With June comes the promise of sunshine (if you are situated over in the Northern hemisphere, that is), the longest day of the year, and, of course, international Pride Month!
As we all know, Pride is a celebration of inclusivity, aiming to recognise and celebrate all members of the LGBTQ+ community. In this month, it is important for employers to be demonstrating their support for this cause. Not only does it reinforce their stance as an ally to their LGBTQ+ employees, but it also offers opportunities for innovation and expansion into untapped markets.
It is proven that diverse teams are 70% more likely to capture and penetrate new markets. This is not surprising when you look at the current generation of consumers; they are significantly more morally conscious, and so will be much more likely to support companies whose social agenda aligns with their own.
So, how can employers celebrate Pride in the workplace?
Employers who make this conscious effort to truly highlight their support during Pride Month are creating a space for openness and honesty. A positive working environment allows employees to bring more of themselves to their job, which leads to opportunities for innovation and diverse thinking.
If you would like to discuss inclusion workshops, training and/or policy reviews to help you unlock the power of diversity and inclusion, please get in touch with us!
There are over 16 million Veterans in the US, as well as almost 2 million in the UK, and while many of them are of working age, the transition from special forces to the world of work can be a gaping and daunting one.
For those who are coming out of service, finding, applying, securing and doing a ‘regular’ nine-to-five job can be an arduous process – but with the right support, this group of people have an abundance of technical skills and power skills to offer to the corporate world that are productive, innovative, and profitable.
There is existing stigma around the recruitment of ex-military personnel – one survey found that almost a third (31%) of recruiters said they felt reluctant to employ someone who had previously served as they were more likely to struggle with mental health problems. However, if Veterans are properly supported in this transition, then the skills and experience they have to offer can be utilized and optimized by employers.
So, what can HR professionals be doing to offer support?
Firstly, helping with decision making. A noticeable leap from military to corporate is the fluidity and choice that one suddenly has. Veterans are used to having very rigid job descriptions and are offered set roles which remain consistent. Because of these set roles and guidelines, Veterans often struggle to connect and translate their service experience to other jobs on the civilian side (outside of contracting or law enforcement, for example). And upon leaving the forces, suddenly they are faced with having to actively seek out work, and this requires knowing where to look, how to look, and what to be looking for. In enabling Veterans to understand their skills from their past careers and translate them into a marketable corporate structure, we can help prepare them for their next mission. So in this sense, we would coach Veterans on how to approach this challenge, how to look at their experience in a different light, and aid in finding the right career for them.
This then brings us onto CVs. CVs can sometimes be a tricky thing for ex-military to grapple, as a military CV is vastly different from a corporate one, yet are the first thing an employer will base their opinion on. Veterans will be conditioned to having to write out in great detail all of their experience in the forces, and so resumes end up being pages and pages long. But in the working world, a CV has to be concise, distilled and to-the-point to even be considered. So, having support crafting a CV can be so beneficial, especially for those who have served for most of their lives and may not have a traditional education. Helping to identify and translate their leadership skills, their strengths, and polishing success stories from their time in the service in a “proper” civilian CV will concisely highlight what they can be offering to an employer.
Lastly, helping Veterans understand and follow ‘business etiquette’. For those of us who have worked everyday jobs, it is common knowledge that there are norms and values of most workplaces that most of us just come to know as we progress in our careers. But for those who have just emerged from the military, their norms are going to be wildly different. For example, in the forces there is less room for error, but more error is likely to occur, and so it is much more normalized and less reprimanded. Whereas in the world of work, repercussions for mistakes are instantaneous, and if they are recurring then you are more likely to lose your job.
But this is a great example of a mindset that employers can learn from, as making conscious room for error also creates space for learning and innovation. Those ex-military will already be wired into this mindset, they just need to be coached to have their skills translated to be applicable to a business setting. Each Veteran’s transition journey varies and can be both exciting and a little scary at first from not knowing what to expect. We hope by coaching through those unknowns, Veterans will be able to confidently enter the civilian working world in their next chapter.
It is no secret that the military are skilled organizers and project managers, and these are all transferrable into the workplace (not to mention greatly sought after by most employers). With the right support, those leaving the forces can make a fantastic impact on the world of work, and prove to be some of our best innovators and most productive workers. That’s why OrgShakers are very proud to soon be partnering with a specialized charity to help support and coach Veterans into the world of work. If you would like to discuss the details of this further, please reach out to me at email@example.com
A Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) is a neurodivergent individual who has been born with a genetic trait called Sensory Processing Sensitivity.
While being considered ‘highly sensitive’ often has negative connotations in a workplace setting, one survey found that those who tested as HSP were the best rated managers – however, they were also the most stressed. This highlights a significant finding – a company’s HSPs have the potential to be some of the best employees, but this potential can only be unlocked in the right environment.
So, how do you identify HSP traits and how do you create a workplace to optimize these traits?
Those who are HSP have a more reactive nervous system, and so this leads them to process things deeply, become easily overstimulated, feel emotions intensely, and pay extreme attention to detail. More recent research shows that HSPs have additional brain cell connections when compared to someone with a more neurotypical brain, and these extra cells are mostly found in the region of the brain that handles emotions and memories of emotions.
It is believed that this has developed as an evolutionary precaution to avoiding harm, as it involved thinking in a deep and detailed manner to pick up on potential ‘threats’ that others may have missed. Because of this, HSPs tend to overthink and become overstimulated, and some studies show that these people are more prone to developing anxiety disorders and having anxious thoughts.
However, employers can make adjustments in their culture and approaches in order to create an environment where the skillsets of HSPs are optimized. For one thing, HSPs thrive with structure and clarity, as this doesn’t leave a lot of space for them to overthink and become overstimulated. This means employers should ensure that the employee understands the scope and expectations of their role.
Another great tool for optimizing HSPs is by using psychometric profiling. We work in conjunction with SurePeople, whose WorkforceX program defines the personality traits of individual employees, and gives each of them the ability to compare their profile with other team members, highlighting how best to work with that specific individual. This not only assists with overall cohesion, but the clarity and precision of it removes the risk of a HSP overthinking, as they already know exactly what to expect and how best to work with someone.
And speaking of overthinking, try to offer HSP staff members the time to deliberate and formulate responses rather than putting them on the spot. Thinking things through is a hallmark of high sensitivity, and so giving them that extra time to do so will help to avoid any anxious flare-ups.
In addition, employers could make accommodations that can help to mitigate the risk of sensory overload. This can take the shape of having audio-only meetings (with cameras off), designating a day which has no meetings, or defining times which are ‘do not disturb’ periods. They could also encourage the use of noise-cancelling headphones and periodic screen breaks.
By shifting their perception of ‘sensitivity’ and making adjustments for it, employers are creating the opportunity for these neurodivergent employees to be leading voices in innovation, problem solving, and people strategy. They are highly skilled at identifying patterns and subtleties, as well as being emotionally intelligent. These power skills are becoming increasingly valued, especially in managerial roles, and so it is important for employers to be nurturing these skills.
If you would like to discuss how to implement policies to support HSPs, please get in touch with us.
Sitting in the middle of cost-of-living crisis, enduring its seemingly never-ending impact, business leaders know as well as anybody the reality and real-time impact it is having on both financial and human capital.
Whilst it’s a natural reflex reaction to protect the business bottom line by curtailing “non-essential” spending, there is a very good case to resist the propensity to reach for the laptop and delete the budget line for this year’s learning and development (L&D) provision.
Keeping a tight grip on today’s escalating operational costs, as well as one eye on investing in future growth, is always a balancing act in any business. So it’s no surprise to read in the recent 2023 Q1 Labour Market Outlook report that the number of employees that received off-the-job-training has fallen to a two-decade low at 6.9% in late 2022.
But in a labour market that’s tighter than ever, organisations still need to seek opportunities to build, invest, and capitalise on their talent. Yet research by IMC found that 92% of job candidates use L&D opportunities as a deciding factor when considering job offers, and 52 percent of employees had left a role due to lack of personal or professional development opportunities. This strongly indicates that talent development is an essential ingredient to attracting and retaining staff.
No matter the size of your organisation, Learning and Development is key, so this begs the question: what should employers be focusing their L&D efforts on?
For one thing, keeping pace with technological change. This is an ever-present challenge for any and every organisation, currently emphasised by AI and its exponential shift into everyday life and the promise of the ‘future of work’.
Whilst for many businesses AI may seem a little like “jam tomorrow”, with technology continuing to accelerate and AI's potential expanding, akin to the emergence of smart phones in 2005, the limitations of today will give way to ground-breaking advancements. Focusing on and enabling your organisations talents and applying their strengths to keep pace and capitalise on the tech advancements is a major factor in business development.
By shifting the focus of learning away from rigid competencies to a “business context focus”, employers are ensuring that the skills being developed within an organisation are in-step with business and environmental developments.
When considering the delivery of learning and development solutions, agility and flexibility are key enablers needed for any organisation to maximise its learning opportunities. Embracing a blend of “learning channels” whilst taking advantage of the wide availability of (internet-based) learning resources means learning can become more self-directed and more easily meet needs across the whole organisation.
Whilst there is a natural predilection to focus on academia as a development solution, one of the most effective development tools sits within an organisation itself. Experience-based learning provides ideal career development opportunities through gaining experiences needed to excel in a specific role or function.
By default, the outcomes needed to prove competence are already defined within a role or a project, it just requires a constructive approach and managerial support to capitalise on learning by exposure.
In a similar vein, another proven form of L&D is the provision of opportunities for in-person mentoring and shadowing. Today, learning by proxy is often overlooked in favour of visual and auditory learning. However, with the rise of hybrid and remote working models, employees are spending less physical time with each other and the natural learning “osmosis” apparent in a physical work environment has waned.
Restructuring the hybrid working environment can enable organisations to easily capitalise on the depth of experience held within it. One such way of doing so is by promoting a ‘learning in the flow of work (LITFOW)’ mindset.
This learning habit comes from the idea that employees can find solutions and answers to things by using the resources they have e.g., asking colleagues or using search engines (and now AI technology).
In an age of having information at our fingertips and working outside of the office, employees are given the space and opportunity to LITFOW. The key to doing this is actively coaching a LITFOW mindset, guiding and highlighting the correct resources available to employees.
For development needs that require a more structured academic basis to enable progression, another often overlooked opportunity for enabling career progression is, dare I say it, an apprenticeship!
Now before you scroll on, consider that today’s apprenticeships cover pretty much every business sector and education levels up to level 6 (degree level). Accordingly, they are available for any age 16+ (whether you’re 16 or 62, you can still start an apprenticeship), and in case you’re still not convinced, of the 195,600 apprenticeships started in 2023, 41% (82,130) of those who started were over the age of 25.
Aside from the vastly improved quality, one of the main reasons for many small to medium sized organisations to start apprenticeships is that you should only have to pay (up to) 5% of the total training cost, with the rest funded by government grants. This makes apprenticeships a great value form of development for the staff you need to upskill.
Even in these cash-strapped times, investing in L&D is an incredibly effective way of protecting and growing your organisation and its talent. Not only does it build learning mindsets into the fabric of your workplace culture, it also enables you to attract, develop and retain the talent you need.
To discuss L&D strategies in more detail, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Women comprise half of the workforce, with totals of 74 million working women in the US last year, and over 15 million in the UK. That’s why it is alarming that 81% of women reported feeling like they couldn’t speak up and expect reasonable adjustments to be made for their health by their employers. As an employer, knowing how to support women’s health results in a healthier work community. Not to mention higher productivity, greater retention and increased engagement – but this is only possible if employers understand these needs and how to begin actively eradicating the taboos surrounding them.
Here are just some of the health issues that employers need to know about:
These are just some of the health concerns that women find themselves dealing with, but there are so many others. And as an employer, it can sometimes be difficult to have a deep understanding of every single health issue that affects women. This is why it is imperative that leaders are striving to create a culture where their employees feel safe, valued, and able to express any needs or concerns they have. This allows for an employer to make the effort to seek guidance and training to assist and support where they can. This will result in a happier, healthier workforce who are going to be more engaged, more loyal, and more productive, and serve as a reminder that women should not be made to feel ashamed about their health.
If you would like to discuss training around these issues, as well as policy-making guidance and culture strategies, please get in touch with me at email@example.com
I’m sure that it would be no surprise to hear that many of us do not grow up to be working in the career we had dreamed of as a child. In fact, only one in ten Americans say they are working their ‘dream job’.
And so, naturally, employees may indulge in a ‘what if…’ moment. What if I’d stuck with that hobby? What if I’d studied that degree? What if I chose that path instead of this one? The list goes on. Employers may not think that this happens often, but a recent study actually found that only 6% of participants reported never or almost never thinking about other paths they could have taken – that leaves a whopping 94% of employees wondering about those ‘what ifs’.
That same study also discovered that 21% of workers reported thinking about these questions often or almost always. Those who were somewhat ‘stuck in the past’ were more likely to be distracted or daydream, took more breaks and days off, were less engaged, and were more likely to search for other jobs.
It is easy to fall victim to this spiral of thoughts, as nowadays most of us are constantly being confronted with choices. A recent survey found that there had been a significant rise in the ‘apply anyway’ trend, with three quarters (73%) of recruiters citing a lack of qualified applicants for roles as the biggest challenge in the hiring process. This highlights that employees have such ease and accessibility to new job choices – LinkedIn’s Easy Apply option is a great example of this – that it’s no wonder they find themselves wondering about paths untaken.
This can all have an effect on engagement levels, and so it is important for employers to know what they can be doing to challenge these feelings of ‘what if’ and help employees turn them into creative and innovative output:
It‘s natural to wonder from time to time about what could have been. And while harmless reflection is always a nice thing, those who find themselves getting stuck in the past may need a helping hand getting unstuck. If you would like to discuss how we can help improve your employee engagement levels by optimizing the wonderment of ‘what if’, please get in touch with us.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
If you haven’t come across the term ‘quiet promotion’, it references the practice of employees assuming the responsibilities of a former colleague without formal recognition or compensation.
Sadly, this is not as uncommon as people might think. One recent study found that 67% of workers had taken on the responsibilities of a more senior colleague after that colleague left the company, while 78% had taken on additional workload without any additional compensation.
Quiet promotions can pose unintended consequences for the employee assuming these additional responsibilities, the leadership team, and the organization as a whole:
When it comes down to it, quiet promotions are unlikely to create cost savings for an organization. While initially it may seem like a smart move to save some money, especially in economically trying times, ultimately the costs associated with the loss of productivity, engagement, and potential increased turnover do not compare to the cost of effectively leading an organization through transition and providing rewarding career opportunities for committed and loyal employees.
If you would like to discuss strategies for supporting your business with its turnover rate, or how to manage an employee separation in a cost-effective manner, please do get in touch with me at email@example.com
Positive workplace ‘banter’ is a good thing.
Having a cohesive workforce and a strong workplace culture is something that all employers strive for. And friendly relationships in the workplace increase productivity, as employees are more committed, communicate better, and encourage each other. Banter can play a pivotal role in cementing these relationships.
There is, however, a fine line between ‘playful’ banter and what might be considered bullying and harassment.
Recent research found that a third (32%) of UK workers have experienced bullying masked as ‘banter’, while it is estimated that about 30% of the American workforce (which equates to roughly 48.6 million workers) feel bullied at work. And the number of employment tribunal claims citing allegations of bullying increased by 44% in 2022, which was a record high.
To mitigate the risk of this happening, regularly updated management training is essential.
The current workforce has the largest ever mix of generations working together, which means that lot of workplace banter risks being ‘lost in translation’ due to the fact that the boundaries of acceptability and what is tolerated have shifted so much across the decades. Consequently, what one person may intend as a joke, another may perceive quite differently.
Having managers who have been trained to understand what is acceptable means that they can diffuse these situations and act accordingly if someone feels that banter is going too far. But this training needs to be regularly updated as boundaries of acceptability are constantly shifting.
It is also vital that managers appreciate that cyberbullying is becoming much more common at work– especially with the rise of remote and hybrid working models.
Passive aggressive emails, pestering messages, and group chat banter can all result in employees feeling they are being put down, so it is just as important to establish positive online working policies in an evolving working world.
Finding the balance of banter at work can be difficult – but it is important to embed a culture of acceptance and inclusivity to avoid playful exchanges tipping over into bullying and harassment.
To discuss creating a positive and inclusive workplace culture in more detail, please get in touch with us.
We are all aware that each generation has been attributed macro characteristics – the Greatest Generation are ‘responsible and hard-working’, Baby Boomers are ‘selfish’, Gen X are ‘cynical’, Millennials are ‘entitled and lazy’, and Gen Z are ‘civic-minded snowflakes’.
When these stereotypical beliefs spill over into the world of work, however, they can lead to biases in the hiring process, problems with the culture of a company, and can be considered offensive. After all, if employers (or, frankly, anyone) were to ascribe similar characteristics to gender, race, sexuality and/or class, this would be completely unacceptable. Rather, employers need to focus on seizing the opportunities for innovation that generational cohesion can bring – a Generational Dividend.
Firstly, if a company finds that it doesn’t have a diversified workforce from a generational perspective, it should consider ways in which it could attract different types of people so to create the opportunity for innovation and diversified perspectives. One way of doing this is by tailoring benefit packages towards the needs of different generations in order to make your job look more attractive to a specific group.
This then leads onto how to optimize a generationally-diverse workforce – and this is where SurePeople come in. Specializing in people science, they offer their WorkforceX software, which uses AI-powered technology to leverage data to provide leaders and their teams with actionable workforce insights in order to drive continuous alignment, development, and high-performance.
Their interface gathers psychometric data on every employee in an organization and uses this to create an individualised ‘Prism Portrait’ which groups staff into four main categories: ‘powerful’, ‘versatile’, ‘adaptable’, and ‘precise’. It then breaks this down into detail surrounding personality type and how an individual works best, as well as allowing leaders to compare two profiles to provide them with the most efficient ways of working with specific individuals.
This is a fantastic tool when putting together a team entirely based on their individual strengths – it ensures that staff are diverse and offers a guide of how to optimize the productivity of the team so to gain the strongest and most innovative output.
We work closely with SurePeople and can help bring their results to life – helping to integrate their people data into the fabric of a company so that they have the best possible combination of people working together to gain the best results. Using a psychometric program such as this strips away any preconceived notions surrounding generational stereotypes – or any stereotypes – and instead allows employers to focus on the individual’s needs and abilities.
Optimizing your people and their differences will allow you to unlock all of their potential. If you would like to discuss working with us and SurePeople in how we can help you do this, please get in touch with us here.
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.
It is not uncommon to feel stressed at work, and so how employers manage this can be vital to ensuring that their teams are being supported so they can produce their strongest output. CIPD’s Health and Wellbeing at Work report found that four-fifths (79%) of companies reported some stress-related absences over the last year (and this figure rises to 90% for larger organizations).
So, what can leaders be doing to ward off these stresses?
Adopting these practices in your organization can be extremely beneficial to help proactively deal with stress in the workplace. With the working world continuing to evolve and grow in response to the pandemic and to economic fluctuations, ensuring that you have strong protocols in place to help employees manage stress is vital for the health and wellbeing of your people and your company. If you would like to get in touch about creating and implementing organizational strategies to combat stress, get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org