How to create “Zen” in the office

Autumn Season 2/3-Had enough of feeling stuffy and unproductive in the office?

Here are 6 tips to create a zen feeling in the office…

  1. Air quality

Studies have shown that good natural ventilation can do wonders for performance. The World Green Council found that better air quality in the office can improve productivity levels from around 8%, to 11%. Natural air is not only good for health but also can be part of a greener incentive for your office.

2.Good Lighting

Poor lighting has been seen as a detrimental to the health of your employees and their mental health. A report from the university of Groningen found that Workplace lighting can, “in addition to providing sufficient light to conduct work-related visual tasks, affect employees’ alertness, mood, cognition, sleep-wake pattern and health”



Of course good design is a must, but in the day and age of startups and being constantly strapped for cash a plant or two can go a long way. Embracing natural surroundings and a “wall of plants” can do wonders for uplifting moods, as well as producing much needed oxygen for the stuffy office. Similarly, and perhaps far more interestingly, plants can absorb noise and refract sound through their stems. Instead of using office partitions consider using screen plants.


Our offices becomes smaller as our love for kitschy items and technology increases.  However, the issue isn’t the space it is how we intend on using it.

  • Divide the workspace into zones and defined areas. The same with your desk.
  • Try and stop the catch-all cupboard or drawer filled with wires, pens, and old batteries that stopped working three months ago
  • Streamline your desktop so that when you start the new day fresh you are not bombarded with icons and clutter

5.Create a Break out area

Designate an area that is to be unassociated with work; it could be a place to do some reading, to eat lunch or for catching up with colleagues. This encourages employees to eat lunch away from their desk, and to be creative in a less constrained environment.

6.Promote proactivity

Organise half an hour football sessions, or turn your meeting table into a table tennis table. Sushi Friday and Latte Wednesdays may be useful to create connections in the office, but make sure they don’t become repetitive or sidelined for seemingly more important issues. The possibilities for work activities are endless and by communicating with your employees you can find out what they want to do to relax or ways in which you can reignite concentration when there are the inevitable lulls in the working week.

3 ways companies can turn disasters into success


When the world gives you oranges make orange juice… 3 ways leaders and companies can turn disasters into success….

In a world where the Lehman brothers can go bankrupt overnight, The UK can leave the EU and Trump goes from reality TV star to president, it is easy to fall foul to a cloud of uncertainty and despair.

While these things were seemingly beyond prediction, big economic and political change is a predictable and fixed part of our society and we have to accept this and move forward. But how do companies and leaders deal with the changes that happen suddenly and how can you ride the wave towards opportunity?

  1. Communication.

Change can trigger anxiety, decrease levels of emotional well-being and ultimately plague productivity. From communicating with your employees you can gage how they are feeling and react to big societal or company changes. Moving away from the “Remote” manager to the “Involved” manager you can show them that you care. You can use online feedback tools to get immediate realisations on how your team is feeling and use that feedback to implement certainty, and guide them through the highs and lows.

By watching and listening to your team you can see if behaviour changes or performance dips; with an insight of feedback you can create the mechanisms to dispel anxiety and create cohesion.

2. Preparation.

Sometimes you can’t prepare for big changes but in the aftermath, preparation is key.

You need to tell your employees what change means for them. Jeanie Daniel Duck reasoned in his book The Change Monster: The Human Forces That Fuel or Foil Corporate Transformation and Change, managers need to “interpret what’s going on for people and explain what it means for them in specific, concrete terms”. Providing your employees with information and creates a calming culture of shared knowledge and transparency. Preparation for the future might also mean training your team in some key areas so they are prepared for uncertain economic times and potential re-shuffles within your organisation.

Using the feedback from your team you can cement a roadmap for change and plan for how you will take the future on. Allowing everyone to be part of this new pathway, and creating a forum for suggestions and expression, emphasises a connectedness and creates a joint legacy for each member of the team.  

4. Interpret change as opportunity.

In the face of immense challenge and economic turbulence, all companies have the chance to prosper and expand. It’s about being positive and innovative and seeing the possibilities for continual improvement in each economic climate.

While it may be easy to fixate on the negatives, often the results of world events are out of our immediate control. By engaging your employees and creating a realm of job security, your employees can focus on the work ahead rather than sinking into inefficiency.

In summary, confidence and communicating with your employees will be more likely to breed success than indecision and silence.

What I am really thinking… Enter the Graduate Employee


A month in, what has it been like for the new graduate employee?

Here are my five top tips:

  1. Be assertive– If you feel like you have nothing to do, you probably aren’t working hard enough. If you don’t have anything to do, bite the bullet and ask someone. There is no point twiddling your thumbs waiting for someone to give you some work. Everyone may be too busy to remember to give you work, so don’t be shy or afraid to go mining for work.
  1. Communicate – Tell your manager how you are doing or request a one-to-one if you feel like you are losing direction or track. You can always tell your manager if you want more work or if you are struggling. Asking for help, or what may seem like a stupid question, should and will be interpreted as interest and progression. Communicate to yourself what you want to work on each week and take time to reflect on how your week went and what you want to achieve for the week ahead.


  • Say yes – To almost everything. By being curious and open to learning new things you can develop your skills in areas that you didn’t expect to. Your job title is fluid and your tasks won’t always fit into what you signed up for. Be excited about learning new things, for example If you start in a marketing job, why not say yes to learning about data and programming. Say yes to social and networking events; it can be a good way to learn about your company, other companies they work with and also how to meet new people.
  • People are just humanIn my first week and by the end of the first month I’ve been in the room, on the phone and working with companies who could be described as “scary” or “very corporate”, yet one has to realise that there are humans behind the corporate masks just like ourselves.
  • Be a rebel (within reason)Break away from conformity and make a pathway for yourself that deviates from the mediocre and unthinkingly acquiescent. Committing to the status quo will only commit yourself to boredom and malaise. By expressing yourself and being who you are you can explore your strengths and weaknesses.



P.S.A. HALLOWEEN SPECIAL: Do you have looming spectres in your workplace?

Some areas of work might seem a bit too spooky and scary to deal with. We’ve alligned some key areas with our favourite halloween monsters.

Here are a few tricks and treats to help solve the situation

(bit like magic really)

  1. Organisation- Dementer  triwizardmaze_pm_b4c31m1_dementorintriwizardmaze_moment  

Often in some companies turnover can be very high or fear their security in their own job. This can lead to people losing sight of the product or services they are providing. Organisation issues have to be remedied to help retain key talent.


  • Understand: what is your company’s mission, what is it trying to do, how do you feel about this? Value: what are the values of your company and do you agree and relate to these values. Customer: do you know what your customers think about you. Impact: What impact are you having on the above? How can you help improve things at work?
  • Identify and solve an organisational problem; a great way to advance your career is to identify a problem within your organisation and propose a solution for it. By offering to put your solution into effect you will increase your visibility as problem-solver within the organisation, whilst expanding your skills along the way.

2. Team- Wolves


Sometimes in companies there can be lone wolves in the wolfpack, often leaving many employees to feel alone and like their work isn’t worth being valued by their colleagues. Similarly in the work environment it can be hard to create strong friendships outside the workplace. Team collaboration can be one of the most important areas in businesses succeeding.


  • Organise team building sessions: People work better together if they get along. It’s just part of our natural human instinct. As a manager it is up to you to organise events that will help foster relationships between your team. Big or small, formal or informal, everything counts.
  • Encourage and welcome advice: If relationships are suffering or you’re finding it difficult to work well with your team, ask your manager for advice. Rather than complaining about your colleagues, which likely won’t go down well with your manager, ask them for advice on how they think you could improve certain relationships.
  1. Communication- Zombies


At time we can be left in the dark about where our company is going. Similarly without frequent two-way communication between employees and managers it is difficult to know when things are going well in terms of performance and also motivation levels at work. Often managers forget that employees, like their customers and clients, need support and attention to be the most productive and motivated to do the best job possible.


  • Don’t shy away from problems; If problems arise within work, don’t shy away from them; face them head on. Tell your boss when things aren’t going right, and communicate to them your prepared solutions. This will generate a faster, problem-solving conversation between you both and will nip the issue in the bud before it spirals into something bigger.
  • Make internal knowledge and documents easily accessible: especially important for newer employees, making internal documentation easily accessible is a great way of boosting communication and can even act as a training programme for new staff. Sharing files via Google drive or making them accessible on your company intranet is a good start.
  1. Wellbeing- Edward Scissorhands


Long hours and lack of sunlight are no longer vogue in the modern workplace. Commonly in the workplace we are pressed for hard work rather than clever work, which can be detrimental to employees well being. Hard work often doesn’t allow employees to do what they are best at. For engaged employees, wellbeing and mindfulness should be respected and encouraged in the workplace.


  • Promote a healthy lifestyle: adopting a healthy lifestyle is a key element in improving your workplace wellbeing. For example if you’ve got a busy afternoon, a heavy lunch probably isn’t the best option. Nor is skipping it completely.
  • Drink lots of water: water is the key to a healthy mind and body. Make sure you drink enough and you have access to it at work. Get into the habit of having a glass or bottle at your desk
  1. Manager – Voldemort


Managing can be hard, while we all know we need to better managing ourselves it can be difficult to manage other people at the same time. Some managers may find themselves too busy to give feedback to their direct reports. But they do not see the importance of giving praise to their employees. Similarly employees can often feel that ghost-like managers do not respect or value the work that they do, therefore they become disenchanted and disengaged with the tasks at hand.


  • Schedule catch-ups into your monthly routine: Town Halls, or simple monthly meetings, are a great way for everyone to share what’s happening and ask questions. This helps keep everyone in the loop. Motivii has recently launched a ‘Meeting Mode’ which would be really useful for these meetings; it summarises everyone’s weekly reviews into one page which you can all discuss together.
  1. Development- Chucky


Sometimes the path of work can get a bit spooky and unknown. Without good managing employees can lack direction and development can be stunted. Without opportunities to learn and grow within a company a general malaise can settle and morph into prolonged discontent and stagnation.


  • Engage your manager in a career discussion; Talk to your manager about your thoughts for the future, and come together to create a clearly defined career
  • Attend courses to broaden your skills; once you have investigated what is necessary to achieve your career goal, start broadening your knowledge immediately. Attend courses and workshops that help deepen your knowledge and naturally accelerate the process to achieving your goals.

How to get that ‘Hygge’ feeling in the office?



Autumnal series part 1 of 3

Hygge; the intrinsic feeling of satisfaction and well-being that Scandinavian’s do so well with their mindset and interior design.  Hailing from Denmark with many different meanings and interpretations, pronouncing it like “hug” sounds appropriate. Yet with the autumnal leaves falling and the slow malaise of winter arriving now may be a good time to bring a bit of Hygge into the office.

How can you make your workplace more Hygge and become a hyggeligt manager?


Talk to your employees about what they want in the office and how they want the office to run. Showing that you care and consider their thoughts is not only good for morale but performance as well.  You want to make your employees feel like they can be at home while at  work.

As Zrinka Lovrencic, Managing Director of workplace and consulting firm Great Places To Work Australia, said a great workplace is one where you trust the people you work for, have pride in what you do and enjoy the people you work with”

But creating this vibe at work is difficult unless you talk to your employees and gage how they are feeling.

2.Feedback to one another..

Don’t be another H.I.P.P.O* in the room. By moving away from top-down to two-way communication you can discuss things that may never have entered your brain or theirs. You can also find out when things are working in the office and when things are not.

As Claude Levi-Strauss said ‘The wise man doesn’t give the right answers he poses the right question’

3.Be flexible… But also set guidelines.

People work at different paces and in different ways. Asking them how they want to work may be beneficial for their productivity. People can be present, but also absent. If one of your employees is suffering from major brainblock/ pumpkin hangover let them go. But set guidelines, letting them know that the day after they are going to be working off the pumpkin pie in the office.

By embracing flexibility as  a manager you can focus more on output rather than hours, which creates a culture of productivity and performance rather than the daily dredge.

*HiPPO- highest paid person’s opinion

In summary, before you focus on Sushi Fridays and Pumpkin Spiced Latte Mondays, focus on the emotional wellbeing of your colleagues first and communicate with them about what they want.

Part 2 out of 3 on pimping your office in Zen style coming soon!


Understanding the buzz around employee engagement


What is employee engagement and how can you improve it?

Here are some quick and easy to follow thoughts…

What is employee engagement?

According to Wikipedia, an engaged employee is one that is absorbed and fully enthusiastic about their work and takes action to better their organisation’s reputation and interests.

Gallup has found that 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged at work, and disengaged employees equal costly outcomes. However, companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share (Gallup).  Better employee engagement makes companies 21% more profitable and improves rates of absenteeism, customer ratings and less safety incidents.

So HOW can you improve it?

Being an engaging manager…

  • Listen

Being a good listener is tough; many people think they are good listeners without considering what it means to actually “listen”. Often in conversations we are waiting to talk rather than actually listening to what people have to say. Similarly, being silent while someone is talking does not mean we are engaging with what they are saying. Creating a two way dialogue and prompting questions can lead to discovery and more cooperative conversations.

As a manager being available for one-to-ones and group conversations shows that you care about your employees and are available to talk to them about any challenges they are facing. Being an approachable and authentic manager means that you can engage with your direct reports about their future in the workplace.

  • Set personalised goals for each employee

Creating personalised goals allows employees to find a way to give their own contribution to your business. Collaboratively setting goals moves away from top-down management. Personal goals look towards career development but also give focus for day to day work.

People on average spend 43.6 hours at work a week, averaging on more than 8 hours a day. With so much time spent at work, working for a purpose has never garnered so much importance.  As Gallup has found, 50% of millennials said that they would take a pay cut in order to have purpose in work.

  • Create meaningful conversations

Create a structured plan for meetings which provide clarity on any loose ends. One recommendation is setting out a 3 pronged structure for meetings with a beginning, middle and end, and making sure that meetings do not drag on and are appropriately “wrapped” up. Focusing on strengths-based development instills confidence through praise. Gallup finds that sales increase by 19% for strengths-based development workplaces. By focusing on employees strengths, the manager is actively engaging with their employees. Sometimes it is up to managers to guide employees to unlock their strengths or teach them how to use them.

  • Consider.. management training

Managing human beings, both introverts and extroverts, with a wide range of skills can be overwhelming. Often managers become managers because they are the best in their field,  yet many are not taught to manage. On average managers only get training in leadership skills ten years after they first became managers (Zenger Folkman). Often this is too late, and bad managerial habits have set in from the first year. Zenger argues that bad managerial traits are contagious and can lead to the formation of good habits or bad habits. His studies found that there is strong correlation between the behaviour of a manager and the impact on their subordinates in terms of their leading styles. Poor leadership can encourage a culture of dissatisfaction and disengagement among employees. A solution to safeguarding against dissatisfied employees is an investment in leadership training for managers and senior leaders.

Ditching Employee engagement surveys…

Deloitte’s 2016 Human Capital Trends highlighted that 85 per cent of executives surveyed pinpointed employee engagement as a top priority for 2016. Yet, there are better ways to listen to your employees than through timely, expensive surveys. Engagement surveys can be regarded as a de-personalised drop in the ocean.

As Liz Ryan candidly put in a Forbes article:

“How close would you feel to your spouse or partner if they gave you a survey to complete once a year, in order to let them know how you feel the relationship is going? You probably wouldn’t love that idea. Relationships don’t thrive because one party to the relationship sends the other party a survey to complete.”

Surveys are a mechanical process sending out a message to employees that their views on the workplace can be quantified once a year, in a bureaucratic fashion. It sends out the message that their job can be categorised into a few sections. Many employees never see the true results of surveys and find that giving feedback only once a year is not indicative of how they are feeling throughout the year and at different quarters.

stickie-engagement Arguably there is no silver bullet for employee engagement. However managers and their leadership styles should be at the forefront for engaging employees at a localised level and also in terms of the culture of the feedback system in the organisation.

6 ways to become a Time Wizard



Don’t worry, it won’t take long to read this!


Michelangelo and Steve Jobs were given the same amount of minutes as us in the day, but it all depends on how you use them.

Here are some tips to help you become a time wizard and manage your team more efficiently:

  1. Make time strategic

In the workplace some issues are of more strategic value than others. It is up to the time- canny wizards to decide what is the most important to be dealt with first. Michael Mankins found that 80 per cent of a manager’s time is devoted to less than 20 per cent of a company’s long term value. Thus a manager needs to be focused on decisions, not always non-strategic discussion.

A good way to address decision making is through…

  1. Structured team meetings

Online engagement tools can help structure and inform team meetings. Employees can reflect on the past week by looking at what they have achieved, and similarly what they have found difficult. By doing this they can consolidate their focus, and self-manage what their goals are for the next week. As a manager you can use this information to amplify discussion and create a structured pathway for team meetings.

Online engagement tools also allow employees to express how they feel right away, preventing issues within the organisation being dragged out from quarter to quarter. Similarly engaged and structured team meetings can show managers that teams are acting on what’s been agreed to in meetings.

  1. Keep meetings short and punchy

Planning meetings beforehand, and keeping a time limit on them, allows people to be focused and stay attentive. Be firm and address the key issues at the beginning of the meeting. Be engaged and don’t allow yourself, or your employees, to be distracted from work by other work.

  1. Keeping focus

Many employees and managers admit to doing emails or other work during meetings which can cause them to drag on and lose focus.  As the common saying goes: better to do something well or not at all.

Often we attempt to do 1000x tasks at once but at times the quality of our work is not always tiptop, meaning that more time has to be spent later correcting the work we do. In light of this we should prioritise what is most important and do it first.

  1. Make little changes to make your life easier

A common myth is that in order to manage time more efficiently you need to change yourself drastically. Little steps towards better time management can help in exponential ways. For example, you can use online personal assistant tools to go through emails; highlighting the most important ones and push the less important ones to the back. Use mechanisms to track emails sent by you, schedule emails for particular times and then follow those emails with automated canned responses to save your time and much needed brain power.

  1. Be kind to yourself

Sometimes you just can’t do everything. With an increasing workload, taking more breaks can help with efficiency. Exercise and practicing mindfulness can help you step away from work and re-calibrate. Learn how to say no and to delegate. Often we take on too much because we want to do the best job, but as a manager or an employee there are people in our team who can help us.

In summary, we can’t do it all, but as William Penn said

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst”

So take a minute to think how you can make use of your valuable time better.  


Motivii at Employee Benefits Live


eamon-about-to-go-live-with-rbsMotivii’s first event and what an outing it was.

With our grey personalised t-shirts we gave Zuckerberg a run for his money.

EBL is one of the largest rewards and benefits events in Europe and it brought together a number of interesting companies and ideals.

What did we learn from the event?

“Employee” and “manager” engagement were the buzz phrases over the two days and we had a lot to talk about on the matter.

The death of the employee survey?


“The annual engagement survey is too slow, too coarse and not very useful.

Replacing them with a new set of tools run on mobile is the future to understand the workforce.”

Josh Bersin – Deloitte

The term “employee engagement survey” dates back decades, but instead of fulfilling its rightful purpose many employees and managers alike see it as a waste of time. Why? Administering surveys annually, or sporadically throughout the business year, creates data that is no longer accurate and useful to anyone. In a rapidly changing business environment, what is the use of “old news”. If an employee has already been disengaged for seven months prior to the annual survey, they may have already cost their manager and their team lots of money and valuable time.

A disengaged employee not only wastes company time, but also their own. But with weekly meetings and a holistic approach, issues can be addressed immediately.  There is no magic ball that can see into the future and predict how employees may be feeling in a month or two’s time.

The past is often useless and the future is unpredictable – all this leaves us with then, is the present.

Collecting feedback consistently and frequently throughout the year is the most efficient and cost effective way of being able to really hear what employees have to say.

Through apps and websites (Hint.. Motivii!) employees can review their week. Monitoring their own progress and their focus for the week ahead. Through t mangers do not have to chase their employees for feedback. Not only does this engage the employee but also managers can use this information to frame weekly meetings. New sets of tools on mobiles can help companies make employee feedback a holistic and integrated part of their business strategy, rather than using inadequate and useless annual HR measurements.

In turn, everyone’s a winner; if you have a motivated workforce, the working environment will flourish and profits and success will come as a bi-product of this.