Tuesday 27 October 2020

Managing a multi-generational work environment

The workplace environment has changed drastically in the past few decades, meaning that team leaders are now having to learn how to successfully manage multi-generational employees. People who would’ve once be long retired are working alongside teenage apprentices and young adults fresh from college. Throw into the mix individuals who change their career path in their late 20s and 30s and you could have an extremely diverse work environment. Learning to manage a multi-generational work environment is not only essential to ensure happy employees but is necessary to achieve peak productivity.

What problems are associated with a multi-generational workplace?

If you are aware of the phrase “OK boomer” you will have some insight into how different generations may regard one another. The term 'boomer' relates to people born in the two decades after World War II. Boomers are thought to be out of touch with today’s generation. Besides boomers, there are other generations that have been given names, all of whom you may find in the same workplace:

Traditionalists – born between 1922 and 1945
Boomers or baby boomers – born between 1946 and 1964
Generation X – born between 1965 and 1980
Generation Y or millennials– born between 1981 and 1997
Gen Z – born between 1998 and present day

It is understandable to think that a multi-generational workplace will face problems, after all, each generation will have experienced different technologies and ways of doing things in a work environment. Problems can arise from prejudices of each generation born from presuming they are too traditional or non-PC, or conversely, too modern or liberal. Other difficulties can arise from one generation not being experienced in using certain technologies, and other generations ignoring tried and tested ways of approaching specific elements of work. For example, it may be presumed that older generations may not be fully aware of the benefits of social media, while younger generations may be perceived as being too reliant on modern technology. Clashes such as these require competent management to avoid confusion and frustration between colleagues.

How do I manage multiple generations successfully?

You will be relieved to know that there are ways to create a cohesive workforce made up of many generations.

Don’t make presumptions

It is all too easy to presume that younger candidates will be more capable when it comes to modern technologies and online media. However, it should never be presumed that other generations are not as up to date with technological advances. Bear in mind that the older generations have also lived through changing technologies. In the same way, don’t believe that Gen Zs couldn’t possibly live without their mobile devices or that they are easily distracted by social media updates. Treat each employee as an individual and listen to their unique experiences to ascertain how they will complement your workplace.

Encourage inter-generational mentoring

Like any workplace, employees may have very different experiences and qualifications. Use this to your advantage by encouraging employees to share their skills with one another. For example, one generation may not realise the importance of social communication etiquette, and another could be lacking the real-life interpersonal skills still required in today’s work environments. By delivering this in the form of mutually beneficial mentorships you are ensuring that employees don’t feel patronised.

Ascertain the goals and ambitions of each employee

There are many benefits to having a multi-generational workforce, especially when you know what each employee wants from their work. Younger generations without commitments may be more willing to travel and be keen to be given opportunities to do so. Those with family commitments may not want to be away for long periods of time and their skills could be better used elsewhere. However, it is essential that you don’t just presume, and as a manager you need to ascertain what each employee wants.

Be flexible

Being aware of the many potential differences between generations in the workplace allows you to get the most out of your employees. By being flexible with your approach to each employee and acknowledging their strengths, weaknesses and individual needs, you can provide management that will benefit not only them, but your entire workforce.

Friday 16 October 2020

Inspirational ways to Prevent Employee Burnout

As an employer you will undoubtedly want your workforce to be a happy and productive one. Yet it is all too easy to forget that your employees have other things going on in their lives even if they are extremely dedicated to their job. Failing to address the issue of employee burnout can lead companies to lose some of their best employees. There are many ways to prevent things getting on top of your employees and to ensure they remain motivated and enthusiastic.

What is “burnout”?

According to The Mayo Clinic, job burnout is

“A state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.”

There are many symptoms of burnout, including:

  • Lack of energy and motivation
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lethargy
  • Being prone to physical illnesses
  • Substance abuse

How do I prevent burnout in the workplace?

Boost morale

If an employee isn’t enjoying their work, or feels they aren’t appreciated, then chances are, their work is going to suffer. This is especially true when an employee is feeling over worked. It’s important to let your staff know when they are doing a good job. There are several ways to do this:

  • Set targets to challenge staff so they can feel a sense of accomplishment
  • Acknowledge achievements and goals at weekly team meetings
  • Give rewards – this can be extra time off work or physical rewards such as vouchers or trips away
  • Reward teams as well as individuals so that colleagues are encouraged to work together 
  • Emphasise how important your staff are by rewarding them on a regular basis – provide Friday afternoon treats and host team trips away

Encourage conversations about wellness

Make it clear that employees can come to you to discuss their needs and concerns. You can provide these opportunities via weekly meetings with individuals in addition to teams. Don’t wait for burnout to happen but promote wellness as part of the workplace culture.

You can do this by:

  • Emphasising that you are available to discuss each employee's individual requirements, including discussions about how the workplace can be adapted to assist with mental health needs, physical needs, and personal commitments.
  • Offer flexibility – research conducted by the University of Manchester shows that both employees and their managers thought that flexibility increased a person’s efficiency, work effort, and focus. The study also found that flexibility led to a healthy life/work balance.
  • Provide meditation, yoga or exercise classes that staff can take during their lunch break or before or after work– The NHS states that exercise has many health benefits, both mental and physical.
  • Encourage employees to take five-minute screen breaks every hour to avoid potential eye strain.

Give clear directions and expectations

Some people suffer from job burnout because they aren’t sure of managerial expectations or what their role should be. As a manager, you need to let employees know what their role entails and the amount of autonomy expected within this role. Provide detailed job and role descriptions and always speak with staff if anything changes about their roles and expectations. Again, team and individual meetings can help ensure clear communication about such matters.

Consider implementing regular employee support 

Employees are a key asset of any organisation and it makes sense to help them stay healthy. Consider providing a wellness MOT to support employees maintain wellbeing and to promote good mental health. Research has demonstrated that a proactive approach to wellbeing and mental health pays dividends. It supports improved performance and identifies any problems or issues at the earliest possible stage.

Thursday 1 October 2020

Finding the courage to change your career

There are many reasons you may be contemplating changing your career. The catalyst for this change may not have even been your choice. If you’ve had the same career for many years, it can become part of your identity and the idea of changing this can be extremely daunting. If you dread the thought of going to work each morning, there is obviously a problem that needs to be solved. People can be adversely affected by the pressure of unrealistic workloads, or by an unpleasant work environment. However, there are ways you can embrace the new chapter in your life and find the courage to do so wholeheartedly.

Why change career?

According to the employment search site, Flexjobs, the five top reasons people choose to change career are:

  • Pay – many people simply want more money and realise that a different career path can lead to this.
  • Recognition - lack of recognition for being a good employee can make people feel unappreciated.
  • Promotion – if there isn’t the possibility to advance in your current role, you could feel stuck in a rut with nothing to look forward to.
  • Stress – Some professionals will feel the toll of a stressful occupation and may yearn for less responsibility. 
  • Flexible hours – striking the right work/life balance can be tricky if you have rigid work hours. A flexible role would be more appealing to those wanting or needing less rigidity and more freedom.

The impact of the work environment on your mental health

Spending each day in a job you don’t enjoy, or even detest, can have a significant impact on your mental health. When you hate the thought of the working week beginning yet again you may experience sleepless nights, anxiety and even depression. An excessive workload or responsibilities can lead to exhaustion both physically and mentally. When you recognise that your current role is having a negative effect on your wellbeing, you may consider a change of career.

How a negative work environment can affect existing mental health difficulties

According to the Health and Safety Executive:

“Work-related stress can aggravate an existing mental health problem, making it more difficult to control. If work-related stress reaches a point where it has triggered an existing mental health problem, it becomes hard to separate one from the other.”

Problems such as anxiety, stress and depression can all be exacerbated by a heavy workload, work pressures, and difficult managers or colleagues. If your workplace isn’t open to transparent conversations about mental health and assistance at work, you may find it difficult to change the circumstances.

Is your current role damaging your self-esteem?

Stress and anxiety aren’t the only problems created by a negative work environment, and you may find your confidence depleting as you tackle a building workload, or unsupportive colleagues and line managers. As your self-esteem decreases so does your confidence that you will be able to switch careers.

Fight the fear of the unknown by taking positive steps

It can be very stressful to think about leaving a secure job to plunge into an entirely new career – but it can also be very exciting. There are numerous steps you can take that will encourage better mental health and give you the courage to change career:

  • Speak to your support network outside work such as family and friends. Let them know what you are feeling and how a change of career will enrich your life. Having their support will help build the courage to take steps to find a new and better career
  • Use visualisation exercises to see what your future could be like once you make the change
  • Make a pros and cons list to determine the reality of your current situation versus what you envisage will happen when you change careers. Once you can see how much better life will be once you find a job you actually like, you will have more confidence to make the change.
  • Take time away from the situation completely. If possible, book a few days away among nature and meditate on what really matters to you. Even short walks in woodland or forests can help centre your thoughts.

Positive actions such as those mentioned above can help to build confidence in yourself and the decisions you make.