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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Stop reading this – you’re meant to be on holidays

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By Lindsay McMillan

The upcoming public holiday is a day for the beach, barbeque, backyard cricket and of course, no work. However, are workers really relaxing on their day off?

46 per cent of Australian workers believe that with technology they feel like they are “always on” and cannot ever completely shut off from work.

Workers get stuck into bad habits when they should be recharging their batteries. Although most workers make exceptions to answer after work phone calls and emails for urgent matters from time to time, some fall into the habit of making exception after exception.

It can have a devastating impact on our health, our relationships and our quality of life.

These are some of the latest revelations from the a future that works campaign in its most recent report, Workplace Wellbeing which surveyed the views of over 1,000 Australian workers.

85 per cent of workers also reported that they believe employers are responsible for creating an environment that proactively addresses stress in the workplace.

 A further 51 per cent of workers believe unrealistic workload expectations have the greatest negative impact on wellbeing in the workplace

Overseas, countries are putting jurisdictions in place to allow workers to enjoy their down time – in France, the “right to disconnect” is legislated and regulates emails in the off hours.

Although Australia does not have similar regulations yet, it is important for workers’ wellbeing to take undisturbed time off from work.

Our research has found 73 per cent of workers feel stressed in the workplace – we should not be encouraging the old notion of work ‘till you drop’, but find ways to allow real time off. 

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The real reason workers leave, and how to make them stay

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By Lindsay McMillan

January and February are said to be the most popular months for job changes but a recent study has found a solution to make good workers stay.

Launched by Facebook, the study on employee turnover has shown people are more likely to quit because their work was unfulfilling – despite having good relationships with management.

Data shows that those workers who use their strengths more often and feel they are gaining valuable career experience were less likely to leave for another job.

Research conducted by HR think tank Reventure as part of its national a future that works campaign found that 72 per cent of Australian workers were looking for purpose and meaning in work.

Facebook’s approach to stem the flow of star employees is a HR solution called job crafting, which is one of the a future that works campaign solutions to build a culture of purpose and meaning.

Carrying out a job with a fixed role description that actually contains the work you enjoy and excel at is almost akin to winning the lottery – it’s extremely unlikely. 

Our research has found that jobs need to be crafted around employees not the other way around.

Job crafting re-imagines roles according to employees’ strengths and what they are passionate about, which increases the level of purpose and meaning they feel at work.

This latest research joins mounting evidence that employees are looking for greater purpose and meaning at work.

Work has to be meaningful for employees to stay on long-term – some large organisations like Facebook understand this and are adopting initiatives like job crafting to keep their best workers.

More organisations need to follow suit in order to avoid a high employee turnover in 2018.

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New research shows young Australians need wage relief

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By Lindsay McMillan

Young Australians are feeling the brunt of workplace stress and financial pressure, according to Reventure's new workplace research.

The survey of more than 1,000 workers found those aged 23 to 37 are more stressed in all areas of their life compared with Generation X and Baby Boomers, and finances are the greatest concern.

This latest research comes as Australians are experiencing record low wages growth, with the wage price index increasing by only 2 per cent over the last year.

The report found that the areas of greatest stress for Generation Y are: finances (37 per cent), work (33 per cent) and health and fitness (23 per cent).

This latest research reveals that the pressures younger Australian workers are facing are very much rooted in the workplace.

Workplace stress is a massive concern and it is clear that younger Australians are feeling it more than other cohorts. Financial stress is significant for these younger workers and it aligns with a prolonged period of low wages growth in the economy.

We are seeing rapid change in workplaces around Australia and this is most evident in technological change, which is changing how work is conducted.

This means for many workers the lines between their work time and their personal time are being blurred, contributing to stress whilst wages remain low – it is a recipe for disaster.

As a result, workplaces need to start acknowledging the impact this is having on workers and put in place thoughtful strategies to address it. If businesses don’t act, this research clearly tells us that employees will simply pick up and move on.

The Workplace Wellbeing report is part of the a future that works campaign, which is advocating for workplace renewal across Australia. To read the report, click here

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New Year’s resolution: Let’s address workplace stress in 2018

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By Dr Lindsay McMillan

Most people experience workplace stress as a natural symptom of wanting to do their work well. It could be argued that it even has its uses, helping us stay motivated and focussed in the short-term to get that project done or power through the busy season.

However, stress can become a serious problem if it is intense or prolonged. That is why it is so troubling to find that a staggering 73 per cent of workers say they are either extremely or very stressed about work.

This should not be taken lightly; not only is this level of stress negative for your mental health, stressed workers are two and a half times more likely to go home after a day’s work and fire up the job search.

So, why are workers so stressed? According to Reventure’s most recent study, Workplace Wellbeing, employees identified unrealistic workload expectations, low team morale and job insecurity as the top three things hindering workplace wellbeing.

So here are three things to remember about workplace stress and combating it effectively.

1. Employers have the power to make a change

Stress can seem outside your control and subjective, however unrealistic workloads can be a bit more objective. According to 48 per cent of Australian workers, the greatest negative impact on wellbeing in the workplace is unrealistic workloads, so seriously consider whether your employees have too much on their plate.

Have an open and honest conversation in the workplace and remember your employees will most likely avoid telling you that they are overwhelmed, so try re-phrasing your questions and ask them what concerns them the most about their work.

2. Everyone has different motivations

It might be surprising to learn that employees would be willing to forgo perks, promotions and pay for wellbeing, however a quarter of workers said they would sacrifice company perks for wellbeing and one in five would sacrifice a promotion or a pay rise.

It is an important lesson in the fact that employees are not all motivated by the same things. When rewarding employees for a job well done, get their feedback on what is important to them and act accordingly. They may be willing to trade the prospect of a few dollars for being less stressed.

On the other end of the spectrum, consider giving your casual workers more job security after a job well done.

3. Make your support services known

Lastly, it is important to know employees are perceptive to how much their employers consider their wellbeing, only 12 per cent of Australian workers think business decisions are made in the best interest of employee wellbeing.

If your workers are stressed, there needs to be greater communication about the support you provide including Employee Assistance Programs. Workplace wellbeing programs are becoming increasingly important, our research shows it is an important consideration for 42 per cent of workers looking for a new job. So, it is not just a “nice to have” or window-dressing.

A little less stress can go a long way, so make sure you are on the front foot when combating stress.

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New report: 85 per cent of Australian workers want employers to lift stress burden

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By Dr Lindsay McMillan

Australian employees want their employers to step up and address workplace stress, with stressed workers more likely to be looking for a new job in the next 12 months, our new research has revealed.

As reported in The Australian, our survey of over 1,000 workers found stressed workers are two and a half times more likely to look for a new job in the next year compared with workers who are not stressed at work.

 As well as that, 85 per cent of workers also reported that they believe employers are responsible for creating an environment that proactively addresses stress in the workplace.

These are some of the latest revelations from Reventure's recent report, Workplace Wellbeing, which was launched at two packed events in Sydney and Melbourne. 

These results are a wake-up call for Australian businesses and should make all employers across Australia stand up and take notice. 

Employers across the country are being sent a clear message from Australian workers: workplace stress is a significant issue and employers need to put in place strategies to address it.

The risk for employers is clear, if they don’t act, employees will walk.

These are concerning results, which clearly demonstrate that Australian workplaces need to engage in a meaningful and practical renewal process. If these issues are not addressed, workers will continue to suffer and ultimately so will businesses.

Other headline results in the survey include:

  • 73 per cent of workers are stressed about work;
  • 51 per cent of workers believe unrealistic workload expectations have the greatest negative impact on wellbeing in the workplace;
  • 25 per cent of Australian workers would sacrifice company perks for better wellbeing in their workplace;
  • One in five would sacrifice a promotion (21 per cent) or a pay rise (19 per cent) for better wellbeing; and
  • Only one in ten Australian workers (12 per cent) believe business decisions are made in the best interest of the wellbeing of employees.

 

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The Australian Workforce Speaks Out About Workplace Wellbeing

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By Dr Lindsay McMillan

Wellbeing is playing an increasing role in today’s work landscape and workplaces who wish to remain competitive will need to know how to deliver it.

Wellbeing is not a buzzword to attach to any new HR strategy, but rather it requires careful consideration, factoring in worker’s evolving needs in our rapidly-changing work landscape. 

Ever wondered what the greatest negative impact on wellbeing in the workplace is? Or if Australian workers think wellbeing programs are worth the time and money?

A new report from the a future that works campaign will soon reveal that and much more after it asked over 1,000 Australian workers the big workplace questions. 

The report, entitled Workplace Wellbeing, launching in Melbourne on 23 November and in Sydney on 1 December, was undertaken by global HR think-tank, Reventure.

With worker wellbeing increasingly coming under the spotlight, the new report will provide a range of insights straight from the workers themselves.

Some Australian workplaces have recognised this rising trend and have addressed it with workplace wellbeing programs, in fact, 43 per cent of Australian workers claim their workplace offers a wellbeing program.

We have taken the next step and asked the question that often requires multiple internal workplace surveys to gauge – are these programs effective?

The results deliver significant insights for employees and employers alike and we look forward to releasing them soon.

Everyone is welcome to join us for breakfast for the launch of Workplace Wellbeing in Melbourne and Sydney. You can purchase your ticket here.

Importance of emotional intelligence in the age of artificial intelligence

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By Dr Lindsay McMillan

I recently came across this excellent piece on The Conversation about the importance of emotional intelligence in our increasingly digitally enabled society. I encourage everyone to read it.

The article highlights some of the key issues confronting workplaces around Australia and the world, namely the rise of automation, increasing use of digital platforms for work and the coming Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Importantly, it also points to something that the a future that works campaign has been highlighting for some time now, and that is the importance of giving employees purpose and meaning at work, and highlighting the emotional dimension of work.

Our 2016 research showed some really negative and unhealthy results for workers throughout the country and across a diverse range of industries.

A central finding in this research, which surveyed 1,001 Australian workers, was that a massive 72 per cent said they were after greater purpose in their work.

And as technology continues to impact how work is conducted, there is a real risk that employee wellbeing is becoming secondary to work output, which leads to disengagement and unhappiness in the workplace. The act of feigning happiness and cheerfulness at work becomes an added burden.

Purpose and meaning at work aligns with the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace, especially as technological advancements rapidly influence the workplace.

As The Conversation piece highlights: “Many indicators suggest that jobs of the future will require much more emotional intelligence to complement the sophisticated machines we work with.”

With artificial intelligence becoming increasingly pervasive, workers will need technology skills but it will be almost more important for employees to develop their emotional intelligence. For example, the globalised workplace means more employee to employee interactions occur digitally, however this means workers should be even more aware of the emotions of those they are working with.

It is time for all workplaces to start thinking about this and implementing the necessary policies. To get the ball rolling a future that works’ six steps to build a culture of Purpose and Meaning are:

1.                   Foster Employee Participation and Inclusion

A culture of respect and valuing employees can be generated and sustained by the simple act of inclusion.

2.                   Communicate the Alignment between Individual Roles and Organisational Goals

Leaders need to be able to identify and articulate the way in which an individual employee’s role contributes to the achievement of the common purpose.

3.                   Encourage Autonomy and Active Engagement

After there has been a clear identification and articulation of purpose, workers should be afforded a high degree of autonomy to carry out their role and make an active decision to work towards this vision.

4.                   Provide Resources and Information

To increase autonomy, employees should have all the information and resources they require to effectively do their job.

5.                   Serve a Greater Purpose

While an altruistic outcome is not a requirement for developing meaningfulness, this is a recommended addition to help maximise the update of purpose among workers.

6.                   Reinforcing Engagement

Actively implementing these strategies will result in higher levels of engagement, and may be reinforced through incentivisation that is not only linked to financial outcomes, but measures of application and alignment. This can be achieved through career construction and job crafting.

These six steps set the course for businesses who want to create a culture of purpose and meaning and by creating this culture, business leaders can foster more emotionally intelligent workers ready for the future of work.