Planning time

Easter’s just been and gone! This year’s just shooting by, isn’t it? We’re nearly at Mother’s Day and before you know it June will be gone and it’ll be a whole new financial year.

Right now, it’s planning season and managers all over Australia are developing budgets and priorities for the next fiscal cycle. I’ve been talking to a heap of HR executives about their plans and I’m happy to report that this year wellbeing has finally come in from the cold.

Until quite recently, many HR managers had to fight to introduce a new approach to wellbeing, one I’ve been preaching for a while. It’s a proactive approach where, instead of waiting for workers to get sick and then trying to make them better, companies help them be healthy and happy so they don’t get sick in the first place. It’s a win-win: employees are engaged and productive and companies see results in their bottom line.

What’s changed is that instead of introducing wellbeing programs piecemeal – flu shots here, a soccer team there – HR managers are placing wellbeing in the front line of innovation and giving it budget priority alongside such initiatives as recruitment, retention, engagement and cultural change.

My job is to help those managers construct an argument for a wellbeing budget. So, if you’re going through the budget planning process, here’s how you should be detailing your pitch. The elements of your wellbeing program are

  • Employee education: your staff need to know about the five pillars of wellbeing, namely physical, emotional, social, financial and career wellbeing.
  • Measurement: you need to get and analyse wellbeing data from the start, so you can understand your company’s wellbeing profile and measure improvements. Employees also need to be able to track their individual progress.
  • Activities and events: these can be internally or externally sourced and can include activities like pedometer challenges, exercise programs, financial coaching, health checks and EAP.
  • Reward and recognition: employees should aim for goals, or meet challenges either individually or in teams. Successes should be acknowledged and rewarded in a range of ways, for example by certificates or points or even company-wide recognition.

Few organisations have the expertise to manage this whole process. In the first place, wellbeing programs are specific, either to a company section (a certain department might want, say, an OH&S program) or to an employee (each person starts off in a different level and progresses at a different pace). So a one-size-fits-all approach can’t work. On the other hand, making wellbeing programs to order would blow your budget before you even start.

The answer of course is technology and that’s where my company, Springday, comes in. If you don’t already know, Springday supports companies by becoming their virtual wellbeing arm without any of the costs, risk or built in obsolescence associated with in-house development. 

Springday brings to companies a beautiful online hub – think of it as a wellbeing app store – populated with material developed internally or sourced externally from a suite of programs and stable of experts. We offer these initiatives under company brand and we update them constantly.

Employees measure their wellbeing starting points with our special wellbeing measurement tool. Then they access whatever activities they choose, from any device and wherever and whenever they like. Activities are integrated with wearable technology and Springday and the wearables work side by side so our software can keep adding value to their fast-evolving hardware. 

Also in line with this cutting edge approach, we’re adding a raft of new and exciting services, such as, for example, integrating renumeration and benefits into the platform and the ability to create learning modules.

So, if you’re an HR manager working out how to package wellbeing into next financial year’s budget, give me a call. If you haven’t yet started planning, well, now’s the time. Your company and more importantly your staff will thank you.

What’s going on

Activity tracking – the carrot and the stick: this is based on a small study but one with interesting results. Apparently people have a greater incentive to exercise if they risk losing a reward, rather than gaining one. What does this say about gamification and rewards, and more importantly, about how to design incentive strategies?

Corporate resilience – what is it and can we bear it? Resilience, the ability to accept and survive trauma, is now apparently a corporate ‘thing’ and companies are offering resilience training to help staff be more productive in a culture of hard knocks. But should we offer such training without first addressing the culture that produces these situations in the first place?

AI (artificial intelligence) update part 1 – this factory is replacing robots with humans: Mercedes-Benz is firing robots and bringing in humans to do the job instead. Why? Find out by reading this.

AI update part 2 – the promise of AI unfolds in small steps: experts say future generations will look back at what’s happening to AI now and compare it to the steam engine. When it comes to AI, apparently, we’re still in the foothills of progress. They also say it won’t happen overnight and that, just like the world wide web, AI will take time to transform the world.

Is the meaning of work about to change? The world of work is in crisis. Jobs are disappearing faster than they’re being created; companies struggle to attract the right people, and meanwhile technology threatens jobs everywhere. In this fascinating and fact-based article, Rick Goings, Chairman and CEO of Tupperware Brands Corporation, argues for a new model of work.

What to do when your to-do list holds up your team: imagine you’re a manager with too much to do and not enough time to do it, so you don’t get to finish projects. Which means you create a bottleneck, with consequences for both colleagues and staff. If this strikes a chord, read on for some good advice.

Bye-bye HR? HR and their host organisations are at a crossroad, with companies now shifting boundaries to transition from separated divisions to a multifunction ‘employee experience’. Why, and what does it all mean?

Interactive body map: what really gives you cancer? This body map comes from the online publication The Conversation. It cuts through a sea of conflicting advice, brings together the evidence on proven cancer causes and answers questions about things like alcohol, red meat and sun exposure.

Things science says will make you much happier: psychologists at the University of California have discovered some fascinating things about happiness. It seems you can make yourself happier – permanently. You just need to get rid of some bad habits and adopt some new ones.

Tech tips

Accounting isn’t my favourite thing. (Surprise!) But when you run a business you just gotta do it and I’m indebted to the software company Quickbooks Online, which helps me streamline invoicing, bookkeeping, payroll and billing. 

Quickbooks Online (which is owned by Intuit) is dedicated to small businesses and although Springday is fast becoming a big business, Quickbooks Online still more than meets my needs.

Here’s a clip of me, talking about Springday, which Quickbooks Online used recently as a case study.

And another thing

What’s your biggest regret and what does it have in common with everyone else’s? In New York, passersby were asked to write their biggest regrets on a chalkboard. They all seemed to have something in common, but you’ll have to get to the end of the video to see the point.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? This is Bill and Melinda Gates’ annual message, a serious one about improving the world.

Kevin Bacon again, this time about eggs: a few months ago I brought you Kevin Bacon singing about – yes, bacon, He’s back, this time about eggs. And he’s brought his brother…