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.

The 8 hour day: How to Balance the Leisure Needs of your Employees whilst maximising Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is a major focus of human resources investment in current workplaces. The reason for this is clear with businesses with highly engaged employees outperforming other businesses by 51% (1). However,  highly engaged employees also tend to have less work-life balance.

This is because we can tend to label work-life balance as an individual problem rather than the company’s, and as a result more motivated people who are on the obsessive side of personality will likely sacrifice their life activities for the sake of the company. So how can we maintain high levels of employee engagement whilst being sensitive to the needs of our employees in terms of relaxation and leisure?

It is possible to promote both engagement and work-life balance at the same time. A recent study in fact examines this exact conjecture with 700 overworked technical Professionals at a Fortune 500 company (2). The research put the workers into two groups:

  1. the control group:  for whom conditions remain the same to test against the other group in order to validate the hypothesis
  2. the test group: who were given greater control of when and where they worked and were given more support by their supervisors in terms of their family and personal lives

 

In the test group, the result was a significant reduction and work-family conflict (the subjective sense of being pulled in two directions). Workers reported feeling less str—essed, overwhelmed and having more time to spend with their families. Parents only resulted in working 1 hour less per week than non-parents, and as a result of the flexibility and greater autonomy, they actually increased their productivity by spending an additional 10 – 20 hours of work at home per week.

Follow these simple steps to improve the culture in your workplace:

Policies

Leadership must demonstrate a commitment to work-life balance by putting policies into place around:

  • work hours and job design (with restrictions for job hours and minimal work required off-hours)
  • organisational culture (No internal meetings after 4:30 p.m.)
  • incentives to encourage work life balance (use it or lose it vacation policy, incentives for claiming sick days/ rostered days off)
  • provide benefits (gym membership  with use it or lose it privileges, paid paternity leave and child care

Address the Impact of Technology

Take a leaf out of Google’s book and create “charity penalties” for responding to emails out of hours (literally put a monetary fine on this that employees must pay to a nominated charity organisation).

Change company culture

  • Ensure incentives do not focus on physical presence in the workplace
  • Lead by example (be aware that your employees will watch how long you spend in the office)
  • Devalue “badge of honour”  type statements which brag about physical hours spent in the office
  • Be reasonable about deadlines and negotiate considering pressures, always organise  deadlines to occur on a Friday not a Monday so that employees not have to work over the weekend

Ultimately you want your employees to work smart, not hard. This means not spending countless hours in the office,  and having a responsible level of work-life separation. Encourage these workers and support them with the tools they need to make their work-life balance more achievable you will find you have more engaged and more productive workers overall.

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. Harter JK, Schmidt FL, Hayes TL. Business-unit-level relationship between employee satisfaction, employee engagement, and business outcomes: a meta-analysis. J Applied Psychol. 2002;87(2):268-79. 
  2. Kelly EL, Moen P, Oakes JM, et al. Changing work and work-family conflict: evidence from the work, family and health network. Am Sociol Rev. 2014;79(3):485-516.

How to Encourage Employee Pride in every small action: Lessons from Japanese soccer fans

You may have heard about the recent courteous behaviour of a Japanese fans of the World Cup in soccer. After their record win against Colombia in Russia, a feat not previously achieved by an Asian team against any of the teams in the soccer mad South American Nations, fans not only celebrated the win, but stayed behind afterwards to clean up the stadium. Their Culture of Pride has been contagious recently also, with the fans of the Senegal team recently also cleaning up the stadium when they defeated Poland. This level of pride in every small action is seldom seen, but it represents an inspirational attitude.

Translating this into the workplace

Imagine if your employees were this proud of their actions. If they represented your company at each conference and training session with as much pride in every action they made, not only would their engagement in their work be dramatically increased,  but the reputation of your company would be superlative, amongst competitors and clients alike.

But this change is possible. It is possible for the employees of your company to take great pride in each and every small action they make.

Is it easy to create a culture of pride in your workplace by following the five step PRIDE model (1):

P: Create a positive working environment

R: Recognise, reinforce and reward individual efforts

I: Involve and engage everyone

D: Develop the potential of your workforce

E: Evaluate and hold managers accountable

 

Positive working environment:

The positivity of your workplace environment starts with you. when communicating with employees it is  imperative to use positive language. Don’t criticize, use constructive feedback. Have an open-door policy to keep the lines of communication open and the rapport effective

A culture of recognition:

This is the backbone of company Pride. Ensure you reward your employees for their efforts in public so that they are acknowledged by their coworkers for their good work as well as just you.

Involvement and engagement:

Discuss the possibility of company actions with all of your employees by holding an open meeting for everyone to brainstorm ideas.  For example, Sony’s Corporate research department hosts an annual “Ideas Expedition”, when scientists and engineers display and demonstrate  new products that they are working on to all of Sony’s employees. This creates a culture of innovation throughout all levels of the organisation.

Professional development and learning:

The benefits of training your employees and helping them to develop their careers are well established. The most cost effective way of doing this is to hold mentor programs, which benefit not only the mentee but frequently help the mentors learn as well (2).

Evaluate your management:

Metrics can help with this: in measuring the rate of employee turnover and comparing departments you can figure out which managers are struggling to support their employees. Don’t use a punitive  approach here, reward good managers and help the poorly performing manages to improve the performance through constructive criticism and training.

Following these simple steps you can create a strong culture of pride in your in workplace that can rival any Japanese soccer fan. You will not have to wait long to reap the benefits of increased employee engagement, greater client interest and reputation amongst competitors.

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. Smith G. Creating pride: what great managers do to improve retention [Internet]. 2013 [cited 2018 June 25]. Available from: https://www.businessknowhow.com/manage/pride.htm
  2. Gordon SP, Maxey S. How to help beginning teachers succeed. Adolescence. 2000;35(140):818.

Employee engagement everyday: how to encourage daily self-motivation

There is increasing evidence that employee engagement is vitally important in ensuring the productivity of the workplace.

Yet surveys repeatedly find that the vast majority of workers are either somewhat or actively disengaged, therefore, it is critical to invest in employee engagement. While investments in long term strategies for employee engagement are extraordinarily useful, there are simple techniques that can be employed in the day-to-day which can help employees to self-regulate their own engagement in their daily tasks.

Through taking a “bottom-up” approach, influencing the individual employee in terms of what resources they have available to self-engage on a daily basis, employee engagement can be readily achieved in a cost-effective manner.  

Self-management behaviours

A body of research identifies self-management behaviours as those that help an employee to self-facilitate motivation and structure the workplace environment. (1) The following are recognised forms of self-management behaviours:

  • Self- observation: awareness of work behaviours which may lead to reflection and improvement
  • Self- goal setting: effective when goals are specific, achievable, and measurable.
  • Self-cueing:  writing down list of tasks which need to be achieved, helping employees to reorient to the task at hand
  • Self reward: Reinforcing achievements with desirable traits
  • and self-punishment:  tough self-talk when performance is less than desired.

Together these self-management behaviours will help to reinforce positive work traits, whilst  discouraging lack of drive and commitment, ensuring an overall balance of successful performance.

Workplace autonomy

However, employees are not able to engage in self-management behaviours if they’re not provided with the autonomy to do so. Therefore stepping back, providing less  external control, can enable an employees to engage new self-management behaviours in order to feel more competent at work.

Job resources

Additionally, evidence shows that effective job resources are needed for employees to engage in this self regulation. (1) These include decision latitude (the ability to decide when and how to do tasks that contribute to the workplace),  social support, performance feedback and regular opportunities to use their skills. For example, it has been shown that flight attendants were more engaged on days when they received more social support, and that fast food operators at a restaurant performed better on days when they received more opportunities to act autonomously and coaching to develop their skills. (2) Furthermore, it has been shown that self-management techniques improve not only in the short term during the days in which  actions to improve resources were utilised, self regulation behaviours were also increased in the weeks following. (1)

Finally, to promote self-management behaviours, as aforementioned, a manager should enable employees to have the autonomy in the workplace in order to put these strategies into place. To make the message super clear, hold a self-management workshop to inform and role-play these behaviours in a simulated environment. Then, ensure that you provide the resources your employees need to practice these behaviours, including regular constructive feedback, and opportunities to use their varied skills. Finally, keep it fun, and make sure that employees do not perceive these behaviours as a chore or a withdrawal of support by management. Ensure an open-door policy with all employees, so that they can feel free to discuss any issues at any time to keep the sense of support well-established.

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. Breevaart K, Bakker AB, Demerouti E. Daily self-management and employee work engagement. J Vocat Behav. 2014;84:31-8.
  2. Xanthopolou D, Bakker AB, Demerouti E, Schaufeli WB. Reciprocal relationships between job resources, personal resources and work engagement. J Vocat Behav. 2009;74:235-44.

What Motivates Employees? Converting Engagement into Passion for Work

Engagement is the buzz word on everyone’s lips at the moment in the workplace. It is said that engagement can drive up productivity and create generally more happy workers. However passion isn’t something you hear as often anymore, and yet surely passion in the workplace is more valuable than engagement?

My Passion

Passion for me, as the engaged, passionate worker that I am, is about more than just taking a paycheck at home. When I view myself as a worker, I think of the role I can uniquely contribute to society, and I feel called by a higher force to give compassion through my role and to reach the people my voice allows me to reach. Now I know that probably sounds like a lofty goal for some,  but we all uniquely contribute to society in some way, and we can’t actually imagine the ripple effect that are actions have on the world around us. Hopefully through talking about the passion that I have for my role has inspired you to engender passion in your own workplace.

The stats:

Unfortunately the evidence isn’t good for passion in the workplace.  Deloitte released a report in 2014 showing that 88% of employees lack passion for their work. This report went on further to say that, 80% of leadership positions are filled with people who are also lacking passion for their work. So how on earth do we expect even engagement from workers,  if management lacks the motivation to get passionate about the work they contribute to society?

Why the chronic dispassion?

According to Deloitte, The problem lies with workplaces actively setting out to discourage passion from their workers. Passion is sometimes viewed with a great deal of suspicion, it is thought that it will breed too much deviance from standard procedure. Workers who have passion are viewed as unpredictable and risky. Companies that take this attitude miss the opportunity to foster creativity amongst their employees. Only engaged, motivated and passionate employees can achieve great things. Workers themselves tend to desire passion for their work, wanting to achieve a sense of mastery and personal development. However, for reasons including politics and processes, they lose their sense of passion along the way.

What’s the solution?

The first step is to acknowledge the culture within management. A useful step is to take a day out for reflection on the purpose of the company within both the wider market and broader society. Understanding that core function of your own company within society can help you to develop company value statements that reflect this. By emulating a work approach that takes into consideration the broader societal context of the company, you can then begin to feel more valuable yourself,  as your work will mean more to you. Through this example that you set, you can then inspire your employees to similarly have a more meaningful contribution to the world around them through their work.

Finally, create opportunities for passion to develop within your employees by providing them learning opportunities, autonomy in the workplace and by connecting them to peers and mentors through networking. They will not only be happier for the short term that engagement strategies can provide, they will be more connected to a motivating force that will self-sustain throughout their career, and so will you.

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.

 

Why you should say “nurturing it” instead of “crushing it”

“Crushing it” at work is a term that gets thrown around a lot. Whenever people begin to complain about their work, or have a gripe that can’t seem fixing, they will often find themselves staring down the barrel of “love what you do” type rhetoric. Complaints about work are usually met with “just love what you do”, or “look at me, I’m crushing it”. These are not answers to anything. They are banal platitudes, designed to mask some deep insecurity held within the person that is self proscribing that they “love what they do” and are “crushing it”.

This type of rhetoric is repeated online, and perpetuated everywhere. There are hundreds and thousands of motivational speakers, or pseudo-motivational speakers that have little to no idea about what actually goes into an average work day. The term “crushing it” denotes that a person has no actual concept of what they want to do or where they want to go, only that they are confident that if they did know, they would get there.

“Crushing it” is a term used to express that a person is confused as to their actual positioning, so instead needs to find a clear mantra to showcase who they are. It is the universal identifier for someone who is confused, scared, or most of all, running away from where they truly need to be.

“Crushing it” or its elder cousin “Killing it” are used to guide people who are lost. They seem to be binary states that you can exist in; you are either in a state of “crushing it” or you are “not crushing it”.

This type of syntax really expresses one true meaning: Self-loathing. The very act of crushing is to put something under you. If you really loved what you did, you would not need to “crush it” or even “kill it”. You would instead find enjoyment out of it, and spend your time carefully nurturing it. The problem is, “nurturing it” doesn’t sell tickets to speaker events.

Nurturing your work involves taking great care to ensure that your work is done to the best you can achieve given the circumstances, and that consistent improvement is a much more sustainable avenue than “killing” or “crushing” your work or your opposition.

We never hear of sports stars referring to their work as “crushing” or “killing”. Most of the time, we will hear them clearly talk about the specifics of each moment, carefully crafted and controlled by them. This type of talk denotes passion, care and nurture.

If you describe your day as “crushing it” or “killing it”, you are doing yourself a disservice. Nobody wins. Nobody loses. We just exist.

If you want to “crush it” at work, maybe this is not a reflection of how good you are doing at work, but how you treat yourself. Maybe it’s time to reconsider the term “crushing it”, and instead focus on the term “nurturing it”

Individual results may vary, but at least it puts things in a different light.