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.

-David Fairhurst

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?

  1. Accommodate flexible working hours – This is probably the most important thing an employer can do during Ramadan. Long periods of time without any sustenance can result in low-energy levels, and so allowing these employees to start and finish work earlier or later than usual can help ensure they can successfully distribute their energy and remain productive (for example, the United Arab Emirates recently announced a reduction of two working hours per day for all employees in the private sector during the holy month). Even offering more remote working hours (if applicable) can be beneficial, as it is easier to be comfortable and retains energy that would be used travelling to and from the office.
  2. Show support and understanding – making adaptions to the workplace and workday are a great signifier of inclusivity, but many Muslim employees would also greatly appreciate team members who recognize the significance of Ramadan to them. Showing support in little ways goes a long way, and will make those employees feel included on a cultural level too.
  3. Be mindful of scheduling – It wouldn’t be surprising to hear that, during this period, employees who have been fasting all day become very tired and hungry as the day goes on. In order to be mindful of this, managers and colleagues can aim to schedule any meetings and events in the earlier hours of the workday, and avoid afternoon/evening exchanges where Muslim employees will likely have less energy.
  4. Provide a private space for prayer – Prayer is a fundamental part of Ramadan, and those observing are required to pray five times a day. Therefore, it is important for organizations to provide a private space for their Muslim employees to pray, such as a conference room or any other quiet area that is not being used.

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 sayid@orgshakers.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:

  • For Sound Sensitivity: provide quiet spaces or white noise areas, give advance notice of auditory disruptions such as loud noises or consistent sound (tapping, hammering) whenever possible, and allow noise-cancelling headphones to be worn in the workplace.
  • For Motion Sensitivity: conduct standing or walking meetings, allow fidget toys or other movement tools, provide stretch/yoga spaces for brief movement breaks, and invite alternative seating options (exercise balls, floor cushions, etc.).
  • For Touch Sensitivity: allow physical space differences (patting on back, no touching, handshakes or fist pumps only, 3-6 feet between people, etc.) and alternative surfaces and equipment (smooth or textured work surface, fabric/wood/metal/plastic seating, feel of writing utensil, etc.).

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:

  1. Noise Cancelling Headphones
  2. Written, concise instructions
  3. Uninterrupted work time
  4. Interviewer experienced with neurodiversity
  5. Flexible schedule
  6. Email/Calendar organization
  7. Extra time
  8. Job coaching or mentoring
  9. Allowance of fidgeting devices
  10. Closed captioning and recorded meetings

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 amanda@orgshakers.com

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:

“Burnout Beauty”

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 marty@orgshakers.com

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:

  • Depersonalisation – the feeling of being outside yourself, watching actions, thoughts, and feelings from a distance.
  • Derealisation – the people and things around you may seem "lifeless" or "foggy".
  • Amnesia – not being able to remember information, past events, or even a learned talent or skill.

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.

Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020

Managers who know when to have a laugh and not take themselves too seriously tend to be some of the best. Their joie de vivre makes for a happy workplace and fosters healthy relationships with their team.

We will all have experienced occasions, however, when a manager has inappropriately bookended a far from light-hearted message with quiet chuckles. This is what is known as laughter padding – and it can be far from funny!

Laughter padding is a very common reflex that its perpetrators use without even realising they are doing it.

Much of the time, this innate need to smile or laugh can emerge in managers or executives who have to discuss something uncomfortable, deliver unfavourable news, or ask something of someone they suspect that individual will not want to do. And the problem with this tic is that it may undermine their authority.

Now, it is not uncommon for managers to feel a bit out of their depth. A recent study found that managers significantly lacked confidence in their ability to talk about potentially sensitive issues such as work flexibility and employee wellbeing. These are the situations when the laughter padding reflex can kick in.

In their subconscious they are trying to ‘soften the blow’ of their words by padding them with laughter – but to the person receiving the message this can easily be perceived as the manager failing to take the issue seriously; ‘This is no laughing matter!’

This can lead to a range of communication issues with a senior member of staff and their team. The urgency of a request, or the clarity of feedback, will be at risk of falling flat, and these problems that could have been avoided are now being given the opportunity to snowball.

So, what can a manager do to prevent this?

A lot of the time, a person doing this habitually will probably be nervous to some degree. The fear of having to speak publicly, known as glossophobia, is a very common one, with up to 75% of the population being affected by it. In this situation, a management coach would be able to help them improve their confidence by guiding them in understanding why this laughter padding response is being triggered.

Interestingly, the reflex is believed to stem from humans’ instinctive need to gasp for air to oxygenate the muscles. We take deep breaths to prepare for an emergency or in the face of danger, and in these scenarios the ‘danger’ would be the possible repercussions of telling someone off or speaking in a difficult circumstance.

To combat this, a coach might suggest that if the manager knows they are going to have to have a conversation that they suspect may not be well-received, they rehearse what they are going to say. Practicing it a couple of times will make it easier to approach the discussion.

As well as this, a coach will help them to distinguish when it is and isn’t appropriate to laughter pad. The reality is, laughter padding in the right context is a great tool to increase managerial approachability. But the key to this is chuckling when it is more genuine, and fits well with the tone of the conversation. This way, when they are having to have a more difficult discussion and are not padding it, the person listening will realise that this is a more serious situation.

It's all about finding that balance, so if you think you or your managers might be laughter padders, you can reach out to our team of coaches for help in turning laughter into a leadership asset – not a derailer.  

Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020

At the beginning of January, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposed a new law that would ban the use of non-compete clauses, as well as rescind any previously signed agreements. 

This may seem like a drastic change – especially with nearly a third (31.8%) of employers making all their employees sign a non-compete – but the banning of these clauses will very likely have a positive effect overall.

For one thing, non-compete agreements are notoriously US-centric. If you look at companies in Europe – as well as states such as California, who have not enforced these since 1872 – it is clear that the absence of these binding agreements has not hindered profitability. 

And this is because there are many ways that are more effective than non-compete agreements to protect yourself as a business. The reality of a non-compete is that they are like threatening someone with a blunt hammer; they’re very difficult and very costly to argue in court, so usually won’t have much effect. But they hold weighty connotations that are enough to deter people from attempting to break them. 

Instead, employers can hold employees to their duty of loyalty, which means that while they are working with them, they will not do anything that is inconsistent with the organization’s interests. 

As well as this, the FTC’s new rules still allow for the recovery of reasonable costs of training, as well as the implementation of a non-solicitation clause so that a reasonable degree of confidentiality is still intact after an employee terminates their contract. So from a legal standpoint, you are still covered in the areas that you need to be, while also making room for an acceleration of innovation to take place in the market. 

It will also set into motion the recalibration of retention strategies. For lack of a better word, a non-compete agreement is a lazy tool, and so with its revoking, this paves the way for businesses to focus on using more positive, people-centric strategies to promote retention. These will emphasize how a company values its team members, and with leaders demonstrating the trust they have in their staff, they will foster a healthy sense of loyalty without the need for it in writing. 

What employers need to take from this proposition is that job mobility does not mean the free flow of confidential information. It simply means that the labor market becomes more flexible and competitive, and is an opportunity for businesses to gain access to top talent. But the companies that are examining their attraction and retention strategies and taking into account the changing needs of the workforce will be the ones who get ahead in this raging war for talent. 

OrgShakers can help with this. With a vast amount of experience and knowledge on these subjects, we can ensure that the rescinding of non-competes is smooth and successful, all the while aiding in strengthening your retention strategies and boosting employee loyalty. If you would like to discuss how we can do this, get in touch with me at: elizabeth.huldin@orgshakers.com

Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020

Let me ask you something – if you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, how many times have you had to ‘come out of the closet’?

The answer will always – always – be more than once. But why is that?

It might be a common misconception that once a person ‘comes out’ it’s a one-and-done and everyone is just suddenly in the know. The reality is that now, everywhere you go, every new job, you have to do a loop-the-loop back through those revolving doors and come out all over again.

But the problem with this is that research published by Vodafone and Out Now found that 41% of young people who were open about their sexuality before starting their first job went ‘back in the closet’ and stayed there.

And there are many reasons why this could have happened – one study found that US employers were more likely to view resumes from visibly gay or lesbian applicants unfavourably. Another survey reported that 53% of LGBTQ+ workers would hear jokes about lesbian or gay people, and Stonewall discovered that almost a third of non-binary people (31%) and one in five trans people didn’t feel able to wear work attire representing their gender expression.

The thread that binds all these findings together is a company’s culture. The truth is, when you identify as queer, you can immediately sense whether the environment you are in makes you feel safe to express who you are. The culture of an organization is an indication of overall attitudes, and so it is so important for businesses to ensure that they are creating a safe space where all feel comfortable.

So where to start?

Go right to the root – when you think about the metaphorical ‘closet’, it is spoken about as if people are born inside of it. The reality is, you are put inside, and then forced to come out of it over and over again for the benefit of everyone else. Understanding the homophobic, biphobic and transphobic microaggressions that are embedded even in such commonplace phrases is a great first step to knowing how to identify and eradicate them in your workplace.

It them comes down to management and leadership to set the precedent. Providing regular LGBTQ+ inclusion training, updating your policies and procedures, all the way down to using inclusive language (if straight co-workers also began referring to their husbands/wives as ‘partners’, this small but monumental change can make those in queer relationships feel comfortable sharing details of their own personal lives).

It is no secret that having a diverse workforce brings a wave of new business opportunities, and so if you would like guidance in seizing these opportunities and making your workplace the best it can be, get in touch with us here.

Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020

Zoom Fatigue refers to feelings of tiredness, worry or burnout due to the overuse of video calling platforms.

To help those who fall victim to this, we first need to understand what’s driving it.

It has become a norm for employers to ask their team to have their cameras turned on during a meeting.

Whether this is to mimic the feel of an office, to monitor whether people are actually paying attention, or to simply demonstrate an air of professionalism, the fact is that this is quite a common request being made in the remote and hybrid working world.

If we think about the practicalities of being on Zoom, it is essentially like being in a meeting with a mirror propped up in front of your face. Now, you have to speak to a whole room of people while also having to watch yourself!

This can be particularly difficult for those of us who suffer from public self-consciousness, which is the tendency to fixate on how others are perceiving you.

Research published by Social Cognition builds on this idea, as it found that when people see their own faces on screen, they spend more time looking at themselves and thinking about how they appear than they do focusing on the conversation being had.

Interestingly, numerous studies have suggested that women are more likely to self-focus and feel anxiety when they are in the presence of a mirror. It wasn’t surprising, therefore, to see that a recent study from Stanford found that 1 in 7 women feel very fatigued after Zoom calls compared to 1 in 20 men. And the reason for women being disproportionately affected was because of the increase in ‘self-focused attention’, which is the heightened awareness of how one comes across or appears in a conversation.

The research also found that introverts suffered from Zoom Fatigue much more, as well as younger individuals and people of color. Looking at it from this perspective, enforcing the ‘cameras on’ rule in the workplace may be doing more harm than good, and could also be deemed as a problem of inclusion, considering different types of people are affected differently.

Looking at our own research, which found that over a quarter of respondents (28%) preferred to have their camera’s off during meetings, it may be time for companies to begin taking this into consideration if they haven’t already done so.

So, what are the ways an employer can combat Zoom Fatigue?

Firstly, making people aware of the ‘hide self-view’ option available on Zoom could be a simple and extremely helpful solution. This means that the person’s camera will still be on and they will be seen by everyone apart from themselves, and this can help with growing feelings of self-scrutiny. However, this may not work for all, as the idea of knowing people can still see you but you now cannot see yourself can induce anxiety in and of itself.

The second thing it comes down to is trust. If an employer trusts their staff, then they will be flexible towards having cameras on and off during a meeting, as they should trust that even if they cannot see someone it doesn’t mean they are not paying attention.

And finally, companies could also look at ways of trying to reduce video calls. Make use of simple voice calls and the chat box feature when you can, and move away from this virtual presenteeism mindset.

If you would like to discuss how to approach this topic in greater detail, you get in touch with us here.

Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020

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