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Increasing Productivity

Fighting Sleep Is A Losing Management Strategy. Let Your Employees Take Naps

An exhausted employee who naps is unproductive for a few minutes. One who doesn’t nap is unproductive all day.

Heather Huhman

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sleeping-habits

When we hear “naptime,” most of us think of small children who are lucky enough to have sleep scheduled into their day. At some point, these naps stop being scheduled, and it becomes taboo to get rest throughout the day.

Unfortunately, this stigma attached to catching some much-needed zzz’s throughout the day is hurting employees’ productivity, motivation and their ability to perform everyday tasks. In fact, according to “The Cost of Working Tired,” a report by Accountemps, 77 percent of men and 71 percent of women admit to often working while tired.

Jason Cummins, owner of All Hours Air, a 24-hour heating and air conditioning company headquartered in Sparks, Nev., witnessed first-hand what extreme tiredness can do to employees.

“I had an engineer once who always came in late to work because he had insomnia. I knew it was affecting his work because he got simple instructions wrong and didn’t produce much in the office,” Cummins told me via email.

Cummins jumped at the opportunity to help by changing his employee’s schedule to a time when he was feeling more productive and awake. Even the best employees can fall victim to becoming overly tired and worn out.

Related: Your Crazy Erratic Sleep Routine Is Making You Less Productive

Here’s how leaders can encourage them to have a snooze and increase productivity:

Have a nap room

google nap room

Google Zurich – nap room

A lack of sleep can make people do some funny – and not so funny – things. The Accutemps report found 52 percent of employees feel distracted and unable to focus when tired at work, which causes employees to make mistakes they wouldn’t normally make.

Michael Steinitz, executive director for Accountemps, a temporary accounting and finance hiring resource headquartered in Menlo Park, Calif., witnessed what sleep deprivation can do when his company surveyed professionals.

“One person admitted to deleting a project that took 1,000 hours to put together and another missed a decimal point on an estimated payment, causing the client to overpay by $1 million,” Steinitz shared with me in an email.

To help prevent employees from making these errors, Steinitz suggests encouraging employees to take breaks – and don’t forget to lead by example.

“Some professionals and management may choose to forgo breaks to get their work done. But remind staff that a tired employee isn’t an effective or productive one. Everyone needs an occasional break to recharge,” he said.

Make rest and relaxation part of the company’s corporate culture by adding napping areas or rooms. Explain to your team that to stay productive it’s crucial they take breaks and close their eyes, even if only for a few minutes. Encourage team members to bring in their own blankets and pillows to make them even more comfortable when cozying up for a midday snooze.

Educate employees

“A company’s employees are its greatest strength – especially their health and happiness,” Michael Susi, the global wellness manager at LinkedIn from San Francisco told me via email.

That’s why Susi and LinkedIn have committed to making sleep their wellness focus for 2017. To kick it all off, the company held its first annual sleep fair in New York.

“The goal of the event was to educate employees on the importance of sleep and share advice on how to get a good night’s rest,” Susi explained.

LinkedIn’s programme included a sleep ambassador teaching employees the best techniques for making a bed in order to get the most comfortable sleep.

Related: 10 Ways To Make Money While You Sleep

While some employers don’t have the resources to hold large events, there are other effective ways to keep employees informed about healthy sleep habits. For example, Optimity, a corporate wellness company, equips their team with a fully loaded library of content on better sleep.

“We focus on building small habits that improve the quality and consistency of your sleep patterns. The most popular ones are educational about good sleep hygiene and action focused about habit-hacking your way into more consistent practices that synchronizes your circadian rhythm to maximise your sleep cycles,” Jane Wang, CEO of Optimity located in San Francisco, told me via email.

Whether holding a large event or giving employees educational tips throughout the year, it’s important to remain proactive in their efforts to find healthy sleep patterns. For LinkedIn’s sleep fair attendees, this motivation came in the form of analog clocks to encourage disconnection from their digital devices at night and maximise their rest.

Also, try inspiring team members to take care of themselves by bringing in sleep experts, offering fun cooking classes with recipes that enhance sleep or host a team bonding where employees create their own aroma therapies.

Be observant

sleeping-patterns

When employees are making mistakes – especially costly ones – it can be difficult to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. But that’s exactly what Mike Seidle, co-founder of WorkHere, a job search app located in Indianapolis, did when one team member was making multiple mistakes.

“After sitting down with the employee, we discovered he was having problems with medication and got him to see his doctor to get it fixed,” Seidle said to me in an email.

“About the worse thing you can do with tired employees is assume it’s just not getting enough sleep. It’s amazing the answers you get when you say, ‘You’ve looked really tired the last few days, is everything OK?’”

Take on the responsibility of employees’ health and sleep issues. Start by asking how they’re doing if they seem off or are making more mistakes than usual. Let them know they’re supported and not being judged or reprimanded.

Once an employee opens up, give them time to catch up on their sleep or see a doctor. Offer flexible working hours, the opportunity to work remotely or the option to catch up on work over the weekend.

Related: Sleep Your Way to Success

Be flexible with new parents

Naptime is important for newborns, and it’s necessary for moms and dads as well. Just because parental leave has ended, doesn’t mean the struggles of being a new parent have.

Joanna Douglas, owner of Clean Affinity Cleaning Service, a cleaning service agency located in Portland, Ore., recognised this when a new mom returned to work.

“I had an employee once who came into work after maternity leave and found it hard to work because her baby kept her up all night,” Douglas told me via email. “I gave her a schedule that allowed her to get eight hours of work, and also go home, rest and take care of her baby at the end of the day.”

When a team member returns from parental leave, take them aside to show that leaders understand their current situation and are willing to help them get back to work. Allow them to take more control of their own schedules. This could range from letting them go home during the day to nap, to taking breaks throughout the day to get some shuteye.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle.

Increasing Productivity

Take Responsibility For Your Company’s Culture To Boost Productivity

A healthy culture isn’t a nice-to-have but a must-have.

John Rampton

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Whether you’re running an early-stage startup or a fast-growing company, every organisation has a culture. And it can determine whether your business succeeds or fails.

Your company’s culture comprises the actual work environment for your team and the standards everyone is held to. It also dictates how colleagues interact and communicate and the values and beliefs of your team. In fact, one survey shows that 86 percent of employees believe their company’s culture influences how productive they are.

No wonder Arianna Huffington has described corporate culture as “a company’s immune system.”

“Ultimately,” she says, “your health depends on your immune system.” Here are four ways a healthy company culture boosts morale and productivity.

It makes employees happy

A study conducted by economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12 percent spike in productivity, while unhappy workers were 10 percent less productive. As the research team states, “We find that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity. Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings.”

If you have employees who dread coming into work and are spending more time looking at the clock than working, how productive do you really think they are? What’s more, happier employees tend to work better with others, solve problems instead of complain about them and make fewer mistakes. They also have more energy and motivation, which helps them learn faster and make better decisions.

Related: Wasted Employee Time Adds Up: Here’s How To Fix It

It promotes collaboration and stronger relationships

A healthy and positive company culture encourages your teammates to get to know one another. That friendly chatter eventually leads people to feel comfortable enough to share advice, opinions and ideas.

When there’s a large project looming, your team members will be able to work together faster and more efficiently because they know how to communicate. More importantly, this leads to your team building friendships – which has been found to increase productivity and engagement.

“People are more creative and productive when they experience more positive inner work life, including more positive emotions, stronger motivation toward the work itself and more positive perceptions of the organisation,” says Harvard Business School Professor Teresa Amabile, who co-authored “The Progress Principle.”

It inspires creativity

Let’s say that an employee or colleague comes to you with a suggestion. If you immediately dismiss her idea, do you think she’ll come to you the next time she has an “aha” moment?

Healthy company cultures encourage people to be creative through brainstorming sessions and new responsibilities. This not only gives them a chance to be heard, but it also helps them look for unique ways to solve problems.

It influences individual mindsets

Company culture also affects how each team member views his or her individual performance. It shouldn’t comes as a surprise, then, that healthy cultures foster more high-performing team members. Aaron Schmookler, leadership coach and co-founder of TheYesWorks, a training and team-building organization, calls this positive peer pressure.

“Why do aspiring Olympians train with other aspiring Olympians?” he asks. “In part, they want the high-performance drive to rub off on them if they don’t have as much of it as they wish.”

According to Schmookler, even when someone already has a high-performance mindset, she’ll want to keep it and deepen it so she can keep pushing forward. Being surrounded by others pushing for greatness makes the hard work feel easy.

Schmookler also says the opposite is true.

“We’ve all heard of workplaces where a new person comes into a low-performance culture and people tell them, ‘slow down.’ ‘You’re making us look bad.’ High-performance cultures have people who instead say, ‘Pick it up. You can do it.’”

Related: 7 Ways To Get Better At Working With Others

How to avoid toxicity

There’s a strong correlation between morale and productivity. If you want your team to be more productive, you’re going to have to foster a healthy and positive work culture. Emma Seppala, Ph.D., and Kim Cameron, Ph.D., suggest in Harvard Business Review that you can achieve this by fostering social connections.

Encourage your teammates to get to know each other by hosting social events or having them eat lunch together. You must also get away from your desk and have face-to-face interactions with your team. Go out of your way to help as well.

Leaders who are fair and self-sacrificing inspire employees to become more loyal and committed. If your team is swamped, step in to help. Encourage people to talk to you – don’t brush someone off when he has a problem. It gets the problem off his mind, which means he can focus on work.

A healthy culture isn’t a nice-to-have but a must-have. Culture exists, whether we actively cultivate it or let it develop on its own. To get the most productivity you can, make sure to build an environment where people feel respected and inspired. It will not only make your employees happier, but it will also fuel high-quality work.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Increasing Productivity

Why You Should Gamify Your Business

Businesses do not succeed unless we understand why they operate and what their founder’s intentions are for creating the business.

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Sweat pouring down his forehead, staring intently at the chessboard, an anxious Bobby Fischer faces imminent defeat. A few uncharacteristic blunders at the beginning of the game has the audience on pins and needles. It’s the height of the cold war and a stalemate between Boris Spassky has an unnatural weight for a chess match. The cameras cramp the space, distracting Fischer and causing him to throw the game. Then another.

Anxiety is higher than ever. Finally, Fischer demands that cameras stop piercing the so-called “Match of the Century.” Then, suddenly, he began to win. He won again and again until finally, he was unstoppable. Final score: Fischer, 12 and one half, Spassky, 8 and one half. Fischer was now the undisputed world champion and the world couldn’t stop talking about it.

Why games motivate us so deeply

How could a game, a game that later wasn’t even televised, capture the world’s attention? How could a simple chess match capture the imagination of an entire generation?

Games are powerful things. Unlike real life, games have clear goals, constant coaching, and immediate feedback. There are points, winners, losers, upsets, dark horses, and reigning champions. Everything is organised in a refreshingly understandable, trackable way. Experiences are tallied into points, matches are organised into tournaments with the promise of prizes, advancement, and adulation.

Gamification, in this sense, is actually quite old. It has been practiced for generations. For time immemorial, games have taught us important skills, both technical and social. Now, however, a few game changers are using gamification to create outstanding products and drive business goals.

Related: 3 Ways Workplace Gamification Can Backfire – And How To Avoid Them

 How gamifying a business task works

In business practices, you can use gamification to help motivate employees and to understand the motivations of your customers, clients, and business partners. When put into practice, this can mean major surges in productivity and profitability. Think about it: We often have friendly competitions among team members to help motivate them to perform to the best of their ability. This is a simple gamification strategy that can be implemented in any business to a wonderful result.

Gamification, according to Yu-kai Chou, author of Actionable Gamification and pioneer within the gamification industry, is a mixture of game design, gaming dynamics, motivational psychology, user experience design, neurobiology, technology platforms, and behavioural economics. This may sound like a loose classification of complex and disparate fields, but it’s actually an adept definition of an all-encompassing philosophy on life and what motivates us to do what we do in our daily lives.

The drives that motivate us

What about gamification makes the philosophy so effective? There are eight core principles that are considered what is called the “octalysis,” a conceptualisation created by Yu-kai Chou. Basically, Chou posits that eight core drives motivate us in every facet of our lives. Not only can we use these drives in our personal lives, we can also use them in our work and business lives.

A mixture of drives can give us varying degrees of interest, dedication, and motivation. These core drives are as follows according to the octalysis: meaning, accomplishment, empowerment, ownership, social influence, unpredictability, scarcity, and avoidance.

The last three mentioned on the list can be used in negative ways to achieve participation. For example, using avoidance, or the feeling that you must act in order not to lose something can cause people to feel manipulated in the long-term. However, avoidance can be built into your motivation matrix if used properly and sparingly.

Truly, each drive has to be used with context, in the same way employing avoidance has to be monitored and managed. All these motivations can be employed to help better your organisation by finding those key intrinsic and extrinsic motivators that help you accomplish your business goals.

Gamification is the simple practice of identifying motivating factors and qualifying them through a myriad of ways.

In some cases, gamification boils down to simply analysing our motivations accurately so that we can either change them or manipulate them to better serve us. There is no better arena for this time of analysis and planning than business.

Businesses do not succeed unless we understand why they operate and what their founder’s intentions are for creating the business.

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Increasing Productivity

Wise Words From wiGroup On Building A “Wow” Company Culture

wiGroup has three underlying visions that form the basis of the business’s culture. Bevan Ducasse calls them the 3Ps.

Nadine Todd

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1. Passionate people

I loved the idea of starting a business and coming to work each day with passionate people who love what they do. Working in corporate there were too many people who just wanted to get to the weekend, and I found that really sad. You go through your whole life not enjoying what you do. One of the main books I read that got me there was Richard Branson’s Screw it, Let’s do it. His whole philosophy is about fun and loving what you do.

We even have a full-time coach that everyone can access. It’s up to you to book time with him, but everyone does, thanks to a culture of self-growth and personal development. His time is fully booked. I had to build a business case to justify the hire, but I worked out that If I increased the productivity of 100 people by 10%,  you effectively have ten more people working in the business. It’s hard to put a tangible number on it, but what we’ve seen is that the productivity, attitude, leadership and personal growth equates to roughly 20% across the organisation of 150 people.

I believe that great organisations find people and make them come alive in what they’re brilliant at. There are things I don’t like or am not good at that other people love. If you’re not good at something, get the right person in. Focus on what you’re brilliant at to move the needle. But do the same for your employees. We all have aspects of the job we need to do that we don’t love, but the core of what we do should align with our passions.

2. Remarkable product

We’re passionate about building solutions that add value to people’s lives. How do we add value? We never build products for the sake of it — everything we do fulfils a purpose.

Related: Strong Company Culture Fattens The Bottom Line

3. Profit

This speaks to the sustainability of the business, which ultimately comes down to balancing people, product and profit. Just chasing profit without a focus on product isn’t sustainable, and nor is looking after people and not profit. But you can never lose sight of your people either. If you’re running a company and focusing on your product IP, you’re missing the mark — this speaks to how fast things are changing. Your IP is your human capital. That is the one thing that will give you a competitive edge over five, ten or even fifteen years. The product you have now won’t give you the competitive advantage in ten years.

This vision is completely ingrained across our team: That’s what we’re about, seeing people come alive, building amazing products, and being sustainable in terms of the profits we generate.

Lessons Learnt

1. There’s no such thing as an ‘aha’ moment

It’s not about one good decision I’ve made; it’s about the thousands of little decisions we make every single day as a team that make a business. For me it’s about the fundamentals that you buy into, and that’s people, products and profit. We’ve launched products that fail and others that are a huge success. To get through the failures it’s important to focus on a philosophy of how and what we want to be as a company.

2. Add value first

Our mindset is to add value. It’s the grit that pushes us through failure and keeps 150 people focused and doing great things. I am one of many people. I have a strong role, but I’m still one of many. When you’re looking outward at what you do for others, you stay motivated. A lot of what we do is helping a retailer understand how to unlock third party value. We will connect two brands who we believe could work well together, like a Discovery and a Kauai. Did you know that you could drive value to this retailer, and that retailer could add value to you? We all live in our own worlds and verticals, but knowledge is power. The greater your understanding of the landscape and synergies around you, the more value you can add.

Related: Starbucks Coffee Is All About Culture… For A Reason

3. Business is creativity

You need to be open and teachable and have a mindset that says ‘you’re never there, there’s always something more to learn.’ That’s how you foster creativity and innovation, by always asking what’s next, and how to make something better.

4. Never stop learning

You don’t have to read 50 books a year — two great books a year can give you incredible insights if you implement what you’ve learnt. There’s so much you can learn from the people around you too — ask questions, join networks and find a mentor.

5. Raise leaders, not followers

This is crucial. You need to find the right people, and then empower them to lead. I realised this a few years ago — if I really wanted to scale the business I needed to raise people who were leaders and wouldn’t just follow me. The top level of leadership is the ability to raise other leaders up, and that’s where we should all aspire to be. 

Related: 5 Inexpensive Ways to Create a Company Culture Like Google’s

6. Focus

This is a big one for me, and we learnt it the hard way. We were doing too much, we lacked focus and clarity. These are such powerful tools. If you can bring clarity to teams, you create a clear picture that everyone can follow. Delve into the details — what are you doing, why are you doing it, what does good and great look like, what are your timelines?

The clearer the picture, the exponentially higher the chances are of a team being successful. This includes targets. These shouldn’t be a shot in the dark — they should be unpacked, examined and clarified.

7. The best defense is a strong offence

Worrying about competitors serves no-one — it just keeps you up at night. Instead, you should be pushing yourself — how can we do this better? Keep looking for the next thing to do and improve, and then execute it properly. If someone disrupts us and I know we did the best we could and gave everything — I’ll sleep well at night. But if it’s because we became complacent and rested on our laurels? Well then, we deserved it.

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