Thursday 30 September 2021

How to manage highly sensitive employees

According to a study and the best-selling book by Dr Elaine Aron, there are 1.4 billion people worldwide that are highly sensitive, and the chances are, some of these people are your employees. This is also known as sensory processing sensitivity and means that a person is more physically, emotionally and mentally responsive.

While highly sensitive people can possess many positive traits such as conscientiousness and personal reflection, it can also lead to burnout. They may also have a constant need for reassurance which can be emotionally draining for other members of staff. Because of this you not only need to manage the person’s increased sensitivity but also the frustration it can cause other workers.

Although you may feel tempted to try and 'fix' a person’s sensitivity, it’s advised to put procedures in place that can manage these traits instead. Sensory processing sensitivity is not a disorder, but a characteristic that is quite normal.

Tips for managing highly sensitive employees

There are several ways that employers can help people who are highly sensitive. By recognising their strengths and understanding their emotional needs, you will also create a more positive work environment.

  1. Do some research and gain a better understanding of sensory processing sensitivity. This will help you to become more sympathetic to the needs of these employees and also help you to learn how to benefit from the value they can add to your company.
  2. Embrace diversity in the workplace and provide additional wellbeing support for all staff so that no-one feels stigmatised for their differences.
  3. Ensure you appreciate and praise your staff. Perhaps once a month send an email or call a meeting where you can personally thank and appreciate your team. Try to find one positive comment for every person so that it doesn’t appear all your attention is solely focused on those who are highly sensitive. 
  4. Offer stress-reducing activities inside or outside of work that will reinforce the importance of rest and relaxation. 
  5. Make sure staff take regular breaks throughout the day and try not to encourage the culture of working late every evening, which can cause both mental and physical exhaustion.
  6. Try to avoid certain triggers that are likely to cause stress such as continuously strict deadlines or excessive workloads. Highly sensitive people are more likely to struggle with these kinds of intense pressures and could find themselves emotionally and mentally drained. 
  7. Prevent gossip in the workplace as this behaviour can be damaging not only to someone who is highly sensitive but also to other members of staff in general. Make your staff aware that you are always available to listen to any problems that might arise so they won’t feel the need to discuss their issues with colleagues or anyone else. 

Friday 24 September 2021

Why the work hard, play hard ethic is making you ill

Over the years, the phrase ‘work hard, play hard’ has become increasingly common and is often mentioned by ambitious workers who want to reach the top while enjoying a socially active life at the same time. Social media certainly has a role to play in this kind of ethic as there is a constant need for people, particularly of the younger generations, to appear that they have it all.

A study by Lonnie W Aarssen and Laura Crimi, published in The Open Psychology Journal in 2016, tested the theory of ‘work hard, play hard’. The results found 'a conspicuous association between desire to work hard and desire to play hard'.

And these kinds of pressures can be extremely damaging to our mental and physical health as we over-exert ourselves both in and outside of work to present the illusion of having the perfect life. When we burn the candle at both ends, we could find ourselves suffering from a range of mental, emotional and physical disorders such as:

  • stress
  • anxiety
  • sleep disturbances
  • headaches
  • depression 
  • exhaustion

In the long run, the ‘work hard, play hard’ ethic is not only bad for the company you work for but it’s also damaging to your health.

How can we have it all?

For those of you who still want to have it all: the high-profile job; the impressive bank balance; and the enviable social life, you can have all of this but be aware, it usually comes at a cost to your health and wellbeing. At some point in the future, something has got to give, so whether you cut back on your working hours or take a night off from the social scene, you need to make time for the simple things that let you recharge your batteries and avoid burnout.

  1. Take a holiday and totally switch off. It’s so important to get away from it all, whether it’s to an exotic location or even somewhere closer to home where you can escape the rat race and party scene. Make sure you turn on your out-of-office message so that you’re not disturbed and try to resist the urge to party all night just so that you can post your photos to social media.
  2. Know your breaking point and take a break before you reach it. Taking a break can take the form of many activities such as a walk among nature, 15 minutes of mindful meditation, or even getting lost in a great book. Just make sure whatever you choose to do, you aren’t thinking about work.
  3. Take a nap. You don’t have to be of a certain age to enjoy a cat nap and even a 20-minute snooze can replenish your energy levels and refresh the brain. Try not to sleep for much longer than this as it could affect your sleep patterns at night.
  4. Do some exercise. You might be thinking that exercise will make you even more tired, but a study published by Science Daily showed that regular exercise reduces fatigue and increases energy levels.