Happy workforce or unhappy workhorse?
14th February 2017
In the last few months, one of our most challenging and rewarding projects has been working for an NHS Trust to develop an internal communications campaign to help stem bullying in the workplace.
It’s an issue the Health Service is taking very seriously. Lord Prior, the minister for NHS Productivity, described his concern at a potentially “toxic” culture.
But the problem is of course not limited to the Health Service. It affects workplaces throughout the UK. A YouGov survey commissioned by the TUC showed that nearly a third of people had been bullied at work.
As Lord Prior suggests, “Bullying starts when performance management begins.”
But in building our campaign, we have found it helpful to consider the other and broader side of the coin, in particular the growing consensus that positive workplace management can deliver as much business benefit as effective performance management.
The breakout zones, pool tables and gaming areas of hi-tech start-ups are just one aspect of this trend. The authors of the book, The Wellness Syndrome, Andre Spicer and Carl Cederström point to the growing industry of “funsultants” offering advice on how to make workforces more positive. Some firms have started to employ chief happiness officers.
And there are numerous academic studies that support the view that happier employees are more productive.
For example, research by the Social Market Foundation and the Warwick University’s Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE) makes interesting reading.
The report’s author, Dr. Sgroi explains: “Having scientific support for generating happiness-productivity cycles within the workforce should … help managers to justify work-practices aimed at boosting happiness on productivity grounds.” Happy workers are 12-15% more productive he suggests.
As the UK falls further behind other countries in international productivity tables could this be a solution to the Chancellor’s prayers?
Well, as ever, a note of caution needs to be introduced. It is interesting for example that a report a decade earlier from another part of the same university – the Operations Management Group, Warwick Business School – claimed that “study of one of the UK’s four large supermarket chains reveals an inverse correlation between employee satisfaction and the measures of productivity, efficiency and profitability, the most profitable stores being those in which employees are least satisfied”.
Less counter-intuitively, as Andre Spicer writes: “Wanting to be happy at work is fair enough. But being forced to be happy at work can be troubling.”
He suggests simple solutions – allowing employees to work at home, stop interrupting workers with pointless demands, and in particular removing some of the “endemic uncertainty” that is built into many workplaces.
“We found that many – organisational restructuring and change initiatives achieve very little apart from making employees miserable, building the reputations of a few managers, and fattening the coffers of consultants”.
Anyone who has gone through their third change initiative at work is likely to breathe a sigh of agreement.
While research by the Guardian points to even more straight forward solutions.
Being valued and good team relationships count just as highly as salary – which in straightened economic times might be cheaper and easier for employers to implement.
And it has given us one valuable perspective on how organisations can address the issue of bullying in the workplace. By focusing on staff value and by supporting team relationships, the outcomes can be thoroughly beneficial.
The best of the best
27th January 2017
The UK Government has appointed Redhouse Lane to its new Communications Services roster.
After a rigorous process, we are one of 10 agencies selected to provide creative development. In addition, we are one of 8 agencies chosen for the editorial lot.
Alex Aiken, the Executive Director of Government Communications, said: “I believe that we have chosen the best of the best to work with government to deliver world-class communications.”
Jonathan Walker, Redhouse Lane’s Managing Director, comments: “We are delighted to have been selected. Government communications represent some of the most interesting, challenging and rewarding work there is. Redhouse Lane has been working with government departments and agencies for over 28 years, so we are really excited by the opportunity to continue this warm and productive relationship.”
Find out more about our history of working with public sector organisations.
Why should I care?
18th January 2017
Our spam filter fortunately spares me the more outre offers of Viagra, off-shore gambling and chances to liberate cash from Nigeria.
But the flow of offers from recruitment agents, IT solution providers, water cooler outlets and bizarrely a vet supplier that ping monotonously into my in-box suggests the standard of much B2B content marketing in the UK has barely risen above the scatter-gun.
As a buyer, I am more likely to respond if a B2B supplier applies a few of the basic rules of content marketing:
• bothers to tailor their message to me
• tells me an interesting story
• chooses not to clog up my in-box uninvited – but uses more nuanced social media channels (or even pays to reach me through targeted ads)
• gives me a persuasive reason why I should choose them over their competitors
When digital channels offer so many ways to establish long-lasting relationships with customers and stakeholders, it’s depressing that many businesses continue to fall back on the numbers game. Throw out enough generic e-mails goes the theory and perhaps something will stick.
And the tone of so many of the communications makes it worse: the cheery first name greetings from complete strangers; the pseudo terse business speak – “Hi, Bob here, know you’re busy…. “; the self-important recitation of dull facts – “we increased our headcount across all core divisions!”;
Frankly, who gives a @*$$?
And yet, as a business, we are of course sometimes in the market for great recruitment solutions, IT support and fizzy water. (I’m not so sure about the cat food – but maybe in time).
Before wasting their time and mine, could the marketer please just put themselves into their customer’s place and answer one simple question:
Why should I care?
Is the business world ready for 2017?
6th January 2017
January is always the time of self-reflection, bold aspirations and new beginnings. Gyms are busier, pubs are perhaps that little bit quieter and, for entrepreneurs writing grand plans in local coffee-shops, it’s a time of huge excitement.
So, what can business and Government departments do to make sure they are fighting fit and ready to tackle anything the New Year throws at them?
In many ways, the world has never looked more uncertain. The leader of the free world is (to put it mildly) an unknown quantity, we do not know what Europe will look like in 12 months time and the UK economic outlook fluctuates dramatically depending on which publication you read!
At Redhouse Lane, we believe that despite all of this uncertainty, brands and businesses need to be more confident. More assertive about what sets them apart and simpler in the way they communicate. The design trend from last year is likely to continue. You only need to look at the identities of brands like Deliveroo, Co-Op and Nat-West to see that the principles of design heroes like Bauhaus, Saul Bass, Harry Beck and Paul Rand are as relevant today as they were 40 years ago. These identities aren’t retro. They’re utilising classic design principles and adapting them to meet the needs of today.
The important distinction is that in 2017, there are a lot more avenues and channels available to communicate with people than 40 years ago. So, from a communications stand-point, brands and businesses need to think simply about who they need to reach and what they want them to think, feel and do about a particular topic. If you understand that, you can cut through the information overload and make an impact.
In a world of endless information and noise, a focus on how your organisation is helping make a difference is crucial. So, whatever you’re planning in 2017, remember to stick to that. And keep it simple.
5th August 2016
The premise is simple, 60 minutes to put your lateral thinking caps on and escape three rooms consecutively. Relationships were tested but a resounding good time had by the team!
“Time Run” puts you in the boots of a time-travelling puzzle solver (though probably more Dora the explorer than Indiana Jones). Following the story of time traveller and scientist Luna Fox, the agency split into two teams to crack the puzzles, you’ll need to use your grey matter to bring the ancient staff back to the Babbage and the present era.
Jokes aside the experience was a really creative way to inspire teamwork, photos will follow shortly!