Candies or Charcoal: What is Santa rating your engagement skills as?


You better watch out, you better not cry
Better not pout, I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is comin’ to town
He’s making a list and checking it twice
Gonna find out who’s naughty and nice
Santa Claus is comin’ to town

(Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town, Lonestar)

Children around the world are told all year round that if they misbehave, On Christmas day Santa will skip the candies and give them charcoal instead.When companies carry out their annual employee engagement surveys, some managers too get their lumps of charcoal. Surveys and studies comes back with the clear message that ‘People leave managers, not companies

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Peer Appreciation: The big happiness booster!

Recognition. We all want it, we all take steps to get it and we all feel good when someone gives it to us.

Recognition can be something as simple as a pat on the back for a job well done, a sincere compliment about something we did well, or just being noticed for the hard work we put into our tasks.

This validation of our efforts is important in all aspects of our lives, and can be especially vital in the workplace.

Employees who feel appreciated are happier, more productive and tend to feel more loyalty to their employers.

A Glassdoor study found 80 percent of those surveyed were more motivated to work hard when their boss showed appreciation for their work, as compared to only 40 percent stating increased motivation came from fear of losing their job, or worse, a demanding boss.

Bonuses are one strategy, but there are other more sustainable options which can be implemented on a regular basis, and often mean more than token monetary gestures doled out once in a while.

Cloud based platforms like kudos, make creating a culture of recognition at the workplace a snap! Social platforms like these make messaging, coordinating and announcing meet-ups seamless so that nobody is out of the loop and everybody can participate.

Here are four quick ideas for you to engage your team members right now – no permissions from management required and no major budgets either.

Idea#1: A simple thank you

Those two words go a long way, and frankly, are not used enough by leaders in the workplace. Yes, there is an expectation as an employee to perform well, but showing appreciation and gratitude for those efforts should still be vocalized.

Idea #2: Through the stomach

Make your employees day a little brighter by surprising them with breakfast, coffee or snacks in the office. Those little treats every now and then really help boost morale and are great way to say thank you.

Idea #3: Catch-up sessions

Do your best to have a personable relationship with your employees. Be relatable and never make them feel intimidated to express an opinion. Make time for quick one-to-one meetings to discuss how things are going, and let them know you have noticed and appreciate the progress they are making in their role with the company. Listen to any concerns they might have and be open to suggestions about how to improve the way things are done; they are the ones at ground level and might have some really good ideas about how to maximize their own productivity.

Idea #4: Small gifts or rewards

Treat your employees to gift cards, office parties, raffles or perhaps even an earlier finish on a Friday every once in a while to show them you recognize all they do for the company.

All of these strategies help to create and sustain a pleasant working environment where employees feel comfortable, recognized and motivated to do their best, a win-win for leaders and team members alike.

3 tips to ‘power-up’ timely recognition at the workplace.


Employee recognition is an extremely effective way to empower your best workers. Whether you recognize an employee with a raise or just a quick email, it’s important to let employees know when they’re doing well. However, recognition alone isn’t enough. Continue reading

4 smart ways to engage with Millennials in India


The psyche, work ethic and life choices of millennials are dissected and discussed continually by everyone from opinion columnists to psychologists to economists.

The millennial generation, whose members, born from 1980 to 2000, grew up during an unparalleled digital revolution, has a unique position in history, coming of age simultaneously with the rise of the internet, social media and all the other huge technological and communication advances we’ve seen in the past few decades.

These advances brought with them globalization, drawing the world in closer contact, and opening up new lifestyle and employment possibilities unimaginable just years before.

Because millennials grew up in an age of such progress and possibility, there is a lot of talk about how to engage them in the workforce.

By 2020, millennials are projected to make up 50 percent of the global workforce, and a whopping 75 percent by 2025.

In India for example, a country of over one billion, nearly 65 percent of the population will be of working age by 2026. This striking number of individuals will not only drive India’s progress, but also supply human capital around the world.

Companies around the globe are aiming to provide the kind of work environments that attract and motivate millennials.

Of course, not all millennials can be painted with the same brush; culture plays a huge role in motivational factors and personality.

In that case, what are some key motivators for Indian millennials?

Titles and avenues for progression

Millennials in India are ambitious and conscious of titles. Providing an organizational structure with designated roles and the opportunity for upward movement is key.

Mentor programs

Mentors make millennials feel valued and looked after by an organization. Effective mentor programs show fresh employees there is a path to promotion, and give them guidance for continued success along the way.

Skill development

Millennials have grown up in a society that is constantly reminding them of the need to stay relevant. Many do not want to stay in one role, or even one place, for too long. Offering training programs and skill development courses which allow them to multi-task and fulfill a variety of roles over time will keep them engaged.

Feedback and recognition

Communication with management is vital for millennials. They want to feel challenged and recognized, in order to feel they are an integral part of the organization, and that they are making a positive difference within the company. Give constructive criticism when improvement is needed, but make sure to equally dole out praise for a job well done.

Millennials, with all their quirks, are here to stay in a big way.

Therefore, it’s imperative to harness their collective power, understand what makes them tick, and motivate them for maximum productivity, on their terms.

Here is Sanjay Behl, CEO Raymond with his thoughts in the BusinessWorld Kwench HR Masterclass on how to engage the Millennials.

Do leave your thoughts and comments in the section below. I would love to hear your opinions on the topic.

Related Posts:

Engaging Gen-Y: The ‘Millennial’ Challenge (Part 1 – the Hero Generation)

Engaging Gen-Y: The ‘Millennial’ Challenge (Part 2 – The chasm)

Engaging Gen-Y: The ‘Millennial’ Challenge (Part 3 – The strategies)

kfit: Fighting the scourge of Diabetes and Hypertension – Part 1


This is the first post in a four-part series on the scourge of Diabetes and Hypertension. This one explains the diseases and the risks associated with it. The subsequent posts will deal with information on prevention, details on diet, exercise and stress management techniques. 

Sarabjit, is 35, and determined to make it to the top in the bank he works at. He works really hard, travels quite a bit and so doesn’t really have time to exercise and neither is he able to stick to a very healthy diet. He doesn’t exercise much given his busy lifestyle but he is anything but obese – in fact Sarabjit has a lean body frame.

It also happens that Sarabjit has type-2 diabetes and also has been diagnosed with high levels of cholesterol and high blood pressure.

And he isn’t an exception in corporate India. There is a silent epidemic sweeping the population. A stressful work life, lack of attention to one’s diet, limited or non-existent exercise routines are all taking a toll. In fact a recent study called SITE (Screening India’s Twin Epidemic) highlighted a grim reality – three out of five Indians (1) have either diabetes or hypertension or both!

The link between Diabetes and High Blood Pressure

It is not really known why there is such a significant correlation between the two, but it is assumed that obesity, a bad diet and inactivity are leading to a rise in both cases.

Hypertension is often referred to as a silent killer between most people are not aware that they have a problem – till its too late!

blood-pressure-control-tool_318-61843Demystifying the D/S:

To better appreciate how high blood pressure comes about, let me take a quick detour and explain what blood pressure is and what those two terms Diastolic and Systolic really mean.

Blood pressure is a measure of the force (in mmHg) of blood pushing against the walls of the blood vessels. In hypertension, the blood is pumped with a greater force making the heart work harder. Over time, a consistently higher blood pressure tires the heart muscles and can enlarge it. This raises the risk of diabetic complications which affect almost every organ of the body especially the heart, kidneys, eyes and the neuromuscular system.

 A blood pressure reading of 140/90 mm is considered normal in healthy people. What exactly is this? The above number (140) known as the systolic pressure is the pressure with which the blood is pushed through the heart to the body. The below number (90) or the diastolic pressure is the pressure when the heart relaxes and refills the blood.

diabetes-icon-7494 Understanding that sweet creepy disease:

 Diabetes has been known since the first century B.C.E., when a Greek physician, Aretus the Cappadocian, named it diabainein, meaning “a siphon,” referring to the excessive urination associated with the disease. The word diabetes was first recorded in 1425, and in 1675, the Greek mellitus, “like honey,” was added, to reflect the sweet smell and taste of the patient’s urine. An unrelated and rare disorder, diabetes insipidus, is usually caused by a hormone deficiency. (2)

Simply put Diabetes means uncontrolled blood sugar levels. Though there are different forms of diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes or Diabetes mellitus is the most common type. The main contributors to high blood sugars are insulin resistance and/or less production of insulin.

molecule_318-56621So what exactly is Insulin Resistance?

Insulin is the hormone produced by the pancreas that allows the body to control the blood sugar levels. In insulin resistance, the body’s cells are unable to use the insulin efficiently. Due to which more and more insulin is required to metabolize the glucose that comes through our food. For a period, the pancreas is able to meet the increased insulin demands. This helps keep the blood sugar levels within normal range; about 70-100 mg/dl on fasting and lower than 140 mg/dl post meals.

Eventually the over burdened pancreas gives up resulting in little or no insulin production and the blood sugar levels begin to rise resulting in Diabetes.

5364-200Risk factors for hypertension and diabetes (this could be you!):

Age is not necessarily an insurance against hypertension or diabetes. An unhealthy lifestyle can aggravate matters and things can quickly spiral out of control. The combination of hypertension and type-2 diabetes is more dangerous and significantly increase the risk of a stroke. It also increases the chances kidney failure and blindness (retinopathy)

Here is a quick list for you to check if you display any of the early indicators for these deadly diseases:

  • Abnormal belly fat or a waist circumference of more than 90 cms.
  • Rise in high blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • Sugar cravings, especially after meals
  • Extreme tiredness, especially after meals
  • Visual problems
  • Frozen shoulders
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Increase in thirst and appetite
  • Stress
  • High-fat, high-sodium diet
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Advanced age
  • Smoking
  • Too little potassium or vitamin D
  • Too much alcohol


12177-200Understand your blood pressure reading:

Getting a blood pressure reading takes just 30 seconds. If you have the kfit Health ATM installed in your office – head over there right now and get it done! Once you get your report, see which of these categories your reading falls into.

  • Normal blood pressure is below 120 systolic and below 80 diastolic.
  • Prehypertension is 120-139 systolic or 80-89 diastolic.
  • Stage 1 high blood pressure (hypertension) is 140-159 systolic or 90-99 diastolic.
  • Stage 2 high blood pressure (hypertension) is 160 or higher systolic or 100 or higher diastolic.
  • Hypertensive crisis; a medical emergency, is when systolic is above 180 or 110 above diastolic.


The consequences of delaying a diagnosis:

 Due to the surreptitious nature of the disease and its complications, it goes undetected in most people. There is absolutely no clear sign and symptoms till the disease emerge out in its full form where it’s too late to reverse them.

 There is an irrational fear of getting oneself checked, especially among younger individuals; which is becoming a major cause of delayed diagnosis. Lack of awareness about hypertension and its complications, myths surrounding the disease management makes the treatment and management difficult.

A timely intervention with regards to the treatment and apt lifestyle changes for both the conditions can actually reverse the condition.

In the next post I will talk in detail about Diagnosis, risk factors of delaying treatments, ways to prevent these diseases.


  • Prevalence of Diagnosed and Undiagnosed Diabetes and Hypertension in India – Results from the Screening India’s Twin Epidemic (SITE) Study,
  • Vocabulary, definition of diabetes.
  • Image credit:, freeicons and the noun project.



Smiling at a stranger




A genuine smile is the simplest, yet one of the best positive strokes by way of which one person can recognize another. Here is a short story (Courtesy from Quora) which emphasizes the value of the art of smiling.


Many a time, people get caught up in the rat race and do not find time to appreciate the small, beautiful things. So simple, yet difficult. A smile on a face is always a beautiful thing to see and experience.


Story courtesy from Quora, Mr. Prateek Choudhary

Cartoon image courtesy, Mr.Parani

Image courtesy –

Fostering a culture of positive strokes



You are AWESOME !! ♫

                    Imagine you begin your day with the alarm ringing at 6:00AM. You hit the snooze button. When you finally get up, it’s almost 6:30 and you are running late. You tell yourself you are a bad person for sleeping in. You are feeling down on yourself as you get on the bus to work. A person sitting next to you tells you how nice you look today and this lifts your spirit.

As you reach the workplace, you are greeted by the security guard at the door with a big smile and a warm good morning.  The warmth of the moment facilitates you to reciprocate with a broader smile and a cheerful Good Morning, not just to the guard but to the colleagues you pass by before you reach your desk.

As you reach your desk and power up the monitor, you see the bold words flashing on your mailbox from your Boss:

Hi Sam,

I’m just writing to say that I really appreciate your inputs in our last meeting. Those were some really good ideas. Thank you!

Best regards,


Each of the events that took place in the examples is a personal interaction of some type. And the measure of outcomes of these interactions or transactions (fundamental units of social interaction) is what is referred to as stroke in Berne’s theory of transactional analysis. Berne believed that we seek after strokes as recognition for our transactions. A stroke occurs when one person recognizes another person either verbally or non-verbally.

ID-10029114 This magical word, stroke has persisted right  from our birth. In fact, Berne introduced the idea of strokes into transactional analysis based on the work of Rene Spitz,  a researcher who did pioneering work in the area of child development. Spitz observed that infants deprived of handling, in other words, not receiving any strokes were more prone to emotional and physical difficulties. These infants lacked the cuddling, touching and handling that most other infants received.

Berne took Spitz’s observations of these infants and developed theories about the needs of adults for strokes. As we evolve from childhood to adults at workplace, stroke also takes a greater dimension and space in affecting the way we work. So while an infant needs cuddling, an adult craves a smile, a wink, a hand gesture, or other form of recognition.  At work, in order for a team to reach maximum effectiveness, each individual needs to get the positive strokes they need, while minimizing the negative strokes. Focusing on delivering high value, positive strokes will foster an environment of trust for teams, engaging the employees efficiently to be at their most effective.

I still remember my first day at work, where the activity for the 40 odd freshers gathered in the room, at the end of the day was to give each other a positive stroke to wrap up.  Each of them, having seen and interacted with one another the whole day through various activities, would have to just say a positive sentence about each other of what they had observed.  Besides being a fun activity, it created in us a sense of camaraderie, belief and achievement. And as the days followed up, we developed a stronger bond of trust and friendship among one another.

A study (one from Harvard Business School) reaffirms the same:

From the study:

In the study, participants were asked to solve problems. Just before that, approximately half of the participants received an email from a coworker or friend that described a time when the participant was at his or her best.

Overwhelmingly, those who read positive statements about their past actions were more creative in their approach, more successful at problem-solving and less stressed out than their counterparts.

For instance, participants had three minutes to complete Duncker’s candle problem. Fifty-one percent who had read emails prior to the task were able to successfully complete it; only 19% of those who did not receive “best-self activation” emails were able to solve it.

Those who received praise were also significantly less stressed than the control group.(source).

Lack of recognition for the work we do has consistently been ranked as one of the major causes for bad days at work. Receiving positive strokes strengthen relationships at work, makes us happier, less stressed and more productive.

So go ahead, strike a chord of harmony with your employees through positive strokes. Positive strokes take no time, cost no money and is one of the most effective ways to make a workplace happier, joyful and apparently, more productive.

Here are 4 simple tips on giving positive strokes at work:

  1. Smile – A Curve that sets everything straight.(See more : Smiling at a stranger)
  2. Start an appreciation-email-chain.
  3. ‘Post it’ Notes on Desk.
  4. Give praises and strokes on a recognition platform. Find it here!

It would be great if we could make it a day to day habit to give at least one other person at work a positive stroke of some kind. This can help develop a routine around it and get to a point where it is something we do naturally.



Image courtesy of

 Are you good at giving positive stroke to others? Does your workplace have a culture of the same?Feel free to share your comments.