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Work-Life Effectiveness for Engaged Leaders

The Training Officer’s Consortium hosted an excellent luncheon yesterday at the Ft. McNair Officers Club. The featured speaker was Mika J. Cross of the Department of Labor Veteran’s Employment and Training Service (VETS). DOL VETS serves America’s veterans and transitioning service members by preparing them for meaningful careers, providing employment resources and expertise, and protecting their employment rights. VETS also manages veterans.gov, a centralized employment website for both veterans looking for jobs and employers looking to hire them.

Mika led an engaging conversation about Work-Life Effectiveness for Engaged Leaders. Here are 5 key takeaways from the session:

  1. Define Your Own Personal Success for Work-Life Effectiveness

Work-life effectiveness means something different to each individual. The TOC audience members demonstrated this by sharing diverse examples of what it means to each of them in the context of both their own organizations and within their personal lives. One member suggested that we might aim not for balance, but rather for integration where work and personal time may blend together. Mika challenged us to think about how we define that for ourselves, by envisioning what we would want our cover story to be if it were published in our favorite business magazine.

  1. Consider the Evolution of the Workforce

Many of today’s employees want to be able to work anytime, anywhere, from any device with their performance measured on outcomes rather than time spent in the office. There is a trend toward allowing employees to define their own careers versus climbing a traditional corporate ladder. While these trends are important to keep in mind, we shouldn’t assume that every employee wants these things, and should present people with a suite of flexibility options so that each employee can decide what’s right for them. Options and choice enable employees to bring their best to the workplace while enabling them to take care of what’s most important to them outside of work.

  1. Design the Employee Experience

Mika suggested thinking about what the employee experience looks like at your organization and focusing on creating an environment centered around passion and purpose. She recommended talking with each individual employee to find creative win-win solutions that benefit both the organization and the individual. For example, employees who are trying to earn extra leave might be able to pick up extra duties within their organizations, but outside of normal work hours, so that an agency doesn’t have to bring on additional staff but rather utilize the expertise it has on hand.

  1. Try a Technology Timeout but Keep Connected

It can feel like our phones are an extension of our bodies with today’s around-the-clock connectivity. Mika suggests considering switching off your devices for a set period of time to benefit your personal wellbeing. You’ll also be setting a good example for your staff so that anytime and anywhere don’t turn into all-of-the-time and everywhere. To keep the connection among virtual teams, make sure you let your personality shine through in virtual meetings and actively work to create trust at every opportunity.

  1. Manage Expectations at Every Turn

“It’s all about managing expectations,” Mika suggested. Make sure you’re actively setting and manage expectations with both your organization and your employees. Talk about preferred communication channels and what’s acceptable both inside and outside the office as early as possible. Mika discusses these expectations as part of the hiring process for new employees to ensure that they are aware of how the team works before they start. Keep communications channels open and make sure you explain any individual differences in work flexibility policies to your team.

If your company is looking to hire veterans with world-class leadership skills, DOL VETS can help connect you with the resources to help you meet your hiring needs! You can reach the VETS’ Employer Outreach team by contacting [email protected] or Mika at [email protected] to find out about free employment resources in your area.

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