Getting better sleep in 2017

So, what is so important about sleep anyway?

A good sleep is one of the most sought after resources in the world. It seems the more we yearn for it the less we get it. According to a study by the University of Hertfordshire 60% of Britons do not get enough sleep and sleep deprivation costs the American economy $411 billion in productivity. Loss of productivity relates to absenteeism, when people fail to turn up to work, but also presenteeism where people turn up to work and do not engage.

Not only is not getting enough sleep bad for productivity it also comes with some health concern. People who are sleep deprived are more likely to suffer from depression, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Similarly tiredness can impact decision making and may lead to impulsiveness which may affect people’s relationships, career, or even accidents on the road.

Create a sleep sanctuary.

The bed, a place dedicated to sleep, has been corroded in the modern era. How do we help it to return to the sanctuary that it is?

Unplugging your life-line: Removing your phone, tablet or laptop from your bedroom can help you disassociate work and worry from your sleeping ritual. Not only are phones and other electronic devices a part of your busy active life, they also use a blue light which disrupts your sleep hormones.

Keeping them out of the bed or bedroom allows you to leave the business of work behind, and helps you to focus on relaxing and psychologically transitioning into sleeping mode.

Lighting in your bedroom is also important, as light activates the brain and wakes you up. Scientists suggest making the most out of natural light in the morning and making sure that bedrooms are dark with thick curtains and dimmed lighting. You should consider using a light bulb that isn’t so harsh for your lampshade. Similarly, using a night mask might also help with blocking out any light that you can’t control.

Invest in a good mattress and pillows. Mattresses often have a lifeline of around 9-10 years, so investing in a new comfortable one might be worth it if it is going to help you sleep better. Most recent tech is an anti-snoring mattress which might help you and/or your partner get some quality uninterrupted shut eye.

Try and disassociate sleeplessness with your bedroom..

So if you are struggling to get to sleep in your bed, try and move to another room to do something that is not stimulating and will make you tired. If you associate your bed with sleeplessness it may be difficult to break the pattern.  

Lifestyle choices

We have all heard enough about what we should and shouldn’t eat this january. As dry January or Veganuary has taken its hold it is difficult to remember that eating healthily and not drinking alcohol is not just for show is not only good for our waist-line but also our sleeping patterns.

Scientists suggest that we should limit heavy food around 2 hours before we go to bed and should stay away from spicy food that might mess with our indigestion. Similarly, while alcohol might be useful to help us get to sleep but it will not keep us asleep nor will it be a quality sleep.

Caffeine is well known to keep us awake. It might be our lifeline through the day but when it gets to the afternoon it may also be our nemesis. The caffeine in our system can build up throughout the day and come to affect us later in the evening. Studies suggest that caffeine intake ( including tea, coffee and energy drinks) should be limited after 2pm.

Want better sleep? Activity is encouraged… Whether this is 30 mins a day in the gym or a 10 minute walk around the park at lunch. Activity and exercise is a necessary element to encouraging your body to feel tired.

However, it does matter when you do your exercise. It is suggested that you do it in the middle of the day rather than in the evening as exercise. Like coffee, exercise is a stimulant which can keep you alert for hours after you’ve finished. While libidos may decrease with sleep deprivation, sex is one of the only forms of exercise that can help you get to sleep.

 

Prepare yourself for sleep

The way that we prepare children for sleep, we must also prepare ourselves for sleep. Whether that be a hot bath, a few sprays of lavender on your pillow or setting up a dimmed lamp to read a novel. Slowing down activity up to two hours before sleep can help aid your brain into a relaxed state.

Relaxation, not sleep should be the goal.

While relaxation does not replace sleep it can also be a useful way for you to enter the realm of slumber.

In the period before sleep you can plan for the next day, write a to do list for what you want to achieve the next day, set out your clothes or even go through a mental list of what you have done that day and what you want to focus on the next day. Reflecting can be a great way to relax and close off.

By focusing on relaxation as a goal, rather than sleep, you can take the attention and worry away from it so it comes more naturally. Similarly, we should move away from the aim that we must get 8 hours to function. While, eight hours may be a recommended guideline: sleep is different for everyone and the quantity and quality differs from person to person meaning that focussing on the golden eight hours might actually be shooting yourself in the foot rather than putting yourself on the road to a good sleep.

So, while sleep is different for everyone, the benefits of it are indisputable.

Try and find what best works for you. Reflection can be a useful tool to understand how and why you want to get better sleep and can put you one step closer towards actually achieving what you want.

Setting objectives- a phenomena not just for January

So, we have left 2016- a year harangued by celebrity deaths and seismic political shifts, but have you taken the time to reflect on how it went for you? Did you achieve what you set out to, did you set any goals at all?

It might be almost half way through January,  but there is no time like the present to address your goals and objectives for now and the rest of 2017.

How do you want to succeed and progress as a person and in your career?

Start by pinpointing exactly what you want from work and how you can get there efficiently. Understanding what you want from your actions, and what you will gain, may be the first steps to actually getting there.

Make goals Specific

We set hard aspirational goals for ourselves that are often too broad to be attainable . But as David Kadevy reasoned “the bigger the goal the easier it is to give up on it.”

In light of this it may be useful to break our big goal down into smaller more specific objectives. Starting with specific and easy to achieve goals we can form goal completing habits that can be transferred into bigger objectives at a later date. Kadevy wanted to write a novel and was so overwhelmed by the prospect of it that he broke it down into writing a 100 words every day. The easier the goal, the more ridiculous it is to make excuses not to do it.

Big things happen because of small things, which means that if all you do is “go big,” you’ll never actually get to your goal.- Jeff Rodman, Polycom

For instance my larger goal may be to improve digital marketing at Motivii, but by breaking it down into smaller objectives over the course of the next three months I am more likely to reach my goal. For example, ‘Get clicks to the website up by 50% in three months time’, or ‘get 1,000 more followers on twitter by next March,’ or ‘get an article about Motivii on a well read online magazine’. The possibilities of these larger goals are endless but when broken down into bite-size steps that I can review and reflect on each week I am more likely to achieve them.

Set a time frame

Objectives may be long term goals or short term goals, but without setting a specific time period we often don’t follow through with our objectives. This might be signing up to do a half marathon in six months or completing a work-related project. Setting a time frame means that we HAVE to complete our objectives by a certain date – keeping us both motivated and accountable for our objectives. 

Share it with your manager

Studies show that when you share your objectives and goals with colleagues or managers you are more accountable for the outcome of them. Not only do you make promises to yourself, psychologically in your mind you’ve made promises to them too! Managers and mentors can be great supporters, especially if they have experience in your field and what you are working towards. Often when sharing your goals with your managers they become your biggest cheerleaders.

Making personal objectives that aren’t directly to do with work can help influence your work life and vice versa. Whether it’s going to the gym three times a week or getting clarinet lessons; setting up personal habits can help form good habits in the workplace.

Don’t forget to track the progress of your objectives and mark them off as done when you have completed them!

Ps. With Motivii you can now set objectives!

How to get that Christmas feeling all year round

Teams work well together around Christmas time, with busy social events and work to push for by the end of the year. The tight lipped conformity gets replaced with brandy and christmas sweetness. Yet why should the festive cheer and togetherness end after Christmas?

There may well be twelve days of Christmas, but there are also 12 months in the year…

Here are 3 tips to create that momentum all year round.

  1. Encourage rebellion and curiosity among your team

Conformity and monotony can kill the cat at work. Moving away from clear career trajectories for your employees can create impetus for change and innovation. Inspire new employees not to concentrate on just performance and career-led goals, but also to focus their attention on learning new knowledge and skills. A more well rounded employee who can code, and also help with marketing, will be more beneficial in the long run.

As Francesca Gino writes in HBR: “Of course, not all conformity is bad. But to be successful and evolve, organizations need to strike a balance between adherence to the formal and informal rules that provide necessary structure and the freedom that helps employees do their best work.”

Staleness in a company can not only encourage malaise among your workforce but also kill the company itself. In order for companies to survive they need to embrace uniqueness and adaptability. We only have to compare the likes of Apple and Google with the failures of Polaroid and Blackberry to see that moving away from the status quo into unchartered territory can help drive creativity among your team, and prevent the business from stagnating and revenue plateauing.

Celebrate unstructured work and rebellion amongst your workforce. For example, some CEOs allow developers to have a “create” week, where they go to work and they are allowed to use their skills to develop new things, not necessarily towards the product, but in the hope that it will ignite new curiosities and things they can add to the future.

By developing rebellion and curiosity in your team you can allow your employees to define their own mission, which in turn can help towards your mission as a team and as a company.

  1. Promote proactivity

Team building and away days can be seen as a routine Christmas present, but sport and physical activity amongst your team is important in and out of the office.

No one needs to be reminded of the benefits it does for health and productivity, but what really matters is how it can help your team increase general engagement and develop together.  

One of our plans for Motivii in the New Year is to take meetings outside the office, such as a walk around the park or the Thames river. One way you can do it is to convert your (rectangle) meeting table into a pop up table tennis table and play a quick game or tournament when concentration inevitably lulls on a Thursday afternoon.

3. Social events

Everyone looks forward to the Christmas party because it is a time for employees and managers to let down their hair down and gorge on mince pies and cheap red wine. But why should communication and engagement begin and end with the christmas party?

Organising breakfast and lunchtime catch ups can create an environment in which conversation is allowed and encouraged. Similarly if you promote flexible or remote working, social events can replace the much famed water cooler moments.

Moreover, it can be a good way to bind a team and know what they are up to outside of work. This doesn’t just mean relying on pub drinks every Friday, which can get repetitive.

By engaging your staff in finding out what they want to do, whether it be through an online poll or feedback session,  you might find that as a group you all like Indian food and/or have a shared love for Star Wars. The possibilities are endless, but inevitably if you never ask you will never know.  

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”

3.Foliage

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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.

4.Declutter

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.

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.

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/