Thoughts and articles about design, digital era and more…
Many employers are paying more and more attention to the well-being of their employees and to how they perceive their current jobs, especially because employee satisfaction is associated with important work-related outcomes such as organizational commitment and job performance, as well as with lower levels of turnover and absenteeism. But what role do unions, historically advocates for the well-being of workers, play in promoting employee happiness? The relationship between union membership and job satisfaction is still disputed vigorously among scholars. Many of the early studies suggest that union members are less satisfied than nonunion workers but are also less inclined to quit their jobs. This surprising finding has been considered an anomaly by many researchers, as unions should achieve better working conditions, which common sense suggests should lead to higher job satisfaction.
My research helps answer this puzzle. In a recent meta-study, I found that unions don’t seem to make..
A senior sales executive I’ll call Daniela was frustrated. She’d been working on delegating more to her team. To her dismay, many were struggling to take on the levels of freedom she’d offered — even though they’d asked for more responsibility. Exasperated, she vented to me, “I thought delegating was supposed to free me up to do more of my own job. But every time they drop a ball I hand off, it takes me twice as long to clean up the mess as it would have taken for me to just do it myself.” Exhausted from failing at one extreme, her natural impulse was to revert back to the other.
As research on decision making shows, our brains are wired to be more reactionary under stress. This can mean that stressed-out leaders like Daniela resort to binary choice-making, limiting the options available to them. In tough moments, we reach for premature conclusions rather than opening ourselves to more and better options. Faced with less familiar conditions for which our tried-and-true approaches won’..
Photo by Christine Roy According to a recent McKinsey Global Institute report, the number of people in the global labor force will reach 3.5 billion by 2030 — and yet there will still be a shortage of skilled workers. The result is likely to be intensified global competition for talent. Rather than assuming we’ll work in one location, in our native culture, we will need new skills, attitudes, and behaviors that help us work across cultures. Our ways of thinking about careers, colleagues, and collaboration will need to become more flexible and adaptable. My five-year study of the global workforce at Rakuten, the Japan-based e-commerce powerhouse, gave me a close-up look at what will drive success for this new type of global worker.
Prior to 2010, Rakuten had been a multilingual global company. The Japanese employees in the Tokyo headquarters communicated in Japanese, the Americans in the U.S. subsidiary spoke English, and the workers in Asia, Europe, and South America spoke a mixture o..
Photo by Toia Montes In more and more occupations, creativity is part of the job description. Whether you are trying to reconcile conflicting stakeholder priorities, finding a solution to a customer’s issue, or launching a new product line, your solution probably won’t come out of a textbook. But it’s hard to keep having great ideas day after day. What do you do when you run out of good ideas? How do you “get your mojo back”?
One increasingly popular solution is mindfulness meditation. Google, Goldman Sachs, and Medtronic are among the many leading firms that have introduced meditation and other mindfulness practices to their employees. Executives at these and other companies say meditation is not only useful as a stress-reduction tool but can also enhance creativity, opening doors where once there seemed to be only a wall.
To gain a deeper understanding of the effectiveness of short meditation sessions in boosting creativity, we looked first at the literature and then conducted our ..
Climate change risk is rising, and yet behavioral economics research argues that we are collectively underinvesting in protecting ourselves. In The Ostrich Paradox: Why We Underprepare for Disasters, Robert Meyer and Howard Kunreuther point to several personal traits that expose us to greater risk from natural disasters. First, individuals focus on short time horizons and thus underprepare for future threats. Second, when major disasters do occur, individuals are shocked but quickly begin to let their guard down again. Third, people are over-optimistic and thus underestimate their own risk exposure.
And the risks are real: Zillow’s research predicts that $400 billion dollars of real estate value in Florida could be at risk from climate change by the year 2100.
It might seem, then, that private insurance can be of little help in addressing climate change. There’s concern that for-profit insurers won’t want to insure risky properties, and that individuals won’t have the wherewithal to ..
Photo by Aaron Burson The buzz over artificial intelligence (AI) has grown loud enough to penetrate the C-suites of organizations around the world, and for good reason. Investment in AI is growing and is increasingly coming from organizations outside the tech space. And AI success stories are becoming more numerous and diverse, from Amazon reaping operational efficiencies using its AI-powered Kiva warehouse robots, to GE keeping its industrial equipment running by leveraging AI for predictive maintenance.
While it’s clear that CEOs need to consider AI’s business implications, the technology’s nascence in business settings makes it less clear how to profitably employ it. Through a study of AI that included a survey of 3,073 executives and 160 case studies across 14 sectors and 10 countries, and through a separate digital research program, we have identified 10 key insights CEOs need to know to embark on a successful AI journey.
Don’t believe the hype: Not every business is using AI… y..
Using data science to predict how people in companies are changing may sound futuristic. As we wrote recently, change management remains one of the few areas largely untouched by the data-driven revolution. But while we may never convert change management into a “hard science,” some firms are already benefiting from the potential that these data-driven techniques offer.
One of the key enablers is the analysis of email traffic and calendar metadata. This tells us a lot about who is talking to whom, in what departments, what meetings are happening, about what, and for how long. These sorts of analyses are helping EY, where some of us work, by working with Microsoft Workplace Analytics to help clients to predict the likelihood of retaining key talent following an acquisition and to develop strategies to maximize retention. Using email and calendar data, we can identify patterns around who is engaging with whom, which parts of the organization are under stress, and which individuals are m..
In the near future, three of the most studied generations will converge on the workplace at the same time: Generation X, the age cohort born before the 1980s but after the Baby Boomers; Generation Y, or Millennials, typically thought of as those born between 1984 and 1996; and Generation Z, those born after 1997, who are next to enter the workforce.
In a survey of 18,000 professionals and students across these three generations from 19 countries, we found some important differences in their aspirations and values. We hope that results from this survey, conducted by the INSEAD Emerging Markets Institute, Universum, and the HEAD Foundation, will be useful to companies seeking to retain, develop, and attract employees from these talent pools. However, it’s important to note that our findings are a snapshot of where these employees are at this moment in time; employees’ needs and expectations often evolve over the course of their careers, and we hope future surveys will update these findi..
When was the last time you got away from work?
I mean truly got away from it: didn’t think about it, didn’t worry about it, didn’t have a to-do list rattling around in your brain.
Most of us know there are benefits to getting away from work. We know we need time to recharge each day in order to be able to sustain our attention in the office. We know time away from complex problems allows us to find a fresh perspective. We know if we work too many long days in a row we’ll find ourselves doing what I affectionately call “fake work” — sitting at our desks without actually accomplishing anything.
The hard part is that while you may agree with all of these benefits of getting away from your work, you may still have trouble doing it. Even if you do go home at a decent hour in the evening, you may find yourself reading one last report. When you travel for a few days, you may still be attached to your email. When you wake up early in the morning, or lie awake at night, you might find your b..
Ask any organization what’s happening in the sales department on the last few days of the month and the entire last week of any fiscal quarter. You’ll probably get an uncomfortable laugh and a shake of the head.
Sales teams are closing deals, at all costs.
The market is pushing companies to hit incredibly high numbers, quarter after quarter and month after month. To comply, firms turn up the pressure tactics and close last-minute deals in unnatural ways. Data shows that sales reps give better terms to customers who wait until the last minute — with both sides knowing they can rely on dropped prices and a sure closing, thanks to the end-of-the-month company push.
It is a vicious cycle. And companies know it. Yet they continue the practice, month after month and year after year, perhaps unaware of how much it’s really costing them.
InsideSales Labs, a division of our company, InsideSales.com, recently conducted research analysis on 9.8 million sales transactions from the anonymized d..
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