The HR is focused on managing every aspect of an organization’s ‘human’ capital.
As the importance of this historically under-optimized resource has been realized, however, we have seen the role of HR grow exponentially, especially as the scope of diversity, equity, and inclusion continues to expand alongside the almost perpetual introduction of new and emerging technologies.
It’s no surprise, therefore, that a fifth (22%) of HR directors are feeling ‘very stressed’, and almost three in ten (28%) feel there are too many demands on their time. The survey by Barnett Waddingham went on to reveal that 17% were unable to keep up with the pace of change at work.
And this raises an age-old question for HR professionals: when we start to burn out, who is our HR?
The answer can differ depending on what type of HR professional you actually are.
For those in-house corporate HR leaders, there are likely going to be internal support networks at the company they work for which they will have access to. Just as they will assist in implementing strategies to help reduce burnout amongst employees, these same strategies can be used to help alleviate their own stresses. Additionally, those that are members of the CIPD have access to a 24/7 helpline for any support they need (and for those HR professionals over in the US, SHMR members are offered a similar service!).
What can also be extremely helpful for those working in corporate HR is the recalibration of their role expectations. The world of HR is always expanding, and so as new considerations begin to come under HR’s scope of operation, it is important for these professionals to re-evaluate their job role with their employer and determine whether the increased workload needs to be distributed differently.
However, managing burnout when you are an independent HR consultant can be slightly trickier.
HR consultancy continues to gain popularity as a way of working for HR professionals (76% of organizations currently outsource one or more major HR function) which is why I founded the Leap Into HR Consulting programmes back in 2019 …to help senior HR professionals make that transition from corporate to consulting life (much like I did!).
A key part of the support we offer is understanding what you can do to alleviate stress and ward off those feelings of burnout that can come creeping in.
For one thing, being a consultant can often be perceived to be isolating. You do not have a team of head office functions behind you – so everything falls to you.
Juggling these many roles can be overwhelming, and what I have found to be truly effective in mitigating this sense of isolation is joining a community of consultants (either online or in person).
Having a sense of kinship can do wonders for your mental health, and it is so important to upkeep this when working in a consulting position.
Which leads me nicely onto my next point – you need to be in tune with yourself.
Understanding your needs and what makes you feel happy, healthy, and stimulated are going to be imperative tools for when you do feel a sense of burnout incoming. Be honest with your capabilities and set appropriate boundaries around your work to ensure that a work-life balance is being maintained that prioritizes your health and mental wellbeing. And considering that independent consultants have the additional worry of client retention and their own financial wellbeing on top of the burgeoning responsibilities that now fall to HR, it is imperative to have a wellbeing strategy in place for yourself.
If you would like to discuss HR wellbeing in greater detail and what services myself and OrgShakers can offer you, please get in touch with us.
Sarah Hamilton-Gill FCIPD
Globus HR Consulting Ltd
Sarah-Hamilton Gill is the Founder and Managing Director of Globus HR Consulting Ltd. With over 29 years of experience in HR consulting, Sarah is widely regarded as an expert in the field of coaching HR professionals who are taking the leap into the HR Consulting world.
If you ever find yourself feeling anxious, sad, and/or stressed out as your Sunday comes to a close, you may be experiencing the Sunday scaries.
These feelings can be brought on for a number of reasons, whether that be stress from the week of work one has ahead of them, sadness about having to say goodbye to the fun, relaxing weekend, or angst from personal problems that have to be shelved as the working week begins again.
This phenomenon is more common than employer might think; one LinkedIn survey found that 75% of working Americans say they experience the Sunday scaries. This is an alarming amount of people who are starting off their work week on a bad note, and this can translate into productivity and engagement levels.
Setting the right tone for the week ahead can make all the difference with keeping a team engaged. After all, studies show that happy employees are noticeably more productive, and so employers should be considering what they can do to change that feeling of dread Monday brings into a feeling of excitement.
This is where the Monday Mantra comes in; employers should start considering creating their own unique mantra’s that they can use to bring the team together and ensure that the working week is starting off on a positive, stress-free note. This can take shape in a number of different and creative ways:
In some instances, employees who are frequently feeling the Sunday scaries may be a symptom of a deeper problem. This can either be an issue rooted in the company culture that is making them not want to come to work, or it could be a lack of motivation for the work they do. In both instances, we can help by conducting a cultural audit to identify where the issue may be and create strategies to tackle this. As well as coaching leaders to consider new ways of innovating the workday, such as creating ‘squiggle room’ with job crafting to breathe new life into a role.
If you would like to discuss this in more detail, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at email@example.com
After a month packed with festive traditions, colorful lights, and more food than many of us would care to admit, it is quite natural to find yourself in a bit of a slump as the new year kicks off.
This feeling is known more commonly as the ‘January Blues’ (or the ‘Winter Woes’ if you love a little bit of alliteration). This is a common phenomenon where individuals experience a sense of depression, lethargy, or just a general decline in mood during the first month of the year. If we think of December as a rush of adrenaline, January is that feeling when the adrenaline wears off and reality comes creeping back in.
Whilst this sense of ‘feeling down’ can usually fade after getting back into the groove of things, for some it can linger longer. For example, financial stresses that may have been exacerbated by the holiday period are not going to vanish when we tip over into February. Equally, those that suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) tend to struggle during these winter months.
So, when looking to re-engage employees in January and support their wellbeing during this post-festive slump, it is important for employers to view this month as a springboard for the momentum of their wellbeing strategy for the entire year, and not just fixate on wellbeing in January and then let this momentum wane as the year goes on.
And, let’s be honest, we can all be a bit guilty of this at this time of year! Some of us will have signed up for that new gym membership and started taking part in Veganuary only to discover that these resolutions quickly fizzle out. Suddenly the gym membership is just another card cluttering your wallet – and no amount of carrots and hummus can stop you daydreaming about cheese!
But in the same way persevering with the gym will improve your health, companies that maintain their wellbeing efforts throughout the whole year will find themselves with the strongest and most productive workforce, and will avoid falling into the trap of ‘wellbeing washing’.
Wellbeing washing is essentially when companies express their passion towards mental and physical health but don’t actually demonstrate this through their practices or actions. One study found that more than a third (35%) of businesses are perceived by their employees to be wellbeing washing.
The key to avoiding this slippery slope is consistency and clarity. Wellbeing is an issue that has moved up the corporate agenda in recent years – especially post-pandemic – and so it is important for employers to be consistent in their efforts to support the wellbeing needs of their workforce all year round.
And while having happy, healthy workers is already going to be good for brain health, innovative thinking, and boosting productivity, a study by Mind also discovered that 60% of workers think that if their employer made steps to support their wellbeing at work, it would increase their motivation and the likelihood of them recommending their company as a great place to work.
The best thing employers can do is be aware of those looming January blues and make it clear to their staff what support is on offer (either internally or externally) and how these services will help them with their specific needs. This keeps organizations true to their promises of bringing wellbeing to the forefront and creates a culture that promotes the mental and physical health of employees – all of which promotes a healthy business for the year to come.
If you would like to discuss how we can assist your business with its wellbeing strategies, please get in touch with us.
The taboos around health and wellbeing in the workplace are slowly beginning to shed their stigma; menopause policies are being discussed, mental health is being prioritized, and employers continue to look for innovate ways of boosting productivity through creating happier employees.
However, there are still some topics that are failing to be considered by a majority of employers – and one of these is a miscarriage leave policy.
Around 10-20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriages, and this loss can have detrimental effects on the parents’ physical (if birthing) and mental health. Currently, in the US, there is no federal law that entitles parents to paid leave following the miscarriage of their unborn child; there is also no federal law which entitles parents, or workers in general, to paid bereavement leave. The only entitlement to leave that the mother or birthing person may have is Family and Medical Leave – which is only granted if there were medical complications during the miscarriage. This leave is also unpaid, the employee has to have been with their company for a year, and it does not extend to smaller employers (those with under 50 employees).
In the UK, if a child is stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy the birth mother is entitled to up to 52 weeks of statutory maternity leave or pay, and the birth father, partner of the birth mother, or adopter can have up to 2 weeks. If a miscarriage occurs in the first 24 weeks, there is no legal entitlement to statutory maternity, paternity, or parental bereavement leave.
Despite this, some companies are beginning to create specific policies surrounding miscarriage leave. In the US, mom-founded baby formula company Bobbie offer 3 weeks of paid leave to those who experience the loss of a child. Similarly in the UK, tech retailer Curry’s have introduced a 2-week paid leave policy for employees affected by pregnancy loss. Both employers extend this to both parents, and to same sex couples who have experienced a miscarriage through surrogacy.
These policies are something that employers on a global scale should be considering. Not only does it highlight your philosophy as an organization, but it demonstrates how much you value the physical and mental wellbeing of your employees. This alone is a great way of making your business a very attractive one to work for – especially in an age where many employees will choose where they work based on if their values are reflected there.
When it comes to formulating this policy, this is where OrgShakers can really help. A miscarriage policy may seem cut and paste, but there are many factors that need to be considered when constructing your own policy. For example, is someone entitled to more leave or less leave depending on how far into the pregnancy they were? Does the policy apply equally to mother and father? Does it account for same sex couples where neither is birthing? Will it be a subcategory of your existing bereavement or parental policy?
There is a lot to consider, but it is important to note that every miscarriage situation will be different and effect the people involved differently. Having a policy that offers a guideline around this can be extremely helpful, but it also needs to incorporate an element of flexibility based on individual circumstances to ensure that employees are getting the support they need.
If you would like to discuss how we can help design a miscarriage leave policy for your organization, please get in touch with me at Brittany@orgshakers.com
To understand the next step in the evolution of the workplace, we have to start in a place with apparently little or no connection to modern working practices – the middle of the last Ice Age.
Cro-Magnons – the first modern humans – arrived in Europe around 35,000 years ago. Nomadic hunter-gatherers who lived in groups consisting of several families, they were sophisticated toolmakers using spears and flint knives. And, most importantly for our story of workplace evolution, they had sewing needles which they used to fashion clothes from animal skins which kept the ravages of the freezing Ice Age weather at bay.
So, imagine that one dark winter’s night one of our Cro-Magnons hit upon an idea to while away the hours sat round the campfire. They would produce a tapestry on an animal skin – about a yard in width – depicting that year’s key events.
From that point, of course, the yard-a-year tapestry would quickly become an annual tradition with the result that today our 35,000-year-old tapestry would be a few yards short of twenty miles long. So, what would this twenty-mile tapestry show us?
Well, by the time humans even came close to creating the concept of formal work, the tapestry would already be about twelve miles long (which equates to 60% of the history of modern humans). In other words, for the majority of modern human history ‘work’ was simply hunting and gathering – ah, the simple days.
However, after this point, we would begin to see a subtle change in the story on the tapestry. Although hunting and gathering remains the primary means of food production, we begin to see the first indications of animal domestication. This process builds and builds and triggers the Neolithic evolution – which sees the mass shift to agricultural practices and the liberation of the old ways of existence through the creation of trading. Trade, arguably, was the single biggest idea in the history of humankind, as it suddenly allowed for horizons to expand like never before, and people could begin to specialize and innovate in all the ways we now see today.
So, for most of this twenty-mile tapestry, the evolution of the workplace was a very gradual shift over many generations. However, at around the nineteen and three-quatre mile point things began to change and accelerate at a much more rapid pace – the Industrial revolution.
Kickstarted by Jethro Tull’s mechanized seed drill, humans began to invent technology that would enable them to venture away from agriculture and to other new emerging forms of employment. With the need for manual labor in agriculture having been dramatically reduced, workers were given the liberty to pursue a career in something beyond production.
This revolution took the working world by storm – at the dawn of the eighteenth century 76% of the population of England worked in agriculture, but by the mid-twentieth century it was down to just 4%.
And as we began to work in varying jobs, and the labor market expanded and contracted as new innovations and technologies were introduced, that takes us all the way up to today – where technology now plays such a vital role in the mass majority of jobs.
But one thing that we have noticed with the adoption and implementation of mechanization (from conveyor belts to sewing machines to computers) is also this idea that workers are ‘cogs in the mechanism’, and that an ‘optimized’ worker is one who acts like a machine – productive, consistent, and quick. But what happened in those years of technological advancements was that many employers were trying to make people work like machines (sometimes literally, as Ford’s production line proves), when in reality they should’ve been tapping into the key traits that are fundamentally human.
Yet if you look at what is happening now – with the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) on a mass scale into the workplace – what we are actually seeing is that we’ve come full circle. We are now trying to make the technology human, and I think that AI is going to be the harbinger for this next step of the evolution of the workplace – the step towards the optimization of our humanity.
The overarching purpose of technological advancements in the workplace has always been to free-up time from repetitive, monotonous tasks so that employees can spend more time doing work that creates greater value for both them and their employer. In essence, the entire reason why we have continued to advance is so that we can get to a point where we have the luxury of time to focus on human capital and unlocking its full capabilities.
And we’re already starting to gradually see this shift on our tapestry; the pandemic had a massive impact on the working world, and sparked a re-evaluation of how we work and why we work. We saw a mindset shift amongst the workforce – a carpe diem effect. Suddenly we were all faced with our own mortality, and this made many realise that if they were going to spend a majority of their life working, they wanted to be doing something they cared about, something that gave them a good work life balance, something that supported them, and something fun.
For employers, this means focusing on workplace strategies that will enable better work-life balance (which improves engagement and reduces burnout), opportunities for job crafting (which creates opportunities for innovation), and support for physical and mental health. These areas are going to become key focal points as the workplace continues to evolve to become people-centric, so for those employers who are already beginning to optimize these, they are going to be ahead of the curve and become some of the most attractive organizations to work for in the market.
Steps are already starting to be taken, but they are baby steps. If you look at our recent poll which sought to discover the most effective way of supporting mental health in the workplace, over half of respondents (55%) cited flexible working, while 23% said mental health days, and 16% chose Employee Assistance Programs.
However, while these are great things, they can almost seem tokenistic. Having an allowance of leave for mental health is good, but is this really support? Same as with flexible working; employees can optimize their time better, but now that they are not physically around their team leaders, it’s harder for managers to be more attentive to someone they only see conditionally through a screen.
So, just as we had maintenance teams that would be on-call to fix any machines that malfunctioned, why should employers not consider the same concept for their people? Having an in-house psychotherapist whose sole responsibility is to support employees and feedback to managers with the appropriate reasonable adjustments will help employers create a real roadmap for support and optimization in the face of mental illness. We are already seeing schools begin to hire full-time counsellors and therapists for this very reason, so why should employers not consider doing the same?
As we continue to weave this tapestry of human history year by year, we can see that the last half mile has seen the most accelerated change. Now, as we begin to adapt the ideology of working smart in a technological and AI-advanced world, employers need to be preparing for the next step in the evolution of the workplace by placing their focus on their people power. That is the key to becoming an organization of tomorrow.
If you would like to discuss all things people strategy, our dedicated team of specialized HR professionals can assist you in all aspects – get in touch with us here.
The Healthier Nation Index report has recently been published, revealing some startling statistics about sleeping patterns.
People are now getting less than 6 hours a night of sleep – which is a sizeable difference to the 7-9 hours of sleep recommended by the UK’s National Health Service. This drop seems to be due to the fact that 45% of respondents reported they had got less sleep over the past 12-months than in previous years – and nearly half (49%) said that their sleep quality had also worsened.
These same respondents reported that their lack of sleep was having knock-on effects of feeling depressed, an increased likelihood of becoming unwell, struggling to eat healthily, failing to exercise, and low productivity levels.
The latter is because sleep loss can make it challenging to maintain focus, attention and vigilance. This happens due to the increase of ‘microsleeps’ (brief episodes of non-responsiveness that cause lapses in attention) someone will have during their day to compensate for sleep deprivation.
For employers, these findings are particularly worrying. Having sleep-deprived employees can lead to a decrease in productivity and engagement, an increase in absences – or both.
In the spirit of Sleeptember, here’s some advice on how employers can play their part in enhancing sleep quality amongst their workforce:
There are also some more experimental strategies that employers can consider; one which is increasingly gaining popularity is the idea of encouraging naps during the workday (which you can read about in more depth here). But the key takeaway from this is that, as a company is only as strong as its people, good sleep plays a vital role in the overall performance of the business.
If you would like to discuss how we can help train and support leadership around the implementation of sleep strategies, please get in touch with us!
It is probably well known by now that happy employees are more productive – in fact, according to research from Oxford University, those employees that are happier are around 13% more productive.
But ‘happiness’ is one of those elusive terms, in the sense that it can relate to a lot of different factors. For employers to figure out how they can contribute to creating happier, and in turn more productive, teams they need to consider what the ingredients for a happy employee might be.
So, what could employers be throwing into the mix to produce a happy employee?
There is no one size fits all approach to making every employee happy, but there are a range of different ingredients that should be consistently leveraged to ensure the best results. Once an employer is able to perfect this recipe for happiness and contentment in their workplace, they will see sharp increases in productivity, loyalty, trust, and retention.
If you would like to discuss how OrgShakers can help you embed these ‘happiness strategies’ into your workplace, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Many of us that work remotely or in a hybrid setting are accustomed to working in the same environment as our pets. In fact, more than 23 million American households adopted a pet during the pandemic, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
With in-office work having returned, some are now anxious about leaving their pets at home. This has seen many companies develop pet-friendly policies for their office spaces, including big names such as Amazon, Google, Airbnb, and Salesforce.
So, if your organization is currently a pet-free zone, should you consider welcoming our furry- (and possibly even our feathered- and scaly-) friends into the workplace?
On the plus side, a study by LiveCareer found that 94% of people were supportive of having pets in the workplace – and 52% of respondents cited pet-friendly benefits and policies as important when considering an employer.
In addition, studies have found that when people are engaged in petting either dogs or cats their stress levels are reduced. It has also been discovered that when people interacted with dogs, their ability to think, plan, and concentrate was enhanced. And what was even more interesting to note was that this effect lasted up to six-weeks after contact!
Pets also offer a sense of emotional support for employees; in research conducted by the University of York and the University of Lincoln, it was discovered that pets help reduce stress because they tend to be tuned into humans and so can successfully supply emotional support. There is also the added element of increased connectivity amongst staff, as having pets at the office means people are more likely to get to know each other with their pets acting as an icebreaker.
However, employers must take into account certain factors before introducing pet-friendly polices into their workplaces. For example, there may be one or multiple members of the team who have allergies to certain animals, and some may find certain animals frightening.
So, whilst it is clear that for the most part a pet-friendly workplace improves productivity and mental wellbeing, any shared spaces must still meet the needs of every employee.
If you would like to discuss how we can help you design pet-friendly policies in your workplace, please get in touch with us on our contact page!
For those who might not be familiar, something wonderful happened on Twitter this year (a sentence not heard all that often). After an ordeal where an HBO Max intern accidently sent out a test email to thousands of the streaming service’s subscribers, the company took to Twitter to explain the mistake and highlighted how they were supporting their intern through the mishap.
This subsequently sparked the #DearIntern trend to circulate, which saw thousands of users taking to the social media app and sharing their accounts of silly mistakes they had made in their careers. This show of unification brought a certain warmth to the world of Twitter, and highlights an important fact for HR: mistakes are always going to be made, especially when you’re just starting out, but it’s how we respond to them that truly matters.
In light of this, I asked my fellow OrgShakers some reflective advice that they would give their younger selves as they just started out in their careers, and here are their responses:
David Fairhurst: I’ve learned that done is better than perfect – find the balance of knowing when some things are just good enough and move on.
Anya Clitheroe: Don’t be afraid to ask questions! When you first start work, and someone sets you a task, it’s okay not to know how to do it. Ask, “What does good look like? Where will I find the information I need to do this? Who is the best person for me to turn to when I have a question or need support?”. We grow up thinking that we need to prove that we are the best and we are not used to allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. No one knows how to ride a bicycle without being shown, why would a work task be any different?
Ken Merritt: I would tell 21-year-old Ken: “Build your network and value that network as much as you value any other professional asset.”
Brittany Burton: Attend as many University career fairs and networking events as you can. At 21, I had no idea a career like Human Resources existed. I had a very black-and-white view of my career path and when I tried it and didn’t like it, I was lost at what other career paths were in the world. Luckily, I landed in this profession which aligns perfectly with my skillset and how I want to serve, but it wasn’t without a lot of time, energy, and effort exploring what was beyond my original career path when I decided it wasn’t a fit.
Victoria Sprenger: I received this advice in my early 20s from a mentor – Grow Where You’re Planted. Use your early career opportunities to learn and grow, even if the opportunity is not exactly what you set out to do.
Marty Belle: After graduating from university, the words of my Mom and Grandmother were reverberating in my ears, “Get a job, work hard, and you will make something out of yourself”. Those words shaped the path that I pursued, which involved joining one corporate organization after another and constantly trying to adapt my style to open the doors to success that I saw in front of me. Today, I would stress to my 21-year-old self, “be comfortable with who you have been created to be and pursue the dreams that may require you to make a new door.”
Stephanie Rodriguez: Hmm…some advice I’d give my former self would be to not hold on too tight to whatever plan you think you have career wise and enjoy the journey. Yes, having a plan and goals is great, but keeping an open mind and staying flexible can lead to some amazing opportunities you’d never have imagined. The journey might not play out the way you thought it would, and that’s perfectly okay!
Sayid Hussein: I would emphasize the importance of continuous learning and staying adaptable in the ever-evolving world of technology. Embrace challenges and take calculated risks to grow both personally and professionally. Don’t shy away from seeking mentors or collaborating with others to expand your knowledge and skills. Also, remember to strike a healthy work-life balance to prevent burnout and maintain overall well-being. Finally, trust your instincts, stay true to your values, and always be open to new opportunities that align with your passion and goals.
Lauren Kincaid: “Show up to improve yourself, not prove yourself” – as someone who was very often the youngest person in the room, I felt the need to prove I deserved to be there. I wish I had had the confidence to spend less time fearing failure and overpreparing and more time saying, “I don’t know” and asking others, “what do you think?”.
Michael Lawson: “Forget the mistake, remember the lesson it taught you” – When I was first starting out at my first company, I oversaw all of the HR Employee Files on the network. One day, I accidentally hit the “delete” key on my keyboard which deleted a whole folder’s worth of data (several files). I went into panic mode trying to get them back before going to my boss. Little did I know that I could call I.T. and with one click of a button, it could be restored. My boss looked at me and said, “everyone makes mistakes, and most can be corrected, the lesson here is being precise within your work to get things done correctly.” To this day, I can still hear those words.
Amanda Holland: As the only shy introvert in a family of extroverts, from a young age I struggled to meet the social expectations of my parents and siblings. This carried over to my first “real” job at the age of 14. It was so much easier to focus on technical excellence and book learning than to face the uncomfortable world of people. One time, I came home after a full day of school and work, irritated and unhappy because even though I’d done all my tasks correctly at work, my boss had told me I needed to lighten up. My mom listened to my frustration and then shared this pearl of wisdom, “It doesn’t matter how smart or talented you are at a job if you can’t get along with people.” From that moment on, I have spent as much energy on learning how to communicate and interact effectively with people as I have on mastering the tools of my trade. Connecting with others can be a reward beyond measure.
Andy Parsley: “Don’t trust your memory!” At the start of every new job you will be at the receiving end of a tsunami of information, meetings, tasks, and deadlines. Equip yourself with a good, old-fashioned notebook and take notes in every meeting (including when it took place and who was there). Use the back of the same notebook to create a to-do list (what you need to do, and when it needs to be done by). There’s nothing worse than waking up in the middle of the night worrying that you’ve forgotten to do something – or failing to remember what was agreed at last week’s important meeting. By committing everything to paper, you’ll know just where to find everything you need to remember when you need to.
It might surprise you to discover that according to estimates, half of all premature male deaths are considered preventable. This is largely influenced by the fact that men are up to 50% less likely to seek medical attention in comparison to women, and this normalization of neglect is reflected in a higher mortality rate.
And what’s even more alarming to learn is that the leading cause of death in men under 50 is suicide. All of these statistics highlight how men’s physical and mental health is still deeply rooted in outdated ideas of toxic masculinity – that you need to ‘man up’ and not cry as this is connotated as ‘weak’ and ‘feminine’.
But it goes further than this – while there is disparity between men and women when it comes to being neglectful, there are also disparities to be found amongst different groups of men and their health. Research has found that men who belong to racial and ethnic minority populations have the poorest health due to being exposed to a broad range of social and environmental factors that adversely affect their physical and mental health. So while for white men there is a culture of neglect around health, for those men of color, there is the added disproportion of accessibility to healthcare in general that leads to an increased likelihood of health issues.
So, what role can employers play in helping to tackle these taboos?
The fact is, the health of employees should always be a concern for employers, as a healthier and happier workforce are a more productive and engaged one. It is equally important to challenge taboos around health issues that affect men and women in order to be able to properly support and optimize your employees to the best of their abilities. To discuss how OrgShakers can help you do this, please get in touch with me at email@example.com
When I left the corporate world and started my own HR Consultancy, I had to adjust from being part of a team to working on my own. While I was excited to be taking this courageous step, I would find myself running out of steam as the afternoon progressed. I’d usually find myself ringing my husband at about 3:30pm to see what time he’d be home. I missed human interaction.
Now, several years later, I have strategies for preventing myself from becoming lonely. Ideally, I try to schedule my projects so that every few weeks I’m delivering a workshop in-person as that is what will really boost my energy!
As we head into Loneliness Awareness Week, I found myself reflecting on my experience as the pandemic and consequent remote or hybrid work models have brought the challenge of isolation to so many more people. I chose to work by myself; a lot of the people now feeling lonely did not choose this workplace environment.
And it’s not just a problem specific to remote working, in-person employees can also experience loneliness.
It’s easy to say that companies should focus on encouraging camaraderie in the workforce, but let’s not forget that everyone is different, so it’s hard to provide a simple solution. Even so, it’s worth organizations continuing to focus on this, as a recent survey by SHRM showed that 85% of workers say that having a close friend at work has positively impacted their career, and 76% say that this makes them more likely to remain at their employer.
A good first step is to ask people what they would like. Many leaders have realized by now that simply asking people how they are isn’t going to necessarily generate the insight that they are after. Instead ask something more specific, such as:
In addition to encouraging elements that focus on team building and social connection, there are also plenty of ways of building relationships through work tasks. These questions will also produce thoughts on those aspects.
I encourage leaders to explore approaches such as ensuring everyone has the chance to be a part of a cross-functional project, regularly celebrating successes (no matter how small) and encouraging mentoring and/or buddy relationships. If you have a multi-generational workforce, this last one can be particularly wonderful at supporting an inclusive workplace culture; multiple research results have shown that the combination of experience and new thinking leads to great outcomes and a less stressful workplace environment.
Above all, one thing I will always advocate for is leading by example. If you are a leader, make sure that you take the time to stop and engage in genuine, social conversations!
To discuss how we can help support you with this topic further, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
At the beginning of February, I was fortunate enough to become the mother to a beautiful baby girl. Now, as my maternity leave has come to an end, I am also fortunate enough to be transitioning back into my work very smoothly.
A lot of employers may believe that supporting mothers returning to work starts the first day they get back, but this is a common misconception. Before returning, it is a great idea to be touching base with your employee – see how they’re feeling about coming back to work, how they’re feeling in general, and get a feel for how deep they want to dive back in upon their return. This mental health check-in can be so helpful for an employer to gain a real insight into what is going to be the best and smoothest way to support a mother as she transitions back into work mode.
This doesn’t mean, however, that employers should be consistently in contact. While a check-in should be essential, it is just as important to respect that time that the mother is away with their baby. Maternity leave can sometimes be misconstrued as vacation, but it isn’t by any means.
In terms of the actual period of return, the most important thing an employer can do is keep a open line of communication. Every mother is going to have a unique experience, and so the ability to offer flexibility is going to be so vital. Some mothers are going to need time to express if they are breastfeeding, and so it is important that for in-office work, there is a dedicated and private space for this to happen.
As well as this, it is fairly common for a mother’s mental health to be affected after giving birth. Around one in seven women can develop postpartum depression, and what is less talked about but is just as prevalent is that 10-15% of new mothers suffer from postpartum anxiety (which involves worrying all day, everyday that something is wrong or could be wrong with your baby, and this can lead to suffocating feelings of anxiety, panic attacks and the exhibition of agoraphobic tendencies). If an employer recognises signs of a new mother struggling with these conditions, or it has been communicated to them, it is important to have the right support in place – which could be an in-house employee assistance program – or to direct them to the right place for external support such as Mind and/or Postpartum Support International.
I think as a final point, employers must be vigilant to the biases and preconceived notions that come with a female worker becoming a mother. There is a shift that takes place, and it can sometimes feel like your identity and your place in a company enters a state of flux after returning from maternity leave. Opportunities can feel scarcer and harder to reach because of biases like, ‘oh, she won’t have time for that with the baby’ or ‘she’s got enough on her plate with the baby’. This is probably why 41% of working parents believed that being a parent was holding them back from a promotion at work. So, in this sense, it is important to look at the culture of an organization and ensure that these mindsets are not instilled or prevalent, and instead coach the perception that it is possible to exist as both a mother and a worker – the two are interlaced, they are not parallel.
Knowing how to properly support working parents means employers will know how to effectively optimize their performance and productivity right from the outset. The transition back to work is going to set a tone for the coming months, and so striving to make this smooth and easy for the mother (or parent) returning will pay off for both employer and employee. To discuss how to implement these strategies into your workplace, please get in touch with me at email@example.com