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Has the CEO Position Evolved to a Two-Person Job?

When Netflix announced this summer that it was elevating Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos to co-CEO, sharing the title with founder Reed Hastings, the move cut against conventional wisdom. Salesforce.com, SAP, and Oracle all had abandoned co-CEO structures within the last year, leading The Wall Street Journal to ask: “Co-CEOs Are Out of Style. Why Is Netflix Resurrecting the Management Model?”

In the hierarchies of corporate America, there’s nothing ambiguous about the position of “chief executive officer.” Whoever holds the CEO title sits at the tip-top of the org chart; it’s right there in the capital C. But what happens when that designation—and the power it implies—is shared? 

That’s the unusual experiment that several companies have undertaken in the past few months, splitting the role of CEO between two executives. In September, WeWork’s parent named two interim CEOs, Sebastian Gunningham and Artie Minson, to replace founder and spiritual guru Adam Neumann, who stepped down as the embattled shared-office giant postponed its IPO. (The pair will be replaced in February by a single new CEO, Sandeep Mathrani.) Software giant SAP in October named Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein co-CEOs—the third time the German company has opted for the dual-leader arrangement. And in January, luggage startup Away wound up with two CEOs after former chief Steph Korey returned to cohead the company just weeks after reports of toxic work behaviour prompted her to step down. She’s now splitting the position with Stuart Haselden, the former Lululemon executive whom Away had initially tapped as Korey’s lone replacement.

The truth is the archetype of the omnipotent CEO — the lone commander atop the corporate pyramid — is increasingly a relic of 20th century management thinking. There are some notable exceptions: Founders like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg still command and control. But in our research with the American Psychological Association, we’ve found that for most mere mortals, it’s simply too hard to go it alone. The modern business landscape is too fast-moving and the demands on a CEO have become too innumerable for a single person to set an organization’s strategic direction and oversee a multitude of internal decisions, all while acting as its public face to stakeholders.

Tellingly, while executive teams have doubled in size over the last three decades as different corporate functions have gained importance (human resources) or have come into existence (digital strategy and data security), the top job has largely remained a solitary grind. As entrepreneur Joe Procopio has observed, “The math on giving 110% usually breaks down to giving 10% across 11 different priorities.”

At the same time, the expectations of modern leadership have evolved. Organisations are more agile, less hierarchical, and must adapt quickly to the sudden dislocations we have today. Generational shifts in the workforce and society bring rising social consciousness of inequalities and a mandate for including others with different experiences into decision-making. These exigencies have made non-traditional soft skills essential additives to leadership.

There are four basic rules on how to 2 CEOs should cooperate when they both are running the company.

1. Pick the right partner. Co-CEOs are in a very real sense professionally married. The foundational qualities of such an enduring personal relationship also apply in a shared C-suite: a common vision, clear communication, and most important, deep trust. This sustains the partnership when, inevitably, there is a disagreement. Each must remember the other’s talents and make decisions knowing it’s still one P&L both must own. You cannot go into this arrangement without believing in the character of the other and vice-versa.

2. Set expectations. Critics of dual CEOs argue that shared accountability amounts to no accountability at all — if two are in charge, no one is. But properly managed, the opposite is true. The idea of joint accountability means setting performance standards that put each partner in the position of having to live up to the other. Ideally, this creates a healthy competition. Would-be CEOs are typically high-performing individuals, so clear lanes help each partner drive improvements in the other. Indeed, a 2011 paper published in Financial Review found that co-CEOs’ mutual monitoring can generate enough accountability to substitute for board supervision.

3. Define roles and responsibilities. The organization must understand who is in charge of which aspects of the company and where decision-making authority lies. We have a highly decentralized workforce — the two of us live in different cities — yet our managers intersect with us with a clear understanding of what types of decisions we are each responsible for. This is liberating in that it takes some daily responsibilities off each CEO’s plate. It also frees up time for skill-building around one’s dedicated areas, yielding more focused mentorship. And one leader can come into another’s problem from a fresh outside perspective. Clearly delineating areas of responsibility also mitigates another common criticism — that co-CEOs are a bottleneck. In fact, the structure often facilitates a quicker response because one individual has authority to make a decision from a greater depth of experience and knowledge.

4. Distribute authority but not responsibility. While each partner has individual duties, both must fundamentally remain a leadership unit, one in which successes and setbacks alike are owned together. These successes and setbacks should be reflected in short- and long-term compensation. They must be prepared to be rewarded or penalized as a unit and accept the consequences. With the right chemistry and trust, it incentivizes both healthy competition and having each other’s back. Another benefit of this conjoined career planning is that it can both temporary or long term. Some companies may see a co-CEO arrangement as a grooming opportunity for a junior leader.

Let’s be honest: The modern CEO is often overwhelmed by unrealistic demands. Netflix’s move to co-CEOs says less about the limitations of individual leaders than about a system that sets them up to fail. We believe business pyramids are stifling innovation, when a division of authority can unleash it. In unprecedented times like these, more companies should rethink their structures and embrace co-CEOs, putting their leaders in positions to succeed.

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://hbr.org/2020/09/is-ceo-a-two-person-job?ab=hero-main-text
https://marker.medium.com/heres-when-it-actually-makes-sense-to-have-2ceos-64827d0ddb5c
https://fortune.com/2020/02/17/co-ceos-model-companies/

What to Do When Your Boss Doesn’t Respect Your Working Schedule

When trying to balance your work and family commitments, it helps to have a boss who is understanding and supportive: someone who doesn’t raise an eyebrow when you sign off early to attend a school event or take a personal day to accompany one of your parents to a doctor’s appointment.

But what if your manager isn’t sympathetic to your familial responsibilities? Or worse, your boss is outright dismissive or even hostile toward your obligations? This is particularly challenging during the pandemic when many people’s work and home lives have collided. How should you handle a boss who refuses to acknowledge the other demands on your time? How can you find room for flexibility? What should you say about your family commitments? And who should you turn to for moral and professional support?

Career coaches at Work It Daily have discovered certain patterns. At this moment, employee frustration is at an all-time high. Workers are feeling fed up with their employers and wondering if the grass could be greener elsewhere.

While pay and opportunity for growth remain the top two reasons people claim they want to find a new job, the research done by Work It Daily shows that what ultimately pushes a person to seek a new job is feeling disrespected by their boss. Think of it this way: most professionals enjoy a job search about as much as they enjoy having an invasive dental operation. In order to put in the extra time and energy to switch jobs, the pain has to be really bad. When job seekers have gone the Work It Daily coaches they have complained about their manager’s lack of respect. If you don’t have the respect you want, it’s because you allowed your boss to treat you a certain way. From your first interaction with your boss until now, you have set the tone for how you’re perceived in the role. The good news is, you can change this. But to do so, you have to recognise the signs that your manager doesn’t respect you.

Know your rights

First things first, “know your rights” and understand what you’re entitled to in terms of paid leave and care options, says Thompson. Do some research into your company’s policies and whether there are alternative work arrangements on offer. Long before the pandemic hit, an increasing number of organisations instituted flexible work plans for employees, and many states have flex-work policies in place for their government workers.

Find out, too, if your situation qualifies you for the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The law requires some employers to provide paid leave to workers who must care for someone subject to quarantine or a child whose day care or school is closed. Washington recommends talking to your company’s HR person, if you have one, to learn what options and accommodations are available to you. “Knowledge is power,” she says.

Exhibit empathy

Next, summon compassion. It’s not easy to be a boss, especially right now. Many managers are under pressure. “They’re stressed, anxious, and struggling to do more with less,” says Washington. Consider the situation from their perspective.

Thompson says your empathy should be both “genuine and strategic.” Ask your manager about their pain points. Find out where their worries lie. Be sincere — show you care about them as a human being — and be tactical. Ask about their “objectives and the metrics they need to hit,” she says. “You’ll get important information about what they’re concerned about” which will help you sharpen your focus in terms of the work you prioritise.

Develop more than one plan

Once you “understand what’s top of mind” for your manager, you can frame your plans for getting your job done in a way helps them achieve their goals and objectives, says Thompson. Focus on results. When you’re a caregiver, your schedule can often be unpredictable so it’s important to make a plan as well as several contingency ones. Address your manager’s “insecurities about you not pulling your weight” by demonstrating that you’re “making arrangements to get your work done.” You want your manager to come away from your conversations thinking, “They’ve got this.”

Don’t be shy about reminding your manager of your track record for delivering on expectations, adds Washington. “Your past performance is the strongest indicator of your future performance,” she says. Hopefully, your manager will come to see “that what’s most important is not how the job gets done, but that it gets done.”

Articulate boundaries

If your boss is a face time tyrant, it can be tough to establish boundaries, but it’s still important to do. We all need time in our day that’s off-limits for work, says Washington. “If 6 pm is when you have dinner and put the kids down,” so be it. “Have those boundaries — and let your boss know that you will be unavailable then.”

But if your manager continues to be disrespectful of your family time, you need to have a conversation. Frame the discussion around you — how you prefer to structure your workday and how and when you perform best. Explain that you need your non-work hours to regroup and take care of your family commitments. Without that time away from work, you will not be able to fully devote yourself to your job.

Take care of yourself

Working for someone who doesn’t respect your life outside of work can be exhausting so make sure you’re taking time for yourself. Be purposeful about giving yourself “a forced mental break,” says Thompson. Make time to read, cook, dance, run, meditate — or any other activity that you enjoy or helps you relax. “Schedule joy,” she says.

And even if exercise isn’t usually your thing, Thompson suggests finding time for it every day, especially during this difficult period. “Don’t underestimate the power of 20-30 minutes of daily physical activity,” she says. At a time when your boss is being difficult and “nothing feels in your control,” getting your endorphins pumping should be a priority.

Don’t let a lack of respect from your boss hold you back from achieving your goals. Learn how to interact better so you can get what you need to succeed!

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.inc.com/jt-odonnell/7-warning-signs-your-boss-disrespects-you.html
https://hbr.org/2020/09/when-your-boss-doesnt-respect-your-family-commitments
https://www.drcaitlinfaas.com/blog/how-to-get-your-boss-to-respect-your-boundaries

Does Productivity Soar by Working from Home?

Amid the Covid-19 crisis, working from home has become the norm for many. But even as remote work has normalised, it’s a recent development: doing your job from your couch was less mainstream before the coronavirus – and even stigmatised.

“Have you punched into Google image search, ‘working from home’, and looked at the top 20 images? They’re basically naked people, a guy drinking champagne in what looks like a jacuzzi. I mean, almost none of them are positive images,” says Nicholas Bloom, a professor at Stanford University in California. He’s made a career out of studying work practices, including remote work. And he thinks the attitudes around working from home are finally changing.

“One silver lining with the Covid pandemic: it’s going to kickstart working from home [moving from the] fringe to a mainstream technology that is commonly used across the country,” he says. That process is already under way; firms including Fujitsu and Twitter have already announced plans to make remote work a permanent option, even after the pandemic.

A study done by Nicholas Bloom, professor at Stanford University, back in 2013 somewhat forecast this trend: in his experiment, Bloom worked with a Chinese company to study remote-work productivity. Somewhat to Bloom’s surprise, the company’s staff became notably more productive by working from home four days a week.

Now, six months into the global pandemic, an increasing number of companies are asking: should we work from home indefinitely? And if they do decide to make major organisational changes about remote work, could they see similar leaps in productivity?

How Do Knowledge Workers Spend Their Time?

In 2013, knowledge workers spent two-thirds of their time either “managing across” in meetings, often with many colleagues, or doing “desk-based work” on their own. Externally focused work (e.g. talking to customers), managing down (coaching and supporting subordinates) and managing up (interacting with the boss and other senior people) all got very little time, while training and personal development got almost none.

How has this picture changed during lockdown? There were two significant shifts: 12% less time managing across through meetings and 9% more time doing externally focused work. Desk-based work continues to take a third of our time. Other changes — a little less time managing up and a little more time on training and development — were not statistically significant.

Standing back, the evidence suggests lockdown has helped us more effectively prioritize our work. We still need to get through our emails and report-writing. But we are significantly less likely to get drawn into large meetings, and this leaves us more time for client or customer work and for training and development, which most people would argue is a good thing. However, lockdown doesn’t seem to have helped with hierarchy-spanning activities (managing up and down), presumably because it’s impossible to have the short, spontaneous meetings that used to be possible.

How Do Knowledge Workers Decide What to Do? 

While most knowledge workers have a written job description somewhere, it is well understood that they take responsibility for choosing what to do and when to do it based on a variety of factors, including tasks outside of their formal role when it appears sensible to do so.

To get a sense for how these decisions are made, we asked study subjects to choose among four options for every activity: It’s a standard part of my job/my boss asked, a peer or colleagues asked me, I did it spontaneously, or it was important and I found time. In 2013, respondents said 52% of their activities were standard, 18% requested by a peer , 24% independent but important, and 3% independent and spontaneous. In 2020, we are still spending half our time on standard activities, but we are doing only 8% because a colleague asked, and a full 35% because we thought the activity was critical.  Both these differences were statistically significant. Spontaneity rose to 6% but this difference was not statistically significant.

What’s going on here?  It seems we have been taking more direct charge of our time during lockdown. Working from home gives us a bit of breathing space: We don’t have colleagues or bosses badgering us, and we don’t get drawn into meetings by force of habit, just because we happen to be around. The result is a reassuring increase in us making time for work that matters most to us.

Concerns and Challenges

Working in lockdown has helped us to focus and to take responsibility. But that’s not the whole story. Follow-up interviews revealed some of the areas of concern that we as individuals — and as leaders of others — need to understand.

Some respondents cited the potential for shirking: “I am worried there is some slackening of effort. People are starting to get a bit too comfortable working from home,” said one. In our view, this is not a huge problem: There are many ways of informally monitoring how much time your colleagues are putting in via Outlook, Slack and other tools, and we should really be evaluating knowledge workers on their outputs not their inputs anyway.

The bigger areas of concern were around the things people couldn’t do well in a virtual environment. Take managing across first: It’s not so hard for an existing working group to stay on course when working remotely, but the challenges of getting started on something new (the forming/storming stages of team development) or resolving internal conflicts are enormous. Of course, these activities can be done over Zoom – just not as well. Few people are energized by informal online get-togethers. As one person said, “We are slowly losing the social glue that holds us together.”

Managing up and down are no less tricky under lockdown. Most respondents had instituted regular one-on-one catch-ups with their teams and bosses, but they usually focused on immediate task and personal well-being issues, rather than longer-term development. They missed the opportunity to bottom out difficult issues: “You cannot challenge a person quite so well over Zoom. You tend to hold back,” said one. They also lamented the loss of growth opportunities for their teams: “I used to throw people into new assignments, where they learned on the job, watching and learning from experienced colleagues. That’s almost impossible to do in a virtual setting.”

Finally, some people worried about their own development. While time spent on self-education went up during lockdown, this was mostly due to online webinar and course attendance — which helps build knowledge but doesn’t encourage the active experimentation and personal reflection that help us really grow.

For many of us, the new socially distanced mode of working may continue for some time.  The good news for knowledge workers from the first phase of this experiment is that lockdown has helped us better manage and prioritize our schedules to favor the most value-added work. The challenge — as we move into the next phase where some face-to-face meetings are allowed — will be to bring back the informal and social elements of office life that are so vital to organizational and individual success.

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

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200710-the-remote-work-experiment-that-made-staff-more-productive
https://www.techrepublic.com/article/study-working-from-home-means-more-time-on-computers-but-workers-arent-more-productive/
https://hbr.org/2020/08/research-knowledge-workers-are-more-productive-from-home?ab=hero-main-text

AI & People Represent the Future of Work

Too many business leaders still believe that AI is just another ‘plug and play’ incremental technological investment. In reality, gaining a competitive advantage through AI requires organisational transformation of the kind exemplified by companies leading in this era: Google, Haier, Apple, Zappos, and Siemens. These companies don’t just have better technology — they have transformed the way they do business so that human resources can be augmented with machine powers.

While no one knows what artificial intelligence’s effect on work will be, we can all agree on one thing: it’s disruptive. So far, many have cast that disruption in a negative light and projected a future in which robots take jobs from human workers. That’s one way to look at it. Another is that automation may create more jobs than it displaces. By offering new tools for entrepreneurs, it may also create new lines of business that we can’t imagine now.

A recent study from Redwood Software and Sapio Research underscores this view. Participants in the 2017 study said they believe that 60 percent of businesses can be automated in the next five years. On the other hand, Gartner predicts that by 2020 AI will produce more jobs than it displaces. Dennis Mortensen, CEO and founder of x.ai, maker of AI-based virtual assistant Amy, agreed. “I look at our firm and two-thirds of the jobs here didn’t exist a few years ago,” said Mortensen.

In addition to creating new jobs, AI will also help people do their jobs better — a lot better. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Paul Daugherty, Accenture’s Chief Technology and Innovation Officer summed this idea up as, “Human plus machine equals superpowers.” For many reasons, the optimistic view is likely the more realistic one. But AI’s ability to transform work is far from preordained. In 2018, workers are not being adequately prepared for their futures. The algorithms and data that underlie AI are also flawed and don’t reflect the diverse society it’s meant to serve.

How AI Could Grow Jobs: Inventing New Ones, Empowering Existing Ones

While AI will certainly displace some jobs, such displacement has occurred long before AI was on the scene. In the past century, we’ve seen the demise or diminishment of titles like travel agent, switchboard operator, milkman, elevator operator and bowling alley pinsetter. Meanwhile, new titles like app developer, social media director, and data scientist have emerged.

Daugherty and Jim Wilson, managing director of Information Technology and Business Research at Accenture Research have co-authored a book titled Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI. In their view, future (and current) jobs include trainers and explainers. Trainers will teach AI systems how to perform and mimic human behaviours.

Empowering Workers, Businesses and Industries

Rather than replacing workers, AI can be a tool to help employees work better. A call center employee, for instance, can get instant intelligence about what the caller needs and do their work faster and better. That goes for businesses and industry too. In another example, in life sciences, Accenture is using deep learning and neural networks to help companies to bring treatments to market faster.

In addition to helping existing businesses, AI can create new ones. Such new business include digital-based elder care, AI-based agriculture and AI-based monitoring of sales calls. Finally, automation can be used to fill currently unfilled jobs. As Daugherty noted recently, there is a shortage of 150,000 truck drivers in the U.S. right now. “We need automation to improve the productivity of the drivers, the lifestyle of the drivers to attract more people to the industry,” he said.

The Value of Human and Machine Working Together

AI technology can boost business productivity by up to 40 per cent, according to Accenture. But while business leaders may rejoice at that fact, 72 per cent of employees fear AI stealing their jobs, Pew Research found.

However, the adoption of AI doesn’t mean a wipeout of work available to humans. While some tasks may be trusted completely to AI, like the algorithms that drive recommendation engines on platforms like Netflix, Amazon, and Spotify, others are reserved for human skill only.

For instance, because AI cannot offer empathy or emotion, traits native only to humans, it likely won’t have an applicable role in practice areas like psychotherapy, social work or in-depth customer service.

There’s also a third category of work: the kind best done by humans and AI working in tandem. In the case of many tasks, AI can help get progress started, but it still requires a human to complete the job by verifying the accuracy or providing more context. These gray areas include services like accuracy checks and human interaction.

While AI may not complete such tasks perfectly on its own, there is still value in keeping AI a part of the process. The ideal AI-human arrangement is one in which AI technology drives the lower-level, repetitive processes associated with completing a task, while human oversight ensures the timely and accurate completion of that task.

AI-Human Teams in Action

So where can we see this tag-team dynamic in action? The voice transcription space serves as one example.

Quick and accurate voice-to-text technology plays an important role in the deaf and hard of hearing community, as well as the higher education and legal industries. AI can transcribe human speech much faster than humans can—in a controlled environment, that is.

But the everyday need for voice transcription doesn’t always come in the form of a controlled environment. AI only hits peak accuracy when the speech mimics the kind it was trained on. We can’t rely on AI alone to transcribe voice perfectly when the accent, speed, diction, and tone of the speech vary, or if background noise is present.

However, it’s most efficient to give AI the first crack at it and employ the help of humans to verify accuracy and fix errors if needed. Taking this approach has enabled faster access to high-quality voice transcription than ever before.

Teams that rely on fast voice transcription are reaping the benefits of humans and AI perfecting the practice. Courts, for example, face a court reporter shortage, with an estimated 70 per cent of the workforce expected to retire over the next 10 years. AI and human-powered voice transcription will help fill in the gaps.

Students — whether deaf, hearing-impaired or with no hearing issues — all benefit from timely access to the transcriptions of course lectures. Deaf and hearing-impaired students deserve the chance to keep up with their hearing classmates, and not all hearing students learn best by listening.

While AI has earned its place it every industry, it doesn’t always perform best on its own. Enlisting the help of humans brings it to its full potential and allows us all to take full advantage of a powerful technology, making a true difference in end-users’ lives.

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:

B_txt_14

Sources:

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/329099
https://www.wired.com/wiredinsider/2018/04/ai-future-work/
https://hbr.org/2020/08/the-secret-to-ai-is-people

Employee Harassment Online – How to Combat It

Harassment at work is prevalent and can be tough to combat. Being informed and prepared can help employees dealing with harassment recognise their rights and take action when needed. In some work environments, harassment may seem easy to brush off as playful camaraderie or “playing the game”, but it is no less serious than more direct, explicit bullying. Negative actions are often prompted by a harasser’s feelings of fear, disrespect or entitlement, but no matter the reasons, the only way to end workplace harassment is to properly address it.

U.S. law requires employers to create a workplace free from discrimination and harassment. But as offices go virtual, what happens when staff confront a torrent of hate and abuse online? Given that over 44% of Americans say they’ve experienced online harassment, chances are, if you’re an employer, you have people on staff who’ve been impacted. For those with public facing jobs (journalists, policymakers, academics, etc.), online abuse may well be part of day-to-day working life.

Although anyone can be subjected to online abuse, women, BIPOC, and members of the LGBTQ+ community are disproportionately targeted for their identities and experience more severe forms of harassment. As more and more organisations proclaim their commitment to providing equitable and inclusive work environments, they can no longer afford to ignore the very real consequences of online abuse.

And yet the professional impact, within and across industries, is significantly understudied.

The creative and media sectors are among the few industries for which we have research. A 2017 PEN America survey of writers and journalists found that over a third of respondents who had experienced online abuse reported an impact on their professional lives, with 64% taking a break from social media, 37% avoiding certain topics in their writing, and 15% ceasing to publish altogether. A 2019 study from the Committee to Protect Journalists, which focused specifically on female and gender non-conforming journalists in the U.S., found that 90% cited online harassment as the single biggest threat they faced.

In other words, in the media sector, online abuse is damaging the professional prospects and chilling the speech of those already underrepresented in the industry. It is precisely the voices that most urgently need to be heard in debates around race, gender, and the rights of marginalised groups that are at the greatest risk of being silenced.

Employers need to do better. When staff are attacked online in a way that intersects with their professional life, organisations have a responsibility to take the abuse seriously, and help address it. Some employers may feel they don’t know where to start, but in fact there are many steps you can take to support your teams in preparing for, responding to, and mitigating the damage of online abuse.

Acknowledging the Harm

To create an environment where employees feel safe and supported enough to come forward when they are being abused online, leadership needs to let staff know that they take the issue seriously and expect managers and colleagues to do the same. Targets often suffer in isolation, partly because there’s still a great deal of stigma and shame associated with harassment, online or off. Many people who are disproportionately attacked online have also been marginalized in other spaces, so they may have legitimate concerns about being dismissed, mocked, or punished. A commitment to supporting staff who are being abused online can be formalized by amending existing policies and protocols around sexual harassment and social media use, communicated via all-staff emails and meetings, and reinforced by the ways in which managers and HR react to individual cases.

Online Protocols Setup & Training

When staff are being harassed online, they often have no idea where to turn or what to do. Arm them with the knowledge that there are concrete steps they can take to proactively protect themselves and respond. Having clear protocols can make staff feel safer and more empowered. To ensure staff are actually aware of these initiatives, employers can fold policies and protocols into onboarding and employee handbooks, post them on intranets and Slack channels, and encourage managers, HR, IT, and social media staff to reinforce them — and offer training.

Guarantee Resources

These should include: cybersecurity services that protect against hacking, impersonation, doxing, and identity theft, including password managers, such as Password or LastPass, and data scrubbers, such as DeleteMe or PrivacyDuck; mental health care or counseling; legal counseling; and guidance, such as PEN America’s Online Harassment Field Manual.

Support Groups

Online abuse is intended to be profoundly isolating, which is why giving staff a safe space to vent, share experiences, and exchange strategies is vitally important. Encourage staff to band together and create a peer support group. Just make sure they have adequate time and access to leadership to apply their hard-earned knowledge to help improve policies, protocols, and resources.

Escalate Certain Situations

From social media to email and messaging apps, most digital platforms have mechanisms to report online abuse. But sometimes these mechanisms fail. As an individual, it can be difficult to get a platform’s attention, but organisations often have direct contacts at tech companies. If a staff member has reported abuse that clearly violates terms of service and is nevertheless unable to get it removed, escalating the issue directly to tech company contacts can make all the difference.

We are facing an unprecedented moment in professional life. The hyper-digital world we’ve been plunged into is already exacerbating harassment and hate online. At the same time, the Black Lives Matter movement has put much-needed pressure on for-profit and nonprofit organisations to redouble their commitment to creating more diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplaces. Online abuse is a major stumbling block to these efforts. If organisations are serious about supporting staff who identify as women, nonbinary, or BIPOC, it’s high time to have their backs in the face of online attacks.

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.wmlawyers.com/2017/06/social-media-workplace-harassment/
https://www.affordablecollegesonline.org/college-resource-center/workplace-campus-harassment/
https://hbr.org/2020/07/what-to-do-when-your-employee-is-harassed-online?ab=hero-main-text

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. 

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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