If you’re in the office at the moment take a look at the person next to you. Would you say that he or she is a “good worker” or a “toxic neighbour”?
A recent bit of research by economists from Harvard Business School has shed some light on the type of person you should be sitting next to.
If you’re an “average worker” and you sit next to a hard working and diligent person then your performance is likely to improve.
Unfortunately though the opposite is true and if you’re an average person who sits next to somebody who isn’t very good at their job then that badly performing person could well take you down to their level.
The researchers studied data from seating plans and reports from over 2,000 employees. The performance of these employees was rated based on the time they spent to complete a task as well as quality and effectiveness. Their efficiency was based on how often they had to ask for help.
One of the interesting bits of the research was finding out whether when a person sat next to a high performing individual that person’s performance improved because they learnt from the better performing individual or they were inspired by him or her.
When the research team split these people back up again the average worker’s performance reverted back to the average level rather than stay at the high performing level. This implied that the improvement was not due to learning new skills but instead was due to being inspired by the good worker.
When it comes to sitting next to a “toxic employee” who doesn’t perform, the bad news is that the negativity rubs off on the good employee almost immediately.
So it may well be worth trying to sit next to the stars of the office rather than the toxic ones
A quick word of warning though and if the person you sit next to has recently asked their boss to move away from you asap then the chances are that you aren’t the star of the office but instead are…
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/disruptive-employee.jpg9581703Steve Crossmanhttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve Crossman2019-01-16 23:04:112019-01-17 18:14:57Who are you sat next to?
It sounds like the start of a riddle but there’s an important underlying message. Namely, organisations should be monitoring the environment they are operating in to see if any changes could be impacting on their business.
A classic model for analysing the impact the external environment can have on an organisation is the PESTEL model. Those of you that are thinking of studying for your professional exams will possibly be thinking that it stands for Parties, Eating, Sleeping, Talking, Entertaining and Laughing but if you’ve passed your exams then you are probably more comfortable with the fact that it stands for Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental and Legal.
Whilst all the components of this model can be important, one area which is particularly topical is the “social” component.
Within the social component one change which a lot of countries are currently seeing is people’s increased health awareness and the increase in demand for vegetarian (no meat) and vegan (no meat or dairy) food.
Ben & Jerry’s is one of the world’s leading ice cream companies and they no doubt have a very sophisticated approach to monitoring the environment. One of the more impressive things they’ve done over the last couple of years is to launch some new products which will appeal to the vegan market.
If you are a vegan, then you don’t eat meat or dairy products and whilst you are unlikely to find an ice cream made out of chicken you are extremely likely to find an ice cream made out of milk.
Ben & Jerry’s though have nicely got around this problem by launching a number of flavours of vegan ice cream.
“How can they be vegan if they are ice cream?” I hear you say.
Well, the vegan ice creams are made with almond milk as opposed to dairy milk. Now technically that means they are frozen desserts and not ice cream but I can’t see any vegan being particularly upset about that.
The non dairy range has recently expanded in the UK and Ben & Jerry’s have just launched their first coconut flavoured vegan ice cream.
It’s called “Coconutterly Caramel’d” and blends coconut-flavoured ice cream with ribbons of caramel, Fair Trade chocolate, and cookies.
“Coconut ice cream, caramel, chocolate and cookies” – I don’t know about you but just reading that description makes me feel peckish.
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/ben_and_jerrys.png9441678Steve Crossmanhttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve Crossman2018-12-23 15:19:102019-01-04 08:24:56When is an ice cream not an ice cream?
Advertising can have a dramatic impact on what people buy and in countries which celebrate Christmas, one of the busiest buying seasons is upon us.
It’s traditional in the run up to Christmas in the UK for the big retailers to release a major TV advert. The retailer John Lewis for example has released it’s Christmas advert staring Elton John (who reportedly received a fee of £5 million for his input).
For me though the clear winner in the Christmas adverts is the “Rang tang” advert by the supermarket chain Iceland.
The advert was originally produced by the global charity Greenpeace and highlights the destruction of the rainforest caused by the production of palm oil (palm oil is found in many everyday products ranging from food staples such as bread to cosmetics).
The companies that produce palm oil are cutting down vast amounts of trees and as a result the Orangutan apes are really suffering. In simple terms, their homes are being destroyed and they are dying as they have nowhere to live.
Iceland spent £500,000 on putting the advertising campaign together and have pledged to remove palm oil from all their own brand products.
The advert, which was voiced over by actress Emma Thompson, has run into some problems with Clearcast, the body which approves or rejects television adverts in the UK. They have ruled that it is too political and as a result it has been banned from being shown on television.
The good news for this advert though is that Clearcast don’t regulate social media and the advert has been a hit on Facebook and YouTube.
At the time of writing, the advert had been viewed over 5 million times on YouTube.
If you haven’t seen it yet, I’d urge you to watch it below as it’s a great advert which raises awareness of an important global issue.
Picture the scene. It’s the first night of your honeymoon. You’ve just married a beautiful Italian Signorina called Marianna. You’re Italian and Italian men have a reputation for being some of the most romantic men in the world.
Now, even though some may say this reputation has largely been self created, there are still certain things you should do on your honeymoon and certain things you should definitely not do on your honeymoon.
Due to Italian privacy laws the individuals concerned can only be identified by their Christian names but what did Stefano do on his honeymoon that led to his new wife divorcing him one month into their marriage?
From a project management point of view there are various tools and techniques that can be used to ensure a project runs smoothly. One of these is to ensure that the team is made up of the right type of person as well as the appropriate number of people.
A well known theory behind what makes a good team is Belbin’s team role models.
In simple terms, Belbin’s theory says that people are born with certain characteristics. Belbin gave names to the different types of people. For example, a “plant” is a person that likes to come up with ideas and is usually quite creative. A “Monitor Evaluator” is somebody with a logical eye who can make impartial judgements.
Back to the one month marriage though and Stefano decided that rather than the traditional 2 person project team that goes on the majority of honeymoons he would make his a 3 person team.
To his wife’s understandable annoyance, Stefano’s 3 person honeymoon team included himself, his new wife and his mother.
The project team first started showing signs of a split when the mother-in-law turned up at the airport for the flight to the honeymoon destination of Paris.
A honeymoon in Paris sounds great until you realise that your mother-in-law is staying in an adjoining room at the hotel you’re staying at and accompanying you to every meal and romantic boat trip along the Seine.
One month after the wedding and Marianna left the marriage home they shared in Rome and returned to her home town of Naples leaving the 39 year old Stefano without a wife.
Maybe Marianna is more of a Belbin’s “Completer Finisher” than Stefan and his mum may have thought.
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/belbins-role-models.png9441678Steve Crossmanhttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve Crossman2018-11-14 15:24:282018-11-07 20:47:19The 3 person honeymoon and Belbin team roles...
The Carlsberg Group is one of the oldest brewing groups in the world. They were established way back in 1847 and their portfolio of products include Tuborg, Baltika and of course, Carlsberg.
They sell a lot of beer and their products are sold in more than 150 markets.
The “6 pack” is synonymous with beer and no, I’m not talking about the 6 pack on the beer drinkers abs. Rather, I’m talking about the 6 pack of beer that people can buy from shops.
One unfortunate problem with the 6 pack is that the cans are held together with a plastic wrapping. With so many 6 packs being sold around the world that means a lot of plastic is used.
People are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental damage that plastic is doing and Carlsberg have come up with a pretty innovative solution to reducing plastic on their 6 packs.
They have introduced what they call a “snap pack”.
In the snap pack the cans of beer are held together by glue rather than plastic wrapping. The cans of beer can be “snapped off”.
This saves a significant amount of plastic – according to Carlsberg this equates to reducing plastic waste by more than 1,200 tonnes a year. That’s a huge amount and is the equivalent of 60 million plastic bags.
Bo Oksnebjerg, Secretary General in WWF Denmark, was quoted as saying “Our wildlife is drowning in plastic – and the problem is unfortunately growing considerably. We therefore need to act now. We need less plastic to end up in nature. That is why we consider it huge progress that Carlsberg is now launching solutions that significantly reduce the amount of plastic in its packaging. With these new solutions, Carlsberg has taken the first big steps on the journey towards a more clean and green future.”
Nice work Carlsberg and I’ll drink to that. Or should I say, I’ll snap one off and drink to that…
Have you ever sent an email to the wrong person by mistake? What about posting something on social media which, with hindsight you’d wished you hadn’t?
We all make mistakes and it’s not the end of the world but I’ve got a feeling that Magnús Örn Hákonarson will be remembering his recent mistake for a while to come.
Magnús is in charge of his employer’s social media activities and recently what was supposed to be a private message was posted on his employer’s Facebook page.
Magnus works for The Landsbjargar’s Accident Investigation Company in Iceland and he accidentally posted an invite to a party to all the followers of the company. To add to the excitement, this wasn’t a normal party but was an invite to all the followers to take part in a bondage party with a fetish dress code.
The invitation highlighted the dress code as fetish or alternative and included information about safe words, leather masks and whips. Members of the BDSM society Magnus was a member of were able to buy the tickets for 1,000 ISK (£7) whilst non-members had to pay 3,000 ISK (£21).
As soon as he realised his mistake he removed the party invitation from the company’s Facebook page.
Whether or not his colleagues knew about his hobby is by the by. They certainly do now and the nice thing about it is that his employers realised it was a genuine mistake and have been very supportive.
Given his interest in BDSM he might have been slightly disappointed that he wasn’t punished but instead his employers issued a statement saying “There are many people with different backgrounds and interests within the volunteer group. People are engaged in all kinds of sports and hobbies and the rescue team’s board of directors will not distinguish these interests, as long as they are legal.”
What do you do if you work for PwC and you’re due to be promoted to a partner in October?
Well, if you’re Max Livingstone-Learmonth the answer is to catch a suspected handbag thief.
Now, this in itself is admirable but Mr Livingstone-Learmonth did it in style as he was actually dressed as a bishop.
“A future partner of PwC dressed as a bishop?” I hear you ask.
Although it may sound strange that he was dressed as a bishop, he was in fact in fancy dress as he was part of a charity world record attempt for the longest non-stop relay.
He was running as part of the I Move London Relay. This involved 2,500 runners taking it in turns to carry a relay baton over a combined distance of 4,000 miles by running 10km and 5km loops continuously over 30 days and nights in central London.
Mr Livingstone-Learmonth was part of the team of runners and according to London’s Evening Standard newspaper, he saw a woman chasing a man who had reportedly taken her bag. He then sprinted 100 metres to her rescue and caught up with the thief keeping him pinned to the wall until the police arrived.
He told the newspaper that “I’m not religious but it does feel a bit like divine intervention that I was there”.
He went on to explain that “A guy shouted, ‘stop that man’, and it was just pure instinct to run after him. I caught up to him and pinned him to a wall with my crosier.”
“I said, ‘It’s not your day if you’ve been run down by a bishop’,” he added.
So, well done to the future partner but one thing is even more impressive – during the struggle he kept hold of the relay baton. If he had dropped it the Guinness World Record attempt would have been jeopardised as it would not have been a complete relay.
Nice work Mr Livingstone-Learmonth.
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/pwc-handbag.png9441678Steve Crossmanhttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve Crossman2018-08-09 21:10:532018-08-10 15:56:16PwC, a Bishop and a thief...
Overall results from the most recent FRC inspections during 2017/18 show that 72% of audits required no more than limited improvements (compared to 78% in 2016/17). Or to put it another way, 28% of the audits reviewed required improvements (category 2B) or significant improvements (category 3).
For KPMG though things were particularly bad. When the FRC looked at their audits within the FTSE 350 (the largest 350 companies on the London stock exchange), they found that 50% required MORE than just limited improvements (compared to 35% in the previous year).
If you take a step back then this really isn’t very good is it. If you went to a restaurant where 50% of the meals served required more than limited improvements you’d be unlikely to go back to that restaurant again and I’m sure that restaurant wouldn’t be in business for much longer.
KPMG are going to face increased scrutiny by the FRC in the next round of inspections. 25% more KPMG audits will be examined over the 2018/19 cycle of work and the implementation of their Audit Quality Plan will be closely monitored.
So what went wrong?
The FRC noted that there were a number of factors. These included a failure to challenge management and show appropriate scepticism across their audits.
Stephen Haddrill, CEO of the FRC, said “At a time when public trust in business and in audit is in the spotlight, the Big 4 must improve the quality of their audits and do so quickly. They must address urgently several factors that are vital to audit, including the level of challenge and scepticism by auditors, in particular in their bank audits. We also expect improvements in group audits and in the audit of pension balances. Firms must strenuously renew their efforts to improve audit quality to meet the legitimate expectation of investors and other stakeholders.”
Whilst the level of quality found within the Big 4 audits fell, the performance of the mid tier companies improved. The FRC inspections on BDO, GT, Mazars and Moore Stephens showed general improvements in the quality of inspected audits.
The FRC’s Audit Quality Review is explained in more detail here and if you’re interested in reading the reports on the individual firms they can be found on the following links:
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/big-4-frc-report.png9441678Steve Crossmanhttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve Crossman2018-07-05 08:39:242018-07-05 08:55:52Room for improvement at the Big 4...
If you look at the finance side of running a bar then things should (in theory) be quite simple. Revenue is what your customers pay for the drinks they buy and the main expenses are the amount you pay to the brewery for the beer, staff wages and property costs.
Over in Belgium though some bars are facing a unique problem which is causing unwanted expenses but it looks though that they are coming up with some ingenious solutions.
Belgium is famous for its beers. Monks from local Abbeys started brewing different types of beer in the 12th century and nowadays some of the bars in tourist areas in Brussels and Bruges stock several hundred different types of beers.
Each of these beers has their own particular glass which it is served in. These glasses come in all shapes and sizes and are nice looking objects.
Unfortunately for the bar owners they are also very collectable in the eyes of certain tourists. As a result, lots of these glasses go missing as tourists take them for a souvenir.
This can involve a significant number of glasses. Tens of thousands of glasses a year are stolen in Belgium and replacing these glasses represents a significant cost.
Some of the bars are coming up with innovative ideas to stop the thefts.
The Bruges Beerwall café had 4,000 glasses taken in one year and has now introduced security alarms which are attached to each glass. If a glass is taken past the scanner at the door an alarm sounds.
A slightly less hi-tech solution to the problem (but arguably as effective) can be found at the Dulle Griet bar in the Belgium town of Ghent.
The bar stocks over 500 different types of beers and has some very attractive glasses in which these are served. If you want to have a drink though you have to hand over some security to make sure you don’t steal the glass.
The security is a shoe.
And not just any shoe but one of the shoes you are wearing. You hand it over and it is put in a basket which is then pulled up to the ceiling so that you can have a drink knowing that your “security shoe” is safe in the basket.
A great idea by the bar to keep the thefts of their glasses to a minimum and it has proved so successful that it has now become a bit of a tourist attraction with people popping in to look at the basket and have a drink.
One thought does spring to mind though and with 500 tasty beers on the menu I wonder how many customers have had one too many drinks and woke up in the morning with different shoes on each foot….
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/belgium-beer-profits.png9441678Steve Crossmanhttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve Crossman2018-06-17 15:04:332018-06-21 15:15:49Don't put your foot in it...
What’s one way of increasing the chances of getting hold of someone’s password?
Does it involve the use of the very latest supercomputer? Does it involve some clever IT geeks hacking into a computer for you?
Or does it involve chocolate?
A bit of research published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour attempted to find out how people are obligated by the kindness of others. Or in other words, if someone does something nice for a person, how likely is it that the person will be nice back to them?
The researchers in Luxembourg conducted a survey of random people in the street asking them about internet security including questions about passwords.
Some of the people interviewed were given chocolate and some weren’t.
30% of those that were not given chocolate revealed their passwords which to me is a surprisingly high percentage and just goes to show that quite often human stupidity is the weakest link in internet security.
For the people who were given chocolate at the beginning of the interview the figure rose to 44% and if the chocolate was given just before the question on passwords was asked an incredible 48% gave their passwords! Yes, nearly half of the people asked their passwords as part of a survey told a complete stranger their password if they had been given chocolate.
Andre Melzer, the author of the study said that “when someone does something nice for us we automatically feel obliged to return the favour”.
So, in conclusion, if someone walks up to you in the office and offers you a piece of chocolate be careful what you say…
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/chocolate.png9211637Steve Crossmanhttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve Crossman2018-05-25 02:55:442018-05-25 02:55:44Would you do this for a bit of chocolate?
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