career objectives,” Craft advises.

Your team gets downsized. If the budget axe chopped your team in half, your job just got tougher. And if the changes result in more work and less reward for your underlings, you could be fighting an uphill battle—one that could reflect poorly on you. In that case, consider whether this might be a good time to move on.

“Spend time revising your resume and be sure your LinkedIn profile is current, and consider going on the market to find an employer that may value your professional competencies [and] positive attitude,” says Dale F. Austin, director of the Career Development Center at Hope College. The job market has picked up, after all, so it might be worth putting a few lines out and seeing if you get a bite.

You get demoted. So maybe you weren’t management material. Your ego might be smarting, but it’s your reputation you need to repair. “The most difficult type of setback is any which is clearly explained by your behaviors or competencies to the exclusion of other explanations,” Dewett says. “It’s on you, and everyone knows it. “ Depending on what went down, “you might need to make amends,” Dewett says. “Then it’s time to identify needed behavioral or skill changes.” Stumped? Ask a friend or trusted colleague in confidence. It’s likely they’ll see something that you don’t.

Your closest colleague quits. Whether it’s your assistant, your boss, or the CEO, an abrupt departure can rattle nerves and create an uncomfortable climate at the office. “Bad news can be unsettling, so be sure you get all of the detail you can,” says Paul McDonald, senior executive director of HR consulting company Robert Half. Don’t assume you know what happened: “Ask questions and get clarification,” he says.

In a situation like this, McDonald advises, it’s important to evaluate your emotions and try to look at the situation objectively. “If you’re angry, frustrated, or sad, you may need a day or two to process the news,” he says. Once your emotions aren’t quite as volatile, you’ll be in a better frame of mind to address what happened.

Read next: 3 Sweet Employee Benefits You May Be Missing

TIME facebook

Here’s Facebook’s Course To Combat Bias In The Workplace

The company is now sharing it with the public

Facebook is a prestigious Silicon Valley company where many people hope to work, and yet it has had trouble building on a truly diverse workforce despite repeated promises to do so.

So on Tuesday, COO Sheryl Sandberg shared in a blog post the company’s latest effort in that area: an anti-unconscious bias course for its employees. The company is now sharing it with the public via a new website, complete with videos and presentations on various topics.

“One of the most important things we can do to promote diversity in the workplace is to correct for the unconscious bias that all of us have,” Sandberg wrote. “At Facebook, we’ve worked with leading researchers to develop a training course that helps people recognize how bias can affect them, and gives them tools to interrupt and correct for bias when they see it in the workplace.”

Google released a similar body of resources and training materials in 2014.

In mid-June, Facebook released its second annual workforce diversity report. Much like the other large companies that have also released such reports in the last two years, not much has changed in Facebook’s numbers. The company saw only a one percentage-point increase in total female employees (32%) and in women in technical positions (16%). Women in senior positions stayed at the same level — just 23% of the company. Facebook also didn’t see much improvement in racial diversity, still mostly hiring white and Asian employees.

“Diversity is central to Facebook’s mission of creating a more open and connected world. To reflect the diversity of the 1.4 billion people using our products, we need to have people with different backgrounds, races, genders and points of view working at Facebook,” Sandberg wrote.

The videos cover four areas: stereotypes and performance bias, performance attribution bias, competence/likability tradeoff bias, and maternal bias. It’s not clear how Facebook has implemented these training materials within the company, although Sandberg notes that people have asked the company to share the course with others.

TIME motherhood

Millennials More Supportive of Working Moms than Previous Generations

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Jasper Cole—Getty Images/Blend Images RM Mother and daughter walking on city street

Much more likely to say that moms who work have just as good relationships with their kids

Working moms are getting more love than ever. Millennials are much more supportive of working mothers than young people in the 1970s and 1990s, and there’s a broader consensus that working moms can have a great relationship with their kids, according to a new study shared exclusively with TIME.

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Researchers at University of California, San Diego and San Diego State University attribute the increased acceptance to a shifting social and economic realities over the last 30 years, in which there are more single moms and few can afford not to work. The study, published Monday in the Psychology of Women Quarterly, analyzed the results of two national representative studies of nearly 600,000 respondents. They found that in 2010, only 22% of 12th-graders thought young children suffered if their mother worked, down from 34% in the 1990s and 59% in the 1970s. Adults also showed an increased tolerance for working mothers, with 35% believing that a child was worse off if his or her mother went to work in 2012, compared with 68% in the 1970s.

The researchers also found that more people believe working moms can have just as good relationships with their kids as moms who stay at home. In 1977, less than half of adults agreed that “a working mother can establish just as warm and secure a relationship with her children as a mother who does not work.” In 2012, 72% agreed with that statement.

“When you have more working mothers, you have to have more acceptance of them,” says Jean Twenge, author of Generation Me and a main researcher on the study. “When people look around and see ‘this is what people do now,’ you have to have more acceptance.”

But in some areas, there appeared to be a bit of a backtracking. In the 1990s, 27% agreed that it was best for the man to work and the woman to stay home, while 32% agreed with that idea in 2010-2013. In the 1990s, 14% thought the husband should make important decisions in the family, but 17% thought so in 2010. Twenge says that probably doesn’t indicate a spike in sexism, but instead might signify an increased perception that marriage is only for a certain kind of person. “It’s possible that this generation sees marriage as something that people with traditional gender roles do,” she says. “They think it’s for more traditional people.”

Twenge says the increased acceptance of working moms isn’t just because millennials have been around more women who work– it’s also part of the millennial tendency towards individualism. “One aspect of individualism is to treat people equally,” she says. “When you treat people as individuals, you’re not going to distinguish between a working mother and a working father.”

 

TIME Culture

The Art and Science of Doing Nothing

man-resting-rowboat
Getty Images

Shane Parrish writes Farnam Street

Also known as 'leisure'

Leisure or as some call it, the art and science of doing nothing. It’s something we all want yet rarely have.

Our modern workplace culture prides itself on filling every one of our minutes, even if it’s all for show. Yet leisure is necessary for insight, which is a key component in today’s knowledge economy.

Far from being the result of productive labour, for the knowledge worker, leisure is a necessary part of the labour. While it may seem non-productive, that is only looking at it from one angle.

In this excerpt, from The Theory of the Leisure Class, Thorstein Veblen defines leisure as the “nonproductive consumption of time.”

The term leisure, as I use it, does not connote indolence or quiescence. What it connotes is nonproductive consumption of time. Time is consumed nonproductively (1) from a sense of the unworthiness of productive work, and (2) as an evidence of pecuniary ability to afford a life of idleness. But the whole of the life of the gentleman of leisure is not spent before the eyes of the spectators who are to be impressed with that spectacle of honorific leisure which in the ideal scheme makes up his life. For some part of the time his life is perforce withdrawn from the public eye, and of this portion which is spent in private the gentleman of leisure should, for the sake of his good name, be able to give a convincing account. He should find some means of putting in evidence the leisure that is not spent in the sight of the spectators. This can be done only indirectly, through the exhibition of some tangible, lasting results of the leisure so spent—in a manner analogous to the familiar exhibition of tangible, lasting products of the labor performed for the gentleman of leisure by handicraftsmen and servants in his employ.

The lasting evidence of productive labor is its material product—commonly some article of consumption. In the case of exploit it is similarly possible and usual to procure some tangible result that may serve for exhibition in the way of trophy or booty. At a later phase of the development it is customary to assume some badge or insignia of honor that will serve as a conventionally accepted mark of exploit, and which at the same time indicates the quantity or degree of exploit of which it is the symbol. As the population increases in density and as human relations grow more complex and numerous, all the details of life undergo a process of elaboration and selection; and in this process of elaboration the use of trophies develops into a system of rank, titles, degrees, and insignia, typical examples of which are heraldic devices, medals, and honorary decorations.

As seen from the economic point of view, leisure, considered as an employment, is closely allied in kind with the life of exploit, and the achievements which characterize a life of leisure, and which remain as its decorous criteria, have much in common with the trophies of exploit. But leisure in the narrower sense, as distinct from exploit and from any ostensibly productive employment of effort on objects which are of no intrinsic use, does not commonly leave a material product. The criteria of a past performance of leisure therefore commonly take the form of “immaterial” goods. Such immaterial evidences of past leisure are quasi-scholarly or quasi-artistic accomplishments and a knowledge of processes and incidents which do not conduce directly to the furtherance of human life. So, for instance, in our time there is the knowledge of the dead languages and the occult sciences, of correct spelling, of syntax and prosody, of the various forms of domestic music and other household arts, of the latest proprieties of dress, furniture, and equipage, of games, sports, and fancy bred animals such as dogs and racehorses. In all these branches of knowledge the initial motive from which their acquisition proceeded at the outset, and through which they first came into vogue, may have been something quite different from the wish to show that one’s time had not been spent in industrial employment, but unless these accomplishments had approved themselves as serviceable evidence of an un productive expenditure of time, they would not have survived and held their place as conventional accomplishments of the leisure class.

(h/t Lampham’s Quarterly)

This piece originally appeared on Farnam Street.

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

MONEY Careers

Is Work-Life Balance Even Possible?

We asked people on the streets of New York City how they manage to keep their home lives and work lives separate, if at all.

Balancing your time and energy between work and home is difficult; you’ve got that report due on Wednesday and your kids need help with their homework. We went to Times Square to ask people how they prioritize between their careers and their family. Some people said they clock out right at 5p.m. every day while some said they take work home with them every night. How do you manage your work-life balance?

MONEY Workplace

The 3 People It Pays to Befriend at Work

You'll obviously make friends at your new job, but these are three people you should absolutely befriend.

At the very least try to make these folks friendly acquaintances.

Someone in human resources will likely already have an ear to the ground when it comes to layoffs or new job opportunities within the company. This person can also be a good sounding board for salary and personnel issues.

You should also try to befriend your boss’s assistant, the gatekeeper to your boss. He or she can get you on the boss’s schedule and alert you to the boss’s mood.

Finally, reach out to the office rockstar. You know who that one is: the person who just kills it day in and day out.

TIME Management

Why Monitoring Employees’ Social Media Is a Bad Idea

Quote tweet feature
Nick Ansell—PA Wire/Press Association Images Quote tweet feature. File photo dated 10/02/15 of the Twitter bird logo. Twitter has overhauled its "frustrating" quote tweet feature to allow people to say more about text they want to comment on. Issue date: Tuesday April 7, 2015. The social media giant had faced criticism that users barely had any characters left to add a comment when they quoted a tweet because of the 140-character limit. See PA story TECHNOLOGY Twitter. Photo credit should read: Nick Ansell/PA Wire URN:22671665

there is a vast difference between asking for employees to exercise good judgment and hovering over their Tweets like Big Brother

People today live in a virtual online aquarium, and chances are good that one of the people watching you is probably your current or potential employer. According to job site CareerBuilder, 52% of companies now check job applicants’ social media profiles before hiring them, up from 43% just a year ago.

On one hand, it’s understandable. After all, it can be embarrassing for a business if one of its representatives posts offensive content or does something illegal via social media. Employers can even get into legal trouble for their workers’ actions. Advocates of the practice say that it’s necessary to protect companies’ reputations, confidential information, and is an inevitable byproduct of the Internet age, according to the Wall Street Journal.

But does monitoring of employees’ social media really protect a company or can it do more harm than good?

First, the argument that companies need to keep tabs online to ensure that their employees refrain from inappropriate or illegal behavior doesn’t really hold. While it’s conceivable that some low level silliness, such as posting a picture of yourself dancing on a table, could be prevented by employer monitoring, more serious infractions are unlikely to be shared on social media and therefore never appear on the radar of the company anyway.

In addition, when job candidates or employees know that they are being watched, they can restrict access to certain posts, set up dummy profiles to fool companies, or otherwise throw up smokescreens. This is particularly true of millennials, who are technologically adept at controlling and manipulating their online avatars. The point is, the limited preventative effect of social media monitoring may not be worth the time and expense required for companies to do it.

There is also the problem of bias. Americans today are arguably more socially and politically conscious than previous generations and actively use social media to convey their thoughts, debate important topics, and fight for causes. In some cases, employers may even be supportive, such as if a job candidate works tirelessly to raise money for breast cancer research, but in other cases, there is a real danger of people being penalized for their personal views on things like politics, race, or religion.

Even if a company itself is neutral, the subjective feelings of the person tasked with monitoring employees’ social media could easily lead to discrimination, especially in the highly polarized environment of the U.S. People should be able to share their views on gay marriage, for example, with their friends on social media, without running afoul of an employer who disagrees with them. Recognizing that in essence this is an inadvertent violation of laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, political preference, gender etc, employers should at the very least factor this into their social media policies and put safeguards in place to prevent against it. The harm caused by bias to workers is immense but so are the potential legal consequences for companies.

Finally, by looking over workers’ shoulders, companies could stifle the most important trait that can benefit a business: creativity. As innovation becomes increasingly necessary in a hyper-competitive business landscape, this factor can be crucial for a company’s success.

Social media, for those who use it avidly at least, can be a medium to express our personality – for who we are – which is naturally linked to our creativity. Companies that foster creativity are more profitable and 50% more likely to be market leaders than their peers, according to the Harvard Business Review. Yet some businesses fail to make the connection between suppressing their employees’ online freedom and restricting their creativity.

There is no doubt that companies are within their rights to expect compliance with some common-sense social media etiquette. However, there is a vast difference between asking for employees to exercise good judgment and hovering over their Tweets like Big Brother. The latter can erode a necessary sense of trust between companies and their workers and undermine loyalty. Just as an employee or a job candidate needs to trust that a company has integrity and is worth working for, the company needs to show its people that it trusts them to behave like responsible adults.

By allowing workers to live their personal lives without intrusion, smart businesses can make a powerful statement; namely, that they accept them for who they are, treasure their professional contributions to the company, and want them to be happy and fulfilled outside as well as inside the office. This, in turn, would inspire loyalty and boost productivity in the workforce, and make those companies more profitable.

Kumar has worked in technology, media, and telecom investment banking. He has evaluated mergers and acquisitions in these sectors and provided strategic consulting to media companies and hedge funds.

TIME Labor

These 5 Charts Show How Hard it is for Americans to Take a Vacation

Americans have seen nearly a full week of vacation disappear from their lives

Memorial Day weekend is upon. It’s time to hit the road as vacation season officially kicks off–that is unless you’re like the majority of Americans who’ve cut back on their beach time. In the 1980s, employed Americans took up to 21 days of paid vacation each year. By 2013, that number had shrunk to 16, according to research performed by Oxford Economics for Project Time Off.

To read more about America’s vacation problem, see this week’s TIME magazine.

It’s important to note many employees do have access to vacation. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that access to paid time off (PTO) remains above 90 percent among private industry employees, shrinking only 2 percentage points since 1989.

Access to paid vacation 1989-2014

chart1

The chart above includes all full-time employees in private industries–the primary employers in the U.S.–including small and large businesses. “Larger companies traditionally offer relatively good access to benefits, like paid time off”, says Elizabeth Ashack, an economist with BLS. But the availability of paid vacation varies greatly among occupations within the private industry.

Access to paid vacation by sector in 2014

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Only 55 percent of service jobs offer paid time off (compare that to management and financial positions which come in at 96 percent, the highest level among the above occupations). Without a federal mandate for paid time off or paid sick leave, private industries are left to their own discretion, often resulting in unequal access across occupations.

Ashack says that employers may offer better benefits to keep workers from jumping ship in good times, but in bad times those benefits worsen, evidenced by cuts during the economic downturn of 2008 to 2009.

Likewise, the amount someone makes is a good indicator of the quality of paid time off they receive.

Access to paid vacation by income groups 2014

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Those making the lowest wages are the least likely to have paid leave, with a steady increase in access as wages rise.

For those with access, the use of paid time off has declined sharply in the past decade to an average of 16 days taken each year–an all time low within the past four decades.

Annual vacation days used among employed adults 1978 – 2013

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The U.S. Travel Association, a trade group which encourages Americans to travel, funded Project Time Off to measure the economic impact of the decline in vacation time. They found that among employees with access to paid time off, nearly five days went unused in 2013, and 1.6 of those days did not carry over to the next year. That totals to 169 million days of lost vacation time for Americans.

By surveying the hours worked by employees, BLS measures the percent of the American workforce on partial (less than 35 hour work week) or full vacations on any given week. Analysts noticed a decrease in full-week vacations, and a corresponding increase in partial week vacations, yet another measure indicating that Americans need a break.

Percentage of employed adults on full or partial-week vacations 1978 – 2013

chart5

 

MONEY salary

Temps Make 10% Less Than Full-Time Employees for the Same Work

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Joerg Steffens—Getty Images/OJO Images RF

It's common knowledge that temp workers aren't treated as well as full-timers. But this is pretty awful--and blatant.

There’s bad news for those working as temps or on-call workers—a group of Americans that has grown since the recession.

Despite doing equivalent work, so-called “contingent” employees earn about 10.6% less per hour than standard full-time workers, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Contingent employees made up about 18% of the workforce in 2014, up from 12% in 2009. That increase has come in great part because of growth in the “gig economy,” says Mary Beth Maxwell, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor.

“For some, these changes represent greater access to the labor market. For others, they mean reduced access to workplace protections, benefits and stable income, and increased exposure to health and safety risks,” Maxwell wrote in a letter to the GAO.

Indeed, a different new study reveals that on-demand workers (like Uber drivers) most commonly cite low pay as their top reason for quitting.

Some temp workers are paid especially poorly compared to their full-time counterparts, the GAO report found: Teachers and educators make nearly 14% less than standard workers per hour if they are contingent. On the other hand, construction workers make about the same on an hourly basis no matter if they’re contingent or collect salaries full-time.

Unsurprisingly, the job benefits are worse for contingent workers–that is, if they receive benefits at all. Temps are about two-thirds less likely than standard workers to have a work-provided retirement plan and less than half as likely to have employed-based health insurance, the study found.

TIME Parenting

All In is Lean In for Dads

Josh Levs' book is a call to arms for working dads

Men should lean in just as much as women—they should just do it in a different direction.

That’s the gist of Josh Levs’ All In, a manifesto of work and life for men that aims to be for working fathers what Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In was to working mothers: a cogent analysis of the systemic problems in work culture that make it so difficult to be a parent. Levs says he consulted with Sandberg while he was writing the book.

Josh Levs is a CNN reporter who made headlines in 2013 when he filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Time Warner because he said their paid leave policy discriminated against biological dads. At the time, Time Warner offered 10 weeks of paid leave to biological mothers, and to parents of both genders who adopted or had a child through surrogacy, but biological fathers only got two weeks. Levs challenged this rule and won, and went on to become an advocate for better workplace policies for dads as well as moms.

Levs’ central argument is that American culture—especially American workplace culture—doesn’t allow parents of either gender to spend enough time with their children. There’s been a lot of discussion about how tricky that problem is for women, but few have dug deep into what it means for men. “There’s this basic mentality about what men and women are that has held back our policies,” he says. “Our structure is based on the assumption the woman will stay home and men will work, so why would you need paid maternity leave? The women will stay home! Why would you need paternity leave? They’ll work!”

Clearly, that assumptions aren’t true anymore, but Levs argues that workplace policies have not kept up with the changing times. “Our policies didn’t grow up, our policies are stuck in the past,” he says.

The book is a “call to action,” Levs says, not only for long-demanded workplace policies like paid maternity leave, but also for widespread paternity leave and greater flexibility for all working parents. He repeatedly notes that the United States is one of the only nations in the world without paid maternity leave, and that many other industrialized nations have paternity leave on top of that.

Changing American workplace policies isn’t just a question of accommodating parents, its a question of looking out for children, Levs argues. He says that paid leave shouldn’t be considered a luxury—he says it’s no different from “absolute basics” like public schools or medical care for kids. “Another absolute basic is making sure what when a child leaves the womb, its parents, or one of its parents at least, hopefully both, have time to stay home and not hand the child over to strangers and rush back to work,” he says.

“That’s not left or right, that’s not a battle over taxes, its just doing what’s right for kids,” he says. “And whats right for a society’s kids is always best for a society.”

Levs isn’t just calling for better workplace policies, he’s also asking men—and women—to re-examine what it means to be a dad. He argues that the antiquated expectations of a worker-bee dad and a stay-at-home mom have left modern fathers feeling shut out at home in the way some mothers feel shut out at work, even as fathers are increasingly aware of the importance of active parenthood. That’s creating an identity crisis for the American dad. “We are carving out a new role for fathers in America,” he says. “That’s a challenge and an opportunity. There are opportunities that men have now that our fathers didn’t have. So that gives us a chance to define a new meaning of manliness.”

“We’re all in this together, pushing forward for a new meaning for fatherhood.”

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