Many of you have probably already read at least a dozen articles that promised to reveal the secrets or shortcuts to a successful professional life. While most of those are definitely helpful, they seem to be rather some tips & tricks more than anything else.
Each and every one of us is different, has his own goals, his own little thing that wakes him up in the morning and even his own waking time (no, you don’t have to rise & shine every morning at 5 am in order to be successful). Adding on top of that, we do live in a VUCA world, where it is almost impossible to predict what’s going to happen next and how exactly you should prepare for it. So what can you make of all this? Well, first of all, that you won’t be able to find a “secret recipe to success” that is universally applicable, because there is no such thing. But then, what us is the only “tool” that will help you in this world, no matter the situation? The one thing that is needed in order to do almost anything else? If you haven’t guessed by now (or you haven’t even read the title of this article), the answer is knowledge.
And I’m talking about the real knowledge.
Nowadays, way too many people use some type of pseudo-knowledge, grabbed from the first Google link that you can find, in order to brag about their high intellect. That kind of knowledge might only be useful to be the center of attention at a networking event or maybe a party, but elsewhere it won’t bring you that many benefits. As the genius physicist Richard Feynman wrote in his own autobiography: “You can know the name of that bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird. You’ll only know about humans in different places, and what they call the bird. … I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.”
Therefore, how can you know that you really know something and not just its name?
First and foremost, you need a lot of time to gain that real knowledge that can help you in almost every aspect of your life. Go find a subject that you enjoy. And read about it. A LOT. Enroll in courses that tackle that subject. Talk to the experts. Only then you might have a shot of having obtained real knowledge. Do you want to know if you actually made it? Feynman comes to the rescue again with his unique method of double checking your own understanding, called The Feynman Technique:
“Without using the new word which you have just learned, try to rephrase what you have just learned in your own language.”
Write the name of the concept at the top of a blank piece of paper.
Write down an explanation of the concept on the page. Use plain English. Pretend you are teaching it to someone else (e.g a new student or even a child). This should highlight what you understand, but more importantly pinpoint what you don’t quite know.
Review what you have pinpointed you don’t know. Go back to the source material, re-read, and re-learn it. Repeat Step 2.
If you are using overly wordy or confusing language (or simply paraphrasing the source material) try again so you filter the content. Simplify your language, and where possible use simple analogy.
“The Feynman Technique Model” -Mattyford.com “What do you care what other people think?” – Richard Feynman
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It may come as no surprise that corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become a most for businesses all across the world. Organisations that are committed to CSR know that it leads to an enhanced reputation. It is of the utmost importance to establish a clear CSR strategy in order to assure the organisation’s competitiveness in the industry it’s doing business. This normally requires policies which integrate numerous aspects such as social, ethical, environmental, human rights or consumer concerns into daily business operations and the company’s core strategy.
Generally, companies are looking at achieving a positive impact on a community or society as a whole whilst also creating value for the business owners, its employees, shareholders and stakeholders.
In a study done by Kenexa High Performance Institute in London 2015, has found that organisations that had a genuine interest and commitment to CSR clearly surpass those that did not engage in such activities. Furthermore, the study has also revealed that CSR-orientated organisations had a higher level of employee engagement and also offered a better customer support service. At a corporate level, CSR brings a lot of positivity and optimism, even though at organisational level companies do not always accept their responsibilities for CSR, with plenty of businesses admitting adopting CSR purely as a marketing ploy.
At this moment in time, it is vital that we try and create a more sustainable form of capitalism if we are thinking about building a more inclusive, prosperous society and avoid the catastrophic climate changes that are getting closer and closer. The idea for CSR has been around for some time now, so how come it has become mainstream as of late?
The influence of Millennials on CSR policies
It is obvious to everyone that millennials are a growing force in the workplace. Young adults nowadays focus on a company’s impact on the environment and even urge these organisations to have a clear social mission.
Millennials are tech-savvy people, and they immediately research a company and are looking into its ethical and labour practices. Numerous millennials feel like it is their duty to make the world a better place to live in and they do not want, under no circumstances to be associated with companies which do not take responsibility for the world and the people in it.
Interestingly, in a recent Deloitte survey, it has been revealed that employee engagement is closely tied to the CSR reputation an organisation has. A whopping 70% of millennials interviewed have recognised that a company’s desire and commitment to CSR has influenced their choice to work for them. In just a couple of years, millennials will become the leading generational segment in the workforce, thus meaning that companies that wish to hire new workers will have and need to adopt CSR in order to keep the business going. Furthermore, millennials wish to actively partake in these social and environmental changes, not only consume products by companies who engage in CSR projects.
Huge companies have decided to engage in mammoth-sized CSR campaigns and that is great news. For example, Apple, which is a tremendously powerful company, can influence with its actions the whole industry. If an issue becomes a priority for Apple, it is clear that will make the ecosystem shift. At the same time, it is easier for big organisations to focus on CSR initiatives because they are less subject to quarterly pressures. It is easier to focus on long-term plans.
There is a definite need for big firms to commit to renewable energy and to lobby for the change in legislation that imposes harsher costs for fossil fuel buyers. There is also a need for big companies to commit to raise the minimum and to lobby for a change in minimum wage legislation. To say they’re not going to dump stuff in the river, or buy from those who do. The top 500 organisations’ revenues are worth nearly 37% of world GDP. Think about what would happen if we could convince 100 of them to go carbon-free and to take a less hostile view of their labour force?
An example of a better-pay practice is the behemoth Cola-Cola and its “5by20” programme. This initiative has been created to empower 5 million women entrepreneurs around the world by 2020. Recent research has indicated that empowering women can have a long-lasting effect and to name a few: increased revenues, more hired work, better-educated and healthier families – all of which lead to more prosperous and happy communities.
Whatever cause your organisation supports, be sure to be transparent and honest with your customers. Authenticity is the key to being successful at anything; otherwise, you will be labelled as deceitful and will lose the trust of your customers. Trust represents the most fragile relationship you could ever have. Once it’s gone, you’ll find it next to impossible to get it back.
In conclusion, corporate social responsibility is more than just a business trend or fad. Businesses that want to stay relevant to new generations and who want to help people in need around the world while increasing their own revenue and efficiency will benefit from embracing CSR.
Great People Inside provides easy-to-use tools and processes to attract, assess, match, select, onboard, manage, develop, benchmark and maintain workforces anywhere in the world.
Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.
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Preventing burnout is a better solution than waiting to treat it after it becomes a problem. The personal and organisational costs of burnout can be extensive in terms of physical health, work performance and psychological well-being. As an organisation, taking steps to minimise the risk of burnout before it happens is a more rational strategy. Building engagement is probably the best approach to preventing burnout. People who are engaged in the workplace are far better at coping with the challenges they encounter, thus making them more likely to recover from stress. So thriving at building an engaged workforce, before any major problems arise, represents a fantastic prevention method.
Organisational intervention can and is more productive than individual intervention. Improvements should be made in job conditions that affect most or even all employees. Generally, these improvements should make changes in the way an organisation works, that it actually begins to change the organisational culture and climate altogether. The importance of the burnout-engagement ‘continuum’ is that engagement represents the desired goal for any burnout case. Through this framework, people will start to consider the factors in the workplace which are most likely to enhance employees’ energy, resilience and drive. According to the survey done by Accountemps, it has been revealed that more than half of employees reported feeling stressed at work on a daily basis, and 6 out of 10 agreed that work-related pressure has increased in the last five years. Some concerned HR leaders have called this a workplace epidemic.
The Costs of Employee Burnout
First of all, it is important to understand what the true costs of burning out are. In a recent study done by Gallup, it has been estimated that employee burnout cost the nation of Germany somewhere around 9 billion euros in lost productivity every year, whilst in the United States, burnout costs have been reported to be around 190 billion dollars in healthcare expenditure, with an additional 120,000 stress-related deaths. In fact, this burnout epidemic has become a nationwide problem in Japan, where they’ve even invented a new word: “karoshi,” aka death from overwork. The latest case was the death of a 31-year old woman who died of heart failure after doing a whopping 159 overtime hours in one month.
How to maintain high engagement without burning out in the process
Here are a few key differences that have been found between the optimally engaged and the engaged-exhausted employees.
Half of the optimally engaged employees reported having ‘high resources’, such as supervisor support, a rewards and recognition system and self-efficacy at work, but experience ‘low demands’ such as low workload, low cumbersome bureaucracy, and low to moderate demands on concentration and attention. The other side of the coin have displayed such experiences of high resources and low demands were rare (4%) among the engaged-exhausted employees, the majority of whom (64%) reported experiencing high demands and high resources.
This should provide managers with an idea as to where to start supporting employees in order to achieve optimal engagement levels. In order to promote and achieve engagement, it is quintessential to provide employees with the resources they need to do their job well, feel good about the work they put in and properly recover from work-related stress.
Many organisations, at the recommendation of their respective HR departments, offer wellness programmes in order to combat stress. While it is common knowledge that chronic stress is not good for employees, these company wellness initiatives are not the most appropriate way to respond to that stress. Studies suggest that while wellness programmes can be helpful, a much bigger concern is the work itself. HR should work alongside front-line managers in order to monitor the level of demands they’re placing on people. The higher the work demands, the higher employees’ need for support, acknowledgement and opportunities for recovery.
What about challenges and goals? Challenges, as we all know it, are motivating. However, we often forget that high challenges usually come at high cost. Challenging achievement situations not only cause anxiety and stress for most motivated individuals but also lead to exhaustion. The research on challenges and goals is mixed – for some people, chasing ambitious goals does lead to higher performance. For most people, however, challenges and goals lead them towards demotivation, take unplanned risks, or even quit.
Managers and HR leaders alike should try and help employees by toning down the demands they are placing on people. They should ensure that employee goals are realistic. Rebalancing the workloads of more skilled employees helps as well, who have been saddled with way too much work. Furthermore, it is recommended to increase the resources available to employees and this does not only refer to material resources such as time and money, but also intangible resources such as empathy, understanding and friendship in the workplace, whilst also letting employees blow off some steam from work when they’re not working.
The data is crystal clear: engagement is the key; it’s what all organisations should strive towards for both leaders and employees. But the target is smartengagement, the type that brings in productivity, enthusiasm and motivation, without any burnout.
There is a real value in providing companies with the tools to carry out regular organisational assessments and this is where Great People Inside comes to your aid. Our online platform offers the best solutions and tools for your company to thrive in every type of industry and any possible situation your organisation may find itself. In terms of lowering your employee turnover rates, we recommend our GR8 Full Spectrum assessment for hiring and 360° Survey for retention. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.
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Have any us taken the time to look around at the people boarding the subway or bus lately? You may notice that there are very few people who look at all excited about the day ahead. If you start a conversation with one of them, you may soon find out how much they hate their job, or their boss, or their long hours (some of them possibly unpaid).
Whilst growing up, people generally had some sort of idea regarding the career path they wanted to pursue. Even though over the years that idea may have changed, most people eventually figured out which industry they desired to work in. Given how life usually works, sometimes expectations aren’t met. This can lead to numerous employees disliking their jobs. ProOpinion has recently released the findings from a business research they have done in which it was revealed that roughly 31% of employees believe they aren’t paid enough, 21% do not have a proper work-life balance and 20% have stated that the unreasonable amount of workload represents the cause of their unhappiness. Others have also said that they have experienced professional relationship issues due to incompatibility with managers and/or co-workers and a lack of job advancement.
Naturally, it can be understood when unemployed job-seekers say: “If I had a job, I wouldn’t even dare to complain! I’d be grateful for the paycheck.” It is important not to take this the wrong way because those people mean it when they say it, but beware of people who say: “I wouldn’t complain at all, a job is a job!” They most likely have forgotten how harrowing it is to wake up every morning going to a job you hate. This stressful situation can take its toll on your health, both physically and emotionally.
There are managers out there that regularly complain about unmotivated employees. But who in their right mind would want to go to work unmotivated? Managers and employees alike must realise that motivation is a feature of the environment, not the people who work in it. Improvement is key.
The first step in improving your career, and an essential one at that, is to come to terms with the fact that you’re not happy with what you’re doing at the moment, and this realisation is not that easy to achieve. Our conscience usually tells us to stop complaining, get on with our work and to be grateful for what we have. However, we cannot force ourselves to be grateful, doesn’t matter how much we try. If people are under the impression they are in a toxic situation it may become harder for them to get out of bed, never mind doing a great job at work.
Social life is important as well Even though having a job is a big part of our personal development, this doesn’t mean it has to be our sole purpose in life. People want jobs where they can be fulfilled both professionally and personally. When people forget about this, they tend to become dissatisfied with their current employment.
A healthy work-life balance differs from person to person, hence what is important to one person may not be as crucial to another. If you are spending too much time either at work or you continue to work from home can leave you tired, stressed out and may lead to sickness. Furthermore, it can also lead to more responsibility at work, which will only intensify the other effects.
Forbes magazine has discovered that employees want options through which they reduce the pressure that hovers over them. Some of the options available today are telecommuting and the possibility of flexible work hours which will allow employees to plan their schedules ahead in order to fit their specific needs, thus offering them the opportunity to reach the balance they desire. This does not mean that all this work has to be put in by the manager or company. Employees are responsible for their own actions and must learn to adjust their own habits by leaving the office on time and leaving job-related tasks at work. It’s pointless to think that you can achieve a good work-life balance if you don’t make time for yourself to relax and unwind.
Money isn’t everything, but it helps When people really love what they’re doing, they may be willing to disregard a low salary if they will be working in a position they enjoy and if they will be surrounded by people who have similar interests. However, if that job starts to become a place they hate going to, frustration will start to build towards co-workers and manager, thus ending up creating a lot of tension around the workplace.
Furthermore, employees want to see their hard work is appreciated, and that may come in various forms such as benefits or even a pay raise. If they feel they are being neglected from getting a promotion, people might want to quit the organisation. However, there are other benefits that may compensate for not having a higher salary, but in the long run, they won’t be solving any problems. A pay raise shows the employee that you value his hard work and may also represent a sign of things to come (i.e. promotion). By simply repaying hard work and offer a clear path of advancement for deserving employees businesses will be able to keep their staff happy.
More responsibility shouldn’t result in more problems Offering employees more responsibility at work makes workers feel valued and important. It also shows them that they are trustworthy and reliable. It may be a match made in heaven if this also comes with a new title and a higher pay. However, there is always the other side of the coin when employees show their willingness to work and excel in their role; they may find that they’ve taken too much responsibility on their shoulders. At the end of the day, workers may find themselves assigned to more projects than they have the physical time to finish it.
An overflow of work causes people to stress out and feel that they are letting the manager and company down by not completing all of his or her tasks. This is even more problematic when employees believe they are not being paid enough for the effort and sacrifice they put in. While it’s good and reassuring for managers to have employees they can count on, this doesn’t mean that those employees should receive all the work. It is admirable they are willing to help out, but it shouldn’t lead to health problems and general unhappiness lives. In order to keep their most valued employees happy within the company, managers need to learn how to delegate work evenly and not just to a selected few.
There are numerous reasons why people end up being unhappy at the workplace, but if we’re honest they are pretty much all connected. Incapable managers and employees always lead to a negative and toxic environment and a tremendously excessive workload. Extra responsibilities almost always cause workers to feel that they are being underpaid for the amount of work they’re putting in and it also interferes with their personal lives.
This is where Great People Inside comes to your aid. Our online platform offers the best solutions and tools for your company to thrive in every type of industry and any possible situation your organisation may find itself. In terms of lowering your employee turnover rates, we recommend our GR8 Full Spectrum assessment for hiring and 360° Survey for retention. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.
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