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?
The coronavirus (COVID-19), an illness that attacks the lungs and airways, has affected around78,000 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
TheNHS 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.
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.
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:
A law firm came out to say they would no longer pay expenses for any meals containing meat
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.
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.”
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 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, BlueMonday 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.”
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?
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…
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 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.
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.”
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.
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
Not meeting an agreed/set deadline
Not turning up at all to a scheduled/arranged meeting
Making/taking multiple personal phone calls during working hours
Taking a longer lunch break than allocated
Showing up more than 5 minutes late to a meeting
Agreeing to come to a work social but then not turning up at all
Showing up more than 5 minutes late to work
Personal phone ringing during a meeting
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.”
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.”
Despite being a front for a criminal empire built on crystal meth, Breaking Bad fried chicken restaurant Los Pollos Hermanos is among the best fictional food franchises for Employee Experience, according to new research.
Food box company Gousto has revealed a list of the TV and movie eateries most likely to make it in the ‘real world’, and have rated establishments such as JJ’s Diner from Parks and Recreation, The Winchester pub from Shawn of the Dead, andThe Simpsons‘ Krusty Burger based on the combined averages of their real-life counterparts through success markers including TripAdvisor reviews, length of time in operation, and Instagram hashtags.
Los Pollos Hermanos, from the hugely successful US crime drama about the rise and downfall of mild-mannered chemistry teacher-turned drugs godfather Walter White, topped the poll for Most Likely to Succeed, and was named Most Employable and Most Influential of the 20 fictional franchises, making it among the most desirable places to work for potential staff.
Gousto found that if it were real, the chicken restaurant chain founded by sinister meth kingpin Gus Fring would employ up to 39,000 people.
Rachel Chatterton, Food Development Director at Gousto said: “There’s a clear link between food and entertainment – they are both highly emotional and our Fictional Foodie Franchise ranking is a fun way to link these, drawing on inspiration from some of the delicious scenes in our favourite television shows.
“Our study shows that there’s no one clear ‘recipe for success’ – it’s much more complex than that and takes into account a number of factors.”
Productivity, wellbeing, and staff retention are suffering due to a dearth of financial literacy among employees in the UK, a new report has shown.
A survey of 2,000 British workers across major industries such as retail, manufacturing, and financial services, shows that less than half (44 percent) offer programmes to help employees make informed financial choices and boost their overall financial wellbeing.
The report by payroll and HR software firm Zellis also indicates a clear need for more financial education in the workplace, as the majority of workers (58 percent) don’t fully understand their payslips, while only a quarter (24 percent) look at their statement every month.
Many also struggle to access important information about their employment package, with four-in-ten claiming they don’t know the total value of their benefits and rewards, despite ranking it as the second most important factor after base salary when looking for a job.
Additionally, nearly a third (32 percent) of employees said they aren’t given enough information about the benefits available to them, while a quarter said the same about their pension options, preventing them from making choices that truly meet their financial needs.
John Petter, CEO, Zellis said: “The best organisations are creating a modern, cohesive pay and benefits experience for their employees, with financial literacy and wellbeing at the heart of it. Unfortunately, they are in a minority. There is a real need to focus on the basics of helping colleagues understand the true value of their employment package, including their payslips, workplace benefits, and pension options, as the evidence suggests a need to significantly improve awareness. Organisations that get this right will enjoy better hiring, retention and performance – as well as happier colleagues.”
Gethin Nadin, award-winning HR author and Director of Employee Wellbeing at Benefex (part of the Zellis group) added: “The UK has some of the lowest rates of financial literacy in Europe. Add to this the effects of austerity, stagnated wage growth, and increased borrowing, and employees are really struggling. With little support available elsewhere, all eyes are turning to the employer to assist.
“This research confirms that a wellbeing strategy which focuses on improving knowledge of financial products and employee benefits is much needed.”
One hundred percent of the UK’s retail bosses claim to acton employee feedback, but only 67 percent of employees agree, new research has revealed.
HR solutions provider People First, surveyed 250 bosses and 250 employees across the UK, and along with the disconnect over acting on feedback, the research found just two-thirds (66 percent) of staff believe their bosses measure their satisfaction, even though 95 percent of employers claim to.
The research also revealed a growing sense of disconnection among new entrants to the workforce, with only 50 percent of 18-24s believing feedback leads to action.
In addition, only 56 percent of retail employers report the results of employee feedback monitoring to the wider company. More than seven-in-ten (71 percent) of those acting on what employees tell them say they do so at board level only.
Mark Williams, Senior Vice President Product at People First, said: “Trouble is brewing because although employers say they put feedback into action, it doesn’t ring true with workforces. This is just not good enough. Feedback needs to translate into action.
“If there is no feedback loop, it can do more harm than good, annoying employees and discouraging them from taking part in future.”
Indicating the importance of principles and beliefs among workers, the research found nearly half the workforce (49 percent) will accept or reject a job on values. The figure rises to more than three-quarters (67 percent) of Gen Z respondents.
Eight-in-ten bosses (80 percent) measure employee satisfaction through employee surveys, while 61 percent use structured review meetings. More than half (53 percent) use informal conversations, and exactly half use focus groups.
“Retailers don’t just need to listen to and understand employees so they can pick up warning signs of disenchantment, they must act on feedback,” added Williams.
“An ad-hoc approach is no good. That’s the same for gauging how employees feel about their own work and the company’s values and for putting that feedback into practice. This is an area that companies must tackle head-on in a much more thought-out and systematic manner, taking time to deploy the most effective and appropriate solutions to nurture employees throughout their time with a company.”
It’s not your average job interview, but a description from Luke Murfitt, founder of Integrity Cleaning, of how one woman kick-started her career after a chance encounter shines a light on the ethos of his business.
Picture the scene: a dark, damp evening at a London train station, and after disembarking, a mother struggles with her children and bags as she attempts to scale steps up to the pavement and begin the long walk home.
“No-one else was offering, so I asked if I could help get her up the steps,” says Luke as he explains exactly why ‘supporting mothers back to work’ is more than just a media-friendly slogan for his firm
“We got to the top and I asked if I could help her further. She said she lived about a 20-minute walk away, so I offered her a lift in my car. During the drive I was able to ask her where she worked. She said she didn’t work, and that people didn’t want to employ her.
“I asked her what she would want to do, and she said she would like to be either a carer or a cleaner. I said ‘happy days, I have a cleaning company – would you like to start this week?”
It sounds like the happy ending to a feel-good film, but this was reality for the mum in this story. She was able to work as a cleaner, fitting her duties comfortably around school hours, and as a result was able to move into a larger home than the one-bedroom flat she had before. Thanks to her income from Integrity, was able to start planning for her future.
“She’s now a full-time carer, in the career she wanted,” Luke says.
“She calls me her angel, but she was pretty good to me too, working hard and driving Integrity forward.”
Integrity Cleaning has been shortlisted in the Best New Business category of this week’s 2019 UK Business Awards, and this achievement is part of the ongoing success story for a firm that was born out of personal adversity.
Luke is a former high-flying salesman at a blue-chip company, who in 2015 was handed a life-changing diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.
But rather than allow this to limit his scope for life, Luke decided to challenge himself and use the diagnosis to spur a career change that has led to a current total of 85 cleaners signed on for employment through his company, ranging in age from 19 to the mid-60s.
“After the diagnosis, which was obviously a bit of a challenge, I realised I didn’t want to wallow in self-pity, and so I used it as a catalyst to springboard me on to do greater things, and here we are,” he says.
That route first took him to his local job centre where he was told to seek benefits following his diagnosis, but his hunger for something more led him instead to seek advice on starting his own business.
“I felt I had a lot more to give. I told the staff at the centre ‘there are people over there who are looking for jobs, and I’d like to employ them’. I wanted to set an example of what can be achieved, and they said ‘fine, go for it’. So they sent me upstairs to the next level and a department that assists in setting up businesses.”
From the window of that same building, Luke gazed out at London’s ever-sprouting skyline, with gleaming new buildings taking shape.
What was simultaneously taking shape was his own business future, thanks to Luke “turning adversary into opportunity”.
He continues: “I looked into the cleaning industry, and spent six months planning. I was careful though, as I had seen people who set up cleaning companies and ended up cleaning themselves out!”
However determination, and the hard work and support of wife Diana, pushed Luke towards realising the recession-proof nature of his chosen sector, and what it could do for them as a family, along with the wider community.
“Cleaning has grown and grown and is a massive employer. I saw it as a chance to impact many more lives and provide better opportunities, rather than with, say, an office of five people.
“With around 33,000 cleaning companies in the UK, with 700,000 cleaners, there’s plenty of scope. I knew I needed only a small portion of that to be successful, and not to fear the competition, but actually be better than them.
“And also be something that they are not, because what I realised was – not many people actually choose to be a cleaner. Instead they often ‘resort’ to being a cleaner.
“I thought to myself, these are the people I want to help. They’ve found themselves in a situation they didn’t choose to be in, but I could at least assist them and make the area of work they’re in as pleasant as possible – give them opportunities and ensure they feel respected and are able to grow, move on, and not just remain cleaners forevermore.”
Integrity continued to take shape, and the ethos of assisting mums at a crucial time of their lives grew from Luke meeting fellow parents at the school gates while waiting to collect his daughter.
“There comes a point when a lot of mothers want new working opportunities, but there are often few firms offering that. This was part of my plan – to offer such opportunities, and make a success of it.”
The company got off the ground when Luke secured a significant contract with a hotel in London’s Bromley borough, having first garnered a workforce ready and willing to put the hours in.
Low start-up costs and lots of hard graft helped Integrity gain momentum, and as the journey continued, so too did the cleaning contracts with churches, community groups, and other eager clients.
However, it was a return to the skyscrapers of central London that saw Luke land the firm’s most significant contract.
“I was at a training event and I looked out the window at these apartment buildings which were going up, 41 storeys high, and I thought ‘they need cleaning’. I had no experience of construction cleaning at all, but I walked over to the site, which had around 600 people all milling about.
“I was wearing a suit while they were in their construction safety gear, so I got some looks. I found a door saying ‘staff only’, walked in, and eventually located the project manager. I said to him, ‘Hi, I’m Luke from Integrity Cleaning, you’ve got some great buildings here, and we’d like to be the company that cleans them’.
“He told me my timing was interesting as they were just three days away from tendering for a cleaning company, so he took me to the senior management in order to apply.”
Several months later, having seen off competition from some of the biggest companies in the market, Integrity was offered the contract.
“They could see I wanted to do a good job, and we ended up replacing a company they had used for the last 25 years.”
Luke’s bold approach to securing employment for his team provided many months of solid work, cleaning 1,000 or so million-pound apartments, over four thorough stages each, to make them ready for residents.
And so Integrity rose to its current position as one of the UK’s most caring and community oriented commercial and construction cleaning firms.
“My primary goal isn’t about making money, it’s about helping other people,” Luke states.
“This year alone I’ve helped 25 mums back into work. Of course, helping mothers doesn’t just help them, it helps their children, families, husbands, and whoever else. It impacts lives.
“We help with their training, and we look towards assisting with transport costs, and being flexible with working hours. We’re also there to provide references for when they’re ready to move on. We work as a team, and they love it. To me, each of them isn’t merely a cleaner – they are a person; something they never normally hear in this industry.”
From year one to year two, Integrity has grown by 650 percent, and his nomination for a UK Business Award tops a hugely successful year that has also seen him share his story with thousands of listeners on radio station LBC.
“I have appeared twice on LBC’s The Business Hour, and plan to return to answer questions from listeners in the near future and share my advice.”
On the subject of advice, Luke leaves us with one final inspiring message.
“Never let a challenge – in my case my diagnosis – stop you from doing what you want to do. Never limit yourself.”
New research offers an insight into how employers and employees differ on a range of issues, including being fully engaged in their roles.
A study by HR solutions provider People First found that 93 percent of UK employers think it’s important to be liked, but 90 percent of their staff want their day-to-day experience of work improved.
Exploring the attitudes of 250 bosses and 250 employees in UK firms, the research revealed how employers lack an accurate picture of how staff feel and the way it affects their work.
Eight-four percent of bosses think their staff are happy and 76 percent believe most of their employees are fully engaged in what they do. Howeverr, only 64 percent of staff find work makes them happy, and just 42 percent are fully engaged or absorbed in what they do to earn a living.
Mark Williams, Senior Vice President Product at People First, said: “Likeability is good in a boss. But with so many staff wanting their experience at work improved, you have to ask if employers really understand their workforces. There’s obviously a happiness gap where managers believe morale is better than it really is. They are clearly failing to measure staff engagement regularly.”
The research found men are more likely to say their work really engages them (48 percent) than women (37 percent), reflecting the longstanding difference in support and career development offered to women, as well as the well-publicised gap in pay between the sexes.
Meanwhile, lack of understanding plays a role in another difference between bosses and workers. Whereas 39 percent of employers believe most staff quit a job for emotional reasons, only 17 percent of employees say that’s the main cause of them handing in their notice.
The research also found more than half of UK employees (56 percent) regard being rewarded for excellent work as important to their experience at work, while 51 percent want more opportunities for flexible working.
“Poor productivity is a British disease which we can cure through better understanding of what motivates employees and gets them into the flow where time flies and work is more enjoyable and fulfilling,” added Mark.
“That’s why it’s important to rely on more than gut feeling about how happy or engaged staff are. Regular check-ins must replace the dated annual appraisal as only with regular conversations can an employer see the true picture of their employees.
“There are so many different aspects to any job, such as training, career development and flexible working, that making assumptions about what employees want is misguided. As an employer you need to know what makes your staff happy to work hard and what makes them leave.”
The ability of workers to improvise and innovate while on the job is being underused, a new report has revealed.
A study of 1,000 workplaces published in Thinking on your feet, a report by the commercial subsidiary of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, RADA Business, found that 91 percent of people say they regularly experience situations where employees have failed to apply a flexible way of communicating and common sense as a result of not being able to think ‘in the moment’, respond appropriately, and improvise a creative solution.
The report identifies the effects of not being able to think creatively and reveals that 46 percent of people have experienced impatient customer service. Other poor staff behaviours found include unhelpfulness (45 percent), poor communication (38 percent), or rudeness (37 percent).
Customers are quick to make judgements about organisations as a result, with 88 percent admitting that they make negative assumptions about the entire organisation due to inappropriate staff behaviour.
Those working as professionals in the healthcare sector were revealed to have the strongest ability to improvise and work well under pressure (40 percent), followed by counter staff in banks (23 percent) and admin staff in the NHS (23 percent).
At the other end of the spectrum, the research found that those working as estate agents (nine percent), staff at utility companies (10 percent), or staff on public transport (15 percent) struggled to think quickly and be able to improvise effectively.
Although all three sectors require the ability to communicate well with customers and to make a positive impression, it’s clear that often this isn’t always delivered effectively. This can be due to a range of reasons including difficult customers or stressful situations.
Kate Walker Miles, tutor and Client Manager at RADA Business, said: “Customers appreciate being heard and react positively towards workers who go the extra mile, but robotic service and a diminishing ability to improvise can leave customers feeling frustrated.
“By viewing the organisation from the perspective of your customer, you can understand clearly how the business is being perceived and encourage a positive culture of improvisation.
“There are simple training techniques available to support workers who struggle to think quickly and react to situations in a flexible way, tapping into the power of improvisation, which can empower everyone in your workforce to make imaginative yet informed decisions.”