Dr Lindsay McMillan OAM FAICD interview on ABC News

Dr Lindsay McMillan OAM FAICD interview on ABC News

It was a great privilege to be interviewed by Gemma Veness on ABC News last night! We discussed a future that works’ latest landmark report, “Workplace Loneliness”. This report is first-of-its-kind in Australia.

Our report reveals that 40% of Australians feel lonely at work and this is causing significant detriment to workplace productivity and personal wellbeing. We have also crafted and included in the report practical solutions for Australian workplaces to reduce and end loneliness. You can read the report here: http://www.afuturethatworks.org.au/reports.

In launching our report, I want to hear from and showcase Australian workplaces who are doing terrific work to address this growing workplace epidemic.

What is your workplace doing to address workplace loneliness? What initiatives have worked for your workplace? What improvements have you seen in your workplace culture? What challenges has your workplace experienced along the way?

Get in touch with me and I look forward to sharing my research with you and finding out more about your workplace.

The best executive teams include HR leaders

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The most successful organisations recognise and value the contribution HR leaders make as part of the executive team. In response, HR leaders and managers need to step up their game to retain a seat at the executive table.

In a future that works’ recent research, Best in Class, I interviewed people leaders from some of Australia’s leading organisations. We discussed the transforming role of HR leaders.

The people leaders I interviewed spoke about how they are expected to be more ‘people’ focused and deliver a higher level of technical expertise and support to the organisation. In doing so, they find themselves a seat at the executive table and their visibility and recognition in the organisation has increased exponentially.

PepsiCo Senior Director of HR, Shiona Watson, discussed how she talks with business leaders, customers, external networks and the organisation’s people to keep up to date with information. Specifically, she takes the time to speak with new starters as she believes there is a “window of six months” in which new starters will be most honest about their experiences. This emphasis on listening and intelligence gathering is something many people leaders discussed with me and is one of the main ways they find they can add value to the organisation.

In modern workplaces, people leaders need to demonstrate strong leadership traits and a commitment to continuous improvement.

Some of the insights I gathered from the leaders from their Best in Class organisations included an emphasis on learning and developing in the role, while simultaneously developing others.

Mercy Health’s Group Executive Director – People, Learning and Culture, Kate McCormack, advised people leaders, “You need to stand up for what you think is right for the business. Sometimes that doesn’t make you a popular people leader and at times that can be really hard, so resilience is really important.”

AECOM’s Chief Executive, Todd Battley, appreciates the value in continuous learning in order to demonstrate the value people leaders bring to their organisations. In Todd’s experience, he has realised that effective leaders now and in the future need to maintain a learning mindset. “You haven’t made it yet, you have to stay relevant,” Todd offered as advice to other people leaders.

But it is not just about people leaders taking the initiative to get out into the business, to retain a seat at the executive table. Workplaces also need to enable and empower HR practitioners to understand the value they can add to the organisation, and to apply it.  

How do HR leaders and managers add value to your organisation?

Sign up to a future that works to read the full Best in Class report for more examples of how HR leaders and managers add value to their outstanding organisations in Australia.

Transforming people who work with people

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The way people are recruited, managed and organised is shifting dramatically. Workplaces throughout Australia are experiencing a massive transformation, which has implications for how they search for talent.

In a future that works’ recent research, Best in Class, I interviewed with people leaders from some of Australia’s most outstanding organisations. I discussed with these leaders the speed of change in their workplaces and how they are responding and transforming their people.

In each of my interviews, leaders commented on how change is the new normal and, in many situations, human resources leaders are now leading in very distinct ways to the past.

Our research, Renewing Australian Workplaces (2017) found that there are seven key forces for change in the workplace:

·       Technology

·       Knowledge and specialised workers

·       Increased competition

·       Economic imperatives taking precent over relationships or even individual health

·       The key stakeholder has become the shareholder

·       The physical workspace

·       Employers’ obsessions with greater productivity and results.

These insights were reflected in my interviews with the people leaders at Best in Class organisations.

The transformation we are seeing in our workplaces is extending to the search for talent, which is becoming increasingly complex and diverse, with a strong global focus. Modern challenges organisations’ talent attraction and retention efforts generally centre around digital technology and modern employee requirements, such as flexibility and a need to instantly feel aligned to their organisation’s values.

PwC Partner and Chief People Officer, Dorothy Hisgrove, told me that PwC measures all areas of engagement. Not only does PwC measure turnover and composition of the workforce, but it also segments data to identify any variability in areas such as disproportionate pay based on gender or exits from the organisation.

Mercy Health’s Group Executive Director – People Learning and Culture, Kate McCormack, told me that in its efforts to attract the best talent, Mercy Health has transformed its traditional recruitment and performance management models. It has reduced its position descriptions to one page and eliminated performance reviews. Taking stakeholder involvement in the workforce to a new level, Mercy Health involves its Residential Aged Care residents in the recruitment and performance management of its Care Companions in their newly established Small Household Living site.

This transformation extends to how people learn how to lead. There is a significant shift in this space and Xero is responding to this.

Xero’s Chief Customer, People and Marketing Officer, Rachael Powell, told me that while Xero always ran a Managing at Xero program for new managers, it had identified it a content gap. The program did not support Executive and General Managers and above to create positive environments where people could do the best work of their lives. The organisation responded. It piloted a program with an organisational psychologist to assist in supporting the people experience function. The program brought together Xero’s senior leaders and gave them an opportunity to network, learn from each other, and equipped them to take their learnings back to their offices and embed these new concepts.

Best in Class organisations are modelling a new HR narrative that is contemporary and resourceful. Traditional recruitment and retention models are a thing of the past. Effective people leaders and HR teams need to adapt to Australia’s rapidly changing work landscape and implement initiatives that embrace, rather than defy, these changes.

What interesting or different recruitment and retention approaches have you implemented in your workplace?

Read the full Best in Class report for more examples of what leading organisations in Australia are doing to attract and retain the best people. 

 

Australia’s best workplaces are safe, healthy and enriching

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Modern Australian workplaces are both safe and healthy. They prioritise healthy eating, sleeping and psychological wellbeing. They not only promote work-life balance, but also focus on work-life harmony.

In a future that works’ most recent research, Best in Class, I met with people leaders from some of Australia’s leading organisations. We discussed their take on the direction and future of HR in Australia and globally. They all spoke about how their organisations know they need to continuously look for new ways to create safe and enriching places for their people to work. And they are walking the talk.

It is well understood that business outcomes are driven by employee wellbeing. But unfortunately, not all organisations are responding to this. Positively, the people leaders at Australia’s leading organisations are driving the focus on health and wellbeing.

Sleep is just one element of employee health and wellbeing, but it is a critical one. Our research, Workplace Wellbeing (2017), found that satisfied sleepers are more satisfied in all areas of their lives than dissatisfied sleepers.

One of Australia’s best in class organisations, PwC, know they need to maintain a tension point between technology and human interaction. Their Executive Team are role modelling the benefits of sleep and rest and the organisation is investing into raising awareness across the business about the dangers of sleep deprivation. Dorothy Hisgrove, in her capacity as PwC Partner and Chief People Officer, interprets metrics for attrition caused by burnout and over-utilisation.

I was also very pleased to discover that Arts Centre Melbourne takes wellness very seriously. Leanne Lawrence, Executive Director Human Resources, told me that the organisation led a wellbeing initiative in Australia. The pilot program, Arts Wellbeing Collective, promotes better mental health and wellbeing for performing arts workers across a consortium of more than 130 Victorian arts and cultural organisations. It has also developed a new program which considers what is a workplace and the requirements of a “well” workplace.

Modern workplaces are also proactively finding ways to create safe and enriching places to work. This comes in many forms for the people leaders at Australia’s best in class organisations, as they delve to a deeper, more human level when it comes to providing safe and secure working environments for their people.

Jetts Fitness has used Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to develop a strategy for its people and its members. Elaine Jobson, CEO, told me that the organisation believes safety and security is fundamental and that it is not only physical but also psychological. They ensure that what they do for their members, they do first for their people. Elaine told me there is a need for safety and security in a workplace and “understanding what creates human happiness and taking care of that in the work environment. We need to find meaningful happiness, not just fun”.

I discovered that workplace health is not only about healthy eating and sleeping. It goes deeper than this. It is also about psychological wellbeing which people can only achieve through work-life harmony.  My interviews with the people leaders from Best in Class organisations affirms that leading workplaces of the future are on the front foot of ensuring their people work in safe and enriching workplaces.

How do you create an enriching, safe and secure workplace for your people?

Read the full Best in Class report for more examples of what leading organisations in Australia are doing to prioritise employee holistic wellbeing.

Values lead, policies hinder

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Organisations are relying less on policies to guide their employees and focusing more on a values-centred approach, enabling people to be themselves and do their best work.

In a future that works’ latest research, Best in Class, I interviewed people leaders from some of Australia’s leading organisations and captured their insights and predictions. These leaders are focussing less attention on rigid policies and more on aligning values and behaviours. Essentially, they are focusing on emotional skills, not just technical skills.

Healthy and productive workplaces are inclusive, and prioritise people development, engagement and work/life satisfaction. Australia’s best in class organisations are proactively nurturing environments for their people to flourish and achieve their professional aspirations now and in the future. These leaders told me that this increases motivation in their workplaces and enables their people to do their best work.

PwC is prioritising values in their workplace by reinforcing purpose and meaning at work and putting people first. An annual check  assesses if the five values ring true in the behaviours demonstrated in the workplace.

Employment relationships are also shifting from being transactional to relational.

In the not-for-profit world, Starlight Children’s Foundation focuses on engagement with its 2,700 volunteers. The organisation runs workshops to tell its story to everyone involved with Starlight, and in doing so people now “own” all the results of the whole organisation and understand how they contribute.

Mercy Health takes a similar approach, with an induction day for new starters which explores the organisation’s founding story, spirituality, ethics and values.

Modern, leading workplaces are supporting their people to achieve their aspirations, through helping them understand how their contributions fit within the bigger picture.

Our earlier research into CEO Insights found that the moral compass of organisations extends beyond business practices and outputs, to culture and the way leaders treat their staff. Our best in class organisations and their people leaders understand this. They are bringing their purpose and values to life, ensuring both meaningful work for their people and organisational success.

I believe that emotional intelligence is now viewed as a higher value in work today and my interviews for Best in Class confirmed this.

How do you align your people with your organisation’s values? Check out the full Best in Class report for more examples of what outstanding organisations in Australia are doing to achieve values alignment in their workplaces. 

Design of work is changing

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People leaders must create an environment for their people to learn, succeed and flourish. But unfortunately, not all organisations and their leaders are keeping pace with the rapidly changing ways in which Australians work.

I interviewed people leaders from some of Australia’s best in class organisations and profiled these outstanding organisations in a future that works’ latest report, Best in Class. Through my interviews, it became apparent that best in class organisations recognise the design of work is changing and, in response, are designing high performing office spaces and enabling collaborative work to allow their people to flourish.

Our previous research, Delivering Purpose and Meaning also highlighted that the social context is vital for employees at work and workplace design can assist in developing a culture of creativity and collaboration.

One of our Best in Class workplaces, AECOM, is proactively embedding new learning in the workplace to enable its people to succeed. Rather than investing in stand-alone training programs, which are difficult to implement in day-to-day practice, AECOM equips its people with coaching qualifications to draw out the best value from training and development experiences, back in the office.

Best in class organisations are also thinking holistically about the workplace – it is not only about productivity and outputs, but the physical workspace and how teams work. Leaders enable people to work in teams, on projects and flexibly.

Cotton On Group offers “Empower Hours” where team members can complete their hours anytime between 7am and 7pm. It is also common to see Cotton On Group people’s children in the workplace, and the organisation has funded 1,600 holiday care places for children to make school holidays more manageable and affordable for their people.

People now expect workplaces to be flexible so they can cater to their family and outside-of-work commitments, this is no longer a perk it is the new norm.

I also learned that PwC enables its people to work in non-traditional ways. It advocates activity-based work planning and, notably, measures people not on the hours they are physically in the office but instead on their output. Employees can work in any place, on any device, which challenges notions about traditional full-time employment.

I concluded these interviews feeling inspired by how outstanding organisations are leading their people as humans, not “human resources”. This should be the direction and future of HR in Australia and these organisations are providing a way forward for other people leaders to emulate in their own organisations.

Which ideas would work in your workplace? Take a look at the full Best in Class report for more inspiration.People leaders must create an environment for their people to learn, succeed and flourish. But unfortunately, not all organisations and their leaders are keeping pace with the rapidly changing ways in which Australians work.

I interviewed people leaders from some of Australia’s best in class organisations and profiled these outstanding organisations in a future that works’ latest report, Best in Class. Through my interviews, it became apparent that best in class organisations recognise the design of work is changing and, in response, are designing high performing office spaces and enabling collaborative work to allow their people to flourish.

Our previous research, Delivering Purpose and Meaning also highlighted that the social context is vital for employees at work and workplace design can assist in developing a culture of creativity and collaboration.

One of our Best in Class workplaces, AECOM, is proactively embedding new learning in the workplace to enable its people to succeed. Rather than investing in stand-alone training programs, which are difficult to implement in day-to-day practice, AECOM equips its people with coaching qualifications to draw out the best value from training and development experiences, back in the office.

Best in class organisations are also thinking holistically about the workplace – it is not only about productivity and outputs, but the physical workspace and how teams work. Leaders enable people to work in teams, on projects and flexibly.

Cotton On Group offers “Empower Hours” where team members can complete their hours anytime between 7am and 7pm. It is also common to see Cotton On Group people’s children in the workplace, and the organisation has funded 1,600 holiday care places for children to make school holidays more manageable and affordable for their people.

People now expect workplaces to be flexible so they can cater to their family and outside-of-work commitments, this is no longer a perk it is the new norm.

I also learned that PwC enables its people to work in non-traditional ways. It advocates activity-based work planning and, notably, measures people not on the hours they are physically in the office but instead on their output. Employees can work in any place, on any device, which challenges notions about traditional full-time employment.

I concluded these interviews feeling inspired by how outstanding organisations are leading their people as humans, not “human resources”. This should be the direction and future of HR in Australia and these organisations are providing a way forward for other people leaders to emulate in their own organisations.

Which ideas would work in your workplace? Take a look at the full Best in Class report for more inspiration.People leaders must create an environment for their people to learn, succeed and flourish. But unfortunately, not all organisations and their leaders are keeping pace with the rapidly changing ways in which Australians work.

I interviewed people leaders from some of Australia’s best in class organisations and profiled these outstanding organisations in a future that works’ latest report, Best in Class. Through my interviews, it became apparent that best in class organisations recognise the design of work is changing and, in response, are designing high performing office spaces and enabling collaborative work to allow their people to flourish.

Our previous research, Delivering Purpose and Meaning also highlighted that the social context is vital for employees at work and workplace design can assist in developing a culture of creativity and collaboration.

One of our Best in Class workplaces, AECOM, is proactively embedding new learning in the workplace to enable its people to succeed. Rather than investing in stand-alone training programs, which are difficult to implement in day-to-day practice, AECOM equips its people with coaching qualifications to draw out the best value from training and development experiences, back in the office.

Best in class organisations are also thinking holistically about the workplace – it is not only about productivity and outputs, but the physical workspace and how teams work. Leaders enable people to work in teams, on projects and flexibly.

Cotton On Group offers “Empower Hours” where team members can complete their hours anytime between 7am and 7pm. It is also common to see Cotton On Group people’s children in the workplace, and the organisation has funded 1,600 holiday care places for children to make school holidays more manageable and affordable for their people.

People now expect workplaces to be flexible so they can cater to their family and outside-of-work commitments, this is no longer a perk it is the new norm.

I also learned that PwC enables its people to work in non-traditional ways. It advocates activity-based work planning and, notably, measures people not on the hours they are physically in the office but instead on their output. Employees can work in any place, on any device, which challenges notions about traditional full-time employment.

I concluded these interviews feeling inspired by how outstanding organisations are leading their people as humans, not “human resources”. This should be the direction and future of HR in Australia and these organisations are providing a way forward for other people leaders to emulate in their own organisations.

Which ideas would work in your workplace? Take a look at the full Best in Class report for more inspiration.People leaders must create an environment for their people to learn, succeed and flourish. But unfortunately, not all organisations and their leaders are keeping pace with the rapidly changing ways in which Australians work.

I interviewed people leaders from some of Australia’s best in class organisations and profiled these outstanding organisations in a future that works’ latest report, Best in Class. Through my interviews, it became apparent that best in class organisations recognise the design of work is changing and, in response, are designing high performing office spaces and enabling collaborative work to allow their people to flourish.

Our previous research, Delivering Purpose and Meaning also highlighted that the social context is vital for employees at work and workplace design can assist in developing a culture of creativity and collaboration.

One of our Best in Class workplaces, AECOM, is proactively embedding new learning in the workplace to enable its people to succeed. Rather than investing in stand-alone training programs, which are difficult to implement in day-to-day practice, AECOM equips its people with coaching qualifications to draw out the best value from training and development experiences, back in the office.

Best in class organisations are also thinking holistically about the workplace – it is not only about productivity and outputs, but the physical workspace and how teams work. Leaders enable people to work in teams, on projects and flexibly.

Cotton On Group offers “Empower Hours” where team members can complete their hours anytime between 7am and 7pm. It is also common to see Cotton On Group people’s children in the workplace, and the organisation has funded 1,600 holiday care places for children to make school holidays more manageable and affordable for their people.

People now expect workplaces to be flexible so they can cater to their family and outside-of-work commitments, this is no longer a perk it is the new norm.

I also learned that PwC enables its people to work in non-traditional ways. It advocates activity-based work planning and, notably, measures people not on the hours they are physically in the office but instead on their output. Employees can work in any place, on any device, which challenges notions about traditional full-time employment.

I concluded these interviews feeling inspired by how outstanding organisations are leading their people as humans, not “human resources”. This should be the direction and future of HR in Australia and these organisations are providing a way forward for other people leaders to emulate in their own organisations.

Which ideas would work in your workplace? Take a look at the full Best in Class report for more inspiration.People leaders must create an environment for their people to learn, succeed and flourish. But unfortunately, not all organisations and their leaders are keeping pace with the rapidly changing ways in which Australians work.

I interviewed people leaders from some of Australia’s best in class organisations and profiled these outstanding organisations in a future that works’ latest report, Best in Class. Through my interviews, it became apparent that best in class organisations recognise the design of work is changing and, in response, are designing high performing office spaces and enabling collaborative work to allow their people to flourish.

Our previous research, Delivering Purpose and Meaning also highlighted that the social context is vital for employees at work and workplace design can assist in developing a culture of creativity and collaboration.

One of our Best in Class workplaces, AECOM, is proactively embedding new learning in the workplace to enable its people to succeed. Rather than investing in stand-alone training programs, which are difficult to implement in day-to-day practice, AECOM equips its people with coaching qualifications to draw out the best value from training and development experiences, back in the office.

Best in class organisations are also thinking holistically about the workplace – it is not only about productivity and outputs, but the physical workspace and how teams work. Leaders enable people to work in teams, on projects and flexibly.

Cotton On Group offers “Empower Hours” where team members can complete their hours anytime between 7am and 7pm. It is also common to see Cotton On Group people’s children in the workplace, and the organisation has funded 1,600 holiday care places for children to make school holidays more manageable and affordable for their people.

People now expect workplaces to be flexible so they can cater to their family and outside-of-work commitments, this is no longer a perk it is the new norm.

I also learned that PwC enables its people to work in non-traditional ways. It advocates activity-based work planning and, notably, measures people not on the hours they are physically in the office but instead on their output. Employees can work in any place, on any device, which challenges notions about traditional full-time employment.

I concluded these interviews feeling inspired by how outstanding organisations are leading their people as humans, not “human resources”. This should be the direction and future of HR in Australia and these organisations are providing a way forward for other people leaders to emulate in their own organisations.

Which ideas would work in your workplace? Take a look at the full Best in Class report for more inspiration.People leaders must create an environment for their people to learn, succeed and flourish. But unfortunately, not all organisations and their leaders are keeping pace with the rapidly changing ways in which Australians work.

I interviewed people leaders from some of Australia’s best in class organisations and profiled these outstanding organisations in a future that works’ latest report, Best in Class. Through my interviews, it became apparent that best in class organisations recognise the design of work is changing and, in response, are designing high performing office spaces and enabling collaborative work to allow their people to flourish.

Our previous research, Delivering Purpose and Meaning also highlighted that the social context is vital for employees at work and workplace design can assist in developing a culture of creativity and collaboration.

One of our Best in Class workplaces, AECOM, is proactively embedding new learning in the workplace to enable its people to succeed. Rather than investing in stand-alone training programs, which are difficult to implement in day-to-day practice, AECOM equips its people with coaching qualifications to draw out the best value from training and development experiences, back in the office.

Best in class organisations are also thinking holistically about the workplace – it is not only about productivity and outputs, but the physical workspace and how teams work. Leaders enable people to work in teams, on projects and flexibly.

Cotton On Group offers “Empower Hours” where team members can complete their hours anytime between 7am and 7pm. It is also common to see Cotton On Group people’s children in the workplace, and the organisation has funded 1,600 holiday care places for children to make school holidays more manageable and affordable for their people.

People now expect workplaces to be flexible so they can cater to their family and outside-of-work commitments, this is no longer a perk it is the new norm.

I also learned that PwC enables its people to work in non-traditional ways. It advocates activity-based work planning and, notably, measures people not on the hours they are physically in the office but instead on their output. Employees can work in any place, on any device, which challenges notions about traditional full-time employment.

I concluded these interviews feeling inspired by how outstanding organisations are leading their people as humans, not “human resources”. This should be the direction and future of HR in Australia and these organisations are providing a way forward for other people leaders to emulate in their own organisations.

Which ideas would work in your workplace? Take a look at the full Best in Class report for more inspiration.People leaders must create an environment for their people to learn, succeed and flourish. But unfortunately, not all organisations and their leaders are keeping pace with the rapidly changing ways in which Australians work.

I interviewed people leaders from some of Australia’s best in class organisations and profiled these outstanding organisations in a future that works’ latest report, Best in Class. Through my interviews, it became apparent that best in class organisations recognise the design of work is changing and, in response, are designing high performing office spaces and enabling collaborative work to allow their people to flourish.

Our previous research, Delivering Purpose and Meaning also highlighted that the social context is vital for employees at work and workplace design can assist in developing a culture of creativity and collaboration.

One of our Best in Class workplaces, AECOM, is proactively embedding new learning in the workplace to enable its people to succeed. Rather than investing in stand-alone training programs, which are difficult to implement in day-to-day practice, AECOM equips its people with coaching qualifications to draw out the best value from training and development experiences, back in the office.

Best in class organisations are also thinking holistically about the workplace – it is not only about productivity and outputs, but the physical workspace and how teams work. Leaders enable people to work in teams, on projects and flexibly.

Cotton On Group offers “Empower Hours” where team members can complete their hours anytime between 7am and 7pm. It is also common to see Cotton On Group people’s children in the workplace, and the organisation has funded 1,600 holiday care places for children to make school holidays more manageable and affordable for their people.

People now expect workplaces to be flexible so they can cater to their family and outside-of-work commitments, this is no longer a perk it is the new norm.

I also learned that PwC enables its people to work in non-traditional ways. It advocates activity-based work planning and, notably, measures people not on the hours they are physically in the office but instead on their output. Employees can work in any place, on any device, which challenges notions about traditional full-time employment.

I concluded these interviews feeling inspired by how outstanding organisations are leading their people as humans, not “human resources”. This should be the direction and future of HR in Australia and these organisations are providing a way forward for other people leaders to emulate in their own organisations.

Which ideas would work in your workplace? Take a look at the full Best in Class report for more inspiration.

Flexibility isn’t a buzzword – it’s the future

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Research shows that flexible workplaces experience lower staff turnover, lower absenteeism, higher employee satisfaction and increased productivity. In view of this, I would suggest that ‘flexibility’ isn’t a buzzword. It’s the future.

a future that works’ Workplace Wellbeing report, found that an overwhelming 83 per cent of Australian employees believe flexible working hours are important for their wellbeing.

We discovered through our research that a flexible workplace means employees can achieve a work-life-balance which not only makes life easier, but also allows people greater opportunities to balance their career with their family commitments, whether it be caring for children or ageing parents.

Employers and HR leaders are increasingly realising that there are clear benefits for their organisations’ productivity and profitability from fostering a motivated and dedicated workforce.

I know flexibility might seem like a new-age concept, one that perhaps is only driven by radical HR thinkers in ‘start-ups’. It isn’t.

I interviewed leaders from Australia’s best in class organisations and profiled these outstanding organisations in a future that works’ latest report, Best in Class. Through my interviews, I found that best in class organisations are rapidly adapting and enabling their people to achieve no matter where and how they work.

I was particularly impressed to discover from Todd Batley, Chief Executive AECOM, that AECOM focuses on flexibility. As just a few of its many initiatives, AECOM removed start and finish times from all employment contracts, and conducted a Flex Day trial which gives 900 participants a day off each month.

One of the most interesting initiatives I discussed with Todd was how AECOM offers term-time employment contracts for staff who prefer to work only during school time, so they can have time to spend with their children during school holidays.

Cotton On Group is also showcased in our Best in Class report. One of their initiatives, which People Operations Manager at Cotton On Group, Jo Barr, explained is their ‘Annual Leave Fun Fund’. This global initiative reflects the company’s values of people taking time out to be with their families, having a life outside of work and returning to work refreshed. Staff who have taken their maximum annual leave entitlement are placed into a fund ballot, where the first-place prize is a $10,000 travel voucher.  

Our Best in Class report contains many more examples of the flexibility initiatives Australia’s leading organisations have implemented. These initiatives are practical, and you will be able to emulate these types of initiatives in your organisations with ease.

The lesson for HR is that flexibility is the new normal. HR leaders need to adapt at pace to help people achieve no matter where and how they work, to balance life and work.

The notion of flexible workplaces should not frighten us.  It is simply one of the most effective ways to achieve what we all want – happy, connected, trusting and productive workplaces that retain the best talent.

Sign up to a future that works to read Best in Class and to engage with Reventure’s entire suite of research reports.

How do we address the loneliness epidemic in our workplaces?

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An epidemic of loneliness and social isolation is spreading through Australian workplaces, disrupting productivity, creating serious health problems and leaving many dissatisfied.

Research has shown that chronic long-term loneliness can be as bad as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day with increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. Loneliness is a rapidly emerging international public health issue. In the UK, the government has appointed a Minister for Loneliness, who is tackling  this growing loneliness trend. In Australia, the Victorian Government is also considering appointing a Minister for Loneliness.

Reventure’s a future that works research confirms social isolation is an emerging public health challenge. Our ‘Precarious Work Insights’ (2018) report and ‘Best in Class’ report identifies how loneliness manifests itself in the workplace, as well as the simple solutions to address it.

For ‘Best in Class’, I interviewed ten people leaders from Australia’s leading best in class organisations and heard that loneliness is indeed a modern workplace challenge. It seems that the very tools we use to increase productivity and connectivity such as agile working, flexible working arrangements and the use of remote technology could be isolating us.

Our ‘Precarious Work Insights’ report found that 45% of Australian workers say their workplace is their main community of relationships. However, one in five Australian workers do not have trusted friends in their workplace, but would love to have some. These are confronting statistics.

So, how can we better manage and put an end to workplace loneliness?

In my presentation to the Corporate Health & Wellbeing Summit, I suggested the following for HR executives and HR managers who are grappling with the loneliness issue in their organisations.

1.      Create safe and enriching places to work

Introduce a wellbeing program and prioritise health and wellbeing initiatives. ‘Workplace Wellbeing’ (2017), and our interviews for ‘Best in Class’ confirmed employees feel more satisfied and secure in organisations that have a wellbeing initiative in place.

Proactively track wellbeing. If you read our ‘Best in Class’ report, you will discover that the HR team at one of Australia’s largest professional services firms produces dashboards to put a cost for the business, for attribution caused by burnout and over-utilisation. This helps role model and better manage health and wellbeing with regular conversations around anxiety and depression.

2.      Design high performing and collaborative work spaces

Encourage more frequent in-person interaction. Don’t send an email or instant message if you could have an in-person or phone conversation with your colleague.

Design your office space to be open and break down silos. This encourages people to get to know each other fostering a sense of belonging. This could be an ideal way to replace the “water-cooler conversation”, which seems to have disappeared from our workplaces.

3.      Nurture relationships with your colleagues

Encourage people to eat lunch together, not at their desks. A leading public software company interviewed for our ‘Best in Class’ report has a policy that no one eats alone. This encourages people to build relationships and trust, with positive flow on effects for delivering excellent customer service.  

4.      Build trust through human interaction

Encourage socialising outside of work. Positive healthy relationships with our colleagues makes us feel more valued and included, which encourages people to do their best work in their workplaces.

We can’t continue to ignore the loneliness epidemic. Despite being a complex problem, there are workplace solutions. Leaders need to lead their workplaces to foster inclusion and employee wellbeing. People need to get the best out of their work so they feel satisfied they are doing their job well and feel good about themselves when they go home at night and come to work the next day. Addressing workplace loneliness is an important step towards this. 

You can read our research and join the call for change to renew Australian workplaces, at www.afuturethatworks.org.au

The invisible hazard in every workplace

If you live in New South Wales, you may have seen a Government-run television ad campaign promoting workplace health and safety recently. The sixty second ad shows a few scenarios where workers might face hazards in the workplace.

In one of the ads, a man on the top of a building unclips his safety harness to gain access to a hard to reach area. In another, a woman using a vacuum cleaner drapes a cord with an exposed wire over her shoulder.

Workplace metrics and what we cannot measure

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By Dr Lindsay McMillan

Recently I have been reflecting on the role metrics play in the workplace. It is timely to be thinking about the huge role they play especially as many of us prepare for the end of the Financial Year.

Organisations are getting ready, with annual report in hand, to front shareholders on whether business has performed better or worse than the last financial year. These reports are full of measurements: profits, dividends and customer sentiments are some examples. More recently many companies also measure the percentage of women on their boards, employee productivity and community donations.

Metrics offer us clear answers to questions about performance, however not everything in the workplace is just as clear – some things simply cannot be measured.

In spite of this, metrics are used to drive decisions in many areas of the community: schools require their students to take standardised tests; hospitals, and even our governments and public servants, measure the success of surgeries by mortality rate or emergency department waiting times.

Recently, an embarrassed Victoria Police had to admit 258,000 breath tests were faked over the last five years by officers themselves. Police officers falsified breathalyser tests to meet quotas in a practice called “ghosting” to avoid being reprimanded by supervisors, particularly on long weekends when they were required to conduct tests on top of their normal duties.

This use of metrics does not incentivise people to do their job better – rather it gives them the precise figure of what is the bare minimum.

Take for example experimentation in business, something essential to keeping any business competitive, a lesson most famously learned by Kodak. Such experimentation has a net result of zero before something new is created and there are no guarantees it will be in time for the next quarterly report.

The hard work that goes into such projects and the progress it makes cannot be practicably measured, however it does not change the fact that it is needed. Jerry Muller, a professor at the Catholic University of America and the author of The Tyranny of Metrics, wrote this article suggesting many industries have fallen victim to relying on metrics alone. According to Professor Muller, focussing on results alone gives workers a disincentive to be enterprising because they are too busy focussing on what is being counted. “Compelling people in an organisation to focus their efforts on a narrow range of measurable features degrades the experience of work”, Professor Muller contends. 

Metrics are important; however, they should not be prioritised ahead of good judgement. We simply cannot measure everything that matters with numbers. 

Aussie Workers Stressed Out Because of Technology

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By Dr Lindsay McMillan

The number of Australian workers stressed because of technology has increased by 27 per cent since 2016, according to the latest workplace survey from global HR think-tank Reventure.

73 per cent of Australian workers said they feel constantly connected to work because of technology and cannot ever completely shut off from it – compared to only 46 per cent in 2016.

The 2017 Snapshot of the Australian Workplace is a national survey of Australian workers, capturing worker sentiment in key areas like job satisfaction, performance, technology and health.

Technology stress is becoming an increasingly common complaint that is not being addressed by employers.

73 per cent of workers feel like they cannot turn work off, so they are checking emails and
thinking about work because they are connected to their devices.

It is up to employers to follow the lead of countries implementing the ‘right to disconnect’ which limits and regulates emails outside of working hours and make their expectations around work clear.

If employers do not manage technology stress, employees will burnout and head to the exits, so it is very important for employee retention to tackle technology stress.

The report also found regarding the impact of technology:

• 66% of workers agree that the workplace is becoming more complex and is changing at a
faster rate than ever before, compared to 54% in 2016.

• 85% of workers agree that new and emerging technologies are affecting the way work is
accomplished and defined, compared to 65% in 2016.

The 2017 survey consisted of 1,005 Australian employed adults aged 18 to 65: 56% were full time workers; 28% part time workers and 8% self-employed or independent contractors.

Workplace stress keeping you up at night?

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By Dr Lindsay McMillan

Almost 40 per cent of Australian workers are dissatisfied with their sleep. A survey of more than 1,000 Australian workers showed 38 per cent were dissatisfied with their sleep patterns.

This means more than one-third of Australian workers are dissatisfied with their sleep pattern and are more likely to be dissatisfied with their physical wellbeing and their job.

Whether you work in an office or on a construction site, getting enough quality sleep is important to safety and overall health and wellbeing, so it is crucial that we make it a priority.

With the rise and rise of mobile devices in the workplace, some workers are finding it hard to switch off from work, which can also undermine healthy sleep patterns.

The changing nature of work has also contributed to the loss of sleep for some workers.

Getting enough sleep is especially difficult for those working irregular shifts and it is a challenge more workers will face in the future with the increase of jobs that offer non-traditional hours.

Other sleep statistics include:

·         54 per cent of dissatisfied sleepers are looking for a new job in the next 12 months.

·         40 per cent of dissatisfied sleepers feel as though their life has no sense of meaning.

·         42 per cent of dissatisfied sleepers feel very/ extremely stressed about finances.

·         37 per cent of dissatisfied sleepers feel very/extremely stressed about work.

·         24 per cent of dissatisfied sleepers feel very/extremely stressed about health and fitness.

Employers should make sure that work is not interrupting rest and relaxation time.

Making sure workloads are manageable and that expectations are reasonable will reduce the overtime that is eating into rest time.

The Workplace Wellbeing report is a national survey of over 1,000 Australian workers on workplace wellbeing and the programs that seek to support it.

Aussie millennials motivated by more than materialism

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By Dr Lindsay McMillan

An Australian workplace survey has revealed what young Australians think about their financial security and the results may surprise people.

The new analysis of data by global HR think-tank, Reventure has shown that less than half of Australian millennials think financial security is important to their overall wellbeing.

Only 48 per cent indicated financial security is important to ensure high levels of personal wellbeing compared to 60 per cent of baby boomers and 54 per cent of Gen X, according to the survey of more than 1,000 Australian workers.

The findings from the survey for the Workplace Wellbeing report should not be completely unexpected.

Forty-two per cent of workers define wellbeing as balance in physical, mental, social and spiritual life and only 12 per cent said it is having their desire for a house, income and success met.

Less than half of young people think financial security is a priority for wellbeing, and it drives home the point that money isn’t the main motivation for many millennials in the workplace.

What is interesting is that despite this, millennials are highly driven towards success – twice the rate than that of baby boomers – yet do not seem to be motivated by financial security.

While this may seem like an imprudent approach from young Australians, it actually reveals that millennials aren’t as materialistic as they are often portrayed.

The implication for business leaders is: how do I motivate my younger employees if half of them want a kind of success not related to how much money they earn?

Business leaders should focus on benefits that do not have a price tag.

Creating new opportunities and experiences for career advancement, professional training and especially mentorship will help create jobs that young people really want.

Being successful and accomplished is more than just a stable income – rest and relaxation and healthy friendships rated higher than financial security across all generations.

Don’t let workplace stress follow you home

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By Dr Lindsay McMillan

People accustomed to using their devices in the evenings should know their night time habit might be seriously affecting their health.

A new study conducted by the University of Glasgow, in the largest study or its kind, has found that late night technology use can increase your chances of developing mood disorders because of the disruption to your body clock.

The study found that avoiding screen time before getting to sleep will reduce your chances of mood instability, the feeling of loneliness, unhappiness, health dissatisfaction and poor cognitive function.

It is one thing to be up late watching ten episodes of your favourite TV show in a row, but if you really want to turn up the toxicity, try doing work on your devices just before bed.

In my experience counselling in the workplace for many years, these late-night workers can be anyone in the managerial food chain, from top exec to your run of the mill employee.

If you recognise yourself in this study, it is time to take steps to look after yourself and your mental health. In the least, turn down the toxicity and avoid doing work just before bed.

What if you are a small business owner?

The principle holds true even for the busy small business owner who might have taken up a habit of balancing the books before bed.

It is true that small business owners have to do the odd-jobs and be self-motivated but that also includes knowing when to say no to work for the sake of improving your overall productivity.

Many people will know the example of the man who furiously cuts down a tree with a blunt axe. By making sure that your axe (you) are sharp will serve you better in the long run.

So, what should you do?

Try a couple of things.

Downgrade your technology. Dust off your old school alarm clock and buy some triple A batteries.

Second, charge your phone in another room overnight. If you find it difficult, you will realise just how much screen time you have been getting.

To read the full report, join the a future that works campaign here.

I volunteer! A tribute to volunteering in the workplace

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By Dr Lindsay McMillan

More than a third (36%) of Australian workers say making a positive contribution to others is one of the most important factors to their personal wellbeing.

To mark National Volunteer Week this year, more employers should make volunteering opportunities part of their employee wellbeing plans.

It is encouraging to see large organisations take the lead on volunteering, which is good for their employees and the community.

Volunteering and service gets people to step outside of their own lives to do good, which is valuable for communities to have extra hands on deck and also great for people who volunteer.

Not only can volunteering be a chance for employees to bond, it also gives employees a sense of purpose and meaning – that their organisation and their job is not just about profit-making.

If you are feeling stuck in a rut, volunteering for a cause you are passionate about – it can be the environment or the homeless – can help you regain a sense of what is important to you.

The same survey found making positive contributions to the lives of others was just as important as housing security (35%) and a fulfilling job (34%).

National Volunteer Week held from 21 to 27 May will celebrate 6 million Australians who volunteer their time to contribute to their communities.

The Workplace Wellbeing report surveyed 1,005 Australian employees aged between 18 to 65 and with combined household incomes between $699 and $3,000 per week.

Survey respondents included employees (62%), managers (23%), owner managers (12%) and owners who do not manage their own business (2%).

Why financial security isn’t a top priority for millennial workers

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By Dr Lindsay McMillan

According to research from Reventure, only 48 per cent of millennials think financial security is important to ensuring high levels of personal wellbeing.

The survey of more than 1,000 Australian workers has found that millennials were less inclined to prioritise financial security for their personal wellbeing compared to 60 per cent of baby boomers and 54 per cent of Gen X.

So why are millennial workers so divided about the value of financial security?

Experience is the new wealth

More young people are looking to lead purposeful and meaningful lives – 77 per cent of millennials said they were looking for greater purpose and meaning in their work.

We no longer stay in the same careers, let alone the same jobs for life, and as a result more employees are looking to gain skills and experience that are valuable for their entire career. Something like a mentoring relationship for example, can continue on regardless of how many jobs you have under your belt.

To attract millennial workers, it is key to create opportunities for career advancement, professional training and mentorship.

How we do work has changed

How we do work has changed radically, which has allowed the new generation of workers to easily prioritise things other than the almighty dollar.

Technology has made freelancing or setting up your own small business easier – you can find many of the basic tools to get started online. Participation in the gig economy is as easy as a few taps on a phone.

With greater work options, whether it is working part-time or picking up work sporadically, the way we do work has fundamentally changed.

With the possibilities for non-conventional working on the increase, more young people are willing to forgo financial security in the traditional sense of a car or home to achieve it.

Bottom line

The bottom line of this finding is that millennials are looking for meaningful work, not just well-paid work.

For the business leader the advice to retain employees is simple – become so good as an organisation, you are indispensable to employees.

By this I mean providing opportunities to grow and work on skills that millennials are unlikely to get elsewhere.

Why we get seriously bothered about seriously petty things at work

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By Dr Lindsay McMillan

This week, I read an interesting article about an internet forum where people share stories about the pettiest arguments they have seen in the workplace.

From loud typing to smelly lunches, it seems like there is no limit to the small things that can annoy us when we are trying to do our jobs.

It is one thing to have measured debate about how to reach a sales target and another to be arguing vigorously for and against the colour of folders – one worker shared a story about a manager who went as far as lobbying for their own colour behind everyone’s back after a decision was made.

Most of us can recall at least one bizarre story on a similar vein, so why do so many of us sweat the small stuff?

Cabin fever

Extreme irritability and restlessness associated with being trapped is one possible reason.

If you feel trapped in your current role or your current organisation, you are more likely to feel annoyed about the small things too.

48 per cent of Australian workers are on the hunt for a new job in the next 12 months, according to a 2017 survey by Reventure – almost half are looking for the exit sign.

To retain employees who feel “stuck” employers need to provide opportunities for growth and development. This will help alleviate the feeling of stagnation.

Work overload

In the same survey, unrealistic workload expectations were voted the number one greatest negative impact on wellbeing in the workplace.

If workers have an inordinate amount of work to do, yes, the pen clicking will drive them insane.

Employers need to check in with their team members regularly to make sure their workers have manageable workloads which will help avoid tensions over the small things and help your team concentrate on your overall business goals.

Poor relationships

An analysis of 300,000 counselling hours, also conducted by Reventure, found that poor relationships were the number one reason workers sought counselling.

When it comes to the small stuff, it is common to be irritated at those you do not know so well. If you know a co-worker well, it won’t be a big deal to make a tactful suggestion when something is bothering you.

For employers, the message is to facilitate opportunities for employees to get to know one another. If you are an employee, take action and get to know someone before you pick their annoying habit.

The importance of emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of your emotions and express yourself in an intelligent way, not about keeping quiet.

For the employer, understand the root problem of your employees’ seemingly minor concerns.

The Workplace Wellbeing report revealed Australian workers don’t think that employers get it: only six per cent think that employers understand how to improve wellbeing in the workplace very well.

For the employee, stand a part from yourself and ask yourself what is really annoying you. It may well be that you are bored in your role and it is time to make a change.

Five facts to know before implementing a wellbeing program

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By Lindsay McMillan

Before businesses start on a new workplace wellbeing program, they should consider five facts to make sure they are helping, not hindering employees.

Research from the Workplace Wellbeing report, based on a survey of 1,000 Australian workers, shows that programs have to more meaningful than just “work-perks” to improve wellbeing.

Lead researcher of global HR think-tank Reventure, Dr Lindsay McMillan said in order to make wellbeing programs more meaningful, there are five key facts to know:

FACT 1 – Half (51%) of Australian workers believe unrealistic workload expectations have the greatest negative impact on wellbeing in the workplace.

“Unrealistic workload expectations had the greatest negative impact on wellbeing according to Australian workers,” said Dr McMillan.

“If workers are drowning in more deadlines than there are hours in the day, taking any time to talk about workplace wellbeing is going to sound incredibly tone-deaf.”

FACT 2 – The majority (75%) of Australian workers believe wellbeing includes both physical and mental wellbeing.

“Encourage both physical and mental health side by side,” Dr McMillan said.

FACT 3 – More than a third (38%) of Australian workers believe low team morale has the most negative impact on the workplace.

“Boost morale with team-oriented events – don’t neglect socialising from your overall workplace wellbeing plan,” said Dr McMillan.

“However small, find a balance that works for your team – it might be a sports team or it might be an office lunch to get the team together and celebrate your successes.”

FACT 4 – Half (51%) of Australians say family is one of the biggest stressors in their life

“For those with caring responsibilities, making it easier for them to prioritise family commitments will go some way to alleviate stress,” he said.

“Consider whether your workplace needs an Employee Assistance Program that is available to family members too,” Dr McMillan said.

FACT 5 – About three-quarters (74%) of workers believe wellbeing programs are worth the time and money.

“The majority of workers said wellbeing programs are worth both the time and money, so have confidence in the knowledge that this investment is worth it for employees,” Dr McMillan said.

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Who gets more rest: The CEO or the employee?

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By Lindsay McMillan

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review has explored some surprising findings regarding the amount of sleep that workers get.

To get to the core of it, the more senior the position, the more sleep.

If you’re currently a sleep deprived senior executive, you’re probably ready to close the tab, but stick with me. Let’s first assess the two theories why this might be true.

1.     Senior executives get a lot of help from assistants and middle managers, therefore have more time to sleep.

2.     Senior executives have learned throughout their careers the importance of sleep and therefore prioritise it better.

The Harvard Business Review favours option two – that senior executives perceive sleep as a necessity, rather than a luxury, to their effectiveness as a leader.

As many of you will know, the importance of sleep is a growing frontier in how to maximise workplace wellbeing.

Although it can seem at first glance that the workplace is overstepping its boundaries into our private lives, practices like out-of-hour email policies are both relevant to the workplace and can have a big impact on the lives of employees.

Simple measures can make a huge difference to whether employees are glued to their phones at home. For example, it is good practice to keep out of work communications to urgent matters only. Define what qualifies as urgent before you hit send and ask yourself whether it can reasonably wait until the morning.

So, if senior executives are getting more sleep, what is the experience of your typical employee?

We should all be getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night – and for good reason – research from Reventure shows that dissatisfied sleepers are likely to see detrimental effects both in and out of the workplace.

In our recent report, Workplace Wellbeing, those workers who are not satisfied with their sleep scored dramatically lower satisfaction rates for physical wellbeing (44%) and their job (55%). In contrast, those getting quality sleep were generally happier in all areas of their lives including physical wellbeing (83%) and their job (82%).

On top of this, the Harvard Business Review links chronic sleeplessness with depression, anxiety and paranoia, as well as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in the longer term.

So if a lack of sleep is holding you back, consider implementing three easy steps to get the rest you need:

1.     Avoid screens an hour before bed.

The effects that screen lights can have on our body’s perception of time are relatively well known. Keep your screens off before you sleep and consider getting a traditional alarm clock so you’re not tethered to your phone. Consider charging your phone in another room altogether.

2.     Have an early dinner

Eating earlier in the evening will reduce the level of sugar in your body and make it easier for your body to fall asleep.

3.     Don’t work your brain out

Working on activities that require conceptual thinking can stimulate your brain and make it harder to fall asleep.

My parting advice is to focus on wellbeing in the workplace broadly. Whether it is a one to one chat or if you put in the hard yards into a workplace wellbeing initiative, make it clear that you care about your employee’s wellbeing.

As business leaders, we want our employees to be working efficiently and intelligently, we do not want them working tirelessly to the bone. 

For more information about the research and the campaign, click here.

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The time of the day that impacts workers’ productivity the most

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By Lindsay McMillan

Workplaces often think that the eight hours we spend working determines work productivity, however new research has found that the eight hours we should spend sleeping might have just as big of an impact.

Research from global HR think-tank Reventure has found that dissatisfied sleepers are likely to see the detrimental effects in and out of the workplace.

The more than half of Australian workers that are not getting enough quality sleep (54%) have also said that they are likely to look for a job in the next 12 months.

Workplace Wellbeing, a national survey of over 1,000 Australian workers, shows satisfied sleepers are happier in all areas of their lives including their job (82%) and physical wellbeing (83%).

Dissatisfied sleepers had dramatically lower results, almost half of satisfied sleepers, for their job (55%) and physical wellbeing (44%).

Those not getting enough quality sleep were also more likely to say that they feel as though their life has no sense of meaning.

This is backed up by the latest OECD Better Life Index which found that employees in The Netherlands, ranked as having the best work-life balance, devote around 16 hours per day to eating, sleeping and leisurely pursuits, and are also more satisfied with their lives than most.

The importance of sleep should not be overlooked. Sleep is a key part in fostering wellbeing – over half of the Australian workers we surveyed believed that having time for rest and relaxation contributes to high levels of personal wellbeing. 

Thirty-seven per cent of dissatisfied sleepers said they were either extremely or very stressed about work – and that is something business leaders should not ignore.

The effect work stress has on sleep can form a vicious cycle and while some large workplaces have implemented innovations like sleep pods, there are some more basic measures leaders can take.

Make sure workloads are manageable and that expectations are reasonable, minimise emails after hours and take a look at overtime hours – these may be eating into your workers’ rest.

For more information about the research, click here.

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