Every two weeks we bring you opinion, news and research on Employee Engagement, Leadership and Organisational Performance, along with some thoughts on practical workplace applications.

Editorial: How Could Thinking Differently Increase Your Organisation’s Productivity?

Everyone knows the old hack, “Work smarter, not harder”; but what does it really mean, in practice? One financial services firm in Australia, Collins SBA, is reported to have put its money where its mouth is, and reduced every employee’s working day to five hours (as long as all client commitments are met within that time).

Apparently, the results have been “breath-taking.” According to Claudia Parson, operations director, “We have found that productivity has actually increased across the board… we’ve noticed that sick leave has dropped by around 12 per cent… employee engagement has gone up dramatically… everybody’s really engaged and motivated.”

Parsons also makes the point that they have changed the meetings culture – all meetings are standing only, with clear and focused agenda designed to be completed in the shortest time – no waffle and time wasting.

Admittedly, this reduced-hours approach might work better in a financial services industry than it might in, for example, the manufacturing sector; no-one claims that one size fits all. However, it does represent a great example of different thinking enabling different action.

In your organisation, what different thinking would lead to different action? What could you be doing today to increase productivity and engagement, as well as reducing sick leave? What would it look like in practice? What hinders you from thinking it though? How will you overcome those hindrances? And when will you start?

The easy thing to do is to continue as before – doing the same things that are tried and tested. It’s safe and relatively low-risk; but what opportunities might you be missing, if you were willing to think differently and try something new?

Steve Short – Emenex

Investing in Your Employees is the Smartest Business Decision You Can Make

Richard Branson put it best: Customers come second, employees first. Why should you be investing (heavily) in your employees?

It’s one of those things that we all knew, but didn’t quite have enough data to paint a picture of: Most people are not happy at work. But, now we do, and the number is 85%, the world over, according to the “State of the Global Workplace” survey conducted by Gallup poll last year; almost $7 trillion in lost productivity every year!

The measures businesses use to engage employees and evaluate their performance are not working, or worse, they’re backfiring claims Parth Misra writing for Entrepreneur Europe. In this article he cites many reasons that may explain why this trend exists; followed at length by examples of different approaches!

The Role of HR in the 4th Industrial Revolution

Writing for theHR Director, Adina Tarry reminds us the first revolution was steam powered mechanisation in 1784, followed by the 2nd, with electricity enabling mass production from 1890. The 3rd was the IT and electronics revolution ushered in from 1969, which gained momentum and evolved into digital technology beyond the 1980s taking us to the edge of the 4th digital revolution, when we see artificial intelligence (AI), biotechnology and the Internet of Things completely change our world.
Technological changes have always caused changes in the wider systems: society and professions at large. Has this also been the case for the HR profession?

Prior to 1980s, HR was called Personnel Management, and was mostly associated with hiring, training and administration. Today it cumulates a range of strategic and tactical responsibility from talent management to business partnerships and shared operational services.

This significant transformation has been spurred on by external pressures such as globalisation, technology and overall changes in society, including legislation and changes in values and beliefs. The world of business generally has become more focused on the impact of people, motivation and engagement, as a critical differentiating factor in the race for success and sustainability. This is why the pressure on HR – the people’s function – to optimise its impact and contribution to the bottom line has also increased. Read more here.

The Manager’s Role in Career Development

“Career” doesn’t mean the same thing as it used to. The traditional quest for predictable promotions and rhythmic raises is giving way to different measurements. People are interested in crafting careers composed of meaningful experiences, interesting work, and work-life balance.

The good news is that this means there are more ways than ever to help employees find fulfilment and satisfaction in their jobs. The challenge is that the path to career development is much less obvious now – and often much less linear, writes Zach Curtis for Blessing White.

In this fluid environment, employees need someone in their corner who understands their values, strengths, interests, and goals. They need someone to provide insight and honest feedback. They need someone who is connected to people and opportunities across the organization and can help brainstorm new ways to develop and apply their skills.

Spoiler Alert: This is where the manager comes in.  And here’s what managers could do.

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