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The Fear of Making Mistakes at Work

The Covid-19 crisis and its fallout — including recession, layoffs, and uneven economic pain — as well as recent protests over police brutality and demands for racial justice have presented many of us with challenges that we’ve not encountered before. The high-stakes and unfamiliar nature of these situations have left many people feeling fearful of missteps. No one can reduce mistakes to zero, but you can learn to harness your drive to prevent them and channel it into better decision making. Use these tips to become a more effective worrier.

As they say, everyone makes mistakes. In many situations, you can correct your error or just forget about it and move on. Making a mistake at work, however, is more serious. It can have a dire effect on your employer. It may, for example, endanger a relationship with a client, cause a legal problem, or put people’s health or safety at risk. Repercussions will ultimately trickle down to you. Simply correcting your error and moving on may not be an option. When you make a mistake at work, your career may depend on what you do next.

The current culture that is perpetuated glorifies fearlessness. The traditional image of a leader is one who is smart, tough, and unafraid. But fear, like any emotion, has an evolutionary purpose and upside. Your concern about making mistakes is there to remind you that we’re in a challenging situation. A cautious leader has value. This is especially true in times like these. So don’t get caught up in ruminating: “I shouldn’t be so fearful.”

Use emotional agility skills 

Fear of mistakes can paralyse people. Emotional agility skills are an antidote to this paralysis. This process starts with labelling your thoughts and feelings, such as “I feel anxious I’m not going to be able to control my customers enough to keep my staff safe.” Stating your fears out loud helps diffuse them. It’s like turning the light on in a dark room. Next comes accepting reality. For example, “I understand that people will not always behave in ideal ways.” List off every truth you need to accept. Then comes acting your values. Let’s say one of your highest values is conscientiousness. How might that value apply in this situation? For example, it might involve making sure your employees all have masks that fit them well or feel comfortable airing any grievances they have. Identify your five most important values related to decision-making in a crisis. Then ask yourself how each of those is relevant to the important choices you face.

Repeat this process for each of your fears. It will help you tolerate the fact that we sometimes need to act when the best course of action isn’t clear and avoid the common anxiety trap whereby people try to reduce uncertainty to zero.

Apologise, but keep it simple

Genuinely say the words, “I’m sorry, I made a mistake,” and offer how you plan to correct it. Resist the urge to offer excuses or to start apologising repeatedly. On the other hand, don’t overdo it trying to make it up. Stay professional and business-minded, recognising how valuable company time is.

An apology conveys several major things: regret of the mistake, responsibility for it, and respect for the company and people in it. An apology also offers the opportunity for the other people to let go of their anger. The moment the apology is genuinely made is the moment that you can work to rebuild.

You can’t change the past but you can find a solution for the here and now. One apology to the right person or people along with a possible solution will come across much more positively than a bunch of unnecessary filler words and statements to the entire office.

Accept the consequences in stride

The management and the HR team can decide that you need another form of reprimanding. Or they can take you up on your offer on how you’ll correct the mistake. Whatever the case, accept the consequences and carry out your tasks without complaining.

This reinforces your apology and will likely generate additional respect. Whether it’s staying after work for a few days in order to remedy the work, reaching out to the wronged person, or going about your normal work tasks, do it and do it well. Don’t just say you’re sorry, show them through your actions. Be a better worker.      

Broaden your thinking

When we’re scared of making a mistake, our thinking can narrow around that particular scenario. Imagine you’re out walking at night. You’re worried about tripping, so you keep looking down at your feet. Next thing you know you’ve walked into a lamp post. Or, imagine the person who is scared of flying. They drive everywhere, even though driving is objectively more dangerous. When you open the aperture, it can help you see your greatest fears in the broader context of all the other threats out there. This can help you get a better perspective on what you fear the most.

It might seem illogical that you could reduce your fear of making a mistake by thinking about other negative outcomes. But this strategy can help kick you into problem-solving mode and lessen the mental grip a particular fear has on you. A leader might be so highly focused on minimising or optimising for one particular thing, they don’t realise that other people care most about something else. Find out what other people’s priorities are.

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.thebalancecareers.com/mistakes-at-work-526244
https://www.inc.com/john-discala/4-ways-to-bounce-back-after-making-a-mistake-at-work.html
https://hbr.org/2020/06/how-to-overcome-your-fear-of-making-mistakes?ab=hero-subleft-3

Innovation in Isolation: How to Trigger your Creativity

“In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone.” Rollo May

Our journey towards the isolation economy is well underway as workers are getting increasingly comfortable working from home. Unfortunately, however, as we work in isolation, we miss out on some of the positive elements of workplace interaction and collaboration that we have taken for granted. As working from home becomes the new normal, we will need to relearn many of our previous collaborative activities and make them as productive they used to be, while secluded in our homes.

Nowadays, we are forced into working from home by a once-in-a-generation pandemic, but many of our isolation behaviours will persist once the coronavirus is behind us. Even though remote work has certain advantages and may also enhance productivity in many respects, innovation is one thing that becomes harder to do and may suffer as a result.

There has a general feeling that more meetings have occurred since the isolation began, more than we used to before. During the first week, it was about catching up with everyone to talk about the latest news, vent and get support, but then by the second week, it became apparent that people were scheduling meetings to avoid being alone.

In our modern lives with never ending social media and on demand entertainment, we had already excelled in avoiding being alone, especially when these services use psychological triggers to keep us always-on and engaged in a continuous content consuming frenzy. We have started to hate being alone according to a 2014 study: “many preferred to administer electric shocks to themselves instead of being left alone with their thoughts” for even 6–15 minutes.

Innovation is difficult in Isolation

Innovation in isolation is hard because human creativity needs idea sharing and interaction to flourish. Breakthroughs never come from lone inventors who toil alone in a dusky lab. Instead, they thrive when ideas are shared, challenged, and refined. For this reason, local coffee shops and office cafeterias have always been hubs of creativity and innovation.

Increases in population density have always led to a higher rate of idea generation, productivity, and economic output. Cities are where innovation happens, and this is due to the increased opportunity for the exchange and clash of concepts. The ability to share ideas is the primary reason innovation is localized. Silicon Valley and Seattle have become the hotbeds for technology innovation. Similarly, other cities have become centres for innovation for automobiles, banking, financial services, and other industries.

Innovation only happens when knowledge builds on knowledge and ideas build on ideas. When you are working from home, you have fewer collaborative encounters, and the rate of innovation suffers.

When workers are isolated, co-workers are unable to have unstructured and spontaneous discussions that serve as the root of innovation. Yes, you can have productive meetings using Zoom. But the casual conversation you have while walking in and out of a conference room or meeting someone in the breakroom doesn’t happen, and those are the chance encounters that often lead to flashes of creativity and innovation.

But innovation is still possible. Today, even potential vaccines for coronavirus, designed to end our solitude, are being developed in isolation. But vaccine development is progressing at a rapid rate because scientists around the world are and sharing their research. This collaboration is critical for allowing advances to being built on top of one another.

Creativity and the Science Behind It

There is solid evidence that proves why solitude, if harnessed mindfully, can improve our creativity in everyday life. And it all starts with brain waves.

For instance, when we’re in deep sleep, the brain enters into the Delta wave, which is an unconscious state when repair and healing occur. If we move towards consciousness, the next wave is Theta, which activates during light sleep. One is usually in Theta just before sleeping and just after awakening. While these waves are fantastic for random creations and ideas (remember that crazy dream you had the other day?), we can’t easily enter them at will or control them.

On the opposite end, we have Gamma waves, which represent the brain processing information and learning with intense focus, and Beta waves, which is the reductive state of mind — alert and focused. We’re operating in a Beta state for most of our day, making reductive decisions and executing.

Alpha Power

In the middle of these two extremes, we have the Alpha wave, which is produced when the brain is in a relaxed, unfocused state usually associated with being awake but idle (i.e. not concentrating on any specific thing). Alpha waves are correlated with creativity since creativity requires expansive thinking instead of reductive. According to a 2015 study, researchers could trigger a surge in creativity if they specifically focused on enhancing alpha waves. In this study, they used electrical triggers, but it’s widely accepted that meditation and mindfulness also work in getting the brain in an Alpha state.

And herein lies the magic. We can actively try to influence our brains to produce alpha waves for creative thinking and problem solving. Think of the places where you usually get your best ideas. For most people, the answer is while taking a shower and lying in bed just before going to bed. We’re now isolated in potentially the most alpha-inducing environment we could be. But we need to see past the confinement and into the opportunity that’s right in front of us.

How the Internet Came to Life

There are ways you can create massive and world-changing innovations while working from home, but you need to be deliberate about it. Since you will always need collaboration and idea-sharing for innovation to happen, you need to learn how to do so without the benefit of a physical interaction.

The best way to innovate in a remote environment is by creating a community of people who work on solving a problem independently, but collaboratively. Such communities, called Networked Improvement Communities, have been responsible for some of the most breathtaking innovations. As an example, take the development of The Internet, the most significant creation of our time.

The Internet was created through idea sharing and networked improvement. Designed by a group of pioneers working independently across universities and research institutions around the world, it was driven by a common desire to have different computers connected to each other. Creating the Internet required a high degree of information sharing, and its development was guided by a manifesto that was adopted voluntarily by a diverse set of innovators who shared in the common goal.

Networked improvement communities require a shared goal or shared area of interest and require multiple people working, usually independently, toward developing solutions to achieve the common goal—the communities need to agree to share progress with others. The network as a whole then uses what they learn from each member, and this boosts the collective knowledge of all participants and gets the entire community closer to achieving the shared goal. This is how breakthroughs are most likely to occur.

Forward-thinking organisations across health care, education, technology, and other sectors have created Networked Improvement Communities to boost innovation. Understanding and implementing these innovation communities in your organization can enhance your ability to develop significant new offerings that can change the world.

Take that time for yourself. Just enjoy the silence or do some meditation. If the fancy takes it, jot some things down or paint your wall or discuss within yourself how the world might be a better place. It is in these moments that we find clarity, unexpected solutions and a childlike wonder at how we ourselves are all we need. Let your imagination take you there. Don’t force it.

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://medium.com/navivest/harnessing-the-benefits-of-isolation-for-innovation-30a9a3fec638
https://www.forbes.com/sites/kmehta/2020/05/04/innovation-in-the-isolation-economy/#6dd7f7204643

https://yourstory.com/2020/04/innovation-critical-isolation

Recruiting Top Talent – A Hidden Gem during the Pandemic?

Many potential new hires who have applied for, been interviewed for, or even been offered a new position are now in limbo. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the start of social distancing, self-isolating and the majority of people working from home, recruiting and hiring at this time and even afterwards, will pose its own challenges. The steps that HR departments or hiring managers have to take in order to avoid losing out on top talent and boosting their employer brand will determine the future of most businesses post coronavirus outbreak.

Will this outbreak turn the remote workforce into the new reality we all sensed it could become? Should hiring managers and employers invest in top of the line digital interviewing tools? Are they using their time in lockdown to create a unique business advantage? Even though this is an unpredictable and overwhelming time, it could very well be the perfect time to dust off ideas that would normally take a lot of time to put into practice or simply open the mind to new and exciting ideas.  At the same time, there’s never been a better time to assess your organisation to help you to prepare for life after COVID-19, including the people within it.

Recruitment is a topic many businesses are not even thinking about right now, and it’s even more difficult to plan which roles you’ll be ready to fill when the pandemic is over. However, there is a way you can ensure that when you can hire, the best people are ready and waiting.

Building a pool of suitable candidates interested in working for you, can be done through smart recruitment marketing, social media and digital campaigns. A talent pool is almost a queue of candidates ready to step into roles which include a wide range of skills and people at different stages of their professional career. In a world of data-driven recruiting, talent pools are more useful than ever before.

According to The Economist, 4/5 of CEOs worry about skill shortages, while outside hiring at the top reached record highs, causing business for large global search firms to increase by 9% to 15% last year alone.

Nowadays companies are laying off workers and downsizing as we speak. Some industries are simply collapsing. It seems that an unprecedented number of people, all over the world, from new graduates to seasoned veterans, will be looking for new employment. At the same time the ‘war’ on top talent may recede for the time being. As companies revisit and rethink their international strategies and business practices, workers are recalculating their personal purpose and individual and family priorities, with serious implications for their geographic and work preferences and travel habits.

All of the sudden, the pool of talent has changed and expanded, whilst leaders have to prepare companies and organisations for recovery and regrowth.

A Lesson In History

Throughout history, economic hardships have created windows in which exceptional employees and leaders are widely available for a small window in time. During the late 1940s, many companies were struggling. At HP, business was slow and finances strained. But as legions of great engineers came out from of closing U.S. military labs, HP’s legendary founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard figured out that they couldn’t let such amazing talents pass them by. When asked how they could afford to keep taking on new people in those difficult years, their answer was simple: “How could we afford NOT to!”  Years later, when asked about their unrivalled success they routinely said that their willingness to invest in talent no matter the external economic climate was quintessential.

Harvard Business School’s Ranjay Gulati, Nitin Nohria, and Franz Wohlgezogen considered the benefits of this kind of long-term thinking in an analysis of 4,700 companies across the last three recessions. They discovered that 9% were able to come out in much better positions than they entered because of their “progressive” focus. They did cut back, but were extremely selective about when and where they did so and, more importantly, they continued to make strategic investments. Rather than thinking you’re either hiring or you’re downsizing, they ‘copied’ the HP approach after the war, understanding they could do both things if they were smart about it.

Unfortunately, most organisations make the mistake of uniformly freezing hiring in downturns. During the 2008 global financial crisis, BCG and the European Association for People Management surveyed 3,400 executives, including 90 senior human resources leaders in more than 30 countries, to see how they were responding. The most frequent action was to scale back recruiting. At the same time, survey participants rated the selective hiring of high-performing employees from competitors as one of the three most effective responses to the crisis and the one with the best impact on employee commitment. This irrationality is widespread. Those who stay rational can exploit it.

Talent At the ready

It may seem like an obvious point to begin with but building a talent pool now means that when you can hire again, and hopefully you will be soon, the talent will be ready and waiting for you. By putting in the hard work now, you’ll have a group of engaged and talented candidates ready to contact as soon as roles become available. As they’ve registered their contact details with you, you can be confident that they are interested in working for your business, which give you a head start once it’s back to “business as usual.”

Better quality in hiring

Because you aren’t rushing to fill urgent requirements, using this time to build a talent pool means that you have longer to collate and source the best talent, which is a luxury that is rarely available. With a wide range of individuals and skills to choose from in your talent pool, all of whom are ready to start working, you’ll be able to compare expertise to find the best talent for you.

As there is less rush to fill key roles, it also means you won’t miss out on talented candidates that may miss the deadline by a few days. Instead, you’ll have collated them over the lockdown period, however long that may be.

Fast hirings

It should go without saying but having suitable talent at your disposal will make filling vacancies a much quicker and smoother process. When you’re eventually ready to hire again, it will be beneficial if you can hire talented people quickly so that critical roles can be filled, and your business can return to normal! This will give you more time to focus on growing and rebuilding other aspects of your business, knowing that the recruitment side is very much under control.

Plus, with many people, unfortunately, being made redundant as a result of COVID-19, the sad truth is that the faster you can make a talented candidate an offer, the more likely they are to accept. In the aftermath of a pandemic, people will need employment and crave job security. As much as we hate to admit it, when it comes to the best talent, it may just be the early bird that gets the worm.

Build rapport with the candidates 

The talent pool approach to recruitment is largely candidate-centric, giving candidates more control. It helps you to build long term relationships, giving the candidates a chance to learn more about your business and what you can offer them. They’ll become familiar with your employer brand as they follow you on social media, receive your email updates and even research your business on their own. This makes it much more likely that a candidate will want to work for you, increasing the chances of your offer being accepted. Regular updates and content are essential to maintaining your talent pool; this provides more touchpoints to capture the attention of passive candidates and helps you to build relationships.

Talent pools also encourage two-way communication; unlike standard recruitment practise where the employer holds all the cards, engaging with your talent pool creates opportunities for candidates to talk to you. This improves the candidate experience massively as the recruitment process feels much less lonely and more transparent.

To find out more about how you can build a ready-to-hire talent pool, get in touch with the team at Talent Works International. Our experts can help you to conduct talent attraction campaigns, manage candidate data and most importantly build up and maintain your talent pool ready for when this pandemic is over.

motivate your best candidates

Once you are convinced that you have the opportunity to bring in someone you really want, arrange to have the person speak to senior leaders who can share their love and passion for your company and describe the value they hope to build with the new colleague. Pay can be important but research shows that what truly motivates knowledge workers is a high level of autonomy, mastery, and purpose. In these trying times, flexible work arrangements will no doubt continue to be key, as will the chance to keep on learning and growing while working to build something larger than ourselves.

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 echnology 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.hrtechnologist.com/interviews/recruitment-onboarding/hire-talent-post-coronavirus-pandemic/
https://hbr.org/2020/05/now-is-an-unprecedented-opportunity-to-hire-great-talent
https://www.talent-works.com/2020/04/06/heres-why-you-should-be-building-a-ready-to-hire-talent-pool-during-lockdown/

Employers’ Organisational Reaction to COVID-19

The coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan, has lead to a global pandemic. Governments have shut borders and imposed quarantines, and companies have imposed travel bans. The human and economic impacts on businesses have been stark.

This epidemic has been a wake-up call for companies to carefully review the strategies, policies, and procedures they have in place to protect employees, customers, and operations in this and future epidemics.

With industries including travel, hospitality and retail under extreme financial pressure as a result of measures to limit the spread of coronavirus in the UK, many businesses are facing difficult decisions when it comes to the employment of staff.

The impact on businesses is already significant. Individuals have been told to avoid bars, clubs and theatres, and many events have been cancelled. Much of the UK’s car production has paused and airlines such as British Airways have advised staff to prepare for layoffs.

Some businesses have made it clear they are doing all they can to avoid making staff redundant. Former England footballer Gary Neville took to Twitter to assure his followers that although his two Manchester hotels would be closed to the public from next week, no staff would be made redundant or asked to take unpaid leave.

Employers needed to consider all options available to help them to manage workforce costs and avoid redundancies, said Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD. For some organisations this would mean considering measures beyond maximising home working and restricting overtime to keep people in jobs, he said.

Director of Epic HR, Gary Cookson, noted that all these measures will inevitably come with their own downsides, and there wouldn’t be a ‘one size fits all’ approach for all businesses, or indeed all staff members. Cookson advised organisations to talk openly to staff about the options, but added that HR “might be surprised by the [positive reaction among staff to] creative responses to the situation, particularly if it is made clear that the business wants to avoid redundancies”.

Updating Benefits Policies 

The likelihood that increasing numbers of employees will be unable to work either because they are sick or must care for others means that companies should review their paid time off and sick leave policies now. Policies that give employees confidence that they will not be penalized and can afford to take sick leave are an important tool in encouraging self-reporting and reducing potential exposure. Our employer survey found that nearly 40% of employers have or plan to clarify their pay policy if worksites are closed or employees are furloughed.

While few companies outside of Asia have closed worksites yet because of the epidemic, about half of the Chinese companies we surveyed had shut down worksites at least temporarily. Such closures will likely become more common outside of Asia should the epidemic continue on its current course.

Most firms will treat Covid-19 in their policies as they would any other illness, and sick leave or short-term disability insurance would be applicable.  However, exclusion from the workplace might not be covered by disability policies, and prolonged absence could last longer than available sick leave. Our survey found that more than 90% of employers in China paid their workers in full and maintained full benefits during furloughs. Companies should promulgate clear policies on this now and communicate about these with employees. Most will want to offer protections to their workforce to the extent this is financially feasible.

Ensuring employees can effectively work from home

While many jobs (retail, manufacturing, health care) require people to be physically present, work, including meetings, that can be done remotely should be encouraged if coming to work or traveling risks exposure to the virus. Videoconferencing, for instance, is a good alternative to risky face-to-face meetings. Nearly 60% of the employers we surveyed indicated that they have increased employees’ flexibility for remote work (46%) or plan to (13%).

Communicating with Employees on non-working Issues

Dangerous rumours and worker fears can spread as quickly as a virus. It is imperative for companies to be able to reach all workers, including those not at the worksite, with regular, internally coordinated, factual updates about infection control, symptoms, and company policy regarding remote work and circumstances in which employees might be excluded from or allowed to return to the workplace.  These communications should come from or be vetted by the emergency response team, and they should be carefully coordinated to avoid inconsistent policies being communicated by different managers or functions. Clearly this requires organizations to maintain current phone/text and email contact information for all employees and test organization-wide communication periodically. If you don’t have a current, universal contact capability already, now is a good time to create this.

Cancelling Conferences & Rescheduling Meetings

Yes. There is mounting evidence that social distancing can delay the epidemic and potentially save lives, so most meetings and conferences should be converted from in-person to virtual. Some states and localities are banning meetings of more than 250 people. If you have a meeting, limit the number of attendees and encourage those who are older or have chronic disease to attend virtually. Provide room to allow attendees to sit or stand at least six feet away from others. Discourage hand-shaking and assure that proper handwashing facilities (and/or hand sanitizers) are easily available. If you have any questions about best practices, contact your local health department.

Prepare staff for other roles

With many organisations facing a significant drop in business as a result of social distancing measures, many staff may find themselves unable to carry out their jobs in the same way, either because they are not needed or because the nature of their role means they can’t work from home. To work around this, employers can consider offering different duties to those staff that reflect the new needs of the business, said David Harris, managing partner at DPH Legal.

But, Harris added, such measures were subject to employees having the right terms in their contracts. Anything that amounted to a variation in an employee’s contract needed their consent, he said, suggesting that in such cases employers should consult with individuals and come to agreements on a one-to-one basis. “Obtaining consent before you press ahead is important because otherwise you’re risking a claim arising,” he said.

Prepare staff to temporarily join other businesses

There are already some encouraging stories circulating of staff within the hardest hit sectors being redeployed to other now high-demand areas. For example, earlier this week (18 March), it was announced Inverness theatre company Eden Court was to work with its funders, the Highland Council, to find ways for its 200 employees to join the authority’s response to Covid-19.

The theatre was faced with laying off 200 staff, with 75 per cent of its income coming from ticket sales and bar/cafe takings. Details were still under discussion, but potential options included using the engagement team, who already work with children, young people and the community, to collaborate on the delivery of education projects for young people in the Highlands.

There are also recruitment platforms which are helping businesses with their vacancies – such as in the logistics sector for example – to be matched with companies faced with having to let staff go who might possess relevant skills.

Reduce hours

One obvious option many employers have already looked at is reducing employees’ hours to share the salary hit fairly and evenly among staff. Martyn Dicker, director of people at Unicef UK, said this was something he’d had to consider in previous similar situations in the past, and something which could work well. 

But Jo Stubbs, global head of product content strategy at XpertHR, warned employers attempting to reduce working hours unilaterally without such powers being written into workers’ employment terms, could amount to a fundamental breach of contract. “In these circumstances, the employee could pursue a claim for an unlawful deduction from wages, breach of contract or constructive dismissal,” she said.

Employers should speak to their personnel to gain voluntary consent for any cuts to hours outside of their contracts, and suggested putting any agreement in writing.

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.peoplemanagement.co.uk/news/articles/coronavirus-employers-avoid-redundancies
https://hbr.org/2020/03/8-questions-employers-should-ask-about-coronavirus
https://www.forbes.com/sites/alonzomartinez/2020/03/03/what-employers-should-consider-amidst-a-coronavirus-crisis/#49e6371a2180

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

Coronavirus Is Questioning Companies’ Corporate Social Responsibility Resolve

As society struggles with the profound impact of coronavirus, corporations have a responsibility to step up and help support the government in taking action. As the department within companies which has direct relationships with non-profit organisations and the communities they are part of, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) professionals should be on the front lines helping with funding and solutions of any kind.

The way large companies are responding to this crisis represents a defining moment that will be remembered for years to come. For example, 38 years ago in Chicago, 7 people died from taking poisoned Tylenol pills. It was a rare and localised crisis, but Johnson & Johnson took the decision to pull all the Tylenol from every store, taking a huge loss in order to avoid even a single additional death. People still talk about that decision. People who weren’t even born at the time are still studying that case in business schools.

A great many corporations talk about having a social purpose and set of principles and values, or about how much they care for their employees and other stakeholders. Now is the time for them to make good on their commitments. Research suggests that people only truly believe that their company has a purpose and clear values when they see their leaders making a decision that sacrifices short-term profitability for the sake of complying to those values.

Another example of positive action is represented by the U.S.A. drugstore chain CVS which chose to go more deeply into health care and decided that it could no longer sell tobacco products and by doing so giving up $2 billion in revenue.

It is completely understandable that corporate leaders face pressure from investors and bankers to conserve cash and reduce losses, but neither of these categories are going hungry. Even retirees, who have seen their savings depleted, can expect to see stocks recover as long as they don’t sell during this initial panic time. Companies cover up the costs of restructuring, product failures, or acquisitions that go wrong all the time. It will be more than understandable if someone writes off their losses due to the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some things that companies can do to help their employees, small suppliers, health care providers, and communities.

Employees

What companies do to help their laid-off employees — above and beyond what is required or expected — will be remembered and repaid in increased loyalty, higher productivity, and a lasting reputational benefit for many years to come.

Continuing to pay wages, even at less than full pay, is one option. For this scenario we have Walmart, Microsoft, Apple and Lyft who have all made commitments to continue payments to hourly workers for at least the first two weeks of lockdown. This is essential not only as a matter of corporate responsibility; it will also substantially reduce the costs of rehiring employees when the economy returns to normal.

Lending money to employees is another option. Left on their own, many employees will turn to the exorbitant charges of credit card debt and payday lenders who will charge a 20%-plus interest rate at a time when corporations can borrow at 2% or 3%. That difference in interest rates can be the difference between bankruptcy and economic survival. Corporations should use their corporate credit and collateral to arrange low or no-interest loans to their employees. They should calculate employees’ take-home pay after payroll deductions, and ask their banks to make loans available equal to a month of net wages at 3% interest, guaranteed by the corporation. Employees could therefore pay the loans back over the next year out of their salaries when they return to work.

Medical Staff

Some parts of the world face severe shortages in basic medical supplies, but as a global company you have access to resources everywhere. The need for masks in China and South Korea has decreased considerably while it is on a upward trajectory in the United States and Europe. Companies should purchase and ship supplies from where they are available to where they are needed. They should look into their inventory of whatever they have that might help, send it where it will do the most good, and take the loss.

Encouraging mental wellness

Many companies, as well as state and local governments, recommend that those who can work from home do so. In addition, the Center for Disease Control in the United States recommends that all gatherings and events of more than 50 people be cancelled for the next eight weeks. This “social distancing” is vital to reducing the spread of the coronavirus but negatively impacts emotional well-being.

Thus, leading corporations are supporting mental as well as physical health. For example, Starbucks just announced it will expand mental health benefits to include up to 20 therapy sessions for all employees. Elsewhere, telecommunication companies have signed the ‘Keep Americans Connected’ pledge to make sure that individuals maintain access to connectivity.

Supporting small businesses

According to the Wall Street Journal, small businesses’ confidence has plummeted as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Some large corporations are stepping in to support small and medium companies during this difficult time:

  • Amazon announced a $5 million relief fund for small businesses in the vicinity of its headquarters;
  • Google is offering $1 million to organisations in Mountain View, California, impacted by the pandemic;
  • Billionaire Mark Cuban has been reimbursing employees who purchase lunch and coffee from local restaurants.

Although the ramifications of the Covid-19 impact have yet to be determined, it will continue to disrupt our now old way of living for the next few weeks and months. The corporate sector can help during this crisis by implementing strategies and initiatives that benefit society – as well as their long-term success – by supporting their employees, customers and the economy at large.

No one expects or requires major companies to take extraordinary measures to help their many stakeholders, but if they choose to take bold and creative steps now in order to deliver immediate support then that will define their future legacy.

How can Great People Inside help you assess your ‘remote working’ workforce?

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.csomagazine.com/csr/coronavirus-crucial-csr-issue
https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/coronavirus-and-corporate-social-innovation/
https://www.forbes.com/sites/afdhelaziz/2020/03/19/the-power-of-purpose-how-csr-should-be-acting-like-first-responders-to-tackle-coronavirus/#6c912c606dd3

Cybersecurity during the Coronavirus Pandemic

While the world’s focus is obviously on the pandemic situation created by Covid-19, unethical hackers all around the world are more than happy to exploit this crisis by launching cybernetic attacks. Those who can, are encouraged to work remotely if they are not doing so already. It seems that organisations will have to prepare themselves for life without an on-site staff or just a few in order to facilitate support functions.

For example, Check Point, a cybersecurity company, has discovered that in the month of January 2020 alone there have been over 4000 coronavirus websites that are up and running with 3% of them being recognised as malicious and with another 5% suspicious. The British have responded to 658 cyber-attacks in 2019 and have also taken down over 177000 “phishing” sites. On the other hand, companies have started acquiring new laptops without doing their due diligence in terms of cybersecurity protocols, ironically leaving organisations even more vulnerable to attacks.

Given the current state of affairs, the US Health & Human Services Department’s system has been breached, an attack that had the sole purpose of disrupting and misinforming people in order to reduce the efforts being made in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. John Ullyot, a spokesperson from the National Security Council had this to say about the cyber-attack: “We are aware of a cyber incident related to the Health and Human Services computer networks, and the federal government is investigating this incident thoroughly. HHS and federal government cybersecurity professionals are continuously monitoring and taking appropriate actions to secure our federal networks.” The HHS delegated spokeswoman had this to say in regards to the situation that enfolded: “On Sunday, we became aware of a significant increase in activity on HHS cyber infrastructure and are fully operational as we actively investigate the matter,” said the spokeswoman, Caitlin Oakley. “We are coordinating with federal law enforcement and remain vigilant and focused on ensuring the integrity of our IT infrastructure.”

Given that sheer impact and reorganisation that has ensued following the declaration of the pandemic, employee and employers alike must be really careful when handling confidential information. Below you will find a list of tips of what companies can do to minimise risk in these difficult times.

For the Employees

1. Be Extra Careful with Phishing Emails

Cyber attackers thrive in a crisis. Pay close attention to emails designed to make you instantly click on special offers for whatever protective gear or products related to the coronavirus pandemic. Or it could be an email from your manager with an apparently innocent link in it which will make you download dangerous malware on the company’s laptop, a laptop that has direct access into the company’s overall system.  There has been a considerable rise in Office 365 and Gmail hacked accounts, with the cyber attacker sending invoices to clients of partners alike.

In order to stay safe, it is recommended to enable the multi-factor authentication on all the accounts you can. This simple action will obstruct almost all attackers, excluding the really great ones.

2. Cyber Hygiene is almost as important as Washing our Hands

All devices you use, and this includes the router as well, should be up to date with the latest version of anti-virus and the internet you use must come from a secure and reliable connection. Bluetooth use in public areas should be avoided at all costs. That is an easy way for hackers to connect to your device. The importance of multi-factor authentication cannot be more underlined.

3. WiFi Exclusively from Secure Locations

Work exclusively from password-protected internet connections. If you have no other choice and you have to use a public WiFi it is imperative you check with the owner of the establishment that the network you wish to connect to is the correct one. Also, avoid accessing confidential and sensitive information from a public WiFi network. It is easy for hackers to trick people into joining an internet network which basically gives him access to everything you see and do on the internet.

For the Employers

1. Set Up Remote Access ASAP

Do not let your employees go home without the program installed and their login credentials by their side. Handing out authentication credentials to remote workers with no prior training and explanations is going to be an extremely difficult and frustrating process. 

2. Confidential Information handled with Extra Care

Remind your employees that confidential information is more important than ever and must be handled accordingly. Personal emails are definitely off-limits and employees should be careful with what they print out at home. If a particular document would normally be shredded at the office, remind your employees to dispose of it safely in their homes, or simply put the brakes on printing anything in the first place.

3. No Personal Laptops for Work

Employees must be given company laptops and training by IT security personnel in how to use the laptops they are given to work from home. Personal computers or laptops should be forbidden due to the simple fact that it creates numerous problems in terms of preserving and safeguarding documents. There is also the issue of out of date software used and that could compromise a lot more than just documents.

4. Up to Date Contact Information

Be sure your organisation has a secure way of contacting all employees — whether we’re talking here about the personal cell phone number or a landline. That way, if the organisation falls victim to a cyber-attack of any kind, you’ll be able to communicate effectively. For key members of the senior management, set up a group on a secure texting application such as Whatsapp or Telegram in case all other systems are down in order to properly communicate in case of a serious cyber-attack.

Remote access tools have advanced in unbelievable ways that were inconceivable 10 years ago, given the fact that it made en masse remote work possible. As with all data security, remote access is only as strong as its weakest link. There has to be a strong combination of technology and employee know-how and training, it can be done safely and smartly. Stay safe and be careful out there.

How can Great People Inside help you assess your ‘remote working’ workforce?

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.nytimes.com/2020/03/16/us/politics/coronavirus-cyber.html
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-16/u-s-health-agency-suffers-cyber-attack-during-covid-19-response
https://www.ft.com/content/cbe2b35a-66d2-11ea-a3c9-1fe6fedcca75

Working from Home in the VUCA World

The Covid-19 virus has reached the pandemic level. This has brought up to everyone’s attention that we are experiencing the full-force of the VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) world.

Stock markets have taken a dive, supplies have slowly started to be stretched, events are being cancelled all over the world and travel bans are in-place in various countries. One thing is certain as of this moment, that our work patterns have changed, maybe even forever. For now, we are only talking about the short-term.

Many organisations and small businesses have instilled mandatory ‘work from home’ arrangements whilst others have banned any face-to-face client meetings and international travel. Given the fact that now everybody who can, works from home, it has taken some of the novelty around this subject. As with anything in this world, every unique situation has its pros and cons.

Job descriptions that still offer the old 9-to-5 model without any possibility of flexible working hours are rarely convincing anymore. It must also be taken into account that digitalisation has also changed the game by shifting old paradigms. Nowadays, employees strive for self-realisation and want to find a job that fulfils them. Their own personal demands put them under pressure, because if we are being honest, even the best job in the world will eventually fall into routine.

The ever-growing technological advancements also put a strain into today’s workers. Artificial Intelligence, robotics, machine learning are the ‘new kids on the block’ with large corporations giving them their full attention. They are posing a challenge to people’s intelligence, our talents and skills. The question that is on everyone’s lips is will humans be replaced by machines. Will that push people towards jobs with a more humanistic side to them?

Thousands of people are likely to be working from home for the first time this week due to the coronavirus outbreak. For others, it’s just like any other week. However, everyone will need their own customised solution to keep themselves productive during these trying times. As mentioned above, there are good news and bad news when it comes to working from home.

Firstly, we have the good news. People may end up being more productive when they don’t spend hours commuting or in meetings, taking long lunches or catching up with the latest gossip around the water cooler.

Secondly, there is bad news ahead of us as well. People will have to set office routines without the external pressure to turn up on time, to be productive and take regular meal breaks. Self-discipline is of the utmost importance when working from home and some sound advice is to actually get dressed for work, even though working whilst still in your pyjamas sounds like the perfect working scenario. But if you talk to colleagues or customers over video links, appearances must be kept, plus it gives you the feeling that you’re actually at work which increases productivity. Talking to your co-workers on subjects even unrelated to work may help you keep engaged.

What are Psychometric Tests?

If you haven’t had to complete a psychometric test up until now, stop worrying. You definitely will. Chances are that at your next job interview, you will go through this process. Generally, they consist of a series of timed questions, which revolve around numerical, verbal and logic skills. The tests are aimed to assess the abilities of candidates and their suitability for a particular role. Furthermore, it must be stated that these types of tests have evolved a lot since their inception. Now they are used in a wide array of organisational areas to find out whether someone has the necessary emotional intelligence to be a high-ranking manager, how good of a team player they are based given the fact that they are introverts or extroverts, if working from home has an impact on someone’s productivity and engagement level.

How can Great People Inside help you assess your ‘remote working’ workforce?

First of all, we are aware that the first step to improving the workforce is that of identifying the key aspects that define your workforce. Once we have accomplished this first step, we will know what the key performance indicators are, what to look for when assessing employees by developing a well-structured competence system.

Secondly, our platform is extremely easy to customise in order for it to meet your specific needs. We offer you the possibility of either choosing one of the available models we have in place or you can request the appropriate dimensions to match your specific needs, thus making your whole evaluation process a lot easier.

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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Leaveism or Why Do People Work while on Holidays?

The term has been coined by Dr Ian Hesketh in 2013 to describe the annual leave habits of employees. ‘Leaveism’ refers to workers taking annual leave to catch up on their workload or working outside of their office hours.

In a research done by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), it has been discovered that 63% of UK leaders reported that ‘leaveism’ had occurred in their business. As businesses become increasingly lean, the now here to stay ‘always-on’ culture ‘allows’ itself to late night emails and employees never really have the chance of switching off from work.

While offices can be a breeding ground for distraction and interruptions, ‘leaveism’ can be conducive to employees feeling increasingly pressured or obligated to work out of hours.

In a recent article published by the BBC’s Worklife discusses the hidden tactic of ‘leaveism’ and how being “away from the distractions of the inbox, watercooler chat with colleagues and the stresses of office life” is fuelling its fat increasing rise.

‘Leaveism’ is an increasing problem for all types of organisations, and it’s an issue that employers should take seriously. If left unmanaged, leaveism could bring down workplace morale and increase stress levels among your staff, which in-turn affects productivity.

Clearly for organisations, the cost of employees being anything other than fully productive can have an enormous impact on operational effectiveness. In the UK, average day’s sickness in the private sector are around 5.8 days per year compared with 7.9 days per year in the public sector. The overall cost of working age ill health in the UK exceeds £100 billion every year, employers pay an estimated £9 billion in sick pay and associated costs, and the state pays £13 billion in health-related benefits (incapacity benefits). There is a similar picture in the USA, with health-related productivity losses estimated to reach some $260 billion annually. These financial outcomes, in terms of absence costs and lost productivity, are often what eventually attracts the attention of senior managers, providing a persuasive argument for them to focus on improving aspects of working life that are proven to be detrimental to an employee’s well-being.

Absenteeism, presenteeism and a concept labelled here as ‘leaveism’ are used to provide a lens through which to view employee responses to feeling unwell or being overloaded. So what exactly is ‘leaveism’?

  • Employees utilising allocated time off such as annual leave entitlements, flexible hours banked, unused rest days in order to take time off when they are in fact unwell;
  • Employees taking work home that cannot be completed in normal working hours;
  • Employees working while on leave or holiday to catch up.

All of these behaviours sit outside current descriptions associated with ‘absenteeism’ and ‘presenteeism’.

Although absenteeism and presenteeism cover some of the human responses to workload and illness, ‘leaveism’ provides the missing link. It defines the previously uncharted phenomenon that describes a situation where an employee uses their own time, in whatever guise, to avoid the workplace when they are in fact unwell, or take work home in order to complete outside contacted hours due to the sheer volume asked of them. These unintended consequences may be brought about by organisations adopting counterproductive policies that were introduced with the [best] intention of reducing absence. Attendance at work policies, actionable attendance policies and the wider use of punitive and incentive-based HRM policies are all examples of schemes intended to reduce absence.

Together with increasing workloads, fewer staff and higher expectations, ‘leaveism’ presents an additional consideration for traditional employee monitors that cannot be overlooked. ‘Leaveism’ also adds a further dynamic to human behaviours associated with responses to workplace well-being, and ought to be included in future discussions associated with workforce satisfaction and productivity measures.

It may be a counter-intuitive proposition, but organizations may wish to consider the economic loss should this practice cease as a means of measurement. Whatever the consequences and subsequent approach, ‘leaveism’ presents a real issue when it comes to establishing the true picture of employee well-being and should not be ignored.

Never not Ready for Action

We are in an era where people are much more afraid of losing their jobs than in the past: companies have been operating in a low-growth environment for the past decade, which has meant more focus on profitability – including labour costs. Alongside this is the prospect of more and more jobs being automated in the coming years.

This has meant more employees having to live with excessive workloads, and bosses afraid for their own livelihoods who are micromanaging people and not giving them enough autonomy and control at work. A study of Austrian workers in 2015 concluded that employees were more likely to use annual leave to go off sick if they fear losing their jobs or having them downgraded, or if they were experiencing low job satisfaction.

Compounding this sense of unhappiness at work is likely to be the way that technology is changing how we do our jobs. In a survey of 1,000 HR professionals representing 4.6 million UK employees, 87% said that technology was affecting people’s ability to switch off out of working hours. Common examples were employees taking work-related phone calls or responding to work emails.

At first glance, these behaviours may look fairly innocuous and just part of modern-day working life. However, we are in danger of endorsing a tech-enabled 24-7 working culture from which it is increasingly difficult to switch off. Work-life balance is becoming a thing of the past. For many of us this is being overruled by work-life integration.

Whatever the positives of not being tied to the office desk, it is not helping us to relax. Stress and mental ill health now account for 57% of all long-term absences from work, having replaced physical complaints, such as backache, as the main reason employees are off sick.

According to the UK mental health charity Mind’s most recent Workplace Wellbeing Index, employees with poor mental health may resort to taking leave rather than disclosing mental health problems in as many as one in 12 cases. In an echo of the Deloitte findings, Mind found younger employees far less likely to disclose they are struggling with mental health.

So, what can be done to stop this worrying trend?

Reorganising the Workload 

Whether you are HR or Management, if you notice staff frequently using annual leave to keep on top of their workloads, think about the amount of work on their plate. Sit down with them and go through their weekly task list and help them to prioritise.

Having some insight into the volume of tasks they have to complete can help you to understand where they need some support; be it redistributing their workload or scouting a new hire to share the work.

This transparency will help to foster a positive atmosphere that your staff can thrive in without fear of what might happen if they don’t complete their work.

Flexible Hours and Remote Working 

Offices are inherently sociable places, and rightly so. However, distractions are often plentiful and concentrating on a task can be very difficult, leaving work to quickly mount up. Research has shown that the average worker is disrupted around 56 times a day and the cost of a distracted employee vastly outweighs that of a loss of productivity, according to a study done in 2018.

Remote or flexible working offers an ideal balance for many, removing distractions without punishing workers. Giving employees the flexibility to work from anywhere at any time instead of having to be in a distracting office environment during strict hours can often be the push they need to power through their workload.

Crushing the ‘always-on’ culture

If your employees are frequently working after hours and responding to emails, this is a sure-fire sign of leaveism. Our smartphones have made it easier than ever to catch up on work, check emails or access documents during our downtime. Coupled with the rise of Cloud software; the line between our professional and personal lives has become increasingly blurred.

A 2016 report by the Chartered Management Institute found the majority of UK managers spent an extra 29 days annually working outside office hours; something that is sure to have only increased in the last few years.

While French and German businesses have made strides in quashing the ‘always at work’ culture, the British have yet to make a stand against the digital ties that chain them to their work, to the obvious detriment of employee mental health and wellbeing.

In 2014, Daimler in Germany arranged for emails to be automatically deleted when employees were on holiday. The sender would then receive a message inviting them to find an alternative recipient of the email, leaving the employee to return from holiday to an empty inbox. 2017 saw France introduce a right to disconnect, with companies instructed to set out the hours when staff shouldn’t send or respond to emails.

While these two cases are relatively extreme, as an employer you should be ensuring that your employees don’t feel pressured into working outside of their contracted hours. Set expectations and understand your employees’ needs. Your employees also need to take some responsibility as it is up to them if they switch their phones off or not. Finally, we have to give a nod to all those emails outside working hours. Managers need to stop sending them. You know who you are.

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://academic.oup.com/occmed/article/64/3/146/1439077
https://www.naturalhr.com/2019/09/20/what-is-leaveism-and-how-can-you-combat-it/

http://theconversation.com/leaveism-welcome-to-the-dark-side-of-21st-century-flexible-working-130976