Saturday, 26 October 2019

Stressed Out

Healthy workers are productive workers.

it is hard to argue with that statement.

However, we might argue about what makes a healthy worker.

Unlike the darkest day’s of the industrial revolution, nowadays, there are not many jobs - in developed countries-  that are physically damaging or dangerous.

There are, though, many jobs which create anxiety, stress and other mental problems.

Luckily, many employers are starting to see the dangers - helped by a general awareness-raising by celebrities including the British royal family - and are starting to address the issues.

Where they don’t, we tend to get ‘self-medication’ by employees taking energy drinks, alcohol and other drugs to ‘get through the day’.  Such stimulants may give a short-term boost but are very dangerous over longer timescales.  Even worse, the people involved are often so tired at the end of the workday, they fail to exercise and compound their problem.

Simple guidance - especially when built intro work-rest regimes within the workplace - can help tremendously-  Staff should be encouraged to stay hydrated, avoid stimulants, use stairs instead of lifts, park a short distance away and walk ‘the last mile’, and eat healthy snacks … but it is the job itself that is ‘the crunch’.

Jobs should be designed to avoid or minimise stress - as should working relationships and organisational structures.

Managers and supervisors must be trained to recognise signs of stress - and act accordingly.

If you think this is just pandering to the ’snowflake generation’, you are probably part of the problem … and you probably have lower than optimal productivity!

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Charity Begins ....

Many companies now encourage staff to get involved in charitable work. Some even organise it and provide resources, especially time. The motivation is usually to improve the company image amongst the local community. 

However there is a much more important reason for engaging with charitable work.

We want our employees to engage with us, to work hard, to give good service to our customers, to give of themselves over and above the bare requirements of the job role. What better way to introduce the habit of engagement and giving than by engaging with local charitable work for a cause or causes that mean something to the workforce. We are presenting a role model, an engagement strategy and a reward policy all wrapped up neatly in a charitable endeavour.

If we can get this to work, we sew the seeds for that more general engagement and giving that boosts our productivity. Truly win-win.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Over-hasty thinking

I am not immune from careless or overhasty thinking. Recently I read a report on new developments for air conditioning making devices more energy efficient.

My immediate thought was that we should just get rid of air conditioning and, for example, stop living in places where cooling is necessary.  (Apologies to those of you who live in Phoenix.)

Of course, at the time, I was reading that report on my iPad and it’s associated data centres consume a lot of air conditioning.

So, be wary of first thoughts. They often lead to hasty conclusions, poor decisions and inappropriate action.

Sometimes, we just need to stop and think - again. Think through the consequences. Think what others are saying about the issue. Then start to form our view. Our view might not change but it will be clearer and more robust.

It is not often we are in situations where a short pause would do a lot of harm.

Saturday, 5 October 2019

No so simple

There are great hopes for autonomous vehicles - though some worry about whether the technology is ‘up to the job’. There are some driving situations and conditions where autonomy is relatively easy and others (driving in busy high streets for example) where problems are greater and the autonomy mire difficult to achieve.

Goods vehicles, though, can exploit these differences.

Future goods carriers could operate autonomously on freeways and motorways where the technology can do its job relatively easily, and then switch to driver control for the ‘local loop’. This can avoid the problem of excessive driver hours but maintain current levels of performance.

The problem is that the word ‘autonomy' tends to be a ‘one size fits all’ concept with few thinking through practical and flexible approaches to autonomous driving and improved productivity.