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Invisible Safety: How What You Can’t See Can Hurt You


Invisible Safety: How What You Can’t See Can Hurt You

COVID-19 outbreaks in the workplace have revealed the importance of protecting and maintaining the health and wellness of employees. From social distancing to HVAC upgrades, factories have implemented strict protocols to stop the spread of the COV2 virus.  

If you walk into any manufacturing facility in North America, the first thing that you will see are signs related to safety. That’s because factories and assembly plants often have dangerous equipment and machinery, and even a minor lapse can have serious – or even life-threatening – consequences. Employers want to keep their team members safe, and they also know that the legal and financial risks of failing to maintain rigid safety standards can be devastating at a business level. But thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the biggest threats to safety can’t be seen at all: the air we breathe. Forward-thinking assembly companies need to factor this in when they evaluate their protocols for keeping their employees healthy and safe. And in many cases, existing HVAC systems aren’t up to the task.

There was a lot we didn’t know about the novel coronavirus when it first reached North America in March 2020, but over the last year and a half we have learned a great deal. As it turns out, the risk of disease transmission through surface contact is fairly minimal, as is the likelihood of an outdoor super spreader event – but more than 99% of COVID-19 cases can be traced back to events held in indoor spaces with poor ventilation and filtration. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued so many guidelines on how companies can keep their facilities safe. One of their biggest recommendations is for companies to improve ventilation to reduce the risk of people getting sick. 

That’s easier said than done. The best way to improve ventilation is to open windows and circulate fresh air. Unfortunately, many buildings, especially assembly facilities, have self-contained ecosystems to protect the quality of the items that are being put together. After all, letting free-floating particles into a building where microchips or electronic components are being put together is a recipe for disaster. What works during “normal” times to maintain product integrity may actually be harming the workers who are unable to breathe air from the outside. 

Despite some misinformation from the early days of the pandemic, HVAC systems are not responsible for the spread of pathogens. That’s the good news. On the other side of the coin, many of these systems don’t circulate enough air to maximize the safety of people inside the facilities that rely on them to maintain appropriate levels of humidity and temperature. Replacing entire heating and ventilation systems is expensive and time-consuming. So what options do operators of assembly facilities have to maintain employee health without jeopardizing their operations? 

The answer is supplementary air systems, which actually top the list of CDC recommendations for maintaining the safety of indoor spaces where natural ventilation is impossible. These devices come in many sizes, and can be used to filter air in small facilities as well as buildings with several million square feet of floor space. Regardless of how big a facility is, the principle is the same: air needs to be circulated and properly filtered to remove potentially dangerous microbes from the environment. Existing HVAC systems actually do a pretty good job, but they simply don’t move enough air to be effective, especially in an era defined by an airborne virus that has already killed more than half a million Americans. 

Clearly, this is something that needs to be taken seriously by companies in the manufacturing space. But this isn’t just a short term solution. While many people were optimistic that rising vaccination rates and social distancing rules would lead to the end of the coronavirus pandemic this fall, there is still plenty of reason for concern. That’s because in many parts of the country vaccination rates remain very low, and new variants, including Delta, are proving to be much more of a problem than doctors initially anticipated. Despite the many heroic advances in medicine over the last 18 months, the reality seems to be that we will be dealing with the long-tail effect of COVID-19 for years, or even decades, to come. 

It has been a century since the last major viral epidemic caused this much damage, but most health experts agree that the next pandemic will happen long before the year 2120. In fact, there is a high probability of a similar event occurring in the next 25 years. With that in mind, operators of assembly facilities not only need to get through the current pandemic, but also prepare for the next one. Maintaining air quality should be at the top of their list as they plan for an uncertain future. 


Marshal Sterio is the CEO of Surgically Clean Air Inc., a Toronto-based manufacturer of portable systems that purify air by supplementing existing HVAC systems. The company’s products are market leaders in dental practices, currently protects over 50,000 dental professionals, and are used by Fortune 500 companies, Major League Baseball clubs, the NBA, the NHL and thousands of other organizations. 

servant leadership thought

The Hallmarks And Benefits Of Servant Leadership In Today’s Business World

Traditionally, society hasn’t thought of company leaders as servants. But to deal more effectively with today’s changing business dynamics, more companies are incorporating servant leadership to benefit employees and the community as well as the bottom line.

Servant leadership is especially important and applicable in a post-COVID business world, when millions are quitting their jobs and CEOs are trying to stabilize their work cultures, says Jason Randall, CEO of Questco and ForbesBooks author of Beyond The Superhero: Executive Leadership For The Rest Of Us.

“Servant leadership is leading in a manner that encourages growth and success in others,” Randall says. “By investing in them, you as a leader instill a deeper buy-in.

“Leaders who are comfortable with a commanding style may find servant leadership counterintuitive, as though showing empathy to employees is an invitation to be taken advantage of. But when the servant leader listens with empathy to an employee who is strained by conflicting obligations, that leader is more likely to make accommodations such as flexible work schedules. These accommodations benefit productivity and the culture.”

Randall says that overly controlling leaders shut down their top talent and thus are a hindrance to company progress.

“As Steve Jobs said, ‘It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do,’ ” Randall says. “Getting divergent perspectives, as servant leaders do, is essential for company growth and individual engagement and fulfillment. Leaders who commonly resort to issuing commands are conditioning their people to not take much ownership.

“Employees who believe they are not valued for their minds won’t bother to come up with fresh ideas – or they will take their fresh ideas elsewhere.”

Randall says there are six hallmarks of the servant leader:

Availability. This means making sure there is adequate time in meetings for people to have their say, whether it involves venting frustrations, questioning, or establishing collaboration. “Giving time over to the employees and coaching them is really valuable to their development and contribution,” Randall says. “In too many organizations, senior leaders mostly huddle behind closed doors, and if they claim to have an open-door policy, it becomes a joke.”

Candor. “Because the servant leader is extending a lot of trust in individuals, it’s necessary to address any failures in a straightforward way,” Randall says. “But improving performance is not likely when the leader’s voice is angry or hostile.”

Consistency. Randall says that consistency in meetings and day-to-day procedures can be a challenge in the commotion of a growth organization, but the more consistency, the better the response from the workforce.

Empathy. “Being aware of and sensitive to the feelings, thoughts and experiences of others is a key characteristic of servant leaders,” Randall says. “Nobody can be a truly effective leader without understanding the humanity behind the individuals they are expecting to lead.”

Patience. The starting point for patience, Randall says, is when leaders recognize they can’t do everything themselves. “In the long term, it’s important for leaders to understand that we have to balance our lofty goals with the fact we have fallible human beings who must grow to achieve them,” he says. “The servant leader, who is patient, recognizes that team members are precious, and weathering the peaks and valleys will make everybody stronger.”

Trust. The servant leader encourages a freedom to experiment, which also means a freedom to stumble and learn from it, Randall says. “To delegate responsibilities, to encourage employees to speak up and be creative, leaders must show trust in the whole team,” he says. “Trust is the underpinning of the entire servant leadership approach of building a strong team.”

“Servant leaders get results, and they make everyone’s life better in the process,” Randall says. “They focus not only on business outcomes but also on the humanity of the team.”


Jason Randall ( is CEO of Questco, an HR outsourcing company, and ForbesBooks author of Beyond The Superhero: Executive Leadership For The Rest Of Us. Formerly he was director of brand marketing for Maritz and vice president/managing director of Insperity. Randall earned his MBA at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School Management.


Including More Voices In Decisions May Bring Discomfort – And Results

When companies struggle, whether because of a bad economy, poor decisions, or other factors, top management’s reaction is often to become tight-lipped about the turbulent situation.

Employees are shut out from strategy discussions, and any ideas they might have for fixing the problem go unheard.

But in many if not most cases, such secretiveness is the wrong approach and can even make things worse, says Joe Ferreira (, the ForbesBooks author of Uncomfortable Inclusion: How to Build a Culture of High Performance in Life and Work.

“For organizations with tens of thousands of employees, it might make sense to limit who participates in strategy,” says Ferreira, who is CEO and president of the Nevada Donor Network. “But for smaller organizations, where every person contributes to a thriving culture and facilitates effective operations, there’s a lot of value in involving everyone.”

As his book title suggests, Ferreira calls this all-inclusive way of dealing with things “uncomfortable inclusion.” He put this philosophy into action when he came to the Nevada Donor Network in 2012 at a time when the organization was dysfunctional and on the verge of losing its membership in the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network/United Network for Organ Sharing. That would have shut down the organization for good. Over time, with a few fits and starts along the way, the organization rose from floundering to soaring as a current world leader in the industry.

Ferreira acknowledges that uncomfortable inclusion is an approach that can be messy and difficult, but also says that involving the entire organization in strategy and problem-solving can “reinforce synergy, cooperation, and unity while cultivating better ideas and innovation.” And that’s true whether uncomfortable inclusion is put into action at a failing company, or simply activated at a place where leaders believe their teams and organization could be performing better, he says.

“It is critical to include everyone because ultimately the frontline staff knows best what their environment is going to look like tomorrow and likely a few years down the line, and they are best positioned to be innovators,” Ferreira says. “Why wouldn’t we have them as part of the planning process?”

He says some of the traits needed to embrace this inclusion approach include:                

Transparent. This one may be especially important because Gallup reports that millennials especially say they want leaders who are open and transparent. Uncomfortable inclusion means being transparent to the point of discomfort, Ferreira says. If it is not uncomfortable, you are not being inclusive enough. “When you’re transparent with team members and include them in decision-making, you create a network of stakeholders who participate even in small decisions,” he says. “When it comes time to make more impactful decisions, a leader can tap into that banked brain trust to make the best decision possible based on feedback from a proven set of deciders.” Ferreira suggests even taking transparency a step further by including your critics, something he did when he took over at Nevada Donor Network. “In my view, our critics and antagonists are the most important catalysts for growth and innovation,” he says.

Accountable. People within an organization need to be accountable for their actions and to each other. “I talk about how we’re serious about our values, and we hold people accountable,” Ferreira says. “It isn’t enough to be technically competent. Each member of our organization, regardless of title, role, or results, must adhere to our values. We maintain our commitment to quality and excellence, and we are supremely, publicly accountable when we fail.”                 

Committed. Adopting a more inclusive approach requires commitment, possibly a commitment to changing the organization’s very culture. But the goal may be more attainable than it first seems, Ferreira says. “Achieving success in a seemingly hopeless situation requires hard work and a committed mindset, but it does not require the reinvention of the wheel,” Ferreira says. “It does not even require luck. All it requires is willingness and a mind open to learning and implementing actions that can facilitate transformative success.”

“Make no mistake, doing this is messy and hard,” Ferreira says. “It might seem unnecessarily difficult, complicated, and yes, uncomfortable. But keep chipping away and remember this: Success is achievable, even from the bleakest and most dysfunctional starting points.


Joe Ferreira (, the ForbesBooks author of Uncomfortable Inclusion: How to Build a Culture of High Performance in Life and Work, is CEO and president of the Nevada Donor Network. Ferreira speaks and consults worldwide about establishing and improving organ donation and transplantation systems he’s helped pioneer in the United States. He served as the director of clinical operations at the Life Alliance Organ Recovery Agency in Miami, and is the recipient of the Kruger Award for Outstanding Professional Transplant Services. He holds a bachelor of science in microbiology and immunology and an MBA with a specialization in healthcare administration and policy, both from the University of Miami.


3 Ways To Make Your Workplace More People-Friendly

The work dynamic in this generation has changed. In the past, people had a fierce dedication to their company. They were rewarded for their commitment to a company that took care of them forever.

Technology was born and it grew like a weed. Employers began using technology to replace people. When performed old-style, companies needed accounts payable and accounts payable teams. Now, computers prepare reports, forecast inventory, calculate commissions, and implement URL shortener to make your link easier to remember. This was good news for the companies, but not so great news for the employees.

What happened next

When technology entered the scene, it was more valuable than the CEOs and Business Owners understood. In their day a boss kept his finger on the pulse of every aspect of their company. But, the managers under them knew that technology would take companies to new heights. Further, they knew that refusing to get on board would be a costly mistake. As the older generation retired, new leaders threw open the door for technology and commerce jumped a couple of light-years ahead, tossing the employees into a tailspin.

Hit the brakes

The most amazing thing happened. The managers, now in control, found out what their predecessors knew. Your employees are the backbone of your business. They are the voice and the brand. While technology, like HR Payroll, allows businesses to do more with fewer people, they need to treat the people they have very well.

Collaborate with employees

These are the people on the front lines. They are the first smile your clients see and the first voice they hear. Let them have a voice and hear what they have to say. Maybe they can solve an issue or maybe you can enlighten them in things they may not understand.

Give them tools

Give them what they need to make their jobs easier, like online timesheets that will figure overtime and mandatory breaks, tracking purchases, and easy ways to keep up. While your employees are given the tools they need, you have the means to track their productivity. When experienced employees and good technology move in sync, productivity goes through the roof. If it doesn’t, something needs to be adjusted. If an employee is not doing a good job, speak to him, pray for him and if he doesn’t perform, get rid of him and cut your losses.

Focus on their health

Let them know they matter. Encourage employees to take their sick days or personal days when they are ill. Show them the same respect you expect when they have problems in their homes. Do not praise them for being there 60 hours per week. Praise them for doing their job in the 40-hour work week. Be there for them. Change is difficult in the workplace. When it is time to have the employees trained on using the new software, cross train the departments so everyone will understand how a problem in one department can mean a problem in several departments.

Final Thoughts

There are few things that will ruin morale in the office more than upper management forgetting who butters their bread. Employees are not part of the office furnishing, they are people, and they pour their energy into the business. Respect is a give and take proposition. Why invest years in teaching an employee their trade and then not taking advantage of their knowledge?

The future of commerce is bright. Businesses will use knowledge and technology so their employees can grow. Workplaces will care as much about their people as they do about their future. This will give corporations the best of business past and the power of business future.  Employees will once again become dedicated people who will pull together in lean times.


Anna is a specialist in different types of writing. She graduated from the Interpreters Department, but creative writing became her favorite type of work. Now she improves her skills while working as a specialist of one of the custom research paper writing services and to assist a lot of students all over the world and has free time for another work, as well. So the question to ‘ hire someone to write my research paper ’ is resolved rather quickly with her help. Always she does her best in the posts and articles. She also has training and helps and basic writing tips for students all over the world.


Keep Covid Stress out of Your Customer Communication

Pandemic stress-related toxic communication can creep into your customer communication. Don’t let it! Set the example, nip toxicity in the bud, protect your team from incoming, build in rest, celebrate the good stuff, and codify that positive voice in your company style guide.

As we think about healthy communication at work, we’re reminded of the saga of Away. The direct-to-consumer luggage company experienced such massive growth that it couldn’t keep up with demand. As customer requests piled up despite the customer service team’s 16-hour workdays and canceled vacations, executives blamed the team for not keeping up. They reportedly became so toxic that the team virtually imploded, service quality plummeted, and the story unfolded in an unflattering media exposé.

This moment finds us with a different kind of anxiety. Pandemic-related stress is at an all-time high, and people are bringing it to work. It can show up in ugly ways, too. In a survey we conducted of 1,000 professionals, 38 percent said they experienced toxic workplace communication since shelter-in-place began. Yikes!

What about when that nastiness starts to seep into your interactions with customers? Even if underneath the surface, unhealthy customer communication can damage your satisfaction scores…and your brand.

Here are 12 steps you can take to help your customer success team stay positive and put all kinds of good vibes out into the universe.

Acknowledge the stress

Your customer success team are people, too. They’re dealing with the strain of a deadly pandemic, economic anxiety, and lots of “togetherness” with family members at home. Even if you can’t fix these problems, simply acknowledging the stress they undergo is a long way for their state of mind.

Care for your employees

Maybe it’s quaran-tinis every other Friday. Or a well-timed “wellness day.” Or a cupcake delivery to employees’ homes. Whatever your flavor, invest in ways to remind your employees that you value and care about them. In turn, they’ll value and care for your customers.

Be ground zero

As a leader in your company, you set the tone. Consider yourself “ground zero” for the kind of communication you want your customers to experience. The empathetic, upbeat, and kind words and messages you model to employees are the same your employees will use with customers.

Know what it sounds like

Know what unhealthy and toxic communication sounds like. Unhealthy communication includes words and turns of phrases that are exclusive, condescending, or passive-aggressive, and toxic communication.

Tool for it

There’s a raft of new tools out there to measure customer interactions, including Gong, Chorus, and Writer. Outfit your teams so you can address unhealthy or toxic communication. But give them a heads up so they know you’re doing it, and approach the oversight with sensitivity.

Nip it in the bud

As soon as you see or hear ugliness, call it out immediately. Approach the person in private. They may not be aware of their behavior, so be specific and help them understand the customer impact. Later, anonymize the example and discuss the topic more broadly with the team.

Enforce the rules

If the toxic communication persists, take action. Taking a hard-line right away sends a clear message and ensures compliance from the rest of the team. Let them know that, even if they are on the receiving end of ugliness, it needs to stop with them – no exceptions.

Protect them from toxicity

Any customer-facing team knows what incoming feels like. Equip yours with the appropriate responses and escalation processes to remove themselves from an abusive situation. They need to feel empowered to set boundaries and know that you have their back.

Create a pressure valve

Acknowledge the absurd and lower the team’s stress. Bill Gates describes a “Mail Merge couch” from Microsoft’s early days. Team members sat (or laid) on it while taking support calls related to the product’s frustratingly complex feature. The inside joke helped them blow off steam and laugh at their situation.

Let them rest

As we learned from Away’s cautionary tale, the stress of being on the front lines is exacerbated by lack of sleep. Prepare and plan for people to get the rest and downtime they need, even if you have to bring in temporary reinforcements or other teams need to chip in.

Recognize key moments

Just as you suss out the nastiness, find and recognize the good stuff. Amplify and celebrate examples – large and small – of the behavior you want. Especially call out positive responses in the face of negativity. Create a “good karma” award and make a big hoopla out of it.

Make it stick

Make healthy communication a thing in your company culture. Get on the same page with the other executives about the voice, tone, and behavior norms you want to promote internally and externally. Then, make them stick by codifying them in your employee guidelines and brand style guide.


May Habib is co-founder and CEO of Writer, an AI writing assistant for teams. 

company's culture

Here are Six Factors that Comprise a Company’s Culture

“Corporate culture” is a buzz phrase that’s been going around for over a decade now, though the actual meaning behind this hot topic is often lost. A company’s culture goes far beyond celebrations, perks, and the office layout. In fact, it reaches the very core of a business.

Here are six factors that comprise a company’s culture.

Heritage and Vision

Every business has an origin story, and this narrative has the potential to be a driving force for success. It’s important to incorporate your organization’s heritage into your culture. Sharing your business’s unique history connects your employees to the “why” behind your organization’s conception. By celebrating your business’s roots, you connect your staff to the company’s original purpose and encourage them to embody it in their work.

Values and Practices

Companies often define their core values for their employees, but those mean very little if accepted corporate practices don’t align. It’s important to ensure that communication standards, leadership structure, workplace environment, etc. all promote your company values.

Contribution and Recognition

Sometimes it’s hard for employees to see how the work they do affects the big picture. You never want a member of your staff to feel small or insignificant. Celebrate individuals’ accomplishments, hard work, or great ideas. Make a habit of telling your employees how much you appreciate them and how important their contribution is to the overall success of the company.

Promote Growth

No one wants to stick around at a job they feel is stagnant. It’s important to encourage professional growth so employees feel they are improving themselves and their lives while working for you. This can be through continuing education courses, seminars, a book club, or even just built-in flexibility to explore new topics.

Positive Work Environment

This may seem like a no-brainer, but in order to keep employees happy, they have to want to come to work. Take steps to create a positive workplace that’s fun to come to every day.

Stay Consistent

After you’ve decided on the elements that make up your company’s culture, enstate them across the board. Consistency helps build employee trust. If your staff sees inconsistency in your culture, they’ll know it isn’t genuine.

Remember, each company’s culture is unique, and the perfect culture doesn’t always come right away. Don’t be afraid to reflect and revise as you go.


Joel Patterson ( is the founder of The Vested Group, a business technology consulting firm in the Dallas, Texas area, and ForbesBooks author of The Big Commitment: Solving The Mysteries Of Your ERP Implementation. He has worked in the consulting field for over 20 years. Patterson began his consulting career at Arthur Andersen and Capgemini before helping found Lucidity Consulting Group in 2001. For 15 years he specialized in implementing Tier One ERP, software systems designed to service the needs of large, complex corporations. In 2011, Patterson founded The Vested Group, which focuses on bringing comprehensive cloud-based business management solutions to start-ups and well-established businesses alike. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Baylor University.


Did Your Employees Grow Apart In A Difficult 2020? 5 Tips For A Better Culture.

Given the uncertainty businesses face in 2021 as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, company leaders are looking at every phase of their operation to determine ways they can improve.

Company culture is one area commanding attention. As the virus caused business limitations and forced many companies to go fully remote in 2020, workplace culture was challenged in new ways. This was a reminder to company leaders to make this a priority, forcing them to find ways to strengthen it in the new year, says Mark McClain, CEO and co-founder of SailPoint and the ForbesBooks author of Joy and Success at Work: Building Organizations that Don’t Suck (the Life Out of People).

“More and more, companies are starting to understand that they need to show employees that they value them as whole people,” McClain says.

“If you respect them, value them and treat them as professionals, they will go through walls for you. If you don’t, if you create an environment where the very thought of coming to work creates anxiety, then they are going to look for employment elsewhere.”

Issues within the workplace culture can fester and eventually lead to toxic relationships, lower productivity, and higher turnover. McClain says that as companies try to balance remote working with a return to the office, it’s critical that culture problems be diagnosed and dealt with.

“But too often,” he says, “leaders don’t have the time to dig into the root problems or don’t know how to really reach their people and devise solutions.”

McClain offers these tips for management to build a better workplace culture in 2021:

Make the health and well-being of your employees the first priority. “Putting your employees first makes them far more likely to be good producers for your company,” McClain says. “With the ongoing pandemic and 2021 bringing much uncertainty, it’s the right time to review workplace safety, collect employees’ thoughts on working remotely vs. coming back to the office, look at internal communications, and analyze management practices to make sure you’re addressing employees’ needs and concerns. Circulate employee surveys to get helpful feedback.”

Hire people who are culture fits. “Some people are very capable, but they happen to be jerks,” McClain says. “No matter how smart such a person might be, the negatives will eventually outweigh the positives. At the same time, you don’t want to hire people who are really nice but not terribly competent.”

Beware of fake culture. Some companies create what McClain calls “pseudo cultures,” which he describes as “thinly veiled come-ons where companies offer massages, free beer or other perks to attract employees.” Eventually, people figure out that a cool employee lounge with a ping-pong table does not make for a successful company. “Real organizational cultures are reflections of how companies treat people and create useful products,” he says.

Increase employee engagement. McClain says leaders should go the extra steps to get to know their employees – a big help in keeping them engaged. “It can be tougher initially to spot people who are not fully engaged,” he says. “The gut feeling leaders need in that regard develops over time with the determination to know your people as individuals. Not all managers are willing to do that, and that’s a mistake. Showing genuine concern can uncover issues that can steer the employee to the help they need.”

Promote a work-life balance. “It’s nice to have ultra-motivated climbers, and it’s essential for a forward-moving company to demand a lot of its people,” McClain says. “But not at the expense of burning them out, messing up their health and hurting their family relationships. That’s going to hurt the company in the long run as well.”

“Nurturing your internal culture,” McClain says, “enables people and business to thrive. It’s never been more important than now after a year of chaos and with more uncertainty ahead.”


Mark McClain (, ForbesBooks author of Joy and Success at Work: Building Organizations that Don’t Suck (the Life Out of People), is CEO of SailPoint, a leader in the enterprise identity management market. McClain has led the company from its beginnings in 2005, when it started as a three-person team, to today where SailPoint has grown to more than 1,200 employees who serve customers in 35 countries.

working conditions

Working Conditions High on the EU’s Priority List in Recent Years

In recent years, the EU has made a strong commitment towards improving working conditions which is excellent news for employees. So, what exactly is meant by working conditions, and what steps is the EU taking to improve these conditions for workers? Read on to find out more.

Working Conditions Defined

Working conditions is a broad term that covers a lot of bases. Essentially, working conditions refer to both the working environment provided to employees by the business along with terms and conditions of employment – this means that everything including the organization of work activities, health, safety, wellbeing, work-life balance, training, and skills all fall under the term working conditions.

Benefits of Good Working Conditions

Having good work conditions is important for a number of reasons. Obviously, from the European worker’s perspective, it contributes to the physical and mental wellbeing and will help to provide overall work and life satisfaction. It is also beneficial for the business because it ensures that staff are happy, engaged, and will perform to a high standard each day. Plus, from an economic standpoint, high-quality work conditions will drive economic growth in the EU so it is a win-win situation for all.

How They Have Improved

Understandably, improving work conditions is a core issue for the EU and they have been working closely with national governments to improve the workplace environment for European workers. This has been achieved by determining what the main characteristics of a favorable work environment look like and what the criteria to meet is. EU labor laws and regulations have been established to set the minimum requirement for a sustainable working environment for EU workers and these are now applied to all Member States.


These laws have strengthened worker’s rights in recent years and it is one of the main achievements of the social policy of the EU, but compensation claims are still high with workplace accidents often being inevitable. The European Framework Directive on Safety and Health at Work was established to set general principles related to minimum health and safety requirements and applies to practically all sectors.

Working with Social Partners

The EU also works with social partners such as trade unions and employer organizations via social dialogue and consultations which is key in the shaping of various different EU social and employment policies, including working hours, workers’ mobility within the EU, health, and safety, and promoting work-life balance.

Working conditions have been high on the EU’s priorities for a few years now and there have been major strides in recent times in terms of protecting EU workers. While these policies obviously help workers and provide important protection, it is also important to realize that they are beneficial for individual businesses as well as the economy as a whole so it is certainly an area that is worth focusing on.


Assess Your Leadership Qualities By Answering These 7 Questions

A leader is supposed to be out in front, pointing the way toward whatever is ahead.

But, as we begin a new decade, too many business leaders are facing backward rather than forward,  says Oleg Konovalov (, a global thought leader and consultant who has worked with Fortune 500 companies and is author of the new book Leaderology.

“The future can’t be met with backward-thinking and old leadership methods that are no longer effective,” Konovalov says. “The leader’s duty is to open a door into the future for people and explain how things should be considered and managed in that new reality.”

“Leaders face more responsibilities and much higher expectations in terms of the execution of their roles,” he says. “The leader’s responsibilities are expanding enormously, demanding much stronger competencies and skills than before. Everyday learning and continuous improvement need to be the norm.”

As a result, Konovalov says the modern leader needs to combine meticulous planning with flexibility.

“Combining these attributes is necessary in an ever-changing and hyper-competitive market,” he says. “The wrong decisions and actions can lead to the whole organization losing sight of customer needs as well as quality, harming the long-term sustainability of the organization.

“Making the right decisions means thinking of more than the company. It means considering the values and needs of customers and employees as well.”

He suggests leaders assess where they are in their abilities so they can define areas where they need to improve.

To begin that assessment, Konovalov says leaders should ponder how they would answer the following seven questions. He offers a more detailed 38-question self-assessment on his website:

-What are the most typical mistakes from the past that hold you back from becoming an extraordinary leader?

-How clearly can you define your customers’ needs? Can you envision them as clearly as your personal needs?

-How do you care for your people as a leader?

-A strong culture is not about me, but about what I do for others. What do you and your colleagues do in terms of investing in others on a regular basis?

-What is your leadership style? Are you a leader who takes care of people or a boss taking care of yourself?

-What were the aims and results of the most recent changes implemented in your company, and what were the employees’ reactions to those changes?

-What lessons have you learned in the course of your leadership journey?

By answering these questions, Konovalov says, leaders can begin to gain insight into whether their leadership style is one that is pointed confidently toward the future, or one that’s stuck perilously in the past.

“Bad leaders build barriers for people,” Konovalov says. “Strong leaders build barriers to problems, accidents, and stagnation. We have more than enough mediocre or bad leaders. We need strong leaders for real progress and to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”


Oleg Konovalov ( is a thought leader, author, business educator and consultant with over 25 years of experience operating businesses and consulting Fortune 500 companies internationally. His latest book is Leaderology. His other books are Corporate SuperpowerOrganisational Anatomy and Hidden Russia. Konovalov received his doctoral degree from the Durham University Business School. He is a visiting lecturer at a number of business schools, a Forbes contributor and high in demand speaker at major conferences around the world.



When Money Is Not Enough; How To Grow Productive, Loyal Employees

When Delta Air Lines announced plans to pay out a record $1.6 billion in profit sharing to its 90,000 employees – the equivalent of about two months pay for each of them – workers across America likely turned envious.

If only their employers would do the same.

Of course, not all companies can afford such lavish bonuses, but there are other things CEOs can do to boost employee morale and, at the same time, reduce the odds that their best workers go looking elsewhere for employment, says Troy Nix (, a motivational speaker, businessman and author of Eternal Impact: Inspire Greatness in Yourself and Others.

“Money is just one thing that motivates employees, and it’s not always the primary motivator,” says Nix, founder and CEO of First Resource Inc., an association management company specializing in manufacturing networks.

“Other factors – many of them having to do with working conditions or managers – are more likely to influence whether someone stays with a company or heads out the door.”

A Randstad US study on why workers part ways with employers reported that some of the reasons most often cited include: They dislike their direct supervisors; they feel their companies view profits or revenue as more important than how people are treated; there aren’t enough growth opportunities for them; their companies fail to make the best use of their skills and abilities; the work culture is toxic; or their departments are understaffed.

Nix points out that bonuses or pay raises, while desirable, wouldn’t solve any of those core problems that lead to employee turnover.

“The secret to maintaining and growing a quality workforce lies in having a people-centric culture,” Nix says. “Certainly, there is no one silver bullet that will solve a company’s workforce dilemma, but there are ways businesses can create a worker-friendly atmosphere that will result in happier, more productive employees who want to stay with them.”

He says some solutions that will keep employees satisfied and even enthusiastic about their work include:

Help them understand the “why” of what they do. “The majority of employees usually know what they do, and most of them certainly understand how they do it,” Nix says. “But few understand why they do it. If you want to improve employee engagement, I encourage you to answer the question ‘why’ before you do anything else; and don’t just do it once, do it regularly. Habitually communicating to employees the reason your business exists will directly elevate the commitment of your people to the ‘why’ of your existence.”

Give them purpose. ”More than ever, people want to be part of something that has purpose and meaning,” Nix says. “For young people especially, going to work needs to be about more than just making money. Leaders should be aware of these aspirations and build a company culture that enables employees to find purpose in what they do. Imagine the success a business could have if the employees looked forward to coming to work on Monday with as much joy as they look forward to their weekends.”

Provide support for increasing their knowledge and productivity. Great leaders understand that the majority of employees perform their job functions without coming close to their full capacity, Nix says. Yet, among the top reasons employees leave is they see no room for career growth where they are, or they don’t feel their companies make the best use of their capabilities. “It’s essential for managers to find ways to tap into their employees’ skills,” he says, “because doing so is going to be good for the employee and good for the company.”

“Winning the loyalty of your employees translates into individuals who are dedicated to making the company better,” Nix says. “They will take the extra step to ensure the needs of the customer are met, and they will literally think about the company on their off time because it is that important to them.”


Troy Nix (, author of Eternal Impact: Inspire Greatness in Yourself and Others, is the founder, president, and CEO of First Resource, Inc., an innovative association management company for America’s manufacturers. Nix, a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, served in the armed forces for a decade before moving into the business world.