We were reading about presenteeism in the workplace this week. Presenteeism, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, is showing up for work without being productive, usually because you’re poorly or unfit to work in some way. Apparently it’s now viewed as more widespread and problematic by businesses than absenteeism (but maybe not during Euro 2016).
It’s an issue for several reasons – it’s linked to more sick leave in the long term, lower productivity levels, and it’s an indication of a culture where employees feel like they can’t be absent from work because of overwhelming workloads, or worse, how it’s judged if they take an illness day.
And, performance geeks that we are, we started thinking about presenteeism from a high performance angle. Here are some thoughts that we wanted to share with you…
Being performance ‘unready’
If presenteeism is about being unproductive at work, that infers, to us at least, that you’re not feeling ready to perform – you’re not feeling physically, mentally or emotionally ready. Or perhaps you’ve not done the things you need to do to be ready to perform. You’re performance ‘unready’ – and often (not always, but often) that’s because you’ve not chosen to do some things that you could have done to prepare and be ready.
It’s like to an Olympic athlete turning up to training without having prepared right – without the right kit, without the right mindset, or having been out the night before so they’re not fully rested. Actions and avoidable choices with a clear performance impact.
Go slow to go faster
We come to work when ill, or unfit in other ways, out of a sense of duty, a perception that we’ll fall behind, that no-one else can do our job, or that “it’s what’s expected round here”. But the performance reality is that this is the dumb choice. Medical opinion would suggest that taking a day or two off when we start to feel poorly, results in shorter and less severe illness periods, resulting in less time off and less lost productivity overall.
The high performance choice is to take time out early to rest, recover and recharge the batteries. The same applies when we’re emotionally or mentally overwhelmed. Take your foot off the gas to get yourself ready before you get to a state when you’re significantly under performing and need time out, more support or longer to get back on track. Early time out, asking for help and knowing when you’re low on resource – all signs of performance intelligence, not of weakness!
Presenteeism is contagious!
Coming to work when you’re poorly or not fit is also pretty stupid from another perspective. If you come to work when you’re ill – particularly when you’re coming down with something – you’re making a choice to pass your germs on to others.
With 44 days to go to the Rio Olympics (at the time of writing), imagine the response an Olympic athlete (or coach) would get from their teammates if they pitched up to work ready to share their germs?! Olympic athletes and staff get paranoid about this. And their mindset is that it’s their responsibility not to bring bugs into their workplace – and that drives their behaviour.
So next time you feel a bit below par – physically or even mentally – and choose to pitch up to work in that state, think twice. Have you made choices that have not helped your performance readiness? What other choices could you make? And is being there the smart performance choice – for you and for others? It’s worth a ponder!
Dom Boon is People Director for Virgin Media. As a customer we’ve worked with him on high performance principles and he’s done an extraordinary job in applying them to another area of his life – swimming.
This blog tells the story of his serious accomplishment in May this year. Becoming one of only 500 people, ever, to achieve something special.
Imagine preparing so well for something that you perform better than you believed possible. Imagine that you break a national record that you weren’t setting out to break, and hadn’t even been thinking about.
That’s exactly what happened to Dom Boon last month.
Focus on the process
Dom swam over 10 miles of open water from Europe to Africa, across the busy shipping lanes of the Straits of Gibraltar. When he touched Moroccan land at Punto Cires in a time of 3 hours, 5 minutes he was ecstatic!
He’d developed a brilliant plan to make the most of his ability, executed it superbly and set a new British record by a full 9 minutes.
Focusing on the process meant he achieved his gold medal goal – “complete it and love it and feel I’ve nailed it”- and brought into view an outcome he’d not even considered.
Our blog this week is from Jo Webb, an independent HR consultant who specialises in supporting businesses through culture change. Jo was formerly European HR Director at The Marketing Store where she led their high performance culture change programme. We had the privilege of working with Jo on this project, and for us, she’s someone who truly understands high performance and how to embed it in the culture of a business.
There’s a lot of aspirational talk about high performing cultures right now but even when organisations do decide to go down that road, all too often it’s rolled out as a stand-alone initiative rather than being integrated into the entire business strategy.
A true high performance culture provides a company with its single greatest source of competitive advantage but fewer than 10 percent of companies actually succeed in creating such a culture.
One of the biggest mistakes companies make is to set up a ‘high performance’ programme as a separate initiative – lead by HR and perhaps one or two performance focused people in the business, but crucially not embraced by all leaders and certainly not united with overall business strategy and performance.
So, how should it be done?
The power of a purpose
It’s funny how there are times when the same issue or topic seems to come up repeatedly. Maybe it’s coincidence or perhaps you’re just more aware of something so you end up having conversations about it or notice when others are writing or talking about it.
Anyway, I’ve just come back from a week working with our customers in Australia, and the topic of purpose kept coming up. More specifically, the importance and power of having meaningful purpose for motivation, performance and team alignment. It came up time and time again in work and personal conversations and even reared it’s head when indulging in a bit of Australian sporting culture at the weekend. I thought I’d share three stories in the hope that there’ll be some insight and take-aways for you.
People don’t normally associate ‘sideways moves’ with success. It’s usually seen more as an interruption on the pathway to greater things. Sometimes a sideways move might even be a negative, indicating that you’ve peaked and upwards is no longer an option. But sideways moves can involve growth and development, and be an opportunity to fuel your motivation and performance readiness. So it’s worth rethinking about how we see “sideways moves” – as individuals, as leaders and as organisations.
Development happens in many ways!
In an ideal world, everyone would keep raising their performance levels and the way organisations invest in talent programmes and development opportunities reinforces that there’s a pretty fixed view of how promotions happen.
If we think about a lot of people who have thrived and gone on to great things, in many instances it’s been the experiences they’ve been thrown into, outside of formal talent programmes that have significantly helped them to grow, as well as demonstrate greater potential than has previously been seen. So, if we want learning and development, maybe it’s time to think more flexibly about how to stimulate it!
Last week we asked a team what sprang to mind when they thought about team building. Do you know what they said? “Water!” Water!! How have we got to a place where team building in business prompts thoughts of building rafts?? We think we can do better than that.
There has to be a better way
Raft building. It’s like taking a rowing team and, to prepare for the Olympics, putting them through a business simulation exercise. Maybe, just maybe, if there was a very specific reason.
But before that, in the first place, there are some very straightforward team performance principles that are worth establishing. These are simple and in most cases pretty easy to apply. They’re all about performance. And we mean performance, not results.
In this week’s blog, Sophie Radcliffe, a K2 ambassador, athlete and adventurer shared her thoughts on change.
We think we aren’t great at dealing with change and we don’t welcome it in our lives. Yet, not dissimilar to the eruption of a volcano, the initial mess can cause frantic behaviour and be hard to deal with, but once the dust settles, leads to a new order, a new mindset and ultimately, a new way of doing things that creates personal and professional growth.
The Initial Eruption
Change can blindside us as we go about our daily lives. For me they were the day my Mum told me she had cancer, when my Grandfather died, the day I walked into work and my Director called a company meeting, announced they were closing down an entire division of the business and sent everyone home.
As you know, we’ve a passion for performance and a while ago, Keith came up with the beautifully simple idea of creating an event that would help share this passion in a whole new way. And so Performance Fest was born.
We love the chance we get to work across a very diverse range of human performance environments – from Paralympic Kayakers to Insurance Industry Leaders, we are able to focus on helping people do what they can, but don’t. And that similarity and diversity is what got Keith thinking.
Everyone’s a performer
Across all of these different areas where we’re lucky enough to work, everyone is a performer, challenged with constantly using and developing their expertise to achieve some amazing things. Although very different fields of play, the passion people show for wanting to become more expert is where the Performance Fest comes in.
What is it?
The Performance Fest is an immersive day of life-changing experiences, developed by human performance experts PlanetK2. This ground-breaking event will take place on September 9th this year at London’s Tobacco dock and will give attendees an opportunity to leap outside of their comfort zone, taking part in a diverse range of learning experiences such as Brazilian drumming, martial arts, landing a Boeing 777 and coding an app.
Each experience will be led by experts and viewed through the lens of high performance learning, with leading psychologists helping us to learn from both the professional’s approach and the novice’s learning experience. The festival will feature such indulgences as massage tents, power nap pods, a mindfulness corner, street food and performers.
Our guest blog this week is from Gareth Jones, a K2 Hall of Famer. Not only is he a highly experienced business leader (most recently he was CEO of Dunn and Bradstreet in Australia and New Zealand), but he’s a great example for us as someone who not just understands, and talks about performance, but who lives and breathes performance in what he does and how he leads. We asked him to put pen to paper for us, and as usual, he hasn’t disappointed!
It’s been a big few weeks for Liverpool Football Club. Last week was a moment in history as the inquest into the Hillsborough disaster of 1989 found that 96 victims were unlawfully killed and there were police failings – a battle long fought by the relatives of those who died. On the pitch, Liverpool were in action in the semi-final of the Europa League. It was a disappointing result as they conceded in the final minutes of the match to head into the second leg 1-0 down.