Big thinkers

11 July 2016
Big thinkers

The latest round-up of inspiring ideas for HR professionals

It won’t be long before we are working into our eighties, with the traditional idea of a ‘three-stage life’ replaced with up to five or six stages, and people dipping in and out of employment, self-employment and extended sabbaticals. In their new book, The 100-Year Life, respected academics Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott set out a manifesto for longer working lives. With life expectancy ever-increasing, they believe HR departments can lead the way in designing fulfilling and flexible work that gets the best out of employees at all stages of life.
 
While some believe that Ramadan leads to a slowdown in workplace productivity, pragmatic business leaders can ensure that the shorter working weeks actually add value to their organisations. In a recent article in the Dubai Chronicle, Professor William Scott-Jackson, chairman of Oxford Strategic Consulting and an expert on HR practice in the GCC, says: “A great leader helps their team work effectively and happily to make the most of every hour.”
 
A good night’s sleep, healthy food and regular exercise can not only help prevent illness but can ward off the damaging effects of rudeness and bullying in the workplace, according to Christine Porath, associate professor of management at Georgetown University in the US. In her forthcoming book, Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace, Porath analyses the effects of today’s “epidemic” of bad behaviour and suggests how organisations can tackle the issue and create healthier working environments.
 
Workplaces are falling prey to adherents of “functional stupidity”, explain Mats Alvesson and André Spicer in their new book, The Stupidity Paradox. Despite society’s technological advances and soaring collective intelligence, most jobs don’t require us to think critically, or even to think at all, which the authors put down to the rise of ‘knowledge work’ and over-education. Being more negative and cynical at work, as well as encouraging clandestine groups to counter the corporate literature, will help, they say.
 
“Emotional intelligence (EI) is very important for success,” says Abu Dhabi academic Dr P Sethu Madhavan Puravangara. He argues that by incorporating individual assessment and feedback tools, and “emotional competence” – the social skills that are based on EI – into HR processes, such as recruitment and training, “organisations can institutionalise positive behaviour and a healthy working culture over a period of time”. Puravangara says EI is important in the Middle East, where individuals might be dealing with colleagues from as many as 50 countries in one company.