“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increase the burden: It is easier to say "My tooth is aching" than to say "My heart is broken".” – C.S. Lewis
The month of May marks Mental Health Awareness Month around the world – a time for highlighting the key battles we have yet to fight in the war against the stigmatisation of mental health issues. A recent study by VHI revealed that almost 70% of Irish corporate employees admit to needing to look after their mental wellness more effectively, and 1 in 5 have missed work due to anxiety, depression or stress in the past year.
It is always advisable to seek the advice of a professional if you have concerns about your mental health. However, there are small, yet effective, measures you can take to improve your wellbeing in the workplace that can spread into your personal life in a positive, affirming way.
Sir Ken Robinson noted in his keynote speech at Sigmar’s Talent Summit 2018 that, although the invention of emails was promised to save us time, we have since found that, if anything, we are less and less able to leave work behind in the workplace. It is now part of most people’s routines to check their phones first thing in the morning and reply to work-related emails before leaving home, always thinking about what needs to be done that day.
It’s important that you ‘work smart, not long.’ This means actively leaving work behind in the office, working efficiently during the day so you don’t feel compelled to continue with it after hours. If the quantity of work you are being expected to complete within working hours is too much to do so successfully, be sure to speak up and discuss the manageability of your workload with your supervisor. Communication is key – they’re going to keep piling on the work as long you stay quiet about how overwhelmed you are, so make sure you speak up and be heard before it becomes too much to handle. Employers won’t know where the pressure lies unless you tell them.
If you’re unsure of how much your work life spills over into your personal life, why don’t you try keeping a log for a month? Jot down in a diary how many hours you work every day – not just when you’re sitting at your desk, but when you’re thinking about work at home, composing emails and returning calls out of hours. It may build a more objectively troubling picture than you can see currently from the inside.
Make The Most Of Your Breaks
Don’t be afraid to make the most of the breaks you are allotted at work. Once you’re on a roll, it’s tempting to power through lunchtime and eat at your desk, one eye always on your computer screen. Try and avoid doing this when you can. Take a walk, practise mindfulness or meditation, experience new places to eat, socialise with co-workers or friends who work nearby.
“But I don’t have time to meditate!” I hear you exclaim.
Yes, you do! ‘Meditation’ is not always synonymous with pulling on yoga pants, lighting up a stick of incense and adopting the lotus position. You can meditate absolutely anywhere – in a local park, at a café…even sitting at your desk! If you’re not confident leading your own meditation, you can find five-minute guided sessions free online, like this one here. There are also some great customisable apps you can get on your phone, such as Timer and Headspace.
It is impossible to overvalue the importance of taking time to relax, clear your head and focus on your own wellbeing. You’ll find this re-energises you for the day ahead, as well as provide an invaluable opportunity to assess your current state of mind and mentally address any emotional concerns or anxieties. You may also be pleasantly surprised at how easily solutions pop into your head when you take just a few minutes to collect your thoughts.
This one works both ways for employers as well as employees. Communication is the key to destigmatising conversations about mental health. In his TEDx talk on workplace mental health, Tom Oxley says ‘you don’t make people unwell by talking about mental health – you give them the opportunity to speak out sooner’. There’s a flawed unspoken terror that speaking out about mental illness will somehow worsen the problem, as if it’s contagious or something you can conjure up into existence within your own mind. The reality is that many sufferers don’t feel able to speak up due to the prejudice surrounding their condition, and the fear that their workplace would not be supportive of them if they did so.
The best way an employer can foster an atmosphere of positivity, health and wellbeing is to ensure that their workers know that they are free to talk openly about any feelings of stress, anxiety or depression and won’t face indirect penalisation for doing so. The first reaction of many employers is to offer a struggling staff member limited time off to recover, then expect them to return to work and continue as usual. While time off may be a solution for some employees, bosses should also consider the advantages of offering flexible working hours to affected workers. Tom Oxley strongly advocates for good communication practices between employers and employees to ensure that no one ever feels alienated from their place of work, and that anxieties don’t build up over time into uncontrollable crises.
In turn, employees should communicate to their employers about their feelings on mental health in the workplace, as far as they feel comfortable to do so. Being transparent about how you’re feeling and what you need from your job to help you recover will give your boss the tools to help you in the way that’s most beneficial for you. If you are worried that taking time off would only serve to isolate you from the company, voice that concern. Your employer should want to get the very best out of you – they hired you for a reason. It’s in their interest to give you the support you need.
Create a healthy routine
Studies have consistently proven a strong link between mental health and physical health, and specialists are adamant that one of the best ways to maintain good mental wellbeing is to look after your physical welfare.
Your job may be intellectually demanding, with long hours and difficult tasks you have to tackle each day, taking a toll on your mental health. This also likely means your job is sedentary. Indeed, scientists have connected the rise in global obesity to the increasing number of jobs that don’t require any form of physical activity. You may be hard pressed to find the time to exercise during a busy work week, but it’s important you look after your body – it will only beneficially impact your mental wellbeing. Take a stroll during your lunchbreak, do 30 mins of yoga before work, or even try training for a half marathon over the course of a few months. Be sure to stock up your desk drawer with nutritious snacks rather than sugary ones, such as nuts, fruit and protein bars. Snacknation has published an extensive list of delicious office snack ideas if you’re dry on inspiration.
These are just a few ways you can work to ensure your mental wellbeing in the workplace, which will in turn hopefully boost your productivity, energy and, ultimately, happiness. While mental health is something we can’t always necessarily control, we can impact the way in which we talk about it, breaking down the harmful social barriers that currently thwart constructive discussions on preventative measures.
Posted by Susannah Hunt on 30 May 2019
The Power of Work-Besties: Building Engaged and Productive Teams
The Power of Work-Besties: Building Engaged and Productive Teams
Fostering friendships in the workplace can significantly enhance employee engagement. Creating a positive and supportive environment where individuals feel valued, understood, and motivated; will lead to a happier and more productive workforce. The Impact of "Work-Besties" on Employee EngagementThe notion that having friends at work can positively influence employee engagement may seem intuitive, but the magnitude of its impact is truly remarkable. Research from Harvard Business Review suggests that employees who are happy at work and have at least one close friend there are up to seven times more engaged in their job. This statistic highlights the profound influence that work relationships can have on an individual's motivation and commitment to their work.When employees develop genuine connections with their colleagues, they experience a greater sense of camaraderie, trust, and mutual support. These friendships create a positive work environment, where individuals feel valued, understood, and appreciated. As a result, employees become more invested in their work, exhibiting higher levels of enthusiasm, dedication, and overall job satisfaction. The Business Benefits of "Work-Besties"Beyond the personal advantages that work friends bring to employees, organisations stand to benefit significantly from cultivating these relationships. Engaged employees are not only happier in their roles but also 23% more profitable and 18% more productive than their disengaged counterparts. These numbers make a compelling case for companies to actively encourage social connections within their teams.By fostering an environment that encourages meaningful relationships, organisations tap into the powerful synergy that arises from engaged teams. When employees feel connected to their peers, they are more likely to collaborate, communicate openly, and share knowledge, leading to increased innovation and problem-solving capabilities. Moreover, work-besties act as a support system during challenging times, providing emotional support, encouragement, and motivation, which ultimately contributes to higher resilience and job performance.The Pandemic's Toll on Work RelationshipsThe Covid-19 pandemic and hybrid working have had a profound impact on work relationships. With many employees working remotely or in a hybrid fashion, the traditional avenues for building work relationships have been disrupted. The lack of face-to-face interaction and the physical separation of teams have made it harder for employees to connect and build relationships. The hybrid working model has also brought new dynamics to work relationships, with teams having to navigate a mix of in-person and virtual interactions. Ultimately, the pandemic and hybrid working have highlighted the importance of intentional efforts to foster connections and build meaningful work relationships, whether in-person or virtually.Building Engaged Teams: The Key IngredientsCreating a workplace culture that fosters connection and belonging requires deliberate effort and a genuine commitment from both employees and employers. Here are some key ingredients to consider:Encouraging social interactions: Organisations can organize team-building activities, social events, or provide communal spaces where employees can interact informally. These initiatives create opportunities for employees to get to know each other on a personal level and build meaningful connections. Promoting a collaborative environment: Foster a culture that emphasises collaboration and teamwork. Encourage cross-functional projects, promote open communication, and recognize and reward collective achievements. This approach not only strengthens relationships but also enhances overall team performance.Investing in employee well-being: Recognise the importance of work-life balance and create policies that support employee well-being. Encouraging breaks, offering flexible schedules, and providing access to wellness programs can help foster a positive work environment and strengthen relationships among team members.Lead by example: Managers and leaders play a crucial role in setting the tone for workplace relationships. By prioritising and demonstrating the value of interpersonal connections, they can inspire employees to cultivate meaningful bonds with their colleagues. By creating an environment that nurtures connection and belonging, organisations can harness the power of engaged teams, unlocking their full potential and reaping the rewards of a thriving workforce.
10 Ways to Improve Your Wellbeing At Work (Workplace Wellbeing Day 2023)
10 Ways to Improve Your Wellbeing At Work (Workplace Wellbeing Day 2023)
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be a challenge, but it’s essential for your overall wellbeing and productivity. There are many ways to improve your wellbeing at work, and you don't need to make drastic changes to your lifestyle. Here are 10 ways to improve your wellbeing at work this National Workplace Wellbeing Day (Fri 28th April 2023):Take regular breaks: It's important to take breaks throughout the day, as it allows you to recharge and refocus. Try to take short breaks every hour, and take a longer lunch break to give yourself time to relax and recharge.Stay hydrated: Drinking enough water throughout the day is crucial for your wellbeing. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, headaches, and other health problems. Keep a water bottle at your desk and sip water regularly throughout the day.Get up and move: Sitting for long periods can be harmful to your health. Try to get up and move around every hour, even if it's just for a few minutes. You can take a walk around the office, stretch or do some exercises at your desk.Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness is a powerful tool for reducing stress and improving your overall wellbeing. Take a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness meditation or deep breathing exercises to help calm your mind and reduce stress.Eat healthy snacks: Ideally avoid snacking between meals if possible, but if you are snacking choose nutrient-dense snacks that contain a good source of protein - some nuts paired with fruits, and vegetables. Make sure to avoid sugary and processed snacks.Prioritise tasks: Prioritising tasks can help you manage your workload and reduce stress. Start your day by identifying the most important tasks that need to be done, and focus on completing them first.Set boundaries: Setting boundaries can help you maintain a healthy work-life balance. Be clear about your working hours, and try to avoid checking work emails and messages outside of these hours.Connect with colleagues: Building positive relationships with your colleagues can improve your job satisfaction and overall wellbeing. Take the time to connect with your colleagues, whether it's by having a chat over lunch or attending social events.Learn new skills: Learning new skills can help you feel more engaged in your work and improve your job satisfaction. Look for opportunities to learn new skills or take on new challenges at work.Take care of your mental health: Mental health is just as important as physical health, so make sure to take care of your mental wellbeing. If you're struggling with stress, anxiety, or other mental health issues, don't hesitate to seek support from your employer or a mental health professional.Small changes to your daily routine can make a big difference in your overall wellbeing and productivity. Try incorporating these 10 tips into your daily routine, and see how they improve your work-life balance and wellbeing.
The Remote-Work Rebound: Hybrid workforce grows by two-thirds, remote workforce down by 54%
The Remote-Work Rebound: Hybrid workforce grows by two-thirds, remote workforce down by 54%
The Talent Leaders Pulse Report was commissioned by Sigmar Recruitment as part of Talent Summit 2023."The power dynamic between employer and employee is rebalancing after two years of hyper competition, with early signs of a shift back to office. The fallout of remote working has seen employees pitted against employers as we look to sustain flexible working practices and settle on desired places of work. We are witnessing the remote work rebound, with twice as many workers now working a hybrid model over full-time remote. The hybrid workers now make up 51% of the current workforce, while the remote workforce has reduced by 54% within the last 12 months. This reflects employers’ sentiment that 87% of employees do their best work in a hybrid model.”, says Talent Summit founder and Sigmar CCO, Robert Mac Giolla Phádraig.Talent Summit 2023 Employment Survey Highlights at a glance:Hybrid WorkHybrid workforce grows by two-thirds, remote workforce down by 54% as employees spend more days in office.2023: 51% working hybrid (30% in 2022), 25% full-time remote (44% in 2022) and 24% in-office (26% in 2022). Of the Hybrid workforce more time is spent in-office over the last 12 months: 81% work 2 days or more in 2023 compared to 74% in 2022.Tuesday (68%), Wednesday (78%) and Thursday (67%) are the most popular days to be in-office with Monday (18% ) and Friday (8%) being the least.Employers believe employees do their best work, working a hybrid model (87%), followed by in-office (11%) with full-time remote (7%) considered the least productive model.Headcount2023 set to see the largest reduction in headcount in the last 5 years with 18% of employers expecting a reduction this year. 62% expect an increase and 20% expect their headcount to remain the same.HR PrioritiesThe Top 5 priorities for HR for 2023 show competing priorities creating a confusing labour market: (1) retention (2) labour costs (3) recruitment (4) sustaining a dispersed culture (5) performance management.Pay63% of employees expected to receive a pay rise of 6% in 2023 (the lowest % pay rise in 6 years)READ THE FULL REPORTThe current labour market is a confusing one and 2023 looks set to be challenging with many contradictions at play which in turn is creating a tug-of-war of work on four main fronts:Workforce: Employers are looking to balance workforce reduction, employee retention and continuous recruitment needs at all once; Work practices: The need to offer individual flexibility to all employees is often at odds with the collective need for greater productivity;Workplace: Work is shifting back to the office with the hybrid workforce spending more days in office and as employers believe employees are least productive full-time remote;Labour Costs: The rise in the cost of living is driving employee salary expectations yet at the same time employers are tightening budgets with economic uncertainty on the horizon.Commenting on workplace, Mac Giolla Phádraig adds: “The workplace has been the topic of conversation since the pandemic and employers have polarised preferences. The intense competition for talent the last two years has seen employers who favoured in-office, soften their view as employees demanded greater flexibility in a hyper-competitive labour market. As that demand recedes, those employers find their voice once more, albeit veiled in language around performance and challenges around sustainable work practices. The flexibility offered to employees now seems to be rebounding to more days in office.” READ THE FULL REPORTABOUT THIS SURVEYThe Talent Summit Pulse Survey 2023 was commissioned by Sigmar Recruitment as part of Talent Summit 2023. This is the sixth year the study has been conducted, measuring the pulse of Talent Leaders on a range of Talent Topics. 244 talent leaders from across Ireland took part in the study, comprising of senior executives responsible for talent decision making within their respective organisations, ranging from CHROs, CEOs HR Directors to Heads of HR functions such as L&D, Recruitment, Organisational Development and Performance Management.Europe’s largest HR, work and employment conference, Talent Summit 2023 will take place in Dublin’s Convention Centre on Thursday, 9 March, 2023, welcoming 1500 guests.www.talentsummit.ie
Talent Summit 2023
Talent Summit 2023
Founded at the height of the financial crisis, Talent Summit is now one of the biggest events of its kind in Europe. Sigmar CCO and Talent Summit Founder Robert Mac Giolla Phádraig talks about this year’s event, HR trends, and why the tech slump is an opportunity for indigenous firms. (Featured in The Currency)---The Currency is media partner of Talent Summit. It will be producing a series of podcasts with executive and thought leaders in human resources participating in the event. The Currency’s podcast stage is sponsored by Employee Financial Wellness a financial education and advice company supporting Talent Summit. For the full line up, tickets and more visit www.talentsummit.ie----Robert Mac Giolla Phádraig remembers founding Talent Summit back in 2011, when unemployment surged to more than 10 per cent and the country was on the brink of economic collapse.Mac Giolla Phádraig, who had co-led the management buyout of recruitment firm Sigmar just two years earlier, decided to launch National Employment Week as part of a not-for-profit effort. The aim was to connect employers who were still hiring with the tens of thousands of people who were losing their jobs amid Ireland’s economic implosion.“The idea was to set up a job activation initiative,” Mac Giolla Phádraig said. “Unemployment was peaking, and we just wanted to do something to help.”Twelve years later the event has transformed into Talent Summit, making March 9 this year an important date in the Human Resources calendar. Between 1,500 and 2,000 HR professionals attend the summit, making it one of the biggest events of its type in Europe. There are 35 speakers from around the world scheduled, ranging from Evelyn Doyle, the head of people and culture at Patagonia, to Eddie Wilson, the chief executive of Ryanair. A smaller basecamp event takes place the day before for 100 chief people officers from Ireland and overseas.During Covid-19 the event became virtual before returning to being in-person last year. HR had changed a lot during the pandemic.“People really wanted content,” Mac Giolla Phádraig said. “They were trying to figure out what was next for people strategies.”The other thing they wanted to do was convene and network. “They hadn’t been together for two years,” he said. “The conference is about the experience as much as the content. That’s why this year we’ve gone for a whole new look and feel that is flexible and open-plan for delegates.”The VHI will be operating a wellness experience, whileThe Currency, with the support ofEmployee Financial Wellness, is operating a podcast corner. Comedian Joanne McNally is closing the event at an evening reception.Mac Giolla Phádraig, the chief commercial officer with Sigmar, says that putting together the programme for this year’s Talent Summit gave him a unique insight into the challenges and needs of HR leaders.“I think it’s a very confusing labour market right now,” Mac Giolla Phádraig said. “The challenges have been largely talent-led the last two or three years. We’ve seen unprecedented levels of churn in the market with the fallout of remote working all of which is talent driven – it was all about the shortage of talent and how to retain it.“But this is now changing as the economy gets tougher. We’re seeing a lot of contradictions which is the theme of this year’s conference which is the tug of war of work.”He added: “Employers and employees can have opposite priorities. Before there was the swing of power from employer to employee but now it is moving back to the employer quite a bit.“At the same time, flexibility is going in the direction of employees and not necessarily for employers.”New opportunities and leadershipAccording to Mac Giolla Phádraig, the future of work could be thought about in a simple way: “You have a workplace, a workforce, and then work practice. Work practice is what enables and facilitates both workplace and workforce to collaborate and deliver the product or service.“The burning challenge right now is to make sense of how you can maybe be reducing your workforce, but still have pressure to recruit, while retention remains your number one priority, all under increasing cost pressures. That’s a very confusing message to manage, and a confusing strategy to execute.”Mac Giolla Phádraig said this was a big theme of the conference, not just for tech companies but also for other sectors that may be considering job cuts. The chief people officers of two of Ireland’s best tech unicorns, L. David Kingsley from Intercom, and Stephanie White, from Fenergo are both speaking at the event on how they see the HR market for tech.“We want to drill into, with them, where lies the opportunity in the current market?” Mac Giolla Phádraig said.He added that another theme of the conference was leadership development with Lise Render Nielsen from Lego and Leah Hollander from NASA among the speakers.“When you think about the talent supply chain,” he said. “You buy talent by recruiting it, you borrow it by taking on temporary or flexible people or bot it by automating processes.“Or you can build it. Building your own talent pipeline has been less focussed on in recent years and probably underinvested in, so we’re looking at what you can to increase that.”Mac Giolla Phádraig recalled the story of how President John F Kennedy visited NASA for the first time in 1962: “As he toured the facility the President met a janitor, and asked him: ‘What is it you do here?’ and he replied: ‘I’m helping put a man on the moon.’ That is being purpose driven. With the HR director of NASA we will be taking a deep dive into the driving force behind that level of purpose-driven followship and how it drives discretionary effort, the holy grail of performance.”Many technology companies, he said, had relied on a “seven-star kind of office experience” as a symbol of their culture, but now it is all about mission. “When tech companies lost that competitive advantage of the office experience they doubled down on a deep sense of purpose, their nobility in solving major problems and trying to create a kind of family feel by supporting their people’s wellbeing and so on,” Mac Giolla Phádraig said.“But we’ve had a bit of a wake up call and maybe people feel (because of redundancies) that employers aren’t family, performing well trumps wellbeing and many of their causes are a little less noble perhaps.”“When decisions are made based on the profit and loss account a business can lose its soul somewhat. I think a lot is being played out right now and it will be interesting to see where we end up over the next 12 months.“The golden handcuffs of share options were one of the main challenges in headhunting tech talent for companies who are in growth mode. But as valuations plummeted last year, we saw them change to bronze handcuffs.”People power“Talent Summit has become of the largest HR conference series in Europe.”Employees, he said, were more prepared to move, and this offered more opportunities to Irish-owned companies and startups to hire good people. “It isn’t all bad news, as indigenous tech and earlier-stage companies can now get access to international talent based in Ireland,” he said.Inflation was putting pressure on employers to increase pay, but again there was tension as the jobs market was not as buoyant as it was. “It’s another tug of war,” Mac Giolla Phádraig said. “Some employers are saying ‘We can help and support you with your financial well-being, but our job isn’t to match inflation.’ It is up to the talent market to decide who wins or loses in these battles.”Traditionally, the route to becoming chief executive officer is often via becoming chief financial officer or chief operating officer first. Talent Summit however is talking to two of Ireland’s most respected CEOs – Eddie Wilson of Ryanair and Noel Keely of Musgrave – who both came from a HR background. “The answer to the financial crisis was very much the CFO,” Mac Giolla Phádraig said. “The Chief People Officer was the answer to the people crisis and really came to the fore during the pandemic, and they’re still there.”“We’re starting to see how the perception of that function and its impact has changed,” Mac Giolla Phádraig said. “There is a new trend of the CPO moving into the CEO role, so that’s why we have two former heads of HR who have made that journey talking about this.“A lot of the problems to be solved in business are to do with people. HR has a really big impact on organisations especially when they are undergoing transformation. That’s why chief people officers are becoming of ever greater importance as leaders in companies.”Wanting something moreIn September 2022, the founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard gave up his ownership of the company to a trust dedicated to fighting climate change. Head of People and Culture Evelyn Doyle is going to talk about the impact this has had on Patagonia.“She is going to talk about what it means to be a ‘for planet’ business – what challenges it has brought, and how they create a unique sense of purpose and belonging in their company. Not every company is going to go as far as Patagonia but I think it has ideas that a lot of HR leaders can adopt, and help them to think about impact in a greater way.”The Talent Summit also has a panel discussion on ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) with speakers Laura Matthews from Bank of America and Joe Creegan from Zurich. “We want to understand what ESG means to different people in the room?” Mac Giolla Phádraig said. “In any talent decision – hiring, retaining, leading – it is about winning hearts and minds.“We want to explore the conversation not just between the employee and the employer but also the customer and society. There is a lot of talk about this, and some of it is window dressing.”He added: “We want to talk about how to create real, material, impactful strategies. HR leaders really showed up for their teams during the pandemic, but now the call to action is what impact can they have on society and making the planet a better place.”Talent Summit aims to combine access to the best HR executives, as well as thought leadership.Dave Ulrich, an author of over 30 books and one of the most influential people in the world in HR, is delivering a keynote speech on “Unleashing human capability for stakeholder value.”“Dave is the godfather of modern HR,” Mac Giolla Phádraig said. “The current HR model is the one he developed and what he is going to talk about is remodelling it post the pandemic. He will be sharing his latest thinking on what we need to do to be more competitive and how HR can have greater impact on all stakeholders.”Ireland, Mac Giolla Phádraig said, had shown it could attract the best companies and talent but it couldn’t afford to be complacent. “We have been a great home for multijurisdictional companies for over 30 years,” he said.“We do have challenges like housing and the cost of living, but we also have an innate sense of storytelling that can build and lead teams. Talent Summit has become of the largest HR conference series in Europe, and we want to make HR better and give Ireland a voice as a great place to work and build a business from.”The Currency is media partner of Talent Summit. It will be producing a series of podcasts with executive and thought leaders in human resources participating in the event. The Currency’s podcast stage is sponsored by Employee Financial Wellness a financial education and advice company supporting Talent Summit. For the full line up, tickets and more visit www.talentsummit.ie