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July 4, 2024

Three Tips to Promote Well-being and Prevent Brain Diseases at Work Through Physical Activity

Physical Activity and Workplace Well-being: The Key to Preventing Brain Diseases!
Ellen Hållinggård
People Partner
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A recent report from IHE, commissioned by Hjärnfonden, reveals that a significant portion of brain diseases can be prevented through lifestyle changes. The report shows that low physical activity is the factor affecting the most brain diseases and can be linked to 13 percent of all diagnosed GAD, 9 percent of Alzheimer's disease, 8 percent of strokes, 7 percent of other dementias, and 7 percent of Parkinson's disease. For companies and HR departments, this represents a unique opportunity to invest in employee health. By promoting physical activity and building an inclusive work environment, we can not only improve individual well-being but also help reduce the extensive costs these diseases impose on society.

Three tips to get started:

  1. Incorporate movement breaks! Take a detour to the coffee machine, choose the stairs instead of the elevator, and alternate between sitting and standing throughout your workday.
  2. Invite colleagues to group workout sessions - exercising together is not only good for health but also strengthens team camaraderie. Perhaps the summer party could include a workout session?
  3. Walk & talks - invite colleagues to walking meetings! One-on-one conversations are perfect for walking meetings - and why not take your mobile phone and headphones out for a walk during other digital meetings?

Does your workplace need help? Let’s create a healthier future together - contact us to learn more!

You can read more about the report here: Brain diseases can be prevented (hjarnfonden.se)

Further reading: There are many myths about the workplace. Here we debunk 5 myths about the perfect workplace.

The simple truth is that everybody is bias in some sort of way. This is not because we inherently want it to be that way.

The simple truth is that everybody is bias in some sort of way. This is not because we inherently want it to be that way, but the way we are brought up and the environment we are brought up in, gives us a certain perspective of the world. Our upbringing gives us certain values which we carry with us throughout our lives and we associate symbols with those values to identify whether or not somebody else cherishes the same kind of values. Biases in this sense are basically short-cuts to get to know somebody and what they represent. However, as with all things in life, taking short-cuts means involving risks. In this blog I will talk about the 6 most common recruitment biases and how they can affect your business negatively. In the conclusion you will find a link to how you can overcome these biases.  

Confirmation bias

The confirmation bias is the idea that you have a certain idea about a candidate and you are trying to look for hints which ‘confirm’ that idea, while (actively) ignoring signals which might disprove that idea. Often it is linked to a first impression which is either positive or negative and after that you try to confirm that impression by looking for clues which indicate that the impression was correct. This can either be a positive idea about the candidate or a negative idea about the candidate. Both instances can actually be hurtful to the recruitment. For instance, if you have a certain negative idea about the candidate, the confirmation bias makes it that the candidate can hardly prove him- or herself otherwise. This way you can overlook qualities and miss out on good candidates, just because you are looking for the wrong clues. But a positive confirmation bias is also not good. Unfortunately, this implies that you know something positive about the candidate and are looking for ways to confirm your suspicion, ignoring all clues which might prove you wrong. This way you might send the wrong candidate through to technical interviews, or even worse; you might up hiring the wrong candidate. Do you want to learn more about the confirmation bias? Watch this short video on confirmation bias.  

Heuristic bias

The heuristic bias is a fancy way of saying: ‘judging a book by its cover’. It has strong similarities with the confirmation bias as it is based upon first impressions. In contrary to the confirmation bias, it does not look for extra clues and remains just one set image, which often involves physical appearance. This has the advantage that it does not get reinforced the way the confirmation bias does (by looking for clues), but it has the disadvantage that it is quite difficult to overcome the set image you have of a candidate. German scientists have looked into it and questioned 127 HR professionals who often make decisions about recruitment and promotion. They basically gave them pictures of individuals and the outcome was that the test candidates continuously underestimated the prestige of obese individuals and overestimated the prestige of the normal-weight individuals. The test candidates in this sense quite literally judged the content of an individual by his or her appearance. Read more about their research here.  

Halo and Horn effect

The halo and horn effect is the idea that you attribute certain traits to a person based upon some traits that you already know. Quite simply put you see a person either in an entire positive light (as a saint with an halo) or in an entire negative light (as a sinner with horns) based upon a couple of known traits. In this sense you might see an attractive candidate and assume that they are also successful and competent as well. That is the halo effect. On the other hand, you might find out that a candidate has had a criminal record in the past, which might make you assume that they are unsuccessful and incompetent. That is the horns effect.  

Similarity attraction bias

The similarity attraction bias has no fancy name, but it is a very important bias to be aware of as I believe that a lot of recruiters make this mistake. Simply put, the similarity attraction bias makes you more bias towards persons who are similar to you and your colleagues. This leads to more candidates further down the pipeline which are similar to the people that already work at the company. Now you might be thinking: well, what is the big deal? I need people who are similar because they work better together. Well, that myth has been debunked and it turns out, if you are looking to build quality teams, then you need to be aiming for diversity. That is why the similarity attraction bias is quite dangerous. Do you want to find out more common myths about the perfect workplace?

Conformity bias

Conformity bias is quite an interesting one and often happens when recruitment processes are hiring in teams. Firstly, I want to point out that every company should hire in teams. Why? Secondly, there are some dangers with hiring in teams as well, and the conformity bias is one of them. Basically, it revolves around the idea of peer pressure and that people suppress their true opinion about a candidate to conform to the general opinion of the panel. This often happens in groups which are too large for effective hiring (another lesson that Google teaches us: the magical number for hiring teams is four persons). It is important to address and apprehend this bias as each and every team member might prove to have crucial information as to why or why not you should hire a candidate. You need to be aware of these insights and not have them be suppressed just because everybody likes to adhere to the opinion of the team.  

Expectation anchor

Expectation anchor is the idea that you have first impression of a candidate or a first piece of information a candidate, and that you basically make decisions based upon those first impression or first piece of information. The idea is that we have a very difficult time to shake our idea of somebody once a first impression or idea is established and that we will make decisions based upon those impressions and ideas accordingly. It is very hard to sway somebody and their future actions from that first impression or piece of information, and can often lead to hasty and wrong decisions.  

In conclusion

Firstly, I would say that a lot of these biases overlap in terms of definitions and effects. The expectation anchor for example, is more or less intertwined with the halo effect. Secondly, I would argue that a lot of recruiters are unaware of their own biases and how to overcome them. I myself even find it hard to critically reflect on how I base my decisions and if they are bias-free, but there are solutions to solve these biases. Want to find out more? Get in touch with us and see how we can get your recruitment process bias-free, starting tomorrow.  

Line Thomson
July 26, 2022
What Work Samples are and why you should use them in recruitment processes

Research has time and time again shown that the best way to asses a candidate is through multiple assessment methods. A combination of different forms of assessment methods with will give you the highest probability of hiring the right candidate. Some forms of assessment methods are quite straight forward, such as structured interviews, behavioural interviews, and personality assessments, but there are others which are a bit harder to understand.

One that consistently shows up in research as being one of the best predicators of whether or not somebody fits the job is a knowledge exam or ability test or "work sample". A work sample is quite simply an example of your skills in a work-related environment. In this blog, we will dig in a bit deeper in work samples, their advantages and disadvantages.

Two types of work samples

In general, there are two types of work samples. The first type focusses on the developmental potential of candidates and in how far they are fit to learn the job at hand. This type of test is often part of the recruitment process for a traineeship or apprenticeship, after which the hired candidate first goes through a trial period where he/she learns the job at hand. Here you can think of examples such as military fitness tests, where potential cadets get tested for their physical and mental condition, or even an auditioning for a role within the music or theatre industry. In both cases potential candidates are not being tested for their current experience or skill but are mostly assessed for their potential to develop.

The second type is a more general work sample and are focussed on testing the prior experience and skillset of the candidate for the job at hand. These are more common and widespread throughout companies. Examples include, a coding work sample for a software engineering job, a use case regarding market expansion for a business development role, a logical puzzle for an analyst position, the list of different roles and work samples can go on and on.

Although the distinction is interesting, it is often so that the two categories are intertwined in the same process: both the present skillset and prior experience as well as the development potential are addressed.


Assessing Skills

The first and foremost advantage of work samples is that the result gives an indication on how well a candidate would perform at the job. This is one of the most crucial assessments within a recruitment process. It has been proven that this work samples are crucial to assess whether a candidate possesses the right skills or the ability to train for the right skills. According to Robertson and Downs (1989), and Roth, Bobko and McFarland (2005), work samples increase the accuracy by which recruitment processes can predict whether somebody is fit for the job or fit for learning the job. This alone should be enough of an argument to start using work samples, but there are more arguments which make the case for work samples.


The second argument for work samples is that it provides validation within the recruitment process. This is not only true for the company, that, of course, needs the validation whether a candidate is truly a good fit for the role, but also for the candidates themselves to get a better understanding of the role, responsibilities, tasks, and their own fit for the role. The work sample exemplifies the competence of the candidate for the company while it also clarifies some aspects of the role for the candidate.

Overcoming Bias

The third advantage of work samples is that the results can be assessed by other members of the team, overcoming subjective opinions or individual biases of the interviewers. The work sample can give an objective answer to one of the most important questions of whether the candidate has the necessary skills to work within the company. Read more about the six most common recruitment biases here.

Contributing to CSR and Inclusion

Corporate Social Responsibility is a quite encompassing field, but basically boils down to that companies should behave socially responsible with regards to people, society, and our environment. Recruitment is also a part of CSR and work samples can contribute to the sense that they are not biased towards ethnicity or gender. Therefore, work samples should be utilized by companies that aim to be an equal opportunity employer as these are a step closer to unbiased recruitment.

Quantifying Results

In recruitment it is difficult to measure how well one candidate would fit versus another. Quantifiable results therefore make it easier to choose with whom to proceed, but also to whom to decline. Quantifiable results allow for informed decisions rather than just trusting your instincts and basing your judgement on individual interviews. According to Gilliland (1995), applicants that receive work samples perceive them as a very fair part of the recruitment process. Therefore, feedback based upon work samples is also perceived as such.

Measuring Recruitment Process

The advantage of quantifiable results is also that it allows for measuring the performance of the different stages of your recruitment process. Again, these results are not based upon the individual impressions of the interviewers, and the results are therefore quite reliable. The results of the measurement can give an indication about the required standards for the role, if you are attracting the right candidates, and about how well your interviewers are filtering out candidates who are not fit for the role. For example, if most candidates easily pass the interviews, but seem to keep dropping off at the work sample, then this might say something about the required standards of the role which perhaps require adjustment or the quality of your interviewers who perhaps must be more attentive.

High Return On Investment

This argument is more applicable to more specific functions which require more specific skills than less specific functions requiring fewer specific skills. The idea is that, although it takes time, money and effort to develop these work samples, it produces clear data by which decisions can be made, saving more time, money and effort on multiple interviews, meetings and other methods which aim to achieve the same results. It is also important to highlight that work samples save you from hiring the wrong candidates, which could end up being the costliest mistake that you can make, in terms of time, money and effort.

Now let’s turn to the disadvantages of work samples, most of which I have briefly highlighted above.


Time & Effort

The first disadvantage is quite obvious in that it takes time and effort into developing a proper work sample. Time and effort are often not a resource of abundance within a company, especially not when a new position opens up. Most departments would like to see their new employee up and running as soon as possible. Therefore, time and effort should both be minimal, and work sample require both time and effort to create and tailor according to your recruitment profile.


The argument that often follows behind time and effort is the argument of cost. This is not surprising as both time and effort cost money, in one way or another. Keeping costs low to create operational value should be one of the main objectives of a financial sustainable company. Still, here I would argue it is a matter of perspective. Hiring an employee is an investment. The better you have assessed who the right candidate is, the more sustainable your relationship will be with your future employee. So, whether we are talking time, effort, or money, we would argue that the benefits outweigh the costs, and, we, as Peops Relations, can make them cost-effective.

In conclusion

Work samples have grown out to be a necessary part of every recruitment process. Work samples give an indication on how skilled candidates are, validate the candidate’s competences as well as the candidate’s perception of the role, overcome biases, lead to more inclusive hiring, and have a high return on investment. There is really no good reason not to include work samples in your hiring process, they are vital for a successful process. The only reasons to not include work samples are time, effort and cost, however, we would argue that it is more expensive, and a waste of time and effort, to search aimlessly without any result, or even worse: to hire the wrong candidate. Read more about considerations of work samples here or get in touch with us if you need help setting up your own work samples and overcoming excessive expenses.  

Line Thomson
August 18, 2022
Different teams work on branding and culture, however they are two sides of the same coin

Branding and culture are two separated dimensions often run by separated teams. This is problematic because many companies do not realise that branding and culture are part of the same process. So why are branding and culture part of the same process?

In most organisations branding is driven by the marketing department whereas cultural projects are driven by the People (HR) department. Often these two continuous projects (and participants) communicate little or not at all with one another, and that is because they are perceived as separate projects. This goes against our vision of what branding and culture is and how they can reinforce each other. We believe that a brand is determined by culture and that the correct display of a brand will reinforce internal culture. In this blog I will assess the two topics and show you how they intertwine.


Branding is an integral part of marketing. Branding is a way to steer how the outside world perceives your company and how they interact with your company. Brands can be very personal, very classy, very edgy, very transformative, you name it - and it is out there. The flavours of different brands are endless, which is not surprising as each company is trying to stick out from the crowd by creating their own unique identity. That is why it is not surprising that marketing departments focus on creating an own “brand identity” complete with own colours, values, story lines, slogans, and other components to make an own distinctive brand.

While creating a distinctive brand is important, it is almost similarly important to communicate this brand to the outside world. You can have a beautiful brand identity, but if nobody knows about it, then it is practically useless. In other words, you need to make consumers/potential clients aware of your brand. This part of marketing is, not surprisingly, called “brand awareness” which basically focusses on all the different channels through which you are trying to inform the world out there about your brand identity.

As you can imagine, these are enormous tasks, not only to define a strong brand which really stands out and persuades consumers/potential clients, but also to then get your message out there. It is up to your marketing department to properly formulate and distribute the message that your brand wants to convey.


Turning now to culture. In its core, culture is the combination of all individual values and behaviours of the people within your company. This is in part influenced by your organisational values, but also by individual beliefs. Culture is therefore not something that you can completely control, you can only partly steer it. With every new person that joins your team, or every person that leaves your team, your culture partly changes. So, in some sense culture is something you cannot control. However, you can stimulate certain behaviours and demotivate others. This way you can move culture in the right direction.

Your culture determines a lot on how your employees communicate and behave internally, but also how they communicate and behave towards the outside world. In part, your culture therefore determines what how the outside world perceives your company and your brand. This hints towards how culture and branding are very intertwined.

The same coin

So how are culture and branding part of the same process? Well, in simple terms branding is a process which determines how you are perceived in the outside world and culture determines how your employees interact with the outside world. In essence they are therefore both part of the same process: interactions with the outside world.

An organisation is its people. I believe that branding should start with assessing your internal culture. You need to know first what your internal culture stands for before you can create a brand accordingly. Why? Simple: consistency. For example: you can create a beautiful brand identity talking about how customer-focussed your organisation is, but let’s assume that your employees are rather more focussed on creating the best products (product-focussed). If your customer interacts with your representatives, which have a different attitude than your brand advertises, this might disappoint or upset them, or even worse; it will make your brand identity questionable, unconvincing, or even unbelievable.

On the flip side, having a brand identity which does not align with the internal culture also causes some problems. You will soon find that your employees do not believe any more about the message you convey to your customers/clients and that they become unhappy about the fact that the company seems to become more and more out of touch with their own employees and the internal culture. This can lead to unhappiness, unproductivity and even with people calling in sick or ultimately leaving the company.

So, what to do?

1. Find out what your culture is.

As with all cultural projects, the first step of assessing your current culture is key. Try to use employee surveys to question your employees what they value in their work, how they feel connected to their colleagues and what motivates them to come to work. Ask them how they communicate towards one-another, if they feel free to speak up during meetings, if they value creativity, how they experience the leadership; and many other questions. Try to find out how they work (together) and what motivates them to work (together).

(optional) 2. Motivate desired behaviours/demotivate undesired behaviours

In case you notice that there are many unwanted behaviours, then you should try and motivate desired behaviours and demotivate undesired behaviours. Use workshops, brainstorming sessions and early adopters to help people see how individual and group behaviour affect the brand in a positive (or negative) way. Bring out their desire to build a strong unique culture and brand. During these sessions you should get a better uniform image of what behaviours everybody wants to motivate. This is also the moment to take the leading role and move people in the right direction to start adopting the desired behaviours.

From these sessions you should also be able to bring organisational values to life. Working bottom-up: individual behaviours can be generalized in a couple of shared attitudes, which in turn can be generalized and highlighted in organizational values.

Don’t forget that organisational values prescribe behaviours. These are things you do. Therefore, your organizational values should be actionable.

3. Create a brand identity that aligns with your culture and promote it.

Now that you have found out what your internal culture stands for, it is time to create a brand identity around it. This is the job of your marketing department, but they need to keep connecting their messaging with the internal culture. If that does not align, then you are saying one thing while doing another. Once your brand identity is established and aligned with your internal culture, feel free to promote it any way you see fit.

4. Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate!

I do not understand why companies keep forgetting this step. Once you have created the right culture, the right brand identity, and you have started promoting it, then celebrate this with everybody involved! Present the results, show of the new polished brand, and how you are promoting it towards the outside world. While you are presenting this to your employees, remind them of how essential their contribution was into the cultural assessment and how they too have created their brand. It is just as much their achievement as it is the achievement of your marketing department. After all, your brand is your company, and your company is your brand. Everyone contributes to that, so every individual is key. Make your employees feel part of this journey and make them feel that they have contributed to this process. This will improve your overall culture, internal atmosphere, and connectivity amongst your employees.

In conclusion

Branding and culture are part of the same process. Culture is an integral part of branding, and you cannot create a solid brand without understanding your culture first. Therefore, I would argue that every brand project should align itself with the internal culture. If your brand does not align with your culture, then it becomes unconvincing and uncredible in the long run. Do you want to change your brand? Or do you want to fine-tune your brand identity? Start looking towards your internal culture and you will find your guidance towards how to change your brand and the overall perception of your company for the better.

Line Thomson
August 30, 2022

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