hire a non conformist

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?

non-conformist flower

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.

It’s time to change

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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female leaders

In the Age of AI, Is Business More Suited to Female Leaders?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is already liberating us from the most tedious of tasks, like legal document analysis and streamlining farming processes. With more nut-and-bolt jobs being taken over, what are the essential skills needed to do business? Who are the people we should be cultivating for leadership in the AI era?

University College London Professor of Learner-Centred Design Rose Luckin says “There are no AI systems that have emotional intelligence; there are AI systems that can fake emotional intelligence, but they aren’t actually emotionally intelligent”.

Okay, so no touchy-feely robots...yet.  The operational system of how things are done is already changing, but that also includes how people will relate to each other on a social and emotional level.

Computers already check hundreds of standardized tests for schools, universities, and dozens of different organizations. It then stands to reason that a teacher's position will become obsolete with smarter computing systems.  However it only highlights the definition of what a teacher does is changing. Computers will be able to give useful feedback, grade papers, and perhaps give tailored learning to students. Where does that leave teachers?

There will be a different nature of interaction between students and teachers, just as in other fields. Teachers will be able to focus more on facilitating the learning experience, rather than spending time on grading homework. Students possess a wealth of information at their fingertips. They need a teacher, a guide, to frame an approach and ask critical questions. Likewise, the nature of how business relationships are made, cultivated, and navigated will shift. Those who possess a knack for relationship-building or excel in emotional intelligence may be those facilitating systemic change in an AI-driven workplace.

Cue the women.

Research conducted by the Hay Group division of Korn Ferry (NYSE: KFY) reveals women outperform men on nearly all emotional intelligence measures.

The study did not lack size or diversity: it utilized data from 55,000 professionals from 90 countries. In 11 out of 12 categories, women did better than men. The one exception was “emotional control”, where no difference between genders was detected.

A few of the categories may sound familiar to those looking for performance indicators: adaptability (where women scored in the 54th percentile, while men in the 48th), coaching and mentoring (women: 57, men: 46), and organizational awareness (women: 56, men: 46).

The Hay Group concluded “Regardless of gender, our data shows that the most effective leaders within organizations are those who are able to demonstrate emotional and social intelligence.”

ai and female leadership

Women may have an advantage in the era of automation.

Practically speaking, boards and organizations should be seriously considering how they plan to leverage women’s innate emotional intelligence to remain competitive.

More women in leadership means an organization usually has higher levels of profitability. It’s crucial for businesses to redefine what the future demands of in a leader. Qualities such as active listening, empathy, and agility are at the top of list. These are qualities an AI simply cannot deliver. AI’s current strength is in automating tasks and optimizing decision making. But leaders who have deep understanding of how people work will be the ones shaping the direction in the world of work.

Does that mean women are better equipped to manage?

The workplace demands intuition and emotional intelligence, which may mean some women possess a competitive advantage. Though like any other skill, emotional intelligence can be developed to deliver high-performance management. Organizations need to invest in traditional “soft skills” training. Individuals can also take it upon themselves to hone the art of communicating, managing, and collaborating. Junior investigators at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, New York facilitate their own soft skills training. Using the online tool, "Lean In", these investigators impart their career development. From individual researchers to multinationals, the rising of one system is shifting the focus onto another set of skills. Those who can leverage their human-human aptitude will become the linchpin interlacing the old, the new, and the future world of work.

Change your game

At absence.io, we're changing the game of how companies oversee their absence management systems. Companies like MyTheresa and Check24 use our tech to easily manage planned (and unplanned) team absences. We may be a (near) perfect example of leveraging tech to focus on the important things: doing business.

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adoption problem in tech companies

Employees Like the Tech, But Why Aren't They Convinced? It's Called the Adoption Problem

Companies are overhauling their entire product and marketing strategies to foster innovation and motivate their employees to embrace “digitalization”, as if it were some benevolent, corporate deity. The volume of magazines, newspapers, and experts churning out statistics about how businesses can only win when they digitize their day-to-day to make workflow more efficient. Robots can flip hamburgers and analyze legal documents. Software can now operate our daily operations and drive our cars.

Technology is revamping the work world, but why is it taking as long as it is? Don't employees see the vision? People understand the big picture. It’s the hands-on implementation that is stumping employers.

It’s the adoption problem.

“How I do it is already working just fine”.

“How is it wrong what we are doing now?”

“Sure we have some issues, but what company doesn’t? We’ve figured out what works best for us”.

“I feel that you’re telling me how to do my job”.

Feedback is not necessarily from people who are skeptical about the in-coming technology. They may have tried the new tool and like it, but still have these same questions. If it’s not lack of vision, a well-running tool, or an employee that can see the value, then what keeps them from embracing the change?

In an article in Harvard Business Review, businesses leaders remained baffled why digital solutions were not being embraced. “Even among digital natives, adoption of things like enterprise digital tools often doesn’t live up to lofty expectations…the result is often widely deployed internal applications that no one actually uses effectively.” Resistance can be intentional, but it also can be passive. Both types of resistance when change is not led. The CEO Pernod Ricard has found that is needs to be a “digital movement”, rather expecting it to be a quick change. The adoption of tools must be led. Change management experts would begin with the starting point of company culture. It’s the one thing that matters the most when adopting a new piece of tech.

It’s not uncommon to be apprehensive of digital implementations . Some have not received proper trained or feel they’ve just barely one mastered one digital tool and now have to learn another. For plenty of employees, asking them to learn and integrate more tech into their everyday lives means causing no small amount of anxiety.

Address the culture first.

Before diving into handing out manuals or encouraging employees with emails of “This will make our lives better!”, nail down the atmosphere first. Send out an anonymous survey to employees. Ask them questions about how they are feeling. Take the time to thoughtfully listen and engage with what employees are afraid of.

Here a few examples of what you should be asking:

-How does the current state of things make you feel on a daily basis?
-How much do you want to enact change in this particular area?
-What will your level of pain be with when the new solution arrives? Do you think this will change after 4 weeks? 8 weeks?

Take one step at a time

Like the CEO stated, it's a digital movement--not a digital sprint. Strangely, boards and managers forget it takes time for a deep change to occur. To facilitate an easier process for employees, one where they have to spend less emotional energy, do incremental changes. Break apart the overall strategy of digitalization. Give each step a time limit and with a clear outcome, like 100% of employees possessing digital keys within 3 weeks.

Go digital.

If the world of work is revolving door, then tech is the doorman. At absence.io, we're making sure absence management runs smoothly. To make their digital movement seamless, companies like MyTheresa trust our tool with their employees. No push needed.

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bad stock photos of my job

What Other People Think You Do: #BadStockPhotosOfMyJob

At absence.io, we're always working toward offering the planet's smoothest absence management (read a few external reviews here). Companies like MyTheresa and Check24 trust us to build a (nearly) misunderstanding-proof system.

After all, misunderstandings are bound to occur. It's the defining physics of living life. Some misconceptions cause greater confusion than others. Some misinterpretations are well, just that. Misinterpretations.

Case in point: when stock photo photographers interpret what they think people's jobs involve.

Via a viral Twitter hashtag, #BadStockPhotosOfMyJob, users shared stock photo photographers' interpretations of their own professions. Apparently, a photographer's perception can be a little off sometimes...if not all the time.

Has anyone ever completely misunderstood what you did for a living?

This is what we found:

Your ears will be happy to know that our absence management system does not involve megaphones.



Little known fact: Yogis make excellent corporate spies

Or when you recycle, but Trump breaks from the Paris Climate Agreement.

 

Reject album cover for Phish?

This could be a promotional shot of Spike Lee's 21st century interpretation of "Gulliver's Travels"

"I solemnly swear that I am up to no good." - Every Lawyer

 Scientists hate efficiency.

The calculator means he likes to count too.

No one does "Artisanal Drafting" anymore

The new Sea by Dr. Shell.  They're wireless too.

Wasn't this from a Yellow Cab music video in 2007?

If you're not in stock photos, you're not fulfilling your career potential.

The fine print always gets you.

Notice the stethoscope is not actually in his ears either.

Everyone working with IT knows this.

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how apple solves employee conflict

When Apple Needs to Solve Employee Conflict, This is Their Go-To Method

You’re rolling out a new department structure. The in-coming system keeps facing resistance. Employees are frustrated.  Besides daydreaming about the on-coming robot workforce, what do you do to solve employee conflict?

Your effort to resolve the issues may become doubly complex by the diversity within the workforce. The communication style that may work for a Baby Boomer will not work for a fresh-out-of-college Millennial. The most effective, unifying method comes from the billion-dollar company based out of Cupertino, California.

Straight of Apple’s “Genius Training Student Workbook” is the “Feel, Felt, Found” method. With target customers as wide and varied as Fortune 500 companies, public schools, and your tech-adverse great-aunt, Apple has nailed down a conflict resolution method that can translate across a myriad forms of situations.

What’s the formula?

The standard method of the “Feel, Felt, Found” is comprised of three phases:

1. Empathize

Employees want to know they’ve been heard. They want managers to understand their duress or hesitation. Begin by telling them “I understand how you feel”. Start with recognizing their emotion (“I can see why you all are hesitant in adopting the policy”), then link the emotion to their current issue (“It does take a bit more time to clear security; I felt similarly”), and then end it with how what you gained from it (“Though I found that because of the new system, we have a more secured workplace”). The word “empathy” is used so frequently in the manual, it’s nearly mind numbing. But because they use it incredibly often, one can see empathy is the gateway to resolving conflict.

Note:

In order to accurately ascertain how people are feeling, work on your emotional intelligence. TalentSmart tested emotional intelligence along with 33 other workplace skills in predicting strong performance. Their research found that is the strong predictor, explaining 58% of workplace successes. Therefore, think of the emotional reaction of a new change for employees. Then, lead from there.

solve employee conflict

2. Demonstrate

Tell them about someone else having similar emotions. If you have history in other company policy changes, bring up how people also felt hesitant, frustrated, or angry. This tells employees that they are not alone in facing a new change. Nearly every change in a company takes an adjustment period. By demonstrating a similar situation, you are building a bridge between their current emotional state to the place you’re hoping to guide them towards.

Note:

Ascertain the type of organization you have. Are you a tech company that prioritizes a flat hierarchy? Or are you more of top-down organization, like a government agency? Draw parallels from similarly-constructed organizations. Do a bit of research to find out changes they enacted.

3. Clarify

Finish by telling them what the other person found after they integrated into the new program or bought the product. Employees are looking for the payoff in the action, policy, etc. By creating a storytelling arc, you are drawing parallels about what positive outcome they can expect.

Note:

In a professional setting, statistics and figures strengthen your argument. Talk about how the other department saw a 15% spike in more parents taking paternal leave or how crypto-compensation has worked within other companies.

We have what you need

At absence.io, we do smooth and easy. Companies like MyTheresa and Check24 utilize our tool to manage their teams’ planned (and unplanned) absences. No daydreaming about robots needed. Yet.

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digital products for small businesses

These are the 5 Digital Products to Launch for Your Small Business

Launching products remains at the top of the list for companies and their teams. If you’re looking to educate and support your audience—whether it’s employees or potential customers—you can generate confidence and value with only a few items. Really.

If you’re spearheading a product challenge, you'll need a list of potential digital products to distribute. Get to brainstorming about your audience. Remember, good products are only valuable if they address an actual audience need. Nail down the exact question you expect to answer, or the problem you aim to solve.

Are you in charge of cultural integration as an HR manager? What are the common barriers that newly-arrived employees face? Does it depend on what countries they’re arriving from? Would a video demonstrate expectations better than a PDF? Or are you a small business owner that simply wants to generate more traffic to your blog. How do people find your company now? What other channels would your target market utilize?

Prepare yourself by listing your success metrics, then pick the best solution from the list of digital products below.

1. Video series

Amp up your social media presence with video. Yes, you can go ahead and make a few, short Youtube videos of your product. But think of even smaller snippets of product show. Get familiar with Instagram (if you’re not already) and begin using Insta stories to your advantage. Why Instagram? Your page’s photo should further entrance your audience; the photos act as an introductory the company. Insta stories delivers new value as often you’d like. You also can interact with your audience via its live streaming.

2. Audio series

Nearly every person is on the go today. Fortunately information can be delivered whilst a person is commuting, working out at the gym, or grocery shopping. Popularity in audio streams like podcasts and audio books have jumped dramatically. Over 25% of the US population listens to podcasts on a monthly basis. If you’re the HR manager overseeing international researchers, an internal podcast could feature work of a researcher for 5 minutes. You may be making some key networking connections.

3. Checklists

Who doesn’t love a clear and concise list? Lists manifest their worth when you need to streamline multiple processes, like creating an employee file.  (Psst, we saved you a bit of work—you can download our pre-made employee file checklist). Unless you’re part of the chosen few that enjoy planning, most audiences appreciate a structured action plan.

4. Tutorials

A demonstration of how to successfully accomplish a task is invaluable. It saves time and energy—two things your audience will remember when they have another need arise. They’ll be back for more. This can a GIF illustration of how to do origami, how to make a request to the company IT department, or create a bullet notebook.

5. Toolkit

Some may argue “less is more”, but toolkits deliver a strong counter argument for “more is more”. Gather the other digital products you’ve created—the PDFs, the checklists, the audio files—and create a handy toolkit. With a variety of learning tools, you thoughtfully cater to the diversity within an audience.

Simplify your absence management

At absence.io, we’re changing the game of how work absences — from vacations to sick days — are managed. Companies like MyTheresa and Check24 use absence.io for easy delivery and communication.

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pay employees with crypto currency

Crypto-Compensation: Can You Pay Your Employees in Cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency has been on the forefront, especially in the the last 12 months; should companies begin thinking about paying their employees with cash and cryptocurrency? Though “crypto compensation” has not exactly materialized into companies, it soon could be.

Already in Japan, GMO Internet, a web-based business offers its employees a combination of cash and crypto. Of course, employees have the option to receive a pure-cash salary, but with prices surging, it’s an interesting compensation alternative.

Though paying employees in Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency may attract tech-savvy talent to your organization, there are a few considerations. Firstly, it still remains a rather risky investment with fluctuating prices and evolving markets. Secondly, corporate taxes regarding cryptocurrency salary remains complicated. .

Talking taxes may not be the sexiest thing to learn about, but as American inventor Benjamin Franklin once said, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes”. When it comes to cryptocurrency taxes, though, complexity is the big mainstay.

If you’re not sure what cryptocurrency is and what it does, here’s a quick summary:

A cryptocurrency is a “virtual currency” that can be used to buy or sell goods or services. Often, cryptocurrencies can be traded for another, much like standard currency. Depending on where you live in the world, a cryptocurrency may or may not be recognized as an official currency. For example, in the United States, it’s considered an “intangible asset”, not a sovereign currency.

In the U.S., it is treated like a property, like bonds, stocks, or other investment properties. For example, if you buy Bitcoins with U.S. dollars and later sell them for U.S. dollars, a capital gain or loss needs to be reported on that transaction. An exchange of one cryptocurrency for another cryptocurrency is a taxable sale transaction, even though U.S. dollars are not involved in the transaction.

Whoa, you may be thinking, this sounds like a confusing amount of work.

You’d be right.

Joshua Ashley Klayman, a premier attorney focusing on blockchain and cryptocurrency, reaffirms it’s complexity—and it’s essentialness.

“Token purchasers should carefully track their token purchases and sales, as they may be responsible for paying taxes that they could owe…The changes arguably add complexity to some token purchasers’ tax calculations and may create a significant need in the market”.

If you’re thinking of paying employee salary with a combination of cryptocurrency and cash, be sure to have a solid system in place to track token purchase and usage.

If you’re interested in how to start setting up a company system to track tokens for employee compensation, it’s a wild world out there. Fortunately, we’ve found a few of the best existing systems that help you with your cryptocurrency tax documentation.

ZenLedger.io

This platform does a big hunk of the grunt work by allowing users to import data from the plethora of currency exchanges and create a single document that they use when filing their taxes. Otherwise a person would have to manually insert all disparate information into an Excel sheet.

Crypto Tax Prep

Known to be “the only mobile tax franchise system with 100% CPA prepared returns”, Crypto Tax Prep is an excellent avenue for those wishing a professional to handle the heavy work. It’s a more tailored solution that offers free auditing services, if the IRS comes a callin’.

CoinTracker

Born out of need, the founders created their own tool to track their own cryptocurrencies.  Soon, friends started wanting this tool that pulls balances and transactions and delivers tax information to its customers.

Crypto-compensation may be a fantastic tech-forward solution for companies in attracting and retaining the best people. If curious, best to start thinking about how you’ll move forward.

Another way tech is delivering innovation: we optimize how you manage team members’ absences. Companies like MyTheresa and Check24 trust Absence.io to make their work lives easier.

Death and taxes….not so much…

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global hr talent trends

Global HR Talent Trends: Terrified of A.I., Companies Stop Talking and Start Doing

Innovative action is at the top of the global talent agenda. For years, companies have talked about incorporating innovative practices, now they’re implementing. Why now? Two letters: A. I. With the onset of technology that will quickly diminish industries, companies need to brace themselves on all fronts, including talent. Artificial intelligence is already doing the work of entry-level lawyers and financial analysts. Since white-collar jobs are set to disappear, companies are moving into action to attract and retain top talent. 93% percent are doubling down on commitment to safeguard their companies by changing their organization design. 52% of executives believe in flattening hierarchy, understanding the shift towards self-driven teams.

 

HR talent trends
Mercer’s 2018 Global Talent Trends

According to Mercer’s 2018 Global Talent Trends Study, companies are shifting into real change to prepare for the changing talent landscape. President of Mercer’s Career product, Ilya Bonic, “(Business leaders) recognize that it’s the combination of human skills plus advanced digital technology that will drive business forward”.

1. Change @ Speed

A growing gap in skills means companies need to anticipate how to train today’s workforce for tomorrow’s market demands. How quickly organizations can create a culture of continuous learning will prove a competitive advantage. Part of this culture shift includes flatter hiearchies, where 25% of organizations are moving towards holacratic work teams.

2. Working With Purpose

The dawn of automation and AI will highlight whether the company has a strong mission that resonates with employees. It becomes significantly more important that employees identify with company values and feel they contribute to their manifestation. 75% of employees say their company holds the same values as they personally do. How can managers contribute in ensuring employees feel purpose? Act as a “talent advocate” in facilitating movement. Hold “career conversations” where employees’ personal career goals are discussed. Executives must also be aware of a new value proposition: financial and health stability. Well-being projects that employees are interested in include financial health, as workers spend 10 hours per week stressing over their finances.

3. Permanent Flexibility

Being flexible is not longer about where one is working from. The era of flexible work poses a greater demand: “rethinking what work is done, how it is done, and by whom”. Employers are vying for greater control of their professional life. 71% of employers are responding with flexible work arrangements as part of their offering—a huge jump from last year’s 49%. There is some disconnect though as 42% of employees believe working remotely will impact potential promotions; 2 in 5 worry that working remotely will damage their career trajectory. Executives must work to ensure that flexible working arrangements do not mean stagnation. Executives also should consider that flexible work options allows them to work with a greater pool of talent for niche specialities. This provides greater access and organization agility.

4. Platform for Talent

The essence of the “On-Demand” economy means an ensuing shift in HR models. It’s no longer about hierarchies or being “owned” by a specific team; it’s about matching the talent of the employee with a company need. Employees that felt their employer matched their skills correctly, were four time as likely to say they thrive at work. The study encourages employers to “think broader” in terms of employee tasks and jobs: “crowdsource” as a way to pool abilities and “transcend company boundaries”.

5. Digital In/Out

58% of company executives say that state-of-the-art digital tools are vital to their success. However less than half actually possess the necessary tools. Technology has the capability to leverage talent and maximize company impact. It can help build diverse workforces and infuse teams with higher aptitudes for success. Only 15% of companies survey said they would consider themselves a “digital organization”. Companies know they should—and can—do better. They can encourage the use of data analytics and monitoring to not only to their core products, but to their teams. Getting ahead of the digital curve now means HR will be able to gain the upside of the momentum AI promises.

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creative lunch break yoga

Companies Making Creative Lunch Breaks the New "Free Lunch"

Forget a sandwich and a Coke for lunch time. Some companies are aiming to do infuse creativity into a work staple: the lunch hour. Employers see doing lunch differently as an opportunity to boost employee satisfaction and add another dimension of culture. You’ve heard of the “free lunch” at work cafeterias—they’re great at boosting morale as much as a 401K. But some employers are going above and beyond this perk.

These lunch-time approaches will produce more than food envy; they are redefining what companies can bring to the table.

Let’s taco bout it.

1. Lunch Roulette

What happens when your usual lunch crowd isn’t around to dine with? You can feel the aloneness, even if you work at huge corporation. David Thompson, the founder of Lunch Roulette,  a web application that randomly selects lunch dates for colleagues within an organization. People from different teams get to interact, producing enlightening conversations between people that would otherwise not meet. Pharmaceutical manufacturer, Boehringer Ingelheim, uses a similar program. They understand the importance of various ideas and people mixing within companies and industry ecosystems. Professor Suzanne Berger at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, states, “Workers exchange ideas over drinks and at baseball games. They switch jobs, taking their knowledge with them. They draw other companies, who compete to offer them goods and services. It all adds up to a more productive, more innovative economy”. The same happens within a company, creating a much more competitive and thoughtful ecosystem.

2. Nap Time

A midday rest is not only beneficial for kindergartners, companies reap benefits of well-rested employees in 15% more workplace efficiency. Employers, like Google and Nike, have set up nap pods in their offices for employers needing a lunch time snooze. 20 minutes of rest in the afternoon amps up a person’s focus and mood.

3. Meditate

The world’s biggest tech giants have rolled out mindfulness programs; SAP has a waiting list of over 5000 employees hoping to take part in the internal training program. The practice of meditation delivers a much-needed antidote in the frenzied and stress workplace. It offers clarity and supports resilience in employees. During lunch, some programs have “mindful lunches” where they are led through a serious of gentle, mental exercises while they eat.

Simplify everything

Besides free pizza, what else boosts creative pep to the office step? Easy absence management. Companies like MyTheresa and Check24 use absence.io to oversee their teams’ planned (and unplanned) absences. We don’t want to sound too cheesy, but we think we’re pretty great.

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employee emotions management magic

"Emotions Managed": The Anti-Harry Potter Approach to Processing Employees' Emotions

Companies are mindfully tackling employee stress as a means for a greater mental health---and to impact the bottomline. After all, $300 billion is lost annually due to employees feeling mentally taxed. Processing emotions in the workplace requires a multi-pronged approach. Let's say it demands more than a Harry Potter, "mischief managed" course of action. One company, LA-based FeelTank offers a hands-on program to guide individuals from overthinking to thinking consciously.  

In an interview with VentureBeat, Anahita Parseghian, a teacher at FeelTank, explains “At the root of stress, which triggered a physiological response, is an emotion caused by a thought. The more in touch we are with our thoughts and the sensory feelings associated, the more successful we will be in managing our stress responses. Peak performance isn’t something we achieve by doing more; it is a state of flow that we develop through a persistent and deliberate practice of calming our nervous system and focusing our mind.”

Handle the thought process and by default, emotions can be more easily managed. For professionals  leading a team, understanding how to facilitate emotions in the workplace is vital.

“Emotions travel person to person like a virus”, says Wharton management professor Sigal Barsade. “It’s an emotional contagion”. We’ve all been around the colleague who constantly complains how tired or overworked they are. Or how the exciting atmosphere of a new idea or special event is zapped by one person’s negative comments. Emotion has real effects on employees and consequently, on companies.

As John Milton wrote, “No man is an island”. That certainly includes the workplace. People don’t drop their emotions or predispositions at the office door. They bring the good and the bad with them. This affects how brainstorming sessions are overseen, how quickly a project is finished, how employees feel about their team members…bottom line: employees’ emotions drive organizations. Donald Gibson, a co-author on Barsade’s research, “Everybody brings their emotions to work. You bring your brain to work. You bring your emotions to work. Feelings drive performance. They drive behavior and other feelings. Think of people as emotion conductors.

employees emotions

What kinds of emotions do employees exude?

According to Barsade and Gibson, the types of emotions can be divvied into three main groups: Discrete, Mood, and Disposition.

  1. Discrete emotions occur quickly and evolve away just as fast. Think of joy or fear.
  2. Mood pertains to a longer-lasting feeling, usually not directly connected to a specific event. Sometimes employees may feel down for a period of time.
  3. Disposition refers to the person’s particular outlook on life. This is a kind of a “brand” of a person. Some colleagues are nervous and people-pleasing, others may be known to be cheerful types.

According to one study, a company possesses 5 major competitive advantages: Intellectual Capital, Customer Service, Organizational Reactivity, Production, and Employee Retentivity. Barsade and Gibson’s 3 categories of emotion directly impact these competitive advantages. If employee emotion is generally negative, it becomes a hindrance as a company tries to reach goals. Becoming more knowledgable about employee emotion strengthens the critical connection between team emotion and company output.

How can a manager recognize the emotion that may possibly negatively impact a business process?

First, the manager needs to evaluate where their own mental state is at.

Research suggests that positive people do better in the workplace. Their cognitive processes and approaches are much more efficient and aware. If you’re a manager that tends to be fearful or difficult, your chances of being able to read other people’s emotions correctly—and how to make a decision based on that—significantly decrease. Follow the advice of rapper Ice Cube, “Check yo self before you wreck yo self”.

Second, avoid catching a bad mood.

Since emotions can be a good (or bad) virus-like occurrence, be sure to dodge the negative ones. What routines or people generally annoy you? If a colleague always seems to get under your skin, tell yourself that you will not be bothered by them. If the printer always breaks down, make a game of it. Create a scoreboard for all team members to participate when it fails. Make up your mind that you will not allow people or processes to trigger a draining emotion.

Third, pay attention to people’s emotional gives.

This is often called “emotional intelligence”. Read up on body language. Look at people’s faces or shoulders. When they’re feeling tense, certain individuals hold it by tightening their lips or upping their shoulders. Begin observing how team members’ react in high-pressure or relaxed situations. See how their body or face changes. This will tell you how to navigate the next step: walk away before catching a negative emotion, opening up the floor for discussion, or offering encouragement.

Fourth, pay extra attention to how you come across in emails.

Video conferences, messaging apps like Slack, add an extra dimension of complexity when it comes to office place emotions. It’s easy to be misunderstood over a message. Sentences that are relatively neutral in real-life interaction come across as rude in an email. Avoid exclamation points, unless you’re using it to cheer someone on. Be careful with humor and sarcasm as it’s easy to miss the mark. If you’re trying to exude a positive disposition, make your emails or messages extra warm—maybe way more than you would if you were talking with the person. Without body language or facial cues, messages are devoid of context. It’s important to give extra thought to what you’re relaying.

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Now, if only we could have saved Dobby...

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