Tag: professionals

Workplace Bullying: A New Trend or an Old Problem Gaining New Attention?

Posted on April 18th, by Judith Lindenberger in Business and Workplace. Comments Off on Workplace Bullying: A New Trend or an Old Problem Gaining New Attention?

“”My relationship with the office bully is strained and unproductive. Whenever we interact I get a knot in my stomach.”

If you have experienced something similar, you’re not alone. In 2013, The Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) reported that “35% of the US workforce has experienced workplace bullying” (http://www.workplacebullying.org/individuals/problem/being-bullied/).

Bullies yell, spread rumors, roll their eyes or “forget” to invite you to meetings. According to WBI, workplace bullying is “repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons, by one or more perpetrators in the form of verbal abuse, offensive conduct/behavior and work interference.”

Rakesh Malhotra, founder of Five Global Values, writes “most bullies portray themselves … as polite and respectful, as they are charming in public …” Gretchen, from the movie, Mean Girls, says: “I’m sorry that people are so jealous of me … but I can’t help it that I’m popular.” Bullies often see themselves as the victim and don’t get or care how they make others feel. Says one bully, “The biggest problem I have at work is that I don’t get respect from others.”

When bullies run amok in the workplace, they can cause emotional and psychological turmoil. Dr. Gary Namie, who is leading a campaign to enact the Healthy Workplace Bill, which requires employers to implement policies and procedures to prevent workplace bullying, says victims can have “hypertension, auto-immune disorders, depression, anxiety and … have their work and career disrupted.” One victim reports, “I did not go to the satellite office for months because I did not want to see the bully.”

To learn more about workplace bullying, The Lindenberger Group, a New Jersey-based, award-winning human resources firm, conducted written surveys and interviews in 2012. 121 people participated, from age 20 – 65, from companies with 50 – 5,000 + employees, and from a variety of industries.

Over 80% of respondents believe that bullying is a serious problem but fewer than 25% of companies do anything about it.

Bullying includes swearing, shouting, humiliation, and unwarranted criticism and blame. One victim reports, “I had to make a bank deposit so I left the office and locked the door. When the bully could not get in, she called me, screamed, and threatened to have me fired. The next day another employee showed her the office key on her key chain. She never apologized. Her response was just ‘Oh, silly me.’”

In o

ur study, over 50% witnessed or were victims of bullying in their current workplace (60% at a previous company).

Over 95% of victims report increased stress and 90% report lower job satisfaction. Other effects include health complaints (65.4%) and lower productivity (57.9%).

Men are bullies more often (55%) and women are victims most of the time (77.1%). Most victims (59.3%) and bullies (68.6%) are ages 41 – 60 which leads to an interesting question … will Millennials (born 1977 – 1992), reputed to “play well with others”, be less prone to bully?

Another finding is that most bullies (77.6%) are at a level above the victim. In the movie, The Devil Wears Prada, Andy says about her boss, “She’s not happy unless everyone around her is panicked, nauseous or suicidal.”

The majority (78.2%) state that no actions were taken to correct bullying. However, when action is taken, coaching is the preferred strategy (50%) followed by termination (38.9%).

Most believe that bullies have psychological issues (88.1%) while others see bullying as career-driven: to weed out competition (60.3%) or get ahead (52.4%). One victim states, “Our office bully needs to listen and manage her temper. She needs to stop throwing people under the bus.”

80% favor laws to prevent workplace bullying but believe that laws have not been passed because employers worry about lawsuits (63%) or don’t understand differences between bullying and harassment (59.7%). Bullying can be directed at anyone regardless of race, religion, nationality, gender, age, disability or skin color. Harassment is treating someone differently because of those differences.

Over 90% think that discipline is the best course of action, 88.8% favor policies, 86.4% want to know how to report bullying, and 84.8% favor training. Says one executive, “It’s important to take complaints seriously and handle things quickly.”

The course of action for human resource professionals is clear: develop policies, provide training, let employees know how to report bullying, offer coaching, and create exit strategies. The course of action for managers is also clear – take complaints seriously and follow through with disciplinary action. Leaders must create a culture to prevent workplace bullying. And if that doesn’t happen, remember Ralphie from A Christmas Story? His best line in the movie?  “Say Uncle. Say it!”

About the authors: By Judy Lindenberger and Travis Johnson. The Lindenberger Group is an award-winning human resources consulting firm located near Princeton, New Jersey with experience in developing policies, conducting training and providing coaching on all types of workplace issues, including bullying. You can learn more about The Lindenberger Group at www.lindenbergergroup.com.


It's Time to Step Up Your HR Game

Posted on February 26th, by Dorothy Douglass in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

The start of a new year always gives me pause to reflect on the past year – including accomplishments, where I fell short, expectations, and results.  Then I turn, mostly fearlessly, and look to the future and consider what are the expectations for HR for in our organization.

We are well into the new year now, and I am thinking about HR professionals and what steps we can take to become more strategic, get a seat at the table, and be seen as a strategic partner, and not an administrative task team?

Here are six  ways to step up your game:

  1. Be known for getting tasks done. Get them done quickly, effectively, and accurately. This is the first step toward becoming a strategic player/partner.  If you cannot execute the HR tasks accurately and timely it is unlikely you will get the chance to contribute at a higher level.
  2. Take on additional work – even if it’s not HR-related. Don’t wait for work to come to you. What are some of the bigger picture things that need to be done in your organization that aren’t strictly listed in someone’s job description?  Start small and take on a few hard-to-get-to tasks for your boss. Be sure, though, that once you take them on, you execute them.
  3. Hone your listening skills.  One way to make yourself more valuable to the organization, and to make HR be seen in changing light, is to make sure you are listening in all those meetings you attend. Is IT is having a hard time getting to that new intranet project because they are under-staffed?   Offer meaningful solutions.
  4. Develop yourself & develop your team.  Always be sure you are continuing to learn about your organization & about HR.  Be open to learning, ask for it, and by all means, engage your team by ensuring they, too, are learning. Continually.
  5. Understand the business of your

    business.  Understand what your company does and what the financial impacts are.  It’s going to be significantly easier to interview job candidates for openings, contributing to the organization and for dealing with the people issues that come about, if you understand the business.

  6. Network inside & outside. Become involved in your community and remember that everyone you meet, talk to on the phone or in person, is a possible contact for you. Consider using LinkedIn to further connect with HR and business professionals, potential clients, vendors, and potential employees.

Above all, be accountable.  If someone on your team messed up, make sure you address it with them, set an expectation for the next time and then take ownership of the mistake as you communicate upward. At the end of the day, HR is your responsibility in your organization – and it doesn’t matter, who, what, why, when or how. When something goes right, point the finger at your team, when something goes wrong, point the finger at yourself.  Apologize, learn, and move forward.

I have to sometimes step back and remember many, if not all of these thoughts on occasion.  It’s hard work, but HR can and does make companies better – it’s not all ‘bad guy’ and ‘black hats’ for HR professionals!  Go forth, Women of HR, and build a successful team!

About the author: Color me officially graduated from the 3-year Graduate School of Banking, University of Wisconsin, Madison.  As an HR executive, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever loved doing.  I wouldn’t trade the blood, sweat, & tears of that experience for anything!  I have a whole new cadre of knowledge, and better yet, an extended network of colleagues I can call upon at any time!  I love having a “seat at the table,” and am still learning my way around the executive suite.  Yes, I’m 51-years old.  Still learning.


Hiring Introverts in your Organization

Posted on November 20th, by Andrea Ballard in Business and Workplace. 17 comments

Introverts are getting a lot of attention lately. Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can't Stop Talking, is popping up on best-seller lists and articles touting the power of introverts are being published left and right.

Recently I teamed with  Beth Buelow, an Introvert expert and owner of  The Introvert Entrepreneur, to give a SHRM Chapter meeting presentation about introverts and HR. With as many articles as I was seeing about introverts, I figured there must be some information out there about how we in HR can find, hire and promote more introverts.

Well, I was wrong.

As I started my Goggle search I found a whole lot of articles about introverts. The problem was, they all told introverts how to act more extroverted. How to shine in job interviews by bragging about themselves, and how to get more comfortable walking into a crowded room of strangers and networking.

Even as a card-carrying extrovert myself, this made me uncomfortable. We certainly don’t tell other candidates to “be more physically-abled” or “act more like a man” so why do we tilt so far toward the extroversion side when it comes to hiring? Is the introversion/extroversion preference the last frontier in diversity?

I asked Beth to explain introversion and extroversion to me. She explained it as how people gain or drain energy. Extroverts gain energy around people and introverts gain energy when they are alone. Most people have qualities of both. Introverts are normal. Extroverts are normal. Neither type is better or worse than the other – they simply indicate your natural preferences. Knowing which is more dominant can help you understand why you a

re exhausted after a large party, or bored when you are alone.

Our culture in the United States, and in many of our companies, is biased toward extroversion. Many of our job descriptions either use the word extroverted or other phrases such as “friendly and outgoing” and “at ease with people at all levels of the organization.” Many jobs do require these traits, and I’m not suggesting that we change those. But it did lead me to wonder if a preference toward extroversion gives those people an edge in interviewing, when an introvert may in fact be better suited for the job.

It’s not hard to make small changes that can make a big difference.

Don’t put candidates through panel interviews that are convenient for scheduling at your company, but not representative of the type of work they’ll be doing. Adequately prepare the candidate prior to the interview with as much information as possible about the position and the people they’ll be interviewing with. Pause during the interview and get comfortable with silence; don’t rush to fill every moment with talking. And encourage candidates to contact you via email after the interview with additional questions or further insights they may have.

What can you do today to make introverts more comfortable in your interview process?

Photo credit: iStockphoto

About the author: For 15+ years, Andrea Ballard, SPHR, has brought a unique, common sense perspective to the business of HR. A former HR Director and Training Manager, she advises companies on how to design/implement flexible work life programs to attract/retain top talent. A certified coach, she helps women create a balance between motherhood & career. She is the owner of Expecting Change, LLC,  blogs at Working Mother and is on Twitter as @andreaballard.


The Glass Elevator: A Guide to Leadership Presence for Women on the Rise

Posted on November 15th, by Lisa Rosendahl in Women of HR Book Reviews. 2 comments

Breaking through glass ceilings in the workplace is dangerous business. There is now an easier (and safer) way for women to rise and succeed professionally. In her book, The Glass Elevator: A Guide to Leadership Presence for Women on the Rise, Ora Schtull shares the 9 critical skills that will enhance your ability to engage, connect, and influence in the workplace.

Women of HR was offered the opportunity to review The Glass Elevator and through a series of questions and answers, Debbie Brown (DB) and Dorothy Douglass (DD) present their thoughtful review of this book.

Debbie and Dorothy,

What is the overall gist of Ora's message or topic? How would you summarize her book in 3 or 4 sentences?

DB: The book is a good coach to women who want to work on their engagement, connections and influence to move up the leadership ranks. Ora, writes in simple terms and stories what behaviors and skills women need to hone in on. She also provides a checklist for you at the beginning of each chapter for you to assess yourself and follows through at the end with you to be able to write down those things you want to start, stop and continue as a result of her coaching points.

DD: Professional women – read me!  Now!  Real life examples of successful executive women add value to this must-read for anyone interested in forwarding their career, at any age and any level.

Ora presented the 9 critical skills that will enhance your ability to engage, connect, and influence in the workplace. Comment on the skills presented. What do you think . . . are they really critical?

DB: I thought all the skills presented were critical for women on the rise. Communication, networking, engaging with your boss, staying healthy, all very important to name a few.

DD: These skills are critical to success, and while not new or ground-breaking information, Ora presents the skills in logical fashion, including some simple self-assessments to determine the reader’s skill level.  While I wish I’d had this book about 15 years ago, it still presents in a manner that speaks to me so I can enhance my levels of communications (engage), mentoring (connect), and happiness (influence) at work.

What one skill called out to you? Why?

DB: How to ask for what you want and need called out to me. I believe that women have a tendency to assume too much about what people know and believe about their effort and results. That assumption is not a good one, which is why it is so important to look at many more aspects as the book points out. If you don't ask, many times you will not get what you want.

DD: I kept thinking that I would get bored or not have any more “aha” moments as I read along in the book.  However, Ora presents in such a way that made me a) keep reading,


b) say yes, this makes complete sense, and c) think of all the female connections I’d like to share this information with. I kept flagging pages, and chapters that spoke to me, and finally ran out of my post-it flags. Two that jumped off the page included (from p. 132) “…if we’re going to grow our influence, we must conquer our fear of selling.”  Selling isn’t always selling a product or service, it is often selling ourselves – for that next project lead, job, or career move.  Women need to get over being the care-taker of others, and begin to take care of themselves – at least at work. This does mean getting results in the job, and communicating those results to others (who else is going to ‘toot our horn’).

In chapter 9: Be Happy, Ora speaks of being often overloaded, and I really appreciated the reminder to use four D’s of time management: Delete, Delegate (with care, not in a micromanaging way), Do, but diminish, and Delay

Ora writes on her website, “The good news is that Leadership Presence is not something you’re born with. It’s something you develop.” What do you think of that? Did the book impact your thoughts about this? If so how? If not, why not?

DB: I agree with the author – these skills are something you can work on . The book emphasized non-verbal communication which I think can impact how confident people believe you are.

DD: I felt this book was a well-written moment of preaching to the “HR-Choir.”  We work with our managers, likely not enough, to stand up, put best foot forward, develop self and team, and never stop learning.  I felt this book was a wonderful reinforcement of those messages, with great examples and good self-check tools for the lady over-achievers in the reader audience.

Did Ora challenge, inspire or enlighten you in any way? If so, how?

DB: Actually all three. It brought to light areas that I continue to work on every day and other skills to add to the list and I found it encouraging to have a woman writing from a woman's point of view, which was easy to relate to. In addition, she provided bios of successful women leaders and I found those stories and bios inspiring.

DD: This book re-energized my passion for helping to develop our professional staff (both men and women) at the bank.  I’m hopeful this book is or will be available so we can use it in the future as an opportunity to reinforce, reinvigorate, and sometimes re-engage our talented women.

Would you recommend this book to others?

DB: Yes, absolutely. I would recommend it to both genders because the book provides great perspective and coaching so any leader would be able to grasp how to help women advance.

DD: Yes.  Already making a mental list of those in my network who would value reading it!

Debbie and Dorothy, thank you for your review!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Women of HR received this book free from the publisher. We were not required to write a positive review. The opinions the reviewers have expressed are their own.


HR and Social Media: You Can Teach a Dog New Tricks

Posted on July 24th, by Dorothy Douglass in Business and Workplace. 4 comments

HR professionals are, by nature, conservative.

We are known as the rule-makers, nay-sayers, job-makers and job-breakers (at least on occasion). Those of us fortunate to be in the Midwest are somewhat insulated from change – since our world doesn’t change as rapidly as the world in California or New Yorker – and that also makes us conservative, if not ultraconservative.

As one who fits in both of those categories and has had the opportunity to sit “at the table” in the C-suite, I say we owe it to our organizations and ourselves to start thinking out of the proverbial conservative HR box when it comes to social media.  Instead of thinking of social media as a taboo, time-waster, resource-sucking 21st century trend, we need to come to grips with the fact that social media is here to stay.

If we want a seat at the table, even if our table is a conservative table, we have to make the move from being transactional to being proactive, analytical and forward-thinking and social media can help us take steps in that direction. We  must turn the corner on social media and stop being afraid of it or thinking of it as an ‘evil’ time-waster.

We have to become data-oriented in the business and improve our own business acumen.  Social media can help. Are you nay-saying me right now? Take a look at this data I collected from our burgeoning HRIS:

  • We received 975 electronic applications in only 3 months on our new HRIS and hired 24 individuals.
  • 16.67% of our new hires came as a result of an employee referral (a number I need to improve upon, and so it is important for me to know it) and 33%  were a result of seeing our job postings somewhere on the internet.
  • Of the applicants, 30% came from Indiana Career Connect.com; 15% from our website; 11% from Career Builder.com; 11% employee referral; 2% from LinkedIn, and a couple from Facebook and Twitter.  14% of the applicants came from “other internet website,” and only 2.5% of applications were generated by a newspaper ad.

Those are analytics I can work with to determine how best to recruit in the future and make most use of our financial resources as well. Already, I’ve cut our a

dvertising budget by more than $25,000 in recent years due to the upswing of internet recruiting.  This tells me we need to continue our quest to be tech-savvy and to understand our business of HR and the ‘business of our business.’  Social media helps me with all of that.

Lighten up, my HR colleagues, work with IT to loosen the system strings at your company. Use social media. Start slow – it can be overwhelming. Get a couple of wins from technology and share those with your executives.  Stop slapping the hands of those in your company who are tweeting, hooting, or Facebook-ing.  Chances are, if you are trying to keep them from it, they are loudly clamoring about it – on social media.

Use social media to your advantage.  Learn to blog, start recruiting through LinkedIn, capitalize on your contacts in Facebook to help find your next rising star for your company or use the internet to develop yourself. I just saw an article posted on LinkedIn, from Harvard Business Review.  It’s worth your time to take a look.   It is called “Managers Need to Up Their Game with Social Media.”

I admit it.  I am on Facebook, LinkedIn, and now Twitter – daily.  Sometimes, gasp, even while I am at work.  I use all of the above to research HR information such as topics on motivating, training, succession planning, recruiting, retaining, compensation, benefits, and vendor and outsourcing selection.  And my list goes on.  I don’t know FourSquare, Google+, HootSuite (and the list grows longer every day) – yet.  But every now and then, this old dog can learn a new trick.

Sign me, Old But Learning….

About the author: Dorothy Douglass is an HR professional who has served in HR and management roles for 20 years+ who considers herself  fairly tech-UNsavvy.  She is the VP of HR for MutualBank , has been with them for 10 years  and is in her third year at the Graduate School of Banking in Madison, Wisconsin. She is one of few HR professionals privileged to attend the full 3-year banking program rather than the 1-year HR program. Masochist?  Maybe.  But it's made her a better banker, for sure.


HR Conferences: Reflections of #SHRM12

Posted on July 4th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace. Comments Off on HR Conferences: Reflections of #SHRM12

I had the opportunity this year to attend the SHRM 2012 Annual Conference and Exposition for the first time this year. This year's event brought nearly 16,000 HR professionals to Atlanta, GA for four days of learning and connecting, and I was honored and privileged to be among them.

For our readers who were not able to attend (and even for those who were) I wanted to share my observations and take aways from the experience.

I quickly realized that at a conference as large as this one, it is simply not possible to do, see, and learn everything that you want to, so my strategy became focused on finding a few gems of wisdom to bring back. The keynote speakers offered many:

  • Condoleezza Rice spoke about role models and mentors and encouraged attendees to broaden their minds as they looked for theirs. To her, role models and mentors don't need to look like you, they simply need to have an interest in you. For us, the Women of HR, this is a useful message. Though it's beneficial to find successful women to emulate, that's not to say we cannot learn from and be mentored by the successful men around us.
  • Malcolm Gladwell spoke of the new generational paradigm and how Millenials have a profoundly different notion of how social organizations behave. Our role as HR professionals is to bridge the gap between the Millenials' flexible, decentralized, network focused view of the workplace, and the traditional structured hierarchical view. There are benefits and drawbacks to both; we must figure out how to harness the power of each.
  • Jim Collins challenged us to aspire to be the dumbest person in the room as that's what great leaders do. As we grow and develop in our roles as leaders, one of the wisest things we can do is surround ourselves with people who know more than we do; by doing this it challenges us to keep stretching our own capabilities and mak

    es our teams that much stronger.

  • Tom Brokaw reminded us that the latest generation to enter the workforce is coming out of school with a wariness for institutions and an entrepreneurial mindset. As HR leaders we need to figure out how to welcome them into our workplaces as encourage and motivate them to their fullest potential. He also said that the 21st century will be the century of women; some say it already is. Either way, we will have increasing responsibilities within our organizations and society as a whole.

But beyond the speakers, sessions, and nuggets of wisdom, the thing that struck me the most about being in attendance at SHRM was incredible feeling of being in the presence of so many fellow HR professionals with a passion for what we do. The camaraderie was palpable, especially if you embraced the opportunities to network and took advantage of the social engagements available to attendees.

We're living in a changing world and working in a changing industry, but being there, among my colleagues from around the country and the world, I couldn't help but to feel, in the wise words of Tom Brokaw, “we're all in this together.”

If you'd like to read about other attendees' and bloggers' impressions and leanings from the SHRM conference, you can search the #SHRM12 hash tag on Twitter or visit SHRM's Buzz site at http://buzz.annual.shrm.org/

About the author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR is experienced in employee relations, employment/staffing and training & development. She currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry and is honored to be in the company of such talented and seasoned Women of HR bloggers. Jen is a fan of happy hours, hockey, traveling and connecting with interesting people. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn as Jennifer Payne, SPHR.


Perceptions of Ladies in High Heels

Posted on December 26th, by Ali Webster in Business and Workplace. 6 comments

This holiday week we are featuring some of our top posts at Women of HR. Enjoy!

I love high heels. The exhilaration of rising from 5’3 to 5’7 in a quick step. The appearance of a much slimmer & perkier lower body. The click on concrete and office lobbies that commands attention. The toe cleavage. Yes…the toe cleavage.

I love high heels.

When I was a Human Resources Assistant, my manager always wore heels and a well-rotated collection of suits. She was also extremely professional, action-orientated and a confident public speaker,  i.e. everything I wasn’t at the time. So I quickly followed her lead and purchased three pair of heels; black, brown & nude. I didn’t instantly soak up the demeanor and skills of my manager through those pointy tipped shoes, but I noticed a difference in my performance. I implemented improvements to our staffing process, followed up with other managers and resolved employee concerns. The staff anticipated my entrance into a room by the sound of my feet and then actually listened while I spoke at the meeting. Was this new-found self-confidence due to my footwear or my experience?

After attempting to train for a marathon and developing shin splints, my heel wearing days were over. So I invested in a new line of shoe wear by purchasing one pair of black, brown & purple flats. At first, I felt deflated. I was back in the land of short people, asking for assistance to reach handbooks on high shelves and making eye-to-chin contact. I worried “Would the staff still respect some girl sporting ballet flats?” My superficial side was quite surprised when no one commented on my “real” height and my flatness made me even more efficient. Instead of concentrating on the physical act of walking, I could run through my mental to-do list or think of an idea for our employee picnic. I could easily keep pace with male coworkers and the more experienced Stiletto-rocking women while finalizing plans for new hire orientation. Yes, I could accomplish the same things at 5’3 that I could at 5’7.

I realize now that just because I want to BE like her, does not mean I need to LOOK like her. My heels did not give me the boost of confidence I needed for a professional environment, it was the example of my manager who wore them. Perhaps those lovely shoes encouraged my inner potential, but my manager gave me the skills to succeed in future environments. Accomplishments, work ethic and attitude speak louder than any pair of shoes.

So, heels or no heels? Ladies, what does wearing or not wearing heels mean to you? Gentlemen, what perceptions do you have of a woman with or without heels?

Photo credit iStockphoto

Wellness at Home

Posted on November 9th, by Courtney Hughes in Wellness and Balance. 1 Comment

You arrive home after a long day at the office with lots of calls and meetings.

After doing a few household chores, it’s tempting to grab the television remote control, put your feet up and call for take out.

That’s fine … once in a while. However, do this night after night and you may find yourself out of shape, carrying extra pounds, and feeling less energetic overall.

So, how can you live a healthy lifestyle when you spend a great deal of time sitting at a desk and have a mile-long list of household and family obligations? Here are a few tips:

Schedule in Wellness

You schedule department meetings, interviews and conference calls at work. Why not schedule in exercise or sleep and relaxation at home? That’s right, open your calendar and mark off 30 or 45 minutes of time each day for your workout. You may want to have this at regular times so that exercising becomes routine in your life. In his book “Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less,” psychologist Barry Schwartz writes about how making an activity routine, or setting a rule of thumb (e.g., “I will workout right when I wake up.”) takes the recurring choice out of the equation. Instead of agonizing each day about whether or not to go for a power walk, have it scheduled so you just do it, as you would attend a morning department meeting.

Exercise, Even in Short Bouts

Now that it’s in your calendar, get your sneakers on and get moving! Research studies show that regular exercise helps prevent weight gain, heart disease and diabetes. It also can boost your immune system so you can fight viruses and bacteria before they keep you sick in bed.

How much exercise do you need? As little as two and a half hours per week of aerobic exercise like walking or bicycling is beneficial, with more exercise adding even greater health benefits. You can break your exercise up into multiple short bouts, say 15 minutes each, if it is more convenient than one long session.

Eat Healthy

A diet filled with fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein helps you maintain energy, boost immunity and prevent unwanted weight gain. It’s a good idea to plan your family’s meals ahead of time. That way, you have the necessary ingredients and your not as tempted to pick up fast food or eat frozen dinners (often filled with sodium and saturated fats) at the last minute. Visit the USDA’s MyPlate to learn more about building a healthy plate of food.

Take Care of Your Body

Thomas Edison once said, “The chief function of the body is to carry the brain around.” In order to ‘carry our brains around’ well, we need to take care of our bodies. Yes, that means avoiding those habits that sap our energy and increase our risk for chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. Chief culprits are smoking, drinking more than a serving of alcohol per day on average for us women, and not getting our recommended screenings (e.g., mammograms starting at age 40, pap smears starting at age 18, cholesterol tests).

Keep in mind that you aren’t going to live a perfectly healthy lifestyle ALL the time. That’s okay. It’s important to be nice to yourself and if you have a lazy day or eat a less healthy meal, move on and make the next day/meal healthy. Visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services SmallStep website for ideas of small changes you can make to live healthier every day!

Photo credit iStockphoto

About the author: M. Courtney Hughes, PhD, is Founder of Approach Health, a data-driven health behavior change company. She is an expert in corporate disease management and wellness and enjoys working with employers on employee health promotion strategies and programs. Courtney lives in the Chicago area and can be found on Twitter as @ApproachHealth.