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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.

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Increasing Productivity

5 Ways To Be More Productive In 2019 Without Driving Your Team Insane

Here’s how to get your business running faster and better.

Andrew Medal

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When talking about their biggest challenges for 2019, many of the entrepreneurs I speak with say they’re overwhelmed with the rapid pace at which business operates today. Today’s consumers have come to expect instant gratification, and they’re putting pressure on companies to make sure that they get what they want right now.

Technology’s partly to blame for these questionably reasonable expectations. We’ve got virtually countless hours of on-demand video streaming content at our fingertips. We’re on the cusp of mass product delivery by drone. We get frustrated when customer service departments fail to respond to our queries within minutes.

Just a couple of decades ago, looking up information meant going to the library to check out references. Today, we don’t even type out our Google searches. We just holler at Siri or Alexa to get the answers, products and media we want.

In a survey by PwC, nearly four out of five surveyed customers customers say that they want experiences that are speedy, convenient and helpful. For businesses, reliably offering these experiences has become a constant challenge.

With 2019 already underway, why not make speed improvement one of your key objectives for the year ahead? Here are five strategies you can apply to speed up your processes as we get ready to zoom through another year.

1. Maximise your real-time social media opportunities

Knowing what delights customers most is a huge component of business leadership. Data from the 2018 Sprout Social Index suggests that there’s a widening disconnect between what brands’ social media profiles are posting about (61 percent of the 2,000 social marketers surveyed favoured teaching, while 58 percent favoured telling stories) and what customers want (73 percent of the 1,200 surveyed prefer deals, while 60 percent prefer posts showcasing new products and services).

So, how can you improve your organisation’s ability to discern what the market really wants right now? Conducting your own market surveys can help, but it’s a resource-heavy solution that yields dubious insights. Social listening, on the other hand, allows marketers to follow what people are saying about your industry, products, and competitors.

I’ve used solutions like SentiOne that can track such mentions across social platforms and online communities in real-time. Armed with this information, you’d be able to act on customer issues in a timely manner and even launch targeted campaigns that speak directly to customers’ interests with precision. It’s also a useful way to know what new features or products to roll-out or at least give you the starting point to start your market research.

Related: Want More Productive Employees? It’s Time To Get Physical, Together

2. Shorten time to delivery

Customers don’t like waiting for their online orders to arrive at their doorsteps. Last year, the maximum time that e-commerce buyers found acceptable for orders with free shipping was just 4.5 days, as reported by Emarketing. If they’re paying for shipping, they expect to receive their packages even sooner.

Having the ability to expedite delivery can be a major differentiator, but it’s a tall order if you’re a smaller enterprise. Thankfully, as the independent e-commerce economy has grown, so has the ecosystem of logistics services empowering the industry.

Using a third-party, fully white label-ready fulfillment partner gives you the capability to offer two-day shipping, without being dependent on Amazon.

Industry leader ShipBob, for one, can store your inventory in a network of shared warehouses around the country, so that products are ready to ship, with maximum proximity, as soon as your customers check out. Better fulfillment partners integrate directly with leading shopping cart systems like Shopify and WooCommerce and can save you and customers massive amounts of wait time.

3. Maintain a bird’s eye view of your business

With competition seemingly getting tougher every year, in 2019 your ability to make quick but informed decisions has become mission-critical. However, getting hold of the necessary information may require pulling data from dozens of sources, each with its own interface, before you are able to generate reports that are comprehensive enough to act upon.

A consolidated business data resource can provide you with an integrated dashboard that pools together information from all the platforms you use for social media, sales, project management, finance and marketing.

Even if you use separate services like HubSpot, MailChimp and Twitter, Rivery.io’s platform, for example, can aggregate real-time information from your accounts and even push metrics to the data repository of your choice.

You can’t afford to get stuck in the nitty-gritty anymore. Keep an eye on the trends that matter, so you can make smarter strategic decisions on the fly. I also like to use tools like Kipfolio, for interactive business dashboards that give me a pulse on everything from sales to accounting to marketing spend.

4. Accompany your customers on their journeys

As reported by Strategy and PwC, three out of four surveyed buyers in the U.S. say that customer experience is a major factor in their shopping decisions, citing speed and ease as their most valued factors. Yet, despite the efforts of developers and designers to create intuitive interfaces, some customers, especially those who lack tech savvy, have been known to hit roadblocks on their paths to purchase.

To avoid alienating these customers, you can ease access to your interface with an interactive walkthrough solution. Offering onsite chat, either automated or human-driven, can help maximise a sense of accessibility and trust, shortening the time to convert prospects into customers.

This type of “digital adoption” hand-holding can be a major game changer, especially if your sales prospects are less comfortable experimenting in digital environments. There are all types of new chatbot software tools that can be used for streamlining these conversations and navigating customers. We’ve used Drift across my various companies and found it works well.

Related: 8 Steps To Having Wildly Productive Mornings

5. Minimise slowdowns caused by absenteeism

Team productivity gets compromised due to staff taking unexpected time off can derail your entire operation. If you can’t find someone else to quickly step in and pick up the slack, it can be hard to fulfill orders and maintain pace on projects.

Using workforce management platforms can help you sort out staffing and scheduling issues, largely on autopilot.

Deputy, for instance, has functionalities that can help line up shift replacements when someone suddenly needs time off. Using the employee-facing app, team members can inform HR with just a few taps that they’ll be out, and the scheduling system automatically dispatches push notifications to others who have similar skills, asking for substitutions that can often be lined up before you even know they were needed.

Absenteeism was a big issue for one of the nonprofits I’m involved with and tools like Deputy have helped us to make necessary adjustments on the fly. Don’t let people interfere with your systems. Manage the systems that manage the people.

Be quick and nimble

Today’s business landscape moves at breakneck speed. But, things always go wrong. For your startups and scaling businesses to keep pace in the coming year, you need to be prepared, with systems in place to expedite processes and minimise the impact of bumps in the road. I wish you a prosperous 2019!

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Increasing Productivity

The Power Of Non-monetary Staff Incentives

Aim to align business and individual goals through a balance of monetary and non-monetary rewards, and you’ll soon see a massive impact on the bottom line and staff morale. There can be no greater incentive than that.

Greg Morris

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Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, one of the best-known theories of motivation, suggests that humans are motivated to fulfil basic needs – like food, shelter, and safety – before striving to satisfy more complex needs: health, companionship, self-esteem, and self-actualisation.

So, we get jobs to satisfy our basic needs. Then, with food in our stomachs and decent rest, we start to crave fulfilment in things money can’t buy: appreciation and respect, making a valuable contribution to the world, and – the Holy Grail of motivation – using our talents and abilities to achieve our full potential.

It’s no coincidence that the best companies to work for have and share a clear direction, offer challenging work, and entrench appealing cultures. Their employees feel valued and are empowered through opportunities for advancement and expressions of gratitude.

This is why we can’t assume that giving people more money will make them work harder.

Money means little if staff are overworked and don’t have the time or energy to enjoy the financial rewards they receive. People also respond better to incentives that address their psychological need for acceptance, appreciation, and accomplishment. Let’s look briefly at the ways in which organisations can show appreciation for a job well done.

Show me the money?

Part of what makes us individuals is the fact that we’re motivated by different things. A graduate will appreciate a cash bonus. A new mother might also appreciate more money – but money can’t buy her more time with her baby. Flexible working hours can.

In fact, studies suggest that the effects of monetary rewards are short-lived because people don’t differentiate cash bonuses from their normal pay. Extra money is quickly sucked up by household expenses and debt – i.e. by working to fulfil our basic needs.

Now, that’s not to say that we should discount monetary rewards. I believe there’s a time and place for both – and your business and culture are two of the biggest deciding factors.

Related: Why Incentives Are A Must For Your Business

Win-win

The industry you’re in and the type of work an employee does dictates the incentives you should offer. Some roles – like commission work – require a more financially motivated incentive system to ensure the smooth running of the business and to achieve personal targets. Salespeople bring in business, profit grows, salespeople are rewarded financially.

But admin and marketing staff, for example, receive set salaries and not commissions, so they can be acknowledged for excellent customer service or for improving an inefficient administration process. For them, training courses, movie tickets, vouchers, or even time off to pursue a personal passion project might offer a bigger thrill than money.

Any incentive programme must align with your company’s goals to ensure that the group works towards the same outcome. Employees are more likely to take ownership of their roles and responsibilities when their contribution to the bigger picture is acknowledged and rewarded. And, in pursuit of their own excellence, the business’s interests naturally benefit.

Sweet spot

Successful reward programmes balance intrinsic and extrinsic motivation (when we do something because it aligns with our values and because we want the reward).

Getting this balance right is critical to retaining talent. Being passionate about work is one thing, but passion doesn’t pay the bills. Just as dangerous is having a workforce that’s only motivated by money but produces mediocre work. The magic happens when we reward employees for the outcomes of their passion: Happier customers and a healthier bottom line.

The sweet spot lies in incentivising positive behaviours as much as goal achievement. The behaviour might not be directly linked to the financial performance of the company but there may be other obvious benefits, like improved morale or an attractive company culture.

The power of gratitude

Positive behaviours needn’t be rewarded with money or redeemable points. A simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way. One study noted a 50% increase in the amount of additional help being offered as a result of appreciation, suggesting that motivation extends past material things. And a boost in self-esteem ticks all the right boxes in Maslow’s fourth level of needs.

Although basic, recognition and appreciation are often overlooked motivators. The same study found that only 15% of us consistently say ‘thank you’ at work. According to another study, 79% of employees quit their jobs because they didn’t feel appreciated.

Positive behaviours can be subtly reinforced using tactics like leader boards, employee-of-the-month posters, floating trophies, free lunch, or time off. It’s the little things that count.

Related: Is Cash King? The Psychology of Incentives

Shifting motivators

As individuals get older and enter different phases of our lives, there’s an evolution in the things that motivate them. As leaders, we need to build meaningful relationships with our staff, to better understand what motivates an individual today, not what motivated them five years ago. This depends on constant communication and open engagement and feedback.

Bottom line? We need to think differently about motivation and to apply creativity and innovation to company incentive programmes. Aim to align business and individual goals through a balance of monetary and non-monetary rewards, and you’ll soon see a massive impact on the bottom line and staff morale. There can be no greater incentive than that.

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Increasing Productivity

Listen To Lead – Giving Staff Space To Speak Can Pay Dividends

Are you listening or hearing your staff?

Richard Mukheibir

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Excitement, vision and determination are all great qualities for an entrepreneur, particularly when you are setting up your business. But when you move into the consolidation and then growth phases, they could backfire.

It may come as a surprise to you that such positive qualities could ever cause any negatives. But once you have driven every last muscle to get your business up and running, you need to transition yourself into managing it. For that, you need to work as hard on your people skills as you did on your start-up.

It is true that decisiveness is a key attribute of a successful manager but your decisions must be based on solid evidence and intelligence you have gathered. Try as you might, you cannot be everywhere in the business at once and so you need to soak up and sort out the observations related to you by your staff.

Make a point of being seen regularly on your shop or factory floor and chatting in a relaxed, non-judgemental way with your staff and any customers who may be around. Stalking around saying nothing is just as intimidating to your staff as the habit that some bosses have of appearing very infrequently simply to bawl people out.

People skills are so critical because it is people who buy your product and people who work for you. Whichever way you look at it, your business is people-driven.

Related: Look After Your Employees And They Will Look After Your Reputation

So to win the loyalty of your shareholders, customers or surveyors, you need to show that you treat all people with the respect each one deserves and can mix positively with each and every one. Getting to know your staff in this way will develop in you the subtleties of emotional intelligence, a skill that is vital to your ultimate success.

With emotional intelligence, you will be able to adapt your management style to achieve the best results from each individual. You will know instinctively when a staff member needs a few words of encouragement or comfort, or when and how much to push to get the best out of them – perhaps even more than they knew that they had to give.

At Cash Converters SA, all our managers are expected to polish their people skills to achieve the best for themselves and the staff reporting to them. Even our top management team is not exempt and makes a point of putting a day or two aside each month to visit a different franchisee round the country.

That way we can help mentor and coach them to deal with any management problems that they may be encountering. From a corporate and strategic point of view, we can also check that the corporate branding is on track and listen to feedback on whether any new lines are working well or not and to suggestions for new brand extensions or even new and complementary income streams.

Related: Understanding Your Responsibility As An Employer

In that way, an apparently soft skill can make your business even more competitive. By insisting on strong people skills among your staff, you will build a more harmonious working place. To complement this, incorporate relevant feedback into your planning. This will have a positive impact on the bottom line, which is exactly what leaders want to achieve.

So keep quiet and listen as much as you can. Make a point of not anxiously filling nervous silences with hasty instructions or long technical lectures. Then you will benefit the business by hearing what your staff need to get the job done and who is blossoming into a promising talent.

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