Love Hormone Oxytocin May Increase Life Satisfaction, Empathy

A recent study links neurochemical oxytocin with empathy and life satisfaction in older people. INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images

A new study published in the journal Frontier in Behavioral Neuroscience shows that older individuals tend to release more oxytocin in response to social situations that arouse empathy. A larger oxytocin response was also associated with greater levels of helping behaviors and increased satisfaction with life.

These findings may explain why older individuals donate more to charity and perform more social work.“People who released the most oxytocin in the experiment were not only more generous to charity but also performed many other helping behaviors. This is the first time a distinct change in oxytocin has been related to past prosocial behaviors,” said Dr. Paul Zak, the study author and a professor at Claremont Graduate University.

Oxytocin and social behaviors

Oxytocin is a hormone responsible for uterus contractions during childbirth, lactation, and reproductive behaviors. Oxytocin also modulates the transmission of signals between brain cells and is involved in modulating social behaviors. Experiments in humans suggest that brain oxytocin reduces anxiety and promotes trust, cooperation, empathy, generosityTrusted Source, and social bonding.

Studies have shown that older individuals tend to donate more money to charity and are more likely to engage in volunteer work than younger people. A potential explanation for this increase in prosocial behaviors could be greater empathy in response to social situations in older people than in younger people.

Given the association between oxytocin and empathy, the study’s authors wanted to understand whether oxytocin mediated increased prosocial behaviors in old age.

Oxytocin and age

The present study’s authors recruited 103 individuals between 18 and 99 years old. Researchers divided the participants into three groups: young (18 to 35 years), middle-aged (36 to 65 years ), or older (over 65 years) adults.

They asked the participants to watch a short emotional video of a father narrating his feelings about coping with the imminent demise of his two-year-old son with terminal brain cancer.

The researchers collected blood samples from the participants before and after watching the video to measure oxytocin levels. Previous studies have shown that changes in blood and brain oxytocin levels tend to be correlated, allowing the researchers to estimate changes in brain oxytocin levels using blood samples.

The researchers found that older individuals showed a larger increase in oxytocin levels after viewing the video than younger individuals.

Oxytocin and kindness

After viewing the video, the participants were given a monetary reward for participating in an unrelated study and the option to donate part of the reward to a medical charity.The researchers found that individuals with a larger increase in blood oxytocin levels were likely to donate a greater fraction of the reward money.

Furthermore, older individuals donated a larger fraction of the reward money to the charity. Surveys conducted during the study revealed that older individuals also spent greater time volunteering and donated more to charity in the previous year.

Notably, a small increase in oxytocin levels in older individuals was associated with a similar donation amount as younger individuals with a larger oxytocin response.

The study also found that aging resulted in a more profound increase in donations to charity in older individuals with a smaller oxytocin response than a larger one. The findings suggest that aging and oxytocin response levels together influence the amounts donated to charity.

Satisfaction with life and religiosity  

Consistent with other studies, the researchers found that older individuals were more likely to participate in religious activities and had a greater sense of satisfaction with life. Studies have shown that older, more religious adults engage more in charity and volunteer work and express greater life satisfaction.

The researchers found that a larger oxytocin response to the video stimulus was associated with a greater sense of satisfaction with life, participation in religious activities, and increased levels of empathy and gratitude.

Study limitations

The authors cautioned that the study only correlates oxytocin release and prosocial behaviors and other traits. The findings are especially relevant since there is a bidirectional relationship between oxytocin release and prosocial behaviors, with engagement in prosocial behaviors associated with a subsequent increase in oxytocin levels.

The authors also noted that the study involved a small number of participants residing in California. Hence, more research involving a larger number of participants representing the broader demographic needs to be conducted.

Intranasal oxytocin

Other studies also suggest that using intranasal sprays to deliver oxytocin can improve mood and cognitive function, especially in older men. Although there is an interest in the therapeutic use of intranasal oxytocin, the effects of oxytocin vary by context and among individuals.

Dr. Natalie Ebner, a neuroscientist at the University of Florida, noted in a lecture, “There is a lot of evidence that oxytocin doesn’t always work the same way. It depends a little bit on what kind of situation you are in, if it’s a positive social situation it does one thing, if it’s a hostile situation suddenly it increases aggressivity. So there are a lot of interesting manipulations we can do by looking closer at contextual factors and we’re starting to see a lot is that not everyone responds in the same way.”

Source: ‘Love hormone’ oxytocin may increase life satisfaction, empathy

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How Bullying Manifests at Work and How To Stop It

master1305/Getty Images

The term workplace bullying describes a wide range of behaviors, and this complexity makes addressing it difficult and often ineffective. For example, most anti-bullying advice, from “anger management” to zero-tolerance policies, deals with more overt…

While the organizational costs of incivility and toxicity are well documented, bullying at work is still a problem. An estimated 48.6 million Americans, or about 30% of the workforce, are bullied at work. In India, that percentage is reported to be as high as 46% or even 55%. In Germany, it’s a lower but non-negligible 17%. Yet bullying often receives little attention or effective action.

To maximize workplace health and well-being, it’s critical to create workplaces where all employees — regardless of their position — are safe. Systemic, organizational-level approaches can help prevent the harms associated with different types of bullying.

The term workplace bullying describes a wide range of behaviors, and this complexity makes addressing it difficult and often ineffective. Here, we’ll discuss the different types of bullying, the myths that prevent leaders from addressing it, and how organizations can effectively intervene and create a safer workplace.

The Different Types of Bullying

To develop more comprehensive systems of bullying prevention and support employees’ psychological well-being, leaders first need to be aware of the different types of bullying and how they show up. We’ve identified 15 different features of bullying, based on standard typologies of aggression, data from the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI), and Ludmila’s 25+ years of research and practice focused on addressing workplace aggression, discrimination, and incivility to create healthy organizational cultures.

These 15 features can be mapped to some of the common archetypes of bullies. Take the “Screamer,” who is associated with yelling and fist-banging or the quieter but equally dangerous “Schemer” who uses Machiavellian plotting, gaslighting, and smear campaigns to strip others of resources or push them out.

The Schemer doesn’t necessarily have a position of legitimate power and can present as a smiling and eager-to-help colleague or even an innocent-looking intern. While hostile motivation and overt tactics align with the Screamer bully archetype and instrumental, indirect, and covert bullying is typical of the Schemer, a bully can have multiple motives and use multiple tactics — consciously or unconsciously.

Caroline mediated a situation that illustrates both conscious and unconscious dynamics. At the reception to celebrate Ewa’s* national-level achievement award, Harper, her coworker, spent most of the time talking about her own accomplishments, then took the stage to congratulate herself on mentoring Ewa and letting her take “ownership” of their collective work. But there had been no mentorship or collective work.

After overtly and directly putting Ewa down and (perhaps unconsciously) attempting to elevate herself, Harper didn’t stop. She “accidentally” removed Ewa from crucial information distribution lists — an act of indirect, covert sabotage.  

In another example, Ludmila encountered a mixed-motive, mixed-tactic situation. Charles, a manager with a strong xenophobic sentiment, regularly berated Noor, a work visa holder, behind closed doors — an act of hostile and direct bullying. Motivated by a desire to take over the high-stakes, high-visibility projects Noor had built, Charles also engaged in indirect, covert bullying by falsifying performance records to make a case for her dismissal.

Workplace Bullying Myths

Common myths about bullying — for example, that it’s simply “holding people to high standards” or having a “competitive personality” — suggest that bullying does not harm and may even spur performance. However, bullying and the myths about it hinder outcomes.

A common assumption is that bullies are often star performers and that high performance justifies bad behavior. However, the actual star performers are more likely to be targets than bullies. Bullies are usually mediocre performers who may appear to be stars, while in fact they often take credit for the work of others. Moreover, bullies are not motivated by organizational goals.

They’re driven by self-interest, often at the expense of organizations. Research indicates that bullies often envy and covertly victimize organization-focused high performers — those who are particularly capable, caring, and conscientious. Not only are bullies not the stars, but one toxic employee negates the gains of the performance of two superstars and likely creates additional costs.

The “motivation” myth justifies bullying as “management” or “motivation,” helping low-performing individuals improve. Indeed, low performers are more likely to experience bullying than mediocre ones — but it does not help them improve. Rather, it can further hinder performance, creativity, collaboration, and delivering on business goals due to employee distress.

Ineffective Interventions

Research has thoroughly documented that bullying is detrimental to individuals’ productivity and organizational outcomes. Unfortunately, even when organizations attempt to address it, the interventions are rarely effective.

Traditional methods of addressing bullying tend to be unsuccessful for several key reasons…..Read more…

Source: How Bullying Manifests at Work — and How to Stop It

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Can Experiencing Horror Help Your Brain?

A scary figure emerges in a doorway at Dystopia Haunted House. Courtesy of Dystopia Haunted House / Henriette Klausen

Fear gets a bad rap. It’s a so-called negative emotion, one that supposedly stands between us and our dreams. It is certainly true that pure fear doesn’t feel good, but that is the whole point of the emotion. Fear tells us to get the hell out of Dodge because Dodge is a bad place. Fear evolved over millions of years to protect us from danger. So, yes, fear is a feel-bad emotion, but also, and perhaps paradoxically, the engine in a whole range of pleasurable activities and behaviors—which inspire what we can call recreational fear.

Once you start looking for it, you’ll find recreational fear everywhere. From a very early age, humans love being jump-scared by caregivers in the form of peek-a-boo, and being hurtled into the air (and caught). They get older and take great pleasure in chase play and hide-and-seek. They are drawn to scary stories about monsters and witches and ghosts. They perform daredevil tricks on playgrounds and race their bikes toward what, from a parent’s perspective, is certain and violent death.

As they grow a little older they get together for horror movie nights, stand patiently in line for roller coasters, and play horror video games. Indeed, most of us never quite lose our peculiar attraction to recreational fear—even if we eschew slasher flicks or dark crime shows brimming with murder, death, and gore.

So even though Dodge may be a bad place, we still keep visiting it, at least from the safe distance of play and make-believe. How come? One hypothesis is that recreational fear is a form of play behavior, which is widespread in the animal kingdom and ubiquitous among humans. When an organism plays, it learns important skills and develops strategies for survival.

Playfighting kittens train their ability to hold their own in a hostile encounter, but with little risk and low cost, compared to the real thing. Same with humans. When we play, we learn important things about the physical and social world, and about our own inner world. When we engage in recreational fear activities specifically, from peek-a-boo to horror movie watching, we play with fear, challenge our limits, and learn about our own physiological and psychological responses to stress. In other words, recreational fear might actually be good for us.

To investigate whether that is indeed the case and why, my colleagues and I have established the Recreational Fear Lab, a research center at Aarhus University, Denmark. We do lab studies, survey studies, and real-world empirical studies to understand this widespread but scientifically understudied psychological phenomenon.

In one ambitious research project, led by my colleague Marc Malmdorf Andersen, we set out to investigate the experiences of guests at a very frightening haunted houseDystopia Haunted House in Denmark. We mounted surveillance cameras in the house’s scariest rooms, strapped participants with heart rate monitors, and distributed a bunch of questionnaires.

The surveillance footage allowed us to see how guests responded to frightening events, such as a chainsaw-wielding pig-man chasing them down a dark corridor. The heart rate monitors told us about their physiological responses to such events, and the questionnaires allowed us to understand how they felt about it all.

They told us they perceived their experiences as a kind of play, supporting our notion of recreational horror as a medium for playing with fear. But we also wanted to go deeper into the relationship between fear and enjoyment. You might think that relationship is linear—the more fear, the better. But when we plotted the actual relationship between fear and enjoyment, it looked like an upside-down U. In other words, when people go to a haunted attraction, they don’t want too little fear (which is boring), and they don’t want too much fear (which is unpleasant).

What they want is to hit what we call the “sweet spot of fear.” That doesn’t just go for high-intensity haunted attractions either. When you hurtle a kid into the air, you don’t want it to be too tame or too wild; when teenagers joyride their bikes, they need just the right amount of tummy-tickling arousal; when you pick a horror movie on Netflix, you try to go for the one that sits just at the right point on the scare-o-meter.

So, there is pleasure to be had from these vicarious visits to Dodge, but are there any other benefits? In several past and ongoing studies of the psychological and social effects of engagement with recreational fear, we’ve seen it improve people’s ability to cope with stress and anxiety. For instance, one study—led by my colleague Coltan Scrivner—found that people who watch many horror movies exhibited better psychological resilience during the first Covid-19 lockdown than people who stay away from scary movies.

Presumably, the horror hounds have trained their ability to regulate their own fear from playing with it. We know from another Dystopia Haunted House study that people actively use a range of coping strategies to regulate their fear levels in pursuit of the sweet spot, and it makes sense that we get better at using those strategies through practice.

You can think of recreational fear as a kind of mental jungle gym where you prepare for the real thing, or as a kind of fear inoculation. A small dose of fear galvanizes the organism for the big dose that life throws at it sooner or later. So even though fear itself may be unpleasant, recreational fear is not only fun—it may be good for us.

My colleagues and I even have preliminary results to suggest that some people with mental health issues, such as anxiety disorder and depression, get relief from recreational horror. Maybe it’s about escaping anhedonia—emotional flatlining—momentarily, and maybe it’s about playing with troublesome emotions in a controllable context. For fear to be fun, you need to feel not only that the levels are just-so, but that you are in relative control of the experience.

With research findings such as these in mind, we should maybe think twice about shielding kids and young people too zealously from playful forms of fear. They’ll end up in Dodge sooner or later, and they will be better equipped if they’ve at least pretended to be there before.

By: Mathias Clasen, Zócalo Public Square

Source: Can Experiencing Horror Help Your Brain? | Science| Smithsonian Magazine

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5 Myths About Classroom Management in PBL

I want to make something clear before we dive into this topic. I made huge mistakes in classroom management as a teacher. I let certain disruptive behaviors go unchecked because I was tired and I didn’t want to put out another fire. I had moments when I shamed a student or yelled at a class.

I won’t even use the term “raise my voice” which sounds nicer. I yelled. Each time, I apologized and continued to grow. But the reality remains: I had tons of moments when I failed in this area. So, I feel a certain reticence when tackling the question, “How do I handle classroom management in a PBL unit?”

And yet, I also realize that my mistakes, as cringe-worthy as they may be, were also learning experiences. Teaching is an iterative process filled with experiments. I believe we can learn as much from the failures and mistakes as we can from the successes. So, with that in mind, I’d like to share what I learned about PBL and classroom management from my twelve years teaching middle school and my last three years working with new teachers who want to try out PBL but are nervous about the classroom management implications.

Why Classroom Management Matters

When I was new to project-based learning, people told me to “embrace the chaos.” I tried my hardest to embrace this mindset. Our class would be a vibrant space filled with noise and chaos and movement. I told students that during our project time, they could go wherever they wanted to go and talk whenever they wanted to talk.

This lasted three days.

I had students wandering around the classroom for the entire class period, socializing with friends and never actually working on their projects. The room became ear-splittingly loud. Meanwhile, I became edgy. The chaos felt off-task at best and unsafe at worst. At one point, another teacher walked into my classroom and said, “Why did you kick Alejandro out of class? He’s normally so quiet.” But the thing is, I hadn’t kicked Alejandro out. He had walked away because he felt anxious in the chaotic space.

Alejandro wasn’t alone. I printed up a quick survey (these were the pre- Google Forms days) to see how students felt about the classroom environment. Two-thirds described having a hard time concentrating on their work.

The next morning, I had coffee with my mentor and lamented, “I thought the project was authentic. I thought I could create a student-centered environment. I thought they would just know how to behave during a project like this. But, I don’t know, maybe I’m not able to create that kind of environment.”

He furrowed his eyebrows and said, “You ever work on a project when you’re at Starbucks?”

I nodded.

“Okay, watch the people in Starbucks. What trends do you see?”

I described people sitting at the tables and occasionally standing at a tall table. They moved to get coffee, to use the restroom, and to order items. However, they weren’t running around. Instead, it was relaxed.

Although the environment was noisy, it was mostly due to the work of grinding coffee and blending beverages. Most people were talking at a reasonable volume. They followed unspoken norms that allowed for communication and work. He then challenged me to think of all the spaces where I had done my best individual and collaborative projects. These were spaces designed for communication, deep thinking, and deep work. Some of these spaces were silent and others were loud. However, they were all spaces where I could focus.

I realized something critical at that moment. If we want students to engage in authentic projects, we need to design systems and structures that facilitate collaboration and creativity. For all the talk of “embracing chaos,” it turns out classroom management is a vital part of authentic PBL.

Myths About Classroom Management and PBL

The following are some of the common myths about classroom management and PBL.

Myth #1: Structure ruins creativity

This was the myth I bought into when I first embraced the PBL process. Like I mentioned before, I created a classroom environment free of constraint. Go where you need to go. Be as loud as you need to be. Take the John Mayer route and run through the halls of your high school and scream at the top of your lungs (yes, I just paraphrased John Mayer).

This came from a genuine recognition that school structures are often arbitrary and overly restrictive. However, I had gone to the opposite extreme of classroom management anarchy. I mistakenly believed in a false dichotomy between student ownership and classroom expectations.

Reality: Well-designed structures facilitate creativity

Architects often design spaces with two competing goals: craft spaces to reflect the way people will use them (starting with empathy) and create spaces that will create desired behaviors. Take Panera, for example. The physical layout reflects the need for both open and closed spaces with plenty of “breathing room.” They designed it to reflect the way people actually like to collaborate (the empathy-driven approach). However, they also have visual cues and physical structures that lead you toward specific locations the moment you walk in the door.

The same should be true of the structures in a PBL classroom. As educators, we can work like architects designing the structures that will facilitate creativity. We can start with the empathy-driven approach by asking “What would this be like to experience this as a student?”  It can help to imagine you are a student and spend some time thinking through what you might think and feel during an entire PBL Unit. You might even create student surveys to gauge what students need in order to thrive in a PBL environment.

From there, we can design systems that fit the needs of our students. For example, students need to move and they need to have the chance to stand up. However, they also need the opportunity to focus without distraction. So, we can create standing centers at the edges of the classroom. We can create physical pathways that allow for movement of materials.

However, we can also embrace the ideas of UX Design to guide students through the process. Students should be able to know where to find materials and where to go to get help. This goes beyond the physical structures. Students need to have pedagogical structures for things like brainstorming, ideating, research, and collaborative decision-making.

Myth #2: You need tons of transitions or students will be off-task

This was one of my biggest fears when starting out on my PBL journey. I had always transitioned every 15-20 minutes to prevent students from getting bored and checking out. I kept my lessons fast-paced with tight deadlines. So, when I switched to a project-based approach, I initially broke tasks down for students and kept the same tight time deadlines.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was creating a stop-and-go approach to projects. Although I wanted students to work quickly, they never truly hit a place of deep concentration because we were frantically moving from task to task, only to stop, wait for directions, and move on.

Reality: Students need to engage in deep work to hit a state of flow

Students actually accomplished more when we took out the transitions and focused on longer stretches of time to engage in the project work. This is a key idea behind what Cal Newport describes as “deep work” (I highly recommend the book), where people spend 1-3 hours without distractions. Here, they often hit a state of creative flow, where they attain hyper-concentration and fixate on their work. When this happens, they learn at a deeper level and they retain more of their knowledge.

But these moments of flow, whether they are in groups or individually, can also work as preventative classroom management. When students focus on their projects, they are less likely to disrupt the learning.

Myth #3: An engaging project means you won’t have discipline issues

When I look back at my worst moments as a teacher (those times when I shamed a student or yelled at a class), it was almost never during a project. A well-constructed project is one of the best preventative classroom management strategies. However, it’s a myth to think that you can focus on the pedagogy and ignore classroom management. Even in your best PBL units, you will have discipline issues you need to deal address.

Reality: You need clear expectations

When you first launch a PBL unit, you will likely have students who have never experienced project-based learning. They will need to know how it works and what they are expected to do. Because it’s so different (more collaborative work, more creativity, and often more hands-on learning) you will need to clarify the expectations.

You might need to generate a list of rules or norms together with your students. You will likely need to model and practice procedures with your students. The goal is to make it clear, visual, and memorable for students. Although this can feel less exciting than the actual project, it’s actually a vital part of the process.

Myth #4: PBL classrooms are noisy all the time

I get it. Some tasks are inherently noisy. It’s hard to have students doing physical prototyping in silence. The class is going to get noisy during the collaborative part of ideation. However, a project-based classroom doesn’t have to reach a deafening volume all the time.

Reality: The noise should never get in the way of the learning

It’s easy for one group to get louder and then other groups start talking louder until it slowly creeps to a level that prevents groups from working effectively. This is why it’s okay to have expectations of a general volume level during collaborative work. I’ve seen teachers use volume level charts (like a noise meter). When I taught middle school, I would do a thirty-second silent time-out when the noise got too loud. It worked like a reset button.

It also helps to create moments of strategic silence throughout a project. You might start the class period with a silent warm-up and end with a silent reflection. Or you might break up the project process to have students engage in silent thinking or quick writes to boost metacognition. You can also embed quiet individual tasks into the project process.

For example, students can engage in individual research to gain extra background knowledge. During the ideation process, students can brainstorm in isolation before meeting with their groups. They can also create their own SWOT assessments on their own before meeting with their groups to test and revise prototypes.

Myth #5: You need a system of punishments and rewards to keep group members accountable

We’ve all been there before. You do a group project and suddenly one member disappears. Another member has tons of opinions and ideas but doesn’t want to do any of the work. So, you end up doing the entire project by yourself. For this reason, it’s tempting to create rigid rules and consequences for group members in PBL units.

Reality: The best accountability is interdependence

There is a time and a place for external accountability. PBL expert Trevor Muir has students sign group accountability contracts at the start of each PBL unit. However, I’ve found that students are more accountable to one another when they have to work interdependently on their projects. Take, for example, this brainstorming strategy. Students actually benefit from listening to one another depending on each other for new ideas.

I often think of the LAUNCH Cycle as a roadmap for interdependent student ownership in creative projects. Here’s what this looks like:

  • Students tap into their own awareness and background knowledge during the Look, Listen, and Learn phase. Here, each member has the opportunity to share what they already know.
  • Students own the inquiry process as they ask specific questions in the Ask Tons of Questions phase. Each member can contribute their own questions to the entire group’s set of questions. Each member can add questions, regardless of their skill level or prior knowledge.
  • Students work interdependently to find specific facts in the research phase.
  • Students are generating their own ideas individually before engaging in the Navitage Ideas (group ideation) phase.
  • Each member of the group has a different role in the project management process and they all discuss progress collectively as a group
  • Every student has the opportunity to engage in assessment in the Highlight and Fix phase. I love the interdependence of the 20-minute peer feedback system here.
  • Being Proactive About Classroom Management
  1. Think about the procedures you will need to teach ahead of time.  What procedures and expectations will you need to teach ahead of time? How will students get materials? How will you handle noise? How will you handle movement? Are groups allowed to talk to one another? If so, what does that process look like? How will you handle students finishing at different rates? What kinds of “brain breaks” will you offer to students who need to walk away from their projects? How will you help students define these expectations together as a classroom community?
  2. Think about the space. How will you differentiate the space for different tasks? How will you design spaces for different types of learning? What will you do to encourage a free flow of movement? What visual cues will you create to help students navigate the space? What materials will you use? Where will you store these materials? Where will students put their physical products when they leave the class period (or move on to a new subject)? It helps hear to do an empathy exercise where you picture yourself as a student and ask what a student might be feeling or thinking.
  3. Think about the roles within the classroom. What types of group roles will you have?  How will your role change as a teacher? How will you spend your time when students are in the prototyping phase?
  4. Consider how you might communicate this shift to stakeholders. Are you comfortable having administrators and other leaders walking into your classroom during the prototyping phase? What kinds of fears might certain teachers face if they saw something that looked chaotic? What do you need to do to communicate the PBL process to parents/guardians, fellow staff members, and administrators?

Classroom management can actually be easier in a PBL classroom. With increased engagement and clear expectations, you often find yourself doing student-teacher conferences rather than redirecting behaviors. However, this requires an intentional, proactive classroom management plan. When this happens, all students are able to work collaboratively and creatively on the epic projects you have designed for them.

By: John Spencer

My goal is simple. I want to make something each day. Sometimes I make things. Sometimes I make a difference. On a good day, I get to do both.More about me

Source: 5 Myths About Classroom Management in PBL – John Spencer

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Four Ways To Create a More Inclusive Workplace

Getty Images (Image credit: Getty Images)

If diversity means celebrating our differences we must respect and value a balanced range of perspectives and ensure we have a range of different voices in our team that are equally supported and heard.

Corporate culture, like many other parts of our patriarchal societies, have been designed with the lived experience of straight, white men in mind. But what about the rest of us? What efforts can we each make to turn our offices into environments where all professionals, regardless of their background, can flourish? Here are four ways to make work more inclusive:

1. Take stock of the identities that dominate your office

Research shows our lived experiences shape everything from how we think about the world to our motivations and cultural behaviours. Is there a particular type of person that’s well represented across the leadership team and beyond? If so, how could that dominant identity group impact company culture and views?

What risk is there that certain perspectives represented amongst your customer or client base are being missed due to your team make up? Spark up conversations with your team about whose voices matter to your work but are not represented in the team. Think of ways to expand your community and outreach to include these voices.

2. Recognize where you have privilege and therefore blind spots

Professor Michael Kimmel famously said, “Privilege is invisible to those who have it.” That means that privilege i.e. unearned advantages we gain through our identity, which we have no choice over, can be difficult to discern unless we actively consider the experiences of other people in our society who don’t share the same opportunities, choices and other advantages we have.

For example, as a cis gender heterosexual woman I have never had to experience the anxiety that comes with using a restroom in public buildings, or fear violence when walking hand in hand with my partner on holiday in exotic countries.

3. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

Look at the tragic events we’ve witnessed these past few years from the murder of George Floyd to the fatal shooting of Chris Kapa, both at the hands of the police. And let’s not forget the death of Belly Mujinga, who passed away from coronavirus which she contracted after an infected passenger spat at her at the station where she was working.

It is undeniable that our identify has a huge impact on how we navigate the world, and it has a huge impact on how others treat us. This is an uncomfortable truth that we must engage with regularly so we can take action to make the world more fair and equitable. Be willing to challenge racism, and other forms of discrimination wherever you hear them or see them.

4. Focus on your vision of the future

Fighting for equality and fair treatment of all identities takes guts. It’s not easy. The more you become aware of privilege and discrimination, the more you will see it play out in everything from the media, think about toxic headlines in the newspapers, to banter at the office, think of the types of jokes you’ve heard that made you stop and think. What has helped me do the work I do, challenging bias wherever I see it, is focusing on the future.

In the future I want to see more women especially Black women and other women of colour, leading teams and companies and really – doing whatever they want. Without the obstacles they face today. I wish this for all marginalised identities underrepresented at work everywhere.

Abadesi Osunsade is the Founder and CEO of Hustle Crew, a careers community for the underrepresented in tech and a diversity and inclusion consultancy on a mission to make teams more inclusive. Hustle Crew Membership is for anyone who wants to be an inclusion ambassador in their community, with weekly resources and monthly workshops to teach you how to drive change from £12/month. 

By: Niamh McCollum

 

Niamh McCollum is Features Assistant at Marie Claire UK, and specialises in entertainment, female empowerment, mental health, social development and careers. Tackling both news and features, she’s covered everything from the rise of feminist audio porn platforms to the latest campaigns protecting human rights.

Source: Four ways to create a more inclusive workplace | Marie Claire UK

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Critics by University of Massachusetts Global

As you analyze your own company culture, you’re likely wondering if your team has cultivated a positive or negative experience for your employees. If your company has difficulty attracting top talent or exhibits low employee morale, McCusker says these could be signs that your workplace culture needs improvement.

“I absolutely believe you can reverse a negative company culture — however it takes a lot of work, and likely some significant changes,” she adds. “It’s not a project, it’s a movement.”

Creating a positive company culture: 4 Expert tips

McCusker explains that the key to creating a positive work culture is knowing that it cannot be reverse-engineered. What works for one company, she elaborates, can’t be authentically replicated elsewhere. This is because workplace culture is not something that’s owned.

“It is the result of millions of little decisions over the lifetime of a company,” she says. “Because it’s organic, it will quickly change when left untended.”

As you strive to cultivate and maintain a positive culture within your organization, consider the following four pieces of advice from our business experts.

1. Identify your organization’s core values

While there’s no surefire recipe for achieving positivity within your work environment, every organization can benefit by analyzing a few key aspects of its identity. Sam Pardue, CEO and founder of window insert company Indow, highlights three cornerstones of a positive work culture: mission, vision and values. “They are simple, but hard to execute in a credible way,” he says, noting the following about each:

  • Mission provides the intrinsic motivation which makes employees excited to accomplish great things at work.
  • Vision helps them understand the destiny they are helping to create.
  • Values are the ways everyone agrees to work together.

If you hope to build up an employee base that is passionate, engaged and productive, begin by identifying a foundational mission your workers will find exciting.

2. Establish trust by representing those values

Culture coach and consultant Lizz Pellet notes that workplace culture travels from the top down. “Leaders create culture,” she says. “How members of a group take their culture cues is the way they see and perceive how the leader behaves — so what leaders focus on is critical.”

Pellet explains that if an organization’s leadership team is employee-focused, empathetic and authentic, it will send a calming message to employees that their leaders are there for them. That can help keep help improve engagement, productivity and even profitability.

McCusker agrees that cultural representation among leadership teams is crucial: Having a positive culture means seeing leaders at all levels living the values out loud. “It means having an employee experience that, at all touch points, is reflective of the company’s beliefs and values,” she adds.

3. Maintain clear and consistent expectations

One element most all of us need to achieve a sense of harmony is consistency. While teams across industries strive to achieve innovation in their product offerings, predictability is actually something many employees seek in a positive work culture. Pardue says it’s critical that your workers are able to fully grasp what’s expected of them.

“Employees want to know what the rules are, and that they will be enforced equally and in a predictable way,” he offers. “Unpredictability in management actions causes contempt and distrust — and ultimately destroys the culture.”

McCusker agrees that maintaining expectations at every level is essential. “I once heard a CEO say that if you are not willing to fire your top performing employee over behavior that is inconsistent with the culture, then your culture is not very strong and you do not truly believe in it.”

4. Ensure your employees feel valued

Creating a positive work culture isn’t simply about workplace happy hours and catered Friday lunches, notes senior partner at Partners in Leadership Jared Jones. “Real culture is rooted in an employee’s daily experiences, which in turn shape their beliefs,” he says. “These beliefs inform their actions, and actions lead to results.”

One survey from the American Psychological Association (APA) found that over 90 percent of employees who feel valued at work say they’re more motivated to do their best. That drops to just 33 percent among employees who don’t feel valued by their employers.

“Companies led by executives who create positive experiences by consistently offering and asking for constructive feedback, recognizing employees’ efforts during company meetings and even just saying ‘thank you’ on a regular basis lay the groundwork for a positive workplace culture,” Jones explains. He adds that the more employees see this type of behavior, the more valued and connected to the organization’s goals they’ll feel.

Build a positive workplace culture

Investing in your organization’s wellbeing calls for an honest assessment of your company ethos. Take time to analyze what’s working and what isn’t. Then, let the insight from our business experts guide you in creating a positive work culture that can support your organization’s future success.

Once you lay a good foundation, it might feel like the sky’s the limit. You can learn to harness that energy and funnel it into positive results from the beginning by setting goals that are both challenging and attainable. Learn more by reading our article, “How to measure organizational performance: The secret to effective goal setting.”

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Related contents:

MPs to examine civil service office plans amid ‘seismic shift’ in working culture Civil Service World

There are 7 types of bosses, says workplace culture expert—and only 1 is worth working for CNBC

 
 
 
17:09 Wed, 05 Oct
08:34 Thu, 29 Sep
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CryptoUnderworld     https://jvz8.com/c/202927/374345/
Dealcheck     https://dealcheck.io?fp_ref=armin16
DesignaSuite      https://jvz2.com/c/202927/297271
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DFYSuite   https://jvz3.com/c/202927/381194/
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Email Monetizer    https://jvz2.com/c/202927/386337/
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Facebook Cash Machine   https://jvz4.com/c/202927/382333/
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Fitness Nutrition   https://jvz4.com/c/202927/353334/
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Hostley Domain Creator   https://jvz1.com/c/202927/379223/
Human Synthesys Studio  https://jvz8.com/c/202927/367353/
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