Financial Wellness Helps Improve Workers’ Productivity

2018 sees several workplace trends that aim to enhance a company’s overall performance. With an aging pool of labour and difficulties in securing experienced and senior talent, now more than ever is HR taking a serious look at the factors that affect productivity in the workplace. Apart from people analytics and mental wellbeing, financial wellness is also viewed as a critical factor that may affect the performance of an employee. Loss of concentration, mental problems, inability to focus, anxiety, tension, and stress are counterproductive factors that affect an employee with financial problems. The good news is companies and management are finding ways to improve the situation.

Loss of Concentration

Financial well-being has evidently an effect on an employee’s ability to focus on the job. The feeling of insecurity overwhelms and is overpowering which in turn affects the capacity to concentrate on tasks.  A person who is not focused might be distracted and cannot zero in on their duties and responsibilities at work. It is vital that an employee finds ways to regain concentration at the workplace.

Low Productivity

Without focus, employees who are going through financial difficulties are more likely to perform poorly at work. Money problems cause sleep deprivation resulting in low productivity levels. The ability to think critically, solve problems and meet work output & targets are affected.

Work Fatigue & Burnout

Money issues also result in fatigue and burnout that affect social relationships at work. Employees may tend to keep to themselves, have little incentive to cooperate on work matters and are not generally motivated. In addition, about 10 million working days are lost each year due to stress (Thomsons, 2017).

Higher Turnover

Employees who strongly feel that their current jobs do not pay enough for them to live decently will be looking for better-paying employment. As a result, employee turnover is high costing the company lots of money to hire and train new workers.

Employers Respond

Financial stress and anxiety have been getting the companies’ attention. Recognizing that the well-being of workers is very important in their overall performance, companies start to offer financial wellness solutions. Thomsons Online Benefits 2016/17 reports that companies that offer education and financial support enjoy a 22% increase in engagement amongst its employees. According to research conducted by Nudge, 66% of employers believe that borrowing and debt management are crucial in attaining financial wellness in 2018. It also indicated that 92% of employer respondents believe that the best financial wellness strategy should be part of an ongoing financial education programme combined with suitable employee benefits.

Despite employers saying that they want to improve their employee’s financial well-being, there is little evidence to show that the gap between aspiration and support to employees is becoming narrow, according to the same study.

Nonetheless, recognition of the problem is the first step and hopefully, more employers will follow up on a financial wellness strategy for the benefit of their employees and the company.

Author: freelance writer Lucy Wyndham
Photo by Giu Vicente on Unsplash

Caring for The Self – The Hottest UK Workplace Trend

One of the biggest trends in the UK for businesses is the health and well-being of the employees. As employees choose to stay at work beyond the average retirement age, these programs are becoming more important than in the past. Companies must address an ageing work population while continuing to concentrate on other health issues. In response, many companies are offering health care options to help employees stay healthier longer.

Technology On the Table

Some companies are offering employees technology-assisted health monitoring, such as fitness trackers. These wearable devices offer feedback regarding sleep, exercise, food intake, and more. Employees monitor their own health, and some companies respond with contests built around the data collected by the device. Overall, the result is an engaged office and less illness-related absences. Other technology, such as updated, cushioned chairs or more comfortable wheelchair covers for those who require them are also making appearances. In addition to fitness trackers, businesses are implementing workout rooms, wellness clubs, and relaxation areas with technologically advanced equipment to improve overall employee health.

Mental Health Included

Companies are beginning to realise that improved mental health leads to improved employee production. As a result, many are offering extra breaks, longer vacations, relaxation areas, and other incentives to encourage employees to care for their mental health. The use of mental health services is encouraged by some companies, while others are working toward a better home/life balance. Some companies may start small with monthly accolades or meetings to recognize exemplary work, while others will be building on existing successful programs. The trend into the new year will be towards improved employee mental health facilities.

Incentives Increase

As mentioned above, incentives to keep employees healthy help, and are on track to be a new trend. Incentives, such as a free meal for checking blood pressure or an extra perk for joining a walking club, help encourage employees to participate. Additionally, more bosses are participating in health programs, which helps employees step up. The trend will be toward office challenges, such as charity walks or recreational sport team creations. Businesses will also begin offering incentives for employees who make regular doctor’s visits, as The Telegraph reports that statistically, many Brits do not get their vitals checked regularly.

Businesses are learning that healthy employees lead to a healthy company. The work environment is improved, days off are lessened, and production is improved. Further, the workforce is ageing, increasing the demand for health care. The trend toward better health care overall will be in overdrive in 2018.

Author: freelance writer Lucy Wyndham
Photo by Jad Limcaco on Unsplash

5 Evidence-Based Ways to Optimise Your Neurological Performance

Every week, there are new studies released that expand our understanding of how the brain works. You can turn a blind eye to these advances. Or, you can learn to put them to work for you and your organisation. Here are some tricks for optimising neurological performance that are grounded in science.

1. Monitor Yourself

Gone are the days of using a mood ring to study behaviour. There are now biosensor devices that measure your mood, respiratory rate, heart rate variability, and brain waves. For instance, you can translate EEG data into something you can understand and monitor your brain activity using a wireless headset from Emotiv. From there, you can understand when and how to prime yourself for optimum performance.

2. Eat Plenty of Vegetables and Fruits

Your brain and body suffer when you eat foods that are highly processed or have too much sugar. It impairs cognition and alters blood flow to the brain. This is why cognitive dysfunction is more common in diabetics. Natural whole foods offer a more constant, slower source of glucose to help with neurological performance. This means workplace cafeterias should focus on offering plenty of fish, unsaturated fats, cereals, fruits, and vegetables.

3. Meditate and Manage Stress

Chronic stress causes memory loss, and brain cells die when cortisol levels remain chronically high. Therefore, stress management is a must. Working memory in the brain gets a boost from meditation. Meditation has been shown to lower stress, increase cerebral blood flow, and improve focus, mood, and concentration by activating specific parts of the brain.

4. Cross-train the Brain

Stepping out of your cognitive comfort zone is crucial for neurological health. For instance, you should take up hiking if you generally play chess. Learn a new language if you mainly engage in physical activities. And, in the workplace, this may mean having staff work on projects that are not necessarily their strong suit.

5. Encourage Exercise

New blood vessels and cells are generated in the brain through consistent biking, jogging, and other aerobic exercises. Also, your brain’s volume increases in the temporal and frontal areas where working memory and planning go on. A workplace fitness centre and special programs will encourage the gains that can be had from engaging in aerobic exercise at least three times per week for half an hour to an hour.

As we learn more and more about how the brain functions, there are sure to be more “hacks” for getting more out of yourself and your employees.

Workplace Trends will keep you up to date with the latest research. Consider also signing up to attend our London Workplace Trends Spring Summit on 7 March 2018 where we’ll be presenting the best in recently published research about Work and the Workplace.

Author: freelance writer Lucy Wyndham

New Research: UK offices lack spaces that enhance productivity & wellbeing

Author: Maggie Procopi

New research by Office Genie has discovered many of Britain’s workplaces are not catering to employees’ needs. Workspaces are lacking distinct, tailor-made areas that could enable employees to work more effectively – particularly introverted workers.

Key points of interest:

  • Most people don’t have the spaces they need to do their job effectively
  • People want chill-out zones, private spaces and quiet areas
  • Introverts in particular would benefit from the introduction of private, quiet spaces

After surveying 1,456 British office workers, it was revealed the majority of workplaces do not have areas that aid lone-working (67%), offer privacy (54%), or opportunities for quiet work (58%). They also do not have spaces that promote collaboration (45%) or provide chill-out areas for staff (74%).

Respondents were asked if their workplace allows them to carry out their work comfortably and 20% stated it does not. Worryingly, of that number, 70% claim it affects their desire to come to work. In terms of improved wellbeing and productivity, chill-out areas, quiet areas, and private spaces are top of workers’ lists.

The findings showed quiet areas and private spaces would be of particular benefit to introverts in the office. Nearly a third (30%) of those identifying as introverts believe a quiet area would help with their wellbeing, compared to 22% of extroverts. Introverts believe private work stations would provide a boost to productivity: 24%, compared to 17% of extroverts. When a large percentage of the workforce identify as introverts (41%) [1], this is clearly worth bearing in mind.

Robert Hicks, Group HR Director at global employee engagement company Reward Gateway, offers his insight: “An engaged employee knows the company’s purpose, mission and objectives. In turn, they make better decisions for the company, are more productive and innovate more. Studies have shown that workplace satisfaction correlates highly with engagement; the most engaged employees rate their workplace in the 90th percentile.

 “The workplace can change and impact productivity, happiness and engagement, both positively and negatively. Changes that alter an employee’s existing behaviours and habits can be incredibly disruptive. Therefore, you need to cater for a variety of behaviours and habits, from introverts to extroverts, as well as consider how to guide employees through any changes you intend to make.”

Gareth Jones, of office furniture manufacturer Kit Out My Office, adds: “Office workers will often spend a large amount of time sat at a desk or in meeting rooms, so it is important that these spaces are designed in a way that the employees like.

“I am not just talking about making a room look prettier, I’m also talking about improving the functionality to cater for everyone’s needs. For example, if you have staff members that want quiet spaces to make phone calls, why not designate a room or perhaps divide a room by creating multiple snugs for people to take their calls privately, without other people listening in.

“In addition to the above, there’s also a strong argument for having breakaway areas for people to have discussions with colleagues. Don’t think of traditional meeting rooms, think of spaces of relaxation by incorporating sofas or armchairs. They are excellent places for relieving stress or making a meeting feel less formal.”

Further Reading:

Personality and Preferences for Interaction in the Workplace, Research Summary from Dr Nigel Oseland and Herman Miller.

Photo by Crew on Unsplash

Workplace Trends Conference Write Ups

Author: Maggie Procopi

If you couldn’t make it in person to the last Workplace Trends Conference on 18 October, check out these write-ups.

It’s not quite the same as being there, but you’ll get a feel for the great day that was had by all!

Huge thanks to all contributors!