Choose your wellness program with for a reason.

Being in the health and wellness game for a few years now you see all sorts of programs in place and I wander often if they are really that effective and gaining the benefit of running that chosen program or product.

When looking at your health and wellness program, there should be a reason behind it: Mental, physical, social, educational, spiritual or a combination of one or more of those factors.

Maximum participation would also be ideal. There will be naysayers and wall flowers, but with enough thought and reasoning behind your choice of program, you will see everyone participating and enjoying the benefits. Don’t be afraid to ask your employees what their interests are. After all, it is also about them.

In recent years, the standing desk has become a trendy workplace accessory — one that seems to breed inexplicably overnight.

One day Phil from the IT help desk has one … and then suddenly, the entire office is hopping from foot to foot while chatting on the phone to a client.
But do they really improve our health, or make us more productive? Some studies indicate they do have benefits, but others are more sceptical.

In Australian workplaces, wellness initiatives are becoming a commonplace phenomenon.
And while standing desks, office yoga classes and gym memberships are all nice things to have on offer at work, the jury is still out on whether they actually make us healthier, or better at our jobs.

A growing body of research actually suggests that without a targeted and well thought out approach, workplace wellness initiatives often fail to yield results.
But conversely, ignoring employee health costs money too.

The cost of absenteeism in Australia is estimated at $7 billion each year, while presenteeism — defined as not fully functioning at work because of a medical condition — was recently estimated to cost the economy more than $34 billion a year.

Studies have shown that properly designed wellness programs can deliver significant benefits, with an average rate of return of between 2:1 and 5:1 for every dollar spent.
Encouragingly, a 2014 report by Buck Consultants found that about 47 per cent of companies in Australia offered some kind of health promotion service to employees — but only about half of those had measured, specific outcomes.

Occupational physician Niki Ellis said the Australian approach to workplace wellness programs was somewhat “immature”.

Prolonged periods of stress can make going to work seem like a nightmare. So whose responsibility is workplace stress?

“There is scope for improvement here in the way investment in this area is being made,” Professor Ellis said.

Professor Ellis said while usually well-intentioned, often wellness programs both here and abroad were not very strategic.

She used an example from Harvard Professor Gloria Sorenson, a leading authority on workplace wellness programs, to illustrate her point.

“It’s my favourite story about why wellness bits and pieces, just introduced into a workplace without integrating them carefully into an overall strategy for health, is probably not going to work,” she said.

“She was running quit smoking programs in the workplace and she started to deliver those in foundries.

“And she could see the irony of her very earnestly encouraging workers to quit smoking, when all around them were these toxic fumes and heat.”

The health benefits the workers might have received from quitting smoking were negated by the very environment they were working in.

“You can’t really expect workers to be anything other than a bit sceptical when you’re doing that in a hazardous working environment,” she said.

In the United States, where health insurance for staff is often paid for by employers, the push to identify workplace wellness initiatives that deliver results is more established than in Australia.

A 2015 report by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that the best corporate wellness programs addressed both the individual risk factors affecting employees’ health, and the organisational factors that helped or hindered employees’ efforts to reduce those risks.

It found the strongest programs created a culture of health, intertwining individual health promotion efforts with the overall company goals and objectives.
The best programs were also created in consultation with staff.
Honest Tea, an organic drink company based in Bethesda, Maryland, was used as a case study in the report.

The company’s headquarters were deliberately placed next to biking and walking trails to encourage physical activity, and staff were given access to a wellness coach who gave advice on diet, weight management, and quitting smoking.
Initially the company also offered yoga and meditation classes at work, but participation was low.

By polling their staff, who were primarily quite young, the company found out that their employees wanted more intense activities. As a result, Honest Tea now offers boot camp workouts and rock climbing events, and participation exceeds 50 per cent.
For Honest Tea — a company founded on principles of health — these investments, among others, help maintain a corporate culture and keep employees healthy.

By all means I want to see all workplaces “fit for work” and have an ongoing health and wellness strategy in place. But I also want you all to reap the benefits from the program(s) as well.

Live by your vision and values: Your workplace will take care of itself.

If we look at our companies like a family, how would you like to see it run?

Are you an autocratic parent or a little softer and easy-going.

By no means am I judging or would I ever pass judgement on your parenting style, I just want you to look at your workplace from your employees(children’s) view and see what it might be like.

Creating a human touch and bringing in a positive, supportive culture can rarely go wrong, if at all. After all, it is a lot easier to keep your staff, than having to find new staff.

Here are three points which can really create such a positive, proactive environment that your employees will not want to leave.

1. Put Employees First. Organisations that succeed put their own people first because they recognise that their employees are the key to creating long-term value. It’s not just giving employees free food. It’s feeding their souls and creating an environment where they can have an impact.

Listen to your employees to inform your culture. As Pinterest’s Head of Culture Cat Lee told me, “We created Pinterest by collaborating with our Pinners, and similarly we create our culture by collaborating with the people who are at Pinterest.”

Define your company values and connect daily work back to the mission. For example, freedom is one of the five values at Grokker. Every week we have Work-From-Home-Wednesday, and the whole company participates. We give employees the freedom to take care of themselves and their families, and in response they commit to the company.

2. Prioritise Employee Well-being. The more effectively leadership supports employee well-being, the more likely employees are to experience engagement, loyalty, job satisfaction and positive energy at work. This in turn lowers stress and increases overall positive sentiment toward the company.

The cost of presenteeism — where employees show up for work but don’t perform at full capacity — is 10 times the cost of absenteeism, according to a Global Corporate Challenge report. Rather than focusing on how to keep employees from taking sick time, target productivity while employees are already at work by prioritising well-being.

Employees expect a wellness experience that is built into every work day, like nutrition awareness and exercise-friendly workplaces. You don’t even need to spend money to see impact. Employees who are able to take a break every 90 minutes report a 30 percent higher level of focus than those who get no breaks or only one. They also report a nearly 50 percent greater capacity to think creatively and a 46 percent higher level of health and wellbeing. Identify low-budget, high-impact ways to prioritise the wellness of your workforce. Companies can, for example, schedule 10-minute group stretch breaks at 10am and 2pm daily or stream a video to do together

3. Rethink the Employee Experience. IBM’s Employee Experience Index study found that employees with a sense of purpose and enthusiasm in their work are more likely to perform at higher levels and contribute “above and beyond” expectations for their performance — and are less likely to quit.

Move beyond perks and one-off engagement programs to create a seamless, holistic employee experience that inspires people to do their best work. Instead of thinking about how to solve specific problems, brainstorm ideas that focus on the greater goal: creating a powerful employee experience.

Here’s a very simple metric you can employ to measure your employee experience: Employee Net Promoter Score. Inspired by the gold-standard metric for consumer satisfaction, eNPS is used to understand employees’ overall engagement with the company. Have employees rate their feelings on the simple statement, “I would recommend my workplace to others” on a 10-point scale. Employees with 9+ ratings are generally considered promoters, while those with ratings ranging from 0-6 and 7-8 are labeled as detractors and passive, respectively. Use this formula: Employee net promoter score (eNPS) = % promoters – % detractors.

Research demonstrates that when we give our employees what they want — purpose, belonging and balance — the business sees success. Since 1998, the companies on the Fortune ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ list have consistently outperformed the S&P 500 stock index by a ratio of almost two to one. There’s a reason the same companies consistently make these lists. They recognise that listening to their employees, putting their needs first and promoting their strengths and capabilities promotes happiness and produces results.

IQ or EQ in the workplace. Which is best?

As business professionals, we pride ourselves on our technical skills, industry expertise, and innovation. These hard skills are what make our resumes stand out, but ultimately they’re only one part of the equation. According to Harvard Business Review, emotional intelligence (EQ) is “the key attribute that distinguishes outstanding performers,” and is the leading differentiator between employees whose IQ and technical skills are approximately the same. In fact, in a 2015 study, TalentSmart found that EQ is the strongest predictor of work performance, accounting for 58% of success in all fields.

In a business world increasingly dependent on negotiation, compromise, and collaboration, the importance of Emotional Intelligence cannot be understated. EQ can make or break client relationships, our work environment, and our ability to successfully communicate with our colleagues. Consider these 5 ways to grow your interpersonal skills.

1. Seek Self-Awareness: Being honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses is crucial to developing higher EQ. Do you tend to lose patience when team meetings get off track? Do your customer service skills need work? Take note of areas for improvement, and seek ways to improve your work relationships by practicing patience, empathy, and understanding. In doing so, you develop key soft skills that will boost your performance and increase the quality of your work life.

2. Eliminate Emotional Interference: Studies reveal that our brains process an emotional reaction before we can logically react to a provocation, and it takes up to 20 minutes to recover from an emotional stimulus. Before letting visceral reaction take over cerebral reason, acknowledge any stress or anxiety you’re feeling and resolve it before moving forward. Calm yourself with a short walk, meditation, or a cup of tea, and then revisit the situation without negative emotions influencing your actions.

3. Evaluate Objectively: Whether we’re dealing with a difficult client, or still smarting after an offhanded comment from a coworker, depersonalising the situation is key for maintaining healthy relationships. We tend to assume that people act or speak in relation to us personally; when in reality they do and say things because of themselves, not us. Don’t take everything personally, and strive to accept other’s actions as a reflection of them instead of you.

4. Proactive, Not Reactive: When issues arise, decide your next move based upon what will resolve the problem most effectively. Taking a reactionary approach by retaliating, going straight to your manager, or giving up on a client will only create more challenges down the line. Instead, seek solutions that address your counterpart’s concerns and prevent future conflict. Deciding to act proactively instead of reactively demonstrates the EQ skills of self-management, emotional intuition, and empathy.

5. Act with Empathy: One of the greatest indicators of Emotional Intelligence is empathy, or our ability to understand another’s feelings and perspective. Be sensitive to emotional signals such as tone of voice, body language, and eye contact to understand why your counterpart is feeling a certain way. Then, evaluate your course of action in relation to their viewpoint, so that you’re providing the best service for their situation.

Whatever workplace situations arise, handling them with Emotional Intelligence fosters healthy relationships and long-term professional success. Remember these five insights to boost performance, grow your soft skills, and create a positive work environment.

Where did we come from(corporate wellness)?

Wellness for workplaces has been around for quite some time now. But did you know that its history stretches back more than a century?

These early initiatives (think executive stretching and employee housing) aren’t necessarily what we think of when we think of wellness.

Corporate wellness began with an occupational health-focused program for executives — which paved the way for the programs we see today.

THE EARLY DAYS

The roots of corporate wellness predate the first World War.Ford and other manufacturers invested in these early programs because they thought they’d see increased production out of healthier employees. These initiatives were the exception, not the rule — and they were crude by today’s standards. But they started a revolution. Companies saw the benefits of a vital workforce, and they began tapping into the programs long before the establishment of health insurance.
By World War II, major companies had introduced corporate health and
wellness benefits.

1879 Pullman Company establishes an athletic association in its employee-only housing
1880-1900 National Cash Register institutes twice-daily exercise breaks and builds an
employee gym
1926 Ford introduces the 40-hour work week
1930s Hershey Foods builds a recreation complex for its employees

1950s — 1970s
Post-World War II, companies started paying for employee healthcare coverage and offering employee assistance programs and other benefits.

In conjunction with the Surgeon General’s report of the dangers of cigarette smoking,
leaders began to understand that their employees’ behavioural decisions affected the
state of their health.

Even so, leaders were mostly concerned with illness prevention — only one small aspect of a person’s well-being. Their primary concern was to prevent absences and injuries in the workplace, rather than promoting healthy behaviours in their employees.

1950s-1960s Companies like Texas Instruments,Rockwell and Xerox all launch employee
fitness centres
1965 The U.S. Congress passes the Cigarette Labelling and Advertising Act
1970 The U.S. Dept. of Labor establishes Occupational Health and Safety Administration to prevent workplace accidents and injuries
LATE
1970s
The first smoking cessation programs launch

1980s — EARLY 2000s

In the late 20th century, programs like smoking cessation, stress management and
nutrition became commonplace. Focused on treating high-cost employees, companies created employee wellness programs that only targeted those with the highest risk for health issues. Leaders (especially in the ’90s) felt this was the most efficient use of their resources since these employees cost more to insure. But low participation rates and high failure rates made these programs unsuccessful.

By the early 2000s, research from Dee Edington overhauled this high-risk-only approach. Edington found that people naturally flow from high-risk to medium and to low-risk, and from low-risk to medium to high risk. So the best programs encourage healthy behaviours from everyone, in addition to helping the high-risk population reduce risks. This realisation shed light on a key component of wellness: the importance of the well-being
of all employees

EARLY 1980s Johnson & Johnson is the first company to release reports that tie the effectiveness of wellness programs to the productivity and profitability of the company
1982 The world’s first wireless wearable heart rate monitor becomes commercially
available
1984 Boeing is one of the first large companies to ban smoking in the workplace
1992 USDA publishes the Food Guide Pyramid
2001 Dee Edington introduces “Changing the Natural Flow” concept, revolutionising the
wellness industry

MID-2000s TO PRESENT

Some companies never got out of the healthcare-costs-only trap of wellness. As healthcare expenses continued to spiral upward, they depended on wellness providers to help them keep these costs in check. But punitive measures against unhealthy employees — such as increasing premium costs — became less and less effective as diminishing returns on these programs set in. This model drove employees away from the
program, which ultimately led to its failure.

Companies that spent so much time on the employees who were most expensive to insure missed the point. They ignored all the other employees who needed encouragement and a number of other factors that play a role in the well-being of their people — including
stress level, job satisfaction, fitness, nutrition and sleep.

2002 WebMD Health Services forms
2003 Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are established
2005-2007 Insurers add wellness components that primarily focus on disease management
2010 The Affordable Care Act passes
2011 NIOSH launches the Total Worker Health (TWH) Program
2012 A record number of employers controversially ban tobacco use, even at home, while obesity rates (and the costs associated with it) continue to rise
2013 Launch of healthcare exchanges

The Internet, along with social media sites,such as Facebook and Twitter, brought forth
and shared new ways of thinking and new fields of research. Around the same time, Daniel Pink wrote on motivation, BJ Fogg spoke on Tiny Habits, Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman researched positive psychology and Dr. Laura Hamill applied behavioural science to the workplace.

These thought leaders blazed the trail for the masses to adopt these philosophies and
behaviours for a more holistic, mindful lifestyle.

2009-2011
Fitness trackers from Fitbit, Jawbone and Nike bring everyday exercise monitoring mainstream
2011-PRESENT Studies show that the risk factors of sleep, stress and depression can be as high as traditional health-only markers (like high BMI and metabolic syndrome)
2014 Corporate wellness industry is worth more than $40 billion. 79% of U.S. companies offer a wellness program

Corporate wellness is about your people. Within the last decade, employers have started
taking a holistic approach that embraces the whole employee — not just their health risks. And there’s a lot of evidence that shows the value of creating an authentic program that focuses on, engages and challenges the whole employee.
More important, leaders now know they can’t tackle one area of health and well-being and hope for success in all areas. They have to take a whole employee approach
that respects an individual’s physical, mental, social and even financial health.

Resources:
1. Khoury, A. (2014, January 29). The Evolution of Worksite Health. Corporate Wellness Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.corporatewellnessmagazine.com/worksite wellness/the-evolution-of
2. Vesely, R. (2012, July 18). Shaping Up: Workplace Wellness in the ‘80s and Today. Workforce. Retrieved from http://www.workforce.com/articles/shaping-up-workplace-wellness-in-the-80s-and-today
3. National Cancer Institute. (1991). Evolution of Smoking Control Strategies. Monograph 1: Strategies to Control Tobacco Use in the United States (pp. 35-61). Retrieved from http://cancercontrol.cancer.gov/brp/tcrb/monographs/1/m1_2.pdf
4. McLellan, C. (2014, June 2). The History of Wearable Technology: A timeline. ZDNet. Retrieved from http://www.zdnet.com/article/the-history-ofwearable-technology-a-timeline
5. Global Wellness Institute, Global Spa & Wellness Economy Monitor, September 2014. Retrieved from http://www.globalwellnesssummit.com/
images/stories/gsws2014/pdf/GWI_Global_Spa_and_Wellness_Economy_Monitor_Full_Report_Final.pdf
6. O’Donnell, M. P. (2001). Health promotion in the workplace.
7. National Business Group on Health,. (2015). Companies are Spending More on Corporate Wellness Programs but Employees are Leaving Millions on the Table. Retrieved from https://www.businessgrouphealth.org/pressroom/pressRelease.cfm?ID=252
8. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). (2015). Total worker health. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/twh/totalhealth.html
9. National Conference of State Legislatures. State actions on health savings accounts (HSAs) and consumer-directed health plans, 2004-2015. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/hsas-health-savings-accounts.aspx

Who controls the temperature?

One of the first world problems at work I often hear is the that it is too cold or too hot inside the office due to the air conditioning being set either too high or too low.

This of course depends on whether you are male or female. I am talking in stereotypes, but it is not too far from the truth.

Forget negotiations over who takes out the bin, new research suggests that the ideal home temperature is the vexed question most likely to split households down gender lines.

A study found that one third of couples dispute this issue and that four in 10 women covertly turn up the heating behind their partner’s back.

The research, which was sponsored by Corgi Homeplan, a company that installs and maintains boilers and thermostats, probably falls short of the rigours of peer-reviewed science. However, there is strong evidence to back up the idea that women are more sensitive to the cold. A 2015 study by Dutch scientists, for instance, found that women are comfortable at a temperature 2.5C warmer than men, typically between 24-25C.

Men and women have roughly the same core body temperature, at over 37C; in fact, some studies have found the female core body temperature is slightly higher. However, our perception of temperature depends more on skin temperature, which, for women, tends to be lower. One study reported that the average temperature of women’s hands exposed to cold was nearly 3C degrees lower than that observed in men.

The female hormone oestrogen contributes to this because it slightly thickens the blood, reducing the flow to capillaries that supply the body’s extremities. This means that, in women, blood flow to the tips of fingers and toes tends to shut off more readily when it is cold. Research has shown that women tend to feel colder around ovulation, when estrogen levels are high.

The body’s metabolism also plays a role, as this dictates how quickly heat energy is produced and on average, women have a lower metabolic rate than men. In simple terms, higher muscle mass tends to translate to higher resting metabolism, which is linked to burning more calories and higher blood flow, both of which help keep the extremities warm.

Recent research also shows there is a degree of subjectivity in how cold we feel, after demonstrating a phenomenon called “cold contagion”. For couples, perhaps this offers some hope that their temperature preferences will eventually fall into some sort of alignment.

So in conclusion, your comfort and dress at work might really depend on who(male or female) is in charge of the air conditioning.

Regular exercise does improve brain function.

There are plenty of good reasons to be physically active. Big ones include reducing the odds of developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Maybe you want to lose weight, lower your blood pressure, prevent depression, or just look better. Here’s another one, which especially applies to those of us (including me) experiencing the brain fog that comes with age: exercise changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills.

In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart and your sweat glands pumping, appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. Resistance training, balance and muscle toning exercises did not have the same results.

The finding comes at a critical time. Researchers say one new case of dementia is detected every four seconds globally. They estimate that by the year 2050, more than 115 million people will have dementia worldwide.

Exercise and the brain

Exercise helps memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means. The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.

Indirectly, exercise improves mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety. Problems in these areas frequently cause or contribute to cognitive impairment.

Many studies have suggested that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory (the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex) have greater volume in people who exercise versus people who don’t. “Even more exciting is the finding that engaging in a program of regular exercise of moderate intensity over six months or a year is associated with an increase in the volume of selected brain regions,” says Dr. Scott McGinnis, a neurologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School.

Put it to the test

So what should you do? Start exercising! We don’t know exactly which exercise is best. Almost all of the research has looked at walking, including the latest study. “It’s likely that other forms of aerobic exercise that get your heart pumping might yield similar benefits,” says Dr. McGinnis.

How much exercise is required to improve memory? These study participants walked briskly for one hour, twice a week. That’s 120 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week. Standard recommendations advise half an hour of moderate physical activity most days of the week, or 150 minutes a week. If that seems daunting, start with a few minutes a day, and increase the amount you exercise by five or 10 minutes every week until you reach your goal.

If you don’t want to walk, consider other moderate-intensity exercises, such as swimming, stair climbing, tennis, squash, or dancing. Don’t forget that household activities can count as well, such as intense floor mopping, raking leaves, or anything that gets your heart pumping so much that you break out in a light sweat.

Don’t have the discipline to do it on your own let Corporate Health Results provide a program or two to keep your brain active and strong.

After all, they say that exercise is medicine, and that can go on the top of anyone’s list of reasons to work out.

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 Care.com 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!

Meetings

U.S.A
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.

Australia
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!

Chit-Chat

U.S.A
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.

Australia
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

U.S.A
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.

Australia
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.