Does online assessing do its job?

Hiring managers need to make sure online application assessments act as an effective resource to finding qualified candidates as opposed to a barrier that eliminates potential talent.

Most people have had the experience of taking an online assessment or test as part of a job application. No matter the industry and position, the format is often familiar. The applicant is asked questions covering everything under the sun about how they would rate their work performance and ability to work well with others, and then they are asked those same questions again in different ways. The answers are usually multiple choice and the assessments can take as long as 20 minutes to complete or sometimes, take several hours and days to finish for the most intensive online screening tests.

A great majority of companies use assessments as key parts of their application. They’re designed to be an unbiased way to narrow down the applicant pool to a more manageable number.

But hiring managers who work for companies that utilise these assessments need to ask themselves a few questions: Do you know what questions are asked on that test? Have you taken it? Can you pass it?

Many hiring managers and talent acquisition staff have never seen some of the questions they ask job candidates, and in many cases, they would be the first to fail these tests. The reality is that online tests and assessments have become an out of sight, out of mind tool for HR teams. Hiring managers know these tests exist as part of their company’s application process but that might be the extent of their knowledge.

In the job market of years past, companies could get by with this type of practice. Unemployment was high post-recession, and there were plenty of applicants to every position. Companies had the upper hand and could be choosy and select the best person available.

With unemployment staying relatively low in 2018, jobseekers and employees are beginning to wield the power. They can be selective where they choose to apply and whom they want to work with. Meanwhile employers are struggling to find talent.

Employers and hiring managers need to scrutinise things they didn’t have to scrutinise before. They may need to take a hard look at the online pre-screening assessment tests, which may be inadvertently costing the company highly skilled and talented future employees.

How to Stay on Top

Companies lose otherwise qualified candidates for a variety of reasons in the application process, but they frequently lose them at the assessment stage. Jobseekers exit out of the process if they view the test as too lengthy or time consuming. They also bail on a company if the assessment content is not perceived as relevant or if that content startles them.

Think of a forklift operator applying for that job who takes an assessment with nothing but sales related questions, even if the job description did not mention sales at all. Believe it or not, this type of thing happens all the time. This jobseeker thinks they may be applying to the wrong position and leaves the application. Or even worse, they think the company may not have their act together thus damaging the company’s brand in the process.

So how can hiring managers and companies capture the talent they may be losing because of candidate drop-off in the online assessment process? A good start is by following these three best practices:

Know what is on the test. Many talent acquisition personnel have no idea what content or questions are on their current online assessment. The best companies have assessments that their personnel are familiar with and that relate to key characteristics that successful workers should have at that company.

Do not have a test just to have a test. Involve hiring managers and talent acquisition personnel in the design of this tool to make it more effective. Every individual responsible for hiring at a company should know what is being asked of applicants.

Keep the length of your test under control. Are you getting enough qualified candidates? If a company’s online assessment takes too long to complete, they could lose many great people.

A hiring manager may say, “Well for our company, if that jobseeker doesn’t want to invest the time to complete this, then we don’t want them.” But the job market is changing. Employers have had the upper hand for quite some time, but the unemployment rate is low and forecasted to get even lower

There is going to come a time where companies are going to need those qualified jobseekers who do not want to spend half a day completing an online quiz. There is a happy medium, but employers need to be vigilant so that top talent doesn’t take flight over something this trivial.

Do you really care? Are you sure?. What do I mean by that? As an example, I work with jobseekers with disabilities with applications, interview preparation, and everything in between. When applying online, nearly all the online tests list either a 1-800 number or an email address that people with disabilities can reach out to if they need assistance or help with the application/assessment.

Shockingly, though, a large percentage of these 1-800 numbers are either non-functional or they lead to an impersonal, confusing answering machine. After all of these missteps, the final insult is that oftentimes those messages left by jobseekers with disabilities are either not monitored by anybody or they are never returned.

I challenge you to test your company’s 1-800 numbers and email addresses. Individuals with disabilities are the largest untapped labor pool in the United States. If they were to apply to your company, have an issue that required assistance and get an impersonal response, they might exit out of the application and choose a company that really cares.

Online application assessments are here to stay. They can be valuable and helpful tool for all parties if given the attention that they deserve. As a hiring manager though, it’s your job to make sure they act as an effective resource to finding qualified candidates as opposed to a barrier that eliminates potential talent.

12 eating tips for the busy professional

Busy professionals cannot waste a single second of their day. Our bodies need energy to keep moving at that pace. If you often work through lunch and go hours without even breaking for a snack, you may have difficulty concentrating and getting results from the work you’re putting in.

There are a few things you can do to keep yourself healthy while you’re powering through your day. Just a few simple changes can make a big difference in your energy levels, as well as your overall health.

1. Don’t skip breakfast.
As you’re running out the door for your early-morning meeting, the last thing you’re thinking about is stopping for breakfast. But breakfast skipping has been linked with an increase in obesity and diabetes risks, as well as morning moodiness. Here are a few quick, healthy breakfast ideas you can put together at home or once you arrive at the office.

2. Make it convenient.
You likely find you have little time to stop by the grocery store, especially during the workweek. Bring or have fresh food from local farmers directly to home or office. Create snack pouches on hand when you want a snack.

3. Prepare in advance.
One of the best things you can do is prepare snacks and meals for your day before you leave in the morning, especially if you’ll be working through lunch. But what if there is rarely time to put a meal together in the morning? You can solve this problem by setting time aside over the weekend to prepare snacks and meals for the week. Purchase plastic containers/tupperwares that can be refrigerated or frozen and picked up each morning on the way out the door.

4. Invest in grab-and-go snacks.
Look around your office. If there’s nothing to snack on, you may find yourself shrugging off your hunger for hours or—worse—heading down the hall to the vending machine. Purchase healthy snack-size foods like boxes of raisins or healthy granola bars. Blue Diamond 100-calorie Almond Packs are a great way to get the many health benefits of almonds without eating an entire bag.

5. Don’t eat and work.
Multitasking has been proven to be disastrous to the waistline. Instead of distractedly munching on a salad while you’re working on a proposal, set your work aside and focus completely on your meal. Better yet, take your lunch outside on a nice day and combine the benefits of fresh air with savouring your food. You’ll have a more pleasurable eating experience and return to your desk feeling refreshed.

6. Eat and meet.
While distracted eating may be bad, socialising has its health benefits. Schedule lunch meetings as often as possible to make sure you get a good midday meal in. You could use the opportunity to take team members offsite to get their ideas, meet with clients, or network with local colleagues.

7. Stay hydrated.
Whether you like the taste of it or not, water is an important part of good health. Consider having an in-office water cooler to make it easy for you and your team members to stay hydrated throughout the day. If this isn’t a possibility, keep a small refrigerator in your office to hold bottled water.

8. Choose healthy options at restaurants.
Eating out is inevitable for a busy professional, but you don’t have to settle for greasy fast food options. Almost all restaurant chains have healthy dining options to attract health-conscious customers. To play it safe, stick with grilled instead of fried and choose sides like fruits, soups, and salads over fries or onion rings.

9. Make family dinners a priority.
Evening meals are an important time for families. Make sure you’re home every evening in time to share a leisurely meal with your spouse or your family. If you’re single, schedule regular get-togethers with friends where you enjoy a healthy meal. This will help you maintain a healthy work-life balance.

10. Grocery shop wisely.
Experts recommend spending most of your time in the outer sections of the grocery store when shopping for food. Produce, dairy, meats, poultry, and eggs should make up the majority of your shopping time, keeping you away from the packaged, preservative-filled foods in the centre aisles.

11. Choose quality.
Make sure most of your diet includes nutrient-dense foods that let you accomplish more with less. Avoid sugar and empty calories and instead focus on making sure each snack and meal packs as much punch as possible. Remember, you’re going for fuelling your body and mind so you can accomplish more.

12. Limit alcohol.
As tempting as it can be to indulge in a happy hour drink after work, it’s one of the worst ways to add calories to your diet. While the occasional drink or two won’t hurt, it’s important to moderate your alcohol consumption, especially if the rest of your diet is severely lacking.

If you take care of your mind and body, you’ll find you’re more productive and have more energy throughout the day. You’ll also keep yourself healthy, which will allow you to avoid visits to the doctor and ongoing illnesses. When you take care of yourself, it is not just your health that benefits — your business will to.

Burned out, engaged or disengaged. Can you see the difference?

With the year ticking on, we do tend to get into that familiar cycle of working and dedicating ourselves to our jobs. Fair enough I say. It is after all a large part of our day and keeps us surviving.

But can we be doing this too much and becoming overzealous and not realising that our work is suffering from “the law of diminishing returns”? Where does the line for the engaged worker end and the burned out worker begin? Or where does the disengaged worker fit into all of this?

Engaged employees drive real business results. Engaged employees are energised, enthusiastic
and focused. They enjoy their work, help boost productivity, performance and growth.
Ultimately, engagement is good for people and for business.

AFTER ALL, COMPANIES WITH ENGAGED EMPLOYEES ARE:

78% MORE PROFITABLE
40% MORE PRODUCTIVE
5X LESS LIKELY TO HAVE A SAFETY INCIDENT
2.5X STOCK PRICE GROWTH THAT OF PEERS

Engagement isn’t reserved for specialty jobs with mind-blowing benefits and an
exceptional pay check. It’s totally possible to be engaged in any role, at any level. Anyone
can love what they do and be truly excited about their work.

But can there be too much of a good thing?

Definitely.

FOSTERING AN ENGAGED WORKFORCE

Engaged employees feel a deep connection and sense of purpose at work that creates extra
energy and commitment. It’s obvious why employers want to foster engagement, but it’s a
challenge to know exactly how to do this. After all, employee engagement is currently hovering
around 32 percent and has remained low for the past two decades.

THE MISSING LINK: WELL-BEING

Employee well-being drives engagement, and vice versa. When employees are engaged in their
work, they feel good and live with a sense of purpose.

Employees with higher well-being are twice as likely to be engaged in their jobs.
These employees enjoy their teams more, are more loyal and recommend their company as
a great place to work.

When employees have high well-being AND feel supported by their organisation, it’s a win for everyone.

WELL-BEING-ENGAGEMENT

Well-being and engagement are statistically related, but exactly why is unknown. Do people with higher well-being handle stress better? Or do they have a stronger sense of purpose at work?

AUTHENTICALLY SUPPORTING EMPLOYEES

The best way to foster employee engagement and well-being is to support employees. The best way to support employees is to focus on managers. Managers are the most important way employees feel supported by their organisation.

Most employees say their immediate managers matter more than C-suite leadership when it comes to well-being support. But often, managers don’t understand how to talk with their employees
about well-being.

And it’s not just about well-being. Managers play a big role in employee engagement. In fact, they account for up to 70 percent of variance in employee engagement. Employees who rate their manager as excellent are five times more engaged than employees who rate their manager as poor.

STRENGTHENING MANAGERS

Managers play a critical role in ensuring employees have a great experience. They’re not only responsible for the career path of the employee, they’re responsible for bringing the company values and culture to life.

Now that we know managers help foster employee engagement and well-being, the next step is to help managers understand how to do this.

A great place to start is with an understanding of the strongest drivers of engagement,
including:

• I like my work and have challenging
but achievable goals
• I give my work my all and have a
reasonable number of hours
• I’m realising my potential and
learning new things
• I’m able to use my greatest strengths
and my abilities fit well with my role
• I feel valued and respected
• I feel like I’m making an impact
• I work a reasonable number of hours
and spend my time wisely
• My manager and organisation support me

Managers who strive to create these conditions for their employees will be more likely to have employees with high well-being and who are truly engaged.

TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING?

With a great culture, a supportive manager and a job that provides meaning and purpose,
employees are more likely to feel engaged at work. This is when employees really thrive.
But it’s a fine line. Highly engaged employees are at risk for burnout because its not
possible to sustain high levels of engagement over time.
Burnout is a prolonged exposure to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on
the job.

It’s defined by:

INEFFICACY: I’m not making a difference
CYNICISM: I’m so fed up, I just don’t care anymore
EXHAUSTION:I’m so tired

Burnout results in low productivity and high turnover — especially turnover of the most
talented and productive employees.

BURNED OUT

In order to be burned out at work, an employee has to be highly engaged. The employee has to be all in and care deeply to get to the point of feeling burned out. This means that top
performing, highly engaged employees are at the highest risk for burnout. And these are the
employees that employers can’t afford to lose.

Burnout happens when a highly engaged employee begins to have low well-being without
any support from their manager or organisation or they aren’t able to resolve it for themselves.

Sadly, this is a result of the pressure and lack of support from the employer.

Most companies think of burnout as a personal issue because it shows up so differently for each person who is experiencing the cycle of exhaustion, cynicism and inefficacy. The reality is that burnout is really an organisational issue.

HERE ARE THE MOST COMMON CAUSES OF BURNOUT:
• Overload — workload and time
• Pressure
• Role conflict and ambiguity
• Lack of support from managers
• Lack of feedback
• Lack of participation in decision making
• Lack of fairness and equity
• Values disconnect
• A “broken” psychology contract

Burnout is associated with absenteeism, intention to leave the job and actual turnover. But for people who stay on the job, burnout leads to lower productivity and a negative impact on team members.

Often times, burnout is “contagious.” It can spread toxicity across a team or spillover into people’s home life.

PERSONAL:
• Lower productivity
• Stress-related health issues
• Increased substance abuse
• Can precipitate anxiety, depression and
decreases in self-esteem

ORGANISATIONAL:
• Reduced organisational commitment
• Absenteeism
• Intention to leave
• Actual turnover

BURNOUT VS DISENGAGEMENT

While both disengaged and burned out employees are at high risk for turnover, burnout is not the same as disengagement.

Disengaged employees don’t care about the work and the organisation. They’re not committed. They see work as just a job.

Prolonged burnout can result in an employee who is disengaged.

COMPARE THIS TO HOW SOMEONE FEELS WHEN THEY’RE ENGAGED.

BURNOUT
“I have cared so deeply for so long without a break from stress, that I have become depleted
and cynical.”

DISENGAGEMENT
“I have given everything to this job.”
“I am past the point of caring or I have never cared at all.”
“This is just a job.”

ENERGISED
“I am energiSed by and connected to this job, so much so that I get purpose from it.”
“This is way more than a job.”

TIPS FOR BATTLING BURNOUT

The good news is that burnout is preventable. With strong managers and an understanding of what causes burnout, employers can more readily prevent their top talent from burning out. Here are four ways to help prevent burnout today:

1. PROVIDE RECOVERY TIME
Everyone needs a break to recover. People rest their bodies after a workout but continue to push themselves to the limits at work. This is not only unproductive, it leads to burnout.

Managers should adjust workloads and be aware when someone has been going full throttle in overdrive for too long. That said, recovery time or breaks just help deal with the
symptoms of burnout but they don’t provide a real solution. Make sure managers focus on the root causes too.

2. FOSTER A WELL-BEING MINDSET
How people think about situations has an impact on their ability to handle and recover from them. What’s stressful to one person can be energising to another — it’s subjective. For some, stress is enhancing and exhilarating, while for others who have more negative association with stress, it’s debilitating. When you know how people think about stress, you can help them cope with it and prevent burnout. Have managers remind people to keep a positive outlook and ensure
employees are taking time to take care of themselves.

3. BUILD SOCIAL CONNECTIONS
People are wired to be social. The more we can rely on each other for support, the better off we are. In fact, social support positively relates to important factors that impact stress, health, well-being and engagement. Employers have the unique opportunity to foster community among employees by boosting team support and social networks. These social connections will
help employees get the support they need and help guard against burnout.

4. PURPOSE
Helping employees connect to their purpose is key for burnout prevention. When people have a real emotional connection to their work, they’re more connected to the company and their purpose. This helps put things into perspective when work gets hectic. One way to do this is to emphasise the ways in which an employee’s work makes other people’s lives a little bit better or easier. Communicate how an employee’s work is connected to the company’s mission and have clear goals to support employees in finding and staying connected to their purpose.

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.

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.

Do you thin we need to back up our headspace?

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

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

You can seek professional help.

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

How many of us have had that conversation with ourselves?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love to hear your thoughts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Promote Timely Hiring Practices

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

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

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

Should Employers……

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting the Fit Right

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Benefits of Happy and Engaged Workers

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

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

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

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