The Design & Management of Learning Environments, Live Blog

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Are You Fit For Work?

Never before has productivity at work been so important.  With tight deadlines and tightening budgets, this is now the key to success for businesses these days.  There were an estimated 137.3 million working days lost due to sickness or injury in the UK in 2016, as reported by the Office for National Statistics.  How can this be reduced and productivity optimised?

Mind fit and productive

Employee’s mental fitness can be affected by financial worries causing stress and sleepless nights, negatively affecting productivity.  Many human resources departments are now focusing on this and introducing employee ‘Financial Wellness’ support.  This way the employee has reduced stress levels over financial concerns and is able to focus on work matters increasing productivity.

Get moving for health and productivity

Physical fitness has been shown to benefit workplace productivity by improving health, energy levels and morale.   This can be promoted in the workplace by making the environment more exercise-friendly.  For example, larger organisations may be able to build a gym and shower facility for employee’s use during their lunch break, but failing that, an in-office piece of gym equipment or exercise bike would provide huge health benefits for both physical and mental health thereby improving workplace productivity.  Just short sessions on the piece of equipment would provide fantastic benefits to productivity that would far outweigh the loss of time spent doing this.  Other areas employers could develop to promote health would be joining the cycle to work scheme and also ensuring healthy food choices and snacks are readily available to employees.

Achieve a reduction in presenteeism and absenteeism

Being present in the workplace is not sufficient in itself to increasing productivity, especially for some individuals who, for one reason or another, are less motivated and prefer to chat and drink coffee to excess.  Presenteeism is a term for lack of productivity by an employee during the time they’re in work.  This may be caused by lack of drive, low morale or genuine ill health without taking time off.

Feeling healthy and fit is likely to make someone feel more dynamic and energetic, be less prone to physical illness, and hence reduce their presenteeism.  Being physically and mentally fit will also reduce the number of illnesses acquired and resultant absenteeism or presenteeism.  A good workplace policy is to encourage absenteeism in the event of genuine illness rather than promoting ‘soldiering on’ when ill, which is often a result of employee job insecurity.  The implications of excess presenteeism for an employer are far worse than having some absenteeism.

Way forward for managing productivity

Great management within your organisation can produce great productivity.  Always make employees feel listened to, valued and included in decisions that will affect their working environment.  Managers should always motivate by their own example i.e. behave the way they’d like all the employees to, with the emphasis on high standard and commitment.  With morale, commitment, health, and fitness at their best there are no limits to the success of a business.

Author: freelance writer Lucy Wyndham
Photo by on Unsplash


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