This week’s guru

The art of improving performance

The crucial ingredient in driving productivity in the UK is not training or
a greater emphasis on vocational education, it is errr… art.

Two-thirds of workers believe they would work more productively if they were
inspired by music or art in the workplace, according to a study by Arts &
Business. Apparently, staff would rather their employers provide subsidised
tickets to arts events than subsidised gym membership.

Art can also help recruitment and retention – in all, three-quarters of
employees would prefer to work where there is art on the walls.

Guru is concerned that art in the workplace would be counter-productive, as
staff could become distracted by in-depth discussions over the merits of
impressionist, abstract and pop art. Having said that, Guru has long argued to
the MD that that his untidy desk is a living piece of conceptual art – a
workplace interpretation of Tracy Emin’s Unmade Bed.

Women are proven cause of all lateness

Guru has learned that consistent lateness is nothing to do with the vagaries
of the public transport system, traffic or faulty alarm clocks. The real reason
for staff being consistently late is that they don’t like their jobs.

A report by the School of Economic Studies at Manchester University reveals
that workers who are very satisfied with their jobs are half as likely to be
late as those who were neutral about their jobs.

Based on a survey of 2,000 UK workers, the study finds that those most
likely to be late are young single women, working in the private sector in a
non-unionised service job they don’t like. It also says children can cause
‘shocks to scheduling decisions’ that make parents late.

When Guru is late for work, it is usually due to what the study calls
‘intra-household conflicts relating to allocation of time’, or translated into
English – Mrs Guru nagging him over not doing the washing up as he’s trying to
get out the door.

Need for closure on pay is a load of hype

An academic at the University of Warwick has come up with a controversial
new theory on the equal pay gap – it is not worth closing.

Economist Maureen Paul finds that the average female worker is more likely
to believe she is fairly paid than her male counterpart. Paul thus suggests
there is little point in paying contented women workers more. Instead, she
advises employers to take advantage of this cheap happy labour force by
employing more women.

Guru would be interested to know how ‘contented’ Ms Paul would be if she
found she was being paid 19 per cent less than male academics. Alternatively,
she could chat with Louise Barton, who is in the middle of an equal pay battle
with her employer Investec Henderson.

Guru gets a Grip on leadership tactics

Following the England football team’s impressive return to form against
Turkey, Guru interviewed Sven-Goran Eriksson’s right-hand man Tord Grip on how
to manage a team back from the brink.

At a reception at the Swedish Embassy, where Guru had somehow wangled an
invite, the enigmatic Grip revealed that the best managers in any sector are
judged on results and that leadership is the most important attribute.

"To be a boss is one thing, but to be a leader is another. It’s about
relationships and how you build them," he told Guru, adding that despite
Sven’s laid-back image he delivers fiery and inspiring team talks.

To demonstrate, Grip predicted that under Sven’s charismatic leadership,
England will win the World Cup in 2006.

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