Monthly Archives: February 2017

What Matters Most at Work is Culture and Value

A recent study reveals what really counts for employees. Corporate culture and the quality of management are the top figures.

By Jens Kügler

Prologue:

“Monday morning, that dragon of boss of mine comes back. Pooh … I can only say: close my eyes and hope for the best until closing time” (my girlfriend about her current job situation). “Great news: Tomorrow the boss will be away! All day long. Hurray, no shouting, no curses! No apeshit! We can work calmly and relaxed the whole day long. What a dream … “(my colleagues and I many years ago about our choleric boss). “I just have to install myself on the street ringing a bell and I will have a hundred job hunters at hand” (the same boss, undefeatedly threatening).

Primary Text:

What makes workers happy employees? A recently published study by Glassdoor revealed unexpected developments. Not the salary is the most important criterion for today’s workers. Not even the work-life balance that has been so much evoked in recent years. It is the corporate culture that ranks first, closely followed by the behavior of management and supervisors.

Anyone who recognizes himself in the scenes of the prologue will not be surprised at all. For a better working atmosphere, many people are certainly willing to make some cuts in pay and compensation as well as compatibility with private and family life. Nevertheless, it is not so long ago since the sum on the salary bill was considered the most important selection criterion for a job. And in recent years, we have heard more and more of work-life balance. To this extent, the study gave astonishing results. Obviously, a change in values ​​has been set or continuing.

The study was published in early February 2017 by the job and recruiting platform Glassdoor. It’s name was The Workplace Factors That Matter Most Employees. Data of over 600,000 users of were analyzed. Between 2014 and 2017, the users had assessed their employers and provided information about their salary.

The result? Corporate culture and values ore on top of the list with over 22 percent of satisfaction reasons. In second place were leadership culture and management behavior with 21 percent, which includes social competence. Third place: the career opportunities with almost 19 percent. A distant fourth was the business outlook at roughly 14 percent. And with just about 12 per cent for each, work-life balance and salary became only the fifth and sixth “most important” factors, respectively. Thus, they proved to be the most unimportant.

The current income also influenced the evaluation results. The higher the salary, the more insignificant this factor appears to workers. Surely the feeling of economic security plays a role, which increases with better pay. But it is especially among these high-paid earners that corporate culture and leadership quality must be absolutely right.

Epilogue:

Germany in a few years. Dragons and cholerics have caused too much dissatisfaction. Yet, they have experienced an increase—but only in fluctuation. They have long lost the war for talents. The dragon has died, the bell in the hand fell silent …

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Fire the Time Killers

The never ending flood of e-mails, the false perfectionism and the unstructured workplace–all these are work obstacles. However, help is so simple and the methods have long been proved to be successful!

By Jens Kügler

Do not let your e-mails stop you! You know this: you come to the office half an hour later, half past ten, and Dr. Important has “a few uncertainties about your approach,” as his subject line says. Immediately, you look for arguments and justifications, send them out and then, of course, forget one last argument, send this, too, no, stop: you briefly keep in touch with Mrs. Best … and then you have to breathe deeply. Although Dr. Important is not at his workplace and the answer would have been OK until lunchtime. Or later. You look at your watch: 45 minutes of time lost. Nothing has been done from the actual plan for this morning.

Nothing new? Well, the contributions from this blog on the topic “give your e-mails clear time slots” should soon fill a whitebook. But they do not lose their correctness. On the contrary. The “mail flood” is increasing as e-mails are still one of the most effective means of communication—for the senders–, especially in marketing and advertising. Your two or three fixed slots may range from 20 to 30 minutes per day for mail processing, as no one expects you to respond directly. Otherwise he would call you up.

Be efficient in the mail time windows: Open and browse each mail only once—in the slot phase and and NOT before it. Otherwise, you would read twice and waste minutes. Just delete what you do not need. The newsletter, the special offer and Anna Blume’s Facebook status. Conduct what was not primarily directed at you. File what you can edit later. Put every mail that will take you more than five minutes of processing time as job/task on your calendar. And plan slots for caring about Whatsapps and other smartphone beeps as well.

A hardly any less known time killer is the famous 80-20 rule. It means that with only 20 percent of our time, we are doing about 80 percent of our tasks. Conversely, we dedicate 80 percent of our time to the unproductive 20 percent “performance”. What can you do? Introduce a process to delegate certain activities, for instance. A visionary is not a pea counter, a seller is not an accountant. Too often, the entire perfectionism is not necessary in detail.

A last clue to save time was given to us by the teacher in the first class. Remember? On the desk, in your bag, “everything has its place“. Taichii Ohno, the Japanese inventor of Lean Management, has given this method the name 5S and added it to his catalog of recommendations for lean production. 5S is often translated (in German) by sorting, systematizing, cleaning, standardizing and self-discipline. It concerns the arrangement and the condition of all work equipment and papers–from the ballpoint pen to the input calculation. What applies to desktops, of course, also counts for storage, tools and PC directories. Haven’t you been looking so desperately long for Dr. Important’s August delivery schedule last week? So you might get an idea of time that can be won by 5S and discipline alone (and how much unnecessary stress may be reduced)!

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Curse and Blessing of “Free Space Choice”

Many people dream of working anywhere far away from the office. But are home office or digital nomadism really the best for everyone?

By Jens Kügler

In the morning, eight AM. I open my notebook in the bakery café. I activate the hotspot function of my mobile phone. Read my mails, write an offer. Enjoy a cup of coffee in a nice ambiance with aroma fragrances and buy some rolls for the office. Next door I’ll meet a customer at nine. Then at eleven I go to the office. The files of this morning have been synchronized from the cloud, so I can edit them on my big terminal.

Half past one: Wonderful sunshine. Instead of taking a lunch break, I put my small 10-inch notebook into the bicycle bag and take a ride to the beer garden at the lake. The batteries of these small devices provide energy for at least six hours of work. And since every hotel has Wi-Fi, the lightweight 1 kg netbook allows me to work during the next short break to Venice, too.

With the office in the backpack I can probably be considered a digital nomad who works from anywhere. Of course, there is a disadvantage, too. Anyone who is traveling around and working away from his colleagues loses the social contacts with the other employees in the company.

The same goes for home workers: The workplace in the private environment and outside the company is not the right thing for everyone of us. This is not only for those whose occupation makes remote work impossible—e.g. in production, in the direct customer contact or jobs with the handling of secret or sensitive data. Many people simply need fixed reference points. This can include the office workplace and the exchange with colleagues. I am the same: In order not to be alone all day long, I have rented myself a coworking office desk. At home in my clean study room, I had trouble separating leisure and work.

Successful home office workers are only those who practice disciplined time management and who can organize their days perfectly. Work and leisure activities need clear slots. And as beneficial as the home office is for the work-life balance: It can cause stress if family members, children, television and other leisure activities distract.

For many people, homework naturally appears to be the most perfect of all solutions. By this I mean not only parents with children, but the older workers. People from 50 to 55 years of age or more appreciate convenience, especially for health reasons. E-mails can be answered on the sofa or in the armchair. In the case of colds, the bed can be replace the table with a breakfast tray. The furniture industry has long since set its sights on older home office workers and offers correspondingly optimized seating positions with sockets for notebooks.

Therefore, the final conclusion on the topic of home office: It is important that the ergonomics is right. After all, not every home workplace has been set up in accordance with the applicable workplace regulations.

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Work @ Holiday Places

Digital nomads lie in the sun with their notebook. Or they sit comfortably in a cafe, while their colleagues work hard and sweat in the offices. This way of workplace future is no longer a dream. It has long since begun.

By Jens Kügler

In the spring of 2015, a customer company invited me to a seminar in a beautiful secluded mediterranean beach hotel near Palma de Mallorca. Another company needed regular work from me in those days, with about two to three hours of effort per day. Both jobs were easy to combine: after the morning seminars, the afternoons were “free” for the participants. At first I was annoyed that the others could go to the beaches or pools or made journeys around the famous holiday island, while I fulfilled my contract work on the balcony with my notebook and went away only by Word, Web and Wireless LAN.

However, over the course of time, the idea was always better: I sit here, at 22 degrees Celsius (at the end of March!) under bright blue skies, look at the Bay of Palma, the palm trees, yachts and mountains … and this is my workplace! I realized: I do not have to go back to winterly cold Germany at all. My work requires no presence at a fixed location. Without planning it, I became a “digital nomad” even if only for several days. This is what it’s called today, when people are independent of location and do their work from anywhere because of the electronic connections we have. They work––whether it’s in Palma, Paris or Pattaya.

Did I become a digital nomad only now? No, actually, since I had a mobile phone and a laptop, I had been going to the famous Munich English Garden on beautiful summer days for many years. Or I took a racing bike ride to my favorite Alpine lake beach. There has to be a mobile phone network only to make each possible park bench, green meadow or fine sandy beach a workplace. A copywriter colleague of mine lives and works in the Brazilian city of Bahía. A customer—also a German—places his orders to me from Québec city, another one from Nîmes in Southern France. It is sometimes only the time difference that has to be taken into account. The “Americans” respond to my e-mails when it’s nighttime here.

Is the site-independent work only for freelancers and other self-employed persons? No. More and more employees also prefer it. And more and more companies offer them the opportunity to do so. In German employment contracts there is often talk of teleworking. “Values ​​of the world’s work 4.0” is—roughly translated—the name of a study by the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. 93 per cent of the interviewees stated that their greatest wish was to be able to determine their working hours and their place of work themselves in the future. According to the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations (BDA), every third company already allows its employees to work at home or at their chosen location. In the case of large enterprises, it is even every second.

Yet, it is not quite new that work is done independent of the place. For example, artists or writers have always found their inspiration in cafés or outdoors. They say about Hemingway that he wrote famous works at his favorite mojito bar in Havana. Today’s degree of freedom of work is, of course, possible only through digitalisation. This phenomenon, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of this freedom, I would like to highlight in my post next week. Only one thing in advance: Employees can now be integrated and financially secured, yet they are free and unrestricted in many ways.

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