How Sleep Deprivation Impacts Your Work

*From the dusty archives…

A little over a week ago, I was starting to get sick.  With springtime comes allergies so, like most people, I attributed my early symptoms to that.  By day two though, I knew I really had something brewing.  My main signal was sitting at my desk at work and suddenly feeling like I could fall asleep.  I felt like George from Seinfeld when he decided he needed a nap at work and created a spot under his desk where he could sleep.  I contemplated asking someone to come pick me up and drive me home, but instead, I drank a Coke and felt energized enough to drive myself.

Looking back, I know that day at work was not my most productive.  I was trying my best to stay completely focused but the illness and drowsiness impacted my ability to stay focused and accomplish all I needed to do.  Now, we all know that this happens to everyone.  We get sick.  What I am thinking about today is how many people who have long-term sleep issues come to work drowsy every day?  What impact does that have on their productivity?  Are they in positions that put others at risk? 

In a recent article highlighting the National Sleep Foundation’s 2012 Sleep In America poll, “about one-fourth of train operators (26%) and pilots (23%) admit that sleepiness has affected their job performance at least once a week, compared to about one in six non-transportation workers (17%).

Perhaps more disturbingly, a significant number say that sleepiness has caused safety problems on the job. One in five pilots (20%) admit that they have made a serious error and one in six train operators (18%) and truck drivers (14%) say that they have had a “near miss” due to sleepiness.  Sleepiness has also played a role in car accidents commuting to and from work. Pilots and train operators are significantly more likely than non-transportation workers (6% each, compared to 1%) to say that they have been involved in a car accident due to sleepiness while commuting.”

Statistics like these are somewhat jarring but honestly, not completely surprising.  While many of us do not have transportation related jobs, drowsiness can still have a significant negative impact on work productivity and our results.

As a leader, have you noticed that drowsiness has had an impact on your performance or the performance of your team?  What signs have you seen that drowsy workers in a corporate setting are impacting productivity?  Share in the comments.

NBA Playoff Predictions Show

Hello and welcome to the HR Happy Hour show and our latest episode: NBA Playoff Predictions.  If you’re new to the show, Steve and I typically talk about all things human resources and technology.  Once in awhile, there is a topic we are so passionate about that is not “work” related that we have to cover it.  Today, it’s the NBA playoffs.

As backstory, a few months ago we did a fun show on the Academy Awards where we previewed and made predictions about the movies and actors/ actresses that would win Oscars.  It was fun because I had viewed almost all the movies and Steve had only seen one.  He used many funny criteria to make his predictions.  You can check out the Oscar episode here.

This leads us to today where I will be making NBA playoff predictions.  Steve is our resident NBA expert, so he definitely has the advantage over me.  I am a huge sports fan, however, I never watch basketball so my predictions were made based on some shaky criteria.  Things like foods the city is known for or if the player was ever married to a Kardashian definitely come into play!

Tune in to the show and see if your predictions align more with Steve or with me, then be sure to let me know in the comments!

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Not Haunted

It’s been a whirlwind of a week as I am in New Orleans for the first time.  I must admit, that it is surprisingly “homey” for me as it is very similar to St. Louis in terms of history, French background, good food, and Mardi Gras.  I made time to stroll the streets of the French Quarter when I arrived and was struck by the architecture, sounds, and mostly good smells of the experience.  Keep in mind that I’m here at a time post-Mardi Gras so the party atmosphere is greatly reduced.
As I walked up and down cobblestone streets, ducking in and out of small shops hawking everything from antiques to voodoo dolls, I noticed a sign hanging for an apartment for lease.
20150413_134248~2
As you can see, one of the main pieces of information given to potential leasees and passersby is the fact (or maybe just hopeful claim) that the place is “Not Haunted”.  Not haunted?  Really?  I never knew that was a selling point.  That aside, what do you think about using a tactic like this in the work you do?  Personally, I am not a fan of focusing on the negative, especially in employee communications. Can you imagine how this could play out in the workplace?
  • Dear employees, your 2016 benefits will NOT COVER X, Y, nor Z.
  • Dear employees, as your employer we will NOT offer paternity leave until you have been employed here 2 years.
  • Dear employees, DO NOT use your computer for social media interactions during business actions because you might say something we don’t like.
  • Dear employees, the company will NOT OFFER any benefit plan cost reductions.
How could you change this by rewording?
  • Dear employees, we are excited to share your 2016 benefit plan options and are now covering several new benefits such as X, Y and Z.
  • Dear employees, we know that spending time with a new baby is an important part of a baby’s development and bonding.  As such, we will now offer paternity leave for any employee who has completed 2 years of service.
  • Dear employees, we know that as social media outlets have grown in recent years, many of you use them as part of your daily interactions.  We expect you to use good judgement and realize you represent XYZ company at all times.
  • Dear employees, we are excited to tell you that for plan year 2016, any employee who enrolls in a fitness program at a certified gym will now be offered a $300 discount on healthcare premiums for the plan year.
Now, those may not be the best policies, however, purely from a communication standpoint, it is a much more positive spin on issues that could arise.  In my HR career I have seen far too many companies use the tactics in the first examples as they tell employees how NOT to behave, what NOT to wear, etc.  I would strongly recommend a handbook policy revamp if yours resemble the first examples. I guess the alternative is to just tell your employees that the company is “Not Haunted” and go from there.  Good luck!

6 Years of HRringleader

Today marks the 6 year anniversary of HRringleader.  It’s been an amazing time, full of new ideas, opportunities and friends.  Truth be told, I started the blog as a way to learn about blogging so I could design a training about it for work.  I never thought it would turn into something that would change my life.  As I wrote more posts and shared my ideas, it became my personal journal that just happened to be public.

I don’t share everything I write, but I share most posts.  I don’t always have the time to dedicate to blogging every day as I once did, but even so, I hope that what I create is valuable to you and that you’ll continue to read and share.  I also enjoy when you share your ideas with me because that helps us all learn and grow

What I’ve learned from blogging is that nothing stays the same and that we all can use support as things develop and change.  I am grateful to each of you for helping me in that endeavor.  I once shared a poem by Robert Frost in a post and I’d like to do that again today as a reminder of the many changes to come in the next 6 years…

Nature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Nothing Gold Can Stay, it is a tribute to innocence as well as to changes that we all go through.  So often as leaders and as human beings we are forced to lose our innocence little by little, situation by situation.  I’m reminded of a time of personal innocence when I first heard about this poem.  I was in junior high school and reading the book The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton.  It is a story of a group of young teenage boys who are coming of age.  Through many trials and tribulations, several key characters die during the story.  One character, Johnny, tells the lead character, Ponyboy, to “stay gold”.

Whether recalling the prose of a brilliant poet or the inspired quote from an author who speaks to a younger generation, the message is clear.  As you are faced with change, do all you can to hang on to your innocence about things.  The purity.  The raw emotion.  After all, nothing gold can stay.

I thank you and hope you’ll continue this journey with me.

Cheers!

HR Happy Hour #201: Putting the Fun Into Analytics

A few weeks ago, Steve and I had the opportunity to record a HR Happy Hour episode with Mike Psenka, SVP of Workforce Solutions at Equifax and Edward Pertwee, Strategic Workforce Consultant at BT.  We had just conducted a panel discussion on how to leverage data and analytics for HR and organizational success.

Mike and Ed both shared some excellent examples, (both in the panel and in the HR Happy Hour podcast), of how, where, and to what effect data and analytics are making an impact in workforce planning, compliance, and to improve business results. There are some amazingly powerful applications for using data in a wide variety of contexts – where to locate company facilities, the effect of demographic shifts on performance, and how long commute times impact engagement and satisfaction.

Additionally, Steve defended Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks, I told Steve that the number ‘201’ should not be said as ‘two hundred and one’, and we learned that a husband should never question the strength and intensity of his wife’s labor contractions.

You can listen to the show on the show page here, and using the widget player below, (email and RSS subscribers will need to click through).

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As always, you can listen to the current and all the past shows from the archive on the show page here, on our HR Happy Hour website, and by subscribing to the show in podcast form on iTunes, or for Android devices using Stitcher Radio (or your favorite podcast app). Just search the iTunes store or your podcast app for ‘HR Happy Hour’ to add the show to your subscriptions.

This was a really fun show with some fantastic guests and I hope you enjoy listening!

How to Calculate The Number of People It Takes to Change Your Organization

squarerootBack in 2010 I wrote a post about how to Tap Into Informal Leaders to Influence.  The basic premise of the post was that I learned that in order to turn or change an organization, you only need to find the square root of the total employees and focus on spreading the word through that number of people.  For example:

Organization size-  5,000 employees

Square root of 5,000-  70.71 employees

So, in order to make change stick in this example, you would need to find the 70 employees who are the informal leaders/ influencers and get them on board. Messaging should still come from more formal channels, but by getting the influencers to spread the word with you, you can make a more significant impact on the organizational change.

I have been thinking about this as I have conversation after conversation about organizational culture, influence and employee engagement.  I’ve talked to leaders over the years who sincerely believe that company culture comes from the top down, and maybe that is a possibility.  I tend to embrace the idea that with each new employee you add to the organization, the company culture shifts a bit.  They each help form the ever-evolving culture.  I’m not sure that either opinion is 100% correct and that’s alright.

What I am sure of is that if this theory is true, a company can be changed by a relatively small number of people.  If you’re in a position to want to make your workplace better, more inclusive, more productive and more welcoming to all employees, it really doesn’t take much to turn the whole ship around.  The same holds true for the reverse and this is why a small group can also make a workplace unbearable.

When I first heard this theory, I began reaching out to the informal leaders in my organization whenever a more formal message was coming out.  I would find those influencers who may not have a fancy title or years of service, those who had the ear of the other employees though.  I would make sure they knew what was coming and that they felt like part of the process.  It really seemed to make a difference in getting ideas from management accepted.

What do you think?  Have you experienced this before?  Let me know in the comments.

4 Steps To Resignation or Promotion with Grace

*Sharing from the dusty archives…

We’ve all left a job. leaving-work

Whether voluntarily or involuntarily, leaving your organization or position is a commonality we all share at some point.  The difference is how each person handles that transition. For many employees, especially those who voluntarily resign, leaving is a process they go through.  It could involve months of thinking about it and planning out each detail. For those employees who are terminated though, they may or may not have much warning.  Either way, it’s important to realize the impact of behavior during the transition time.  After all, it’s part of the legacy you leave and what you were known for at work.

In a recent column in Harvard Business Review, On Stepping Down Gracefully, Robert Sutton describes the importance of this transition time for CEOs who step down or who take on roles with different responsibility. Like us, a CEO has to think about the message they send when they are asked to resign or if they are choosing to retire to a chairmanship.  The impact of behavior during those “peak” moments in a career are critical to how colleagues and even the successor remember the person who is leaving.  There are no real benefits to let hurt feelings taint the departure.  All that does is create enemies and burn bridges that may be needed in the future.

The same holds true for promotions.  Whether you’re leaving your current role for a promotion in your current department, leaving your department for another in the organization, or leaving your organization for an opportunity for a larger role at a different company, do so with grace.  The way you treat colleagues will have a great influence on how you are perceived in the future.

  • Tie up loose ends on issues–  Make it easy for your successor to step in.
  • Transition projects to capable leaders– By giving that leader all the information he or she will need to take over the project you will help ensure that the project will not be derailed as a result of your resignation or promotion.
  • Show respect–  The way you treat your colleagues, boss, clients and anyone else in the organization you come into contact with will be the last memory they have of you.  Make it a good one.
  • Give performance feedback to members of your team–  This is a critical action yet one that most people miss as they leave.  Without your input as a leader, often the incumbent will not have enough knowledge to complete the annual appraisal for that year and your staff will be the ones to pay the price.

What are other key things you have done as you’ve transitioned out of roles?  Be sure to share those in the comments.

What Your Desk Lamp Says About You

arne-jacobsen-table-lamp-louis-poulsen-1I’ve been thinking about desk accessories.  When it comes to things like picture frames, pencil holders, and plants, employees and managers alike gravitate to different desk decor.  This brings me to the desk lamp.  When I think back to every job I’ve ever had, I never worked for a company that provided a lamp for my desk.  Whether in a cubicle earlier in my career, or an office as my foray into management arrived, I had to endure the same harsh glare of the fluorescent bulbs that everyone else did.  Until, I didn’t.

One day, I read somewhere that employees were more productive and less stressed when they worked using softer lighting.  I went out and bought my first desk lamp.  I don’t think I put much thought into it at the time, it was just some inexpensive metal stem with a thin paper shade, but the warm glow the bulb produced made a huge difference in my mood while at my desk.  It was all about the function.  As the years flew by and the offices changed, I bought other lamps.  Still, I never thought much about how the lamp base looked, whether it was constructed of wood or metal and the shade didn’t seem to matter either as long as it remained nondescript.

Then I read The Mr. Porter Paperback and an article called The Gear: Desk Lamps. Now I work from home, so my desk lamp is one that is just any old lamp you’d find in a normal, suburban house.  It likely came from Pier 1 or some similar store.  But, according to this article, the thought you put into lamp selection is well worth time and precision.  The article shares great detail of lamps such as the AJ, designed by the legend Mr. Arne Jacobsen, to the Kelvin, “Mr. Antonio Citterio’s high-tech, energy-efficient and impossibly elegant take on the post-Anglepoise typology.” As you can see, there is great care that goes into the design as well as the description.

All this lamp talk brings me to the point of today’s post. We often make purchases of products or solutions based on almost no planning or thought.  As long as the functions needed are met, we make the purchase.  As leaders, we’re still not doing all we can to plan and select the best products and solutions for our organizations. By looking beyond the mere function, we can determine which people put the effort into their product and service.  Those are the people we want to work with.

With each interaction you have with your analyst, your vendor, or your employees, know that great care went into some of the details of the product or solution they sell that you may never fully appreciate. When it comes to desk lamps, I was always just looking for minimal function to get the job done.  As I’ve learned to appreciate, there is far more that goes into product selection than mere function.  There is the design behind those functions.  There are the ideas of how function leads way to a more desirable form. There is excitement and pride in going into a solution that is well made and well used.

So, as you embark on your day, think about this.  Do you have a desk lamp?  Did you think much about it when you purchased it?  If not, approach your interactions today with new eyes…with a sense of appreciation and wonder as you really look at all the tools you use throughout the day.  Whether they are technology driven or not, consider the design and thought behind them.