How Come Stress Still Exists in Your Organisation?

 Organisations around the world are experiencing unprecedented levels of burnout, which is creating a significant — and under-recognised — cost to organisations in the form of quiet quitting, reduced innovation, and even spiralling healthcare costs. Many people are quick to point to an increase in overall workload as the culprit. But our research shows that the work itself has not increased so much as the collaborative demands of the work.

By that, we mean the volume and frequency of the collaborations that people have to engage in to complete the work — what we call the collaborative footprint — have risen over the past decade and a half, bringing exponential opportunities for stress. This comes through the increased potential for misunderstanding, misalignment, and imbalances of workload and capacity, among other things. All of this combines to create a battering of everyday stresses.

One form of this stress is the one we call “microstress” — small moments of stress from interactions with colleagues that feel routine but whose cumulative toll is enormous. Our research into high performers has made clear the destructive impact of unchecked microstress, both on individuals and on teams. At the team level, this form of stress propagates through networks and relationships.

It may seem challenging to find ways to reduce stress on teams that are overloaded with deliverables, but leaders have more tools at their disposal than they may realise. Instead of relying only on coaching on individual coping strategies, leaders can look for systemic improvement in the collective working environment. We have identified four overlooked collective strategies that leaders can implement for reducing microstress. Here are the four key questions you need to ask.

Can we reduce structural complexity?

For decades organisations have been building organisational complexity — not only in expanding spans and layers in traditional hierarchical structures (expanding the number of direct reports to reduce layers between the front line and the C-suite), but also in moving to matrixed, networked, or other more agile ways of working. While new these structures can be effective at increasing flexibility, they have also unintentionally introduced complexity by multiplying the required number of interactions per employee. We routinely see organisations adopting advice to move to structures with consistent spans of control (the number of people one is responsible for managing) of eight people. But such efforts to improve efficiency don’t consider the collaborations required to do the work. The collaborative footprint of work — which has risen 50% or more in the past 15 years, according to Rob Cross’s research — is creating exponential opportunities for small stresses to run rampant in any organisation. Unchecked, such complexity, can easily accumulate, triggering a proliferation of microstresses.

 De-layering might seem to be a solution, but in embracing it many organisations have moved to spans of control that really are not feasible given the collaborative intensity of the work. (We’ve even seen some organisations scaling up to spans of control of 12 or more.) Such flat hierarchy can create stress for employees balancing competing objectives of multiple leaders to whom an employee might report, formally or informally.

Removing layers, while appealing on cost analyses and decision-making flows, also often introduces other less visible inefficiencies around work. Many teams are underperforming today due to priority overload where too many uncoordinated asks are coming into the teams from disconnected stakeholders and failures of coordination and prioritization at high levels in the organisation.

One way to fix that is to have explicit processes to remove excessive complexity. It may not be possible to rewind all of these efforts at de-layering organisations, but there are a few simple practices you can employ to root out the potential for unnecessary stress from structural complexity. Most companies have many ways of introducing new complexity, but no systematic continuous effort to remove it. Netflix is one of a handful of firms known for prioritizing identifying and removing unnecessary complexity. As their company policy states, “We work hard to … keep our business as simple as possible … you don’t need policies for everything.” If you must introduce new teams or procedures, consider making them temporary. Create them with an explicit sunset clause, such that it is dissolved when no longer useful, avoiding the gradual ratcheting of complexity over time.

Companies can also control complexity by continually simplifying the product portfolio, which is often a key driver of complexity. Trader Joe’s has a such a policy for controlling the number of SKUs to maintain the number at less than 10% of the industry average. Similarly, LEGO controls the number of colours and brick types in its products, to control manufacturing and logistical complexity.

 Above all, don’t just think about on paper efficiency, think about the collaborative asks being placed on human beings who execute these tasks day in, day out. When we have asked top teams in offsites who in the room wants another email, meeting, or phone call in their lives, we have yet to see a single hand shoot up. The more complex, the more matrixed, the more required communication and connection between employees, the more ad hoc the more microstresses are going to be impeding the effectiveness of work.

Does our workflow make sense?

Organisations have had an unrelenting push into agile, network-centric structures executing through teams that are formed and disbanded at increasingly rapid pace. These efforts are providing speed, but taken to an extreme, they are starting to sacrifice the benefits of scale and efficiency that came from the process revolution. Forming and reforming project teams requires increasing coordination, often relying on the heroics of individual employees to get work done. But that is not a sustainable strategy — and triggers endless opportunities for burnout. “It’s better to rely on a process than just people,” Don Allan, CEO of Stanley Black & Decker observed of one of the key HR lessons of the pandemic, “so you do not create unnecessary stress and even burnout for your organisation.”

The proliferation of technologies in the workplace promises to streamline work and communication, but instead can often became a source of additional complexity, required work and stress. Often, we find organisations using between six and nine means of collaborating to get work done — meetings (virtual and face-to-face), email, instant messaging (such as Slack), team collaborative spaces, phone calls, texting, etc. Inefficiencies invariably creep in as people use these modalities differently — for example, who doesn’t have a colleague who loves to write elaborate emails, hiding what they want in the 10th paragraph! Or at the other extreme, some people use one modality (e.g., IM) to solve problems quickly, but lack of transparency into the interaction creates misalignment with other teammates who have no idea a decision was made over IM.

One way to limit this stress is to agree on collaborative norms. For example, a team might agree to only use bullets on email. And if a longer explanation is required or a disagreement seems to be brewing, the team agrees to meet face to face. We find a simple exercise of asking teams to agree to three positive norms across all modes of collaboration that they want to sustain and three negatives they want to stop (e.g., emailing at night, hitting reply to all on mundane responses, etc.) can generate 8–12% time savings across teams, allowing them more time to focus on the actual work. Technology itself is not necessarily a bad thing, but the culture that springs up around using that technology is where microstress creeps in.

Teams can also limit the set of tools they’re using and bake them into the work in a way which reduces human transaction costs. Focus on maximizing technology that helps eliminate or reduce the costs of mundane tasks, e.g. setting up workflows on Slack or recurring meetings to ensure appropriate check ins don’t slip through the cracks because they’re relying on a team member to set up and coordinate. Encourage the team to invest time in learning the tools and share their productivity tips and tricks. And avoid new tools or multiple tools that inadvertently becoming new sources of work or complexity e.g. through cumbersome sign on procedures or lack of mutual compatibility. Too often teams aren’t consulted about which tools will actually help their productivity.

Has the profusion of teams spiked employees’ microstress?

One of the unintended consequences of organisations relying on teams that are assembled for projects is that teams have less time to build the kind of trust that is essential for efficient collaboration. And that happens repeatedly because many organisations require employees to contribute to five or six team efforts (in addition to their primary team) and have often let these groups grow too large, with the average team size hovering around 15.

To avoid team growth from causing trouble, don’t let “flexible” turn into inefficient. Some organisations trying to attract and retain top talent during the great resignation (and quiet quitting) have implemented talent marketplaces which allow employees to locate projects they would like to work on or roles they want to fill as they chart their own career progression. Though well-intended as a talent retention tool, these shifts create inefficiencies in the network that most organisations do not account for. These programs are well-received by the employees but induce microstresses on both the team the employee is leaving and the one they are ported into, as they suddenly have to redirect and shape key working relationships with new people. One life sciences organisation we worked with modelled the relational cost (the “switching costs” on work relationships and productivity of continually rotating teams) and determined that it didn’t make sense for anyone to switch roles or teams in less than fifteen months because both the team and the rotating employee would fail to optimize the opportunity.

Companies must also ensure that their return-to-office plan doesn’t create hidden stress. About 80% of companies are opting to require employees to be in the office three days a week, according to research from i4cp (the Institute for Corporate Productivity). To soften the blow and ensure flexibility, about half of those companies are allowing employees to pick the days they want to return.

Unfortunately, this well-intentioned effort has also created a new set of microstresses when the people who an organisation needs to work together pick different days. Leaving this up to chance will not only hurt employee morale, but innovation and productivity. To prevent this, some organisations are using a technique called organisational network analysis (a methodology that maps employees’ working relationships) to specify specific groups of employees that need to be in the office at a given interval. Such an analysis can help leaders answer three critical questions in a return-to-office strategy:

  • Who should be brought back together and in what cadence of in-person and virtual interactions?
  • What work should be prioritised in the now scarcer in-person time?
  • How do leaders manage the transition to a hybrid model with the least resistance?
  • This method also helps motivate employees to resume some in-person interactions by showing them how hybrid work can improve their own effectiveness.
  • Have we built a sense of purpose in our employees’ everyday interactions?

Organisations have become adept at working efficiently with the help of technologies — what can’t be swiftly taken care of on a Zoom call these days? But when work revolves around technology use, it can become transactional, missing the opportunity to make sure that employees understand how their work contributes to that purpose.

To avoid that problem, smart companies create opportunities to discuss purpose and how each group contributes to it. It is your role as a leader to shape and communicate the goal that you’re all working towards. Don’t let that get lost in the sea of microstress. With a clear understanding of how they are contributing to purpose, employees can more easily prioritise their work. Discuss what work is essential (and what is not) in contributing to purpose and use this to help your team prioritise and redesign work accordingly.

While many organisations focus on rallying employees around a collective corporate purpose, our research also suggests that purpose can be found in positive everyday interactions with colleagues, too. For example, employees can find meaningful purpose in “co-creating” (involving the aha moments that emerge as people build on each other’s ideas) which helps builds a sense of We are in this together. Small moments of working on something together create an authentic connection, a kind of antidote to the flood of microstresses that otherwise fill employees’ days.

Finally, as leaders, don’t underestimate the impact of your own microstress, both on you and your team. Look for interactions in which you are unintentionally creating microstress for your team — for example being slightly unpredictable in your expectations, failing to communicate deliverables clearly, or continually micromanaging their work. The microstress we create for others inevitably boomerangs back on us. If you recognize where you are the source of unnecessary microstress and try to course-correct, you will not only help reduce stress on your team, but you’ll be also reducing stress on yourself, as well.


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Could Employers Make the Covid-19 Vaccine Mandatory?

Even though a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 is available, it’s not too early for employers to start considering whether they will require their employees to get the vaccination when it will be available for everyone. For example, The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has stated that employers can legally impose a flu vaccine requirement on their workforce, but employees have the right to request medical or religious exemptions under federal anti-discrimination laws. Each claim must be evaluated on its own merits, a time-consuming process for employers.

While it may be legal for employers to make it compulsory for their workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine, doing so would be a huge, difficult task. A recent Gallup poll found that 42% of Americans say they will not get the COVID-19 vaccine, although it must be said that the poll was conducted before the recent optimistic vaccine results.

From an employer’s standpoint, it is a no-win situation in any way we look at it. Those who decide to mandate the vaccine will need protection against someone having an adverse reaction, even if the employee has signed a waiver upon receiving the shot, he says. Contrarily, companies that decide against a mandate will need protection if someone does contract the virus in the workplace and sues.

Assuming the employer has a legitimate concern for the health and safety of its workers, customers and anyone else in its workplace, it’s easy to imagine how a coronavirus vaccine refusal would result in an undue burden on the employer in most situations.

However, it’s also possible there is an accommodation that imposes only a minimal burden on the employer and provides an equivalent level of protection from coronavirus infection or spread. Depending on the nature of the job, this might allow the employee seeking the vaccination exemption the ability to work from home or with a mask on.

Legal Precedents

One exception falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act also known as ADA. Under the ADA, “an employer must provide reasonable accommodations to workers who have medical conditions that make them unable to take the vaccine, if a reasonable accommodation is possible.”

The technical question here was whether employers could impose COVID-19 vaccination because the Americans with Disabilities Act severely limits the ability of employers to require medical examinations. In its Dec. 16 guidance, the EEOC clearly stated that COVID-19 vaccines do not fall in the “medical examination” category

Another exception is covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII says employees may be able to refuse vaccinations if they have a sincerely held religious belief that precludes vaccination, and not being vaccinated doesn’t impose an undue hardship on the employer. However, it must be stated that ‘a personal or a political opposition to the vaccine is not sufficient.’

Employees and Lifestyle Status

“Employers can and have fired employees based on lifestyle choices related to their health, including if they smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol,” stated Holly Helstrom – adjunct instructor at Columbia University who teaches First Amendment rights for employees.

“Refusal to get a COVID vaccine if your employer is requiring one could get you fired and your employer would be within their legal rights to do so,” she has also gone on record saying.

According to Helstrom, “your employer is within their legal rights to require you to get a COVID vaccine, if you work for a private sector at-will employer.” She has stated that this is a product of how U.S. labour law and the Constitution are written. For unionised workers, rules around vaccination “would likely be a subject for bargaining,” Helstrom has also said.

Coronavirus Employee Vaccination Policy

Even if the law allows an employer the legal right to mandate that employees receive a coronavirus vaccine, it may not be worth the risk to institute such a policy.

One form of risk comes from a scenario where an employee suffers a severe side effect from the vaccine. That may result in a workers’ compensation claim that the employer must deal with.

Another risk could come from public backlash. Given how politicised the coronavirus and its vaccine has become, any vaccine policy around it will most likely upset a lot of people.

According to Gallup, if a free, FDA-approved coronavirus vaccine were available today, 35% of respondents said they would not get vaccinated. This shows that any opposition to the coronavirus vaccine is not just limited to people who have a general opposition to vaccines.

In light of the resistance some people have to mask wearing, because a vaccine is more invasive and potentially dangerous, it’s easy to see why so many people will be resistant to a coronavirus vaccination requirement.

What might be best is for employers to simply recommend their employees get the coronavirus vaccine and hope most of them do so. There’s also the possibility that a state might establish a legal requirement for certain employees to get vaccinated. This would allow some employers to avoid any blame when it requires its employees to get the vaccine to protect them from the coronavirus.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:



Effective Screen Time While Working from Home

Before the quarantine, most of us likely thought that we have spent almost all of our workday at the computer. But little did we know that you could spend so much more. Between commutes, meetings, chats, watercooler talks, coffee breaks, and lunches, we had many opportunities throughout the day where our eyes would have less screen time and detach from the digital realm.

Now with those natural breaks eliminated, there’s little to no break from the connection to technology. In particular, video calls add an extra layer of fatigue. Having to focus on multiple faces simultaneously while also being conscious that everyone can see you creates an added layer of mental and emotional exhaustion that wouldn’t be experienced as acutely in an in-person setting. The extra time in front of the computer can also cause eye strain and muscle fatigue because you need to hold your body rigid for hours to stay inside a camera’s range.

A recent study found that the average office worker spends 1,700 hours per year in front of a computer screen — and that was before many of us began working from home. Add to that our frequent use of phones and other digital devices, and you’ve got a recipe for unhappy — and possibly unhealthy — eyes. What are the implications for the eyes during this period of greatly increased screen time?

When we’re moving between meetings and offices and interacting with people face-to-face, it’s a simple fact that we move our eyes more. We blink more, which helps keep the eyes lubricated and comfortable. But when we look at a screen for extended periods, we tend not to blink. In fact, focusing the eyes on computer screens or other digital displays has been shown to reduce a person’s blink rate by a third to a half.

According to Esen Akpek, professor of ophthalmology at Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Medicine and an expert in dry eye, not only does extensive gazing — such as that which occurs when reading on a computer screen — dry the eyes, it also starts a vicious cycle. “When your eyes become dry, that reduces reading speed, which further increases exposure time and worsens dryness,” Akpek has said, “and this can ultimately lead to inflammation of the eye surface and a self-perpetuating chronic dry eye.”

Gone are the days when we could break away from our computers with post-work pub trips, theatre visits, or meals out. Work events and conferences, too, once provided a much-needed respite from staring at displays all day, while meetings could be conducted device-free and in-person. Due to ongoing lockdown measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, however, we’ve come to rely on screens more than ever; not just for work, but to keep our social lives going, too.

In order to help your time management and regain energy, there are ways that can reduce or eliminate technology throughout the day. Here are a few tips and tricks that have been proved to be most effective.

Limit meeting duration

Normally, setting aside blocks of time to get work done is a good idea. But if you find virtual meetings draining, this practice is even more essential for you right now. Block out time on your schedule where you’re not available for meetings so that you can temper how much virtual communication you have each day. That could look like setting aside most of a morning or afternoon as a meeting-free time or blocking out a few one-hour chunks of time throughout the day to detach and focus on other work.

More physical less digital

In order to balance out the increased screen time both on and off the clock, look for ways that you can take the low-tech route. Brainstorming for an article? Write out your thoughts on paper. Creating a road map for a big project? Sketch the initial draft on a white board. Reading a book? Pick up a print copy. Exercising? Go outside on a run. Anytime you can reasonably choose a physical option over a digital one, take it. Stepping away from the computer not only offers you a digital break, but can help you be more creative.

Get up and move

To cancel out the fatigue caused by sitting rigidly in front of your computer, move around as much as you can. In between meetings, take a walk to the kitchen to refill your water or coffee. When you need a quick break, do a few simple movements like rolling your shoulders to get the blood flowing. If you have a standing desk, move it up and down so you’re able to both sit and stand throughout the day. If you don’t have a standing desk, put your computer on a high counter or bureau to get an opportunity to stretch your legs. And if you’re on a normal phone call and don’t need to be taking notes or looking at documents while you talk, consider standing up or even walking back and forth during the conversation.

Activate the blue-light filter on all of your devices

One of the most effective ways to immediately reduce eye strain is by installing a filter that warms the tone of your display. Although the eyes absorb blue light naturally, prolonged exposure from computer displays can lead to eye strain, according to Prevent Blindness. The consequences include irritation as well as difficulty focusing.

There are a number of free tools out there, including f.lux and the open-source Lightbulb, which users can download immediately in order to modify the tones on their displays. macOS and Windows 10 users can also opt to make use of night-time filters bundled into their operating systems. These can be found under display settings in each OS and can be activated throughout the day if needs be, not just at night.

Tech-free breaks

Although it may feel more “efficient” to eat lunch at your computer, your brain will thank you for taking a break from the screen. Eat lunch while chatting with your family members in the kitchen, looking out a window, or reading a physical book. Stepping away from technology not only gives your brain a break but also gives you the added bonus of perspective. I find that even when I take a short lunch of 15 to 20 minutes where I simply eat without doing anything else, I feel more peaceful at the end than I did before. I also find that I tend to have a clearer sense of the big picture of what’s occurring in my life and work.

Another practice that’s benefiting myself as well as many of my time management coaching clients is post-work outdoor physical activity. This includes taking a walk, playing basketball in a driveway, gardening, or anything else that gets you active. This split from the digital world refreshes your brain and helps to create some separation from the end of your work day and the beginning of your personal time.

Don’t e-socialise right after working hours

In the last few weeks, we’ve been forced to find increasingly creative ways to stay in touch with our friends and loved ones – whether on Zoom, Skype, Google Meet or Google Hangout.

Just as you wish to break up your working day, it’s important not to hop straight from work to online catchups, however. You should leave a little room for a break to reduce the strain on your eyes, perhaps by getting up for a short walk, making a snack, or catching up with the people you live with. Try to leave yourself a little breathing room in the schedule while organising your digital commitments to ensure you aren’t glued to your computer, tablet or smartphone all morning.

Take up a new hobby

Besides saving time on travel, lockdown has freed up dozens of hours per week that would have otherwise been spent on going out or meeting up with people in-person. While this is the perfect time to catch up on boxsets, or the latest shows that have passed us by, it’s critical we don’t fill all these hours up with yet more screen-related activities.

It could be the best time to engage in a long-lost passion, learn how to cook, or take up more exercise. There are hundreds of activities you can take up now and then throughout the lockdown period to ensure you’re keeping yourself entertained while resting your eyes after a day locked to your computer. This may also help to more effectively maintain a work-life balance, with these lines threatening to become intertwined very easily.

When it’s possible to go back to more in-person communications, it will be a wonderful relief. But in the immediate term, some of the added digital load is unavoidable. These strategies can help you counter that load and reduce digital fatigue.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:



Workplace Fatigue: Simple Hoax or Real Threat?

We all had days in which it’s barely 2 o’clock, lunch is barely over and you are absolutely exhausted. While this feeling is absolutely normal after lunch, what do you do when this feeling follows you all day, every day? Workplace tiredness doesn’t necessarily mean physical exhaustion but focuses more on the mental side of things.

This state does not appear solely due to low energy levels, but it also signals a clear lack of motivation. Due to this continuous state of fatigue, people can hardly concentrate and stay organised. If these circumstances keep on longer than a few weeks, in spite of enjoying adequate sleep and feelings of anxiousness and depression start to settle in more and more, then burnout is on its way.

There is no shame in feeling tired at work; there may be some stressful situation at home or simply you did not get enough sleep the night before, it happens. Nevertheless, when the relentless feeling of tiredness has set in for weeks on end then it is time for people to take action. This is your brain trying to tell you that something needs to change in what and how you do things. You might be overworked, stressed or generally unhappy with the state of affairs surrounding you.

Recent research has revealed that fatigue still ranks amongst the top symptoms for both anxiety and depression, with the added bonus of having a better understanding of why our bodies “ask” for more rest. Obviously, these fatigue periods start with a very stressful event that activates the “fight-or-flight” response in our bodies and we start releasing a lot of adrenaline, amongst other hormones. The hormones released in the body alter physiological traits such as heart rate, given the fact that cortisol levels are up whilst serotonin and dopamine are on the back foot. Studies show that there is a clear correlation between stress and neurogenesis (the process of creating neurons) in the hippocampus, which ultimately leads to numerous depression symptoms.

Given all these changes that are happening internally, the theory states that fatigue is simply a coping mechanism. When stress hormones are produced, they usually start the process of “circuit breaking” and simply block glucose intake by receptors in both the hippocampus and the amygdala. Even though this protects the brain from way too much excitement, it does make it incredibly harder to remain happy over longer periods of time and do everything you have planned.

Work fatigue – Slippery Slope towards Burnout

Ironically, the main issue here isn’t that these elements make people feel tired at work, but that they can become so aggravating that the road to burnout becomes shorter and shorter. Burnout can be explained like a constant state of fatigue combined with a deep sense of cynicism, lack of ambition and accomplishment.

A sudden burst in fatigue can mean that people require more time to decompress, rest, and enjoy life. That might mean that the manager may have to offer more resources, more flexible or slowed scheduling, informal get-togethers, or just being more approachable by all members of staff. More often than not, people assume that they’re tired for various other reasons, such as not exercising enough, drinking a bit too much on a night out, etc. They could also say nothing about their prolonged state of exhaustion due to existing stigma around mental health and the desire to look strong and in control.

Managers should also factor in the negative influence on productivity levels and decision making that fatigue can have. The worst thing management can do in this situation is to start pointing fingers and openly criticise people, before even trying to find out what is the source of the dip in productivity. However, this does not mean that accountability should be eradicated, but done after rigorous talks and one-on-one meetings.  Some managers just assume that employees just do not want what is best for them in order to succeed. Everyone deserves a second chance to fix their mishaps and mistakes, while management should focus on eliminating stressors that usually come from operations and organisational culture.

One last thing that a manager should definitely take into account is that every person is unique, which makes the process of identifying stressors even more difficult.  What is stressful for someone may be a cakewalk for someone else and vice versa. Thus, while it’s more than ok to set general goals and standards, managers should be interested in knowing each member of his or her team in order to fully understand what makes them tick and what makes them doubt themselves. Hard work must be put in to create a real and meaningful work relationship so that when employees have a stressful situation on their hands, they’ll be more than comfortable to share their experience and, it goes without saying, that friendship is one of the best stress relievers out there.

There is a real value in providing companies with the tools to carry out regular organisational assessments and this is where Great People Inside comes to your aid. Our online platform offers the best solutions and tools for your company to thrive in every type of industry and any possible situation your organisation may find itself. In terms of lowering your employee turnover rates, we recommend our GR8 Full Spectrum assessment for hiring and 360° Survey for retention. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

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Workaholics and Their Toxic Mindset

In the United States, the 5th of July is also known as National Workaholics Day. This day has been set more as a means of creating awareness for what is also known as ‘the addiction of the century’. Unfortunately, people still do not know what workaholism is in a time when society praises ‘busy’ people and also view it as an important status symbol.

However, there is a difference between workaholics and hard workers. For example, workaholics are those employees who cannot stop working long hours, even during weekends and vacations. They are physically addicted to their job. On the other hand, hard workers do not put themselves in these types of situations. Of course, they may stay overtime from time to time in order to ensure a deadline is met, but they do not start neglecting their health, their friends and their families.

This issue is of a serious concern to an organisation on multiple facets. On an individual level, workaholics, besides neglecting their health and personal lives, also experience lower levels in regards to job satisfaction and obviously makes it harder for them to achieve a healthier work-life balance. Given the fact that workaholism is an addiction, it is very much similar to alcoholism and other similar addictions in the sense that little enjoyment is had while working. Thus, the organisation may have numerous overworked and unhappy employees.

In a clear domino effect, those unhappy employees will surely affect teams and the company culture in the process. Given the fact that workaholics are always looking to one-up everyone else and they become an issue in terms of teamwork due to the fact that they can’t and won’t work well in a team. Their approach is sometimes extreme and it can usually be seen by a disregard of social norms in terms of collegiality. So what are the differences between hard workers and workaholics?

It is worth mentioning that the difference cannot be summed up simply by the number of hours put in. The problem here revolves around the implications it has on their lives. In a 2015 study published in the “Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services”, it has been revealed that workaholics encounter several problems such as social, psychological and physical complications due to their addiction to work. Additionally, the study discovered that these people are at a huge risk of burning out, are closer to depression, a weaker immune system, very little life satisfaction and deteriorating relationship problems. And the more workaholics work, the consequences are getting bigger. The stress that results from these consequences leads to less productivity. Consequently, less productivity results into longer hours at work. Hard workers, on the other hand, are passionate about their work and always maintain a good work-life balance.

What if you love your work?

Interestingly enough, the majority of workaholics know that their behaviour is detrimental to their job performance and health, but their defence almost always revolves around how much they love their job. The stress and problems that result from workaholism lead to numerous health issues. In an interesting take regarding this problem, studies have been done in order to assess if there is a difference between engaged and unengaged workaholics. The results pretty much speak for themselves. Both sets of workaholics have experienced a higher number of psychosomatic health issues such as headaches, digestive system problems and also more mental health problems i.e. depression, mood swings, sleep deprivation. Unsurprisingly, unengaged workaholics are at a 4.2% higher risk of experiencing these medical complaints. The number itself does not seem like a lot, but when it comes to health risks, it could be a game changer.

Additionally, engaged workaholics have shown more resourcefulness both at home and at the office. They are being offered more social support, from everyone ranging from spouse to manager. Their communication skills are also better developed, with time management skills also in the green.

A proactive mentality is usually a characteristic of employees who have been blessed with intrinsic motivation can help themselves in terms of taking action when they experience even the slightest health problems. On the other hand, when it comes to people with extrinsic motivation, anxiety may transform a workaholic into an even more passive individual who will dwell even more on their unhealthy habits.

Of course, managers are recommended to intervene in such cases. Helping employees discover their intrinsic motivation can help them re-engage with their job and co-workers, who in turn will provide support. Intervention can mean anything ranging from offering them challenging and feasible tasks, discussing their professional development to things such as autonomy and feedback regarding their work.

In the end, the challenge lies in identifying the compulsive workers and prevent the consequences this type of behaviour may have. In layman terms, the focus should be on employee engagement and their ability to ‘switch off’ after office hours. It will definitely help all members of staff to be and feel happy both professionally and personally.

We have an impressive assessment library with hundreds of dimensions that can be leveraged in creating a custom skills-based assessment that supports your organisation’s specific competencies and unique vision. Please contact us if you need to measure the engagement level in your company.




Workplace Harassment

Workplace harassment is something people experience on a daily basis, but are too afraid to speak out about it… By law, harassment is described as any unwanted verbal or physical behaviour which are based on ideas such as colour, race, sex, religion, nationality, age, either physical or mental disabilities, and last but not least, gender identity. A harassing behaviour can take many forms which include: slurs, offensive jokes, intimidation, ridicule, insults, name calling, physical threats or assaults, offensive pictures and many more.

Many people encounter harassment even during interviews. It is important to know what rules apply to the employers and what they can and cannot ask you. Moreover, recruiters cannot ask you about your religion, race, marital status, disabilities, ethnic background, country of origin, age or sexual preferences. Next time you’re going into an interview, pay attention at what and how they ask about information regarding yourself.

Unfortunately, anyone can be in a situation where he or she is the harasser or the person being harassed. The harasser can range from being your boss, a co-worker, a supervisor from a different department, or even a non-employee, whilst the victim of the harassment doesn’t necessarily have to be the one directly harassed, but it can be any person in the office who feels affected by the harassing behaviour.

How to Deal with Harassment at the Workplace

Usually, people who are dealing with workplace harassment have the intention of solving the incident internally. The first option would be to approach the offender personally and explain how his behaviour and language have offended you. If you feel uncomfortable with the direct approach, the other option would be to contact your manager or supervisor and ask him to handle the situation before it develops into something more problematic.

Of course, there are cases in which the offender is your manager or supervisor and your only course of action is to contact the HR department or your manager’s boss and request an analysis of the situation.

Types of Harassment

There are numerous ways in which harassment takes place in the workplace. Unfortunately, sexual harassment continues to be one of the primary courses of harassment, although that does not mean that non-sexual harassment must be treated lightly. It is essential that people understand that harassment at the office can affect them, whether they are victims or not. One way or another it could impact people’s state of mind and even their careers.

As mentioned above, harassment can take many forms at the office. It could vary from being both physical and sexual and ending up with it being based on religion or race.

In the United States, the definition of harassment ranges from state to state. For example, in Florida a court decided that ‘fat jokes’ are offensive, while in Wisconsin and New York harassing people based on their criminal record is against the law. It is obvious that this issue represents a tricky subject everywhere around the world.

Sexual Harassment

This type of harassment does not limit itself to just physical contact or words and just between co-workers of the opposite sex. All of the following examples classify as sexual harassment:

  • Staring in a provocative manner, or whistling.
  • Emails, letters or notes with provocative messages.
  • Obscene videos and images shared with colleagues during a break or at lunch.
  • Expose posters of inappropriate sexual imagery.
  • Sharing sexual anecdotes or lewd jokes with the co-workers.
  • Making offensive remarks about a person’s gender identity.

Non-Sexual Harassment

This type of harassment includes remarks ranging from a person’s physical appearance to his mental disabilities or cultural values. A co-worker can create a hostile work environment by continuously commenting that a person is too old, too stupid or too fat.

If you someone in the workplace is making either racist or negative comments regarding another person in the office is definitely harassment. In this category can also fall drawings, clothing or gestures that hurt or transform someone in a victim at the office. The following examples fall into the category of non-sexual harassment:

  • Making jokes and negative remarks about a co-worker’s religious beliefs, or enforcing one’s own religious views on a person.
  • Racist nicknames, slangs and phrases are all prohibited.
  • ‘Distinguishing’ people at the office by the colour of their skin or ethnic characteristics.
  • Talking about cultural or religious stereotypes in an offensive manner.

So, having read all this, next time you are a victim of sexual harassment or notice a colleague in this situation, you will know how to recognise it and take action.

The Great People Inside employee assessment solutions and technology can be tailored to your company’s specific needs and organisational culture and can help you to boost the levels of job-fit and skill-use in your employees, generating job satisfaction, improved motivation, health and happiness, and boost employee retention.

Try out our assessment in order to measure the level of wellbeing in your organisation and find out the best approach to improve it.







Why is freelancing so popular these days?

Freelancing is becoming a more and more common practice in this day and age because of the simple fact people get to ditch the routinely 9 to 5 schedule. In a study conducted by the HR service Paychex, the freelancer market has shown rapid growth. This surge in the freelancing market couldn’t have been foreseen back in 80s or 90s. To put things into perspective, between 2000 and 2014 the freelancer workforce has grown by 500% according to the same report from Paychex. This type of work environment has become possible due to the rise of startups, millennials and their pursuit for a more flexible work schedule. The economic recession and the continuous development of technology have also been key for this shift to occur.

At the moment, there are around 53 million freelancers working in the United States. Out of them all, 14.3 million are people who have full-time jobs, but also perform freelancer tasks when time allows it – they are also known as “moonlighters”. Another 9.3 million people do freelancing in combination with part-time jobs. The remaining people are working as full-time freelancers going from project to project. By 2020, it is estimated that over 40% of the workforce available in America will be pursuing independent work.

Given these numbers and the growing desire for more control over their own schedules, there now are co-working spaces specifically designed for freelancers. It is a well-known fact that working from home can become uncomfortable and maybe just a little bit depressing. In the U.S. this issue is beginning to be tackled, especially in large cities. For example, WeWork has become one of the most popular providers of common workspace for freelancers and has also started expanding outside the United States. They have concentrated on creating the best working atmosphere for everyone around, competing with the best startups. They provide independent workers with things such as fresh fruit, arcade games and even beer on tap. Why wouldn’t anyone want to be a freelancer these days?

Although some people may consider freelancing as a way of avoiding the real working world, businesses actually thrive on finding specific talent for particular projects and needs and with the advantage of a smaller fee. Instead of going through the hassle of interviewing and recruiting someone new (and all that comes with it), companies can now find consultants for each and every project they have. And more often than not, that person has more time to deal with arising issues when that happens.

It is important for people to understand that the freelancing world isn’t about “temporary” work. These people are highly experienced, professional and very engaged with the tasks they have to perform. All they want is more flexibility and most of time they get what they want.

There are also platforms that connect freelance workers with multinational organisations or even small local businesses. A primary example of this type of business is Upwork, a company which manages to connect 3.6 million organisations with over 9 million freelancers from all around the world (180 countries to be more precise). This platform allows large corporations to hire people when the need for a full-time employer isn’t justified and the need for cost control is very important. Small businesses profit from this service as well, especially when they require help with their finances, marketing strategy or even a product launch.

The industry of freelancing is highly evolved, given the fact that there are websites where you can hire people to do your daily menial tasks such as: house repairs, cleaning and running errands of any kind. TaskRabbit is known to offer people this type of service. Amazon is also in this area of business helping people with moving, cleaning, shopping and repairs.

But as with anything in this world, there must also be a downside. Although there are numerous platforms for people to find a job or get help in various activities, due to the increased number of such platforms and the obvious competition that ensues, many of the jobs available do not reach the living wage, which can be difficult for many people.

Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation, can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

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Preventing Burnout in 5 Easy Steps

If you’ve been working in the past few years, you’ve probably heard about the term “burnout” and you should know that it is directly related to stress revolving around work. The general definition for burnout describes it as a combination of 3 factors: mental, emotional and physical fatigue combined with serious doubtfulness regarding your competence and value of work. Everyone has a couple of coworkers who stay for way too long at the office after the business hours have ended. Of course, this is understandable if they have an important contract to honour, a project deadline that cannot be pushed any further, or maybe they are just really dedicated. No harm, no foul until the stress from the actions mentioned above can transform itself into a serious case of burnout.

Entrepreneurs are flying into the face of danger due to their working program, which usually is 24/7/365. Given the fact that they are trying to build a serious company from the ground up and have to deal with issues left and right, the stress that is building up inside them can lead to a serious burnout.

Thankfully, nowadays there are many ways in which you can identify if you’re starting to experience burnout symptoms. They are pretty easy on the eye if you feel you are heading towards complete exhaustion. Here is a list of a few early signs of a potential burnout:

  • Huge amount of stress and anxiety
  • Low engagement or lack of it
  • You’re more cynical than usual
  • Not enough sleep
  • No breaks during the day
  • The feeling that there aren’t enough hours in a workday
  • Consistent physical illness


These are 5 easy steps you should follow in order to get back on track on your own terms:


  1. Take frequent breaks during office hours

People sometimes fail to understand that it is an art to accomplish top workplace performance. You cannot remain at 100% during all of your working hours, which is why it is important to give your brain a bit of a break; it needs a recharge, just like your smartphone does. If you have a more flexible work arrangement, go for a run or a walk in nearby park. Try and have lunch outside the office space, it will allow you to decompress and maybe see the bigger picture. Needless to say, you need to careful when taking a break as well. Avoid doing so when your brain activity is at its highest, more often than not, this happens in the morning.

  1. Distance yourself from digital devices

Before the era of smartphones, gadgets and various wearables, when you left the office that meant you were done for the day. Even if you wanted to work from home, that required a lot of planning and effort. Now, we never really leave the workplace, because we are physiologically and psychologically very much still connected. Although it may seem difficult to get rid of this problem, there actually is an easy solution for it. As soon as you arrive home, either leave your phone somewhere in the hallway or even turn it off after a certain hour. You must understand that whatever you want to do CAN wait until tomorrow.

  1. Plan something interesting right after work

Whether this activity involves playing football with your friends or cooking with your loved one, it will make you focus on that particular action rather than telling yourself you shouldn’t check your emails every 10 minutes. You may as well want to be transform yourself into a couch potato as soon as you get home, but engaging in something more meaningful like a jigsaw puzzle or studying a new language will give you a better feel factor.

  1. Take a longer weekend from time to time

If you start to feel weak both physically and mentally, maybe that’s your body’s way of telling you it’s time for a longer break. Instead of taking a long vacation, try and constantly give yourself 3 or 4-day weekends. It is vital you don’t interact with anything related to work. It ruins the whole concept of a mini-vacation.

  1. Focus on the meaningful work you wish to do

There are some times when you simply cannot get some time off work. It happens to everyone and there is no need to panic. Instead, try and find a deeper meaning for the task at hand. Maybe you can correlate it with a personal or professional goal of yours. The reasons may vary from: getting the job promotion you wanted or simply preventing yourself from procrastinating. But keep in mind that this is just a temporary fix to the problem. If you are really stressed and lack any sort of energy, take a real break.


We have an impressive assessment library with hundreds of dimensions that can be leveraged in creating a custom skills-based assessment that supports your organisation’s specific competencies and unique vision. Please contact us if you need to measure the engagement level in your company.