Companies are constantly striving to improve employee engagement, with the ethos that happier employees are more productive. The techniques vary, with some extreme examples including unlimited annual leave and even indoor office slides.
Some companies in Sweden are trialling 6 hour days in order to give employees more free time in the evening. Employees are expected to save all personal emails and phone calls until the evening, and in return, they can leave the office after 3.30pm. The theory behind it is that staff struggle to concentrate for 7/8 hours, even with a lunch break, and productivity dips. Having additional spare time encourages people to improve their quality of life and in turn, employees feel happier, healthier and are less stressed.
In 2013, the OECD revealed the league table of average working hours per country. Mexico gets the top spot, with workers clocking up 2,237 hours a year on average, mainly due to unregulated working hours and many people holding down more than one job. The manufacturing industry is dominant here, with many well-know automotive brands operating out of Mexico and exporting products to North America.
Germany and Norway are the lowest on the list, with both countries enjoying higher than average paid leave days too. However, fewer hours in the office means the working culture is a stark contrast with that of other countries. Generally speaking, German working culture is goal-orientated and uses direct communication, i.e. you’re less likely to hear “it would be great if you could that by…” and more likely to be instructed to complete a task by a certain time.
If you’re looking for the best way to boost engagement amongst your staff, it’s best to start at home: ensure that you’re speaking to people in a language they understand. With today’s growing multicultural workforce, many companies fail to grasp the basics and leave documents such as training materials in their existing language, rather than translate them.
Even if you’re only based in the UK and don’t have overseas offices, 138,000 people in the UK speak no English and for 40% of the entire UK population, English isn’t their mother tongue. Then there’s international recruitment: what if your ideal candidate isn’t based in your home country? How do you advertise in overseas markets if you don’t speak the language?
It may sound straightforward but speaking to an employee in their own language is the first step in gaining their trust, engagement and, ultimately, their loyalty. So forget the office slide and start with translation.