Monday, November 26, 2012

Retirement: Achieving Financial, Physical and Psychological Well-being

A recent Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) White Paper entitled "Achieving Well-being in Retirement: Recommendations from 20 Years' Research" by Mo Wang (University of Florida) and Beryl Hesketh (University of Western Sydney/Macquarie University) recommends the following for those contemplating retirement:

"...maintaining good health, actively engaging in financial planning for retirement, having realistic estimates of longevity, being clear on one's financial goals in retirement, and participating in paid employment after retirement are all realistic ways of achieving fiscal well being."

The authors also conclude that it is important for individuals to take the initiative to improve both their knowledge and understanding of financial matters, and of work-related skills and knowledge.

In terms of achieving physical well-being in retirement, the authors note that "having good health behaviours and habits in retirement is critical for their physical well-being." They recommend that individuals engage in certain daily levels of physical and/or cognitive activities. The latter could include leisure activities such as dancing, playing board games, reading, doing crossword puzzles and playing an instrument. All stimulate learning in the brain and may reduce the risk of dementia.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Retiring Early (or Simply Retiring)? Are You Ready For It?

Almost 15 years ago (time goes by quickly), I took early retirement from the public service when the federal government offered many of us a "golden handshake".

At the time — it sounded wonderful. I planned on returning to teaching and to paint in my spare time — a lot of spare time. Supply teaching turned out to be a lot different from what teaching had been when I was fresh out of university, and I could have starved as an artist — lots have — although it is still a great pastime.

Like me, early retirement is viewed by many (especially before the age of 60) as a career change or an opportunity to try different things, to take on part time or contract work, to learn new things, to share knowledge, and so on, instead of it being the end of your work life.

Still, perhaps the biggest complaint about retirement — either early or regularly-scheduled retirement — is boredom. Not having enough to keep you busy or enough meaningful things to do. Lunches with old friends and golf games every day may wear thin over time. That's why it's important to have outside interests — volunteer activities, hobbies and the like.

Not having any work stress may sound wonderful for someone who retires at 65 or older but for someone who retires early — say at 50 — and for someone who retires from a challenging work world — too little stress can create problems of their own. For example, stress researchers have underlined that a minimal level of stress is required to motivate people to perform tasks more efficiently. Not having this type of "minimal" stress can create a void which is hard to fill.

When I retired early my wife was still working. Having me around the house all the time created its own sorts of problems. There were also expectations that I should be doing more around the house. And often I found myself interrupting her routines. After six months of this, she asked me to find something meaningful to do outside of the house! Her exact words were — "go find another job!".

Friday, August 31, 2012

Managing Stress and Balancing Work Demands

It has been reported that disability claims related to mental illness (including claims for acute stress reaction, depression, adjustment disorders, anxiety and PTSD) in the federal public service continued to increase last year and accounted for 48 per cent of all claims filed.

Stress: Among an Employee's Worst Nightmares

Has your job ever drained you to the point of emotional and physical exhaustion? Does this feeling of weariness go on for days, weeks, or even months? If so, you could be stressing yourself beyond the breaking point.

Longer-term or chronic stress — indeed, any significant amount of work stress — can have debilitating physical and emotional outcomes, and can wreak havoc upon an unsuspecting employee. It has been shown that stress occurs not only among those who are highly motivated and committed but also among those who are not. We also know that employees, both in the private and public sectors, may experience stress in varying degrees.

Job demands can create or trigger mental health problems, including stress and anxiety. As such, it is important for employees to learn how to recognize and to guard against factors that cause these problems, or to make adjustments to working conditions and practices that may be causing them.

Is your work stressing you out? Should you tell your manager?

Is it in the interest of the manager, to whom you report, to help you, as an employee, deal with stress in the workplace? The answer is a definite "yes".

Chances are, if managers are paying attention, they already know there's something wrong. They can sense the difference in your behavior in meetings, and see it in the quality or precision of the work you're producing. A manager may ask what's wrong or try to find out informally, but some may not know what to say even when they recognize that you may need help. In that case, it may be up to you.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Looking for a New Job? Tips for Applicants

You are looking for a new job and, in turn, employers are looking for qualified candidates.

Many of these tips for job searchers are not new. However, following some or all of them could make a difference for you as a potential candidate.


While content is key, the format of your CV or resume can also be important. Keep it simple but attractive.

  • Include objective statements only if requested by potential employers. Otherwise, they don't add anything of value to your resume.
  • If you have not completed your university degree or diploma program, don't make it look like you might have. Simply indicate the current status of your studies or expected completion date.
  • Don't just list your title, length of time in a position, and tasks, include your key accomplishments and results, as well.
  • Include information about new skills learned or used in various positions.
  • Indicate what you did in the job; not what the team or the unit did.
  • List jobs you have held in chronological order, starting with the most recent. Include only the relevant, not necessarily all your job experiences.
  • Avoid acronyms other than those in common use.
  • Be positive.
  • Use simple language. And proofread (or have someone do it for you, or both).
  • Research other sources on CV/resume writing.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Job loss from the manager's perspective...

Laying off an employee is often a difficult experience for managers. It is a painful task which can put them through a whole range of emotions (e.g., sadness, relief, disappointment, uncertainty, powerlessness, anger, fear, etc.). To deal with this experience the best way possible, it is important to prepare properly before announcing the news, gather information and understand the hardship that may be caused, both to you the manager and to the employees losing their job.

Here are a few strategies that can help you announce a job loss to the person who will be leaving and to the rest of the team.

Announcing the news to departing employees

It is important to always show empathy and compassion when informing employees that they will be losing their job. Garderet (2005) has developed a model to guide physicians who have to tell patients that they have cancer. We have adapted that model to a job-loss situation:

Announcing a job loss

  • Prepare for the meeting: allow sufficient time, find a quiet, discreet location, announce the news in person, etc.
  • Understand what the person already knows about the situation.
  • Provide information in a brief, concise and encouraging way.
  • Respond with empathy to the person's emotional reactions.
  • Summarize what was said, and talk about the next stages.

Losing your job: dealing with loss and bouncing back

Over the course of their lifetime, many people will deal with the loss of a job. We have started a series of short blogs about this experience. The first addresses the difficulties that people who lose their jobs may experience and the mourning period that follows. The second covers things that can be learned from the experience. The third short text looks at the experience of the managers who are doing the lay-offs. Job loss is often a difficult experience. It can affect people on different levels:

  • It can undermine identity: For many people, their identity is linked, in part, to their work. For example, some will identify themselves with their workplace or their profession. This sense of identity can be shaken after losing a job.
  • Self-esteem and self-confidence are also often tested, and it is very important to work at rebuilding them.
  • Some people may be embarrassed by losing their job, regardless of the reasons for the job loss. This feeling is very difficult to deal with and to share; talking with people who have had a similar experience can help decrease its intensity.
  • Losing a job can also bring back memories of other losses, like losing a job in the past, or losing a parent.
  • Many will agonize about the uncertainty, their future, their financial situation, etc.
  • It creates stress for many people; this stress can also affect other facets of their life.
  • The experience can cause psychological distress that sometimes worsens and leads to depression or other mental health problems. In such cases, people should not hesitate to consult with a professional who will be able to help them overcome these problems.
  • The loss of a job also gives rise to what we call secondary losses, like the loss of colleagues, routine, lifestyle, etc.

Mourning the loss

Losing a job often causes grief, which Kübler-Ross (1969) divides into the following stages:

    Moving past loss: bouncing back after losing a job

    Notwithstanding the hardship often experienced following a job loss, it can be beneficial to try looking at what can be learned from the experience. The loss of a job can be seen as a transition, an opportunity to take time to think about your career, revisit your needs, wants and priorities, think about your future, and sometimes, refocus your career.

    Many people begin a process of introspective reflection after losing a job. It can often be beneficial to make it a time:

    • To explore your environment and compile information about available jobs, various organizations and workplaces...
    • For introspection: revisit your interests, values and experiences. Seeing how these values can be useful in a job situation can help guide your reflections on your career and your life.

    Learning from the experience

    Losing a job is also an opportunity to question yourself and try to understand:

    Tuesday, May 8, 2012

    10 Tips: When You Lose Your Job

    1. Learn all you can about the work force adjustment process. It’s important to understand and to think about your options and your rights.
    2. Establish a new daily routine. A new type of work day and new goals for yourself.
    3. Look into your resources. Cut expenses if necessary. Check into your benefits (e.g. health insurance). Investigate alternatives.
    4. Seek the emotional support you need — from family, friends, counsellors, psychologists, and other professionals.
    5. Look after your health. Find out how to deal with stress. Continue exercising and socializing. Try not to overeat or under eat. Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption.
    6. Continue or start networking. Start talking to people. Let your contacts know that you are looking for work.
    7. Don’t be ashamed you are out of work. Don’t blame yourself (often these things are outside our control).
    8. Learn to deal with change. If you can’t find a job similar to the one you had, look for new ones for which you are qualified. If necessary, seek some training, go back to school, consider relocating...
    9. Be good to yourself. Once you have taken a bit of time to get over the shock of loosing you job, pick yourself up and dust yourself off. Don’t isolate yourself.
    10. Keep your sense of humour. It’s tough but try to remain positive in the face of adversity.

    Leaman Long, B.A., B.Ed.
    HRM Consultant
    Y2 Consulting Psychologists Y2

    If you have any questions and/or comments, don't hesitate. Thank you!

    Friday, May 4, 2012


    « l' (...) épreuve nous ébranle d'autant plus fort qu'elle nous atteint à l'endroit précis où nous ne l'attendions pas. Nous aimons les certitudes à un point tel qu'il nous arrive d'en préférer de fausses à la vérité. » (Malherbe, 1996 p.11)

    Souvent, au cours de notre vie, nous sommes confrontés à l'incertitude. Pour certains elle survient lorsque leur emploi est menacé, pour d'autres quand ils attendent un diagnostic important, une grande nouvelle, quand une relation est ébranlée et que ses suites sont incertaines, etc. Les sources d'incertitude très nombreuses et génèrent une panoplie d'émotions...

    Qu'est-ce que l'incertitude ?

    L'incertitude est : « Cet état dans lequel se trouve un individu qui, nourrissant un désir, se trouve confronté à son propos au champ ouvert des possibles. ». (Bronner, 1997, p.4). Elle est source de différentes émotions.

    Souvent l'incertitude engendre un stress ou une anxiété importante. Quelques fois elle va se transformer en tristesse, en découragement, en colère, etc. Mais elle est aussi parfois une source d'espoir, d'excitation ou d'apprentissages.

    Comme le souligne Malherbe (1996), sans convictions la vie perd sa couleur, sa consistance et pour certains elle semble perdre sa valeur. En ce sens, les convictions sont nécessaires, elles nous poussent à foncer dans la vie, à avancer, elles sont à la base de notre motivation. Inversement, l'incertitude ébranle cette motivation. C'est pourquoi, entre autres, l'incertitude est aussi difficile à vivre. Et pourtant, l'incertitude est inhérente à la vie...

    Tuesday, March 20, 2012

    Mentoring: Finding a Trusted Advisor

    "A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could." - Unknown

    What is mentoring?

    Mentoring is a relationship between an experienced individual (mentor) who shares his or her professional skills, knowledge and insights with another individual (mentee) willing and ready to learn, grow and develop skills and confidence in his or her professional development.

    What role does the mentor play?

    The mentor helps the mentee to develop a greater sense of competence, self-confidence, identity, and enhanced effectiveness in a professional role by being a role model, by encouraging and by counselling.

    The main roles of the mentor include teaching, coaching, providing feedback and supporting. He or she helps the participant to learn the ropes, to adjust to work challenges and to prepare for career advancement. The mentor is a trusted and friendly adviser or guide, especially for someone new to a particular role.

    What role does the mentee play?

    The mentee is an individual who wishes to acquire new work-related competencies and abilities. He/she may also wish to increase his or her self-confidence and chances of success in the realization of his or her professional objectives through a mentoring relationship.

    What are the benefits of mentoring?

    The benefits for the mentee are numerous. For example:

    Sunday, January 29, 2012

    La motivation au travail

    La motivation au travail est capitale. Elle est liée aux performances des employés et à leur bien-être. La motivation au travail est définie comme : « (...) un processus qui active, oriente, dynamise et maintient le comportement des individus vers la réalisation d'objectifs attendus. » (Roussell, 2000, p.5).

    Les types de motivation au travail

    La motivation peut être interne ou externe. Ainsi, certaines personnes effectuent leur travail parce qu'ils sont poussés par une motivation externe. Par exemple, ils vont alors travailler pour des raisons instrumentales, pour atteindre un but tel que d'avoir un salaire.

    D'autres personnes effectuent leur travail en étant poussés par une motivation interne. Dans ce cas, c'est pour la satisfaction, le sentiment de réalisation de soi, la stimulation, l'accomplissement ou encore pour le plaisir d'apprendre, etc. qu'ils effectuent leur travail. Ce type de motivation aiderait à se réaliser dans son travail.

    Lorsque la motivation cède le pas à l'amotivation

    L'amotivation est lorsque la personne perçoit et s'attend à ce que ses comportements et leurs conséquences ne concordent pas (Blais et al., 1993). Elle est alors convaincue qu'elle n'a pas de contrôle sur les résultats des événements pour des raisons qui proviennent d'elle (intrinsèque) ou de son environnement (extrinsèque). L'amotivation peut engendrer une détresse importante, avoir diverses répercussions sur le travail et dans la vie de la personne.

    Travailler pour remplir quels besoins ?

    Selon Maslow (1943) la motivation est alimentée par le désir de satisfaire certains besoins, tel que nous l'avons résumé dans le premier article sur la motivation. Un des objectifs du travail est souvent de répondre à ses besoins de base (ex. physiologiques), mais pour se réaliser pleinement dans son emploi, l'idéal est qu'il réponde aussi à d'autres besoins comme les besoins de réalisation ou d'actualisation de soi...

    Saturday, January 28, 2012

    La motivation : au coeur de l'action

    La motivation est ce qui incite à s'engager dans l'action et à réaliser ses projets. C'est ce qui pousse l'individu à s'investir dans la vie, à avancer malgré les défis. La motivation teinte plusieurs facettes de l'existence et permet d'accomplir de grandes choses. Inversement, les problèmes de motivation peuvent engendrer beaucoup de problèmes.

    En effet, on peut parfois vivre une perte de motivation ou éprouver des difficultés à se motiver à accomplir une tâche. Lorsque cette perte de motivation se répand à tout ce qui nous intéresse en général, cela peut être un signe de dépression et indice qu'il serait important de consulter pour recevoir une aide adéquate. Mais lorsque la perte de motivation est moins généralisée on peut tenter, en premier lieu, de s'aider soi-même en cherchant à comprendre ce qui nous arrive.

    Qu'est-ce que la motivation ?

    La motivation est ce qui pousse la personne à s'engager dans une action. Elle peut être interne ou externe et elle est responsable :

    • Du déclenchement du comportement
    • De la direction du comportement (le but du comportement)
    • De l'intensité du comportement
    • Et de la persistance du comportement (Vallerand et Thill, 1993).

    Friday, January 27, 2012

    Perdre son emploi : vivre la perte et rebondir

    Beaucoup de personnes sont confrontées, au fil de leur histoire, à la perte d'un emploi. Nous entamons une série de petits blogs sur cette expérience. Le premier porte sur les difficultés que peut vivre les gens qui perdent leur emploi et le deuil qui s'en suit. Le second portera sur ce qui peut être appris de cette expérience. Le troisième petit texte se penchera sur l'expérience des gestionnaires qui doivent procéder aux mises à pied.

    La perte d'un emploi est une épreuve souvent difficile à vivre. Elle affecte souvent la personne à différents niveaux :

    • Atteintes à l'identité : l'identité est, pour plusieurs, liée en partie à leur travail. Par exemple, certains vont s'identifier à leur milieu de travail ou à leur profession. Cette identité peut être ébranlée lors de la perte d'emploi.
    • L'estime de soi et confiance en soi sont aussi souvent mises à l'épreuve, et il est très important de travailler à les rebâtir.
    • Plusieurs vont vivre de la honte suite à leur perte d'emploi, et ce peu importe les raisons pour lesquelles ils ont perdu leur travail. Cette émotion est très difficile à vivre, la partager, parler avec des gens qui ont vécu une expérience similaire peut aider à en diminuer l'intensité.
    • La perte d'un emploi peut aussi raviver d'autres pertes, comme des pertes d'emploi antérieures, celles de ses parents etc.
    • Beaucoup de gens seront alors en proie à une incertitude face à leur futur, à leur situation financière, etc.
    • Cela engendre du stress chez plusieurs, un stress qui peut se répercuter dans plusieurs facettes de leur vie.
    • Cette expérience peut causer une détresse psychologique qui s'aggrave parfois et prend la forme d'une dépression ou d'autres problématiques de santé mentale. Dans ce cas, il ne faut pas hésiter de consulter un professionnel qui saura aider à surmonter ces problèmes.
    • La perte d'un emploi provoque aussi ce que l'on appelle des pertes secondaires, comme la perte de collègues, d'une routine, d'un niveau de vie, etc.

    La perte d'emploi : l'expérience des gestionnaires...

    Mettre à pied un employé est souvent une expérience difficile pour les gestionnaires. Cela implique qu'ils accomplissent des tâches ardues et ils peuvent vivre une panoplie d'émotions en lien avec cette situation (ex. tristesse, soulagement, déception, incertitude, impuissance, colère, peur, etc.). Pour vivre cette expérience le mieux possible, il est important de bien de se préparer, s'informer et d'être conscient de la souffrance qui sera possiblement vécue tant par soi comme gestionnaire que par les employés qui perdront leur emploi avant d'annoncer la nouvelle.

    Voici quelques stratégies qui peuvent aider à annoncer la perte d'un emploi à la personne qui devra quitter ainsi qu'au reste de l'équipe.

    Annoncer la nouvelle aux employés qui quittent...

    Il est important de toujours faire preuve d'empathie et de compassion lorsque l'on annonce à un employé qu'il perdra son emploi. Garderet (2005) a élaboré un modèle pour guider les médecins qui annoncent à un patient qu'il est atteint d'un cancer. Voici une adaptation de ce modèle au contexte d'une perte d'emploi :

    L'annonce d'une perte d'emploi

    • Préparer la rencontre : allouer suffisamment de temps, trouver un lieu calme et discret, annoncer la nouvelle personnellement, etc.
    • Savoir ce que connaît déjà la personne au sujet de la situation.
    • Fournir l'information : de manière brève, concise et encourageante.
    • Répondre de manière empathique aux réactions émotives de la personne.
    • Résumer ce qui a été dit et parler des étapes qui suivront.

    Pour aller au-delà de la perte : rebondir suite à la perte d'un emploi

    Sans nier la souffrance souvent vécue lors d'une perte d'emploi, il est aussi bénéfique de tenter de voir ce qui peut être retiré de cette expérience. En effet, la perte d'un emploi peut être envisagée comme une transition, une occasion de prendre le temps de réfléchir à sa carrière, de réexaminer ses besoins, désirs et priorités, de penser à son futur et parfois de se réorienter.

    Un processus de réflexion est entamé par beaucoup de personnes suite à la perte d'un emploi. Il est souvent bénéfique d'alors prendre le temps de procéder à une :

    • Exploration de son environnement afin de colliger des informations sur les emplois disponibles, les différentes organisations et milieux de travail...
    • Exploration de soi : réviser ses intérêts, valeurs et expériences. Voir comment ces valeurs peuvent s'actualiser dans le cadre d'un emploi peut alimenter une réflexion sur sa carrière et sa vie.

    Tirer des apprentissages de cette expérience

    Perdre son emploi, est aussi une occasion de se questionner et tenter de prendre conscience de :

    Thursday, January 26, 2012

    Fearing the Potential Loss of Your Government Job? How Will You Cope?

    For many people a job is more than an income - it's an important part of who we are. So a career transition of any sort is one of the most unsettling experiences you can face in your life.

    — Paul Clitheroe

    First there were the rumours. Then the announcements began. In order to reduce the deficit, the Government of Canada is reducing program spending in a number of departments and agencies, and there is growing concern among many public servants that they may be among those looking for work inside and, perhaps, outside the federal bureaucracy.

    Given the number of programs and services being examined, it is inevitable that some Public Service jobs will be cut. PS unions are predicting that it could be in the 10 percent range (or close de 65 000 jobs between 2011 and 2014!). Little wonder that uncertainty in the public service is rampant and morale is suffering.

    Dealing with job loss

    Job loss is among life's top 10 most stressful events, so successfully overcoming this challenge demands focus, commitment and a significant effort on your part.

    Anyone losing his or her job will go through a number of stages of loss similar to those that people experience following the death of a loved one: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance.

    Affected or surplus employees

    Traditionally, employment security was one of the key attractions of a public service career, but those days are gone. Nevertheless, affected employees or those declared surplus can still rely on a number of services to help cope with their situation and successfully make the transition to a new job.

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