Going for the Balanced Approach

Work-life balance is realized by some after years of effort, while the concept remains elusive to others. But what about recent college graduates?

Here is some guidance from Purdue University’s Ellen Ernst Kossek, the Basil S. Turner Professor of Management in the Krannert School of Management and research director at the Butler Center of Leadership Excellence.

Schedule fun (and healthy) ways to unwind: “Take time to reflect on ways you can unwind and identify your passions to continue as you enter the world of full-time work. Is it tennis, a book club, running, Comic-Con, gaming, lunch with friends, working out at the gym, walking in nature with a pet? Whatever makes you feel good and your heart sing, try to organize your calendar to block out time daily or weekly as you plan your work week. It is easy for work to creep in and take over your leisure time.”

Avoid long commutes: “Assess your commuting time as you search for apartments and pick one with a commute of 30 minutes or less that is close to safe public transportation. Living in the hot spot of night life may be fun, but if the commutes are long, you should consider living closer to work. You can always take a Lyft on the weekends and make your weekdays less hectic.”

Get plenty of sleep: “Regular sleep is very important to plan in your daily routine, and most of us need seven to eight hours at a minimum. During the work week, you should go to bed at a decent hour on a regular schedule. Being a night-owl and writing term papers may work in college, but it’s not a good idea for your health or well-being at work.”

Abstain from social media at work: “Learn your boundary management style and avoid checking personal communication at work. This helps you focus and get done early. I have found that many young people integrate their work and personal lives. While it’s fun to check Instagram during the day, you can lose concentration and mental flow. This can result in your having to stay later at work due to increased process losses from increased switching costs and greater transitions between your job and your personal life.”

Unplug at home: “Manage your smartphone wisely to unplug from work at night and on the weekends. It is easy to become addicted to work and engage in overwork as you are trying to build your career. Don’t get in the habit of checking work emails or texts on the weekends unless something is critically important. Let your boss and colleagues know how to reach you for important matters, but also let them know when you are offline, too, so you don’t become burnt out.” 

All About the Innovation Districts

Larry Gigerich, executive managing director at Ginovus and an Indiana Chamber board member, recently wrote about innovation districts and their importance – accessing talent, collaborating with higher educational institutions and partnering with other private sector companies.

Below are three of the lists he shared as part of that writing:

Innovation District Characteristics

  • Proximity to higher educational research assets (university, college, hospital, etc.)
  • Presence of research based organizations (non-profit and/or for profit)
  • Location of technology enabled company facilities
  • Magnets (quality of place assets) for talent
  • Available real estate for development
  • Access to the different forms of transportation
  • Co-working space for researchers
  • Retail services to support people working in the area

 Well-Established U.S. Innovation Districts

  • The Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor
  • Kendall Square in Cambridge
  • University City in Philadelphia
  • Research Triangle Park in Raleigh-Durham
  • Medical Alley in Rochester
  • University Research Park in Madison
  • Research Park in Salt Lake City
  • South Lake Union in Seattle

 Developing Innovation Districts

  •  Cortex in St. Louis
  • 16 Tech in Indianapolis
  • Future City in Detroit
  • Akron Innovation District
  • Syracuse Innovation Zone
  • The Innovation District of Chattanooga
  • University Research Park in Ames
  • Yanke Research Park in Boise

Throwback Thursday: Back in the Winter of ’59

Today's venture back in the annals features a 1959 collection of research studies, titled "Spotlight on Legislative Issues," which was prepared by the Chamber and provided to state legislators of the day.

I'll list some of the interesting topics du jour, though one observation is that society was still working to define — and regulate — the woman's role in the workplace during that time. Debates centered around the merits of equal pay and how to regulate their hours.

It's also interesting to read that the Chamber was waging the battle for more efficient local government spending back then, as it's no secret we're no fans of the current township structure. One paragraph reads:

"There appears to be no assurance that the local government finance problem will correct itself in the immediate future if present practices and laws are unchanged. The continuing and growing desire of people to 'live out,' the construction of community shopping centers away from downtown areas, the rapid improvement in highway transportation and movement of traffic, and the decentralization trend in industry all point to further complications. These complications are the result of the shifting from one local government unit to another of responsibility  for administration and financing of specific governmental services while the taxable property which normally might be expected to bear a part of the cost of these services is in another taxing unit."

To paraphrase: "Something's askew here." Still how we feel today about local government.

County highway funding was also a major issue then. Legislators and the business community were considering the most efficient ways to keep Hoosiers moving:

"Need for improvement in the administration of county highways in Indiana will be one of the major problems confronting the 1959 Legislature. The importance of this issue cannot be discounted when it is realized that state-collected highway tax funds amounting to $40 million will be expended by the counties this year. Rural residents who use county roads as 'farm to market' or 'job to home' routes know and appreciate the fact that safer and more durable county roads are needed. County roads constitute approximately 77 per cent of the road and street milage in Indiana. This rural road milage is highly essential to the welfare of a large segment of the state's population."

University Research … and Its Results

Some interesting facts from an annual Purdue technology report:

  • A record $438 million in sponsored research programs for fiscal year 2009-10, a 28 percent increase over the previous fiscal year 
  • Every $1 million in research funding supports employment for seven full-time employees 
  • Purdue received 48 issued patents for 2009, compared to 24 for 2008
  • The four Purdue Research Park business incubators house more than 200 companies that employ about 4,000 people. The average annual wage of those employees is $54,000
  • According to Joe Hornett of the Purdue Research Foundation, "Sixty-four of our park-based companies are a direct result of discoveries from Purdue and another 25 companies in our park network work with Purdue faculty to advance new technologies. Many of these companies were formed from research that faculty advanced through federal and state grants that Purdue received." 

The university notes that "a significant amount of funding Purdue received was awarded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act," but adds that focus in the following five areas has been crucial: life and health sciences; cyberinfrastructure and information technology; defense, security and space sciences; energy and environment; and science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, or STEM.

Classify that under "Boiler Up!" and keep it up as Indiana’s higher education institutions need to play a pivotal role in our state’s economic future.

IU Researchers: Twitter Can Help Predict Markets

This is just wild. According to Indiana University researchers, Twitter may be the greatest economic indicator yet: 

Researchers at IU Bloomington’s School of Informatics and Computing found the correlation between the value of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) and public sentiment after analyzing more than 9.8 million tweets from 2.7 million users during 10 months in 2008.

Using two mood-tracking tools to analyze the text content of the large-scale collection of Twitter feeds, Associate Professor Johan Bollen and Ph.D. candidate Huina Mao were able to measure variations in public mood and then compare them to closing stock market values.

One tool, OpinionFinder, analyzed the tweets to provide a positive or negative daily time series of public mood. The second tool, Google-Profile of Mood States (GPOMS), measured the mood of tweets in six dimensions: calm, alert, sure, vital, kind, and happy. Together, the two tools provided the researchers with seven public mood time series that could then be set against a similar daily time series of Dow Jones closing values.

The researchers then correlated the two sets of values — Dow Jones and public mood — and used a self-organizing network model to test a hypothesis that predicting stock market closing values could be improved by including public mood measurements.

"We were not interested in proposing an optimal Dow Jones prediction model, but rather to assess the effects of including public mood information on the accuracy of the baseline prediction model," Bollen said. "What we found was an accuracy of 87.6 percent in predicting the daily up and down changes in the closing values of the Dow Jones Industrial Average."

Jumping on the Wellness Wagon

I read a recent national study that noted the quantity of wellness programs for employers is not the problem; it’s the quality that’s lacking.

Why are the initiatives not effective in some cases?

  • Not customizing the program to your workplace culture
  • A lack of commitment from senior leadership
  • Ineffective communication about elements of the wellness effort

The research is here; part of the solution can come from attending the Indiana Employee Health and Wellness Summit on September 1 at the Indianapolis Marriott East.

Gov. Mitch Daniels will be there to provide a dynamic opening; state and national experts will deliver keynote and luncheon addresses; and different education tracks will help show you how to successfully implement and improve your wellness programs. The bottom line: enhance your employees’ health and your organization’s bottom line.

Check out the details. A small investment could pay big dividends.

Funny, but Shocking Video: Pay Attention to the Little Things

On Twitter, I follow a gentleman named Joe Navarro (@navarrotells), a former FBI agent and leading expert on non-verbal communication. (He’s authored at least one very intriguing poker book on tells, which is how I came to know his work.) He passed along a Tweet containing this video recently, which illustrates just how little we pay attention to our surroundings.

If you can work on improving your observation skills, just think how much of an edge you — and your company — will have in a business setting. And think how much more attentive you could be to your customers. Enjoy this eye-opening piece. (If it won’t allow you to view the embedded version, just click "Watch on YouTube.")

IU Launching New Venture Fund

Yet another reason to be proud of my old alma mater. Our friends at Inside INdiana Business report:

The Innovate Indiana Fund is the latest in a series of moves by Indiana University President Michael McRobbie aimed at leveraging IU’s substantial entrepreneurial research capabilities, technology and business resources in an effort to help grow the state’s economy.

In early November, IU dedicated a new $10 million Innovation Center, which will serve as a state-of-the-art home for university researchers and start-up companies. The center is expected to be a hub for alliances between the information technology (IT) and life sciences sectors and as an anchor for a new technology corridor along 10th Street and the Indiana 45/46 Bypass in Bloomington.

IU has proven this year that translating innovation into successful companies in the marketplace can be lucrative. Angel Learning, which grew out of IU’s Emerging Technologies Center in Indianapolis, was sold for $100 million, making it the largest single commercialization deal in the history of the university. Because of the investment in the company, IU and its Research and Technology Corporation realized $23 million for the sale.

In 2007, McRobbie named Bill Stephan as vice president of engagement, with a focus on connecting the university with businesses and communities statewide in an effort to help enhance economic development and quality of life in the state.

Survey: Majority of American Workers Happy with Jobs

A survey from Clarus Research Group, a non-partisan organization based in D.C., indicates that despite the notion our country is one big contentious soda can ready to explode with the fury of 1,000 suns (or do I just watch too much cable news?), an overwhelming majority of Americans are actually happy with their jobs. However, it seems older workers are far happier than their younger counterparts, and access to health care obviously plays a role, too. Read on:

The survey, conducted by Clarus Research Group, found only 6 percent of workers unhappy with their current employment. Another 6 percent said they were neither happy nor unhappy.

“In these tough times of high unemployment and uncertainty, many workers are happy that they have jobs,” said Ron Faucheux, president of Clarus Research Group. “However, despite the nationwide results, there were important differences among population groups, especially based on age, race, education and region.”

Age is a major factor, with the youngest and oldest workers a wide 27 points apart. Only 69 percent of workers under the age of 30 are satisfied with their jobs, compared to 96 percent of those 60 and older.

Workers with medical insurance were happier—90 percent, than those without it—75 percent.

Respondents who said they were happy with their jobs by group:

  • Race: 90 percent of whites and Hispanics; 77 percent of African Americans
  • Education: 92 percent of workers with college degrees; 83 percent without
  • Region: The highest was the West (95 percent), and the lowest was the South (83 percent); in the middle was the Northeast (88 percent), and the Midwest (92 percent)
  • Party: Republicans, at 92 percent, were happier than Democrats, at 80 percent. Self-described independent voters were almost as happy as Republicans at 91 percent.

“It is interesting to note that there was only a one-point difference between women and men,” said Faucheux, “and no difference between union and non-union workers.”

The survey was conducted by live telephone interviewers August 14-18, 2009, using a nationwide scientifically selected sample of 560 registered voters who said they were employed full-time or parttime. The margin or error was +/- 4.1%.