Meditation: Productivity Miracle or Muck?

Does mindfulness ramp up your team’s speed, quality, and motivation – or is it just a waste of time?

With all the “magic bullets” being marketed these days, it’s difficult to tell what’s effective and what’s nothing more than an expensive placebo or clickbait. Workplace productivity “cures” are no exception, bringing us to contemplate if techniques such as mindfulness and meditation actually improve job performance, or if they’ll leave us with little more than wasted hours.

Luckily, unlike most “magic” weight loss pills, meditation’s link to productivity has been thoroughly studied. So, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of mindfulness – so you can decide for yourself if such tools are right for your team.

Pros – Meditation’s link to workplace productivity

  • Meditation can make employees less prone to making mistakes – According to a study run by Michigan State University, different forms of meditation have different effects on neurocognitive function, including the neural signals that occur half a second after someone has made a mental error. The study suggests that open-monitoring meditation – a form of meditation that allows participants to let thoughts flow through their mind instead of shutting them out – increases the strength of a person’s conscious error recognition if practiced regularly.
  • Self-discipline is strengthened through regular meditation – The practice of regular meditation, even just a few minutes per day, can do more than bring about a cultivated sense of peace; it can strengthen a person’s self-discipline. The act of taking time out of your day to sit quietly and prevent one’s thoughts from running around like a rampant toddler provides ample practice in the development of discipline.
  • With discipline comes focus – Focus is tied to self-discipline, so it makes sense that developing one would develop the other. During meditation, a person focuses on their breath, body, or specific visualization while avoiding the distractions of everyday life. In the same way, a productive employee must focus on their work tasks while avoiding the distractions of the office. Less focus on chatter, ringing phones, and the clock ticking away the seconds between lunch and the frustration of rush hour traffic means more focus on work-related tasks.
  • Meditation increases patience – No employer expects any employee who wants to keep their job to sit patiently throughout the workday, and that’s not the type of patience we’re talking about. Meditation increases the kind of patience that allows a person to slow down mentally and become more detail-oriented by giving them the tools used to step away from the emotional rush of time constraints, such as deadlines or quotas.
  • A decrease in stress that boosts morale – Morale has a heavy hand in productivity, and meditation increases morale by giving employees a chance to relax their bodies, clear their minds, and recharge their mental batteries.

Cons – Meditation might not be as helpful as we thought

  • Meditation may lower a person’s motivation – A recent study suggests that meditation, while increasing focus and discipline, may actually lower an individual’s motivation to complete a given task. The study separated participants into a mindfulness group and a distracted group before having them complete simulated office tasks, and the mindful group reported less motivation to complete tasks than the distracted group, even after being offered a financial incentive.
  • Mindfulness shifts focus from the future to the present – It’s important to live in the present, but it’s also important to plan and strive for future goals. Mindfulness meditation shifts a person’s perspective away from future rewards and advancement (major motivational factors in any workplace) and places it on the here-and-now. Whereas focusing on the present sounds great in theory, most people probably wouldn’t work as hard if they had no future goals.
  • Meditation shows no net gain in productivity – In the same study that suggested lowered motivation in mindful individuals, participant performance was measured and showed that meditation provided no benefit to (or detraction from) the quality of work performed.

Overall, meditation seems to increase focus, discipline and morale without increasing individual productivity. But whether you decide to implement a meditation program or not, staffing and recruiting firms can deliver focused, motivated and productive candidates both quickly and cost effectively.

Here’s Why December Is The Best Time Of Year To Apply To Jobs

Here’s Why December Is The Best Time Of Year To Apply To Jobs

The end of the year is a time of family obligations, shopping, and traveling. Your kids may need new clothes, or you need to find your spouse that vintage thing they love. It’s easy to assume that everyone involved in the hiring for businesses is doing the same things. Yet, it turns out that December may be the best time of year to apply.

Let’s look at a few of the reasons why.

Fewer Competitors

In 2018, around a third of all Americans traveled for the Christmas holiday. Thanksgiving often sees mass travel, as well. Traveling, even if only in your own state, takes planning and time. While people do that planning and then visit their families, they often aren’t actively pursuing new jobs. Yet, many companies still need to fill empty positions, especially in retail, shipping, and always in tech.

Seasonal Work Spikes

Seasonal work may not be exactly what you’re looking for, but it sure beats unemployment around the holidays. Gifts for all your friends and family won’t pay for themselves. Plus, seasonal positions spike around the holidays. Target and UPS alone are looking to hire on around 225,000 seasonal workers this year. Plus, as with all temp positions, there’s always a possibility you’ll be asked to stay on if you impress your boss.

Extra Money in the Budget

Many companies employ a use-it-or-lose-it budget approach. That means that anyone in the business that still has money in their budget must find something to spend it on or risk a small budget the following year. For any department that’s been running understaffed, the manager will want to fill empty positions if it’s even remotely possible. It also means that applicants with fewer qualifications have a better chance of getting into the room with the hiring manager.

While traditional folklore might hold that no one hires during December, that’s not true anymore. Many big companies increase their hiring during the holidays. Plus, managers often have extra money in their budget they must spend or risk losing the next year. You also face less intense competition from others, as people back off their job hunt in favor of planning and attending family events. In other words, December is a great time to apply for a job.

These Soft Skills Will Get You Hired

Your hard skills play a role in getting you the interview, but they won’t get you the job by themselves. These days, employers look for candidates who already have good soft skills. Why? Soft skills make people more effective on the job, for one. They’re also very hard to teach and all but impossible to teach quickly. So, which soft skills are most likely to get you hired?

Teamwork

Businesses don’t really employ individuals. They employ teams. Businesses expect the people on these teams to work together to achieve their goals. People who routinely show up late, for example, don’t make good team players. Showing up late inconveniences everyone on their team. People who make useful suggestions often make excellent team players.
Takeaway: Think of examples of times when you were a good team player that you can discuss in interviews.

Communication

Good communication doesn’t mean tossing out $10 words all the time or talking at length. Most people have worked with someone who talked a lot but never made a clear point. Good communication means you can explain your thoughts or the steps in a process clearly. Businesses place a premium on good communication skills because they make the work run smoother.

Problem Solving

No matter how well-run a business is, problems still happen. Equipment breaks down or people call out at the last second. All too often, work slows or even stops in these situations. If you can think your way around these kinds of issues, businesses want you.
Takeaway: Not confident about your problem-solving skills? Take up a hobby like playing an instrument or learning a second language to boost those skills.

Accepting Feedback

Getting feedback can prove a trying experience for you and your supervisor. Poorly delivered feedback can feel like open criticism and put people on the defensive. Even when poorly delivered, the whole point of feedback is improvement. Businesses want employees who can take feedback in the spirit of improving performance. Learn that skill and you move right up the list of preferred candidates.

Conflict Management

You can’t avoid workplace conflict. If you’re aiming for a supervisory or leadership role, however, start honing your conflict management skills. Businesses shell out more than $350 billion a year dealing with conflict in the workplace. If you can help reduce those costs even a little by preventing problems from escalating, you become an invaluable resource.
Takeaway: If you don’t already know conflict management techniques, start learning and practicing them.

Practice Your Soft Skills

Businesses know they probably can’t teach you soft skills fast enough to make a real difference. That means you must work on them yourself ahead of time. Look for hobbies or volunteering opportunities that let you practice soft skills in a low-stakes situation.

Happy July 4th from Gallman Consulting!

Happy July 4th from Gallman Consulting!

And here’s some trivia…

4th of July Trivia

  1. Which president was born on the 4th of July?
  2. How many people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th?
  3. On what date did most of the signers actually sign the doc?
  4. Which state had the most delegates sign?
  5. When did Abraham Lincoln give his 1863, July 4th address?
  6. What American President was famous for playing golf every 4th of July?
  7. In what year did July 4 become a paid legal federal holiday?
  8. What pitcher threw a no hitter on the 4th of July?
  9. What other countries celebrate the 4th of July?
  10. Which three presidents died on the 4th of July?

4th Of July Trivia Answers

  1. Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president, in 1872.
  2. Two
  3. August 2, 1776
  4. Pennsylvania. There were nine.
  5. On July 7, 1863. On July 4, citizens in Washington were celebrating what appeared to be a victory at Gettysburg and wanted Lincoln to give a speech but he would only issue a short proclamation. He was waiting to get a complete report and for further news out west, where General Grant was laying siege to Vicksburg. He later found out that Vicksburg had fallen on July 4th. Lincoln gave his speech three days late.
  6. Dwight D. Eisenhower.
  7. It became an unpaid federal holiday in 1870. And a lot of trivia sites say that it became a paid holiday in 1941 but it was actually passed by congress in 1938.
  8. Dave Righetti of the NY Yankees in 1983. But perhaps the wildest game ever played happened on July 4 between the Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets. It went 19 innings and ended close to 4 AM. Mets won 16-13.
  9. Denmark, Norway, Sweden and England.
  10. John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe. Adams, the second president, and Jefferson, the third president, both died on the same day in 1826.

Employee Turnover is Top Workforce Challenge

Below is a great article about employee retention.

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20150622005430/en/SHRMGloboforce-Survey-Reveals-Employee-Turnover-Top-Workforce#.VYm4XP7bLRL

SHRM/Globoforce Survey Reveals Employee Turnover is Top Workforce Challenge Facing HR Leaders

Survey finds companies that use values-based employee recognition programs are more likely to report increased engagement and retention, stronger workplace culture

June 22, 2015 08:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time

SOUTHBOROUGH, Mass. & DUBLIN–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Employee retention/turnover is the number one workplace challenge facing HR leaders today, according to the 2015 SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey. The survey results were announced by Globoforce® (www.globoforce.com), a leading provider of social recognition solutions, and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. In the survey, 40 percent of HR professionals cite employee retention/turnover as their top organizational challenge, followed by employee engagement. To download the latest report, click here.

“They’re realizing that a best-in-class culture is dependent upon employees feeling engaged and nurtured, and that this type of human workplace starts and ends with recognition.”

The survey of 823 HR leaders also examined the benefits of employee recognition programs tied to company values, and the impact these programs can have on company culture. 90 percent of respondents practicing values–based recognition say it positively impacted engagement, while 68 percent say it positively impacted retention.

Key insights and findings from the report include:

The top three challenges faced by HR organizations today are retention/turnover, employee engagement, and succession planning.

In the 2013 and 2012 SHRM/Globoforce surveys, employee engagement and succession planning topped the list of challenges for HR leaders. Growing concerns about retention/turnover have now overtaken them both, symbolizing a sign of the growing war for talent.

  • 40 percent of respondents say that the loss of personnel is a top challenge; another 29 percent are concerned about finding replacement talent.
  • 39 percent say employee engagement is their primary concern; down from 47 percent in 2013.
  • 24 percent of respondents cite culture management as being their top HR concern.

Values-based recognition programs are seen as creating stronger cultures and more human workplaces, and increasing bottom-line organizational metrics.

The 2015 SHRM/Globoforce survey found an uptick in the number of recognition programs aligned to company values. The survey also found that recognition—and in particular values-based recognition—is perceived to be driving key metrics such as engagement, retention, safety, wellness, employer brand and even cost control goals.

  • 81 percent of HR leaders say their companies practice formal recognition, while 58 percent say they have a program tied to their organization’s values.
  • Companies with a values-based recognition program see an overwhelmingly positive impact on company culture—86 percent report an increase in employee happiness and 85 percent said added humanity in the workplace.
  • A majority of respondents (57 percent) say a values-based recognition program improved their company’s bottom line—90 percent also say it positively impacted engagement and 68 percent say it positively impacted retention.

The top objective for years of service programs is employee appreciation, but many programs still fall short of the mark for inspiration and quality.

Years of service (YOS) programs are widely practiced in today’s organizations, but many are falling short of excellence. HR leaders say this can be improved through inspiring experiences and participation from senior leadership.

  • 74 percent of respondents say their companies have a service anniversary program in place, but only 22 percent rated their program as excellent, 47 percent rated their program as good and 31 percent rated their program as fair or poor.
  • 88 percent of respondents say their top objective for YOS programs is to appreciate employees, followed by ambitions to increase employee satisfaction or happiness (73 percent).
  • 35 percent of HR leaders would like to improve YOS programs by creating a more inspiring experience, while 22 percent would like more participation from senior leaders.

“Now more than ever, companies are focusing on culture as a competitive differentiator,” said Eric Mosley, CEO of Globoforce. “They’re realizing that a best-in-class culture is dependent upon employees feeling engaged and nurtured, and that this type of human workplace starts and ends with recognition.”

“The latest SHRM/Globoforce survey provides insight into the key concerns among the HR leaders. The one that rose to the top of the list was employee turnover/retention, which is certainly not a surprise given the strengthening job market,” said Evren Esen, SHRM’s director of survey programs. “The good news is that our findings reveal that employee recognition programs promote engagement and an overall positive work experience.”