Employee Engagement

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stairs-to-anspirition-4-clCompanies continue to evolve from old-school to new-school; from being mechanistic to humanistic; from having a command-and-control structure to an empowering one. Sometimes this evolution is expedited by changes in the external environment and sometimes by the induction of new management. As this sequence unfolds, companies move towards greater ‘employee engagement’ as a means of achieving sustainable profitability.

What is employee engagement? Put simply, it is when the company benefits from the heart and soul, and the passion and creativity of an employee, versus the one who drags himself in at nine and clocks out at five. Companies can no longer afford to host ‘warm bodies’ that occupy positions and go through the motions of the daily grind. Similarly, employees no longer want to work at places where they are not engaged as full human beings. Both sides need to put in their best efforts to make this happen. Continue reading

Running On Green

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AdBuzz LeadCopy-of-ED-w-Banner-lg-with-2014Although plant based bio-diesels have been used in vehicles dating to the Model T (designed and manufactured between 1903 and 1926), the search for a commercially viable, plant-based bio-gasoline had proved to be futile time and again.

That is, until last month, when scientists at the University of California – Davis, led by Professor Mark Mascal, discovered a process – essentially the first of its kind – that utilises farm and forestry waste and converts it into plant-based gasoline, which is expected to function as a viable green substitute for petrol.

Levulinic acid, the main ingredient required to manufacture bio-gasoline, is extracted from straw, corn stalks and municipal green waste. The acid is converted into bio-fuel through a complex chemical filtration and distillation process. Compared to carbon fuels like petrol, synthesising plant-based gasoline is significantly quicker and cheaper and, best of all, energy-efficient, because it does not emit harmful gases into the atmosphere. Continue reading

Sustainable Construction Practices In Pakistan

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Real LeadCopy-of-ED-w-Banner-lg-with-2014Earth Day will be marked the world over on April 22, so it is pertinent to focus on environmentally-friendly practices that Pakistan’s construction industry is employing.

These include:

Using materials to insulate buildings, thereby reducing energy consumption.

  1. Commercial buildings are increasingly designed with ceilings that are approximately 12 to 15 feet in height. This improves ventilation, allowing adequate space for hot air to rise and consequently allowing more space for cooler air. This practice reduces the temperature of a building by approximately 10 degrees.
  2. The use of payaal, a type of hay is replacing sand bricks in Punjab. This is because payaal (which is inserted in gaps between hollow bricks) provides better insulation than sand bricks, and keeps buildings cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
  3. New development projects are increasingly replacing heat-conducting metals (such as steel in pillars and roof panels) and replacing them with lightweight insulated aluminium sheaths and earth bricks. This prevents buildings from heating up.

Continue reading

To Sacred Heart For Easter

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A panoramic view of Sacred Heart Cathedral

A panoramic view of Sacred Heart Cathedral

easter Icon copyNamed after John Lawrence, Viceroy of India (1864-1869), Lawrence Road is one of Lahore’s oldest thoroughfares and stretches between China Chowk and Regal Chowk. Several historic landmarks are located there as well as several commercial enterprises.

A magnificent Cathedral… Sacred Heart Cathedral, Lahore’s largest church, is located on Lawrence Road. Established in 1907, it was designed by Belgian designer Dr M Dubbeleere in the Roman-Byzantine style. This magnificent structure has a steeple that rises to 165 feet, flanked by two towers, and an imposing 120 feet high dome surrounded by four elegant turrets. Today, as Easter is celebrated, members of Lahore’s Christian community will attend morning service at the Cathedral and the sounds of hymns will resound throughout the premises and beyond. Continue reading

Easter Blossoms

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3rdeaster Icon copy‘Flower talk’ is the way to go this Easter and what better gift than Easter lilies, that speak to your near and dear ones in style?

Perhaps more widely known as Madonna Lilies, these glorious, trumpet-shaped, heavily perfumed, waxy-white blooms, make an Easter statement all of their own and – depending on flower size and the number of buds – are available for Rs 150-450 per stem. With a daily change of water and a little stem trimming, they are long lasting cut flowers.

If white lilies are not your style then present that special person with a stem or two of Stargazer lilies; their powerful perfume wafts out from dark pink, brown speckled trumpets which is impossible to ignore. Stargazer lilies come in the same price range as Madonna lilies do. Continue reading

Pro-environmental Behaviour

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CareersCopy-of-ED-w-Banner-lg-with-2014The impact of the services, public and industry sectors on energy consumption and waste generation is considerably higher than residential users, and given that an average person spends a significant portion of their waking hours on the job, workplaces are key places for sustainable development learning.

Pro-environmental behaviour (PEB) is defined as “behaviour that consciously seeks to minimise the negative impact of one’s actions on the natural and built world” and can be implemented through workplace sustainability programmes.

Corporate sustainability requires, along with societal, organisational and technological change, sustained PEB from employees. Although part of the solution to minimising the carbon footprint and waste (e.g. by introducing effective heating and ventilation systems or production practices) a major part is attributed to individual behaviour. The idea is to change employee behaviour, which will trigger attitude change. This is done by focusing on actual behavioural consequences, not just intentions or attitudes. Continue reading

Eating In Colour

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Health 3In her bestselling book Eating in Color: Delicious, Healthy Recipes for You and Your Family, health expert Frances Largeman-Roth highlights the benefits of eating vegetables and fruit of varying colours.

She further states that if parents refer to fruit and vegetables according to their colours, they will succeed in encouraging their children to eat them. For example,     Largeman-Roth offered her daughter Willa “reds, oranges and greens” instead of beets, sweet potatoes and broccoli, which she claims resulted in Willa trying new, healthy foods.

The book has spawned a ‘coloured food revolution’ of sorts, and has led to nutritionists recommending fruit and vegetables of different colours to patients due to their health benefits, which include improved overall health and even weight loss.

Here is a guide to eating in colour: Continue reading

Spring Clean Your Home – And Body!

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Health 1Spring is upon us, and with it comes the annual ritual of spring cleaning. While it might not be the most exciting way to ‘celebrate’ blooming flowers and fresh starts, airing out the cupboards and sweeping away the dust bunnies has its benefits; it prevents allergies and keeps germs at bay – not to mention the exercise burns a few calories!

The current trend in cleaning, at the beginning of spring or otherwise, is the increasing use of ‘green’ products rather than chemical cleansers. This is because most chemical cleansers contain carcinogenic toxins, now proven to trigger ailments including allergic reactions, migraines and nausea. Examples of natural cleaning materials include micro-fibre window cloths that require only water to clean and don’t leave streaks. Then there are solutions consisting of lemon and water for cleaning windows, baking soda for wooden furniture, and borax powder (contains a natural anti-microbial agent) for getting rid of moulds. Continue reading

Mouth-Watering Easter Breads

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3rdEaster will be celebrated next Sunday, so now is time to think of traditional treats, and these extend way beyond chocolate eggs and spicy hot cross buns.

Countries around the world have their Easter favourites and bread, surprising as it may sound, tops the list. For observant Christians, after the long fast of Lent during which rich foods such as eggs, milk, fruit and desserts are avoided, Easter is the time to indulge, and for many people, sweet breads serve this purpose to the full.
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Is Your Company Driving Positive Behaviour?

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stairs-to-anspirition-4-clThere is general acceptance that “structure drives behaviour”. In an organisational context, structure is derived from policies and processes, and this is how people respond behaviourally. This behaviour eventually becomes the culture which, not surprisingly, ends up driving structure (as a response to behaviour).

Let me use a sports example: in tennis, before the second-serve rule was introduced, the speed of the first-serve was considerably slower than it is today. By allowing a second attempt, players gave the first-serve their all. Similarly in cricket, we saw the introduction of field-restrictions in ODIs that significantly changed the way the game is played. When the balance of the game gets a bit out of hand, new rules are introduced accordingly.

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