Why You’re Gaining Weight Suddenly, According to Doctors and Dietitians

Photo by Malte Mueller/Getty Images

It’s understandable when you gain a few pounds after vacation or if you break your ankle and spend six weeks propped on the sofa bingeing obscure British cooking shows (and the chocolate scones to go with them).

But when you can’t zip your jeans for no freaking reason at all — you swear you’re not eating any more or exercising any less — it can feel like there’s some dark magic at play. You may find yourself standing on the bathroom scale, screaming into the void:

“Why am I gaining weight?!”

Deep breath. You got this.

Most likely, there’s something in your life that’s shifted just enough to make a difference, but not so much that you’d notice, says Alexandra Sowa, MD, an obesity specialist and clinical instructor of medicine at NYU Langone Health. “I see this all the time — you may not step on the scale for a while, and you feel like you haven’t changed anything, and all of a sudden you go to the doctor’s office and notice you’ve gained 10 or 20 pounds,” she says.

But that doesn’t mean it’s your destiny to go up another size every year. Here are some of the most likely reasons for unexplained weight gain, and how to stop it in its tracks.

Your insulin levels may be out of whack.

If you’ve been battling weight issues for a while and none of your efforts are moving the needle, make an appointment with your primary care doc or a weight-management physician, who can assess you for insulin resistance or prediabetes. (Your doctor can also test you for hypothyroidism, in which your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormone, slowing down your metabolism and potentially leading to weight gain.)

“Insulin is the hormone that signals the body to pull glucose out of the bloodstream and store it in the muscles, liver, and fat,” explains Tirissa Reid, MD, an obesity medicine specialist at Columbia University Medical Center and Diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine. “But when you’re overweight, the cells don’t recognize the insulin as well, so the pancreas has to pump out more and more — sometimes two or three times the normal amount — until the cells respond.”

(This is also common in women who have polycystic ovary syndrome — a condition in which the egg follicles in the ovaries bunch together to form cysts.) These high insulin levels keep the body in storage mode and make weight loss more difficult, says Dr. Reid. The beginning of this road is insulin resistance — when your pancreas is working overtime, but blood sugar levels are still normal.

All that extra work wears out the pancreas until it can barely do the job of keeping the blood sugar in normal range. Left unchecked, insulin resistance can lead to prediabetes, in which blood-sugar levels are slightly elevated; if that’s not treated, you can develop full-blown type-2 diabetes.

What you can do: The most effective way to reverse this trend is to eat a diet low in refined carbs and added sugars, and to become more physically active, since muscles respond better to insulin after exercise, says Dr. Reid.

She recommends either investing in a fitness tracker or simply using the one that comes with your phone. “People hear you need 10,000 steps each day, which sounds intimidating, but you can also use it just to see where you’re at and make doable increases,” Dr. Reid says. “If you’re at 2,000 steps, try to go up to 2,500 a day next week and continue to increase.”

Swapping to foods with a lower glycemic index (GI) — which means they’re digested more slowly, keeping blood-sugar levels steady — is also important for controlling your insulin levels. Dr. Sowa recommends these lower-GI food swaps: riced cauliflower instead of white rice; zucchini spirals or shirataki noodles (made from plant fiber) instead of pasta; and pumpernickel or stone-ground whole wheat bread instead of white bread or bagels.

Stress and exhaustion are throwing you off.

If you’re up at night worrying about your aging parents, your hormonal teens, and the general crappy state of the world, this can affect your metabolism. “Stress and lack of sleep can cause a cascade of hormonal changes that change your metabolism and affect your sense of hunger and fullness,” Dr. Sowa explains.

Stress pumps up the hormones ghrelin and cortisol, which increase your appetite and can make you crave carbs; at the same time, it dials down the hormone leptin, which helps you feel full. Not surprisingly, a recent Swedish study of 3,872 women over 20 years found that the more stressed you are by work, the likely you are to gain weight. Stress also affects your ability to get a good night’s sleep, and we know that lack of sleep can also throw off your metabolism rates and hunger cues.

What you can do: It’s easy — just fix the world and make everyone around you kinder and more sane.

Hm, maybe not. But you can manage your stress by downloading a free app such as Pacifica, (now Sanvello) which can help you work toward personal goals such as thinking positively and decreasing anxiety by sending you meditations and visualizations to do throughout the day. To sleep more soundly, you already know you should put down your phone, computer, and iPad an hour before bedtime, but new research shows that shutting out all light — including that sliver of moon through your window — can help with both sleep and metabolism.

A study at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine found that after subjects spent just one night of sleeping in a room with dim light, insulin levels the next morning were significantly higher than those who slept in complete darkness, potentially affecting metabolism rates. So consider investing in some good blackout curtains.

Your allergy pills are to blame.

“We’re not 100% sure why, but it’s believed that histamines, chemicals produced by your immune system to fight allergens, have a role in appetite control,” says Dr. Reid. That means that “antihistamines may cause you to eat more,” she says. A large study from Yale University confirmed that there is a correlation between regular prescription antihistamine use and obesity. Dr. Reid points out that some antihistamines such as Benadryl also cause drowsiness, which could make you less apt to exercise.

What you can do: If you suffer from seasonal allergies and are constantly taking antihistamines, talk to your allergist about alternative treatments such as nasal steroid sprays, nasal antihistamines (which have less absorption into the bloodstream, and therefore less effect on hunger), leukotriene inhibitors such as Singulair, or allergy shots, suggests Jeffrey Demain, MD, founder of the Allergy Asthma and Immunology Center of Alaska.

He also says that managing your environment — using a HEPA filter, washing your sheets frequently in hot water, keeping pets out of your bedroom — can help reduce the need for allergy meds. While you’re at it, do an inventory of any prescription medications you’re taking that are known to cause weight gain (including certain antidepressants, beta blockers, corticosteroids, and the birth control shot) and discuss with your doctor if there are equally effective alternatives that don’t affect weight, says Dr. Reid.

Your portions are probably bigger than you think.

Anyone who’s ever sat in a vinyl booth staring down a bowl of pasta big enough for a toddler to swim knows that portion sizes in America are ginormous. But research from the University of Liverpool published last year found that after being served large-size meals outside the home, people tend to serve themselves larger portions up to a week later, meaning supersizing appears to be normalized, says Lisa R. Young, PhD, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim.

Even if your home-cooked portions have crept up only 5% over the last few years, that can be an extra 100 calories a day, which adds up to more than 11 pounds a year, says Lawrence Cheskin, MD, chair of nutrition and food studies at George Mason University. And the official measure of what’s a “serving” isn’t helping.

“The FDA standards for how many ‘servings’ are in a package of food are based on how much food people actually eat, not how much you should eat,” Young explains. For example, to reflect the growing appetites of the American people, a serving of ice cream was increased last year from 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup. More realistic, perhaps, but still more calories than many of us need.

Here’s what to do: First, Young suggests you spend a few days getting a reality check on how much food you’re actually eating at each meal. “When you pour the cereal in the bowl in the morning, pour it back into a measuring cup. What you thought was 1 cup might actually be 3 cups, especially if you’re using a large bowl,” she says.

Also, instead of relying on a government agency (or the chef at your favorite restaurant) at to tell you how much to eat, learn to listen to your own body, says Young. “Serve yourself just one modest portion on a small plate, and when you’re done, wait 20 minutes,” she says. It takes that long for the hormones in your belly to reach your brain and tell it you’re full. If you get to 20 minutes and your stomach is grumbling, have a few more bites.

You’re eating the right thing, but at the wrong time.

Let’s say you switched jobs recently, and dinner is now at 9 p.m. instead of 6:30. Or your new habit of streaming Neflix until the wee hours also involves snacking well past midnight. Even if you’re not eating more, per se, this change might account for the extra poundage.

There’s a delicate dance between your circadian rhythm (the way your body and brain respond to the daily cues of daylight and darkness) and your calorie intake that can mean that same sandwich or bowl of fro-yo that you eat at lunchtime may actually cause more of a weight gain when eaten at night.

A 2017 study at Brigham & Women’s Hospital found that when college students ate food closer to their bedtime — and therefore closer to when the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin was released — they had higher percentages of body fat and a higher body-mass index. The researchers theorize that this is because the amount of energy your body uses to digest and metabolize food drops as your inner clock tells it to get ready to snooze.

What you can do: There are a few life hacks to keep the late-night snacking to a minimum. Dr. Sowa suggests you commit to writing down every bite you eat after dinner: “Whether it’s on a sticky pad or on an app, keeping track of what you’re eating, how much you’re eating, and how you’re feeling when you eat it will hold you accountable for the calories, and it will also help you figure out if you’re truly hungry or just bored,” she says.

She also suggests capping off your evening meal with a brain-and-heart-healthy tablespoon of Fish Oil. “It’s a healthy fat that coats your stomach and makes you feel less hungry later,” she says.

Your “healthy” food is packed with calories.

You could be eating the cleanest, most organic, dietitian-approved variety of plant-based, or ethically farmed food, but that doesn’t mean the calories evaporate into pixie dust when they go in your mouth.

And in fact, research has shown that when you’re eating something healthy — avocados, salad, yogurt, whole grains — part of your attention to fullness tends to turn off. “Even when you’re eating healthy foods, you really have to pay attention to your hunger and satiety signals,” says Véronique Provencher, PhD, professor of nutrition at Université Laval in Quebec City, Canada.

“In several studies we have found that when we perceive a food as healthy it creates a bias in our own judgment, and we think (consciously or not) that we can eat more of it, no problem. We think a salad is healthy, so we feel we can eat as much as we want with as many dressings or toppings as we want.”

What you can do First of all, treat eating like going to the theater, and turn your phone off — and turn away from the computer or TV screen. “We have found when you are eating and working on your computer or watching TV or on a screen you are disconnected from hunger and satiety clues,” says Provencher.

Something else that may help, other experts say, is to become more aware of portion sizes and what’s in your food. Try the Weight Watchers app, which helps you sort out questions like which “healthy” yogurts are full of sugar and calories, and how much avocado you should spread on your toast.

Weight loss, health and body image are complex subjects — before deciding to go on a diet, we invite you gain a broader perspective by reading our exploration into the hazards of diet culture.

Your age might be a factor.

Each birthday you celebrate brings on one undeniable change: your basal resting metabolism (the rate at which your body at rest burns the energy you take in from food) slows down. “It’s not a dramatic drop,” says Dr. Cheskin. “But as you age, you’re probably also getting less active and more tired, and your body tends to lose muscle mass, which burns calories more efficiently than fat.”

So even if you’re eating the exact same amount of food as you did when you were younger, your body is simply not burning it off as effectively as it did during the glory days of your 20s.

Here’s what to do: You can only budge your BMR a little, but there are a few things you can do to make the math work in your favor. The first is to build up your calorie-burning muscle, says fitness expert Michele Olson, PhD, a professor of sports science and physical education at Huntingdon College. “Keep up cardio three times a week for 30 minutes, but add challenging weight training on top of that,” she says.

Olson recommends these exercises that can be done at home. Start with what you can do and build up to 2 sets of 12 of each, every other day.

  • Chair squats: Sit of the edge of a chair with arms crossed; stand up and sit back down for one rep.
  • Triceps dips: Sit on the edge of a chair, supporting yourself with your arms, slide off, walking your feet out in front of you a few steps; with knees bent and body below the seat, bend elbows; press up until arms are straight. (Use a chair without wheels!)
  • Push-ups, from your knees, or full push-ups, if you can.

Another metabolism-boosting strategy: Replace some of the carbohydrates in your diet with proteins, which take more energy to digest, therefore burning off more calories through diet-induced thermogenesis, as well as making you feel fuller for longer.

Dr. Sowa suggests you eat about 100 grams of protein over the course of the day, filling your plate with lean chicken, fish, shrimp, or plant-based proteins such as garbanzo beans, tempeh, and edamame, to give your meals more metabolism bang for your buck. This may only add up to a weight loss of a few pounds a year, but combined with exercise, the cumulative effect can be significant, says Dr. Sowa.

Marisa Cohen is a Contributing Editor in the Hearst Health Newsroom, who has covered health, nutrition, parenting, and the arts for dozens of magazines and web sites over the past two decades.

By : Marisa Cohen  Good Housekeeping

Source: Why You’re Gaining Weight Suddenly, According to Doctors and Dietitians

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Here’s How To Stop Succumbing To Financial Peer Pressure

Photo: Rawpixel.com (Shutterstock)

No one wants to be the friend who always has to miss dinners, concerts, and vacations because of their strict budget. Maybe you’re unexpectedly tight on cash all of a sudden, or maybe your friend group has slowly but surely fallen victim to lifestyle creep. Whatever your reasons, saying “no” to well-intentioned friends and family is one of the most challenging aspects to keeping your spending in check.

If you’ve noticed that you’re spending more than you’d like to be because of the company you keep, here are some tips to resist financial peer pressure without tarnishing your relationships.

 

Be transparent about your budget

There are two main perks to letting those around you know that you’re sticking to a budget. First off, good friends will respect your boundaries and be less likely to pressure you into spending more than you’re comfortable with.

Secondly, you’ll be more likely to hold yourself accountable. Rather than feeling the pressure to spend, you’ll feel pressure to save. The key here is to be casual, but firm. You don’t want others to feel like you’re complaining, asking for help, or passing judgment on their spending habits.

Be prepared to say no

If you struggle to say no to someone’s face, it helps to prepare for situations where you know there’s likely to be financial peer pressure. Write yourself a tentative script, e.g. “I can’t afford that right now, what about [alternative solution]?”

Think up activities or propose locations that you know are within your budget. If possible, it also helps to take initiative with choosing restaurants and making plans, so you can avoid having to reject someone else’s expensive ideas. Here’s a list of ideas for social plans that won’t break the bank.

If your friends insist on something you can’t afford at the moment, be ready to stick to your “no.” And if you’re constantly finding yourself in this uncomfortable position, it might be time to find new friends.

Find new friends

If you’re being priced out of your friend group, it’s time to rethink who you spend your time around. It sounds harsh, but real friends will spend time with you for cheap.

People don’t need to share your exact spending habits in order to respect your budget and your boundaries. If someone in your life doesn’t want to make time to get together without the pressure to spend money, that might be a friendship you’re outgrowing.

By Meredith Dietz

Source: Here’s How to Stop Succumbing to Financial Peer Pressure

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Critics by

Studies have shown that credit card spenders are willing to pay almost twice more than those who are paying with cash. This means we are willing to spend more when using credit cards.This can be explained by what psychologists call, “the pain of paying”. Whenever we make a purchase, this activates the pain processing regions in our brain. They light up even with the anticipation of making the decision to purchase something.

Paying with credit cards reduce the “pain of paying” because it makes money less tangible than when paying with cash. This is because when you pay with cash, you’re actually handing the money over and watching it disappear. Ouch!But when using a credit card, the card is always returned to the customer or the customer just taps the card to pay, so you don’t see the money disappear.

Switching to a cash-only budget can be a great way to keep your spending on track as you work towards your financial goals.This means you’ll use cash for all of your spending needs. If this is not realistic for your lifestyle, then consider moving to a cash-only budget for spending categories that tend to bust your budget. 

Commons spending categories that many people struggle includes groceries, restaurants, clothing, beauty & makeup, entertainment, and kids’ stuff.For example, if you’re spending too much money on clothes each month or have trouble cutting back on eating out, then withdraw a certain amount of cash each week for these spending categories.

his means you’ll only use cash when spending in this specific budget category, such as $50 per week for clothing. Once the cash is gone from your envelope, it’s gone! Don’t be tempted to move money around from different spending categories to cover clothing costs. Wait until next week when you can refill your envelope with $50 to pay for clothing.

You can use cash envelopes for ANY category to help you tack back control of your spending. It’s a fun and simple way to stick to your budget. Below is an in-depth guide on how to get started with cash envelopes.

How to follow the cash envelope method without cash

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Related contents:

Truss sought personal trainer to help her through her mini budget stress Mail Online

Looking for a Budget Rescue? A Personal Loan Could Be the Answer The Motley Fool

What Is a Personal Inflation Rate And How Can It Help You Budget As a Recession Looms? NasdaqHave you got a budget? If not, it’s probably time to start budgeting and here are some tips, says SIMON LAMBERT This is Money

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Worried About Inflation? Here Are 5 Money Moves to Make This Year

Everything is more expensive right now, and you’ve done what you can to cut back your spending. You brew coffee at home, you don’t walk into Target and you refuse to order avocado toast. (Can you sense my millennial sarcasm there?)

But no matter how cognizant you are of your spending habits, you’re still stuck with those inescapable monthly bills. Although we can’t swipe these off the table for you, we do have a few money moves you should make right away…

1. Stop Overpaying at Amazon

Wouldn’t it be nice if you got an alert when you’re shopping online at Amazon or Target and are about to overpay? That’s exactly what this free service does.Just add it to your browser for free, and before you check out, it’ll check other websites, including Walmart, eBay and others to see if your item is available for cheaper. Plus, you can get coupon codes, set up price-drop alerts and even see the item’s price history.

Let’s say you’re shopping for a new TV, and you assume you’ve found the best price. Here’s when you’ll get a pop up letting you know if that exact TV is available elsewhere for cheaper. If there are any available coupon codes, they’ll also automatically be applied to your order.

In the last year, this has saved people $160 million. You can get started in just a few clicks to see if you’re overpaying online.

2. Get Up to 40% Cash Back When You Pay For Stuff

Chances are you do some of your shopping online. Whether it’s pet food from Walmart, a new outfit from Macy’s or even a flight home for summer vacation, you’re probably leaving money on the table. A free website called Rakuten has the hookup with just about every online store you shop, which means it can give you up to 40% cash back every time you buy something.

We spoke to one Penny Hoarder reader, Colleen Rice, who has earned more than $526.44 since she joined Rakuten. For doing nothing. Seriously. Rice says she uses Rakuten for things she already has to buy, like rental cars and flights. It takes less than 60 seconds to create a Rakuten account and start shopping. All you need is an email address, then you can immediately start earning cashback at your go-to stores through the site.

Your cash will be deposited directly into your bank account or via a check in the mail every few months. Talk about money for nothing.

3. Get Paid Up to $140/Month Just for Sharing Your Honest Opinion

If you’re turning blue in the face waiting for a raise at work, it might be time to quit holding your breath and start speaking your mind to someone who wants to listen. Brands want to hear your opinion to help inform their business decisions on everything from products and services to logos and ads — and they’re willing to pay you up to $140 a month for it.

A free site called Branded Surveys will pay you up to $5 per survey for sharing your thoughts with their brand partners. Taking three quick surveys a day could earn up to $140 each month. It takes just a minute to create a free account and start getting paid to speak your mind. Most surveys take five to 15 minutes, and you can check how long they’ll take ahead of time.

And you don’t need to build up tons of money to cash out, either — once you earn $5, you can cash out via PayPal, your bank account, a gift card or Amazon. You’ll get paid within 48 hours of your payout being processed, just for sharing your opinions. They’ve already paid users more than $20 million since 2012, and the most active users can earn a few hundred dollars a month. Plus, they’ve got an “excellent” rating on Trustpilot.It takes just a minute to set up your account and start getting paid to take surveys. Plus, right now, you’ll get a free 100-point welcome bonus just for becoming part of the community.

4. Buy an Apartment Building (Even if You’re Not Filthy Rich)

The uber wealthy 1% have access to exclusive, lucrative real estate investments that seem totally out of reach to the rest of us. But not anymore.  A company called CalTier lets you invest in commercial real estate — specifically, multi-family apartment complexes across the country — for as little as $500.

Traditionally, you’d need a six-figure income or a million-dollar net worth to invest like this. Instead, CalTier lets you invest like the big wigs in the real estate world, even if you’re not rich. Investments in multi-family housing have outperformed the S&P 500 for the last 20 years* — and it’s expected to grow another 33% this year alone.

CalTier also gives you a 30 day money-back guarantee. And if you have any questions along the way, you can talk to a real human to get them answered. Ready to join the ranks of wealthy and institutional real-estate investors?

It’s easy to open a free account and get started here.

5. Cancel Your Car Insurance

Here’s the thing: your current car insurance company is probably overcharging you. But don’t waste your time hopping around to different insurance companies looking for a better deal. Use a website called EverQuote to see all your options at once.  EverQuote is the largest online marketplace for insurance in the US, so you’ll get the top options from more than 175 different carriers handed right to you.

Take a couple of minutes to answer some questions about yourself and your driving record. With this information, EverQuote will be able to give you the top recommendations for car insurance.

Source: Worried About Inflation? Here Are 5 Money Moves to Make This Year – The Penny Hoarder

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20:18 Wed, 06 Jul
13:09 Wed, 06 Jul

Affordable Housing Crisis Demands ADUs And DADUs, PDQ

Rising mortgage rates mean fewer would-be buyers can afford first homes. That takes them out of the land of the American Dream, and places them squarely, and possibly interminably, back in renting country. These folks, who otherwise would have left the renting population, are instead adding to the cohort.

Their increased demand is helping propel monthly rents northward. Everywhere, it seems, the affordable housing crisis is growing, and there exists no indication it will be reversed or even slowed anytime soon.

If there are solutions to the crisis, one may be found in the concept of the Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit, or DADU. Known in some places as granny flats or coach houses, these compact dwellings are legally permitted on parcels of existing homes,

They provide additional housing options to those who otherwise likely wouldn’t have hope of finding one. And for that reason, many municipalities are making way for them. Seattle’s ADUniverse website is one example of how accepting they’ve become.

Johnston Architects

Pacific Northwest-based Johnston Architects has addressed the concept with its Twisp Cabin, which was originally designed as a vacation cabin located in the Methow Valley of Washington State. The home design has since proven remarkably adaptable.

It can be customized to almost any kind of home site or individual’s needs and has even turned up as a family home on Orcas Island, Washington. It can also be built from multiple materials, among them Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT). What’s more, it was designed to meet Seattle’s ultra-tough energy codes, the nation’s most rigorous.

The 1,300-square-foot Twisp Cabin, whose plans can be bought for $7,000, is one of a number of Johnston Architects’ customizable home designs available for purchase.

“We’ve seen housing prices increase year over year since the recession, to the point where a lot of residents couldn’t even qualify for their homes today if they had to buy them all over again,” says Jack Chaffin, a partner at Johnston Architects.

“With a chunk of their net worth tied up in the value of their houses, some homeowners, especially on fixed incomes, are vulnerable to economic downturns or unexpected expenses, like a health care crisis or increased property taxes. One way to increase affordable housing in urban areas and keep existing homeowners more secure is by building ADUs or DADUs . . .

[They] could be a solution to ‘aging in place.’ Build yourself a smaller house to live in and rent out your larger home to someone else.” Johnston Architects isn’t the only architectural firm getting in on the growing interest in ADUs nationwide. Read on for insights into two others, as well as their ADU plans.

Artisans Group

This award-winning, women-owned design studio has teamed with three municipalities in the Puget Sound area to deliver four distinctive designs featuring pre-approved construction sets eligible residents can obtain at no cost. Each of the designs might be appropriate as a backyard cottage, vacation home or adorable small dwelling.

In a prepared statement, the firm acknowledged that as many cities experience unprecedented growth, available housing stock is depleted and what housing does remain available grows ever more unaffordable. “Looking at current municipal codes, ADUs can provide an opportunity to increase the density of established neighborhoods without demolishing the neighborhood character,” the statement noted.

“However, designing a quality ADU that maximizes space and use within a minimal footprint is a challenge, takes careful consideration and is expensive for most people.”

In recognition, Artisans Group reported it got to work developing functional, beautiful and malleable predesigned ADUs, each offering savings from $25,000 to $40,000 in design fees. A number of these designs offer varying roof lines and pitch alternatives, as well as an array of entryway and view considerations.

“On a practical level,” the firm reports, “five people can purchase the same exact ADU plan and come away with five very different-looking ADUs.”

Shape Architecture

Denver, Colo.-based contemporary architecture firm Shape Architecture takes pride in designing homes that offer reduced square footage, smaller carbon footprints and lowered cost, yet meet clients’ needs for space. Homes include features highly familiar to Japanese designers, including sliding walls able to convert living rooms into guest bedrooms or family rooms into playrooms.

Shape Architecture crafted one of Seattle’s 10 pre-approved DADU designs and has built a number of DADUs across the country, some overcoming incredibly limited space parameters. In a prepared statement, the firm noted its ADU design experience has evolved into helping clients interested in multi-generational “family compounds” featuring attached or detached accessories.

Bottom line? If this admittedly limited sample is any indication, it appears very small dwellings may hold a key to helping address a very large national problem.

I launched my freelance writing career in 1989 and have since produced more than 5,000 bylined articles for a wide array of traditional and web-based

Source: Affordable Housing Crisis Demands ADUs And DADUs, PDQ

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Six Tips To Retain Key Employees And Prevent High Turnover Rates

High turnover is a nightmare for HR personnel and the owner of a company. The loss of a valuable employee can be detrimental to growth. Not only can the loss lead to lower productivity, but it can also cost the company financially.

According to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, in July 2021, about 4 million people quit their jobs and about 10.9 million positions were declared open. This year, the UK reported an employee deficiency that has had a crippling effect on its economy. In the tech industry, managers have said that the increase in turnover is at an all-time high.

As a business owner, when employee turnover is high, it is time to re-evaluate the business. You first have to determine why your employees are leaving before you know how to stop it. Some of those reasons could be a lack of one or more of the following: flexibility, support, growth, appreciation, vision and engagement.

There are many reasons why your employees could decide to leave your company. Now while one or two employees leaving may seem negligible, a large number of employees, especially important ones, is cause for alarm. Here are a few strategies you can implement to help prevent high turnover rates.

1. Have flexible work options.

One thing many individuals have realized since the pandemic hit is that they can have flexible work hours and still be productive. According to a report by Beqom (download required), over 70% of American workers would take a job with flexible working hours over a higher-paying one. Flexibility does not have to be in the number of hours alone. It may also be start time, vacation days or day-to-day regulations in the organization, among other things.

Most employees do not want to work in a harsh environment where rules are set in stone with no possibility of flexibility whatsoever. Rules in the workplace are important to ensure that everything runs properly; however, when the rules are too rigid, employees can start to feel smothered.

2. Offer your employees support.

Many employees value empathy in their employer and will likely seek out and stick with an employer that cares about their well-being as a person instead of just the value they add to the company. Ask your employees what area of their job they find unnecessarily taxing and how you can make it easier on them; an immediate solution may not be possible but making an effort is the first step. This could also help solve or prevent burnout. And according to a Microsoft report, 54% of employees say they are overworked.

Support employees in learning a new skill for their current role — it would ultimately serve both you and the employee. While it’s almost impossible to solve all the problems of your employees, offering support goes a long way.

3. Help employees reach their career goals.

This is one of the main reasons employees leave. If they feel as though they are not growing in their careers, they could be tempted to look elsewhere. An organization that promotes career-driven goals can help employees achieve those goals to the benefit of everyone involved.

If an employee is steadily growing at an organization and they see a good prospect for them there, they are less likely to move on. Help your employees attain this by creating avenues for growth; this includes networking programs, seminars, mentoring opportunities and so on.

4. Acknowledge and appreciate your employees.

A good way to motivate your employees is to always acknowledge when someone does a great job. Everyone wants to be recognized for their hard work, and if an employee isn’t feeling appreciated, it could cause them to consider leaving your company. Believe it or not, many employees value this more than salary. Appreciate employees when they do a good job in the way that most suits them.

5. Communicate your vision.

No one wants to work at an organization that doesn’t have a clear vision or is left out of the loop. As employees grow, your business must also grow in scope. Have a clear vision for the future of your business, and be committed to communicating it. Feelings of being left in the dark, or low/poor communication in general, can make employees consider leaving. Employees can’t share in your vision if it doesn’t exist or is unclear.

6. Involve your employees.

No matter how good you are at running a business, not seeking your team’s input before making decisions could have devastating effects. When all the decisions are made without the input of employees, the work environment starts to feel like a dictatorship where ideas and input are not welcome. This can lead to employees moving to other companies where they feel like their opinion matters. Involve relevant stakeholders for each decision where it’s appropriate; there’s a balance to strike between stalling all decisions and authoritarian management.

As an HR professional or a business owner, you can help prevent high employee turnover or keep that star employee happy by keeping the above tips in mind. The most important thing is to recognize dissatisfaction in your staff and react in a timely way to offer solutions so they can continue being an active and productive member of your staff.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

Marketing Consultant/Franchise Owner of Sylvan Learning Center of Murrieta, CA. Read Chastity Heyward’s full executive profile here.

Source: Six Tips To Retain Key Employees And Prevent High Turnover Rates

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