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6 things we've learnt in 2014

Even though it can feel like not a lot changes year-on-year, when you take the time to stop and reflect on the previous 12 months, you’ll surprise yourself with how much you’ve actually learnt.

Every year I always enjoy finding out new things about myself, both personally and professionally, and some of the broader things I’ve learnt this year are around my own leadership skills and work ethic. Smaller lessons, on the other hand, include things like I need to stop telling people I'll get to something "in 10 minutes", and that baking cookies or brownies for your team always makes them happy.

But every year, I constantly pick up new advice and lessons from some of the top stories we run on this website. As always, here are a few of my favourites.

1. Don’t be like Anton Casey

Every year at least one person locally makes the news because they made a fool of themselves online. This year, it was the British banker’s turn, after he was shamed publicly and lost his job from posting insensitive and racist remarks on his Facebook page. When will we learn?!

2. Offering cool perks will get you noticed

It might not always be affordable, but you can’t deny some of the companies that got the most attention this year did it by publicising their employee rewards. From Facebook and Apple’s egg freezing for female staff, to Netflix’s and Virgin’s unlimited vacations and companies now offering new employees a 'pre-cation', 2014 was the Year of the Employee Perk.

But are these elaborate perks all they're cracked up to be? I think most of us are better off concentrating on these important benefits instead in 2015.

3. Women need to ask for more

On of my favourite interviews this year was with Allergan’s Rebecca Port, who spoke about gender discrimination. Among many insightful things, she highlighted that the reason men typically get more than women (opportunities, money, etc) is because they’re programmed to ask, while women typically wait to be asked. Right from childhood, women are told fairy tales about being rescued or asked to the ball, and this mentality has been drilled into us for decades.

Women are doing a lot to break through that glass ceiling, and female leadership is rising on HR's agenda. There's still plenty of ingrained cultural and societal norms we're yet to change (for example, women are still scared to ask about things like maternity leave, and our salaries are still not matching up) but hopefully we're on our way.

4. Flexible working is so hot right now

2014 was really the year companies across multiple industries started getting behind flexible arrangements. It has been difficult in Asia to enforce this, but thanks to encouragement from the government, firms have started to realise the benefits of flexible working, and are beginning to try to make this work for them.

After all, doesn't flexible working just make good business sense?

5. Sometimes, CEOs really should just stop talking

T’was the year of foot-in-mouth. American Apparel’s Dov Charney got in a whole heap of trouble for things he said/did (and now he's been fired, for real this time); Microsoft’s Satya Nadella backtracked on a pretty sexist comment; Tinder’s co-founder was ousted after a bit of an alleged sexual harassment hoo-ha and Stephen Elop from Microsoft (again) essentially fired 12,500 people by email. Sigh.

No one expects a CEO to be perfect, but these are just a few examples of the management mistakes made in the past year. Let's learn from them now, yeah?

6. Making employees happy is really, really hard

No matter what companies do, employees in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and everywhere in between are still unhappy.

Over the year we’ve reported on decreasing engagement levels, dissatisfaction with pay and plenty of grumbling over working long hours at a desk. How can we turn their frowns upside down? Isn’t that the question of the year.

Whatever you’ve learned this year, I hope you’ve had a great 2014. Here’s to a great year-end holiday and an excellent 2015. See you next year!

Image: Shutterstock

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