OptimaWork Blog

Words & Musings we hope you'll enjoy

We hope to impart some thoughts & ideas on Building Employee Engagement, Developing Leadership, Improving Workplace Relationships and Boosting Staff Productivity.

We encourage and appreciate any feedback AND would love to feature YOUR work as a Guest BloggerContact Us with your idea for, in-progress or completed article and if it suits, we will publish it with full attribution to you.


5 Leadership Traits Of Saint Patrick You Can Use In The Workplace

St Patrick in the OfficeOn March 17th each year, bars and restaurants across the country (and around the globe) are usually filled with people drinking green or black beer, eating corned beef and cabbage, telling tales, singing songs, engaging with each other, and generally having a good time. 

But within all this merriment and fun, can we glean some business leadership skills and traits from St. Patrick - a man who lived over 1,500 years ago, who inspired and led others and became a revered figure in Ireland and around the world.

Here are five things St. Patrick did that we can all use to become better managers, leaders, and people. 

Workplace Relationships; the lifeblood of Culture and Engagement

Team culture and engagement drive productivity

Many companies struggle and fail in their efforts to implement effective ways to improve their corporate culture and employee relations. But while engagement and experience continue to be hot topics (with countless reports and studies on how and why organizations should improve), how does an organization actually go about achieving a purposeful culture that boosts engagement, morale, loyalty, and productivity?

The truth is that while salary, benefits, and other perks are important elements of any job, they are transcended by the relationships employees have with their co-workers and supervisors. These partnerships and connections drive the company culture and—by association—the passion, commitment, and engagement.

Workplace relationships are a game-changer in business today...

...and it's a game worth winning.

What Simon Sinek had to say about Building Relationships

Businesspeople Watching SimonSinekHighly respected author, speaker, and TED Talker Simon Sinek did an interview with Tom Bilyeu and Inside Quest back in 2016 that caused quite a bit of buzz on social media - and still does today. The full interview can be found HERE and I encourage you to watch it as (for the most part) it's very good. Indeed, the first 25 minutes or so are full of insights that echo very strongly with what we believe and champion with our BP2W program here at OptimaWork.

But it was his 'Millennial Question' segment about 40 minutes into the interview that seemed to hit a nerve with so many and resulted in millions of YouTube views and countless tweets, retweets, etc...  In particular, there is a 45-second fragment on building relationships that really tweaked my interest.

This Leap Year, Let's Hop, Skip & Jump Into Leadership & Engagement

Team jumpingLet's Hop, Skip & Jump Into Leadership & EngagementThis year and every four years, we get an extra day as we synchronize our calendar with the 365 1/4 days it takes the Earth to circle the sun. The 'Leap' year supposedly gets its name because all days after February 29th effectively leap over their usual (plus 1) progression day and onto the next day.

For example, in 2021, Independence Day/4th July fell on a Sunday; in 2022, it was Monday; in 2023, it was Tuesday, BUT in 2024, it hops, skips, and jumps over Wednesday and occurs on a Thursday.

So, with the science and history lesson now complete, let's think about how we can productively utilize that extra day AND the 365 others to become better colleagues, peers, and leaders.

A New Year brings fresh workplace challenges for Leadership as Disengaged Employees rethink their career

2 Women - 1 Job Searching 1 Loving JobLady Thinking About New JobAs one year closes and a new one begins, it’s a time when we begin to reflect on the past and turn our attention to changing for the better in the upcoming 12 months and beyond. Eager promises of eating healthier, exercising more, managing finances better, visiting somewhere new, and being less stressed (in and out of work) are just a few of the popular ideas that get penciled in.

And for many, their New Years' Resolution list also includes finding a new, better, and more rewarding job. They have become despondent and disengaged with their current situation and have decided that now is a time for a change. This can become challenging, disruptive, and very costly for the business.

But now is also a perfect time to set a new business resolution to become a better place to work. Indeed, organizations can strategically utilize their employees' newfound focus on bettering themselves to support and reinforce this across teams, departments, and the entire company.

Q&A Interview with Shay McConnon

Shay McConnon 2Shay McConnon is the creative mind behind the BP2W program.

He is also the author of 17 books on personal development and is an inspirational, entertaining speaker with a powerful business message. He is a foremost authority on leadership and culture issues and he has developed a unique blend of magic, humor, and common sense in his keynote presentations.

We spoke with Shay recently to get his insights into workplace relationships, employee engagement, and more.

Employee Wellness means more than just Good Health

Workplace Wellness can lead to higher Employee Engagement An Apple a Day...

Workplace Wellness programs are all the rage these days – and rightly so.

You don't need to be a doctor (or teacher or mechanic or accountant or electrician) to appreciate that healthier employees take fewer sick days and are more productive while at work....which obviously helps the bottom line. Simply put, a fit and healthy workforce makes good business sense.

But true wellness transcends the physical condition alone, and we must be very cognizant of and diligent in our pursuit of nurturing a workplace with less stress, higher emotional well-being, and an overall happier mindset.

BP2W/OptimaWork Named A Top Employee Engagement Software Provider

We are delighted to have been chosen as one of 'The Top Employee Engagement Software Providers to Examine in 2019' as selected by SaaS Research.

According to SaaS research

"Employee engagement software assists businesses with soliciting and tracking feedback from their employees. These systems recognize employee accomplishments and advocate positive behavior.

Employee engagement software is able to generate actionable insights from employee feedback. It is a great way to understand your employees, recognize success and promote positive actives"

The list highlights 8 companies/products whom SaaS research name as "some of the top Employee Engagement software providers in the industry."

7 Focus Areas for Employee Engagement & Leadership Development

7 Focus Areas for Employee Engagement & Leadership Development7 Focus Areas for Employee Engagement & Leadership DevelopmentFoosball tables, casual dress code, 401k match, and an occasional free pizza are cool....but what really drives high levels of employee engagement and a great culture in any business is the relationships and trust people have with the company leadership, their immediate manager, and their peers.

Here we look at seven key areas that go a long, long way to developing empathy, understanding, and trust within a team and the entire organization.

Building a Business Case for Employee Engagement

EngagementProfitsGraph800WBuilding a Business Case for Employee EngagementWhen the topic of Employee Engagement comes up, common questions from HR practitioners and company executives go along the lines of;

  • "What are the impacts and costs to our organization of a disengaged workforce?"
  • "What's the R.O.I. of a culture and engagement improvement initiative"
  • "How can we build a business case to implement a new/better engagement program?"

Engagement is critical in today's workforce as it forms a key element of the overall Employee Experience and the need to address it in new ways is more important than ever.

Let's take a look at a few key factors that can be used to determine your company's next course of action.

Is your Employee Engagement Process like a Broken Pencil?

Employee Engagement can be like a Broken PencilIs your Employee Engagement Process like a Broken Pencil?Without timely, pertinent, and tangible action, your survey, open door 'ideology', suggestion box, feedback tool, or other (so-called) employee engagement undertaking is ...

... pointless.

In fact, you could very easily put forward the idea that asking employees to provide input without them seeing speedy and credible effort can actually be detrimental to the organization.

The History of BP2W & Why Those 7 Indicators

The History of BP2W & Why Those 7 IndicatorsThe roots of BP2W (Better Place to Work) were planted more than 20 years ago.

At that time we were running a series of workshops on leadership and culture across parts of Siemens, BAE Systems, PepsiCo Foods, and others.

People loved our courses but expressed concern that the changes may not be sustained once they get back into the workplace.

To meet this need, we created activities that the team leaders could undertake with their teams to sustain the mindsets and behaviors exemplified in the workshop. This was the beginning of our Speed Training activities.

As technology advanced, we were able to put these activities online and created worksheets people could complete and email to each other. We began to add technology to strategy.

Engage Employees in the Employee Engagement Process

Make Employee Engagement Personal and CollaborativeEngage Employees in the Employee Engagement ProcessEven though most organizations and their leadership team understand the need for better Employee Engagement and a strong workplace culture, most still struggle to create it.

Why is that?

In most cases, it's down to the fact that it is still viewed as a Management and/or Human Resources function....or a burden depending on where you stand.

The old and time-consuming method of seeking staff feedback via a lengthy opinion survey and then digging through the data looking for a golden nugget is still widely used and seen as the only option in many circles.

This is despite much research, chatter, and numerous articles that highlight the need to move on from this mindset to a more hands-on, agile, and immediate process that augments the overall Employee Experience...

Bend the Golden Rule to Improve Working Relationships (aka Platinum Rule)

Keep Calm Bend Golden Rule Employee EngagementBend the Golden Rule to Improve Working RelationshipsGrowing up, we are taught (and throughout life we observe) what is frequently referred to as the Golden Rule. For many of us, it centers around the phrase “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, and while the exact wording is flexible, the central message is common to all.

In principle, the concept champions a two-way, reciprocal, and mutual relationship between two or more parties. This indeed is a very admirable idea, but it has a fundamental flaw that is amplified when Leadership, Management, and each Employee aligns too strongly to it in the workplace.

What if that person doesn’t want to be treated the same as you..?

What if they are driven by different motivational factors..?

What if a different set of criteria makes them feel valued at work..?

Whereas the intentions of individuals may be admirable when applying the ‘Ethic of Reciprocity’ to their colleagues or their subordinates, they may actually be hurting workplace relationships leading to greater employee disengagement and damaging the business. 

Maybe a better alternative is the Platinum Rule. But how do we make that work?

[Press Release] BP2W Version 2.0 Available April 2nd 2019

BP2W Version 2.0 Available April 2nd 2019Employees, HR & Leadership Rejoice: New & Improved Employee Engagement Tool helps Businesses Become a Better Place to Work

Unique workplace solution utilizes a modern, agile approach to the perpetual quest of improving culture, well-being, and the overall employee experience.

Ft. Lauderdale, FL April 2nd, 2019 - OptimaWork LLC has an audacious goal to help boost US employee engagement and leadership development efforts with the latest version of the Better Place to Work (BP2W) business tool that goes on general release today.

Agile Employee Engagement - Sprinting to a Better Workplace Experience

Agile Employee EngagementAgile Employee Engagement - Sprinting to a Better Workplace ExperienceBusiness leaders are always on the lookout for ways to increase productivity and profits by employing not just the best people, but also the best strategies.

Agile Software Development is a methodology that has taken the IT arena by storm since the early 2000’s and there is no reason to believe it can't be modified to fit other areas of the business ... including the ongoing search for higher levels of Employee Engagement.

Hugely successful companies such as Google, Adobe, Netflix, etc... all use some form of agile due to the immense benefits and optimal results it can quickly deliver.

The Agile approach produces better and quicker-to-market computer programs, mobile apps, etc… by leveraging an iterative process where teams self-organize, direct their own work and make timely, pertinent enhancements via continual inspection and feedback.

Imagine your workplace engagement program being employee driven while producing highly-targeted improvements quickly and on a recurring basis.

There’s No Magic Pill To Boost Leadership & Employee Engagement

No Magic Pill for Employee EngagementThere’s No Magic Pill To Boost Leadership & Employee EngagementWouldn't it be great if we could simply give each employee a little medication that would boost leadership and engagement as well as happiness, teamwork, commitment, and productivity?

Yes, an Employee Engagement pill would be a dream come true for all of us.

But while there may not be a magic elixir to ignite and galvanize the workforce, you don't need a Ph.D. in chemistry to make a positive change in staff behavior and performance.

Maslow in the Context of Leadership and Employee Engagement

Maslow Employee Engagement Leadership With Abraham MaslowMaslow in the Context of Leadership and Employee EngagementIn 1943 Abraham Maslow first brought his Hierarchy of Needs theory to the world in which he looks at what motivates individuals.

He claimed that people are motivated by things and circumstances that range from basic survival up through up to the ability to reach and achieve one's full potential.

That sounds like something which could be applied in the workplace to elevate employees' motivation from simply being there to get a paycheck all the way up to performing at a very high level...

...and actually, enjoy doing it.

Employee Feedback is a Powerful Productivity Enhancing Tool

Employee Feedback is a Powerful Productivity Enhancing ToolEmployee Feedback is a Powerful Productivity Enhancing ToolWithout proactive feedback and direction from leadership, people are 'blind' and will work on their own assumptions of how they are performing to meet business needs. But feedback is a two-way street, and your entire team should not only be willing to accept feedback but actually encourage it and see the opportunity to openly discuss work topics as a critical element of the job.

Regardless of whether the feedback being given is positive and complimentary or is being given to help an employee improve in certain areas, this powerful (yet very under-utilized) management tool will increase staff engagement and productivity.

Fix YOUR Workplace and Stop Worrying about Competitors

Fix YOUR Workplace and Stop Worrying about CompetitorsSomebody asked me at the annual SHRM conference a few years ago if our Employee Engagement program would enable an organization to measure themselves against others/competitors (and it certainly wasn't the first or last time I've heard the 'benchmarking' question in one form or another).

As always, I explained that our program identifies issues and opportunities in certain areas of your organization so that corrective actions can begin in those areas immediately, thus your organization improves as a whole. And of course, you get to analyze how each internal team (and leader) stacks up across our seven key areas of engagement.

But it always makes me wonder why comparing against others (via external data) is viewed as important.