Today's post is courtesy of Claire Richardson, director of the Workforce Institute Europe.

U.K. workers are not delivering - at least compared to their European counterparts. They are simply less productive at work: Brits spend more work time on social media, take more work home with them, and sleep fewer hours than the leading European nations according to new research from the Workforce Institute Europe at Kronos Incorporated. The study of more than 3,000 full-time workers across Germany, France, and the U.K. found that this trend is poised to continue, with younger generations less able to regulate their working lives in the face of new technology and changing working practices.

The research shows significant differences in the way U.K., German, and French workers operate, and a close correlation between an Always On relationship with technology and lower productivity. To halt the consistent decline in U.K. productivity, all industries need to take a close look at the way we work with technology and develop a tailored and flexible strategy that helps our workers balance work and life according to how they work best. Technology has a key role to play in improving productivity, and our role as employers is to provide the workforce with the skills they need to become empowered, not less productive, by technology. The Workforce Institute Europe will continue to collaborate with experts in this field to set the agenda for the workplace of the future.

Research Highlights:

There has been a lot of noise in the news lately about companies like IBM pulling back on flexible work options.  This is an ironic move for IBM given that their own research and publications suggest that "teleworkers are more highly engaged, more likely to consider their workplaces as innovative, happier about their job prospects and less stressed than their more traditional, office-bound colleagues."  Leaders in the companies who are pulling back on remote work options are arguing that presence is required for productive collaboration and innovation.

Perhaps some of these leaders should talk to Kristen Wylie, Director of Product Marketing at Kronos.  Kristen spent 8 months on the road with her 9 and 13 year old daughters over the past year while they performed in the national touring company of the musical Annie.  That would be daunting enough for any parent, but Kristen did this while continuing to do her full time job at Kronos.  In fact, Kristen was promoted to director while she was on the road.

I spoke to Kristen recently about her experience exercising this "extreme flexibility".   With the support of her boss and her team, Kristen spent eight months juggling a demanding job and supporting her daughters' life on the road.  We talked about how she pulled it off and what lessons other organizations and employees might learn from Kristen's story.

Listen in by clicking on the player at the bottom of this post to hear Kristen's responses to these and other questions about how she did it:

  1. What went through your head when you learned your daughters had been cast in Annie regarding your position at Kronos?
  2. How did you work it out with your manager to do your job from the road? Was he supportive or did you need to sell this idea?
  3. You were touring with a theater company - which operates on very different hours than a normal work environment. Where there changes you made in how you got certain things done given the crazy schedule?
  4. How did you take care of your children and yourself while under this pressure?  It seems like there wasn't much downtime for any of you.
  5. You manage other people. How did they feel about working under these circumstances and what did you do to make this arrangement work for them?
  6. During the time you were touring with your daughters, you got promoted. Beyond the obvious insight that you do a great job for Kronos, do you think your ability to juggle as you did helped make this happen?
  7. A lot of working parents hearing your story will think “that could never happen at my organization”. What would you tell a working parent who'd like to have greater flexibility at work how to broach that topic and sell it as a benefit to their organization?

How does your organization support flexible work options?  Can you see a story like Kristen's happening in your workplace?

The following post is courtesy of our board member John Hollon.

For many workers, it's a rite of summer -- cutting out early to get the weekend going a little sooner.

But now it's becoming more than that for a lot of companies.

According to a study released this month by CEB (now Gartner), some 42 percent of the companies that were surveyed will offer employees a "Summer Friday" arrangement where employees have the flexibility to leave early on Friday, or in some cases, take the entire day off.

This is a great perk if you can get it.

As The Washington Post notes:

“(This) benefit is ... a no-brainer for companies to offer. As flexible work arrangements have grown and the average office worker is just a text or phone call away, many people already duck out early on Friday afternoons, especially before long holiday weekends. Making it official gives the company a way to plug their generosity without spending much at all."

What makes this great is that it not only acknowledges something that a lot of employees are already doing, but that it also doesn't cost the organization much to do it. Anytime you can offer something that employees love with little financial impact, that's a huge win-win for everyone.

This also shows that companies are working to get more creative with their benefit offerings, especially for things that have a lot of value for employees (like getting some longer weekends during the summer) yet don't really detract from the bottom line.

And, it is a perk that benefits employees up and down the workplace totem pole, from down in the trenches up to the executive level.

Sounds too good to be true, no? Well, not exactly.

While generally touting the Summer Friday concept, The Washington Post also pointed out that this is a benefit that is designed largely - and only - for salaried workers:

“Of course, summer Fridays are hardly a benefit offered to all employees. They're yet another example of the bonus and benefit divide that exists as professional office workers get perks that hourly workers -- who are less likely to get variable pay and often receive less cushy benefits, such as paid leave -- don't. Letting cashiers or production line workers skip out at noon the Friday before Memorial Day just isn't in the cards for most companies."

I can see the point The Post is making, and I agree that there will be a lot of workers that won't benefit from Summer Fridays, but I still think they're a valuable benefit for employers to consider.

My experience is that ANYTHING that helps to move the needle on employee benefits is a good thing. Yes, there are a lot of people who won't be able to utilize a Summer Friday off, but it's rare when any benefit comes along that is something all employees can utilize universally across-the-board.

In the real world, new benefits get tried and tested, and if they seem to be working, companies and organizations start looking for ways to spread them to more and more employees.

This is especially true if they don't cost much to implement.

So consider me a fan of the Summer Fridays concept even if it doesn't reach everybody in every workplace everywhere. You gotta start somewhere with these things, and I seem to remember reading that we shouldn't "let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

Those are a few good words to remember whether we're talking about life, or, the offering of a new benefit.

How about your workplace - are you giving your employees extra flexibility this summer?  

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Traci Fenton, Founder and CEO of WorldBlu.  She founded  WorldBlu in 1997 and has had clients in over 80 countries globally representing over $30 billion in annual revenue. Traci was recently recognized byInc. Magazine as a Top 50 Leadership Thinker, along with other world-class leaders such as Dan Pink, Brene Brown and Marshall Goldsmith.

Traci has a clear passion for her mission, and impressive case studies of how organizations like Davita and WD-40 have transformed their workplaces to engender employee engagement and better results.

Please listen in and  join the conversation by adding your comments to this post. Below the podcast player are the discussion questions we cover.

  1. Your mission is about promoting freedom and democracy in the workplace.  Can you expand on what that means and what it looks like in action?
  2. How do business results of organizations that pursue freedom and democracy in the workplace compare to those who don't make that a focus?
  3. Annually you publish a list of the Most Freedom-Centered Workplaces™.  Can you give us a few examples of organizations who've earned this distinction from WorldBlu and why they stood out for you?
  4. Do you have statistics you can share about how employee engagement and retention is impacted when organizations pursue workplace democracy and freedom?
  5. If leaders want to explore how to implement these kinds of practices in their own organizations, what can they do to get started?

 How much is freedom and democracy the norm in your workplace?

Today, Kronos held our annual Employee Appreciation Picnic at our headquarters in Chelmsford, Massachusetts. Every summer, this event is a fun and much anticipated way for Kronites to come together, eat delicious food, play games, and simply hang out outside of the office. The location also couldn't be more convenient: the picnic is held right in our building's back parking lot!

Picnic1

This year's event featured food trucks (Taco Party and Captain Marden's), Ben & Jerry's ice cream, lawn games, a mechanical bull, and some incredible raffle prizes - including gift cards to the spa, Lowe's, and Starbucks, as well as Oakley and Tiffany sunglasses, an Amazon Echo, a Nutri Ninja Blender, a Callaway Golf Bag, a FitBit, and a yoga set.

Picnic3

This yearly event helps to not only bring Kronites together to have a good time, but also serves as an important reminder about how much their hard work is appreciated. The event is also during work hours, allowing Kronites to not miss time at home with their families.

Picnic4

Kronos offers their employees a breadth of healthy living benefits, and the activities at our annual picnic only echo our commitment to health and wellness. A basketball tournament, corn hole, and football were just a few of the games that helped to encourage employees to get out of their seats and be active. The raffle prizes we gave away also inspire a healthy, fun lifestyle.

Picnic2

To see all of the photos from today's celebration, check out our Facebook album.

Thanks to all Kronos employees for attending this year's picnic!

employeeburnoutWe had a very engaging tweet chat today regarding employee burnout and fatigue in the workplace. A number of thought leaders weighed in on how burnout affects employees and their employers; best practices on how to help prevent employee burnout/fatigue; how technology plays a role; and more.

You can view the entire tweet chat below (as well as here), or search via #KronosChat on Twitter. We'd love to know what you think about this topic - tweet us using #KronosChat, or comment below to share your thoughts.

Last Thursday, Kronos held its second annual 5K walk/run in Chelmsford, Massachusetts (home to our headquarters). Participation was complimentary and open to all Kronos employees and their families.

Kronos5K3

Our now-annual 5K is a great way to get Kronites outside and active together - whether you're an experienced runner or you'd just prefer to walk the 3.1-mile loop.

Kronos5K2

Leading up to the event, we held a Desk to 5K program for anyone who wanted to get fully prepared for the race. (It's Kronos' version of the popular Couch to 5K program). In addition to engaging employees, this program also successfully increased participants' endurance for race day.

Kronos5K1

Although the 5K is a great incentive to get Kronites active and engaged, we're lucky that it's only one element to Kronos' breadth of healthy living benefits. From our on-site, fully-equipped gyms to the Quit for Life program to Weight Watchers discounts (to name a few), Kronites throughout the world are constantly encouraged to live healthy, happy lives - inside and outside of work. (To see all the photos from this year's 5K, visit Kronos' Facebook page).

What are your tips for staying healthy - and active - inside and outside of work?

tweetchatWe had a very engaging tweet chat today regarding workplace culture and who defines it, based off our recent survey data. We had quite a few thought leaders weigh in on why HR, managers, and employees have very different opinions about workplace culture; who drives it and why; what's important to creating a great one; and what can destroy workplace culture.

You can view the entire tweet chat below (as well as here), or search via #KronosChat on Twitter. We'd love to know what you think about workplace culture and who defines it - tweet us using #KronosChat, or comment below to share your thoughts.

Employee-MonitoringDo you check your work email as soon as you wake up? (Spoiler: It's not good for you).

Tablets, smartphones, and other on-the-go technologies make it incredibly convenient to check-in with work responsibilities at all hours of the day - not just first thing in the morning. And while it seems productive to constantly be available to your colleagues and managers, it may not be the most efficient.

Here are a few pros and cons as to how mobile technology can make - or break - the workplace:

Pros:

The Ultimate Flexibility

Whether you're a remote employee or someone who spends the majority of their time in the office, mobile technology definitely provides a new level of flexibility that employees have never had before. No matter where we are or what comes up, we can still be accessible to our teams and managers. It gives us the freedom to live our lives while still being able to do our jobs effectively.

Higher Morale

Thanks to the increased flexibility that mobile brings, it can also help to increase employee morale. Employees get to spend more time with their families, feel less pressure to be tied to their cubicle all day, and feel less stressed when they have to leave the office - because they still feel connected to their colleagues.

Improved Communication            

As a manager, having employees constantly connected to mobile devices makes communication easier than ever - with both remote and in-office team members. The convenience of mobile allows for a quick response time no matter how critical the email, text, or phone call may be.

Cons:

Loss of Work/Life Balance

The traditional 9-5 schedule assumed that employees were accessible to their employers mostly during set hours.  With mobile technology, it's more likely that work will intrude on downtime.

Burnout

Unplugging is essential to giving our brains time to turn off from work.  Always being connected to what needs to be done can easily lead to burnout, which, in the end, doesn't make us any more productive. Taking a break from our various mobile technologies outside of work helps to refresh our minds, giving us more bandwidth to come up with new ideas and be sharper when we're actually in the office - leading to better productivity.

Unrealistic Expectations

Some managers can take advantage of their always-connected employees by sending emails or texts after hours that require a quick response - or worse, calling their employees on the weekends. Respecting your teams' personal lives is critical, but the convenience of mobile can make it difficult for some managers (and colleagues) to recognize those boundaries.

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HH CollageFebruary is American Heart Month and, here at Kronos, we take this initiative seriously - especially on National Wear Red Day. This year, to help do our part in raising awareness about heart disease, Kronites all over the world sported their best red attire via photos shared to the Kronos Live Inspired Facebook page. For each photo uploaded, Kronos contributed to the American Heart Association to help further research and education about heart disease. Check out this year's album here.

While February's emphasis on heart health is great, having a healthy program in place for your employees year-round is critical. Healthy employees take fewer sick days, lower your healthcare costs, and are more productive workers. Here are five quick tips you can implement in your workplace to keep your employees healthy - and happy!

1.)    Offer Healthy Food Options

The cafeteria, communal snack drawer, and so on can be an all-too-tempting place for employees on a diet, or those just trying to eat better. Support them by offering healthier options such as salads, fruit, yogurt, granola bars, and nuts, to name a few. Healthier foods also provide extra staying power, keeping workers energized throughout the day.

2.)    Help Them Quit Smoking for Good

Here at Kronos, we participate in an effective program called Quit for Life. Did you know smokers are six times more likely to suffer heart attacks? Help your employees quit for good with a program that helps them live without tobacco once and for all.

3.)    Provide an Active Workspace 

Sitting at a desk for eight (or more) hours a day is not healthy for anybody. Consider treadmill desks and standing desks to provide options to break up a long day of sitting.  (We even have stability ball chairs in one of our conference rooms). Incorporating even just a few active workspaces throughout the office can keep many of your employees healthier, happier, and more motivated at (and outside of) work.

4.)    Promote a Work-Life Balance

Being overworked and chronically stressed can lead to high blood pressure and an increased heart rate - not to mention a poor outlook on work. Offering your employees options to balance work and life is key in helping to decrease their stress levels, improve their health, and give them a more positive attitude toward their job.

5.)    Be Active Together!

Coordinating fun, physical activities for your employees not only encourages team-building and bonding - it also inspires everyone to be a little more active. Kickball leagues, regular yoga classes at the office, Battle of the Intern competitions, and group walks during lunch are just a few ways to get your team moving, together.

How do you keep your employees active, motivated, and healthy at work?

Brantley collageToday's guest blog post is written by our board member, Andy Brantley.  Andy is President and CEO of CUPA-HR.

When was the last time you were involved in an event or activity that caused you to look around and think, “I am so fortunate to be here?” To be honest, I never really thought about this very much until recently.

A few “I am so fortunate to be here” moments for me during the last several months:

I could list a few more examples, but the point for me is that I am trying to do a better job of enjoying and embracing important moments at and away from work. The event or activity does not have to be as “grand” as hiking the Grand Canyon. The point is that we stop the speeding train that is our life long enough to acknowledge and enjoy the ride!

We HR types have talked about work/life balance for years, but for me it's not as much work/life balance as it is a commitment to enjoying the things I do at and away from work. Not every portion of my work role is enjoyable (being stuck in an airport for hours) and not every part of my life away from work is enjoyable (my house is always clean, but I hate housecleaning). But I can tell you that I approach every day with a “my cup is AT LEAST half full” attitude and that I continue my quest for those “I am so fortunate to be here” moments. I challenge you to come up with your own list of “I am so fortunate to be here” moments from the last few months and to commit to continuing to seek more of these moments every single day.

 

 

A leader I used to work for once told me "it's always hottest on the nose cone of the rocket".  Her point was that when you lead, and especially when you're driving big change, you will have to learn to tolerate the friction created by critics and naysayers.  It was her way of coaching me to continue leading, and to expect that breaking through obstacles wouldn't happen without discomfort.

I've been thinking about that this week as the firestorm has grown around Sheryl Sandberg's new book  Leaning In, a call to action to women about what it takes to achieve success at work.  Like the Marissa-Mayer-Yahoo-Telecommuting tempest of the last few weeks, the feedback seems to be particularly pointed because she's a woman, and a successful one at that.   Women like Marissa and Sheryl have broken through the glass ceiling, and are both no doubt accustomed to picking the shards of glass out of their hides.  They have to have juggled competing priorities all the way to the top.  That they've been spectacularly successful doing so is clear.

Timothy Leary famously encouraged my generation to "turn on, tune in, drop out".  Ironically, we female boomers not only didn't drop out, we charged into the workplace body and soul and many burned out on the nose cone of that rocket.  Some of the critical backlash aimed at Marissa and Sheryl comes from the legions of exhausted women who -  juggling childcare, elder care, housework, volunteerism, schoolwork and their partners - resent the implication that they just aren't trying hard enough.  They expect Sheryl and Marissa to know better.

Read on to hear what journalists and bloggers have to say

Why you should “lean in” to Sheryl Sandberg's new book: http://www.wired.com/business/2013/03/lean-in-to-sheryl-sandbergs-book/

Maybe You Should Read the Book: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2013/03/maybe-you-should-read-the-book-the-sheryl-sandberg-backlash.html#ixzz2Mk8gWkg1

What Your reaction to Powerful Female Executive Says About You: http://www.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2013/03/female-executives/62675/

Sheryl Sandberg Isn't the Perfect Feminist, so what? http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dear-fellow-feminists-ripping-apart-sheryl-sandbergs-book-is-counterproductive/2013/03/01/fc71b984-81c0-11e2-a350-49866afab584_story.html

And a great guest post from our own Laura Souza:  @LSouz: Leaning…Out http://ow.ly/iWKAj via @WF_Institute

Also on our radar this week:

The wage gap is getting worse: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/03/07/the-wage-gap-between-men-and-women-has-grown-during-the-recovery/

What's the role of cloud in work-from home? http://www.infoworld.com/d/cloud-computing/telecommuting-and-cloud-computing-innovators-only-213783

Should Gen Y have their parents in their performance reviews? http://www.tlnt.com/2013/03/14/holding-employees-accountable-maybe-its-time-to-call-mom-dad/

Does FMLA work? http://www.tlnt.com/2013/03/14/after-20-years-its-time-to-ask-is-the-fmla-still-working/

The Real Women's Issue: Time    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324678604578342641640982224.html

RT @mikewcassidy: Great article on the #ROI of #Cloud across the Enterprise. http://ow.ly/iYSkj

Want to Retain Employees? Ask _What Would It Take to Make You Leave?' http://ow.ly/iVffc via @TLNT_com

'I'm Outta Here!' Why 2 Million Americans Quit Every Month (And 5 Steps to Turn the Epidemic Around) http://ow.ly/iV441 via @Forbes

RT @SteveBoese: Taking his talents to technology: More on the Danger of Hiring for 'Fit' http://ow.ly/iYSnG

8 Rules to Make Telecommuting Work http://ow.ly/iRJ41 via @Inc

How Businesses Can Address Severe Weather In The Workplace http://ow.ly/iRHFE via @Forbes

Do You Listen to Your Employees? http://ow.ly/iRG3T via @nytimes

Finding a Problem and Fixing a Problem Aren't the Same Thing http://ow.ly/iRFuY via @hrbartender

#HREOnline: The Cost of #ACA Compliance http://ow.ly/iO4kg via @HRExecMag

Office Oasis: When The Workplace Doubles As A Space To Unwind ow.ly/iO6bC via @HealthyLiving

Taking Your Pulse: You Need Data to Test How Company Culture Is Doing ow.ly/iO2vZ via @TLNT_com

RT @williamtincup: RT 97% of Employers Have No Plans to Eliminate Telecommuting a la Yahoo! & Best Buy bit.ly/10DBxTV @EntryLevelJob

Kronites are writing about..

@williamtincup, Complexity, and Grown Up Pants http://ow.ly/iV3wb via @WF_Institute

Are you ready for spring? Today's Time Well Spent #cartoon is very fitting: http://ow.ly/iRF6m

RT @SmarterCafe: When I went to #SXSW, we didn't have Google Shoes. http://ow.ly/iKf5X

10 Ways to Cut Costs Without Cutting Jobs http://ow.ly/iV34g via @simonmacpherson @KronosUK

RT @SmarterCafe: Screwing with dinosaur DNA is not for the meek. http://ow.ly/iWeKu #SaaS

RT @SmarterCafe: Is #Skynet coming as the cloud-based robot brain, #Rapyuta? Related: are there clowns in the cloud? http://ow.ly/iOkXw

#Kronos Survey Reveals #Dining Industry's Urgent Workforce Management Priorities: http://ow.ly/iVcx1

#KronosLive 2013: You're invited to a FREE local customer event! Register now: http://ow.ly/iVbUM

March 21 Webinar: Are you using #BigData to build a more productive workforce? http://ow.ly/iV4Kz

Pay or play? Determining your company's best solution to the #AffordableCareAct #ACA: http://ow.ly/iV3G8

#LEAN labor principles turn #BIGDATA into operational efficiency. Learn how: http://ow.ly/iRPQr

@transavia Selects #Kronos AD OPT to Optimize Crew Rostering http://ow.ly/iRF1Z

Registration is NOW OPEN for #KronosWorks13 in #Orlando! Register before 5/31 & save $300! http://ow.ly/iKXZ8

Survey reveals majority of #publicsafety agencies still rely on paper templates for scheduling & more. http://ow.ly/iKOqD

Take a Sneak Peek at the Survival Guide for #Manufacturers Facing Global Competition: http://ow.ly/iK95x

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