Fun, Fun, Fun. Work should be fun.

You pull up to your regular parking space at work. What’s the first thought that crosses your mind as you shut the car door behind you and make your way to the office? Is the stress already starting to build? Is there a little lump of dread growing in your stomach? Do you get a little rush of happiness at the thought of the fun you’re about to have?

That last scenario is unfortunately not the norm at most companies, and it’s probably hurting employee performance.

Why Creating a Fun Environment is Beneficial for Businesses

Too often business owners and managers think that all work and no play is the best way to maximise productivity. It’s a good thing that researchers don’t automatically prescribe to this notion.

Studies over the last two decades have revealed when workplaces make fun a factor it creates happier employees that feel more satisfied. And happy employees are all around better at their jobs. Workplace fun has been linked to:

Enhanced motivation
Increased productivity
Reduced stress
Higher job satisfaction
Improved task performance
Having fun is one way of effectively managing and improving employees’ emotions. It’s also proven to improve teamwork, build trusting relationships and increase employee retention.

There are a lot of equipment and machines in an office but employees are not among them. As humans, we are social creatures that need a little fun to cope with the daily stressors that we face. At the end of the day it’s all about ONE Thing– the company culture that you want to create, and more importantly, that people want to work in.

Easy Ways to Create a Fun Workplace

If the management team has been a stick in the mud about having fun at work it’s time to turn things around. The five ideas below are a good jumping off point for creating a culture that incorporates fun.

Super Casual Friday

Take casual Friday beyond getting to wear jeans to work. Incorporate an added sweetener like a company provided, in-office lunch break or a beverage hour at 4pm. Not only is this creating a more relaxing environment, but it also encourages interaction between colleagues, which is proven to boost happiness.

Friendly Competitions . . . With Prizes!

It’s amazing how a little friendly competition lightens the mood. Coming up with weekly or monthly challenges that employees can participate in is a fun motivator. Sweeten the pot with an award for the winner(s), and people will really enjoy coming to work.

Create Your Own Fun-Loving Social Network

There are a few providers that give you the tools to set up your own internal social networks. They are meant to help employees collaborate on projects, but they can also provide a fun outlet. Yammer is one such service that could be used to set up a social network where employees can post funny things they find online. Anytime an employee needs a little comedic relief they can hop on to see the latest posts. Just make sure to set parameters and stress that any offensive material is unacceptable.

Take Time to Celebrate Wins

Create milestones that the whole company can celebrate together. Better yet, start an initiative to set aside a small percentage of the profits for employee parties and events. Employees will work harder knowing that they’ll be rewarded for their efforts and acknowledged for their contributions. Not sure what type of celebration appeals to your employees? Go a step further toward improving motivation by letting them choose the events.

Celebrate Fun at Work Day

Instead of working on Fun at Work Day make it a time for everyone to come in and have fun. Plan out a whole day of team building games, movies and pet projects. Have lunch catered and keep snacks on hand – well-fed people are happy people. Some managers may look at this as wasting a day of work, but in the end the boost in productivity levels will more than make up for it.

You do also have to work and achieve your goals, but there is not reason why you should not enjoy yourself and have an stress free day.

These are just a few ideas. Contact Corporate Health Results for more ideas on how your workplace can have fun and also stay healthy and productive.

Are we entitled to absenteeism?

Nobody goes through their entire working life without being unexpectedly absent at some stage, primarily due to sickness or a family bereavement. We accept that happening and realise it will happen.

But what happens when there are notable absences days after national holidays or long weekends or the like. Do we have a culture where a day or two off work is an entitlement? If so, How do we fix the issue?

A certain level of absenteeism is inevitable, no doubt, but it can become a massive problem when the privilege of enforced absenteeism is instead treated as a divine right. Also, if the temptation and habit is created, it can more often than not become more the rule than the exception.

As we all know, being absent from work doesn’t just result in your workload getting delayed for a day or two; it can lead to a loss of productivity that could cost the company a substantial amount of money. This then puts pressure on the remainder who are at work because in this day and age when an individual is absent there is a good chance that someone else will be able to take a percentage of the slack.

This also might create some resentment as this also often places others to perform tasks outside their job descriptions.

Regrettably, absenteeism is a major problem in Australia. Since 2010, the rate of absenteeism across the country has risen by 7%, while as much as 5% of the Australian workforce calls in sick on any given day.

To simplify this, in a company with 20 employees, there will be one absence every single day. An unexpected employee absence can cost a business as much as $340 a day, while the annual cost to the Australian economy of lost productivity through absenteeism is a staggering $33 billion, with a total of 92 million working days being lost through unexpected absences.

Even more frightening is that a large number of employers almost accept this level of absenteeism, rather than showing firm leadership and tackling the issue.

Why does this happen? Is there complacency? Do some managers have trouble showing leadership and authority? Has the professional and social lines been crossed?

Would this still happen now that you know the cost of these absences?

As many as 3 out of 5 organisations do not record absences properly, with up to 25% of absences going unreported. A common theme across Australian workplaces is that of an ‘entitlement culture’, where employees view absenteeism as a right to take, rather than a privilege to fall back upon when needed. They are let to do this by management who are too accommodating to intervene, for fear of an employee backlash. Do these really happen? Has there ever been an employee backlash by all employees?

The problem of absenteeism is that it needs to be noted of and dealt with in an effective, immediate and professional manner. One step towards doing this is to centralise the recording of absenteeism, with all absences recorded in real time so that there is greater transparency between management and staff. This would also help management to notice any suspicious patterns of absenteeism, e.g. if an employee is repeatedly taking 2-3 consecutive days without justification, and policies can then be put in place to notify any such employee that they are taking unacceptable liberties with absenteeism.

ABSENTEEISM OVERVIEW

9.5
The number of sick days per year

7%
The rate at which employee absenteeism has risen since 2010

5%
The percentage of the workforce that calls in sick on any given day

THE COST TO BUSINESS

$33 Billion
Total loss in payroll costs and lost productivity annually to the Australian economy

92 Million
Working days lost in Australia per year

8%
The percentage of payroll that this loss accounts for in total

$340
The average cost of absenteeism per day, having risen from $308 in 2013

$3,320
The average amount(per employee) that a business loses tot employee absenteeism annually

INDUSTRIES WITH MOST ABSENTEEISM

Travel, Tourism and Hospitality 11.9 days per annum

Transport and logistics 11.6 days per annum

Telecommunications and Utilities 10 days per annum

FYI: 3/5 organisations are not recording absence accurately

1:4 absences go under-reported

Absenteeism is 2 days higher for those who strongly agree that they had an entitlement culture in their organisation.

More than 70% of absenteeism is caused by an “entitlement” mentality

Entitlement mentality is a complex issue. Part of the reason we have an entitlement culture in Australia is the fear of management have in managing sick leave-it is seen as an entitlement to take rather than a safety net provision when one has an expected family emergency or personal illness.

REASON FOR BEING ABSENT

The most common reason is illness: Cold, Flu, headaches, gastro plus home and family responsibilities.

39% of absences are due to stress, anxiety or depression, which have increased over the last year.

Good News:
21% of businesses have said had increased their annual spending on health and wellbeing initiatives to help support employees

So you tell me. Is absenteeism and entitlement? Do we have to change our culture within the workplace to counter this or, on the contrary, should workers be entitled to “leave of absence” days to allow some rest and relaxation once in a while to re-energise and return to work full of gusto the next day?

Is it a risk worth taking and should it be a negotiable clause in one’s contracts?

I’d love to hear what you think?

More than just stress

While stress and anxious feelings are a common response to a situation where we feel under pressure, they usually pass once the stressful situation has passed, or ‘stressor’ is removed.

Anxiety is when these anxious feelings don’t go away – when they’re ongoing and happen without any particular reason or cause. It’s a serious condition that makes it hard to cope with daily life. Everyone feels anxious from time to time, but for someone experiencing anxiety, these feelings aren’t easily controlled.

Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. On average, one in four people – one in three women and one in five men – will experience anxiety at some stage in their life.

In a 12-month period, over two million Australians experience anxiety.

Anxiety is common, but the sooner people with anxiety get support, the more likely they are to recover.

Signs and symptoms

The symptoms of anxiety conditions are sometimes not all that obvious as they often develop slowly over time and, given we all experience some anxiety at various points in our lives, it can be hard to know how much is too much.
Normal anxiety tends to be limited in time and connected with some stressful situation or event, such as a job interview. The type of anxiety experienced by people with an anxiety condition is more frequent or persistent, not always connected to an obvious challenge, and impacts on their quality of life and day-to-day functioning. While each anxiety condition has its own unique features, there are some common symptoms including:

• Physical: panic attacks, hot and cold flushes, racing heart, tightening of the chest, quick breathing, restlessness, or feeling tense, wound up and edgy
• Psychological: excessive fear, worry, catastrophising, or obsessive thinking
• Behavioural: avoidance of situations that make you feel anxious which can impact on study, work or social life

These are just some of a number of symptoms that you might experience. They’re not designed to provide a diagnosis – for that you’ll need to see a doctor – but they can be used as a guide.

What causes anxiety?

An anxiety condition isn’t developed or caused by a single factor but a combination of things. A number of other factors play a role, including personality factors, difficult life experiences and physical health.
Family history of mental health conditions
Some people who experience anxiety conditions may have a genetic predisposition towards anxiety and these conditions can sometimes run in a family. However, having a parent or close relative experience anxiety or other mental health condition doesn’t mean you’ll automatically develop anxiety.

Personality factors
Research suggests that people with certain personality traits are more likely to have anxiety. For example, children who are perfectionists, easily flustered, timid, inhibited, lack self-esteem or want to control everything, sometimes develop anxiety during childhood, adolescence or as adults.

Ongoing stressful events

Anxiety conditions may develop because of one or more stressful life events. Common triggers include:
• work stress or job change
• change in living arrangements
• pregnancy and giving birth
• family and relationship problems
• major emotional shock following a stressful or traumatic event
• verbal, sexual, physical or emotional abuse or trauma
• death or loss of a loved one.

Physical health problems
Chronic physical illness can also contribute to anxiety conditions or impact on the treatment of either the anxiety or the physical illness itself. Common chronic conditions associated with anxiety conditions include:
• diabetes
• asthma
• hypertension and heart disease

Some physical conditions can mimic anxiety conditions, like an overactive thyroid. It can be useful to see a doctor and be assessed to determine whether there may be a medical cause for your feelings of anxiety.

Other mental health conditions
While some people may experience an anxiety condition on its own, others may experience multiple anxiety conditions, or other mental health conditions. Depression and anxiety conditions often occur together. It’s important to check for and get assistance for all these conditions at the same time.

Substance use
Some people who experience anxiety may use alcohol or other drugs to help them manage their condition. In some cases, this may lead to people developing a substance use problem along with their anxiety condition. Alcohol and substance use can aggravate anxiety conditions particularly as the effects of the substance wear off. It’s important to check for and get assistance for any substance use conditions at the same time.

Remember …
Everyone’s different and it’s often a combination of factors that can contribute to developing an anxiety condition. It’s important to remember that you can’t always identify the cause of anxiety or change difficult circumstances. The most important thing is to recognise the signs and symptoms and seek advice and support.

Anxiety management strategies
There are a range of strategies you can try to manage your anxiety. What works is different for everyone, and it can take time to find the strategies that work best for you. But remember, if your anxiety is proving difficult to manage seek support from a professional.

10 strategies to try

1. Slow breathing. When you’re anxious, your breathing becomes faster and shallower. Try deliberately slowing down your breathing. Count to three as you breathe in slowly – then count to three as you breathe out slowly.
2. Progressive muscle relaxation. Find a quiet location. Close your eyes and slowly tense and then relax each of your muscle groups from your toes to your head. Hold the tension for three seconds and then release quickly. This can help reduce the feelings of muscle tension that often comes with anxiety.
3. Stay in the present moment. Anxiety can make your thoughts live in a terrible future that hasn’t happened yet. Try to bring yourself back to where you are. Practising meditation can help.
4. Healthy lifestyle. Keeping active, eating well, going out into nature, spending time with family and friends, reducing stress and doing the activities you enjoy are all effective in reducing anxiety and improving your wellbeing.
5. Take small acts of bravery. Avoiding what makes you anxious provides some relief in the short term, but can make you more anxious in the long term. Try approaching something that makes you anxious – even in a small way. The way through anxiety is by learning that what you fear isn’t likely to happen – and if it does, you’ll be able to cope with it.
6. Challenge your self-talk. How you think affects how you feel. Anxiety can make you overestimate the danger in a situation and underestimate your ability to handle it. Try to think of different interpretations to a situation that’s making you anxious, rather than jumping to the worst-case scenario. Look at the facts for and against your thought being true.
7. Plan worry time. It’s hard to stop worrying entirely so set aside some time to indulge your worries. Even 10 minutes each evening to write them down or go over them in your head can help stop your worries from taking over at other times.
8. Get to know your anxiety. Keep a diary of when it’s at it’s best – and worst. Find the patterns and plan your week – or day – to proactively manage your anxiety.
9. Learn from others. Talking with others who also experience anxiety – or are going through something similar – can help you feel less alone. Visit our Online Forums to connect with others.
10. Be kind to yourself. Remember that you are not your anxiety. You are not weak. You are not inferior. You have a mental health condition. It’s called anxiety.

Yes, it is a mental health issue. At the mere numbers everyone know someone who has had on occasion, or suffers regular bouts of anxiety.

Just like other mental health issues, it is not something that is visible to everyone so we should be wary empathetic of other people’s behaviours and reactions in certain situations.

7 steps to fitness goals setting success.

With Summer nearing and the weather fining up, now is the time when many people start and/or restart their fitness regime.

But for those who are new to activity and exercise or are not overly confident with what to do, here are a few tips to get you on your way

As you design your fitness program, keep these points in mind:

1.Consider your fitness goals.
Take a few minutes to look at what you actually want to do. Be specific and add a time frame. Do you want to lose 15kg by February 21st? Are you looking to run 8km in 50 minutes by January 8th? Do you be able to mow the lawn without feeling fatigued and sore?
Take your time and decide.

2.Create a balanced routine
Try to get about 30 minutes of aerobic exercise(huffing and puffing) on most days of the week. This might also include some strength training.

If you cannot find 30 minutes in one block, break it into 5, 10 or 15 minute segments throughout the day. This will also depend on your goal(s). But try to be active towards your goals 3-5 days per weeks.

3.Start low and progress slowly.
Don’t go out like a bull at a gate. Yes, it is exciting to have a goal, but chances are your body is not ready for the rigour and intensity you think you need.

Ease off the accelerator and look at how you prepare your body(mobility, flexibility), and learn good technique for what ever your goal.

If you go too hard too soon, you can do severe damage but even to a lesser extent, you might feel quite sore for days after and can have a demotivating affect, which I would not want on anyone.

4.Build activity into your daily routine.
Look at your schedule and rule out times during the week when you will dedicate towards your training. Do you prefer, mornings, lunchtimes or evenings. Whichever works best for you. But be serious and treat it like an appointment you would have with your biggest client or best friend. Look at your diary the day before so you remember to bring your clothes and water.

5.Plan to include different activities.
Involve different activities can keep exercise boredom at bay. By doing a variety of activities once or twice a week can reduce your chances of injuring or overusing one specific muscle or joint as many people tend to do almost the same routine for every session. Too much repetition of a movement is risky, especially if you are doing the same movement at work. More often than not if you are at a desk all day and your are doing pushing movement(chest press, shoulder press) you will be exacerbating an already poor posture. Plan to alternate among activities that emphasise different parts of your body and different directions of moving.

6.Allow time for recovery.
Many people start exercising with frenzied zeal — working out too long or too intensely — and give up when their muscles and joints become sore or injured. Plan time between sessions for your body to rest and recover.

7.Put it on paper.
Think it!! Ink It!! Write it down. Write it down. Put a post-it note in your car. Keep it as a message on your phone. Keep it on the forefront of your mind.

Happy goal setting and achieving.

Let me know. I’d love to hear your goals and successes.

Seize The Day!!

Your mental health rights at work.

What do you do if you find yourself dealing with a mental illness while trying to earn a living? And for employers, what obligations do you have to hire and help an employee managing a mental health condition? This week’s Insight found out.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates 45 per cent of Australians between the ages of 16 and 85 will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime.

Many people carry these conditions with them to and from the workplace: a report by Beyond Blue found one in five Australians have taken time off work in the past 12 months to manage mental health issues, the most common of which were anxiety disorders, affective disorders (e.g. mood disorders like depression) and substance use disorders.

And some are caused or exacerbated by the workplace. “As people work longer, and harder, there’s less time to spend recovering from work, less time to sleep, less time to eat properly, and we’re seeing the effect of that in the high incidence of mental illness caused by the workplace,” says Alex Grayson, an employment lawyer with Maurice Blackburn Lawyers.

So what do you do if you find yourself dealing with a mental illness while trying to earn a living? And for employers, what obligations do you have to hire and help an employee managing a mental health condition?

Employees – What are your rights?

The legislation

Employees are protected from discrimination based on mental health conditions under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

According to Heads Up, an organisation working with Beyond Blue to promote psychologically healthy workplaces, legally a mental health disability can cover conditions that an employee has experienced in the past, present or future, are temporary or permanent, and are actual or just assumed. Courts and tribunals commonly interpret mental health conditions by referencing the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association, says Alex Grayson.

The legislation protects someone with a mental illness from discrimination during all aspects of employment, such as stages recruitment, negotiations around pay rates and work hours, and in instances of termination or redundancy.

Disclosure

Grayson says employees do not have to disclose a mental health condition to a current or prospective employer, but does caution about answering dishonestly. She tells Insight that this dishonesty could lead to disciplinary action in the future. Grayson also says if you are asked about existing mental health conditions in an interview, you can question the relevancy of such a question to the job’s requirements.

If you do disclose to an employer that you have a mental health condition, they are obliged to respect your privacy and not distribute that information to anyone without your consent.

‘Inherent requirements’ and ‘reasonable adjustments’

The legal crux of managing mental health in the workplace comes down to two concepts: whether the employee can meet the ‘inherent requirements’ of the job, and whether the employer makes ‘reasonable adjustments’ to those requirements to ensure the employee can still work.

‘Inherent requirements’ are, “essentially, core components of a role,” says Grayson. She says ‘reasonable adjustments’ also vary from job to job, and gives examples of clients who have been given later starting times because their mental illness affects their sleep, or experiences of bullying where a new reporting system or manager has been put in place. “Those adjustments will vary depending on the illness and the manifestations of that illness,” she says.

Taking action

If you believe you are being discriminated against in the workplace because of your mental health condition, Grayson recommends the first step should be to speak with the company’s human resources department or your manager, and then seek advice from a lawyer if a resolution cannot be met. The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 stipulates that an employee with a mental health condition can’t be treated less favourably than a worker without one.

It is illegal for an employer to dismiss a worker because of a mental health condition, and if this does occur, an employee has a few legal avenues to pursue, including:

A complaint under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992
An unfair dismissal application with the Fair Work Commission
An adverse action or unlawful termination claim under the Fair Work Act 2009
Employees also have rights under the Disability Discrimination Act if a mental health condition is caused, or exacerbated by, their workplace. Employees can take these kinds of complaints, and also ones relating to dismissal, to the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Fair Work Commission, or their state’s Anti-Discrimination Board.

Employers – what are your rights and obligations?

Employers have the right to ask their employees certain questions about their mental health condition for ‘legitimate purposes’. According to HeadsUp, those questions can be:

To determine whether the person can perform the inherent requirements of the job
To identify any reasonable adjustments may be needed, either in the selection and recruitment process or in the work environment and role
To establish facts for entitlements such as sick leave, superannuation, workers’ compensation and other insurance.
Employers have an obligation to protect any information they receive against improper access and disclosure.

As mentioned, under the Disability Discrimination Act, employers cannot discriminate against someone with a mental illness in the workplace.

Reasonable adjustments

Under the legislation, an employer must make reasonable adjustments to a person’s job to ensure they can perform in the role productively and safely.

Reasonable adjustments have been interpreted as adjustments that do not cause ‘unjustifiable hardship’ on an employer. This means employers may not be required to make adjustments if they can demonstrate that they are too expensive, difficult or time consuming.

Reasonable adjustments can include:

Adjustments to work methods or arrangements, including hours of works and leave entitlements
Adjustments to the workplace or work-related premises, equipment or facilities
Adjustments to work-related rules or modifications to enable a person to comply with rules as they exist
The individual situation dictates what kinds of adjustments are reasonable in the circumstances.

Safe workplaces

Grayson says employers should treat mental illness in the same way as any physical illness, and ensure the same level of accommodations are made to ensure an employee can continue working while managing their condition.

Employers also have obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (‘health’ is defined as both psychological and physical). Employers must provide safe and healthy workplaces, systems of work, monitoring of conditions and provision of information, instruction and supervision so employees can work safely.

Grayson advises employers and managers encourage a safe space where employees can disclose mental health conditions and when it might be affecting their ability to work. If the latter occurs, employers should conduct a risk assessment to determine what reasonable adjustments can be made to ensure the employee can maintain their work safely.

Maintaining a healthy workplace can also require employers to do things like eliminating or minimising common risks to mental health such as bullying, stress, harassment and workplace trauma.

Disclosure

If someone discloses to a potential employer in a job interview that they have a mental illness, Grayson says employers should “keep front of mind that they can’t discriminate against someone for having a mental illness, just like they can’t discriminate against someone for having cancer, or a broken leg.” This goes for whether someone discloses they have a mental health condition before or after they take the job.

She also recommends employers set aside time to fully understand the mental health condition an employee might be dealing with, and to be perceptive to workers who may be experiencing difficulties with a mental illness. If they suspect something is wrong, they should take steps to speak with the employee confidentially and determine whether it might be affecting their work, and what can be done to remedy it.

Inability to do the job

“Sometimes, in extreme cases, employees with a mental illness may not be able to perform the job that they are doing,” says Grayson. “However, an employer should be very careful not to terminate an employee until they’ve fully ascertained, based on medical evidence, that employee can’t perform the inherent requirements of the job, without reasonable adjustments.”

The Fair Work Act 2009 stipulates employers cannot take adverse action against an employee if they have a workplace right, such as protection from discrimination. Adverse action covers situations where an employer threatens to, or goes through with, dismissing an employee, injuring an employee, altering an employee’s position to their detriment, discriminating between employees, or refusing to employee a prospective employee.

The economics

Aside from legal (and perhaps moral) obligations to employees, statistics show it makes good business and economic sense to ensure employees with mental health conditions are looked after in the workplace.

Absenteeism, reduced productivity and compensation claims cost Australian workplaces approximately $11 billion per year.

“For everyone $1 spent on addressing mental health and preventing mental health issues in the workplace, $2.30 is saved by each employer,” Grayson adds. “So that’s in reduced absenteeism, reduced turnover and reduced insurance claims.” Those statistics can be found in this report from Beyond Blue and PWC.

Eating your way to a successful culture

With the speed of our lives going at a frenetic pace, as a CEO and or someone in management, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to close the laptop, switch off the phone and still be find your work day successful?

Well how is this for an idea?

Lunch or breakfast with your team and colleagues!!

Everyone enjoys a meal and a chat but this one has a slight motive behind it.

Allow yourself to reinforce and reassure your employees the connection and culture of your workplace in a safe, non-intimidating environment and learn about where you’re team is at.

This can be done with the CEO(preferably) or senior management/Directors. Go out to lunch with small groups of cross-functional employees on a regular basis.

Here is the idea behind it all…

The idea behind a Lunch program is to spend an hour with the CEO hearing about everyone’s experiences at the company, helping everyone get to know one another, and helping everyone see a different side of the CEO.

Here’s a basic draft game plan:

• Determine how often the CEO wants to have these lunches(monthly is ideal).
For larger companies where there are 1,000 or more you’ll want the assistance of additional senior executives to host lunches too.

• Have five to six people total (including the CEO) for one hour or so.

Process:

The tone and format of the CEO Lunch is key. You’ll want to create enough structure so everyone gets a chance to speak while keeping a warm and informal tone. Here’s a format which you can follow.

• Expectation setting: Open forum, OK to ask any question, the CEO will answer what he/she can.

The idea is for everyone attending to be heard and provide feedback on what’s working and what’s not, plus any ideas or insights they have.

• Welcome everyone: “Thanks for being part of tribe, you make a difference, we’re doing great things together”

• Launch: CEO does personal and professional check in for couple minutes (a key event that’s happening in their personal life and one in professional too). (Example: Personal: I’m really enjoying my kids right now—they’re at the age where they’re asking cool questions. Also I’m feeling concerned about my ageing mom. I realise I’ve not wanted to deal with this and now need to look into how to help her golden years be the most fulfilling possible).

Professional: So much is going right that I have to pinch myself some days! It’s a very exciting time! Also, though, I’ve realised that in all our growth we’ve missed some the of people development things we could’ve been doing—so I am diving in here to help us get caught up.) Two to three minutes each person, after the CEO simply move around the group in clockwise fashion.

• Feedback Frame:This time each person has the opportunity to contribute a personal and professional point and “What’s Working” and “What I’d Like To See More Of.”

• CEO or PA can take notes to remember and then recaps.

• Closing: “Thanks for sharing a bit about yourself, your life, your ideas for how we can create an even cooler company. Your ideas are awesome and inspire me. I’m so glad you’re a member of our tribe. Together we’re doing great things. Thanks again.”

This can be something implemented quite easily and although it may not be productive in the monetary sense, the time you spend with your employees will benefit your bottom dollar over time.

Does the traditional work-life balance still exist?

In this day and age we all need to recognise that employees’ work and personal lives are nearly one and the same and this should be understood if it has not already happened.

With the age of technology taking over our days and with an ever increasingly mobile workforce, people are able to work from home and manage home from work.

The line between professional and personal is becoming very, very thin and in some areas and might be seen a double-edged sword.

If you believe that you’re expected to work or at least be contactable 24/7 becoming stressed, depressed and disengaged is a more likely outcome.

However, If employees are provided with increased flexibility, they’re more likely to find time to exercise, take breaks, believe the organisation cares about them and feel good about their work.

That is — they’re more likely to be healthy, satisfied and engaged. That’s good news for employee AND business performance.

Approximately

74% of employers want flexible hours
VS
46% of employes provide them

FLEXIBLE HOURS: Those who get them are 18% more engaged.

Also

71% want to work from home
VS
32% of employers provide this option

WORK FROM HOME: Those who can are 14% more engaged.

When employees believe their

EMPLOYER CARES ABOUT THEIR HEALTH AND WELL-BEING,
THEY ARE …….

38% more engaged
28% more likely to recommend their workplace
18% more likely to do more than expected
10x less likely to be hostile

What do you think?

Do you believe it is possible to successfully operate when you have some of your employees working from home?

or

Does everyone need to be in the same workspace and accounted for every single day?

The Importance of Engagement

Engaged employees have a deep, emotional connection to their work. They feel a sense of purpose and energy.
They never say, “That’s not in my job description. I’m not paid enough to do that.”

IT’S ALL ABOUT ENERGY…

People often confuse job satisfaction with employee engagement. But that burst of energy you feel actually comes from being engaged in your work — not just with how satisfied you are while you’re there.
It’s like being “in the flow” —when you get so caught up in what you’re doing that you lose track of time. You’re challenged, but not overwhelmed.

WHAT DOES ENGAGEMENT LOOK LIKE?
Engaged employees are focused, energised and enthusiastic. And this leads to:

PERSISTENCE
•They work harder over longer periods of time, and won’t give up when something tough comes along

INITIATIVE
•They take initiative and action, not waiting for a manager to tell them what to do

ADAPTABILITY

•They change with the environment if required – including interpersonal adaptability, learning, dealing effectively with unpredictable situations and solving problems creatively

UNDERSTANDING THEIR ROLE IN THE BIGGER PICTURE
•They go above and beyond, and realise how their responsibilities impact the business

ROLE EXPANSION
•They think of the role broadly. They help others, fix mistakes someone else made and step out of the box of their role to solve a problem for the business

WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE

NED…WHO IS NOT ENGAGED
• FREEZES UP, and can’t move the work forward when he hits roadblocks
• WAITS FOR MANAGERS to tell him what to do
• IS EASILY DISTRACTED and paralysed by change
• DOESN’T GO BEYOND HIS ASSIGNED TASKS
• REGULARLY says things like “that’s above my pay grade”

NANCY…WHO IS ENGAGED

• KEEPS PERSISTING, even when she faces obstacles
• IS PROACTIVE to solve a problem
• IS FLEXIBLE and can adapt to changes GOES ABOVE & BEYOND
• DOESN’T HESITATE about taking on a task outside the formal scope of her role

WHAT ARE THE LEVELS OF ENGAGEMENT
Engagement isn’t an all-or-nothing game. Different levels of engagement (or disengagement) are always occurring depending on the situation..
An employee can be invested in their work but not in the company she works for. They might feel connected to their team but not feel aligned with their higher purpose.

WORK ENGAGEMENT:
How an employee is connected with the actual work she does. If they don’t feel a strong connection to her work, then maybe you should consider re-designing work to better reflect her talents and interests.

TEAM ENGAGEMENT:
How an employee is connected with her immediate work group. To create a stronger connection, the team must be aligned to a common goal(you’re a team) have a supportive manager and feel they’re all contributing and working well together. It is fantastic when it works. But can be very deflating and energy sapping if it does not.

COMPANY ENGAGEMENT:
How an employee is connected with the company.
If there is not a strong connection to the company, start focusing on leadership’s ability to create a shared vision and bringing employees along to achieve it.

HIGHER PURPOSE ENGAGEMENT:
How an employee is connected with their higher purpose for work. To strengthen a weak connection, employees need to feel that their work is contributing to something bigger than themselves,(feeling even bigger than the company strategy. This can be a higher purpose that the company is trying to achieve – the company’s mission or reason for existence.

WHY ENGAGEMENT MATTERS

COMPANIES WITH HIGH ENGAGEMENT:

OUTPERFORM THE STOCK MARKET
More than 65% have higher shareholder returns than average

ARE MORE LUCRATIVE
78% more profitable and 40% more productive

HAVE STRONGER INTERNAL METRICS
5x more likely to achieve high performance with high engagement

BENEFITS OF AN ENGAGED WORKFORCE

PERFORMANCE 4
Employees with the highest level of commitment perform 20% better and are 87% less likely to leave the organisation

SAFETY 5
5x less likely to have a safety incident

GROWTH
Firms with engaged employees have stock price growth nearly 2.5x that of peers

1 Macey, Schneider, Barbera and Young, 2009 2 Aon Hewitt (2009). What Makes a Company a Best Employer?
3 Gallup, Inc (2011). Employee Engagement.
2007 SHRM Research Quarterly, Leveraging Employee Engagement for Competitive Advantage: HR’s Strategic Role, 5 SHRM “Employee Engagement and Commitment,” Robert J. Vance Ph.D. 6 Giving Everyone the Chance to Shine, Hay Group, 2010.

ALIGNING ENGAGEMENT WITH ORGANISATIONAL SUPPORT

Many leaders assume employees are responsible for bringing engagement to the table — so they hire for passion or energy. But once these enthusiastic employees start working, your organisation needs to support them in ways that keep them engaged.

HOW MUCH SUPPORT DOES YOUR ORGANISATION PROVIDE?

The resources, communication, reinforcement and encouragement you give your employees ultimately helps them become engaged.

ELEMENTS OF SUSTAINED ENGAGEMENT

AUTONOMY
Employees need to have autonomy to make decisions and “own” aspects of their work

CHALLENGE
Employees need to feel challenged with meaningful work

FEEDBACK
Employees need to receive feedback

MANAGER SUPPORT
Employees need to have a manager that supports them
• Employees are more productive, efficient and loyal when they have a strong relationship with their manager
• Employees who rate their manager as excellent are 5x more engaged than those who rate their manager as poor1
• Managers account for up to 70% of variance in employee engagement 2
You can think of these variables as the “engagement climate”— does it feel like a place where I can be engaged?

ALIGNING ENGAGEMENT WITH CULTURE

YOUR CULTURE NEEDS TO ALIGN WITH THE ENGAGEMENT CLIMATE YOU’RE CREATING.
For example, we know feedback is an organisational requirement for engagement. Well, your company’s culture dictates whether employees give meaningful feedback or not. Do they feel comfortable telling the truth? Or would they rather sugarcoat their opinions so they don’t rock the boat? This is especially important if your business strategy requires employees to learn and innovate.

ALIGNING ENGAGEMENT WITH WELL-BEING
Well-being is an employee’s quality of life – how “healthy” she is physically and emotionally and whether she’s improving and living the best life she can.

WHEN PEOPLE FEEL THEIR EMPLOYER SUPPORTS WELL-BEING, THEY ARE:*
38% more engaged
18% more likely to go the extra mile
28% more likely to recommend their workplace
17% more likely to still work there after one year

IMPORTANCE OF WELL-BEING AT WORK

ENERGY
• If an employee has a high degree of well-being, it’s easier to sustain physical and emotional energy at work.

PRESENCE
• Employees also have to be physically healthy to be engaged and productive at work.

RESILIENCE
• Resilience is about being able to recover quickly from difficulty and to persist despite obstacles. Employees who have high well-being are more likely to
be resilient.

REPLENISHMENT
• Lastly, well-being has to be replenished.

THE SWEET SPOT OF ENGAGEMENT
Employees might quit for two reasons – they’re either disengaged or working so hard that they burnout. So how do you find that sweet spot?
Employees who are deeply invested in their work have a higher risk of burnout and exhaustion. That means your most engaged employees have the potential to become too engaged. It’s up to you to make sure they have the time to recharge — and that they take it.

YOUR ORGANISATION IS THE MOST VULNERABLE FOR LOSING EMPLOYEES WHEN:
•They don’t feel trust in the workplace
• The basis for trust is compromised
• They don’t feel supported by their organisation (especially their manager)
• They discover an alternative company where they’ll feel the positive effects of engagement

10 TIPS FOR IMPROVING EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT

Now that we know what employee engagement looks like, it’s time to improve it. Not only will your employees thank you, but your executive team will, too.
HERE’S HOW …

67% of your workplace isn’t engaged…

1
CARE FOR PEOPLE AS INDIVIDUALS, NOT JUST EMPLOYEES
Individuals feel more valued when their organisation considers the whole employee – their health, well-being and performance. And feeling valued is an important precursor to employee engagement. Some things to acknowledge include an employee’s:
• Life outside of work
• Aspirations
• Strengths and weaknesses
• Development and personal goals

Here are some ways to show you care about your employees
• Time off to recharge
• Stress relief breaks
• Healthy activities at work
• Flexibility

BE THOUGHTFUL ABOUT JOB DESIGN (AND REDESIGN)

It’s easy to spend a lot of effort trying to measure and improve engagement, without even considering the actual work employees do. Often, little thought has been given to the actual design of the job – what are the business problems being solved with this job? Is there the “right” amount of ownership? Is there a balance of challenge and accomplishment? If employees indicate they’re bored or not challenged, re-engage them by redesigning their roles.

VALUE THE MANAGEMENT FUNCTION
Managers play a huge role in employee engagement. Just as employees need to feel valued, so do managers. Uphold high standards for your managers and don’t force people to manage if they don’t have the ability or desire. But for those who do, here are some ways to support their growth as a manager:
• Provide training and support
• Articulate expectations of their role
• Arrange new manager meetings
• View them as employee advocates
• Ensure they’re working to create trust

ACTIVELY SUPPORT GROWTH & LEARNING
To feel engaged, employees need to feel like they’re developing and growing. This means creating opportunities for movement, learning new skills, understanding career aspirations and providing feedback.

PROVIDE REGULAR FEEDBACK
Employees need feedback about areas for improvement. Having a meaningful “norm about giving feedback (timely, specific and actionable) helps employees see a clear path toward their own professional development. Think beyond positive feedback – employees crave clear, constructive suggestions.

GIVE EMPLOYEES A VOICE
This means creating mechanisms for employees to have a say – informal or formal, qualitative or quantitative (optimally it’s a combo of all four). Do you have an employee survey? Can employees talk to your CEO? Is it OK to speak up about a difficult topic at your all-staff meetings? Do you ask for employee suggestions before rolling out a new program? You need to create these mechanisms and forums for employees to have a voice — but most important, you need to listen to what they say and take action.

CREATE CLARITY AND CONNECTION WITH THE MISSION
Employees need to feel a connection to your organisation’s reason for being. And it’s especially important they see how they contribute to it. Some employees may feel far removed from the mission of the company. For example, how does an accountant understand how her work contributes to a non-profit’s mission of ensuring all people are able to live their fullest lives? The accountant’s manager can show her how the work she does ensures the organisation’s financial stability, which is integral to it’s ability to serve clients.

GO DEEPER WITH EMPOWERMENT
Ideally, employees should feel they have the authority to make decisions that impact their job. And when they do, they feel a greater sense of ownership and commitment to their work and organisation. How do you create this? By empowering employees. Push decision-making and autonomy to the front lines (your greatest assets). Consider creating processes where managers can sign off on top level strategies so employees can run with their work without feeling micromanaged.

FOCUS ON LEADERSHIP
The quality of your organisation’s leadership can either support engagement or be an engagement inhibitor. Organisations have to ensure that employees believe in leaders and the direction of the company. Leaders also must be honest communicators and create trust throughout the organisation. Make sure they walk the talk and understand what’s expected of them.
Remember: leaders themselves need to be engaged. Disengaged leaders become obvious to the organisation and have a negative impact on others – and can even constrain the rest of the team’s engagement.

IDENTIFY CULTURAL BARRIERS TO ENGAGEMENT
Become more intentional about building a culture that aligns to your business strategy and supports engagement. Start by conducting a culture audit to see which aspects of your culture are supporting engagement and which might be getting in the way..

Eat, sleep and exercise your way to success.

Let’s Face it. We don’t always take care of ourselves as well as we should. It’s more do as I say, not do as I do approach don’t you think? We will be more than happy to offer advice to another, but will we follow through ourselves?

It’s tough sometimes, as work and pleasure gets in our way and we become distracted on what really should be simple and easy.

But whether it’s convenient or not, maintaining our health(physically, mentally and socially) should be a priority, even before our work. Why? Because if we aren’t healthy, we can’t be successful, we are no good to ourselves, our family or our work colleagues.
Related: 4 Healthy Habits You Already Know but Aren’t Doing

Let’s look at—food, sleep, exercise—and why you can’t ignore them:

Food
It’s lunch time. You’ve been in the office early and been at the desk the whole time. Maybe you move to go to the loo or have brief chat to you boss or colleague.

When those hunger pangs strike, the most appealing option seems to be greasy, ultra-convenient fast food. The aroma triggers your hunger even more. That does not compare to a freshly made sandwhich or a salad. But do you know what those excessive calories found in fried foods actually do to your post-lunch productivity?

What you eat affects your productivity in different ways, so eat smart.

Writing for the Harvard Business Review, Ron Friedman lays out the facts about how different foods affect work performance. He cites a study where participants reported “food consumption, mood and behaviours over a period of 13 days.” The participants who ate less high-fat meals and more fruits and vegetables were “happier, more engaged and more creative” than those who opted for high-fat, high-calorie lunches.

We tend to think too simplistically about food. Those who are always on the go and on task without taking a breath as you power though the day see what they consume as “fuel.”

A little misleading, however. As Friedman points out, you can expect a certain level of consistency with fuel. Food, on the other hand, is less predictable. What you eat affects your productivity in different ways, so eat smart.

Sleep

When your work life is demanding(as it does happen on occasion. Some more than others) you keep erratic hours. Early starts, late finishes. When you are at home At home, you sit down to “tie up some loose ends” and before you know it 200 minutes later you fall into bed. Routine repeated over and over again throughout the weeks.

It might be your job. Even if you burn the candle at both ends, there are still steps you can put in place to make sure you’re getting adequate rest. So why is rest so valued?

Sleep deprivation has been linked to higher levels of stress, higher blood pressure levels and lower brain function. I’s almost guaranteed that your performance and productivity performance will suffer if you are not sleeping enough. Despite what others say. Sleep in not something you can catch up on.

So, how does one combat chronic sleeplessness? Finding a regular schedule definitely helps.
Create definitive work hours, making sure you give yourself enough time to unwind after finishing work.

If work is still on your mind when you go to bed, you’ll probably find yourself lying awake for a while. W
When your alarm clock goes off, get up no matter what. Don’t use the snooze button and which will upset up your sleep cycle.

Exercise
Stress can get the best of us at times, and what’s better than eliminating your problems (and fat) away by get up and active? Choose an activity you enjoy on your own, with friends or colleagues. Maybe you workplace has a program(s) in place. Working out is a great stress reliever and will take the focus off your daily pressures—as well as get fit at the same time. Regular exercise wards off depression and a host of other mental blocks that make success hard to achieve.

Talking about being active and exercising is one thing. Actually committing to it is another. The important thing is that we actually get out and do it. Commit to 20-30 minutes of activity into your day to start. Make an appointment with yourself as you would a client.

Be honest with yourself. Are you a morning, lunchtime or evening exerciser? Which do you prefer? Don’t schedule your activity at a time of day which you will find even harder to commit to. Look at being fit as your pathway to success. It’s not just something you should do; it’s something you must do.

Self-maintenance is essential to your success because it allows you to go further, get more done and most importantly, be happy doing it.

Take a step and meet in the right direction

With all the “mobile” technology surrounding us, it still seems that most of our work time is spent sitting at their at our desk more than ever before. The average worker sits about 9.5 hours a day – which is 2 hours more per day than they sleep.
Why are we at our desk? What keeps us there? It is our insatiable thirst for increased productivity and efficiency.

Ironically, one of the things that makes us most effective is leaving our desks.
Steve Jobs conducted walking meetings as does Mark Zuckerberg. If these two people found them beneficial, why are not all of us participating.

Here are 7 reasons you want to consider incorporating moving meetings into your culture:

1. Employee Health.
Walking meetings allow employees to involve physical activity throughout their workday, which improves health, lower health care costs, and a lower number of sick days.

2. Higher Employee Energy
Movement creates circulation; circulation creates energy. Rather than reach for the sweets to get a boost of energy, take a walk outside.

3. Inspiration.
Nature and changes of scenery trigger new neuro-pathways in our brains, which yield new ideas, and new solutions to problems.

4. A Flatter Organisation.
Technology executive Nilofer Merchant shares in her 3-minute TED Talk that when executives and employees walk side-by-side, the hierarchical boundaries are virtually eliminated.

5. Increased Collaboration.
Walking meetings aren’t just for a few people. Larger groups can also benefit. Unlike traditional meetings in a conference room, where attendees take a seat and often don’t move until the meeting is over, mobile meetings give attendees the option of moving freely from one conversation to another. Plus having a waking meeting is not as intimidating. The power of particular seating arrangements is minimised or in some cases, eliminated altogether.

6. Stronger Personal Connections.
Walking meetings take the corporate feeling out of meetings. Employees can accomplish the same goals set for a traditional meeting, but they can relate on a much more personal level.

7. Minimised Differences.
Walking meetings bring everyone together. As companies continue to employee 5 different generations of workers, and as diversity increases in the workforce, walking meetings break down both conscious and unconscious biases and barriers.

So don’t wait a second longer. Give it a go. You might be surprised how successful it will be.