It’s that time of year when we all tend to think about our personal habits, the positive things we can do for our own health and wellness, and set ambitious ‘resolutions’ for ourselves to be better. Some relate to diets or weight loss, others around mindfulness or breaking bad habits. But what if we applied that same ambition to our work life? What about positive habits specifically for business team health and wellness?
In the business context, goals or resolutions typically take the form of annual planning and quarterly OKRs, prioritizing the work over the wellness, with goals like increasing productivity, improving efficiency, and driving more results. But what if the focus shifted to more human-centric measurements, like employee engagement, motivation, and overall culture? Research has shown that there is a strong correlation between engagement and results. According to a Gallup study, when analyzing the differences in performance between engaged and disengaged teams, the highly engaged employees significantly outperformed on business outcomes, including 17% higher productivity and 21% higher profitability.
As we move into 2021, why not try a new approach to OKRs, and keep team health and wellness as part of your goal management practices. Here are a few practical things that we’re doing at Koan that you can do at work with your team, to help make your team healthier (and happier) while also increasing productivity.
Coming back to work in the new year gave us fresh eyes to review our calendars, and take a look at all the meetings that have accumulated over time. Especially now with the shift to remote work last year, it had been easy to add Zoom meetings here, and MS Teams meetings there, piling up and overwhelming our days (Zoom fatigue is real!). We started by asking ourselves, which meetings are valuable to keep and which meetings could we get rid of? Of those meetings we decided to keep, we then asked if the meeting needed a new agenda, structure or time-block. This reset helped us free up our calendars and decide which projects and initiatives could be accomplished async and which needed a dedicated meeting.
Focus time and breaks
The completion of our meeting audit freed up time on everyone's calendars, in turn allowing people to schedule time for intense and planned focus work. Creating that space helps people to accomplish projects that require deeper thinking during normal business hours. We also encourage everyone to take regular breaks throughout the day, to focus on themselves, and to de-stress. Especially with the shift to remote work and the world as it is right now, it is important that everyone takes inventory of their self-care and mental health. And that employers can encourage employees to do that. At Koan we value time, and we encourage everyone to balance that time in terms of meetings, productivity, and personal wellness.
Tool assessment and clean up
Like most teams, there’s no shortage of tools and apps that we use. At Koan, we’ve discovered that it takes multiple tools to keep all employees engaged in a remote setting, but sometimes it can become overwhelming to have multiple collaboration, communication, and productivity tools. As we review our tool stack, we take time to assess which platforms help us to stay aligned, which ones need a little TLC (like archiving old Slack channels) and which ones create unnecessary effort to maintain. We also look for opportunities to integrate tools with one another and we automate things whenever possible. Having a clear set of tools consistently used by the team will help with efficiency as you move into the new year.
Treat 1:1s with care
When we meet with each other, or have a 1:1 with a manager, we make sure that there is a clear agenda and that we are present for the meeting itself. When it’s between an employee and manager, we encourage managers to be aware of their team members’ workloads, to check-in often, give feedback, and adjust timelines accordingly. It’s important to give manageable deadlines, so employees don’t feel overwhelmed.
Shoutouts and gratitude
Working as a team, we feel it’s important to consistently have an attitude of gratitude. At Koan, we verbally appreciate each other regularly. For example, at the end of our company meetings, we reserve time for shout-outs and recognition and also encourage people to give daily recognition shoutouts within our Slack channels.
Offer a platform for open communication
Building trust within a corporate culture is by no means an easy feat. That being said, a good way to start is by providing a safe place for employees to communicate or ask questions. This can help to increase transparency and make employees feel like they have a voice. Whether this safe place is a manager, HR team member, or an anonymous form for questions (we have one that prompts employees via Slack), employees should feel comfortable to come forward with issues.
Reserve time to learn and grow
As we start a new year, it is important to ask ourselves what we can learn from last year. Commonly, teams tend to only look forward and move ahead to the next set of goals, rather than taking the time to review the previous cycle’s outcomes and learnings. This is a great opportunity to dig in, review what went well and what didn’t, celebrate wins, and learn from missed goals. This provides an opportunity to continually improve as a team.
Set better habits around goals
At Koan, we believe that by engaging through simple, frequent habits, (like weekly status updates) teams are more likely to achieve alignment and ultimately better results. As a team, we reflect weekly on our goals: Friday afternoons we write our weekly reflections, then we enjoy time together as a team. As part of our weekly company meeting, we collectively read and react to each other's reflections. Another positive habit to set as you kick off the new year is to integrate strategic goals with your day-to-day work, rather than making them additional work on top of your day job (OKRs can help you do this!). And the best part? Koan offers a way for managers to track goal progress, status updates, and team health, absolutely free.
Feel free to learn more about Koan and how we work together in our employee handbook. As always, if there’s something in this post that you’d like to discuss, feel free to reach out on Intercom or via Twitter or Linkedin.