Why Companies Shouldn’t Limit Sick Days

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Here’s a simple idea from our CEO Tom Gardner: Stop providing limited sick days for your employees. It’s flu season, so Tom’s thoughts are all the more relevant – and urgent – now.

Match our yearlong approach at The Motley Fool: if an employee is feeling sick, tell them to please stay home. It seems like common sense, but Tom outlines four reasons why an unlimited sick policy is worth it in case you’re on the fence:

  1. Protect Your People.
  2. Extend Trust.
  3. Review Your Purpose.
  4. Manage to High Performance.

Instead of the flu, make freedom and trust contagious at your organization. To read more on Tom’s points, view his latest LinkedIn Influencer post here. And don’t be afraid to forward this information along to your CEO or Head of HR! Allowing employees to stay home when they’re ill will ultimately make your organization stronger – and much healthier.

Take Leave for Lunch!

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Is it lunchtime yet? Maybe the better question would be to ask if you even take a lunch break at all. Research reports that in North America, only one in five employees put time aside for meals, with nearly 40% of this population claiming to eat at their desks. We’re all busy, but let’s at least take a few to discuss why lunch breaks are worth it.

Experts claim that standing up for a quick food break can “increase your energy levels, stabilize your blood sugar, and enhance delivery of nutrients like antioxidants, vitamins and fiber that help your systems run smoothly.” Pretty important benefits, no? Stopping your work flow to eat lunch isn’t rocket science, but it can be difficult to put a project on hold. If you need more convincing on the matter, desk lunches also increase the potential for mindless eating, defined as “enjoying food less, eating beyond full, and generally not feeling satisfied by it which often leads to snacking on non-nutritious foods later in the day.” I doubt that anyone wants to feel poorly when, in this situation, making a schedule change can be so easy.

If eating lunch at your desk is part of your company’s culture, it’s time for a change. You’re entitled to enjoy a midday break! Add a reminder to your calendar and find a lunch buddy. The lunch rush can be a great opportunity to meet other coworkers. Our café is always buzzing in the afternoons, acting as a communal space to not only eat but communicate. We also host a monthly pizza day where Fools can unwind and enjoy a slice or two, as well as weekly afternoon express fitness classes to get Fools up and moving.

Don’t worry, your work will always be waiting for you to return. Whether you leave the office or not, I bet you’ll notice a difference in how much better it feels to get away from your desk. Taking leave for lunch will provide a burst of energy so that you can bring your A game back to your desk for the afternoon.

Does Your Company Host Health Fairs? They Should.

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Over the past few years, the drive to improve Fools’ overall health has become a top priority. In fact, I’d argue that “Health” could rightfully be added to our list of core values. The benefits behind employees’ positive mental and physical well-being are endless, not just in the office but outside, too. We’ve been fortunate enough to employ a full-time “Wellness Fool” since 2010. These folks have inspired even the unhealthiest of our employees to make smarter, better choices, with several success stories to prove their impact.

One of our most-popular fitness-related benefits is our annual health fair…and it’s quickly approaching again. Health fairs have been described as effective ways “to provide valuable health information and screening services to large numbers of employees in a convenient ‘one-stop shop’ format.” This year, Wellness Fool Sam Whiteside hopes to take our wellness fair to a new level, incorporating not only flu shots and biometrics, but also massage therapy; athletic shoe fittings and running analyses; discounted gym memberships; healthy food samples; acupuncture; fitness demonstrations; and a blood donation van.

Though everything at our wellness fair will be optional, participation is always highly encouraged. It was reported in 2013 that only 43% of American organizations hold health fairs and 50% offer screenings. These statistics should be much higher, but it’s never too late to invest in your employees’ health. Whether you want a downsized wellness fair or a huge function, aim to begin the planning process at least four months in advance. These events usually happen during the fall when flu season begins to creep into the picture. Take the first step by talking to your Human Resources manager, and your organization’s health insurance providers, to locate vendor options. And if you choose to offer them, it’s necessary to reach out to the appropriate professionals while flu shots are still available. At a glance, 61% of companies in the US offer on-site flu shots.

Employer-sponsored health days can be life-changing. Just last year, Amy Robach of ABC News agreed to have the first ever live television mammogram for Good Morning America. Robach had delayed her annual mammogram for more than a year and, a week after the live event, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Even her doctors admitted that the mammogram had saved her life.

If your company doesn’t put employee health on a pedestal, maybe they should. It’s definitely worth the research. A healthy employee is a happier one, and who knows – an event like a health fair could possibly even change a life.

Foolish or Not, Meditation Matters

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Though meditation is a respected and ancient practice, how frequently is it applied in the workplace? Chances are you’re likely taking part in it more than you think. Have you ever stopped to sit, breathe deeply, and quietly reflect on personal thoughts? If so, you’ve participated in a form of meditation. It’s true! Though personal experiences vary, credible research indicates the many positive benefits of hopping on the meditation bandwagon. 

Misconceptions and opinions are forever present, but insight into meditational practices can be pleasantly surprising. Meditation isn’t solely segregated to the spiritual, nor does it stimulate psychic abilities. And it’s not just about sitting in a quiet place solo, either. Meditation increases self-awareness and battles stress; one study found that its participants felt fewer effects of depression or emotional exhaustion. The practice also reduces anger through a variety of methods, some of which were recently shared at The Motley Fool by a local instructor.

Some will say that implementing meditation in the workplace is “too new age,” but let’s face it – we are in 2014. One executive remembered from years ago that, “If you talked about meditation then, they thought you were either captured by a cult or something was wrong with you.” However, with Gallup reporting last year that only 58% of employees are thriving, it’s worth considering if meditation could add to the happiness and satisfaction within America’s workforce. The idea of corporate culture is changing and, in a stressful world, we all need to take a moment for ourselves sometimes.

One of the best things about meditating in the workplace is that it’s relatively easy to do. Whether it’s closing your eyes and focusing on one issue or practicing a tranquil breathing cycle, meditation is possible even at your desk. Simple breathing techniques can save you from allowing anxiety to take over, or letting an interpersonal conflict further decline.

In addition to weekly yoga classes, The Motley Fool is beginning to offer monthly meditation and movement seminars. Our Employee Wellness Fool encourages meditation in empty conference rooms and quiet corners, boasting that it can improve work/life balance and foster proactive stress reduction. Numerous Fools, including our CEO, participate in mindfulness meditation and awareness retreats around the world. One Fool mentioned that meditation helps to sharpen his focus and improve his attitude, while another practices at night to help regulate his sleeping cycle.

The meditation movement is already popular in Asia, where the WSJ notes that “yoga, laughing exercises, meditation and ‘spiritual intelligence’ are rapidly gaining fans in boardrooms and corner offices.” Google has long offered a popular course called “Search Inside Yourself,” which typically holds a six-month waiting list. The class is branded as “a workout for your emotional intelligence,” with its ultimate goal being to help people relate better to others. Isn’t positive collaboration alone at least one key to success?

From Def Jam Founder Russell Simmons to Oprah Winfrey, Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company Bill Ford, and CTO of Cisco Systems Padmasree Warrior, many successful businesspeople practice some type of meditation. Between research and personal confessions, it’s clear that this practice is beneficial. Take some quiet time and we think you’ll eventually reap its benefits. You may find yourself not only a better person, but also a more valuable – and happier – employee.

Announcing a New Important Role

New Role
New Role
Experience caring for ducks is desired, but not a requirement.

The Motley Fool is growing and growing fast.  With any rapid growth, scale and efficiency are key.  We are desperately seeking a new Fool to investigate, test, and learn their way in to creating value by finding those little gaps in our systems and processes.  In this new and important role you will absolutely be improving systems and processes, establishing new systems and processes, or combining systems and processes to create efficiency.

Initial Project List Draft:

Have you ever begun the walk or drive from Starbucks to the office and a tiny drip of coffee magically, intentionally pops from the edge of your cup on to your finger?  We at The Fool have noticed that the amount of time we spend cleaning up the coffee spills from the annoying, magical drip from a Starbucks cup is small amounts of time that add up over the year.  The successful candidate will experiment with the Starbucks coffee cup to determine why that drip appears, seems to have a mind of its own, and is intent on attaching itself to my shirt or desk. There it is again, what the heck is going on with the devil drip?

We at The Fool are long time users of Microsoft’s incredible invention, The Outlook.  Long ago The Outlook discovered that the most efficient way to get from one meeting to the next is to allow zero seconds in between meetings.  It is a real stroke of genius, meetings can start right away one after the other will absolutely no breaks.  At The Fool we haven’t yet figured out how to master the lofty goal The Outlook has laid out for us.  We need to experiment with running super-fast, cloning, time travel, or riding cheetahs to take full advantage of TOKES – The Outlook Kalendaring Efficiency System.

Everyone knows that interns are super smart, get great work done, and…wait for it… we don’t ever have to spend time getting to know them or their name.  There is a lot of time spent at The Fool getting to know each other, having fun together, and collaborating.  This could be just a big waste of time.  We’d like to transition our full work force to be interns who do great stuff AND we don’t have to get to know them on any personal level.  Each intern will be named Templeton I (male) or Temptress I (female).  We will need to train them not to eat all of our free food, though.

One pass through our office and you can see that the more computer monitors we have the more efficient we are.  We’d like to move to a point where every Fool has six monitors minimum.  Math and strength will be key for this task.  There is a lot of ordering and heavy lifting in this role.   You will need to be able to count the number of monitors currently on people’s desk, subtract that number from six, and then go get that new number for setup.  Again there is a first number, some subtraction with that number and the goal number, and then a determination of need based on the final number.  Pivot table training will be provided through FoolU, our internal University.

We are big on standing desks, treadmill desks, and cycling desks.  This promotes health and yes, speed!  With speed comes getting things done faster.  We know that when we combine our core values with great ideas amazing things happen.  Fun, Competitive, and Collaborative are two of our core values and, well,

why should they be a part of everything?  We’d like to take this to the next level with the Fool Sports Desk.  In this scenario you will be able to play full court basketball, soccer, and tennis while using your laptop.  Fools can work, play, compete, collaborate, get healthy, and win.  We are winners.

If these are the types of projects that get you excited and ready for systems, processes, efficiency, strategery, systems, and process then apply now!

Get a Taste of Foolish Wellness with Tom’s Green Smoothie Recipe

Green Smoothie

By Laurie Street

The well-being of every employee is taken seriously here at The Motley Fool. With a full-time Wellness Coordinator, multiple treadmill and exercise bike desks, and free food refrigerators filled with organic snacks, our company has undeniably built a productive yet health-conscious work atmosphere. So it should be of no surprise that many of these holistic approaches stem straight from our CEO, Tom Gardner.

It’s not unusual to see Tom utilizing our office’s various wellness opportunities, whether he’s working from a treadmill desk or enjoying a snack from the kitchen. In fact, Tom drinks a specific smoothie daily, which is filled with nutrient-dense ingredients based off of the ANDI Guide. This Whole Foods Market scoring system rates around nutrient content and, as you can see by this chart, the higher the score, the better the ingredient. Top-rated ingredients in Tom’s smoothie are kale, flax seeds, and blackberries.

After serving this smoothie to curious Fool One members at a recent event, I asked Tom why he is persistent about his recipe. He replied that it serves as a huge source of energy, providing him with good, clean food to start each day. Tom has even taped segments for The Fool with this drink in hand.

If you’re curious to give Tom’s smoothie a try, the recipe is below. Though I can’t say that your investing knowledge will be better if you drink it, perhaps your health will see a higher return.

Green Smoothie

Are You Our Future Wellness Coordinator? Apply Today!

Wellness

WellnessThe Motley Fool Wellness Program has been in place for about 2.5 years now and has created quite a culture shift within our organization. We have always been a “relaxed” atmosphere with amazing benefits (unlimited vacation, no dress code, mobile workstations, etc.) and the addition of our Wellness Program has been another staple to our fantastic environment. We have had tremendous support from our leadership team, specifically our CEO Tom Gardner. With his 100% backing, we’ve been able to grow this program.

However, our wellness program is measured to a different standard as it was not set in place to lower health care costs, reduce absenteeism, encourage presenteeism, or any general wellness metric; our program was created as an additional benefit because it was intuitive to push for a healthier and happier workforce. All the aforementioned benefits will automatically occur, but none are our driving metric to promote a healthy and well workplace.

The Motley Fool encourages a well-rounded path toward wellness, offering physical, nutritional, and spiritual benefits. We offer weekly boot-camp, yoga, meditation, and Zumba classes, while also providing on-site massage and chiropractic care. We gather three times a week to play basketball, soccer, and floor hockey at a nearby gym and Fools can buy a heavily discounted membership to said gym. The Fool also has a free on-site gym, locker room, and showers for those that need a quick exercise break, and we recently added standing desks and a treadmill desk in the office to help combat sedentary lifestyles. We’ve removed soda from vending machines, replacing unhealthy items with healthier options, while also providing free fresh food from local vendors twice weekly. We also provide health seminars on topics like stress management, healthy smoothie workshops, and body inflammation.

At our annual health fair, we bring in a wide array of vendors, ranging from acupuncturists, to physical therapists, to local farmers’ market vendors selling their nutrient-dense food. At the fair, The Fool also provides free biometric screenings and immunizations to all employees and their spouses. Lastly, The Fool employs a personal trainer that helps create individualized plans for any employee that wants one. The goal of our wellness program is to provide a variety of activities to help suit our employees’ needs in the everlasting pursuit of wellness. It is NOT to enhance our bottom dollar or to “fit in” with other workplace wellness programs looking to cut health care costs.

Are you a fitness-minded person who wants to be a Fool? We’re looking for Wellness Coordinator to keep all of the above programs running. Check out the job description to find out more and apply!

 

It’s Time to Stop Workplace Bullying

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BullyingI read quite a few blogs on management and hiring practices (kudos to my favorite, Ask A Manager), and recently I fell down the rabbit hole of clicking links to related articles at the bottom of a post. That’s how I came to learn about the Workplace Bullying Institute (or WBI), “the first and only U.S. organization dedicated to the eradication of workplace bullying.” The site is filled with fascinating research, tips for targets of bullying, and training materials for managers. The resources WBI provides are very useful, yet they make me incredibly sad.

Why? Because an organization like this is needed in the first place.

According to a 2010 WBI survey, 35% of workers in the U.S. reported being bullied at work. An additional 15% of workers witnessed the bullying of others. That means half of workers in America are affected by bullying. Meanwhile, a National Center for Education Statistics study (PDF) that came out in 2009 showed that bullying affected 28% of students ages 12 through 18 (this doesn’t include cyber bullying, but rather in-school bullying like being called names, being made the subject of rumors, or being physically harmed).

So 28% of pre-teens and teens are the victims of bullying, while 35% of workers are. Who are the adults here?

If you’re not compelled to do something about this in your own office, think of it this way. Your company is creating a culture of incivility and fear. How much is this costing you? Employees calling in sick more frequently, increased turnover (hiring a new employee equals one and a half times the salary of keeping an existing one), lower productivity because teams don’t function well, and HR spending time counseling victims of bullying and investigating their claims. Imagine how much better our workplaces would be if bullying was not tolerated? If bullies were given specific and stern feedback about their behavior one time and then fired if they didn’t improve? If employees knew they could report bullying without consequences or retaliation, and that once they did, a thorough investigation would take place? According to WBI research, bullying is four times more prevalent than illegal harassment, yet it’s a silent epidemic in corporate America.

If you’d like to learn more about the financial and emotional effects of workplace bullying, and ways you can help bring about change, I highly recommend Robert Sutton’s intriguingly-named book, The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t. After you read it, anonymously leave it on the desk of your office bully!

Let’s bring kindness back into the workplace. It’s good for your business, and even better for your employees.

Setting Goals for the New Year? Let Motivation Lead You to Success!

Goals

GoalsHow do you measure success in exercise? Do you measure it by X amount of pounds or body fat percentage lost? Or by X inches gained/lost, depending on your goal? How do you measure success in business or your personal life? Do you measure it by how many promotions or personal triumphs you’ve achieved? Success is incredibly relative to an individual but one common denominator that (should) define success is your effort level.

I recently read a great article in a popular health magazine, discussing what it takes to reach your absolute max potential in exercise. There is only a fraction of a percentage of folks who tap into their reserve, and literally give everything they have to whatever race, event, max lift, etc., they are attempting to complete. The example they provided was a physical stress test on a treadmill: Imagine you have nodes and a breathing apparatus attached to your body and you’re walking on a treadmill and gradually the doc increases the incline and speed to the point where you’re sprinting “as hard as you can go.” Are you in fact sprinting all out? Most likely, since this is just a stress test, you’d eventually give up as any normal person would. The example continues by asking the client what they would do if they were offered a million dollars to continue for another minute. Everyone in their right mind would do everything in their power to stay running for that extra 60 seconds. My point is that most people find themselves quitting before they really need to; I’m not advocating you push until injury, but there are many levels one can push themselves to between when they’d actually quit and their literal max.

If you aim to reach any of those levels in any aspect of your life, not just exercise, you’ll probably find yourself accomplishing a lot more than you thought was possible. I’ve helped mentor a handful of coworkers who have reached their personal success in very different ways. One Fool had the right mindset and wanted to get super healthy due to a risk of inheriting some unfavorable health traits. We came up with a 6% body fat reduction goal and he surpassed it by providing maximum effort every week, while shifting priorities and changing his lifestyle. Another Fool had a goal of working his dream job at TMF and,since I had recently lived this fantasy a couple years ago, I helped him realize his goal by doing everything in his power to succeed (volunteering on projects, putting in side work to help his cause, etc.) while letting the decision makers do the rest. Both Fools gave their 100% effort without knowing what the results would be. Both Fools happened to succeed.

With 2013 looming, we all have a great chance to start fresh through some New Year’s resolutions. Set yourself a few attainable goals and if you are 100%, without a reasonable doubt, giving your everything, you can live with the results whether good/bad; there is literally nothing else you could have done. Even upon “failing,” you have gained much more through maximum effort in terms of discipline and development. So let’s take 2013 as a time to lose the extra 10 pounds, or foster a better relationship with your coworkers, or spend more quality time with your family. Because if you’re not trying as hard as you can, why waste your energy and try at all?