Zoom Fatigue refers to feelings of tiredness, worry or burnout due to the overuse of video calling platforms.

To help those who fall victim to this, we first need to understand what’s driving it.

It has become a norm for employers to ask their team to have their cameras turned on during a meeting.

Whether this is to mimic the feel of an office, to monitor whether people are actually paying attention, or to simply demonstrate an air of professionalism, the fact is that this is quite a common request being made in the remote and hybrid working world.

If we think about the practicalities of being on Zoom, it is essentially like being in a meeting with a mirror propped up in front of your face. Now, you have to speak to a whole room of people while also having to watch yourself!

This can be particularly difficult for those of us who suffer from public self-consciousness, which is the tendency to fixate on how others are perceiving you.

Research published by Social Cognition builds on this idea, as it found that when people see their own faces on screen, they spend more time looking at themselves and thinking about how they appear than they do focusing on the conversation being had.

Interestingly, numerous studies have suggested that women are more likely to self-focus and feel anxiety when they are in the presence of a mirror. It wasn’t surprising, therefore, to see that a recent study from Stanford found that 1 in 7 women feel very fatigued after Zoom calls compared to 1 in 20 men. And the reason for women being disproportionately affected was because of the increase in ‘self-focused attention’, which is the heightened awareness of how one comes across or appears in a conversation.

The research also found that introverts suffered from Zoom Fatigue much more, as well as younger individuals and people of color. Looking at it from this perspective, enforcing the ‘cameras on’ rule in the workplace may be doing more harm than good, and could also be deemed as a problem of inclusion, considering different types of people are affected differently.

Looking at our own research, which found that over a quarter of respondents (28%) preferred to have their camera’s off during meetings, it may be time for companies to begin taking this into consideration if they haven’t already done so.

So, what are the ways an employer can combat Zoom Fatigue?

Firstly, making people aware of the ‘hide self-view’ option available on Zoom could be a simple and extremely helpful solution. This means that the person’s camera will still be on and they will be seen by everyone apart from themselves, and this can help with growing feelings of self-scrutiny. However, this may not work for all, as the idea of knowing people can still see you but you now cannot see yourself can induce anxiety in and of itself.

The second thing it comes down to is trust. If an employer trusts their staff, then they will be flexible towards having cameras on and off during a meeting, as they should trust that even if they cannot see someone it doesn’t mean they are not paying attention.

And finally, companies could also look at ways of trying to reduce video calls. Make use of simple voice calls and the chat box feature when you can, and move away from this virtual presenteeism mindset.

If you would like to discuss how to approach this topic in greater detail, you get in touch with us here.

Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020

There has been a bit of a theme emerging in the world of work.

First it was the ‘quiet quitting’ phenomenon that swept across the 2022 workplace landscape.

Hot on its heels came the trend for ‘quiet firing’ which emerged in response to workers quietly quitting.

And so, to the newest edition – ‘quiet hiring’.

The term has been coined by the leader of Gartner’s research team, Emily Rose McRae, who describes ‘quiet hiring’ as a way to address an immediate need for the company. The business could hire external contractors. Or, if money is tight, they might shuffle existing team members around to fill the short-term gap that has opened up.

The latter approach is, however, higher risk as uprooting people from their roles might just prompt them to begin quietly quitting! Add to that the danger of someone feeling their original role was not valued if it could be put on hold and you have a recipe for a host of unintended consequences further down the line.

The problem with having all of these ‘quiet’ approaches is that they are all being carried out, well, quietly!

Employees found themselves struggling to communicate their need for boundaries at work, and so began to quietly build them themselves. Employers were struggling with communicating with staff who they felt were underperforming, and so began to quietly push them away. And now we have companies who are trying to quietly repair skill gaps, which could result in more quiet quitting … which will, in turn, lead to more quiet firing.

It is a vicious, surreptitious cycle which could be avoided if employers and employees spoke up rather than clammed up about their mutual needs and expectations.

This means encouraging and supporting a dialogue between managers and their direct reports about their wellbeing needs, as well as managers knowing how to help employees they feel may be underperforming.

And when it comes to filling those short-term gaps, the best approach is to be open with your people about what the company needs to do – and how you plan to do it. Then sit back and listen to what they have to say, because a productive two-way dialogue is always better than the sound of silence.

To get in touch with us about any communication and culture needs you may have, head over to our contact page.

Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020

With the pandemic altering the fundamental structure of work, many employers have been wading through several stages of grief as they realize there is no “returning to normal” and remote/hybrid working models are here to stay. As we venture into a new year – three years after the pandemic began – employers appear to be entering the final stage of grief: acceptance. And this ‘acceptance’ can help organizations thrive with the introducing of a Chief Remote Officer (CRO).

According to the State of Remote Work Report 2022, 60% of employers in the US require staff to work remotely or in a hybrid capacity.  Now is the time for employers to embed remote work into their foundations and use it as an organizational tool. Employers who are intentional about remote working strategies will be able to build, innovate, and leverage their benefits, and this means clearly establishing how remote work will fit into your company and its culture.

This is where a CRO proves incredibly valuable; having an executive leader dedicated to optimizing remote and hybrid workers ensures a business can create and accelerate opportunity. The CRO finds ways of leveraging remote work in a healthy, productive, and profitable way for employers and employees alike.

They also design policies and programs that remove an individual’s work location as a critical factor for success. With McKinsey finding over 90 million American workers now working remotely or in a hybrid setting, the need for a specialized executive to coordinate and care for this aspect of work has become even more necessary.

Many more responsibilities fall under a CRO – establishing the most effective communication protocols, exchanging and gaining access to shared data, maintaining the organization’s culture, and repurposing the workplace to meet today’s business and workforce needs. Expanding the C-suite to include this new role reflects how many companies’ dynamics have evolved since COVID. Employee needs have changed – people value their time, recognize its importance, and are largely in favor of a remote working lifestyle.

Establishing a role like the CRO allows an organization to move away from being constantly reactive to remote and hybrid work. It is a proactive approach to meeting today’s business and workforce needs. Now is the time to begin looking at how you can best leverage this organizational tool – whether that be from an economic perspective, a people strategy perspective, or to further your environmental, social, and governance agenda. To discuss this topic further, please get in touch with me at amanda@orgshakers.com

Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020

As we enter the new year, many employers are conducting end of year pay reviews for their employees. This year’s pay trends are likely to differ from previous ones due to a variety of factors which may influence how leaders and workers approach their compensation strategy in the coming twelve months. Considering that a recent study by Willis Towers  has revealed that 75% of organizations are struggling to win over new talent, it is critical for companies to actively improve their compensation IQ in order to be a viable talent competitor. 

As there is a clear need for employers to improve their compensation IQ in 2023, consider the following trends that are rising in the compensation space as your organization looks into how best to reward talent.  

  1. Salary Budgets are Rising - A recent report from Salary.com has found that the long-predominant 3% raise has been replaced by a median raise of 4% across all employee categories, breaking the more than 10-year trend of stagnant projected salary increase budgets. A quarter of employers even plan to offer increases between 5-7% this year, marking 2023 as a ‘banner year’ for compensation. It’s good to keep in mind the careful balance organizations will have to strike so as to meet the talent market demands to competitively compensate the workforce in 2023, all while striving for positive financial performance in a difficult economy.  
  1. Data Based Compensation Decisions – Those employers who have limped along without clear salary guidance or practices in past years may find it increasingly difficult to continue down the same path. Now is the time to put in the hard work to build a compensation structure if your organization has been navigating compensation without defined salary ranges. In a data-driven world, employers who leverage competitive salary ranges will find that making data-based compensation decisions for new hire offers, promotions, annual increases and other pay adjustments have an advantage when it comes to attracting and retaining talent while avoiding other pay-related issues such as salary compression and pay equity issues.  
  1. Pay Transparency – Across the board, pay transparency is becoming a hot topic, and if there was a single reason to establish salary ranges, as mentioned above, pay transparency is it. Employees want to work for organizations who are transparent about pay. With the UK’s launching of a pay transparency pilot program and pay transparency legislation beginning to be enforced in multiple US states, it is looking as if being open and honest about compensation is going to become more than an expectation but rather the norm. Doing the work now to establish transparent pay practices and guidelines will help you to, if not get ahead, at least not fall behind the curve of the burgeoning pay transparency movement. You will also be demonstrating to the talent market that your organization values pay equity and equality.  
  1. Pay Communication – How members of the organization discuss pay can be as important as the pay itself. Communication is everything. Now more than ever, organizations should be devoting time to train leaders about how to have effective compensation discussions. Being able to articulate why someone is receiving an increase and how the amount was determined is something that employees want and deserve to know. This means detailing the rationale behind data-based compensation decisions and knowing the difference themselves between pay adjustments, merit increases, lump sum payments, and so on, and why we allocate one over another depending on the circumstance. Educating your HR team, especially Talent Acquisition, is also critical to ensure the organization is painted favourably with fair offers and a well-articulated total rewards package. To be effective in bringing candidates in the door, recruiters must know how to effectively leverage salary ranges and formulate an offer based on the candidate’s experience and alignment to the open role, as well as understanding the current compensation elements someone may be leaving behind. Investing time in proper training helps to foster trust in new and current employees, and will demonstrate why your organization is an attractive place to work, while reminding those who already work for you why they want to continue doing so.  
  1. Geographic Pay Policies – With the rise of remote and hybrid working arrangements, geographic pay differentials are becoming a more prominent topic of discussion, and a highly complex component of compensation. It can be difficult to determine how to approach compensation for people who are performing the same work from different places or if it makes sense to differentiate compensation between remote and on-site workers in areas with different costs of living. Borderwork’s Geographic Pay Policies study found that of the 62% of organizations with existing geo-pay policies, 44% of them are considering modifying or have modified their policies due to the increase in full-time remote work. There is a growing need to develop strategies to navigate this in the coming year as inflation continues to impact the cost of living and the concept of how we work continues to evolve. 
  1. Getting Creative - Compensation is both a science and an art. Creative solutions to compensating the workforce are always worth exploring. Effective compensation programs require that you compensate the right people, at the right time, at the right level, in the right way. Creative solutions will be circumstantial but could include some of the following to effectively attract or retain the right talent: establishing new and innovative incentive programs, re-thinking employee recognition, improving leverage of sign-on and retention bonuses, offering sabbaticals, 4-day workweeks or instituting programs to emphasize your company’s commitment to making a positive social and/or environmental impact, just to name a few. 

Making the effort to invest in improving your compensation IQ as an employer can be the differentiating factors when it comes to your talent strategy in 2023. Amongst the rising inflation rates, the cost-of-living crisis and changing attitudes towards work, understanding how to leverage compensation as a way of making you stand out will help ensure you are bringing in the right people. To discuss growing your compensation IQ or reviewing your compensation strategy in more detail, get in touch with me at alisa.cardenas@orgshakers.com  

Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020

Recently, Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg laid off more than 11,000 employees due to a drop in profits, and this saw shares in the company sink by almost 20%. This is all without mentioning the anonymous reviews being left by former Meta employees on Blind – with one of them claiming that “the metaverse will be our slow death”. Suddenly, after months of being told that the metaverse is going to be the next step in the working world, people have begun to question this sentiment.

The metaverse is being marketed as the saving grace of hybrid, remote and global working. A digital space where users can interact with a face-to-face element from the comfort of their homes, allowing for company culture to remain intact, as well as revitalizing the ability to socialise with colleagues. It’s great on paper – but the whole point of the metaverse is its paperless allure.

Which brings me to the question – do we actually need it? Aside from the new wave of HR-related issues that would have to be navigated, seeing the sudden drop in its financial potential has spotlighted the fact that the metaverse may be a solution looking for a problem.

When we look deeper into what it is offering, it is presenting itself as the next step after Zoom and Teams, but is it more of just a sidestep? Video calling allows for face-to-face communication and global communication with ease, and now, after lockdown, most people have been trained and come to terms with the ins and outs of remote work. Introducing the metaverse into the workplace – which does the same thing but sounds cooler – could bring on more confusion than it’s worth. It would require an entire new set of training for colleagues to understand how to use the virtual reality headsets, as well as the purchasing of said equipment.

And while avatars are meant to make interaction in the metaverse more personable, will they be able to capture the non-verbal cues that are just as telling as someone’s verbal communications? Or will it require employees to become fluent in Cybernese, the emerging non-verbal language of the digital world? On Zoom, we can still see facial expressions and, to a degree, examine body language, but would this be the case with an avatar that is mimicking your behavior, or would it require a new set of knowledge entirely?

There is obvious attraction for a digital world – and the strides that could be taken in more hands-on jobs (such as mechanical engineering and biomedicine) could be life-changing for the future. But in terms of office jobs, it may be pulling at the wrong lever. A recent poll that OrgShakers conducted seemingly confirms this, as 50% of respondents did not want to use the metaverse, 22% didn’t know what it was, and no one said they were excited about it.

And with products like Sneek – which allows remote workers to see their fellow colleagues as they work and jump into instant video chats with them – the concerns that hybrid work has brought are already being solved without the need to venture into a digital landscape.

As it stands, the metaverse’s integration into corporate life could go either way – but while up to this point I had been viewing it as a huge step forward in the way we work, I am now beginning to think that we all might be blinded by its hype.

Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020

If you are thinking ‘what on earth is Cybernese?’ you may be surprised to discover that it is a rapidly evolving language that we all need to become fluent in – fast. Because Cybernese is the non-verbal, online language we have all begun to adopt since the mass exodus from the office to remote and hybrid work.

In the physical world, the idea that body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice can communicate as much as the actual words coming out of your mouth is a familiar one. So, being able to ‘read’ people is an important skill which can give us valuable insights into what they actually think and feel about something (or someone).

With more and more interaction happening online, we are now having to interpret a whole new set of non-verbal signals – Cybernese.

For example, services like Zoom and Teams have become an integral part to working from home. And whilst now it is more difficult to decipher body language from just a person’s head and shoulders, there are other aspects of non-verbal Zoom etiquette which convey a whole new set of different meanings – intentional or otherwise.

Do you attend meetings with your camera off? A recent study found that 92% of US executives believed that employees who had their cameras off probably did not have a long-term future at their organization.

And what about the background you use when on a video call? What does it imply about you and the kind of worker you are?

It is no surprise that those who are already somewhat fluent in ‘Cybernese’ are Gen Z workers – they are digital-natives with an almost intuitive understanding of the internet and social media. Research shows that 98% of Gen Z own a smartphone, and almost all of them use social media in some form.  For younger workers, myself included, understanding all the non-verbal nuances in the digital world is something that we just know how to do – partly because we were the ones who invented them!

Take the emoji for instance. Originally conceived as icons to help add expressions to your text messages, many emojis now hold hidden meanings that are much less obvious to those who have not grown up using them. If your manager is sending you an eggplant emoji to tell you they are having a veggie parmigiana for dinner, this may not quite come across as intended…

Pre-pandemic, ‘Cybernese’ existed primarily as a means for young people to communicate amongst themselves without the older generation understanding what was being said. This is not a new idea; in the Victorian era flowers were used to send silent messages, with different flowers holding different meanings. Similarly, in 1970s New York, many gay men would use a handkerchief code to signal to each other. So, having a hidden, non-verbal language is not a new phenomenon – but what is new is the sudden need for this language to be understood by almost everyone in order to avoid any potential mishaps.

‘Cybernese’ could open a potential communication gap between staff – especially those from different generations – and so introducing a new set of training for digital non-verbal cues would be a great way to ensure that employers and employees alike know exactly how to market themselves. And with Gen Z steadily flowing into the workforce, as well as remote and hybrid working becoming more and more popular, now is the perfect time to seize this opportunity.

To get in touch with us and discuss this topic further, head over to our contact page.

Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020

As we venture into this new year, none of us can be sure what the future holds. However, with ‘unprecedented’ events becoming commonplace this decade, there are sure to be more than a few surprises in store for employers over the next 12-months.

But the truth about ‘surprises’ is that very often we will have had an idea they were coming our way. So, whether it’s based on the extrapolation of an established trend or simply ‘gut instinct’ based on years’ of experience, we asked the OrgShakers to predict what will be surprising us in 2023.

  • Stephanie Rodriguez believes that many organizations will be wrong-footed by the increase in employees putting boundaries around their working hours. A significant proportion of business leaders and front-line managers still cling to the belief that staff ‘prove’ themselves by how long they work and their ability to always be available. With the rising popularity of remote working, it has become even more difficult to adhere to normal working hours due to the ability to work whenever from wherever. And so 2023 is going to see the misnomer that is ‘quiet quitting’ actually becoming a necessary step for the physical and mental wellbeing of employees. Learning to navigate this new attitude towards work is going to be a new challenge in the coming twelve months.
  • Therese Procter believes that businesses may falter due to organizational paralysis. Quite simply, the past 2-3 years have been so overwhelming that many leaders are struggling to identify a way forward. Therefore, she believes that we are going to see many more organizations reaching out to consultancies about people trends and how to navigate through difficult times. In addition, 2023 is the year of power skills for those in charge – she believes there is going to be a surge of leaders developing their emotional intelligence and empathetic skills, as this will help them to really understand the evolving needs of their team.
  • Amanda Holland believes that leaders may be surprised by the increasing importance their employees place on ‘making a difference’. The social agenda has been brought to the forefront in 2022, and now many people want to work somewhere that they believe reflects their values. Allowing employees to play their part in driving the social impact of the organization could enhance recruitment and retention result and accelerate collaboration and innovation in the workplace. She also believes there is going to be a rise in demand for remote work in the metaverse, as people seek a more realistic human connection in a virtual space.
  • Sayid Hussein agrees that there is a greater focus on the digital employee experience, adding that this may also accelerate the adoption of the four-day working week. 100 UK companies have already signed up for a permanent four-day week which he believes will act as a catalyst to propel this idea forward. Firms will, however, need guidance in navigating this new way of work.
  • Pamela Kingsland predicts that a surprise employers may encounter in the coming year is the rise of individualisation in corporate culture. The demand for flexible work schedules, tailored rewards and benefits, and personal development plans will continue to rise, as well as the emerging concept of individualised wellness. This would be data driven, and focus on people having customized gut biome treatments, individualised vitamins, and tailored exercises to a person’s specific metabolism, as well as neurological fingerprinting. Bodily health and brain health will play a big part in optimizing people to their full potential, not just as workers but as human beings.
  • And finally, one of the biggest surprises that Alisa Cardenas believes employers may see is the establishment of white-collar trade unions. There has been a significant rise in employee consciousness as we have emerged from lockdown. People have become more inclined to question the five-day, nine-to-five structure. Remote and hybrid work has introduced a new type of flexibility and being faced with a pandemic has caused a mass recalibration of what people value. We may see this begin to emerge through new unions being established in the corporate sectors.

What we do know for certain is that 2022 brought with it many unexpected surprises that had a great effect on the working world, and so as we venture into 2023, OrgShakers are ready to help employers optimize every opportunity that comes their way. To get in touch with us about your people strategy or organization dynamics, head over here.

Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020

2022 was yet another memorable addition to the 21st century’s ‘roaring twenties’.  

With the working world still adapting to the changes that the pandemic brought, as well as the rise of the metaverse and the cost-of-living crisis, there are a lot of things that employers, upon reflection, may want to leave in the past so that they can focus on the new year – and new opportunities – that lay ahead.  

The OrgShakers team, therefore, have put together a list of thoughts that we think organizations should leave in 2022 in order to propel them upwards in the year to come:  

  • Amanda Holland believes that employers need to leave behind the idea of returning to how things used to be pre-COVID. Executives need to shift their mindset from treading water until things ‘return to normal’ to learning how to thrive in the ‘new normal’. The needs of the workforce have changed significantly, and this needs to be embraced in 2023.  
  • Building on this, Stephanie Rodriguez advises that organizations stop placing an emphasis on material in-office ‘benefits’. Free snacks, ping pong tables and nap pods are all great and fun additions to an office space, but they are also almost a given now. Instead, companies should start placing more emphasis on benefits that truly matter to most people, such as mental health assistance, flexible working, advancement opportunities and improved leave policies. This would more accurately reflect the benefits that people care about and seek out the most.  
  • Therese Procter believes that leaders need to be leaving behind the belief that asking for help is a sign of weakness. After the recently missed penalty in the England V France World Cup game, former international soccer professional Roy Keane made the point that ‘pressure will disturb even the most professional and most calm’, and this is a mindset that leaders should be adopting. The past year has brought with it countless pressures and surprises in the political, economic and social climate, and so looking ahead, executives need to focus on removing this stigma around seeking out a coach or an advisor to help them, as this will only result in making them stronger and more capable.  
  • According to Sayid Hussein, employers need to be leaving behind their apathy to cybersecurity. With 2022 seeing more cyber-attacks than ever, it is important that companies begin to improve their security measures in order to keep their data secure. Provident Bank recently conducted a survey for small businesses which found that only half of companies felt they were fully prepared for an attack. And with phishing being the most popular form of attack this year – 83% of companies said that this was how they were targeted – it is critical that organizations are leaving behind their flippancy to online security and focusing on strengthening it in the coming year.  
  • For Alisa Cardenas, it’s about organizations leaving behind the ambiguity of where their employees are investing their 401K contributions, and instead encouraging staff to invest in their values and the values of the company. Looking at companies like Invest Your Values, leaders can start to nourish their environmental, social and governance agenda by encouraging their teams to invest their money into mutual funds and exchange-traded funds that have a more positive environmental and social impact.  
  • And, finally, Pamela Kingsland believes that the way we look at business and capitalism as a whole needs to be left behind, and instead urges business leaders to begin humanising capitalism. As discussed in Hubert Joly’s new book, companies need to find ways to link an individual’s search for meaning to the overall purpose of the business, as this will allow for a more sustainable and wellness-focused workplace.   

If you want to get in touch with us surrounding any of these points, you can do so here

Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020

For many around the world the festive season is upon us once again – a time of celebration, family gatherings and neighbourly sharing. These days, it is also underpinned by a flurry of purchases to achieve the idyllic picture of copious presents sitting under the Christmas tree. And as our TVs and social media feeds fill up with retail adverts encouraging us to part with our hard-earned cash, it will be no surprise to hear that online sales have increased by almost a trillion dollars worldwide between 2020 and 2021.

Whilst the COVID pandemic accelerated this trend, using the internet to buy goods has already become second nature to many of us. The rise of the online marketplace is something that employers are keenly involved in, and make most of their goods and services accessible from in order to apply to the largest group of consumers.

And yet, if companies were to take a step back, they would see that there are 10 million people lacking basic digital skills in the UK alone. This is a vast pool of potential clients who are unable to access those online services and interact with the world of e-commerce, which is a large potential profit being lost, especially during the holidays when commercialism is booming.

Signposting and providing alternative options and channels for customers to communicate with your organization will help to open your virtual business doors to those who were previously being excluded as they didn’t know how, do not have, or cannot use the digital technology of today. Upskilling those staff who are customer-facing will also help widen communication abilities – but this brings into question the digital competency of your staff, too.

If we look more closely, there is a large potential pool of talent that is being iced out due to a lack of digital proficiency. The recent FutureDotNow report, which examined how many people could complete Lloyds’ Essential Digital Skills for Work tasks, found that only 32% of the UK workforce were able to complete all 17. And yet, a report published by Oxford Economics has discovered that by 2030, 75% of jobs will require advanced digital skills.

What we are seeing is that workers and consumers alike are yet to fully develop their digital abilities, and so if a company is not finding alternative ways to access these groups of people, then they are at risk of missing out on a large opportunity to increase their market scope as well as their hiring potential.

Employers should also consider offering training to new staff in their digital comprehension, as this will ensure that everyone has the desired skills they need to be able to successfully achieve at their place of employment. This also means that all the experience that has been gained from those older workers who are less tech-savvy will not go to waste, helping to further enrich and diversify your talent.

To discuss any of these topics further, or for guidance on how to create an accessible business model, get in touch with me at gavin.jones@orgshakers.com

Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020

Creating the conditions which enable employees to be engaged and motivated should be a top priority for employers. Gallup’s State of the Global Workforce report, which found that only 21% of employees were actively engaged at work, sadly shed light on the fact that employee engagement is not being done effectively, or even prioritised, and the result is unhappy employees. This unhappiness will affect performance and will lead inevitably to unhappy customers and less successful business outcomes.

Employee engagement should be an important year-round focus, but we can do some things to help create a ‘reset’ at the beginning of the New Year and support our teams to reengage with their work. 16th January 2023 will be ‘Blue Monday’ in the UK, so called (and coined by a psychologist Cliff Arnall) because of people returning to work post-holiday to bad weather, debt and low levels of motivation. This does not apply to everyone of course, but how can employers help counteract this?

The end of year holiday period creates a ‘pause’ which people are often desperately looking forward to. With our ‘always on’ working lives, and what seems to have been an epidemic of overwork this year, many people are limping towards the finishing line of what has felt like the Marathon of 2022.  The joy of having some rest time with family and friends also creates time and space for people to think about their lives, the good and the ‘not so good’, and in particular their work lives, and how this aligns with their personal aspirations.

Rather than just hoping that people will come back from their holidays refreshed and suddenly regain engagement, we are suggesting that employers need to be proactive this new year and enable a January ‘reset’.

A key part of a leader’s role is to tap into what motivates their people, to carry the torch for the organisational purpose and create excitement about what they are to achieve in 2023 through their ability to create an engaging story of what might be.

We would like to suggest a few things businesses can do to enable a reset:

  • Make a point of welcoming everyone back. This may sound obvious but do we do it? The best way to start the year from a leadership perspective is to have a proper welcome back catch up with all your team members. Dedicate some time early in the year to get together, share holiday stories and discuss aspirations for the upcoming year. Not just going straight in talking about detailed task objectives but discussing what they would aspire to see happen in 2023. Human beings like to feel valuable, and feel that they belong, so these conversations are vitally important in maintaining the ‘social glue’ that ties teams together and in ensuring we value our colleagues and humanise our workplaces.
  • Restating and realigning purpose. Rather than just carrying on where we left off in December, the New Year gives you as leader the ideal opportunity to restate the organisational purpose; to reconnect your people with the ‘why’ we do what we do. You can reconnect your team members with their role in achieving the overall purpose of the organisation and remind them of their purpose and their value to you and the organisation. We often have a ‘look back’ at the end of a year but are less inclined to have a ‘look forward’ at the beginning of the New one as we throw ourselves straight into the work. Whatever happened last year, we are now looking forward and need to focus on what we can do in the future. This ‘look forward’ reminder also ensures that everyone is venturing into this new year with a clear sense of what the company is aiming to achieve, and this restatement of purpose can help strengthen team bonds as well as create alignment and improve the speed at which these goals are met.

My suggested reading for points 1. and 2. is ‘The Heart of Business’ by Hubert Joly – his personal playbook for achieving extraordinary outcomes by putting people and purpose at the heart of business.

  •  Speaking of goals…we all know it’s a common tradition to set new year’s resolutions for our personal goals, but there’s no reason why companies shouldn’t support this ethos. Asking each team member to set a motivational goal at the beginning of the year, that you and they can check in on every month or so, is a great way to engage people and have them work towards something other than their day-to-day organisational tasks. It may be to learn something new, go to a particular conference, or to shadow someone. It does not have to be part of their development plan but must be something that means something to them personally, like getting involved in the organisation’s corporate social responsibility events or supporting a particular charity or cause.
  • Prioritise wellbeing. 2022 was an arduous year for a lot of us – cost-of-living worries are following us into the new year, as well as increased stress levels and increasing levels of burnout. We at OrgShakers prioritise supporting wellbeing in the workplace, not just as a moral issue but as a key business driver. We understand that it makes sense to actively and consciously enhance employee wellbeing rather than having to keep fixing issues arising from overwork and stress. Adopting the January ‘reset’ mindset means making wellbeing a priority from the get-go. Consider as an organisation what you can do to create a culture of wellbeing, how you might change last year’s working practices to create the conditions for employee wellness in 2023 and see the business benefits that will follow this. Einstein said that the definition of insanity was ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’. What can you change as a leader, and as an organisation, to create a more engaged and healthier workforce?

A strong start to your business year can make all the difference and engaging in a January reset will have big business benefits. If you would like to discuss these and other ways to create this reset, you can get in touch with me at pamela@orgshakers.com

Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020

As the festive season settles, whispers of the staff holiday party will begin to circulate. A tradition amongst many companies, it is a chance for managers and team members alike to spend some sociable time together without the pressures of work. It can be a great night, but to ensure there are no incoming HR hazards, here are a few tips and tricks we have put together to keep things fun, festive, and appropriate:

  1. Keep cultural traditions front of mindDecember is home to many religious festivals, not just Christmas. So, when hosting your staff party, try to be mindful to the diversification of your staff – if you know that there are some who celebrate different festivities, such as Hanukkah or Bodhi Day, then try and incorporate these into the party in some way. This can be as simple as having a variety of decorations from each faith, or incorporating some fun activities from the different holidays (a menorah ring toss can really bring the competitive spirit!). This will ensure that everyone who is participating feels properly included.
  2. Speaking of participation…not all staff will want to attend a holiday party. Whether that be due to prior engagements, not wanting to be around alcohol or simply being introverted, it is important to emphasise to your team that attendance is not mandatory. That said, making the event as inclusive as possible will result in the best turnout!
  3. Exchanging gifts – many employers may want to do a fun gift exchange – whether that be a game of secret santa or white elephant – and this can be a great way of bringing the team together and bonding over some fun. However, it is important to make this a voluntary venture. With the cost-of-living crisis hitting us all this year, some people may not have the means of participating in extra gift giving, and so ensuring that it is known that this is voluntary will help stifle any shame someone might have about not wanting to play. And, if you are a remote company but still wanted to do a gift exchange, you can participate in White Elephant Online by sharing your screen to still get involved with the fun.
  4. Easy on the eggnog – if you are offering alcohol at your end of year party, be sure to have included a set amount in the budget for safe transportation home for all employees. Whether this be through giving everyone Uber credit or reimbursing for train tickets, leaders have a responsibility to ensure the safety of staff. Similarly, when drinking, be sure to make it clear that a certain level of conduct still needs to be maintained.
  5. Show appreciation – a great addition to any holiday party is for leaders to find a way to show how much they appreciate everything their staff has done for them and the company throughout the year. This can be as simple as giving everyone a card, or a small goody bag. Or, if money is tight, it could be in the form of a fun gimmick – if you are serving food at the party, all the managers could be the servers for the night to flip the hierarchy!
  6. It doesn’t have to be a ‘party’ – an end of year celebration can be expensive, and in financially straining times, it can sometimes be difficult to find the means of putting a party together. But this does not mean you can’t come together in different ways. A great counter option is volunteering as a group at a local food bank or charity – the gift of giving back is always a rewarding one, and can help unite you as a team.

However you end up celebrating with your employees, the best things to take away are to be inclusive to all and to make your team members aware of how much you value them. This is a great opportunity to strengthen interpersonal bonds and bring colleagues closer together, and to let your hair down! If you need advice and/or guidance on hosting your holiday party, you can get in touch with me at brittany@orgshakers.com

Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020

Often times, the mention of December will most likely be identified with Christmas – lights go up, grottos come out, employers across all sectors begin preparing for the rush of commercialism that accompanies this time of year.

But in reality, Christmas is just one of many festivities that is celebrated in December. And yet many companies will adopt this tunnel vision towards the Christian holiday and fail to acknowledge any others, despite the fact that their workforce could be made up of a diverse mix of team members who may have varying beliefs and traditions.

To be an inclusive employer, this requires recognizing that the holidays are woven with many varying celebrations. By doing so, you will be able to strengthen the interpersonal connections and increase collaboration amongst colleagues, which will create connectedness with your team as a whole.

There are many ways to start doing this – the simplest of them being fostering an environment where cross-cultural differences and similarities are regularly discussed – especially during holidays. Encouraging team members to share their beliefs means that others will know how best to greet them during this festive time.  If team members know that their colleague is Jewish, they will make that effort to wish them a Happy Hanukkah, and if they know someone is Christian, they will say Merry Christmas. Or, if there are members of staff who celebrate nothing at this time, then a neutral ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Season’s Greetings’ will suffice.

Similarly, if leaders are taking the time to get to know their team members on a personal level, their team members are going to feel seen, valued and heard, and this leads to feeling a sense of belonging. A sense of belonging is the gift that keeps on giving, and will in turn motivate team members to be talent scouts who invite those they care about to join their place of employment; the thought of quiet quitting will never even cross their mind.

Inclusivity in the holidays comes down to taking the time to know what is going on, know your team members, and making sure your team members know each other, too. December hosts Bodhi Day for those who are Buddhist, Winter Solstice for those who are Pagan, Hannukah for Jewish employees, Christmas for Christian employees and Kwanzaa for African American employees who celebrate this.

When decorating the office, there is no harm in pulling inspiration from all of these festivities – tinsel, menorah’s (although, for health and safety, not lit) and harvest baskets can make anyone celebrating feel that little bit more included, and this is a great way of keeping engagement and morale up during a particularly busy time of year for business.

It is about bridging that gap between tolerance and acceptance. Leaders do not want their team members feeling as if they are tolerant of their different beliefs, they want them to feel like they are accepted and respected in their workplace. Encouraging the team to get to know each other and ask how they would like to be greeted this holiday season will help solidify this acceptance mindset in your culture, and this will be a greatly positive force going forwards.

In the end, you will have a stronger team and an improved rapport with your people – and this can only have a positive knock-on effect for your business. If you need guidance on implementing inclusion strategies for the holidays or for the new year to come, get in touch with me at marty@orgshakers.com

Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020

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