Working from home can be so much fun. After all you can sleep in instead of spending time commuting. You never have to get out of your PJ because no one cares if your pink top matches your yellow lounge trousers.
You always have it your way when discussing priorities on the to-do list with your dog. And the dpd deliveryman never gets to leave a “Sorry we missed you” note on your door.
In reality, working from home actually needs more discipline in getting work done and ignoring the fridge humming away in the corner!
On the subject of the fridge or the larder, here are some tips on how to prevent weight gain whilst working at home.
Work out first thing in the morning
Working out first thing in the morning has shown to be beneficial in multiple ways. It regulates appetite during the day. It gives your brain a jump-start so you can concentrate better during the day. It burns calories, It will give you a sense of accomplishment throughout the day as well. What is there not to like?
You don’t have to join the early bird online Crossfit class. Just pop in a workout DVD and follow the instructions. You could even get the kids to join in too.
When you get the munchies
If you find yourself drifting to the fridge, an hour after having your breakfast, grab a big glass of water and down it. When you have done this, do it again. Research by Merlin Hearn and Nancy Hearn suggests that drinking water and brain function are integrally linked. Lack of water to the brain can cause numerous symptoms including problems with focus, memory, brain fatigue and brain fog, as well as headaches, sleep issues, anger, depression, and many more.
To spark your brain another way, without munching away on treats, get up and walk. Surprise your dog with a visit. Do some dusting while brainstorming.
When you get back to your desk you will see that this was almost as good as giving in to the food temptations.
Don’t have chocolate, crisps or biscuits sitting anywhere. Definitely not at your desk. Replace calorie bombs with some healthy low calorie vegetable sticks or nuts.
Train your body while you work
Try swapping your desk chair for a standing desk. You could also stack books onto the kitchen counter if you don’t want to invest the money. You could also spend your unspent going out money, on a stability ball as a sitting alternative. This also gives you the option to bounce around and train your legs. Do make sure you have the correct desk set up though. This is the most important thing to get right before looking at different seating options.
Take breaks and take yourself outside
The last tip is to remind you that our brain deserves some breaks too. Get yourself outside and breathe in something more refreshing than home office air. A change of location can spark some new ways of thinking.
Research has found a strong correlation between depression and overeating and how both stress and eating poorly are linked to an increased risk for anxiety and depression.
In these strange times, help yourself as much as possible. Exercise regularly, drink lots of water, keep off the snacks and breath in as much fresh air as you can.
The now long-term nature of homeworking means continued isolation from colleagues and valuable work-related social activities, support structures and connections. Work-life balance and blurred boundaries between work and home may also become more problematic as homeworking continues.
Fears around job security are also likely to be prevalent for many employees, especially in those sectors that have been most affected financially. Many of the suggestions to support employee mental health set out above also apply to supporting long term homeworkers. Organisations may also wish to consider some of the following:
Organisations may also wish to undertake a listening exercise and survey their employees about their current state of mental health and wellbeing, and seeking feedback on the specific support they feel would benefit them in the months to come.
Boost employee engagement by giving your staff a clear mission to engage with. Research shows that 73% of employees who report working for a ‘purpose driven' company are engaged compared to just 23% at ‘non-purpose driven’ companies. This shows communicating your company’s purpose plays a pivotal role in determining employee engagement levels.
When people feel engaged at work they feel personally committed to the organisation’s purpose, values and goals. Engaged employees care about the company’s mission and will go above and beyond to achieve it. This is why it is so important to ensure staff understand the mission statement.
Improves Productivity and Customer Satisfaction
Research confirms that over a third of people work harder if they understand how their job contributes to the overall business goals and objectives. When employees support the company’s mission, they are more likely to communicate it to customers and boost customer satisfaction.
Employer Accountability Builds Trust
A strong business mission statement is a brilliant opportunity to build trust between employers and employees. By pinning your colours (or values, principles and goals) to the mast, you create accountability, as a company and employer.
So ensure your mission statement speaks equally to external and internal stakeholders. When your employees see the message, it should communicate how the organisation will treat them, how it will benefit them and what to expect from working there. It means your employees can hold you to your word.
A Strong Employer Brand
Your mission statement also tells potential candidates what sort of employer you are. You can use it to create a strong employer brand that attracts talent. By encapsulating your values, culture and beliefs within the mission statement you will give prospective candidates a clear idea of who you are and what you expect from them. This encourages applications from people who share your values and your vision.
Improves Learning and Development
Understanding the business mission statement helps give employee training purpose and meaning. It helps each employee see how the course content benefits their personal career goals and the wider company mission.
Give your training extra meaning by clearly communicating how it is tied into the company’s bigger purpose. How will the skills gained enable employees to achieve the company mission? By making this clear, learning will no longer be a tick-box exercise, but a meaningful development tool that people want to take part in.
Aids Business Decision-Making
People like to know what’s expected of them and with good reason. Clearly defined objectives help us focus and achieve our target. The business mission is the mother of all goals. It gives your employees’ short-term goals context and helps everyone stay on track to success.
The mission statement also ensures strategic alignment across all levels of the organisation. So whatever day-to-day tasks each employee or team is working on, everyone is unified towards the company’s bigger purpose. This bigger picture can help guide decision making, prioritisation, strategies and goal setting. After all, if in doubt we can ask ourselves: “is what I’m doing right now helping achieve the business mission?” If not, it’s time to have a rethink and change our course of action.
Improves Employee Retention
Last but not least, a strong business mission statement improves employee retention. This is important because staff turnover is a huge concern for many employers. So give your employees a reason to stay!
A clearly communicated business mission statement can help you hold onto top talent. Research shows that a strong sense of mission drives employee retention across generations. In fact, emphasising mission and purpose is one of the top two factors for keeping millennials, generation Xers and baby boomers in your organisation.
Live Your Mission
I can’t talk about values, purpose and mission, without mentioning the most important thing. Action! We hear it a lot in the business world but it can never be said enough – ‘Live your values’. Whatever, you claim to do or be in your mission statement – live up to your promises. This is vital because it doesn’t matter how eloquent, impressive or downright amazing your mission statement is, if it doesn’t resonate with your employees’ day-to-day experiences, they won’t connect with your message.
My desire to undertake an executive coaching qualification was born out of leaving my permanent role as Group Head of HR in the City and starting my own HR Consultancy business.
Having worked in HR for 20 years, I fully understood the importance of building a confidential, secure environment for clients to feel they can open up and discuss issues in a safe place, as well as establishing clear roles, responsibilities and boundaries. The plan was that the executive coaching would be ‘another tool in my HR toolkit’ and the hope was that both sides of the business, HR and coaching would work well together.
My HR experience gives me a good insight into some of the challenges the individual is facing, and within an organisational context. I believe coaching can have a transformational impact on developing leaders, and upon the culture and effectiveness of an organisation in the longer-term.
Due to the nature of the coaching that I do, and my HR experience, my coaching clients often ask for my help, support and opinion of a situation that they are in. I am very used to giving HR advice at a senior level and although happy to give clients this input, it is also important to let the individual explore their own ideas first, as very often they find the answers without my contribution.
Coaching is focused and directional and I feel I help to equip the client with the tools, knowledge and opportunities they need to fully develop themselves to be effective managers/leaders improving resilience and effectiveness, removing roadblocks to performance and enhancing creativity.
I would describe my personal coaching approach as supportive, intuitive, sincere, and challenging. I listen carefully to the issues being faced and try to understand in the first instance, before responding, which makes asking powerful, open questions easier.
I am a good listener and refer frequently back to previous comments made or past reflections, something that has been picked up many times by coaching clients in feedback sessions. It is important to me to write notes following the coaching sessions in order that I can personally reflect on what has been said. I have also received feedback suggesting that I am extremely easy to communicate with, putting the client as ease from the start of the session.
I have gained a lot of confidence as a coach since the start of my coach training. There will always be room for further improvement, expanding my knowledge, asking cleaner and more eloquent questions. However, I have learned that it’s most important to focus on the quality of my listening and trust in the coaching process – this has had the greatest impact on my coaching style.
Coaching is one of the key components of managing employees effectively.
Coaching your employees and helping them progress is the mark of a successful leader. Here are 5 ways to coach your team to success and become a great leader in the process.
1. Emotional Intelligence
Coaching isn’t just about the employee. A large part of coaching is also about the way you interact with each member of your team. If you can level with people, understand the issues they may face in their role, and be sensitive to possible opposing outlooks, you’ll be far better equipped to help your people overcome barriers and work together as a team.
2. Knowing Each Individuals’ Strengths
Coaching isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. It’s important to tailor your focus to the person you’re interacting with. Each member brings something unique to your team. Your job as a manager is to find out what each person’s strengths are and help them develop these skills with a tailored coaching plan. Having a genuine understanding of the individuals that make up your team and what they need to work towards, will allow you to more efficiently plan and execute projects. People who use their strengths every day are found to be six times more engaged.
3. Ask questions
Rather than creating a development plan for your people based on strengths, include them in the conversation by asking what it is that excites them, what they’d like to learn, and where they want to go in the future. While helping employees develop their visible strengths is key, don’t forget that they may have hidden talents which are yet to be discovered.
Really listening to your employees' responses and tailoring the next steps around their answers shows you value your people and are prepared to help them reach their goals. The coaching you provide should aid them on their road to professional development process.
However, the most effective strategy is ultimately to use these conversations to help them take control of their own development.
4. Empower them
Once you know what your employees’ skills are and where they want to go, it’s time to help them put those skills into practice. Begin by giving each individual responsibility over tasks which will help them develop in their key areas. This can include providing stretch assignments, letting them take the reigns on a new project or pushing them to take the lead on a sales call. The best way to learn is by doing, and the more autonomy you give them, the more you’ll demonstrate your trust and confidence in their abilities.
It’s key to make sure your people know that you’re not expecting them to improve instantly overnight. Development is a process and there will be setbacks on the way, but that’s why you’re there to help. Checking-in with them regularly will show that you’re available for advice and feedback, without encroaching on their sense of autonomy.
5. Feedback is key
It’s impossible for people to develop without feedback. If your team isn’t aware of what they can improve, it doesn’t allow them to change or really build upon what’s going well. It’s not only important to be timely with your constructive feedback, but also in recognising and celebrating achievements.
Coaching is an increasingly important part of a modern manager's job. It’s key to get comfortable with coaching people by building genuine, unique relationships with your team members, using feedback efficiently, and listening to people to find out what they want and where they feel they’re headed.
Once you’re collaborating like this and leading your team in the direction they need, you’re well on your way to coaching a happy and motivated team to success.
Executives and senior managers both have an important role in a business that should always be taken seriously. Being in a senior role comes with incredible responsibility, including handling employees, customers/clients, and the overall responsibility of running of the business. With that in mind, those who are seeking to develop their leadership and management skills will find that booking themselves individual coaching sessions will help enhance their leadership skills immensely.
What Is Leadership Coaching?
Coaching doesn’t just teach you “how“ to be a more effective leader; it covers everything about leadership, from how to increase trust and appreciation, to optimising your professional and personal performance. In particular, coaching will help you manage conflict and work as a team more effectively so that resolutions are more effortless in the workplace.
If you’re wondering how exactly a coach can assist you more than an online course or on-the-job experience, for example, then the list doesn’t end there.
How will a Leadership Coach help?
A coach will help you:
1. Develop new perspectives in a professional manner
2. Develop your individual leadership and conflict skills
3. Reflect on your management & outcome
4. Tolerate stressful encounters
5. Reflect on your personality & leadership style
6. Develop strategies to achieve your goals
7. Expand your professional behaviour
8.Target various levels of competence & improve on them
Of course, how successful the coaching will be for you also ultimately depends on how much work you are willing to put in to get the results. Coaches are there to guide you, but they can’t create the skills and improvement for you. It’s also important to have an appropriate match between the individual client and the coach.
Personal development is a crucial part of anyone’s life, whether it’s business-related or not. Having a coach to help guide you through this personal development will make sure your best skills are brought forward and will help nurture new ones that are vital to your growth.
The Facts - Whether you are growing start-up or an established company, your business will inevitably require an organisational restructure sometime down the road. The good news is that change can bring a lot of benefits and spur the company success in the longer term.
Is everyone in the right roles that play to their strengths, including the leadership and senior management team?Reviewing job descriptions, from the leadership team down should be the first port of call. Working with the business owners and the leadership team I would look to understand the future aspirations of the company and if there are any obstacles, in relation to lack of competency, in any role, or team that effects achievement in this regard.
Are decisions are made effectively and collaboratively and cascaded down to staff clearly?
Understanding in the first instance how decisions are made, by whom and whether this is an effective approach. Are employees kept well informed and do they understand what part they play in new initiatives, projects and the future success of the organisation?
Is the workload manageable and appropriate for all levels of staff?
Are employees drowning in too much work, or do they have capacity to take on more? Identifying whether employees are focusing in the right areas to aid the overall company goals and strategy. If not, why not?
Does the company have efficient managers who delegate work and manage their team members effectively?Understanding the experience level of the managers is important. Have they received any prior or ongoing management training? What are the leadership team’s challenges, if any, with each individual manager? What are the personal obstacles, if any, that each manager needs to overcome to be more effective within their management role? I can provide 1-1 coaching to help identify the gaps and then help the individual manager to be more effective in their identified area(s) of weakness.
Is each department appropriately resourced and are there plans in place to scale up to meet the needs of the business if necessary?
Understanding the business goals more clearly in this regard is important in establishing a scale-up plan. Do you need more staff, or are the existing employees in the wrong roles or possibly not effective? Once established and in conjunction with a succession planning/talent mapping exercise, I would assist in identifying the gaps and recruiting new staff into the organisation, but only if necessary.
Is there an effective talent mapping process is in place, which identifies star ability and a programme of development to retain these individuals in the business?
A simple 9 box grid tool can be used to reveal the performance, talents, and potential of employees. In addition, it offers a way to better monitor these talents and develop them further. It is a tool that can be used for team and talent development and talent spotting.
Is there an effective succession plan in place which identifies the successor for each role and identifies where there are gaps in skills and experience and how to plug these gaps? Where no natural successor can be identified, is there a plan to recruit externally, if required?
Working with the leadership team to identify the successor for each role. Plans should be kept up to date to be effective and beneficial to resource planning.
Vision and Goals
If the vision and goals are clearly identified, you are much more likely to achieve them. With clarity and dedication, the new structure will be up and running more quickly, saving costs, improving efficiency, and delivering better service. The organisation will have retained the right people for the future.
Shape the future culture
The culture of an organisation is shaped by the behaviours that are tolerated, celebrated and rewarded. The performance management system, competencies, career progression and reward strategy should all be working effectively for the organisation.
Tackle the difficult decisions
There will be obstacles to success, there always is. These may include politics around senior employees, and possibly expensive compensation precedents which were put in to place during initial company set-up.
These obstacles need to be tackled courageously from the outset.
Celebrate success when it happens
If business transformation goes on over a prolonged period, it is important to acknowledge milestones and celebrate success along the way, which will raise the level of employee engagement.
Please see the link below to my Business Support Package.
With the news of a second lockdown announced on Saturday, these are the key things we know so far:
Key facts to know about the flexible furlough scheme
Who is eligible to be furloughed under the new scheme?
Only employees who have been furloughed for at least three weeks on or before 30 June under the old scheme can be furloughed after 1 July. The only exceptions to this are where parents return to work after taking maternity, shared parental leave, adoption, paternity or parental bereavement leave.
Duration of furlough
From 1 July, you will be able to bring back previously furloughed employees for any amount of time and on any pattern of work and claim a grant for the hours not worked. For example, if your employee normally works five days a week and you only need them in work for two, you can furlough them for the remaining three days. If business picks up, you might want them to work for three days and be furloughed for two.
The last date anyone could be furloughed for the first time was 10 June. If you furloughed any employee on that date, you will be able to move them onto the new scheme immediately from 1 July.
However, it is now clear that if you re-furlough someone after 10 June, you will have to wait the full three weeks before you can move them onto the new scheme, regardless of whether this ends after 1 July. For example, a previously furloughed employee starting a new furlough period today (15 June) must remain furloughed under the old scheme until at least 6 July. After this date, the employee can be flexibly furloughed for any period.
Limits on numbers of people you can furlough from 1 July
The numbers of employees you can furlough in any period starting from 1 July cannot exceed the maximum numbers of employees you claimed for under the old scheme – although you don’t include returning parents in this calculation.
This may create some difficulties for employers who have already put in place rotating furlough patterns.
You must submit any claims under the old scheme by 31 July. After 1 July, you cannot submit claims that cross calendar months. This means that if you have staff whose furlough spans June and July, you will need to submit separate claims for June and July – even if they have been furloughed continuously.
Your claim period is made up of the days you are claiming a grant for. Claim periods starting on or after 1 July must (usually) start and end within the same calendar month and must last at least seven days. You must include all furloughed staff in one claim even if they are paid at different times and the government recommends that, if you can, you should match your claim period to the dates you process your payroll.
One thing to bear in mind is that if you can submit a claim up to 14 days before the end of the relevant claim period. However, if you do this and the number of days your staff work changes, you will need to adjust the claim next time. That doesn’t sound too difficult if you’ve over-claimed, but if you’ve under-claimed, you’ll have to contact HMRC for help. The government therefore recommends that you don’t “claim until you are sure of the exact number of hours [your staff] will have worked during the claim period”.
Working out pay under the new scheme
If you don’t intend to ask staff to return to work, your pay calculations won’t change, although your contribution will increase from 1 August.
However, if your staff do return to work part-time you’ll need to work out how many hours each employee usually works and offset this from the number or hours they have been furloughed.
You will need to decide if your employee has fixed or variable hours. If their pay depends on the number of hours they have worked, or they are not contracted to work a fixed number of hours, use the variable calculation.
You will need to keep a copy of all records (one version says for five years, and the other for six years) including:
The guidance states that you need a “new written agreement” to confirm the new furlough arrangement. It’s not clear if you need separate agreements each time you flex the furlough period (which would be really cumbersome) or if you can make provision for this in one document which provides for flexibility which would make much more sense.
It is fair to say that Covid 19 has impacted all our lives in so many different ways. Many employees have been forced to work at home, whilst our key workers are still going out to work and experiencing working conditions that can only be compared to a terrifying action movie that never ends.
Employers have had to quickly enact new policies and procedures focusing on absence, health and safety, remote working, and business interaction - including travel and external meetings. Conferences have been cancelled and we are no longer able to fly half-way around the world to meet clients.
If companies are still pushing ahead with recruitment, recruitment consultants and employers are doing their best to endorse video interviews and remote induction programmes.
Questions to ponder
Evidence suggests that being able to work remotely enables employees to be more productive, care for their children and avoid stressful commutes, overall improving mental well-being.
Whilst some people react well to working from home, others find it isolating and distracting with perhaps younger children around. They may miss the face to face interaction and are generally much happier in an office environment.
While video calls can be helpful, face to face meetings with customers and colleagues are still valuable, as are overseas meetings with clients which help to build rapport and stronger relationships and gain first-hand understanding of the culture and business needs.
What this experience has taught many employers is that effective home working can be achieved. Employees still work hard and meet deadlines. Relationships with clients are still being maintained and recruitment can continue.
It is certainly interesting to reflect on how these unavoidable changes may well reshape the world of work forever.