WORK-LIFE BALANCE

work-life balance
2020 Workplace Trends

There was a time when working late nights and weekends seemed like the prerequisite to earning more money, advancement, and recognition in the workplace. In a bid to earn more income, some employees would put in extra hours, sacrifice their time and extracurricular activities, and in some cases neglect their families.

However, that trend is rapidly effacing as employees now seek jobs that would give them better work-life balance and incentives that positively impact their wellbeing. 

As you may have rightly deduced, we are considering 2020 Workplace Trend #5, Work-life balance. 

According to Wikipedia, the term ‘work-life balance’ is recent in origin, as it was first used in the UK and US in the late 1970s and 1980s, respectively. Work-life balance is a term commonly used to describe the balance that a working individual needs between time allocated for work and other aspects of life. Areas of life other than work-life can include personal interests, family and social or leisure activities.

It is now apparent to employees that business is a shared value and as such, long-term job security and attractive salaries alone are no longer enough to make them stay in a job, but a flexible work schedule will. Talents now favour jobs that avail them time for family, friends, hobbies, and self-care. 

Giving credence to this point, HR services company Randstad maintains that job seekers of today claim good work-life balance invariably sway their decisions when evaluating an organisation. 

“Finding and keeping good staff can be difficult especially in a tight labour market. Employers who offer work-life balance and flexible work options are likely to have a competitive edge, gain access to a wider recruitment pool, and are more likely to hold onto existing staff.” – Employment New Zealand.

Employers who understand the importance of retaining top talents in their organisations know that one of the ways to do so is to keep them happy and satisfied – this is what has bolstered the work-life balance trend in the workplace. 

In a bid to appeal to suitable candidates, some organisations have begun to explore various strategies for flexible work schedules and related trends like remote work, compressed workweeks and onsite amenities to cater to employee well-being. 

They do this with the understanding that when people see them as being the employer of choice, it will give them a competitive edge for attracting the right candidates who will not only join their organisation but stay and grow with it.

When you make work-life balance part of your organisational policy, you can be sure that productivity will increase and your organisation will never be short of high performing talents.

Investing In Employee Well-being

investing in employee well-being

Two weeks ago, we talked about developing soft skills. We determined that soft skills were a necessity for employees who wished to thrive in the modern workplace.

This week, we will be considering a trend that is very critical to the success of any organisation – investing in employee well-being.  

At a time like this, when everyone needs encouragement and some ray of hope to latch unto in the face of the growing global COVID-19 pandemic that has already claimed thousands of lives, prioritizing the well-being of employees has never been more important.

Employers are meant to play a leading role in the overall health and well-being of their employees since they are usually among the first group of people to feel the impact if something goes wrong with an employee. 

Employers who pay attention to their employees’ well-being have a major advantage over those who don’t because a physically, emotionally and financially healthy and happy workforce will allow them to focus on critical operational decisions that will advance their organisations instead of looking to replace ailing staff regularly, at the detriment of progress.

What exactly is well-being?  

It refers to all the different ways employees feel about themselves – their lives, their jobs, relationships as well as their colleagues. Feelings of wellbeing are largely influenced by individual day-to-day experiences with family, neighbours, vendors, colleagues, and superiors. These negative or positive feelings affect how they carry out their tasks and interact with different teams that make up the workplace. 

Key factors to consider in employee well-being

Nancy Reardon, Chief Strategy and Product Officer at Maestro Health, believes that employers need to look at a more holistic view of their employees’ well-being, including mental/emotional health, stress management, preventative care options and more. 

She highlights three key areas of employee health and provides some well-being strategies leaders can implement to achieve a more thoughtful approach to employee well-being.

Physical Health.

Employees must have the health and energy to be productive and get things done regularly. While this is the most obvious component of employee health and well-being, Reardon says it’s these traditionally healthy choices and actions that help employees avoid chronic conditions that can ultimately affect their emotional and financial health (medical bills/debt).

“Employer-sponsored benefits and wellness programs that drive education and engagement are critical components in driving physical health,” Reardon explains.

“Employees need to understand how and when they should access healthcare to ensure they remain on track to achieving their health,” adds Reardon.

For some employees, it may be hitting 10,000 steps on their Fitbit, while, for others, it may mean seeing a decrease in their A1C levels, to decrease the high risk of developing diabetes.

Financial Health.

Reardon stresses the critical link between physical health and financial health and vice versa, and how one affects the other.

For example, an employee — even one with a moderate salary and benefits – may be unable to afford or access care, healthy food options and more. Similarly, says Reardon, “an employee who can’t cope with financial pressures at home may develop health issues down the line.”

Reardon advises employers to offer their workers access to financial services and resources to help them understand and overcome financial obstacles and empower them to effectively manage their economic lives.  

Emotional Health.

Emotional well-being is impacted by both financial and physical health. Yet not all employees have the capacity to emotionally cope with the ups and downs of life without it impacting their day-to-day work lives.

When crafting their well-being programs, Reardon says employers can offer mental health services like mental health days, Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and even mindfulness incentives to encourage employees to take care of their emotional health. 

As earlier stated, employers have a crucial role to play in the well-being of their employees. When employers invest in the health and well-being of their employees, they come across as caring, humane and considerate, which serves as an effective motivation to the employees. 

One of the most effective ways for employers to show they care is to make the health and well-being of their employees a priority.  

COVID-19: Your Role as an Employer

COVID-19: Your Role As An Employer

The COVID-19 pandemic has gradually become a global one. Spreading from country to country and affecting or finding its way into every single daily human process and routine, including the workplace.

Already, a lot of companies locally and internationally have had to change their work pattern and process to adjust and help curb the spread of the pandemic. The world health organization and international and even local bodies have advised Social Distancing and many other safety precautions.

Since the workplace is a place where people spend most of their time, the workplace has an important role to play in curbing this pandemic.

How Does COVID-19 Spread?

When someone who has COVID-19 coughs or exhales they release droplets of infected fluid. Most of these droplets fall on nearby surfaces and objects – such as desks, tables or telephones. People could catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects – and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. If they are standing within one meter of a person with COVID-19 they can catch it by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled by them. In other words, COVID-19 spreads in a similar way to the flu. Most persons infected with COVID-19 experience mild symptoms and recover. However, some go on to experience more serious illness and may require hospital care. The risk of serious illness rises with age: people over 40 seem to be more vulnerable than those under 40. People with weakened immune systems and people with conditions such as diabetes, heart, and lung disease are also more vulnerable with high severity.

Source – WHO (World Health Organization)

The question now is, as an employer of labour, what is your role to help curb the spread of the pandemic in the absence of a known and potent vaccine?

ENCOURAGE REMOTE WORK

Looking on the bright side, COVID-19 could be an eye-opener for the workplace in general into the possibilities and the efficiency of remote work. Encourage your staff to work from home if they can. Provide need equipment and support to facilitate this process.

In a scenario where you cannot afford to work remotely, the following will suffice.

MAKE SURE YOUR WORKPLACE IS CLEAN AND HYGIENIC 

Surfaces (e.g. desks and tables) and objects (e.g. telephones, keyboards) need to be wiped with disinfectant regularly. Surfaces are the fastest ways a virus can spread when touched by employees and customers.

Encourage regular and consistent thorough hand-washing by employees, contractors, and customers by providing washing equipment, sanitizers, and disinfectants to easily accessible places in the office.

Make use of posters and office sign items if you have to, and also brief your staff (at least once daily) about the status of the pandemic an also or look to WHO’s Situation Report to get the latest news and advice.

IF THERE IS EVER A CASE OF COVID-19

Develop a contingency plan of what to do if an employee shows symptoms within the NCDC or WHO listed symptoms of COVID-19.

The plan should entail putting such employee in a place where they are isolated from others in the workplace, totally reducing contact with such person and contacting the right authorities.

Don’t forget to do this without stigmatization, discrimination and the spread of panic.

You can also talk to your local health authorities (NCDC) handling the pandemic about your initial plan and as for the help with the approved guide.

SOFT SKILLS

The modern workplace is a living organism that is constantly evolving, and the only way to stay relevant as an organisation is to keep abreast of industry trends and implement programs that promote growth and efficiency within the organisation.

We have been looking at 2020 workplace trends, three weeks ago, we considered Trend #2, Remote work. We determined that remote work is rapidly gaining acceptance in workplaces, especially in Information Technology companies. We concluded that promotes work-life balance and increases productivity while cutting cost for employees as well as the organisation. 

The third 2020 Workplace trend we want to consider is the development of soft skills.

According to the Arkansas Department of Education, 2007, Soft skills are a cluster of productive personality traits that characterize one’s relationships in a milieu. 

Soft skills include social graces, communication abilities, language skills, personal habits, cognitive or emotional empathy, time management, teamwork and leadership traits. 

Soft skills cover three key functional elements: 

  1. social skills
  2. people skills 
  3. personal career attributes 

These skills are crucial for today’s workplace as they complement hard or technical skills. Soft skills have become a major criterion for employment as well as advancement in an organisation.  

An employee’s soft skill is a crucial part of their contribution to the overall success of their organization, especially if such an organisation deals with customers on a face-to-face basis. A critical success factor for an organisation like this is the ability to promote activities that help employees develop these skills through team-building activities and wellness enhancing programs. 

Soft skills

The following is a top ten list of soft skills compiled by Eastern Kentucky University 

  1. Communication – oral speaking capability, written, presenting, listening, clear speech & writing.
  2. Courtesy – manners, etiquette, business etiquette, gracious, says please and thank you, respectful.
  3. Flexibility – adaptability, willing to change, lifelong learner, accepts new things, adjusts, teachable.
  4. Integrity – honest, ethical, high morals, has personal values, does what’s right.
  5. Interpersonal skills – nice, personable, sense of humour, friendly, nurturing, empathetic, has self-control, patient, sociability, warmth, social skills.
  6. Positive attitude – optimistic, enthusiastic, encouraging, happy, confident.
  7. Professionalism – businesslike, well-dressed, appearance, poised.
  8. Responsibility – accountable, reliable, gets the job done, resourceful, self-disciplined, wants to do well, conscientious, common sense.
  9. Teamwork – cooperative, gets along with others, agreeable, supportive, helpful, collaborative.
  10. Work ethic – hard working, willing to work, loyal, initiative, self-motivated, on time, good attendance.

Although difficult to quantify, soft skills play a critical role in employee performance and productivity. They help facilitate human connections needed for high-performance and efficiency in the workplace. 

Leveraging digital tools for business growth

Leveraging Digital Tools for Business Growth

A vibrant online presence is a powerful marketing and communications tool for any business. Not only is it a cost-efficient platform, it is also an irreplaceable requirement necessary for business growth. 

As a matter of fact, in the last 5 years, the growth of internet usage has permanently changed the way businesses go about their communication. 

Businesses now use the internet as an asset to drive growth as well as amplify their objectives.  

The following are some digital and online tools you should consider for your business:

Social Media Strategy 

The effective use of Social Media could translate to free advertising with its attendant organic growth, thereby bolstering quick ROI. 

This means it’s a good channel to determine where your audience is and what kind of content resonates with them. 

One of the most distinct advantages of social media is the availability of a direct connection with your audience. You can also learn a lot about your competition, build authority,  attain thought leadership and create awareness using social media.

Blogging 

Blogging; a many-sided advantageous strategy to further showcase your expertise and be noticed beyond social media. 

Having a blog can also help you drive your content strategy and marketing efforts.

This means telling the world that you are who you are in the knowledge area. With this, you are known and trusted for certain kinds of content and knowledge base. 

The impact to your audience translates to you building strong authority, thought leadership and SEO. 

Paid Digital Advertising 

Pay-per-click advertising can be tricky when you have to determine your Return On Investments, especially when you have not outlined goals from the beginning.  

However, when your goals are aligned, with assistance from tech experts, (TWPC Tech) you will reap the benefits of investing in advertising.  

Be it Google Ads, Social media channels or email marketing, paid advertisements can give you a reach beyond your immediate audience and bring with it the promise of filling your sales funnel with new leads and conversions. 

Local SEO 

Local SEO is leveraging digital tools in a way that pulls local customers to your business at the exact time they are looking for your products or services. 

It makes your local businesses visible to local customers when they search for services/products online. 

Most search engines consider the location of the searcher before showing search results.  

Your Local SEO strategy is to make sure that the business listing or website shows up when a search happens. 

Leveraging local SEO when you have a physical office location is essential for your business. 

Digital Analytics 

It’s important to know your business from the data you generate.

With analytics, you get to know “if”, “where” and “how” your business is doing well.

Good analytics helps you make better business decisions.

Digital analytics tools include Google Analytics, Moz and Webmaster. 

Data from these tools can help you determine the right audience for your business as well as their behavioral patterns.

When doing analytics for your business, the following metrics will help you:

  1. Audience Demographics 
  2. Consumer behavior.  
  3. Online and Web traffic 

In conclusion, you should visit this blog regularly for an astute insight into informed business decision making, with the right digital tools. 

Remote work

2020 Workplace Trends #2 Remote Work

Some weeks ago, we talked about training and upskilling as 2020’s #1 workplace trend. We also highlighted both micro and macro upskilling and concluded that talents remain and are loyal to organizations that take their training and development needs into consideration and make adequate provision for it.

This week, we are looking at the second workplace trend for 2020 – Remote Work.

Remote work is on the rise.

You may have heard some people refer to themselves as Digital Nomads, or mention that they are working or would be working remotely. The idea of working at a location other than one’s corporate office has been practicable since the last decade but is only recently becoming pervasive and 2020 will see it in the mainstream. 

The substantial advancement of multiple facets of workplace technology has given remote work an upper hand. Besides, the rise of new generations is impelling firms to redefine the modalities of work, and the odds are clearly in favour of remote working.” – Finance Online, 2019.

What is remote work?

Simply put, it means working at a location that isn’t your office, it is a work style that allows people to work outside a traditional office environment or corporate office setting. Remote work hinges on the notion that work does not need to be done in a specific place to be carried out efficiently.

Remote work eliminates productive time wasted commuting to and from work every day to sit at a designated desk or workspace to work; Instead, individuals can execute their tasks, smash their targets and exceed expectations from any location at all. 

Remote work gives professionals the flexibility to order their days in such a way that their professional and personal lives can be meaningfully experienced while coexisting in a way that one complements the other instead of impeding it as popular opinion erroneously suggests.

How to work remotely

“There has been a cultural paradigm shift in what society deems to be an appropriate workplace – and remote work has capitalized off of that newfound freedom.” – Finance Online.

The beauty of remote work is being able to choose from a wide range of options, the one that makes the most sense to an individual and aids their personal and professional goals. It also gives individuals the freedom to set their schedules to work at a time they are most productive.

Professionals can work remotely on workdays and only visit the office to attend in-person meetings and strategy sessions. On the other hand, certain days of the week could be set apart for talents to work remotely, maybe two or three days a week.

There is also the option of working out of coworking spaces which essentially act as hubs of technology, productivity and community. Coworking spaces provide a platform for networking, learning, sharing and business opportunities.

Benefits of remote work

Remote work offers professionals a more flexible lifestyle in which they can maximize every moment they have to do better. It also promotes better health and well-being; commute to work and back could be exhausting, to say the least, remote work provides recourse for exhaustion brought upon by daily commute and time spent in traffic. it saves money, especially because you no longer bear the cost of commute. It encourages employees to be resourceful, proactive and expand their knowledge base. It provides escape from office politics as well as a toxic work environment.

Remote work does not only benefit the employees; it also benefits the employer as it saves cost by reducing company overheads leading to more revenue.

2020 WORKPLACE TRENDS

The modern workplace is not static, it is in motion, constantly evolving and expanding to accommodate emerging technology, digitization and globalization. These incessant changes reflect in the way organizations engage and retain talents.

It has become imperative to look closely at workplace trends in a bid to understand the different initiatives that are creating significant disruptions in workplaces all over the world; in the next 12 weeks, we will be considering 12 workplace trends that business leaders, as well as professionals, must be abreast of in order to redefine workplace ethos and create a positive, flexible, and collaborative culture tailored to the needs of the modern worker.

TRAINING AND UPSKILLING

The provision of programmes through which an employee can learn, upskill and advance on the job is what determines whether or not, or how long that employee will stay with the organization. It is important to be cognizant of the fact that training spurs personal development and plays a fundamental role in retaining top talent which is why the first 2020 workplace trend we are looking at is training and upskilling.  

The importance of training and upskilling cannot be overemphasized, it is what nurtures top talents and help maintain high-performance teams.

We know what training is, but what exactly is upskilling?

On the micro level, upskilling describes the process by which individuals learn new skills, but in the macro context, it refers to a paradigm shift in the workplace caused by the introduction of technology. As we all know, technology has created new possibilities that can be fully realized only by a trained workforce. This development has necessitated the acquisition of new skills to engage with the technology.

Why is upskilling suddenly taking centre stage?

Digital transformation is largely responsible for this. Technology has transformed business operations by providing tools that make it easy to transact, and at the same time created a skills gap; some technologies have a steep learning curve while others are user-friendly. To thrive in the modern workplace, talents need to acquire technical skills regardless of their discipline or industry.

Beyond a great welfare package, conducive work environment and fat paycheque, one way to retain competent employees is the prioritization of training and upskilling of the workforce.

workplace-trends
workplace-trends
Building New Habits

Building New Habits In The New Year

We put up a post last week about making new habits. This week we would like to elaborate on it.

Habits are important parts of our lives, they determine a lot of things about us, ranging from our health to our success; and ultimately, who we are. 

Good habits are important because they make you a better person. Good habits when accustomed to, become good behaviors, lifestyle, ethics, and practices that consequently result in making you the best version of yourself.

On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. However, how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances.

Today, we will talk about the steps to follow in building a new and good habit.

You can change any bad habit you already have by following these steps.

Take Baby Steps

A very important part of new habit development is to make micro-commitments and focus on small wins. Start small, don’t set big goals and targets when creating new habits, it can get overwhelming and discouraging.

The idea here is to create very little commitment that can be done easily and then consistently build on your success. It’s more important to stay consistent with a little commitment needed than it is to hit a huge target. 

Examples of baby steps in your habit changing journey include: taking a five-minute walk every day, drinking a glass of water, writing a paragraph of your book, taking one short course in line with your career, reading a page of a book you’ve always wanted to read.

Commit For A Minimum of 30 Days

Some people say it takes three weeks (21 days) to build a habit. Others claim it takes up to 66 days. The truth is, how long it takes to make something habitual depends on the habit, the person in question, and a few other things.

In all of these, we believe a minimum of 30 days, which is well in-between all other claims should do justice to any new habit you’re trying to create.

However, just ensure you are disciplined and consistent.

Have An Accountability Checker

There will be days when you see no point in continuing your journey towards building a new habit. There will be days when you are not naturally motivated to carry on with your task. Your accountability checker’s job is to check your level of progress and consistency.

Your accountability checker could be a person, an activity or even a reward. However, your best option here would be another person, as this is a factor that is outside your control and can check you effectively.

Reward Your Small Wins

Building a new habit should not be a boring journey. You can make it fun! Ensure you reward your small wins after each one. This will help you realize how much progress you’ve made and keep you a lot more motivated to carry on.

Fix Your Mind On The New And Forget The Old

As you keep winning, your challenges will keep growing. You will need to change your state of mind about yourself, the environment, and the people that relate to your new habit.

It doesn’t get easier, you get tougher. Your mind will be your greatest asset, you have to keep your mind on growth.

Straying from an old habit is not an easy task. Consistency will be your greatest weapon.

Finally, you should know that you don’t need a new year or season to bring changes to your life. You can change and create new habits whenever you want.

So go all out and win. You have our permission.

How to stay productive when you’re between jobs

How To Stay Productive When You’re Between Jobs

Sometime in your career, you will find yourself between jobs, in other words, unemployed. It happens to the best of us for diverse reasons.

A gap in your resume does not have to be a red flag to your new employer.

So, what should you do when you’re between jobs? How should you spend your time?

Productivity is a habit, and it cuts across disciplines and fields of work. In essence, you don’t have to be employed before you are productive.

If you read up to here, it means you will eventually learn how to fully maximize your unemployed phase.

Any two of the tips below will help you use your unemployed-phase productively:

Take a Class

Acquire a skill. Learn something new. Learning something new gives an immeasurable advantage. It broadens your knowledge base; it can even get you a new and better job by adding to your skillset.

The advent of E-learning has made learning a lot easier to accomplish and more efficient. You can now take courses online and get certifications your new employer will recognize.

Here are some of the platforms you can take online courses EDX, Udemy, Cousera, Shaw Academy, Hubspot Academy, Skillshare.

Volunteer

Most people think volunteering means you’re desperate. On the flip side, volunteering does better to you than harm when you’re between jobs.

The worst that will happen to you is that you will have a low income. As a matter of fact, the workplace is more humane now than before, any organization that will accept you as a volunteer will take of your basic needs. Even if that doesn’t happen, volunteering gives you the needed experience and fills the gap of unemployment.

Follow a Job Platform

Job platforms increase your opportunity of finding a job. They keep you posted with new jobs that might be beneficial to you. Some even do as good as notify you of jobs around you. Job platforms to follow and register on include Recruiterng, Jobgurus, Myjobbag, Jobberman.

Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn is a platform where a lot of employers scout and search for talents for employment. A lot of candidate selection takes place on LinkedIn. Optimizing your LinkedIn will increase your chances of being found when there is a search.

Start a Business

Not everyone is cut out for being an entrepreneur. However, your unemployment window is a great time to find out.

To us, it is a win-win situation. If you start a business and discover you are not an entrepreneur, you would have gained certain negotiation and communication skills that will aid your new job; then the business can transform into a ‘side-hustle’ and become your extra source of income.

The whole idea of using your unemployment window for the above and more is to stay productive, it is to use that space of time of being out-of-job for something that will not just fill the space in your CV, but make you a better version of yourself.

So, ensure to do what you can!

Fatigue refers to the feeling of exhaustion, drowsiness, or weariness that is brought upon by a lack of sleep, stress resulting from long periods of mental or physical activity, repetitive tasks or anxiety

FATIGUE IN THE WORKPLACE

A lot of organizations invest money in creating a conducive workplace for their employees, making available to them good seats, tables and computers too. They go as far as providing dining areas furnished with microwaves and refrigerators so that meals can be refrigerated and microwaved during lunch breaks, they do this believing that a conducive and work environment will bolster productivity.

However, there are some issues that the ambiance of the office is unable to shield employees from; one of such issues is fatigue in the workplace.

Fatigue refers to the feeling of exhaustion, drowsiness, or weariness that is brought upon by a lack of sleep, stress resulting from long periods of mental or physical activity, repetitive tasks or anxiety.

Causes of fatigue

The primary cause of fatigue is lack of sleep, but other factors such as long work hours, exposure to high temperatures and loud incessant noise have also been known to cause fatigue.

Types of fatigue

Fatigue can be acute or chronic. While acute fatigue occurs from short-term sleep loss, such as not getting enough sleep before going off to work the next day, chronic fatigue on the other hand results from a rather prolonged absence of sleep.

How does fatigue present itself?

Tiredness

Drowsiness

Memory lapses

Attention deficiency

Combating fatigue in the workplace

  • The first step is to create a work schedule or rota that give workers enough time to rest and recuperate between shifts.
  • For jobs that require employees to work long hours or overtime, consider that your workers will need enough time for other daily activities, such as commuting, preparing and eating meals and relaxing; And provide such amenities as meals, on-site accommodations and facilities where workers can nap either during the shift or before their commute back home.
  • Provide a work environment that has good lighting, comfortable temperatures, and reasonable noise levels.
  • Have your staff collaborate with different teams on a variety of projects to curb boredom arising from repetitive tasks.
  • Be flexible when assigning tasks.