Think Howe Pty Ltd

Think differently, by design, and deliver with impact.

Fresh year, fresh faces, fresh ideas.

Off the back of the Inside Quest Simon Sinek interview that’s making its way around the internet (worth your time if you haven’t seen it yet), combined with the new year and all the promise it holds, there is an ongoing opportunity for a business to take a look at itself and see what’s possible. 

We have the foundation to build great things - a blank space for future creations

We have the foundation to build great things - a blank space for future creations

Based on ThinkHowe data from Australian employers - we can tell you the following:

  • Disengaged employees occur at all ages
  • Disengaged employees have a higher risk of injury and sick leave
  • Resilience education is ranked highly as an area to address within the workplace
  • Meaningful communication in all formats (written, electronic, spoken) is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate, thus gaps within the workplace are expanding

None of these things are revolutionary news to those who are seeking to solve the recurrent issues within their workplace. More and more data is being discussed by researchers like Simon, who drill down into why the current landscape has these psycho-social ‘potholes’.  Business currently exists in a time where evidence based research tells us that creating an engaged work culture founded on strong leadership leads to increased productivity.  There are endless research papers on burn-out, engagement, resilience, mental health, ROI metrics, accountability, leadership, management strategies, empowerment, etc etc (I know this, I've spent a lot of time in the databases of several universities). The research is there. The challenge is in being able to step up and collectively work on it. For a company to access sustained opportunities for engagement with the employees getting to the root of the issue to address how it's manifesting within the business is really step one.  This is a big step, it means acknowledging that things could be done differently, potentially better, and that this hasn't been addressed previously. Before growth there must be vulnerability, uncertainty, and a strong desire to truly see what the current situation is.    

Step one:
Start with your people.

From an objective and evidence based view, finding out what values are held by the employees and how they see them being expressed in their work life is a nice starting point. Moving on to how they see the company's values being demonstrated through actions internally and externally is another nice insight, potentially leading to new ideas, which may present as an opportunity for how the business can re-commence or continue to foster the relationship between the employee and business.  These are some qualitative questions that are just as important as the quantitative data that makes up the bottom line. By matching the the company’s values and linking them back to the individual need to feel like a contributor, there is an opportunity to support and facilitate personal values into something greater through policy and procedural expectations within a business line. These key points highlight the beginnings of a longer and deeper conversation can be difficult or challenging to initiate. 

Step two:

Sustainable change to build better workplaces is why we exist. It is our ‘why’. Through gathering specific data and asking the right questions in the right format, we support employers to see things in a new way to create innovation that is sustainable.  

How does this magic happen you may ask? 

ThinkHowe - creating bridges between knowledge and action

ThinkHowe - creating bridges between knowledge and action

Step three: 
An Age Impact Analysis. 

In a time where the filter of ‘age’ can produce a large gap between ‘accepted’ and anticipated social skills, communication styles, the meaning of ‘work’ to the individual; it is invaluable to pause and see what’s happening within your business and develop action points around it. 

How much impact can be had with the asking of questions and listening to the answers? That’s step one.  Step two is to implement them in a manner that is considered and effective. Step two can never happen in sustainable manner if step one isn’t addressed wholly and completely. 

Can I say it again?
Age Impact Analysis. 

Call/Email/InstagramDM/Facebook/LinkedIn/CarrierPigeon us - we are here to build better businesses. We do the hard stuff in a fun manner.
You’ll like it. Promise. 

Work, Money and a bit of Love

Work. From my time within cubicle work spaces I know that Mondays were prime for getting things done, productivity from 8-10:30am. Maybe with a coffee walk placed in there somewhere for exercise and mental health purposes of course. I had to be as productive as possible Monday and Tuesday to avoid the 'Friday 5pm and still at my desk' situation. Plus, there are budgets to meet to keep myself, my direct manager, my team, and my big boss happy. The long afternoons spent staring at a computer, answering phones, signing up for 12 hour days on occasion to get things done. By the time Friday rolls around, your brain is dribbling out your ears, you may be on a sugar high or be seeking one to get you through the afternoon, and starting to think about that first sip of (insert alcoholic beverage here). Through access to different industries in my career, I’ve witnessed the same kind of scenarios played out in different environments. Long days, internal and external pressure, dealing with peers/ managers/ customers/ etc, over the course of the working week then layered with an actual home life can start to show the day to day picture of why shows Australians spent an estimated A$8 billion on mental health related services in 2013-14, which is approximately $344 per person (released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare).

This kind of blatant data gets me thinking and makes me a little mad. There is clearly an issue happening out there in the ether of the world and it seems too large to comprehend or find a place to start. The other day I had a social conversation with a gentleman who at one point in his career was GM of a mining site for a global company. We were talking about what it is that I do with my work days, which includes assisting companies in identifying the need and benefit of an engaged workforce. The first question he asked me was “how do you get anyone to pay for that?” said with a somewhat miffed tone. My reply was something to the effect of “with returns of $2.30 for every dollar spent, in association with an increase in an engaged workforce which in turn decreases your physical and psychological insurance compensation claims, the long term benefits are hard to ignore. This isn’t a once off deal, this is a long term situation where you invest in your people in a lot of different facets. There is a study out of Johnson and Johnson where they found a return of approximately US$6 on every dollar spent, saving approximately $250 million over 10 years. Just because it’s not happening in large industry here doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t.” To this he replied “Well, you sound like you’ve done your research..." Courtesy of The Harvard Business Review (2010), I have.

I have done so much reading which tells us the same thing, over and over. As a culture we have a bunch of things that are happening in our lives, some work related, some not. Does it matter? Work comes home with us in the form of physical fatigue, mental and emotional fatigue, stress, pain and sometimes injury. Humans and all their feelings show up at work, whether the employee is engaged and productive or disengaged and distracted is partly personal and partly the culture of the employer (Maslach, 2013). I have had many jobs in my time, one career with many jobs. You can feel how engaged the staff are when you walk into a workplace. Sometimes this shifts depending on the time of the tax year, budget dates, etc, however in an engaged environment there is laughter, a contented and productive silence, team camaraderie, a level of appreciation. You show up for your team and your friends at work. Things going on at home? You might lament about it to your work friends during a break, your employer may have the opportunity to offer your some flexitime, work from home, or simply to go and deal with what is happening because you give 110% every day normally. A conversation between the employee and their manager may allow for a plan to be formed to offer support through the situation. With options for flexibility, movement, personal and work related conversations and accountability for the process, some of the pressures may be alleviated and thus mental wellness and personal resilience may remain somewhat robust (Page, 2014). I would show up for a work place like that.

The flip side to this comes from another conversation I had with a self-proclaimed ‘uneducated man’ (his words due to his lack of university education, I find him to be a very insightful individual). He caught me in the middle of reading how much money is being spent and lost in the world of mental health in Australia, which I proceeded to educate him on in a slightly manic manner. “...And I quote: “$11 billion every year, largely due to absenteeism ($4.7 billion) and reduced productivity ($6.1 billion) from unwell workers still attempting to work (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW))”. This enrages me. There are so many things that can be done. Large companies still need to see the dollar figures to justify it and here they are. Massive losses in decreased productivity documented and yet I still come across quotes from actual face to face interviews where health professionals within the industry still see wellness programs as ‘fluff and stuffing’. I’m fuming that this is still fricken happening when we can see the bottom line costs to health and pretty much humanity....” His response to my emotional outburst was as expected: “What would you do to change this, given this is how it is?”

#Milliondollarquestion. Well, a $4.7 billion question for business and industry specifically.

Where would I start? There are solutions and ThinkHowe are offering seminars in a capital city near you, supported by QBE. The ThinkHowe team will be presenting on topics of Better Health, Resilience, and Mental Health; Bullying and Harassment; and Managing an Ageing workforce. The seminars are founded on evidence based information, mixed with employer based experience and provide the participants with a proactive point of view, no matter their role within the company.

Bookings can be made via the links for "Building Better Workplaces" workshops over at the QBE National Training Calendar

Oh, and be sure to wear clothes you can move in, we are all about practicing what we preach.

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