Tuesday, 26 July 2022

Benefits of Being Organised at Work

Not everyone has great organisational skills so if you’re a bit of a procrastinator and put off those niggling tasks, things can start to get out of hand. But it’s not just your workspace that suffers, being disorganised can impact many areas of your life. Perhaps you can’t find an important piece of work, which inevitably makes you late for a meeting or you miss a vital deadline. The moment something doesn’t go to plan, everything else can spiral out of control and over time, continuous mishaps can cause stress and anxiety.

The importance of being organised

As well as causing unwanted disruptions, a lack of organisation can play havoc with your mental and physical wellbeing. You may feel like you’re constantly rushing around which can increase your blood pressure, or maybe it’s creating tension among work colleagues which is affecting your sleep. There are many benefits of being organised:

  • Increased productivity as you spend less time searching for things.
  • Better communication and work relationships.
  • Reduced stress levels and anxiety.
  • Improved punctuality.
  • You don’t miss deadlines.

Ways to become more organised

If you’re not sure where to start, there are a few simple steps you can take to being more organised:

1. De-clutter your workspace

An untidy workspace can cause frustration and stress, especially when time is of the essence and you’re unable to find what you’re looking for. Start by clearing out any paper, documents or to-do lists that you no longer need. Remove any waste or dirty cups and dishes and give the area a good clean. When you’re working in a tidy and clean space, you’ll feel some of that stress start to wash away. In a study published by Princeton University Neuroscience Institute, it was also found that the chaos of clutter prevents you from focusing, meaning you’re less able to process information properly.

2. Organise online files

If you work with computers, it’s easy for unnecessary files and emails to build up. Not only will this slow down your computer, but it also means you’ll spend more time trying to locate a specific document. When your files are organised, you will find what you need more quickly, saving you time and stress.

3. Create shared drives

When working with colleagues or management who need to regularly access files that you’re working on, creating a shared drive reduces the time it takes to send emails back and forth. It also means that everyone can work more autonomously with fewer distractions.

4. Update your calendar

When we’re busy or stressed, it’s all to easy to forget or miss important meetings. Although you might feel as though you don’t have time to keep adding things to your calendar, in the long run it can save you a lot of stress as you’re less likely to be late or completely forget an appointment. And don’t forget to set automatic reminders just in case you forget to check your calendar!

6. Sync your devices

It’s not uncommon for people these days to use many different devices at work and home, but by making sure they’re all synced together, you’re more likely to keep on top of emails and appointments.

Further information

Thursday, 14 July 2022

The power of loving your job

As we spend the majority of our week at work, it’s hugely important that we love what we do as well as the environment we work in. It goes without saying that we’ll have the occasional bad day at work but when the occasional bad days become more frequent, it can have negative implications. The awful Sunday anxiety, lack of motivation and stressful workloads will eventually take an emotional toll on your wellbeing. When employees are unhappy at work it can also have a knock-on effect on colleagues and management, creating a toxic environment and relationships.

Why it’s important to love your job

Not only will a happy work life reduce stress and anxiety in the workplace, but it will also mean a happier personal life. When you love your job, you’ll approach work with a positive mindset that will help you achieve your goals and become more successful. You’ll also be better equipped to overcome any challenges along the way. Hungarian psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, believes that when you enjoy your job, you’ll have better focus and more creative ideas. Your passion and focus provide you with the fuel needed to succeed. When you do find a job that you love, you will benefit in many ways:

  • Increased productivity and motivation
  • Better mental and physical wellbeing
  • Improved quality of work
  • Stronger working and personal relationships
  • Happier home life
  • Increased self-confidence
  • More energy 

And, of course, the company you work for will also reap benefits such as:

  • Higher retention rates
  • Increased productivity
  • Happier work environment
  • Better communication between colleagues and managers

How to fall in love with your job again

If you’ve been working within the same company for a long time, it’s likely you’ve lost your passion for what you once loved doing. But there are steps you can take to fall in love with your job all over again.

  • Break up more monotonous tasks with the ones that you enjoy doing.
  • Take regular breaks and drink plenty of water to help you feel motivated and energised.
  • Reward yourself when you’ve accomplished something you’re proud of or do something to celebrate.
  • Take up relaxation exercises such as meditation, yoga or mindfulness that can reduce stress and help you to stay calm.
  • Speak to your manager if you need support and ask if you can do any other tasks that you prefer.
  • Set goals that will inspire you and make a list of things that you’d like to improve.
  • Create a positive workspace whether that’s bringing in a plant, putting your favourite photos on your desk or listening to uplifting music.
  • Remind yourself of what you used to love about your job and make a list of all the benefits. When you start to focus on the more positive aspects, perhaps you’ll realise how much you do enjoy it after all.

Friday, 1 July 2022

Ways to Reduce Absenteeism at Work

In any company, a certain amount of absenteeism is to be expected, owing to illness and occasional unforeseen events and emergencies. However, when staff aren’t turning up for work on a more regular basis, it can become a cause for concern, not only for the company but also for other employees. According to the World Health Organisation, the average number of sick days per employee, per year in the UK is 4.4 days.

What are the main causes of absenteeism?

There’s a whole host of reasons why employees might fail to show up for work, from illness to family matters. Some of the main causes of absenteeism are:

  • Minor illness
  • Mental health issues such as anxiety, stress and depression
  • Family issues or a bereavement
  • Paternity/maternity leave
  • Workplace bullying or issues with work colleagues
  • Serious illness or long-term illness
  • Unforeseen travel incidents such as traffic delays, bad weather or road accidents

As well as financially impacting the company, absenteeism can also have a negative effect on productivity, motivation levels and the overall culture of the business, as colleagues may need to take on extra workloads.

How to reduce absenteeism

In many cases it’s difficult to control the causes of absenteeism but there are some instances where management can help to reduce the number of absences by taking the following actions:

Improve employee engagement and motivation

By introducing wellbeing programmes into the business for personal development, organising social events inside and outside of the workplace, and ensuring the working environment is positive and inspiring, businesses can increase morale and staff engagement, which can lead to fewer sick days and a happier and healthier workforce.

Offer more flexibility

Flexible working hours and home-working opportunities can be of great benefit to parents with young children or employees who are caring for a relative, meaning they can enjoy a better work-life balance that will reduce any additional stress or anxiety.

Show concern for employees

It might seem like a trivial action but by reaching out to employees who are struggling with their mental or physical health or other personal issues, you can really make a difference. It’s important to talk regularly on a one-to-one basis to understand how the company can support them and make their role easier and more manageable.

Reward attendance

When employees are recognised and rewarded for good attendance, it not only keeps them motivated but it also incentivises others with a high level of absenteeism to improve their attendance. Perhaps organise an annual bonus, allow staff to finish work early for a day or present them with a gift.

Have procedures in place

It is common practice for management to conduct a return-to-work interview once an employee starts back at work after being absent. This is a great opportunity to discuss any significant issues with an employee and to also create a strategy for improving their attendance.

Friday, 10 June 2022

Why Employers Should Take a Holistic Approach to Wellbeing

Following the unprecedented effects of the pandemic, it’s now more important than ever for businesses to support employee wellbeing in the workplace. By taking a holistic approach to wellbeing, employers can help prevent absenteeism due to stress, anxiety and depression. And promoting good mental and physical health can also create a more positive work environment and better employee engagement. A study published by The Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health found that “the average employee takes seven days off sick each year of which 40 per cent are for mental health problems. This adds up to 70 million lost working days a year, including one in seven directly caused by a person’s work or working conditions.”

Ensuring that employees are happy at work also has a knock-on effect on their wellbeing in their personal lives. Having an effective wellbeing programme in place is mutually beneficial to both businesses and their staff and encourages everyone to thrive within their individual roles.

Benefits of taking a holistic approach

  • Increased job satisfaction
  • Reduced absences
  • Higher engagement
  • Increased productivity
  • Better resilience to stress
  • Positive working relationships
  • Happier personal lives

To see greater benefits of holistic programmes, it’s important that they are embedded in the workplace culture and company management.

Ways to take a holistic approach to wellbeing

  1. The first step any organisation should take is to create a strategy that incorporates how they aim to support employee wellbeing and what they want to achieve through taking a holistic approach. There are many ways that a holistic framework can be integrated into the workplace such as:
  2. Offer support or counselling services for physical and mental health.
  3. Encourage healthy day-to-day routines that include diet, sleep and regular breaks. Perhaps ditch the vending machine and opt for fruit and water instead, encourage breaks outside and limit the number of hours employees can spend at work at one time.
  4. Undertake regular one-to-one meetings with employees to discuss their workload and wellbeing.
  5. Consider introducing some flexible conditions for parents or carers, such as remote working or flexible hours.
  6. Create an inspiring environment by introducing plants or flowers into the workspace, providing additional facilities for breaks, or having fresh interior design. All of these small adjustments are conducive to better wellbeing and productivity.
  7. Make sure all employees are provided with all the resources they need to carry out their job successfully, whether that’s an up-to-date computer, comfortable desk and chair or specialist equipment relating to their role.
  8. Encourage physical wellness by offering cycle to work initiatives, discounts for sport and leisure activities, or optional after-work classes such as yoga or Tai Chi.
  9. Provide clear pathways for career progression and salary increases.

For more about employee wellbeing solutions, visit our website: https://www.firstpsychology-assistance.co.uk

Friday, 6 May 2022

The benefits of pets in the workplace

Over the years there have been many studies about how owning a pet can affect mental wellbeing. As well as the more obvious benefits such as companionship and the physical exercise we gain from walking our pets, it has been proven that they can help with stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.

Caring for an animal is a great way to distract us from our daily stresses, and by taking responsibility for our pet’s health we’re also improving our own health as it encourages us to take regular exercise, even when we might not be feeling up to it. Just a short walk outside can boost our mood by lowering our blood pressure, increasing our oxygen levels and producing endorphins.

Take your dog to work day

In 1999, the “Take your dog to work day” was first launched and it had such a positive impact on the working environment that companies around the world continue to encourage bringing dogs into the workplace. It is now widely recognised that the presence of pets at work can increase motivation and promote a happier, friendlier atmosphere. 

This year, National Take Your Dog To Work Day is on 24 June so there's still time to convince your employer. 

How can pets benefit the workplace?

Whatever the animal, pets can provide unconditional love and companionship. Many animals are also extremely intuitive and are sensitive to our moods, so they know when to give us some much-needed attention. When we’re feeling isolated, lonely or misunderstood, our pets can offer us company and make us feel appreciated and loved when no-one else does. Even when it is someone else’s pet that visits the workplace, it’s not uncommon for colleagues to form an emotional bond with them.

  1. Pets can reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. Even the act of stroking a pet can help us to feel calmer and happier.
  2. They can improve relationships as it’s a great way to get talking to people. In a study published by habri central, Resources for the Study of the Human-animal Bond, research suggests that “animals can be a catalyst for several dimensions of human social relationships in neighborhood settings, ranging from incidental social interaction and getting to know people, through to formation of new friendships”.
  3. They encourage us to get outside more during our breaks for exercise and fresh air.
  4. They can increase attendance at work. Perhaps you don’t have a pet of your own, but you love spending time with animals. Also, if you own a pet, you will worry less if they can come to work with you. 
  5. They create a friendly environment for colleagues, customers or visitors. Even when we are under pressure at work, people tend to always be friendly and caring towards pets which can encourage us to act the same way with each other.
  6. They provide more flexibility in the workplace as pet owners don’t need to rush home at break times or leave early to take care of them.

Friday, 29 April 2022

Practising the Three Principles of Positivity at work

There may be times when you struggle to focus your attention on the positive aspects of your life, especially when everything around you appears to be falling apart. And it can be even more frustrating when other people are telling you to think positively but you just can’t look on the bright side. The good news is, there are certain principles that you can put into practice that will, over time, help you to maintain a positive outlook.

The human brain is extremely complex and pretty amazing at managing our moods. Known as the 'happy hormones', endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin can all help us to feel good, and by practising the Three Principles of Positivity, we can improve our mood and mental wellbeing. Research available in the National Library of Medicine suggests that cortisol, oxytocin and adrenaline have a fundamental role in happiness and mood regulation.

What are the Three Principles of Positivity?

1. Positive thought

Each of our thoughts generates activity in our brain, and this can also impact our physical state and response. For example, if you are worrying about a situation, you might start to feel the effects of anxiety in your body with symptoms such as butterflies in the stomach, a racing heart, shakiness or nausea. These symptoms are created as the negative thoughts in your brain tell your body how to react. Similarly, if we consciously change our thoughts to something more positive, our brain releases serotonin and we will feel happier and more confident.

It can take time and practise to train your brain but once you start to master the art of positive thought, you will begin to notice your change in mood.

Ways to practise positive thinking at work:
  • Make a list of all the positive tasks you have achieved each day.
  • Remind yourself of your value at work and how you contribute to the company.
  • When you don’t achieve your goals at work, make a note of everything that you learned from your experience and embrace the lessons so you can improve next time.

2. Positive action

Just as positive thinking can produce happy hormones in the brain, so can taking positive action. By doing things that get positive results, our body produces dopamine which can make us feel good and increase our levels of motivation.

Ways to practice positive action at work:
  • Listen to music that makes you feel good, especially when you’re undertaking a challenging task as this can motivate you and help you achieve your goals. 
  • Go for a walk outside during breaks as this will release serotonin and endorphins to make you feel good.
  • Ensure you have good sleeping patterns by going to bed and waking at similar times each day. By receiving the correct amount of sleep, you’re enabling your brain to recuperate and your serotonin levels to regulate. 

3. Positive interaction

Our relationships with people both inside and outside of work are really important to our mental wellbeing. In order to feel self-confident and mentally strong enough to cope with stressful situations, we need a good support network around us. Positive interaction can also prevent us from feeling loneliness, which can have a negative effect on our mental health.

Ways to practice positive interaction at work:
  • Take part in work-related social activities to strengthen relationships with colleagues.
  • Being kind to people and helping others will release oxytocin and serotonin and make you feel good, as well as making others feel happy too.
  • If you work from home or don’t spend much time around your work colleagues, try to stay connected by email, social media, or telephone. As humans, we often crave interaction and by positively interacting with our work colleagues, we produce oxytocin which helps us cope with stressful situations.

Thursday, 21 April 2022

The Importance of Taking Time off Work

Have you ever found yourself working through your lunch breaks or too afraid to take time off because the stress of catching up when you return to work can be so overwhelming? Often, we avoid taking time off because we feel as though we have to do twice as much work in the run-up to our holiday to ensure we’ve tied up any loose ends. However, it is vital for our mental and physical wellbeing that we regularly take a break from our job.

Although the human brain is capable of doing many wonderful things, it isn’t designed to be regularly overworked. This kind of constant pressure can be extremely damaging to both our mental and physical state. A study published by the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology showed that taking a relaxing or social break from work can help the mind to recover and can positively impact mood.

The effects of an overworked mind

  • Lack of focus, concentration and memory
  • Poor decision making
  • Symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Mental and physical exhaustion

It’s important that we regularly ‘switch off’ our brains to maintain a healthy mind and refuel our levels of cortisol, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins. All these hormones play a significant part in regulating our mood and make us more able to deal with stress.

Benefits of taking time off work

A happier, more self-confident and balanced you

The saying “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is certainly true. When we don’t take time to do the things that we enjoy and don’t have a healthy work–life balance, we can lose our sense of identity and it can also affect our personal relationships with friends and family. By taking time off to socialise, play a sport or enjoy a hobby, you will generally feel happier, and it can also boost your self-confidence and sense of belonging.

Increased cognitive function

Taking time off to rest our brain is integral to improving cognitive health so that we are better equipped to make decisions, concentrate and focus on any task at hand.

Improved mental resilience

When our brains are under ongoing pressure, it affects our ability to cope with stressful situations, which in turn can cause even more stress. By taking time off work to recuperate and regenerate our minds, we are able to deal with day-to-day stresses more effectively.

Increased productivity

Being overworked and mentally exhausted increases our levels of cortisol which can impact our motivation and productivity. A holiday away from the office either just relaxing or doing activities that we love can balance out our cortisol levels and boost our motivation, resulting in increased productivity.

Promoting time off

Time off work doesn’t necessarily mean going on a long holiday, it also means resting outside of your working hours, whether that’s in the evening when you’re at home, at weekends or even in your lunch break. Managers have a duty to look after their employees’ wellbeing and should encourage annual leave and regular work breaks to avoid work-related mental health issues and total burnout. Not only does this benefit the individual but it also creates a better working environment where everyone can perform to their full potential.

For more on holidays and the benefits of taking a break from work, read this article on vacation research  written by work and organisational psychologist Jessica Bloom and published in 'The Psychologist'  >

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

The importance of movement on mental health

Over the years, there has been ongoing research into mental health and how it is positively affected by movement and exercise. Studies have shown that not only can movement aid mental clarity, memory and concentration, but it can also help our cognitive abilities. In an article published by BMC Medicine, it also shows that reducing sedentary behaviour is possible through increasing activity, which itself is associated with a lower incidence of depression and anxiety disorders and can reduce depression and anxiety symptoms in those with a disorder.

Benefits of movement on mental health

  • Improved clarity, concentration and memory
  • Improved mood
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Reduces symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression
  • Promotes better sleep

Given the amount of time many of us spend sitting at a desk all day or absorbing ourselves in technology such as electronic games, television and social media, generations have unsurprisingly become less active. So, to ensure we keep our minds and bodies in optimum health, it’s important to step up the pace and increase the amount of exercise we undertake on a regular basis.

Tips for staying active at work

If you work in a sedentary job, there are ways that you can increase your daily movement.

  • Ride or walk to work
  • Take the stairs instead of the lift
  • Instead of emailing or calling a colleague in the same building, walk over to them 
  • Suggest walking meetings outside if possible
  • Make the most of your lunch break by going for a walk, bike ride or gym session
  • Maximise shorter breaks to do the drinks’ run or walk on the spot while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil!
  • Invest in a portable pedal exerciser that lets you keep your legs moving even when you’re sat at your desk.

Ways to stay motivated

If you don’t do regular exercise, it can often be difficult to get started, especially when it's cold outside. But there are ways that can help you become more motivated and form a healthy routine.

  1. Many people find it easier to exercise with someone else so try and find yourself an exercise buddy who’ll go to the gym, swimming or take long walks with you. You’ll probably find it much more fun being with a friend and you can also encourage each other. 
  2. Join a fitness class or take part in a group sport. A bit of healthy competition can be a great motivator to get yourself into shape and push yourself when you’re not feeling up to it.
  3. Walking is a great way to keep moving without too much effort, and by paying close attention to the sights, sounds and scents of nature, you’re giving your mind a double workout.
  4. Set yourself a goal or challenge and raise money for a charity at the same time. Once you’ve committed to the challenge and announced it to friends and family, it will make you more determined to stick to your goals.
  5. Bundle a new active behaviour with something that you already enjoy doing, so for example, take a lunchtime walk while listening to your favourite blogger, audiobook, etc.

Monday, 21 March 2022

The Pros and Cons of Workplace Competition

Whether it’s to gain recognition, promotion, pay rise or work-related bonuses, competition in the workplace is almost inevitable. While for some, competition may arouse excitement, for others it can be a source of stress and anxiety. Depending on the individual, this can cause people to act in different ways. In an article published by Harvard Business Review, the research says that “when employees feel excited, they’re more likely to come up with creative solutions. When they feel anxious, they’re more likely to cut corners or sabotage one another.”

The Pros

Competition in the workplace can provide many material benefits to employees as well as having a positive impact on mental wellbeing. However, this is dependent on how the individual feels about it – do they see this as additional pressure or an opportunity to prove themselves in their role? For those who feel excited about the challenge, they may benefit from the following:

  • Sense of achievement
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Pay increases and performance-related bonuses
  • Promotion
  • Respect from colleagues and management
  • Increased motivation
  • Improved mood
  • Increased creativity

The Cons

Not all employees are going to thrive on being competitive and it could have a detrimental effect on their wellbeing. These are some of the disadvantages that certain individuals might experience:

  • Increased stress and anxiety
  • Lack of motivation
  • Decreased self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Unhealthy relationships with colleagues 
  • Fear of failure 

10 ways to create healthy competition

To ensure that all employees can take part in healthy workplace competition without it having a negative effect on their wellbeing it’s important to do the following:

  1. Make sure that employees understand what healthy competition means by offering reassurance that they will be given help to succeed and not threatened by ridicule or, even worse, job losses. 
  2. Ask employees what would motivate them and offer rewards that are meaningful to them.
  3. Put competition rules in place that prevent any negative behaviour such as ridicule, underhand tactics, or workplace bullying.
  4. Employ management that can lead by example and demonstrate principles that promote healthy competition.
  5. Recognise employees’ efforts as well as achievements as this will help maintain motivation.
  6. Involve employees when setting personal achievements and agree beforehand what they should be.
  7. Practice clear communication at all times and offer help when it’s needed. 
  8. Hold regular performance reviews with constructive feedback as this will maintain motivation levels and promote trust.
  9.  Run team building activities inside and outside of the workplace. This will strengthen bonds between employees and help prevent any animosity.
  10. Encourage open discussions where employees can air their thoughts in a non-threatening environment. In a study by Gallop, it revealed that open discussions are the best way to resolve any conflicts and reduce stress and anxiety about the competition. According to the study, when employees believe that their opinion matters, it increases productivity and decreases turnover rates.