Sometimes knowing when to start again is the best thing you can do as a budding entrepreneur. ActionCOACH’s Pieter Scholtz discusses using a failed business idea as a platform for success.

To be a truly successful jockey, you’re going to have ride a lot of horses. There’s no way to tell how well a horse will compete on race day until it’s on the track – and by then, what you thought would end in success, might be headed for a fall. It can be the same for entrepreneurs. Few have an idea that is an immediate success – and some simply never get out of the gate, no matter how passionate or rambunctious an entrepreneur you are.

It’s a hard reality to face, but facing that failure and learning from it is crucial if you’re still going to make a success of yourself. See, a successful business should not be your ultimate goal; instead, it’s a means to an end. Your goal should be to fulfil your aspirations – to live a comfortable life, or retire to a beach house on the coast. So when something isn’t working in your business, the trick is not to abandon the sport, but to find a new horse. But how do you know when it’s time?

Reassessing your business model
The first step is to re-articulate your business model – to flesh it out on paper and really think it over. Ask yourself: Is what you’re offering merely a copy of a service or product offered by a competitor, or is it a genuine innovation? If it’s the former, it’s time to call it quits. Moderately better goods and services as well as price-cutting doesn’t work, at least not in the long term. However, if you believe you’ve got something that will truly disrupt the market place, then you should keep at it.

Once you’ve established that, it’s time to take a look at the value proposition of your business. If your stakeholders, business partners or customers are left pondering your business’ existence, it’s time to throw in the towel. Innovative or not, a business will never see profitability if it cannot improve the lives of its customers, or solve their problems.

Just be sure not to let your risk overshadow the return possible. When expenses continue to flow out and there simply aren’t measures in place to prevent your capital from steadily declining, the risk is too high. You can usually tell because running your business has become a lot scarier than it is fun.

If you truly believe you have something of value to offer, but you’re repeatedly failing to meet short-term goals, then it’s time to ask a business coach for assistance. Whether you’re a veteran business owner who’s lost customer interest or a startup who’s failed to capture the market’s imagination, continually amending poor projections is a bad sign. The advice of an experienced coach could be exactly what you needed.

A failed business does not mean the entrepreneur has failed
If your current business is all but guaranteed to fail, what you need to do is to fail fast and fail cheap. When it looks like it’s not working, it helps to be agile, to quickly adapt and take another crack at the market, or perhaps, a new market altogether.
Learn from your failure, identify a model that will generate revenue and focus on building that new business model. Pumping more capital into a failing business will not suddenly make it profitable. Instead, as the jockey, you need to find a new, faster, better horse.

Patience is a virtue
It’s worth mentioning that starving yourself should never be a part of the plan. It sounds obvious at first, but you’d be surprised by what a determined, budding entrepreneur will give up to fulfil their dream. Always remember that failing cheap also refers to putting your mental health and well-being first. Sticking with a sinking ship will only alienate your employees, friends and family, and your morale and confidence will eventually succumb to the pressure.

That includes taking care of yourself while you re-evaluate the market place. Just because you’re in the planning stages of a second, or even third attempt at a business, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat. Have some work to fall back on while you plan your new business. Yes, it will likely slow you down a little, but patience and preparedness is key. Urgency may mean missing the right angle of attack – a death knell to your next business, before it even starts.
Remember to ask yourself the hard questions: Why do I believe my business will succeed? What am I willing to sacrifice to make it work? And to really commit to it. To sacrifice it all for your business – especially if its plan isn’t clear – is to put the horse before the jockey, which doesn’t make a lot of sense.

According to an article from the World Economic Forum, 35% of the skills that are crucial in today’s workforce will have changed by the year 2020.

The emerging Fourth Industrial Revolution – characterised by an exponential increase in various digital and cyber technologies – will be in full swing.

The rise of smart machines and systems, our computational world, new media ecology, superstructure organisations and the reality of globalisation, are all key factors driving this era. Your current job may cease to exist; new jobs will grow in its place, and currently nonexistent jobs will become the norm.

The question is: how do you ensure your skillset is aligned with the pace of the future’s workforce?

A recent IDC survey, commissioned by Microsoft, shed some light on this question – identifying that although technical skills are valuable, employers of the future will place greater importance on soft skills:

Check out five of the soft skills you’ll need to impress your employer with in 2025, and how you can master them for maximum impact:

Social intelligence
Employers value this skill today and will value it even more in the future: the ability to adapt your behaviour to accommodate various styles of communication, different strengths and weaknesses, and a multitude of personalities.

If you’re in a position of leadership or looking to move into one in the future, this will be a key competency to develop.

Cross-cultural competency
Linked to social intelligence is the capacity to function in a multicultural setting – a soft skill which will be key for working in a world where globalisation is here to stay.

This means you’ll need to be able to adapt the way you communicate, collaborate and interact with people across cultures, as well as work with varying cultural beliefs, time schedules, and nuances. How will you identify, understand and accommodate different cultures in your future work environment?

Speak a universal language of visual communication – this is translatable across language and cultural barriers, so use images or video, as a way to train employees, or educate others in your workspace.
Ask your current co-workers questions – take the time to learn basic words, phrases and gestures from other cultures in an effort to identify with people you may work with in the future.
Make the effort to educate – cultivate an environment of learning, where you transfer the cultural knowledge you have acquired to those you work with. Maybe even teach your boss a thing or two.

New media literacy
As you might be aware, video and audio content are becoming even more prominent when it comes to the exchange of information. Within the next five years it will be even more present, in a wider range of industries. Whether your role currently has a direct relation to these forms of media or not, your ability to consume and understand visual content is going to be a highly desirable skill to your future employer.

Virtual collaboration
Globalisation has resulted in workplaces coexisting in different countries and time zones, meaning it’s almost impossible to have everyone in the same room. In fact, a survey of business leaders at the Global Leadership Summit in London found that 34% of executives said more than half their company’s full-time employees would be working remotely in 2020. And that number is only going to increase.

The only way to solve this problem is by using technology to communicate and collaborate. Virtual collaboration is here to stay, which means you need to be able to continue to engage and encourage productivity with a virtual team in the same way that you would if everyone was in the same building.

Master this soft skill by using tools like Google Docs, Skype, Time Doctor, Basecamp, Slack and Trello.

The ability to self-direct
The use of outsourcing, freelancers and telecommuting will increase in future workplaces, making it impossible to supervise every employee. What does this mean for you? You’ll need to know how to self-direct. This involves increased responsibility, being self-disciplined and accountable, making important decisions on your own, keeping your cool under pressure, and a high level of self-awareness.

In a study by Green Peak Partners and Cornell University on what determines executive success, it was noted that high self-awareness was the “strongest predictor of overall success.”

One popular way to develop this self-awareness is through an examination of the 6 leadership styles proposed by Daniel Goleman, in his publication: Leadership That Gets Results.

Conclusion
From robots to virtual reality, the future workspace may be nothing like we could ever imagine today.

But as founder of Google, Larry Page says, “Lots of companies don’t succeed over time. What do they fundamentally do wrong? They usually miss the future. I try to focus on that: What is the future really going to be? And how do we create it? And how do we power our organisation to really focus on that and really drive it at a high rate?”

As long as you’re willing to future-proof the way you approach your work, interact with people, and embrace technologies, you’ll have no problem keeping up with the changes to come – and make a massive impression on your future boss while you do.

Source: www.resources.getsmarter.co.za

Reaching targets isn’t the only, or even the biggest, challenge facing today’s workplace leaders.
The most difficult ones often relate to managing people and optimising their work environment to encourage every team member’s best performance.
After all, numbers don’t respond to your Monday blues, but people do.
Managers are responsible for time management, decision-making, team-building and managing a multi-generational workforce.
Regardless of whether you’re planning a move into management or you’ve already been there a while, learn from these common managerial errors to avoid making your own in the future.

1. Static thinking
A promotion to management means your job responsibilities shift away from being the chief technical contributor and move into the realm of managing the success of others through their own technical abilities.
Here two common mistakes are made: the first relating to holding on to the role you’ll leave, and the second to the one you’ll move into.
In terms of the role just left, what many managers do wrong is retain a “technical expert” mind-set instead of adjusting to more of a “coaching” one. They continue to execute at the same time that they attempt to lead.
The result? Twice the work, half the impact, and the infamous micromanagement phrase: “just let me do that for you”.
The same “technical expert” mind-set accompanied by the move into unknown territory results in leading out of fear – fear that the technical skills of team members will soon rival the new manager’s, as focus shifts to coaching rather than execution.
This, of course, is not true, as management requires a very different set of skills to those of technical roles.

How to avoid it
Make a conscious effort to shift your thinking to a coaching mind-set. The first step is being aware that it’s necessary, and after that it’s down to how much you’re willing to learn, both on the job and outside of it. There are plenty of books on leadership to choose from if you want to accelerate your experience outside of working hours.
On the job and outside of educational material: observe, learn and adjust. Identify a mentor – a leader you can mirror – and pay close attention to how they deal with similar challenges to your own. On top of that, trust your team to execute while you guide them to do their best work.

2. Undefined goals
When you’re on the ground, it can be difficult to see all the way to the top. And that’s exactly what some managers fail to do – show their team what it looks like up there.
Think about it: how would you feel if you knew you had somewhere to get to, but didn’t even know where that place was? Anxious, stressed, confused, unmotivated? That’s how team members feel when they don’t know the impact of their own contribution, or the end-goal they’re aiming for.
The definition of success differs from company to company and, despite the obvious monetary indicators, is not always easy to define. The manager’s job is to define overall and individual goals clearly so that the team has a definite idea of what they’re chasing, and how they’re going to achieve it.

How to avoid it
Start with a clear definition of what the overarching company goals are. Filter those down into your own priorities, and into the broader goals of your entire team. Once you’re there, you can start to define how each individual contributes in their own capacity, and set priorities and targets for team members that align along a clear path, all the way to the top.

Reminding your team of why they do what they do gives them a strong sense of motivation and purpose. It also allows you to hold them accountable for achieving those goals, because they understand the impact of their work and the detriment that not carrying out their responsibilities could have on both company targets and the ability of others to work.
Ask yourself and your team how each individual objective affects the overall goal? How does each role inform the other? What is the result of good work, and the cost of non-performance?

3. Not knowing the team
Motivating a team requires not only that you ensure individuals are aware of how their work impacts broader company goals, but also understanding, supporting and encouraging them in ways that are relevant to their unique personalities.

What some managers fail to do is make a concerted effort to really get to know team members on a personal level. They focus instead on optimising productivity through task management and success incentives because it’s easier and less time-consuming.

They fail to realise that the most powerful approach to managing people is by being human and connecting on a person-to-person level. Figuring out what works and what doesn’t for every team member is the ultimate way to optimise efficiency.

How to avoid it
Firstly, don’t hide behind the convenience of technology, like e-mail or a task management system – prioritise face-to-face interactions.
A simple way to do this is to have short team check-ins at your desks every morning. This is a space where team members can report on their wins, losses and current challenges, as well as what they’ll be focusing on that day. It’s a great way to get a sense of what’s going on, and what problems need to be solved.
Setting up a weekly meeting for each team member will allow you to have valuable one-on-one time.
These meetings allow you to check in on how every individual is coping; give feedback on their performance; allow for feedback on your own performance; and allows you to develop a unique relationship with each person.

4. Being reactive
For many, it’s a natural reaction to want to solve a problem as it appears, but this reactivity can be detrimental if not focused.
A mistake made especially by new managers is to work long hours responding immediately to crises, instead of setting time aside to think strategically about what they need to achieve so that they can focus on what’s most important and respond appropriately.
Every time a challenge is experienced by a team member, the manager quickly springs into action to clear the path. Although this might earn the immediate approval of your team, misdirected action will be detrimental in the long run.

How to avoid it
“Think of yourself as one of your managed people,” says Lindsey Pollak, author of the leadership book Becoming the Boss. As much as you need to spend time on your team to make sure they’re able to perform at the highest level, you also need to spend time on yourself to coax out your best performance.
Make time to prioritise and strategise. Proactively planning ahead means you’ll not only be able to anticipate potential problems, but allows you to be less reactive in the future because you know to respond immediately only to top priority issues.

5. Only managing downwards
In the same way that undefined goals can cloud a team’s view of the top, exclusively downwards management limits the team’s upwards influence.
Sometimes, managers fail to realise the value of extending their influence into positions above their own. Leaders at higher levels must be convinced of the legitimacy of your perspective (which aligns to your team’s goals) so that those below you can benefit too.
The mistake here happens one of two ways: either, the manager attempts to join the ranks of colleagues in higher leadership positions and so comes across as being “above the team”, or believes they are too far below people in higher positions to have any impact.

How to avoid it
Learn to manage up as well as down. While the way you talk and interact with those in higher positions to your own will differ from how you interact with your team, the end-goal is the same: draw optimum value from both.

When managing up, you may have to adopt a more formal tone, but doing things like referring to shared goals, talking up the skills of your own team, and humanising team members to those who aren’t as familiar with them as you are, are all ways you can extend your team’s influence to the upper echelons of your organisation.

6. Attitude
Remaining calm, positive and upbeat can often be the most tiring responsibility of a manager, and an area where many fall short. A manager’s attitude can determine whether people feel anything from relaxed and motivated, to tense and pressured.
The mistake many managers make here is responding with emotion to the actions of those they’re leading. Whether it’s in reaction to an opinionated comment, below-par work or even the detrimental attitude of a team member, managers are consistently faced with the challenge of maintaining composure and handling every situation in a fair, calculated and professional manner.
If you’re wondering why team morale is low, take a hard look at your own approach to work.

How to avoid it
Unless people believe something is possible, they won’t create conditions for success, and only you, as a leader, can maintain their belief. You have to be the face of possibility.

It’s important to think about the desired environment you want to create, and be an example of that environment so that others identify with its merits and buy in to the associated behaviour.

7.  Treating money as motivation

If you really know your team, you’ll likely find that money isn’t the only way to motivate them – and sometimes it may even be the wrong way.
Many managers make the common error of assuming that team members do the work they do purely for the monetary rewards. In some cases, this may be true, but for the majority of the time there are other ways to motivate.

How to avoid it
People value different things, so by knowing your team you should be able to identify what speaks to that value, and use it as a form of motivation.
For example, work/life balance is valued highly by many. For these sorts of team members, the chance to work from home one day a week (if their type of work allows for it) could be a contributing factor to morale.
Other motivators include showing trust in an individual’s skills by increasing their responsibility, as well as privately praising team members who have overcome obstacles, made progress or performed exceptionally.

8. Not drawing the line
It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to appear friendly and approachable as a manager, but not being professional enough can lead to complications when it comes to making those tough decisions regarding people in a team.
This can result in anything from hurt feelings to the temptation to take advantage of your professional friendship. It’s important to maintain a balance and nurture a professional understanding between you and your team.

How to avoid it
While this doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t make friends with team members, it’s important to ensure that you develop an understanding that there’s a time and a place for everything.
If you’re friendly with your team, ensure that criticism of work or behaviour is based on solid examples to leave as little room as possible for misunderstandings. An example is the “Situation, Behaviour, Impact” approach to feedback. This approach frames behaviour in a way that highlights its impact on the person who suffered because of it, and avoids directly accusing the person who performed it, so that they are less likely to get defensive.
Every team is different, and so requires a unique approach tailored to extracting the best from every member. Avoiding these mistakes will make the journey a lot smoother.

Source: www.resources.getsmarter.co.za

As any employer or HR practitioner will know, expensive schooling and impressive certificates are not always a reliable indicator that your candidate has what it takes to do the job you’re hiring them to do. While education is vital, more and more business owners are waking up to the value of apprenticeships as they build and groom their next generation of star employees.

Many business owners, perhaps justifiably, view apprenticeships with a certain amount of suspicion. Taken on for the wrong reasons or managed incorrectly, apprenticeship programmes can indeed be a drain on company resources with little advantage to show for it. In the South African context, we’re seeing a lot of companies establishing government-sponsored apprenticeships. Sadly, many only use their programmes as a way of getting cheap or free labour, with no idea of just how mutually beneficial apprenticeships can be if done right.

Apprenticeships are not cheap labour. In fact, they can be a significant drain on a company’s resources, compared to an experienced hire. Implementing an apprenticeship programme is therefore likely to entail much more work for you and your team, not less. The upside is that if all goes according to plan, you will have taken a common resource and made it into a rare one. Here are ways that implementing an apprenticeship programme can revitalise your business:

Providing a skilled workforce for the future
Apprenticeships help to ensure new recruits develop exactly the skills they need to successfully join the organisation, which can only benefit a business in the long term. Managers can ensure that the competencies being developed are exactly those that the company will need more of in the future – filling in any gaps and allowing the business to source future leaders from within.

Increasing staff loyalty and retention
Employees trained in-house tend to be more highly motivated, committed to their role, and supportive of the company and its objectives. Apprenticeships encourage employees to stay with the company longer by demonstrating its willingness to invest in its new recruits and treat them as a valued and integral part of the workforce.

More efficient recruitment
Apprenticeships can revolutionise the efficiency of your human resources efforts – saving you time and money lost to the recruitment process, as well as helping to make the need to replace employees a far less frequent bother. Apprenticeships are a great way to incubate the talent of your company’s future leaders and test the waters in a safe, insulated environment. You’ll also get to oversee and mould that talent as it develops. What’s more, having an apprentice around is a good insurance policy in case one of your team members should suddenly leave, because they’ll be leaving a trained “understudy” behind who can help pick up the slack.

Freeing up existing staff members’ time
As your business grows, your team will probably find their time being taken up by smaller tasks that tend to derail their main work responsibilities. Delegating these tasks to apprentices not only provides them with the hands-on upskilling they expect, but also frees up the time for your other employees to be more productive and less distracted.

A breath of fresh air
Bringing new, young people on board often translates to a fresh approach and a renewed positive attitude in the workplace, which can have the effect of enhancing workplace morale and cementing team unity. Apprentices inspire existing staff members to be willing to lend a hand in their training, as well as focus on improving their own skills. Apprentices from a variety of backgrounds and with different educational histories also give you fresh insight and out-of-the-box ideas to your business operations, encouraging change and innovation.

Companies considering taking on apprentices should not do so without considerable planning and the willingness to oversee every aspect of their apprentices’ progress. It is vital to be clear about your expectations as well as theirs, and make them a welcomed part of your team. With guidance, encouragement and good communication, you may find a few hidden gems among your new recruits, who may eventually show themselves to be your star employees in the future.

By Pieter Scholtz, leading business and executive coach and SA’s Co-Master Licensee for global franchise company ActionCOACH

Women in the boardroom

South African women have come a long way in the boardroom; however, they still have a lot of work to do when it comes to making their mark and claiming ownership at board level.

In a rapidly evolving world, one would think that considering all the milestones we have passed and overcome as a nation and country, gender equality in the workplace is automatically observed.

At the Beijing Conference of 1995, women’s rights came to the fore. Here delegates prepared a declaration and platform for action aimed at achieving greater equality and opportunity for women. In South Africa we have our Bill of Rights, which was intended to promote the rights of women as equal citizens. This legislative environment is very much in line with a global trend that indicates that the advancement of women who hold leadership positions is linked to a legislative framework or environment and not a voluntary action of society.

Even with these milestones of women making their mark across various industries being very prominent and continuously encouraged, the success of gender transformation according to Stats SA and other relevant sources tells a different story.

Other than government, corporate SA shows an 80/20 split in the job market focused mainly on levels of directorship such as executive and board levels whereby men dominate the workplace.

According to the Stats SA 2015 survey, the gender gap is higher in the private and semi-private sectors. The percentage of senior posts held by females in state-owned enterprises is only 24%, with 76% being held by men.

Similarly, in chapter institutions this number is only 25% of senior leadership positions being held by women, with 74% held by men.

The most alarming, however, is when we look into the JSE Top 40 listed companies and find that only 3% of these CEOs are women.

“South Africa has a long way to go in establishing and promoting the future of female leaders. This clearly indicates the importance of gender mainstreaming as well as BEE transformation at board level,” says MD of Transcend Talent Management, Zanele Luvuno.

According to a report released by PwC, Executive Directors 2014, only 13% of women hold executive roles in the basic resource sector, in comparison to the 87% of males who occupy the same space. It highlights the amount of work still to be done and also the fact that the gap between male and female at board level continues to grow.

Another area of concern to be pointed out is the financial services industry, where the positioning is 85% male and 15% female split. Given these facts, it is evident that women in the workplace have a long way to go and grow, especially at board level.

Research has further pointed out that women at board level play a vital role in the dynamics of the organisation, bringing to the table more productivity, a visible increase in companies’ bottom lines and seeing better corporate governance. With there being a business case for women in leadership positions, why then has corporate South Africa been so slowly to transform?

The Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa indicates that women are mostly appointed in non-executive directorship positions, only 9,2% of women hold chairperson positions and only 2,4% of women are appointed as CEOs.

An argument for keeping women out of leadership positions has been our desire to have children and our responsibility to our families. Being the ever-increasingly independent beings that they are, women have become accustomed to a work/life family balance and are able to single-handedly juggle all these responsibilities.

By not empowering women, we not only deprive the economy but also deprive households of opportunities, where in this day and age run households as single parents and mothers, providing for their families. The facts continue to unravel of how male candidates have owned the corporate leadership space over decades and have been given preference over more senior opportunities.

Transcend Talent Management offers unique and tailored solutions to boards and companies to help align and place qualified women into leadership positions. Being headed by a successful female promotes the placement of women at directorship levels and into transactions so that we may start to be drivers of initiatives such as black industrialisation. Managing Director Zanele Luvuno focuses on partnering clients with the appropriate black partner to create the perfect fit and relationship for long-term success.

According to Microsoft, the average human currently has an attention span of eight seconds, 33,3% less compared to the 12 seconds in the year 2001. Smartphones and mobile devices contribute to this phenomenon, creating greater demand for easy and convenient online communication and services.

When a potential client stays on a page for longer than 30 seconds they are more likely to spend two minutes or more on the site. This also increases the chances of returning to the site at a later stage. The big question is, how does a leading online service retain a customer’s attention, create a relationship and maintain it?

“Customers want to have control of their decisions, participate in activities and quickly get the message that is being translated to them. In order for online services to retain consumer attention long enough, they need to provide them with a site that has clear messaging and easy navigation through the various sections, all underpinned by a compelling value proposition to the customer,” says Derek Wilson, head of Hippo.co.za.

Here are some of the tactics used by Web site analysts to retain consumer attention:

  • Visual information – people are likely to remember 10% of the information they read three days later, whereas 65% is remembered when it is paired with relevant images/visuals.
  • Web design and development – 40% of visitors will exit the site if it takes longer than three seconds to load. Web sites also have to be mobile device friendly and have an easy to remember website address.
  • Filter applications – they allow the consumer to customise information and simplify the search process.
  • Interactivity – Web sites that have interactive features (for example audio, video, or scroll events) can keep site visitors entertained and lingering for longer.
  • Create an excellent online customer service experience. According to research, 47% of customers could take their business to a competitor within a day of experiencing bad service.

Building a loved brand goes a long way to improve customers’ propensity to use the service frequently.

As winter approaches, South African businesses will face an onslaught of germs – and not just from people, but from desk “germ traps” too.

Richard Andrews, MD of Inspiration Office, an Africa-wide office space and furniture consultancy with head offices in Johannesburg, said that South African companies face losing millions of productive hours because of sickness this winter.

“Germs are everywhere, it’s a fact of life. Also known as microbes, bacteria, bugs and now even superbugs, various types of germslive within us, on us and all around us.

“Many of them keep us healthy and alive, but others pose threats to our wellbeing if our bodies cannot manage them.”

Andrews notes that according to a Lancaster University study, 72% of people report going to work when they are sick.

“What most people don’t realise is that it’s not just germs from people that spread to colleagues – office surfaces and materials used in the office space can be potent germ transmitters too.

“Germs are loiterers. They can live and thrive on all kinds of surfaces, including – and especially – desks in the workplace. Many office materials harbour germs making them as infectious as a sneezing colleague when you consider 80% of infections can be transmitted by touch, according to the WebMD website.”

Andrews added that the problem is likely to exacerbated by the fact that nearly 40% of the workforce is expected to be mobile by 2017.

“Workplaces today need to provide a variety of places for people to work, giving people choice and control over where and how they work. But as employees use shared workstations throughout the day, there is also increased need to minimise sharing harmful bacteria.

“One study by the University of Arizona’s Dr Charles Gerba found more than 10 million germs on the average desk. Crumbs for example that accumulate on desks, are a perfect environment for bacteria and fungi to thrive.”
Andrews added the transition from assigned “I spaces” to shared “we spaces” globally has created rising demand by companies the world over for the use of antimicrobials in the workspace as a way of fighting back agains the proliferation of germs.

“Antimicrobial agents and coatings are technologies that either kill or slow the growth of microbes.

“We’ve seen an increased demand from our clients in South Africa and across Africa for antimicrobials since we pioneered them in 2011 in South Africa and have had them as standard since then.
“They’re gaining relevance in the workplace as an option to dramatically reduce germs on frequently touched surfaces such as the worksurface edge and desk pad, height-adjustment controls, and power and data access points.”

Andrews said that the increased use of antimicrobials is expected to significantly reduce the cost of absent works and the related health care costs as they become a standard feature of office ware over the next decade.

“Antimicrobials show promise as another way to proactively create health-conscious work environments in support of improved worker wellbeing.

“Although antimicrobial materials should not replace or decrease regular cleaning routines or good hygiene practices such as hand washing, coughing into elbows and staying home when sick, they can add another level of potential benefit by sharply reducing germsin the workplace,” Andrews concludes.

Truly efficient people know there’s a difference between being busy and being productive. Harnessing the power of productivity is less about time management and more about managing energy – working smart instead of hard. Nashua has rounded up seven tips to help you perform more efficiently, no matter your job description.

Schedule it
Organise tasks you need to complete each day in order of importance – and go a step further with self-imposed hourly deadlines. Limit time frames and see how your mind focuses to get the task done. Not only are you accountable to yourself, you can also direct focus to one specific project at a time. Be realistic to avoid frustration.

When prioritising tasks, complete the most pressing jobs first to capitalise on high energy in the morning. Set aside time to respond to emails instead of allowing your inbox to dictate how you spend your day. Urgent mails and calls are (obviously) the exception.

Avoid mental fatigue
Scheduled breaks help improve concentration – especially if the break involves standing up to stretch or a short bout of exercise to get blood pumping, like taking a walk. Five to 10 minute breaks between long tasks can help maintain a constant level of performance, as opposed to a steady decline in performance from working without breaks.

Don’t multitask
Although it’s seen as a positive attribute, multitasking isn’t always key to increasing efficiency. In fact, psychologists say there’s no such thing as multitasking – our brains simply switch from task to task at a rapid pace. This results in lost time and productivity. Committing to finishing a single task before moving onto the next is a better, more constructive habit to form.

Banish distractions
Interruptions throughout the day are inevitable, but the extent of the distraction can be mitigated. If possible, try work from different locations or isolate yourself for a certain period of time. For a subtle ‘do not disturb’ sign, wear headphones. And to the colleague who’s looking to shoot the breeze, communicate honestly to let them know you can chat later.

Online videos and phone notifications can also be distracting. Instead of checking social media every five minutes, limit it to every two to three hours (or longer) instead.

Regain control
Procrastination can bring productivity to a halt. To regain control, take an hour to get organised and sort out admin. Delete irrelevant emails and file those you need to keep for reference. Don’t be tempted to start the actual tasks at hand: plan them first. Separating bigger jobs into smaller, achievable chunks reduces the feeling of being overloaded – a great incentive to crack on with the work.

Another trick is to build a routine to get into a working mind-set, like creating a playlist or turning off your phone before you get started.

Declutter your work space
A cluttered desk leads to unnecessary distractions. Instead of hoarding piled-up paperwork, transfer documents to cloud storage, like Google Drive and Apple iCloud Drive.

Research shows art in the workplace can increase creativity and productivity, so personalise your desk with one or two colourful accessories. Paintings and drawings from family, framed photos or desk plants all work well. Stick to two to three desk items to cut clutter.

Prioritise sleep
According to research, after several nights of losing sleep – even the loss of just one to two hours each night – your ability to function suffers in the same way as not sleeping for a few days. You take longer to finish tasks, have a slower reaction time, are more prone to mistakes and can slip into micro-sleep (brief moments of sleep that occur when you’d normally be awake).

Set a regular bedtime and put your phone away an hour or two before you sleep, to boost quantity and quality of sleep. Practise relaxation techniques like breathing deeply and visualisation. Also use this time to reflect on your achievements and productivity.

The total annual cost to the country in lost earnings due to employees being absent from work is estimated at R40-billion per annum (equal to 2,2% of the GDP), according to a 2013 South African Stress and Health Survey (SASH). With employee absenteeism costing SA businesses billions each year due to reduced productivity, implementing employee wellness programmes (EWPs) can have significant financial benefits for businesses.

This is according to Vuyokazi Lekhelebana, executive consulting psychologist at Work Dynamics, who says that employee absenteeism is considered to be an indicator of poor organisational health and is directly associated with disengagement and poor morale.

“Employee absence levels often provide a very accurate depiction of the overall health of an organisation. Absenteeism however, is retrospective or ‘reactive’ to a bigger issue and the cost and loss in productivity associated with employee absenteeism, calls for a more proactive stance that is focused on prevention.”

She points to a survey conducted by Canadian based organisation, Officevibe, which indicated that companies that implement EWPs can expect a 28% reduction in sick leave.

“Unfortunately, there is no ‘generic’ approach when it comes to EWPs, so organisations may benefit from conducting some internal research to gauge employee attitudes and preferences.”
Lekhelebana explains that a well-researched strategy ensures the highest likelihood of success and utilisation for a EWP. “Typical wellness interventions range from health and fitness programmes, health screening, smoke cessation support and creating wellness incentive programmes, There are a wide range of EWPs that institutions can choose from, these would include in-house wellness programs on a small scale as well as outsourced wellness initiatives, such as psychological consultancies, where the primary focus is on the psychosocial and mental well-being of employees.
She stresses the importance of the role of management with regards to employee wellness and explains that it extends far beyond facilitating policy development on wellness issues, but includes endorsing and supporting the programme.

“When management participates in the programme, employees will usually follow suit and buy into the benefits of the programme. Employee participation is after all a prerequisite for any successful employee wellness initiative.”

“Forming external partnerships with HR and psychology consulting firms has become an essential factor in fostering business growth and refining company moral, as the financial benefits of a successful programme far outweigh the initial investment,” concludes Lekhelebana.

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My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective


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