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7min190

Working with people is great, but taking care of a whole team requires much more work than you can imagine.

Thankfully, we live in a time when employers pay a lot of attention to making their employees happy, satisfied, more productive, and motivated. Trends come and go, but there are ones proven to deliver results, no matter the kind of company being discussed.

Check out these five motivation ideas, and help provide your team with the boost they may need to achieve success.

1. Team exercise

Starting the day with exercise is a proven method that boosts creativity and strongly motivates employees. A study researched the so-called Köhler effect, which explains the correlation of increased motivation when exercising in groups. They came up with the most interesting results…

“An inferior team member performs a difficult task better in a team or coaction situation than one would expect from the knowledge of his or her individual performance. Results suggest that working out with virtually present, superior partners can improve persistence motivation.”

This is just one of the reasons why you should implement group workouts with your team. It can be early in the morning, or before or after lunch. Challenges are very efficient for the entire group – the exercise might last only 10 minutes, but will do so much good for overall productivity.

 

2. Gamification

Gamification is one of the latest trends when it comes to motivating employees. Turning work into a game is risky, but it sure does yield results. The only thing you have to be careful about is not to ‘over-gamify’. So start thinking of fun, exciting ways to have the team do the job through a game.

Use it once in a while, and everyone will be more creative, productive, and motivated. Every game should end with a reward for the winner – think of badges for milestones, gifts, and of course, praise!

3. Empower them with better tools

Everyone wants to work at a place equipped with the latest tools. It’s not only tech firms who need gadgets, and you can boost motivation in the workplace by purchasing some new tools that are better and more efficient compared to ones you had before.

The team will be able to get the work done much faster, and they will be stimulated to perform better. It will be an investment that brings results right away. If you are seriously thinking of implementing this tip, you can use some of these discount codes for the best prices available.

4. Attend events as a team

Enjoying social events can help a lot with team bonding and boosting motivation. People love working in companies that also pay attention to this social factor.

Spending eight hours in an office together will not help people get to know their colleagues as much as you might think. Some of the best and simplest ideas are to organise a lunch, breakfast, or dinner once a month, or to schedule a game day, cocktail night, party and more.

“Companies with engaged employees make 2.5 times more than their less-engaged counterparts. Engaged employees are a whopping 87% less likely to leave their companies.”

5. Manage employees as individuals also

Yes, you are working as a team, but every single employee is different and has a different way of communicating. Make sure that you manage them as individuals and not only as a group.

People have diverse characters, so to push them and boost the motivation you have to pay attention to each individual. Take five minutes for a quick meeting with each employee at least once a month. Get to know them well, and it will pay off for the whole team.


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8min335

The growth of technology combined with the idea that we need to work harder to achieve more is a popular concept in the modern workplace.

While there’s no denying the benefits and triumphs that come from committed bursts of hard work, unwavering dedication can tip the balance, turning a hard-worker into a workaholic.

As technology makes it increasingly easy to push beyond the nine-to-five, it’s vital for workers to recognise the difference between committed working habits and work addiction.

Last month, a new study by TUC highlighted how UK staff work the longest hours in the EU, with full-time employees working up to an average of 42 hours a week. Research by Harvard Business Review shows the average CEO works 62.5 hours a week – around 21.3 hours above the global baseline of 41.2 hours. In the UK, 54 percent of employees check work emails on holiday and six percent admit to even checking them at a funeral.

With smartphones, computers, and apps at our fingertips, we’re able to maintain a constant connection to our work. In theory, these tools should make our workdays shorter and more efficient, but constant distractions and the inability to disconnect can lead to longer work hours and less to show for it.

According to the Bergen Work Addiction Scale, replying ‘often’ or ‘always’ to at least four of the following seven criteria may indicate a work addiction:

  1. You think of how you can free up more time to work
  2. You spend much more time working than initially intended
  3. You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness, and depression
  4. You have been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them
  5. You become stressed if you are prohibited from working
  6. You deprioritise hobbies, leisure activities, and exercise because of your work
  7. You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health

Impact on employees

Studies from CIPD show a sharp rise in ‘presenteeism’ over the last few years, from just 26 percent in 2010 to 86 percent in 2017, while another report shows a cost of £81 billion each year in the UK.

Work-obsessed CEOs run the risk of creating a company culture in which presenteeism reigns. As opposed to being absent from work, presenteeism leads to employees having lower productivity while at work. They’re also likely to feel judged according to how many hours they sit at their desks, rather than the quality of their output. This can lead to burnout, unhappiness, and increased health issues which end up impacting both company and employee negatively in the long-run.

Impact on business growth

CEOs who work too hard may have trouble delegating effectively or even end up micromanaging teams, which can lead to a bottleneck in the company. It also sends the message to employees that they’re not trusted or talented enough to meet expectations, which can cause tension and unhappiness. 

In a Harvard Business Review study of 27 CEOs over three months, time management proved the greatest challenge for most, while email usage was the top interrupter of the day. Leaders in the same study spent 72 percent of their time in work meetings, with the average meeting length being one hour.

One of the biggest time wasters for employees is distraction at work. Around 60 percent of employees say meetings are a big distraction that impact productivity according to Udemy, ultimately leading to longer hours spent working.

Regain the balance

While the dedication to put in extra hours is a valuable trait, it’s important to manage a healthy balance in the long-term. One of the major differences between a hard worker and a workaholic is the problems that are caused as a result. Poor health, guilt when not working, and increased stress levels are often consequences of work addiction. Here are a few ways to combat it: 

Trust your team: For a team to grow successfully, it’s important to attract and retain talented employees, delegate effectively, and trust them to perform tasks without you. This will free up time for you to focus on strategy and growth.

Reduce distraction: Shorten meetings, set dedicated working times where people can focus, and create a culture of face to face interaction rather than using email. Around 40 percent of employees believe work distraction could also be drastically reduced with flexible and remote working options, according to a report by Udemy.

Encourage work-life balance: Instill a 40-hour work week for everyone- CEOs included – with an emphasis on results rather than hours spent at a desk.

Try a digital detox: Limit time spent online by consciously logging off of your work email and putting your phone away during weekends and on holiday. Set the tone in your organisation by normalising the fact that employees don’t have to adopt an always-on attitude. There are several apps that can assist by locking your devices for a period of time. 

Allow mornings to set the precedent for the rest of the day. Whether taking time out to exercise, read, meditate, or plan for the day, prioritise setting the tone for the hours to come every morning. When planning out your day, stick to a realistic to do list of no more than five items at a time.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMay 7, 2019
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2min241

One-in-three workers feel uncomfortable approaching their managers about problems at work, according to new poll conducted by the TUC.

The findings are published in a new report, Improving Line Management, which revealed that 32 percent of respondents have issues bringing matters to their direct superiors. The study also founds that while the majority of UK workers feel supported by their bosses, more than a third (35 percent) do not believe their line manager treats them and their colleagues fairly.

More than two-fifths (45 percent) of workers believe their line manager does not help “morale” at work. Meanwhile, the poll also reveals that many UK workers feel in the dark about their workplace rights, and nearly half of respondents (44 percent) say their line-manager fails to ensure they know their rights at work.

Despite being crucial to workers’ well-being and productivity, less than half of UK managers got any training in the last year, according to most recent government statistics.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Having a good manager is crucial to how we get on at work. But businesses are not investing enough in training managers. It’s shocking that so many workers feel afraid to raise issues with their boss and are not being told about their rights at work.

“If we want better and more productive workplaces, we need to step up investment in training – including for managers. Anyone who isn’t getting the support they deserve at work should join a union today.”

 


Alice NewAlice NewMay 2, 2019
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7min587

We all understand the importance of employees having a growth mindset and engaging in lifelong learning.

These are essential habits to foster at a cultural level to maximise Customer Experience. What’s interesting is that attitudes among employees, particularly for voluntary learning and building on soft skills, has changed. Having the chance to develop personally and “put my talents to good use” is one of the top five things that employees of all age groups value most in life and we also know that learning is a key driver of workplace happiness and employee engagement.

This was cited as very important by 80 percent of working adults in our recent study at GoodHabitz. It shows that people want the opportunity to keep on learning and challenging themselves, especially when it means they can learn new skills that benefit them personally and professionally. Lifelong learning has finally become accepted as an integral part of working life and this is true across all educational backgrounds.

Interestingly though, in the same way that appetites for learning are increasing, so too is the expectation that employers also need to allow for time off work to facilitate learning. Eighty-six percent of employees in our study thought they should be given time off during working hours to dedicate to learning and development, with 23 percent expecting this as standard – a 10 percent increase on previous years.

One-in-five employees believed that professional learning should only take place during working hours. That might be acceptable for compliance based training, but for life skills like time management, dealing with stress, influence and negotiation, that’s just not feasible.

For employers to free up time and deliver in line with these high expectations requires a shift away from traditional classroom study to online methods. It’s not economically viable otherwise. More significantly, it requires a change in thinking away from expecting employees to complete online courses in one sitting, to being able to dip in and out of their learning, to suit competing time constraints.

We know from experience that if you ask employees – especially the ones in customer facing roles – what stops them from undertaking voluntary training courses, the vast majority will state “a lack of time”. Even the most engaged learners can only dedicate five or 10 minutes a day at best. We need to be facilitating what Josh Bersin describes as “learning in the flow of work”, in which employees have the chance to learn constantly, when it suits them, taking advantage of odd moments.

They might be on the train, waiting for a conference call to start (or maybe even during the call if it’s a dull one), whilst eating lunch at their desks, or as a podcast when sitting in traffic. Provided the training content has been designed to allow for micro-learning, there is no reason why this isn’t equally or even more effective than completing an entire course in a single setting.

Researchers have shown that when information is delivered in small chunks, it’s much easier to retain and the learning process is much more efficient – almost 20 percent higher. It more closely matches the brain’s ability to process information and recall is much higher. This is because learners can work at their own pace, they are not overwhelmed with information and most importantly, they are in the right ‘zone’ to learn. Typically, micro-learning content addresses only one or two learning objectives, but psychologists have measured that it generates, on average, four to five learned takeaways.

For micro-learning to be really successful, it needs a mindset shift at the organisational level. Ten minutes spent learning about presenting for success for example, is much better than nothing. It might have been just enough to give the person the tips they needed to improve performance. That’s learning in the flow of work.

To embed that into an organisations’ culture, we need to stop ticking boxes or measuring completion rates and instead look at the wider ‘diversity of learning’ that’s happening. The ‘completer finisher’ learning attitude has come about as a result of classroom-based training. A person had to be present to get their certificate of completion and from traditional e-learning that was compliance focused. Personal development is different and much less rigid.

Why not simply facilitate the process and adopt an ‘all learning is better than no learning’ approach instead? Let people take responsibility for their own self development and just provide the resources and encouragement. If employees complete part of a course on a topic, they will have benefitted and got what they needed at that time, plus they know where to go when they want to continue and may well come back to finish it. It’s better to think of online learning as a vast resource of learning material, like a library. Irrespective of whether they receive a certificate or not, they have learned something new that they can apply in their working or professional life.


Jo UpwardJo UpwardApril 29, 2019
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8min383

The Delphi Study of Work 2050 can be seen as a sober read for those of us working in workplace culture.

As well as predicting an unemployment rate of around 24 percent of the world’s population by 2050 due to the convergence of technology, it talks about how we will be both virtual and metaverse-centric or living in a collective virtual world. 

There is no doubt that the impact of the next round of technology advances will be profound.  We are already going from ANI (Artificial Narrow Intelligence), where machines can learn a specific task, to AGI (Artificial General Intelligence), where they mimic humans, to bordering on the ASI (Artificial Super Intelligence), where machines’ abilities and functions become superior to that of humans. 

What this means for the workforce is that the nature of work has changed. Today we are multi-local and mobile. By 2050 we will live and work in a collective virtual world. No longer ‘jobs for life’ – there will be fewer permanent contracts, more patchwork careers, and a need to invest in long-term learning.

By 2030, digital assistants will guide us through our day, connected to our schedules, aware of our preferences, and with the ability and knowledge to book our favourite restaurants, plan routes, and arrange transportation for our travel.  Keyboards will be a thing of the past as interaction with devices will be via speech and gesture, and everything will be connected – by 2030, 20 percent of the world’s electricity is forecast to be used by the billions of connected devices.

We will of course be driven to work by our driverless car, which will be enabled by 5G, that it is predicted will have over two billion connections by 2030. And we will have less days off sick – a combined result of working on freelance contracts with no sick pay and the fact that our health will be monitored through our wearable devices.

So what does this mean for those of us working in workplace design and culture? How do we attract people to a workplace when we know the future is about designing for the tech rather than the talent?

We know that all businesses will need to be digital – to embrace digital transformation within their workforce. We also know that the human aspect is often what puts the heart into our businesses and gives us our point of differentiation from our competitors.  So, how do we design the space that brings digital transformation into our workplace yet is attractive to those who will work within it?

Flexibility in the workplace

Firstly, we need to create flexibility in the work environment to help teams work in a more agile way. Work will more organised around project not function and this can be challenging to accommodate in a fixed space. People need to be able to move from project to project and the technology and space needs to accommodate this seamlessly without causing delay or disturbance to those working agilely.

We all know that real estate is expensive and therefore the tendency is to cram people into the office space and ‘agility’ becomes another word for too many people in too little space. Digital teams, such as developers, also tend to be office-based rather than flexible workers, so the challenge is to create clever collaborative spaces where teams can get together on an hourly, daily, and weekly basis to discuss projects and progress, but also have space for concentrated activity.

The space needs to be attractive

To attract and retain good people you need to create attractive workplaces. We all have seen on YouTube, or at least heard about, Google’s offices complete with slide, putting green, and revolving bookcases, and although most of us don’t stretch to that level of innovation or budget, we do need to make our workforce proud of the space they work in.

The 360 degree work we live and work in means that we share far more of our lives on a day-to-day level. This includes our life in the office. Workspaces need to reflect the brand – so what you are externally saying to customers, internally lines up with your staff. This isn’t just graphics on the wall, but how the brand is lived and demonstrated within the workplace, including what food offerings are available, what rest and relaxation areas there are, how wellbeing is being addressed, and so on.

Ability to engage all

Ensuring that your frontline staff – for example those working in retail or those in the field – are delivering your brand and feel their workplace reflects them too is key. For example, getting feedback from these frontline staff in real-time or even delivering internal and external communication strategies in 3D and on their own mobile devices, can be a way to excite them about product launches, educate them about brand values, and make them feel that they know – and understand – what is going on within the company.

Culture comes from people, not brands, products, or robots. Every workforce needs a culture and therefore needs to place their people at the heart of workspace they are working in, whether this workspace is in the office, in the field, or virtual.


Lucinda PullingerLucinda PullingerApril 25, 2019
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9min346

According to HSE, around 15.4 million working days were lost due to work-related stress or anxiety last year, with 23 percent of full-time employees admitting to feeling burned out at work all the time.

Following these recent statistics, we wanted to identify the early signs of burnout and how to effectively avoid hitting ‘rock bottom’.

While January is one of the toughest times of the year for career blues in the UK, it is especially important to look out for signs of burnout later in the year as well. Stress and exhaustion at work impacts employees of all ages around the world, and at every level of the career ladder. Similar to imposter syndrome, high achievers and perfectionists are particularly susceptible to burning themselves out.

Six key factors that lead to burnout at work

  1. High Workload: In the UK, 44 percent of stress or depression at work is caused by a high workload
  2. Unclear Job Expectations: In America, only 60 percent of employees say they know what is expected
  3. Conflict: One of the main work-related factors causing burnout
  4. Lack of Managerial Support: Those with a strong support system are 70 percent less likely to experience burnout
  5. No Work/Life Balance: The inability to manage work and personal life can have a snowball effect
  6. Stressful Working Environment: There is a correlation between stressful jobs and burnout

If your work and family life are consistently stressful, you’re almost certainly at risk of burnout. Most people only realise that they are truly burnt out when it’s too late and then they need to work towards eliminating the symptoms, often while still having to deal with the stresses that caused it in the first place.

Keeping an eye out for warning signs can help you make changes proactively, making it easier to prevent burnout, while you still have the will and motivation to make the changes required.

Career burnout symptoms

Disengagement

Over-engagement is a symptom of high-stress levels. Going to sleep and waking up thinking about a problem or a deadline is a perfect example of over-engagement. When you start to disengage with your work or personal problems by ignoring or avoiding them, burnout warning bells should start ringing.

Helplessness

Stress usually manifests as a sense of urgency, often resulting in hyperactivity. Anyone facing perpetual deadlines knows the feeling. Burnout, however, is characterised by helplessness and hopelessness; the belief that nothing you do is going to have any effect on your situation or drive any real change.

Blunted emotions

When under stress, you may find that your emotions are exaggerated and more difficult to control, resulting in you becoming angrier or upset easier than usual. With blunted emotions, however, you may feel that you do not have the energy to react emotionally to situations, or that you are unable to feel excited or worried at all.

If you’ve started exhibiting any of these symptoms, you may be approaching burnout and should act to minimise its severity and effect. 

Effective ways to deal with burnout

Acknowledge your problems

It’s easy to ignore or downplay other issues in your life that may be contributing to your burnout. Make a list of all things you worry about daily, including the things you feel that you have no power to change. By ordering these by a level of importance, you’ll know which issues you need to address first.

Seek support

Whether it’s from a co-worker or manager, talking about the problem and seeking advice is a critical step into addressing the causes of your burnout.

Book time off

In some cases, merely having some time away from work, helps re-evaluate your priorities and enables you to get to the root of your stresses. If you’re worried about using up all your annual leave, strategically book leave to optimise your time off.

Slow it down

It’s vitally important to learn to create a mental divide between work and your life outside it, as it’s extremely unhealthy and unproductive to be thinking about work during ‘off time’.

Ask for more flexibility

With a huge shift towards businesses becoming more agile, the growth of remote working, and an increasing amount of co-working and flexible workspace options around the world, more companies are starting to introduce flexible working hours to reduce commuting time and increase happiness.

Take a few minutes each day to acknowledge your anxieties for what they are; irrational and exaggerated, and prioritise things like spending time with friends and family and outdoor activities.

It’s important to be honest with yourself during the onset of burnout. Remember, these are simply tips to help you improve your situation in the short term. Burnout has genuine health implications, and we strongly recommend that you seek professional help in overcoming it. A mental health professional will provide you with tools to make your recovery simpler and easier to maintain.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthApril 24, 2019
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5min516

We are in the midst of a landmark transformation in working culture, with both the biggest companies and the smallest start-ups faced with a workforce holding dramatically different expectations – and needs – from those in years gone by.

Such changes can be overwhelming for some, who struggle to comprehend and facilitate this new landscape, but for those needing guidance, a new book by talent and acquisition expert Bruce Morton could contain the answers they seek.

Morton, who is described as skilled in the field of “international workforce design” has over 40 years’ of experience advising organisations including big-hitters Microsoft, PayPal, and eBay.

His new tome, Redesigning the Way Work Works: Strong Opinions and Advice from 40 Years in the Businessis a guide for employers looking to “change their work architecture to meet employee expectations and compete against other organisations to attract and retain top talent”.

The book explores how the influx of Millennials to the workforce brought with them vastly different expectations than those who have gone before. For the cynics, this does not mean the abandonment of good old fashioned work ethic, because despite the rise in demand for flexibility and employers to build their business around the lives of employees, 87 percent of Millennial staff members still hold career growth and learning as a top priority.

However, stability, structure, and ‘a job for life’ are rapidly becoming obsolete concepts, with Millennials seeking out environments that give them a sense of purpose and help them learn and grow. As Morton outlines, work has gone from somewhere we go to something we do, and companies urgently need to redesign their work architecture to keep up.

Another recent phenomenon explored in Redesigning the Way Work Works include the rise of the ‘talentsumer’, and why firms must start viewing employees as ‘consumers of work’. After all, they now expect the same level of service as they do from their favourite consumer brands.

However, although the expectations of employees have changed, many companies still cling to old ideas of how the relationship between employees and work should be.

Redesigning the Way Work Works dismisses some of these myths, which include the idea that recruiters are the ones in the ‘hiring seat’. In reality, the candidates now take this position, meaning hiring top talent is getting harder, and candidates are now the ones choosing where to work. Employers need to offer more to their staff to persuade candidates to choose them.

The book also shatters the notion that Millennials are job-hoppers with itchy feet. They are merely a generation seeking employment with purpose, and who are unafraid to up-sticks and go elsewhere when their needs aren’t met.

One way to ensure these needs are met is to realise that flexible working must be offered to employees to offer a greater work-life balance and keep them satisfied.

Redesigning the Way Work Works is a guide to creating a company culture that responds to employee needs. Morton shows that through redesigning work architecture, businesses can meet employee expectations, compete against other employers, attract the best talent, and create a thriving company culture.

Independently published, Redesigning the Way Work Works by Bruce Morton is available now on Amazon, priced £21.10.


Emma KeelingEmma KeelingApril 17, 2019
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6min683

We hear a lot of talk nowadays about a company’s culture and values. Why are these so important? What do they add to a company? How can we make sure we live by these values?

The core values of a company are the essence of its identity. They are the principles and beliefs which should underlie every decision. In family-owned and owner-managed businesses, the values often reflect the values of the founder. However, many business owners and directors fail to articulate their values. It can be time-consuming to work out what is truly important to you in a business, so why is it worth the effort?

Company values will guide decisions at every level, big and small; it is just as important for the directors to evaluate their strategy against company values as it is for a receptionist to express these company values when answering the phone. A strong value system will enable directors to delegate more – a company’s values will guide many of the decisions its staff have to make.

A strong value system also simplifies decisions. For example, if a company value is “always to put the client first”, and one afternoon you are pressed and find yourself having to decide between doing something urgent for a client, or working on a big pitch taking place the next day for a large new contract, which should you do?

You refer to your values. Decision made! Looking after your current clients’ needs must come first.

A company culture based on clearly articulated values will inspire your workforce. Employees motivated by the company’s values are likely to work to the best of their ability and speed. The number of sick days taken will fall as a culture of teamwork and support for one another builds. Increased loyalty to an inspiring business will improve employee retention and reduce staff turnover.

Strong company values will similarly attract new recruits, who will want to work for a company with meaning and purpose, where they feel they can add real value.

Strong values don’t just make life easier and more enjoyable for those working at the company – they also become a differentiator for the business in the market place. Customers will be attracted to the culture and know what they are getting. The most popular company values are: 

  • Dependability
  • Reliability
  • Loyalty
  • Commitment
  • Open-mindedness
  • Consistency
  • Honesty
  • Efficiency

Wouldn’t we all be likely to buy from a company delivering on even just three of these values?

A strong culture adds tangibly to the value of a business; when shareholders seek to raise capital or sell their business, they will experience first-hand the importance of a committed and loyal workforce. Investors unfailingly place value on a company’s ability to recruit and retain competent, motivated staff, recognising that this is an indicator of a well-run and successful business.

It is vital to remember that values are caught, not just taught. They have to reflect who we really are – it’s no good the CEO endlessly espousing on values if no one actually lives them out.

It is also a mistake to have too many values, as no-one will be able to remember them all. Three to five is a realistic number, ideally grouped into a memorable acronym. Each value needs to be unpacked and explained regularly so that everyone understands how the values should impact behaviour and decision-making. How about putting them on all your meeting agendas and on the wall in the staff kitchen?

Employees, customers, suppliers, and investors all cry out for a strong company culture; values create enormous value!


Michael FitzGeraldMichael FitzGeraldApril 16, 2019
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9min530

Competition is intensifying in almost every industry worldwide and in the race for success, enterprises face a growing risk of losing site of the fundamental elements for business success – a strong product that can serve the needs of every user.

Despite the focus on building a more efficient, tech-centric future, creating an innovative product without fully understanding the customer’s requirements is simply a pointless task and could perhaps not even amount to success in the long run. As Steve Jobs famously said: “You’ve got to start with the Customer Experience and work backwards to the technology. You cannot start with the technology and try to figure out where you are going to sell it.”

Success in today’s business world is not about the speed at which you innovate; it is a result of businesses putting customers at the heart of everything they do, by taking the time to learn exactly what they need and providing your product in a way that makes sense for their organisation.

A 2017 report by McKinsey echoes this sentiment, observing that the traditional product or business manager-led ideas are “too slow and insular” and the lack of customer feedback present throughout the development phase means that businesses “often learn only after the fact that they invested in the wrong areas and made improvements that do not deliver a differentiating experience”.

The power of the customer

Modern decision makers must therefore take a different, more hands-on approach to customer interaction in order to both build and improve their own service, make their user’s lives easier, and meet the changing demands of the business landscape.

As the competition for customers increases daily, user research is the true secret weapon of a successful product. Being able to form a complete understanding of customer requirements in the context in which they might use a product is priceless. It is the gift that will keep on giving, because even when you know what your product offers and what you’re truly selling, your customers might have a completely different idea.

Other times, they don’t know exactly what they need from a product, which makes observing them first hand even more powerful. As a provider, business leaders must understand what their customers are trying to accomplish and then develop to get them there in the simplest fashion.

What’s more, the product then also needs to work for your target users – business today isn’t a one-size-fits all process and designing and developing in this way will inevitably cause a ‘square peg in a round hole’ situation when it comes to customer implementation. In order to grow, companies should pick the brains of their users, gauge exactly what their frustrations are, then build on this to overcome these pain points for the masses.

Getting out on the road

New ideas, mindsets, and attitudes to development are now essential for motivating and encouraging business leaders to think outside the box and embrace a vision of growth. The pool of experience amongst the business community is growing every day and leaders should also be taking the time to make themselves a resource for helping others, in order to connect with customers, learn, and ultimately drive their own success on a large scale.

Stepping on the ground to walk in a customer’s shoes is therefore vital for understanding how those using a service perceive it, and unearthing the changes which could shape the business for the better. Regardless of time constraints, getting out on the road and away from the day-to-day running of a company can help leaders to ‘tune out the noise’ and gather valuable insights that could take their business forward in the future. The key to growth today really is listening and learning from customers – if you listen, they’ll tell you.

Speaking from my own experience of touring the UK to collect insight from customers, this grassroots learning can reap huge benefits; it allows you to hear directly from the people most able to scrutinise their service and hold the business to account for areas where it could do better. However, it is not only valuable for driving product developments – it will also speak volumes for the reputation of the company. What’s more, setting out to be helpful with one-on-one interactions with customers in this way will show your dedication to deliver on a primary goal of making your user’s lives easier.

Change culture from the top

Today, over half (52 percent) of people worldwide believe that companies need to take action on feedback provided by their customers. Shifting the focus of your staff away from technology and towards a better Customer Experience in this way can ultimately help to carve out new opportunities within increasingly saturated markets. Instilling this culture practically across a business can be led by business leaders themselves.

Setting an example by taking visiting customers, delivering customer-focused training, and encouraging regular contact with those investing in your service can ensure that this customer-centric attitude filters down into the workforce.

Now is the time for a more ‘on the ground’ approach from decision makers and the rewards for unlocking customer insights on a more personable level are clear to see. Spending time getting to know the customer’s position can lead to some eye-opening truths about your business, both good and bad. These truths can range from flaws in your products, strengths in your service, or even customer feeling towards their relationship with staff.

Every insight gathered from customers can be learned upon and fed back into a business, enabling its leaders to build a better product and drive maximum value, both now and in the future. Leaders who commit themselves to sharing their own knowledge and building more direct customer relationships will ultimately come out on top in the race for both success and equally satisfied customers.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthApril 15, 2019
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2min472

British workers are putting in the longest hours in the European Union, according to a new study. 

Analysis by the TUC reveals that full-time UK employees worked an average of 42 hours a week in 2018. This was almost two hours more than the EU average – equivalent to an extra two-and-a-half weeks a year.

Britain’s “long-hours culture” is not having a positive impact on productivity, the TUC has claimed, highlighting that in similar economies to the UK, employees are much more productive for each hour they work.

For example, full-time employees in Germany work 1.8 hours a week less than those in the UK, but are 14.6 percent more productive. In Denmark – the EU country with the shortest hours – workers put in over four hours less than UK staff, but productivity in Denmark is 23.5 percent higher.

The average full-time week in Britain has shortened by just 18 minutes over the past decade, which nowhere near fast enough to close the gap with other countries. Even if the EU average stayed the same, at current rates of progress it would take 63 years for UK workers to get the same amount of free time as their European counterparts.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Britain’s long hours culture is nothing to be proud of. It’s robbing workers of a decent home life and time with their loved ones. Overwork, stress and exhaustion have become the new normal.

“It’s time for a change. Other countries have shown that reducing working hours isn’t only good for workers, it can boost productivity. As new technology changes our economy, the benefits should be shared by working people. That means shorter hours, more time with family and friends, and decent pay for everyone.”




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