It's a too-busy Tuesday, with clients and debit memos awaiting your
attention, and your nerves are jangling. Would smelling a little
what aromatherapy -- the centuries-old practice that uses essential
oils from plants to revive spirits -- would have you believe.
But does it work? I started using essential oils several years
ago, after attending an aromatherapy seminar at a spa, and found
they can make subtle but sometimes real differences in my mood and
sense of well-being.
For example, a bath with a few drops each of clary sage,
ylang-ylang and lavender (first mixed into a little baby shampoo)
has helped ease a case of the grumps.
The office can be an ideal place to practice a little scent
therapy. "Between [poor] lighting and stale air, offices have lots
of things conspiring to make you feel tired and bored and make you
want to get out of there," said Cos Cob, Conn.-based aromatherapist
Judith Jackson, now coordinating the launch of a spa featuring her
treatments aboard Radisson's new ship, the Seven Seas
Jackson suggested the following:If everyone in the office agrees, buy an electric diffuser in
which you put a few drops of oils such as juniper and lemon or
rosemary and geranium, to heighten alertness, or lavender and
vetiver or chamomile and rose, for relaxation.Look for roll-on versions of aromatherapy products for applying
to wrists and other pulse points, as you do with more traditional
perfumes. Jackson's version, called Divinity, incorporates
sandalwood, lavender, rosewood and olibanum, "an incense that has
been used to purify sacred spaces."Before work, use a shower gel scented with essential oils. To
continue the good-smelling vibes at work, use a similarly scented
gel soap to wash your hands or a scented lotion.Using a scented oil, try some self-massage. With your thumb,
apply pressure to the base of your skull. Squeeze with your hand
along the shoulder line to relieve tension from sitting at your
"These techniques help to get blood flowing, and anything that
helps circulation helps concentration," said Jackson.
Avoiding the smelly hype
Aromatherapy is a big buzzword these days; seemingly every
scented product in the drugstore now mentions the term on its
label. But beware. Not every product touted as such will have a
"An aromatherapy body or facial product should be strong enough
to have an effect on an aching muscle or poor circulation or nasal
congestion. Very rarely is this the case with so many commercial
products," said Geraldine Howard, managing director of London-based
Check out product lines specifically formulated to be
aromatherapeutic (and avoid the chocolate-scented lotion; chocolate
is not an essential oil). You also can experiment with pure
essential oils on sale at the health food store.
But note: "Essential oils are very powerful and must always be
mixed with a base oil before you use them," according to "The Magic
of Well-Being," by aromatherapist Judith Jackson.
"For the body, combine sesame, apricot kernel, jojoba and sweet
almond to make an excellent base oil," she writes.
"For bath or shower preparations, mix the essential oil of your
choice with one teaspoon of mild castile or baby shampoo. Never put
essential oils directly in the bathwater. They do not mix well with
the water and float on top, where a particularly strong essence can
be irritating to the skin."A question about pay
I recently paid for an employee to attend a trade conference and
asked him to participate in all the seminars he could fit in. He
now claims that I owe him overtime pay. Do I?
depends on whether the employee is salaried or paid by the hour. If
employees are salaried, in most states, they are exempt from the
overtime requirement of the Fair Labor Standards Act and you have
no legal obligation to pay them anything beyond their regular
salary, regardless of the amount of time they work in your agency
or at a conference.
If the employees are paid by the hour, you do have to pay them
for any overtime worked. Attendance at industry seminars and even
participation in fam trips is considered work time unless
attendance is voluntary or not directly job related.
And if an employee is required to make a trip, all the time
spent traveling during the employee's normal work hours must be
counted as time worked in many states.
So, a simple trip to a conference can end up costing your agency
quite a bit of money for agents paid by the hour unless you take
precautionary measures. First of all, create a policy that states
that no employee may work overtime without prior permission,
especially if a manager is not present.
Second, when you send employees to conferences, trade shows and
fam trips, give them instructions not to work more than eight hours
per day unless they do so at their own option without pay. Go over
the meeting agenda and point out the seminars and workshops that
you want them to take.
Third, if the event involves a lot of travel time, see if
employees can travel during normal business hours, thus preventing
them from racking up overtime while traveling.
Former agency owner Dan McManus is the publisher of the
newsletter the Successful Worldspan Agent. Contact him at [email protected].