Striking a balance with National Work Life Week


Life is one big balancing act and, with a quarter of UK professionals admitting they’re unhappy with their work life balance, here at Employee Motivation Day (EMD) we believe it’s highly important that we all work together to address this issue.


Luckily for us all, National Work Life Week (NWLW) is taking place from the 3rd to the 7th of October with the aim of raising awareness of this pressing problem, and helping both employees and employers across the UK strike the perfect work life balance.


Though research has shown that job enjoyment is considered the most important factor when choosing a new job, work life balance features third on the list, with salary being viewed as second most important. With work life balance factoring relatively low on the priority agenda, it’s little wonder that so many of us are suffering from the effects it can have upon our lives.


With advancements in technology and the rise of the smartphone it has become almost impossible for us to ‘switch off’ at the end of the working day, with one in four of us not being able to resist checking work emails from home and even having work-related dreams at the weekend while we should be enjoying our free time.


If we’re going to create positive change, employers need to find ways to help even out the scales when it comes to their employees’ work and home life, and National Work Life Week provides the ideal opportunity to do just that.



EMD’s top tips for a happy and healthy workforce:


Promote flexible working


A CIPD report on flexible working revealed that 73% of employers noticed a marked improvement in employee motivation levels when flexible working practices were implemented. Allowing employees to work from home or work outside of the traditional 9-5 hours can allow for a better work life balance and also increase productivity levels. Though we understand that many organisations may find it difficult to be able to implement such measures, it is certainly worth exploring as an option.


Encourage staff to leave on time


With the UK’s deep-rooted ‘long hours culture’, employers need to step up and encourage their employees to leave the office on time as often as possible. This could mean a shake-up of working practices to allow more time to complete duties, or an evaluation of daily tasks to trim down to-do lists. Either way, allowing employees to spend the intended amount of time at home with their families will promote higher levels of motivation and health.


Encourage holidays


Can you believe a third of UK workers don’t take their full annual holiday allowance? This incredibly high proportion of employees are worried about taking too much time off, fearing for job security and workloads not being completed. Employers need to reassure their staff that holidays are there to be taken, and that workloads can be distributed among the team where necessary. After all, not taking holidays now only leads to absence through sickness later on.


Host an event to highlight NWLW


Lack of awareness is a big factor in perpetuating this unhealthy working culture. The folks at NWLW and we at EMD recommend employers host an event in the workplace to highlight the issues and to find ways to work together in solving them. Why not hold a lunchtime workshop to function as a sounding board of sorts, and encourage employees to voice any concerns and share ideas for improvement? Extra tip: free food goes a long way here.


We want to hear all about what you’re getting up to at your company during this year’s National Work Life Week. Share your thoughts, photos and videos with us at @NatMotivateDay and don’t forget to use NWLW’s hashtag #timetorebalance.







Your guide to a stress-free half-term holiday


We all look forward to our annual leave but for many, the weeks running up to holidays can be quite stressful. Dedication, commitment to performing at work and achieving targets can mean the prospect of taking some time off can seem daunting, even counter-intuitive.


But we mustn’t let our determination to achieve at work get in the way of enjoying some time away with our family and friends – switching off from work and relaxing can revitalise you and make you more motivated and productive when you return. With the half term holidays almost upon us it’s time to prepare yourself for the relaxation ahead.


Here are our top tips to help you let go of work and make sure you enjoy your time off:



Before you go



Start winding down little-by-little in the weeks before you leave; you need to let yourself adjust to the sensation of doing less. Try not to sign up for any major new projects that may cause you extra stress before you go or affect your holiday.


Draft a detailed handover delegating the most important tasks to your colleagues so you can feel safe in the knowledge that work won’t slip and that actions won’t be missed.


Set up your out-of-office and make it clear to colleagues and clients alike that you’ll be away with little or no access to emails.



While you’re away



Allow yourself limited email checks if you must, and don’t beat yourself up about feeling like you need to. But control it; remind yourself that you deserve your time away and it’s likely that absolutely nothing will be going wrong at work.


Throw yourself into activities that you enjoy and that will help you to switch off. Whether it’s reading on the beach or mountain biking, if it distracts you from the everyday then it’s a winner.


Enlist your family and friends to help you adjust; make an agreement to all unplug together, that way you can all focus on what matters – having fun together!


Redirect your efficiency into the holiday. If you’re a natural organiser then put your efforts into planning some fun excursions or activities for everyone to enjoy – but don’t overdo it!


Have a break from technology as much as possible. Challenge yourself to leave your smartphone locked in your hotel room while you’re out and about, leave the tablet at home and veto the social media. You don’t need to know what everyone else is doing; focus on yourself and the people you are with.



On your return



Block out some time on your first morning back in the office to catch up on emails and the status of projects. Don’t be tempted to schedule meetings in during this time as you might over face yourself.


Don’t be tempted to work extra hours to make up for your time off. Take your time and ease back into the working week; you can’t expect to get everything done all at once.


Start planning your next holiday. It’s always nice to have something to look forward to and to get into the habit of taking frequent breaks from work.


Being dedicated at work doesn’t mean you have to forfeit your ‘you time’. You can take regular breaks and still take pride in being your usual efficient, hard-working self. In fact, studies have shown that taking all or most of your allocated holiday time boosts performance, productivity, morale and general wellness [1] – so get it booked!


How do you prepare for time off from work and how do you ensure you can switch off and enjoy your break? We’d love to hear your views. Join in the conversation on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #EMD.




Stress Awareness Day, Wednesday 4th November


EMD15_Social-FacebookPost-504x504-StressAwarenessWednesday 4th November marks National Stress Awareness Day (NSAD), an annual event organised by International Stress Management Association (ISMAUK) to promote awareness of the impact of stress in the workplace.


Stress has forced one in five workers (19%) to call in sick, and 93 per cent of these people say they have lied to their boss about the real reason for not turning up. ISMAUK highlights that the industries that reported the highest rates of work-related stress in the last three years were health, social work, education and public administration .


Businesses have a duty of care to ensure the health and safety of their employees, which includes identifying and tackling mental health issues. It is also in the best interests of the business to ensure employees are happy, as these people will often be more productive.


Stressed employees are often more susceptible to burnout, which could mean they suffer a long term illness or eventually quit their job, leading to a loss of talent within a business. According to research, 42 per cent of employees have left a job as a direct result of stress .


Accounting for all elements of the recruitment process, including advertising costs and recruiter fees, through to loss of productivity and training for new recruits, each employee lost as a result of stress could cost up to £30,614 to replace.


One study into UK workplaces found that motivational techniques are the main driver for job satisfaction, and several studies on the relationship between job stress and job satisfaction have concluded that these variables are inversely related. Managers should therefore focus on motivating employees as one way of ensuring employees feel happy at work.


Delving into employee motivation levels, the 2015 nationwide survey conducted by Argos for Business revealed that ‘feeling valued’ by their boss is the top motivational factor in helping them achieve more during their nine to five.


Danny Clenaghan, managing director of Argos for Business, said: “Feeling valued is the most important aspect of a job for 43 per cent of workers and this does not have to cost a business huge amounts. Offering a genuine thank you, a duvet day, a low cost gift voucher or allowing your team to leave 30 minutes early on a Friday, can go a long way in ensuring bosses hold onto valuable team members.


“Rewards and recognising good work both form the basis of a long-term motivational strategy, encouraging employee enthusiasm, and can impact positively on staff wellbeing and improving staff retention.


“Stress Awareness Day is a fantastic initiative that aims to promote awareness of stress and to aid individuals and organisations in changing behaviours with the aim of preventing excessive stress. Hopefully, UK business will use NSAD as an opportunity to put staff wellbeing at the forefront of business thinking and implement motivational strategies that ensure employees feel valued. We’ll be including tops tips to keeping stress levels to a minimum on our Employee Motivation Day social media channels”


To engage with National Stress Awareness Day on Twitter, visit @NatMotivateDay and @ISMA_UK


To find out more about National Stress Awareness Day, visit:

Is breaking the rules good for business?


Here at Employee Motivation Day, we are always looking for new approaches to motivating staff. Our own research has found that employees who feel valued are more motivated and engaged with the business, and are far more likely to stay in their role for longer. Retaining key members of staff is important to maintaining a business’s performance, as long-serving team members are more experienced, with a solid understanding of business operations.


One way of keeping staff motivated is the offer of flexible working, either as a business-wide policy or as a reward for hard work and good results.


Flexible working has been in the spotlight since new legislation was introduced last year and many companies are embracing the changes it can bring. Some of the thinking around flexible working is redefining the rulebook for how to increase employee morale.


Businesses that have created their own rules have been attracting media attention recently, and its worth looking at the benefits that this sort of flexibility can bring. Does giving staff more control over how, when and where they work enhance productivity and the overall efficiency of a business?


An independent media agency in London has thrown the traditional business rulebook out of the window and allows staff to take as much holiday as they want, work whatever hours suit them from wherever they like, and has done away with job titles. The company launched nine years ago and set out to do things differently, reducing bureaucracy and formalities. The company director says she has not had one case of people abusing the system and that by treating her staff like grown ups, making their own decisions and being responsible for their own work, she gets the best out of her team.


In a similarly ground breaking move, business mogul Richard Branson has announced that he lets staff take leave from their jobs whenever they like, providing it does not have a detrimental effect on the business. This has sparked debate among business leaders and managers, and has divided opinions. The Virgin boss also offers flexible working conditions and the thinking behind this is that with today’s technology, staff can work from the office or from home, or wherever suits them, removing the binds of the traditional nine to five working day.


Branson is know for his innovative thinking and often challenges the status quo of traditional motivational methods. Time will tell if his new system positively impacts the business, however other case studies would suggest that this is a wise move. Google, for example, offer flexible working and they find that it is successful. It allows the business to focus on the work that is being done, instead of how many hours people have worked and means they recruit some of the best people in their field, thanks to this flexible and fresh approach.


Offering flexible working can:

  • Attract top talent – applicants will welcome the salary but will also see the company as forward thinking and feel empowered to be in control of their time and working conditions
  • Retain staff – if a company offers perks, and competitors do not, if gives your business a competitive edge and encourages staff to stay
  • Improve teamwork – if all staff are working towards one common goal, they will pull together to get the job done, working late when required
  • Bring cost savings – you may need to provide the devices staff need to work from home, but it can allow you to downsize your office space, can reduce utility bills and even reduce environmental impact
  • Create happier, more satisfied employees – empowering staff to structure their workloads themselves gives them freedom to balance their work lives with their personal commitments.


Implementing flexible working can be challenging so in the meantime, businesses can keep staff motivated with these simple ideas:

  • Offer staff monthly incentives such as gift vouchers
  • Run an ‘employee / team of the month scheme’ to encourage staff to perform to the best of their ability, maybe even create a wall of fame
  • Express appreciation and thanks
  • Let staff leave early on a Friday after a busy week
  • Celebrate success together to give everyone a sense of achievement and satisfaction.


There are many ways to ensure a happy workforce, and flexible working is becoming increasingly recognised as a key motivator. More businesses could use the flexible working model, employed by Virgin and Google, to retain their best staff and, in turn, grow the company.


Let us know what you think of the flexible working ethos, or if you have implemented new working schedules or motivation practices for staff. We’d love to hear your views! Join in the conversation on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #EMD.

EMD gets engaged in #GetEngaged


8th April saw Employee Motivation Day participate in #GetEngaged to discuss ways in which brands and employers can engage with their staff in a more meaningful way.


The live Twitter chat, hosted by HR Zone, focused on increasing engagement and motivation levels of staff to add value for employees and companies alike.  Participants of the Twitter Q&A included HR professionals, engagement and leadership experts, plus several individual businesses, providing an enriching conversation for EMD to both share and learn insightful ways for staff to #GetEngaged.


EMD is a true advocate of the belief that engaging employees successfully needn’t cost the earth, or indeed anything at all.


As part of the #GetEngaged conversation, we (@NatMotivateDay) promoted ways in which employers could engage with staff to make them feel valued and appreciated, without incurring great costs to the business. Businesses that successfully motivate, engage and retain staff will also reap the performance benefits that come with a driven, hardworking and experienced workforce.


@HRFishbowl supported Employee Motivation Day’s stance: “Can we all just say thank you and actually mean it? That’s a good place to start!”


The #GetEngaged chat was a really promising arena to show that employers and HR professionals are taking employee engagement seriously and really recognising the value it adds to a business.


Given that according to HR Zone, 79% of employers think they have a retention and engagement problem, EMD suggests some small but effective ways of engaging your team and motivating them to work hard in their jobs…


  1. Start the week with a team meeting
    Holding a team meeting at the start of each week is a great way to organise priorities and delegate tasks, and also gives staff members the opportunity to raise any concerns they may have. The team will leave feeling organised and prepared for the week ahead.
  2. Be actively involved
    Staff members appreciate a ‘visible boss’, who has a daily presence in working life. Being approachable and available to discuss any issues that may arise will give staff a real sense of belonging to a team.
  3. Create a workspace with a great atmosphere
    If the work setting is a nice place to be, staff members will look forward to coming into work. Simple touches like comfortable desk chairs and a brightly decorated office can make all the difference.
  4. Offer a ‘duvet day’ as thanks for hard work
    Reward team members who have performed especially well or showed particular enthusiasm, by offering a ‘duvet day’. This is a day which employees can book off at short notice for such occasions when they need to recover from over indulgence the night before, or when they simply fancy the morning off. This is a great, low-cost way to show your appreciation of a job well done.
  5. Focus on solutions, not problems
    If a problem arises, focusing on the solutions available can prove highly productive, rather than dwelling on whatever it is that went wrong. Evaluate any issues and put a clear strategy in place to prevent a recurrence. This gives staff the confidence they need to tackle the issue assertively.
  6. Be honest and open
    In a small team, being honest about any upcoming business challenges or decisions creates a real sense of inclusion, while valuing the opinion of the whole team builds trust.
  7. Days in lieu
    If members of your team are working extra hard, whether it be doing very long hours during the week and/or working on a weekend, giving them additional days off to compensate for unpaid overtime keeps morale up and prevents resentment as it shows they are not being taken for granted.
  8. Lead by example
    Staff, particularly junior members, will be looking to learn from the way those in managerial roles conduct themselves in the workplace. This provides an opportunity to teach subtle lessons by ensuring best practice is visible in the office on a day-to-day basis.
  9. Get social
    Getting everyone together outside of working hours is a perfect way to help the team bond in an alternative setting. Without the distraction of office life, staff members can get to know each other on a personal level, which in turn creates a positive dynamic within the team.
  10. Say thank you
    Above anything else, a simple ‘thank you’ for a job well done has proven to resonate with British workers, leaving a positive and affirming effect on employees and the businesses they work for.


Tell us how you think businesses can #GetEngaged with their staff on Facebook or Twitter:

Sunday Night Insomnia


According to new research by the Tune Hotels Group, a quarter of Brits suffer from ‘Sunday Night Insomnia’, which is all down to the fear of starting a new working week.


On average, Britons manage just six and a half hours’ sleep a night, which is far less than the recommended eight hours. Tune Hotels Group reveals that more than half only get four hours sleep or less.


With work preoccupying stressed employees every Sunday, people are only able to switch off and fully relax for one day per week, which could lead to illness.


As part of the #EMD campaign, which was launched earlier this year by Argos for Business to inspire passion and motivation across Britain’s workforce, Employee Motivation Day wants people to #ReclaimYourSunday and stop the anticipation of work from ruining the weekend. We’ll be looking at ways to #ReclaimYourSunday every week on Facebook and Twitter.


#ReclaimYourSunday Top Tips:

  • Writing your Monday to-do list on a Friday afternoon before leaving work can help to ease feelings of anxiety, so you know exactly what has to be done on Monday. Include all meetings, deadlines, and smaller to-do items. By doing this, you’ll clear your mind of that nagging feeling that you forgot something and have a truly relaxing weekend.
  • Fridays are often the time when it’s most tempting to look at to-dos and decide to pick something up on Monday, rather than getting it done there and then. Choose one of your ongoing projects and commit to completing it before you leave on a Friday afternoon. This will give you one less thing to worry about on a Sunday night.
  • Motivational speaker Adrian Webster also suggests taking the time to relax before starting work on a Monday morning: “Before starting a day’s work, just ‘step back’ for two minutes. Take a few deep breaths, relax, unclutter your mind and picture your day ahead, and what you’re hoping to achieve. You’ll be far more productive.”
  • It’s also good practice for bosses to ensure that their team feels motivated on a Monday morning, meaning staff are able to enjoy their Sunday evening without having to fret about work.
  • Why not start the week by showing your team footage of your favourite motivational speech? Or perhaps organise a team breakfast to encourage bonding between staff members? After all, 40% of employees stay in their current ‪job‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ because of a good relationship with colleagues.


Tell us how you plan to #ReclaimYourSunday on Facebook or Twitter:

Employee Motivation Day Inspires a Simple ‘Thank You’


This year, British workers have highlighted the importance of a simple thank you in the workplace, revealing that ‘feeling valued’ by their boss is the top motivational factor in helping them achieve more during their nine to five. Taking on responsibility (26 per cent) and making a difference (28 per cent) were also identified as top motivators in the workplace.


When asked when people feel most enthusiastic about work, nearly a third (28 per cent) of employees advised that they feel at their most motivated at 10am (on a typical day shift), and the majority of the UK’s workforce feel at their best on a Wednesday.


Following this research, and to inspire passion and appreciation across the country’s workforce, we (Argos for Business) launched the UK’s first ever Employee Motivation Day on Wednesday 21st January 2015, encouraging bosses to instil best practice for the year by recognising and motivating employees.


Revealing a strong appetite for motivation, workers across the UK took to social media on the 21st January to show their team members and colleagues their gratitude for all of their hard work, using the hashtags #emd, #NatMotivationDay and #EmployeeMotivationDay. The social media campaign had a significant impact, reaching over 9million people.


To facilitate those looking to celebrate the day, we provided Employee Motivation Day packs, which were downloadable, including posters that were displayed in offices nationwide.


The website received 2,470 hits on 21st January and we have recorded just under 20,000 hits overall, since the campaign launched!


The pioneering campaign was held in January as it is predicted that one in three employees weigh up their career options at the beginning of a New Year , and the cost to individual businesses can be significant.


As the research shows, motivational strategies need not cost the Earth, or indeed anything at all. Simply feeling valued, or thanked for a job well done resonates with British workers, leaving a positive and affirming effect on employees and the businesses they work for.


Reflecting on Employee Motivation Day, Danny Clenaghan, Managing Director at Argos for Business, said: “Thanking employees for a job well done is always welcome and more personal touches can go a long way too. Acknowledging those who go the extra mile by instigating regular reward systems, such as ‘employee of the month’, is simple but hugely effective.


“To help drive motivation, we dedicated a whole day to giving and receiving recognition and motivational compliments. It was fantastic to see employees, managers and business owners getting involved with our Employee Motivation Day campaign. Motivated employees should be at the heart of every business, as a continuously engaged and driven workforce is more efficient, which in turn impacts positively on a business’ bottom line. ”