Creating a feedback culture

Feedback: Whether it comes as a gut-punch or a standing ovation, it’s one of the best ways for us to know if we’re doing something right or wrong. Every business has rules, whether written or unwritten, about how feedback is handled. A strong feedback culture welcomes feedback and uses it to foster the growth of individuals, teams, and the organisation.

A feedback culture is one where employee voices are valued. Instead of being an exploiter of talent, organisations with feedback cultures are investors in talent.

How a Feedback Culture Benefits a Business

How a company incorporates feedback into culture has a great impact on employee engagement. A recent infographic shows that feedback initiatives, such as one-on-one meetings, formal recognition programs, and annual employee surveys, are far more common at highly engaged companies.

Organisations with a strong feedback culture let their employees’ voices lead company improvements, whether facilitating a merger transition, reducing turnover, or improving company communication. In addition, many companies see financial improvements when they listen to employee feedback.

Designing a feedback culture isn’t something that just happens; it’s intentional. So how can you create a stronger feedback culture to improve employee performance? Here are 10 tips:

1. Nurture a Growth Mindset

People with a growth mindset believe their abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. They view their innate abilities as a starting point and have a love for learning.

Strong feedback cultures value this mindset. They value learning and development. They view feedback as an opportunity to improve. And they don’t just say they value these things; they show it and integrate it into their business. Here are a few ways you can nurture the growth mindset in your organisation:

Make it part of your hiring process: Is the candidate is a lifelong learner? Does the candidate independently pursue growth? How does the candidate talk about and respond to failure?

Financially invest in growth: Offer an annual professional development allowance, provide access to internal or external learning opportunities, offer tuition reimbursement, cover professional license or certificate costs, etc.

Recognise growing and getting better: Outputs aren’t the only thing worthy of recognition. Regularly recognise employees when they’re investing in their growth.
Lead with vulnerability: Strong leaders admit weaknesses and show willingness to take and learn from feedback. Be transparent about where the organisation and leadership can improve.

2. Provide Feedback Training

Both giving and receiving feedback are skills. What’s more, their skills that are rarely developed. To support a feedback culture, provide training and resources to your employees.

Share how to’s on giving and receiving employee feedback
Show videos or let employees observe examples of good and bad feedback interactions
Train employees on how to communicate feedback effectively
Help employees understand their resistance to feedback
Train them on asking questions, seeking examples, and clarifying meaning Develop manager skills in setting development goals for employees and helping them achieve those goals.

3. Set the Tone From the Top

Like any element that you want to make part of your organisational culture, it starts at the top. Receiving and giving feedback well must be modelled. Your leaders must hone these skills and set the example. They must ask for feedback (up and down the hierarchy and sideways) and visibly show that they receive feedback well. And they must do it again and again.

4. Create a Feedback-Safe Environment

Getting a feedback culture to work relies on one important factor: having employees who are willing to give honest feedback. Employees need to feel safe and know that if they give feedback they won’t face negative repercussions. This starts with building trusting relationships and is reinforced by how feedback is received.

Different employees will have different comfort levels with both giving and receiving feedback. It’s important to be respectful and not force feedback. Use emotional intelligence to gauge whether a person is ready to give or receive feedback, and if you can’t tell, ask.

5. Set Clear Expectations Around Feedback

If giving and receiving feedback well is an important aspect of your culture, it must be made clear. Communicate and communicate again. Set organisational expectations around what feedback looks like in your organisation:

Who gives it?
Who receives it?
How often does it occur?
How do we do it?
What is the goal of feedback?

6. Make it Routine

Practice makes perfect, or at least it makes better. When feedback happens routinely, it becomes expected; it integrates into everyday operations; and we get better at it.

Culture is made up of shared traditions, habits, artefacts, and language. Look for opportunities to create these shared experiences around giving and receiving feedback.

7. Use a Few Feedback Channels

A feedback culture doesn’t only have one way to give or receive feedback. Different people prefer different feedback channels. Different situations call for different feedback channels. By providing a variety of feedback channels, you give employees the opportunity to give feedback in a way that they’re most comfortable in different situations.

A mixture of attributed and anonymous feedback, one-on-one and 360 feedback, individual and group feedback, and face-to-face and written feedback can help ensure that you’re providing the right platform to receive different types of feedback.

8. Nurture Positive and Corrective Feedback

Sure everyone loves positive feedback. But if you only focus on positive feedback, you risk ignoring problems and stagnating the growth of your employees. On the other hand, if you only focus on corrective feedback, you risk ignoring successes and undervaluing employee contributions. Strike the right balance of positive and corrective feedback, and provide outlets for employees to give and receive both on a regular basis.

9. Highlight Decisions Made Based on Feedback

It’s simple. When you make a decision or change based on someone’s feedback, let them know. Don’t only focus on communicating the decision or change; focus on the why. “Why did we do this? Because of your feedback.”

Feedback is a gift. If you don’t use it and appreciate the gift, you might not get another one. Having a feedback culture means that you actually respond and act on feedback. Employees need to see that giving feedback is worth their time. Don’t underestimate the value by following up on what you do with feedback.

10. Power Your Team With Feedback Tools

Finally, be sure to power your team with feedback tools. Whoever you choose to work with, allow them to facilitate feedback processes by giving employees an easy way to record notes from feedback sessions, conduct two-way feedback conversations, request 360 feedback, give positive feedback via recognition, and collect feedback via surveys.

Linking Health and Safety at work

Organisations are recognising the relationship between safe workers and healthy workers.

Workplace health and safety is critical in every business but even with strict safety policies, procedures, safe systems and employee training in place, accidents and workplace illnesses still happen! Health and wellbeing initiatives can bridge the gap where safety programs end to make a difference in safety and overall
company culture.

Organisations that invest in wellbeing initiatives can expect to see a decrease in work-related accidents and
injuries. In fact, benefits are broader than purely financial gains from reducing absenteeism, accidents, injuries, and work-related health problems. Workplace wellbeing programs that address lifestyle risk factors and health risks of workers lead to more engaged employees, reduced turnover, reduced claims and higher productivity.

Health & Safety Management Timeline

Being ahead of the curve from a health and safety perspective is not just about robust health and safety culture. It’s about creating an environment that places employee wellbeing as a top priority.

The traditional approach to managing safety starts with the introduction of policy, roles and responsibilities,
and training. This is followed by risk assessments, implementation of control procedures and safe systems
of work.

Despite these efforts, accidents still occur. Over recent years a behavioural safety approach has proven to be
successful at reducing workplace accidents, yet rates still exceed acceptable levels. The next logical step is to address employee lifestyles from both a business and employee perspective.

What happens at home affects the workplace – and vice versa. Stress, anxiety, sleep loss, obesity, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, lack of concentration and memory changes can affect critical behaviours regarding safety in the workplace.

How Does Reduced Wellbeing Impact Safety?

When employees aren’t feeling their best physically and mentally, it can have a huge impact on their ability to perform at their best. The following conditions are likely to be strong contributors to major causes of accidents:
*Reduced cognitive function
*Increased fatigue
*Poor concentration and distraction
*Falling asleep at work
*Reduced memory and recall
*Reduced flexibility and mobility
*Increase in mental health conditions
*Changes in attitude and behaviour

How Healthy Employees Lead to a Safer Workforce?
All of these factors can contribute to workplace accidents as well as simple slips,
trips and falls, back and neck problems, and manufacturing and vehicular accidents
in the workplace.

Serious claims and workplace incidents remain costly to organisations in terms of lost productivity, compensation, and insurance premiums.
There are:
6 serious claims per million hours worked
$10,800 AUD$ median payout claim
5.2 WEEKS median lost time
45% of incidents are a result of physical and mental health issues

What steps is your workplace doing to try to prevent and hopefully reduce these numbers? It not only affects your workplace, but your employees lifestyle and the lifestyle of their families. It is not just about ticking boxes, but being proactive to cater the program(s) to match your goals, values and culture.

Which Lifestyle Factors Affect Workplace Safety?

Sleep quality is the most crucial lifestyle factor affecting safety in the workplace. The constant need for employees to be ‘on’ is having a big impact on their ability to switch off at the end of the day. Occasional sleep loss can be recovered but when employees move into the sleep deficit category, there can be a dramatic impact on work performance. Poor sleep quality can affect mood, impair concentration, decrease memory function,
increase fatigue and reduce reaction time. These negative impacts are all key ingredients in health and safety accidents, so bringing awareness to the importance of sleep is crucial in reducing employee safety risks.

The way employees manage stress in their personal and professional lives has a big impact on their focus, as well as how easy it is for them to sleep. While it’s hard to eliminate stress from the equation altogether, it’s possible to help employees manage and cope with it.

Physical Activity
Employees who don’t regularly exercise, or are predominantly sedentary during their work day, can suffer from musculoskeletal problems, work-related upper body disorders, obesity and stress.

Employees that are obese or overweight have a higher risk of slips and trips, are more likely to suffer from musculoskeletal problems, and manual handling problems, as well as being more prone to sleep apnoea, fatigue and the onset of chronic diseases like Type 2 Diabetes.

How Can You Mitigate the Impact of These Lifestyle Factors?
There are several ways that employers can limit the impact that lifestyle factors can have on safety
in the workplace:

1 Recognise the impact that an employee’s lifestyle can have, not only on themselves, but their co-workers.
2 Integrate a robust employee health and wellbeing strategy into your business and educate employees about the link between their own health and safety in the workplace.
3 As part of your risk assessment program, look for areas that might have higher health risks and introduce
initiatives to counter risk. For example, focus on sedentary roles in administration or transport, or work roles that have high levels of stress.
4 Incorporate health-related metrics in your health and safety reporting.
5 When reviewing current safety procedures or introducing new ones, consider any wellbeing aspects to the procedure. For example, introducing stand-and-stretch breaks into meetings longer than thirty minutes.
6 Ensure your employee wellbeing committee is collaborating with your workplace safety committee.

It’s important for HR leaders and employers to not only encourage and educate their employees on specific health and safety procedures, but also provide a workplace that fosters a culture of health and wellbeing.

Why do we still have lifestyle diseases?

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes now account for 90 per cent of deaths each year in the UK.

These so-called ‘lifestyle’ conditions are a well known problem in the west. Much less understood is that they now account for the majority (53 per cent) of deaths and disabilities in the developing world – taking 31 million lives a year.

NCDs are not driven by infections and viruses but by behaviours such as poor diet, smoking, moving too little, alcohol and drugs.

Although often referred to as lifestyle issues – implying personal choice – the rapid spread of NCDs around the world suggests they are a more universal problem, correlating strongly with economic development and urbanisation.

Globally, 70 per cent of deaths – some 40 million – are now attributed to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), with lower and middle income countries becoming increasingly impacted as there economies grow.

NCDs are killing more people earlier in developing counties than in the developed world – over 80 per cent of the 15 million NCD deaths that take place between age 30-69 are in low and middle income countries

This is having a more severe impact on people’s lives and national economies, and it’s during these years that people are meant to be at their most productive, earning a living – bringing money home to their families and contributing to economic growth.

In all regions of the world with the notable exception of Africa, more people are dying today from NCDs than from any other cause.

Although more people in Africa continue to die from infectious and viral conditions such as HIV/AIDS and malaria, deaths from chronic conditions are rising rapidly, up by 42 per cent since 2000 across the continent.

The World Health Organisation predicts NCDs will be the biggest killers in Africa by 2030.

The risk factors for chronic diseases include smoking, physical inactivity, high levels of alcohol consumption and obesity.

Although tobacco remains the leading cause of chronic conditions, smoking rates on the whole are falling – except in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.

Obesity rates have however, rocketed worldwide in the last four decades.

Johanna Ralston, chief executive of the World Obesity Federation, says that obesity is both a key risk factor for NCDs as well as a disease in itself.

“Obesity leads to cardiovascular problems and diabetes and even many cancers. It’s both an entry point for what progresses into other diseases and is a disease state itself,” she said. “Today obesity is recognised as a driver for NCDs in the way tobacco was around fifteen years ago”.

While rates of obesity have risen in every country of the world since 1975, the obesity epidemic has hit hardest in the Middle East and the Pacific nations where high levels of imported foods have contributed to expanding waistlines.

The Gulf’s rapid economic growth, leading to a change in diet, and hot climate, which discourages people from exercising outside, have also helped fuel the region’s obesity epidemic, says Ms Ralston.

Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt and Qatar are seeing levels of obesity comparable to the USA, with diabetes and other weight-related conditions becoming a major public health concern.

More surprising perhaps, obesity is also rising in countries that only a few decades ago were experiencing food shortages. In Ghana, for example, obesity has soared by over 600 per cent since 1975 and now affects one in 11 adults.

There is now a clear understanding of the relationship between NCDs and poverty in many places.

NCDs are a cause and consequence of poverty, and it’s often the poorest that are most vulnerable to NCDs and in many countries you are seeing NCDs impacting on lower socio-economic proportions of populations.”

Big tobacco, big food, big alcohol

While the causes of chronic diseases in low and middle income countries are complex, experts and campaigners are increasingly pointing the finger at big business and the so-called “commercial determinants of health”.

“It’s very clear that big tobacco, big food and big alcohol are seeing many lower and middle income countries as their emerging target markets,” said Ms Dain. She said that many tobacco companies in particular increasingly see Africa –which currently has a low level of female smokers – as a potential opportunity.

The spotlight has recently also fallen on the fast food and sugary drinks industries.

Last year a study on global obesity by Imperial College London and the WHO found a 10-fold increase of the condition among children which the study’s authors attributed to the impact of food marketing and food policies.

While fast food chains still continue to see growth in many traditional markets such as the US and the UK, the most spectacular growth is taking place in emerging economies.

Fast food spending grew more in the United Arab Emirates from 2010-2015 than in any other country. The country has also seen a rapid rise in non-communicable conditions.

Most foods we eat here have a high calorie content and high carbohydrate content. That’s the food that’s affordable and tastes good Dr. Abdul Razzak AlMadani, Dubai’s Al Borj Medical Centre
Abdul Razzak AlMadani, a consultant in medicine and endocrinology at Al Borj Medical Centre in Dubai and President of the Emirates Diabetes Society puts the rise down to among other things changing lifestyles and eating habits in the past few decades.

“It’s fast food, but not only fast food,” said Dr AlMadani. “Most foods we eat here have a high calorie content and high carbohydrate content. That’s the food that’s affordable and tastes good.”

Dr AlMadani believes that raising awareness of the risks of diabetes and hypertension among the population – particularly among parents who he says pass on unhealthy eating habits to their children – is one key way to bring down the incidence of these conditions.

Junk food taxes are working

Alongside awareness, a number of countries have also started to fight back against the marketing and consumption of unhealthy foods with tax on harmful foods and drinks.

This replicates the strategy developed countries have taken in tackling tobacco and alcohol consumption.

For Rebecca Perl, director of partnerships and initiatives at US-based non-governmental organisation, Vital Strategies, taxes can go a long way to reducing consumption of unhealthy food and drinks.

“Taxes are a win-win,” said Ms Perl. “They help people reduce use of unhealthy products but also bring money to governments to put health policies in place.”

Mexico, where more than 70 per cent of the population is overweight or obese, is already reaping benefits from such a levy. In 2014, the country introduced a tax of 1 peso (4 pence) per litre of sugary drink.

Although it is too early to say what impact this will have, early results are promising.

A study of the tax by researchers in Mexico and the United States found that sugary drinks purchases fell by an average of 7.6 per cent in the two years after the tax was introduced.

The UK is also set to introduce a sugary drinks tax in April.

So, Lifestyle diseases appear to be growing and present themselves in many ways. Whether it is a type of cancer, diabetes, cardiovasular disease or a combination of any of these, when are we as individuals going to start taking responsibility for our choices.

Also, if are in the position in a company which provides meals, lunches or snacks to your employees, when are you going to take responsibility for the health and wellness of your employees. If you are, well done to you.

Yes, in the end it is up to the individual to choose whether to consume the food or not, but at least if the better choices are provided it is more likely to occur.

Also, what measures are you taking to look after the activity and mental health of your employees?

As this blog is about NCD’s, as people are spending longer time at work, measures need to be made to look after your staff so you can reduce the chances of them gaining an NCD.

It will benefit you in the long run.

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.

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.