Working from home means longer hours, fewer sick days, & fewer bonuses, according to a major report

The remote-working shift is hailed as the future – but new data highlights potential negative trends.

Remote workers were more likely to work overtime and less likely to get bonuses, for example.

Insider rounds up four key takeaways from the report.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted bold predictions that the future of work will be from home, after millions were forced out of offices for more than a year but able to do their jobs remotely.

Homeworkers were working longer hours for less reward compared with their peers going into offices, the research found.

Here are the report’s four main takeaways.

1. Those who mostly worked from home were less likely to get bonuses

The ONS study found that, based on analysis of survey respondents between 2013 to 2020, people who mainly worked from home were on average 38% less likely to receive a bonus in salary compared with those who never worked from home in the same period.

The ONS suggested two possible reasons for the discrepancy. It may “reflect biases in the labor market with people who worked mainly from home being overlooked for promotions and bonuses due to a lack of visibility at work.”

But it also said homeworkers might have forfeited bonuses for benefits such as flexibility and a shorter commute.

Dr Lucy Davey, a former psychiatrist who is now a coach for professional women, said this trend would hit women, who are more likely to take the option of working from home.

As many companies shift to giving employees the option between working from home or the office after the pandemic, Davey told Insider: “A higher proportion of women will take up the offer of working from home in order to fit around their childcare needs.

“Ultimately, this means that they’ll spend less time in the office, will be less visible than their office-based counterparts (often male) and less likely to be next in line for a promotion.”

2. Remote workers were less than half as likely to call in sick

The sickness absence rate for employees working from home in 2020 was 0.9% on average, compared with 2.2% for those who worked from offices in their main job, the ONS report found.

Though it is possible remote workers were less exposed to illness, the report suggested that many people were simply just working through periods of illness or injury. “When sick, homeworkers may not have travelled to a workplace to work but still felt well enough to work from home,” the ONS said.

Elisa Nardi, a HR professional with 30 years’ experience, including 15 as a group chief people officer in large corporates such as Virgin Media and Bupa, said that, so long as few employees have purpose-built home offices, it’s likely homeworking will mean “many employers will face a future wave of claims related to muscular-skeletal employee health and wellbeing issues.”

3. And they did more hours of unpaid overtime

In 2020, people who “mainly,” “occasionally” or “recently” worked from home all did an average of around six hours of unpaid overtime a week. This was almost double the 3.6 hours by those who never worked remotely.

The ONS noted that, from 2011 to 2019, those who “recently” worked from home did the most unpaid overtime but the three cohorts of remote workers had done roughly the same in 2020. The 3.6 hour figure was the same as in previous years.

4. They were also more likely to work in the evenings

The pandemic appears to have caused a shift in the working day.

In September 2020, homeworkers were more likely to work between the hours of 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. compared with those never working at home, according to the ONS report.

This contrasted with an earlier sample in April, at the start of the pandemic, when homeworkers “tended to keep hours close to typical office hours, because homeworking was new to many.”

The report said homeworkers may have been continuing to work beyond their finishing time in the time they previously would have previously been commuting.

By Zahara Tayeb from Business Insider Australia

It’s not just you – meetings really have spiraled out of control in the pandemic

Microsoft analyzed how users of its workplace tools interacted with each other in the pandemic.

People are now spending more than double the time in meetings and receiving almost 50% more chats.

More than half of surveyed workers say they’re overworked.

If you’ve been exhausted working from home in the pandemic, here’s some alarming new research that could illuminate why. People are now spending more than double the amount of time in meetings compared to before the pandemic, and they’re getting bombarded with chat messages from their colleagues.

That’s according to an analysis, released recently, of the interactions that took place over this past year on Microsoft’s suite of workplace tools such as Microsoft Teams. The data cement what many workers have felt firsthand: Working from home creates a host of challenges that make it harder to get real work done.

“The digital intensity of workers’ days has increased substantially,” the report said.

The graph below charts the time users spent in meetings over this past year (in blue), as well as the chat messages they sent each other (in yellow). Both measures spiked in March as companies sent their employees home and kept rising throughout the pandemic.

Both meetings and chats have soared in the pandemic.

By February 2021, workers spent 2.5 times as many minutes per week in meetings compared with February 2020, and they were sending 45% more chats per week to their coworkers. They also sent 42% more chats to each other outside of regular business hours.

It’s no wonder that workers are burned out: In a survey of about 30,000 full-time or self-employed workers that Microsoft also released on Monday, more than 50% of respondents said they were overworked. Other surveys have shown similarly widespread levels of burnout. If people are spending more time attending meetings and responding to messages, they have less time to perform their actual jobs during regular business hours.

That often gives them no choice but to keep working through the evenings or on weekends to get everything done. In fact, people do appear to be working longer hours in the pandemic, by anywhere from 49 minutes to three hours, depending on the study.

Even before COVID-19, endless meetings and digital overload have been widespread problems in corporate America. Businesses have deployed some small fixes over the years: Years ago, Google built a “speedy meetings” setting in Google Calendar to encourage shorter calls. But now, several companies are doing more to intervene on behalf of exhausted employees. For example, Citigroup told its employees on Monday that it’s banning internal video calls every Friday (although it’s still allowing phone calls).

“The blurring of lines between home and work and the relentlessness of the pandemic workday have taken a toll on our well-being,” Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser wrote in a memo obtained by CNBC.

In addition to this communication overload, the data from Microsoft showed another downside of working from home. During the pandemic, people within teams communicated more often, but people in separate teams communicated less often.

Teams have become siloed in the pandemic.

“When you lose connections, you stop innovating,” Nancy Baym, a senior principal researcher at Microsoft, said in the report. “It’s harder for new ideas to get in and groupthink becomes a serious possibility.”

Interestingly, in New Zealand, where lockdowns eased once the country effectively stamped out the virus, a measure of team isolation improved, according to Microsoft.

In a separate blog post that was released in tandem with the research report, Microsoft said that it’s going to allow more of its workers to return to the office if they wish to do so, starting on March 29. It announced in October that, after the pandemic, its employees will be working a hybrid workweek, in which they will be working from home less than 50% of the time.

By AKI ITO from Business Insider Australia

We’ll Have Herd Immunity by April

By Marty Makary
Feb. 18, 2021 12:35 pm
The Wall Street Journal

Amid the dire Covid warnings, one crucial fact has been largely ignored: Cases are down 77% over the past six weeks. If a medication slashed cases by 77%, we’d call it a miracle pill. Why is the number of cases plummeting much faster than experts predicted?

In large part because natural immunity from prior infection is far more common than can be measured by testing. Testing has been capturing only from 10% to 25% of infections, depending on when during the pandemic someone got the virus. Applying a time-weighted case capture average of 1 in 6.5 to the cumulative 28 million confirmed cases would mean about 55% of Americans have natural immunity.

Now add people getting vaccinated. As of this week, 15% of Americans have received the vaccine, and the figure is rising fast. Former Food and Drug Commissioner Scott Gottlieb estimates 250 million doses will have been delivered to some 150 million people by the end of March. There is reason to think the country is racing toward an extremely low level of infection. As more people have been infected, most of whom have mild or no symptoms, there are fewer Americans left to be infected. At the current trajectory, I expect Covid will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life.

Antibody studies almost certainly underestimate natural immunity. Antibody testing doesn’t capture antigen-specific T-cells, which develop “memory” once they are activated by the virus. Survivors of the 1918 Spanish flu were found in 2008—90 years later—to have memory cells still able to produce neutralizing antibodies.

Researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute found that the percentage of people mounting a T-cell response after mild or asymptomatic Covid-19 infection consistently exceeded the percentage with detectable antibodies. T-cell immunity was even present in people who were exposed to infected family members but never developed symptoms. A group of U.K. scientists in September pointed out that the medical community may be under-appreciating the prevalence of immunity from activated T-cells.

Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. would also suggest much broader immunity than recognized. About 1 in 600 Americans has died of Covid-19, which translates to a population fatality rate of about 0.15%. The Covid-19 infection fatality rate is about 0.23%. These numbers indicate that roughly two-thirds of the U.S. population has had the infection.

In my own conversations with medical experts, I have noticed that they too often dismiss natural immunity, arguing that we don’t have data. The data certainly doesn’t fit the classic randomized-controlled-trial model of the old-guard medical establishment. There’s no control group. But the observational data is compelling.

I have argued for months that we could save more American lives if those with prior Covid-19 infection forgo vaccines until all vulnerable seniors get their first dose. Several studies demonstrate that natural immunity should protect those who had Covid-19 until more vaccines are available. Half my friends in the medical community told me: Good idea. The other half said there isn’t enough data on natural immunity, despite the fact that reinfections have occurred in less than 1% of people—and when they do occur, the cases are mild.

But the consistent and rapid decline in daily cases since Jan. 8 can be explained only by natural immunity. Behavior didn’t suddenly improve over the holidays; Americans travelled more over Christmas than they had since March. Vaccines also don’t explain the steep decline in January. Vaccination rates were low and they take weeks to kick in.

My prediction that Covid-19 will be mostly gone by April is based on laboratory data, mathematical data, published literature and conversations with experts. But it’s also based on direct observation of how hard testing has been to get, especially for the poor. If you live in a wealthy community where worried people are vigilant about getting tested, you might think that most infections are captured by testing. But if you have seen the many barriers to testing for low-income Americans, you might think that very few infections have been captured at testing centres. Keep in mind that most infections are asymptomatic, which still triggers natural immunity.

Many experts, along with politicians and journalists, are afraid to talk about herd immunity. The term has political overtones because some suggested the U.S. simply let Covid rip to achieve herd immunity. That was a reckless idea. But herd immunity is the inevitable result of viral spread and vaccination. When the chain of virus transmission has been broken in multiple places, it’s harder for it to spread—and that includes the new strains.

Herd immunity has been well-documented in the Brazilian city of Manaus, where researchers in the Lancet reported the prevalence of prior Covid-19 infection to be 76%, resulting in a significant slowing of the infection. Doctors are watching a new strain that threatens to evade prior immunity. But countries where new variants have emerged, such as the U.K., South Africa and Brazil, are also seeing significant declines in daily new cases. The risk of new variants mutating around the prior vaccinated or natural immunity should be a reminder that Covid-19 will persist for decades after the pandemic is over. It should also instill a sense of urgency to develop, authorize and administer a vaccine targeted to new variants.

Some medical experts privately agreed with my prediction that there may be very little Covid-19 by April but suggested that I not to talk publicly about herd immunity because people might become complacent and fail to take precautions or might decline the vaccine. But scientists shouldn’t try to manipulate the public by hiding the truth. As we encourage everyone to get a vaccine, we also need to reopen schools and society to limit the damage of closures and prolonged isolation. Contingency planning for an open economy by April can deliver hope to those in despair and to those who have made large personal sacrifices.

Dr. Makary is a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health, chief medical adviser to Sesame Care, and author of “The Price We Pay.”

Is Your QSR at Risk With Employment Compliance?

Compliance Analytics is your simple solution!

A proactive and preventative risk management approach is key to avoiding damaging issues for the entire network.

Compliance analytics quickly highlights anomalies and “de-risks” any potential liabilities.

Currently, employment compliance is in the spotlight, particularly within the QSR industry. Breaches have seen many a brand’s credibility very publicly come under scrutiny. Non-compliance, by even one franchisee, can affect the reputation and income of every franchisee in the network.

You are probably well aware that the Franchise industry is proving to be particularly at risk when it comes to employment compliance issues such as underpayment of staff. Under the new Bill, franchisors may be liable if their franchisee breaches workplace laws, even if they are not directly involved in the breach. Part of the responsibility of a franchisor is to ensure their franchisees are well equipped to adhere to workplace laws, specifically when hiring and dealing with employees. Best practice at the moment in employment compliance monitoring within the franchise industry is far from ideal and is not preventative:

Typical Franchisor Employment Compliance Review


Automated Compliance Analytics

For many organisations, legal resources can be limited. Reviewing hundreds of (franchisees) employment compliances with varying degrees of priority can be hit and miss and very expensive. Under this structure franchisees wanting to beat the system can still potentially manipulate their financials to comply with once-off audits.

To minimise risk and reduce the costly burden of the current system of auditing, franchisors need to be able to understand new regulations or changes to current regulations, and typically respond to them within a specific period of time. Better insight into employment compliance laws is crucial to maintain regulatory compliance and can reduce the pain of an audit process.

In response to these growing issues within the franchise industry, employment compliance analytics solutions have been developed to apply data gathering applications to satisfy current legal requirements and improve across-the-organisation employment compliance.

Along with up to date application of legal obligations**, employment compliance analytics solutions are designed to analyse a large volume of employment compliances quickly and accurately. With Resurg’s ClearView you will discover issues earlier, limit potential exposure and ensure that you stay on top of obligations. Our system enables you to collect and connect all of your employment compliance data in one place for real-time predictive analytics of employment compliance. The system will flag the franchisees that need auditing, saving time and money on lengthy audit processes.

ClearView will help turn your employment compliance practices from reactive to proactive. Our preventative early warning system detects potential problems and by doing so reduces your risk. ClearView will ensure that any required audits are being directed to the at-risk stores, minimising the time and resources usually required in this area of your business. Ongoing real-time analytics from multiple data sources makes it very difficult for franchisees to evade the audit system through standard records manipulation.

Our customised operational analytics use your data to benchmark and compare results across the network, quickly highlighting anomalies and “de-risk” any potential liabilities.

Ultimately, ClearView will grant you peace of mind and allow you to put your focus and resources toward positively building your franchise operation.

**Resurg partner with employment relations specialists ER Strategies, who provide tailored support and advice for the franchise sector.

Schedule a free consultation with our team to reduce your employment compliance risk

The Benefits of Recognising Your Team Success & The 3 Rules of Celebration

Have you, as a team, raised a glass to last month’s successful efforts? Don’t forget to celebrate you and your team’s success for the sake of improvement in team spirit and performance. There are several reasons why you should be recognizing team success if you aren’t doing so already. But first things first, what is success? Have you, as a team, raised a glass to last month’s successful efforts? Don’t forget to celebrate you and your team’s success for the sake of improvement in team spirit and performance. There are several reasons why you should be recognizing team success if you aren’t doing so already. But first things first, what is success?

How do you define success for you and your team? Is success making $50,000 in revenue in the previous month? Or is it a 60% year-on-year growth in terms of sales? Or is it winning an industry award? These benchmarks could be identifiers of success, however, success does not always have to be something that involves money or a long-term effort.

You should celebrate success whenever you achieve a goal. Short term objectives count. Personal efforts also count when the achievement contributes to the team’s common goals. Basically, everything that gets done and contributes to the mission of the team, is a team success.

For example, one of your customer support staffers goes an extra mile to satisfy a client. The client leaves a positive feedback regarding her service. You should definitely acknowledge her efforts and at the same time, you should encourage her to share her story with the rest of the team. Success sharing and celebration are both important. Both are extremely beneficial for team performance and should not be taken lightly.

Why should teammates share success stories?

Success stories can be very helpful. They are the practical tips others can adapt in order to solve similar problems. For example, a member of your customer support team gains an exceptionally high level of customer satisfaction because she works out an ideal flow to deal with inquiries and follow up with customers. Others can learn from such a workflow. Encourage her to share the best practices to benefit the whole team’s performance.

Besides, success stories are a great source of inspiration for others to excel. Think about why you read biographies of successful people in various fields from politics to arts. Not all the tips you come across are applicable to your personal and professional life, however, you are inspired by their strong will to excel at what they do and their passion to make a difference. Such aspiration is likely to affect you more if it comes from people you know and whose work you value.

Sharing stories helps strengthen your team as they become more and more familiar with one another. For example, your manager knows which skills your sales agent excels at and what inspires her. She will find out the best way to work with her in the future. As an owner/manager, you will also find it much nicer to supervise a close-knit team.

Why should everyone recognize everyone else’s success?

Recognizing success is very powerful. Peer recognition brings fulfilment because it reinforces the meaning of one’s hard work. When you show your respect to one’s achievement, you are likely to boost his or her self-esteem, which is the second highest need of a person according to Maslow’s hierarchy.

Moreover, a manager can motivate an employee a great deal by showing gratitude and appreciation towards his or her accomplishments. This motivation will make it more likely for the employee to work harder and be inspired to contribute more and more to the team. Mutual respect creates a stronger relationship between team members and increases the level of loyalty.Recognizing both individual and team achievement helps build a sense of solidarity and identity for the whole team.

How to share and celebrate success

The story

Sharing success is like telling a story. You want to tell a good story that has an impact. You want to help and inspire people to achieve their own goals. Here are some tips for a good story.

Focus on useful content 

You want your audience to take home practical tips. Think of the exact step-by-step process that you have taken to achieve a goal. Share these steps as a tool to solve a similar problem.

Be inspirational and authentic.

You want to inspire your audience to gain something for themselves. Think back to the obstacles, especially mental blocks, and how you overcame them. A story that talks to one’s feelings tends to have a stronger impact in the process of being remembered.

The celebration

As manager, you should take time to celebrate employee achievement. Show them that you do not take their hard work for granted. Besides, it is helpful to create an environment where teammates can easily recognize and celebrate each other’s success. Here are some tips for you, as manager, to make a positive impact with recognizing employee achievement.

Do it soon  

One rule for recognition is the earlier, the better. As a manager, you should always know what is going on in your team. If your employees do something great, you should be the first to notice and congratulate them. Give them a handshake or high five as soon as you can. An official congratulations or a bonus can come later, but there is no reason why you should wait to say thanks to an employee for his or her hard work.

Make it public

A public recognition is much more impactful than a private one. You don’t have to put up a stage with flowers and stereo sound system every time, but a compliment in public is far better at boosting one’s esteem than one sent via an email or even 1-on-1. A celebration only feels like a real one with a crowd. That is why we gather for fireworks to celebrate a new year or a national holiday. As manager, you could hold weekly meetings (e.g.15 minutes of heroism) to make success acknowledgement official and public.

Add a bonus or a token gift 

A high-five or a handwritten thank-you note is great but more is in order in many cases. Rewards and hard work often go together. Depending on the level of achievement, a certain form of reward is due.

Rewarding your employees is important, but you should learn to do it appropriately and perhaps in a creative and authentic way.

Rewards can come in all shapes and sizes, and can involve cash or non-monetary rewards. Traditional rewards often include a monetary bonus or a pay raise. Inarguably, most would be happy and motivated with a bigger pay check, however, there are rewards that can be just as effective that will cost the company far less. To name a few ideas:

• A day-off pass to use for extra time off or flexible hours
• A nice, long lunch to celebrate the achievement together
• A voucher from a fine restaurant in town
• A massage gift card
• A one year Spotify subscription

Do you have some good ideas? The key is to link a reward to the employee and his or her accomplishment. For example, a junior salesperson reaches a milestone of the first $10,000. A pen holder made out of the number 10,000 to be put on his desk would be a nice gift because it will remind him of his achievement every day. Go an extra mile to find out what your employees like, what their hobbies are, and what they are passionate about. For example, if an employee likes reading, a book signed by his or her favourite author could make a great gift. Personalizing rewards shows that you not only care, but will go the extra mile to make sure your employees feel recognized.

In brief

Building a great team is a challenging job. You should take pride in your team’s success by taking the time and effort to celebrate it. Whenever you achieve a goal, acknowledge your appreciation in a timely and public manner. In addition, don’t forget to give a reward or a token gift. Recognize employee achievement and you will reap the rewards from their motivation and loyalty.



The Golden Rules of Goalsetting

Five Rules to Set Yourself Up for Success

Have you thought about what you want to be doing in five years’ time? Are you clear about what your main objective at work is at the moment? Do you know what you want to have achieved by the end of today?

If you want to succeed, you need to set goals. Without goals you lack focus and direction. Goal setting not only allows you to take control of your life’s direction; it also provides you a benchmark for determining whether you are actually succeeding. Think about it: having a million dollars in the bank is only proof of success if one of your goals is to amass riches. If your goal is to practice acts of charity, then keeping the money for yourself is suddenly contrary to how you would define success.

To accomplish your goals, however, you need to know how to set them. You can’t simply say, “I want” and expect it to happen. Goal setting is a process that starts with careful consideration of what you want to achieve, and ends with a lot of hard work to actually do it. In between, there are some very well-defined steps that transcend the specifics of each goal. Knowing these steps will allow you to formulate goals that you can accomplish.

Learn five techniques for setting effective goals.

The Five Golden Rules

1. Set Goals That Motivate You

When you set goals for yourself, it is important that they motivate you: this means making sure that they are important to you, and that there is value in achieving them. If you have little interest in the outcome, or they are irrelevant given the larger picture, then the chances of you putting in the work to make them happen are slim. Motivation is key to achieving goals. Set goals that relate to the high priorities in your life. Without this type of focus, you can end up with far too many goals, leaving you too little time to devote to each one. Goal achievement requires commitment, so to maximize the likelihood of success, you need to feel a sense of urgency and have an “I must do this” attitude. When you don’t have this, you risk putting off what you need to do to make the goal a reality. This in turn leaves you feeling disappointed and frustrated with yourself, both of which are de-motivating. And you can end up in a very destructive “I can’t do anything or be successful at anything” frame of mind.

Tip: To make sure that your goal is motivating, write down why it’s valuable and important to you. Ask yourself, “If I were to share my goal with others, what would I tell them to convince them it was a worthwhile goal?” You can use this motivating value statement to help you if you start to doubt yourself or lose confidence in your ability to actually make the goal happen.

2. Set SMART Goals

You have probably heard of SMART goals already. But do you always apply the rule? The simple fact is that for goals to be powerful, they should be designed to be SMART. There are many variations of what SMART stands for, but the essence is this – goals should be: Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant. Time Bound.

Set Specific Goals

Your goal must be clear and well defined. Vague or generalized goals are unhelpful because they don’t provide sufficient direction. Remember, you need goals to show you the way. Make it as easy as you can to get where you want to go by defining precisely where you want to end up.

Set Measurable Goals

Include precise amounts, dates, and so on in your goals so you can measure your degree of success. If your goal is simply defined as “To reduce expenses” how will you know when you have been successful? In one month’s time if you have a 1 percent reduction or in two years’ time when you have a 10 percent reduction? Without a way to measure your success you miss out on the celebration that comes with knowing you have actually achieved something.

Set Attainable Goals

Make sure that it’s possible to achieve the goals you set. If you set a goal that you have no hope of achieving, you will only demoralize yourself and erode your confidence. However, resist the urge to set goals that are too easy. Accomplishing a goal that you didn’t have to work hard for can be anticlimactic at best, and can also make you fear setting future goals that carry a risk of non-achievement. By setting realistic yet challenging goals, you hit the balance you need. These are the types of goals that require you to “raise the bar” and they bring the greatest personal satisfaction.

Set Relevant Goals

Goals should be relevant to the direction you want your life and career to take. By keeping goals aligned with this, you’ll develop the focus you need to get ahead and do what you want. Set widely scattered and inconsistent goals, and you’ll fritter your time – and your life – away.

Set Time-Bound Goals

Your goals must have a deadline. Again, this means that you know when you can celebrate success. When you are working on a deadline, your sense of urgency increases and achievement will come that much quicker.

3. Set Goals in Writing

The physical act of writing down a goal makes it real and tangible. You have no excuse for forgetting about it. As you write, use the word “will” instead of “would like to” or “might.” For example, “I will reduce my operating expenses by 10 percent this year,” not “I would like to reduce my operating expenses by 10 percent this year.” The first goal statement has power and you can “see” yourself reducing expenses, the second lacks passion and gives you an excuse if you get sidetracked.

Tip 1: Frame your goal statement positively. If you want to improve your retention rates say, “I will hold on to all existing employees for the next quarter” rather than “I will reduce employee turnover.” The first one is motivating; the second one still has a get-out clause “allowing” you to succeed even if some employees leave.

Tip 2: If you use a To-Do List , make yourself a To-Do List template that has your goals at the top of it. If you use an Action Program , then your goals should be at the top of your Project Catalog.

Post your goals in visible places to remind yourself every day of what it is you intend to do. Put them on your walls, desk, computer monitor, bathroom mirror or refrigerator as a constant reminder.

4. Make an Action Plan

This step is often missed in the process of goal setting. You get so focused on the outcome that you forget to plan all of the steps that are needed along the way. By writing out the individual steps, and then crossing each one off as you complete it, you’ll realize that you are making progress towards your ultimate goal. This is especially important if your goal is big and demanding, or long-term. Read our article on Action Plans for more on how to do this.

5. Stick With It!

Remember, goal setting is an ongoing activity, not just a means to an end. Build in reminders to keep yourself on track, and make regular time-slots available to review your goals. Your end destination may remain quite similar over the long term, but the action plan you set for yourself along the way can change significantly. Make sure the relevance, value, and necessity remain high.

Key Points

Goal setting is much more than simply saying you want something to happen. Unless you clearly define exactly what you want and understand why you want it the first place, your odds of success are considerably reduced. By following the Five Golden Rules of Goal Setting you can set goals with confidence and enjoy the satisfaction that comes along with knowing you achieved what you set out to do. So, what will you decide to accomplish today?


6 Things Great Innovators Do Differently

Take a look at any successful enterprise and you’ll find innovation at its core. That was just as true a hundred years ago when Henry Ford perfected the assembly line as it is today, when modern day giants like Elon Musk bring cutting edge technology to market. Innovation, as I’ve written before, is how people come up with novel solutions to important problems.

Take a look at any successful enterprise and you’ll find innovation at its core. That was just as true a hundred years ago when Henry Ford perfected the assembly line as it is today when modern day giants like Elon Musk bring cutting edge technology to market. Innovation, as I’ve written before, is how people come up with novel solutions to important problems.

The tricky part is that every organization faces different types of challenges. Some, like Intel, focus on improving old technologies, while others, like MD Anderson Cancer Center, strive to make fundamental new discoveries. There are also those that innovate business models, marketing campaigns and many other things.

That’s why there is no “one true path” to innovation. There are, in fact, as many ways to innovate as there are types of problems to solve. However, in researching my upcoming book, Mapping Innovation, I noticed that there were universal traits across every organization I looked at. From corporate giants to startups to world-class labs, here are the 6 things they had in common.

1. Seek Out Problems

Most people think that innovation starts out with a great idea, but the truth is that it starts with a great problem. Whether it’s Steve Jobs looking for product categories that “suck,” or scientists exploring the fundamental nature of the universe, every innovation starts out as a tough problem that needs to solved.

One thing I noticed about the innovators I researched is that they didn’t just wait for good problems, but they actively went searching for them. Jim Allison, who developed cancer immunotherapy, told me he just liked “figuring things out,” while Charlie Bennett’s interest in finding computation in the natural world helped lead to quantum computing.

I found the same thing when I looked at organizations that are able to innovate consistently. IBM Research has, throughout its history, set up “grand challenges” and searched for unresolved problems in the marketplace. Experian has set up a special unit, called DataLabs, to seek out and solve its customers’ problems. Google’s long-held practice of “20% time” is essentially a human-powered search engine for problems.

So hiring smart people and encouraging creativity are not enough. if you want to make your organization more innovative, the best thing you can do is to think seriously about how you search for problems.

2. Choose Problems That Suit Your Capabilities, Strategy And Culture

After World War II, groups of natives in the South Pacific called cargo cults, built makeshift airstrips complete with antennas protruding out of coconut helmets, improvised headphones and guys waving sticks to signal airplanes in the hopes that valuable cargo would drop from the sky. They had seen soldiers employ similar tactics and were following suit.

Of course, it never worked. Indeed, it seems more than a little bit silly. Simply setting up an airstrip is not what causes cargo planes to fly across the world to a particular location. Anyone who would believe such a thing is missing some very basic principles of how air travel functions. It is patently absurd. Yet modern managers find it completely sensible to try to learn the one thing that can make you innovate like Steve Jobs or the 5 habits that made Elon Musk an innovator. Much like cargo cults, they believe that simply emulating the same tactics will yield the same results, regardless of context. Perhaps not surprisingly, they don’t fare much better than the islanders.

The truth is that your innovation strategies need to suit your capabilities, strategy and culture. Just because something worked for someone else doesn’t mean it will work in your organization. You need to build your own innovation playbook.

3. Identify The Innovation Strategies Most Likely To Solve The Problems You Face

Too often, we treat innovation as a monolith, as if every problem was the same, but that’s clearly not the case. In laboratories and factory floors, universities and coffee shops, or even over a beer after work, people are sussing out better ways to do things. There is no monopoly on creative thought. But that leads us to a problem: How should we go about innovation? Should we hand it over to the guys with white lab coats? An external partner? A specialist in the field? Crowdsource it? What we need is a clear framework for making decisions.

As I wrote in Harvard Business Review, the best way to start is by asking the right questions:
(1) How well is the problem defined? and
(2) How well is the domain defined? Once you’ve asked those framing questions, you can start defining a sensible way to approach the problem using the Innovation Matrix.

Show me any successful innovator and I can show you another that is just as successful and does things very differently. The key to innovating effectively is not the objective merits of any particular strategy, but whether that strategy addresses the problem you are trying to solve.

4. Leverage Platforms To Access Ecosystems Of Talent, Technology and Information

Traditionally, strategy was largely seen as a game of chess in which managers sought to optimize their value chain, maximize bargaining power with buyers and suppliers and minimize threats from new market entrants and substitute goods. Yet today, the nature of power has changed and advantage is not determined by what assets you control, but what you can access. That’s why today, firms must leverage platforms to access ecosystems of talent, technology and information. Even the internal capabilities of the largest corporate giants pale in comparison to those which can be found outside the boundaries of an organization. As Bill Joy, put it, “no matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.”To understand how this is playing out, consider the case of Microsoft and Linux. Back in 2001, CEO Steve Ballmer saw Linux and other open source technologies as a serious threat to its business and went so far as to call Linux a cancer. Yet today, Microsoft not only actively participates in open source communities, it’s even learned to love Linux. Why the change of heart? It realized, as have many other tech giants, that while it’s difficult to compete with an ecosystem of tens of thousands of developers, you can make a great business by accessing their talents and building on top of their work.

5. Build A Collaborative Culture

Many thought that the digital age would lead to a more solitary existence. With so much you can access through your computer screen, why would you need to go to an office? In fact, just the opposite has happened. While remote work has become a reality, it’s much harder to go it alone than it used to be. In fact, collaboration has become a competitive advantage. To understand why, let’s look at scientists, who probably have the greatest potential to work alone. Yet they are increasingly choosing to work in teams and those teams vastly outperform solo performers. The journal Nature recently noted that the average scientific paper today has four times as many authors as one did in 1950.

Collaboration was also something I repeatedly came across in my research for the book. Not only was the point continually stressed by almost everybody I talked to, I also noticed that in response to my fact checks my sources invariably pushed me to give more credit to others and less to themselves. As MIT’s Sandy Pentland has put it, “We teach people that everything that matters happens between your ears, when in fact it actually happens between people.”

6. Understand That Innovation Is A Messy Business

When we think of innovation, we often conjure up visions of Steve Jobs wowing the crowds at Macworld, but the truth is that innovation is a messy business. Part of the problem is that we mostly see successes, while failures often go unnoticed or are swept under the carpet. We get taken in by myths and gloss over the realities. Consider the case of Alexander Fleming. Many know the story of how he “accidentally” discovered penicillin one day when a mould contaminated a petri dish in his lab. But few realize that his work lay dormant for over a decade until another team of scientists saw its potential and put in the years of work needed to engineer it into a miracle cure. That’s why so few organizations can innovate well.  It is such hard, heartbreaking work. It doesn’t lend itself to shortcuts or “silver bullet” solutions. Truly breakthrough innovations are never a single event, nor are they achieved by one person, or even within a single organization. Rather, they happen when ideas combine to solve important problems.

By Greg Satell


5 Tips for Small Business Stress Management

Every part of your business has the potential to stress you out and keep you up at night — lack of sales, too much debt, not enough money, issues with employees, problems with equipment and operations. Your brain will constantly be going. All your problems and thoughts will be whirling around, making you tired and anxious. The pressure of constantly finding ways to grow your bottom line in business builds up.

Owning a business is stressful, and you can’t really escape it. The sooner you learn small business stress management, the better. As a serial entrepreneur, I know a lot about small business owner anxiety and stress. Here are my five tips for combating small business owner stress.

1. Remember what’s going right.

As you’re building your business, it is easy to only focus on the things that are going wrong. You can become stressed when you’re looking at all the things that are behind schedule, underfunded or need to be fixed. You can improve your stress management in business by reminding yourself of the things that are going right. List out all your accomplishments and any small business milestones you’ve achieved. There are probably more than you realize. Don’t neglect even the smallest accomplishments. Put your list somewhere you can easily see it, such as on your desk or the wall. Whenever you feel stressed about all the things that are going wrong, look at your list. Take a moment to remember all the things that have gone right.

2. Rank your tasks.

One of the causes of stress in business is having so many things to work on that none of them get done. If you try to do a little bit of each task, you will complete few of them. Don’t try to do everything at once. Try to focus on one or a small number of tasks at a time. You need to prioritize your goals. Write down everything that you need to complete. Then, rank your tasks from greatest to least. The things you need to do first should be at the top of your list. As you work, focus on the most important tasks. Once you finish those, you can move down the list. You’re essentially creating an agenda for yourself. Now, some people might get stressed when they see the number of tasks they need to do. Try not to get overwhelmed by the length of your list. Focus on what you need to work on next.

3. Purge your brain.

As a business owner, there’s rarely a separation between work and home. You’ll constantly think about your business and the things you could be doing. Sometimes, you can’t stop thinking about your business. Your brain is on nonstop, even when you’re trying to sleep. When my brain won’t shut down, I write everything down that my mind is trying to process. I’ll write down my problem, possible solutions and miscellaneous notes. Sometimes writing everything out can take a while, but it’s worth it. After I write everything down, I can relax and sleep. My brain doesn’t have anything to process because I put all my thoughts in a safe place. I don’t have to worry about my business for a time because I know everything is waiting for me later, and I don’t have to worry about forgetting anything.

4. Take breaks.

This is probably the simplest piece of business owner stress management advice — take a break. If you’re constantly spinning your wheels, not getting anywhere, and stressing about the problem, taking a short break might be all you need. Stepping away from the stressor for even 10 minutes can refresh and calm you. Taking a break can even prevent burnout. When you take a break, do something that relaxes you. Go for a walk. Get some coffee. Call a friend. Watch a funny video. Don’t do anything business related. When you get back to your business, you will have a clearer mind. You will have fresh energy to tackle the task. And, stepping away might even open your eyes to a new and better way to complete the task.

5. Take care of yourself.

Good health is important when you’re an entrepreneur. Running a business takes a lot out of you. Your small business comes with long nights, early mornings, no weekends and no sick days. Your nonstop life puts strain on your body, and then you add stress on top of that. You need to take care of yourself. Don’t forget to do the simple things. Drink water throughout the day. Regularly eat. Get some sleep. Try to do some additional things, too. Go to a health food store and buy some natural supplements. Reduce your caffeine consumption. When you’re healthy, your body can better handle the stress. If you can, regularly exercise. While exercise will make you physically fit, it is also a great method of small business stress management. Through exercise, you can release your anxieties and frustrations. You can clear your mind and relax. Even a small amount of exercise can reduce your stress.

By Mike Kappel, CEO of Patriot Software Company CEO


How to Recruit Employees for Small Business

Tips to Get the Best Recruits for Your Small Business

How to recruit employees is always a top concern for any small business that needs them. Employees are always aging, changing careers, or becoming unable to continue in their positions for one reason or another. And now economists warn that future demographic trends will contribute to a shortage of high quality employees – and small business jobs will go begging. According to some experts, the labor force is shrinking, as more Baby Boomers are leaving the labor market and birth rates have been declining.

What’s a small business owner looking for top quality employees to do? Here are some tips for recruiting staff that will increase your chances of attracting (and retaining) the people you need.

How to Recruit Employees for Small Business

1. Find out what the going rate is for the position and match it.

One common mistake small businesses make when creating a position is to base the salary on their budget rather than the market realities. Doing so only makes it more difficult to recruit employees at all, let alone attract top quality ones. If the starting salary for a retail sales person in your area normally makes $10 an hour, why would someone want to accept your $8.75 an hour job?

2. Offer ​an employee benefit program.

Employees consider an employee benefit program a necessity, not a perk and positions that offer benefits will always trump those that have none. On top of that, if you’re going to attract high quality staff, your company needs to offer high quality benefits – and that means offering employees at least life, medical and dental coverage. If your small business does not have an employee benefits program, talk to your insurance company about setting one up. One of the advantages of belonging to business organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, is that they offer more inexpensive insurance including employee benefit programs, so check with the organizations you belong to first to see if you’re getting the best deal possible, so you can pass it on to your employees. (See also: Definition of Taxable Benefits in Canada and Employee Gifts as Tax Deductions in Canada.)

3. Make lifestyle part of your employee recruitment offer.

Many employees are just as concerned about the quality of life a position offers as they are about the amount of money it will bring in. If you’re fortunate enough to be located in an area with great skiing, beaches, extensive hiking/biking trails, excellent golf courses or other attractive features be sure to play them up when you’re trying to recruit employees. That being said, be sure to promote a really great work-life balance for all your employees. Doing so not only makes for a great work environment, but your employees will also want to come in to work when they’re allowed to have time off or don’t have to take work home with them. Another benefit: it increases productivity, while cutting down costs related to absenteeism and bad work behavior.

4. Emphasize the benefits your small business offers.

Make your company more attractive to potential employees by offering things such as flexible hours and work at home options. Among the more unusual benefits, some small businesses offer are being able to bring a pet to work, babysitting and childcare services, and allowing employees to power-nap during the day.

5. Be creative with perks.

As a small business, you may not be able to offer the perks large (corporate) companies are able to offer their employees, but you can offer a reasonable facsimile. For instance, many large companies offer on-site health facilities such as a fully-equipped gym. Chances are as a small business, you’re not going to be able to add one of these to your premises, but you could offer employees coupons to use local gym or spa facilities. Some businesses also offer discounts to employees of neighboring establishments. Chat up your neighbors, suppliers and distributors to see how you can take advantage of discount programs for your employees. Not only will you be injecting money back into your local economy, you’ll also be helping out other small businesses in the area. And your employees will likely appreciate saving a few extra bucks. (Read more about the Affordable Perks Your Small Business Can Offer Employees.)

6. Offer employees some way to move upwards.

Most employees aren’t looking for jobs where they’ll do the same thing for the next thirty years. They’re looking for positions that offer opportunities for advancement. What will the position you’re offering promise a new employee? The chance to develop new skills? A stepping stone to a position with more responsibilities? More money after a certain amount of time on the job? Whatever it is, be sure to get the future possibilities on the table when you’re trying to recruit someone.

7. Create an employee incentive program.

Employee incentive programs not only reward good employee performance, but give prospective employees something to look forward to if they come work for you. Whether it’s an annual company-paid retreat or a program where employees collect points that they can trade in for cash, employee incentive programs can increase your chances of attracting the people you want to hire.

8. Institute a profit sharing program.

There’s no better way to give employees a stake in a company’s success. For businesses that look like they’re going somewhere, profit sharing programs can be a powerful inducement to people to come work for you instead of for someone else. While it may not for every business, you may still be able to find ways to help your employees take part in the business’s profit – and feel like a valuable part of the team. After all, your employees are part of your business’s success, so why not share it with them? Something you’ll want to consider before you try to establish a program is who will set it up, you or someone else? Once you know that, you should draft a plan, set up a trust, establish a record-keeping system and make sure you have a written plan you can offer employees. The National Federation of Independent Business has an outline of setting up profit sharing for small businesses which may be in the form of regular bonuses. Be sure to check with a lawyer or expert to see if there’s a way to start.

9. Sweeten the pot.

When competition for employees is fierce, a plain old signing bonus may be what’s needed to recruit the high quality employee you want and keep them from joining the competition. If you choose to do this, keep in mind two important things in mind. The signing bonus has to be large enough to matter and the signing bonus has to be contingent upon a certain length of employment. Otherwise, you’ll be running a revolving door as people sign up, take the money and run.

10. Widen the scope of your advertising.

It’s not enough to place an ad in your local newspaper anymore. Your chances of attracting the employees you want will be much better if you broaden your advertising. For examples, place ads on job websites and college/university campus boards. Advertise in other towns or cities. Go onto social media and advertise on Facebook and Twitter. (See 7 Easier Ways to Find Employees for more ideas on spreading the word about your employee search and hiring tips.) And if you have other employees, don’t forget to get them involved in the employee recruitment hunt. For example, you can offer signing bonuses to those who successfully refer a new employee.

Make Yours the Offer They Can’t Refuse

There are qualified people who can do what you need done – you just need to attract them to the positions your small business is offering. Developing an employee recruitment policy based on the tips above will give you a better chance to recruit the high quality employees you’re looking for.


Why You Should Make Time for Self-Reflection (Even If You Hate Doing It)

When people find out I’m an executive coach, they often ask who my toughest clients are. Inexperienced leaders? Senior leaders who think they know everything? Leaders who bully and belittle others? Leaders who shirk responsibility?When people find out I’m an executive coach, they often ask who my toughest clients are. Inexperienced leaders? Senior leaders who think they know everything? Leaders who bully and belittle others? Leaders who shirk responsibility?

The answer is none of the above. The hardest leaders to coach are those who won’t reflect — particularly leaders who won’t reflect on themselves.

At its simplest, reflection is about careful thought. But the kind of reflection that is really valuable to leaders is more nuanced than that. The most useful reflection involves the conscious consideration and analysis of beliefs and actions for the purpose of learning. Reflection gives the brain an opportunity to pause amidst the chaos, untangle and sort through observations and experiences, consider multiple possible interpretations, and create meaning. This meaning becomes learning, which can then inform future mindsets and actions. For leaders, this “meaning making” is crucial to their ongoing growth and development.

Research by Giada Di Stefano, Francesca Gino, Gary Pisano, and Bradley Staats in call centers demonstrated that employees who spent 15 minutes at the end of the day reflecting about lessons learned performed 23% better after 10 days than those who did not reflect. A study of UK commuters found a similar result when those who were prompted to use their commute to think about and plan for their day were happier, more productive, and less burned out than people who didn’t.

So, if reflection is so helpful, why don’t many leaders do it?  Leaders often:

Don’t understand the process.  Many leaders don’t know how to reflect. One executive I work with, Ken, shared recently that he had yet again not met his commitment to spend an hour on Sunday mornings reflecting. To help him get over this barrier, I suggested he take the next 30 minutes of our two-hour session and just quietly reflect and then we’d debrief it. After five minutes of silence, he said, “I guess I don’t really know what you want me to do. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been doing it.”

Don’t like the process. Reflection requires leaders to do a number of things they typically don’t like to do: slow down, adopt a mindset of not knowing and curiosity, tolerate messiness and inefficiency, and take personal responsibility. The process can lead to valuable insights and even breakthroughs — and it can also lead to feelings of discomfort, vulnerability, defensiveness, and irritation.

Don’t like the results. When a leader takes time to reflect, she typically sees ways she was effective as well as things she could have done better. Most leaders quickly dismiss the noted strengths and dislike the noted weaknesses. Some become so defensive in the process that they don’t learn anything, so the results are not helpful.

Have a bias towards action. Like soccer goalies, many leaders have a bias toward action. A study of professional soccer goalies defending penalty kicks found that goalies who stay in the center of the goal, instead of lunging left or right, have a 33% chance of stopping the goal, and yet these goalies only stay in the center 6% of the time. The goalies just feel better when they “do something.”  The same is true of many leaders. Reflection can feel like staying in the center of the goal and missing the action.

Can’t see a good ROI.  From early roles, leaders are taught to invest where they can generate a positive ROI — results that indicate the contribution of time, talent or money paid off.  Sometimes it’s hard to see an immediate ROI on reflection — particularly when compared with other uses of a leader’s time.If you have found yourself making these same excuses, you can become more reflective by practicing a few simple steps.

Identify some important questions. But don’t answer them yet. Here are some possibilities:

• What are you avoiding?

• How are you helping your colleagues achieve their goals?

• How are you not helping or even hindering their progress?

• How might you be contributing to your least enjoyable relationship at work?

• How could you have been more effective in a recent meeting?

Select a reflection process that matches your preferences.  Many people reflect through writing in a journal.  If that sounds terrible but talking with a colleague sounds better, consider that.  As long as you’re reflecting and not just chatting about the latest sporting event or complaining about a colleague, your approach is up to you.  You can sit, walk, bike, or stand, alone or with a partner, writing, talking, or thinking.

Schedule time.  Most leaders are driven by their calendars. So, schedule your reflection time and then commit to keep it. And if you find yourself trying to skip it or avoid it, reflect on that!

Start small.  If an hour of reflection seems like too much, try 10 minutes.  Teresa Amabile and her colleagues found that the most significant driver of positive emotions and motivation at work was making progress on the tasks at hand. Set yourself up to make progress, even if it feels small.

Do it. Go back to your list of questions and explore them. Be still. Think. Consider multiple perspectives. Look at the opposite of what you initially believe. Brainstorm. You don’t have to like or agree with all of your thoughts — just think and to examine your thinking.

Ask for help. For most leaders, a lack of desire, time, experience, or skill can get in the way of reflection.  Consider working with a colleague, therapist, or coach to help you make the time, listen carefully, be a thought partner, and hold you accountable.Despite the challenges to reflection, the impact is clear. As Peter Drucker said: “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection, will come even more effective action.”

By Jennifer Porter