Work culture

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Diversity and inclusion at work

How diverse is your workplace? And how inclusive is it? While many organizations may feel prepared to answer the first question, the second often causes a bit of confusion. Isn’t it just the same question rephrased?

Rita Mitjans, ADP’s chief diversity and social responsibility officer, explains.

Diversity is the “what”; inclusion is the “how”. Diversity focuses on the makeup of your workforce—demographics such as gender, race/ethnicity, age, etc.—and inclusion is a measure of culture that enables diversity to thrive. People sometimes use these terms interchangeably, but they are quite distinctly different.

So, why is it important to focus on both diversity and inclusion? Again, Rita Mitjans:

Workers struggling and burning out

Bloomberg News reports that according to Microsoft's Work Trend Index, which polled 30,000 people from a variety of companies in 31 countries and used trillions of data points, the majority of workers feel they are struggling or just surviving in pandemic work conditions and a large percentage are considering leaving their employer this year.

Nearly half of respondents said they are planning to move to a new location this year, which reflects the greater flexibility of working from home. Also, 41% of those surveyed said they're mulling leaving their jobs. The data found that burnout is widespread: 54% of workers said they are overworked and 39% said they are exhausted. 

Microsoft trials shorter work-weeks

CNN and multiple other news agencies around the world have reported that Microsoft introduced a program this summer in Japan called the "Work Life Choice Challenge." Microsoft shut down its offices every Friday in August. Managers also urged staff to cut down on the time spent in meetings, suggesting that these last no longer than 30 minutes.

The results were a bit counterintuitive as productivity, which is measured by sales per employee, rose by almost 40% compared to the same period the previous year. According to Microsoft, the effects were felt across the company. More than 90% of its 2,280 employees in Japan later said they were impacted by the new measures. By shutting down earlier each week, the company was also able to save on other resources, such as electricity.

Blue-collar suits take off

When asked to imagine a typical image of white-collar workers in Japan, salarymen in suits may come to mind. On the flip side, blue collar workers in "work wear" tend to be associated with less flattering stereotypes, dubbed the “3K”—kitsui (demanding), kitanai (dirty) and kiken (dangerous) in Japanese.

Work wear that looks exactly like a business suit, developed by a Tokyo-based plumbing firm, might be helping to improve the image of blue-collar workers. It has been proving popular recently among people in various industries, ranging from waste collection and building maintenance to agriculture.

Let workers sleep

Many business leaders still believe that time on-task equates to productivity. However, studies have shown that shorter amounts of sleep lead to both lower efficiency and slower completion of basic tasks. That is, sleepy employees are unproductive employees, and they generate fewer and less accurate solutions to problems.

Many people don't understand that when you are not getting enough sleep, you work less productively and thus need to work longer hours to accomplish a goal, creating a negative feedback loop.

The effects of sleep deficiency on CEOs and supervisors are equally powerful. On days when the supervisor was under-slept, the employees rated them as having worse self-control and being more abusive to others.

Allowing and encouraging employees, supervisors, and executives to arrive at work well rested makes them productive individuals who inspire and support one another. Ounces of sleep offer pounds of business in return.

Creative work/life balance solution

A purple cape has become an unlikely weapon in Japan's efforts to get its workers to work fewer hours. Employees at a Tokyo-based IT services company were recently forced to wear such "embarrassment" capes if they worked late on the third Wednesday of the month.

The shaming tactic worked: The amount of overtime worked was cut in half. This was not a case, however, of bosses imposing cape-wearing from on high. Instead, the company’s president and another senior colleague asked employees for their suggestions on ways to cut down on overtime after attending a training course on work-life balance, and the employees suggested the cape.

US work culture and technology

On Wednesday, Melinda Gates joined LinkedIn (now owned by Microsoft) and penned her first column about changing the high-pressure culture.

She writes that in fact technology has made it harder to pull away from our jobs, and easier to wonder whether a night off or a long weekend is damaging our careers.

The result is a work ethic that hurts everyone. When companies demand that employees work themselves into the ground, those that want to balance career with family life lean out. Some of them leave the corporate world altogether, which limits diversity.

And those who stay are less productive. They have to dedicate so much energy to simply keeping their heads above water, instead of thinking of ways to create more value.

Changing work culture in Japan

Japanese workers devoting themselves to working massively long hours for their employers might be becoming a thing of the past.

Nearly half of newly employed people said they would leave the office when their work was done even if their superiors or colleagues were working overtime, according to a survey released Monday.

In the survey conducted jointly by the Japan Productivity Center and the Junior Executive Council of Japan on 1,882 workers participating in training sessions in March and April, 48.7 percent of participants responded positively to the notion of leaving the office when their work was done, up 9.9 percent from a year before.