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Planting Season, Job Satisfaction and Planning Ahead: What I’m Reading This Week

May 10, 2024
A look at some news of note for safety professionals.

I know a couple people who recently hurt their backs, shoulders and necks while, of all things, exercising. It’s unfortunate that they have experienced these setbacks on their fitness and wellness journeys, and I wish there was more that I could do to help them recover.

Their injuries served as a reminder for me to not push my body too much. At one point, I felt a slight twinge while doing push-ups, so I quickly stopped, readjusted then resumed at a slower pace to make sure I focused on proper technique rather than reps.

That’s akin to workplace safety, amiright? People go about their business until they, or someone else, has a near-miss or gets hurt. Then, it opens peoples’ eyes to their mistakes. 

That’s probably not a great comfort now to the people I know who are still recovering, but perhaps my ramblings will give you an idea for how to connect with employees and make workplaces safer. Until next time, stay safe and be well!


Spring Planting

I’m not sure what the weather has been like for you this spring, but here in Ohio, it has been rainy and somewhat chilly. Spring has been a lot different from what I remember growing up.

And those changing weather patterns have serious business and environmental implications for Ohio agriculture farmers, who primarily grow soybeans and corn.  Joshua A. Bickel wrote about this year’s planting season for The Associated Press.

He notes that in Ohio, farmers have lost about five days of field work in the month of April since 1995. If you live or grew up in a rural area, you know the difference of just a few planting and harvesting days can make or break a crop season.

These weather conditions are expected to continue—and worsen—in the coming years as a direct result of climate change. Bickel includes plenty of data to quantify what farmers are seeing on the ground, but this one statistic made me gasp: Parts of southern Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana saw as much as 5 to 6 inches more rain than usual in 2024, according to an Associated Press review of four decades of precipitation data from the University of Idaho.

Farmers already face a number of challenges, including labor shortages, expensive equipment and the right to repair battle, and consolidation with big ag. Farming pays so little that most have second jobs and/or a partner who works outside of the farm so they can maintain their household and have affordable health care.

I hope you read this article about the struggles of the 1% of the American population that provide food for the 99% of us. Bickel captured some beautiful images on the farms, too.


Job Satisfaction

Over the past few years, it feels like there’s a lot of conflicting data. It can be difficult to make sense of it all, especially when you and the people around you are experiencing something different from the majority. I remember people telling me that the housing market was cooling down when I was looking at houses that were under contract within 48 hours of hitting the market.

That’s why I especially appreciated this story from Anne Marie Chaker about job satisfaction. The headline first caught my attention, but Chaker delves into the nuances, which add richness to an already complex topic. And, it seems, the nuances can help explain why it sometimes feels there’s a dual reality.

A majority of workers (63%) say they are satisfied with their job—the highest rating since the Conference Board started this survey in 1987. However, there were decreases in all 26 specific categories that workers were asked about, such as wages, promotions and work-life balance.

"We've never had a year where we've had that paradox," said Allan Schweyer, a principal researcher at The Conference Board, to The Wall Street Journal.

Chaker describes some people’s work experiences: what makes them happy, their sources of frustration, their concerns and their goals. Each is different, and I think it help explains why it can feel like there are discrepancies between what you’re seeing and what you’re experiencing. As with most situations, putting yourself in someone’s shoes and walking around in them for a little while can lead to more empathy and respect for this part of their life journey. I hope that this article inspires you to reach out to someone with kindness instead of jumping to assumptions.

Read the Chaker’s full article, “Who’s Happiest at Work? Hint: It’s Not Women” here.


Planning Ahead

On Friday afternoons, only a few hours separate you from the weekend. What are you doing: working as usual, hustling to finish up some tasks, socializing with co-workers, looking busy or leaving early?

Laura Vanderkam, author and time management expert, argues that of all the things you could be doing, the most effective is to plan your week ahead.

Vanderkam’s rationale is basically that you can’t force a state of deep focus and don’t want to interfere with peak productivity. By planning on Friday afternoons, you're optimizing future performance. That way, you have a plan for Monday before the weekend even begins. 

Vanderkam says this exercise can also help prevent the Sunday scaries, because you’ve already started tackling the big, complicated problems instead of letting your brain worry about them in the background.

I tried this last week, and it worked! By spending some time getting myself organized, I found I was more motivated. This may sound weird, but I realized that everything I was doing was a gift to my future self.

Then, come Monday, I had a clear set of instruction, so instead of fretting, I simply reviewed my notes then got straight to work.

I hope you give this trick a try. Feel free to let me know whether it works for you, and why or why not, in the comments below.

Read the article here, which has links to several more helpful time management resources.

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