Why Workplace Empathy Won’t Keep Employees Happy

“Empathy is one of the values we’ve had from our founding.” That’s what Chelsea MacDonald, SVP of people and operations at Ada, a tech startup that builds customer-service platforms, told me when we first got on the phone for this story in June. When the company was in its early stages, with about 50 people, empathy was “a bit more ad hoc,” because you could bump into colleagues at lunch. But that was pre-pandemic, and before a hiring surge.

Now, MacDonald says, empathy is built on communication (as many as five times a week, she communicates in some way to the entire company about empathy), through tools (specifically, one that tracks whom people communicate with most and who gets left out), through intimacy (cultivated through special-interest groups) and through transparency (senior leaders share notes after every meeting). At various points in our discussion, MacDonald describes empathy as “more than just, ‘Hey, care about other people’” and “making space for other people to make mistakes.”

She was one of a dozen executives whose communications directors reached out when I tweeted about the office trend of “empathy.” Adriana Bokel Herde, the chief people officer at the software company Pegasystems, told me about the three-hour virtual empathy-training session the company had created for managers—and how nearly 90% had joined voluntarily.

Kieran Snyder, the CEO of Textio, a predictive-writing company, said the biggest surprise about empathy in the workplace is that it and accountability are “flip sides of the same coin.” “We had an engineer give some feedback that was really striking,” she told me. “She said that the most empathetic thing her manager could do for her was be really clear about expectations. Let me be an adult and handle my deliverables so that I know what to do.”

All of these leaders see empathy as a path forward after 17 months of societal and professional tumult. And employees do feel that it’s missing from the workplace: according to the 2021 State of Workplace Empathy Study, administered by software company Businessolver, only 1 in 4 employees believed empathy in their organizations was “sufficient.”

Companies know they must start thinking seriously about addressing their empathy deficit or risk losing workers to companies that are. Still, I’ve also heard from workers who think it’s all nonsense: the latest in a long string of corporate attempts to distract from toxic or exploitative company culture, yet another scenario in which employers implore workers to be honest and vulnerable about their needs, then implicitly or explicitly punish them for it.

If you’ve read all this and are still confused about what workplace empathy actually is, you’re not alone. Outside the office, developing empathy means trying to understand and share the feelings or experiences of someone else. Empathy is different from sympathy, which is more one-directional: you feel sad for what someone else is going through, but you have little understanding of what it feels like. Because empathy is predicated on experience, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to cultivate. At best, it’s expanded sympathy; at worst, it’s trying to force connections between wildly different lived experiences (see especially: white people attempting to empathize with the experience of systemic racism).

Applied in a corporate setting, the very idea of empathy begins to fall apart. Is it bringing their whole selves, to use an HR buzzword, to work? Is it cultivating niceness? Is it making space for sympathy and allowing people to air grievances, or is it leadership modeling vulnerability? Over the course of reporting this story, I talked to more than a dozen people from the C-suites of midsize and large companies that had decided to make empathy central to their corporate messaging or strategy.

Some plans were more fleshed out and self-interrogating. Some thought an empathy training available to three time zones was enough. Others understood empathy as small gestures, like looking at a co-worker’s calendar, seeing they’ve been in meetings all day, and giving them a 10-minute pause to get water before you meet with them.

But where did this current push for workplace empathy begin? According to Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and chief executive officer of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and author of the upcoming book Reset: A Leader’s Guide to Work in an Age of Upheaval, it sort of started with, well, him. In the fall of 2020, he’d been hearing a similar refrain from businesses: everyone was tired. Tired of the pandemic; of stalled diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) efforts; of their bosses and their employees.

When he looked at the 2020 State of Workplace Empathy Study, then in its fourth year, the reasons for that exhaustion became clear. People were tired because they were working all the time, and trying to sort out caregiving responsibilities, and dealing with oscillating threat levels from COVID-19. But they were also tired, he believed, because there was a generalized empathy deficit.

Read More: Hourly Workers Are Demanding Better Pay and Benefits—and Getting Them

That “empathy deficit” became the cornerstone of Taylor’s State of Society address in November 2020. “Much of the resurgence of DE&I programming in the wake of the George Floyd killing was supposed to encourage open conversation and mutual understanding,” he said. “But it often bypassed empathy. Well-meaning programs devolve into grievance sessions … rather than listening and trying to relate.”

SHRM is an incredibly influential organization, with more than 300,000 members in 165 countries. So while it’s not as if empathy efforts were nonexistent before, Taylor’s speech encouraged them. Even if members weren’t there to listen to his words, his message—and the data from the study—began to filter into HR departments, leaving a trail of optional learning modules and Zoom trainings in its wake.

The backlash started shortly thereafter. Taylor acknowledges as much. “I see these companies jumping on it,” he told me. “But it’s not an initiative. It’s not a buzzword. It’s a cultural principle. If you make this promise, as a company, if you put this word out there, your employees are going to hold you to it.” He adds that empathy should go both ways: “There’s an expectation that employees can mess up; employers should be able to mess up too.”

In the case of employees, many are frustrated by perceived hypocrisy. (All employees who spoke critically about their employers for this story requested anonymity out of concern for their jobs.) One woman told me her company, Viacom, has been doing a lot of messaging about empathy, particularly when it comes to mental health. At the same time, it has switched to a health plan that’s more restrictive when it comes to accessing mental-health professionals and care.

(Viacom attributes the change to a shift in policy on the part of their insurance provider and says it has worked to remedy it.) Other employees report repeated invocations of empathy from upper management in staff meetings, but little training on how to implement it with those they supervise. As one female employee at a performing-arts nonprofit told me, “In a one-on-one meeting with my boss where I was openly struggling and tried to discuss it, I was told that mental health is important, but improving my job performance was more important.”

A customer-service representative for a fintech company said empathy had been centered as a “core value” of the organization: something they were meant to practice with one another but also with customers. To quantify worker empathy, the company sends out customer-satisfaction surveys (CSATs) after each interaction. It found that dips in CSAT scores, which were measured by an automated system, reliably happened when a customer had a long hold time, which had little to do with whether the representative modeled empathy. Yet employees were still promoted based on these scores.

The central tension emerges again and again: “There’s an irony, because there’s the equity that you want to present to employees—while also giving special consideration and solutions for specific situations,” Joyce Kim, the chief marketing officer of Genesys, which provides customer service and call-center tech for businesses, told me. “Those two are often incongruent.”

Put another way, it’s hard, at least from a leadership perspective, to cultivate equal treatment for everyone while also making exceptions for everyone. If you allow an employee to work different hours, have different expectations of accessibility or have more leeway because of an illness, how is that fair to those who don’t need those things? How, in other words, do you accommodate difference while still maximizing profits?

What companies are trying to do, at heart, is train employees to treat one another not like productivity robots, but like people: people with kids, people with responsibilities, people shouldering the weight of systemic discrimination. But that runs counter to the main goal of most companies, which is to create and distribute a product—whether that’s a service, an object or a design—as efficiently as possible. They might dress up that goal in less capitalistic language, but the end point remains the same: profits, the more the better, with as little friction as possible.

Within this framework, the frictionless employee is the ideal employee. But a lack of friction is a privilege. It means looking and acting and behaving like people in power, which, at least in American society, means being white, male and cisgender; with few or no caregiving responsibilities; no physical or mental disabilities; no strong accent or awkward social tics or physical reminders, like “bad teeth,” of growing up poor; and no needs for accommodations—religious, dietary or otherwise. For decades, offices were filled with people who fit this bill, or who were able to hide or groom away the parts of themselves that did not.

The women and people of color who were admitted into these spaces did so with an unspoken caveat that they would make themselves amenable to the status quo. They didn’t bring their “whole selves” to work. Not even close. They brought only the parts that would blend in with the rest of the workforce. If you were sexually harassed, you didn’t make a fuss about it. If someone used a racial slur, same deal. If there were Christmas celebrations that made the one Jewish employee feel weird, that person was expected not to make waves. Bad behavior wasn’t friction, per se. But a worker whose identity already created a form of friction complaining about it? That sure was.

Historians of labor have pointed out that this posture was particularly prevalent in office settings, where salaried workers were often saturated in narratives of a great, unified purpose. If employees took care of the company, and flattened themselves into as close to the image of the ideal worker as possible, the company would take care of them, in compensation and eventual pension. Which is one of many reasons that white collar office workers have been resistant to unionization efforts, which felt, as sociologist C. Wright Mills has noted, like a crass, almost hysterical form of office friction.

Machinists and longshoremen were laborers and had no recourse other than the big stick of the union to advocate for themselves. Office workers could solve conflict man to man, boss to employee, like, well, the white gentlemen that they were—or at the very least pretended to be.

This mindset began to erode over the course of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s—first, when massive waves of layoffs and benefit cuts destabilized the myth of the benevolent parent company. But the white maleness of the culture also began to (very gradually) shift in the wake of legal protections against discrimination related to gender, age, disability and, only recently, sexual orientation.

White male workers remained dominant in most industries, particularly in leadership roles. But they began to lose their unquestioned monopoly on the norms of the workplace. Some changes were embraced; others, especially around sexual harassment and racial discrimination, were changed via legal force.

Read More: The Pandemic Reset the Balance Between Workers and Employers. How Bosses Respond Will Shape the Future of Work

The overarching goal of HR departments in the past, going back to the field’s origins in “scientific management” of factory assembly lines, was keeping employees healthy enough to work efficiently. After 1964, their task expanded to include compliance with legal protections, in addition to the continued work of keeping employees healthy and “happy” enough to do their work well. “Unhappiness,” after all, is expensive—according to a Gallup estimate from 2013, dissatisfaction costs U.S. companies $450 million to $550 million a year in lost productivity. Unhappiness, in other words, is friction.

But as the workplace continues to diversify, how do you maintain the worker “happiness” of a bunch of different sorts of people, from different backgrounds, with different cultural contexts? There are some obvious fixes: continuing to erode the power of monoculture (in which one, limited way of being/working becomes the way of being/working to which all other employees must aspire); recruiting and retaining managers who actually know how to manage; creating a culture that encourages taking time off. But usually, the proposed solution takes the form of the HR initiative.

Take the 2010s push for “wellness,” which manifested in the form of mental-health seminars, gym memberships and free Fitbits. You can view these initiatives as part of a desire to reduce health-insurance premiums. But you can also see them as a means of confronting the reality of a workforce that, in the wake of the Great Recession, was anxious about their finances and careers, particularly as more and more workers were replaced by subcontractors, who enjoyed even fewer protections and privileges.

Or consider the push for DE&I programs in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests in 2015. These initiatives aim to acknowledge a perceived source of friction—the fact that a company is very white, its leadership remains “snowcapped,” or the workplace is quietly or aggressively hostile to Black and brown employees—while also providing a proposed solution. The corporate DE&I initiative communicates that we see this problem, we’re working to solve it, so you can talk less about it.

Wellness and DE&I initiatives are frequently unsatisfying and demoralizing, particularly for those workers they are ostensibly designed to benefit. They often lean heavily on the labor of those with the least power within an organization. And they approach systemic problems with solutions designed to disrupt people’s lives as little as possible. (A three-hour webinar will not create a culture of inclusion.) But the superficiality is part of the point.

Contain the friction, but do so by creating as little additional friction as possible, because a series of eruptions is easier to contain than a truly paradigm-shifting one that threatens the status quo and, by extension, the company’s public profile and profitability. According to a 2021 SHRM report, in the five years since DE&I initiatives swept the corporate world, 42% of Black employees, 26% of Asian employees and 21% of Hispanic employees reported experiencing unfair treatment based on their race or ethnicity.

The ramifications of racial inequity (lost productivity, turnover and absenteeism) over the past five years may have cost the U.S. up to $172 billion. But instead of acknowledging what it is about the company culture that makes it difficult to retain diverse hires, or what might have to change to recoup those losses, companies blame individual workers who were a “bad fit.” DE&I initiatives don’t fail because there’s a “diversity pipeline problem.” It’s because those in power aren’t willing to relinquish any of it.

A similar contradiction applies to the rise of “corporate empathy.” At its heart, it’s a set of policies, initiatives and messaging developed to respond to the “friction” of a workforce unsettled by the pandemic, a continuing racial reckoning and sustained political anxiety, capped off by an uprising, on a workday, days after most of the workforce had returned from winter breaks. Many empathy initiatives are well-intentioned. But coming from an employer, they still, ultimately, say: We see you are breaking in two, we are too, but how can we collectively still work as if we’re not?

Therein lies the empathy trap. So long as organizations view employees with different needs as sources of friction, and solutions to those needs as examples of unfairness, they will continue to promote and retain employees with the capacity to make their personalities, needs and identities as frictionless as possible. They will encourage “bringing the whole self to work,” but only on a good day. They will fetishize “sharing personal stories,” but only when the ramifications don’t interfere with the product or create interpersonal conflict. This is what happens when you conceive of empathy as allowances: Those who would benefit from it become less desirable workers. Their friction is centered, and their value decreases.

Our society is built around the goals of capitalism—and capitalism, and the ethos of individualism that thrives alongside it, is inherently in conflict with empathy. The qualities that make our bodies, selves and minds most amenable to those goals are prized above all else, and it is HR’s primary task to further cultivate those qualities, whether through “enrichment” or “wellness,” even when the most significant obstacle to either is the workplace itself.

Why do the declarations of empathy feel so hollow? Because growth and profit do not reward it. Companies, HR professionals, managers, even the best trained can do only so much. A large portion of the dissatisfaction that employees feel is the result of actively toxic company policy, thoughtless management and executives clinging to the status quo. But a lot of it, too, is anger at systems that extend beyond the office:

The fraying social safety nets, the decaying social bonds, the frameworks set up to devalue women’s work, the stubborn endurance of racism, the lack of protections or fair pay for the workers whose labor we ostensibly value most. We don’t know how to make people care about other people. No wonder workplace initiatives can feel so laughably incomplete. How do you cultivate a healthy workplace culture when it’s rooted in poisoned soil? “It’s not just a workplace empathy deficit,” Taylor told me. “It’s an American cultural deficit.”

By Anne Helen Petersen

Petersen is co-author of the upcoming book Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working From Home

Source: Why Workplace Empathy Won’t Keep Employees Happy | Time

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Contents:

Find out how emotionally intelligent you are by taking our emotional intelligence quiz.

And Mind Tools Premium club members and Corporate users can listen to our exclusive interview with Daniel Goleman

Cynthia D. Fisher; Neal M. Ashkanasy. “The Emerging Role of Emotions in Work Life: An Introduction

Hoffmann, Elizabeth A. (2016). “Emotions and Emotional Labor at Worker-Owned Businesses: Deep Acting, Surface Acting, and Genuine Emotions”. The Sociological Quarterly. 57: 152–173. doi:10.1111/tsq.12113. S2CID 145338476.

McQuerrey, Lisa. “Eight Steps to End Drama in The Workplace”. Retrieved 20 April 2014.

“Interview with Harry Prosen M.D. Psychiatric Consultant Bonobo Species Survival Plan”. Retrieved 11 August 2011.

Rosenberg, Marshall B. (2005). “5: Connecting with others empathically”. Speak peace in a world of conflict: what you say next will change your world. Puddledancer Press. pp. 240. ISBN 978-1892005175.

Empathy Definitions by Edwin Rutsch from the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy.

Mirrored emotion by Jean Decety from the University of Chicago.

Empathy and the brain by Gwen Dewar published in Parenting Science.

Empathic listening skills How to listen so others will feel heard, or listening first aid (University of California).

Study: People literally feel pain of others – mirror-touch synesthesia Live Science, 17 June 2007.

Why Your Return to the Office Requires Two Workplace Safety Policies

Operating amid the pandemic has entered a new phase of difficulty–particularly for employers of both vaccinated and unvaccinated workers. Shortly after the CDC updated its guidelines on May 13, noting that vaccinated individuals no longer needed to wear facemasks indoors, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a federal agency that oversees workplace health and safety, updated its Covid-19 guidance.

On June 26, OSHA updated guidance in compliance with the CDC to help employers protect workers who are still not vaccinated, with a special emphasis on industries with prolonged close-contacts such as meat processing, manufacturing, seafood, and grocery and high-volume retail. The guidance includes protocols for social distancing, mask wearing, and other health procedures meant to keep both parties safe.

Considering that just 52 percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, chances are some of your employees have yet to get a jab. That means if you’re planning a return to the office, you’ll also need to create two separate workplace health policies.

These policies will be different from business to business, depending on the level of community spread in a given location and the level of contact employees have with the public. But acting is a must, says David Barron, labor and employment attorney at Cozen O’Connor. Failing to address a stratified workplace–or even just relying on the honor system–could lead to legal trouble, a loss of morale, turnover, and employees falling sick.

Founders like Dominique Kemps aren’t taking any chances. Her business, GlassExpertsFL, a commercial glass repair company, is located in Miami. Florida overall has been particularly hard hit by the Delta variant, a more contagious strain of the coronavirus. Daily, about 10 in 100,000 people are contracting the coronavirus by way of the Delta variant. As of July 2, only 46 percent of the population of Florida was fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

Kemps has devised two separate physical workspaces: one for vaccinated employees and another for those who remain unvaccinated. Also for unvaccinated employees, meetings are held virtually, while vaccinated employees can wear a mask and attend if desired. Vaccinated employees can also eat lunch together, while Kemps has asked unvaccinated employees to eat in a designated area. “Frankly,” she says, “it hasn’t been easy.”

Here’s how to ease the transition:

1. Request vaccination information.

Before you make any decisions regarding which policies to enact, first ask and keep track of who is vaccinated and who isn’t, says Dr. Shantanu Nundy, chief medical officer at Accolade, a benefit provider for health care workers. An employer can request a copy of an employee’s vaccination card or other proof, which should help you determine how much of your workforce falls under one policy or another.

If you opt to review vaccination information, note that anything you collect must be considered confidential information that has to be kept private in files that are separate from personnel files. A failure to do so may result in anti-discrimination violations under the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, two laws that protect workers from health status discrimination.

2. Overcommunicate any policy changes.

It’s also crucial to communicate any change in policy openly. Robert Johnson, founder of Sawinery, a Windsor, Connecticut-based creator of woodworking projects, divided workers into two shifts, the first for vaccinated individuals, and another for unvaccinated workers. He’s made it clear to his staff that he’s waiting until everyone is vaccinated before returning to the original schedule.

“The structure won’t compromise anyone’s safety and everyone can work without any worries in mind,” says Johnson.

3. Stay flexible.

If anything has been true about the pandemic, it’s that things can change rapidly. As such, Nundy recommends clarifying that policies are flexible and may be subject to change. Some unvaccinated folks may want to leave if they feel they’re being treated differently, such as not being allowed into the office. Some smart wording can easily allay these concerns, he says. Instead of telling unvaccinated employees that they’re not welcome in the office again, make it clear that the policies are temporary–if that’s the case, of course–and that you’re open to feedback, adds Nundy.

The occupational safety and health policy defines the goals for the occupational health and safety work in the workplace and for activities that promote the working capacity of the staff. The policy also describes occupational health and safety responsibilities and the way of organizing the cooperation measures. The preparation of the occupational safety and health policy is based on the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The policy is employer-specific and applies to all employers.

By: Brit Morse, Assistant editor, Inc.@britnmorse

Source: Why Your Return to the Office Requires Two Workplace Safety Policies | Inc.com

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Critics:

Workplace wellness is any workplace health promotion activity or organizational policy designed to support healthy behavior in the workplace and to improve health outcomes. Known as ‘corporate wellbeing’ outside the US, workplace wellness often comprises activities such as health education, medical screenings, weight management programs, on-site fitness programs or facilities.

Workplace wellness programs can be categorized as primary, secondary, or tertiary prevention efforts, or an employer can implement programs that have elements of multiple types of prevention. Primary prevention programs usually target a fairly healthy employee population, and encourage them to more frequently engage in health behaviors that will encourage ongoing good health (such as stress management, exercise and healthy eating).

Secondary prevention programs are targeted at reducing behavior that is considered a risk factor for poor health (such as smoking cessation programs and screenings for high blood pressure). Tertiary health programs address existing health problems (for example, by encouraging employees to better adhere to specific medication or self-managed care guidelines).

References:

Return to Office: Employees Are Quitting Instead of Giving Up Work From Home

A six-minute meeting drove Portia Twidt to quit her job. She’d taken the position as a research compliance specialist in February, enticed by promises of remote work. Then came the prodding to go into the office. Meeting invites piled up.

The final straw came a few weeks ago: the request for an in-person gathering, scheduled for all of 360 seconds. Twidt got dressed, dropped her two kids at daycare, drove to the office, had the brief chat and decided she was done.

“I had just had it,” said Twidt, 33, who lives in Marietta, Georgia.

With the coronavirus pandemic receding for every vaccine that reaches an arm, the push by some employers to get people back into offices is clashing with workers who’ve embraced remote work as the new normal.

While companies from Google to Ford Motor Co. and Citigroup Inc. have promised greater flexibility, many chief executives have publicly extolled the importance of being in offices. Some have lamented the perils of remote work, saying it diminishes collaboration and company culture. JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Jamie Dimon said at a recent conference that it doesn’t work “for those who want to hustle.”

But legions of employees aren’t so sure. If anything, the past year has proved that lots of work can be done from anywhere, sans lengthy commutes on crowded trains or highways. Some people have moved. Others have lingering worries about the virus and vaccine-hesitant colleagues.

And for Twidt, there’s also the notion that some bosses, particularly those of a generation less familiar to remote work, are eager to regain tight control of their minions.

“They feel like we’re not working if they can’t see us,” she said. “It’s a boomer power-play.”

It’s still early to say how the post-pandemic work environment will look. Only about 28% of U.S. office workers are back at their buildings, according to an index of 10 metro areas compiled by security company Kastle Systems. Many employers are still being lenient with policies as the virus lingers, vaccinations continue to roll out and childcare situations remain erratic.

But as office returns accelerate, some employees may want different options. A May survey of 1,000 U.S. adults showed that 39% would consider quitting if their employers weren’t flexible about remote work. The generational difference is clear: Among millennials and Gen Z, that figure was 49%, according to the poll by Morning Consult on behalf of Bloomberg News.

“High-five to them,” said Sara Sutton, the CEO of FlexJobs, a job-service platform focused on flexible employment. “Remote work and hybrid are here to stay.”

The lack of commutes and cost savings are the top benefits of remote work, according to a FlexJobs survey of 2,100 people released in April. More than a third of the respondents said they save at least $5,000 per year by working remotely.

Jimme Hendrix, a 30-year-old software developer in the Netherlands, quit his job in December as the web-application company he worked for was gearing up to bring employees back to the office in February.

“During Covid I really started to see how much I enjoyed working from home,” Hendrix said.

Now he does freelance work and helps his girlfriend grow her art business. He used to spend two hours each day commuting; now the couple is considering selling their car and instead relying on bikes.

One of the main benefits, he says, is more control over his own time: “I can just do whatever I want around the house, like a quick chore didn’t have to wait until like 8 p.m. anymore, or I can go for a quick walk.”

Of course, not everyone has the flexibility to choose. For the millions of frontline workers who stock the shelves of grocery stores, care for patients in hospitals and nursing homes, or drop off packages at people’s doors, there are scant alternative options to showing up in person.

But among those who can, many are weighing their alternatives, said Anthony Klotz, an associate professor of management at Texas A&M University, who’s researched why people quit jobs. Bosses taking a hard stance should beware, particularly given labor shortages in the economy, he said.

“If you’re a company that thinks everything’s going back to normal, you may be right but it’s pretty risky to hope that’s the case,” he said.

At least some atop the corporate ladder seem to be paying attention. In a Jan. 12 PwC survey of 133 executives, fewer than one in five said they want to go back to pre-pandemic routines. But only 13% were prepared to let go of the office for good.

Alison Green, founder of workplace-advice website Ask a Manager, said she’s been contacted by many people with qualms about going back, citing concerns about unvaccinated colleagues and Covid precautions. Some have said they’re looking for jobs at companies they feel take the virus seriously, or will let them work from anywhere.

Some things are indeed lost with remote work, Green said, like opportunities for collaboration or learning for junior employees. But, she added: “I think we need to have a more nuanced discussion than: hustlers only do well in the office.”

For Sarah-Marie Martin, who lived in Manhattan and worked as a partner at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. when the pandemic struck, the months at home gave her time to redraw the blueprint of her life.

“When you have this existential experience, you have time to step back and think,” Martin said. “In my previous life, I didn’t have time to get super deep and philosophical.”

The mother of five moved her family to the New Jersey shore. And once the push to get back to offices picked up, the idea of commuting hardly seemed alluring. This spring, Martin accepted a fully remote position as chief financial officer of Yumi, a Los Angeles-based maker of baby food.

Gene Garland, 24, unknowingly opened the floodgates to people’s frustrations about office returns. After his employer, an IT company, in April told people they needed to start coming in, two of his close colleagues handed in their resignation letters. Garland, who lives in Hampton, Virginia, tapped out a tweet:

Hundreds of people responded, with many outlining plans, or at least hopes, to leave their own jobs. Garland says he himself has no plans to quit, but empathizes with those who do.

“Working inside of a building really does restrict time a lot more than you think,” he said. “A lot of people are afraid of the cycle where you work and work and work — and then you die.”

Twidt, the compliance specialist in Georgia, had already lined up a new job by the time she handed in her resignation letter: a role at a Washington-based company.

The recruiter that approached her, Twidt said, asked what it would take to get her on board. She replied that she would prefer something 100% remote. Some employees have enjoyed working from home so much that they’d rather quit their jobs than go back to the office full time, a new survey found.

Out of 1,000 US adults polled in May, 39% said they’d consider quitting if their bosses weren’t flexible about them working from home. The Morning Consult survey was first reported by Bloomberg. The survey showed that 49% of the respondents who said they’d consider quitting were millennials and Gen Z — i.e., adults born after 1980.

Many global companies are embracing a hybrid work model as staff start to return to offices post-pandemic. Finance giants, who were known for having a strict work culture, are now adopting more flexible work models. Some have decided to redesign the workplace for more collaboration, and keep solo tasks for remote working. Others plan to cut back on office space entirely.

But some firms, such as JPMorgan, are not won over by the idea of remote work and want to see the majority of their workforce in the office. Jamie Dimon, the company’s CEO, said on May 4 that remote work “does not work for young people” and “those who want to hustle.” Chris Biggs, a partner at the consultancy firm Theta Global Advisors, told Insider that employers need to be “tuned into people’s mental health” as staff return to the office.

“You could do a lot of damage to those who don’t want to go into the office,” he said, adding that employers shouldn’t force people to come into the office.

— With assistance by Sridhar Natarajan

By: and

Source: Return to Office: Employees Are Quitting Instead of Giving Up Work From Home – Bloomberg

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Critics:

Refusal of work is behavior in which a person refuses regular employment. As actual behavior, with or without a political or philosophical program, it has been practiced by various subcultures and individuals. Radical political positions have openly advocated refusal of work. From within Marxism it has been advocated by Paul Lafargue and the Italian workerist/autonomists (e.g. Antonio Negri, Mario Tronti), the French ultra-left (e.g. Échanges et Mouvement); and within anarchism (especially Bob Black and the post-left anarchy tendency).

In employment law, constructive dismissal, also called constructive discharge or constructive termination, occurs when an employee resigns as a result of the employer creating a hostile work environment. Since the resignation was not truly voluntary, it is, in effect, a termination. For example, when an employer places extraordinary and unreasonable work demands on an employee to obtain their resignation, this can constitute a constructive dismissal.

The exact legal consequences differ between different countries, but generally a constructive dismissal leads to the employee’s obligations ending and the employee acquiring the right to make claims against the employer. The employee may resign over a single serious incident or over a pattern of incidents. Generally, a party seeking relief must have resigned soon after one of the constructive acts.

Notes

What Does It Mean to Be a Manager Today?

A year into the pandemic, the implications of how Covid-19 has changed how people will work from now on are becoming clear. Many employees will be working in a hybrid world with more choices about where, when, and how much they work. For midsize companies specifically, Gartner analysis shows that 46% of the workforce is projected to be working hybrid in the near future.

To better understand the impact of Covid-19 on the future of work, we surveyed 3,049 knowledge workers and their managers across onsite, remote, and hybrid work contexts, as well as 75 HR leaders, including 20 leaders from midsize companies. Except where indicated, our findings come from these 2021 surveys.

Managers used to be selected and promoted largely based on their ability to manage and evaluate the performance of employees who could carry out a particular set of tasks. Within the last five years, HR executives started to hire and develop managers who were poised to be great coaches and teachers. But the assumption that coaching should be the primary function of management has been tested since the pandemic began. Three disruptive, transformative trends are challenging traditional definitions of the manager role:

Understanding Midsize Businesses

Normalization of remote work. As both employees and managers have become more distributed, their relationships to one another have also become more asynchronous. Gartner estimates that in more than 70% of manager-employee relationships, either the manager or the employee will be working remotely at least some of the time. This means that employees and their managers will be less likely to be working on the same things at the same time. Managers will have dramatically less visibility into the realities of their employees’ day-to-day and will begin to focus more on their outputs and less on the processes used to produce them.

Acceleration in use of technology to manage employees. More than one in four companies have invested in new technology to monitor their remote employees during the pandemic. Companies have been buying scheduling software, AI-enabled expense-report auditing tools, and even technologies to replace manager feedback using AI. While companies have been focused on how technology can automate employee tasks, it can just as effectively replace the tasks of managers. At the extreme, by 2024, new technologies have the potential to replace as much as 69% of the tasks historically done by managers, such as assigning work and nudging productivity.

Employees’ changing expectations. As companies have expanded the support they offer to their employees in areas like mental health and child care during the pandemic, the relationships between employees and their managers have started to shift to be more emotional and supportive. Knowledge workers now expect their managers to be part of their support system to help them improve their life experience, rather than just their employee experience.

When managerial tasks are replaced by technology, managers aren’t needed to manage workflows. When interactions become primarily virtual, managers can no longer rely on what they see to manage performance, and when relationships become more emotional, they can no longer limit the relationship to the sphere of work. These three trends have culminated in a new era of management where it’s less important to see what employees are doing and more important to understand how they feel.

Radical flexibility requires empathetic managers

To be successful in this new environment, managers must lead with empathy. In a 2021 Gartner survey of 4,787 global employees assessing the evolving role of management, only 47% of managers are prepared for this future role. The most effective managers of the future will be those who build fundamentally different relationships with their employees.

Empathy is nothing new. It’s a common term in the philosophy of good leadership, but it has yet to be a top management priority. The empathic manager is someone who can contextualize performance and behavior — who transcends simply understanding the facts of work and proactively asks questions and seeks information to place themselves in their direct reports’ contexts.

Empathy requires developing high levels of trust and care and a culture of acceptance within teams. This is a lot to ask of any individual: that they ask questions that produce vulnerable answers without compromising trust, diagnose the root cause of an employee’s behavior without making assumptions, and demonstrate the social-emotional intelligence necessary to imagine another’s feelings.

Empathy isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. In fact, in that same survey, 85% of HR leaders at midsize companies agreed that it’s more important now for managers to demonstrate empathy than it was before the pandemic. Further Gartner analysis shows that managers who display high levels of empathy have three times the impact on their employees’ performance than those who display low levels of empathy. Employees at organizations with high levels of empathy-based management are more than twice as likely to agree that their work environment is inclusive.

Creating a new workforce of empathic managers is especially difficult for midsize companies. While larger companies can earmark billions of dollars for learning and development for massive workforce transformation, smaller companies are more fiscally constrained and don’t have the same resources. Midsize companies also often don’t have the scale to create a managerial class within their workforce — they need managers to be both managers and doers.

Midsize companies need to find solutions to develop more empathic managers without massive investments and continue to have those managers work rather than just manage. This will require organizations and their HR functions to develop their managers’ skills, awaken their mindsets to manage in new ways, and create the capacity across the organization to enable this shift. Here’s how to adopt a holistic strategy that invests in all three of those strategies.

Develop empathy skills through vulnerable conversation practice

Asking managers to lead with empathy can be intimidating. Many managers understand empathy conceptually but aren’t sure how to use it as a management tool: Are these questions too personal? How do I create a trusting relationship with my direct reports? Is caring acceptable at work? How do I talk about social justice?

It goes against deeply ingrained assumptions that we should keep work and life separate. Managers need opportunities to practice — and, crucially, room to make mistakes — in order to learn to lead with empathy. Unfortunately, only 52% of 31 learning and development leaders polled in May 2020 report that they’re increasing their focus on soft skills.

To build empathy, Zillow creates cohorts of managers across the organization who engage in rotating one-on-one conversations with their peers to troubleshoot current managerial challenges. These conversations offer frequent, psychologically safe opportunities to engage in vulnerable conversations focused on how managers can commit to specific actions to care for themselves, as well as support the well-being of their team.

Managers are able to practice their empathy with their peers, asking specific questions to understand their challenges and articulating their own circumstances in response to probes. Importantly, these types of conversations offer managers the opportunity to fail — and in a safe space — which is an opportunity rarely given to figures of authority. They also help managers feel less isolated by practicing empathy with peers, who are less likely to pass judgment.

Empower a new manager mindset by creating a network of support

According to our 2021 survey of 4,787 global employees, 75% of HR leaders from midsize companies agree that managers’ roles have expanded, yet roles and teams are not structured to support well-being.

Goodway Group, a fully remote company since 2007, knows that the best business results and purpose for work happens within teams and that distributed teams face greater challenges with communication and shared visibility. Goodway created a dedicated role, the team success partner, whose responsibilities include fostering trust and psychological safety and supporting team health. Managers work with team success partners to respond to the unique challenges distributed employees are facing; this includes facilitating remote psychologically safe remote conversations and supporting new team member assimilation.

Managers’ motivation to be empathic increases when they have a support system that makes it clear that the burden isn’t theirs alone and when organizations invest in roles designed to support them.

Create manager capacity for empathy by optimizing reporting lines

Managers are already overburdened by the demands of the evolving work environment, and actions that drive empathy are time consuming. While 70% of midsize HR leaders agree managers are overwhelmed by their responsibilities, only 16% of midsize organizations have redefined the manager role to reduce the number of responsibilities on their plate.

Recognizing the pressure on managers to maintain team connectedness in a remote environment, leaders at Urgently, a digital roadside assistance company, rebalanced their managers’ workloads. When managers have a team size they can handle, they’re able to dedicate time to fostering deeper connections and responding with empathy. Moving to a hybrid environment creates complexity; one key part of the solution is to help managers prioritize their workload to focus on fewer, higher-impact relationships with individuals and teams.

Organizations that equip managers to be empathic by holistically addressing the three common barriers — skill, mindset, and capacity — will achieve outsized returns on performance in the post-Covid-19 world.

By:Brian Kropp, Alexia Cambon, and Sara Clark

Source: What Does It Mean to Be a Manager Today?

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Critics:

In the field of management, strategic management involves the formulation and implementation of the major goals and initiatives taken by an organization‘s managers on behalf of stakeholders, based on consideration of resources and an assessment of the internal and external environments in which the organization operates. Strategic management provides overall direction to an enterprise and involves specifying the organization’s objectives, developing policies and plans to achieve those objectives, and then allocating resources to implement the plans.

Academics and practicing managers have developed numerous models and frameworks to assist in strategic decision-making in the context of complex environments and competitive dynamics. Strategic management is not static in nature; the models often include a feedback loop to monitor execution and to inform the next round of planning.

Michael Porter identifies three principles underlying strategy:

  • creating a “unique and valuable [market] position
  • making trade-offs by choosing “what not to do”
  • creating “fit” by aligning company activities with one another to support the chosen strategy

Corporate strategy involves answering a key question from a portfolio perspective: “What business should we be in?” Business strategy involves answering the question: “How shall we compete in this business?”

Management theory and practice often make a distinction between strategic management and operational management, with operational management concerned primarily with improving efficiency and controlling costs within the boundaries set by the organization’s strategy.

Interorganizational relationships allow independent organizations to get access to resources or to enter new markets. Interorganizational relationships represent a critical lever of competitive advantage.[40]

The field of strategic management has paid much attention to the different forms of relationships between organizations ranging from strategic alliances to buyer-supplier relationships, joint ventures, networks, R&D consortia, licensing, and franchising.

On the one hand, scholars drawing on organizational economics (e.g., transaction costs theory) have argued that firms use interorganizational relationships when they are the most efficient form comparatively to other forms of organization such as operating on its own or using the market. On the other hand, scholars drawing on organizational theory (e.g., resource dependence theory) suggest that firms tend to partner with others when such relationships allow them to improve their status, power, reputation, or legitimacy.

See also

Break The Five Most Common Outsourcing Reform Myths

Break the five most common outsourcing reform myths

With 41 days to comply with the new regulation on Outsourcing, which comes into force on July 24, five myths prevail among Mexican companies. The new regulatory framework applies to companies of all sizes, however, SMEs are under more pressure because they do not have great internal support or consulting firms to carry out this transition.

In addition to the rush to comply with the new regulations, it must be taken into account that there is some confusion about the functions that can continue to be contracted through outsourcing. For SMEs, companies from 10 to 200 or 300 employees, internalizing the functions that were traditionally handled in outsourcing is complex and represents a challenge. Automation and support are key to successfully undergo this transformation and avoid the associated fines.

To dispel the main myths that exist regarding the new regulation, Business Republic organized a webinar to offer real facts and advice for the new regulation. At the event, Carlos Marina COO of Worky , Lorena Atondo and Gabriel Fernández, both from Reynoso & Atondo, Abogados, SC, agreed that this situation is significant, since it impacts more than 4.7 million workers, 17% of the formal jobs in the country.

And it is that urban myths and fake news abound that cause uncertainty and concern among clients and prospects, Carlos Marina warned.

The myths:

  1. “I can continue with my current outsourcing scheme, since the authority does not have the resources to detect it.”
  2. “I can avoid the new regulations by passing my collaborators to schemes of incorporation into the tax regime, fees, cooperatives or unions.”
  3. “We can pay a minimal amount in cash and the rest of the compensation can be handled through bonuses, commissions and vouchers.”
  4. “I don’t worry about the compensation schemes of the past, as there are no retroactive effects.”
  5. “The internalization of the payroll is too expensive, I better risk possible fines”

Each of these statements are not only false but risky. The specialists clarified that the new regulations are designed to improve the conditions of the workers and that in that spirit, the authority has organized itself to avoid precisely any act of simulation. At this juncture, solution providers have emerged that seem miraculous, but in reality only expose the company and its human capital to unnecessary risks.

Advice

“My advice to all employers is to take preventive measures to comply in a timely manner and to focus on the positive aspects that the internalization of staff brings in terms of employee satisfaction, loyalty, and company productivity,” commented Lorenia Atondo .

For his part, Gabriel Fernández, added that the sanctions are structured to promote broader compliance, since they range from 178,000 pesos to more than 4 million and even criminal sanctions are contemplated. It states, “The authority has full visibility of these myths and others, and is organized to detect and punish through mechanisms of collaboration between institutions and information exchange.”

The internalization of workers represents a change of capital dimensions for companies that currently depend on outsourcing for the management of their human resources. “For small and medium-sized companies, which do not have specialized departments or the support of consultants and law firms, this transition becomes even more delicate,” commented Marina, highlighting that Worky is dedicated precisely to companies with 20 and up to 200 employees for whom offers support throughout the internalization process with a 100% Mexican management platform designed to be affordable and relevant for this segment.

Hanz Dieter Schietekat, CEO of Business Republic and who moderated the event, ended the session by urging attendees to act promptly. “I hope it has become very clear that compliance with the new outsourcing standard is imminent and mandatory. Remember that if a solution sounds too good to be true, it probably is. With less than a month and a half remaining for compliance, it is imperative to have the right tools and advice. ”

By:

Source: Break the five most common outsourcing reform myths

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Critics:

Outsourcing is an agreement in which one company contracts a service bureau to be responsible for a planned or existing activity that is or could be done internally, and sometimes involves transferring employees and assets from one firm to another.

The term outsourcing, which came from the phrase outside resourcing, originated no later than 1981. The concept, which The Economist says has “made its presence felt since the time of the Second World War”,often involves the contracting of a business process (e.g., payroll processing, claims processing), operational, and/or non-core functions, such as manufacturing, facility management, call center/call centre support).

The practice of handing over control of public services to private enterprises, even if on a short-term limited basis,[7] may also be described as “outsourcing”.

Outsourcing includes both foreign and domestic contracting,and sometimes includes offshoring (relocating a business function to a distant country) or nearshoring (transferring a business process to a nearby country).

Offshoring and outsourcing are not mutually inclusive: there can be one without the other. They can be intertwined (offshore outsourcing), and can be individually or jointly, partially or completely reversed,involving terms such as reshoring, inshoring, and insourcing.

  • Offshoring is moving the work to a distant country. If the distant workplace is a foreign subsidiary/owned by the company, then the offshore operation is a captive, sometimes referred to as in-house offshore.
  • Offshore outsourcing is the practice of hiring an external organization to perform some business functions (“Outsourcing”) in a far-off country other than the one where the products or services are actually performed, developed or manufactured (“Offshore”).
  • Insourcing entails bringing processes handled by third-party firms in-house, and is sometimes accomplished via vertical integration.
  • Nearshoring refers to outsource to a nearby country.
  • Farmshoring refers to outsourcing to companies in more rural locations within the same country.
  • Homeshoring (also known as Homesourcing) is a form of IT-enabled “transfer of service industry employment from offices to home-based … with appropriate telephone and Internet facilities”.[16][17] These telecommuting positions may be customer-facing or back-office,and the workers may be employees or independent contractors.
  • In-housing refers to hiring employees.
  • An Intermediary is when a business provides a contract service to another organization while contracting out that same service.

See also

5 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Accept Any Job Offer

artistic image of two men shaking hands in an office space

You polished your résumé, dazzled them in interviews, and landed the job you’ve been chasing. You’ve finally received that coveted offer letter. But don’t get too excited yet.

“It’s sad to say that there are so many things you need to be aware of and careful of in something that should be very exciting for you,” says Kylie Cimmino, a consultant with HR consulting firm Red Clover HR. “But it’s about making sure that you’re covering yourself and you’re prepared for all of the minutiae that is included in that offer.”

So, before you answer your would-be employer with a resounding “Yes!” ask these five questions first:

Is this really the right position for you?

Paraphrasing actor Sally Fields’s iconic Oscar speech, it’s not uncommon to get caught up in the feeling of “They like me! They really like me!” and not think through whether this is truly the best job or offer for you. “Sometimes a job offer doesn’t fit, even though you applied for the role hoping it would. Take a moment and determine if this is really the job you are looking for,” says Paul Wolfe, senior vice president of human resources for Indeed.com.

Think about the role and how it fits into your career plans. And, if you haven’t already, look into the company and its culture to see if this is a place where you really want to work. Sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, and others have reviews by employees that give a glimpse into the strengths and weaknesses of the company. Use your personal and professional networks to get a sense of what it’s really like to work for the company. If you don’t know anyone personally, it’s likely you’re just a contact or two away from someone who can give you more insight, Wolfe says.

Are there contingencies or conditions?

Some offers are contingent on a variety of factors, including background or drug tests, reference checks, or willingness to sign a noncompete or other agreement. Review these contingencies carefully and consider whether any of them may surface issues from your past or may not be something to which you’re willing to agree, says Colleen Drennen Pfaller, founder of HR consulting firm A Slice of HR.

Sometimes, the contingencies are assumed and may not be in the offer letter, she says. “[If] it’s spelled out, great. But if it’s not, you want to follow up and ask,” she says. Certainly, have that conversation before you give notice at your current employer. For example, if there is a signing bonus, do you need to remain at the job a certain period of time to keep it or do you need to pay it back? These are all factors that you should understand before accepting the job offer.

If you suspect that something like a background check will reveal a potential issue, it may be a good idea to broach the topic first, or at least have an explanation ready if it comes up, Cimmino adds. For example, if you take a prescription medication that may show up in a drug test, be prepared to address the issue, she says.

Is everything you want in the offer?

Read the offer carefully to ensure that anything you negotiated is in it, Wolfe says. Or, if there are additional concessions or add-ons—for example, additional paid time off, moving allowance, subsidized parking, etc.—that you’re seeking, set up a time to talk with your prospective employer. “Negotiating terms of the offer is a standard practice. You want to ensure that everything you were promised or expected is in that letter before signing on the dotted line,” he adds. Once you’ve accepted the offer, it can be difficult to go back and claim that you’re due something that was previously discussed, but not formalized in the offer.

What is the timing?

In addition, be sure you understand details that will affect your transition from job to job, including timing, Cimmino says. If you’re not starting your new job for a few weeks or if there will be a gap between when you leave your old job and start the new one, think about how you will bridge any health insurance or payroll gap. Be sure you understand when you are eligible for benefits such as health insurance, 401(k), and time off at the new company.

What impact will this job have on my family?

If your new role will require changes in your lifestyle, salary, hours, or other factors that may affect your family members, include them in the discussion too. For example, if you’re taking a pay cut or if the job requires more travel or a move, such changes will affect your spouse and children. It’s a good idea to be sure everyone’s on board, Wolfe says.

“While ultimately, the decision whether to take a job is the candidate’s, in many cases, their decision impacts others around them,” he adds. “Take time to consider and talk with your family about how this new position impacts everyone.”


Gwen Moran is a writer, editor, and creator of Bloom Anywhere, a website for people who want to move up or move on. She writes about business, leadership, money, and assorted other topics for leading publications and websites. She’s been honored by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Small Business Influencer Awards, and a few others. Find her on Twitter @gwenmoran and on Instagram @bloom.anywhere.

Source: 5 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Accept Any Job Offer

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Critics:

Job analysis is crucial for first, helping individuals develop their careers, and also for helping organizations develop their employees in order to maximize talent. The outcomes of job analysis are key influences in designing learning, developing performance interventions, and improving processes.The application of job analysis techniques makes the implicit assumption that information about a job as it presently exists may be used to develop programs to recruit, select, train, and appraise people for the job as it will exist in the future.[5]

Job analysts are typically industrial-organizational (I-O) psychologists or human resource officers who have been trained by, and are acting under the supervision of an I-O psychologist. One of the first I-O psychologists to introduce job analysis was Morris Viteles. In 1922, he used job analysis in order to select employees for a trolley car company. Viteles’ techniques could then be applied to any other area of employment using the same process.

Job analysis was also conceptualized by two of the founders of I-O psychology, Frederick Winslow Taylor and Lillian Moller Gilbreth in the early 20th century. Since then, experts have presented many different systems to accomplish job analysis that have become increasingly detailed over the decades. However, evidence shows that the root purpose of job analysis, understanding the behavioral requirements of work, has not changed in over 85 years.

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References

Rogelberg, S.G. (2007). Encyclopedia of industrial and organizational psychology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Don’t Let a Bad Tech Stack Hurt Employee Retention

A bad tech stack can make it difficult for companies to succeed against competitors in everything from customer engagement and sales to production and innovation. But, outdated, annoying or confusing technology can also harm your organization’s ability to attract and retain top talent, which will be increasingly difficult and important as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes and the labor market tightens.

To be sure, it will be several years before the U.S. and global economies return to pre-COVID levels. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the U.S. won’t hit pre-pandemic employment levels until 2024. But given that major enterprise IT shifts can also take years, now is the time to evaluate your tech stack and ensure your organization has the right tools for a digital workforce that’s geographically dispersed, discerning when it comes to technology and willing to walk if an employer’s technology hinders their success.

Don’t believe me?

According the State of Software Happiness Report 2019 from G2:

  • 52% of workers said they have “become dissatisfied at work due to missing or mismatched software”
  • 24% of respondents said they have “considered looking for a new job” because they “didn’t have the right software”
  • 13% of employees said they have actually left a job because of the software their employer required them to use
  • 95% of workers said they would be “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with better software tools
  • 86% of respondents said they would be “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with more software tools

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to close offices and most office workers to become telecommuters, technology became and even more important factor in employee job satisfaction. According to Adobe Workfront’s State of Work 2021 report, released last week:

  • 32% of workers said they had left a job because the employer’s technology “was a barrier to their ability to do good work.” This was up from 22% pre-COVID.
  • 49% of U.S. workers said they are “likely to leave their current job if they’re unhappy or frustrated with the technology they use at work.”
  • 12 point increase in the number of people “who report turning down a job because the tech was out of date or hard to use” between February and March 2020 to November and December 2020
  •  7 point increase in the number of people “who reported applying for a job because they heard a company’s employees use great technology” between February and March 2020 to November and December 2020

Check out Dallon Adams’ article on ZDNet sibling site TechRepublic for more insights from the Workfront report on how Gen Xers are thriving in the world of remote work with millennials are struggling.

5 ways companies can improve employee IT satisfaction

So, as companies race to accelerate their digital transformation efforts to meet the needs of their customers in the new normal, they should also re-examine the hardware and software their employees are using. Here are few tips for building a tech stack that can help promote employee success, boost productivity, and build good will for IT.

  1. Make sure existing tools meet user needs and work as expected: Before you roll out new hardware and software, start with what you already have. Conduct a user satisfaction survey to find out if your current tech stack is meeting employee needs. A TechRepublic 2014 enterprise application software report found that only 26% of respondents were “very satisfied” with their software. IT can also use service desk call logs or reporting tools within their IT service management solution to detect applications and hardware that create regular pain points for end users.
  2. Give employees access to “new” technology: According to the Workfront report, employees are more interested in having access to “new” technology now compared to before the pandemic. The report showed a 5 point increase in the number of respondents who said that “old technology is making it harder to take on more work.” I know budget is always a consideration with any IT purchase, but if your staff is still using 7-year-old computers, it’s time to rethink your IT budget.
  3. Offer employees choice as a rule not an exception: Another data point from the Workfront report was that employees “expect their employers to trust and empower them to know how to achieve the right outcomes.” When I first started my IT career, there were Windows shops and then there was everything else. But today, and honestly for the last decade, modern device management tools and cloud services make it easier than ever to manage multiple operating systems, applications, and hardware platforms. With few exceptions, IT shouldn’t lock employees into (or more importantly out of) tools they believe will help them achieve company goals. I’m not suggesting you should run 5 different finance or CRM systems, but, there’s no reason not to support multiple productivity suites. If accounting needs Excel, sales wants PowerPoint, and everyone else wants Google Docs…fine. Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace can coexist. And if you’re thinking, “But Bill, we’ll get a price break if we use a single software platform.” Those initial low-price deals often expire in a few years (like an introductory interest rate on a credit card) and then you’re back to paying market rates. The same goes for hardware. If Legal wants Windows laptops, the Sales staff wants MacBooks, and your devs want Windows workstations make it happen. Sure, you can have a “standard” machine and drive image that you give to 80% of staff, but don’t just be the department of “no” when someone makes a legitimate business request.
  4. Support flexible/remote working environments: Even as COVID vaccines reach more workers, employees return to offices and public venues reopen, the nature of work has been forever changed by the pandemic. More people will work remotely than before COVID, and IT will need to switch from reactively supporting telecommuters to proactively empowering them. This means giving people have access to the hardware (monitors, keyboards, mice, trackpads, cables, external storage devices, etc.), software, and cloud services they need to work effectively from their home.
  5. Balance security with ease of use: If you make a security measure too onerous for people, they’ll find a way around it. This fact holds true for physical and cybersecurity. There’s no doubt in today’s world of constant cyberattacks everyone organization and individual needs to use strong security tools and follow best practices, there’s a fine line between doing security and overdoing security. For example, IBM released research in 2020 that shows simply deploying lots and lots os security tools doesn’t lead to stronger security. “The enterprise is slowly improving its response to cybersecurity incidents, but in the same breath, it is still investing in too many tools that can actually reduce the effectiveness of defense,” wrote Charlie Osborne for ZDNet’s Zero Day in her article on the report. For practical tips on balancing security and user accessibility, check out Scott Matteson’s list of cybersecurity do’s and don’ts.

When done together, these steps can go a long way to build a tech stack that fosters employee satisfaction with IT and the company as a whole, which as research shows is important for hiring and keeping top talent.

By:

Source: Don’t let a bad tech stack hurt employee retention, use these tips to improve worker IT satisfaction | ZDNet

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More Contents:

 3 essential hiring kits for key developer jobs

4 essential hiring kits for recruiting engineers and IT specialists

5 helpful hiring kits for landing top tech talent

4 kits to help fast track your hiring process

Education’s new normal will be hybrid, more virtual

Welcome to the era of the mega-hack

AI ethics: How Salesforce is helping developers build products with ethical use and privacy in mind

3D printing, additive manufacturing sector arms up to scale

Your working day will never be the same again. Here’s what might replace it

Salesforce: Combining AI and automation can give us superpowers and make us more productive

If Bing is the answer then Australia is asking the wrong question

COVID-19 vaccine distribution requires IT, data management, and a lot of iteration

Google: Here come new docking stations for your Chromebook

 
 
 
 
 
 
  •  

Financial Targets Don’t Motivate Employees

Would you be excited if your boss started a meeting saying: “I want to remind you that you’re a cog in a machine whose primary purpose is to hit our financial targets”?

It’s hard to imagine that you would feel much joy or pride of ownership in your work if your contribution was reduced to your financial output. While this specific wording may be a bit exaggerated, it’s not a far departure from the message that many employees hear on a daily basis.

As we move into what (we hope) will be a growth period, it’s natural for leaders to emphasize the importance of hitting financial targets. Financial performance is crucial, of course. But making numbers the centerpiece of your leadership narrative is a costly mistake.

Financial results are an outcome, not a root driver for employee performance. A growing body of evidence tells us that overemphasizing financial targets erodes morale and undermines long-term strategy. When a leader spends the majority of their airtime on a “make the numbers” narrative, it creates a transactional relationship with their employees, making them more likely to create transactional relationships with their teammates and customers.

The events of 2020 remind us: Employee engagement is the lifeblood of an organization. What your team thinks, feels, and believes about your organization, and their own work, drives their behavior — and their behavior is what determines your success or failure.

Leaders seeking to ignite creativity and drive exponential effort must go upstream, using their time with their teams to build belief in the organizational purpose, the intrinsic value of the employees’ work, and the impact the teams have on customers, and each other. Here are three ways to do that:

1. Evaluate your leadership “airtime.”

When Mike Gianoni took over as the CEO of SaaS firm Blackbaud, he flipped the way they conduct town halls. Previous leaders spent the majority of their airtime sharing financial results. Gianoni took a different approach. He began using his time to discuss the impact Blackbaud was having on customers, and he directed his leaders to do the same.

“Shifting our airtime from internal metrics to customer outcomes jump-started the next level of customer empathy and value,” explains Blackbaud President and GM Patrick Hodges. “Over time, your attrition goes down. When people feel good about what they do and they’re more successful, they’re not going to look for another job.”

We recommend leaders aim for a 50/50 split, spending at least half their leadership airtime building belief in the meaning and external impact of the work, and half on internal metrics and deliverables. It’s not without coincidence that six months after Blackbaud adjusted their leadership airtime, they had an innovation breakthrough, employee engagement rose dramatically, market share increased, and revenue grew exponentially.

2. Discuss individual customers with emotion and specificity.

The more clearly an employee understands their direct impact, the more likely they are to go the extra mile; they also experience greater fulfillment in doing so.

Consider this research from organizational psychologist Adam Grant, who studied paid employees at a public university call center who were hired to solicit donations to the school from alumni. He divided the team into two groups. One group went about their day as usual, phoning potential donors. The other group, before jumping on the phones, had a short conversation with a scholarship student, someone who was able to get an education because of donations that the call center produced. After a month, callers who had spoken with the scholarship recipient spent more than two times as many minutes on the phone, and brought in vastly more money: a weekly average of $503.22, up from $185.94.

The same findings have been echoed in studies of lifeguards, hospital workers, and sales teams. When we know our work matters to an individual person, we rise to the occasion. Discussing customers in the aggregate does not create the same emotional pull. Instead, when you speak about customers, even if your team does not interact with them directly, use their real names, talk about the businesses they have, and show your team that real people are counting on them.

3. Resist the pull of the “FYI.” 

In our consulting practice we routinely observe well-intended leaders who in an effort “to keep their team informed” pass along everything that pertains to financial performance. It’s natural, because the gravitational pull of most organizations leans towards the numbers; it’s what gets reported and thus it’s routinely forwarded down.

But when a leader send their team decks filled with financial targets employees are often left to their own devices to figure out how to translate broader financial goals into their daily behavior. It’s confusing at best, dispiriting at worst.

Emotional intelligence expert Daniel Goleman says, “A primary task of leadership is to direct attention. To do so, leaders must learn to focus their own attention.” Instead of routinely hitting forward on every financial report, think about where you want to direct the attention of your team.

You can decide what to share and what not to share by asking yourself questions like: What does my team need to be thinking about on a daily basis to accomplish these goals? How do I want them to behave with customers and each other? Filter out the noise coming from other places in the organization and focus your language on the two things that are 100% within the control of your team: their mindset and their behavior.

The research is telling us what we already knew in our hearts to be true: You cannot spreadsheet your way to passion. With ambitious goals on the horizon, it’s tempting to double-down on financial metrics. But hitting financial targets requires employees who are excited and care about their work.

As we face a future of potential uncertainty and unrest, it’s crucial for leaders to help their teams stay engaged. You can improve your team’s performance (and their emotional well-being) by making sure your airtime, your metrics, and your language communicate one simple message: Your work matters.

5 Workplace Behaviors That Impact Employee Mental Health

Even companies with the best intentions can sometimes take a wrong turn when trying to do right by their employees. Damaging habits and behaviors can inadvertently get absorbed into company culture; and when this happens, it can send the wrong signal about a company’s priorities and values. One of the biggest challenges lies in finding the sweet spot between business needs and employee welfare and happiness. Naturally, you want a high-performing team; but not at the expense of employee well-being and mental health.

Here, we take a closer look at some common workplace conventions—and the ways that they might be inadvertently undermining your mental health objectives.

    1. Having a “hustle” culture

It’s great to be productive, but over-emphasizing hard work and profitability can be a slippery slope to toxic productivity. It can lead to individuals attaching their feelings of self-worth to the amount of work they’re doing, and feeling like performance metrics are more important than their mental well-being.

Similarly, celebrating employees who stay late—or even lightly teasing those who start late and leave (or log-off) early (or on time)—can subtly contribute to a culture of overwork and performative busy-ness. Left unchecked, this can result in resentment and burnout among other employees who feel compelled to prove their own commitment to work .

A small fix:

Instead of celebrating regular overtime, try opening up communication about ways to include breaks and downtime throughout the day. You can support this with anecdotes about the healthy mental habits of people in the team (assuming they are open to sharing). For example: “Hey guys, Dave’s found a clever way to schedule regular breaks into his day around meetings!”

Also be sure to address long hours and overwork if you see a rising trend in the company, as it could be an indicator of unachievable work expectations.

2. Sending work emails or messages after hours

It happens to us all: maybe you only received a response on something late in the day, or you had an out-of-hours brainwave.

Sending the occasional evening or weekend message is fine, but doing it regularly implies that after-hours work is expected—which could pressure people into feeling they have to respond immediately.

The same goes for emails sent at the end of a working day with next-day deadlines (or, for example, Monday morning deadlines for work given out on Friday). These practices put a hefty burden on the recipient, which adds to stress and can contribute to burnout.

Now, it gets a bit harder to draw a line when you take into account the increasingly globalized world of work, which necessitates out-of-hours communications due to different time zones. But even in these cases, it helps to be explicit about expectations when sending messages, especially when you know the recipient is either about to log off or has signed off for the day.

A small fix:

If you need to send emails after hours or on weekends, be sure to add a note about how the email can be read or dealt with on the next working day. This takes pressure off the recipient and assures them that they won’t be penalized for not responding on the spot.

If you have a global team, it also helps to establish clear working hours for different countries, and to be clear about the fact that nobody is expected to read or respond to emails out of hours.

Also, no matter where in the world you or your recipient are, be sure to schedule enough time for them to deal with the task during their office hours! And remember—they may have other pre-existing work on their plate that might need to take precedence.

3. Only engaging in “shop-talk”

It’s easy to find things to talk about around the water cooler in the office. But take those organic run-ins out of the equation, and what you’re left with is often work chat and little else.

Working from home has made it harder to bond with colleagues. The natural tendency is to get work done and to only chat about the process, rarely (if ever) about other things.

This removes a big social aspect from work, which can take a significant mental toll on employees and affect their enjoyment of work. This is especially apparent for employees who don’t already have solid work friend groups, either because they’re new or because their friends have since left the company.

A small fix:

There’s so much more to people than just who they are at work. To get some non-work conversations going, design interactions that aren’t work related.

You could set up a monthly ‘coffee roulette’ to group random employees up for a chat. This can help to break the ice a bit and link up individuals who might not otherwise speak during work hours. Or you could arrange sharing sessions where people are encouraged to talk about their challenges and triumphs from life outside the workplace.

Another alternative is to set up interest groups in the company, to help like-minded employees find each other and bond over a shared interest in certain hobbies or things.

4. Only having group chats and check-ins

Big group check-ins and catch-up meetings are important. But group settings can pressure people to put a good spin on things, or cause them to feel like they’re being irrational or weak for struggling when everyone else seems to be doing well. 

This could result in problems being missed and getting out of hand, which in turn can take a big toll on mental health and well-being.

A small fix:

Some people may not be willing to speak candidly to a large group, so be sure to set aside time for employees to speak one-to-one to a manager who can  address any problems that may arise. It’s also important to make sure everyone understands that they won’t be penalized or looked down on for speaking up about any issues they may be having.

5. Not talking about mental wellness

Perhaps the biggest way your company might be undermining mental health is simply by… not talking about it.

Some managers may not feel equipped to have these conversations, or may not be sure about the etiquette or convention around holding these conversations. But by not broaching these topics at all, employees may feel like they can’t speak out about things they’re struggling with.

The result is a rose-tinted veneer that may be hiding deeper problems under the surface. And studies show there likely are problems. According to the CDC, 1 in 5 employed adults in the U.S. experienced a mental health issue back in the previous year, with 71% of adults reporting at least one symptom of stress. That number has likely shot up now.

A small fix:

Be candid about mental health and encourage people to share their burdens and struggles—especially leaders. You can help by actively promoting good habits like mindfulness and meditation, proper work-life balance, and reaching out for help when necessary.

By being more honest about struggles and mental wellness challenges, managers can reduce the stigma and create a more open culture where people feel able to admit they’re struggling.

As a company, it’s important to be careful about the ripple effects that even small actions—or, in some cases, inaction—may have on employees. The simple fact is that the signals you send may be reinforcing unhealthy habits.

That’s why it’s so important to be aware of deeper currents that run in your organization and to proactively address any harmful behaviors.

By staying aware and making a few small tweaks and behavioral changes, you can hit the reset button when necessary and encourage good habits that protect employee mental wellness.

For more tips on how to build a more inclusive workplace culture that supports your employees’ mental well-being and happiness, check out:

By: https://www.calm.com/

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TEDx Talks

Is Mental Health important​ in the workplace? Tom explores all things related to workplace mental health, including mental health in school workplaces, in this insightful video. Tom helps employers figure out mental health at work. He reviews workplaces, trains managers and writes plans. Since 2012 he has interviewed more than 130 people, surveyed thousands and worked across the UK with corporations, civil service, charities, the public sector, schools and small business. Tom has worked with national mental health charities Mind and Time to Change and consults widely across the UK. He lives in Norfolk and is mildly obsessed with cricket and camping.

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3 Ways To Identify A Toxic Coworker And Set Healthy Boundaries

It only takes one toxic worker to wreak havoc and negatively impact an entire workplace. Toxic coworkers not only make work dreadful and unpleasant, but they harm the productivity and morale of everyone around them. They create unnecessary drama, erode the culture, undermine the values of the company and destroy trust within the team.

According to a Fierce Inc. study, four out of five employees currently work or have worked with a potentially toxic coworker. Randstad conducted a study exploring why employees leave their workplace and found 58% have left or are considering leaving due to negativity, office politics and disrespectful behavior.

It’s easier said than done to not allow the toxicity of one person to affect your own work especially if you have to work closely with them. Working with a toxic coworker is a powerless and draining experience. Furthermore, it’s not always easy to identify a toxic coworker especially if you consider them to be a friend.

If you feel drained or negative after interacting with them, this could be a sign they’re toxic. Toxic behavior can manifest through words, body language, disrespecting boundaries, hoarding information, purposely undermining others, not following through on promises or commitments, insults and rumors, to name a few.

Here are three ways you can identify a toxic coworker and set healthy boundaries.

Their Victim Syndrome Prevents Them From Taking Responsibility MORE FOR YOUForget About San Francisco And Silicon Valley—Miami Is Planning On Becoming The Next Great Tech HubMeet Canada’s Best Employers 2021Building The Resilient Organization

Employees with a victim mindset will always talk about how much they hate their job, their boss, their team or the company. There’s a difference between having a bad day and someone who revels in creating misery for others. Dan Bailey, president of WikiLawn Los Angeles Lawn Care, explained, “the more people they can get to share in their discontent, the better they feel.”

Despite being disengaged, toxic coworkers will make excuses for their performance when given constructive feedback with the belief that it’s a personal attack against them. Moreover, they hold grudges and never lose a chance to share how they’ve been wronged even if those situations have been rectified.

Those who are new to a company are prone to being swept up into the negativity as they’re eager to make friends and unaware of a toxic persons patterns. For this reason, it’s important to do pulse checks to see if this is a cultural thing or a person thing.

Here are some coping strategies to help you bounce back from a toxic encounter and stay mentally strong:

  • Surround yourself with uplifting coworkers who take responsibility and learn from their mistakes
  • Seek out your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or professional help to learn how to better manage the situation and have a safe space to talk about it
  • Talk to your HR department and keep the conversation based on facts rather than an individual’s personality. Be prepared to provide specific examples of incidents
  • Incorporate social activities you can look forward to after work
  • Practice gratitude and meditation

They Gossip More Than They Knowledge Share

Gossip is the root of many internal company problems. It breeds negativity and spreads quickly. Yasir Nawaz, digital content producer at Pure VPN, said, “toxic colleagues drain your energy and are a constant source of demotivation at work. The worst part is you may not realize you’re in the company of a toxic colleague until it’s too late.” He added, “there’s one sure-fire way to identify one; someone that constantly talks about others behind their backs.”

Melanie Musson, insurance specialist for Buy Auto Insurance asserted, “gossip doesn’t help build a stronger team; rather, it tears down teamwork. Chances are, if they gossip to you, they’re also gossiping about you.”

Another warning sign a colleague is toxic is if they refuse to share knowledge with you that prevents you from being able to do your job. As a victim of a former toxic coworker and boss, I know how detrimental their impact can be not only on my work and mental health, but also to the team and overall workplace. In my experience, my former coworker excluded me from meetings, team activities and withheld information that prevented me from being able to do my job well and used it against me.

Musson explained, “toxic people put themselves first. They really don’t care about others and use others’ misfortunes as a way to move forward at work. If a team member is struggling, the toxic coworker may take the opportunity to show how they excel in that same area.”

Eventually, I set a boundary with her where I started documenting every incident before confronting her. Then, I worked around her to find the information I needed and limited my interactions with her altogether. Be aware, setting healthy boundaries will often push toxic coworkers to react negatively. However, those who are the happiest and most productive are the ones who set healthy boundaries and those who aren’t used to having boundaries set with them are likely to take offense.

Here are boundaries you can set with a coworker that gossips:

  • Empathize and redirect them to focus on what’s working or to speak with their manager
  • Refuse to participate by excusing yourself from the conversation when they start gossiping
  • Focus on positive gossip that celebrates others instead of participating in negative gossip that hurts morale
  • Communicate your boundaries letting them know you don’t like to talk about office politics
  • Surround yourself with people who would rather share knowledge than spread gossip
  • Use key phrases such as “this sounds like a rumor and I don’t want to hear it”, “I’d rather engage in conversations that are positive and uplifting” or countering with “is that a fact or gossip?”

They Use Passive Aggressive Comments Rather Than Compliments

Matt Satell, CEO of Prime Mailboxes said, “toxic employees are often those who purposely undermine the capabilities of others so they can stay ahead of their competition.” They thrive on finding fault, negativity and holding people back.

Here are a few examples of passive-aggressive behaviors and comments:

  • Giving the silent treatment
  • Responding with sarcasm or disguised insults
  • Blaming others
  • Rejecting feedback and others perspectives
  • Making excuses
  • A cynical attitude
  • An air or superiority

Nich Chernets, CEO of Data for SEO said “in my experience, toxic people tend to complain a lot, even in the situations when everything is good. They’re looking for an audience that will constantly listen to their problems. In the long run, these people bring a lot of negativity to the work process and burden others with unnecessary things.” John Stevenson, marketing specialist at My GRE Exam Preparation added, “in turn, this creates an environment where other members of the team cannot work at full capacity because they’re too busy watching their backs.”

You can cultivate positivity through uplifting interactions with other colleagues, listening to motivating podcasts and finding the good in the work you do. It’s easy to lose motivation when a toxic coworker undermines your abilities and believes their role and contributions are more valuable than everyone else’s.

Here are some ways you can remind yourself of your hard work and contributions:

  • Keep a running document of your achievements and wins
  • Copy and paste recognitions from emails, client/manager reviews and Slack comments into the running document
  • Reference the document for a motivation boost

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website

Heidi Lynne Kurter

Heidi Lynne Kurter

I’m a Leadership Coach & Workplace Culture Consultant at Heidi Lynne Consulting helping individuals and organizations gain the confidence to become better leaders for themselves and their teams. As a consultant, I deliver and implement strategies to develop current talent and create impactful and engaging employee experiences. Companies hire me to to speak, coach, consult and train their teams and organizations of all sizes. I’ve gained a breadth of knowledge working internationally in Europe, America and Asia. I use my global expertise to provide virtual and in-person consulting and leadership coaching to the students at Babson College, Ivy League students and my global network. I’m a black belt in Six Sigma, former Society of Human Resources (SHRM) President and domestic violence mentor. Learn more at http://www.heidilynneco.com or get in touch at Heidi@heidilynneco.com

.

Jennifer Brick

Toxic Coworkers | How to Deal with Toxic People at Work // Do you have a toxic coworker? Or even worse, several toxic workers. Nothing make a toxic work culture faster than having these difficult coworkers and having to deal with toxic coworkers every day. If you have toxic work colleagues, you need to know how to cope with toxic coworkers. You can disarm toxic people in the workplace, and while it won’t totally heal a toxic work environment, it can make your day to day in a toxic workplace slightly more tolerable. In this video I will show you how to deal with toxic coworkers – it’s six simple strategies that will disarm toxic person at work and help you survive until you can escape the toxic environment at work. I’d love to know which strategies you would implement or how you have dealt with toxic coworkers in the past. ****************** Stop settling for mediocrity, it’s time to glow up your career. Attend the free LIVE workshop on December 2nd at 12pm EST. glowupyourcareer.com ************* Think I might be the right Career Success Coach for you? Learn more & apply: capdecasolutions.com/coaching Accelerate your job search, get Hired in a Hurry hiredinahurry.com ****************** More videos to help deal with difficult coworkers and toxic workplaces: TOXIC WORK ENVIRONMENT: 14 Signs Your Workplace is Toxic (and How to Cope) https://youtu.be/GEJBaigzUcA​ COWORKERS ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS https://youtu.be/XjhF3xQE1lM​ How to Work with People You Don’t Like https://youtu.be/x1S5EPX0Jik​ HOW TO HANDLE DIFFICULT COWORKERS | Dealing with difficult people at work https://youtu.be/R-nI-IpQYbo​ POSITIVE ATTITUDE AT WORK (HOW TO STAY POSITIVE AT WORK) https://youtu.be/wVKUB0-ZHvM​ ****************** SUCCESS HABITS & RESOURCES Join my private community, the Strive Squad (it’s free!) https://www.facebook.com/groups/striv…​ I’m all about productivity tools, great books, and sanity savers in general. Browse my favorites in my Amazon Store: https://www.amazon.com/shop/jenniferb…​ Get your bookworm on when you’re on the move. Audible is my OBSESSION, and it helps me read an extra 1-2 books per week. Get 30 days free: https://amzn.to/39d3U3W​ Try my 30 books in 30 days challenge, and make it easier with Kindle Unlimited (your first month is free!): https://amzn.to/3ftIBMB​ Being the best means you keep your knowledge up to date, for this I love Skillshare! Get a free trial: https://bit.ly/3l3oTbJ​ What Am I Wearing? I hate wearing the same thing twice and I love saving money, so 95% of my wardrobe is from Rent the Runway. Wanna try it (and save $30): https://bit.ly/3995mnT​ ****************** LET’S HANG! I post more content and videos on LinkedIn – follow me there https://linkedin.com/in/jenniferbrick​ Daily career glow-up videos on TikTok https://www.tiktok.com/@jenniferbrick…​ You can also follow me on: Instagram: http://instagram.com/capdeca​ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ccJenniferbr…​ Twitter: https://twitter.com/jennifer_brick​ Sometimes I write stuff for Thrive Global https://thriveglobal.com/authors/jenn…

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