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Never smile at a crocodile

A new discovery was announced this week about crocodiles. It is a terrifying thought that crocodiles never fully sleep. There is always one half of their brain active keeping an eye out for anything that might catch them out. Apparently it’s called ‘unihemispheric sleep’. But what is more terrifying for employers and managers is that a good proportion of their own staff are capable of sitting in their office with only half their brain functioning keeping an eye out for anyone catching them out.

There are big statistics available to tell us that absenteeism costs UK business a huge sum – £1.24 bn annually. But ‘presenteeism’: showing up for work but not being engaged with what you do, costs business 6 times that amount.

It is time to truly engage people in what they do. Help them to perform at their best. Not let them pass their days at work in some zombie like state. Here are 6 ways to address this:

  1. Mindfulness is all about helping people be present in the moment. Not thinking about before or after; about could have happened or might happen; and not just functioning in auto-pilot. A mindfulness course in your business can return a seriously impressive ROI. And mindfulness is not just limited to meditation. There are a series of mindfulness techniques that employees will feel comfortable using, however open-plan their office may be.
  2. Physical and virtual working conditions really impact performance. It seems sometimes that we have returned to Victorian working conditions with lines of workers tied to their stations, surrounded by noise. And online communications haven’t always helped, with people preferring the non-human methods like email rather than a conversation.
  3. Give your staff time even if you feel like you don’t have any. Emailing is not managing. Take the time to talk with your staff face-to-face to give and receive feedback.
  4. Flexible working doesn’t mean not working. It can give staff the chance to concentrate on delivery rather than timetables. Hours in the office do not equal hours of productivity. And one of the good uses of technology is the ability it gives to stay in touch at chosen times with colleagues and clients at a distance.
  5. Digital policies can have a huge impact if properly implemented. Not requiring staff to respond to emails at all hours and all days or when they are on holiday allows staff time to recover and recuperate and be the best they can be in the office. A key element of building resilience is allowing recovery time.
  6. Take your staff on adventures. Yes, adventures. Out of the office. Companies love to talk about Return On Investment (ROI), but how about Return On Adventure (ROA)? To build team-work, creativity and a culture of working hard for each other, requires shared experiences. Adventures provide a great analogy for the uncertain times we all live in. And using High Impact Training techniques prepares staff to face the stressful work challenges we all face from time to time.

A lot of time and investment is taken to recruit staff. A lot of concern is expressed over absenteeism. But right under the noses of our managers, there are staff deep in ‘unihemispheric sleep’. Beware the crocodiles who lurk in your office.


Digital Detoxing offers all the above services