Katie StablerKatie StablerApril 9, 2020
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6min61

Have you ever experienced a truly terrible customer experience and felt like the offending organisation just didn’t seem to care? The likelihood is that you didn’t go back for more. But what if they could have turned it around? What if they could have turned your poor experience into an EPIC experience?

You would continue to be their customer right? Despite the problem you first encountered their ability to recover your experience and leave you in an even better position than before would make you feel so impressed by their service, that of course, you would stick around!

And that is exactly why customer experience recovery is so important!

So what exactly is customer experience recovery? Quite simply, it’s the ability to pro-actively remedy a situation, turning bad customer experience into GREAT customer experience, making sure your customer swiftly moves from feeling dissatisfied to feeling you have surpassed their expectations!

And why bother with customer experience recovery? Well, you want to keep your customers right? It’s widely known that it is more profitable to retain an existing customer than to acquire a new one, and equally as important, loyal customers are more likely to be your best asset by telling all of their friends and family about you!

Another benefit not to be ignored is that organisations which excel at providing a great customer experience are more likely to have engaged employees, thus creating the much-coveted cycle of ‘Happy employee – Great CX – Happy customer – Returning customer – Happy employee – Great CX’ and so on.

OK, so how do you recover a bad customer experience? Follow these 3 steps to easily implement an effective customer experience recovery process:

1. Plan to fail

I am not a ‘glass half empty’ type person but when it comes to customer experience it is so important to recognise that no matter how much we care, no matter how much we plan, design and cultivate, sometimes things go wrong. Technology may let us down, people may fail us or we could be impacted by an external event completely out of our control and that is why you should have organisation-wide adoption of a customer experience recovery process. The process you design should:

  • Clearly let your team know what they are supported to do
  • Provide guidance on how to recover a poor experience
  • Set expectations on how quickly you want the team to act
  • Support a collaborative approach across your organisation
  • Promote an issue-tolerant culture (A hidden problem isn’t helpful to anyone)

2. Empower employees

Your team are your best asset for amazing customer experience recovery! If they can quickly spot an issue, speedily remedy it epically, leave that customer feeling fantastic and prevent a possible complaint then you have become the master of customer experience recovery. Empower your team to become recovery heroes by:

  • Supporting them with a robust customer experience recovery process. This will:
  • Enable them to act quickly on their own authority, providing creative and personalised experiences

3. Fix it!

You have done it. You have turned a rubbish experience into an epic experience and you now have a happy customer! But your work isn’t done yet, now comes the part where you do everything possible to prevent any other customer experiencing the same, initial poor experience. Now is the time to:

  • Identify the root cause of the problem
  • Understand its impact (is it a one-off or a repeating issue? Has it impacted the few or the many?)
  • Work with your team to fix the problem
  • Throw in some additional quality assurance to ensure your ‘fix’ has worked
  • Where appropriate, tell your customers (you might have only one or two customers that told you about the problem but you may have many more impacted so don’t be afraid to hold your hands up, acknowledge the problem and pro-actively apologise. Customers appreciate honesty and sincerity)

Customer experience recovery looks different for every organisation but as long as you leave your customers feeling happy and satisfied despite any hiccups they faced, you are on the right track to great recovery and customer retention.


Christa HolmborgChrista HolmborgApril 7, 2020
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11min602

On Monday the 16th of March began the week that turned all of our lives upside down. Coronavirus hit the UK with a force and the circumstances forced entire companies to work, collaborate, and socialise remotely for weeks on end, and we are yet to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

While there is an unprecedented amount of uncertainty and most industries are suffering (with travel and hospitality in particular), it has also been encouraging to see both kindness and innovation flourish, with humans turning to virtual ways of connecting with others, and companies pivoting their operations in a very agile way, reaching out to their customers in new ways through delivery, technology and virtual connection.

Innovation has always run through the core of Hellon’s operations and that is what we help our clients do – innovate on services, propositions as well as customer and employee experience. However, much of our work has previously required face to face interaction, when conducting research and facilitating workshops and co-creation. For us too, the question on how to conduct these tasks in this new normal arose. Luckily, as a relatively small (45+ employees) and agile company, we took action very quickly, and true to service design logic, started thinking out loud.

On the first day of our remote work setup, we already had a company-wide workshop on the best remote collaboration and meeting tools. By the time of writing, we have already conducted 10+ remote workshops and customer research using digital tools, as well as internal collaboration. Here’s what we learned:

1.    By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail  

Whereas a rough agenda might be fine for face-to-face sessions, “winging it” isn’t an option for online workshops. Detailed planning is crucial, as is the creation of clear and specific instructions for each activity, a timeline of what is done in each phase (and by whom), as well as what tools will be used. Ideally, participants will already have registered for the tools in advance (e.g. day before) to ensure no one has access problems on the day of the session.

A test run with the core project team is also critical, especially if you are new to a platform, to go through the technicalities and potential scenarios that might happen during a workshop (e.g. someone can’t access, how to chat/ raise hand etc.). Our “tests” have ensured that we are well-prepared for a variety of hiccups which might happen in an online environment. Finally, keep in mind that discussions and exercises take longer online, so plan for less activities than you normally would for a face-to-face workshop, and ensure people get enough short breaks from their screen.

 

 

2.    Choose the best tools – for your company

There’s a plethora of digital collaboration tools out there to choose from, which can make the selection of a tool or platform feel daunting. When making your selection, consider things such as; What is the desired outcomes of the exercise I am planning and how do I share them? How many participants are there? Which tools are in line with policies?

At Hellon, we usually use a mix of tools depending on the objective of the exercise. Often, we use a video conferencing platform such as Skype or Teams for communication, and, another platform on which to collaborate or ask for feedback. Miro and Mural are great platforms for post-it-type workshopping, in which all participants can work on one canvas or template simultaneously, which works very well for journey mapping, ideation and analysis.

Howspace is another platform we use, on which you can build your own “page” using various widgets. Thereafter, a variety of functions can be added, such as images, videos, reports, chat, polling, voting etc. This is a good tool for e.g. showcasing concepts and asking clients/ customers to provide feedback in real-time. Finally, at times we also use a specific polling/ voting tool such as Slido or Mentimeter, to gain feedback and spark discussion. This is what works for us, now consider the needs of your company.

 

3.    The importance of facilitation

In online sessions, the facilitator’s role and ability to engage participants is emphasised. It’s important to create an inspiring and engaging online session, minimising participants’ desire to multi-task while on a remote call. Practice facilitation, plan engaging exercises with enough breaks and shorten the monologues to keep people active.

This is also where planning and preparation come into the picture. Ensure that the workshop has a clear structure, and that you are on top of the agenda at all times. Assign clear roles for the team if you have multiple people facilitating. For larger groups, a clear lead facilitator is required as well as supporting facilitators to communicate and assist with smaller – predetermined – groups (e.g. breakout rooms). Also make sure that the exercises are simple and easy to understand, and that there are clear instructions for the participants to follow. Finally, nurture the energy in the “virtual room” and build a connection with the participants, even though they are not face to face with you. Icebreakers can also be added into a virtual workshop, which will create a more relaxed atmosphere, and interactive activities ensure participants are engaged and focused.

4.   Remote research doesn’t have to be boring

If you thought qualitative research was phone interviews and focus groups only, think again. Today, the likes of Google Hangouts and Webex allow us to conduct interviews over video, through which we can observe reactions and feelings towards a topic similar to an in-person interview. There are also multiple other innovative research approaches which do not require face-to-face interaction.

At Hellon, we’ve had many discussions on whether this situation will lead to the rise of design probes, which allow people to self-document their experiences and then share them with the researcher e.g. through a diary, or by taking pictures and completing tasks.

There is also an opportunity to do online listening and online ethnography to understand customers’ online behaviours related to a topic, as well as customer reviews and sentiment online. After all, this is where most of your customers are in these times.

5.    Take care of each other!

While we are definitely trying to find the positive side to the current circumstances and keep our spirits high, many of us are of course struggling with adjusting, which is completely normal. Many of us are working and home-schooling kids simultaneously, we miss having in-person connections, and some of us are going slightly stir-crazy at home. But we check in on each other and we build a social closeness online.

It is important to set daily routines that bring everyone together while being physically apart, and it is crucial to see your colleagues most days and talk about non-work-related things with them to sustain the “normal” office chat.

Our company Slack has been “on fire” in the recent weeks; we share our crazy home outfits and “my kid interrupted the meeting” (or emptied an entire bag of flour – true story) stories, we organise virtual lunches and an after work drink here and there, and we embrace the “humanness” in each other – human-to-human business is our mantra after all. And that, I believe, makes all the difference in these difficult times and brings the light “into the tunnel.” Be kind to one another!

Hopefully these tips are useful for both conducting remote research and collaboration for everyone out there who is experiencing the new normal with us.

 

 

 


Caroline CooperCaroline CooperApril 3, 2020
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6min495

Have you ever had a good customer experience when served by someone who is completely disengaged with their work or their organisation? Probably not.

Now think of the opposite end of the spectrum. When someone is really proud of what they do.

Being recognised at work so you can be proud of your contribution can have a massive impact on employee engagement, and all the knock-on benefits of staff retention and productivity. And of course, your customers’ experience.

So how can we create an environment where people can feel proud of their work, proud of your business and proud to be of service to your customers?

This stems from the top, so if you are recognising your managers and supervisors so they feel pride in what they do, they are far more likely to do the same with their team members.

As well as leading by example, educate your managers and supervisors on the importance of recognition, and give them ideas, support and resources to do this.

Here are three areas you get you started:

1. Respect

Treat your team with the same courtesy you’d like them to show customers. Failing to give a simple please when asking for something or a thank you when it’s delivered soon gets noted, leaving people feeling unappreciated. A sunny smile and a cheerful “good morning” sets everyone up for the day.

Act with integrity, and demonstrate you are true to your values. What you say about customers or colleagues can be a good indicator.

Show you value their opinion. Involve your team in discussions and ask their advice particularly in areas where they have more involvement than you, e.g. most probably spend more time with customers than you and often spot things you might miss.

Show you care about them, and always have their best interests at heart not just business interests.

 

2. Demonstrate Trust

Play to people’s strengths, rather than making everyone mediocre at everything. We often underestimate people’s capabilities. Give responsibility in areas in which they excel. When individuals have one or two areas to focus on specifically it encourages them to go deeper and develop their expertise. This is not only good for people’s development; it also helps the team respect other’s roles and share the burden.

Give flexibility to adapt and adopt their own style. You’ll be surprised just how resourceful your team can be given the right direction.

Empower your team by delegating some control and ownership. This gives a sense of pride and a desire to get things right.

 

3. Recognition

Give meaningful feedback. The more specific and the sooner you do this after the event the greater the impact. Whenever you get positive feedback from a customer publicise this.

Recognise and celebrate successes – for the individual, for the team or the business as a whole.

Acknowledge contributions: Let everyone know when you’ve had a good month, Recognise those who go beyond the call of duty e.g. changed domestic arrangements to help out, dropped their own work to support a colleague or gone out of their way to help a customer. Acknowledge those who have put effort into a project even if it has just fallen short of the mark. It’s the effort you’re applauding not the result.

Saying thank you and well done in front of the whole team may make some people feel uncomfortable, so be selective. But when done for the whole team it can give a real boost. Put some thought into how you say thank you, make it relate to the individual and something that resonates with them.

Celebrate those important proud moments outside work: arrival of their first grandchild, child’s graduation, a significant contribution to a charity, a personal achievement such as passing their driving test.

Simply remembering personal milestones such as a significant wedding anniversary can make people feel valued, but even better if you do something to mark the occasion even if it’s just something simple.

 

Whatever you do to show you value your team and get them ‘Puffed up with Pride’, make a point today (and every day from now on) of doing at least one thing to show your appreciation to each and every one of your team.


Jonathan SharpJonathan SharpMarch 13, 2020
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9min1407

Companies around the world are telling employees to work from home to protect themselves from catching coronavirus and to stop it spreading.

Business continuity is not the only reason for employees to work from home – remote working increases productivity, results in a happier and healthier workforce, and encourages employees to remain in the business for longer.

The outbreak of coronavirus may change or influence working patterns from now on, with more companies willing to accept the request for remote working.

More than 1.54 million people now work from home for their main job – an increase from 884,000 ten years ago (ONS Labour Force Survey 2018). The Office of National Statistics believes that 50 percent of the UK’s employees will be working remotely by next year and a total of 90 percent of staff will request to work remotely at least part-time.

The workplace has and will continue to change beyond recognition with new technology enabling employees to work remotely and collaborate more effectively.

The younger demographic has turned the traditional office and working practices upside down, with requests that are radically different to previous generations. Coupled with the existing and increasing digital skills gap, companies need to transform themselves and invest in attracting and retaining talent by vanquishing traditional mindsets and processes.

The now and future employees

The European workplace now encompasses 160 million millennials and naturally this is set to increase to 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025. Companies need to shift from ‘this is how we have always worked’ to ‘how can we make changes to attract and retain the younger demographic?’

The desires of millennials and younger generations are very different to previous ones, where the expectation was to be shackled to the same desk every day from nine-to-five and there was very little flexibility on any level. They only want to work for businesses that believe in work-life balance, bringing them flexibility and the ability to work remotely.

A positive work-life balance reduces workplace stress, resulting in a happier, healthier and more productive workforce.

Widen your recruitment pool

By implementing remote working  you can widen your recruitment pool and attract and retain top talent from further afield and even overseas.

You can also work with freelancers, opening up the ‘gig economy’ that now includes approximately 4.8 million people with freelancers comprising 42 percent of that population, and six percent of the UK workforce as a whole (as measured by the Association of Independent Professionals).

Technology the enabler

Companies need to provide employees with the correct technology to enable remote and flexible working.

Cloud based conferencing and collaboration solutions such as Mitel’s MiCollab and Avaya’s Spaces empowers employees to hold audio and video conference calls together over their desktop or via a mobile.

Send instant messages, and share and work on documents and presentations together; it is important to use intuitive technology that is easy to use, set up, and to keep your documents secure to protect data and privacy.

Seeing things differently

Employees need to be trusted from the outset and given autonomy to do their jobs wherever they are.

Trust should be given and not earned. Naturally, this may be more difficult for the baby boomer managers because they are used to traditional methods of working, such as being seen in the office working late at night. Providing them with remote and flexible working that fits into their personal life demonstrates that you trust them to do the job, no matter where they are.

Employees require clear direction of what needs to be done and key performance indicators can be put in place to ensure that employees are achieving. Software such as workforce management tools and collaboration software ensures you can access project progress and knowledge bases.

Time to step up the productivity

Remote working increases productivity because you are enabling your employees to fit work in with their personal lives. Your employee will feel happier, therefore will be willing to work harder and go the extra mile if required.

Airtasker recently issued some research stating that remote workers work an extra 1.4 days a month, which equates to 16.8 days a year more than people work in an office.

Healthier and happier workforce

ConnectSolutions’ survey states that 52 percent were less likely to take time off ill when remote working; 45 percent of remote workers sleep better; 35 percent exercise more; and 42 percent have healthier diets. Mental health is protected, with 53 percent claiming they suffer from less stress.

Implementing remote and flexible working clearly results in healthier and happier employees who will take less time off ill and ultimately be more productive.

Connecting people together

It is important to provide remote and home workers with the correct tools to communicate with so they still feel connected to the team and maintain a social bond with their colleagues. Buffer stated that 19 percent of remote workers get lonely and 17 percent struggle with communication and collaboration.

Conferencing and collaboration tools help combat this, enabling you to conduct phone and video conference calls, share documents, and send instant messages. Some companies schedule virtual coffee breaks into their agendas so they can socialise over video chat or IM.

Downing tools

Home workers will usually worker longer and harder, and are less distracted in the day so it is vital that you set guidelines on switching off from work so they can separate their home and work life.

Suggest no emails after working hours and no working on holidays; this will ensure that your productive remote workers remain happy and healthy and are more likely to stay with you if clear expectations are set.

Future-proof with flexibility

Remote working is much bigger than business continuity issues such as protecting employees from illnesses.

Future-proof your workforce by providing them with the flexibility, trust and autonomy to work at home or remotely within flexible hours if required. Set your employees free and you will have a healthier, happier, more dedicated, productive, and efficient workforce, along with the ability to attract and retain the top talent that you need.


Ben WhitterBen WhitterMarch 12, 2020
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26min999

The COVID-19 – or coronavirus – outbreak has been named a ‘pandemic’ by the World Health Organization (WHO).

On making the announcement, WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, also said that he was “deeply concerned” by “alarming levels of inaction” around the world. However, companies that have embraced Employee Experience (EX) are setting themselves apart from the rest and are at the forefront of the global business recovery.

Naturally, we are assuming the “inaction” that the Director-General refers to does not include parts of the world – including the UK and Australia – where people have been proactively and expertly building stockpiles of toilet roll, pasta, and hand sanitiser!

A compelling survival toolkit, but perhaps an indicator that news can frequently travel too far and too fast in the modern world, creating unnecessary panic.

An inconsistent truth

The focus of global attention has moved on now from China as things begin to escalate in Europe and the US, and there is a perception that significant inconsistencies have emerged in the response to the outbreak. It is always great advice to wash hands and maintain good hygiene levels, but the problem has been here for a while and it is only now that serious dialogue begins about stricter measures such as ‘social distancing’ and the banning of large events.

Right or wrong, the experts have some big calls to make!

As an Englishman, I support the NHS and it appears that the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, does too with his proclamation that the NHS “will get everything it needs” during the crisis. This is reassuring and I am semi-comfortable with the calm response from Sir Chris Whitty, the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, although things are placed firmly into perspective with the news that he is readying colleagues in the NHS to deal with unfamiliar and very different ways of working to deal with the expected and intense pressures on the health system.

Generally, there is much debate about what measures should be introduced and when in society. Being led by experts is acceptable for politicians, but as they well know, society often runs on emotions, not logic. A lack of action can spark fear and unhelpful behaviours.

I fully expect the remote working practices that many employers have already adopted will scale, and schools and universities will soon follow suit.

On the BBC a few weeks ago, I advocated for a global response and appealed for calm heads to emerge. I like facts and evidence as much as the next person, but humans are emotional powerhouses too.

It’s good to read reassuring quotes, but much better to see decisive actions. That’s why, during that discussion, I also stated clearly that the best place to be at that time was China, despite Wuhan being the epicentre of the crisis.

I felt this way simply because I have experienced living in China for three years. I have countless examples in my memory bank of what happens when China, at a central level, decides to do something. In short, stuff gets done and all necessary actions move forward, usually at lightning pace.

From rapidly building new hospitals to restricting movement, the WHO has praised China’s containment of the outbreak and the evidence appears to support this praise with a dramatic decline in new cases. There were only 15 new cases yesterday (March 11) in mainland China. I’m inclined to believe that decisive and massive action makes a big difference.

In business, there has been a mixed response to the outbreak and companies are getting found out. Indeed, there has been an awful lot of talk about “purpose over profit” in business in recent years, and how organisations now need to stand for something more than just money.

Well, now is the perfect test of that rhetoric. Through this pandemic we are watching something else unfold – we are seeing the true colours of employers of all sizes…

Do they really care about people?

Are the values genuine and authentic?

Can they uphold and live their values in a truly human-centred way through a crisis?

Employers are being tested and assessed by their workforces in real-time every day.

The employer response

Actions, based on evidence and data, are ideal to lead the workforce through a crisis, but time-and-time again as I speak to employers and CEO’s, the justification for action has often not been wholly based on data – it’s been based on doing the right thing.

In some areas there are zero cases, but employers have already embraced remote working, for example. People mean everything. The economics of decisions has been cast aside by the very best employers.

They have been proactive in playing their role in society and the community. Because of this, they will prosper in the long-term.

Starbucks China springs to mind. The response on the customer and employee side was exemplary. I’m glad I chose this company as a case study for my book Employee Experience.

Yet again, they have made business decisions through the lens of taking care of their people and upholding their values. This meant store closures and enhanced support (financial and otherwise) for staff alongside extensive and proactive support for people in society. The company made itself part of the solution.

Belinda Wong, Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer of Starbucks China, summed up her approach to leading people through crisis, saying: “One of the biggest things I learned was how to handle 58,000 people’s emotions, to really empathise and care for them, and also uplift their spirits in a difficult time.

“It changed how I communicate. I bring them along on every step. If they have a question, I answer it personally, no matter who they are.”

In a more purposeful and experience-driven economy, the race is on. Not to protect the numbers, but to show an extraordinary level of care and concern for people. This is what differentiates and defines high performance in 2020 – the financial and human outcomes, as Wong suggests.

“This whole experience is not a lesson of business disruption, but of leadership and humanity,” she said.

“I’m comforted when I look back and see what we did and know what we mean when we say we are a different kind of company.”

Embracing the ‘experience’ of work

Not every company thinks this way. Unfortunately, this is still not normal.

This outbreak is showing the huge experience gaps that have opened-up between companies that have and have not focused on their people as a priority. The economic impact cannot be understated. This crisis will create long-term consequences for companies worldwide, and it will also hit the pockets of people working in less secure roles as contractors, hourly workers, and across the gig economy.

Technology companies have been leading the way in differentiating themselves as employers that stand apart from the rest by proactively offering enhanced benefits to their workforces, including full pay protection for hourly workers whose jobs may not be required as remote working practices come into effect.

Notably, Microsoft and Amazon have been at the forefront with this, while many from other sectors have already done the same in supporting their workforces. Others have done the groundwork in balancing technology and people to drive business growth, and are in very strong positions to quickly adapt their business models.

Wiktor Schmidt, Executive Chairman at Netguru, detailed how his company has moved fully to online/virtual working to handle the COVID-19 situation, whilst closing offices and suspending business travel. Working remotely was already a key part of its existing EX.

Within this, a long-planned ‘Ask Me Anything’ session with the whole company changed to an online format. In the past, he said, the company “would run each AMA partially onsite, gathering all available core managers in one place (with employees)”.

“This time, we had to do it 100 percent online, with each of us sitting at home. And it was the best AMA session we’d ever had. Working remote has always been at the very core of our culture. Because of that, we’re fully prepared to work online,” he said, emphasising that this was the case whether there was a virus out there or not.

Holistic & human-centred actions

For employers, it’s ‘all-hands-on deck’ to deal with this crisis, and the very best people professionals will be getting out and working directly with staff.

Colleagues like Lisa Dillon Zwerdling, Chief Employee Experience Officer/VP of Internal Care Coordination at Visiting Nurse Association Health Group, based in New Jersey. Lisa is currently working on the COVID-19 taskforce for her organisation, which includes educating all clinical staff who will have contact with patients in their homes through mandatory training, taking part in office cleaning, provision of protective and hygiene products to staff, and the operation of a reverse 911 notification system to keep everyone well informed and connected.

The taskforce is also rolling out new ways of working, including home-working and acts as the liaison between local, regional, national, and global bodies.

The need for holistic thinking and human-centred leadership is never greater than at times of crisis. Lisa, as an HEX Practitioner, demonstrates this by focusing on supporting people in a variety of strategic and operational ways. Indeed, at times of crisis, HEX Practitioners will be constantly thinking and acting with people in mind:

  • How can we support people more?

  • How can we co-create solutions and proactive actions with our teams?

  • How can we leverage the resources we have (including technology) to maintain a healthy connection with staff?

  • How do we exemplify our values within and outside of our organisations?

Those companies that have already embraced a greater emphasis on the EX will be reaping the rewards. Their HR professionals may right now resemble something more akin to an ‘Experience Architect’.

Those ahead of the curve will benefit from years of wise investment in technology, co-creation, and creating the conditions for people to experience their unique Truth (purpose, mission, and values) every day. This crisis offers an opportunity to enhance and deepen this connection. For others, it will not be as straightforward. Years of under-investment and a lack of focus on the things that really matter in work will be hitting them hard.

There will be some real learning coming down the line from the crisis.

Experience is everything

Employee Experience remains the number one business and HR trend because everything is part of our experience in work, whether it is a positive or negative one.

Employers may well be making decisions based on the numbers rather than the people, and harming the employment relationship in a profound way, as Robert Pender, HEX Practitioner, suggests.

“As an HEX Practitioner, while it is encouraging to see some companies take steps to support their people, it appears many organisations still don’t have a plan in place and seem to be waiting on governments to dictate what the appropriate responses should be,” he said.

“Whilst there are potentially huge financial ramifications for organisations, and aspects of legislation may help align how the business world responds, waiting passively for directives does not represent the behaviour of a human-focused organisation.”

Taking part on a virtual panel this week, the discussion focused on how HR will be fundamental in business recovery following the outbreak. I reinforced what many of us are thinking.

As usual, this crisis is all about people and experiences. It’s about creating and maintaining connections. It’s about caring for and demonstrating a deep commitment to people.

Interestingly, at times of crisis, we see the best and worst of humanity, and the destructive power of fear and selfishness. With many employees sharing their real-time experiences online, the commentary offers ample evidence that things need to change. In this context, it’s a time where the influence and impact of our companies (and ourselves) as a force for good in the world becomes crystal clear.

There remain critical issues in the way that companies develop themselves and their relationship with people. Related to this, there are significant challenges in the way that companies set themselves up; research I summarised from The Economist pointed this out last year – a lack of alignment, accountability, and human-centricity is getting in the way of healthy experiences in work.

The yet-to-unfold effects on business and human outcomes during the outbreak will be hard for some to bare. Employees may not be having the experience that they want or need, and it is a huge failing on the part of employers if that is the case.

Living purpose, mission, and values during a crisis

In the long-run, businesses that uphold their Truth during a crisis will come out stronger, richer, and healthier as a result.

A caring, decisive, and proactive approach from employers is required. Leading employers may be asking staff to self-isolate as part of the “biggest remote working experiment of all time”, but what they’re really saying is that they care about the health and wellbeing of their workforce. They will be doing whatever is necessary to support their people. This, and actions like it, will be remembered forever.

This is about creating a positive connection for life, not just through a crisis.

This article was originally published on the World Employee Experience Institute website.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMarch 12, 2020
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16min1487

As innovation in CX technology continues to reshape how brands interact with customers, the tech leaders behind this growth are also envisioning and creating the workplaces of the future.

At Genesys, global leaders in omnichannel CX and call centre tech such as Genesys Cloud, that drive for constant improvement in the brand and customer relationships is matched by their commitment to ensuring your employees remain engaged and that call centres operate as efficiently as possible for those on either end of the telephone line.

That passion for employee experience at Genesys is embodied by the firm’s Vice President of Product Management responsible for Workforce Engagement Management, Cameron Smith (pictured).

His love for AI advancement is all about efficiency and simplifying the working environment, to the benefit of employee, employer, and customer.

Cameron’s remit is all of Genesys’ workforce engagement products, including its Workforce Management package and Agent Assist, and if any person alive knows about where technology can take employees in the coming years, it’s Cameron.

Speaking with Customer Experience Magazine, the US-based tech guru discussed how employee experience systems are on their way to catching up with CX software advancements, and what it will mean for how we work in the coming years.

Cameron: “I look after all of our workforce engagement products. So, basically nearly everything that is touched upon or acted by employees falls into my domain,” Cameron said.

C: “Just as the technology has been trying to improve the consumer side, that tech is a few years ahead of the employee side. It’s about efficiency – how can we simplify the work environment?”

Cameron explains that an increase in self-service and automation can often mean an increase in complexity.

C: “Contact centres are seeing more things like blow-outs in handle time, and labour costs increasing, because of this complexity, so the focus for us on the AI side is – how do we help the employee with that experience that’s now prevalent in interactions they take every single day?”

C: “A couple of different use cases – one of our virtual assistants is about helping the agent and guiding and coaching them through interactions – even doing basic things like understanding the transcription of the call in real-time, or doing things like knowledge-search or searching for documents.”

C: “Or, you may have an insurance company that has lots of different policies and procedures around particular products – having the ability to actually search for that saves the employee a couple of minutes, but more importantly the employee may not even know what they’re trying to search for, so we can apply that tech here.

“Another use case would be the employee’s performance and management, and getting coached and trained.”

Before the rise of AI, Cameron outlines, most organisations utilised a “one-size-fits-all” system for training – an approach that simply won’t cut it in today’s world of personalisation.

C: “Now we realise how important that personalisation is – not everyone’s the same, and there are multiple profiles inside your contact centres that need to be trained, coached and educated in a different way,” he continues.

C: “So, understanding who that employee is, understanding how they feel and applying that recommendation back to either the trainer or the coach, we then ask – how do we make Rachel a better performer? Or help Michael, who is struggling with x, y or z?

C: “Of course, this makes the lives of the team leaders a little easier too, and that contributes greatly to the overall operational efficiency.”

Getting personal: A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach no longer fits the modern contact centre

Meanwhile, one bugbear that Genesys workforce tech aims to eradicate is high churn rates of staff.

C: “It’s very region-specific, country-specific, and even organisation-specific in terms of what brands really want,” Cameron continues.

C: “For us it’s about making sure we’re covering all our bases, pushing the envelope in pushing ever-more capabilities to employees – as much as we can!

C: “For years, contact centre agents have been tightly controlled and managed, and with that comes inflexibility. As a result, contact centres traditionally have high attrition rates. A multitude of studies have shown that if you give more flexibility to employees, the more enablement they have to self-control, then high attrition rates will fall.

“However, not every organisation is ready for that level of self-management – each has their own process of change to go through. In terms of end-goal, we want to create an environment that’s really flexible and that works with the employee and helps balance their life.

“Contact centre work can be very hard after all, and providing tools to help and coach employees to be high performers, potentially without human assistance – that’s where we want to get to.

“Early adopters of our Agent Assist AI system – those agents have told us that not having to remember every single thing, due to the help from the tech, makes their lives easier, and for new-starts it prevents beginning call centre work from being overwhelming, and makes the environment a little less daunting.”

From his vantage point, Cameron sees a future workforce that puts the hours in remotely, and an employment model resembling something closer to Uber than traditional shift-work.

C: “We’re on the cusp of seeing some of our high-tech clients reaching a ‘gig economy’ relationship with their team. This gives their employees the ability, like an Uber driver, to say ‘I’m available between 4 and 10 – give me work for those hours’.

C: “That’s a change in the dynamic of how contact centres will run. It’s not huge yet, but it’s starting to grow. That will be the next big thing, but it will very likely mean some interesting changes in government policy and legislation, as well as in HR departments.

C: “This could mean the end of wasted labour in contact centres. There’s an opportunity to tune requirements. Employers can think about how they pay – should they pay per minute, or per outcome? As a company, you might put out a higher rate on a better outcome at a better peak period. Employees could bid, and go for that work.

C: “So as a contact centre worker, you may end up in a scenario where you don’t have to do 40 hours to get the same money – you just have to pick the right 16 hours.

C: “All these changes are definitely coming. Our high-tech newer customers – companies that have only been around a few years – are thinking along these lines. However, it will be a challenge for those firms that have been around for decades to make that change, as many are very much still stuck in the ’40 hours a week’ mindset.”

Reshaping employee and customer experience: Genesys technology is changing how we interact with, and work for, brands

Overseeing workforce engagement advances means Cameron faces the same challenge as his colleagues revolutionising CX – where does the “human touch” fit into the plan?

Brands fear customers will miss an element of human interaction as they engage with chatbots and virtual assistants, and the same can be said for the employee/employer relationship.

Cameron explains that a full-blown AI HR experience is not on the horizon, with brands likely to take a “light-touch” attitude.

“As it stands today, you’re not going to have a full performance management conversation, for example with an AI. But over time we can build a system that delivers, for instance, selected training that’s been highlighted for you because of things about your performance the AI noticed. We could augment a lot of that.

“However, I think the human touch will always be there, especially from a HR standpoint.”

A vital component of human HR is of course empathy – which some will tell you is beyond the capabilities of today’s AI tech. Yet Cameron suggests that holy grail may not be as mythological as it currently appears.

“I think we are probably closer to AI empathy than many think,” he adds.

“If an organisation applied the software in an empathetic way, we could probably get there today. It comes down to design and process in how we do that. Look at the likes of Amazon Alexa, and how it appears empathetic by randomly telling us to have a good day after we ask it to tell the time.

“That’s pre-programmed empathy, rather than selective empathy, but we will get there one day, for sure.”

So what’s next for employee engagement advances according to Cameron? Where can AI take us and our call centres in the years to come?

“Not here yet but certainly on people’s minds is ‘contact centre operational automation’,” he adds.

“It’s the ability to automate components of the operation. An example is a workforce planner today would stare at a screen at 11am, after everyone has called in sick and think, ‘ok, now what?’.

“In the future, the AI will be able to say, ‘ok, based on everything that’s happening, we should do…’

“You’re going to see those ‘next best action’ type processes go into a whole range of different call centre operations. Depending on how that’s adopted, you could see that automated end-to-end, and in some organisations, that’s what they really want to see.

“So operational resources will see the biggest change automatically, and that’s going to translate into more employee flexibility and a richer environment to operate in.”


Christa HolmborgChrista HolmborgMarch 9, 2020
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10min1219

Most of us have fond memories playing (or arguing) our way through a game of Monopoly with the family or bringing together a group of friends for a game night.

That said, few people would associate the term “board game” with business, although gamification has the ability to bring people together to discuss challenges in an objective way, and to enable participation of a variety of stakeholders.

Additionally, the ‘out of the ordinary’ setting of a game creates a more relaxed and informal environment, which fosters learning, creativity, and idea generation. It is therefore unsurprising that design games are increasingly being adopted by organisations as a method for meeting business objectives, especially related to co-creation and collaboration.

Design games are tools which are created for a specific context and purpose, e.g. building consensus, training, or project planning. The purpose, as well as the research during the game planning phase, influence the look and feel of the design game and the types of prompts/artefacts which are used.

However, they include a physical ‘board’, game pieces, cards (e.g. question or ‘what if’ cards), profiles (e.g. different types of customers), and future scenarios. These prompts help trigger ideas and reactions and help players approach a topic from multiple perspectives, while game rules help maintain a focus and downplay potential power-relations and contradictions between interests, improving collaboration.

Hellon has created a large number of tailored design games for a variety of organisational contexts and aims such as: training and development, project planning, future scenario building, embedding strategy, and facilitating ideation. Irrespective of their context, design games can have a massive impact in a business setting, whether through developing new innovations or improving internal processes.

The benefits of gamification in a business setting

Making the unknown tangible: Design games can present a variety of potential future scenarios which help ground future alternatives into reality. This enables discussion around future opportunities and challenges, to guide e.g. policy making.

A recent example of a ‘futures’ game includes the Nordic Urban Mobility 2050 game Hellon created for Nordic Innovation. The game presents a number of scenarios for what the future might look like in 2050 when it comes to mobility (transport modes, infrastructure, energy) and acts as a conversation starter for municipalities, businesses, and policy makers. It facilitates co-creation and consensus-building on how to meet future mobility needs in urban cities.

Gamification promotes creativity: Design games are visual and playful tools, which facilitate exploration and idea generation. Most people like to work in the safe field of knowledge, which unfortunately limits innovation.

Through the prompts and artefacts of a game, people are enabled to improvise, question habits, and consider different perspectives, giving rise to ideas which might not even have been thought of before.

Facilitating ideation and co-creation: Through gamification, organisations are able to participate a wide range of customers in the planning of new services or gain their support in coming up with new ideas.

The City of Helsinki, for example, used a design game created by Hellon to enable citizens to generate ideas on how an annual citizen-allocated budget should be spent. The Participatory Budgeting Game concretises budgeting for players, which enables a more varied group of people to participate and helps people come up with ideas using cards as prompts.

The game resulted in an unprecedented number of ideas on how the City of Helsinki could be improved, out of which a selection was shortlisted and then voted on by citizens.

Learning through playing: Design games can be used as engaging and inspirational tools for learning. The hands-on approach of a game, as well as a relaxed environment, opens up the field for discussion and thinking outside of the box, enabling people to show their personality and participate to a much higher extent than traditional lecture-based learning.

Hellon created a design game to support personalised and engaging training at Stockmann, a large department store chain in the Nordics and Baltics. The Diamond Game presents salespeople with various scenarios through a board game and cards, which allows them to use their own personal approach as a starting point, followed by suggestions on how to improve their skills without losing their personal traits. The game is also taught through a train the trainer methodology, which allowed the game to be used to train over 3,000 salespeople (see main image).

Building a common language: Design games create a common language in multi-disciplinary teams who may use similar terms but mean different things by them.

Games concretise the meaning behind the words and generate a common understanding of the language which is used. This is particularly useful in, for example, training customer service teams or embedding a new strategy, which was the focus for a development discussion game Hellon created for Airpro, a company providing aviation services across a range of Finnish airports.

The game set a structure for development discussions, but also supported the grounding of a new strategy by engaging employees to think about how to manifest the strategy in their specific roles.

The game as a safe space: Design games allow participants to step out of their ordinary working day and, because people associate games with play, encourage a more relaxed and informal setting. This enables people to speak out, even on difficult and sensitive topics.

The focus is on the game and its outcomes, rather than on any specific person. As a result, it is easier to explore various feelings and ideas and to think of the “art of the possible”.

Design games are fun: We recently heard a conversation between two designers, who discussed the outcomes of a design game which had been introduced in a large UK public sector organisation. In addition to a variety of business outcomes, one of the unexpected results of the project was that the process of playing the game was seen as very enjoyable.

In the world of spreadsheets and reporting, why shouldn’t we embrace an element of fun into our working lives – especially when the benefits attached are plenty?


Martha McKinleyMartha McKinleyFebruary 26, 2020
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6min1097

The coronavirus (COVID-19), an illness that attacks the lungs and airways, has affected around 78,000 people in China, swept over Italy, and continues to spread. 

As the virus continues to spread, employers in the UK should agree legal and health and safety procedures for employees in case they need to deal with cases.

Risk to the UK workforce

The NHS has stated that UK chief medical officers have raised the risk to the public from ‘low’ to ‘moderate’, but the risk to individuals remains low. It is advised if you do have symptoms, which include a cough, a high temperature, and shortness of breath and have visited Wuhan or the Hubei province in China, Iran, northern Italy, South Korea, and other areas of the Far East in the last two weeks to call 111.

The virus is spread in cough droplets and employees are advised to avoid germs by covering their mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing, putting tissues in the bin after use, washing their hands and avoiding contact with people who are affected.

Business response plans

It is sensible for UK businesses to consider the impact an outbreak of  coronavirus might have on its staff and operations more generally and have a response plan in place.

If managers are faced with staff who are unwell or concerned about possible infection, a well-prepared company policy will mean they feel confident in offering the correct response and are seen to remain calm.

Working from home

Asking staff to work from home is a practical option if you are an office-based employee. This obviously depends on the nature of a business and the possibility for infection spreading. In some industries, such as the care sector, this won’t be possible given the nature of the work being carried.

If home working is an option then this should be considered if a member of staff is being quarantined but is still able to work, or is a vulnerable employee, for example if they are pregnant or at a higher risk of infection. It is important to note that remote working is at the employer’s discretion as legally they do not have to be offered.

Legal responsibilities

Employers have an overarching obligation to take reasonable steps to safeguard their employees while at work, this is an implied responsibility. In addition to this duty are the relevant pieces of health and safety legislation which also afford protection to employees.

Reasonable precautionary steps are expected by an employer when considering the health of their employees. Relevant ACAS guidelines state that there is no statutory right to paid sick leave while staff are quarantined but not actually unwell.

An employer may want to consider its obligation to other members of staff and agree to pay quarantined employees to reduce the risk of a virus spreading.

When a business is forced to close

In some industries there will be a ‘lay off’ clause within an employment contract, which is a provision designed to deal with a situation in which an employer cannot provide an employee with work, for example, a factory may be forced to close.

These clauses are designed to deal with temporary situations and can support employees while they are ‘laid off’ without pay, however if a contract does not contain this arrangement, and there is no corresponding union agreement, then an employer will still have to pay staff even if a business cannot provide work.

It’s important for employers to draft and modify their policies and have a response plan in place around pandemics in the wake of the coronavirus, so staff understand their health and safety rights, and the spread of highly contagious viruses can be controlled.


Simon AndrewSimon AndrewFebruary 24, 2020
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11min946

Veganism has hit the news lately thanks to a court ruling that vegans are entitled to protections in the workplace.

It seems like a step forward for the movement, but is this actually just another division across the workforce?

Veganism, as defined by the Vegan Society, is “a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude – as far as is possible and practicable – all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose”.

It centres around a diet free from meat, eggs and dairy, but also includes the avoidance of leather, wool, and any other animal-based products. In recent news, studies and documentaries, veganism has been connected to a positive impact on climate change and better physical health.

Yet for many people, it still conjures up frustration and annoyance.

Two recent reports have highlighted how this personal choice is now affecting work life:

  1. A law firm came out to say they would no longer pay expenses for any meals containing meat
  2. The Vegan Society released guidelines to help support vegans in the workplace

Both of these stories broke less than one month after a landmark hearing that saw veganism given legal protection under the Equality Act 2010.

The workplace guidelines recently set out by the Vegan Society include:

  • Providing separate food preparation areas
  • Giving access to vegan-friendly clothing
  • Exempting vegans from corporate events that involve animals in a negative way (hog roasts, horse racing etc.)

Veganism is about wellbeing and compassion. But the danger here is that by enforcing these rules, and setting out these guidelines, we’re widening a divide which we see in other areas of work and life too.

It becomes us and them

There’s an age-old psychological concept, coined in the 1970s, called Social Identity Theory.

The basis is quite simple – we define ourselves by the groups we belong to. You may be a Christian, a bird watcher, a nurse, or many other things. When you feel part of a group, you feel an almost automatic connection to other members. As any motorcyclist or lorry driver will undoubtedly tell you, you generally acknowledge and support people that share this commonality.

There are many positives to belonging to a group. But there is a flip side.

Consider football supporters. The majority are friendly, good, everyday folk. Yet the minority fight and clash because they support different teams. They wear different colour shirts and are founded in different regions, but beyond that, surely they have no reason to hate each other?

Consider the gang problem in London, religious discrimination, our historical problems with race, and pretty much any war or conflict you can name.

Like it or not, it’s in our nature.

According to Social Identity Theory, we form in and out groups. In groups are the ones we belong to and we seek comparisons with other members. Out groups are the ones different from our own. And from these, we see contrast.

Evolution makes it clearer

Survival has long been associated with being an accepted member of the group. It’s still true today, but if we look back before civilisation (around 50,000 years ago – just a blink in our evolutionary history) the idea of sharing skills, tools, looking out for danger and so on would have been more prevalent.

If resources were scarce then groups may clash. Laying claim over a land rich in fertile crops and animals would undoubtedly have meant defending it from other groups. It’s true that today we don’t face the same daily strains. But belonging to a group still has many advantages.

Not to mention isolation being the biggest cause of depression.

The impact on Employee Experience

Veganism is just one example of the challenges social grouping can bring to the workplace. You can find many more – the most obvious of which is departmental separation.

The connection between departments is often said to be the weakest link in a business, and for good reason. Human nature connects us to the rest of our team. We support them, work together and share many similarities. Other departments, well they fail to deliver, make our life harder, and so on.

Whatever the grouping, we have to find the right balance. If we create divides between people, we have to expect social biases.

Our job as employers is to find ways to connect those groups, to bridge those divides and to be empathetic to all. We have to ask ourselves:

  • What can we do to cross-pollinate our teams?
  • How can we build a better understanding and respect of these differences?
  • How do we balance the support of one group at the penalisation of another?

The best answers often come from employees themselves. And forming that volunteer group could be a way of breaking down others.

Finding common ground

Most people want the world to be a better place. To feed the poor, house the homeless, protect the planet.

These things are the underlying drivers for many vegans. Finding these common grounds will help breakdown barriers and find a way of connecting people, making them part of the same objective. Through a wider education on sustainability, nutrition, and health, people can make up their own minds but also gain a better understanding of those with differing views.

As an organisation, you can influence the lives of all your employees. That may be hundreds or thousands of people.

Do you have a responsibility to use that positively? Yes, you probably do.

If you firmly believe that meat and dairy have negative impacts on health and the environment – what do you do?

The vegan stories in the news are of people trying to do good, not attack your beliefs. The changes and guidelines that have come out, have been with positive intent.

The trouble is, we are not rational folk. You could find many reasons on paper why these things would be good ideas. But the reality? People dig their heals in, become less open minded and put up a wall. And we all move a step back.

So next time you’re looking to make changes in your organisation, think about the emotional response of employees and base your change in education. Through a shared understanding we can find common ground, and with common ground comes empathy and support.

Something we all need as part of our experience at work.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthFebruary 18, 2020
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2min1016

Britain’s most employee-centric firms are preparing to present in London this May, following the announcement of finalists for the 2020 UK Employee Experience Awards.

Aspen Healthcare, Sky Betting & Gaming, University of Lincoln, and Harrods are just some of the names that will compete across 15 categories at the finals event, which takes place in London’s Park Plaza Riverbank on May 14.

Categories include Best Company to Work For (both SME and Large), Employee Training and Development,  Health & Wellbeing of its People, and HR Professional of the Year, while all category winners will also compete for the day’s Overall Winner title.

Judges on the day will feature a host of CEOs, Customer Experience Managers/Directors, and HR experts to scrutinise presentations and decide who takes Gold and Silver awards back to their workplace.

The booking deadline for seats at the event is April 24, but a special Early Bird Discount offer is available until March 27.

The event is hosted by Awards International, holders of the Gold Trust Mark for their events, which is granted by the Independent Awards Standards Council.

Awards International CEO Neil Skehel said: “Each year we welcome the organisations most-dedicated to Employee Experience to London, where we learn of the exciting and innovative initiatives that are continuing to change how we work. It’s an honour to host these inspirational firms, and I would like to offer a huge congratulations to all of our shortlisted finalists.”

Click here to see a full list of 2020 finalists for the UK Employee Experience Awards.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthFebruary 4, 2020
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4min1045

A new study has highlighted the link between offering soft skills learning/development opportunities and employee satisfaction.

As part of the GoodHabitz 2020 Trend Report by e-learning specialists GoodHabitz, working age adults in the UK were asked about their own learning at work experiences and how much they valued being offered personal development opportunities.

The results were very clear – 80 percent think that developing soft skills like communication skills, productivity, leadership, and teamworking are very important.

Those who had completed a soft skills training course in the last 12 months were much more satisfied with their employer, more motivated, and said they enjoyed their jobs significantly more. They also said it improved their performance, with 63 percent of completers saying it had a positive effect on their ability to succeed at work.

However, the results showed that almost half of employees in the study had not been offered a chance to develop soft skills. Forty-five percent had not completed one or more soft skills training courses in the past year. This reflects other industry research which found that over 40 percent of workers had not been offered any learning opportunities during a 12-month period.

Organisational psychologists have highlighted the importance of employees feeling ‘invested in’ and how this correlates with levels of engagement and employee retention. A recent study by Deloitte also found that engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave their organisations.

Entrepreneur and employee engagement expert, Glenn Elliot said: “Some of the attributes of engagement – going the extra mile, fostering a good working environment, being motivated and feeling positive, are all connected to personal development opportunities.

“It makes complete sense because skills like people management, communication, relationship building and leadership are much harder to develop than technical skills, so when a company invests in its workforce and helps them with the hard stuff, you will see an improvement in motivation and employee engagement.”

The GoodHabitz survey results showed that employees who attended one or more soft skill training courses in the past year were more satisfied with their employer (7.7 out of 10) than those who didn’t (7.3 out of 10). They are more motivated, scoring 7.9 vs 7.6) and they enjoy their job more (4.1 vs 3.9) out of five.

Country Director UK and Ireland at GoodHabitz, Stephen Humphreys added: “We see the link between learning and engagement all the time with our customers, who report that levels of engagement and retention increase after they begin offering soft skills learning. Employee engagement is actually very important metric for determining the effectiveness of an L&D programme.”

The 2020 UK Employee Experience Awards is taking place in London on May 14. 


Simon AndrewSimon AndrewJanuary 27, 2020
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9min1919

The decision by Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle to strive for a more independent life away from the royal family, nicknamed ‘Megxit’, may not seem like the obvious template for launching your next employee initiative.

However, peal back the layers of this family drama and there are some important lessons to learn.

So Harry and Megan have stepped back from their royal duties – you might have seen one or two news stories!

Harry, AKA the ‘cool royal’, is doing what we all strive to do – carve his own direction. Born into royalty in 1984, Harry has had a turbulent time with the media.

He had to deal with the terrible tragedy of his mother’s death at a young age. He was then in the public eye for going to rehab. He joined the army but was spotted at a costume party dressed as a Nazi!

Then years later we saw pictures of him dancing in a Las Vegas hotel, naked.

It’s been a rollercoaster. So, it’s no surprise that he wants to step back. He’s got a wife and a baby now, and the last thing anyone wants after three hours sleep is cameras thrust in your face.

This move is a big change, but this change is one from which we can take some valuable lessons for our employee engagement tool-kit.

Employee engagement, like the royals, is kind of a big deal

The case for engaging employees is a big one. According to Gallup, the cost of a disengaged employee is 34 percent of their salary. Apply that to the UK average (given by the ONS) and that’s £10,413 – for just one disengaged person.

You see, disengaged employees have 37 percent higher absenteeism, 18 percent lower productivity and 15 percent lower profitability. Conversely, engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147 percent in earnings per share, again as stated by Gallup.

So, employee engagement has a big impact on your retention, output, and ultimately your bottom line.

Harry’s lessons for successfully changing employee behaviour

Change is integral to employee engagement. Every business needs to move and adapt, so employees need to move and adapt with it. That’s adopting new initiatives, adhering to company values, and putting the right things in the recycle bin (it happens).

This is where Megxit is our guiding light. Here’s three key ingredients for successful change, as shown by our beloved ex-royal:

1. Autonomy

Harry decided he wanted to make a change. It was his desire to direct his future that led him to the move – and that is true of all of us. We do things because we want to, not just because we’re told to or expected to.

Just think, do you like to be given orders or involved in decisions? Do you like one route, or an element of choice? Feeling like you’re swept along, or even mechanised, doesn’t make you feel valuable. People need some control. It’s what balances the employee/employer relationship.

So, when you’re enforcing change on the workforce, look for a way to provide choice. Involve them in the decision or offer them options around the rollout, the training, or the measurements of success. The feeling of autonomy is important. Make sure they have some control.

2. Relatedness

Would Harry have made the change if he was on his own? Without Megan?

Having someone alongside you builds confidence but also determination.

Have you ever taken up running? Or been to the gym? When you do it alone, you have those days when the sofa is so much more appealing. But with a partner, those are the days they are extra keen. They drive you on, and keep momentum, and you do the same in return. Having someone co-dependent on your success makes you much more likely to persevere. You see, we don’t like letting people down.

So, when you launch a new initiative, think about the social connections that can make it succeed. Use team outcomes to drive co-dependency, or buddy people up to share their experience. People with connected outcomes egg each other on. That can be vital for creating the habits you need.

3. Competence

As part of his duties, Harry has gained a wide experience – from launching a charity to starting a new brand – but all with support.

His new direction is a chance to show his own competence.

Everyone likes to be good at something. We typically strive to be better, to achieve, to build our self-worth. Change, though often daunting, provides an opportunity to do that, and the more we can see the results of it, the better.

When you’re updating policies, or shifting responsibilities, look at the ways of showing positive impacts. A healthier diet may seem worth it when you shed a few pounds – that principle works for most actions.

Show people the difference they are making and let them see the positive reinforcement themselves. Evidencing their impact will make it feel worthwhile.

Harry’s decision to take a step back was hard, because change is difficult. But he’s onto a good thing.

Autonomy, relatedness, and competency form the psychological concept of self-determination theory – the idea that change is self-driven, with the right conditions.

With this, Harry looks set to succeed. And you can too!

Build this into your strategy and, who knows, you might not need an incredibly rich family to be crowned the Prince of Employee Engagement.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 22, 2020
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11min1515

Originally from the UK but based in Montenegro, Robert Pender is helping to shape a new dawn for Employee and Customer Experience in South East Europe, as a customer and employee-centric culture takes off in the region.

A CCXP with over two decades of developing successful people-first strategies, Robert (pictured) is judging at the 2020 UK Employee Experience Awards, where his wealth of knowledge will help identify those businesses achieving success by putting humans at the very heart of their strategies.

The holistic EX Practitioner recently teamed with theWorld Employee Experience Institute (WEEI)and its founder Ben Whitter, AKA Mr Employee Experience, for an e-book that aims to inspire firms to reshape strategies through establishing employee satisfaction.

The book, A Practical Guide to Implementing and Succeeding with Employee Experience, is available to download now free of charge from WEEI, and is highly recommended reading.

Robert took time out to chat with Customer Experience Magazine about his inspirations, his thoughts on EX development, and awards events including the new South East Europe Customer Experience Awards, which will be held in Belgrade, Serbia on May 29.

Hi Robert, tell us about your professional background, and how you became involved in Customer and Employee Experience.

Well, I’ve worked across Europe and the Middle East for the past 20 years, and I’ve always been passionate about putting people first in business, and in any walk of life.

Like so many highly competitive sectors, the cornerstones of success lie in human centricity, and it’s always been a pivotal focus of my work.

I’m certified in CX and EX by The CXPA and The World Employee Experience Institute respectively.

You’re currently based in the Balkans. Can you tell us how the concept of both CX and EX is changing the way business is conducted in South East Europe?

I’ve been working in the Balkans since 2016, and these days I divide my time between Montenegro and the UK.

Neither CX or EX are terms you can expect to hear commonly bandied around in meeting and boardrooms across the balkan region…yet!

From the people I’ve spoken to, it’s clear there is an appreciation of the importance of their interpretation of Customer and Employee Experience, but generally speaking efforts are very much at first base.

There’s a great opportunity here to cement experience-driven techniques into the heart of businesses.

With continued foreign investment into areas of South East Europe, and some exceptionally talented pools of people to draw upon, businesses will have to embrace experiences as a necessary factor in which to compete upon.

Where are firms in that region going wrong when it comes to being both customer and employee-centric?

To generalise, I can only surmise that businesses haven’t been sufficiently challenged enough thus far to take the views they need to compete in terms of CX and EX.
Awareness of the fundamental business benefits of human centricity is also a key contributing factor that needs to be taken on board.

Of course, CX and EX initiatives are more advanced in other regions, but it’s still commonplace that experience professionals globally are vying for their voice to be heard and understood, and to take their rightful place at the top table.

At the other end of the scale, can you tell us about EX/CX success stories from the region, and what made them work?

I’ve witnessed the emergence of a small number of businesses who are outwardly talking about their purpose and values, and their commitment to people.

This is allowing them to stand out, and I feel will only add to the experience momentum that is starting to gather pace.

I also suspect that a number of companies are proactive with their people commitments, but perhaps elect not to vocalise them. I see this changing, however, as they look to promote themselves better in the marketplace, and outline what they stand for.

You will be returning to London this coming May to judge at the UK Customer Experience Awards. What value would you say awards events have for CX/EX professionals, and the companies they work for, or work with?

First and foremost it’s a wonderful opportunity to meet like-minded people, share stories, and learn.

The awards are a goldmine of information to tap into as a professional, which really helps to improve your knowledge and grow your network.

Participating in Awards International events, as well as being thoroughly enjoyable, really helps people to validate the importance of the valuable work they’re doing.

That alone represents immense personal value.

It’s also fantastic to see the South East Europe Customer Experience Awards launching this year

In terms of the SEECXAs specifically, it’s great timing, and this event is going to add significant fuel to the embers of the CX fire in the region.

Businesses languishing in outdated ways of working, who don’t prioritise their people, are in for what I can only describe as a long overdue rude awakening.

The way people work appears to be changing rapidly, with the growth of AI and connectivity meaning an increase in practices including remote working. What other major changes to you predict will influence the way we work in the coming years?

The biggest single, and most critical, change that will shape the businesses of the future – and determine their success – is how they treat their people.

 I believe we’re on the cusp of significant change, that will redefine the current mainstream interpretation of what work truly represents.

I expect to see aspects of employment legislation change in favour of employees. Businesses languishing in outdated ways of working, who don’t prioritise their people, are in for what I can only describe as a long overdue rude awakening.

What advice would you give to aspiring CX and EX professionals?

Customer and Employee Experience will become more and more intertwined with one another by virtue of being so intrinsically linked. My advice is to immerse yourself in both disciplines. 

I was incredibly fortunate to have been mentored by Ian Golding and Ben Whitter – two of the most prominent names in CX and EX.

Reach out to people who have an intimate, global knowledge of both areas, and give yourself the best possible platform for success.

What are your plans for 2020?

Continued personal development is at the top of my agenda. My next stop is the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. I’m looking for new and interesting opportunities, and participating more in the experience communities.

For details on entering the 2020 UK Employee Experience Awards, click here.

For further information on entering the South East Europe Customer Experience Awards, click here.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 20, 2020
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4min1873

Employers have been warned not to forget about employee wellbeing after ‘Blue Monday’, with today cited as an opportunity to begin engagement with staff about issues including mental health.

The third Monday of every January, ‘Blue Monday’ was coined by psychologist Cliff Arnall in a bid to identify the peak of January ‘blues’, and in recent years has become a date noted by employers keen to improve the wellbeing of staff.

However, firms should avoid being seen to pay lip service to the concept by only taking mental health and wellbeing seriously for one day of the year, commentators have warned.

Clare Moore, Head of Marketing at HR platform People First, said managers should understand each member of their team at a “human level”, and maintain that connection throughout the rest of the year.

“That means learning about each employee, their experience at work and, importantly, maintaining meaningful contact,” she told CXM.

“This is achieved through regular check-ins. This can now be facilitated by technology, so that regardless of whether the manager and employee is in the location, they can still have the same opportunity to meet and discuss any potential issues that may arise and put the right strategies in place to support them,”

Ms Moore added: “Businesses that only take mental health seriously on a singular day such as Blue Monday or week are simply not acting responsibly, and therefore risk harbouring unhappy employees with lower productivity which ultimately impacts the service your customers experience.”

Meanwhile, Philip Richardson, partner and head of employment at Stephensons Solicitors LLP, said employers unsure of how to begin the engagement process can use Blue Monday as a starting point.

“For many of us, feelings of stress and unhappiness, whether at work or at home, aren’t limited to one day per year, but rather a perennial problem that can have a significant impact on our mental and physical wellbeing,” he said.

“The need for employers to foster a culture of openness around mental health has never been greater and while it can often have a lot of negative connotations, Blue Monday can be used as an opportunity to engage with staff on these issues.

“For employees, it’s equally important to be open with their manager or HR team. What changes can be made and accommodated in order to help you?

“Can you explore flexible working arrangements or remote working? By law, all employees who have worked for their employer for more than 26 weeks have the right to request flexible working and in many cases, where appropriate, employers are more than willing to accommodate this arrangement.

“You can also look at setting clear boundaries about ‘checking-in’ after work hours, banishing the urge to check emails for instance.”


Gethin NadinGethin NadinJanuary 15, 2020
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9min1718

This article was co-authored with John Petter, CEO of HR software provider Zellis.

 

It isn’t a new discovery that money worries have a direct impact on your employees; financial concerns are a serious cause of mental health issues, which themselves result in increases in both absenteeism and presenteeism, reduced engagement and productivity, and all manner of personal problems that make day-to-day working life a struggle.

Unfortunately, the prevailing social and economic conditions have made money worries increasingly common. Only rarely are employees, especially amongst the younger generations, faced with one specific financial challenge. It’s much more likely they are dealing with some dangerous combination of home ownership struggles, slow wage growth, too much borrowing, being a victim of a scam, and worries over their retirement savings.

This is all underpinned by low financial literacy, which Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England, has said is actually getting worse in the UK. Financial education is supposed to start in school, but many students say they don’t receive it. And once they leave the school system, most people aren’t exposed to any kind of financial literacy education unless it’s self-taught.

What role should employers play in addressing this issue?

The answer is that employers should take a greater role in increasing literacy and awareness. Currently less than half (44 percent) of UK employees are offered financial education, according to research from Zellis. The traditional view that personal money matters shouldn’t be discussed in the workplace is still pervasive. In fact, according to The Close Brothers, the majority (58 percent) of UK employers don’t have any sort of financial wellbeing strategy in place.

But let’s look at it from a different perspective: what’s the central transaction in the relationship between an organisation and its employees?

That’s right, it’s pay and reward.

So it only seems natural that the employer should play a part in helping employees make their money go further, by explaining how key concepts like benefits, tax, and pensions actually work. Zellis’ research indicates that this is currently an underserved need. They found:

  • Most (58 percent) employees don’t fully understand their payslips
  • Less than a quarter (24 percent) check their statement every month
  • Around a third (32 percent) say they don’t have enough information about benefit choices
  • A quarter (25 percent) say the same about their pension options

And while trust in traditional financial institutions like banks is at a low point, employers can step in to provide much needed support and education. But we must make it clear that they shouldn’t try to provide financial ‘advice’, which is something regulated, professional, and typically relates to money choices (i.e. investments) that involve a degree of risk.

What practical steps can organisations take, then, to support employees – and what are the potential business benefits? Here are a few quick ideas:

Run financial literacy programmes

These could be created internally, or you could bring in an external expert to help. They should be inclusive of different ages, background and levels of knowledge, and could cover topics such as how to understand a payslip, how to access benefits, how the tax system works, and how to manage your pension.

Closing the awareness gap can make a huge difference. Consider, for example, the hundreds of thousands of low-wage employees who don’t claim Universal Credit simply because they don’t know they are entitled to it. An organisation that helps to bring this information to light can really change the lives of its employees.

Communicate benefit choices 

Your benefits package can make all the difference when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. However, organisations struggle with low levels of employee uptake either because the benefits on offer are not deemed relevant and useful, or because not enough is done to promote them and explain their value.

A solution is to involve employees closely in the process of designing a benefits package, improving both relevancy and awareness. Benefits awareness can also be boosted using a ‘total rewards statement’, offered as part of or alongside the payslip, which shows the total value of all pay and benefits received from the employer.

When employees are more engaged with their benefits it not only contributes to better financial wellbeing, but to better employee-employer relations as well.

Re-think your HR systems

Of course, helping your employees feel in control of their pay and benefits means having modern and user-friendly HR systems. When these systems are outdated, clunky and not mobile-friendly, important life-admin tasks such as updating bank details, checking your payslip and making pension contributions become harder and more frustrating.

The reality is that today’s employees expect near consumer-grade levels of technology in the workplace, so organisations that still rely on archaic systems need to re-think their approach. Convenience is key – if employees can get easy access to important pay and rewards information, they’re more likely to take positive steps towards improving their financial wellbeing.

Offer mental health support

The last tip is the simplest, but arguably the most important. Stress and worry can be made considerably worse in the absence of having someone to talk to. As an employer, you can help fill this gap by offering counselling. While it won’t be a direct fix for most financial problems, it will offer reassurance and let your staff know that it’s OK not to be OK.

Now we are into 2020, it would be amiss not to find a place for financial education and counselling in your HR strategy.

We’ve known for a while now that money worries aren’t good for the health of your staff or your business – so why not do something about it?


Olga PotaptsevaOlga PotaptsevaJanuary 7, 2020
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6min2083

When Satya Nadella took over Microsoft, he didn’t begin with a focus on the competition or restructured product portfolio; rather he set out to rebuild the company’s culture starting with redefining the mission of the company.

He engaged all its employees to recommend the new mission for the company, and with its new north star, the firm’s stocks prices tripled since he became CEO. This just illustrates the importance of employee engagement, with the objective to inspire the company to serve its customers in deeper, meaningful, and more purposeful ways.

To drive employee engagement with the Customer Experience agenda, companies should persistently focus on these four broad categories…

Leadership

Establish a CX vision and ‘walk the talk’: A CX vision creates clarity around a company’s intended experience and helps all employees understand how best they can contribute to provide better customer experiences. Alan G Lafley, the man who transformed Procter & Gamble, would make it a point to visit the retail stores around the world and observe the shopping behaviour of the customers, thereby exhibiting the behaviours for his leadership to follow.

The top leadership needs to be trained and inspired in driving CX across the organisation by taking tangible steps to remove blockers like long approvals hierarchy, short-term profit chasing, and toxic employee behaviours.

Ways of working

Cross functional collaboration: Fortune 500 companies are improving collaboration through internal hackathons that involve having people from different functions problem solving together in groups. IBM holds internal hackathons called Cognitive Build, where employees from across the world participate in the competition by forming teams of different people from different countries and different functions, aligning their perspective on CX and sharing customer knowledge.

Agile transformation & design thinking: Methodologies are being used to continually adapt to changing customer preferences, as it allows you to quickly test your hypothesis with customers and co-create solutions with them.

Developing emotional intelligence: This is the ability to understand how customers feel and take this into account when solving business issues at any level. It is only recently that emotional intelligence has become a topic of significant importance, and the one that gives a real competitive advantage in the current environment. 

Customer immersion

Customer immersion programs: These help employees empathise and walk in the customer’s shoes. At Airbnb, every new employee goes on a trip and documents the entire customer journey, which will then be presented and shared with the entire company as insights, pain points, challenges, and opportunities.

Customer immersion is not limited to journey mapping, and involves continuous learning about customers’ needs and wants, as well as understanding your ability to meet them. Each employee in different parts of the organisation should be able to relate to how his role and department create value to the company’s customers.

Employee listening and involvement

CX governance: Listen to customer feedback though the employees, and establish an empowerment and escalation system whereby no customer problem goes unnoticed. In my work at a UK insurance company, I developed an employee feedback system for customer issues and within weeks we started receiving up to 4000 suggestions a month.

Sixty percent were addressed within the same month by addressing operational errors quickly, fixing broken processes, and preventing complaints resulting in cost savings. It also delivered continuous improvement in customer satisfaction with the contact centre (+5% over the course of the year).

Employee experience: Companies like Coca Cola and SCB Bank are using design thinking and employee journey mapping to transform their employee experience globally, focusing on employees’ daily journeys. Shifting the organisational focus from process to people creates more engaged and loyal employees able to deliver your CX strategy.

Recognition and reward system: This should encourage the behaviours creating value to customers. If courtesy and speed of service are of paramount importance to your customers, like it is to Hertz’s, these should be targeted and rewarded based on the customer feedback.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 3, 2020

4min1911

More staff in customer service roles will seek new employment this month than in any other, with new research showing that almost two-fifths of workers in these positions will seek to leave their post in January.

A seasonal slump in engagement and motivation is believed to be behind the spike in dissatisfied staff, and a survey by quality assurance improvement platform EvaluAgent found that 40 percent of customer service employees are less happy in January than any other month, leading to 39 percent actively searching for a new role.

The financial impact of this employee churn is considerable – based on the average customer service worker’s annual salary of £21,000, each departure costs businesses at least £6,300 due to recruitment expenses and reduced productivity.

The report estimates that around five percent of customer service workers will actually leave their jobs in January, so with 640,500 people currently in customer service roles across the UK, this could mean businesses stand to lose around £201,757,500 in January alone.

The survey also revealed that employers seem to be underestimating the issue, with 70 percent of workplaces not believing that staff are more likely to change jobs in January than in other months.

Fortunately, according to the research there are a number of engagement strategies that would successfully prevent customer service employees from starting their January job hunt.

According to the research, financial incentives such as salary increases and bonuses alone are an ineffective solution, with 47 percent of those surveyed saying that money would not affect their decision as to whether to stay or leave their company in January.

This was especially true for younger workers, with 59 percent of 18-24 year olds saying that money is not an effective motivation.

Instead, the research showed that businesses should be utilising a full spectrum of tools to boost employee engagement, including regular and timely feedback, which was deemed as effective as a cash bonus by 54 percent of employees.

Non-financial reward schemes were almost as popular, with 44 percent of employees saying these would prevent them from looking for a new job at the start of the year, while more than a third (36 percent) said employee benefits such as healthcare and flexitime would encourage them to stay.

Goal-based objectives can be an effective way of improving motivation, by increasing the sense of purpose and pride in a person’s work. Twenty-four percent said that this would be enough to make them reconsider looking for a new role.

Jaime Scott, co-founder and CEO of EvaluAgent, said: “High employee turnover in January is a real problem for many businesses, and can cause significant problems when it comes to productivity and customer satisfaction levels.

“Our research clearly shows there is a direct link between employee engagement and turnover, suggesting that businesses need to be making far more effort to engage their workforce at this time of year if they are to prevent the annual surge in departures.”


Rosalie HarrisonRosalie HarrisonDecember 10, 2019
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5min2235

A few months ago, I was retained to find a medical executive for a growing biotech.

The Hiring Manager set forth all of the expected criteria during our briefing and then something extraordinary happened. “You don’t need to find me a pretty CV,” she instructed.

“I am happy with a messy one. You know, its ok if you find someone with diverse experiences or who took some time off or traveled the world or whatever.”

As the proud owner of a messy – aka nontraditional career path – CV, I was ecstatic with this instruction. Understanding my joyous response probably requires a little background.

You see, 30 years ago, I applied to law school with a pharmacy degree and two years of pharmaceutical industry experience under my belt. I still remember the sting of reading my Harvard Law School rejection letter, which expressly declared my five-year pharmacy degree to be “vocational training” unsuited for legal studies.

Luckily, I have always been the type to persevere and received my law degree despite these narrow-minded rejections – performing quite well, thank you, despite my alleged lack of educational foundation. I then survived the interviewers that told me that I appeared professionally “unstable”, and landed a job at a top international law firm.

I spent the next 14 years pursuing a legal career, even reaching that coveted partnership milestone. The next decade, however, involved more wonderful mess. Expatriate living in two different European countries as a trailing spouse and mom, and my current (perhaps third) career evolution to a partner in a boutique (female owned and operated) executive search firm.

Now, when I walk someone through my professional history, the most common word that comes back at me is “impressive”. And, more importantly, in my current role, literally all of my life experiences are professionally relevant.

Given the historical response to my non-traditional career path, the current response to my “messy” CV always makes me smile. So, what has changed exactly to give a boost to the credibility of the non-traditional CV?

The answer is simple. The life sciences business trends are creating working environments that are increasingly dynamic (i.e. a nice word for messy) shifting the types of competencies needed for business success. Pressure to boost pipeline innovation and speed to market – while preserving efficacy, safety and quality – is creating a business model where cross-functional collaboration and external alliances are the norm.

Big Data, digitalisation, and artificial intelligence are drastically changing the scope and impact of products, services and operations. Precision and personalised medicine are creating health care delivery models that are literally dismantling established treatment norms.

Sustainability of health care ecosystems with limited resources are requiring that patient access to treatments be value driven. And, changes in global patient demographics, emerging market demands and opportunities, and an increasingly female talent pool, are presenting the industry with diversity demands that benefit from cross-cultural understanding and inclusion.

In an environment where change is a constant and lots of flexibility and curiosity are needed, the owners of a non-traditional CV experiences suddenly have attributes that are recognisable as being valuable to business success.

Messy CV owners have proven an ability to challenge the status quo, an attribute that is needed to drive and/or embrace creative and innovative ways of working. Flexibility and change management resilience are derived from both personal and professional life choices. Living and working internationally supports multi-cultural understanding. Engaging in cross functional roles or educational experiences enhances contribution and collaboration.

So what is our advice? If you are a professional with a nontraditional career path, take a look at the competencies you’ve gained as a result of your varying professional and life experiences and display them confidently in your messy CV.

No apologies needed.

If you are hiring manager, don’t be afraid of messy CVs. Nontraditional candidates might just have all of the competencies that are needed for success in your challenging and dynamic global environment.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthDecember 9, 2019
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7min2075

Office workers in the UK would ‘fine’ colleagues for rude or offensive behaviour the most out of a list of pet peeves.

Commercial property agents SavoyStewart.co.uk surveyed 1,466 UK office workers to find out which unprofessional actions they would fine their colleagues for and what ‘rate’ they would set the fine to for each misdemeanour.

The poll follows reports that Chelsea FC head coach Frank Lampard fines players for a list of fouls including being late for training sessions (£20,000), and their phone ringing during a team meal or meeting (£1,000).

Office workers unprofessional actions/behaviour

The percentage of UK office workers who would fine their colleagues for ‘offence ‘

The average fine UK office workers would charge their colleague each time ‘offence’ is committed 

Unnecessarily being rude/offensive

81%

£25

Not meeting an agreed/set deadline

77%

£30

Not turning up at all to a scheduled/arranged meeting

74%

£22

Making/taking multiple personal phone calls during working hours

69%

£14

Taking a longer lunch break than allocated

65%

£8

Showing up more than 5 minutes late to a meeting

60%

£10

Agreeing to come to a work social but then not turning up at all

53%

£8

Showing up more than 5 minutes late to work

48%

£6

Dressing inappropriately/sloppily

42%

£5

Personal phone ringing during a meeting

26%

£2.50

Darren Best, Managing Director of SavoyStewart.co.uk, said: “Working in an office can be fun as well as challenging. It’s an environment where people don’t have control over who they necessarily work with but should make every effort to be respectable and professional at all times. But unfortunately, this does not always happen, and people’s actions/behaviour in an office can be aggravating.

“This research highlights the unprofessional actions/behaviours that office workers most have grievances with, certainly enough to fine their colleagues considerable amounts for committing them.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthDecember 5, 2019
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2min1856

US Mexican food chain Chipotle is employing nurses to validate the claims of employees who call in sick, its CEO has revealed.

The chain, famous for its burritos, tacos, and guacamole, provides nurses to check the claims of workers who call in to let their colleagues know they are ill.

Despite sounding a touch extreme for some, once the illness claim has been validated, the employee will receive a full day’s pay while being told to stay at home and recover.

The practise, revealed at a conference in New York’s Barclays Center this week, is part of the firm’s improved food-safety initiative, and was implemented following an outbreak of norovirus in a Virginia outlet in 2017 which was partly attributed to an ill employee.

CEO Brian Niccol said: “We have nurses on call, so that if you say, ‘Hey, I’ve been sick,’ you get the call into the nurse. The nurse validates that it’s not a hangover – you’re really sick – and then we pay for the day off to get healthy again.”

He continued: “We have a very different food-safety culture than we did two years ago, OK?” Niccol said. “Nobody gets to the back of the restaurant without going through a wellness check.”

 




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