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Via LiveMint : Enjoyable workplace spurs innovation, productivity: Mahindra Auto

Rajeshwar Tripathi, head of HR at Mahindra Auto, which is one of the top 10 workplaces according to Great Place to Work Institute, speaks about the firm’s people policy

Mahindra and Mahindra Automotive and Farm Equipment Sectors, the flagship of the Mahindra Group, ranked 23rd in India’s Best Companies To Work For 2017 list compiled by the Great Place To Work Institute. In 2013 and 2015, it ranked third in the manufacturing and production industry list. Policies to ensure safety and improve productivity on the shop floor have helped build the company’s image as an employer of repute. Rajeshwar Tripathi, head of human resources at the firm, shares how the Mahindra Group’s Rise philosophy is incorporated in its people policies. Edited excerpts:

Why is it important for you to be a good workplace?

It helps us attract the right people from various industries, possessing different skill sets and having diverse backgrounds.

Secondly, to engage with our own people; this is very important because that’s when they give us their best. People must enjoy their workplace; it spurs innovation and productivity because people are a key differentiator. For example, if there were two companies with the same product and structure, people will make a difference at the individual and collective levels.

What is your recruitment process?

Various psychometric tools are used to indicate an individual’s alignment with Mahindra’s Rise philosophy, which is to drive change. Recently, more focus has been laid on an applicant’s learning agility because we live in an ever-changing world. How capable they are of changing themselves and driving change matters to us.

How would you ensure retention and motivation on the shop floor?

Retention should arise from an individual’s intrinsic desire to stay at the organization, which should arise directly from the work they do. Much effort has gone into the ambience, working conditions and policies of our plants. Work hours have been made flexible while some Saturdays are off as well. Wellness has been given a special focus with preventive health exams being conducted, in addition to nutritionists and clinical psychologists being present at our occupational health centres.

Our policies are becoming increasingly segmented and personalized since the needs of all groups, say age-wise, are not the same.

What have been some challenges in retaining talent?

Reskilling our people to suit evolving business models and strategies, especially in the past three years, has been a challenge. To avoid human obsolescence among the company, intensive workshops are conducted, thus making us an agile organization.

What is the role of the top management in forming people policies?

Policies emanate from the top management because they are a manifestation of organizational philosophy and culture. The top three drivers of our people policies are the values our organization wants to pursue, the purpose for our existence—the customer, and finally, our business strategy.


A couple of years ago, I was offered the position of the senior copywriter in a renowned ad agency. I believed that this very well could be my “dream” job. On my first day at the job, I was given a cramped and dingy cubicle in an office with no natural light. Anyone who has worked in a dingy cubicle will confirm how it makes them feel. Whenever I mentioned that the bad, fluorescent lighting and the isolating ambiance was taking away my concentration, motivation, and productivity, I was ignored.

I decided to stick with a year, instead of risking to appear like a job hopper on my resume. One of the biggest lessons I learned at the ad agency was how external stimuli can impact the way we think and behave, including our productive work habits.

According to Haworth’s research, companies need to provide different spaces to foster innovation at work. Offices tend to promote only one kind of work – they are either, open and collaborative, or they’re highly segmented. Modern workplace design is all about finding the right balance between these two types of spaces.


In a white paper titled Optimizing the Workplace for Innovation: Using brain Science for Smart Design, Haworth’s team looks at how modern workplace design can increase productivity.

In order to facilitate all four stages of cognition, a workplace must be designed to support all of the brain’s neural network. The salience network monitors external and internal stimuli and organizes priorities. The default network forms creative insight particularly when emotions and engagement are low. The executive control network develops innovative ideas in response to focus work.

Focus at work requires a controlled space, with physical barriers that provide refuge from external distractions. Abundant natural light is proven to improve focus, as is having control over lighting and temperature within the building.

Oftentimes, we need time to clear out the head. One cannot expect the brain to give that many ideas while doing routine work. For micro-breaks, companies must design a workplace where individuals can move freely for some time for restoration. The ideal restorative space can be informal with great visuals and objects for inspiration. Visual access to a green outdoor space is also beneficial.

An ideal workplace design is the one which enhances focus, restorative activities, and provides its employees the right tools for knowledge sharing. In addition to creating a workplace which enhances focus on concentration, one must also create a space which fosters creativity and knowledge sharing.

The white paper also advises that movement within the organization should be encouraged. This goes in two ways: one is across internal groups, and the other is with people external to the organization. The movement encourages interactions that foster knowledge sharing and learning with different groups of people.

This is not to say that a great office design is a solution to every problem in your office. But, a smart workplace design can enhance one’s company culture and foster optimal creative performance within the organization. When a great workplace culture and office design are misaligned, things start to get hazy. In order to support all sorts of personality types, it’s best to create a workplace that provides for all of these behaviors and ways of thinking.

Via The Globe And Mail : How to cut out drama in the workplace to improve results

Those are five core beliefs shared by Cy Wakeman in No Ego, a book about how individuals create drama and discord in the workplace – rather than constructive collaboration – by operating out of ego.

Originally a therapist who moved into workplace consulting, she was struck by how conventional leadership approaches were missing this element.

At times, the approaches fed ego – and not just those of top leaders, but also anyone in the ranks resisting feedback and grumbling about how wrong everything around them is.

Sound exaggerated? Ms. Wakeman says we continually stoke drama in the workplace, creating “emotional waste.”

She gives this quick example: The boss asks how you are doing on a project. You indicate you’re a bit behind and she encourages you to try to catch up as soon as possible. Good-willed collaboration? Probably, but chances are you might create a different story around that interaction, about a micromanaging boss or a superior always hounding and mistrusting you, particularly when you’re overly busy.

Ms. Wakeman surveyed human resources experts and employees, finding that emotional waste – stewing in our stories, arguing with reality – chews up 2 1/2 hours a day. Such surveys have their faults, but no doubt your experience suggests emotional waste is real and higher than desired.

“Ego is not your amigo,” Ms. Wakeman says in an interview. “Ego is a distorted filter of the world, judging and creating motive. It’s like wearing a bad pair of prescription glasses. Stop believing what you think.

“You aren’t what you think. You aren’t even the one doing the thinking.”

Dealing with this as a supervisor or team leader revolves around two more aphorisms she has developed as core beliefs you need to adopt:

  • The impact of a leader does not come from what he or she tells team members but from what he or she gets them thinking about.
  • Engagement without accountability creates entitlement.

You should push for self-reflection by team members or subordinates. Instead of giving them answers and directions – actions you probably think leadership requires, but only provoke egotistical reactions – the questions deftly sidestep their ego. The questions get them pondering how they might improve, instead of creating more stories to defend against change. “Ego keeps us from growing and self-reflection,” Ms. Wakeman says.

Here are some questions that can help:

  • What do you know for sure?
  • What would be most helpful in this situation?
  • What could you do next that would add value?
  • What could you do right now to help?
  • Would you rather be right or happy?
  • What is helpful in this situation – your expertise or your opinion?
  • How could we make this work?

“Collaboration and engagement are natural states when you get the ego out,” Ms. Wakeman says. Stay away from questions with “why” or “who” in them, which usually ignite ego, and the accompanying stories of misery with inevitable emotional waste. You can instead ask those questions of yourself, disrupting your own ego.

Before you judge someone else, take the lead for improvement. If a colleague tends to be uncommunicative, start the conversations first yourself. Keep your heart and mind open.

As an example, she says, “you could have voted for Trump and my mind closes. If I open my heart, it helps. I might learn that you are worried about your job.” When you find yourself suspicious about other people’s motives or behaviour, it’s probably a signal to examine your own intentions and behaviour.

If somebody gives you troubling feedback, instead of developing a story of why it’s wrong, embrace the feedback as true and see if that helps you to improve.

She says leaders today are overly concerned about engagement, believing that if they create perfect circumstances for employees those folks will give the gift of work. But engagement is a choice. It’s a choice usually made by people who are highly accountable for their work and feel they can be productive and contribute whatever the situation. But our engagement surveys lead us to pay too much attention to people who don’t have a sense of accountability for improving their circumstances. Foster accountability through questions that encourage self-reflection, and you’ll get more engagement.

More generally, do your share to cut your workplace drama. Apply her insights on reducing or bypassing ego.

Via Workplace Insight : Nine out of ten employees believe flexible working is key to boosting productivity

Data published by HSBC claims that flexible and remote working practices are more likely than financial incentives to motivate staff and ultimately increase workplace productivity. A study of British businesses and employees found that nine in ten employees surveyed (89 percent) consider flexible working to be a key motivator to their productivity levels within the workplace – a view shared equally among male and female employees (87 percent and 90 percent respectively) – and more so than financial incentives (77 percent). Alongside this, 81 percent of workers who can work remotely believe this opportunity helps them to improve their productivity, making a clear link between flexible working cultures and increased business productivity levels.

Regions where flexible working is more popular, such as London (where 30 percent of workers have the option) and the South East (32 percent), generally see the highest levels of productivity in the UK (where productivity, as defined by the ONS, is calculated as output per worker or output per hour worked ). In contrast, only 18 percent of employees in Wales, where productivity levels are lower, are offered the opportunity to work flexible hours – suggesting that companies providing a better work life balance may be paving the way for a more productive workforce as employees feel more motivated.

The most productive sector – the professional services industry – is the most likely to offer employees flexible hours, with 36 percent of professional services employees saying it is available to them. Whereas, in the retail, hospitality and leisure industry, where one in four workers (24 percent) are not offered benefits or perks of any kind (including flexible working), productivity is lowest. In Q2 2017 output per hour stood at just £23.00 in this sector (significantly lower than the national average of £32.20) while the sector with the highest output per hour, professional services, had an average of £68.10 per hour.

The study also highlights a disparity between the working style options employees believe to be most motivating and those that they are offered – as the vast majority of employees who are currently offered flexible working believe it motivates them, yet less than a third (30 percent) of business offer it. The deficit is most apparent in the manufacturing industry where nearly all employees currently offered the benefit (91 percent) believe the opportunity to work more flexibly would improve their motivation and productivity at work, yet less than a quarter (23 percent) have the option.

Far from being an attitude associated only with younger workers, flexible working is valued most by 35-44 year olds of whom 59 percent value the opportunity ‘a great deal’, compared to just 47 percent of millennials (under 35s). Suggesting cash isn’t always king, good workplace culture was cited as being crucial to improving workplace productivity, while more than half of employees (53 percent) believe work they find interesting boosts their productivity levels. Furthermore, almost one on five (18 percent) employees cite poor work life balance as a reason for leaving their last job – a problem many companies could address with flexible working.

Via CBC News : Tips on increasing productivity and battling workplace distractions

Turn off the notifications on everything — ignore the beeping phone noise every once and a while

Many workers need to concentrate deeply to get their work done, yet workplace design, technology and our colleagues conspire to distract us.

This has never been truer given workplace layouts with he notifications our phones and computers generate and how we’ve convinced ourselves our entourage requires a response to everything all the time.

Distractions are problematic. They sap the finite resource we have between our ears.

The energy required to restart our concentration after being distracted by checking email, talking to a colleague or responding to a phone notification is significant.

People and others who work with their hands figured this out a long time ago. When is the last time you saw a welder with an eye on their Facebook feed and a hand on a welding torch?

Knowledge workers could learn a lot from the disciplined focus and concentration trades people demonstrate every day.

Here are a few steps to counter the productivity-robbing and brain-power-depleting distractions.

Carving out, scheduling and protecting time for focused concentration.

Removing yourself from the hubbub works.

Employers are increasingly amenable to working from home or another location to accomplish those specific tasks requiring quiet and full attention.

Thankfully modern office designs are including more and more quiet spaces for meetings or focused work that can be reserved.

Having a notification-free zone can help too.

Turning off the notifications on everything and learning to ignore the urge to constantly check stuff that beeps, vibrates and sings you a song is huge.

You are rewarding the same part of your brain that enjoys sugar and you are indulging in a very destructive habit that is killing your focus and productivity.

Email batching

Evidence from researchers at UBC associate increased levels of workplace stress to how often you check emails.

Try carving out times in the day to send out emails, rather than respond every second.

Practitioners of email batching schedule 2-4 windows per day when they do nothing but send emails.This requires you to refrain from believing the world will stop if you don’t respond in milliseconds.

You may indeed annoy others, check that, you will annoy those who are conditioned to rapid fire email responses from you. They’ll get used to it.

It’s better to disappoint some folks by responding a few hours later and deliver required results over pleasing yourself and others but not delivering on the work that needs deep thinking.

Even worse is dragging unfinished work home at night and blaming distractions you could manage otherwise with a bit of discipline, scheduling and systems.

Devise an end of work day mantra to tell your brain your work is done for today

Author Cal Newport sheepishly admits his personal end of day routine is to rise from his chair and boldly proclaim “system shutdown complete.”

He’s referring to himself not his computer.

It’s a playful but clear signal to his brain that it’s now time to recharge with food, family and leisure not to mention much needed sleep.

He makes a compelling case for why you’ll be way better off tomorrow by doing a deliberate work shutdown at days end.

His book Deep Work-Rules for Focused Success in the Age of Distraction is chock-full of other helpful strategies.

Bad habits regarding distractions are destructive to our wellbeing and our productivity. As leaders, when we model such behaviour we infect others.

By “shutting the door and unplugging the phone” you give yourself a chance to minimize the productivity-robbing nature of workplace distractions.

Time to check the afternoon’s email batch.