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.

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 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
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
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


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.

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.

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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
8. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). (2015). Total worker health. Retrieved from
9. National Conference of State Legislatures. State actions on health savings accounts (HSAs) and consumer-directed health plans, 2004-2015. (2015). Retrieved from

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.

Why everyone should be doing Yoga in the workplace.

As the year comes to an end, stress levels start to rise with deadlines approaching and commitments to end of year celebrations with clients, friends and family.

As time is of the essence and finding time to go out and refresh your brain and body, what better way to be energised and switched on than with a yoga session. Plus, feel the fun by sharing the positive experience with your colleagues.

Yoga can be done onsite or at a local park nearby which can add to the serene and relaxing ambience.


Increases employee productivity, decreases stress and anxiety in the workplace Reduces absenteeism and staff turnover Improves employee health and wellbeing Promotes a healthy work/life balance. A great way to boost productivity and look after employees wellness.

For these reasons many companies are deciding to put more options in place for their workers to reduce their stress. One of the most popular is setting up yoga sessions at work.

Yoga serves a number of purposes for employees and the workplace:

Stress Reduction – By teaching people how to focus on their breathing and techniques, the process of yoga can help them reduce anxiety and stress that was controlling their life before.

Flexibility – Yoga teaches you how to properly stretch and use their muscles and tendons. This creates an awareness of strain in different parts of the body, and hopefully helps to forewarn of any repetitive stress that may lead to injury. This can be employed in all facets of life, home, work and social.

Stimulation from Exercise – Yoga can help people be a little ‘more in shape’. As exercise releases endorphins into the system leading to a sense of well-being, Yoga can create a better feeling and attitude towards the work environment. It is a also a great way to ‘switch on your core’ and create postural strength and awareness.

Morale – Believe it or not, one way to make things safer in the workplace is to boost morale. Higher morale means more employees happy with their job and doing their part to keep things running as smoothly as possible.

Yoga can bring employees together and boost morale in your office. If you are ready to bring your office together with a morale boost, and help them help themselves to make a healthier and safer workspace, follow what offices around the world are doing and consider setting up a yoga program for your business.