Dealing with reduced Daylight Hours in Winter to avoid reduced Productivity

It’s that time of the year when the daylight hours are shortening and the temperature is low.  Your workers are likely getting in to the office before the sunrise and leaving after it sets. Everyone is aware of how crappy that feels, but what you’re probably less aware of, is that this lack of Vitamin D from natural sunlight has some serious effects on health, which can have some flow-on effects to employee engagement and overall productivity. It is important therefore, to help employees deal with this natural reduction in sunlight exposure, particularly around the winter solstice, in order to prevent them becoming down or stressed as a result.

Maximise opportunities for sunlight.

There are several ways you can do this, within the office, and by taking employees outside of the office at regular intervals. Firstly, inside the office, if you are able, have as many windows as possible with blinds drawn to expose employees to sunlight inside. If you are unable to do this, UVB lamps inside offices can improve vitamin D production through artificial lighting.

Then, outside the office, make sure your employees have the opportunities to go outside for their lunch break as often as possible. At this time, more than ever, it is important to encourage workers to go outside to eat lunch, rather that sit in the office tea room, or at their desks. If you can, encourage exercise at this time as well. A further opportunity to do this is to go for an early morning walk with your employees before beginning work for the day. This has the added benefit of helping the brain to produce more serotonin, both preventing low mood, and improving wakefulness during the day. This will have an added benefit of compounding increased productivity through this improved wakefulness.

Watch for burnout

Burnout is particularly problematic around this time. You can recognise it through symptoms of self-isolation and irritability of your employees. Burnout leads to dramatic drops in productivity and can create issues with absenteeism. It is important to let your employees know that at any point when they are feeling stressed they can come and talk to you, which is an effective strategy to prevent burnout when employees can recognise the early warning signs of poor mood and irritability. Educate them to recognise these signs, and institute an open-door policy. Additionally, it is a good idea to avoid having workers stay back for long hours. In the long run, this will worsen the progression of burnout. Send workers home, make sure they keep regular office hours as a further strategy to prevent employee burnout.

Finally, it may be worthwhile having an external psychologist or counsellor come in to talk about the potential negative health consequences of reduced sunlight. Inviting these healthcare practitioners in can potentially create links to the individual employees, who make seek their services if they begin to struggle with deeper issues.

WooBoard is a peer to peer recognition platform where your employees can send public messages of thanks and appreciation to their colleagues. Sign up for your free 14-Day Trial of WooBoard today.

Investing in Professional Development for Greater Employee Engagement

In the modern workplace, providing an employee with effective remuneration for their time is simply not enough. The current competition for any given industry will have strong company culture, engagement strategies in place, a sense of social cohesion between coworkers, and opportunities for learning and professional development.
Training employees is a costly venture, especially new recruits who have so much to learn. However, for the following benefits listed below, the investment in the cost is infinitely worthwhile.

Continual learning

Spreading knowledge should be your goal as a workplace manager, and you should be encouraging employees to learn as much as they can. Evidence has shown that by providing an effective learning environment, you not only benefit your employees, the company’s effectiveness will also improve (1).

Each employee trained is also a node of information for other employees in the company. It is likely that an employee who recently returned from training will share the information gained with their coworkers. This will mean that training one employee is a very cost effective exercise, as it leads to the surreptitious training of your other employees as well.

Employees want to learn

One of the pillars of job satisfaction is that employees are confident they can perform the role they are in well. It follows then, that training an employee to perform their role effectively will also improve their overall happiness and engagement, and they are likely to stay in their roles longer. This will reduce costs in hiring, onboarding and training of new recruits.

A simple cost effective strategy to train new employees is by utilising a mentor program. Research shows that mentors benefit as much from mentoring programs as do mentees, so this is a two-for-one deal (2).

Attracting the right candidates

These days, reputation is on the radar of job seekers, and learning and development programs feed directly into a company’s reputation. The job seekers who know the company values, who can extend their careers and professional development with your company and who see themselves as the right fit for you, will seek out your company if the company values are clear. Attracting the right candidates is extremely important, as it avoids hiring someone who isn’t the right fit for the company who will leave quickly when they realise. The costs of this are obviously exorbitant, and therefore the benefits of attracting the right candidates in the first place are clear.

Developing future leaders

It is important to realise that these new recruits represent the future of your company, and therefore they should learn as much about the company as possible. Therefore, the use of training programs such as mentorship, cross-training and management training can be helpful in succession planning. You will provide them will information on how to balance the needs of the organisation with those of the clients, making them better decision-makers for a thriving company.

Hence, it is clear the value of training and development programs in investing in your new employees. Not only will they be more engaged, more productive workers, they will be working towards becoming effective decision-makers as the future of the company.

WooBoard is a peer to peer recognition platform where your employees can send public messages of thanks and appreciation to their colleagues. Sign up for your free 14-Day Trial of WooBoard today.

  1. Tannenbaum SI. Enhancing Continuous Learning: Diagnostic Findings from Multiple Companies. Hum Resour Manage. 1997;36(4):437-52.
  2. Gordon SP, Maxey S. How to help beginning teachers succeed. Adolescence. 2000;35(140):818.

 

A guide to using humour in the workplace, using famous workplaces from Netflix Shows

All of us remember a particular job that we had which had a more relaxed attitude, jokes abounded and the camaraderie we felt helped us pass the hours just that bit more quickly. So popular, is the idea of humour at work, that any workplace depicted in television has a good dose of humor accompanying it.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

For example, anyone who has seen the comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine will know of the hilarious antics that take, place in the police station that the captain not only puts up with but also joins in with. However, if everyone isn’t in on the joke, the situation could be more damaging than it is helpful. This article seeks to explain how you can take of advantage of the productivity which comes with encouraging jokes in the workplace, without causing offence to some of your employees.

Having a good laugh in the workplace has been shown to benefit creativity and productivity in the workplace. Yet, some employers make the mistake of stifling humor, seeing it as a distraction from getting work done. This is definitely a mistake, as humour has been shown to increase productivity, rather than hampering it.

Similarly, the role of humour in the workplace is hardly ever taken seriously by researchers, yet the work that does focus on this area shows overwhelmingly positive effects (1). Humour generally has a hard time being taken seriously, only tragedies being considered truly great pieces of literature. However, if you want a seriously great film, I recommend the hilarious dark comedy “the Seven Psychopaths” starring Colin Farrell. Don’t make the same mistake of these researchers and literature critics, encourage humour in your workplace to benefit productivity today!

The Office

While humour can have all of these great benefits in the workplace, it can go awry quickly. Poor jokes, especially sexist, homophobic or racist jokes can only serve to alienate certain members of the staff.

One need look no further for an example than the seriously awkward situation on “The Office”, when in the process of making a point about racial discrimination, the manager, Michael Scott gives the role of “Black” to Stanley (who is a black man). To combat this, understand that styles of humour can be broken down into:

  • affiliative humour (when you laugh with others)
  • aggressive humour (jokes that are made at the expense of others)  
  • self-enhancing humour (in which one attempts to cheer oneself up)
  • self-defeating humour (in which one uses, or allows others to use negative humour at their expense)

Employees can be educated on these four types of humour styles to understand that affiliative humour and self-enhancing humour are the most acceptable forms. Additionally, ensuring that work behaviour and anti-harassment policies are up-to-date and communicated to employees can be helpful. Once these steps are in place, feel free to encourage as much humour as possible, to the benefit of both your employees, and the bottom line.

WooBoard is a peer to peer recognition platform where your employees can send public messages of thanks and appreciation to their colleagues. Sign up for your free 14-Day Trial of WooBoard today.

  1. Holmes J, Marra M. Having a laugh at work: how humour contributes to workplace culture. J Pragmat. 2002;34(12):1683-1710.

3 Fun ways to increase employee engagement

Engaged employees are a rare breed. Amongst even the biggest and most highly rated organizations in the world, we will often find that engaged employees would account for at best only about 50% of the total workforce.

A Gallup survey conducted in 2013  suggested that only 13% of total employees are engaged, which truely makes for a remarkable 50% a remarkable number to achieve. Where does employee engagement come from? How do we make sure our employees are engaged? What do we do to ensure an engaged workforce?

Using an employee engagement platform is one of the best ways to increase your employee engagement. Being able to recognize and reward employees based on their behaviours and adherence to company values is one of the best ways to increase employee engagement. Apart from this, there are other fun ways to increase employee engagement.

Here are 8 fun ways to increase employee engagement:

Attaching notes of appreciation to your Kanban

The Kanban is a component of project management used to measure the progress of a given project. Kanban can be used in digital form through programs like Jira, MS Project etc, however it is becoming industry standard to create a Kanban through post it notes and other cards on the wall.
As most projects are made up of User Stories and Epics, the content of the Kanban will indicate what User Stories are completed and which are in progress. As the Kanban becomes increasingly filled, it can be easy to lose track of who is working on what, and to share the wins when something gets completed. The content of the Kanban can be pretty dry at times, so why not spice it up with some notes of appreciation. Usually User Stories are completed by one person, or a small team at best, so it’s important to reward and recognize team members when they complete something. Adding stickers to the notes is a fun way to do this!

Add “thank you” notes of appreciation into your office culture

Using “Thank you” notes around the office is a great way to build employee engagement through rewards and recognition. Though you might think that simply verbally saying thank you is an effective strategy as it is, being able to write it down is even more effective in engaging people. The reason why a physical reminder of a thank you is more effective is because it lingers, long after the action has occurred. This builds employee engagement through rewards and recognition. It also adds an element of fun by giving team members a chance to express their gratitude in unique ways.

If you’re feeling a bit strange about saying thank you, there is a guide.

Have a rage and praise meeting

Rage and praise meeting, though a recent phenomena is actually a great way to increase employee engagement, by allowing employees to air grievances and praise others hard work.

To be clear, a rage and praise day is a day whereby team members go around a circle and say “I raged at … but praise … for making it better“, or something along those lines. A rage and praise meeting is great for giving team members a voice, but also providing their airing of grievances with a balance. Usually, complaints are hard to voice due to a perceived air of negativity, but giving them a voice can definitely help.

The best way to increase employee engagement is through rewards and recognition. Though there are many ways to increase employee engagement, try these!

WooBoard is a peer to peer recognition platform where your employees can send public messages of thanks and appreciation to their colleagues. Sign up for your free 14-Day Trial of WooBoard today.

Traits of Amazing Employees

7 Traits of Amazing Employees (as determined by the crowd)

Knowing how to identify the traits of the perfect employee is the holy grail of HR but, like finding the grail, this challenge is not for the faint of heart. Of course, everyone has an opinion on the matter: a quick Google search reveals an overwhelming plethora of lists of desirable employee traits. Unfortunately, all of these lists differ in the details, leaving us in the dark about which employee traits are really the most important. So in this post, I turn to another approach to find an answer: I turn to the wisdom of the crowd.

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