Bernie Dyme on February 2nd, 2016

iStock_000004384999LargeWoman on couchWe hear a lot about millennials (ages 21 – 34) and often what we hear is not very complimentary.  Things like they are lazy, entitled, they aren’t responsible and they don’t stick around at jobs if they aren’t taken care of.  And since they  constitute the largest group in America’s workforce, (37% of the total) , compared with baby-boomers (34% of the total), it might be helpful to know if these things we hear are actually true.

Well, I hate to break it to all of you but many of these generalizations are inaccurate (Myths About Millennials) .  The only thing that is true is that they grew up in the digital generation and have greater access to information.

So, if we can get beyond our generalizations and open ourselves to better understanding, we might be able to bridge this “gap in understanding” of the generations and create better work cultures that address the true needs of these folks. As usual, social media, with its vast connections to the younger generations, has analyzed the data that looks specifically at the relationship between millennials and money.  This should be important to employers in terms of the benefits they offer and in how they better understand their target purchasers.  Here is a summary of what Facebook found.

  1. There are over 70 million millennials of working age on Facebook and 46% are affluent  (household incomes > $75K).
  2. More than half own a home.
  3. 86% of millennials say they save money but most don’t feel they have anyone they trust to help them (53%).
  4. Not many millennials know where they are headed financially.  Only 37% have a financial plan.
  5. Many of this demographic are suspicious of debt.  (Bet you didn’t see that one coming.)
  6. 57% like to pay for things with cash and those who do use credit cards (46%) do it primarily for strategic purposes like to establish credit.
  7. 85% of young people save some money, the survey said, but only 17% say it is to buy a home. Only 8% cite retirement as a main reason for saving; it is just too far off for them.
  8. Finally, 54% say they don’t have the money to invest and about one quarter don’t invest because they don’t feel they know enough about how to do it.

So what does this tell us?  First, that we need to correct our misperceptions about millennials and second, we need to help them invest via education and focus on “financial wellness”.  Both of these things will enable us to have more productive and engaged employees while at the same time creating workplace cultures that aim to truly understand and help them.

There are many avenues through which to do this.  Certainly there are 401K vendors and firms that provided financial wellness programs but the best place to begin is with EAP.  Most EAPs should have these capabilities in many forms (i.e., web based and in-person seminars as well as self-directed financial tools). Invest in your millennials and they will, I guarantee, invest in you.

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Bernie Dyme on January 25th, 2016

Happy employeesHere is a great question.  Can work provide happiness?  You bet it can.  But how?

Well, it takes two to tango.

First, the work environment must be positive and have, as a core value, respect for all employees, customers and other partners.  Without this core, forget it!

But even with a positive workplace that values respect for all, you must also take responsibility for your own happiness.  Too often, we blame others and cast ourselves as victims.

So, what can you do to find happiness at work?   Here are 5 things you can do (short of quitting your job):  a “can do” attitude.

  1. Bring your best self to work each day and have a “can-do” attitude.  This isn’t always easy because things do happen to us outside of work that effects us but to the extent that you can, try and keep it contained.
  2. Be creative.  Work should be a place where you are able to express yourself within the confines of the job.  Be respectful but it never hurts to problem solve for greater efficiencies.
  3. Do and say positive things to others at work.  It is amazing how quickly good vibes can go viral.  Start with you and, as Mahatma Gandhi said, “you must be the change you wish to see in the world”.  If everyone did this, work would be a very positive place to be.  And remember that you only have control over your own actions.
  4. Help your fellow employees or customers.  When we do that, we feel better about ourselves and it tends to uplift us.
  5. Balance keeping busy with doing a good job.  Multi-tasking isn’t all that it is cracked up to be.  Studies show that when we multi-task, we experience a drop in productivity and it takes longer to finish one task.  So, doing this actually decreases productivity and creates more stress and internal dissatisfaction.

To quote Abraham Lincoln, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

To get more information on being happy at work, visit


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Working World Cafe on January 6th, 2016

leadershipWritten by: Jorie Cotton, Account Manager

Employee engagement is one of the hottest topics in today’s workforce and, arguably, the toughest and most important challenge you face as a manager. For many in leadership, the concept of employee engagement has become complex and intimidating, when in reality it’s simple.  Your employees want to feel heard and understood by you.

To motivate change, leadership needs to initiate conversations about creating an employee engagement culture with staff and ask them for ideas.  Leaders can build trust by taking the time to learn about and show sincere interest and concern for employee well-being.  Recognize that your employees lives are complex and each have different core needs.  Here are some good questions to get you started:

  • What is most meaningful/motivating to you?
  • What do you believe is possible in the organization?
  • What would it take to create change in the organization?
  • Do you have confidence in the future of the organization?
  • What opportunities do you see for the future in the organization?

Most importantly, remember that you as a manager are a leader & role model.  According to a study conducted by Modern Survey, “Employees who work for a fully engaged manager are 1.5 times more likely to be fully engaged themselves then an employee working for a disengaged manager”.  Strive to be authentic, approachable and flexible whenever possible.

To get more information on employee engagement, visit


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Bernie Dyme on December 3rd, 2015

Written by: Bernie Dyme

Well, here we go again.  Another incident of workplace violence.  I hate to keep battering this and certainly would like to stop but it keeps coming up again and again.  The news is focusing on the shooters and the reasons why they did it.  I want to focus on the survivors who either witnessed or assisted people and those of us who might be having a reaction to the insecurity this may create.

As long as this continues to happen, even occasionally, people not directly impacted will have emotional responses; usually fear, sadness and anxiety.  Employers need to reach out to their employees and offer an opportunity to air their fears or concerns.  It is preventative and shows you care.  This doesn’t have to be “an over-the-top”, panicked response.  Rather, a brief acknowledgement that this has occurred, people may be having a response to this and if they do, they should feel free to contact their Employee Assistance Program (EAP).  There should also be assurances that these services are confidential and provided by professionals.

For some suggestions about how to help your employees,  read “Emotional First Aid after a Trauma or Crisis” or call Perspectives at 1.800.866.7556.

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Bernie Dyme on December 2nd, 2015

Written by: Bernie Dyme

Another horrific event; the Paris terrorism. It effects us all. We try to contend with another terrible event but it isn’t easy. Talking about it and expressing our feelings helps, but as parents its even harder because we have to deal with our children. And we must talk with our children. Don’t be mislead. They too are affected and we need to be sensitive to their responses. But how? Its hard enough for us to try and make sense of it. How can we expect a 5 year old, a 10 year old or a teenager to understand?

Many parents struggle with how to go about dealing with these events with our kids, especially in a world where we are constantly being bombarded with information over and over.

Here are few things to remember during these moments:

  • Make sure you discuss it with your children. Don’t ignore it because they are most likely having some kind of reaction. Also, base what you tell your kids on what age they are. With young children, remember that they don’t really understand and too much information will only scare them more. If you have to say something, keep it basic like “bad people did this”. Older children will want more details but again keep it simple and merely honor their feelings. In either case, the best way to begin a conversation with a child is to ask them what they think.
  • For most children and teenagers, the main underlying issues emitted are fear and safety. So reassure them that things are safe, but be realistic. The key message you want to give them is that you will do everything you can to keep them safe but stay away from grand statements that nothing bad will ever happen to them.
  • Monitor media and social media. It is almost impossible to avoid these completely, but you may want to make sure that you are watching what they are watching and spend extra time with them so you can correct misstatements or clarify things that may be beyond their scope of understanding.
  • Keep an eye on your child’s behavior and if it changes be prepared to talk to them about it.
  • Seek help if you are unsure about what is going on with your child or you need help yourself.

In all of your dealings with children, remember that the most important thing is to let them know that you are always there for them, available to talk and that you will keep them safe.

Unfortunately, these acts of violence will occur but the biggest thing to remember is that our children look to us for how to deal with this. Being calm, aware and open to feelings are the way to go.

To get more information, visit

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Jonathan Eisler on November 18th, 2015

Written by: Jonathan Eisler, Managing Director of Perspectives Organizational Consulting Group

In today’s business landscape, it seems we keep hearing more about how big data is improving the quality of every decision made. Given this trend, it’s no surprise that leadership and talent management decisions are being positively influenced by the inclusion of massive amounts of data as well. However, the cost, time and resources required to obtain and analyze said data is often prohibitive.  Thankfully though, there are 3 steps an organization can take to get the right people on board while reinforcing behaviors that drive the organization’s culture in the desired direction.

  1. Define organizational values in observable behaviors. This will foster consistent understanding across the organization regarding what it means to truly live the company values. This will also enable objective selection and promotion decisions to be made that ensure those ‘on the ship’ are all rowing in the desired direction (ie – towards the company’s strategic objectives).
  2. Learn to elicit and interpret a person’s natural tendencies and behavioral characteristics. These additional sets of data will provide a clearer understanding of who a person truly is, what it is that motivates them, and what type of culture they’ll thrive in.
  3. Incorporate the above sets of data into all talent management decisions. By knowing what specific behaviors embody the values we espouse as an organization, and truly understanding the innate tendencies each individual possesses, we are able to make talent management decisions from a strategic and values aligned perspective.

This 3-step process is crucial in making sure the right people are in the right places and the right behaviors are being reinforced. And those are the kind of outcomes we all want from our talent management decisions, whether we have the luxury of accessing and analyzing big data or not.

To experience this 3-step process first-hand, I invite you to join the December 10th, 2015 workshop that I will be facilitating with Chicago SHRM on exactly these 3 things.

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Working World Cafe on November 5th, 2015
photo by: dreamstine

photo by: dreamstine

Written by: Pat Fagan-Jackson, Executive Account Manager

The holidays are supposed to be a time of warmth, joy and excitement. And for many people, they are. Still, the anxiety of having too much to do in too little time, the pressure of unrealistic expectations and the tendency to overeat and overspend can easily overshadow holiday happiness. You may not be able to avoid stressful situations during the holidays; here are some tips to help you manage the stress.

  • Set realistic expectations. Decide on a meaningful theme for yourself and let that guide your decisions. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year.
  • Communicate with your family and friends. The holidays can put extra pressure on relationships. If a tradition is starting to stress you out, be honest! As families change and grow, traditions often change too. Everything can be changed for the better; especially, when everyone’s opinion is respected.
  • Avoid or minimize credit card debt. Budget ahead of time or be creative! Try not to attach your worth to the size of the gift(s).
  • Get plenty of sleep. Sleep deprivation releases stress hormones into the blood stream that lowers our metabolism, and increases our appetite. This can result in craving high sugar/carbohydrate foods.
  • Exercise. This is one of the first self-care strategies people tend to give up when time is limited. If you intend to start working out as a New Year’s resolution, start one month early.
  • Learn to say no. It’s okay to say “no” to events that aren’t important to you. This will give you more time to say “yes” to events that you want to attend and alleviate any feeling of resentment.

To get more information on tips around the holidays, please visit

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Working World Cafe on October 30th, 2015
photo by: dreamstine

photo by: dreamstine

Written by: Andrea Fisher, Access Center Counselor

It’s that time of year again. The colorful leaves falling from the trees are getting sparse and darker colder days are upon us. Some perceive the change from fall to winter as a beautiful thing as others may experience symptoms of depression brought on by the change in season.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that affects an individual the same time each year, usually starting when the weather becomes colder and darker around October, and ends around May when the weather becomes warmer. To try and combat SAD, here are a couple tips.

  1. Take a look at your environment. Open blinds around the house, sit close to the window at home or at work to get the natural light. Consider buying a light box that imitates outdoor light which may improve mood and decrease SAD symptoms.
  2. Spend some time outside. Even though it’s cold, being able to spend a little time outside, especially within the first 2 hours of when you wake up has been proven to help reduce symptoms of SAD.
  3. Exercise regularly. When it’s cold and dark outside we tend to want to curl up and stay inside. Try to fight that urge and try to exercise daily. Call a friend to take a brisk walk, go to an exercise class. Not only will exercise boost your mood, but it also could supply some social interaction as well, which during the winter months may be lacking.

If changing some of your daily routine has improved your mood, but you are still feeling the effects of SAD there are additional options to explore. Consider making an appointment with a counselor through your EAP to discuss other healthy coping skills.

To get more information, please visit or

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Bernie Dyme on October 14th, 2015

leadershipWritten by: Bernie Dyme

These are very difficult times for not for profits. Resources continue to become scarcer while the needs for the more disadvantaged in our society continue to grow. Effective strategic and operating plans are critical for these entities to sustain themselves and provide the needed services or advocacy that make up their mission.

A key ingredient of success is the need for strong and engaged boards.  I have been on both sides of the fence as a consultant and President of a firm that works with not-for-profits.  I have been a Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) board member for the last 12 years and currently it’s President.  During this past year as President, I have learned (and continue to learn) many important things that have enabled me to work effectively with and lead my fellow board members.  I have also learned about overall governance and how to interface with the staff of the organization, the not for profit community in which we exist and those whom we serve.

Here are a few things that I have learned as a leader that might be helpful for leaders on boards of nonprofits.

  1. Make sure you develop a positive working relationship with the President or Executive Director of the organization.  This includes regular “touch base” meetings and check-ins on strategy and operations.
  2. Get to know the organization’s leadership and staff from top to bottom.  It is critical that they know that you are generally interested in what the organization is doing and more importantly, how they are contributing to its success.  When I began at CCH, I made it a point to meet 1 on 1 with each of the leadership team members to get to know them and what they are responsible for.  I also took that opportunity to ask them what I needed to know and what the board in general needs to know about what they are doing and what they may need to accomplish CCH’s mission.
  3. Listen and fight the impulse to give an answer or solution to a problem and ask a lot of questions.  There have been times when I have had to have difficult discussions with folks where we do not necessarily agree but in all of these cases, I have striven to insure that they have felt heard and acknowledged.
  4. Be open to ideas even if they go against your own ideas.  This has allowed me to come away with great ideas that I might have been closed off to while also enabling those with the ideas to see me as someone who is responsive and respectful of them.
  5. Build relationships with other board members and create a “working board” where all have an opportunity to contribute and assist.  This strategy of empowerment makes for a higher quality board, not to mention that it spreads out the work load among folks.  It also puts board members in direct contact with staff so they can really understand the workings of the organization.
  6. Be prepared before all meetings.  At CCH, we have an Executive Board that meets every month and helps to develop, with the Executive Director, the agenda for the next board meeting.
  7. Use resources to assist in your work as a board member.  One that I use often is the Donors Forum which is a membership organization for grant-makers, nonprofits and advisers which provides them with the resources needed to be effective and sustainable.
  8. Work collaboratively with the Executive Director/President but do remember that the Board’s job is to make sure that s/he is doing his/her job.
  9. Recruit and develop high level board members who have a commitment to the values of the organization, and help develop them into leaders.  A board succession plan for nonprofits is just as critical as it is for leadership in the for profit world.

Effective boards are critical in the sustainability of nonprofits especially in this time of diminishing public dollars. Therefore creating and growing high performing boards should be on any nonprofit’s radar.  Find talented contributors who can give not only dollars but expertise and make sure you get any assistance you can to develop them.  There will always be people in need and therefore we must maintain organizations that can help them and make sure that they are run effectively.

To get more information regarding this please visit


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Jonathan Eisler on October 7th, 2015

Written by: Jonathan Eisler, Director of Perspectives Organizational Consulting Group

Recently we discussed why it’s important for organizations to foster a generationally inclusive culture and outlined the tangible benefits that can be realized when done effectively. As the war for talent becomes more and more vicious, companies must remain mindful of the current, and desired, generational distribution across their workforce and appropriately adapt related organizational components and personnel practices.

So where do leaders focus and what do organizations do when they truly understand the differences each generation brings to the workplace?

Areas of Focus

Corporate Culture
Resulting Practices/Behaviors:

-There are conversations about generational differences
-The generational composition of their workforce guides their HR Strategies
-They match the generational composition of their workforce to that of their customer base (or desired base)

Resulting Practices/Behaviors:

-They reward management for retention of both people and knowledge
-They get creative about retirement plans, reinforce mentoring and may have alumni programs for retired/ex-employees
-Horizontal career moves are offered, they recruit from within and provide job rotation opportunities

Resulting Practices/Behaviors:

-They have strategic recruitment strategies that target who they’re looking for to best connect with current/desired customers and become an employer of choice

Resulting Practices/Behaviors:

-Flexible work options are offered
-Performance and productivity are rewarded rather than simply tenure (they are age and seniority neutral)
-They offer various appealing benefits and wellness programs (EAP work-life and legal-financial resources) suited to their employee’s stage of life

Resulting Practices/Behaviors:

-They provide/mandate training on generational differences in multiple formats (leaders on how to lead and coworkers on how to communicate with the generations)
-Boards, task forces, and committees all have equal generational representation
-They establish mentoring programs (formal or informal), train on mentoring, and encourage top-down and reverse mentoring (bottom-up)

To learn more about how Perspectives Organizational Consulting Group has been empowering business leaders to effectively focus on these 5 areas of focus and foster an age inclusive workplace, reach out to Jonathan Eisler.

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