Retaining Employees During the ‘Great Resignation’

According to the U.S. Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary released in June 2021, approximately four million people quit their jobs in April. What are these people looking for? Many are rethinking what work means and are in search of greater work-life balance and flexibility. They’re taking stock of how they’re valued by companies and the ways they spend their time. This massive exodus of people leaving jobs is now known as “The Great Resignation.” It reflects not just numbers, but a broader change in the ways people take ownership of their careers.

Whether this is a temporary trend or a paradigm shift, executives and HR leaders need to assess the attractiveness of their businesses to the workforce. They need to determine if their policies and cultures will enhance employee retention or will spur employees to stampede for the door seeking greener pastures.

Recognizing employee preferences

Due to the pandemic, millions of workers have experienced remote work for an extended period. Despite its challenges, they have grown used to the increased flexibility, work-life balance, time, and savings it affords. In recent research from Prudential, the Pulse of the American Worker Survey finds that 42 percent of current remote workers say they will look for another job if their employer discontinues work-from-home as an option.

HR teams and managers need to recognize the evolving employee preferences that remote work has inspired. They should adjust their strategies accordingly if their business plans call for a return to the office. Leaders also need to evaluate the expectations placed on remote workers to avoid falling victim to the “Great Resignation.” While job expectations depend on the employee’s position, in most cases, employees shouldn’t have to respond to emails or messages outside of established work hours. Clear communication from management about remote work expectations streamlines the parameters and efficiencies of remote and hybrid work models. It also helps avoid misunderstandings and reduces frustrations or friction that might lead to resignations or poor performance.

Business and HR leaders need to determine whether utilizing a hybrid model is a better strategy than an “all-or-nothing” approach. The former incorporates the employee’s desire for flexibility with the need for in-office interaction and collaboration. The Prudential survey notes that 68 percent of surveyed workers (working remote and in-office) feel the hybrid workplace model is optimal. Large companies like Cisco are taking notice, recently announcing plans to implement a long-term hybrid work model. The flexibility of the hybrid model satisfies different work styles and job functions. For example, it gives a product manager in-person access to the design and sales teams while an accountant has the option to work most days from a quiet home office.

How the right culture attracts and retains talent

Businesses that stand out over the long term are those that have established employee-centric cultures. The pandemic has put an enormous financial and mental strain on the workforce. So as part of the “Great Resignation,” many workers are flocking towards firms built on strong cultures of fairness and empathy.

Returning to an office may be a shock to many workers that spent the last 18 months at home. It necessitates a shift in their schedules and adds worries about exposure to infection. Organizations mandating a return to in-office arrangements have a tough road ahead. It will be difficult to convince their workforces that they are factoring in employees’ health and lives outside the workplace. To ease employees back into it, businesses can start by adding flexible scheduling. This is valuable even for in-office workers and was becoming more common even before the pandemic. For example, if someone needs to care for a sick child, their employer can allow them to work from home without penalty. Companies can also revisit their vacation policies to retain workers, promoting more generous time-off packages to help employees recharge.

Redefining productivity

Another cultural shift companies are grappling with is whether to move towards a more productivity-centric model. Organizations are realizing that productivity is not simply about the hours workers spend at their computers or workstations.

While hard work remains essential and merits accolades and compensation, businesses need to make productivity and task completion the metric. Many workers complete tasks in the time they’re given, whether it’s 45 minutes or a full day. Afterward, they sometimes worry if they’ve finished the assignment too fast or too slow. This contributes to a sense of complacency, doubt, and even fear. Instead, organizations should aim for a positive, task-oriented culture where employees receive positive feedback based on contributions and ingenuity.

Many of the most attractive companies offer top-tier benefits packages to promote physical and mental health. They drive positive workplace connections, not through constant Zoom meetings, but through recognition, and open communication. To avoid the “Great Resignation,” managers and HR professionals need to reaffirm that they value their employees. Also, they need to remember that their opinions and suggestions carry weight and can produce impactful change.

Firms can implement innovative practices such as “demo days.” These allow employees to showcase their work in informal settings and openly discuss challenges in their roles. Employee surveys and executive mentorship are also effective. These efforts provide employees with an actionable sounding board, combined with senior-level guidance. This lowers the chances that management will make decisions based on their own assumptions instead of actual data, feedback, and interactions with employees.

Navigating a business through the “Great Resignation” requires patience and understanding of employee needs. Organizations need to create employee-focused cultures built on open discussion and empathy. They should also offer attractive benefits and time-off packages, emphasize quality over quantity, and promote creativity and productivity over drudgery.

Spring Cleaning, HR Style: Time to Renew the Onboarding Experience

The early days of the COVID-19 crisis presented companies with the opportunity to make exponential changes to support the dynamic nature of the employee experience. In a short time, organizations accelerated digital transformation. They co-created new career paths with employees. And many employers implemented flexible work schedules. Some teams even enacted four-day workweeks. In what seemed like an overnight development, the world of work changed. In many ways, for the better: 90 percent of employers say that their employees banded together as a result.

Now vaccines are becoming more available, and some sense of prior normalcy is starting to return. So leaders must continue to push existing boundaries. Not only for current employees but also the new wave of people joining the workforce. Over 25 percent of companies plan to hire at higher volumes than before the pandemic. Another 20 percent anticipate hiring at the same pre-pandemic rates. So there is a lot of onboarding on the horizon. With that comes another opportunity: To create a great experience from the start.

For HR teams and hiring managers, it’s time to embrace spring cleaning ideology. Specifically, it’s time to dust off the onboarding experience—and revamp it for the new world of work.

The Onboarding Experience Needs a New Shine

The onboarding experience is an integral part of the overall employee experience. Done well, it can set the trajectory for company success. In fact, organizations with effective onboarding have 33 percent more engaged employees than organizations with ineffective onboarding. And 70 percent of executives believe that employee engagement is critical to company success. Creating a positive experience out of the gate provides the road map for employees to be more productive. Ultimately, it increases the value and profitability of the organization.

However, many organizations haven’t done a good job of creating this positive onboarding experience. Eighty-eight percent of employees don’t think their organization onboards well. As a result, ineffective onboarding increases employee turnover within the first year of employment. Poor onboarding also decreases engagement for employees who stick around. Even worse, disengaged employees who do stay risk spreading unhappiness to others.

With the high-projected hiring rate for 2021 and a highly competitive job market, leaders don’t have time to deal with the outcomes of poor onboarding.

What’s the Cleaning Solution for This Mess?

To clean up the mess, employers must reimagine the most basic principles of the onboarding process: enablement materials. It is no longer possible to hand employees a stack of materials on their first day and send them on their way. Besides, the information in those documents might become out of date in a matter of days! Plus, the modern employee will expect more than a stack of papers.

How much more?

Digital capabilities have significantly increased the frequency and number of communications buzzing around. So much so that many of us (especially new employees) feel overwhelmed with the amount of input received. So it will be necessary for employers to simplify the experience wherever possible, starting with creating a concise set of onboarding materials. After all, any attempt to get up to speed quickly creates a chaotic environment for new hires. And it happens during a vulnerable—and stressful—time. Leaders should be looking for modern content tools that create consistency for users. Specifically, they should focus on trimming down the various content formats (one-pagers, presentations, emails, PDFs, etc.) to a single multimedia experience.

The Key to Onboarding Today: Providing Interactive Rich Content

Additionally, employers must pack enablement materials with rich content. Yes, traditional tools have been limiting. But today, leaders can leverage interactive content technology. These tools allow creators to access built-in design tools, making it easier to combine assets from multiple sources. No-code builders enable individuals without mastery in copywriting, design, or development to deliver an engaging onboarding experience. Everyone in the company can have the power to create materials rather than relying on a specialized team.

Onboarding materials should invite employees to engage the same way they interact with other digital content. Additionally, employers should leverage embedded assessments, quizzes, and access to related resources to give employees a better opportunity to digest and apply new information to the job in a format already known to them. After all, the more engaged new employees are, the more likely they are to contribute to the company’s success.

Renewing the Onboarding Experience

Companies have invested heavily in improving the employee experience in the past—and the innovation shouldn’t stop now. To compete well for top talent, employers must dig deep to keep innovative ideas coming. Sure, it would be easier to simply continue with traditional processes. But with the new wave of modern employees coming, dusty onboarding content won’t cut it.

To quickly contribute, employees must feel engaged from day one. They need a positive employee experience, starting with access to interactive and immersive content to help guide their onboarding journey. When companies get this right, they reap the rewards of a more engaged and committed workforce now—and in the future.

Image by Sarah Pflug

5 Remote Work Productivity Tools You Didn’t Know About (But Should)

The COVID-19 pandemic severely wounded the traditional workplace, causing an even greater need for productivity tools. Even when the pandemic recedes, the workplace will not go back to what it used to be. Employers have a huge task to create an environment where your employees are happy and productive. Undoubtedly, recovery and renewal will require significant innovation. Thankfully, much of that innovation–in the form of remote work productivity tools–already exists.

There are many already known tools out there; each promise to change the world of work. But what about those not mentioned as much in leadership and HR circles? No worries! Here we have a list of some of the productivity tools that you might not have heard about–but you should.

10to8 Meeting Scheduling Software

Scheduling activities and meetings with either employees and clients/customers contribute to improved output. That’s why the first on our list is 10to8 Meeting Scheduling Software! When it comes to arranging meetings, daily standups, or weekly team meetings, this is the right tool for you.

In cases where a team is spread worldwide, the time zones are not a problem for 10to8. But the ability to integrate other existing calendars I have created in Google, Outlook, or Exchange is what I like the most about this tool. When you want to talk to your colleagues, you don’t have to ask them when they are free. Instead, you can check whether they are available at a specific time in their booking calendars. Another welcome feature is the hardworking reminders, making it nearly impossible to miss a meeting.

Communifire by Axero

Enhancing communication not only improves the productivity of your employees but the credibility of your company. A well-streamlined communication system helps decrease unmet expectations, reduce stress, and boost morale. An intranet, a centralized portal that ties together communication and enables people to send files so employees are all on the same page, is a must-have communication tool for remote-based businesses. Most users can tailor intranet software to meet your organization’s unique requirements while promoting transparency and eliminating communication bottlenecks.

Communifire by Axero is one of the most easy-to-understand intranet software choices around. Each department within your company is provided separate sections for supplying and updating communications; however, Communifire allows sharing information between all groups. Each team can add articles, blogs, wikis, photos, videos, and everything else relevant to work for teams. What I found especially useful with Communifire is the many options for customization–an essential element of any intranet platform.


The chances are that many of your employees will continue to work from home well after the COVID-19 crisis is behind us–which means group messaging tools will remain important to work teams. Mattermost promotes collaboration among your employees, enabling work to get done efficiently and effectively with a short turnaround time. In many ways, Mattermost replaces internal emails and substitutes messages in an inbox with a more agile and tool.

This digital space helps teammates communicate with each other, share ideas, comment, or give feedback as if it were happening in person. It offers threaded discussions and supports more than a couple of different languages, making it very useful for global teams–and a worthwhile competitor to the more well-known Slack. Like Slack, Mattermost’s freemium pricing plans for small teams feature unlimited message history and integrations.


A year-plus into the pandemic, companies are still looking for a way to collaborate effectively with others on project-based tasks through productivity tools. To fill this void, the tool we recommend most often is the all-in-one platform Celoxis.

This software provides updates to all relevant users about anything related to a specific project. Through timely prompts, it also urges users to complete their tasks on time. Celoxis has a range of useful project management functionalities, such as allowing project mapping via Gantt charts. With its project planning and project tracking feature, it offers automatic scheduling, multiple resources per task. Celoxis is very easy to use and affordable, making it a perfect choice for businesses still struggling to find just-the-right remote PM platform.


Because of more flexible working conditions, many remote workers find themselves struggling to stay focused. They just aren’t getting enough work done–and we can’t blame it all on Netflix. Maybe it is time to employ time and work management software like Scoro.

Industries like advertising, consulting, and information technology are just some of the sectors drawn to Scoro. Time management and work automation, collaboration, scheduling, quoting, sales support, and billing are just some of the features Scoro offers. The platform even provides a project management component, like Celoxis. The control hub from which users obtain customer account information, key performance data, and calendar events are one of the main benefits of using this comprehensive platform in your arsenal of productivity tools.

Invest in Remote Work Productivity Tools

The longer the pandemic lingers, enabling higher productivity among employees is increasingly necessary. Introducing these tools to your employees will help them stay focused and engaged–and will undoubtedly help your business achieve its goals. Yes, there is a learning curve associated with any new technology. And, yes, the benefits of utilizing these tools may not be immediate. But, your investment in these platforms–and your people–will pay off in the long run.


Photo: Andrik Langfield

4 Proven Techniques to Increase Employee Productivity

The main goal of any company, of course, is to be successful. And the level of employee productivity is one of the crucial factors that makes or breaks the success of a company.

Employee productivity represents the amount of work employees complete in a given time period. An employee who completes more tasks in less time is considered to be more productive. This higher productivity has a number of tangible benefits to a business, including:

  • Making it more profitable
  • Helping it grow
  • Helping it stay competitive on the market

Here are four great techniques you can use to increase employee productivity in your team:

Employee Productivity: The Kanban Approach

Kanban is a time management technique meant to help you track progress on your work, and keep an eye on tasks that are nearing their deadlines.

The practice originated in the 1940s at Toyota and represented a shift in production. Kanban (or lean manufacturing, as it was called back then), allowed Toyota to produce according to customer demands, as fast as possible. As opposed to producing vehicles to push them out on the market.

This practice would influence the creation of Kanban 70 years later. In 2007, David Anderson and Darren Davis developed the same idea of streamlining workflow and increasing productivity. They noticed that the scope of work is easier to visualize once it was presented on a whiteboard.

KISS: Whiteboard and Post-it Notes

  • The whiteboard represents your project
  • The Post-it notes represent your tasks
  • You divide the whiteboard into four columns:
  1. “Backlog” column | For all the tasks that you need to work on.
  2. “To-do” column | For the tasks with a specific deadline.
  3. “Doing” column | Tasks you are currently working on
  4. “Done” column | Tasks you have finished.

Define the task deadlines, assign each task to an employee, and have them move their tasks across columns, in accordance with the progress status of the task (“To-do,” “Doing,” or “Done”).

The approach with the whiteboard and Post-it notes is just an illustrative example. Alternatively, you can use Kanban-based software to track your project progress.

In any case, ensure your Kanban board is available to your employees at any time. This way, everyone will be able to see at a glance:

  • The progress status of each task
  • Who is working on what
  • Whether a task is nearing its deadline, indicating it should be a priority

By knowing all this, you’ll make work more organized, structured, and easy to track, directly increasing employee productivity as a result.

Time Blocking

Time blocking is a time management approach which mandates that all tasks have a predefined time frame and calendar slot during which employees will work on them.

Although its origins are said to exist as far back as calendars themselves, the earliest known user is said to be Benjamin Franklin. He used to take note of everything he did during the day, hour by hour. Blocking off times for chores, rest, relaxation and deep work. One could say he was the modern employer of the time blocking technique.

And today, hundreds of years later, it has proven to be a great technique to increase employee productivity levels on all types of tasks.

To implement time blocking, instruct your employees to:

  • List all their tasks, in order of priority.
  • Allocate a certain amount of time to each task. For example:
    1. First Task: 15 minutes
    2. Second Task: 45 minutes
    3. Third Task 3: 1 hour
  • Slot each task in a calendar. For example:
    1. First Task: 8 a.m. – 8:15 a.m.
    2. Second Task: 8:15 a.m. – 9 a.m.
    3. Third Task: 9 a.m. – 10 a.m.
  • Work on the tasks in the order you blocked time for them. Don’t spend more time on a task than what you blocked. As soon as the time block for Task 1 is up, move on to Task 2. Continue in the same manner until the end of the list.

The principle of this productivity-increasing technique is simple: all employees who make feasible time blocking schedules, and then stick to them, will be able to finish their tasks as planned and maintain full control over their time as a result.

The Eisenhower Matrix: Identify Priority Tasks

Productivity is not just about working fast, but also about ensuring enough time is spent on the right tasks — i.e., your priority tasks. One of the best approaches that can help you with that is the Eisenhower Matrix.

Its originator is Dwight D. Eisenhower himself. He was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in WW2, the first Supreme Commander of NATO, and went on to become the 34th president of the United States. With his life of warfare and politics, Eisenhower was required to make tough choices under immense pressure. Countless sources credit him for creating a method that aims to achieve exactly that — to see your priorities and make informed, yet quick decisions.

And decades later, the Eisenhower Matrix expanded to become a time management technique that also helps businesses organize tasks in a way that lets employees easily recognize priorities.

To implement it, take 10 minutes each morning to go through the project tasks for that day.

They can be, for example:

  • Writing a marketing strategy for the new project
  • Preparing reports for the big client update meeting
  • Solving the most immediate bugs from the day before
  • Going through customer support analytics for the past quartal

Four Quadrants

Then, sort them into four quadrants, based on whether they are important and/or urgent:

  • First Quadrant (important: Yes, urgent: Yes) | The tasks you should work on first.
  • Second Quadrant (important: Yes, urgent: No) | The tasks you should work on when done with the tasks from Quadrant 1.
  • Third Quadrant (important: No, urgent: Yes) | The tasks you should delegate to someone else.
  • Fourth Quadrant (important: No, urgent: No) | The tasks you should most likely eliminate.

The Eisenhower Matrix is meant to help your teams focus on the day’s most important and urgent tasks. At the same time, it also helps them recognize which tasks they could delegate or eliminate, thus freeing even more time for their priority tasks.

And after the collective meeting, you can always instruct the teams to apply the Eisenhower Matrix to their own tasks for the day.

Streamline Meetings

According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, as much as 71% of senior managers find meetings to be inefficient and unproductive.

And yet, an infographic by AskCody shows that the average office employee from the US still spends over five hours on meetings. They also spend over four hours each week preparing for those meetings. Switching focus between different work wastes time and effort. Of course, this negatively impacts productivity. Which leaves employees feeling scatterbrained and drained.

To ensure this time is better spent, streamline meetings: 

  1. Create precise meeting agendas | Straightforward agendas will help you stay on topic, and hold shorter, better structured, and thus more productive meetings.
  2. Announce meetings at least a couple of hours in advance | This way, you’ll give your employees enough time to think about what they want to say or ask in advance, saving them the time they’d need to do so at the actual meetings.
  3. Limit meeting time to 30 minutes at maximum | Forbes even suggests implementing a 30-minute challenge that involves prioritizing topics better and selecting attendees more carefully in order to keep meetings from lasting more than 30 minutes.

Structure your meetings. Organize, schedule and track your tasks. Then watch your employee productivity soar.

Cyberslackers – An Inside Threat

Even with the integration of technology and a myriad of software solutions in the workplace, there has been a lack of measurable improvement in per-employee productivity. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that productivity has grown by about 1.3 percent per year over the past eight years. In the seven years before that, the productivity growth rate was double, at 2.3 percent.

Improvements in collective American productivity and competitiveness must start with a commitment at the individual level. The starting point is having a job or gig of some kind. Without this, there is nothing against which to benchmark a rise or fall in productivity. Fortunately, employment has been slowly but steadily increasing over the past few years.

For those already employed and paying taxes, they may start their quest for higher productivity with a chip on their shoulders. The demoralizing point for the potential productivity warriors in the workforce is that, out of the millions of eligible U.S. taxpayers last year, 45 percent didn’t pay any income tax.

These points may explain why our deep attachment to the Internet, social media, and other online distractions, is not being checked at the door of our workplaces. First, those not employed will not even see the door to the workplace. Secondly, an employee will not readily relinquish their access to the escape of the cyber world just because they are at work.

Forrester wrote in a report, “The mobile mind shift is an expectation that an individual can get what he or she wants in their immediate context and moment of need.” Why should it be any different at work?

A Harris Poll for CareerBuilder surveyed 2,138 hiring and human resources managers as to the biggest workplace productivity killers. The poll revealed that four of the top five time-wasters at work are Internet-connected: cell phone, Internet use, social media and non-work email. More than half of the employers surveyed reported that the biggest distraction at work comes from employees using their cell phones, with 44 percent saying the same about using the Internet. “Cyberslackers” is the term reserved for those abusing workplace Internet access and content viewing.

The meager rate of growth of the productivity of the labor force in America is being chewed up by the use and abuse of Internet access to social media and apps for non-work purposes.

Many organizations have written policies regarding personal computer usage which make clear the company’s position on using a work computer or smartphone for non-work purposes. Employers often restrict an employee’s access to the Internet or to specific Web sites or prohibit personal usage of workplace computers altogether.[1]

About three-quarters of major U.S. companies keep tabs on employees by checking their e-mail, the Internet, phone calls, computer files, or by videotaping them at work. Software systems are available that can be deployed to block access to social media, news, stock trading, games and any other Web sites that the employer wishes to restrict.

Even if a company has adopted policies regulating the Internet and social media use, and monitors them, personal devices eliminate the need for an employee to access the company network and Internet connection for their daily non-work cyber journeys.

Many larger businesses have closed this workplace loophole by regulating what kind of devices can be brought into the workplace and how they can be used for work and non-work purposes. The policies adopted address what is commonly known as BYOD (bringing your own device) to work. Most companies and employees believe that an even-handed BYOD policy increases both productivity and morale and certainly brings clarity to what is expected of the employee.

In any case, employee preoccupation with the Internet and social media is destructive of the employment exchange of ‘a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.’ If the bargain is not being met by the employee, it is a performance issue like any other.

In most businesses, online access cannot be prohibited, and shouldn’t, but sanity must rule. What’s the common ground in your organization?

A reduction in cyberslacking can improve productivity and keep businesses on sound financial footing, enabling them to stay afloat. Owners, shareholders, management and employees will reap the benefits, and we might even see an improving American economy as a by-product.

With continued employment and perhaps saving a few bucks, employees also might become a little less fearful of their futures.

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Performance Management: Why You Should Encourage Employee Holidays

For the average HR manager, the idea of employee holidays is likely to prompt frustrating thoughts regarding exasperated managers, conflicting holiday dates and productivity declines. Though organizing holiday leave appropriately may not be a walk in the park, it is worth noting that quality vacation time is integral to employee satisfaction, performance, and productivity. The encouragement and management of employee holidays are, therefore, a critical performance management issue and consideration.

Recent research is changing the way we think about holidays. Companies have become increasingly flexible in this area, and some notable companies have even introduced the concept of unlimited holiday. This flexibility is increasingly integral when you consider its importance to the average millennial, who is far more likely than any other generation to switch careers, relocate or sacrifice promotions in favor of a workplace that prioritizes flexibility and a healthy work/life balance.

To understand why emphasizing the importance of vacation time is a high HR concern, it is first necessary to look at the intrinsic benefits offered as a result of a well-rested workforce.

Holidays provide increased employee morale and greater staff retention

The cost of high turnover can be overwhelming for any organization, so the issues of staff retention and employee morale remain pressing HR concerns. It should be noted that increased morale contributes greatly to increased employee engagement, which in turn boosts company productivity and minimizes turnover.  With this in mind, it is worth questioning the link between vacations and morale.

Fortunately, there are many existing studies which indicate that quality time away from a hectic work environment results in heightened workplace morale, as well as reduced turnover. This was revealed in a study commissioned by the US Travel Association, as well as a review by the Society for Human Resource Management, which states that making full use of holiday leave is a significant driver for increased organizational morale. Having a lenient or encouraging attitude towards holidays ultimately demonstrates to employees that your company values their mental health, and reassures your workforce that they can take time away from their desks without fear of losing their jobs or missing out on a promotion.

Productivity and performance increase following a holiday from work

Employees who allow themselves time away from work on a relaxing holiday often return revitalized, meaning that they are more productive and efficient. This is backed up by a number of studies, one of which demonstrates that an employee who takes ten additional hours of vacation can improve their performance by as much as 8%. Employees who take regular breaks from work perform with 13% more accuracy than those who refuse breaks. One study shows that employees feel 40% more productive after a well-earned holiday. On top of this, 77% of HR managers agree that employees who take advantage of the majority of their vacation time are more productive in their jobs than those who abstain.

All of these studies go to show that an office cannot function optimally with a workforce that is stressed and overworked. Employees need some downtime to replenish and return to work determined to excel. This is all the more likely to happen when your employees are happy and engaged. Your company will benefit from increased employee performance and productivity.

Frequent and relaxing holidays reduce absenteeism due to illness and stress

Human beings cannot work consistently and reliably without breaks. Attempting to do so results in burnout, stress, and inevitable absenteeism. Psychologists call this state ‘detachment’, where the employee disengages mentally from their place of work in order to deal with the mental exhaustion and anxiety involved. Evidence suggests that we all have a limited pool of cognitive resources. If we are constantly draining this pool, then we are never performing optimally, and performance declines as a result.

Holidays are crucial to overall health, as reported in The Wall Street Journal, which reports that vacation allows you to cut your risk of heart disease, recover from stress and stabilize blood pressure levels. In this way, holidays can be seen as an investment. Holiday given now will result in fewer sick days at a later date.

How leading companies have incorporated unlimited holidays

Many high-profile companies are coming to appreciate the importance of flexible working hours and the benefits of holidays. A notable example is Netflix, which has introduced the concept of unlimited holidays. This isn’t to say that there are no rules; in fact, though employees decide when to show up for work and when to take time off, they still need to perform to standard and produce quality results. Since implementing this change in 2004, the company has grown its market to over $51 billion. This is done by shifting the focus from tracking employee time to tracking employee results, which is what really matters in terms of organizational success. This idea has also been incorporated by Virgin. Trends such as these are likely to become more popular in the future, as millennials demand greater autonomy and flexibility, and the rigid 9-5 lifestyle becomes a thing of the past.

How a performance management system can deal with regular holidays

Modern and effective performance management systems are in a constant state of flux. This is necessary in order to embrace new performance management methods, streamline existing performance management processes, and adapt to relevant groundbreaking research. It is becoming clear that more hours at work do not automatically equate to higher performance. As such, it falls upon the HR department to ensure that employees are taking regular, stress-free vacations.

It might be hard to schedule these holidays to prevent conflict within a company, but modern performance management tools can be utilized to organize holidays, send updates and highlight calendar clashes. Putting in this effort demonstrates to your employees that you value them as part of your organization and, once they return, everyone involved will see the benefit of a well-rested, eager and productive employee.


Photo Credit: Helen Orozco Flickr via Compfight cc

5 Ways to Facilitate Behavioral Changes Among Employees

As a manager, you must be able to facilitate behavioral changes when you notice behaviors among your employees of which you are not particularly fond. When you see these behaviors pop up, you can choose to do nothing, which can jeopardize morale, harm productivity, and potentially cause you to lose clients, or you can work to facilitate behavioral change. Obviously, helping your employee to amend the negative behavior is the better option, especially if the employee is otherwise a valuable part of your team. Fortunately, there are some steps that you can take to facilitate behavioral changes with your employees to reinforce positive behaviors while reducing those that are negative.

Be a Coach

Coaching is an ongoing and collaborative process that works at developing employees over time. It involves providing consistent feedback, which is communication intended to adjust behaviors. To help your employees to achieve an improvement in their performance, you’ll want to immediately correct behaviors that are impeding their success, but you will also need to help them develop the skills that they need to move their career forward. Other benefits of coaching employees include:

  • Employees will feel valued and like management wants them to succeed.
  • Staff will build valuable knowledge and skills that can help them to advance in the professional world.
  • Employees will feel encouraged and supported by their company and manager.
  • Workers will be able to feel the pride and satisfaction that often comes with taking on new challenges.

Tackle One Issue at a Time

The most effective way to help employees to change their behavior is to tackle one issue at a time as focus is paramount during these efforts. While you may have noticed that an employee has some issues and behaviors that you’d like to see changed, trying to fix them all at the same time will only overwhelm the change while creating more problems.

Instead, identify the main behavior that you’d like altered, and work on that specifically. Behavioral change theories cite a variety of stages associated with a change, so it is important that your employees have ample time to go through each to make sure that any change becomes a permanent one. If you have a few things that you would like your employee to work on, you should prioritize the most important and then work through them in that order, remembering only to move on once they have mastered the first behavior.

Reinforce Positive Behaviors

When you reward employees, you reinforce positive behaviors. When you notice a behavior in your workplace that you want to see more, be sure to acknowledge, recognize, and possibly reward it. Likewise, when an undesirable behavior pops up, be sure to provide constructive and direct feedback right away so that your employee understands that it is wrong.

It is important to deal with and confront these behaviors fairly and head-on. Change strategies for negative behaviors like “testing” your employees, bullying, or passive aggressive comments are never an effective means of getting the behaviors that you want. These tactics can be hurtful and will do more harm than good, breaking down relationships, creating distrust, and causing low morale in your workplace.

Inspire Your Employees

One of the best ways to achieve behavioral changes amongst your employees is to inspire them.Inspiring an employee is essentially tapping into their passions and motivations at a deeper level, and this can be done by using inspirational language and sharing stories. Bringing in popular motivational speakers can be a great way to accomplish this task, as an outside speaker can bring a unique perspective that can encourage your employees always to strive to do their best. Additionally, these sessions can help to build self-esteem and confidence, leading to greater employee productivity.

Create Collective Goals

Sometimes changing employee behavior is best done when working with your entire team rather than an individual. Depending on the undesirable behavior, there is a chance that everyone that you manage could use a review of what is and is not acceptable. You should be sure to set clear goals for your entire workforce that will guide all of your employees to act out positive behaviors. When everyone has his or her sight fixed on the same objective, change initiatives have the best chance of success. Holding group training sessions and meetings to reinforce these goals and the behaviors that you’d like to see out of your workers will help to inspire and encourage positive change.

Employee behavior can be difficult to change at times. However, if you want your employees to behave in a certain way, it is important to manage them in a manner that supports and encourages positive behaviors.

Tips For Increasing Productivity In The Workplace

We’ve all been there. It’s Monday, your weekend was much too short, and you’re getting paid to just sit at a desk, doing little to no real work.

With the birth of the Next Great Distraction seeming to crop up on the Internet every other day, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to be the productive employee you and your boss expect you to be.

Being more productive at work is not only good for your career, it will make you feel accomplished and fulfilled on your commute home.

Use these 7 productivity tips when you’re feeling slow at work to make you happier, healthier, and, in the end, more successful.

1: Exercise

The two best ways to increase your energy are through physical exercise and the proper diet. Everyone knows this, but until you’ve ingrained healthy habits, it’s much easier to continue being a sedentary junk food eater – especially while at work. The most popular alternative to 8 hours of sitting is, of course, the standing desk.

The good news is you don’t have to break the bank or take up much space to implement this work-friendly tool thanks to such manufacturers as Techni Mobili. Even bike desks can come in small, inexpensive packages. By engaging with these simple technologies, you give yourself the gifts of increased mental and physical energy.

2: Healthy Snacking

To further boost your stamina, keep only brain-power foods on hand and snack on them throughout the day, thereby stabilizing your blood glucose levels. Walnuts have been shown to increase inferential reasoning, blueberries improve short term memory, and the turmeric in curry helps to create new brain cells.

In order to increase your productivity on the job, you can intentionally set yourself up for success by instituting limits on idleness and food and, of course, by rewarding yourself for making good choices.

3: Acknowledge Employees & Coworkers

There is a simple reason for taking time out of your day to acknowledge the good work of the people you work with: putting energy into being negative drains you and those around you; positive energy generates more positive energy.

By generating an optimism epidemic, you create happy, efficient employees who are motivated to create output that prolongs the reward loop. Be realistic with your expectations, communicate them to your workforce, and reap the benefits of a happy workplace.

4: Harness the Power of Collaborative Office Spaces

Whether in a traditional office or a coworking space, people who form into teams give themselves a boost by generating a larger opportunity set and accomplishing more as a group than anyone can individually.

Creating a collaborative environment through the use of open office space not only solidifies an employee’s sense of being an integral part of the team, but research has shown that a moderate level of ambient noise can keep you alert as well. Plus, chatter and information-sharing is necessary for the generation of innovative ideas that will keep your business at the forefront of your industry.

5: Organized Fun

Friendly competition can play a large role in collaboration and productivity. Here’s how: the release of endorphins is essential to stress relief; at its heart, play is a team-building activity; a stimulated mind is more creative and poised for improved memory.

What is most important is that a playful environment comes from the top-down; the best leaders recognize that they set the tone for the work environment and it just so happens that games provide relief from mundanity.

6. Form Good Work Habits

If you haven’t done so yet, Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit, is a great read for anyone who wants to understand how to make good habits last and bad habits die off.

It all begins with the neurologically-driven habit loop: a cue triggers a routine and, if the brain likes the ensuing reward, the same cue will trigger the same routine time and time again. If you want to become addicted to habit building, there’s an app based on Duhigg’s principles – and if you play with the app too much, you can always hire someone to slap you out of that routine.

7. Take a Nap

We have all experienced the post-lunch lull – when a full stomach brings on the burning desire to trade in your desk for a nice, warm bed. Whether your belly is satiated or you just didn’t get enough sleep last night, it’s time for a 30-minute nap. Sleeping for 10 to 30 minutes during the day is just enough time to enter the peacefulness of Stage 2 sleep without delving into grogginess-inducing Stage 3 REM sleep.

Stage 2 sleep is where memory consolidation happens so, when you wake up from your nap, you not only have increased productivity, creativity, and cognitive function, but improved memory, as well. One caveat, though: taking a nap too late in the day will throw off your circadian rhythm, so it’s best to snooze in the late morning or early afternoon.

Image: bigstock

Is Communication Important For Employee Productivity? (Infographic)

When we talk about business communication, we want to achieve the following three results:

No. 1: Improving liaisons with your customers. When you communicate well within your organization, there are higher chances that you project yourself well to your customers, listen to their problems well and provide them with an apt solution.

No. 2: Educating all employees about your goals. The time you are well versed with what you need to do, it’s time that you share your work and discuss it with other people in your organization. This will provide you with a clear picture about their thought processes and you might just get rich insights from them.

No. 3: Growth. The first two results serve organizational goals. And when you know your customers well and have complete knowledge about your employees’ mindset, that is when you grow.

Here’s an infographic that provides more detail:

What communication should mean

About the Author: Arundhuti Roy is a professional business blogger and is working as a content marketer @ MyOperator.

photo credit: A Meeting Apart: leaders from An Event Apart, A Book Apart, and A List Apart meet to plan the future via photopin (license)

7 Weird Ways To Be More Productive At Work

Although most of us frequently complain about how busy we are, a study published in the journal of Psychological Science reveals that we secretly love all of our “busyness,” and are actually happiest when we’re hard at work.

So how can you ensure that you’re getting the most out of your time?

You’ve probably heard all the usual advice about making lists, taking breaks and eliminating distractions, and maybe you’ve even tried some of the many productivity apps and gadgets out there, but what about the less obvious tactics?

From laughing to Facebooking, here are some of the most outlandish strategies for boosting your productivity, and the science to back them up.

1. Turn Up The Heat

If your office or workspace is chilly or downright frigid, you probably aren’t nearly as productive as you could be during working hours.

Why? Research shows that when our body temperature drops, we expend more energy just to keep warm, which means there is less energy left for the concentration and inspiration that you need to get the job done.

One study found that when temperatures were below 68F (or 20C), employees made 44% more errors and were less than half as productive as when the room temperature was 77F (25C) degrees.

2. Don’t Take Your Work (Or Yourself) Too Seriously

Though it might seem counterintuitive, numerous studies show that the key to getting more done is to simply stop taking things so seriously. Humor and laughter have been proven to boost creativity and increase productivity, whereas seriousness just stresses you out.

A survey by Wirthlin Worldwide found that 60% of employees believe they would be more productive if their employers encouraged humor. Another study confirmed this by showing that managers who use humor have the most productive employees.

3. Bring Some Greenery To Your Workspace

Your environment can have a big impact on your mood and work ethic and according to a study from the University of Exeter in the UK, “green” offices with plants make staff happier and more productive.

The researchers examined the impact of both lean and green offices on employees’ concentration, workplace satisfaction and productivity levels and found that offices with plants help workers feel more engaged by making them more physically, cognitively and emotionally involved in their work.

4. Give Yourself The Option Of Not Doing Anything

How you frame your choices has a big impact on whether or not you will follow through with what you initially decided to do.

According to research by Wharton and Georgia State University professors, when you have to choose between two options, it’s more productive to include the additional option of doing nothing at all, because this makes you feel surer of your decision down the line.

5. Lists Don’t Always Need To Be Organized

List-making tends to be a very organized activity: you start at the top left corner of the page, number the first item with a tidy number “1”, and then continue down the page in the same manner.

Recently, though, writer and author Ben Schott suggested a rather revolutionary idea – haphazard lists.

The idea behind this is that our thoughts aren’t organized or linear, so our lists shouldn’t be either. According to Schott, it could be far more effective to start in the center of the page and write lists as clouds of related tasks, kind of like mind maps, which have been shown to boost creativity and productivity.

6. Belittle The Most Important Tasks

Another symptom of list-making is that we tend to put the most important tasks at the top because we assume this will help us get to them first. But, according to Stanford philosopher John Perry, putting too much emphasis on the really important things actually makes us want to do them even less.

Perry suggests using “structured procrastination,” which really just means making things that aren’t important seem more important than they are. He advises placing daunting or even impossible tasks at the top of the list, and then positioning the more doable tasks that actually need to be completed lower down.

7. Embrace Social Media

It’s hard to resist the temptation to check our favorite social media sites every five minutes, and for those of us with desk jobs, this can be a real productivity killer without the right safeguards.

But one survey found that contrary to popular belief, employees who use up to four social networks are more efficient, and also tend to stay in their jobs longer.

The researchers surveyed 100,000 call center employees and found that those who belonged to more than four social media networks had a 1.6% higher sales conversion and a 2.8% lower average call time – maybe because they just couldn’t wait to get back to Facebook or Instagram that picture of their lunch?

About the Author: Marianne Stenger is a writer with Open Colleges. She covers educational psychology, career development and workplace productivity.

photo credit: Ben+Sam via photopin cc

Start Your Retention Strategy On Day One

The first day at a new job is stressful. The pressure to start off on the right foot and make a great first impression can be intense. Right or wrong, on the first day it can feel like there’s a lot on the line, and on top of it all, it is all packed into a busy first-day schedule.

While new employees realize the importance of having a great first day, many companies miss the opportunity to make a great first impression of their own. This isn’t to suggest that effective onboarding ends on the first day. On the contrary, onboarding exercises should continue throughout the first year, and then transition into your long-term employee growth, productivity and retention strategy.

That said, the time from an accepted offer through to the end of a new hire’s first week often misses a valuable element: listening to the new hire. The time is often filled with so much talking at the new employee intsead. Now that you’re outside of the pressures of the hiring process, these first few weeks are a key moment to listen and learn more about the person that is joining your team.

Aside from just being common courtesy, listening to your employees has good business value, too. For example, according to a recent LinkedIn study, some of the most popular reasons employees look for jobs are a desire for greater opportunities for advancement, more challenging work and more learning opportunities. By starting this conversation as early as possible and gaining a deep understanding about the opportunities that are valued by your new hires, you can help protect yourself with a strong retention strategy.

Here’s what else you can gain from your initial onboarding conversations:

Open, Honest Performance Conversations: For many reasons, some of the most awkward conversations in the workplace are during performance reviews. A great way to counter this is by having performance conversations early and often. When an employee sees the value in sharing honestly, these performance conversations will have much greater value. A conversation about performance expectations for the first weeks and months is often a good start.

Visualize Long-Term Plans: Part of a successful long-term employer-employee relationship is putting an employee in a situation that runs parallel to his or her ideal career plan. By knowing where your employees want to go, you can better ensure that their work on your team keeps them on that chosen path.

Identify Employee Motivations: Part of building a high-performance culture is identifying the best ways to reward and acknowledge your talented employees. Discovering what your new hires value and what pushes them early will help you make your rewards more meaningful, and will save you from inefficient trial and error.

Show You Care: One of the leading causes of underperformance and burnout is personal problems. From the first day, you can work to build trust with a new employee that would make them feel comfortable discussing issues ourside of the office that might disrupt their work. Just asking simple questions about an employee’s weekend, summer plans or interests in general – and sharing in turn – can help create this environment, and may also foster loyalty.

Admittedly, these are behaviors that work well beyond day one with a new hire, but the sooner you can get started, the better off you will be.

How do you connect with your new hires after the hiring process is over?

photo credit: Phil Roeder via photopin cc

The Industrial Revolution, Renaissance 2.0 … And You

For many years I paid my rent by producing fund-raising videos for hospitals. I had several clients who kept using the phrase “patient-centered care.” For example, they would say, “Our new cancer care facility is built on a model of ‘patient-centered care.’”

Now I will freely admit I am not the brightest bulb in the universe, but even I knew enough not to open my yap and say, “Well, just out of curiosity, what the heck was your care centered on previously?”

But just in case YOU’re curious, allow me to step in and answer that question for you: previously, the care was centered on . . . the system. In the old system, you (the patient) would get your x-ray on 49th Street, then you would drive four miles to get your chemotherapy, and then you would wait three weeks to see a doctor on the other side of town, as that was the most efficient setup for the health care system. The patients were expected to accommodate the system. Patient-centered (rather than system-centered) care, obvious though its advantages may seem, is a relatively new idea.

This traditional deference to “the system” is not limited to healthcare. The public school “system” is another example where the system is more important than the people in it . . . unless, of course, you can afford the tuition to a private school, where they treat you like a unique human being.

This systems-vs.-individuals conflict is as old as the human race, but in 1890 or so, the Industrial Revolution – that is, when steam-powered machinery was added to the workplace – was a radical shift. It removed the usual constraints on the system/machine side. Our human side never had a chance to keep up, and we have been off-balance ever since.

But now that the Digital Revolution is here, and we are so involved in doing “knowledge work,” the management axioms of industrial ideology are no longer up to the task. Industrial ideology no longer applies to “the world of work.” In a “knowledge worker” economy, does anyone really believe that creativity starts at 9 am, runs consistently for eight hours, then shuts off at 5 pm? Does anyone really believe that overworked and fatigued people are more productive than well-rested ones? Industrial ideology blindly assumes yes. Common sense knows otherwise.

You are no longer a generic “human resource,” defined by your role in the factory. There is now far more value in your being a unique human being, and the system has become a “resource” that now has to adjust . . . to you.

This adjustment will not be easy. Like most revolutions, the Industrial Revolution earnestly sought to eradicate any competing ideologies, and it did a great job. If you doubt me, for just one example, look at what has happened to “the arts” over the past 100 years. Notice how stark and plain the buildings have become. Look at how the visual arts have become abstract and angular, how pop music has become a mechanized computerized beat, and how hip-hop dance has become robotic. We don’t sing along with each other, nor do most people know how to “connect” on a social dance floor.

In terms of creativity and interpersonal connection, the Industrial Era was a sort of machine-driven dark age, where much of what makes us human, i.e., our unique flaws, our limitations, our differences, our imperfections, and our natural rhythms, were shamed and suppressed. We now need to reverse course. Unfortunately, those who are still mired in Industrial ideology are looking for a fix using the old system. They seek a “replacement part,” in the form of a faster or more efficient machine called a “process.” They are missing the point, and the boat.

The fixes to the challenges of today are not yet another “system” in the form of a list of instructions. It lies in a complete change in consciousness, in greater perception and acceptance of who we are. We are seeing this change manifesting in bits and pieces: the Andon Cord in the Toyota Factories, the “agile” approach to software development, “Results Only Work Environments,” Peter Drucker asking “Who is your customer?”, McLuhan’s Global Village, The New Rules of Marketing and PR, and yes, the radical notion of “patient-centered care.” It just hasn’t quite yet coalesced into broad collective mainstream thought.

Like Da Vinci and Michelangelo re-discovering the long-buried art of the classical period, it is time for us to rediscover what we had before the coal-fired dark ages came upon us. It is time to go forward into our artistic past, and re-establish what once was. It is time to rediscover your unique artistic sensibilities where work and management are concerned. No more defaulting to acceleration, no more numbing up, no more pride in being impaired by sleep deprivation, no more trying to conform, no more pride in emulating the machines. No more deus ex machina. This is Renaissance 2.0, and it’s coming right at you.

About the Author: Justin Locke contributes an artistic perspective to discussions of management philosophy. This article is a preview of his upcoming book, Renaissance 2.0: The Artistic Revolution in Your Life and Work. Follow him on Twitter and visit his website at

photo credit: Gigi Ibrahim via photopin cc

What To Do About Employee Moonlighting

In today’s economic climate, employers are facing the ever-increasing situation of employees taking on additional jobs outside of their full-time employment. Many employers are encountering various issues with moonlighting and are left wondering what they can do to ensure they are getting the best from their employees as the primary employer. This can be a very tricky situation for both employers and employees.

Many employers wonder if they can institute a policy that prohibits employees from accepting outside employment altogether. Preventing an employee from obtaining outside employment is typically not legal. Many states have enacted “lawful conduct statutes” that say employers can not take adverse action against employees for lawful off-duty activities the employee may engage in outside of the workplace, which would include moonlighting. Outside of these statutes, constricting employees’ off-duty activities is generally frowned upon by society unless there is a legitimate business reason for concern. For this reason, it is best to forego attempting to institute a specific no-moonlighting policy that would most likely be unenforceable if tested in court.

Employers should focus their attention on areas of legitimate business concern when addressing the matter of outside employment. For example, a company has a legitimate concern that its customers receive the highest product quality and best customer service support possible. Conflict of Interest policies are standard issue in today’s employee handbooks and cover many of the areas concerning employees’ secondary employment. Some important items that should be covered in a Conflict of Interest policy include:

  • Language that employment with your company is considered primary employment
  • Secondary employment cannot be a conflict of interest in terms of working for a competitor or the employee starting a company that is in direct competition with the primary employer
  • Company time and materials are not to be used for non-company endeavors
  • Proprietary information is not be shared with anyone outside of the company (this may also be covered in a Confidentiality Policy)

The second major area of concern for employers is productivity. It is clearly a conflict of interest if an employee takes a second job on the night shift and is tired and cannot properly perform his or her duties for the primary employer. The concerns in this area are most likely covered in policies that already exist in your current employee handbook, such as:

  • Customer Relations
  • Professional Behavior
  • Performance Standards
  • Safety Standards
  • Confidentiality
  • Prohibited Behavior (sleeping and/or attentiveness issues on the job)
  • Solicitation (may apply when second job is direct sales such as Avon, Pampered Chef, etc.)

Employers must let employees know what is to be expected of them performance-wise, and that their employment with the company is considered primary employment. When and if a performance issue arises, it should be addressed immediately and appropriate disciplinary steps should be taken according to the organization’s policies and practices.

Many employers are encouraging employees to discuss potential secondary jobs with them to determine if there is a conflict of interest prior to accepting the position. This also gives the employer the opportunity to remind the employee about the performance standards expected of all employees.

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