How an “Escape Room” can reveal your business leaders

Whether you be a team within an FTSE100 or an SME I never thought that something could be so much fun but at the same time provide me with a true insight into individual strengths and weaknesses.

In summary, “Escape Rooms” are a physical adventure game where players solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues to complete the secret plot in the room. My team never completed the task in the given timescale (slightly worrying given we were determined to win) but I learnt so much about the personalities in the room and how they individually approached each task. It made me step back and learn a few things about teamwork and problem-solving.

Having multiple teams in a company is common with often a dozen people or more on a team is not unusual. Sometimes those teams operate at cross-purposes or so focused on competing they overlook the fundamental rules of working effectively as a team.

  • Everyone needs to understand the goal. And be motivated to achieve it.
  • Teams need someone to lead. Even if it’s to make sure that everyone has information or gets a voice.
  • Every team member must receive the same communication. Team members were not able to help each other because they didn’t have the same information.
  • Being organised can be a team asset. Not having a sense of order put us behind the other group because we couldn’t see how the puzzle clues fit together.
  • Teams need problem-solving capabilities. Not only to solve problems but to identify red herrings. (That is where we wasted time!)
  • All group activities should receive a debrief. Even if it’s a short one it can allegedly impact on productivity by 20%.

Although, workshops and classroom training have their place this exercise was fun, engaging, inexpensive and totally removed from the workplace. I guarantee the Escape Rooms will reveal some surprises!

Does employee experience drive productivity?

The short answer is YES! Research has shown that over a third of employees admitted they’re productive for less than 30 hours a week in a recent study we conducted with over 3,500 workers. In fact, there are common themes in the research on what a “great workforce experience” means for employees, and, as a result, what gets them working.

HR professionals are working hard to lead this cultural transformation, but they can’t do it alone. Ultimately, it comes down to whether your business is a “people company.” For example, are you an organisation where your people are the most valuable asset, and where company success is dependent on their workforce being successful?

As always some of the most simplistic changes make a huge difference.

Offer flexible and remote working

  • 81% of employees polled placed importance and value on flexible working.
  • Today, thanks to mobile technology, employees are often working longer hours, and on occasion weekends too. Yet the traditional model of being in the office 9-5 remains the same.
  • We’re in the middle of a global war for talent – and it’s a war that companies who offer flexible working to employees I believe will win.

Show employees you value and recognise them

  • 66% of respondents said this was important, workers aren’t fussed about quirky benefits or company outings. They just want their employer to say: ‘well done’. They want to feel that their company values the contribution that they’re making to the business.
  • Ironically this costs nothing and yet we are guilty of overlooking individuals.

Support worker wellbeing

  • Businesses are recognising that well-being is climbing the list of priorities. Whether its offering subsidized gym membership, providing free fruit or ensuring there is mental health support in place.
  • Demonstrating at a wider level that the company values employee’s health and wellbeing through an instilled culture is becoming an expectation, this is something that companies need to pay attention to.

Ask employees for their views… and respond

  • Just 12% of employees we spoke to are asked on a regular basis what would improve their experiences at work. Almost half (47%) had never been asked at all.
  • Just make sure that you demonstrate you’re listening by communicating what and how you’re changing. We cannot be expected to meet every demand but to acknowledge and be transparent about the rationale of implementing some ideas over others.
  • Retaining talent is key and whether that be you offer flexible hours or invest in a games room, the better an employee’s experience at work, the more engaged and productive they will be benefitting the business.
Research,, January 2018

How much should AI contribute to the recruitment process?

We all know that developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation in a recruitment process can deliver benefits and disruption! A survey by Deloitte last year found that 33% of businesses are already using AI at some point in the recruitment process, and this number is set to increase in 2018 and beyond.

Three-quarters of those surveyed (72%) said AI should be used during the recruitment process, more than two-thirds (68%) said it wouldn’t be fair if AI alone chose who should be interviewed without the input of a human recruiter. 76% said they trust AI less than a person to guide the job search process.

There is a view that increasing use of AI programmes used to conduct interviews over video has raised controversy that candidates can be interviewed and rejected without ever speaking to a real human. It is right that innovation is changing the face of the recruitment, but the balance should be that recruiters should be focusing on the human aspects of the role.

We know that automation tools are supporting talent acquisition professionals when managing volume campaigns, scanning CV’s and responding to candidates to streamline processes and reduce the time to hire. The question is where should AI stop, and humans take over?

Source  – Executive Grapevine

We walk the talk – eSift and HorrexCole take on “It’s a knockout”

We recently posted a blog on how employee experience drives productivity which discussed the issue of showing your employees that you value and recognise them! Well, we put that theory to the test…

eSift and HorrexCole took their employees to Bournemouth this month to attend a corporate “It’s a knockout” day. We were competing against 15 other teams and the main aim was to work as a team to achieve the most points – simple really!

Organising an event of this nature resulted in such positive energy from the team, both before and after. With branded t-shirts designed for the event, we finished off with fish and chips on the beach!

This was a low investment but a prime example of how something so simple can make your team feel valued and recognised.

The challenge now, is what do we do next – any ideas?

Why does transparency matter to the Millennial Workforce?

Today’s digital world continually brings new challenges for businesses and with the wide range of technology tools that have been created to help drive productivity.

Many leaders would argue, however, that the answer to future-proofing their business lies not just in optimising productivity, but also in the talent that makes up those teams. In other words, ensuring you retain and attract the right people to help you stay one step ahead of the competition.

Most of the talent that organisations are looking to recruit in today’s market are millennials. “Millennials tend to be uncomfortable with rigid corporate structures and turned off by information silos,” according to research by PwC. “In other words, millennials want a management style and corporate culture that is markedly different from anything that has gone before.”

By creating a culture where there is equality of access, businesses can show their commitment to meeting those needs and provide an engaging workplace for this key group of workers. Creating such a culture, however, comes with its own challenges…

  1. Leading by example – employees look to you for business direction, inspiration and best practice.
  2. Choosing the right tools – make sure everyone can use these tools to access information and provide the capability to update tasks and content.
  3. The need for mutual respect – introducing these changes must be paired with a respect for how individuals like to work.

There is one thing personality tests have taught us, it’s that we are all different. This diversity should be embraced and can often be a business’ greatest strength, leading to disruptive ideas and new ways of improving the workplace.

The key to making this new-found transparency work is having trust on both sides. As a leader, you have to trust that employees will use any information they have access to for the right reasons.

On the flip side, you have to win the trust of your employees so they feel comfortable sharing any information, recommendations or ideas openly, without fear of recrimination. Get that right and you are well on your way to answering the needs and expectations demanded by today’s millennial workforce!

Source –

Is there enough focus on employee benefits?

Look at most research on rewards and the focus is on pay. Such topics as executive remuneration, merit pay or sales-based incentives predominate. Similarly, a lot of public policy attention is given to such issues as CEO pay, minimum pay or public sector pay.

However, when it comes to employee benefits, there is little research on this topic. This is odd, given that financial and non-financial perks can be such an important and expensive part of an organisation’s reward offering, such as workplace pensions.

Benefits are also rarely out of the news, whether it is the impact of automatic enrolment or what time off arrangements there are to follow the World Cup. While gender pay gap reporting has generated a lot of media coverage, many employer responses to narrowing it are in the area of benefits, such as flexible working arrangements or enhanced arrangements for maternity, paternity, parental, adoption and carers.

“Employers need to take a more holistic approach, using employee benefits as a platform to provide for the whole family if necessary, not just the employee”.

This is already common practice with some benefits, such as dental and private medical insurance. Each offers some sort of family cover to employees using a flexible and voluntary selection platform. However, this generally doesn’t extend to benefits such as life insurance and critical illness cover. These are typically only offered to the employee.

Yet the workplace can have a pivotal role to play in providing financial protection products which can cover the whole family. Products that families may not otherwise have access to.

Fortunately, products are changing to meet the demands of modern living. Employers need to make sure these are included in their family benefits programme. Critical illness cover as an example can now be extended to cover cohabiting partners and children from their date of birth.

Business benefits

By providing employees with the option to cover their family, those families are then more likely to become advocates for the company and its cause. This is, of course, good for retention. Where an employee’s spouse or child is covered under a life or critical illness product for example, they are likely to think twice about leaving the company due to their valuation of such benefits.

What’s more, in a crowded recruitment market, providing family benefits is likely to attract the best talent.

It’s cost effective!

Through a voluntary scheme, employers provide their people with the option to extend cover to their family at the employee’s own cost. As it is arranged through a group scheme, cover will normally be cheaper for employees than if they were to buy individual policies.

Premiums are generally collected via payroll, so it’s simple and convenient for employees. Although they will not benefit from income tax and national insurance savings, due to a recent change in legislation.

Providing employees with choice allows them to tailor the benefits to best suit their needs and those of their family. This flexibility improves employee engagement. The higher the engagement, the more effective and worthwhile the programme will be for the employer.