Tag Archives: well-being

Treat Your Employees Well……………………

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

Bosses ‘don’t care about my health’

More than half of workers feel their employers do not care about their health and well-being, leading many to consider looking for a new job.

  • A study has found that 54% of employees believe their employer does not care about their health
    More than half of workers feel their employers do not care about their health and well-being, leading many to consider looking for a new job.

    Some resented their bosses because of their attitude to “simply getting the job done”, a survey of more than 3,000 employees found.

    The study, by Investors in People, showed that 54% of those polled believed their employer did not care about their health, leaving many feeling less motivated.

    Most sickness absence was genuine, although those unhappy in their job were more likely to feign illness, said the report.

    Paul Devoy, head of Investors in People, said: “Organisations need to see staff health and well-being as crucial to their business and staff retention.


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Work Life Balance………women more satisfied

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

Sixty per cent of women are happy with their work-life balance: Men are more likely to feel the strain of juggling job and family

Part-time: Women tend to be happier with their work/life balance than their male counterparts

It is the modern juggling act – but managing motherhood alongside a career might not be as difficult as it sounds.Most women, it seems, are perfectly happy with the way their professional and personal lives are balanced. Far from desperately battling their way each day between office and kitchen, more than six out of ten believe their work-life balance is just right.

Men, however, are less content with the way the conflicting demands of their home life and jobs play out. But more than half still believe that the balance is broadly good.

The findings were released by the Office for National Statistics in its latest assessment of national well-being. They come as both the Government and Labour strive to impress women voters with their attempts to help them…

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National Stress Awareness Day 2012

Stress at work is still a major problem for employers and employees alike and statistics suggest stress levels have doubled since the start of the recession in 2008.

This year’s National Stress Awareness Day is on Wednesday 7 November with the theme of  “Defining Outcomes for Well-being  at Work”

You can download information and free resources from the ISMA site.

And you can still read my posts on stresswell-being and resilience and try a 1 minute stress-relieving exercise

If you are in the Manchester area we are running a free Stress Awareness workshop in conjunction with P3 Personnel Management at their offices near the airport on Wednesday 14th November from 0830 – 1000.

To book your free place contact: Eleanor@p3pm.co.uk 

Stress back on the agenda?

It seems concerns about stress have been put on the back burner (or is that now “kicked into the long grass”) and I have seen little demand for stress management training in recent years compared to 10 years ago.

That may not be a bad thing if the focus has shifted to developing resilience and stress-proofing, and even better if organisations have improved the well-being of staff and tackled the main causes of work-related stress.

However the mental health charity MIND says that stress and mental health have become taboo subjects in the workplace. For its new initiative “Taking care of business” it polled over 2,000 employees on-line in England and Wales.

  • 4 out of 10 said they felt stressed at work and the same proportion said that stress was a taboo subject at work
  • 2 out of 3 felt under more pressure because of the recession
  • 1 in 5 said they felt they couldn’t talk about it in case they lost their jobs

MIND estimates that with greater awareness and better support businesses could save a third of the £26 billion lost each year to sickness absence and lost productivity.

They suggest this could be done by treating mental ill-health in the same way as physical ill-health by encouraging more openness and being more supportive and less discriminatory. They also want businesses to treat staff well-being as a priority.

Professor Cary Cooper, well-known for his work on stress in the UK, said that stress at work had always had a stigma attached to it and now it’s worse; ” Because of the downturn people are feeling job insecure and more than ever they’re frightened of admitting they’re not coping …… (and) the more we can convey it’s not uncommon the better. 20% of people will have or are suffering from depression”

He also makes the point that even if people are mildly depressed or have  bipolar disorder they can still function effectively and given appropriate treatment recover.

See also: Stress affects men too” and “Stressful days are here again”

Scientists have unzipped clues as to why effects of stress can be passed on from generation to generation

Resilient Leadership

Over the years there have been many approaches to leadership with trait theories, style theories, functional models, situational/contingency models, transactional/transformational theories, ideas about biological and personality characteristics, and more recently emotional intelligence competencies.

So do leaders need to be more intelligent than their followers? Well probably a bit, because that inspires confidence, but not too much more intelligent. Do they need to be empathetic? It’s probably better if they have tough empathy ie “grow or go” but they do need social skills. Do they need to be liked? No, but they need to be respected. And since the last recession integrity has become important again.

Difficult times require people to perform better than normal and people need exceptional leaders to help them do that.  By exceptional I don’t mean charismatic or heroic leaders – although some people respond to that style of leadership which “encourages the heart” – but leaders who do what they say they will do ie are conscientious, and also act as role models. And to do that they need to be both self-confident and emotionally stable.

Research among elite performers found that they had a number of characteristics in common. As well as being intelligent, disciplined and bold, with strong practical and interpersonal skills, they bounced back from adversity.

Jim Collins describes in his new book “How the mighty fall” people who are exasperatingly persistent and never give up. They are not necessarily the brightest, most talented, or best looking, but they are successful because they know that not giving up is the most important thing they do. He says; “success is falling down and getting up one more time, without end”.

This resilience (from the latin to leap back) is linked to personal attributes such as calmness in stressful situations, reflection on performance through feedback, and learning systematically from both success and failure. Resilient people generally:

  • Recognise what they can control and influence and do something about it, rather than worry about what they can’t
  • Stay involved rather than becoming cynical or detached or simply walking away
  • Work with others to shape the environment and influence things that affect them most
  • Act as a source of inspiration to others to counter self-destructive behaviour

Aren’t these the sort of behaviours you would expect from good leaders? So it’s not just about “bouncing back” and carrying on where you left off before. It’s about reflecting and learning from what has happened and then getting back to business.

Resilience seems to be an innate ability for most people and is increasingly found in leadership competency frameworks where it is linked with confidence, authenticity and ethical leadership ideas.

Modern leaders need not just brains and emotional intelligence but also resilience. Acting as a role model is an essential part of being an effective leader hence the need for them to be hardy and emotionally stable. Research shows that resilient leaders can have a positive effect on the well-being of organisations and their employees so it’s well worth organisations developing such capabilities.

See how you can develop resilience

Rituals engage staff

It’s no surprise that employee engagement is a hot topic right now in the wake of cutbacks, pay freezes, and redundancies (and the survivor guilt and loss of productivity that goes with that).

According to a Towers Perrin worldwide survey (2007), only 21% of employees feeling fully engaged, compared to almost twice as many feeling disengaged.

Discretionary effort is still the holy grail for many companies but looking at some of the approaches being adopted to engage staff they seem to be as focussed on well-being as on motivation. Not much mention of Stress, Quality of Working Life or Work-Life Balance any more but what’s in a name anyway.

Sony’s Energy Project, reported in the June 2010 Harvard Business Review: “The Productivity Paradox. How Sony pictures get more by demanding less” started by looking at employee burnout and employee performance 10 years ago. As in many organisations they found that once employees completed training sessions and went back into the work place they faced resistance from the organisation – the re-entry crisis.

They eventually realised that for organisational change to endure the top leaders had to be involved and fundamental shifts made in the way they managed people. First by stopping assuming people can operate like computers – continuously, at high speeds, and multi-tasking (See my earlier post: Multi-tasking addiction makes you stupider than smoking pot) and by  recognising that employees work better when periods of intense activity are interspersed with opportunities for renewal.

Secondly by systematically meeting the employees’ 4 core needs so that they are refreshed and inspired to go to work each day. The 4 needs are: physical health (nutrition, sleep, exercise, and day-time renewal); emotional well-being (through being appreciated and valued); mental clarity (the ability to focus intensely, think creatively, and prioritise); and spiritual significance (the feeling of serving a mission that goes beyond just making a profit).

Crucially Sony’s co-chairs agreed to look at their own leadership behaviours and the way they did things, and how that impacted upon staff. Two critical changes were that the introvert chair discovered people didn’t realise what he was feeling so he started calling and writing personal notes of appreciation to people, and that the other chair was conflict-averse which left uncertainty amongst her staff. Which is where rituals come into it.

Rituals are practices you carry out at certain times to do highly specific activities. In this way they eventually become automatic and don’t require conscious will or discipline.  So to stop avoiding conflict th chair learned to ask herself; “what’s the right thing to do here for the company?”. Other rituals included taking a walk when people felt frustrated, self-talk, learning to pause and respond rather than react.

To help be more focussed one executive turned off e-mails at certain times, one committed to ignoring e-mails when on the phone, another spent 5 minutes every evening reflecting on his top 3 tasks for the following day and then set aside an uninterrupted 60-90 minutes the following day to deal with them.

They also introduced rituals to increase collaboration and open-ness but reduce groupthink. They also agreed to ban e-mails during meetings and when that meant people working on them in the evenings they banned that too outside an 0800-2000 time frame. Any urgent stuff had to be handled by a personal call instead.

Reading the case study some of these ideas seem obvious – but that’s always the case with hindsight. But there is nothing really new here. They are  mixture of behavioural interventions, including assertiveness and active listening, time management, and common courtesy.

Some of the highlighted Dos and Don’ts are:

  • Do take a lunch break and encourage others to do the same
  • Do communicate your values by writing notes of appreciation
  • Do set aside an informal space to promote creative thinking and brainstorming
  • Do share your passion
  • Don’t avoid conflict. Enter difficult conversations with a spirit of openness and curiosity
  • Don’t try to multi-task. Give people your full attention and active listening
  • Don’t be self-absorbed. It’s not all about you. Serve the needs of people you lead.

Now a book by Tom Shwartz et al: “The way we’re working isn’t working: the four forgotten needs that energise great performance”, sets these out in more detail using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as a structure for the book. Advice to sleep more, eat more healthily, only work in 90 minute bursts, and take regular exercise is complemented by case study examples from Sony, Ernst & Young, and Barclays Wealth.

Updated 2 July 2010.