Presenteeism!! Are you into it?

It’s silent, elusive and lurking right around the corner. It often goes undetected – sneaking through the halls, under the radar, all the while eating away at the wellbeing and productivity of your organisation.

It’s presenteeism – and it’s a whole lot scarier than we think. In fact, one estimate puts the loss of productivity due to presenteeism at 10 times costlier than absenteeism. And i has been revealed that employees admit to an average 45.5 unproductive days each year– nearly three months’ worth of time.

While presenteeism, or “working while sick” as it was originally defined, is still largely linked to loss of productivity due to employee health and medical issues, the definition has broadened in recent years.

New workplace distractions, the demands of a digitised, warp-speed life at both home and work, and stress and anxiety stemming from financial challenges and the needs of family are among the most prevalent, added causes of presenteeism today. We’re checked out, stressed out and more disengaged than ever before.

At the core of an anti-presenteeism strategy should be the benefits and policies that understand and support the health and medical needs of your employees – both in treatment and prevention. But, there are many other areas where we can help combat the productivity-draining culprits we face at work today. Here are seven to consider:

1.Encourage your employees to prioritise sleep

There’s a lot of new – and alarming – sleep-related research being published today. From Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global sleep initiatives (note: add phone bed charging stations to list of employee holiday gifts this year) to the 2017 Nobel Prize in Medicine going to American researchers’ work on the circadian rhythm, sleep talk is everywhere. We’re not sleeping enough, nor are we getting the quality of sleep our bodies and minds need to function – and live. Encourage employees to make use of sleep-related features on their wearables, and to check out the best new sleep apps.

2.Enable introspection

We run around crazy most days, multi-tasking at an unprecedented rate, and often prioritise the needs of everyone and everything else above our own. We’re not only short-circuiting our brains in the process, but losing sight of what really brings us fulfillment and joy. Consider asking employees to complete a simple, formal exercise at work to think introspectively about their purpose and what makes them feel rewarded at work and in life. Even if it’s a simple, 3-question quiz.

3.Put employee engagement at the top of the list

It’s all about employee engagement these days. And with good reason. Engaged employees make for happier, healthier individuals and more productive, profitable organisations. In fact, those with engaged employees bring in two and a half times the revenue vs. those with low engagement rates. Partner with leadership and other key stakeholders to devise a formal engagement strategy from the top down, focusing on company culture and brand, training and career development initiatives, job satisfaction and workplace wellness.

4. Train your managers about presenteeism – and prioritise their own wellbeing

Your managers are on the front lines. Not only do they need to be well – and engaged – to perform at their personal best, but also to have the mindset to identify presenteeism issues within their immediate teams. Add the health and wellbeing of your managers to your list of presenteeism priorities, and give them formal, regular training about its potential impact on individuals, their team and the company. Make sure they know what resources are available to them in facing the issue – and provide a clear process for managing and escalating – if needed – presenteeism issues.

5.Help employees boost their financial wellness
A 2016 PwC Employee Financial Wellness Survey revealed 52 percent of all workers are stressed about their finances and 46 percent spend three or more hours during the work week dealing with or thinking about financial issues. Those companies beginning to invest more in financial education and counselling for their employees are not only seeing higher productivity and engagement rates, but also greater employer loyalty.

6.Offer solutions for greater family wellbeing
The 2017 Cost of Care Survey revealed that 73 percent of working parents say their job has been affected because of child care plans falling through at the last minute, with 64 percent having to use sick days and 54 percent being late to work as a result. Eighty-five percent of respondents also said they wished their employer provided child care benefits. By providing family care benefits like backup care and senior care planning, employers can help ease worries, eliminate unnecessary distractions, and keep working parents not only physically present, but also productive.

7. Invite a little digital detox
With the support of leadership, create some company-wide recommendations for healthy phone etiquette at work. Maybe it’s instituting phone-free meetings or regular, fully unplugged social gatherings. Encourage employees to choose a regular, daily block of time in their work schedule where their phones aren’t just silenced, but out of sight in a desk drawer. Or, institute a formal, company-wide challenge: a 30-day digital detox,

While presenteeism is a scary issue for all employers, with the potential for serious productivity loss, there is hope. Unlike absenteeism, where employees aren’t even making it to work, presenteeism gives you a second chance to re-engage your present – though often times, drained and distracted – individuals. The number of programs and mechanisms your organisation can use to support and engage its employees only continues to grow. Find those that fit for your company – and start helping your employees out of the dark shadows of presenteeism.

Are we really that different with our corporate culture?

Australia, Great Britain and the U.S.A may all speak the same language, but that doesn’t mean the culture and customs of each nation are also the same. Work culture is one thing in particular which can vary quite a bit from country to country and there are some surprising differences between these particular three.

Whether you’re headed on a business trip to Sydney, transferring to London, spending a year or two working in New York or interacting with clients and co-workers from other parts of the world, it’s a pretty good idea to read up on what to expect so you don’t commit a faux pas.

Here are some differences between American, Australian and British work cultures so you can take the business world by storm, no matter where you are!


When attending a meeting in the U.S., you should expect it to be run more in the vein of a brainstorming session. American business people tend to be very straight-forward with their opinions and aren’t afraid to contribute to the discussion. For this reason, outsiders often feel that American business meetings are more about the talk than the action.

While Australian business culture is known to be more laid back than in the U.K. or the U.S., that doesn’t mean our approach to meetings is lax. Punctuality is a must for business meetings in Australia and people generally like to keep these events short and to the point. However, you must always take some time for small talk at the beginning of a meeting as diving straight to the point is considered aggressive and rude.

Great Britain
British business meetings are run in an almost completely opposite manner to American ones. As opposed to American or Australian work culture, in the U.K. people tend to be more reserved in meetings and not as quick to offer an opinion or speak up. Sometimes this can make outsiders feel like their thoughts are not wanted, but knowing when to speak up and when to keep your thoughts to yourself can be something of an asset!


In the U.S.A, chit-chat is the norm whether you’re at work or shopping at your local grocery store. Americans aren’t shy about chatting up complete strangers and making small talk about everything from the weather to last night’s football game. This can lead to a warm work environment where it’s easy to get to know your co-workers.

In Australia, profanity is the norm and is a natural part of the local vocabulary. It’s not uncommon to hear swear words used in the work place and not taboo to drop the occasional profanity. However, as always be aware of who you’re talking to. While using a profanity(on the odd occasion)might be okay with co-workers that you know well, you don’t want to risk offending a more conservative client.

Great Britain
British tend to be more reserved when it comes to chit-chat and outsiders might think they come off as cold and standoffish as a result. What it really comes down to though, is difference in humour. While Americans or Australians might be prone to make loud and brash jokes when engaging in chit-chat, British are very proud of their dry wit and intellectual humour. At first it may be hard to tell when they’re telling a joke, but once you get a grasp of the good old British humour you’ll be laughing along with the best of them!

Dressing Sense

In the United States alone business dress can vary depending on which side of the country you live on. The West Coast is known for a more casual approach to business attire while the East Coast tends to be more formal. But even in areas where formal business attire is part of work culture, high-end brand clothing isn’t always noticed or appreciated.

Most Australians tend to be conservative with their dress code, meaning they lean towards simple dark suits and white shirts. One of the more unique aspects of Australian culture is that people don’t tend to travel to the office in full-on suit and shoes. Most will wear flip-flops while walking to work then change into their work shoes once they arrive.

Great Britain
Similar to Australia, the British tend to prefer conservative, classic clothes and aim for darker colours like black, dark blue, and grey. In British work culture it’s considered perfectly okay to invest in high-end clothing and to wear designer items – in fact, it’s often encouraged as it shows status and affluence. This is one nation where ‘dress for success’ is taken very literally!

Is personality testing for potential staff still valid?

It’s not a new phenomenon. Psychological tests have been used in employee selection processes since World War I.

Determining how to reduce turnover, increase productivity and more accurately predict employee performance has been and remains a goal of nearly every organisation.

Due to its importance, predicting the future success of an applicant is a difficult, high-stakes game. Therefore, it’s only natural that companies turn to psychological assessment tests in the hopes of improving the accuracy and validity of their recruitment processes.

That begs the question: do personality exams prevent bias in recruiting and ultimately assist companies in choosing the most viable candidates? The answer is not a simple yes or no.

Understanding weaknesses

It’s not an exact science. Tests are not always right. While there are benefits to incorporating behavioural and personality-based assessments in the executive recruitment process, they are far from fool-proof. In many instances, variables such as the ones below will present hurdles for the hiring manager.

Such tests may be able to detect global personality traits of individuals, their strengths and weaknesses, but will not be a good predictor of who will do well in a certain work environment. For example, extroverts and introverts may become equally good salespeople, using different strengths and skills to succeed. For example, an introvert may be a very good listener and use this talent to better understand his/her client.

Another problem is that individuals can “fake” the answers, providing the answers they think the employer is looking for (e.g., if an “extrovert” is considered a better for for a sales position, then the candidate will answer accordingly, irrespective of their “true” personality).

Where the tests prove helpful

Despite not being perfect, studies have shown certain types of tests to provide valuable insight into an applicant’s ability to problem solve, reason and ultimately succeed in a position.

Even though they disagree as to the extent of accuracy, most experts do agree that cognitive ability tests (in which an applicant’s capacity to mentally process, comprehend and manipulate information is measured) tend to be the most accurate success predictor when compared to other types of pre-employment tests.

However, in order to benefit from a pre-employment assessment to the fullest extent, there must be an understanding that exams do not always accurately factor in certain variables important to success:

Current competitive advantage of the company’s product/service
Positivity and optimism around the office (i.e., cultural attitude)
Autonomy given
Resources provided for the applicant to be successful.
Management dedication and style

Moreover, companies must supplement the test with a structured interview process. This means all candidates are asked the same questions making it easier for interviewers to score candidate responses and draw comparisons across applicants.

Additionally, it must be predetermined what weight is going to be given to the results of the test. In twelve years of recruiting, we have numerous times seen great performers score lower on screening exams than those who have not worked out in a given role.

Therefore, unless an applicant score comes out dismal, tests are best utilized as a supplemental measure rather than an ultimate decision maker.

In the end

While not perfect, pre-screening tests can hold merit. Though, they must be used correctly.

Above all, benefiting from implementation requires an understanding of where the results fit in to the overall assessment of a candidate as test inaccuracies can weed out high performers on the job if given too much weight. However, despite some imperfections, hiring managers do benefit by combining a relevant test as a supplemental assessment variable.

Work for 52 Minutes, Break for 17: Perfect Productivity

Have you ever wandered how long you should be sitting down, concentrating on task before you have a break.

Finally, social scientists suggest a precise time for mid-afternoon coffee runs.

Sometimes, productivity science seems like an organised conspiracy to justify laziness.

Clicking through photos of cute small animals at work? That’s not silly procrastination, Hiroshima University researchers said. Looking at adorable pictures of kittens rolling helplessly in balls of yarn heightens our focus, and the “tenderness elicited by cute images” improves our motor function on the computer.

Going on long vacations? You’re not running away from your responsibilities. Studies show that long breaks from the office reboot your cognitive energy to solve big problems with the mental dexterity they deserve.

Working from home? Shut down your boss’s rude accusations that you’re too slothful to put on a pair of pants in the morning by handing him this 2013 study of Chinese call-centre employees, which found that “tele-commuting” improved company performance. (Actually, don’t hand it to him. That would require going into the office.)

The scientific observation underlying these nearly-too-good-to-be-true findings is that the brain is a muscle that, like every muscle, tires from repeated stress. Many of us have a cultural image of industriousness that includes first-in-last-out workers, all-nighters, and marathon work sessions.

Indeed, there are many perfectly productive people that go to the office early, leave late, and never seem to stop working. But the truth about productivity for the rest of us is that more hours doesn’t mean better work. Rather, like a runner starting to flag after a few miles, our ability to perform tasks has diminishing returns over time. We need breaks strategically served between our work sessions.

So what’s the perfect length for a break? Seventeen minutes, according to an experiment released this week.

Rather than set your stop-watch for 17 minutes when you get up from your desk, the more important reminder might be to get up, at all.

There are productivity apps that tracks employees’ computer use, peeked into its data to study the behaviour of its most productive workers. The highest-performing 10 percent tend to work for 52 consecutive minutes followed by a 17-minute break. Those 17 minutes were often spent away from the computer, said Julia Gifford at The Muse, by taking a walk, doing exercises, or talking to coworkers.

Telling people to focus for 52 consecutive minutes and then to immediately abandon their desks for exactly 1,020 seconds might appear absurd. But this isn’t the first observational study to show that short breaks correlate with higher productivity.

In 1999, Cornell University’s Ergonomics Research Laboratory used a computer program to remind workers to take short breaks. The project concluded that “workers receiving the alerts [reminding them to stop working] were 13 percent more accurate on average in their work than coworkers who were not reminded.”

It seems unlikely that there is one number representing the ideal amount of time for every employee in every industry to break from work. Rather than set your stop-watch for 17:00 when you get up from your desk, the more important reminder might be to get up, at all. Indeed, the most productive employees don’t necessarily work the longest hours. Instead, they take the smartest approach to managing their energy to solve tasks in efficient and creative ways.

Perhaps managing our office energy is a lost art. In the mid-1920s, an executive in Michigan studying the productivity of his factory workers realised that his employees’ efficiency was plummeting when they worked too many hours in a day or too many days in a week. He instituted new rules, including an eight-hour work day and a five-day work week. “We know from our experience in changing from six to five days and back again that we can get at least as great production in five days as we can in six,” he said. “Just as the eight hour day opened our way to prosperity, so the five day week will open our way to a still greater prosperity.”

That company turned out to be one of the most profitable companies of the mid-twentieth century, and the boss at its helm is remembered as one of the most talented executives in American history. His name was Henry Ford.

Do you thin we need to back up our headspace?

In today’s corporate world where many of us can spend more time at work than at home

If you have areas in need of improvement in your life and you go through times when you question yourself and your ability. Or maybe you are going through a tough time at home. When these certain situation occur, more often than not, you have one or two options:
You can debrief with a friend, colleague or family and that can work or…

You can seek professional help.

OMG!! Did I say seek professional help? Why would I do that? If I do this, wouldn’t it just make me weak or incompetent?

How many of us have had that conversation with ourselves?

Isn’t it ironic that there would be no problem seeking the help of a trade person to solve an issue or a dentist if you had a tooth ache. There is no shame there. What about a physiotherapist? No problems there either.

I’m not saying you should run out and see a shrink if your career isn’t going exactly the way you hoped it would or your business has suffered a setback or two. But if you have significant recurring issues that have been plaguing you for years and it feels like you’re not getting anywhere, it’s something to consider?

The company shrink?
He’s got a point. You can read all you want and attend all the courses offered to you, but if your problem with getting stuff done or getting yourself out there stems from deep-seated fears of success, feelings of unworthiness, or other common but limiting mental health issues, no trick or technique is going to get the job done unless you confront and conquer those demons.

It might only be one or two meetings. Not everything will be a major incident. But everyone once in a while we might require someone to get us back on track.

With many of us having these challenges could you argue that whole companies could benefit from consulting one as well? Or having an in house professional specialising in these areas?

It might take a while to get used to and there would be specific, professional etiquette(confidentiality and privacy laws). But do you think it might be beneficial?

Can you imagine the change you could see in your workplace if you had a person to provide this service?

I am almost sure your absenteeism would be reduced, your presenteeism would almost disappear and you would be surrounded by positivity and excitement every day.

Such a great way to maintain a wonderful culture within your workplace.

Do you think this could benefit your company. Not because your staff is particularly crazy, but because “mental health is an issue for anyone with a brain.”

Love to hear your thoughts.

Are perks the main reason why someone wants to work with you?

Faced with a red-hot job market, employers are offering perks like free ski passes, complimentary e-readers and on-site acupuncture to attract and retain quality employees.

These benefits are certainly fun and may help attract top talent. Certainly, some people may jump at the chance to work at a firm that offers in-house yoga and spin classes. But there are organisations where once the lustre wears off, employees begin to see that these benefits are simply camouflage over a toxic work environment.

They speculate that such perks are provided simply to entice employees to never leave as opposed to rewarding them for jobs well done. Catered lunches and dinners might make employees think that leaving the office for meals is frowned upon, while free trips cause sceptical workers to question whether they’ll be able to make their own holiday plans or do as the company dictates.

Workplaces with low employee morale see constant staff turnover, and given today’s job market, employers must work to develop positive, healthy workplaces that entice top talent.

Dedicating resources to the benefits that matter most — competitive compensation and respect for a healthy work-life balance, to name just two — will help ensure that workers join the right firms and stick around.

So how can businesses build and sustain a positive culture? It starts the day they receive a prospective hire’s résumé.

Promote Timely Hiring Practices

Many businesses drag out the hiring process and make prospective hires fret for weeks after they take an interview. That might rubs applicants the wrong way.

Some people believe that waiting just one to two weeks after an interview for an offer was “too long.”

These lengthy response times might cause prospective employees to lose interest in the role and pursue other job openings. Yes? Or No?

Should Employers……

Put their best foot forward the moment an applicant submits their résumé?

Interview all candidates on-site and make sure that everyone who needs to meet with the applicant is available that day.

Offer applicants a chance to see the office and meet their potential co-workers, which allows candidates to quickly assess the company’s culture for themselves.

Let prospective hires know when they can expect to hear back once the interview has concluded?

Update candidates as soon as possible if there’s a delay in the decision-making process.

Employers also must make sure that they’re giving employees what they want. Workers aren’t as interested in extravagant perks as employers may think.

According to a survey by software firm Qualtrics and venture capital firm Accel Partners, 80 percent of millennials rank in-office perks as the least important benefit when considering a new job.

The same survey found that millennials want a workplace that fosters a sense of pride and offers competitive compensation, a positive culture, opportunities to advance and flexible hours.

Getting the Fit Right

According to “The Secrets of the Happiest Companies and Employees,” a survey of 12,000 workers by Robert Half in collaboration with engagement-analytics company Happiness Works, the biggest factor affecting worker happiness is the sense of pride an employee takes in their job.

Workers who share a company’s vision derive more meaning, satisfaction, and happiness from their jobs than employees who see their work as a mere paycheck.

But employees also want competitive compensation, and they want their managers to be proactive about giving it to them.

Ninety percent of workers think they deserve a raise, but only 44 percent planned to ask for one in 2017. In fact, many professionals would rather be cleaning their house, getting a root canal or being audited by the IRS before asking for a raise.

Given this hesitancy, employers need to be proactive. They should clearly communicate guidelines for raises and they should be more vigilant about ensuring that they’re paying competitive salaries. It’s no longer enough to compare salaries once a year.

In today’s job market, employers should strive to cross-compare salaries at least twice a year, if not quarterly.

To that end, managers also should set up meetings with their employees to discuss compensation.

These meetings can help professionals understand the factors affecting compensation levels and the steps needed to earn a raise.

Recognising workers’ successes with consistent compliments and encouragement costs managers nothing but makes employees feel valued.

In fact, nearly 1 in 2 employees ranked management’s recognition as “very important” to their job satisfaction, according to a survey of 600 U.S. employees by the Society for Human Resource Management.

Workers also want an opportunity to climb the company ladder. Prospective hires consider advancement as one of the chief considerations of taking a job, according to that same SHRM survey.

Finally, a company culture that gives employees the flexibility to attend to their private lives is of high importance to employees.

More than half of workers are willing to change jobs for a position that offers more flexible working hours, according to the Gallup survey. This is understandable, given that today’s workers spend an average of 49 minutes commuting each day, according to my company’s research.

Businesses can offer this work-life balance by allowing telecommuting where it makes sense and bringing in project workers when the core team is overwhelmed.
Following these guidelines would do wonders to attract and retain workers as well as boost employee happiness.

The Benefits of Happy and Engaged Workers

When employees are invested in their work and committed to doing their jobs well, company productivity also improves. According to the Gallup survey, business units that score in the top quartile of their companies on measures of worker engagement experience 41 percent less absenteeism compared to the lowest quartile of units. They are 17 percent more productive. These companies also are 21 percent more profitable, the survey noted.

Happy and engaged workers are also considerably less likely to leave their jobs, thereby reducing turnover-related costs.
By comparison, when workers are not engaged, the company’s bottom line suffers. One disengaged employee costs his company more than $2,200 per year, according to a study by ADP. That equates to hundreds of billions of dollars overall.

At a moment when talented employees are increasingly hard to come by, attracting top talent requires more than quirky company perks. Businesses need to invest in creating the kind of workplace culture that supports happy, engaged employees.

If they don’t, their most valuable workers will have no trouble finding the exit no matter how many trips to posh Caribbean resorts they are offered.

R.I.S.E to recognise

Let’s be honest. We all like to be recognised and acknowledged for our efforts no matter how big they are. The art of recognition is a skill that should be learnt and applied to all our workforces. By smart application of recognition, you will find a significantly more enjoyable, relaxed and productive workplace.

The Power of Recognition
People work better when they are recognised for their time and effort. A 2016 Bersin report found that CEOs and HR leaders believe that creating a better culture for their employees, with regular, frequent feedback and recognition, needs to be a top priority if their organisations want to experience better business results overall.

Be it bonuses, awards, rewards, a virtual gold star, or a simple shout out on social media, fostering a culture of recognition drives higher levels of engagement, which translates into improved performance and better results.

In fact, organisations with highly engaged workplaces outperform their peers by 147 percent in earnings per share.1 When it comes to the key drivers of engagement, recognition ranked at the top of the list (at 72 percent) as having the greatest impact for employees, according to a HBR 2013 study.

The question isn’t whether to start building a recognition culture,
but how to get started.

24% of respondents say employees in their organisation are highly engaged.
71% of respondents rank employee engagement as very important to achieving overall organisational success.
72% of respondents rank recognition given for high performers as having a significant impact on employee engagement.2

Recognising Today’s Workforce

Today’s workforce is hyper-connected, fluent on multiple platforms, multigenerational, global, and always on. Generally, they are highly influenced by the prevailing millennial culture, which values frequent feedback, transparency, learning & development opportunities and a desire to be appreciated for their time, energy and skills.

They value the chance to collaborate, understanding that work is a collective endeavour. They support each other’s efforts, and expect their managers will do the same. They want to be challenged, but above all else, they want to feel a sense of alignment with a company’s mission and values.3

Inclusivity Encourages Engagement
Using antiquated rewards such as gold watches and plaques for recognition is a thing of the past. The promise that after years of toil, you’ll receive an embossed something-or-other?

Probably not in line with this workforce’s expectations.

Deloitte’s 2017 survey on millennials found that most of its 8,000 respondents prefer company leadership that makes a concerted effort to be inclusive.
In millennials terms, inclusivity can pertain to the encouragement of ideas, a sense of purpose and free-flowing communication. In keeping with this overarching shift towards openness and inclusivity, recognition should reflect these values. Don’t withhold individual recognition, but make sure it’s done in context — with an understanding that everyone deserves a chance to shine and is measured by the same criteria.
After clearly communicated recognition criteria are established, recognise employees in a public fashion. In keeping with the highly social nature of the millennial workforce, encourage them to share as well, both within and outside the organisation.

Praising employees on rare occasions is not the way to drive better behaviours, or deepen engagement. Bersin by Deloitte found that organisations practicing timely and frequent recognition have 14 percent better employee engagement, productivity and customer service.5
However, we’re only beginning to climb out of an appreciation deficit, according to “The Greatness Gap,” a 2015 survey of the North American workforce. The study, conducted by Achievers, found that just 41 percent of employees felt they were recognised at their preferred frequency, and 60 percent felt their managers did not provide sufficient in-the-moment feedback.
Even more telling, over half (53 percent) said they didn’t feel recognised for their achievements at work at all.6 That represents a tremendous opportunity for employers to pick up the slack.
41% of employees felt they were recognized at their prefer felt their managers did not provide sufficient in-the-moment f
Two Sides to Social
In a workforce that shares everything, one voice of discontent can amplify and compound the effect of isolated negative sentiment. A recent Gallup study noted that actively disengaged employees may act out their unhappiness, undermining the work of their co-workers.

Rather than having disgruntled employees sharing their complaints on Twitter and Glassdoor, why not make it easy for them to share their positive sentiments in the form of recognitions and compliments for a job well done? Any worthwhile recognition platform will allow for social sharing of recognition moments and this kind of positive social sharing tends to go viral, spreading engagement throughout the organisation and beyond.

Driving Behaviours, Aligning Values
A successful recognition program should be calibrated to the values and goals of an organisation, allowing colleagues to recognise one another for personifying those values while achieving desired business goals. Recognitions should be regular, immediate, specific, and encouraging – Achievers suggests the acronym R.I.S.E. to keep this top of mind.

Recognitions should reinforce great efforts and praise good habits such as-outside-the-box innovation by a creative team, an 11th-hour effort in a quarterly push, or going out of one’s way to help a peer with a challenging project. Regular affirmation of this sort helps sync company and employee values by infusing recognition organically into the culture.
The goal is for giving recognition to become as natural as taking a coffee break – a form of emotional caffeine: A window pops open on a desktop allowing a co-worker to offer quick praise for a well-run meeting; an executive posts a heartfelt thanks to a team that’s instantly seen by the entire organisation; a C.E.O. awards points to a whole department for great work on a special project.
As employees start to recognise their peers with an increased frequency, a culture of recognition begins to take root.

Recognise your employees at least once a week. Build a routine in your schedule that will allow you time to focus on recognition.

The sooner you can recognise an individual for a particular behaviour, the more likely they will repeat it.

Give meaningful recognition that is of personal importance to the recipient.

Encourage your employees to recognise their peers. A culture of recognition will only be achieved once everyone is involved in the process.

Multiple Formats and Flowing Data
Recognition can come in many forms, but the two most common are monetary (often via a points-based rewards system), and “social” recognitions – a cheer, shout-out, or other brief public commendation. Both should identify and offer praise for desired behaviours: commitment, productivity, and the exertion of discretionary effort.
Offering both monetary and social recognitions allows employees at all levels, in all directions, including the C-suite to participate in the recognition program, not just those with a point’s budget. For managers, a well-designed recognition program offers many benefits such as the ability to keep track of recognition history as a way of bolstering team performance data and people analytics.
This is where having a central recognition platform in place can have an even greater impact on an organisation. It provides a way for the company to learn from itself, generating a constant flow of meaningful data, providing managers and leaders with a way to continuously adjust their bearings and strategies as necessary. It’s also a way for employees to check on their own performance, providing insight into their strengths and areas of achievement.

A powerful, high-quality recognition platform should include the following features and attributes:

Accessibility: Above all else, an effective employee engagement solution must actually be used by employees. A highly intuitive platform offering a joyful employee experience will help ensure the chosen platform is being used.
Alignment: How employees are aligned to the organisation’s vision, and values.
Centralisation: The ability to unify disparate programs to reduce administrative burden on managers and HR employees.
Cloud-based: Utilising the latest technology for accessibility and cost effectiveness.
Configurable: Allowing organisations the ability to create events, contests, and custom images that reflect the look, feel, branding and unique goals of their company.
Global: Spanning business locations around the globe, providing an organisationally unified platform.
Integration: Assimilated into daily business functions and commonly used tools and platforms. Achievers refers to this as, “recognition in the flow of work.”
Multifaceted: Allowing the recognition and rewarding of daily achievements, goals and priorities met, as well as rewards for milestones or targets such as sales initiatives or customer satisfaction scores.
Scalable and Open: Allowing for integration with health & wellness, learning & development, and other key drivers of engagement.
Security: The right platform should leverage ISO 27001, the highest security standard for software providers. Or a platform that works for you best.
Socially-enabled: Optimised for unfettered peer-to-peer recognition and easy social sharing.
Strategic: Tying recognition criteria to real business goals and outcomes, both daily and longer term.
Support for multiple platforms and mediums (desktop, mobile, etc.): Allowing employees to access the platform from the device of their choice to increase user adoption and encourage frequency of use.

Recognition in Action: Cases in Point
The two organisations below provide compelling evidence of the power of a well-designed recognition program. For both, it solved a host of challenges, including reinforcing values and goals within one central, consolidated platform. It propelled employee engagement and drove performance — as clearly shown in the success metrics below.

Ericsson, a communication and tech services giant (managing some 2.5 billion subscribers globally), already had a range of manual recognition programs in place. But between them, there was no cohesion. The company needed a recognition program for its North American division that would connect 15,000 employees across 30+ locations.

Company leadership was looking for an enterprise-wide platform that would encourage and support shared goals and values, innovation in particular, and enable the HR team to automate recognition among employees, track program spend, and use program data to link recognition to business results.

After considering a number of options, the solution they selected was the Achievers Recognition and Engagement platform. It was quickly adopted by Ericsson’s employees, soon becoming the most widely-utilised voluntary enterprise platform the organisation had ever implemented. Ericsson credits the program’s success on the platform’s intuitiveness, and the popularity and “stickiness” of social recognition, which consistently reinforces employee achievements and behaviours.

As most of the recognitions given and received through the platform are social (non-monetary) recognitions, the program stayed on budget. It also featured modules for team-based activities, engagement pulses, manager insights, points purchasing, and sales campaign management.

Functionally, the platform was up and running upon implementation. It required no downtime, even to install the frequent updates pushed into the platform to further expand its scope.

An effective recognition program can transform culture, even in some of the most high-pressure fields. Consider employees in the health insurance and medical profession who have a high rate of turnover, yet are on the front lines, working with people dealing with stress, tragedy, and various physical maladies.

Research has shown a strong correlation between recognition and employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and revenue growth.8

With that in mind, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ) wanted a program that could boost engagement among their 5,000 employees spread out over (at that time) four locations.

They wanted to replace the company’s manual recognition program with a more modern, automated approach that would appeal to today’s social media-savvy employees, and would allow them to create and post recognitions to each other, on a peer-to-peer level. They also wanted to enable the HR team to use the data generated by the program to link recognition to business results.

Horizon BCBSNJ originally rolled out its Step It Up Employee Recognition Program in 2013, and encouraged employees to recognise each other for living company values. The program caught on like wildfire, with over 90 percent of employees enrolling in the program by the end of the year. Utilisation was also immediate, particularly among the company’s leadership team, who continue to be the most active set of users on the platform four years later.

Since launching the program, Horizon BCBSNJ has seen a 6 percent bump in its overall engagement scores, putting it 5 percentage points above its target, the IBM benchmark of 70 percent. In addition, Horizon BCBSNJ has seen a 14 percent improvement in engagement survey results related to recognition, which is particularly noteworthy when considering Horizon BCBSNJ went from below the IBM benchmark in this category to Best in Class status in just three years.
The ability to so easily offer praise has transformed Horizon BCBSNJ’s culture into one of engagement:

6% increase in its overall engagement scores

14% improvement in engagement survey results related to recognition

97% activation rate for its Step It Up Employee Recognition Program

Adopting a recognition program is a proven method for organisations to move the needle on employee engagement and gain alignment around core values and desired behaviours.

With the right measurement tools in place, they can begin to assess the level of engagement in their company as they move forward and adjust accordingly. A single cloud-based platform that supports both social and rewards-based recognition can help unify a company around a shared culture of recognition. It can serve to unify flaws in former rewards efforts that are disjointed and inconsistent, replacing them with a level of transparency and control that provides a clear picture of program goals and desired values.

It should offer a tangible, trackable return on investment – key for executive buy-in. A great recognition program should also boost employer brand on multiple fronts as employees share praise across social networks, conveying the image of the company as a great place to work, which serves to attract top candidates.
Inviting participation and offering frequent feedback tailored to the specific needs of an organisation is a powerful way to galvanise a company’s greatest asset: its people.

1 Gallup, “Q12 Meta Analysis,” May 2016 2016.aspx
2 HBR, “The Impact of Employee Engagement on Performance,” September 2013
3 Deloitte, “The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey,” 2016 About-Deloitte/gx-millenial-survey-2016-exec-summary.pdf
4 ibid
5 Bersin by Deloitte, “The State of Employee Recognition in 2012”
6 Achievers, “The Greatness Gap,” 2015 disengagement/
7 ibid
8 HBR, “The Impact of Employee Engagement on Performance,” September 2013

Talking business across the globe.

As the world becomes smaller communication and language between businesses(especially if they are not of your own tongue), can create obstacles. How is this overcome??

Over the past decade, the pace of globalisation has accelerated. Cross-border business has become increasingly complex, and organisations must adapt to succeed. Many executive teams are tasked with devising policies and strategies to cope with ongoing globalisation
and prepare their workforce for the realities of working cross-culturally with people from disparate backgrounds. How can organisations thrive in the global economy?

English language knowledge is imperative for organisations looking to break into the North American market and beyond, as English remains the lingua franca of the business world. Yet as other regions rise to prominence on the world stage, organisations wanting
a more global presence need region-specific language learning as well, either to entice new customers or recruit potential employees. Thus, globalisation speaks
to the need for second language acquisition.

“Language acquisition applies to everyone in business, from front-line employees to the CEO,” says Armin Hopp, founder and president of Speexx. “Any customer-facing role that deals with international customers can benefit from online language training, as a better understanding
of the customers they serve can lead to higher levels of service and increased customer satisfaction rates.

Language training programs can also reduce mistakes and miscommunications while minimising expenses.” Hopp says that when developing a training program (either online or through a blended solution), it’s crucial to set goals and expectations and be prepared to meet
the program’s unique challenges.

The benefits of language training programs are numerous.

Second language acquisition offers several benefits to both employers and employees. One strategic benefit is increasing employee engagement. “Language training programs appeal to a wide range of workers as a tool for increasing employee engagement, especially if the organisation is international,” Hopp says.

“They’re particularly important for executives managing international teams — being able to confidently and effectively communicate with your colleagues is crucial in creating trust and mutual respect. Also, understanding new cultures and languages gives executives a comparative advantage when moving into global markets.”

At the tactical level, successful second language acquisition helps build trust with external partners, increases customer satisfaction, reinforces team camaraderie and reduces miscommunication. The more people understand each other and are fine-tuned to picking up more, larger differences, the higher the tolerance threshold and the easier it is to work together, avoid mistakes and learn faster from them when they do occur. Internal and external communications need to be sent and understood at the highest level.

Language training can go far toward building trust, especially between the sales team and potential customers. “The employee benefits are just as far-reaching,” Hopp says. “Language acquisition transcends organisations and follows employees throughout their careers. By
investing in language training, organisations prove their commitment to employees’ professional development and their human capital, increasing employee
satisfaction and encouraging retention.”

Intercultural communication is a necessary component to language learning. Organisations need people who understand the culture of the target market. “One side of language training is the technical side,” Hopp says. “The other side is being able to understand the business context of how and why words are spoken and delivered. Even the speed and etiquette of writing and
answering emails can have cultural differences.

Knowing when your team or your customers prefer emails to face-to-face meetings will help to increase positive communication outcomes.” Employee motivation is a key factor in language learning success¹, which can be increased by connecting employees’ outside interests to
language learning through intercultural training. industry insights

Lay the groundwork to mitigate challenges

Having pre-emptive conversations with all stakeholders about language learning program impact should mitigate any potential stakeholder issues. “Management buy-in is critical for successful program implementation,” Hopp says.

“Managers will want to know what the outcomes of language learning will be, as there’s a conviction in management that increasing soft skills directly benefits the bottom line. At the same time when you’re talking to your managers, make sure you’re addressing any concerns
your IT team might have, to reduce implementation challenges on the technical side.”
These days, organisations have more options for their language learning than strictly in-person training.

“There are many advantages to online or blended language learning programs,” Hopp says. “They’re faster, cheaper and more flexible than traditional methods. At the same time, online blended learning programs allow for face to-face learning through the human cloud, providing personalised learning opportunities and one-on-one attention. Blended solutions offer the best of both worlds, with the ease of digital and the attention of in person training.”

Encouraging employees to learn a new language has many benefits, from increased customer satisfaction and reduced risk, to greater sales opportunities for sales in new markets. By motivating employees to learn a second or third language, organisations prove their commitment to development, boosting employee engagement and giving organisations an edge over the global competition.

1 Karaoglu, S. (2008). “Motivating Language Learners to Succeed.” Compleat Links, TESOL International Association.

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.


The number of sick days per year

The rate at which employee absenteeism has risen since 2010

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


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

92 Million
Working days lost in Australia per year

The percentage of payroll that this loss accounts for in total

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

The average amount(per employee) that a business loses tot employee absenteeism annually


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.


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?