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HR In Brief


August 2014 – Vol: 37 No. 8
by Kait Vosswinkel and Theresa Witham

Doing Great Work -- Productivity Killers -- Flexibility Waning?

Cover of Do More Great Work bookDoing Great Work

Every credit union struggles against workplace doldrums, and in his new book, Do More Great Work, Michael Bungay Stanier addresses this day-to-day search for increased productivity. Using a set of maps to help readers outline their strengths and streamline their workflow, he teaches readers to “do more of the work that makes a difference and makes you happy, and less of all that other stuff that somehow fills your working day.”

To improve time and project management, Bungay Stanier takes readers on a reflective journey, sorting efforts into:

  • Bad Work, which is a waste of time, energy, and life;
  • Good Work, which is familiar, useful, and productive; and
  • Great Work, which is inspiring, stretching and provoking.


“You spend more than half your life at work,” he writes. “You want your work to make an impact and have a purpose, to be more than just a salary. You want to make it count. But that keeps getting lost.”

One of his maps, “What’s Calling You?” helps readers identify opportunities for more Great Work. “You need to find a place where you can stop, scan the landscape, and see what might be worth pursuing. You need to get to the lookout,” Bungay Stanier says. “This map helps you get off the trail, with its narrow focus on what’s in front of you right now, and up to the lookout point where you can reflect on your whole life for Great Work opportunities. Scan the map and notice which parts you’re immediately drawn to. Those are the areas that attract the needle of your internal Great Work compass. It’s good to know that sometimes the obvious places are the perfect places to start.”

Kait Vosswinkel is a CUES editorial intern.

To learn about doing more Great Work, hear author Michael Bungay Stanier at CUES’ CEO/Executive Team Network in November.  



Flexibility Waning?

More than 4 in 10 full-time employees surveyed reported their employer’s commitment to work-life flexibility may have waned in the past year, despite the overwhelming availability of workplace flexibility, according to a new research report from the Flex+Strategy Group/Work+Life Fit, Inc. Other findings:

  • Almost all full-time employees (97 percent) reported having some form of work-life flexibility in 2013.
  • But, a majority (57 percent) of employees did not receive training or guidance on how to manage work-life flexibility.
  • A majority of employees (62 percent) continue to cite obstacles to work-life flexibility, with the number of employees noting “workloads increased”/“had no time” rising from 29 percent in 2011 to 37 percent in 2013. Women (44 percent) cited this as an obstacle significantly more than men (33 percent).
  • A higher percentage of respondents (85 percent in 2013 compared to 66 percent in 2011) believe employee loyalty, health and performance suffer in workplaces without work-life flexibility.


“It’s not just Yahoo!, Best Buy and Bank of America that have sent mixed signals on flexibility in the past year or so,” says Flex+Strategy Group CEO Cali Williams Yost, a flexible workplace strategist and author. “Despite the fact that almost all full-time employees had some type of work-life flexibility in the last year, employees see and sense employer ambivalence toward work-life flexibility. Ambivalence, however, is not a strategy. Organizations need to be intentional and deliberate about what type of flexibility works for their business.”



Productivity Killers

What causes workers to waste the most time at the office? Texting? Surfing the Web? Chatting with co-workers around the water cooler?

Research from CareerBuilder identifies behaviors employers say are the biggest productivity killers in the workplace.

Not surprisingly, personal use of technology is one of the leading culprits behind unproductive activity at work. One in four workers (24 percent) admitted that, during a typical workday, they spend at least one hour a day on personal calls, emails or texts. Twenty-one percent estimate they spend one hour or more during a typical workday searching the Internet for non-work-related information, photos, etc.

Behaviors of co-workers, meetings and other factors are also creating obstacles to maximizing performance. When asked what they consider the primary productivity stoppers in the workplace, employers pointed to:

  1. Cell phone/texting­­­—50 percent
  2. Gossip—42 percent
  3. The Internet—39 percent
  4. Social media—38 percent
  5. Snack or smoke breaks—27 percent
  6. Noisy co-workers—24 percent
  7. Meetings—23 percent
  8. Email—23 percent
  9. Co-workers dropping by—23 percent
  10. Co-workers putting calls on speaker phone—10 percent


Nearly three in four employers (73 percent) have implemented some measures to mitigate productivity killers at work. Tactics include:

  • Blocking certain Internet sites at work—36 percent
  • Prohibiting personal calls or personal use of cell phones—25 percent
  • Monitoring emails and Internet usage—22 percent
  • Scheduling lunch and break times—19 percent
  • Allowing people to telecommute—    14 percent
  • Implementing an open space layout instead of cubicles—13 percent
  • Limiting meetings—12 percent
  • Restricting use of speaker phones if not in an office—11 percent.

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