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The Opportunity and Challenge of the Four-Day Working Week

Idea posted: December 2019
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: Henley Business School

More employers are discovering the benefits of the four-day working week, including increased productivity and employee satisfaction. Many employers, however, continue to express concern over the difficulty in implementing and managing the four-day working week, as well as its impact on customers. 

Idea #759
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Triple Portrait of Cardinal de Richelieu, Philippe de Champaigne, 1642 (Courtesy: National Gallery, London)

How Bringing Self to Work Inspires Ethical Behaviour

Idea posted: December 2018
  • Learning & Behaviour

People have different ‘selves’: the same person might be a politician, a grandparent, an avid golfer, and an aspiring novelist, for example. New research shows that if you believe that how you act in one self reflects who you are in all your selves — for example, being a ruthless politician makes you a ruthless person as a whole — you are less likely to commit immoral acts. This research offers new evidence that encouraging employees to bring their personal selves to work encourages moral behaviours and ethical decisions in the workplace.

Idea #722
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The Sleeping Shepherd, Aubry-Lecomte (1787-1858) after a painting by Raymond Monvoisin (Courtesy: Bibliothèque nationale de France)

Why Sleep Matters

Idea posted: September 2016
  • Learning & Behaviour

Sleep deprivation is impacting the professional performance, health, and social and emotional well-being of workers of all ages. Companies must take the issue of poor sleep seriously, rejecting cultures that encourage late night working hours and conveying to their employees the personal and organizational benefits of quality sleep.

Idea #622
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A foot-race at the Panathenaea, Greece, 800-480 BC (Source:  Encyclopædia Britannica)

How to Inspire Resistant Employees to Embrace Health and Wellness

Idea posted: April 2016
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Employee health and wellness programs often suffer from low participation. Credible and consistent support and involvement from top management can make the difference. Two researchers identify the five behaviours of transformational leaders who inspire and motivate full employee participation.

Idea #596
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Group spinning Portland Spin Studio, 2013 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Incentivizing Managers to Promote Employee Health: The 10% Solution

Idea posted: February 2016
  • Learning & Behaviour

In a recent study, a majority of managers agreed that companies should incentivize managers to promote employee wellness by linking their compensation — specifically 10% of bonuses and promotions — to the employee wellness activities and initiatives they have implemented.

Idea #585
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Detail from Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, July, c. 1412-1416 (Courtesy: the Musée Condé, Chantilly)

Companies Must Be Sincere About their Flexible Work Arrangements

Idea posted: November 2015
  • Learning & Behaviour

The accepted wisdom is that by helping employees to achieve an optimal work-life balance, flexible work arrangements (FWAs) — theoretically at least — help to increase employee work engagement and commitment to the organization. A new study, showing an inverse relationship between FWAs and work engagement over time, reveals that offering FWAs without a supportive employee culture in place becomes an empty gesture.

Idea #567
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A detail from 'Nighthawks', Edward Hopper, 1942, (Courtesy: The Art Institute of Chicago)

Sleep Deprivation Hurts Performance As Much As Too Much to Drink

Idea posted: November 2015
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

How seriously does sleep deprivation impact the productivity and alertness of employees? A classic study compared the effects of sleep deprivation to the effects of alcohol consumption, and showed an identical pattern of impairment. 

Idea #569
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Millennials 6: Attitudes Differ Based on Age and Gender — Sometimes

Idea posted: October 2015
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

A global survey of Millennials from around the world looks at the impact of age and gender on attitudes related to issues such as work-life balance, greatest fears, and retirement. (Editor’s Note: This article is based on Part 6 of the survey.)

Idea #560
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Millennials 5: Attitudes and Aspirations in Different Regions of the World

Idea posted: October 2015
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

Millennials, poised to become the biggest generation in the workforce and the leaders of tomorrow, are less homogenous in attitudes and aspirations than commonly believed. A global survey of Millennials highlights the differences among this generation in the different regions of the world, and even with different countries in those regions. (Editor's Note: this article is based on Part 5 of the survey.)

Idea #559
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Millennials 4: Value Work-Life Balance But Are Willing to Work Hard for Their Careers

Idea posted: July 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

Stereotypes about Millennials can oversimplify nuances, especially if preferences among different regions of the world are not taken into account. A new global survey of Millennials shows that work-life balance is important, but Millennials are still willing to work hard to advance their careers or achieve leadership roles. (Editor’s Note: This article is based on Part 4 of the survey.)

Idea #533
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Millennials 1: A Diverse Generation Often Misunderstood

Idea posted: May 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

A new study of Millennials across the globe confirms some common assumptions about this generation while proving other stereotypes wrong. The most important lesson, however, is the heterogeneity of this generation, which is overlooked by employers. (Editor's Note: this article is based on Part 2 of the survey.)

Idea #515
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Millennials 2: Concerned about Opportunities for Growth and Quality of Life

Idea posted: May 2015
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

A new global survey shows Millennials from different regions of the world have different fears about their work lives. On average, the number one fear was getting stuck in a job with no development opportunities. In Latin America, however, the fear of not realizing their career goals dominated, while North Americans feared working too much most of all. (Editor's Note: This article is based on Part 2 of the survey)  

Idea #516
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Henri Matisse, working from his sick bed, 1952 (Courtesy: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

The Hidden Costs of Working While Sick

Idea posted: March 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

How does working while sick or in pain affect work performance? Through two studies, one focused on employees with chronic pain and another focused on those with momentary pain, a research team demonstrated that fluctuations in pain impacted employee allocations of energy toward their work. Specifically, when in pain, employees are more likely to withdraw from their work, while without pain, they are more likely to engage in ‘extra-role’ behaviours, going above and beyond their responsibilities. 

Idea #492
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Joan of Arc depicted on horseback in an illustration from a 1505 manuscript

Younger Generations Determined but Concerned about Leadership

Idea posted: January 2015
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

The rising generation of young leaders have evolving expectations about leadership. Young leaders are ambitious and willing to work hard, but they also believe that great leadership does not necessarily require compromising work-life balance or authenticity. Organizations must adapt to these expectations if they want to attract the best and the brightest. 

Idea #477
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Thumbs Up Ballet in a field choreography of Stars in my Eyes, Quebec, 1944 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Does Employee Satisfaction Improve Company Value? It Depends...

Idea posted: January 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

Recent studies of U.S. companies have shown that increased employee satisfaction is linked to higher value for the firm. But what about companies in other countries? A new study shows that the U.S. results are replicated only in countries that have levels of labour flexibility (ease of hiring and firing) similar to the U.S. Companies in countries with low labour flexibility show a more limited benefit from employee satisfaction.

Idea #478
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The Harvesters, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1565. Courtesy the Metrolopitan Museum, New York

Does Work/Life Balance Help or Hurt Productivity?

Idea posted: January 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

Does paying attention to the work-life balance issues of employees increase productivity and the competitiveness of a business? Or, as pessimists might argue, is productivity and work-life balance (WLB) in direct conflict? New research shows that in fact WLB is more neutral than either proponents or pessimists believe — neither hurting nor particularly helping productivity. The decision on whether to implement WLB practices may rest on a completely different factor: the social norms of the countries in which the business activity takes place.

Idea #475
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1950s office workers, in cats eye glasses (Source: Wikifashion.com)

Happiness at Work: How Daily Reminders Improve Employee Morale

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Learning & Behaviour

Employee happiness improves when employees focus on maximizing their happiness. Deliberately taking steps to maximize happiness at work can lead to positive behavioural changes. Companies can help employees through daily technology-driven individual interventions that are more effective than the occasional company picnic or visit to the stadium.

Idea #410
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Can Late-Night Smartphone Use Reduce Engagement and Productivity?

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

The increasing use of smartphones around the world has led to many organizations endorsing them, and providing them to their employees. However, could there be a downside to the benefit of having instant access to work documents and emails? According to this Idea, late night use of smartphones may interfere with sleep, resulting in employees being less engaged at work the next day. Read on to discover the implications of these findings.

Idea #399
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The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli, 1781, Detroit Institute of Art

How Sleep Deprivation Can Cause Unethical Behaviour

Idea posted: June 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Learning & Behaviour

Are your employees working longer hours? This is the case with most organizations today. Look deeper and you might find that they are sleep deprived as a result. This Idea suggests that such sleep deprivation can lead to more unethical behaviour at work, but there may be a simple, short-term solution: a cup of coffee!

Idea #385
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Cyberloafing: Lost Sleep and Lower Productivity

Idea posted: March 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Marketing

The nature and increased use of the Internet has led to a new workplace threat to productivity — ‘cyberloafing’. In this Idea, the impact of lost and low-quality sleep on employee cyberloafing, as well as conscientiousness is examined. 

Idea #343
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The Sleeping Shepherd, lithograph by Jean-Baptiste Aubry-Lecomte (1787-1858) after a painting by Raymond Monvoisin (The French National Library, Paris)

The Importance of Sleep for Work

Idea posted: November 2013
  • Learning & Behaviour

According to this Idea, the science is clear: lack of sleep compromises brain processes and the skills needed for effective leadership. Executives — and indeed everyone — should get at least 7–9 hours sleep in order to perform at their best. Read on for some suggestions on how to create a culture that understands and values sleep in your organization.

Idea #257
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I am half-sick of shadows, said the Lady of Shalott', William Waterhouse, 1916 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Homeworking Beats Outsourcing: a 6 Step Model

Idea posted: May 2013
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Marketing
  • Operations
Institutions: Henley Business School

The use of homeworkers as call centre operatives can benefit both businesses and homeworkers. For companies, common advantages include cost savings, increased flexibility, reduced absenteeism and improved customer satisfaction. But there are also potential problems to overcome. By adopting a six-step model, business leaders can plan homeworking projects effectively, identifying the key areas they need to address.

Idea #142
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Contraption for the Lazy Father, W. Heath Robinson, 1872 - 1944

Home Working: Does it Work for the Organization?

Idea posted: January 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Although the numbers of employees working from home are increasing, there is still widespread scepticism about introducing this working practice into organizations. The experience of one company, however, showed a notable increase in productivity when employees were given the option of doing so. In this Idea, faculty from Stanford Graduate School of Business suggest that offering such a choice can lead to long-term organizational benefits. 

Idea #079
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Strategies for Successful Work/Life Balance

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Learning & Behaviour

By identifying the patterns and parameters of your own work/life balance, you can create a structure to effectively manage the challenges faced in both these roles. This structure can de-stress, refocus and reenergise a leader and their workforce.

Idea #008
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