Productivity, Retention And Cost Savings: Why Working From Home Benefits Employees And Employers

Is working remotely becoming the office of the future?

Yes — and for many good reasons — says Scott Mautz, a former executive at Procter & Gamble who writes about business.

“When you stop and you look at the data available to us, in almost two thirds of the cases, every leader that granted the work from home option has found productivity has increased by as much as 50%,” he tells Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson.

Mautz says that on top of increased productivity, working from home boosts employee retention. On average, he says, turnover decreases by 50% when the work from home option is available.

Here’s another bonus: no commute.

Commuters in the metro areas of New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington D.C., Atlanta and San Francisco spend at least 30 minutes on average getting to work every day, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

“In San Francisco, over a lifetime, if you commute three to four days a week, you’re talking about giving up 500 days of your life to commuting,” Mautz says.

Based on research, Mautz suggests working from home three days a week, then giving yourself two days in the office. This allows a happy medium between being present in your workspace, but also having the flexibility of working from home, he says.

Interview Highlights
On how common working from home is

“Ten million people today work from home, which is about 6% of the workforce. And that’s qualified as if you work between two to three days at home. And if you just work one day, it’s even higher than that, so you’re closer to the 40 to 50 million people that are now doing at least one day a week at home these days. So it’s really grown in popularity. That 10 million is up from 4 million in 2000. So it’s growing in leaps and bounds. It’s becoming the way of work.

“The number of employers that offer their work from home option, it’s increased 40% in the past five years but still, it’s only approximately 10% of all employers offering that. So the upside for working at home is something we’re just beginning to tap [into] right now.”

On why employers might be hesitant to allow their employees to work remotely

“My research has found really four core reasons. Number one, a misconception that productivity is going to be lost and the data simply does not support that. Number two, the leaders have a little bit of the ego at stake. When they don’t have all the employees in front of them to lord over, it hits the ego a little bit. It makes them feel like a less perceived ‘real leader.’ The third is frankly from the leader side, a lack of imagination and the leaders feeling like, ‘Yeah I get you want to work from home but this job can’t be done that way.’ And quite often, they’re incorrect, unless it’s a sales job where it requires you being literally physically at the customer. There are many, many jobs that with some imagination can in fact be done just fine. And the last thing that holds the leaders and the companies up themselves is technology. They’re afraid that they’re going to have to make too great of a technology investment to keep the employees connected properly with HQ. Now there’s also another side of the equation of why individuals don’t ask more for the flexibility.”

On why employers might not ask for the option to work from home

“It’s a two-sided coin. So we went through why leaders don’t want to grant it but we’re part of this too. Number one, there’s a real factor of FOMO — people fearing that they’re missing out having that valuable face time. We have a fear that if we’re not present, our performances are [not] perceived as being as high as someone else that might be in the office.

“So the fear that employees are feeling, in many cases, is very, very real and it keeps them from not wanting to [work from home]. They also miss the social connection. People think like boy, this option is available to me, that’s great, but I really think I’m going to miss my friends. And one of the only downsides we see in the data from working from home is that sense of isolation and loneliness. But there are ways around that. It’s a shared issue of why we don’t do more of this, both from the employee themselves and the companies.”

On productivity levels when employees work from home

“There are all kinds of studies now showing that on average, if you allow an employee to work at home four to five days a week, you will get back a full day’s worth of productivity. Not to mention that turnover decreases on average by 50% when an employer is working from home. You can attract talent. 68% of millennials now say they expect a work from home option to be part of the package before they’ll sign with a company. Not to mention the reduction in stress. I’m sure your producer friends will tell you, their stress goes down on the days that they’re working [from home] and they are in fact far more productive.”

On the biggest benefit of having employees present in the office

“For sure it’s connection and this is where most leaders will glean onto this. They’ll say, ‘OK, but if my people are always there, if I don’t allow [working from home], it’s easier to build a team, I have more oversight over my people to help them grow, I get more opportunities to see them live, to help them become better versions of themselves.’ All of that certainly makes a lot of sense. But there’s things you can do to help to help implement and overcome that. I don’t suggest a work from home regime of five days a week.”

On commuting to work

“A ‘commuting in America’ study has shown us [that] half of all people that have to commute hate it. One in five commuters say that they would give an entire paycheck if they wouldn’t have to commute anymore. And by the way, some of the bigger cities, it’s getting to be a real problem. Your hometown city of Boston, that is the worst city out of all of the top five worst cities for commutes. 56% of people that commute in Boston say they absolutely hate their commute. No. 2 on that list is San Francisco — 55% say they hate it.”

On how employers can save money by allowing employees to work remotely

“On top of productivity and retention — and we’re starting to see this trend now — companies are starting to do the calculations for themselves on other things like cost savings. On average, a study has shown that we’ve saved almost $5 billion in just 2018 alone from allowing people to work from home part time. That means you have less rental space for offices, you don’t need as fancy as food preparation needs for people that are in the office. The cost savings is tremendous, in addition of course to the ability to attract and retain where people are coming from. So to get into a job right now, we know we’re in the middle of the great talent wars and I can promise you, greater flexibility is going to be a major weapon in winning the talent wars moving forward. More and more companies are realizing that, that this is now the cost of doing business. It’s not just a nice to have that sounds sexy in a company brochure. This is going to have to be a part of the way we’re getting work done moving forward.”


Singaporean workers are the sixth most vacation-deprived in the world

A little more than six in 10 full-time Singaporean employees (63%) revealed they were deprived of vacations in 2018, up from 57% in 2017 and 41% in 2016.

This increase has pushed the city-state up the rungs to become the sixth most vacation-deprived market in the world, as showcased in the Brand Expedia 2018 Vacation Deprivation® Study released today.

*For the purpose of this study, 11,000 full-time working adults across 19 markets, including 300 respondents in Singapore, were asked about whether they received adequate vacation days for today’s working environment, and if they felt they deserved more.

Of these, almost nine in 10 (88%) Singaporeans felt that they deserved more vacation days last year – up from the 76% who felt the same in 2017. Additionally, 77% of Singapore workers even expressed a willingness to take a pay cut for one extra day of vacation.

Overall, the top six most vacation-deprived markets are:
Note: 2018 numbers in red indicate a decrease from 2017, and green indicates an increase.

#1 India

2018: 75%
2017: 60%
#2 South Korea

2018: 72%
2017: 81%
#3 Hong Kong

2018: 69%
2017: 64%
#4 Malaysia

2018: 67%
2017: 65%
#5 France

2018: 64%
2017: 66%
#6 Singapore

2018: 63%
2017: 57%

On the other hand, the six least vacation-deprived markets include:
Note: 2018 numbers in red indicate a decrease from 2017, and green indicates an increase.

#1 Australia

2018: 54%
2017: 53%
# 2 Canada

2018: 54%
2017: 53%
#3 Japan

2018: 53%
2017: 48%
#4 Mexico

2018: 52%
2017: 56%
#5 New Zealand

2018: 52%
2017: 53%
#6 Brazil

2018: 50%
2017: 52%
Zooming in on Singaporeans’ sentiments, younger employees aged between 18 to 34 expressed a slightly higher level of vacation-deprivation (67%) as compared to slightly more than six in 10 of those aged between 35 to 49 (65%), while a little more than half (52%) of those aged 50 and above shared the same sentiments.

70% of Singaporeans have taken at least one mental health day in the past year
In what the study revealed as a growing trend, Singaporeans are placing more importance on their mental health in recent year. In fact, 70% of Singaporeans have taken at least one mental health day in the past year, the fifth highest in the world after India (86%), Thailand (76%), Italy (75%) and Malaysia (74%).

Further, Singaporeans took an average of three mental health days last year and an additional 2.8 days on average for life administration.


5 Strategies For Increasing Employee Engagement In A Competitive Industry

Keeping good employees is harder than ever before. If you hire and fire for your business, you’re well aware of this—the workforce is much more fluid than it was in the past.

In few industries are these changes more evident than with EMTs and paramedics. The work these professionals do is hard, unglamorous and liable to be at odd hours. It’s a profession that boasts somewhere between a 20% and 30% turnover rate. But there are ways to combat that.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Steve Grau, founder of Royal Ambulance and Glassdoor’s #25 SMB CEO of 2019, about what his company is doing to reduce turnover and improve retention in their industry.

The strategies Grau shared for increasing employee engagement aren’t just applicable to his field, either. They’ll work for companies in any competitive industry. If you’re dealing with turnover problems—or want to avoid them before they start—try applying these five principles to keep your employees happy in the workplace.

1. Encourage Career Growth
One of the biggest things that sets Grau’s Royal Ambulance apart in its industry, is their focus on career growth. Whether employees stay with the company or move on to other opportunities, Royal’s invested in their success.

“We’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what our team members are looking for, and a lot of it comes down to just listening to their career aspirations,” explains Grau. “We find out what inspires them and why, then use the resources at our disposal to help. Frequently, people don’t come to Royal with a very large network, and we work to leverage our alumni network to change that. When challenges come up in discussions, we’ll try to tap into people that can help—both in person and through technology.”

There are a myriad of ways to encourage career growth, but one of the best is helping people build out their personal network. Put people in contact with others who can help their careers. Don’t be afraid to tap your personal connections, too. LinkedIn is great for this, as the professional’s social network of choice.

2. Look Outside Your Field For Inspiration
Are you bound by the constraints your industry places on you?

One of the biggest things that can attract and retain employees is an innovative, forward-thinking organization. To be constantly pushing forward, you can’t just rely on gathering ideas from within your field—you have to think outside of the box.

One seminal Harvard Business Review article noted that people in distant but analogous fields were likely to come up with better solutions for industry problems than people who actually worked in the industry. “These are people who, although they know little about your field, may be more likely to come up with breakthrough thinking,” says the co-authors of the piece. “Indeed, they may be carrying around, in their heads, the gem of the solution you’ve been searching for all along.”

That’s one of the things that sets Royal Ambulance apart from its competitors. They’re constantly searching for opportunities to pull ideas from elsewhere and apply locally in new ways.

“If you’re looking to build innovative processes that improve recruitment, retention or general business practices, you can’t be myopic and limit your research to your own bubble,” shares co-founder Eve Grau in a recent EMS1 interview. “If you want to build new products or services that differentiate you from your competition, see what Silicon Valley’s most innovative tech companies are doing and figure out how you can apply that to your own business.”

3. Give Public Praise
One of the things that Royal Ambulance has concentrated on, is using technology to help build up the human side of their business. “Facebook Workplace has been huge for us,” notes Grau.

He continues, “We rely on it to keep people in touch with each other—but it’s also one of our biggest outlets for public praise of our employees. EMTs give their workmates shoutouts on our Facebook Workplace all the time, which fosters relationships within the team and helps everyone feel more connected.”

Facebook Workplace also allows Grau and the rest of the team to communicate praise in other ways. Exit interviews always have a question along the lines of, “Who would you like to give props to?” The answer is always documented and made public. Scholarships and awards ceremonies also go out over the platform and are recognized publicly by the company.

It may sound small, but these things make a meaningful difference.

4. Build Alumni Groups
“I can’t imagine getting to where I am today without the help of a lot of other people,” shares Grau. “Building a network of people I could call on and that I could help too, has been a huge part of my success. At Royal, we’re trying to do that for everyone on our staff. LinkedIn has helped a ton.”

Royal Ambulance maintains a robust alumni group on LinkedIn. One of the unique benefits of working for the company is how connected everyone stays even after they’ve left, which gives a leg up to current employees who want shadowing opportunities or career advice. It even allows them to make connections with alumni who’ve moved to other industries.

It’s a quid pro quo relationship, too—former Royal employees reach out all the time for help or introductions via the company as well. This strong, technology-supported alumni network is a huge help for retention.

5. Stay On Top Of Technology Trends
The EMT and paramedic field may seem like a static one, but staying ahead of technology trends has been a big area Royal attributes its success to.

“We’re constantly trying to find new ways to improve our business, and technology is one of the biggest—especially with social media platforms. They allow us to build relationships, show accomplishments and create a community. At the end of the day, we’re not just an ambulance company. We want to help our employees succeed wherever they go. If they stay here, so much the better.”

That mindset makes the difference, and it’s been recognized. In 2018, Royal was ranked #38 as one of the Best Places to Work in the nation by Modern Healthcare.

These strategies that Grau and his team have used to shape their company culture, become a higher-performing organization and improve employee engagement can help you too—regardless of the industry you’re operating in.

Approach your team members with an open mind, the willingness to experiment and you’ll be well on your way to creating a better future for your company.


HOW DOES IT FEEL? Truly effective diversity training can be measured in goosebumps.

I still get goosebumps when I think about it: the moment I had the searing personal realization that my assumptions about how the world works don’t necessarily hold true for everyone.

The road to that realization began nearly three years ago, with the fatal police shooting of an African-American man in the parking lot of an apartment complex near one of my company’s locations in Charlotte, North Carolina. Coming amid a rash of other high-profile deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police around the country, the incident sparked immediate protest that turned to rioting and violence followed by several days of high tension throughout the city.

With a significant part of our workforce distraught at these events, and other employees confused by the conflicting accounts of what occurred, my colleagues and I realized we had to respond. There was no ignoring what was on everyone’s mind.

Since then, we’ve made a comprehensive commitment to diversity and inclusion. Our chief executive has joined CEOs from some of America’s largest businesses in the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion initiative; we’ve joined dozens of companies in the Paradigm for Parity coalition to bring gender parity to our corporate leadership structure by 2030; and we now have extensive programs, policies, sponsorships, and recruiting programs designed to embrace the diversity of our workforce, our customers, and the communities we serve.

At the time though, we had no clear playbook for addressing the inflammatory issues encapsulated in the mutually uncomprehending cries of black/blue/all lives matter.

So we took a leap of faith and created an event where all Charlotte-area employees were invited to talk honestly about what they were feeling—with no assurance that it wouldn’t blow up in our faces. It was coming in the midst of a presidential election that had been painfully polarizing along lines of race, gender, and class; and it followed the killing of five police officers just months before, at the conclusion of an otherwise peaceful protest one evening in Dallas.

The room was packed—more than 200 people, about half of whom were black and half were white, had chosen to attend. As the microphone passed from hand to hand, the words of our employees became increasingly personal and emotional.

The remarks of a black, mid-level manager were representative of others who spoke at the event: “I’ve come into work these past few days and I have literally been crying in my cubicle because I can’t believe that this is happening in 2016,” she said. “I can’t check this at the door; this comes to work with me.”

In response, a number of white employees expressed their surprise that these events were having such a direct and powerful impact on colleagues. You could see new understanding dawning on their faces.

Then my own moment of revelation came. A parent who has a teenage son said she had been late for work that morning because she wasn’t willing to let her son walk his usual three blocks to his school bus stop and wait there by himself. “I just didn’t think it was safe for a 13-year-old black boy wearing a hoodie, so I sat with him in the car until the bus came,” she said. “And I really hope he comes home safe tonight.” I saw other black parents, some of them with tears in their eyes, nodding their heads in agreement.

That was when I got goosebumps. My son was 12 at the time; he wore hoodies; he often walked around unaccompanied by a parent. But he is white. I wasn’t worried about whether he would come home alive that night. I had no idea what it felt like as a mother to send my child out into the world every morning and wonder if he would live through the day.

I think a lot of other people in the room were hit with the same revelation. The microphone made its way to another white participant who said he, and some of his colleagues, had previously defended the actions of the police, but now he no longer felt inclined to do so. “As I sat here and listened, I’ve come to a much different understanding,” he said. “Regardless of the merits of the case, I just want to support the people in this room. And what I’ve been trying to figure out in the time that I’ve been sitting here is how to go share what I’ve learned with people who think like me.”

A number of other people confessed to a cluelessness akin to mine. It had never occurred to them, for example, that getting stopped for having a taillight out could have an entirely different meaning for people of color—and potentially far more dire consequences.

That initial, ad hoc forum has since blossomed into a regular program we call Bridging Connections. Every few months we choose a discussion topic based on unignorable, and often contentious, events happening in the world around us. For instance, around the time of the 2017 US presidential inauguration, we convened a forum on political affiliation, which more than at any time in recent memory has divided American friends, colleagues, and even families. We’ve also done other forums on race, on gender, and on LGBT concerns, and we’ve opened up the conversations so that hundreds more employees across the country and around the world can participate by phone and webcast.

The goal is not to manufacture agreement but to create a willingness to understand that makes us stronger. On our campus it has contributed to a new level of cohesion, building bridges between worlds that people didn’t even know were different. And that’s vitally important at a time when we see a backlash against diversity training, and have evidence that mandatory, blaming-and-shaming approaches designed primarily to avoid lawsuits have been ineffective.

Don’t get me wrong. The right kind of diversity training can be valuable for establishing a baseline of knowledge, setting expectations, and enabling everyone to become more self-aware. But for learning about other people in a way that endures, there’s no substitute for goosebumps.

Michelle Murphy is the chief diversity officer and VP for global talent acquisition at Ingersoll Rand.


Workforce 2020: It is all about the Employee Experience

Being a well-established brand is no longer a strong enough value proposition. The inescapable shift we will see by 2020, which is already in progress, is the demand on companies to rethink organizational culture and redefine the workplace. The global workforce will soon be comprised largely of millennials, a generation that is reshaping the workplace with their tech-savvy disposition, their perspective on work life, and expectations from the workplace and employers.

Companies are already looking at ways to enhance employee experience across all touchpoints of an employee life cycle and the future of the workplace is going to be a lot more about Employee Experience – a key driver for attracting and retaining millennials which will make work culture as important as salary and benefits.

So what is the future workforce looking for?
A Savvy Recruitment Approach: It is becoming increasingly apparent for recruiters to leverage social media and other digital mediums where the targeted talent spends significant time. Alongside such platforms, the content of recruitment messaging has also been evolving – it is no longer just about the role offered – cultural aspects of the workplace along with the career opportunity offered are equally important deciding factors.

Recruiters are also required to be effective brand ambassadors, adept in sharing the learning opportunities and work environment to address the expectations of candidates – who are looking for companies that will not just employ them but also invest in their employability, and they want to know how.

The more engaging and informative the recruitment process is, the more likely it is that an organization will rise in the consideration set of the candidate – and thus, there is a growing need for knowledgeable and relatable recruiters who can influence this age group to be more receptive and establish the onset of a meaningful dialogue with them.

Career Growth and Consistent Job Satisfaction: Research indicates that the digitally fluent generation will stay with an organization that offers new opportunities. The concept of living one’s entire career in the same company has ceased. Millennials will gravitate towards opportunities that can help them scale and realize their ambitions and aspirations, more quickly than their predecessors.

According to the “2018 Better Money Habits Millennial Report”, 46 per cent of millennials asked for a raise in the past two years compared with 36 per cent of Generation X and 39 per cent of Baby Boomers. “Eighty per cent of millennials who asked for a raise in the past two years received one”.

The study also revealed that one in four millennials consider themselves part of the gig economy by taking on freelance or short-term work. “They like to be challenged by projects that could stimulate their creativity or could encourage them to use new ways to do things. It goes without saying that they have an entrepreneurial spirit,” the report said.

This brings the emphasis on offering a clear career path with ample of opportunities that enable their career goals. Companies that are aggressive in their pursuit of innovation and emerging technologies, and engage the millennials in building their capabilities, will also find a more engaged and happy workforce. This goes hand-in-hand with fair hikes and pay packages. The new generation of the workforce should not be taken for granted on this front.

Flexible Work Schedules: Studies show that millennials would prefer to spend the least amount of time in the office leading to the decline of the traditional 9-5 job and a significant rise of flexible hours and work from home, and such options that strongly drive better work-life balance.

Enforcing traditional work policies will be ill-advised when trying to retain and motivate the millennials – traditional policies are already being updated to include flexible work hours, telecommuting and other customized options to stay relevant and competitive in attracting the talent pool of the future.

Use of technology to improve the work-life experience: From recruitment and training to processes, the tech-savvy millennial expect a smart use of technology that enables them in their tasks and enhances their work life experience. Living in a digital environment that is forever challenging itself to enhance the user experience, organizations are investing in tools and technology that simplify day-to-day processes to improve employee experience.

The workforce of the future craves for a meaningful experience in progressive work culture. Millennials appreciate an open office culture and recognition for their personal accomplishments from managers and peers. Companies that promote an inclusive and transparent environment are very appealing to them. Competition for talent is fierce, and organizations need to offer engagement programs that create a genuine connection with the company, such as;

• Help them grow: Millennials are eager to learn new skills, and learning opportunities are seen as a top employer benefit. Training can be offered through formal L&D programs as well as peer to peer learning and mentoring.

• Regular and Constructive Feedback: Frequent feedback and regular check-ins show them that you are invested in them and encourages them to stay engaged in their work. Also, it would be advisable not to make them feel judged or stereotyped, especially when giving feedback. It is important for them to know that they are being assessed on their aptitude and performance and not judged by stereotyping their generation.

• Keep them involved and engaged: From organizational initiatives, innovation, capability building and driving the organization culture, it is important to keep these young bright and creative minds engaged and involved. Allow them the opportunities to provide feedback to the organization and pay heed to their inputs, invite them to contribute in enabling the organization goals, open channels of communication with leadership and challenge them in their roles. The more engaged and involved they feel, the more appreciative they are of their work environment.

• Corporate Social Responsibility: Programs where millennials feel involved and instrumental in giving back to the community or impacting a social change, help them become happier employees. Companies that involve their employees in giving back to the community will find themselves more likable by millennials. And the key to retaining them is to be likable!

It would deem appropriate to also point out some myths about the millennials, which could be helpful in understanding and prepare for the future workforce. A recent study by the IBM Institute for Business Value compared the behavioural patterns of millennials with those of the Gen X generation (aged 35–49) and Baby Boomers (aged 50–60) – revealing that the three generations have similar aspirations and attitudes:

• Millennials, like older generations, also desire financial stability and security, inspirational leadership and performance-based recognition and promotions

• Like most professionals, millennials appreciate managers who are ethical and fair and also value transparency and dependability

• It is a myth that millennials are more likely to jump ship if a job doesn’t fulfil their passions – all three generations change jobs for similar reasons.

Thus, what is good for millennials will also be good for and welcomed by other generations.

The secret to attracting this young talent pool lies in exhibiting progressive thinking reflective of the current milieu, and in offering a personalized experience and truly investing in employee happiness. Organizations that do so, will find themselves in a position of strength amidst the new workforce of the future, with the ability to gain their loyalty and retain their commitment.

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