I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.

Mother Teresa
How to Value Age-Diversity in the Workplace

How to Value Age-Diversity in the Workplace

Posted by martin.parnell |

Next Saturday, our daughter, Kristina is flying in with our two grandsons, Nathan aged nine and Matthew Connor aged four. My wife, Sue, and I have been making a list of activities to do with the boys that they will both enjoy. 

On a recent Skype, Matthew Connor told us that he wants to see dinosaurs. We could take them to the wonderful Royal Tyrrell Museum, in Drumheller, but it’s a long drive and although Nathan would love the exhibits, we’re not sure if Matthew Connor would enjoy the museum as much. So, instead, we’ll take a trip to Calgary Zoo, where they can see animals they’ve never seen before and explore the Dinosaur Park. 

Another attraction we recently discovered is a place called The Granary Road Active Learning Park, at 112 Street West, in Calgary. It’s a wonderful, outdoor activity park, with many features including: Frog pond fun pad. Orchard treehouse, Arachnid web, Ant farm adventure, Bee hive honeycomb, Bat cave hang out and lots more. 

We especially like it because there is plenty for both the boys to do, despite their five year age gap. Whilst Sue and I were compiling our list, that’s something we tried to bear in mind. What activities can be enjoyed by both a four year-old and a nine year-old?  

As parents and grandparents, it’s something many of us have to consider. Sometimes, though, it’s a little tricky and we have to arrange alternative activities for them and this would apply even more, if our 14 year-old granddaughter Autunm was coming too. Fortunately, the boys are used to doing things together and Nathan is very good at being a tolerant playmate to his little brother. 

Considering this made me think about the way employees interact, despite the possibility that there may be a vast range in ages. There is a lot to be said for having people of different ages working together. Older employees can share their knowledge and experience, especially when dealing with customers. Whereas younger workers may have new ideas to share, as well as an enthusiasm which may be waning amongst older colleagues. 

Older workers can act as mentors and explain the advantages and pitfalls of doing things a certain way, younger workers can demonstrate the most recent trends in social media and advances in technology. A leader can make the most of the diversity in age of their workers by being aware of the advantages of not only the different skills and levels of experience, but how different approaches can be utilized when dealing with customers. 

Try to motivate all employees so that they share the same values and goals, when it comes to the aims of the company. Bear in mind that your younger employees may be looking for advancement, either in your company or elsewhere. Older employees may have already reached the position they want to be in and be biding their time until they retire. You need to give the younger ones every opportunity for advancement whilst, at the same time, being sensitive to the position of their more experienced workmates. 

I found some very useful information, in an article entitled Tips for Managing an Age-Diverse Workforce by John Krautzel,posted on the nexxt  website, Feb 16, 2016, in which he wrote:

Today's workforce is stocked with employees of all ages, from millennials to baby boomers. Managers have to learn to deal with and adapt to the different mindsets, work habits, values and communication styles of each generational group. Consider these tips for managing an age-diverse workforce.

Promote Work-Life Balance

It is important for employees to be able to separate their work lives from their personal lives. Employees have different values and responsibilities at each stage of their lives. Offering a flexible work schedule or compensatory time benefits employees of all age groups, whether they are baby boomers taking care of ailing parents, Gen Xers facing their own health problems or millennials tending to their young families.

Offer Employee Enrichment Opportunities

Give all your employees the chance to enhance their knowledge and skills. When employees are offered self-enrichment opportunities, they feel valued and are more satisfied with their jobs, improving workplace morale and decreasing turnover rates. Require all managers to attend training that helps them identify generational differences and adapt to them.

Focus on Communication

While communication strategies differ among all generations, the central idea of a strong communication network is important to everyone in your workforce, regardless of their ages. Avoid making communication too standardized or formal within your organization, as it can be restricting. Allow employees to work on teams to open up the dialogue and recognize each other’s' strengths.

Nurture Employee Relationships

Encourage employees to bond and socialize by planning casual social activities, such as luncheons. Promoting social relationships between your employees leads to a friendlier and more enjoyable work environment for the entire workforce.

Recognize Differences in Learning Styles

Employees of all age groups prefer to learn in different ways, so accommodate their needs. Millennials often prefer technology-based learning platforms with the opportunity for interaction, while baby boomers opt for traditional learning methods, such as handbooks and PowerPoint presentations.

Engage Your Workforce

Empower and motivate your employees by making them feel valued and appreciated. Ask older workers to mentor newer employees to share trade secrets and impart job-specific knowledge, and allow younger workers to take on challenging assignments that provide job satisfaction.

Celebrate Employee Achievements

Recognize the hard work of all your employees, whether the achievements are the result of team efforts or individual work. Send out a simple email to acknowledge success or distribute inexpensive achievement awards. This show of appreciation helps to improve the morale of employees of all ages.

There isn't one perfect way to manage your entire workforce. With each generation comes a new set of workers with personalities and work styles all their own. The key to managing an age-diverse workforce lies in recognizing the generational differences to address the values and expectations of each group.

I hope this is of some help if you have a workforce that is age-diverse. Meanwhile, I’m off to the local second-hand book store to stock up on books for the boys. 

Hopefully, I’ll find some they’ll both enjoy.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON, is being released on October 9th 2018.

He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.

Jim Rohn American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker.
Keeping it Simple is Never Stupid

Keeping it Simple is Never Stupid

Posted by martin.parnell |

As I mentioned, in last week’s blog, our daughter, Kris and our grandsons, Nathan and Matthew are here for a visit. It’s great fun having them to stay and, as I watch the way she interacts with the boys, it’s heartening to see our daughter passing on the lessons she learned from me and her Mum to her own children. Values that I learned from my parents and which still apply today.

Having them to stay is enabling my wife and I to do many things we wouldn’t normally do and it’s a joy to experience them through the eyes of the children. One great investment we made was the purchase of 2 plastic magnifying glasses, from the dollar store. I’d forgotten how much fun it is to go on a “bug hunt”. 

It’s been a very busy few days, so I hadn’t given much thought to this week’s blog. I came into my office, sat down at my computer and hoped I’d find some inspiration.  Nothing.

So, I decided to look back at past blogs and see if I might find a train of thought that would lead me to an idea.   I even went back to my very first blog, posted on 11th. April 2016, entitled “No you can’t …….Yes I can”. In it, I wrote about overcoming obstacles to turn a negative experience in to a positive one. 

When I wrote that first blog, I wasn’t sure if it was something I’d keep doing.  How could I come up with something new to say every week? Well, apart from a couple of weeks when I’ve been away, I’ve managed to do it. From that first one, I’ve somehow reached blog number 111.  

I was quite surprised when I realized the range of topics I’d covered, but one thing that struck me was, despite having posted that first entry over two years ago, the words still have meaning.

It’s the same with most of my blogs. The months and years go by, but the basic messages still ring true and can be applied as well today as they did when I wrote them. That also applies to the many articles from which I’ve drawn inspiration and information.  

Just like the ideas we passed on to our children, if a message has value and makes sense, it will stay relevant. So often, especially in business, we feel obliged to come up with the next innovative idea. To be constantly making changes to the way we do things.

With regards to some aspects of the way we do business, that’s important in order for us to move forward, especially in this time when technology is constantly asking us to embrace new concepts and we feel obliged to engage with all the nuances of social media. But basic, good practice and sound principals still have as much value as any technological advance and we must resist making changes just for the sake of it.  

This week, I am going to leave you with the hope that you might take a few moments to consider those valuable lessons that have stuck with you, over the years and think about how they have stood you in good stead whether that be in your personal or professional life, and about ways in which you might pass them on to others. 

For now, I’m going to do something for which we should all make time.  I’m going to go and enjoy the company of family, the beauty of this summer’s day, the laughter and love of children and embrace the simplicity of it all.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering Women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, is being released on October 9th 2018.

He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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It's only gossip if you repeat it. Until then, it's gathering information.

Mercedes Lackey, Author
How to Ignore the Smoke and Evaluate the Fire

How to Ignore the Smoke and Evaluate the Fire

Posted by martin.parnell |

This year I’ve set myself a goal to better my personal best times I set, in 2003, for the 5km, 10km, half-marathon and marathon distances. I call it 62 (my age now) beats 47 (my age in 2003). I always enjoy my running, whether I’m training for a specific event or just my regular exercise, especially the longer runs. They give me time to think, make plans and reflect. 

One day, last week, as I made my way along the Bow river pathway, here in Cochrane, I thought about the joy of running on a summer’s day, without all the layers of clothing needed in the cold weather. Then I started thinking about the issues a long hot summer can bring. This was due to the fact that, I couldn’t help but notice the smoke that has made its way across the Rockies, from the BC wildfires. Many countries are experiencing these and other problems as there seems to be little respite from the hot temperatures. 

As I thought about the many residents who have had to evacuate their houses and face the loss of their homes and the dangers faced by the fire crews, it also brought to mind that old adage, “There’s no smoke without fire”. Now, I know that has nothing to do with the situation in British Columbia, but, as my mind wandered, I pondered on the actual meaning of the saying. 

The Cambridge English Dictionary, gives the definition: “If unpleasant things are said about someone or something, there is probably a good reason for it”. That being said, we all know that gossip can be a harmful thing and things can get misconstrued and blown out of proportion. In the workplace, this can be especially harmful. In fact, in some companies, office gossip is prohibited. 

However, I wonder if there may be occasions, in business, when it’s worth taking an objective view and listen carefully to what people are saying and see if there is a pattern or something in a rumour that could possibly ring true. I also wondered if one could argue that some gossip can have a positive side.

I discovered an article “Office Gossip: It’s Not All Bad” by Margot Carmichael Lester, on the monster.com website, she quotes several sources to back up this idea, for example:
Travis Grosser, a doctoral candidate in management at the University of Kentucky’s Gatton College of Business and Economics tells us that “Information tends to move through informal communication networks with greater speed than through formal channels. The timeliness of incoming information often makes the difference as to whether or not we can act on it.”

Joey Price, HR specialist and founder of Push Consultant Group, a career counselling company in metro Washington, DC. states:  “Say you hear someone is leaving the company, creating an opening you’d like to fill. This kind of information can allow you to prepare a case for why you are best-suited for a promotion or raise,”

Chris Perry, founder of Career Rocketeer, a career-development and personal-branding service in Parsippany, New Jersey states “Sometimes office gossip recognizes the positive behaviours of others within an organization. That’s a good thing. For example, say Marc gossips to Ginny about a big account that Rose just landed. Not only does this make Rose look good, but it could also be the motivation Ginney needs to enhance her own sales skills to compete. That helps her career and the company’s bottom line. This can also help link you with people on the rise in the company. It also gives you an opportunity to potentially help that person succeed in some fashion. This kind of support may be repaid to you further down your career path.”

However, as Travis Grosser warns us, “While you can benefit from sharing the latest gossip, there’s definitely a fine line between sharing information and playing office politics. Negative gossip is used maliciously for character assassination and to undermine the success of others. Any gossip that attacks another individual and is of suspect veracity is not very constructive.”

In fact, Grosser’s research found that employees who gossip the most tend to get lower performance evaluations from their supervisors. “Gossiping creates more informal power with peers, but is seen as subversive and negative by supervisors. To stay out of trouble, be sure to spread only positive news.” Perry supports this by adding: “You don’t want to be branded as someone who initiates or spreads gossip about the company or people in it. This will hurt the company and will hurt your reputation and personal brand.”

In summarising Grosser concludes. “Gossip—whether positive or negative—can be a diagnostic tool for managers and supervisors. The gossip that circulates within an organization is an indicator of how employees feel and what they are thinking about.
For example, listening to gossip prior to or directly after a major organizational change is a good way for managers to learn how employees feel about the change and how they are adjusting to it.

Since everyone gossips—even managers—it’s unrealistic to think that you can—or should—steer completely clear of the office rumour mill. It’s highly unlikely that gossip will ever be completely eliminated from organizations. Good gossip, however, brings people together, instructs them on the organization’s ideals and how things should be done, and holds people up for heroic actions.” 

These are interesting perspectives. In business, we all have to be aware of the danger of malicious gossip. In the extreme, it has been known to destroy reputations and even end careers. But, having read what these contributors have to say, perhaps we might look a little more closely and determine the cause of all that “smoke” that’s smouldering in our workplace.

Meanwhile, I’m hoping for clear blue skies in the coming weeks.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, is being released on October 9th 2018.

He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled.

Anne M. Mulcahy- Chairperson and CEO of Xerox Corporation.
Puppies and Perks, how to keep Employees Happy

Puppies and Perks, how to keep Employees Happy

Posted by martin.parnell |

At the weekend, I was browsing through the articles on MSN UK, when I came across a headline from Business Insider UK, 4 companies that give staff paid time off when they get a puppy.  I wondered if this was just some quirky gimmick, so decided to see if I could find any other articles on the subject.

It turns out there were several. Kaytie Zimmerman, wrote one in Forbes magazine in May 2017, under the heading: Puppy Parental Leave Among The Newest Benefit Offerings In The United States. We are told that this is the latest benefit policies being offered by some employers. As an example, Zimmerman writes about a company named BrewDog, a beer producer based out of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. They not only encourage having dogs in the workplace, but also offer a week paid leave for the adoption or purchase of a new dog.

In fact, according to a press release, BrewDog allows both. “Yes, having dogs in our offices makes everyone else more chilled and relaxed – but we know only too well that having a new arrival – whether a mewling pup or unsettled rescue dog – can be stressful for human and hound both. So we are becoming the first in our industry to give our staff a working week’s leave on us to help settle a new furry family member into their home.” BrewDog’s Puppy Parental Leave policy will also be available to employees in their new Columbus, Ohio, location, opening soon.

Zimmerman notes that: “Knowing that this benefit is offered in the United States, many can be quick to criticize the company, arguing that most companies do not have adequate leave policies for parents of human children, let alone canine kids. While it’s certainly a popular topic, pitting one week of puppy leave against six to twelve weeks of leave for a new child is not a fair comparison.

BrewDog touches on this type of argument in their press release: “Alongside this, we are also proud to be a Living Wage employer and offer sabbaticals for our crew as well as sharing 10% of the annual profits of our company between everyone who made it happen. Plus we embrace beer knowledge with the highest number of Cicerone-trained staff of any company in the world – and we also offer enhanced maternity and paternity pay for two-legged arrivals!”

As they announced, employees with new human children are given adequate leave to care for their new family member. It seems that it is possible to have a good balance of benefit offerings, as BrewDog has shown with their dog and parental leave policies.”

I must confess, I was left rather baffled. I asked myself, where does one draw the line? Is there a bias towards dogs? What if an employee obtains a new cat? Or even a goldfish or gerbil?

This got me wondering about perks offered by some other, better-known companies. In February 2017, The Team at Glassdoor, in their “Glassdoor Benefit Reviews”, listed the Top 20 Employee Benefits & Perks for that year.

Here are the top 10:

1. IKEA offers up to four months of paid parental leave to both part-time and full-time employees with at least one year of experience at the company, regardless of whether they work at a retail store or the corporate headquarters. 

2. Reebok encourages employees to reach their personal fitness goals by providing an on-site gym with Crossfit classes. 

3. Bain & Company, The Best place to Work in 2017, holds an annual two-day, global “Bain World Cup” soccer tournament open to all employees. 2016’s event was in Brussels. The 2017 tournament was held in Los Angeles. 

4. Goldman Sachs offers coverage for gender reassignment surgery, a benefit the company has offered since 2008. 

5. Facebook provides healthcare coverage and free housing for interns. Known for its competitive benefits package, many Facebook interns report earning more than $7,000 per month. 

6. Scripps Health cares about the wellbeing of its employees’ furry family members, offering pet health insurance for cats and dogs. 

7. Starbucks provides full tuition reimbursement for its employees, covering an online bachelor’s degree program through Arizona State University. 

8. American Express has a parental leave policy which offers up to five months of fully-paid leave for both mothers and fathers. Birthing mothers generally receive an additional 6 to 8 weeks under salary continuation for medical leave. Parents are also given access to a 24-hour lactation consultant, and mothers traveling for business can ship their breast milk home for free.   

9. Eventbrite helps keep employees healthy by offering a monthly $60 wellness stipend, which can be used on everything from gym dues to juice cleanses. 

10. Whole Foods Market offers a 20% store discount to all employees, including full-time and part-time employees.

It seems that some companies will go to extraordinary lengths to please their employees. I wonder if you have any ideas as to the “Perfect Perk” that might persuade you to seek employment with a particular company?

This doesn’t apply to me, personally, as I work from home, but I may not sharing this article with my wife and business partner, Sue, as I know she has a hankering for a house-rabbit!

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, is being released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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