Three Ways To Encourage Innovation

Where does innovation fit in your business? Regardless of size, innovation is important to enter new markets and grow the reach and market share of your business.

Innovation, however, can sound rather intimidating to some businesses, but it doesn’t have to be. According to workspace design company, Red Thread, there are simple things you can do today to encourage innovation among your employees.

1. Give Your Employees A Reason To Care. Employees with an emotional investment in your company and their jobs are the ones who are going to put in the most effort and produce the best work. If your employees are only at the office for the paycheck, their willingness to participate and innovate is going to be much lower. Encourage innovation by giving them a reason to care. This motivation can come in many forms such as incentives, raises, promotions and feedback for a job well done. When employees feel like they matter, they are more likely to be invested in the company and innovate on new projects.

2. Include Social Spaces In Your Office. Give your employees a physical space to be creative and innovative. Creating social areas or lounge-type spaces in your office is a great invitation for employees to relax, mingle and get the creative juices flowing. Studies show that taking small breaks throughout the workday can boost workers’ productivity and motivation, too. When employees have a space to take a break from their hectic workday, they can recharge and come back to their desk full of fresh ideas.

3. Collaboration Is Key. When it comes to innovating and generating new ideas, the more heads in the room the better. Collaboration allows for employees to put their best ideas together and generate truly innovative solutions. In order for employees to collaborate successfully, they need the technology, space and resources to do so. Equip work spaces with collaboration technology like smart boards and wireless connection to encourage innovation. Make sure you incorporate areas where employees can individually focus as well as collaborate in groups.

Source: Red Thread helps organizations and their partners to create work environments that support productive, engaged employees. Through integrating furniture, architectural products and audiovisual technology, holistically designed spaces can dramatically impact your bottom line. Red Thread was established in 2012 when Office Environments of New England, BKM Total Office and Business Interiors joined forces as a regional enterprise. Red Thread serves as the authorized Steelcase dealer in New England.

Image courtesy of google image search.

Using “Thank-You” To Get What You Want

Most of us like to be thanked, especially when the sentiment is sincere. For that reason, saying “thank-you” is one of the most powerful phrases in any language.

Upon meeting you, a job candidate thanks you for considering him for the position. Your boss thanks you in a staff meeting for the project you are about to undertake. A sign in your gym thanks members for placing used towels in the hamper.

Today, we share these insights into the power of saying thank-you in advance to get what you want from Kate Zabriskie, president of Business Training Works, Inc.

Why A Thank-You In Advance Works

Zabriskie says that thanking people in advance works for a several reasons. The first has to do with a sense of obligation many people feel to reciprocate after they’ve received something.

The second explanation for the technique’s effectiveness is because people want to conform to a positive image of themselves. In other words, “I’m going to act like a good worker because I am a good worker.”

A third explanation for the power of this method has to do with instruction. Often, we assume people intuitively know what they are supposed to do. Guess what? Many don’t. They’ve forgotten, they’re preoccupied or they’re simply not thinking. Offered in the right way, many people will follow a suggested course of action, because it’s the path of least resistance.

The Structure Of Saying Thank-You In Advance

To plan an advanced thank-you, use the following framework:

1. Think about the desired result. “I want my employees to show up on time.”

2. Identify the type of people who typically demonstrate that behavior. “Responsible and accountable people show up on time.”

3. Craft a statement that identifies the people you are addressing as that group, and be specific about the result you want to see. For example: “I appreciate the fact that I have such a dedicated team. I want to thank you in advance for giving 110 percent this week. The hours during this busy season are demanding, and it takes a true group of professionals to act upbeat and engaged with every visitor. This is why we hired you.”

Tips and Cautions:

1. Thanking people for good behavior should be done before you’ve observed anything particularly egregious. For example, imagine a chaotic scene in a retail environment where customers are pushing and shoving each other. It’s more difficult to thank them into a reverse course after they’ve gone wild. However, a little advanced gratitude offered earlier could have helped avoid mayhem.

2. Thanking people is not a substitute for confronting inappropriate behavior. For example, if an employee comes to work dressed improperly, you can’t thank your way around addressing the problem. However, you can use a thank you as part of the corrective conversation. “Mary, I appreciate you listening to me this morning, and I want to thank you in advance for taking the conversation seriously. I know you have what it takes to represent our company well. I look forward to seeing you be successful here.”

3. Thanking people for everything dilutes the method’s effectiveness. “Bill, I want to thank you for coming in on time today. I know how important punctuality is to you, so thank you for parking in the employee lot and not taking a visitor’s space.” Too much of that, and Bill is going to think you’ve got a screw or two loose. Worse still, he’s not going to believe a word you say.

Perfecting the science and art of the advanced thank-you takes time but it can be an important tool of influence.

PCT wants to thank you in advance for checking your inbox tomorrow for the next issue.

Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised.

Image courtesy of google image search.

Five Ways Small Businesses Can Leverage PR

It was Edward Bernays, known as the father of public relations, who said, “”Modern business must have its finger continuously on the public pulse. It must understand the changes in the public mind and be prepared to interpret itself fairly and eloquently to changing opinion.”

In today’s business world, public relations is often associated with large, corporate challenges and societal issues. But, PR can have an important impact on a small business as well. In fact, when it comes to branding and marketing, PR is one of the most important tools to help get you the right type of attention-and it can easily fit into your marketing budget.

Here, we share these five tips for PR success, from business author Shannon Gausepohl.

To get started with PR, begin with the right mindset. Building brand awareness and name recognition takes time. Gausepohl advises to set aside 10 percent of your annual budget for public relations activities. Use these dollars to help you:

  • Establish clear, measurable goals for your business.
  • Determine the best strategy to achieve these goals and execute this strategy.
  • Review your results and establish new goals or a new strategy.

Here are key steps to building and implementing your plan:

1. Figure out your “why.” What is the ultimate goal of your PR campaign? Increase customer engagement? Position yourself as a community leader? You’ll need to define your goal before creating your PR strategy or tactics.

Remember, the “why” is your story, not your product or your service. For example, say you are a launching a new restaurant. Instead of telling people to check out this new trendy place (your what), you’ll need to answer why it matters. Why did you decide to start this restaurant in the first place?

2. Build your own media list. The next step is to identify your influencers, both online and offline. Who are those influencers with the most targeted reach that can serve as a third-party earned endorsement? Before you pitch anything, make sure that what you’re sending is relevant to what the media out writes about or covers.

3. Create your brand message. When sending information, personalize it to both your brand and the person you are pitching to. Often, highly personalized, short email pitches are better than long-winded news releases.

Also, if you don’t hear back right away, don’t take it personally. It often takes a few tries before a journalist will reach out to you. If one pitch doesn’t work, be patient, wait and try a new angle when you have something newsworthy to share again.

4. Be a source for the media. It’s valuable to build relationships with journalists in your industry. You can save them time by providing industry information and being a resource. Be fast in your response to their requests and don’t bother with multiple follow-ups. Be sincere, helpful and informative.

5. Ask for help. There are PR resources to fit any budget, so ask for help. You can source both independent contractors as well as PR firms to help you navigate your industry landscape. These resources already have the trust and relationships with the media, and they can help you design PR campaigns that build your brand and serve as a resource should you need to navigate through any potential issues.

Try these tips to improve your PR value, influence key audiences and build your brand equity.

Source: Shannon Gausepohl graduated from Rowan University in 2012 with a degree in journalism. She has worked at a newspaper and in the public relations field, and is currently a staff writer at Business News Daily. Gausepohl is a zealous bookworm, has her blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and loves her Blue Heeler mix, Tucker.

Image courtesy of google image search.

Seven Ways To Motivate Your Team

It’s 2018, a new year, and a great opportunity to assess what can be done to make your team more collaborative, motivated and effective in the coming year. Here, we share these pillars from executive coach Jan Makela to help you and your team get there.

1. Vision and mission: Begin by asking some key questions. What is it that you want? What is in it for others? There has to be something bigger than you that others can grasp and buy in to. Why does your organization exist? Workers today want to work for organizations that can show a purpose or cause. Makela gives the example of Google, whose corporate mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

2. Goals: In just a few weeks, everyone will be setting goals for the New Year, whether it’s losing weight, saving money or something else. And then what happens? The goals go into a drawer or are hidden in an electronic file never to see the light of day until someone asks for them. So, put your goals on display so that the entire team can see them daily. Why? Out of sight means out of mind. Keep your goals in front of the people in charge of accomplishing them and ask them about their progress on a routine basis-preferably weekly. Ask them how they are doing and what can you do to make the goals easier to accomplish.

3. Expectations: Only 30 percent of employees know what is expected of them at work. Your goal is to get people to work and perform together. People will live up or down to the perception of your expectations of them. If they think you believe in their abilities and expect them to do well, they will. Remember, if people don’t know what you expect, don’t be surprised by what you get.

4. Feedback: Positive feedback grows and negative feedback stifles. Catch your employees doing the job right and recognize them for it. They will do more of what generates positive feedback.

5. Treat everyone fairly but not equally: The people you work with are all unique individuals, and although you need to treat each one fairly, that does not necessarily mean equally. They have different values, wants, backgrounds, skill sets and experiences, and most likely they are at different stages of their careers. One size fits nobody. Great managers play chess, meaning that all of the pieces move differently. The key to success is knowing the differences between the pieces, how each piece moves and how to create a strategy that maximizes the moves for all of them. Another key piece of the puzzle is showing your team that you genuinely care about them. They need to know you have their interest at heart; people want to know that someone at work cares about them as a person.

6. Provide tools and resources to do quality work: Most people want to do quality work. Part of that is having the tools and resources to do a quality job. Ask your team members what you can do to make their job easier. If they say, “I need a new widget maker,” get it. Provide them with the resources they need to succeed. If they say they don’t need anything, your response should be, “guess I can expect quality work.” You want to remove any and all reasons for failure. You only leave a path to success.

7. Celebrate success: What do organizations do when they accomplish a big thing? Well, they move on to the next big thing. It is important to stop and celebrate with your team. Allow people to share the memory of what has been accomplished. Simple things like handwritten notes are important. Remember to thank everyone for what they did and how their contribution led to the overall achievement of the group.

The seven pillars can help you and your team stand out within your organization.

Jan Makela is an executive coach, highly-sought after speaker and bestselling author of Cracking the Code to Success and Be the Manager People Won’t Leave. Makela has a long and successful history of working with companies to ensure quality hiring and training practices. His specialty revolves around strength-based leadership development with a focus on working with senior and mid-level executives, business owners and professionals.

Create A Positive, Productive Workplace

Have you ever worked in a setting that was not a happy place? Ever had a boss that always had their door closed and did not welcome questions or conversation, which created an isolated environment. Plus, the company’s structure was continually changing, so job security was always in question. And there was a definite pecking order of favorite employees, causing animosity among teammates. Working in an environment like this can be stressful, distracting and downright depressing.

Today, we share a model for creating a happy workplace by looking to one of the most cheerful places on earth—the North Pole—and Santa’s workshop. Human resources expert Susan Heathfield has studied the elves who work there (well, the concept anyway), and says they are always happy and continue to meet production demand for toys as the world’s population of children increases. Based on this model, here’s what Heathfield says are the keys to a creating a happy workplace.

Create a purpose. Santa’s elves have a higher purpose than themselves by providing little boys and girls all over the world with exactly what they want for Christmas. Bringing joy through their work and knowing that they are participating in an activity that impacts millions in a positive way brings a sense of purpose and happiness.

Know your customer. Elves have a customer intelligence gathering system that allows them to get up close with customers—literally. They get to see people in shopping centers all over the world and ask them what they want. Elves listen and they build intelligence on the customer. These insights are rewarding in allowing them to be targeted in their work. And by meeting the customer needs, they have happy customers who will refer their work to others.

Create a sense of security. Elves feel totally needed and secure in their employment. Santa simply can’t serve the entire world on his own. It takes a spirit of teamwork between the elves, reindeer and the entire North Pole operations team. Elves have lots of customer orders and they know they will never run out of work. Job security and teamwork are desirable conditions to create happy employees.

Live the mission and vision. Elves have clear direction. They must meet the goal of delivering presents on Christmas Eve. They must do whatever it takes to make that delivery happen. And they have a vision: to create joy for boys and girls around the world. It’s an aspiration that keeps the elf team motivated and focused, and when they hit their goals, the impact is highly rewarding. Elves know they make a difference to millions of lives.

Have an open-door policy. One key principle at the North Pole is that jolly old elf, Santa. He creates an atmosphere of laughter and trust, yet he motivates and delegates across the elf teams. He doesn’t play favorites because every elf matters to get the work done, and every elf’s ideas are seriously considered. Santa creates an environment in which he’s approachable by all elves, no matter their roles.

Tap into these elf-friendly tips to create a happy and productive workplace for your team in 2018.

Source: Susan Heathfield is a human resources expert. She is a management and organization development consultant who specializes in human resources issues and in management development to create forward-thinking workplaces. She is also a professional facilitator, speaker, trainer and writer.

Five Ways To Maintain Brand Value

When it comes to your business, do you know the value of your brand? In other words, what is the monetary impact of your brand to your bottom line? According to Forbes magazine, the values of some of the world’s top brands look like this: Apple, $104.3 billion; Microsoft, $56.7 billion; and Coca-Cola, $54.9 billion.

Your brand value is most likely not in the billions like these global companies, but nonetheless, it’s important to maintain your brand value. Here, we share five ways to retain your reputation, make the most of economic upswings and positively impact your bottom line from Mark Di Somma, a partner and senior brand strategist at The Blake Project.

1. Be part of a rising category. If you have a brand in a rising product category, then you want to invest in building that brand interest. If you don’t have a brand in an up-and-coming category, then consider how you can get your brand in that space either through acquisition, a partnership or co-branding opportunity.

2. Tackle social issues. What are the reputational or social issues that your market segment faces? What impact could your brand have on a social issue? For example, product safety is closely tied to child safety. In the fast-food industry, those brands are being challenged by healthier brands, so they are having to step up with more health and nutrition programs.

3. Increase “share of life.” This phrase from Millward Brown refers to expanding your touchpoints and extending your ecosystem to reach customers in multiple ways and through multiple products and channels. Di Somma uses the example of Apple, a brand that affects lives every day through mobile phones, apps, iPads, point-of-purchase, music and entertainment. Amazon is another brand example of this with its easy, one-click shopping and relevant purchase recommendations. Nike, with its Nike+ Fuelband, has transformed itself from a mere apparel brand to a companion and coach for runners.

4. Be more convenient. One way brands like Apple and Amazon are successful is by creating seamless experiences. This is convenient for the consumer while also helping the brand control the consumer journey. Di Somma points out that digital media plays a key role with this, so think of ways you can develop digital touchpoints through your brand to keep the customer engaged and connected.

5. Beautify. Continue to review and adjust the design and style of your products and your advertising so that your brand feels “now.” This is hard, but not impossible, for brands with long lead times. It is also relative, and chances are your competitors face the same logistical issues that you do. By continually checking the appeal of what you offer, you can introduce your brand to new segments. Remember the slogan, “It’s not your father’s Oldsmobile”? An updated car design led to a younger market for the car manufacturer.

Be a champion of your brand and try these tactics to continue to increase your brand value.

Source: Mark Di Somma is a partner and senior brand strategist at The Blake Project. For more than 20 years he has helped decision makers, brand owners and brand agencies define, articulate and elevate the value of their brands.

Image courtesy of google image search.

Want Innovation? Learn From Ants

As is virtually always discussed, innovation plays an important role in any organization, both large and small, but there’s a significant difference in how innovation shows up in each type of organization.

Large companies usually have innovation teams focused on large-scale problems and large- scale production. Ron Ashkenas and Markus Spiegel, authors and contributors to HBR.org, note that these types of teams move in a specified direction at predictable speed.

On the other hand, innovation is not as organized and formal in small companies. It’s usually more spontaneous and nimble, driven by those wearing multiple hats.

Ashkenas and Spiegel have studied more than a dozen global organizations and their approaches to innovation—some successful and some not so much. Here, we share four of their findings on innovation.

1. It takes the mindset of an ant. Teams functioning like machines—blindly following highly defined processes and execution plans—were the least effective at achieving their goals and coming up with innovations. The most successful teams operated less like highly efficient machines and more like ant colonies, where they quickly adapted to changes in their environment. They had a set of simple rules and a clear goal, allowing them to be more flexible and able to learn along the way.

2. Centralize your mission; loosen your structure. As Ashkenas and Spiegel point out, ants have no central control, no single “master ant,” yet the entire colony works together as one community. They’re able to align their individual activities to the powerful common purpose that each ant shares—the survival of the nest. Thus, when the environment shifts, individual ants adapt their roles for the collective good.

Leaders of effective innovation teams communicate and centralize the mission of the team, but give the team members the freedom to do what’s needed to achieve their part. This allows the team to adapt when they hit dead ends. This is also why companies like Google align their people through yearly and quarterly goals, while giving them the ability to work toward these results in multiple ways.

3. Communication is key. Back to the ants. We’ve all seen long ant trails leading to a food source. If the source is particularly good, the trail intensifies and more ants follow it. It’s a time- and energy-saving way to communicate.

Rich, frequent and candid communication is also important for organizational teams to find innovations as quickly as possible. People need to bounce around ideas, share insights and challenge each other’s assumptions. Leaders need to make sure their teams have the time, space and tools to make this happen. Bring your team together often and create a comfortable atmosphere for dialog and brainstorming. Make it easy to share ideas through tools like instant messaging and file sharing.

4. Experiment with ideas. Always test new ideas and new ways of doing things. It’s at the heart of innovation. Ashkenas and Spiegel us the example of Intuit, who puts new product ideas on the internet before they are developed to test whether there is a market. If there’s interest, they proceed with development; if not, they modify the idea or quietly withdraw it.

Encourage your team to test ideas through action instead of just through studies and analyses. Of course, this requires both dollars and resources to build prototypes and mock-ups early in the discovery process and to engage directly with customers to get rapid feedback and test assumptions.

Embrace these management concepts behind innovation and watch your “colony” flourish.

Source: Ron Ashkenas is partner emeritus at Shaffer Consulting, where he helped leading organizations achieve dramatic performance improvements and coached CEOs and senior executives on strengthening their leadership capacity. He’s also an avid author and contributor to publications such as Harvard Business Reviewon topics related to organizational change.

Markus Spiegel is partner at Schaffer Consulting where he helps organizations to master the challenges in complex environments. His experience includes working in the automotive and financial services industry, including key roles at the BMW Group. He is also a contributor to Harvard Business Review.

Four Ways To Combat Lukewarm Leadership

In the backdrop of uncertainty, a mere spark of ambiguity or apathy by leadership can ignite the pervading fuel of resistance among the masses. Today, we will share four ways to combat lukewarm leadership from business coach and author Brian Braudis.

1. Set the tone: Begin with the energy and gusto you want to see in others. What you do as a leader has tremendous influence on those throughout your team and even your stakeholders. People respond to what you initiate. Demonstrate how much you are willing to give and show that you are duty-bound early and often. Make your messages steadfast. When people see and feel your energy, enthusiasm and promise they will not only buy in, they will help spread your all-in message.

2. Communicate: Communication is a standard by which leaders guide, direct, motivate and inspire action. Clear, confident, resonant communication will engender trust and gain followers. Here’s how:

  • Get specific: Simple and concise is more effective than complicated and confusing. Hit the high points in your speeches and save the granular details for in-person communications.
  • Get face to face: Aim for dialog rather than monologue. Employees and team members know the demands on leaders and managers. They know the value of authentic live contact and informal dialog where they can see and feel that their message is being received.
  • Demonstrate beyond words: What you do supersedes what you say. The proven formula for personal communication is 55 percent body language, 38 percent tone and seven percent communication through words. Body language and tone will validate everything that you say. Sending protocol out in a memo is not nearly as effective as walking around and informally sharing your thoughts and expressing yourself on the need for procedures.

3. Be the Island of commitment in a sea of uncertainty: Increased global influence, more demanding customers and disruptive new players are challenges to be surmounted. But to your team members the new economy means uncertainty. Uncertainty leads to anxiety that makes people susceptible to stress, and being less productive and more vulnerable to conflict. During times of upheaval we need leaders who

are anchored in commitment. They bring a calming presence and a higher perspective to the context of uncertainty. There will always be some degree of uncertainty. But when leaders show resolute certainty in their commitment, team members take note and follow suit.

4. Show consistent enthusiasm: Leaders who show enthusiasm remove any hint of being lukewarm. People can visibly see and feel your passion, energy and commitment and they buy in. Your team wants to win and they want you to be successful. No one tries to be second best. Show consistent enthusiasm and your team reciprocate with buy in and enthusiasm of their own.

When savvy followers see and feel your energy, commitment and enthusiasm shining through the daily challenges and frustrations, there’s nothing lukewarm about that.

Source: Brian Braudis is a highly sought-after human potential expert, certified coach, speaker and author of High Impact Leadership: 10 Action Strategies for Your Ascent. He has also authored several audio programs from executive leadership development to stress management. Braudis believes “leadership” is a verb not a title. His passionate and inspiring presentations are based on the foundation that regardless of your position or role everyone is a leader.  Image courtesy of google image search.

Bet On Pets

Roughly 65 percent of households in the U.S. own at least one pet, which equates to more than 81 million homes. The American Pet Products Association is projecting over $69 billion in pet industry expenditures in 2017, with an average annual growth rate over the last 15 years of 5.4 percent. With these strong spending predictions and ample opportunities for innovation, there’s a huge market for products that cater to pet owners.

It is not a coincidence that the demand for pet specialty products is increasing as the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement. Many of the Boomer households are “empty nests,” and with their children gone, they are lavishing attention on their pets. Pet spending reaches its peak (at ages 55-64) as consumers focus on their “fur babies,” according to John Gibbons at petbusinessprofessor.com.

Even better news for the industry is that Millennials are embracing the trend. This generation was raised treating their pets as part of the family, so it is natural for them to splurge on luxury pet goods too. Many products and services that would have seemed extravagant to prior generations—doggie day cares, organic foods, high-end grooming services, expensive medical treatments and apparel—are now the norm. And as Millennials earn more disposable income, expect to see them spending more of it on their pets.

As the market for niche products and high-end services for pets expands, so do the opportunities to reach this audience through promotional products. “We’ve been successful selling to veterinarian offices, groomers, pet day care centers and dog treat companies,” says Charles Huang, vice president of sales and marketing for supplier Minya International Corporation (PPAI 112523). “There are also many channels and baking shows on YouTube that specialize in animal treats—and they sell merchandise to their followers. In addition, we’ve worked with animal shelters, rescue groups and breeder organizations for fundraisers.”

Humanization, the modern impulse to treat animals like people, drives the universal appeal of pet-themed products. Even among people who don’t own pets, who can resist heart-melting images of puppies and kittens? “Our ‘Best Friends’ calendars are appropriate for nearly any business serving consumers because pets are such a big part of family life now,” says Jerome Hoxton, president of Tru Art Advertising Calendars (PPAI 113720). “The primary buyers are veterinarians and veterinarian clinics, but other frequent buyer categories are banks, hardware retailers, dentists, tire service retailers, feed stores and auto dealers.”

With research pointing to increased health benefits associated with pet ownership, more and more consumers are following the craze. The U.S. Public Health Service touts pet ownership as beneficial to obesity prevention and helpful for those who are trying to quit smoking. In addition, the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative Foundation states, “People are happier and healthier in the presence of animals. Scientifically documented benefits … include decreased blood pressure, reduced anxiety and enhanced feelings of well being.”

———-

Pet Trends to Watch

Natural products
toxin-free materials and organic food

Premium services
spa treatments, mobile grooming, portrait photography, pet sitting

Superior health care
including health insurance

Travel Accessories
so that Spot isn’t left at home

Tech
wearable health trackers, monitors and interactive devices

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Have Pet, Will Travel

While on the go, pet owners are increasingly reluctant to put their animals in kennels. Numerous travel and hospitality organizations have responded, with airlines expanding their policies allowing pets on board, and many hotels and restaurants shifting to a more pet-friendly model.

Nowhere is this more apparent than at New York’s JFK Airport, where The ARK, the world’s first animal airport terminal, recently opened. The state-of-the-art center offers veterinary care, microchipping, and custom reports on individual animals. When complete, the terminal will unveil a Paradise 4 Paws pet resort that includes a bone-shaped dog pool and a jungle gym for cats. Although the terminal has only rolled out stage one of three so far, The ARK has raised the bar for travelers expecting quality care for their pets.

Even for less glamorous types of travel, including biking, going for a run or simply running errands, enthusiasm for mobile pet products is high and expected to rise.

For individual products and case studies, please visit our flipbook.

Terry Ramsay is associate editor of PPB.

Japanese firm gives non-smokers extra six days holiday to compensate for cigarette breaks

Company based on 29th floor of Tokyo office block says every break lasts at least 15 minutes.

A Japanese company is granting its non-smoking staff an additional six days of holiday a year to make up for the time off smokers take for cigarette breaks.

Marketing firm Piala Inc introduced the new paid leave allowance in September after non-smokers complained they were working more than their colleagues who smoked.

Hirotaka Matsushima, a spokesman for the company, told The Telegraph: “One of our non-smoking staff put a message in the company suggestion box earlier in the year saying that smoking breaks were causing problems.”

Following the suggestion, the company’s CEO Takao Asuka decided to give non-smoking employees extra time off to compensate, Mr Matsushima added.

The matter has been taken seriously by the Tokyo-based company which is reportedly based on the 29th floor of an office block — making any cigarette break last at least 15 minutes, according to staff.

Mr Asuka hopes the scheme will create an incentive for the company’s staff to quit smoking.

Efforts to reduce the number of smokers and impose tougher anti-smoking regulations have been seen across Japan in recent months.

In July, Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike made plans to impose a smoking ban in public places across the Japanese capital ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics.

But the proposal is likely to encounter strong opposition from pro-smoking politicians, restaurateurs and cigarette manufacturing giant Japan Tobacco, which is one third government-owned and paid the state $700m in dividends in 2015.

The World Health Organisation ranks Japan at the bottom of the list in anti-smoking regulations according to the type of public places entirely smoke-free and around 18 per cent of Japanese are believed to smoke.