Talking About Your Mental Health with Your Employer

Up to 80% of people will experience a diagnosable mental health condition over the course of their lifetime, whether they know it or not. The prevalence of symptoms is the same from the C-suite to individual contributors, but almost 60% of employees have never spoken to anyone at work about their mental health status. Even though managers, direct reports, and colleagues have been more vulnerable than ever due to shared societal challenges and the blurring of the personal and professional during the past 18 months, the effects of stigma can still loom large. 

If you’re struggling with managing your mental health, you know it can become more difficult to keep up with work duties, among any other responsibilities on your plate.

While these aren’t always easy conversations to have, it may be helpful to talk to your employer about your struggles so that you can partner with your boss, co-workers, direct reports, or human resources department to find solutions that help you feel better and take greater control of your mental health.

The truth is, maybe that’s because while there are sometimes clues to highlight when we’re going through a tough time mentally—appearing teary, withdrawn, maybe even agitated—most of the time, there is no external signal to signpost when someone is struggling. Really, the only way we can know how each of us is feeling is by talking to each other. But, for many us, our mental health can feel like a hugely private part who we are. It can seem easier to put on a facade and pretend that everything’s A-Okay—even when it’s not.

It’s understandable to think that, particularly in a work environment, admitting that you’re struggling is showing a sign of weakness. But, actually, I think it’s one of the greatest forms of strength. Showing your vulnerabilities makes you a strong person.

Why Employees Don’t Talk about Mental Health

Mental health stigma can be a barrier for employees who wish to talk openly about their treatment and condition. There are several reasons an employee might not wish to disclose a mental illness, including:

  • Fear of losing their job or missing out on a promotion;
  • Worry over co-workers and their managers judging them;
  • Risk of being misunderstood;
  • Not wanting to be seen as being given special treatment;
  • Witnessing harassment or bullying of others who have talked about mental health.

When employees don’t talk about mental health, it can have a ripple effect. They might avoid seeking treatment if they can’t take time off to go to therapy appointments. Employees who feel misunderstood can feel isolated and their relationships with their co-workers can suffer. Mental health is a spectrum that we all go back and forth on, just like physical health. Most of us fluctuate between stress, burnout, and diagnosable conditions like depression or anxiety depending on what’s happening in our lives. While it may feel harder to disclose bipolar disorder than burnout, everyone should be able to relate on some level.

This has never been truer than it has been over the last 18 months, between the stressors of the pandemic, racial trauma, and more. Managers, direct reports, and colleagues have been more vulnerable and authentic than ever due to shared societal challenges and the blurring of the personal and professional with remote work. We’ve also benefited from the courage of Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka, and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Not only did they choose to share their mental health challenges on a public stage, but they also made difficult decisions that put their well-being first.

That said, the effects of stigma can still loom large. Self-stigma tells you that you’re weak and should be ashamed of your anxiety and depression. Societal stigma tells you that you would be judged and that professional repercussions would follow if you disclosed.

Should You Tell Your Employer?

There can be a variety of intrinsic and extrinsic concerns to consider if you are contemplating talking to your employer about your mental health challenges.

A 2018 journal article provides a systematic review of the literature to help you understand why you may need to navigate these discussions differently depending on circumstances. Factors that impact the decision to disclose or conceal mental health challenges may include:

  • Potential stigma
  • Personal characteristics of a boss
  • Relationship with employer
  • Mental health of the employee
  • Perceptions of mental illness
  • Fears about losing control

When struggling with mental health, it can even be difficult to think clearly, so it helps to really spend time considering a proper course of action.

A 2015 study looked into how people manage their mental health information at work. This research found that men, people participating in supported employment programs, recipients of disability benefits, people with a thorough knowledge of applicable legislation, those with fewer negative experiences regarding stigma, and people who report more severe illness were increasingly likely to disclose mental health challenges at their workplace.

Talking With Your Boss

It can feel intimidating to talk to your boss regarding challenges with mental health, especially when so many people rely on their jobs for an income to survive.

This insight aligns well with the evidence from a 2020 journal article based on focus groups with people with mental health concerns human resources practitioners, employers, accommodations professionals, and advocates.

This research found that people benefitted from considering who they should share their mental health challenges with, as well as the content, timing, and communication style used in their disclosure.

Speaking With Your Direct Reports

When speaking with the employees you supervise directly, it can be useful to think about exactly what they need to know to complete their responsibilities and how your mental health may impact them. Maintain professionalism by being brief, to the point, and clear about exactly what your request or concern is. There’s no need to amplify your experience or be overly emotional in order to get others to understand.

If anything, being open with those that report to you may just encourage more dialogue about your team’s mental health and foster a healthier working relationship.

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:

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Sources:

https://www.thecheckinproject.org/post/how-to-talk-about-mental-health-with-your-employer
https://www.psycom.net/how-to-talk-to-your-boss-about-your-mental-health/
https://hbr.org/2021/07/how-to-talk-about-your-mental-health-with-your-employer?

Overwhelmed at Work? Here’s What You Can Do

Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that “what goes up must come down.” However, stress and feeling overwhelmed is not bound by the constraints of physics—it just goes up and up and up. Psychotherapists say that many of us wind up amplifying the mental health harms already placed upon us by our jobs and relationships—even when it’s the last thing we want.

In 2015, the American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America survey revealed more and more adults were feeling “extreme stress,” and that average stress levels were slowly increasing. With that stress came increased stress-related symptoms and overall poor health caused by such a huge mental strain. Many respondents admitted to partaking in unhealthy eating habits, not sleeping well or losing patience with loved ones because of the stress, too.

When you feel overwhelmed, you may react in ways that not only don’t help the situation, but that even make it worse. Maybe you’re oblivious to these patterns, or you know what they are but struggle to do anything about them.

Feeling overwhelmed at work can make you feel stressed, confused, trapped, and at risk of burnout.  When you experience overwhelm at work it can be difficult to manage your time, energy, and focus. Overwhelm can affect your ability to think and act clearly and rationally.  Feeling overwhelmed at work can also prevent you from making effective decisions and taking appropriate action.

To stop feeling overwhelmed at work it’s important to understand the triggers.  When you feel overwhelmed at work, causes include having too much too to do, tight deadlines, work pressure, or stress. Some of the best ways to handle feeling this overwhelmed actually fall into two camps—neither of which have anything to do with working until your brain melts: taking action to get a handle on your work, and taking a break so you can keep working to the best of your abilities.

The following are common self-sabotaging mistakes overwhelmed people tend to make. There are practical solutions for each that will help you feel like you’re on top of things and do a better job of navigating your most important tasks and solving problems.

1. You think you don’t have time for actions that would help you

People often have great ideas about things that would help them feel better and more in control — for example, hiring someone to help around the house, practicing self-care, seeing a therapist, taking a vacation, or organizing a game night with friends. However, they dismiss them because they think they’re too busy or that it’s not the right time, waiting to take those actions until a more ideal moment that typically never arrives.

Instead of thinking about what would be ideal, choose the best option that’s easily available to you now. Perhaps you don’t have time to research the best therapists by interviewing multiple candidates, but you do have time to pick someone who meets a few of your criteria and try a couple of sessions with them.

When you have good ideas but don’t act on them, it can lead to a sense of powerlessness or incompetence. You may also have endless open loops of “shoulds” and waste time and energy thinking the same thoughts over and over again. Plus, when you don’t act, you miss out on the benefits you’d accrue from trying your ideas. By acting to help yourself, you’ll get practice finding doable solutions, feel more self-efficacy, and reap those benefits sooner.

2. You interpret feeling overwhelmed as a weakness

Lots of times, we feel overwhelmed simply because we need to do a task we’re not very familiar with, or because a task is high stakes and we want to do a superb job of it. By itself, this isn’t necessarily a problem. We can often work through the task despite those overwhelmed feelings.

However, sometimes we get self-critical about the very fact that we feel overwhelmed. We think: “I shouldn’t feel overwhelmed by this. It’s not that hard. I should be able to handle it without it stressing out.” When you’re self-critical, you become more likely to procrastinate, because not only does the task trigger feelings of overwhelm, it also triggers shame or anxiety about having those feelings.

Some people react to this shame and anxiety in other ways. They might approach the task with extra perfectionism, or they might become more reluctant to ask for tips and advice from others. It’s important to replace your self-criticism with compassionate self-talk, which I’ve provided specific strategies for previously.

3. You navigate towards your dominant approaches and defence mechanisms

When we get stressed out, we tend to get a bit more rigid. Because we have less cognitive and emotional bandwidth to consider other options, we become less flexible about adapting to the demands of the situation and default to our dominant ways of handling things.

We all have values, but we don’t always use them to our advantage. For example, thoughtfulness can turn into overthinking, self-reliance can morph into micromanaging or doing everything yourself, having high standards can lead to being picky or perfectionistic, and resourcefulness can steer you toward doing things in unnecessarily complicated or unconventional ways.

When you’re overwhelmed, make sure you’re matching your values to the demands of the situation. Does the particular task or problem need…? (Insert your dominant attribute, such as thoughtfulness or self-reliance.) Or would a different approach be better suited to the circumstances?

4. Wasting time and energy on things you have no control over

No one controls everything. It’s impossible. Some things are simply beyond our influence. Don’t waste your time on those things. Instead focus on areas that you can influence or change. For example, you can’t control whether the company you work for will merge or not.

Don’t waste your energy or time worrying about it. Allot yourself 5 minutes of worry time, then shift gears. Move on and get over it. Focus on what you can do to make the situation better. Figure out what skills would make you more valuable to the organization. Explore different options so that you are prepared when the decision is finally made and announced.

5. You’re Multitasking

When you feel like there’s way too much on your plate, your first instinct will probably tell you to knock out more than one task at once. But that, my friends, is an urge to ignore. While we’re multitasking we may feel as though it makes us high-achieving, it actually makes us prone to even more mistakes and increasing our feelings of being overwhelmed. Even though answering emails and writing up a project at work may make you feel productive for, like, 10 minutes, it pays to give each task (and, more importantly, yourself) some room to breathe.

Finally, just remind yourself—it will all get done. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and with the help of these strategies, you’ll be sure to get there with your work done well.

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:

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Sources:

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/feeling-overwhelmed-4-mis_b_9266878
https://www.baofootspa.com/blog/2020/2/21/the-3-most-common-mistakes-you-make-when-youre-stressedand-what-to-do-instead
https://www.themuse.com/advice/5-unexpected-ways-to-deal-when-youre-overwhelmed-at-work

Working Parents and How They’re Dealing with Time

The stress and uncertainty brought on by a year of the COVID-19 pandemic has left working parents struggling to find a child care solution that not only meets the expectations of their employers, but also the social and educational development of their children.

A new survey of working parents done by Bright Horizons revealed that over three-quarters (78%) of parents whose children are not in a child care centre or school setting are worried that their child is missing out on social and other developmental opportunities. Almost half of parents (46%) with a nanny or in-home care provider agree that a child care centre or school setting would provide more opportunities to socialise with other children, and 4 in 10 believe it would provide educational opportunities (41%) and/or more engaging activities (38%) for their child. On the other hand, two-thirds (67%) of parents with children in a child care centre or school environment feel their arrangement supports the social development of their child.

In light of these results the CEO of Bright Horizons, Stephen Kramer said: ” Working parents have spent the past 10 months being very nimble, pivoting on a daily basis as the world follows the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. But after almost a year of living, working and caregiving from home, parents are in need of a consistent, reliable child care solution that enables them to focus on their work while keeping their children safe and healthy and also supporting the social, emotional and intellectual growth of their children.”

According to the aforementioned survey, the majority of parents (97%) with children in a child care centre or school setting feel their arrangement allows them to focus on their work. The survey also revealed that most parents (89%) whose children do not attend a child care centre would consider this option for their child in the foreseeable future. The inability to juggle parenting and work (34%), along with children becoming increasingly bored at home (29%), are the factors that will weigh most heavily in parents’ decision to enrol in group education settings.

There is often talk about the “balancing act” of managing work and parenting, which assumes that the solution is a combination of compromise, multitasking, and choosing an understanding employer. But there are limits to compromise, and multitasking is exhausting. And we do not all have the good fortune or opportunity to choose a flexible and understanding employer. Even if we do, this choice can be undermined by the inherent demands of the work or the realities of who gets promoted, whose role is made redundant, and who gets pay raises.

Empathising with and supporting your employees with children during these difficult times can help set up your organisation for long-term success. Not only can it help you retain top employees, but it can also help these employees be more productive and can improve your employer brand and broader brand perception. Here are a few specific examples of ways employers are supporting working parents at this time, along with best practices your organisation can consider. Not every organisation will have the financial resources to offer a full range of support, but some of the practices outlined here can be implemented regardless of company size and resources.

Top employers offer working parents added support

Some technology companies and other larger organisations have recognized that overseeing virtual learning is challenging even for the most tech-savvy parents. To support parents during the ongoing pandemic, Accenture partnered with Bright Horizons, the childcare provider, to offer employees access to small-group, part-time school day supervision at a subsidized cost. Other organisations such as Microsoft and Bank of America are also offering this benefit to employees.

Bank of America is also offering employees benefits such as $100 in childcare reimbursement per day and virtual experiences for school-aged children. School-aged children of employees can participate in tutoring, virtual field trips and after-school programs through the non-profit online learning tool, Khan Academy. Working parents also have access to an online hub that features information about childcare, virtual education resources and opportunities to connect with other parents.

Citigroup is adding new employee benefits to help working parents balance their day-to-day work and virtual learning. The organisation is offering employees discounts on test preparation and tutoring services to kick off the new school year. Employees can receive assistance with finding an educational caregiver to supervise their children’s online learning and if they prefer small group learning, they can be matched with other families and educators.

Supporting flexible scheduling

The uprise in remote work since the initial COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020 leaves many individuals wondering whether they’re ‘working from home’ or ‘living at work.’ In the absence of set times in the office, employees across organisations are often taking a different approach to their working hours. Some start the day earlier or work later than they did before the pandemic because they don’t have to spend the extra time commuting. Others need to take a break during the day to help children with virtual learning or to run an errand for an at-risk relative. Due to this shift, employers should consider placing less emphasis on gauging success based on showing up at a certain time and instead embrace flexible, employee-driven scheduling.

Starting with new hire onboarding, encourage employees to block time on their calendars when they might have personal conflicts – such as supervising virtual learning or preparing lunch for their children. Foster a culture in which this type of time blocking is widely accepted and employees do not face negative repercussions for not being available at specific times. Encourage new hires to speak up as soon as possible if they’re struggling to balance their home and work schedules. This can help you identify solutions to set up for immediate success your new employees who are working parents, rather than only having this discussion if the employee’s performance noticeably suffers.

Rethinking performance reviews

Many employees who have faced challenges with juggling work and parenting responsibilities are concerned that this balancing act will lead to poor performance reviews. Google, for example, suspended performance reviews due to the pandemic in March and recently decided to reinstate them. In a recent survey of 870 Google employees who are parents, many indicated they expect the upcoming assessments to show that their job performance suffered in recent months. Others are asking Google for an option to opt out of this review cycle, which determines raises and promotions.

Other organisations are taking different approaches to performance management. Facebook suspended its usual performance ratings in early 2020. Instead, all employees who exceed expectations will receive bonuses. Facebook and other tech companies like Netflix and Google have also implemented performance management initiatives such as providing constant feedback, the ‘Keeper Test’ (in which a manager is asked, ‘Would you fight to keep that employee?’), and separating performance reviews, salary discussions and peer reviews.

A recent survey from Willis Towers Watson found that 66% of employers are not planning to alter performance expectations or career development and promotion processes for workers dealing with childcare issues. Whether employees are working parents or not, they have spent the past six months adapting to this new normal while doing their best to perform well in their roles. The unusual circumstances surrounding the pandemic need to be taken into consideration during performance reviews. This might mean setting up more frequent, informal check-ins instead of formal annual reviews for the time being or having a more open, two-way conversation rather than gauging success based on measurable numbers. By showing understanding, companies demonstrate that they truly care about their employees, not only generating higher productivity in the near term, but also strengthening employee loyalty in the long term.

In conclusion, about 41% of US employees between the ages of 20 and 54 have a child at home, meaning two in five employees are currently managing work and childcare or education in one way or another. By understanding the strain the pandemic has put on all employees – including working parents – your organisation can put a plan in place to better support your team, retain employees and drive results that will support long-term business success.

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:

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Sources:

https://www.parents.com/parenting/moms/healthy-mom/time-management-tips/
https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210119005073/en/Working-Parents-Prioritize-Social-Development-in-Considering-Pandemic-Child-Care-Solution
https://qz.com/work/958747/the-eisenhower-box-helped-me-balance-parenting-and-work/

Overthinking and How It Can Affect Physical & Mental Health

A high-achiever who processes the world more deeply than others is also known as a sensitive strive and susceptible to overthinking. Studies show that sensitive people have more active brain circuitry and neurochemicals in areas related to mental processing. This means their minds not only take in more information but also process that information in a more complex way. Sensitive strivers are often applauded for the way they explore angles and nuance. But at the same time, they are also more susceptible to stress and overwhelm.

Deliberation is an admirable and essential leadership quality that undoubtedly produces better outcomes. But for Terence and others like him, there comes a point in decision making where helpful contemplation turns into overthinking. If you can relate, here are five ways to stop the cycle of thinking too much and drive towards better, faster decisions.

1. Leave Perfectionism Behind

Perfectionism is one of the biggest blockers to swift, effective decision-making because it operates on faulty all-or-nothing thinking. For example, perfectionism can lead you to believe that if you don’t make the “correct” choice (as if there is only one right option), then you are a failure. Or that you must know everything, anticipate every eventuality, and have a thorough plan in place before making a move. Trying to weigh every possible outcome and consideration is paralysing.

In order to curb this tendency, use the following questions:

  • Which decision will have the biggest positive impact on my top priorities?
  • Of all the possible people I could please or displease, which one or two people do I least want to disappoint?
  • What is one thing I could do today that would bring me closer to my goal?
  • Based on what I know and the information I have at this moment, what’s the best next step?

After all, it’s much easier to wrap your head around and take action towards a single next step rather than trying to project months or years into the future.

2. Use Your Intuition

Intuition works like a mental pattern matching game. The brain considers a situation, quickly assesses all your experiences, and then makes the best decision given the context. This automatic process is faster than rational thought, which means intuition is a necessary decision-making tool when time is short and traditional data is not available. In fact, research shows that pairing intuition with analytical thinking helps you make better, faster, and more accurate decisions and gives you more confidence in your choices than relying on intellect alone. In one study, car buyers who used only careful analysis were ultimately happy with their purchases about a quarter of the time. Meanwhile, those who made intuitive purchases were happy 60 percent of the time. That’s because relying on rapid cognition, or thin-slicing, allows the brain to make wise decisions without overthinking.

3. Limit the exposure to decision fatigue

You make hundreds of decisions a day — from what to eat for breakfast to how to respond to an email — and each depletes your mental and emotional resources. You’re more likely to overthink when you’re drained, so the more you can eliminate minor decisions, the more energy you’ll have for ones that really matter.

Create routines and rituals to conserve your brainpower, like a weekly meal plan or capsule wardrobe. Similarly, look for opportunities to eliminate certain decisions altogether, such as by instituting best practices and standardised protocols, delegating, or removing yourself from meetings.

4. Getting the right tools

Knowing how to stop overthinking isn’t an innate gift. It isn’t genetic, or set-in stone during your childhood. Many people who are able to control their emotions and avoid getting stuck in a spiral of overthinking and anxiety have developed these skills over time. It takes determination – but it also takes the right set of tools. Discover your personal blueprint and how to align your choices with your ultimate purpose in life. Learn how to navigate pain and anxiety, rather than avoiding or suppressing it. Transform your thought process to crush negative behaviours – and any obstacles in your path.

5. Distract your senses

Overthinking and worrying are mental activities, so if they start to take hold, do something physical.

You can essentially “shock” your senses by taking the power away from one area of your body and giving it to another. Sounds confusing? It’s not.

For example, if you start to feel fearful about the uncertainty of an upcoming event, splash some cold water on your face, or smell some calming lavender oils. Your brain will start to react to the sudden change, and you’ll have less of an ability to focus on the worrisome thoughts.

Find whatever works for you to shock your senses, and keep it handy whenever possible.

Busying yourself with an activity is the best way to change the channel. Exercise, engage in conversation on a completely different subject, or get working on a project that will distract your mind from the barrage of negative thoughts. Remember that your mental depth gives you a major competitive advantage. Once you learn to keep overthinking in check, you’ll be able to harness your sensitivity for the superpower that it can be.

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:

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Sources:

https://www.themuse.com/advice/6-easy-ways-to-stop-overthinking-every-little-thing-and-just-enjoy-your-life
https://hbr.org/2021/02/how-to-stop-overthinking-everything
https://www.inc.com/business-insider/7-easy-ways-avoid-overthinking-improve-decisions.html

Mental Health and its Importance during the COVID-19 Pandemic

As news about the coronavirus outbreak continues to dominate the headlines and millions of people—in the U.S. and the world over—are being asked to self-quarantine, it has become increasingly significant to pay as much attention to our mental health as we do to our physical health. 

“Pandemics such as the one we are currently grappling with often ignite fear, anxiety and erratic behaviours,” says Dr. Kelly Vincent, a licensed clinical psychologist practicing in Encinitas, California. “When fear takes control, both our nervous system and emotional part of our brain go into overdrive. This response can lead to impulsiveness, panic and feeling out of control emotionally,” she says. “If a person has a pre-existing mental illness or history with anxiety and depression, it can often worsen and intensify during times such as these,” Dr. Vincent points out. If the stress and anxiety worsen then “it may trigger negative physical symptoms such as an elevated heart rate, insomnia, digestive issues, weakness and fatigue,” tells Dr. Janine Kreft, an Austin-based clinical psychologist. 

If you’ve been feeling anxious, frustrated, angry or downright confused lately, know that you’re not alone—we are all in this together.

Within weeks, the familiar symptoms of mental illness can become universal reality. A new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found nearly half of the respondents saying that their mental health was being harmed by the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly everyone on this planet is experiencing varying degrees of grief, panic, hopelessness and paralyzing fear. If you say now how terrified you are, the most common response you will get is “What sensible person isn’t?”

But that response can cause us to lose sight of the dangerous secondary crisis unfolding alongside the more obvious one: an escalation in both short-term and long-term clinical mental illness that may endure for decades after the pandemic recedes. When everyone else is experiencing depression and anxiety, real, clinical mental illness can get erased.

While both the federal and local governments have responded to the spread of the coronavirus in critical ways, acknowledgment of the mental illness vulnerabilities has been hasty. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has so far enlisted more than 8,000 mental health providers to help New Yorkers in distress, is a fortunate and much welcomed exception.

The Chinese government moved psychologists and psychiatrists to Wuhan during the first stage of self-quarantine. No comparable measures have been initiated by our federal government.

The unequal treatment of the two kinds of health — physical over mental — is frighteningly similar with our society’s current disregard for psychological stability. Insurance does not offer real uniformity of coverage, and treatment for mood disorders is generally deemed a luxury item. Given the fact that we are facing a dual crisis of both physical and mental health, those facing psychiatric challenges deserve both acknowledgment and treatment.

There are roughly four responses to the coronavirus crisis and the social isolation. Some people take it all in stride and rely on a foundation of unshakable psychic stability. Others constitute the worried well, who need only a bit of psychological first aid. A third group who have not previously experienced these disorders are being catapulted into them. Last, many who were already suffering from major depressive disorder have had their condition exacerbated, developing what clinicians call “double depression,” in which a persistent depressive disorder is overlaid with an episode of unbearable pain.

Social isolation generates at least as much escalation of mental illness as does fear of the virus itself. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a psychologist, found that social isolation is twice as harmful to a person’s physical health as obesity. For example, solitary confinement in prison systems causes panic attacks and hallucinations, among other symptoms. Isolation can even make people more vulnerable to the disease it is intended to forestall: Researchers have determined that “a lonely person’s immune system responds differently to fighting viruses, making them more likely to develop an illness.”

In order to improve your mental and emotional wellbeing, here are a few handy strategies to help you during these trying times:

Reduce Social Media & News Input

“I would encourage everyone to limit their exposure to the news and to customize their social media feeds—by following more accounts and pages that make them feel good—regardless of the current pandemic,” says Dr. Kreft. “Your brain is built to problem solve. And when you are already feeling fearful, it naturally seeks out stimuli in your external environment to reinforce the feeling of fear. The brain then deletes, distorts and generalizes all incoming information that does not align with your current emotional state or beliefs. So, if you spend a significant amount of time following the news, it reinforces more reason to worry— thus creating a vicious cycle.”

Get your Information from Trustworthy Sources

Some legitimate and reliable sources of COVID-19-related news and updates include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), John Hopkins’ Coronavirus Resource Center and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “It is helpful to adopt a more analytical approach as you follow news reports about the coronavirus. You will also want to verify information that you receive from family, friends or social media,” says the American Psychological Association (APA). Moreover, “consume only what you need to know, what’s most relevant to you and particularly what is happening or anticipated in your own community,” suggests the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Maintain Connections with Friends & Family

“Maintaining social networks can foster a sense of normality and provide valuable outlets for sharing feelings and relieving stress,” states APA. “You can maintain these connections without increasing your risk of getting the virus by talking on the phone, texting or chatting with people on social media platforms,” it adds. In addition, you can take virtual tours together of museums, national parks and other sites via Google Arts & Culture, tune in to live-streamed concerts and other events or play online games with friends, suggests NAMI.

If the symptoms of stress and anxiety get any worse and you feel it is impairing your ability to function, please speak to an experienced mental health professional at the earliest.  “For anyone who is unsure about attending therapy sessions outside of home, especially those who the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has described as being at higher risk, you can ask your health care provider about tele-therapy or mental health services online,” notes NAMI. 

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:

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Sources:

“Protecting Mental Health during Epidemics” Study prepared by Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Rehabilitation Unit Technology and Health Services Delivery Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), originally appeared in Spanish.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/nomanazish/2020/03/24/how-to-protect-your-mental-health-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic-according-to-psychologists/#7f164f1841cb
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/09/opinion/coronavirus-depression-anxiety.html

The Art of Focus – Dealing with the Pandemic Effects

Focus represents a stabilising force which leads us to insight, innovation and productivity, and those factors are expediting our recovery. It goes without saying that we are all stronger when we have control over some part of a solution, even as we are battered by the news and isolation of this ‘internal blizzard’ we are all facing.

It has been weeks since we settled into our new reality of remote work and being constantly barraged by news of how bad things can or will get. We are desperately trying to find new and relevant ways of doing business. For most of us, maintaining a high level of focus in order to be productive has been one of our key struggles during this time. This should result in us practicing attention management now more than ever, not just for the sake of our productivity, but for our peace of mind as well.

Practicing attention management is about maintaining control of where your attention goes, and realising when it’s being stolen, either by external distractions, internal thoughts or by anxiety fuelled by our social distancing. The more you become aware of your distractions, the easier it becomes to manage all of them. For the majority of us, distraction has become the norm, and the first step in changing our habit is awareness, because you can’t change a habit that you don’t think you have.

Start by acknowledging what’s distracting you. What’s taking your attention right now? Do you have kids at home? Are the dishes piling up in the sink? Or that news notification that just popped up on your phone? Once you can pinpoint where your attention is going it will become much easier to stay sharp and focused on what you are actually supposed to be doing.  

If you are working long hours in order to manage a company that provides essential services, or you’re an executive in charge of an isolated office in a home which you share with your now homes-schooling kids, it is of utmost importance that you take the time to grieve the loss of what used to constitute ‘normal’ and focus on what lies ahead.

Settle on the Now and Plan for the Future

While there are many times in life when it’s helpful to look your five-year plan or reflect on the past, during a time of crisis, it’s much more helpful to zoom in rather than zoom out. You can’t change what happened or know what will happen down the road, so focus your energy on right now, where you have some power.

When you’ve got you are focusing on the present moment, try and figure out what you need. Be as specific as possible. For example, instead of thinking, “I just need to stop crying,” decide what will help you do that. Maybe it’s going and reading out in the sun-filled balcony, maybe it’s calling your best friend, or maybe it’s just stopping and taking a few calming deep breaths.

This may sound overly simplistic and cliché, but going deep into the details of your life during a difficult time can strengthen you. If you find yourself wondering how will I would get through this week, just fixate on the next best thing you could do for yourself.

Using the Reward System

Lists are pretty powerful: They allow you to make sense of the day and bring some order to the chaos of life, especially during a tough time. Write everything that’s worrying you about what you need to accomplish on your to-do list (even if it’s something that normally comes easily, like “take a shower”). Set up reminders on your calendar, or use an app to help you out.

For example, you can use Fig, a wellness app that allows you to populate a to-do list with non-traditional wellness items as simple as stretch, drink water, breathe deeply, or call your mom. Because we are more or less tied to our phones nowadays, it can be extremely helpful to have a place where I can be reminded of small ways to stay healthy and sane during these trying times.

You don’t necessarily need an app to stay healthy or to pat yourself on the back—but do make sure you pause to acknowledge that just washing your hair and getting dressed during a crisis is something you can truly be proud of.

Ask for Support

When you’re going through a rough patch, your first instinct might be to hole up and disconnect from the rest of the world. But don’t ever forget that your friends and family are there to help.

Calling the people who love you the most during this pandemic can be extremely therapeutic. They were the ones who always kept you grounded and focused on the present moment. It is important to keep them anchored in your thought process by simply asking them for advice in terms of the tasks you should be doing next. Don’t be afraid to reach out, nobody should be alone in this and everybody is experiencing similar emotions right now so reaching out is not at all a selfish act.

Acknowledging the Pain

Now, nobody can say that they have tried to escape their own feelings by focusing their attention to the pain they are experiencing. Obviously, there are times when wallowing in your own sadness and accepting and understanding the pain is what works best, the important thing is not to judge yourself.

Most of the times, the key to handling our very own crisis is to remember that you have total control over your life. You have to accept that there are times when you have to live with the sadness and anxiety within and, of course, there is no easy fix to the situation. However, there are small things you can do to take care of yourself.  

If you can remember this, you will soon discover that in every moment of your life, there is a right thing you can do in order to gain the strength and momentum you need to move forward.

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:

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Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/curtsteinhorst/2020/03/31/how-to-focus-in-a-time-of-coronavirus-crisis/#34252cf66ac9
https://hbr.org/2020/04/is-it-even-possible-to-focus-on-anything-right-now?ab=hero-main-text
https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-simple-step-that-will-get-you-through-a-crisis

How to Make Your Employees Feel Appreciated

The need for making your employees feel valued and appreciated should not complicate the way you interact with them.

Those who find meaning and fulfilment in the eight or nine hours a day they spend with you will typically perform better and stick around for longer. Not only will it benefit your organisation on a financial level by reducing absence and boosting engagement, it will increase the chances of your employees living fulfilled lives.

That is why, if you’re interested in building a team of productive employees within the company, then making said employees feel valued is perhaps a manager’s most important job.

Feeling valued and appreciated at work is something we all need in order to do our best, whether we admit it or not. Tony Schwartz, president and CEO of The Energy Project, said in an article in Harvard Business Review, “The struggle to feel valued is one of the most insidious and least acknowledged issues in organizations. Most employees are expected to check their feelings at the door when they get to work. But try as we might, we can’t.”

In one study published by Harvard Medical School, helping employees feel valued was shown to have a dramatic impact on their performance. Researchers randomly divided people into two fundraising groups who were both tasked with making phone calls to seek donations. The first group made these calls each day as normal; the second group got a pep talk from an executive to let them know how grateful she was for their hard work.

Any guesses on which group completed more calls?

The group of fundraisers who listened to the pep talk completed 50% more phone calls than the group who carried out their work normally. The only difference was a little show of appreciation.

Starting with these 3 strategies will ensure you build a solid foundation for your organisation’s employee experience, so employees will know that they really are valued (and it’s not just lip service).

1. Be Willful in your Everyday Conversations

Employees and managers alike are often instilled with the idea that “everyone is replaceable.” But it has been revealed that a big part of feeling valued occurs when employees are aware that they add something to the company that no one else can.

To effectively transmit this, think about how you approach everyday conversations with your employees. When you assign a new task, for example, go beyond the basic “Here’s the contact info for your next design client,” and reiterate why you truly value someone’s work: “You did a great job on that presentation last week. We have a new client who seems nit-picky, and since your work is detail-oriented, I think you’re the only one for the job.”

Or, as you start giving people more challenging work, clearly acknowledge what you’re doing and why: “You really nailed your presentation during the team meeting last week, so I think you can handle a monthly client presentation with some of our big accounts.” The more you recognize your employees’ specific contributions to the team, the more valuable they’ll feel.

2. Show Them that Others Need Them as well

While recognition can serve as a great motivator, it can also become a little routine when it always comes from a direct manager.

I’m not saying that you should ever hesitate to reward your employees for a job well done, of course. But, do remember that feedback from others can pack a little more punch—and show your team that they’re not only appreciated by you, but also by clients, co-workers, and even executives.

As a manager, pay attention when a client sends you an email to share the amazing experience she had with an employee or when someone from another department lets you know “Roy helped me find the number I need—he’s terrific!” Then, share it. Whether you do it privately or in public, you’ll let your employees know that they’re making an impact on clients and coworkers—and they’ll be reminded just how important their work is.

3. Challenge Them Professionally

Every job comes with less-than-glamorous responsibilities. But it’s important to balance out that grunt work with challenging assignments, too. When you only give out repetitive tasks (or tasks beneath someone’s skill level), you’re conveying that you don’t really need his or her specific, individual talents.

On the other hand, when you assign an employee a challenging task and actually put your trust in him or her to see it through, what you’re saying is, “I know you’re capable of this, and I trust you to do a great job.”

So, it has been discovered that it’s important to consistently find new ways to challenge your employees—whether that means developing new projects specifically for their talents or just being more aware of what each person does best and assigning tasks accordingly. As a manager you must also carefully select employees for the task of training new hires—giving people this responsibility conveys that you not only think they’re doing a good job in their everyday work, but that you want incoming employees to develop their same habits, skills, and attitude.

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.

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.bamboohr.com/blog/employees-feel-valued-at-work/

https://www.perkbox.com/uk/resources/library/interactive-10-ways-to-make-your-employees-feel-loved

https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2018/12/27/how-to-make-employees-feel-valued/

Burnout Speaks Volumes about the Workplace not the People

There is a tendency to think of burnout as an individual problem, that can be solved by doing yoga, better breathing techniques, practising resilience and the list goes on and on. But the evidence is mounting that by simply applying your very own ‘band-aid’ solutions to a fast-paced work environment can actually be detrimental to your health. Given the fact that ‘burnout’ is now officially recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO), the responsibility for managing it has shifted away from the individual and towards the organisation. Leaders and managers beware, it’s about time you start building a burnout prevention strategy.

The Emotional and Financial Toll

When Stanford researchers looked into how workplace stress affects health costs and mortality in the United States, their foundings were incredible: a net spend of nearly $190 billion (close to 8% of healthcare cases) and nearly 120,000 deaths each year. Worldwide, 615 million suffer from depression and anxiety and, according to a recent WHO study, which roughly translates into an estimated $1 trillion loss in productivity levels.

If those statistics haven’t scared you yet, think about the fact that companies who cannot afford healthcare plans for their employees, which ultimately leads to very high turnover, low productivity. In high-pressure companies, healthcare costs are 50% higher than in any other firm. In a recent study done by the American Psychological Association (APA) has been revealed that burned-out employees are 2,6 times as likely to be looking for another job, 63% to have a sick day and 23% have more chances of visiting the emergency room.

When experts still struggle to define burnout, how can we ask the managers and leaders to prevent it?

It’s Not Me, It’s You

According to the foremost expert on burnout, Christina Maslach, social psychologist and professor emerita of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, we are attacking the problem from the completely wrong angle. She is worried about the new WHO classification in the IDC11. “Categorising burnout as a disease was an attempt by the WHO to provide definitions for what is wrong with people, instead of what is wrong with companies,” she says.  “When we just look at the person, what that means is, ‘Hey we’ve got to treat that person.’ ‘You can’t work here because you’re the problem.’ ‘We have to get rid of that person.’ Then, it becomes that person’s problem, not the responsibility of the organization that employs them.”

To further prove Maslach’s point, a survey of 7,500 full-time employees done by Gallup found that the top 5 reasons for burnout are:

  1. Unfair treatment at work
  2. Unmanageable workload
  3. Lack of role clarity
  4. Lack of communication and support from their manager
  5. Unreasonable time pressure

The list above clearly demonstrates that the root causes of burnout do not necessarily lie with the individual and that they can be averted — if leadership would start their prevention strategies much faster along the way.

 

Ask Better Questions

When investing in burnout prevention strategies, it’s best to narrow the company’s efforts down to small, micro-pilots, which mean a lower budget and less risk. It is recommended to start with 1 or 2 departments or teams and asking one simple question: If we had this much budget and could spend it on X many items in our department, what would be the first priority? Have the people vote anonymously then share the data with all of them. Discuss what was prioritised and why and start working down the list. Employees may not have the perfect solution, but they can most certainly tell you what isn’t working — and that is often the most invaluable data.

Organisations have a chance, right now, to fix this type of thing. Burnout is preventable. It requires good organisational culture, better data, asking more timely and relevant questions, smarter (more micro) budgeting, and ensuring that wellness offerings are included as part of your well-being strategy. Keep the yoga, the resilience training, and the mindfulness classes — they are all terrific tools for optimizing mental health and managing stress. But, when it comes to employee burnout, remember — it’s on you leaders, not them.

 

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.

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.workplacestrategiesformentalhealth.com/managing-workplace-issues/burnout-response

https://hbr.org/2019/12/burnout-is-about-your-workplace-not-your-people

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/28/who-recognizes-workplace-burnout-as-an-occupational-phenomenon.html

Perfectionism: Perils and How to Overcome it

Perfectionism can have a positive and negative impact on a person’s performance at work. On the one hand, it can make you to perform at a high level and deliver quality work. However, it can cause unnecessary anxiety and slow you down. But is it achievable to utilise the positives and keep the negatives under control? What are the techniques necessary to master perfectionism and keep it in check?

It is common knowledge that perfectionists are their own worst enemies. If you identify as a perfectionist person, then you realise that you may have the ability to perform at a higher level than others may can.

Unfortunately, perfectionists know that top performance comes at a cost. They are often experiencing immense levels of stress that affect all other areas of their lives.

It must also be stated that most perfectionists also experience burnout, they tend to get so exhausted mentally and emotionally that they do now want to continue in their professional endeavours.

Even though it may have negative effects, perfectionism is part of the human condition. Every person that has ever existed has had the desire to better themselves, in regards to their own capabilities. Derived from that desire does perfectionism spring, but as stated above, it can be toxic. In a 2007 study done on suicide, it has been revealed that more than half of the people who died were described by their friends and family as being ‘perfectionists’.

Canadian researchers Gordon Flett and Paul Hewitt have discovered that there are 3 forms of perfectionism that are scientifically recorded: self-oriented, other-oriented and socially prescribed perfectionism with the latter being the most damaging of them all. Besides the negative impact on a person’s mental health, perfectionism can affect the body as well. Due to the constant stress and dissatisfaction, it can lead to unimagined chronic conditions, back pain and IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) related problems or it can lead to addictions such as drinking, smoking and substance abuse.

What can you, or other people, do to change this mindset? There are many ways in which perfectionists can fuel their drive and ‘control’ their actions.

1. Realistic personal goals and expectations

Recognise that you are already enough and you don’t have to be perfect to continue making progress towards your goals.

By setting more realistic goals, you will have eliminated excess energy that would go towards reaching the impossible, and have a more balanced personal and professional life.

2. Challenging the inner critic and disperse negative thoughts

Don’t let your motivation be the reason you fail. It’s important to use a rewards system and positive feedback to achieve your goals rather than allowing your inner voice to destroy your emotional wellbeing.

Shut down the negativity, amplify your intuition, and allow positivity to drive you on the road to success.

3. Prioritising self-care

Put on your own gas mask before trying to help the person next to you, as they say on airplanes. Engage in therapy, re-connect with an old hobby, continue reading and meeting friends so that you can take better care of yourself and others.

4. Practicing saying no as often as possible

Perfectionists often struggle with saying no to new opportunities due to their high drive, however, setting healthy boundaries is the very thing that leads to sustainable energy.

Stop taking on extra tasks that aren’t directly related to your work so that you can invest in your own wellbeing and continue working on what truly matters.

5. Time off is not time wasted!

It’s easy to look at relaxation as a waste of time when you’re a perfectionist. However, it’s important to remember that sleeping and engaging in light-hearted activities is a healthy and necessary way of refreshing your motivation.

Practice taking time to relax and recharge your batteries so that you can continue pursuing your dreams.

6. Everything will be done in time

You have what it takes to complete any task in accordance with the deadline. Even if it means pulling an all-nighter, you know that you’ll finish the project and it’ll be good by the time you are done.

It is important to use that knowledge to feel more secure when you get overwhelmed, don’t panic because you have all your past achievements to tell you that you are going to persevere.

7. Take breaks and recharge constantly

Instead of thinking you’ll relax after it’s done, go the extra step and schedule some relaxation. Most likely you’re probably a Type A personality who needs to prioritise self-care otherwise it won’t ever happen.

Imagine what your life would be like if relaxation was part of your endeavours.

The sooner perfectionists can adjust their expectations, the more quickly they will get rid of their headaches and enjoy life in a more meaningful way.

 

 

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.

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.inc.com/tom-gimbel/why-praising-your-staff-might-be-the-most-dangerous-thing-you-do-today.html

https://www.fastcompany.com/90394590/this-is-the-negative-effects-of-praise-that-youve-probably-never-thought-about

https://hbr.org/2017/05/why-do-so-many-managers-avoid-giving-praise

Employee Loneliness and its Impact on Organisations

Loneliness is a painful and complex emotion. Loneliness has more to do with a person’s quality of social relationships rather than their quantity.

Loneliness has been studied for decades in psychological literature when it comes to social or personal lives. But how much research is there on being lonely in the workplace? Not a lot, which comes as no surprise.  As awareness about loneliness increases — British Prime Minister Teresa May appointed a minister for loneliness earlier this year, it’s important to understand exactly how people experience loneliness in their jobs. How does it affect their work? How does it shape their relationships with their colleagues? And what can employers or HR departments do to help a lonely employee?

In general, it was discovered that lonely employees tend to isolate themselves, they begin to feel less connected to their organisation’s values, and can be seen by colleagues as more distant and less inclined in discussing both work-related and personal matters.  These findings add to the voluminous research literature showing that the behaviour of lonely people has the effect of increasing their own loneliness. Even though the person may desperately wish to connect or re-connect with others, they see their environment has become threatening. Thus perpetuating a vicious cycle where loneliness leads to greater social vigilance. As a result, lonelier people are more likely to pull away.

In a research study conducted by California State University and the Wharton School of Business which has surveyed 672 employees and their 114 supervisors from 143 work team units have found that “an employee’s work loneliness triggers emotional withdrawal from their organization, as reflected their increased surface acting and reduced affective commitment.” and “The results also show that co-workers can recognize this loneliness and see it hindering team member effectiveness.”  Researchers have concluded that”…management should not treat work loneliness as a private problem that needs to be individually resolved by employees who experience this emotion; but rather should consider it as an organizational problem that needs to be addressed both for the employees’ sake and that of the organization.”

The company’s culture plays a crucial role in expressing the values and norms about the emotions that are allowed to be expressed at work. In our study, we found that a stronger versus a weaker emotional culture of sharing love (e.g. expressions of affection and compassion among employees) diminishes the negative relationship between workplace loneliness and affective commitment to the organisation.

Look for reasons to show your appreciation

Global research shows that people who feel appreciated are most likely to produce the best work. Let people know their value to the organisation, the culture, the team, and to you, as a manager or employer.

If you think workplace loneliness isn’t an issue you need to be concerned about then think again. Healthy workplace relationships are beneficial for employees in many ways. They help people to deal with work-related frustrations and stress, whilst simultaneously encouraging bonding through sharing successes and positive experiences.

However, it seems that employees are getting lonelier and lonelier. Despite the rise in popularity of open-plan offices specially designed to foster interaction and good communication, a recent UK-based study done by Totaljobs found that more than one-third of employees report having no strong relationships at work. As people spend close to a quarter of their lives at work, job isolation can have serious and very complex implications.

The case of cultural fit

If most people in an organisation or team share similar attitudes and personality traits, a person who differs in these respects may start to feel isolated and will struggle to bond with colleagues or even have a sense of belonging.

Another aspect of organisational culture that can prevent employees from forming relationships is represented by the lack of ‘psychological safety’; a quintessential element for effective teamwork. In companies or teams that do not meet the necessary psychological safe requirements, team members do not feel swayed to take social risks, such as revealing emotions, for fear of disapproval by colleagues.

In teams or organisations where a ‘openness’  isn’t promoted or associated with psychological safety, the potential for building relationships tends to be limited; employees are likely to keep to themselves, restricting how much they reveal about themselves to their colleagues.

What can be done to prevent workplace loneliness?

So, knowing what we do about workplace loneliness, what can be done to prevent and reduce it? There are numerous steps that can be taken by employers and employees.

A key approach is for employers to focus on hiring for culture fit. By assessing the fit between candidates’ personality characteristics and the organisational culture, employers can minimise the risk of hiring those who are going to struggle to fit within the company.

Finally, employers can also help to promote workplace relationships through various teambuilding exercises or adopting a transformational leadership style that is based on interpersonal trust. Of course, employees themselves can have a huge impact on loneliness through day-to-day interactions with one another. Unfortunately, is often difficult for employees to open up to colleagues about loneliness, for fear of the admission being met with ridicule and isolation. It is therefore important for employees to help identify any colleagues that may be struggling at building lasting relationships with other members of the team.

Finally, employees should contact their employers or managers if they have any suggestions for improving relationship-building, which in turn will lead to a tremendous increase in employee well-being and productivity.

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.

Request a free demo:

Free Assessment

Sources:

https://good.co/understanding-workplace-loneliness/

https://www.inc.com/todd-nordstrom/feeling-lonely-at-work-it-could-be-destroying-your-potential-heres-what-to-do-about-it.html

https://hbr.org/2018/04/the-painful-cycle-of-employee-loneliness-and-how-it-hurts-companies/