When we hear the word ‘bullying’, we tend to associate this with our school days. However, the sad truth is that more than one in ten people are bullied in their workplace.
Bullying behavior can be extremely damaging, whether this be through mental damage done to the employee suffering, or the knock-on effects this behavior has on the wider business (a toxic culture, lack of cohesion, drop in engagement levels).
However, how leader and HR professionals respond to bullying is so important in managing these ripple effects. Therefore, knowing the signs of this behavior is vital to mitigating the effects that it will have.
But firstly, what is bullying at work? The Workplace Bullying Institute defines bullying as “repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators that takes one or more of the following forms: verbal abuse, offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating; or work interference – sabotage – which prevents work from getting done.”
There are two things to note from this; the first is knowing the difference between someone who is generally not nice and someone who is a bully. Bullying is targeted (so towards the same person, or same group of people i.e. women, a certain ethnic group) and repeated, whereas if a manager is found to be mean to anyone and everyone and it isn’t targeted, then this is simply seen as a manager having an attitude problem. The second thing to note is that bullying can look different depending on the context it is happening in, which is why it’s important for leaders to know all the signs and different forms that bullying can take in order to intervene quickly and efficiently.
So, what are the signs?
Overt signs of bullying will look like a person being aggressive through yelling, shouting, or hitting objects. It can be punishing a specific employee undeservingly, belittling or embarrassing someone, or even threatening them with unwarranted punishment and/or termination. Additionally, actively blocking someone’s learning and development opportunities and campaigning against them to remove them from the organization all constitute as openly bullying an employee.
There are also more subtle, covert signs of bullying that leaders have to be aware of too. This can take the shape of shaming/guilting someone, pitting employees against each other, isolating/excluding someone on purpose, ignoring them, and deceiving them to get one’s way.
There is a tendency for bullying to come from managers and higher-ups to their direct reports. I have previously worked with a leader who was consistently angry and frequently yelled, and would lie to HR about the performance of a member of staff to get action taken to remove them from the company. HR, upon investigating, discovered that the leader was purposefully gatekeeping information from the employee that they needed to perform their job, which was yielding these subpar results, as well as scheduling meetings surreptitiously so that the individual would miss out on key exchanges.
In a case like this, or any instance of workplace bullying, HR must handle it as if handling any other employee relations issue – by conducting a thorough internal investigation and taking direct action upon the conclusion of this investigation, whether that be coaching, punishment, or even termination.
But employers can also go one step further, and instead of being reactive to bullying, they can be proactive in preventing it in the first place. This can be done through:
Employers who are working towards creating a harmonious and inclusive workplace are the ones that are going to get the best out of their people – after all, happy employees are productive employees!
If you would like to discuss the anti-bullying training and workshops we offer, please get in touch with me at Brittany@orgshakers.com
A new study from health service Working to Wellbeing has found that under half (47%) of line managers said they would be able to offer support to colleagues with cancer with reasonable adjustments in their workplace.
It was also discovered that just one in four (23%) of UK line managers would actively explain a colleague with cancer’s rights at work to them.
With the Equality Act declaring progressive conditions such as cancer a disability as soon as they are diagnosed – even if the employee is still able to do day-to-day tasks – it is important for employers to be well-versed in how to accommodate for their needs from the get-go.
Click the link below to read the full piece at HR Magazine:
After the discovery and diagnosis and the treatment and recovery, the day finally came: remission. I partook in my last batch of radiotherapy after recovering from my operations, and then finally came the day that I was declared cancer-free.
Oftentimes this might be misconstrued as being back to the version of me I was before the cancer, but I don’t think that’s the case. Remission is what any cancer patient hopes to hear – it’s a sign that you can press play on your personal and professional life again. But it’s important to remember, especially for employers, that as someone begins to recalibrate back into their normal routine, ‘normalcy’ won’t be instantaneous. In fact, they may never be exactly how they were before, but it’s about offering those adjustments to help them transition back as smoothly as possible.
It will take some time for an employee to get their groove back; a great way of reintroducing someone back into work might be by starting them off on a part-time basis. Staggering their return can help get their body get used to the physical and mental stimulation that working requires. It also helps to set the pace; they are not expected to come back and dive right into the deep end.
And for those that do find themselves wanting to get stuck in, there is no harm in reintroducing responsibility bit by bit, just so that they can also see how they fare. The cancer may be gone, but its after-effects are stubborn and can linger. The returning employee may not be sure how much they are ready to take back on in one go, so in this case just being flexible to that can be a great way of ensuring that their return is as productive as possible for both the employee and the employer.
In addition to this, I have found that being able to talk to people who have gone through a similar experience – whether this be having cancer or having cared for someone with cancer – is always a really helpful way of adapting to life post-cancer. The little nuances of remission become things to bond over, and so employers who are able to signpost staff who have had cancer to support groups – or to other members of staff who have had similar experiences – will be helping them assimilate back into working life.
The OrgShakers team have been on this journey with me from beginning to end, and I have been so fortunate to feel that I was able to be honest and open about my entire cancer journey with them. This firsthand support, paired with their own experiences, has made our team experts when it comes to coaching executives and managers on how to properly and efficiently support team members with cancer at every step of their journey.
Every person’s experience with cancer is going to be unique, so when designing support policies around cancer in the workplace, use these as a guidance that can be flexibly applied on a case-by-case basis. This ensures that the individual’s needs are being met, and that they will be able to return as their best self when the time comes.
If you are an employer who is looking to craft or update their policies on cancer in the workplace, or looking for specialized training and workshops around this topic, then please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
After discovering, being diagnosed, and then disclosing my cancer to my workplace, then came the big leagues – the start of my treatment. Once I received my results, I was set up with a treatment plan.
For me, I found a clear plan comforting. I liked that I could see the journey ahead, that I knew exactly where I had to be and what I had to be doing at each step of the way. As someone with a corporate background, it felt shockingly similar to having a mission statement and planning out the roadmap of achieving that mission.
Treatment looks different for everybody, depending on the type of cancer you have been diagnosed with and the stage of progression of that cancer. For me, I was going in for lymph node clearances, and then eventually my mastectomy surgery, followed by reconstructive surgery. This had me bedbound in hospital for 10 days, followed by weeks of recovery at home.
As I mentioned in the first part of this piece, communication with your employee is key during this process. Employers should do their best to be in the loop of surgery dates, wellbeing updates, and just general support and attentiveness during this particular stage of the journey. This is the most taxing part; not just physically from the treatments, but it can be mentally exhausting to be unwell. Especially for someone who enjoys busying themselves and was spurred on by the idea of working – such as myself! Being forced to simply sit and heal can be tricky for someone itching to get back to their normal routine of work and life.
In this sense, having that accessible line of communication open will help to keep the employee feeling involved as they undergo this treatment. If they are like me, they will still want to know what’s going on and feel up to date on working matters; however, if the employee feels they just need to shut off from that until their recovery is complete, then this should also be respected.
It’s all about finding the perfect balance, and the only way of finding that is by asking what they need. Whether they want to jump back in the moment they are in recovery mode or whether they would like to be back to full health again before they begin their re-assimilation back into working life.
And another thing that employers need to be considerate of is being flexible to those caring for cancer patients who are in recovery. In the immediate weeks after the operations, I found that I needed help doing the most basic of things – hanging up washing, cooking, taking a shower. During this period, the person caring for you is going to need to be afforded the same flexibility and understanding as the person in recovery, and so as an employer it is key to ensure that these reasonable adjustments can be made for all involved.
In the final part of this series, I am going to be exploring the remission and return to work stage, and what employers should be doing to make this process as smooth and as effective as possible.
In the meantime, if you would like to discuss the coaching and workshops we offer around cancer support in the workplace, please get in touch with me at email@example.com
In one way or another, we’re all deeply familiar with cancer. There was an estimated 18.1 million cases worldwide in 2020, and so oftentimes if you ask someone if they have a ‘cancer story’, the answer will be yes.
Back in January of this year, I was over in New York meeting colleagues and networking (pictured below), and I suddenly got a stabbing pain around my heart. Immediately, I assumed the worst, and took myself to a walk-in clinic. When I was being seen to, I was taken off-guard by the doctor asking when my last mammogram was, to which I told him it was August 2022, and he quickly dismissed the pain being anything to do with my breasts.
A few weeks after my return to the UK, I felt the same pain again. I went to get myself checked, and when I did I asked specifically if I could have a mammogram done. Despite the doctor believing that this wasn’t necessary, she agreed. After my mammogram, I was then invited to do an ultrasound, and then a biopsy all in the same day. Weeks later, I was given my diagnosis of breast cancer.
This was when the reality of my situation really hit me, and what I’ve seen throughout my journey with cancer is that every person’s experience with it is entirely unique. For me, being told what was wrong just immediately put me into action-mode. I wanted to create an action plan of how to get rid of it, I wasn’t really letting the weight of the word be felt. It was only when you have to navigate telling loved ones, friends, and colleagues that it became harder.
A cancer diagnosis is undoubtedly going to affect your working life. It is also going to affect your personal life in a number of ways depending on the context of your situation, and this will no doubt have trickle down effects into your professional life as well. In a situation like this, when someone receives a diagnosis of a long-term illness, the line between professional and personal is forced to blur, and how an employer responds to and supports someone through this is a very key part of their journey.
Whilst I was fortunate enough to have a great support network around me, including family, friends, and colleagues, for others this situation can be very different. For those who have a smaller network, or for those who live alone, something like work can play a huge role in their life and act as an important factor to getting them out of bed in the morning. With a diagnosis comes treatment, and this inevitably means having to go through months of recovery, and this can result in a lot of loneliness and feeling like you lack purpose.
In the same breath, a cancer diagnosis can be straining on relationships. Some find that their romantic relationships break down during this time, and this is going to have a great effect on someone as they embark on their journey.
What I am trying to highlight is that the context of cancer is always going to be different, and so for an employer, the best thing they can do in this situation is communicate with their staff member. Ask them what support they need, what they feel will best help them, and take it upon themselves to become familiar with what it looks like to support someone with their specific diagnosis – as each cancer is entirely different.
In addition to this, regular one-to-ones and check-ins just as a standard practice are a great way of ensuring that managers remain up to date and consistent. I could not believe how many people felt embarrassed or ashamed of having to tell their employers about their diagnosis, to the point where they wouldn’t even disclose it until their surgery date had been set. Having these regular check-ins as standard practice is much more likely to result in employees feeling they can be honest and open about something like this.
In the next part of this series, I am going to be discussing what role the employer can play in supporting a staff member who is going through the treatment and recovery process of their cancer journey. In the final part, we will explore the remission and return to work, and the best ways for employers to make this re-assimilation as smooth as possible.
In the meantime, if you would like to discuss the coaching services and workshops we offer around cancer in the workplace, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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
This month’s book choice was inspired by the fact that today is World Dyslexia Awareness Day – which closes off Dyslexia Awareness Week. In the spirit of this, we got our hands on a copy of Kate Grigg’s This is Dyslexia.
Kate, who is dyslexic herself, is the founder and CEO of the charity Made By Dyslexia, acting as a leading voice in the charge to disrupt the world’s thinking around dyslexia and highlight how it can be a superpower in the workplace and the wider world.
Kate’s book, This is Dyslexia, expertly builds on this notion of dyslexia being a ‘superpower’, as she debunks all the common misconceptions around the topic and helps the reader to better understand how dyslexic people think. What’s great is that the entire book is written on cream coloured paper with pictures, charts, diagrams, and changeable text to help dyslexic people read through it and better retain the information. This way, it is an accessible read for all.
Along with varying mediums of information, the book also includes QR codes throughout that can be scanned and will take the reader to video interviews of famous people with dyslexia. There are also resources available at the back of the book for children, parents, teachers, and employers that can prove to be a very useful first step in understanding dyslexia on a deeper level.
Throughout the book, Kate highlights the importance of harnessing dyslexia as a skill rather than a drawback – along with all other forms of neurodivergent thinking – and goes on to demonstrate the many ways that this unique way of processing can be extremely beneficial for the workplace (such as problem-solving, creativity, and innovative thinking!).
With 10% of the population being dyslexic, and around 20% of people believed to be neurodivergent, the importance of employers educating themselves around these topics is vital for the bottom line, as an inclusive workplace environment can play to the strengths of these unique ways of thinking.
Kate’s book is a great start at getting to understand dyslexic thinking on a deeper, empathetic level, and will help leaders better grasp how to support and optimize those staff with dyslexia.
Encouraging individuals to ‘give it 100%’ is a well-worn cliché. But is it actually the best way to optimize personal performance?
Those advocating the 85:15 rule – working at 85% capacity and keeping 15% for yourself – would beg to differ.
The 85:15 rule is thought to have stemmed from a technique used by Olympian Carl Lewis and his coach, who argued that athletes who were keeping 15% ‘in the tank’ rather than giving it the full 100% the whole time were much better at keeping pace for the duration of a race. And, considering Lewis won nine Olympic gold medals and one silver, he might have been onto something.
As an HR professional, part of my role is aiding an employer in optimizing their people power, but sometimes the thing that may help employees function at their best is by knowing at what point someone is optimized enough.
When we break it down, an employee working at their optimum does not automatically mean they are working at 100%. In fact, unknowingly, it usually means they are functioning at around the 85% mark. This is what all employers should be striving for with their teams, as this promotes a sense of consistency in the quality of work being produced that is realistic, reduces risk of burnout, and helps employees find more balance between work and life.
This idea of ‘giving everything you’ve got’ to your job is a somewhat outdated one, and has been carried over from previous generations of workers who were working in an ‘always-on’ culture. This ‘always-on’ ideology continues to loom in the face of remote and hybrid work blurring the lines between home life and work life, and so it is important for employers to be taking note of strategies such as the 85:15 rule to help prevent employees from being overworked.
What is very important to remember with this rule is that it isn’t saying ‘don’t try’, it’s saying ‘don’t burnout trying’! Keeping that 15% energy reserve helps prevent employees getting home from work and being too exhausted to do anything – even something as basic as making a meal. And when this is paired with the fact that many people have responsibilities outside of the workplace – caring for children, caring for elderly relatives – it only increases the importance of acknowledging this way of working.
This mindset also lends towards the encouragement of better brain health at work, and reminds employees how important it is to nourish and rest their brains in order to allow it to function to the best of its abilities.
With burnout from workplace stress at an all time high (over 40% across US and UK said that they were burnt out), leaders who are practicing this mindset and actively instilling it in their workplaces are normalizing the idea that it is okay to keep some energy for yourself, your brain, and your bodily health.
If you would like to discuss how we can coach the 85:15 rule in your workplace, please get in touch with me at email@example.com
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
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.