Eat More, and Ditch the Gym?

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‘Anti-resolutions’ are a novel way to encourage employee engagement  

Want some New Year’s resolutions your workers can live with?

Try urging them to eat more, ditch the gym and work less.

That’s one workplace expert’s creative approach to inspiring employees in 2015. Brad Karsh is the president of JB Training Solutions and the co-author of Manager 3.0: A Millennial's Guide to Rewriting the Rules of Management (AMACOM, 2013).

Karsh calls his seven guidelines for 2015 “anti-resolutions.” They include:

1. Eat more. Encourage workers to schedule one lunch, dinner or coffee meeting each week with a team member to build strong relationships. Only 35 percent of professionals feel a sense of community at work, which can have negative effects on retention and quality of work, according to Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace report.

2. Drink more. Urge workers to go to networking events in the evenings. Meeting other professionals in the same industry keeps employees well-connected and competitive. 

3. Just say no. Many people resolve to get more involved or volunteer at the start of the new year, and companies often put pressure on employees to sign up for things, whether it’s helping out at a local soup kitchen, with the annual food drive, or at company picnics, dinners and outings. Karsh said it’s important for companies to scale back on these requests to prevent stress. Encourage workers to choose one organization or activity they’re passionate about and can devote their time to “instead of juggling seven different commitments at once,” he said. Saying “no” sometimes allows employees to focus their energy.

4. Avoid the gym. Team sports—such as an indoor soccer league—can build closer bonds than walking solo on a gym treadmill. “When you’re playing on a team, you and your teammates are all working toward a single goal—to win,” Karsh said. “You are connecting, communicating and collaborating. The skills you learn playing a team sport are the same ones you need to work in a professional setting: planning, listening, self-starting and giving feedback. That is not to say steaming [in a sauna] won’t help build relationships as well, but realistically, who wants to sit in the sauna next to their boss?”

5. Blow your budget. Urge workers to invest in their careers. Maybe that means enrolling them in professional development classes. Karsh suggested looking at Dabble, a new website that offers suggestions on such courses.

6. Stay out of touch. Workers can spend hours “connecting” with colleagues by e-mail or through social media, Karsh said. This year, he suggested, encourage employees to avoid spending so much time connecting over a computer and instead, to pick up the phone or meet with colleagues face-to-face.

7. Work less. Encourage workers to take advantage of all their vacation time. It will make them more aware and motivated when they are working, Karsh said. Only 37 percent of professionals feel they are able to balance home and work life, according to Gallup’s report on the State of the American Workplace.

Dana Wilkie is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

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