Tag: productivity

Employees Love to be Loved

We all know that a big red heart is the symbol of Valentine’s Day, and for this reason February is also American Heart Month.  Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men AND women, and ultimately, your employees.  Do you care about your employees? Yes, you do.  That’s why February is a great time to show your concern for your employees’ health by generating awareness about the risk of heart disease and also by helping your staff do a “little something about it.” But, why make the effort?

Numerous studies conclude that there is a significant relationship between Organizational Commitment to Employees (OCE) and company performance (eg. Muse, Rutherford, Oswald, and Raymond; Small Business Economics, Vol. 24, No. 2, Mar. 2005).  OCE is defined by an organization’s actions toward and treatment of its employees including caring for their well-being.  Not to get too technical, but briefly there is a positive correlation between return on assets, return on sales, and return on cashflow and OCE.

I recently had the opportunity to listen to a presentation by Dr. Martha Grogan of the Mayo Clinic which recently published Mayo Clinic Healthy Heart for Life!.  This book promotes an innovative yet very simple plan that could help your employees understand where to focus and how to make it easy for them to succeed in reducing their risk of heart disease by well over 50%.

First a couple of questions (answers below):

  1. Which increases a person’s risk of heart disease more?

a) smoking a pack of cigarettes a day          b) sitting around all day, every day

2. How many hours per week does one need to walk briskly to reduce the risk of heart disease by at least 50%?

a) 1 hour/week          b) 3 hours/week          c) 5 hours/week

Here’s the “little something about it” part.  The Mayo Clinic proposes this simple regimen: “Eat 5, Move 10, Sleep 8″.  Per day, that’s: eat 5 fruits/vegetables, move for 10 minutes, and sleep 8 hours.  Pretty easy, right.  How can employers reinforce this program?

  1. Keep a bowl of fresh fruit and vegetables near the coffee or common area.
  2. Allow employees an extra 10-minute “walking” break.
  3. Schedule “walk-and-talk” meetings.
  4. Limit in-office e-mail; promote face-to-face discussions.
  5. Obtain a company discount at a local fitness center and/or provide partial membership reimbursement for club fees based on real-time usage.

What makes Mayo Clinic’s program more acceptable is that it doesn’t tell people what NOT to do such as the obvious (no smoking, maintain a healthy weight).  Rather, this program highlights easy steps to better health that even the most sedentary of us can manage.

We at HRInsights strongly believe that employers have a wonderful opportunity to better motivate productivity and loyalty of workers by providing assistance and support for their PHYSICAL as well as FINANCIAL well-being.


1. a & b equally increase the risk of heart disease. 2. a, only 1 hour/week!

Note: 2 hours of active movement per week can reduce the risk by over 75%!


Employee Wellness Programs Becoming Popular

It’s always difficult to invest in employee programs that are geared towards saving money in the long-run.  Especially today, many employers fail to rationalize spending money in order to save money.  Many employee programs are costly and are not able to show an immediate return on investment to the decision-makers.  An increasingly popular employee program is the wellness benefits program.  When an employer looks at these programs, there are some major benefits that can be achieved if used properly.  Absenteeism can decrease, productivity increases while reducing health insurance costs, and, above all, employee health rises.

So, do these programs work?  Are employees actually buying into them?  What if I spend all this money and the employees don’t even use the program?

Well, a study was done recently by an insurance agency of over 2,200 employers and the results may be a little surprising:

-Nearly 70% of the surveyed population have either already moved toward a focus on improving employee health by way of a wellness program or are considering implementing a wellness program.

-For those employers who have already implemented a wellness program, 72% report that they have been successful in improving the overall health of employees.

-Employers cite reduction in absenteeism and a decrease in health care costs as the top reasons for implementing a wellness program.

-55% of respondents expect a reduction in overall health care costs due to their wellness program.

If these results are consistent, why wouldn’t an employer implement an employee wellness program immediately?  There is always the worry of cash, but many programs will provide bulk discounts for company-wide programs.  The benefits far outweigh the detriments in a program like this.  Above all, implementing such programs shows employees that you are willing to spend money on them and that you do care about their well-being as well as the well-being of the company in the long-term sense; they see this as a free employee benefit provided by their employer because the employer cares.  Other benefits are that these programs give employees an opportunity to bond with each other over a common issue and that they are proactively trying to become healthier with just a little nudge in the right direction.

Lastly, per the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, National Employee Benefits Day is April 4th, 2011!

Netflix Nixes its Vacay Policy: Read Between the Lines…

Earlier this week, I read a truly fascinating article about the corporate culture over at Netflix, specifically their unconventional vacation policy.  Being a hyper-successful company easily outstripping it’s competition, I was intrigued by the details.  Netflix has completely eliminated their vacation policy:

Salaried employees can take as much time off as they’d like, whenever they want to take it. Nobody – not employees themselves, not managers – tracks vacation days.

My first skim of the article had me disbelieving that any such policy (or lack thereof) could result in anything less than chaos and a routinely empty office – especially on the days surrounding every minor holiday and 4-day weekend.  My second, more thorough, read had me officially convinced of their reasoning.

Bringing Work to the BeachBased on my own professional experiences, I think the vacation policy Netflix follows, while exceptionally bold, is also relatively  sensible considering how individuals work in a modern world.  Managers at any and all levels should be most interested in work being accomplished efficiently, creatively and on-deadline and less interested in where specifically that work gets done.  As I sit here on my couch at 10:53 pm, I am acutely aware of working outside the confines of the office.  The freedom to work whenever and wherever gives an employee a higher level of responsibility and more opportunity to prove his or her dedication to and passion for the company.  Contrary to popular belief, it actually sets a higher standard for employee performance.  Working only nine-to-five is a practice that is becoming more obsolete and can (sometimes) indicate a disengaged employee.  Without overtime pay for salaried employees and with the advent of telecommuting, employers can proactively seek out individuals who can be held accountable for deliverables, regardless of time and place.

One of the primary principles I learned in college is that communication technology, from the telegraph to the iPhone, reconstructs time and space for society.  People easily connect across continents and the final barrier to communication really exists only in time zones (and this may be deconstructed as time travel becomes possible).  It’s imperative that employers adjust workplace norms to reflect this high-degree of flexibility.  As Netflix aptly points out,

We should focus on what people get done, not how many hours or days worked. Just as we don’t have a nine to five day policy, we don’t need a vacation policy.

I encourage you to re-evaluate your own policies to determine if they match with where your employees fit along the spectrum.  Not every company can adopt such a liberal policy, nor should they.  Each company and employee is unique for a reason.  But maybe it’s time to address your employees needs and provide them with the freedom to choose their own responsibility.  At the end of the day, you may find more engaged and productive employees, leading to more innovation and more growth within your organization.

Glengarry Glen Ross – Summer Edition!

Frank McCabe is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at The Beacon Group, a Massachusetts-based construction, logistics and facility services firm.

Always. Be. ClosingRemember Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross?  For those of you that have ever been in sales, chances are someone has directed you to watch this movie.  While not the most critically acclaimed picture, there is one of the most famous scenes in history related to salesmanship.  In this lackluster story about a New York real estate office, Alec Baldwin delivers a blood pumping motivational speech to his sad sack team of salesmen.  In a nutshell, he completely humiliates each one of them for their lack of success and desire.  While most of the scene is an expletive-laced tirade by Baldwin, there is one key phrase that came out of it which is still often heard around many a sales seminar – “A.B.C. – Always. Be. Closing.”  What is really meant by the phrase is to always be selling – selling your products, you services, yourself.

A couple weeks back I blogged about how to be productive at work during the dog days of summer.  Today, I want to offer a couple tips about how to be productive even during your time away from work.

If you have a passion for what you do, whether you are in sales or not, you are probably thinking about work even during your down time.  If you do not have a passion for what you do, you can stop here and go back to watching last week’s episode of Entourage from your desk.

For example…

I am involved with a small casual clothing (t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, etc.) company. We are always exploring new and creative ways to market our apparel as well as find new sales channels. Recently, while spending a weekend on the coast of Maine with my family, I missed an opportunity.  One afternoon, we were walking around one of the many quaint towns in this part of the world.  We stopped into a clothing store and I noticed they sold t-shirts of a competitor.  I did not think much about until later that day on route home – I had missed a perfect opportunity to ‘soft sell’ our company.  If I had my ‘A’ game that day, I would have promptly left my business card (or even better, a catalog) behind with the store manager and followed up when I returned to work.  But, I didn’t.

This story is just an isolated example of what it means to ‘Always Be Closing.’  While you may not be involved in a role that requires you to sell or maybe you can’t translate your business into such simple terms as my tale of the retail store, it does not mean this mantra can’t work for everyone.

Whether you are on vacation, out to dinner, at a ballgame with friends; you never know who you will meet and how they could influence your career.  A few simple ideas to prepare you for that next chance opportunity:

  • Always carry business cards. Even a few stuffed in that George Costanza wallet you have been lugging around for the last decade is fine.
  • Have an ‘elevator speech’ prepared. Essentially, be prepared to deliver a 30 second speech about your business and/or yourself.  Be concise and to the point but emphasize what is important and compelling to your listener.
  • Be polite – to EVERYONE. The golden rule should always be in effect whether you are in a formal meeting or on the subway.  Why?  You just never know.  The person sitting next to you could be your next big sale or maybe even your next boss!

Don’t get me wrong, your time away from work is precious and you should enjoy every minute of it, but it never hurts to keep your eyes wide open wherever the road takes you.  You may discover the next best thing for you or your business is right in front of you.

Not motivated by this blog?  See if Alec or maybe Ben Affleck can do it for you (for mature audiences!)

Photo Courtesy of VC Cafe

Dog Days of Summer: Useful Time Killers!

Frank McCabe is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at The Beacon Group, a Massachusetts-based construction, logistics and facility services firm.

Summer time at the office – often a slow and less than energetic atmosphere.  Every week, another colleague or employee is off on vacation.  So are your customers.  Prospects find new and interesting reasons to blow you off.  Everyone is even more conscious of the clock as they look to get out of dodge as early as possible to enjoy the daylight.  No surprise to anyone and it is simply human nature.

With that said, summer can be a great time to take charge of the aspects of your work life that always find their way to the back burner when business is booming.  The next time you find yourself surfing the web because your boss is white water rafting in Colorado or your top performer is taking the 6th Friday in a row off, be productive with the down time.

A few ideas….

  • Learn!

The web offers a million different (and oftentimes FREE) on-line classes in every discipline.  Brush up on new social media tools.  Take that advanced MS Office class you have been meaning to do.  For you brave souls, you could even investigate how you might get that advanced degree that has hindered your professional progress and advancement.

  • Mundane Meetings

When times are busy, we are all pros at blowing off certain meetings that just are not important to us at that time.  Summer slow down is a perfect time to get these behind you.

  • No small fish!

Visit with your smaller clients – make them feel as important as the ‘whales.’  (BTW – you should be doing this all the time, but I understand!)

  • FREE Lunch!

Take someone on your team to lunch.  Whether it is your ‘rain maker’ or simply the guy or gal that needs a little pick me up.  These gestures are always appreciated and give that extra motivation – especially when the temptation to duck out a little early is at its highest.

  • Clean up!

When all else fails; clean up!  Clean up your office, your cube, your desk.  Clean up your PC – you know you have files saved all over the place despite your contention that it all has “a system.”  Yes, this is a boring and menial task, yet we all feel better when things are in order (don’t worry, it won’t last long!)

None of these ideas are the fun undertakings we dream about when we think about the passing of summer, but they are nonetheless important…and will make the time pass before your next vacation!