Strategies for Managing the Winter Blues

With the arrival of fall and the coming winter season – the days get shorter, and darker the temperature drops in some cases plummets to Arctic lows. Businesses may see a spike in the increased use of health and wellness programs including Employee Assistance.

Seasonality is often a factor in mental health and is frequently associated with shorter darker days. The increasing attention on individual mental health and wellness lays the groundwork for employers to consider methods to offset the winter blues.

The following suggestions coming may go a long way to ensure productivity and office morale stay stable over the coming winter:

  • Plan a winter planning retreat for your team it could be a day gateway close to the office where high level plans for the upcoming year are discussed;
  • Provide snacks that have contents of vitamin C and D throughout the office;
  • Offer weekly meditation or yoga classes;
  • Encourage employees to utilize Employee Assistance programs to address personal concerns.

What other strategies have you used in your office to offset the changes brought on by winter?

Marie-Helene Sakowski – Business Change & Transition – info@effectiveplacement.com

Reasons for Hiring Workers Over the Age of 45

Strategic managers and HR professionals need to address the skills, knowledge base, and institutional memory that is required for their company to grow. Date from StatsCan there is now an equal number of workers aged 25 to 34 and those aged 55 and above who are active in the workplace. That number strongly suggests that to keep up with the demands of running a business – older workers are now a necessity.

Efforts to retain and attract older works need to be top of mind for those who want to ensure the viability of their businesses in the long term. Offering older workers flexible work arrangements, training and development opportunities is important.

Benefits of keeping a mature workforce include:

  • Knowledge based on experience;
  • Dependability and commitment;
  • Established networks that add value;
  • Matching clients to your employee base – mature clients like to deal with mature employees.

What strategies is your business undertaking to ensure that the mature employee stays on?  Do let me know as I am genuinely interested.

Marie-Helene Sakowski – Business Change & Transition – info@effectiveplacement.com

 

Employee & Company Growth Are Often at Different Paces

You were hired for your dream job at company XYZ. For the first few years you were in the zone – you meshed with the company culture and were a great fit in terms of your attitude and behaviour.  Suddenly or maybe gradually you began to feel less aligned overall with the company.

As an employer you notice that one of your star employees is indifferent. The person maybe quieter or appear to be less involved. An underlying tension or apprehension is evident. The company or the employee may have grown by leaps and bounds. What started off as a great fit is no longer. 

When facing a situation with an employee who is no longer a good fit there are some steps you as the employer can take to mitigate the situation. First you can meet with the employee and develop a transitioning out plan.  Working with other businesses to find a home for the employee is a win-win scenario. Another option is to look internally to determine if there is a role that will use put the talents and skills of the employee to good use.

What have you tried to ensure both you and an employee come out as winners when the fit is gone?

Marie-Helene Sakowski – Business Consultant Change & Transition – info@effectiveplacement.com

Leadership Development

As someone in a leadership role or someone who oversees leaders in your organization are you taking the necessary steps to safeguard that those who report to you are leveraging their own capacity for the better good of all? Are you doing that for yourself as well?

Organizations may have people in leadership roles where the following are missing:

  • An articulated purpose that is shared amongst the individuals that are being worked with;
  • Clear understanding of the power and dynamics that each leader has too work with at a formal and informal level;
  • Vested understanding of the roles and systems in place for the direct reports involved.

Spending time and energy on learning the latest leadership development concepts and models is tempting. However, the real work may be engaging in your own leadership development. In other words, use our own tool-kit to identify our own leadership challenges. In doing so you are in a better position to develop the leaders around you.

What actions are you taking around leadership development in your organization?

Marie-Helene Sakowski – Business Change & Transition – info@effectiveplacement.com

Freedom from Stigma

Policies are a starting place from which to develop deeper strategic processes to have that allow for the safety, security, and levelling of the playing field. Employees need to trust that their disclosures and requests for additional support will not cause a backlash reaction of additional harm. Most organizations whether they be business, not for profit, or non-governmental agencies have policies in place for addressing physical illnesses.

The stigma of declaring that you require support for a mental health illness or that you require time off to address strategies for the interpersonal violence is real. There are Employee Assistance Plans (EAP) in place to help employees with confidential counselling services. These services do provide critical assistance.

Workplaces need to take a deeper look into providing the framework for employees to feel comfortable enough to overcome feelings of shame and humiliation of the condition or illness they are trying to deal with. Inhouse seminars are one way to ensure ongoing training and education of all employees is in place. Another is to develop mentorship approaches or those facing additional challenges such as interpersonal violence.

Marie-Helene Sakowski – Business Change & Transition – info@effectiveplacement.com

 

Productivity Increases with Focused Work

You arrive at work ready to go and then the distractions start. Even if you work remotely you are still expected to address emails, texts, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram to name the most common digital and social media distractions. Replying to instant messages from wherever they are generated is a reduction in productive focused work.

The term focused work refers to doing work that requires increased concentration free from the interruptions of digital and social media messages. Workers are often engaged in tasks that require minimal effort with decreased amounts of concentration. Focused work is not that.

When workers are free from the mundane distractions of keeping up with the less important tasks before them, they create the space to address larger projects. The ability to focus on new product development, or new operational processes take precedence. When that occurs productivity and worker engagement increase.

Batching the less important tasks during a working day assists greatly with increasing time for the purpose of accomplishing the scope of work required. You gain a whole new lease on time when not checking for messages etc. every 6 – 10 minutes.

Marie-Helene Sakowski – Business Change & Transition – info@effectiveplacement.com

 

Building Trust at Work

Trust is a necessary requirement in the workplace. Despite the importance of having it is not a common feature between, managers, and the executive suite.

Research by various firms indicates that fewer than 50% of employees trust their managers or their company. As bleak as that number is there are certain steps that everyone who manages a group or is part of team can take to develop trust over time.

Theses steps include:

  • Being honest with your team or group even when facing difficulty or adversity.
  • Own and admit to mistakes that you have made and the resulting cost of those mistakes.
  • Train your team and yourself in the process to become aware of unconscious biases so that different approaches to solving problems or issues emerge.
  • Put yourself on the line and show vulnerability by asking for feedback and then implementing the information gleaned into the day-to-day operations.

What other steps have you used to develop trust in your teams? Do let me know as I m genuinely interested.

Marie-Helene Sakowski – Business Change & Transition – info@effectiveplacement.com

 

Interpersonal Violence (IPV) in the Workplace

The issue of interpersonal violence and its impact on the workplace is an area that has recently grown in terms of attention and service offerings. Within the province of Saskatchewan employees and their dependents who are victims of interpersonal violence (including those subjected to abuse by someone in a care giving relationship) are eligible for up to 10 days of paid and unpaid leave (5 days of each).

Both men and women can be abused or abusive in their relationships.  According to Statistics Canada women are more likely to experience serious forms of violence and abuse and more likely to be injured.

Warning signs of interpersonal violence include:

  • Obvious injuries such as bruises, black eyes, broken bones, hearing loss often attributed to falls or accidents;
  • Minimization and denial or harassment or injuries.

Employer responsibilities include:

  • Having clear procedures and processes in place for reporting the issue that are confidential;
  • Follow-up to ensure employee is okay and if available EAP referrals to provide treatment options.

Do you have policies and processes in place to address this issue? If you do not contact me.

Marie-Helene Sakowski – Business Change & Transition – info@effectiveplacement.com

 

Factors that Impact Organizational Development

Organization development is about the activities engaged in by stakeholders in order to build and maintain the health of an organization as a total system. When a business is under going changes the following occur:

  • Additional stress is placed on the organization and culture;
  • An increased focus on social, human and group dynamics where what was considered normal is no longer;
  • An atmosphere of collaboration and facilitation is often missing;
  • Stakeholders are no longer engaged in solving the issues throughout the process;
  • The focus is frequently not on a “win-win” outcome.

Resistance to change may be negative, disruptive or constructive. To ensure you are doing the best you can to rise above the potential negative implications of change try the following:

  • Becoming aware of personal biases.
  • Improved communication – that works up down, backwards, and forwards.
  • Staying the course in a change process and seeing it through – it is called “grit”.
  • Suggest options that serve the process.
  • Work collaboratively and cooperatively as a team. Team is what it took and still takes to have it all come together.  Without teams the accomplishment factor dwindles considerably.

Marie-Helene Sakowski – Business Change & Transition – info@effectiveplacement.com

Conflict Management vs. Conflict Resolution

At one time I believed that conflict in the workplace could be resolved. Experience has been a great teacher in having me realize that resolution of conflict is not possible. Rather conflict management is the preferred framework to utilize in the workplace and arguably in your personal life a s well.

Conflict management allows for the parties involved to bridge areas where values, belief’s, and perception vary. When in a conflicted situation at work whether that be project or procedurally based it is highly unlikely that one or more parties are willing or able to accept and agree to another point of view that is contrary to a deeply held belief or value.

Establishing solid processes that involve the attributes of assessing needs, establishing common goals and interests, and engaging in developing a common vision go along way to ensuring that the differences are managed. Further to that a solid foundation from which to work from and overcome additional challenges is established.

What steps have you utilized in managing conflict that have resulted in highly functional agreements?

Marie-Helene Sakowski – Business Change & Transition – info@effectiveplacement.com