Monthly Archives: August 2014

The Importance of Employee Engagement

Are You doing enough to motivate your workforce?

the office animated GIF

Arguably, the biggest single threat to staff retention and productivity within the workplace is the issue of employee engagement. Employee engagement may be defined as a way of working whereby employees are committed to their organisation’s goals and values and motivated to contribute to the overall success of the business, while at the same time being able to enhance their own sense of accomplishment and self-worth.

Employee engagement is vital to the successful running of an organisation in two different ways:

  1. Employee engagement improves employee attitude, meaning that the employee will feel a sense of loyalty and pride at being part of the organisation, as a result of the support and positive reinforcement they receive.
  2. Employee engagement will improve the employee’s actions, meaning their output and productivity. This is because the engaged worker feels a sense of accomplishment in completing a task well, knowing that their actions will be appreciated and appropriately rewarded by their employer.

There is evidence to suggest that failure to properly engage employees may have a detrimental effect upon company growth. Studies have shown that absenteeism is 37% worse for organisations with disengaged workers, while there is a 4% increase in safety incidents within disengaged workplaces. Furthermore, it has been discovered that productivity plummets by 21% when workers are not properly engaged.

It’s clear, therefore, that proper employee engagement is vital to maintenance and growth of a business, and must be an integral part of your long-term strategy. Here is a brief guide to engaging your employees and securing the growth of your business.

 Do not confuse engagement with short-term happiness

You might offer unlimited holidays, free beer on Fridays and a host of other benefits designed to instil a relaxed, positive working culture. However, this will count for nothing unless your employees are properly engaged. As a result, is important to consider what will really make your employees feel more motivated and fulfilled, rather than hoping that flexible benefits will be enough to keep your staff feeling motivated and keen to improve.

Think CSR

Corporate social responsibility is the way forward, and is increasingly becoming the main way in which companies attract and retain new candidates. This is because the millennial generation are overwhelmingly preoccupied with CSR. 80% of a sample of 1,800 13-25 year olds claimed that their ideal workplace would be one which cares about how it impacts and contributes to society. The majority of this claimed they would refuse to work an ‘irresponsible’ organisation.

One way of improving your business’s CSR might be the introduction of ‘flex-days’ in which time could be devoted to helping out at local charities or projects within the wider community. Building your company’s social responsibility will be vital to harnessing the talented candidates needed for it to grow and thrive.

Make the most of positivity and reinforcement.

Psychologists claim that self-determination is vital for true employee engagement, meaning that staff must feel personally invested in the business in order to deliver maximum productivity and favourable results. How to instil a sense of self-determination in your staff? One way might be to encourage your employees to choose their own projects to work on. By allotting time each week for your staff to work on their own projects autonomously, you will allow them to feel increased pride in their work, and this will contribute to more employee engagement overall.

Also highly important is adequate support and feedback, which will allow your employees to feel that their results are being measured and dully rewarded, which in the long-term will aid staff retention.

Flexibility and Trust will allow your employees to work like adults

Fostering a culture of trust within your workplace is key to truly engaged employees. Employees who are trusted to work to a high standard without constant supervision will deliver optimum results. Employees who are chained to their desk and not trusted to work independently will have less motivation to prove their worth! Studies have proven that flexibility at work makes for increased productivity, whereas ridged ‘presenteeism’ stifles creativity. In short, accommodating the need for flexibility in your business will lead to genuine engagement throughout your organisation.

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Women Remain Cut off From High-Paying Opportunities, Earn 35% Less than Male Counterparts

Tracey Eker speaks out on ongoing workplace discrimination

This week it was revealed that female bosses earn an average of 35% less than male colleagues at the same level. More than 40 years after the Equal Pay Act was passed, it is clear prejudice persists in the UK workplace, and the extent of it is shocking.

CEO and founder Tracey Eker was asked to appear on STV Glasgow’s primetime news slot, in which she discussed the issue of women being squeezed out of their existing roles after returning from maternity leave, or excluded from high earning positions. She recalls the discrimination she faced after having her first child:

‘During my maternity leave with my first child I experienced some of the negativity women are faced with from employers.

This really dampened my time off and soured my whole entry back into the workforce. I was made to travel excessively as if to prove a point that I couldn’t do it all like I used to. That relationship quickly came to a close and I decided to stay home with my baby’

Tracey then began looking for part-time work, but was disappointed to discover a distinct lack of transparency if job advertisements, with many employers seemingly unwilling to be upfront about the availability of flexible working in their organisations.  A ‘lightbulb moment’ ensued, and Tracey got the idea to start her own online job site, designed specifically as a platform to connect skilled candidates who need or desire flexible working with the employers who need their skills:

‘Having children really showed me the lack of provision of flexible working within the workplace and highlighted the need for employers to be more upfront about the types of workplace flexibility they could/have on offer.  So in a way, my children are responsible for me coming up with Flexiworkforce in the first place!’

The idea of transparency in job advertisements surrounding the availability of flex-time, homeworking and other modes of flexibility is paramount to women finally  being able to break through the glass ceiling and break down the barrier of ‘presenteeism’.  It is clear that though employers preach diversity, inclusion and equal opportunities, these ideas are less easy for organisations to actually put into practice.

The message is clear- only when employers make flexible working accessible will women’s participation be truly representative, and their earnings equal to that of men.

 

Work Life Balance- a ‘Radical’ Decision?

work animated GIF

Max Shireson is the CEO of a top Silicon Valley software company. He received considerable media attention last week, after blogging about his ‘radical’ decision to opt for increased work/life balance, leaving his high-power role.

Despite his success in the world of work, the man was dissatisfied at the extent to which his position required him to take a step back from family commitments, and spending time with his three children.
“Right now, I choose to spend more time with my family and am confident that I can continue to have a meaningful and rewarding work life while doing so,”

max-schireson

Image via Business Insider

It is reasonable to question why has this case received so much attention, as a newsworthy story? Max Shireson is not the only man to have ever expressed a desire to spend more time with his family. More and more men are seeking jobs flexible enough to enable them to successfully juggle their work with family life. However, it’s rare to see the CEO of a high-profile company prioritising family over work:

“As a male CEO, I have been asked what kind of car I drive and what type of music I like, but never how I balance the demands of being both a dad and a CEO”.

Max Shireson’s story is important, in that it will help to further smash taboos surrounding traditional gender roles, proving that a man’s decision to opt for work/life balance and family commitments is every bit as valid as a woman’s. It will take time to change long-held notions, but gradual change often occurs from the top down, meaning that Shireson’s story may inspire an entire generation of men to rethink the way they work.

Is Your Work ‘School for Grown Ups’?

Productivity and choice vs. Arbitrary Rules and Regulations

bored
Work is, essentially, school for grown ups. At least, that is the view of entrepreneur Emma Sexton, who swapped the 9-5 for running her own business.
In a recent Guardian article, she explains how her lack of faith in ‘unnecessary rules’ lead her to seek a more results oriented work life, in which productivity counts for more than doggedly sticking to conventional office hours and regulations:

‘It involves a number of other unnecessary rules, such as getting exactly 23.5 days holiday per year. What? How dare you tell me how much time off from work I can have. Do you own me?’

Frustrated by the system, Emma resorted to leaving her job in order to run her own business. While this may seem an extreme measure, Emma’s decision reflects a dilemma faced by countless individuals, disillusioned by arbitrary rules, and employers who do not allow them the freedom of working in more agile manner. ‘I am now in the second year of having my own business and working harder than ever. Yet the freedom to make up my own rules is incredible’, she states.

Sexton is, by no means, alone in her experiences. Flexiworkforce founder and CEO Tracey Eker is another example of an entrepreneur who left conventional work behind in favour of a more agile, results-oriented work life.

The issue is not one which can simply be ignored. With over a third of UK employees expressing a desire for a more agile routine, the need and desire for flexible working, involving freedom, choice and trust does not appear to be going away any time soon.

It is unfair to imply that employers are backward in their attitudes to work. A majority of UK companies offer flexible working for their staff on request. However, these forward-thinking employers must be more transparent and upfront, in order to be honest about the extent

Nevertheless, employers’ attitudes are changing rapidly, as more and more discover the true benefits that trusting relationships with agile employees bring to their business. From greater efficiency to better staff retention, trusting your employees to work like adults will only be beneficial to business!

Could Flexible Working Help Improve Your Health?

My Whole Brain is Crying

Having a colleague feel under the weather can throw office morale into chaos.
Avoid these dangers with flexible working!

The advantages of a flexible working schedule for attaining a strong work/life balance are well publicised. Furthermore, flexibility in the working day may have a positive effect on worker’s productivity and overall morale. But could flexible working have benefits for our health? Here are some of the ways in which flexible working may help to improve your health, and overall wellbeing.

Obesity/ High Blood Pressure:

In the western world we are far too sedentary, in that we spend a disproportionate amount of time resting and sitting down, rather than being active. Modern life means that exercise is largely removed from our daily routine, and a 9 to 5 office job could leave you feeling too exhausted to even contemplate an invigorating post-work gym session. This has a direct knock-on effect for our health, leading to obesity and high blood pressure.

How Flexible Working Could Help:

Use flexible working to instil a healthier routine, incorporating exercise. A flexible schedule may be adopted to make time for a gym. Alternatively, flexible working would allow for frequent breaks within the working day, to make time for short walks. Flexibility is key to consciously making time to get active on a regular basis

Top Tip: Invest in one of these amazing treadmill desks. This will force you to stay active while getting on top of your tasks for the week!

RSI/ Back Pain/ Muscular Pain

RSI is a serious problem among those who spend all day slouched in front of a computer. Working in a communal office means that we can’t control the height of our desk and monitor in relation to our eye-level, which can lead to straining and muscle pain. Furthermore, office chairs can often be uncomfortable, not ideal for comfort during long periods of time.

How Flexible Working Could Help:

Remote working or working from home will allow you to have total control over your work environment.  Use the opportunity to invest in an ergonomic home office, including a good-quality high-backed chair and a monitor positioned at an appropriate height for your eyeline (for more information, see this guide). Lighting is also hugely important in adapting your workspace to your own personal requirements.

Stress/Depression

The pressures of a crushing work schedule frequently lead to depression and stress at work.  On a large scale, Depression and stress-related absence is a national problem, costing the UK millions each year.

How Flexible Working Could Help:

Make you feel more motivated and productive. This, in turn, may cause you to feel more valued at work, boosting self-esteem and career satisfaction. Flexible hours could enable you to juggle work and life commitments more effectively, decreasing stress and feelings of overwhelm. If there is the risk that working from home could exacerbate feelings of isolation, you could consider joining a collective which enables flexible working professionals to work together in agile office environments.

Stomach Bugs/Colds:

Viral illness is one of the hazards of working in an office. Coughs and colds spread rapidly amongst colleagues, reluctant to take time off work to fully recover from their ailments.

How Flexible Working Could Help:

Working from home is a good way of countering presenteeism in the workplace, as it allows employees to stay at home until they are fully recovered from viral illnesses, minimising the risk of spreading the germs. Also, the rise in BYOD (bring your own device) may help to reduce the risk of catching stomach bugs from germs on communal phones and computer keyboards.