optimize decision making

This is the Truest Super Human Power: How Managers Can Optimize Decision Making

If there was a superpower that could be life-changing, most people would think the power of invisibility, flight, or eternal good hair days. True, it would be reality-shattering to wake up everyday with perfectly groomed locks, but there’s something else people often overlook:

The power to make good decisions.

In this day and age, where we live like sea creatures in ocean’s of information, choice is everywhere. Sometimes it feels we’re one (or a few) poor decisions away from accomplishing our career goals or finding the right partner.

In Barry Schwartz’s The Paradox of Choice, he writes how being a smart decision maker can make the biggest change in our life.

After millions of years of survival based on simple distinctions, it may simply be that we are biologically unprepared for the number of choices we face in the modern world.

“Unlike other negative emotions—anger, sadness, disappointment, even grief—what is so difficult about regret is the feeling that the regrettable state of affairs could have been avoided and that it could have been avoided by you, if only you had chosen differently.”

Thinking on choice and regret applies to everyone at every stage in their professional and personal trajectory. Our world of automatic payment, food delivery, and potential date for Friday night means more possibility—but excessive choice increases our chances for potential suffering as well. When we have more choices, we hypothetically think of the trade-offs we’re leaving behind. When we make a decision, we are leaving lots of things on the table, more so than any other time in human history.

This begs the question for business owners, executives, and managers alike:

How can I increase the possibility of making wise decisions when there are more decisions to be made and less time to make them?

It starts with your mind.

Schwartz recommends these 5 steps to optimize your decision making—and leaves you feeling more satisfied about your decisions.

1.Make decisions irreversible

Forget about trying to keep your options open. It’s psychologically draining and in general, useless in accomplishing your goals. Eliminate options. Make the most irreversible decision. A study published in the Journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science showcased research that showed people tended to be divvied into two groups when making a decision: maximizing decision makers and satisfying decision makers. Maximizers conduct extensive research for the best solution; Satisfiers research for the best solution, but don’t do it exhaustively. The happier of the two groups, the satisfiers, disproportionally chose irreversible decision making.

2. Be a Satisfier

It may be tempting to conduct a draining search for the best candidates for the new hiring season. You simply want the best person who will do the best work. What’s wrong with that? It takes significant emotional and psychological resources to make decisions á la maximizing. There’s simply no time for that. You’ve got people to manage, parents to call, dry cleaning to pick up…in short, you’ve got to keep your sanity. Maximizers tend to continue wondering, slaving over whether they made a good decision or not. Satisfiers lay out the talent needs and requirements and hire the most suited candidate, then drops it.

3. When you can, defer to the expert

Reserve your cognitive resources for things you know about and care deeply about (like composing music or raising your children). There will come time when you are in a situation that you are completely unsure about; find the experts and defer to their expertise. In Straight Choices: The Psychology of Decision Making, the authors-researchers point out that experts are "less susceptible to biases than non-experts”. Schwartz highlights a study that showed 65 percent of people would choose their own cancer treatment, if they ever had cancer. For the people who actually had cancer, 88 percent of them preferred to defer cancer treatment choosing to their doctors.

4. Set aside time for gratitude

When deciding, gently remind yourself that you’re able to make this decision, that you have the opportunity to receive, make, or change something in life. If you want to be a manager that tends to do more satisfying decisions making, appreciate the team you do have. Pay attention to all the project details that are going right. Managers that say "thank you" to team members who work for them tend make these employees feel more motivated. Research conducted at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania found that when university fund raisers were given a pep talk by the director—who highlighted the specific needs being met with the raised money—fund raisers doubled the amount of phone calls made, increasing the amount of donations. Gratitude goes a long way.

5. Forget the Jones'

Stop comparing yourself, your life, and your choices with anyone else. Social comparison is the robber of joy. If you do, your choices may be influenced by others’ needs and abilities. If you can’t afford a Lexus, then it makes little rational sense to keep up with your manager friends who can. Good decisions means making choices that are suited for your life and goals.

 

At absence.io , we’ve optimized absence management. Companies like MyTheresa, Check24, and even governments trust our tool to easily manage their employees’ planned (and unplanned) absences. Smart delegation for the win.

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Do Your Employees Have Summer Depression? Help Them Beat the Heat

There’s a darker side to the sunnies time of year. No, it’s not viewing your lack of muscle definition in searing sunlight. It’s a little-known phenomenon termed reverse SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). SAD is temporary depression that is heavily influenced by weather. Normally people associate its symptoms (depression, loss of appetite, low energy) with the winter months. Diminished sunlight and shorter days during these months means lower serotonin, known as a mood elevator, the chemical responsible for making us feel happy.

But some individuals experience SAD symptoms even during sunny summer. You may notice some employees’ mood worsening during these past few months. According to a study published in the prestigious science journal, Nature, a link has been found between increasing temperatures and suicide rates. For every one degree increase in average temperature, the suicide rate increases by 0.7 percent. Employee summer depression is serious correlation—one that employers and managers can be mindful of during the hottest time of year.

Reverse SAD may occur to only 10 percent of those suffering from SAD, but addressing employees needs during this time is vital. Anxiety and depression cost companies a significant loss in productivity. Reverse SAD sufferers frequently mention the little escape from heat, feeling pressure they should be outside enjoying the outdoors like their friends, or feeling anxious about heatstroke or dehydration.

With constant feed of friends showcasing their holidays on Instagram, everyone outside barbecuing at the park, or hanging out a music festival, reverse SAD can be  an isolating experience—which is likely to further drive employees into depression or anxiety attacks.

What can companies do to keep productivity and morale high despite the heat?

employee summer depression

Eliminate heat at the office

No one wants to work in a stifling workspace, reverse SAD or not. Employees will have difficulty focusing, thinking, and make good decisions. If your cooling unit is unit and it’s a hot day outside, think of allowing employees to work from home. 67 percent of employees agree they feel more productive when they’re able to work remotely.

Stock chilled essentials

Even if it’s not within your company policy to give employees free drinks or food, stocking chilled bottled water and fruit goes a long way. It boosts morale for employees knowing they won’t be dehydrated at the office. Nibbling on cooled fruit keeps employees from heatstroke and their energy—and mood—levels steady (during the summer months, our bodies lose more water as the body works to cool it down. This means the body needs to replace the lost water and energy).

Offer optional fans

Give employees the option to have fans in their workplace. It can be small fans that they’re able to put on their desk or a larger one that can accommodate a few employees. In a warm office, moving air can make a big difference on employee mood.

Create a budget and/or workshop

If you’re managing people, you know planning makes all the difference is smooth sailing. For the yearly budget, put aside a small budget for purchasing bottled water, cooling snacks, and fans for employees. Even though the phenomenon is still relatively new to research, arrange a small workshop with employees in how they can keep cool during the summer. They can teach strategies like keeping a room dark (to avoid insomnia and keep it cool) or who to contact when they are experiencing symptoms.

 

At absence.io , we’ve optimized absence management. Companies like MyTheresa, Check24, and even governments trust our tool to easily manage their employees’ planned (and unplanned) absences. Smart delegation for the win.

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Understand the Employee Subconscious: Smart Hiring Using the Enneagram Test

How can a personality test be useful when hiring? Finding the right person for the job is the number one hiring priority. A bad hire costs companies productivity, time, and budget. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average cost of a bad hire is 30 percent of their salary. For example, a junior developer’s salary may be $60,000, but if it’s a poor fit, the company will pay $78,000. An organization pays for lost productivity, on boarding expenses, and recruiting costs.

enneagram

 

A personality test may seem trite, but it could save significant money. A better understanding of a candidate’s personality could go a long way. When employees are better understood, they are better utilized. But how do optimize your understanding of candidates and colleagues? In the words of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “know thy thyself” is the essential start point—and a personality test is the tool.

For human resources managers, they may be already acquainted with the Myers-Briggs test, which focuses on cognitive functions (how a person processes information). What could be of greater support in understanding the holistic view of a person’s personality—-beyond how they think—is recognizing what their fundamental motivations, fears, and strengths might be.

The Enneagram may be the next best thing in a manager's toolkit.

The Enneagram is a psychological classification tool that frames varying personalities into 9 different types. Developed in the late 1990s by psychology researchers, the tool offers a more concise view into what drives different types at a subconscious level and what are the typical strategies they do to satiate their needs. For example, a Type 3 personality, known as the Achiever, is motivated to impress or be admired by others. This could be a valuable tool in recognizing their efforts within the workplace, admiring their strides.

Hiring Enneagram: Take the quiz below to learn which Type you are.

Then head, over to the Art of Well-Being. We found it provided a great overview of the Enneagram system, how it works and mono information on the 9 personality types.

If you’re interested in learning more or how it can serve your hiring needs, take the official test. The test costs $12 and takes around 40 minutes to complete. When you’re done, results will be instantly emailed to you.

At absence.io, we’ve optimized absence management. Companies like MyTheresa, Check24 and even governments trust our tool to easily manage their employees’ planned (and unplanned) absences. Smart delegation for the win.

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art of delegation

Decide to Delegate, Plan to Succeed: the Principles Behind the Art of Delegation

The art of delegation is essential if you own your business, manage a team, or run a household. In short, delegation is part of every aspect in life (except working out—unfortunately one can’t outsource cardio). Managers need to learn to successfully delegate work to employees. If they don’t, major productivity is being lost. According to a survey from SHL, a US psychometric testing company, managers spend around 14% of their time redoing tasks and correcting employees’ mistakes. Talk about a manager’s worst nightmare.

If you effectively implement delegation into your daily work, you will be to dedicate more energy to more complex tasks, give junior employees the opportunity to learn, and build a workplace of trust.

When learning the art of delegation, focus on these 5 principles:

art of delegation

 

Review actual work tasks

Your job description may include a few of the things you actually do on a day-to-day basis, but take stock of all tasks you actualize during your day. Write down a list of things that you do daily. Pay attention to which tasks must be done by you and you alone. What are your other activities? Do you answer company emails when you don’t necessarily have to? Are you taking notes during a client meeting when it’s more important to converse? Some managers might believe that these tasks should done by them. The important question to ask when reviewing each task and whether it can be delegated, “Am I crucial component to the completion of this task?” If a task does not have to be understood and analyzed by you, delegate it.

Find the right person

Delegation is useless if you’re not shifting a task to the person who can complete it successfully. It would be like delegating estate brokering to a 5 year old, futile and ultimately disastrous. Write down the tasks and/or responsibilities you find you can delegate. Review the abilities of each team member. It’s important that the person you choose can effectively accomplish tasks. It may be tempting to give tasks to the team member that looks less busy or is most junior—don’t. You will be creating a terrible mess in the future—one that you’re responsible for. Know the skills you need will complement your foray into being a better delegator. After you review, you may find that no team member is an exact fit. Now is the time to think about the professional trajectories of team members. Are there team members that have expressed their interested in customer service? Learning SQL? Even if you don’t have the team member to delegate the task right away, you can begin preparing them now to take over later.

Train responsibly

Delegation is a bit like drinking alcohol—it’s only truly fun when you do it responsibly. Training others to do tasks effectively is the greatest way for you save time. Training team members may be a bit of hassle or time-consuming now. But since you’re a strategic, long-term thinker, is is not a chore, it’s an investment to reach your goals.

Make short-term deadlines with context

Tim Ferris, in his New York Times Bestseller, “The 4 Hour Work Week”, told a story of how he hired an assistant to do administrative tasks; he gave the assistant a list of tasks and told him to complete them by the end of the week. The results were sub optimal. The assistant completed the tasks, but did some incorrectly or way too close to the deadline. Ferris’ takeaway: give tasks with short-term deadlines and reveal the bigger picture. Ferris should have explained how these small tasks contribute to a bigger project. Take a note from Ferris and give team members deadlines to check in and update you on their progress. If they’re headed down the wrong path (especially early on in their training or project), this will save them and you frustration. Be sure to share the context of what they’re working. This may give them the freedom to think of better solutions or other options you didn’t think of. It also enables them to stay on track.

Explain “Thank you”

Courtesy shouldn’t be dead in the workplace. Just because someone is getting paid to do tasks is not the same as showing appreciation for the work they do. Give team members a sincere “thank you” during the process. Explain how their tasks helped you accomplish your own goal, which enabled the company to move forward. Depending on your style, do this throughout, at the deadlines, or when the milestone is reached. Think of showing appreciation through a card, a recommendation on LinkedIn, or a gift card to their favorite eatery. It shows that you saw their efforts and were an integral part to a project’s success. Also, they saved you loads of time to focus on important matters to you—which definitely calls for a big “Thank you”, paid or not.

 

At absence.io , we’ve optimized absence management. Companies like MyTheresa, Check24, and even governments trust our tool to easily manage their employees’ planned (and unplanned) absences. Smart delegation for the win.

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power dressing workplace

Dress Like a (Casual) Billionaire: The 5 New Workplace Power Dressing Rules

Forget the suit. Dump the tie. Burn the neural colors.

The world of work is changing. 40% of more companies offer flexible work options. Robots are replacing lawyers. Employees prioritize a healthy work-life balance.

So why wouldn’t our clothes change?

Often power dressing evokes an image of a silver-haired man with a tailored, Italian three-piece suit, a silk tie, and leather loafers. Think Richard Gere’s character in the 1980s classic, American Gigolo. Yet the most powerful people in the world dress like they're heading to the grocery store.

 

modern power dressing
Richard Gere in "American Gigolo"

 

 

 

 

 

 

The most popular example of modern power and new dress is Mark Zuckerberg. The billionaire is known for wearing his simple gray shirt and jeans as his work uniform. With tech upheaving industries, the leaders of those companies are setting the work trend.

Drew Houston, CEO of Dropbox, wears jeans to work. Billionaire founder, Jeff Bezos, is often found sporting a casual polo and aviators. The world’s leaders are dressing like it’s At Home Saturday and the style is trickling down.

A 2017 survey conducted by Travelodge found that 43% of 2,000 participants said that suits had no place in the office. The reason why the hotel operator initiated the study was that hotel managers noticed that less suit-associated wares were being left behind than in past decades. The survey also found that 7 out of 10 people dress casually in jeans and/or chino because they value comfort; more than half of respondent said that dressing casually requires less money and less attention.

Given the survey also found that workers admired Mark Zuckerberg’s and Richard Branson’s style (whose company has no dress code policy), how should we be dressing? We want to exude professionalism, but don't want to stick out like a sore thumb for dressing formally.

What's the new workplace's dress code? There is none. Given the few rules, be sure to keep these principles in the back of your mind.

 

Know the power of a first impression

Fortunately we’re living in an era that men and women can dress to express their personalities. Every industry and workplace has their vibe, but modern employees enjoy the liberty of dressing as they wish. In a world where casual dress code policy is the norm, think of 3 adjectives you want people to think of you upon first meeting you. Luckily you can color a bit outside of the lines according to these words.

Keep it clean and tidy

Just because casual is in does not mean grunge is acceptable. Quite a few people forget between the comfy flip flops and their favorite shirt, one still needs to look presentable. Do not wear clothes that have holes in them or that are wrinkled or dirty. You still have an impression to make for clients and colleagues.

Own a great blazer (or two)

In the Travelodge study, they found a few clothing items still garnered respect, including a blazer. Somehow a blazer can add a gentle professional nod to an otherwise-casual outfit. It can make a person look a little more put-together without making them feel too formal in a roomful of jeans and t-shirts. A blazer, jeans, and a shirt can arguably be the modern power dressing outfit. Find a classic black blazer and another blazer in a versatile print, like plaid or stripes. Check out a few examples below.

power dressing workplace

power dressing workplace

Wear quality shoes

If there’s anything you spend a little more money on in your wardrobe, pick shoes. They endure rain, sun, and tripping; they go through a lot and if they’re not made out of quality, it quickly shows scuff marks, peeling soles, or wrinkle easily. Flip flops may be acceptable in some places in the world; if you’re still keeping it casual, look to closed toes tennis shoes, loafers, or worker boots if you’re a guy. If you’re a woman, pick from the shoe variety of flats, kitten heels, or Converses. Whatever your shoe game, make sure shoes are clean and well-maintained.

power dressing workplace

power dressing workplace

Play with print, color, and texture

Black, navy, and beige have seen their day. Nowadays employees are free to go beyond rolling up their collared white shirt with their gray slacks.  Color, texture, and print are all acceptable to wear in the workplace. Even some of the most formal industries (like consulting) are loosening up. Statement necklaces paired with a knee length dress adds personality. Men can mix lightly patterned pants with a subtle collared shirt (no tie) with no issue. If you work in a more creative field, colors and prints can be bolder. If you do work in a more conservative area, like law or consulting, still play with patterns, but in more neutral colors. Or employ pops of color in small quantities throughout, like socks or cuff links.

power dressing workplace

Power dressing means casual wear that expresses a person’s individuality. Think of how you want others to perceive you at the workplace. Your wardrobe can help you communicate your creativity and ambition. Go ahead, channel Zuck and find what casually expresses you.

 

At absence.io , we’ve optimized absence management. Companies like MyTheresa, Check24, and even governments use our tool to easily manage their employees’ planned (and unplanned) absences.

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time tracking

Time Tracking is Mostly Bullsh*t (Unless You're Conscious of This)

Tracking time is as ancient as…well, time.

The moment man realized the sun, the moon, and the stars kept reappearing at constant intervals, tracking their movement became a species-wide obsession. Man followed the passage of time through bones, water, shadow, and candles.

Fortunately, the human race has nailed down how to precisely keep time, thanks to the first atomic clock in 1955. We even know how to use time keeping as an optimization method due to the early 20th century Efficiency Movement. But the workplace is still trying to optimally integrate digital time tracking into every day operations and tasks.

Like any work place tool, time tracking will only optimize the processes of a consciously-driven organization. A company that expects a tool to suddenly create productive meetings, but fails at rethinking their core business processes will not receive time tracking’s optimal benefits. And—let’s be real—will not remain in business for long.

Yes, we’re Team Time Tracking

We believe companies can only win by integrating time tracking into their everyday. But we also know that it only creates impact when employers are cognizant in how and where they integrate the tool.

Famed Duke University behavioral economist, Dan Ariely—who also sold a time management system to Google in 2015 confirms, “There’s really not that much good research around on these apps, especially because they’re so different from each other”. Not all time tracking tools are useful in all workplace contexts. What works for one team in one particular profession may not translate to another department in the same company.

It’s fundamental for companies and employees to consciously assess if and how time tracking tools would provide support.

Time tracking is not a blanket solution; it requires:

  • informed and thoughtful implementation
  • an employee-employer feedback loop
  • awareness of the potential pitfalls to avoid

Do you want to be informed about the potential gains and drawbacks in considering time tracking? Or maybe you’ve already implemented, but a few concerns are arising?

Read our free white paper and decide how this tool can be integrated into your workplace.

Your ancestors would be proud.

Free Download

At absence.io , we’ve optimized absence management. Companies like MyTheresa, Check24, and even governments use our tool to easily manage their employees’ planned (and unplanned) absences.

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Is Hell Millennials in the Workplace? Millennial Whisperer Lee Caraher Gives Managers 5 Strategies to Survive

Millennials in the workplace.
This sentence alone may induce spastic hallucinations in Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. The younger crowd works a bit differently--and it's causing major friction for employers, the kind of friction that makes flames, bonfires, Dante's Inferno...

CEO and founder of Double Forte, Lee Caraher works with consumer and technology brands in their digital media and public relations needs. She’s a Millennial Whisperer, a communicator, first and foremost. With having written best-selling books on managing an intergenerational workforce, Caraher recognizes communication has changed the most within the workplace. Managing Millennials in the workplace has been Caraher’s greatest communication challenge—until she cracked the code and turned down the heat.

In On the Way to New Work, a podcast led by Hamburg-based Michael Trautmann and Christoph Magnussen, Caraher divulges her learnings from her book, Millennials & Management: The Essential Guide to Making it Work at Work.

What brought Caraher’s attention to assessing how the younger work cohort? “We had eight people quit within 3 weeks. One hire could have been a wrong fit, but to have eight people…that made us look at what we were doing”. Caraher and her team dove deep into analyzing their organizational processes and what makes their younger colleagues tick.

They discovered historical context played a significant role in how Millennials interacted within the workspace.

Millennials have been nicknamed the “Me Generation”, as they have a propensity to seem entitled. Caraher quickly interjects that this is not entirely their fault. Born between 1981 and 1996, Millennials received awards for simply showing up. Heralded in the era of participation trophies and rewards for completing work, these kids received accolades whether they under-performed or not.

Now, as adults in the workforce, Millennials possess certain expectations from their upbringing. Not all are bad for the evolving workplace. The younger cohort prioritizes digitalization, a healthy work-life balance, and care about the environment. Caraher reveals they’re a vocal crowd, helping companies fortify themselves for the future.

From her decades-long experience in managing an intergenerational workforce, Caraher gives On the Way to New Work 5 principles in how to work with these young game-changers.

1.“High input, low democracy”

Caraher recommends to always ask for input. Invite junior and senior employees to the table. Ask for their opinion or how they think a project should move forward. By allowing input, boosts morale and keeps employees engaged and invested. At the end of the day, management makes the decision. But show how and why this decision was arrived at. Show that their “input influence(d) a decision”. Give the context of why a decision was reached. This gives Millennials an outlet for their voice, the company fresh ideas, and reduces management friction.

2. Emphasize every job is important

Perhaps as a residual effect of the United States’ No Child Left Behind Act, Caraher suggests that Millennials do not fully understand what it means to truly deliver. The 2001 education initiative promoted testing as a method to improve students’ educational aptitudes. However, children ended up learning material only for the test, rather than truly mastering the material. Caraher cites how the University of California at Berkley started to remediate 50 percent of freshmen towards writing and math classes at the base level as a result of testing well, but being inadequately prepared to understand the material.

A working paper released by the University of Michigan states “Remediation is widespread, with nearly one-third of entering freshman taking remedial courses at a cost of at least $1 billion per year”. While the paper focuses on the economic impact of remediation, Caraher highlights the problematic nature it has caused. University grade inflation no longer measures a Millennial’s true ability to deliver at the workplace. They believe, since they’re a straight-A student, their professional work is acceptable. In reality it’s below-average work. Caraher suggests to strongly emphasize and remind a Millennial employee that each task needs high-calibre attention.

3. Give requested feedback, but don’t focus on the bad too long

Fortunately, Millennials love feedback. In fact, this generation specifically asks for annual reviews and follow-ups. For employers, this means a sizable amount of eager listeners. What Caraher points out is that employers can give feedback, but be sure not to dwell on the negative too long. Millennials will mentally check out. They believe that even though something is bad, it will likely improve in the future. For employers, managing emotions requires thought and objectivity.

Caraher compares digital products between the 1980s and the 2000s. Before the 21st century, products had to be perfected before they were released. Now it’s not uncommon for video games to be released with only 2 levels, or an app to be incomplete upon launch. Millennials take this same outlook; what may be “bad” now, is only a temporary stage; no need to dwell upon something that will inevitably change.

4. Specify how communication is exchanged

Caraher has found that laying out specific rules for communication channels is a must. Companies know they need to integrate digital tools, but too many remain ineffective in implementing their use. In her work at Double Forte, she has tapped into a method that could be useful for other business owners or human resources managers. Client-related tasks and attachments are forwarded through email. Casual, day-to-day communication happens through Slack. If someone needs to be reached in an emergency, pick up the phone and call them. It may take a bit of getting used to, but streamlining communication means edifying businesses processes.

5. Establish a corporate alumni program

It’s not a common business practice, but it could be a competitive tool in employee retention and satisfaction. Caraher argues that it’s amongst the best things for the sustainability of a business. It’s not a common practice. One could say it comes at direct odds with the understood policy of keeping in touch with former employees: a company simply does not. According to Caraher, 51 percent of companies have a written or understood policy not to rehire once an employee leaves. Once an employee leaves, they become  person non gratis. Caraher thinks this is a lost opportunity. In her research from her second book, The Boomerang Principle, Caraher discovered companies become more efficient with rehires. After all, they already understand the management, the role, the processes. They will churn out productive work sooner than a recent hire. PayPal has a policy that allows an employee to return within 2 years and receive the same benefits and tenure. Caraher suggests that a corporate alumni program gives employees a place to network and reach out, but also gives companies an advantage in recruiting talent.

 

At absence.io , we’ve taken the stress out of an exasperating work task: handling team absences. Companies like MyTheresa and Check24 easily manage their employees’ planned (and unplanned) absences.

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Does Your Company Support the "Sandwich Generation": Redefining Care-Giving

Okay, Google has afford paying for employees’ daycare; Facebook’s deep pockets and Mark Zuckerberg’s personal experience has put paternal leave as a company priority. But what those employees that have to look after aging parents and their children? The "Sandwich Generation" refers to the 1 out of 5 employees that care for an aging individual and children. Companies should rethink how they address both parental care and elder care. For the former,  take inspiration from a company that has had child care center for the past 33 years. They may be a household brand now, but decades ago it was a mom-and-pop retailer.

Maybe it’s hippie-roots, but Patagonia is the anti-thesis of what corporate childcare looks likes. Classrooms are held in the great outdoors, their playground comes equipped with obstacles courses, a “secret” garden where parent and child pick vegetables, and multi-lingual teachers.

For care-giving to multiple generations, take a cue from other programs, such as Colorado-based, pharmaceutical company Astellas. Their program includes benefits that support the Sandwich Generation, like offering geriatric medical service coverage and financial counseling for college.

How can you integrate care-giving as a value?

1. Make care-giving a company priority

Caregiving is a business decision. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) “Sandwich” employees cost their company $2,000 per year in lost productivity. This is no surprise as they juggle looking after children and aging family and friends. Think of how a company’s or managers’s actions can support employees. Could it subside or cover backup or respite costs? Could administrative staff support in researching services that employees would need to do otherwise on their own? Integrate a pipeline to lift a burden off workers’ shoulders; this could be a excellent strategy to retain talent and build loyalty.

2. Define care-giving beyond child care

Care-giving is not a principle only related to caring for children. It’s essential to realize that Companies should consider how their policies support these individuals tend to both children and elders.

3. Integrate care-giving into benefits

 The U.S. lags behind other developed countries in child care support and parental leave; in fact, it is the only advanced economy that does not ensure maternity leave. Employers need to consider the strategic nature of offering family-friendly benefits. Companies, like Coca-Cola, see it as another way to recruit and maintain competitive talent.

Worried over the costs of rolling out a parental leave program?

Managing Director of CBIZ HR Services, Claire Bissot suggests “Start small by providing paid leave for a portion of the total leave available and then allowing unpaid leave thereafter…this can also help build the work habits and cultural shift acceptance for such a program.”

At absence.io, we deliver the world's best absence management program (okay, we're a little biased) to companies like MyTheresa and to governments. Less operational work means more time spent on producing brilliant work--and focusing on loved ones.

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What Makes Working in Tech Different? These 4 Spheres of Angst

VitalSmarts, a company studying and applying principles of human behavior to shape organizational behavior and change, wanted to know what makes working in tech differ from other companies—if there is a difference.

If you’re a business owner or work within a tech company, you know the highs and lows involved within the company. Certain traits within the tech industry exist that may not exist, or appear at a lesser degree in other industries. High turnover rates, the high demand for hard-to-find, technical talent, and intense feelings abide.

VitalSmarts explored how the DNA of a tech company differs from other companies and institutions. Their research spanned 3,600 participants, equally between managers and employees; individuals came from both the tech and non-tech sectors. As interviews progressed, four categories emerged what makes tech uniquely challenging. According to the research team, these 4 categories are foretell the organization’s innovation structure.

1. If the company or project is not the “coolest”—even by a narrow margin—handling top-tier talent is a challenge. Employees will move to another company or project if they feel they aren’t working on the most revered initiatives.

2. Relentless pressure fosters a “hero” culture, which is problematic when it comes to creating a sustainable work life.

3. Tech employees must navigate murky waters when projects are unclear; often the goals of a project, or an entire company, may pivot unexpectedly.

4. The “one big network” effect creates system where personal rapport is given higher priority to fixing problems or keeping colleagues accountable.

VitalSmart found that even experienced managers from other companies did not receive training to address these differences.

If you manage people within a tech company, what can you do to address these points?

1. Initiate a culture of dialogue

Culture makes the difference between a good company and a great company. Having great company culture does not mean free lunches and office bikes; its means creating a transparent culture. Take a page from Ray Dalio, the founder and manager of Bridgewater Associates

“Imagine if you had baseball cards that showed all the performance stats for your people: battling averages, home runs, errors, ERAs, win/loss records. You could see what they did well and poorly and call on the right people to play the right positions in a very transparent way”.

Build a culture that creates dialogue, where people can talk about the status quo within your company. Where they can openly discuss how they feel their job descriptions are murky or that a project is pointless. Employees should feel comfortable to engage in volatile topics. Working in tech demands openness, or else...

2. Build a culture of accountability

Ray Dalio would be proud. Even as a head of an organization that counts Microsoft and world governments as clients, Dalio receives emails from lower-level employees criticizing his performance in a meeting. Build a place where leaders are held accountable and want to open the floor to clear communication. The cultures that clearly address their internal problems are better situated to face the external pressures a tech company often faces.

 

At absence.io, we aim to support companies keep their culture on point. Our absence management system is trusted by MyTheresa, Check24, and even governments.

 

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This May Be the Biggest Pay Off in a Competitive Advantage: Hire a Non-Conformist

Hire a non-conformist. Why? Adam Grant, Wharton’s prolific professor, explains it’s imperative to have off-beat thinkers and doers on a company’s team. In an interview with First Round Capital, Grant outlines why it’s a strategic move for companies to hire “originals”.

 

What is an “original”? According to Grant, originals are “people who go beyond dreaming up the ideas and take initiative to make their visions a reality”. Sometimes to get things done, they may step on a few toes.

What’s so special about non-conformists within a company? They may annoy middle management, but they prove valuable to founders with their innovative solutions. They are trying to push the envelope; they disagree and voice their dissent.

Wait, why does a company need dissenters? Shouldn’t we make sure people fit into our “company culture”?

Grant explains how, because company hires closely resemble the personality and traits of the founders, it’s extra important to hire people with different work DNA. When similar people are recruited and retained by a company, the innovation muscle begins to atrophy, slackening with its homogeneity. For companies, innovation occurs when a culture receives new counterpoints, aka originals.

Grant states, “If you’re five or 500 people, hire as many originals as you can. Yes, there are risks of hiring too many originals — but it’s even riskier to hire too few.” Hiring managers need to work with department heads in talking openly about incorporating a few dissenters in their midst. For business owners, begin thinking of rules or rituals that encourages behavior that fosters creative tension.

What are the first steps of creating an “Originals-Welcome” work place?

1. Embed a healthy dose of resistance to create a resilient environment.

Everyone talks of “culture” at a company; it’s often a direct imprint of the founders. It’s important for commonality and camaraderie to exist amongst a team, but just enough resistance can actually keep teams in good health. Encourage teams to challenge their managers. Train managers to accept and foster exchange when doing projects. If this a complete company overhaul, reframe the mission statement and company values. Make a culture of healthy dissent a priority, then present it to employees to discuss. What are the rules or ideas they have that would foster a company that prioritizes dissent?

2. Forecast where the market is moving.

If team members have values that are too similar, this may internalize to become group think, promoting a loss of diversity in strategic thinking. If the market moves—and it always does—in ways a team was not suspecting, there will be a lack of innovative solutions. Bring in originals that can spot potential blind spots and offer different approaches.

3. Watch this video

As a Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author, Grant has lectured all over the world. One of his best talks in how to champion original though can be found below.

 

At absence.io, we’re doing something different when it comes to absence management. Governments, companies–like MyTheresa and Check24–trust our wild, original ways to help them navigate planned (and unplanned) employee absence.

 

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