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.

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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/

Sleep Deprivation and How it Affects Performance

Right after managers and employees have their first interaction, the process of forging their working relationship begins, which is a crucial factor in how they both are going to experience work, how much trust there will be between one another, and how effectively they can carry out assignments.  A new and possibly forgotten predictor in the quality of these work relations is sleep. Sleep deprivation for either the manager or employee or both could make them experience an increase in negative emotions at the workplace. Usually, these emotions are represented by hostility. Everyone reading this can remember at least one time when fewer hours of sleep translated into a short temper at the office. This is a common experience for almost everyone in the workforce and, most of the times, it is directly linked to sleep deprivation due to the fact that fewer hours of sleep impairs the part of the brain that regulates emotions.

Hostility can be dangerous for a new professional relationship. Hostility leads to the feeling of threat and can easily deteriorate the psychological safety of people in every possible context. If managers happen to yell at an employee once, it may not be an issue, nevertheless, if this a common practice in the office, employees may feel that their manager is lacking respect and empathy, hence leading to a weak work relationship.

Unfortunately, today’s business world promotes sleep deprivation as the highest ranking achievement possible. If you’re always busy and cannot be bothered to sleep then you’re definitely on the way to the top. The problem here is that science says the exact opposite, so who do we believe? It may sound tempting to trade away some hours of sleep in order to finish a few tasks, but by doing you may sabotage your own success and health. Perhaps it is time to get some sleep, or else you may face numerous risks.

At Harvard Medical School the Division of Sleep Medicine revealed the fact that short-term productivity gains from skipping sleep are quickly downplayed by the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation on a person’s mood, his or her ability to focus and access to higher-level brain functions. Interestingly enough, the negative effects of sleep deprivation are so considerable that even people who drink manage to outperform those without sleep.

Why We Need Acceptable Hours of Sleep

We all know that sleep is good for our brain and new found evidence from the research done by the University of Rochester has provided us with clear evidence on why your brain cells need you to rest. The study states that when people sleep the brain removes the toxic proteins from its neurons (by-products of neural activity while we’re awake). Unfortunately for us, the brain can only do while we’re asleep. Consequently, the toxic proteins remain in the brain cells, impairing our ability to think and no amount of coffee can solve that. These toxins slow our ability to process information and problem solving; it can also kill our creativity whilst catapulting our stress levels and emotional reactivity through the roof.

What Sleep Deprivation Does to Our Health

Sleep deprivation has been heavily linked to numerous serious health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes, and even obesity. The lack of sleep stresses us out because our body overproduces the stress hormone when its sleep deprived, also known as cortisol. Excess in cortisol levels has a host of negative effects that come from the damage it inflicts on our immune system. High cortisol in our body results in looking older, due to the fact that cortisol destroys skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic.

Sleep deprivation also compromises our body’s ability to metabolise carbohydrates and control our food intake. Sleeping less and less results into eating more and more and also increasing the difficulty in burning the calories we consume. Due to the lack of sleep, our bodies get hungrier much faster and that is done through the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin and it also makes it harder for us to get full because it reduces levels of the satiety-inducing hormone leptin. There is a 30% increase in the likelihood of becoming obese for people who sleep less than 6 hours a night rather than those who sleep between 7 to 9 hours a night.

Besides the fact that it may harm professional relationships, sleep deprivation can also deplete us of the very traits that make us good at our jobs. For example, workplace leaders are known for their charisma and which translates into making employees want to work for and with them. Sleep deprivation saps all of the outstanding personality traits and all we are left with is a robotic, difficult person in its place.

Sleep is a critical part of our wellbeing and without it, we get emotional, stressed-out, forgetful, disorganised people at work. We are more likely to feel helpless and be unable to perform even the most menial of tasks or change perspective when our plans go awry. It’s time we stop encouraging sleep deprivation at the workplace. It’s not doing our career or our bodies any favours.

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.

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Sources:

https://hbr.org/2017/08/research-sleep-deprivation-can-make-it-harder-to-stay-calm-at-work

https://medium.com/the-mission/sleep-deprivation-is-killing-you-and-your-career-fd33e16ccf7f

https://www.thriveglobal.com/stories/16762-drunk-on-the-job-if-you-re-sleep-deprived-you-might-as-well-be