Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Sustaining your Marriage in the Workplace

Are your behaviors at work healthy for your marriage?

Sustainability programs focus on doing what is right for the environment, generating profit and doing what is right for our people.   One of the biggest issues facing our people is stress caused by problems in their marriages.  Divorce is a productivity disruption and cost adder in the workplace.  The CDC’s National Vital Statistics System reports the divorce rate in 2016 to be 36.8%.¹  That’s more than one out of every three marriages.  45% of all working days lost are due to ill health fueled by stress from a divorce.²  Absent employees delay work.  Stressed employees perform poorly at their jobs resulting in quality problems and interpersonal problems within the company and with customers and vendors.  Marriage problems lead to fiscal problems for the company.  Divorce rates vary by education level and by occupation.  Professions such as flight attendants and manufacturing operators have a higher divorce rate around 50%.  Scientists and engineers are lower around 18-21 %.³  That means that in every kind of company divorce is leading to varying degrees of costly losses in productivity.

What can companies do to help employees sustain marriages and reduce costly losses to productivity?  Companies can help individuals by creating and supporting a culture of family-first. Many are offering their employees opportunities for child care, job sharing and the ability to work from home.  Their management supports a work-life balance and those companies have experienced savings in productivity and increases in revenue from such programs.  These companies also have counseling options for employees suffering from a personal crisis.  However, sustaining a healthy marriage still falls on the shoulders of the individual to behave and work in a manner that will help protect their marriage.  Having a successful marriage starts with trust.  Trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship and even more important between husband and wife.

Here are some tips and strategies that both men and women can incorporate into their work life to help build and maintain trust with each other that will help protect their marriages.

  • Communication – Share your work stories.  Discuss what's causing you stress and grief. Talk about your projects, and your ongoing objectives and goals with your spouse.  Make it a team effort.  Keep each other in the loop, don’t let there be any surprises.  Don’t try to fix each other’s work problems, just listen, unless they ask you specifically for help.  Never interfere with your spouse’s business by communicating to their bosses or coworkers something you many not like or understand.  Discuss issues together and share ideas and suggestions to help each other with their work situations.  Oftentimes, just by sharing what is bothering you will help alleviate the stress you are feeling.
  • Schedules - Coordinate calendars and schedules and do your best to plan business trips in advance.  If both of you work, create a shared cloud calendar and keep it up to date so you can minimize times when you would both be out of town.  Sharing a calendar helps build trust by knowing where each other is physically located.
  • Financial – Money is a big factor in causing stress between husbands and wives.  Often husbands and wives hide money from each other.  This is a sure way to distinguish trust.  Couples should be aware of the money coming into the household and both should make plans on how the money is used.  Spending behaviors vary from person-to-person and controlling spending should be a priority for each.  Create a budget that includes giving and saving.  Never live beyond your means.  Save for the rainy day when one or both of you lose your jobs.  Save for your kids’ education and for your large purchases and vacations.  If you must live in a smaller house to save do so.  If you must drive a cheaper car to save, do so.  Don’t keep up with the Jones' because the Jones' won’t make you happy nor do they care about you or your marriage.
  • Decorum – Business is for business.  Dress and behave in a business manner while at work.  Dress in a manner that draws attention to your brain-power and aptitude rather than to your body.  This shows respect to your spouse and helps your co-workers remain respectful as well.  Avoid lewd behavior and language.  Be honorable and trustworthy.  Your personal life, your beliefs and lifestyles are for your wife, your family and your friends outside of work.  Adhere to company policies and apply yourself to the work you are assigned.  Avoid conversations about any topic outside of what will help you do your job or help others do their job.  Be kind, respectful and cooperative while working together to complete the job at hand.
  • Physical Boundaries – Most marriages break up because of infidelity at the workplace.  Working in close quarters with the opposite gender can lead to growing affection toward one another.  Affection can begin to percolate between people when personal stories are shared with each other.  Telling a member of the opposite sex personal stuff about your relationship with your spouse is dishonorable to your spouse.  Discuss these matters with your spouse or close family member or friend outside of work.  Many successful couples adhere to boundaries to prevent situations where these conversations could occur.  
    • 1. Avoid one-on-one time with opposite gender:  Couples agree not to travel, meet or eat alone with a member of the opposite sex.  This can be challenging at times particularly if your boss or customer is the opposite gender.  Whenever possible include a third party in all meetings or meals with a member of the opposite sex.  When it isn’t possible, call your spouse and tell them the situation.  
    • 2. Travel and Entertainment:  When you are on the road or out with clients always behave as though you are with your spouse.  Honor your spouse when not in their presence.  Be careful with alcohol.  Entertainment should center around the principles of good decorum.  While on extended travel, maintain frequent contact with your spouse and kids.  If out to dinner with clients try to be back to your room no later than 9 PM.  What good ever happens in the late evening hours? 
  • Work Boundaries – While at work, work smartly and productively.  Know how to assess the time duration of required tasks and have pathways for delegation for those tasks that can be done by someone at a lower pay grade than you.  Communicate openly with your boss about the workload to ensure it can be done in the time required with the level of quality required.  If not, figure out what added resources are required to get it done.  Do this to ensure balance between your time at home and at work.  Avoid bringing work home and don’t work after hours and during weekends.  This is time for you to spend with your spouse and children.  Take your allotted amount of vacation time to spend with your family.  
These are just a few suggestions that have been proven to help couples maintain trust with each other with respect to their workplaces.  It is also important to work for a company whose management respects and supports helping their employees' families be successful.  

Are there other suggestions out there base on past experiences or observations that could also help us sustain our marriages?  

¹ https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/dvs/national_marriage_divorce_rates_00-16.pdf
² https://jonesdivorcelaw.com/manage-employee-productivity/
³ https://qz.com/1069806/the-highest-and-lowest-divorce-rates-in-america-by-occupation-and-industry/.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The NEW Path to Cash - Do This or Else

If you are running a business in 2018 and you don’t yet have a Corporate Responsibility Program / Sustainability Program, then you are probably leading your business to a slow death. 

The top five banks in the United States have publicly committed over $645 billion in financing to companies and technologies that are clean, green, environmentally and socially responsible, low-carbon and sustainable.  That is the new barometer for low risk.    These banks not only have invested in expanding their own programs but are narrowing their investment outlay to borrowers who match up with the core characteristics of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) data.  Not only that but these loans are the lowest priced available as part of their incentives.

What does this mean for you?  It will become more and more difficult to get low-rate loans if at all as this trend continues.  The result is if you need cash, and as a business owner, there are always times when you will need cash, you may not be able to get it if you don’t show that you are working toward sustainability.

Bank Sustainability Financing:

Here are what the top five banks are doing:
  1. JPMorgan Chase has allocated $200 billion in “clean financing”.  They will finance client projects and companies to facilitate new energy, transportation, waste management, water treatment and technology innovations.
  2.  Since 2007, Bank of America has provided more than $70 billion in financing for low-carbon and sustainable business activities. As part of their second commitment established in 2012, and increased in 2015, they will provide $125 billion in capital, along with significant intellectual capital, to develop solutions to climate change and other environmental challenges.
  3. Wells Fargo continues ton invest in supporting a lower-carbon economy.  Since 2012, they have invested and financed more than $70 billion in renewable energy, clean technology, “greener” buildings, sustainable agriculture, and other environmentally sustainable businesses. They seek to finance and support businesses that are developing solutions to mitigate the impacts of climate change and leading the way to a more sustainable future.
  4. Citigroup has been helping their clients contribute to climate and environmental solutions for more than 10 years. In just three-and-a-half years, they have financed and facilitated $53.3 billion in environmental finance transactions, meeting more than half of the $100 Billion Environmental Finance Goal they set in 2014 to lend, invest and facilitate $100 billion over a 10-year period. That builds on their previous $50 Billion Climate Initiative, which they achieved over the prior seven years.
  5. Goldman Sachs is targeting $150 billion to finance and invest in companies that promote clean technology and renewable energy, and they are committed to helping to develop market-based solutions to environmental challenges. 
Maybe you work with a smaller local bank in your community and don’t think you will need to be concerned about this.  Be aware that smaller community banks are beginning to offer similar programs to serve their local businesses and community.  Green Bank in Houston has invested $275 million in assets and is building a clientele of environmentally minded companies and individuals.  One Earth Bank was formed in Austin to have a sole focus on sustainability. 

Alpine Bank in Colorado offers consumer and business loan programs to help their customers make energy and resource improvements.  They will take ½ percent off their loan interest rate for purchases of fuel-efficient vehicles with a minimum of 40 MPG and rate-discounted loans for fuel-efficient business vehicles. 

Sustainability Investment Funds:

Not only are banks issuing money to environmentally conscious businesses, but they are directing their clients to invest in sustainability funds.  In fact, ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) practices is now accepted as the mainstream approach to investing.  Sustainalytics and MorningStar are the global leaders in researching ESG companies to provide data, ratings and information for investors of top sustainable mutual funds.    Barron recently selected 203 U.S. large company, actively managed funds with the most sustainable portfolios and ranked them by one-year returns.  Of the 203 funds studied, 37% beat the S&P’s 500 index 18.6% return. 

Private investors and venture capital firms see these funds and firms as offering the highest returns and will continue to seek like-minded entities in which to invest.  

Are You Ready to Act?

As you can see the financial world is focused on things that matter environmentally, socially and how companies govern themselves.  This is not a trend but a new reality.  When companies fully invest in sustainability they become transparent and a much lower risk to investors, lenders, employees and all stakeholders. 

The good news is that if you have been considering looking into doing environmental upgrades to your facility you can find low-interest money with which to do it.   That access to cash combined with applying any state and federal rebates can accelerate your return and get you on the path to establishing yourself as an environmentally and socially conscious business.

The bad news is if you don’t take the steps toward sustainability, your business won’t last.  Does this concern you enough to get started now?  Has anyone had a recent experience while pursuing capital where you were asked about your sustainability initiatives?  


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

How to Dehydrate the Mold Growing in your Plant

How much water are you letting leak into your facility, under or above your grounds? Do you know when you have a leak?  Were you recently hit with an excessive water bill?

As most of us have experienced at some point either as homeowners or as facility managers, water in the form of leaks or floods can do a lot of costly damage to a facility.  Slow leaks will also lead to the spawning the various kinds of mold such as Cladosporium, Penicillium, Alternaria, Aspergillus and Black mold or Stachybotrys atra.  For some people, exposure to molds can lead to symptoms such as stuffy nose, wheezing, and red or itchy eyes, or skin. Those with allergies to molds or with asthma, may have more intense reactions and develop an infection.  As facility managers, aside from the cost of repair, the surprise excessive water bill, we don’t want our buildings to cause our workers to be uncomfortable or to get sick from water leaks.

If you have experienced a costly water bill or you see evidence of leaks throughout your facility, there is a way of preventing this in the future.  Invest in a water monitoring solution.  Install the monitor at your meter(s) that will measure and transmit real time water consumption data 24 hours per day to your devices.  When this is in place you will be alerted immediately to any variances (leaks) that occur.  Gaining complete control of your water usage will provide you with many benefits:

  • Avoid surprise water bill.
  • Lower your company’s water footprint.
  • Quickly detect anomalies in water usage.
  • Tie-in with Building Automation Systems and Building Management Systems.
  • A fast return-on-investment.
  • LEED Recertification - customized reports demonstrating water reduction.
  • Compare facility water usage during peak and non-peak hours.
  • Track water project savings within the building.
  • Use with Cooling Towers to determine lost water to evaporation and drift.

This picture is an example of the dashboard you will be able to access from each of your devices.  It’s taken from WaterSignal’s water monitoring and leak detection system.

Are you interested in gaining control of your water?  Would you like to know instantly when one of your facilities has developed a major leak?  Would you like to be able to examine your historical water usage and compare against your water bill?  If this is of interest to you then please reach out to me for more information.  Please share any thoughts, experiences that you have had with water.