The Work Experience

Are the signs to tidy the kitchenette not working? Try adding eyes.

mind matters, mind, brain, eyes

Is your workplace kitchette perpetually untidy? Are there serial offenders who just won’t comply with the signs stuck up on the wall, on the bench, on the dishwasher? It seems to happen everywhere, and a colleague and I were laughing yesterday as we saw a bunch of dishes on a bench just beneath the instructions telling people:

DO NOT leave your dirty dishes in the kitchette, don’t be lazy. Take them to the main kitchen.”

I kid you not, the first two words are bold + all caps + underlined. It reminded me of a research study that found that pictures of eyes changed people’s littering behaviour, making them tidier.

A group of scientists at Newcastle University, headed by Melissa Bateson and Daniel Nettle of the Center for Behavior and Evolution, conducted a field experiment demonstrating that merely hanging up posters of staring human eyes is enough to significantly change people’s behavior. Over the course of 32 days, the scientists spent many hours recording customer’s “littering behavior” in their university’s main cafeteria, counting the number of people that cleaned up after themselves after they had finished their meals. In their study, the researchers determined the effect of the eyes on individual behavior by controlling for several conditions (e.g. posters with a corresponding verbal text, without any text, male versus female faces, posters of something unrelated like flowers, etc). The posters were hung at eye-level and every day the location of each poster was randomly determined. The researchers found that during periods when the posters of eyes, instead of flowers, overlooked the diners, twice as many people cleaned up after themselves.

So perphaps try adding pictures of eyes to your kitchette signs. To read more about the mechanics of “Neural architecture” and “Gaze detection” and to read about how the studies were designed and conducted go to

This study is also quoted in Quick and Dirty Tips which has a few more suggestions for office tidiness. Not sure if I agree with all of them (do grown ups need candy rewards?) but sometimes you just gotta try something.

The Work Experience

Why Perks Aren’t Company Culture

“When you start developing a product or a company you never know if it’s going to work or what’s going to work. But you do know what you want to do and how you want to do it. So do that. And when (not if) that doesn’t work, do something different and try again. Repeat until something good happens. Then, and only then, should you look back and consider what you did that worked and find ways to reinforce that behavior.”

Read on over at Inc for the full opinion piece: or go to TechCrunch for the article that inspired it:

The Work Experience

Turnover … a potential indicator of longevity?

I think there’s a lot of lottery-playing going on right now. Companies staffing up, raising a bunch of money, hiring a bunch of people, and burning them out in the hopes that they’ll hit the lottery. …all you have to do is read TechCrunch. Look at what the top stories are, and they’re all about raising money, how many employees they have, and these are metrics that don’t matter. What matters is: Are you profitable? Are you building something great? Are you taking care of your people? Are you treating your customers well? In the coverage of our industry as a whole, you’ll rarely see stories about treating customers well, about people building a sustainable business. …I don’t know what percentage of tech companies have been around 30 years.

In this article from Fast Company, co-founder of 37 Signals Jason Fried, talks about building a sustainable business, in it for the long haul. He decries the tech start-up culture of burning out and churning though employees.

After reading it I was left wondering: could rates of employee turnover be an indicator of long term viability and success?

The Work Experience

Designing The One-Week Team Sabbatical That Will Transform Your Company

The image FAST COMPANY chose to lead this article isn’t quite representative of the ideas discussed. They should have chosen something more like this …

This article is about getting away from it all in order to work together and plan ahead. It outlines how to organise off-site sabbaticals, how to prepare for them and even gives you the debating points to counter the nay sayers who say you can’t afford the time or the people.

Key points:
Give everyone 3 months notice.
Allow everyone to contribute the project ideas to be work-shopped in this lead time.
Define project vision and scope in the lead time. Allocate team leaders to be responsible for this.
– Scope projects rigorously.
The projects should provide value for your team and clients.
– Get away from it all, the hum drum, the distractions and the routine and go off-site.
– Make sure people get to have some fun.

Cohesive teams should expect productive efforts and innovation roadmaps for the years ahead. Troubled teams should expect some catharsis.

For the full details and case studies check out: Fast Company

The Work Experience

Best Companies to Work For 2012 – Fortune Magazine

The reasons these companies have been nominated as great places to work by those that work there are:

  1. Good rewards
    • incentives, profit sharing, bonuses, above average pay for industry
  2. Strong and clear company mission
  3. Benefits
    • health insurance, health programs, childcare facilities, generous leave, workplace flexibility, other perks
  4. Physical work environment
    • food, access to services like dry cleaning, even walking tracks
  5. People
    • considered recruitment efforts, long tenure of employees
  6. Culture
    • recognition of excellence, adherance to, and evaluation based on values, fun incentives, games and events, happiness commitees, herograms, “no jerk” culture
  7. Feedback
    • Staff suggestions implemented, feedback mechanisms and forums in place
  8. Visible leadership
    • Leaders touching base with employees regularly or based on high performance of teams
  9. No layoffs
    • The US has faced tough economic times recently. Many companies on this list avoided lay-offs
  10. Career paths
    • Progression plans, internal promotion, investment in training and education
  11.  Acknowledging role of families
    • Inclusion of families in company events, acknowlegement of their contribution supporting employees

To see all the company snapshots go to:

The Work Experience

Letting people go: quick versus slow. Lessons from the Media Industry

When Eddie McGuire was forced to axe 100 staff from Channel Nine – barely a few months into his new role as CEO – he decided to give it to them straight.Unfortunately, his HR department had other plans.Instead of letting him sit down and talk with each unlucky worker, they made him read a scripted statement to them. He was also advised not to answer their questions. … “It was a disaster . . . the worst thing I did,” McGuire confessed to his Triple M listeners last week. “These HR people come in, they have their set plays – and they never work.”

Letting people go is an unfortunately reality of work life. But how to do it? Clean break? Slow release? This article about the Australian media industry provides some examples of sackings and reactions by audiences and colleagues. Needless to say common decency and truth is encouraged over cold HR strategies.

Read all the gory details at