Entries with tag human resources .

Could Your Company Benefit from a Sleep Policy?

Do you work at an office where people who leave by 5:30 are considered wimps?  Is a 60-80 hour work week the norm at your company?  Are you surrounded by highly caffeinated “zombies” who ingest tons of coffee just to keep themselves upright at work?  If you've answered yes to any of these questions, there's a high likelihood that sleep deprivation is the norm at your place of employment.  According to Harvard Business Review, that's bad for a number of reasons.

As HBR reports in Sleep Deficit: The Performance Killer, there are many ways our cognitive skills suffer from a lack of sleep including: slower reaction times, impeded judgment, interference with problem-solving, and grogginess.

While these impacts may not seem like a big deal, Dr. Charles A. Czeisler, the Baldino Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, says that sleep deprivation is not just an individual health hazard, it's a public one.  For instance, when his research team studied sleep-deprived hospital interns, they found that interns' “odds of stabbing themselves with a scalpel or needle increased 61%, their risk of crashing a motor vehicle increased 168%, and their risk of a near miss increased 460%.”

Czeisler suggests that rather than viewing sleep deprivation with machismo, that instead individuals—and corporations—take it seriously.  In fact, he suggests that businesses develop a sleep policy which would look something like this:

  • Limit Daily Work.  Ideally, employees would work no more than 12 hours a day and definitely never more than 16 hours a day.

  • Limit Weekly Work.  Czeisler suggests that employees shouldn't be scheduled to work more than 60 hours a week and they should be prevented from working beyond 80.

  • Give Adequate Days Off.  The more nights in a row we don't get enough sleep, the more sleep we require to get caught up.  To prevent this type of growing sleep deprivation, Czeisler says that ideally, employees shouldn't be scheduled more than 4-5 days in a row, and they should never be scheduled to work more than 6 consecutive days.

5 Tips for Boosting Employee Job Satisfaction

Employee turnover is expensive.  While research is all over the map as to just how pricey turnover is, estimates conclude that it costs businesses between 16% and 213% of an employee's annual salary to replace him.  For that reason, companies should do what they can to make sure that their employees are satisfied at work.  Below, we have 5 tips for doing just that:

  1. Treat Employees with Respect.  According to an SHRM study, respectful treatment is the most influential factor in determining job satisfaction.  Rather than fostering a toxic corporate culture, it's important for employers to listen to employees' concerns, welcome their opinions, and treat them fairly.

  2. Provide Training.  Invest in your employees.  If there's a skill that they need to do their jobs better, consider offering an in-house training program or providing them with additional schooling.  When employees receive skills training, they're more engaged and productive.

  3. Offer a Competitive Salary and Benefits Package.  Time and time again, employees say they want to feel valued.  While salary isn't the most important factor influencing job satisfaction, it's safe to say that a stingy benefits package does not communicate to employees that their contributions are valued.

  4. Recognize Outstanding Work.  Everyone likes to be acknowledged for a job well done.  Rather than leaving these type of accolades to chance, it's a good idea to have a formal recognition program in place to celebrate employees' accomplishments.

  5. Nurture Employees' Passions.  Research shows that on average, only 25% of employees are engaged in their work.  Because engagement is such a critical component of job satisfaction, ask your employees what they most enjoy about their jobs and which talents they'd like to use more often.  Then, make an effort to allow them to develop their career-related interests.  

What’s Your Learning Style?

Everyone learns differently.  That’s why you may have struggled to play soccer while your brother seemed to pick it up very naturally.  Over the years, experts have determined that there are 7 different types of learning styles.  Read our summary on the major styles, courtesy of LearnDash, to determine which one you are or head over to learning-styles-online.com to take a free test on the topic:

 

  1. Visual.  Are you an expert at map reading?  You may just be a visual learner.  They tend to prefer pictures, images, and diagrams.

  2. Physical.  This might be the aforementioned brother’s style of learning.  Physical learners learn by doing and may draw diagrams or use physical objects to assist with their learning.

  3. Aural.  Do you have a knack for song lyrics?  Aural learners benefit from hearing information whether it’s an instructor speaking, a recording, or just that new tune on the radio!  You can think of this type as learning through the 3 R’s: rhythm, rhyming, and recordings.

  4. Verbal.  This person enjoys words when learning.  According to LearnDash, “they make the most of word based techniques, scripting, and reading content aloud.”

  5. Logical.  These are “big picture” folks.  They like to use logic to understand things and often want to know the “why” behind things.

  6. Social.  Social people prefer to learn in groups.  They benefit from learning with other people, for instance, in a classroom setting.

  7. Solitary.  If you prefer self-study over groups, you may be a solitary learner.  This type of learner enjoys working alone and finds that this is their preferred method of picking up new information.

 

Most people probably overlap in various categories.  However, if there is one category that you have identified as your primary style, make an effort to use that method when possible.  It will help you to ultimately retain more of what you learn. 

Mindfulness Improves Work Performance

You don’t often hear mindfulness mentioned in the workplace but perhaps you should.  Mindfulness can be defined as paying attention non-judgmentally in the present moment, identifying and controlling your emotions, and being aware of how your actions impact others.  Once considered too “out there” for many business people, the benefits of mindfulness are making it an increasingly popular practice.

In fact, mindfulness has become so popular that companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Intel, Starbucks and General Mills advocate the value of it, and some of those companies have even developed their own mindfulness programs.  The reasons for the practice’s growing popularity are myriad but can primarily be attributed to the following:

  • Mindfulness improves concentration.  Fortune’s Oliver Ryan reports that after studying the brain activity of Tibetan monks, Dr. Richard Davidson discovered that “the brain functioning of serious meditators is ‘profoundly different’ from that of nonmeditators – in ways that suggest an elevated capacity to concentrate and to manage emotions.”

  • Mindfulness reduces stress.  Research has shown that those who meditate have a reduction of grey matter in the amygdala, a region associated with stress and anxiety.

  • Mindfulness prevents burnout.  The physician occupation is one that is associated with a high rate of burnout; anywhere from one-third to one-half of doctors suffer from it.  Yet a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that physicians who practice mindfulness experience less burnout.

  • Mindfulness increases creativity.  Intel began a mindfulness program and when it concluded, participants reported an increase in new ideas, insights, mental clarity, and creativity.

As you can see, mindfulness offers a number of benefits that can boost workplace performance.  If you’d like to become more mindful, stay tuned!  In a future article, we’ll discuss how you can establish your own mindfulness practice.

Is Your Company a Great Place to Work?

If you’re a company leader, you already know the importance of attracting and retaining great employees.  Yet while most people in management would agree that this is crucial to the success of an organization, there are differing opinions on how to foster a supportive and synergistic work environment.  Do great companies require perks like unlimited vacation days, free lunches, or gym memberships?  While these types of things are enjoyable, we’d argue that the following items are what really determine a great place to work:

  • Continuous Learning – Great companies invest in their employees.  This might mean bringing in external experts to conduct workshops, offering free college tuition, holding classes that further employees’ skillsets, etc.  Essentially, great companies foster and encourage growth.

  • Employee Appreciation – One of the main reasons that employees change jobs is because they don’t feel appreciated at their current place of employment.  At a great company, employees are recognized for the hard work that they do—this might mean a letter of thanks for a job well-done, an “Employee of the Month” award, or a coveted parking spot.  The point is that the appreciation doesn’t have to be expensive, it just needs to occur.

  • Regular Performance Appraisals – Some companies will go years without conducting performance reviews or giving salary adjustments.  When times are tough, it may not always be possible to give annual raises.  However, this doesn’t mean that employees shouldn’t be kept informed about how well they are meeting expectations.  Ongoing feedback is not only useful to employees, but to the company as a whole.

  • Supportive Environment – When something goes wrong, great companies use it as a learning opportunity, rather than seek to blame and criticize.  Good companies realize that risk is inherent in the business world and they don’t aim to punish those who tried and failed.

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