Maxine Lynskey, a former consultant for Direct Line, was recently awarded over £64,000 in damages after a tribunal ruled her menopause symptoms as a 'disability' under the 2010 Equality Act when her former employer failed to make the correct reasonable adjustments.
After working there for 4 years, she began to experience consistent menopausal symptoms of concentration and memory loss, feeling frequently tearful, and 'brain fog'. Maxine was transferred to a lower-paid role which was felt would be less challenging for her.
As she continued to struggle in her new role, she was placed on a performance-improvement plan. Despite mentioning her symptoms repeatedly to her direct report, HR were not informed that there were any reasons for her sudden shift in performance.
Click the link below to read the full piece at HR Magazine:
Emerging from a pandemic which saw a huge shift in mindset for the current workforce, the trend of ‘Quiet Quitting’ surfaced as a way for employees to set boundaries around the work they do and the timeframe they do it in.
Looked at objectively, this was employees taking responsibility for their own work-life balance and a blow to the culture of ‘presenteeism’ – both issues that employers have been trying to tackle for many years.
However, the problem with the term ‘Quiet Quitting’ is that it is inherently negative, suggesting an employee is giving up rather than taking control.
And now, we’re seeing another unhelpful misnomer popping up on social media – the ‘Lazy Girl Job’: a job that can be done remotely, and which offers workers autonomy by having a manager who measures their performance based on output rather than input.
The problem with describing these roles as “Lazy Girl Jobs” is that as the pace of organizational change continues to accelerate, many employers are starting to recognize that they need a more flexible and methodological approach to work. This is seeing companies increasingly adopting a skills-based approach to managing work and workers, and slowly moving away from the rigidity of a ‘job’.
In a report published by Deloitte, it was discovered that while 93% of organizations believed that moving away from the ‘job’ construct is very important to their success, only 20% of organizations felt very ready to actually address this movement. What the ‘lazy girl job’ actually represents is a step towards skills-based, flexible working, whereas the idea of it, and its implications, are seeing employers take two steps back.
So, we are seeing the same problem we saw with ‘Quiet Quitting’ – a ‘Lazy Girl Job’ implies that working remotely is lazy, whereas in reality half of employees feel more productive when working from home and are able to operate beyond the constraints of time and geographical differences.
These misnomers catch on because they are utilizing irony, but this irony may be doing more harm than good. Work-life balance, healthy boundaries around start and finishing times, and remote working are all positive tools that employers can use to improve the performance of their employees, but dressing them up as ‘quitting’ and ‘lazy’ fuels the ideology of presenteeism and stunts the transformational progress of this organizational change.
Instead, employers need to focus on the fact that the way people want to work is continuing to change, expand, and evolve at an exponential rate, and this is only gaining velocity as a new generation flock into the workplace. While these buzzwords represent real call-to-actions for employers and highlight key areas of focus for attraction and retention, it is important that the meaning behind them isn’t misconstrued just because they have been labelled lazily.
If you would like to discuss how we can help support and guide you in your journey of organizational change, please get in touch with us.
As the co-founder of a unique platform which helps organisations measure key employee engagement and happiness drivers (also called The Happiness Index!), Matt is a global authority on how people think, feel, and behave in the workplace.
In his book, he sets out to explore how businesses can ensure that the people who fuel the success of their business – their employees – are fully committed to their organizational goals.
To do this he takes a deep dive into the data gathered by The Happiness Index platform from over 100 countries and 2 million employees to help the reader understand what really drives engagement and happiness at work – and how this can be harnessed to accelerate an organization’s performance.
Matt defines employee engagement as what our brains need to thrive at work, and employee happiness as what our hearts need to do the same. Both, he argues, are equally important and consist of 24 neuroscience-based sub-drivers:
By taking this scientific, data-driven approach, the book provides a robust examination of the factors that determine employee engagement and happiness at work, including in-depth interviews with specialists in each of the 24 sub-drivers and compelling case studies from organizations around the world. In doing so, it shows how firms can weave happiness and engagement into the fabric of their people strategy.
In The Happiness Index, Matt expertly paints a picture of a world of work where people can truly thrive and grow – and organizations can truly prosper from that growth. It’s a transformational picture we know HR practitioners and business leaders will find inspiring.
If you would like to discuss engagement strategies in more detail, please get in touch with us on our contact page.
And to get in touch with Matt, head over to his LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/matthewphelan/
Currently, many HR buzzwords and phrases originate from the same place: TikTok.
First we saw the rise of ‘quiet quitting’ take TikTok – and then the wider internet – by storm. And now we are seeing a new trend with over 5 million views: ‘Managing Up’.
Managing Up is when employees work out how to best manage their manager; determining their manager’s working style and then adjusting their own approach to engaging with the manager to make both their jobs easier and more productive.
There are some great benefits that could emerge from this growing trend. For one thing, this counters the outdated idea that the relationship between manager and employee is a one-way (downward!) street.
Managing Up aims to cultivate a connection that is rooted in optimized, two-way communication.
By recalibrating this traditional hierarchical model of the manager and ‘the managed’, Managing Up allows for mutual understanding and respect to be built. This results in a more dynamic relationship between colleagues that allows them to work more cohesively and productively.
The accepted wisdom is that when a company hires someone, there is a relationship to be fostered between the hiring manager and candidate. Well, Managing Up highlights that there is a relationship to be fostered in the other direction as well.
If staff know the best ways of engaging with their managers, this will create a culture of openness where managers become more approachable regarding concerns that may not have initially been brought to their attention. This gives managers the ability to address issues that, traditionally, would not have been ‘on their radar’ which, in turn, will help create a higher-performing team.
However, a potential barrier to Managing Up taking root in an organization is team members not being able to successfully identify their manager’s working style. If they assume they know it and run with these false assumptions, what should be a respectful exchange can quickly break down.
This is where a psychometric profiling would be a great investment. OrgShakers’ technology partner SurePeople offer the robust and affordable online psychometric tools organizations need to create detailed profiles of managers and their teams along with practical advice on how those individuals can work together to optimize relationships, build trust – and accelerate performance.
In short, to deliver the promise of Managing Up.
If you would like to discuss how embedding online psychometric tools into your business can boost individual and team performance, please get in touch with us via our contact page.
A trial of the 4-day working week commenced last year in the UK, and 90% of participating businesses have opted to stick with it.
This has naturally created interest around the prospect of a 4-day working week and what this might look like, with one statistic standing out: a recent poll led by Hays discovered that almost two-thirds of workers would prefer to shift from a 5-day week to an office-based 4-day week – and a third of employers would be more likely to make the switch if all four days were spent in the workplace.
So, could this be the ‘Great Resolution’ that employers have been searching for?
It is no secret that since emerging from the pandemic, many employers have been resistant to embedding hybrid and remote working models into their business practices. But after many attempts to rope employees back into the office, the dust seems to finally be settling, with hybrid work looking like it’s here to stay. And yet now, with the possibility of a 4-day week being adopted, is this going to be used as an opportunity for employers to strike a deal with their workers?
Well, some evidence suggests it still may not be enough. For one thing, over a third of workers have said they would resign if they were told to return to the office full-time. And the reason for this can be found in IWG’s ground-breaking study, which discovered that hybrid workers are the healthiest workers – they are exercising more, sleeping better, and eating more healthily than ever. It’s not surprising, therefore, that employees are reluctant to return to in-office full time.
But it seems, at the root of this tussle, that there is a bigger issue. Employers are seemingly suffering from what has been dubbed ‘productivity paranoia’, in which they are convinced that their employees are not being as productive working from home as they would be onsite.
A study by Microsoft confirmed this, with 87% of hybrid employees claiming they were more productive, whereas only 12% of leaders said they had full confidence that their teams were actually being productive.
However, by consistently demonstrating this lack of trust in their people, leaders risk having a negative impact on productivity and engagement. According to a study in Harvard Business Review, people at high-trust companies report 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 76% more engagement and 40% less burnout.
Trust is the foundation of any relationship – especially those formed in the workplace. It is clear that most employees have the means of being just as productive from home as they do in the office, so their willingness to have a 4-day work week solely in-office may be driven by a desire to rekindle a trusting relationship with their boss than a concern for their ability to do the job.
The bottom line, however, is that as the prospect of a 4-day working week – remote, hybrid, or in the office – inches closer to reality, it is important for employers to consider how they can optimize this to attract, retain and motivate the talent their organization needs.
If you would like support with managing hybrid working policies, as well as solidifying trust into your organization’s culture, please get in touch with us here.
I am very delighted to be welcoming Kenneth Merritt to the OrgShakers team!
Ken is a skilled thought leader, facilitator and C-Suite-level advisor, with particular expertise in helping CFOs and finance leaders align their organizational goals, foster their capabilities, and strengthen their leadership prowess.
Having worked for companies such as Korn Ferry and Deloitte Consulting, Ken is a seasoned organizational strategist and transformation expert that leads clients through enterprise, functional, and initiative priorities. From this he has gained deep experience in working with mid-market sized companies, as well as global operations.
In addition to being a financial services and private equity professional, he has advised several organizations on strategic and operational improvements to help advance corporate equality for under-represented leaders.
Ken has a BS in Accounting from the Willie A. Deese College of Business & Economics at North Carolina A&T State University, and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Founder & CEO
I have no doubt that most of us have come across the recent artificial intelligence (AI) phenomenon that is ChatGPT.
With software company OpenAI recently announcing the program’s next iteration (titled ChatGPT-4), there has been a lot of speculation around whether employers – and people in general – should be ‘freaked out’ by the expanding capabilities and eerie similarities to being human that this AI has.
However, is this simply just another tool that will help employees to work smarter rather than harder?
All throughout history, whenever a new piece of technology has been introduced that can do something that humans do but more efficiently and instantaneously, there has been hesitation and resistance.
When the calculator was initially introduced on a mass scale, it raised a lot of cause for concern from schooling systems as they feared that students wouldn’t learn how to do maths without the assistance of a machine. But as the calculator became integrated in everyday learning, it actually proved to expand the horizons of mathematics that was able to be taught at school level – it allowed students to attempt much more complex equations. And, by having one exam paper that remained ‘non-calculator’, this ensured that children were still being taught a suitable level of mental arithmetic to apply to everyday life.
The same thing happened years later with the introduction of Google and other search engines. All of a sudden information was at our fingertips, which sparked controversy around something that was labelled the ‘Google Effect’ (or digital amnesia), which theorised that because answers to all questions were now readily available, people stopped bothering to store any information in their brains.
Nowadays, across all sectors of work, the calculator and Google play vital parts for many jobs, and the idea of being without them would seem unbelievable. All they did was ensure that those doing their jobs were able to do so in a more efficient and time effective manner, all while saving them a lot of mental effort.
These were the first steps towards the age of working smart, and now AI-based technologies seem to be the next. Working smart has never been a bad thing – in fact, it usually boasts better and faster results for organizations. Employees are using tools and resources to achieve the best potential outcomes within an allotted time without having to overexert themselves and risk burning out.
And so, adopting this perspective, a program like ChatGPT may initially seem questionable considering its capabilities, but it should be viewed with the intention of making employees better and more equipped rather than replacing them altogether. AI is not perfect, and neither are people, but combining the two offers the best probability of producing near-perfect results. For example, AI is being used in the medical sector to help improve the accuracy of diagnoses. One recent study found that the new AI was more accurate when diagnosing cases than actual doctors, but noticed that doctors were better and faster at identifying common problems due to the volume and consistency at which they encountered them. This is why AI is used in conjunction with workers, as it is an extra tool that helps them work smarter.
Employers may potentially resist this implementation of AI and view it as ‘doing all the work’, but the reality is that there’s no point having an employee put in hours and hours to do a task that could be done in half the time with the assistance of AI and that produces stronger output. From a business perspective, using these new resources to their advantage will have profitable benefits, as well as social ones for staff.
What it boils down to is the age-old grapple of input vs. output mindsets. It is now an outdated view for an employer to believe that hard work is measured through the time someone puts in, as what should take precedent is the quality of output that is coming out. The world of work continues to change and evolve every day, and new technology is always going to be a part of this change, so it may be time for employers to stop worrying about how to get work back to the way it was, and instead start adapting to what it continues to become.
Today marks the beginning of Ramadan – a month-long period of fasting, prayer, and reflection observed by millions of Muslims around the world. This will see many Muslim people adjusting their schedules to accommodate to the demands of their religious practices.
There are just shy of four million Muslims in the UK, and so it is very likely that as an employer, you may have employees who will be observing Ramadan. This means that between the hours of sunrise and sunset, those partaking must go without any food and drink (including water). In the UK this year, that can be for as long as 17 hours, and up to 16 hours in the US.
So, what can employers be doing to support their Muslim employees during this time?
Employers who are able to successfully demonstrate support to their Muslim employees during this time will be providing an inclusive workplace and promoting the likelihood of retention of these staff members. A recent study found that 56% of Muslims who saw their place of work as supportive during Ramadan were likely to remain working there for the next 5 years.
If you would like to discuss this topic further, or are looking for further guidance on how to make your workplace inclusive to Ramadan and other religious practices, get in touch with me at email@example.com
Work can be an intimidating and frustrating experience for neurodivergent individuals, as they can struggle to fit in with coworkers and adhere to organizational culture expectations. Conversely, employers and colleagues can feel challenged when working with neurodivergent team members. Through awareness and a few workplace changes, the benefits connected to a neurodiverse workforce can be optimized.
As the world of work continues to evolve, neurodiversity is getting more attention. This begs the question - how will your organization adjust to employees’ growing demand for recognition and workplace modifications?
The best way to find an answer to this is by first understanding what neurodiversity is and looks like.
According to Harvard Medical School, “Neurodiversity describes the idea that people experience and interact with the world around them in many different ways; there is no one “right” way of thinking, learning, and behaving, and differences are not viewed as deficits.” Statistically speaking, 15-20% of the world’s population is neurodivergent. Dyslexia, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) represent, in order, the three most common types of neurodivergence.
So, how can an organization foster neurodiversity at work?
The key concept surrounding neurodiversity is to improve inclusivity for all people. This requires recognition of each individual’s skills, abilities, and strengths, as well as support for their differences. Many organizations, supervisors, and teams may already be adjusting their routines and practices. Raising awareness and intentionally modifying etiquette can ensure employers and employees don’t miss out on the significant opportunities a neurodiverse workforce provides. Here are some examples of how to promote a neurodiverse work environment:
When an organization encourages a few basic “rules of the road”, it can dramatically increase employee engagement, innovation, creativity, and productivity. For example, DO place focus on communicating clearly and concisely – avoid implied messages or meaning. Be ready to break tasks down into small steps to ensure understanding and work with individuals to identify their preferred learning style; some may learn best with written instructions while others thrive through auditory direction. And, whenever possible, announce any changes to plans in advance to give people a chance to adjust to this change.
However, DON’T make assumptions. Before interpreting someone’s behavior, ask them about their preferences, needs, and goals. Inform people of workplace etiquette before accusing someone of rudeness or rule breaking, and provide the opportunity for individuals to ask clarifying questions that foster understanding.
Mentra has also put together a list of their ‘Top Ten Accommodations’ for neurodiverse employees that can be very helpful:
Neurodivergent individuals may be overlooked in traditional recruiting practices and that is a definite loss in talent for organizations. Work environments that acknowledge and support neurodiversity can outperform their competitors through innovation, engagement, dedication, and output. But without the right tools, training (a recent study found that only 23% of HR professionals have had specific neurodiversity training in the last year), and workplace practices, many employers can find themselves struggling to gain access to this vast pool of talent. So, if you would like to discuss the best way to hire, onboard and include neurodivergent employees, get in touch with me at
Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020
By Brittany Burton and Victoria Sprenger
Once upon a time, three young women found themselves struggling at work. Tired, isolated, and cold, the three were in need of support from their employers during these trying times:
The first of our tales follows a young professional named Aurora. In wake of her company’s compensation review, their team had let some members go, and she now found herself working out-of-hours in order to ensure she was deemed a reliable employee.
But not too long passed before Aurora noticed she was starting to burnout. And she wasn’t alone – the effects of this ‘always-on’ culture have led to 43% of global workers also experiencing burnout.
She found herself feeling exhausted, fighting off the need for a workday nap, but didn’t want to admit to this in case it made her look incapable.
How can Aurora’s employer help her?
Firstly, they may consider the implementation of policies that will remove outside hours correspondence to help to set boundaries around constant contact. This attitude then needs to be embedded into the culture of her workplace, so that it becomes more than just a policy, but also a commonly held mindset.
As well as this, her line-manager should be setting up regular one-to-one’s which are solely dedicated to hearing what she has to say. Having this time to discuss her individual needs and concerns will help her employer to understand what support they can offer her, as well as highlighting that they value her wellbeing.
“Beauty and the Bricks”
Our next tale is about Belle, a fresh-out-of-university employee who has just started her first job, which is full-time remote working.
At first, she loves it. The freedom, the flexibility; she felt like her organization truly trusted her, and she didn’t disappoint them. But after a few months, she began to notice a sense of detachment – Belle was lonely.
81% of younger workers also expressed genuine concerns about loneliness over the prospect of working fully remotely. It was difficult to make connections, and sometimes, Belle even found herself talking to the clocks and the candles.
So, what can Belle’s employer do to support her?
When a company is fully remote, it is important that they plan regular in-person gatherings. These could be on a quarterly basis, and can be purpose-driven or simply for team building. Either way, having these events will help foster a sense of connection amongst employees, and can act as a better ice breaker than a Zoom call.
It is also important with remote work to try and recreate those ‘water-cooler’ moments as much as possible. With the only interaction being pre-set meetings with a pre-set agenda, it is difficult and awkward to find time to just simply chat, catch-up and leave room for natural ideas to form. Promote the idea of setting up meetings with no particular goal in mind to recreate that space for creative idea exchanges, as well as chances for people to get to know their colleagues that little bit better.
As well as this, employers should encourage their team to not be afraid to get creative with where they decide to work remotely from!
“No More Glass Slippers”
Lastly, we have Ella. With the inflation rates soaring to 11.1% and perpetuating the cost-of-living crisis, she finds herself struggling to stretch her paycheck far enough to pay bills, eat, and keep the heating on to stave off the winter. Not to mention the pets.
Ella hasn’t had much experience supporting herself financially, and so her spending habits have been sporadic at times. She even resorted to selling her favorite glass slippers on Poshmark for the extra cash.
How can Ella’s employer help her through these trying times?
In a time of economic uncertainty, many companies are also struggling to find the means of offering their staff more money. But there are a range of different things companies can do to help shave off costs for their employees here and there.
For example, employers could consider moving to more remote work to help people like Ella save money on commuting. If this isn’t possible, then offering a loan for a yearly travel pass that the employee pays back monthly can make travel a lot more affordable – and it also means that they are saving money with their energy bills by being out of their house.
Promoting the use of apps that help younger workers like Ella to track spending habits and expenses can also make a big difference – knowing how to use your money effectively is a skill that needs nurturing, and apps like Mint can be very effective at teaching this.
Right now, leaders are having to deal with new issues emerging from all corners of their company. And so, to ensure that employees like Aurora, Belle and Ella get their happily ever after’s, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us about any HR-related concerns you might be having, as we would love to share our magic.
Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020
Time and time again, the hours in the day can prove to be elusive. Many of us may find ourselves asking, where did the time go? when we look up from our desk and suddenly see that the sky has darkened.
What’s interesting about this is, a lot of employees are now much more aware of how and where they spend their time. After years of a pandemic and lockdown, the value of our time and its finiteness has become a reality for many, and the importance of finding a work-life balance has increased tenfold. A recent Glassdoor survey proves this, as it found that 87% of employees expect their employers to support them in balancing work and personal needs.
But the biggest obstacle in the way of achieving this balance is the fact that there seems to be a complete lack of language around how to approach the topic of time. It’s a tentative subject, and for some reason it feels almost wrong to ask for certain considerations to be made for one’s personal life.
But why is that? There’s an undeniable awkwardness that permeates the subject, potentially even a feeling of guilt around asking for a better balance.
What’s interesting, however, is the fact that while employees may struggle to find the best words to start the conversation, the emergence of quiet quitting is an example of staff skipping the conversation altogether and taking immediate action. It’s no surprise that quiet quitting is a trend that has been noted far more amongst younger workers; they have entered the world of work as it’s going through monumental structural changes, and so from their perspective, setting boundaries around their work and their personal life is a normal expectation. Whereas for the rest of us who have been working for over a decade, all we have really known is this ‘always-on’ mindset being a requirement of a dependable team player. And a dependable team player regularly and willingly sacrifices personal needs.
Employers could therefore greatly benefit from taking responsibility for kickstarting this conversation with their teams. Learning to talk about time and to have an appreciation for their staff’s commitment to their business will demonstrate how much they value them.
And from a business perspective, starting this discussion around boundaries will help to mitigate the risk of burnout and exhaustion. According to a YouGov survey, 73% of Britons aged between 18-49 said that their tiredness had a great impact on their work. This is coupled with research from the Society for Human Resources Management which found that almost half (48%) of American employees reported being mentally and physically exhausted at the end of their workday.
Creating the space where team members feel safe talking about their personal needs can be key to the prevention of this exhaustion. This ensures that team members are remaining fully engaged and energized both physically and mentally, as well as being a deposit into the “sense of belonging” employee bank account.
To discuss how you can begin to approach this conversation with your team, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020
Dissociation is a way the mind copes with stress – and it is a way more common problem than most employers think, with up with to 75% of people experiencing a dissociative episode at some point.
In fact, even if you have never heard of dissociation, you will almost certainly have seen its impact on colleagues, and maybe even experienced it yourself!
There are a number of ways dissociation can manifest itself, and all of them have a negative impact on an individual’s performance and productivity:
The stress and trauma caused by the pandemic triggered an increase in the levels of dissociation across the population creating a mental health legacy which is now being felt in the workplace. And the problem with this is that many misinterpret a dip in productivity as someone doing less – when they may actually need support.
So how can employers prevent dissociative episodes from impacting productivity?
The best place to start is awareness. By educating leaders and line-managers about dissociation and how to recognise it in themselves and their direct reports, you can begin to understand the issue and how it might be affecting your organization.
You can also share some simple methods for coping with dissociative episodes, for example, breathing exercises, stimulation toys, or music. There are many different grounding methods for bringing someone out of an episode and back into reality, but what works for each individual will be unique to them.
Having these conversations openly will help those who may not know how to cope with their dissociative symptoms, as well as contribute to eradicating the wider stigma around mental health. It will see productivity and engagement levels rise again, all the while strengthening the relationships between leaders and their teams.
If you would like to discuss training around dissociation and preventing it from affecting employee productivity, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.