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

 

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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?

1.Communication

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

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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

 

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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.
http://www.employeebenefitslive.co.uk/

The death of the employee survey?

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“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.

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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.

 

Can you ‘flex’ as a manager?

 ‘Flexible’ or ‘agile’ working has been heralded as the new way to create efficient workplaces and retain key talent. By switching up the locations for the daily grind, workers can get more out of their daily work and this can create a more creative and enjoyable work/life balance.

However, how much flexibility do you give your employees? How do you balance creating a high performing team while giving employees the flexibility they want

Here are a few tips to help you ride the flexible working wave and ensure that your team is both productive and motivated.

  1. Rules

For flexible working to function properly there has to be clear detailed rules which everyone in the office agrees on. One of the principles of flexible working is to move away from the ‘hub’ (the conventional office) to the home and roaming (which is anywhere that isn’t the office or home).This allows employees to work in their favourite café like their 20th-century Parisian heroes or at home watching urban foxes in their tiny garden, this can do wonders for mental wellbeing but without some careful managing can create a disconnect between manager and team.

However, what if everyone worked from home every Monday and Tuesday the working week would go off to a slow start. We would recommend creating a plan, where all employees need to be in the office for key meeting and team building exercises.

  1. Keep your team updated

Keeping your team in the know about the direction the company is going in, whether it be in the long term or the short term, can be difficult. Flexible working might make this even more challenging, especially when you aren’t sharing the same air in the office. Managers cannot rely on guesswork to understand how employees are doing and vice versa with employees and the company. Online collaboration tools can be an interesting and advanced way in keeping in touch and making sure that everyone is on the same page.

  1. Flexible working makes weekly team meetings even more important: Without passing your fellow colleagues in the corridor or on the way to lunch it is difficult to know how exactly your team is doing. Flexible working can impact each individual in a different way and is important for teams to come together to discuss it. Team meetings also encourage employees to reflect on how their week was and take a few minutes to address their own productivity.

Weekly team meetings can be used as a brilliant way to check in with your team members and to set objectives with them, within specific timeframes.

  1. Keep your team creative and innovative

Some employees may express that they find it challenging working in alternative locations and miss the ‘water-cooler moments’ at work or even the physical community of working together in an office. It may be difficult to create or maintain social connections. As a manager you can organise creative meetings outside the office and non-work related social events. Keeping your team connected allows them to bounce ideas off each other and work together to find solutions for problems.

  1. Embracing smarter work/ life balance

Flexible working represents the movement towards a “smarter” view of work. Be careful to make sure that flexible working does not become an excuse for employees to be constantly on-call or for them to do nothing at all. Setting defined working hours for each individual separates work from home life but also gives guidelines for productivity.

In summary, to make flexible work “work”, you need to embrace giving employees more options and the technology they need to make the transition work. However, employees also need to understand the flexible working does not mean they just do what they want, they need to keep to some simple rules to ensure that work is truly flexible rather than brittle. 

 

Can you Manage a Millennial?

 

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Tis’ the season to welcome young and fresh new employees and graduates to your team. Many of these new employees will fall into the group, commonly branded as Generation Y or the “millennial”.

As a manager it may be difficult to connect with the young graduate, fresh out of university with looming debt and the life experience of a tadpole. While they may come across as a generation misguided, where the concept of a first date has morphed into “Netflix and Chill” (if you don’t what this means email us!). With 91% of Millennials not intending to stick with their job for more than three years (Future Workplace), here are a few tips to help get the best out of your millennials and encourage them to stick around.

Embrace this technology knowhow

As a manager you can utilise and take advantage of young graduates’ tech literacy.  Many have skills and knowledge that delve deep into the world of communication, this can be harnessed towards the good of the company. Listen and be open to new tech ideas: Generation Y are at the forefront of the technological revolution and may know more creative and innovative ways to engage with your clients and customers. Whether it be instant messenger over email or technology-driven logistics plans.

Tip: they live their life on their phone, therefore consider work-related, interactive apps and online platforms to encourage them to feedback and engage with your business.

Structure is stability

Young graduates are used to being at a loose end; with vague essay assignments, “optional lectures” and few contact hours a week. You need to bypass this inefficiency and get your new employees to manage their own time effectively and to set attainable goals for them and your whole team.

Help young graduates practice mindfulness by helping them move past disjointed work hours and guide them towards weekly reflection of their work and their objectives for the next week. Check in with them frequently, using weekly meetings as a team and regular one-to-ones to ensure that they and you are getting the most out of their work. Using online formats (Hint Motivii!!), you can check in with your new staff and map their progress and struggles as well as monitor your own performance as a manager.

So in summary, embrace your millennial employees. Tap into their technology savviness to boost your business, but give them some structure each week to centre them and make sure they are part of a winning team.

Brexit and how real time staff feedback can help the future roller coaster ahead

FlagSo it is the talk of the town, country and global markets – Britain leaving the EU. What does it mean for business, jobs and the future of work in the UK?  Who knows? The only thing we do know is that we are going to be in for a period of uncertainty.

I heard entrepreneur and investor Jon Bradford say that he’s “seen and heard more interesting debate in the last 2 days than the last 2 decades.” And it’s true. Debate is good, no matter what side of the fence you are on, debate and feedback leads to agreement in new direction. It’s just a shame sometimes that it takes such a big thing to shock people into action.

Many employees are worried what this new direction means for their jobs. Managers are worried about what it means for their teams. Organisations are concerned about what this means for the future of their business. So how do we manage these worries?

Apathy is not the answer. The solution I believe in is to keep talking, keep giving feedback and ensure that each of us participates in making things better. If we are not part of this conversation then we run the risk of other people setting the agenda for us.

One of the reasons I founded Motivii was to encourage staff to constantly feedback about how they felt at work, to encourage managers to get information on their team so they could better support them and to help organisations improve work by better understanding how their staff are feeling in real time.

I’m positive that by encouraging continuous feedback, we can help not only make work better but also help our country head in the right direction.

Simply Mindful

photo-1441716844725-09cedc13a4e7The recognised benefits of Mindfulness are vast; improved focus and attention, an improved immune system, improved relationships and a reduction in symptoms relating to stress, anxiety and depression all form part of a long list (Gotink, 2015).

Mindfulness simply means awareness and being present in the moment without judgment and draws on techniques used in meditation and yoga. Trying to incorporate Mindfulness into your working day can be a challenge but just a few minutes of mindfulness each day is enough to obtain many of the benefits so it is definitely worth giving it a go.

The good news is Mindfulness at work will not require you to take up the lotus position on top of your desk. In fact, no one need know that you are taking a few minutes out of whatever you are doing to be present in the here and now. Here are a few ideas that might help you fit in Mindfulness to your working day.

  1. A great way to start your working day is by taking a few minutes on the bus or train to close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Count the breaths if this helps. You will be amazed at how relaxed you feel afterwards.
  2. Set a reminder to take a two-minute break to repeat this breathing exercise at some point in your day. Don’t worry if you get easily distracted by your thoughts whilst doing this exercise – just gently bring yourself back to focus on the breath again.
  3. When you are eating your lunch, spend a few minutes to think about what you are eating; the taste and texture. If you are drinking a tea or coffee, spend a few moments thinking about how it feels to hold the cup.
  4. When you leave your desk to take a walk, focus your attention only on the contact of your feet with the ground and if your mind wanders, bring it back to this sensation.

Focusing your attention in the present and will allow you to recenter and recharge your energy for the rest of your day. Don’t forget to get in contact with us at Motivii to share your favourite Mindfulness at work tips! (hello@motivii.com).

3 is the magic number

3 Magic NumberHere are the thoughts from Eamon, the founder of Motivii on 3 being the magic number…

It all started by feeling overwhelmed with too many things to do at work. I always found when I listed all the things I needed to do instantly my motivation would dip.

Separately when I was pitching people they seemed to get confused if I tried to sell in too many benefits. Without realising I started to limit myself to never trying to explain more than three things in one go. Actions following a meeting started being limited to to three things. And it worked! People remembered more, followed up on the actions and I started winning more deals.

I thought that I was onto something special… then I realised I was not the first person to understand the magic of 3!

If you look at politicians explaining ideas typically the better ones limit themselves to just three points. Even counting it on their fingers while presenting.

You can see the rule to three appearing everywhere:

  • Beginning, Middle, End – story telling
  • Veni, Vidi, Vici – Julius Caesar
  • Stop, Look , Listen – highway code
  • Thinner, lighter, and faster – Steve Job’s iPad 2 launch
  • Work, Rest, Play – Mars advertising campaign.

If you talk to psychologists they will tell you the human brain is fine tuned to remember three things. Ask it to remember more and you start running into trouble. Even things like telephone numbers, most people break it into around three groups of numbers to make it easier to remember.

On realising, that I liked keeping things to three I started writing down my three highlights of the week, the three challenges and the three things I wanted to focus on the next week. This simple list started helping me reflect and plan better. It felt like I had less to do and I got more done. I started to call it my Top3 report. (Highlights, Challenges and Focus are three things by themselves).

I know it’s not rocket science, but when I started getting everyone I worked with doing their own Top3, the benefits started being huge. Communication improved, stress was reduced and we started really nailing the important things.

However, it was still a very manual process. I wanted to get automated reminders to complete my weekly Top3; I wanted to do it quickly on my mobile; I wanted to add the option to answer anonymous questions; get automatic summary emails for my team; and I wanted the system to generate insight like, word clouds, run sentiment analysis and more… (I can’t help but want more than three things 😉

Though I looked, I couldn’t find anything in the market that could help. So… if you can’t find it build it. 

One year later the magic of 3 has helped launch Motivii which is making work better at GSK, Lloyds Banks, Find My Past and many more companies. And yes, Top3 is built into the service helping create fast feedback for employees, managers and organisations.