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Positive Work Culture

5 Company Initiatives That Improve Office Culture

In today’s competitive market for talent, office culture is everything. With employees spending most of their time (some upwards of 50 hours a week) in the office, it’s should come as no surprise that HR leaders consider developing and nurturing corporate culture and employee engagement to be their number one challenge.

Luckily, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to improve company culture. Initiatives that promote health, work-life balance, kindness and gratitude already exist and can go a long way in bolstering a positive office culture while also increasing engagement.

If you’re unsure where to start, here are a few initiatives to consider:

Employee Health

Companies have been holding organization-wide health challenges and the like for some time now, but the kinds of health initiatives employees desire are different than they once were, where end results were all that was emphasized. People don’t want to step on a giant scale and see how much weight they lost (or didn’t lose!). Instead, they want measurable processes that lead to overall well-being; to track progress with technology, get stronger, healthier, and feel great. With that in mind, here are a few modern health initiatives to try:

Supply organic lunches: According to a 3-month Communispace study. millennials care deeply about what they eat: “More than a quarter say organic, natural and non-toxic products are part of maintaining their health and may see them as alternatives to traditional medicine, signaling an opportunity for brands well beyond the traditional health care sectors,” If your organization can’t pay for lunch every day, choose a couple days to provide an organic lunch for employees or consider partnering with a catering company or bringing in a chef.

Strength challenge: You are probably familiar with popular health hashtags such as: #Healthyisthenewskinny and #progressnotperfection. With the idea of encouraging progress towards health goals in mind, why not hold a fitness challenge and then give employees a period of time to prepare for a re-test, challenging them to improve their performance and beat their old numbers. The friendly competition will encourage camaraderie and morale among employees while emphasizing greater personal health through competition.

Sleep goals: According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the more sleep an employee gets, the less likely they are to call in sick: “Results show that the risk of an extended absence from work due to sickness rose sharply among those who reported sleeping less than 6 hours or more than 9 hours per night,”

With fitness trackers and other wearables, people can now track how long and how well they’re sleeping every night. Set a sleep goal for employees and have them track their sleep over a period of time to earn rewards like gift cards, merchandise or PTO. Employees will feel better and they’ll love telling people they have “sleep goals” for work.

A Kindness Initiative

We could all benefit from more kindness in the world these days; not only at work but throughout our daily lives. In a recent poll, 76 percent of respondents said the world is a less kind place than it was 10 to 20 years ago. One way to bring more kindness, respect, and empathy into the workplace is with a kindness initiative.

It should include the following components:

Create a set of kindness “pillars” that everyone follows. Examples include: When giving constructive criticism or performance feedback, always give “compliment sandwiches” (compliment, criticism, compliment), assign work based on people’s strengths to set everyone up for success, exhibit small acts of kindness like holding the door open for coworkers, etc.

Institute regular recognition of employees. For this to stick, it has to work top down. Managers and team leaders can plan a monthly meeting where one or a group of employee(s) is called out for their excellent work. To ensure a tangible element for this type of recognition, employers can also create a wall of fame to post photos of these high performing employees. For larger organizations, an employee recognition platform is a great way to create and embed a culture of recognition.

Encourage employees to “give props” to their peers. If you use a tool like Slack to communicate within your office, this is easy to facilitate. Set up a channel where employees can recognize one another with a timely “thanks” or “nice job” regarding recent business successes. Using Slack, colleagues can not only tag the recipient of the “props”, but the entire channel, so everyone sees what that person did. Some recognition software providers, like Achievers, even allow the integration of popular tools like Slack within their recognition platform to further encourage “recognition in the flow of work”.

Employees will love getting the extra recognition, and more kindness may help reduce drama and sticky office politics.

A Volunteer Initiative

Giving back is not only good for the soul of your organization, it’s also good for attracting and retaining millennials: But sadly, only 57 percent of millennials believe that business leaders are committed to improving society. A volunteer initiative is relatively easy to set up and gives you a chance to boost your employer brand while also increasing loyalty and engagement among millennials.

Here are a few suggestions for setting up a volunteer initiative:

  • Hold a bi-annual volunteer event, where employees volunteer their time rather than go into the office for the day. Don’t do it on a Saturday—not only will you likely cripple turnout, but employees will likely not appreciate having an initiative such as this scheduled during their free time.
  • Reward employees who volunteer on their own time with “free” half-days.
  • Give every employee one workday a year, month or quarter to take part in a volunteer activity of their choosing.

In addition to the inherent value of the good deed itself, participating employees will feel good about themselves and gain more respect for your business, making volunteer initiatives especially valuable.

A Work/Life Balance Initiative

In the aforementioned Communispace study, 49 percent of millennials reported work-life balance as an important part of their health and wellness, followed by relationships with friends and family (47 percent). Employees of all generations care greatly about achieving a proper Work/Life balance, making it an important part of any culture campaign.

Luckily, there are many ways you can help employees foster desired work-life balance:

  • Half-day Fridays: Offer this once a month, or during a specific quarter. Many companies do this in the summer, when people tend to go on more weekend escapes.
  • Flexible work hours: Instead of limiting office attendance to the standard 9-to-5, allow employees to work when and how they can personally be most productive, whether that means coming in and leaving early, or working through the night. As long as they are performing up to expectations and making themselves available for meetings and other requests from colleagues, allow them the flexibility to manage their own schedules.
  • Work from home: If possible, allow employees to occasionally work from home, be it once a week or month.
  • Unlimited time off: This is something many startups and even larger companies are starting to offer. Employees can take as much, or as little time off as their job permits, without worrying about PTO caps or tracking their remaining vacation days. Fostering trust among your employees does wonders for engagement and it also benefits employers as it has been suggested that employees may actually take less time off when they have unlimited PTO.

A Shadow Initiative

This initiative allows employees to shadow their peers for a period of time. Business departments often get siloed and have little understanding as to what each other is doing. Shadow initiatives give everyone a chance to understand the roles of their collegues and see how their two positions can work together to achieve even better results.

To keep it organized, allow one department to shadow each month. For example, in March, members of the marketing team will shadow whomever they want. Set your time period (4 hours, an afternoon), and ask each shadow pairing to come up with one way they can work together in the next month.

Employees will love spending time doing something new and the business will flourish as connections are made that take projects and ideas to the next level.

To learn more, download the white paper All For One and One For All: Uniting a Global Workforce With Company Culture.

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About the Author
Jessica Thiefels
Jessica Thiefels has been writing and editing for more than 10 years and spent the last five years in marketing. She recently stepped down from a senior marketing position to focus on growing her own startup and consulting for small businesses. She’s been featured on Forbes and has written for sites such as Lifehack, Inman, Manta, StartupNation and more. When she’s not working, she’s enjoying sunny San Diego with her husband and friends or traveling somewhere new. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.

 

Most Valuable Work Habits

Which Habits Drive Superior Employee Performance?

In our previous blog, we explored how a company’s destiny is intimately linked to the Pivotal and Work Habits that its employees practice.

Employers have traditionally been inattentive to the design of employee habits, focusing instead on results produced. While this is a reasonable approach, employers have missed the opportunity to create environments that makes it easy for employees to practice both Pivotal and Work habits, which provide a difficult-to-see (and therefore difficult-to-copy) competitive advantage.

Pivotal Habits are the sets of health, happiness and financial security behaviors that prepare us to perform. They are the largest untapped source of increased human performance at work.

Practicing Pivotal Habits maximizes the probability that we show up to work each day full of energy, mental clarity and focus. If these habits are well supported by employers, they leave employees highly engaged with their work and their customers, and inspired to make a difference.

Practicing Pivotal Habits creates performance improvements in all people, irrespective of their roles in the business.

BRATLAB Habit Prescriptions: Which habits matter?

In our research at BRATLAB, we have found 9 collections of Pivotal Habits that consistently produce superior performance results.

Pivotal Habit Collections

Health

Move (exercise, stand and move more)

Nourish (eat for optimal performance, remove toxins like tobacco, moderate consumption of risky substances like caffeine and sugar, supplement as required)

Restore (sleep 7-9 hours, limit device usage, manage stress and adhere to drug regimens whenever required)

Happiness

Savor (savor positive experiences, practice optimism, express gratitude)

Focus (create positive relationships, perform acts of kindness and generosity, practice mindfulness)

Foster (use character strengths, show self-compassion, live purposefully)

Financial Security

Protect (purchase sufficient insurance, protect against identity theft and fraud)

Manage (learn and apply money management skills, reduce debt, create a budget and track spending regularly)

Save (save for retirement, create a short-term savings plan)

You’re probably not surprised by most of the items on this list, however the crucial details of the most effective version or prescription for each Pivotal Habit varies based on the outcomes we desire.

For example, if you’re interested in achieving improved cognitive function, then the current research says the detailed Move Prescription for producing that outcome is to do six minutes of high intensity exercise (like jumping jacks, burpees, high knees and a variety of other exercises that get your heart rate pumping) just before you need your brain to work best, and the effect lasts for the next two hours.

Alternatively, if the outcome you desire is reduced healthcare costs as an employer, then the detailed Move Prescription is doing medium intensity cardiovascular training, mixed with weight training, four to five times per week for 30 minutes at a time.

The devil is in the detail and the details matter to the kind of performance gains employers will see.

For most people and companies, the outcomes we want are “all of the above” and so we have to very carefully design the “lowest common denominator” versions of each Habit Prescription.

This is the work we do at Habits at Work, helping each employer find the Pivotal Habit Prescriptions that optimize employee performance AND that are a fit for those people and that company.

Which Work Habits matter most?

Pivotal Habits prepare every human being to perform better in their roles in life and at work. But this habits thinking extends to the details of our actual jobs as well.

We can ask, “Which behaviors, practiced again and again, will result in us performing our roles optimally, achieving the best possible outcomes in that role and for the customers and businesses we serve?,”

In the previous blog we labeled these our Work Habits and showed how they, together with Pivotal Habits, are the fundamental building blocks of corporate competitive advantage.

Unlike Pivotal Habits, these Work Habits are unique to every distinct role in a company. Defining what these habits are for each role should be a fundamental act of job design.

For salespeople, high performing Work Habits include making cold calls, holding effective sales meeting, making compelling presentations, sending thank you notes, updating sales management software, sending quality proposals, asking for the deal and ensuring contracts get signed.

For accountants, effective Work Habits include balancing the company accounts each month, issuing invoices, collecting outstanding money, paying creditors, producing monthly financial statements and answering emails only in the morning and late afternoon (to ensure uninterrupted times of focus during the day). A very different set of habits than those prescribed for effective selling.

Why do the details of Pivotal AND Work Habits matter?

Simply knowing that you should exercise every day is almost trite and somewhat useless. But knowing that the OPTIMAL type of exercise for performance in your role is short bouts of high intensity exercise, done at your desk regularly throughout the day, consuming even less time than you’d normally spend at the gym and requiring no special clothes, time off, or special facilities, makes a world of difference to:

  • the actual outcomes you get, and
  • your chances of practicing the habit at all.

The art of ensuring that people do what makes a difference to their performance, starts by designing “Habit Prescriptions” that are clear to understand, that are optimized to increase performance (based on research), and that are easy to fit into their already busy lives.

At Habits at Work, we help employers to define these Pivotal and Work Habits, and to optimize them both for ease of completion by employees as well as for their performance impact.

Now, with these insights in mind, let’s define the “design problem” for employers who wish to become High Performance Employers:

How do you effectively design your workplace to make it easy, natural and enjoyable for employees to practice their Pivotal and Work Habits, in a way that not only has them perform optimally, but that leaves them thrilled with the experience, grateful for the support and highly engaged with us as an employer?

That’s the question we’ll answer in the last of this series of three blogs.

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About the Author
Andrew Sykes
For more information, contact Andrew Sykes at Andrew@habitsatwork.com or read more online at www.habitsatwork.com or www.BRATLAB.com

 

 

 

Employee Health and Fitness Month

Celebrate Global Employee Health & Fitness Month

May is Global Employee Health & Fitness Month (GEHFM), so it’s a great opportunity for you to inject some new energy into your employee wellness programs and introduce new measures for improving employee wellbeing. Healthy, well employees are more likely to be productive, happy, and engaged. Here are some ways you can help your employees achieve higher levels of health and physical fitness, based on suggestions made by the nonprofit sponsors of this special awareness month.

Healthy moments

Improving employee health doesn’t have to mean substantial investments of time, energy, and resources. GEHFM reminds everyone that modest one-at-a-time measures can add up to big improvements over time. You can facilitate healthy moments at your workplace by providing nutritious snacks such as fresh fruits and vegetables as an alternative to sweet, starchy office treats. Encourage your employees to get more exercise by subsidizing gym memberships or providing incentives for walking or biking to work. Bringing in a massage therapist to offer shoulder rubs during high-pressure projects is another fun and cost-effective idea.

Healthy groups

Peer companionship can make the difference between success and failure in sticking to healthy new habits. For that reason, GEHFM’s second set of recommendations revolve around forming groups for sharing sustainable healthy activities that will continue on past this one month. You can facilitate such groups by hiring trainers to offer free on-site fitness classes in yoga or other forms of exercise. You can also help employees organize cycling groups, lunchtime walking groups, or after-work activity clubs.

Company-wide projects

To achieve a sense of alignment in the concept of wellness throughout your entire organization, GEHFM encourages you to initiate a company-wide health-related project this month. Here are a few options for creating “culminating projects” that every employee can be invited to join:

  • Hold a step competition using digital apps to track steps and see who took the most steps during a given period.
  • Sponsor a company 5K race to raise funds for a cause selected by the workers.
  • Plan a fun fitness event for workers and their families.
  • Transform a piece of company property into a volunteer-tended vegetable garden.

Global Employee Health & Fitness Month is a good opportunity to get creative and seek input from all your workers. Almost everyone spends time thinking about how they can improve their fitness, and your organization will benefit from the synergy of everyone joining together to lead healthier lives.