Wednesday 31 May 2023

Why Taking Accountability at Work is Important for Mental Health

Taking accountability of your actions at work is crucial in maintaining your mental health and wellbeing because it allows you to manage your self-development by taking ownership of the things you have control over. A study published by Harvard Business Review found that out of 5,400 business managers, 46% failed to take accountability at work.

What is accountability?

While there are some things in life that we have no control over, there are also many things that we can control. However, people often choose to direct the blame onto someone else rather than taking accountability for their own part in a situation. 

For example, we might ignore the things that we say or do and the consequences they have on others and certain situations by misplacing the blame in order to make ourselves feel better. This can have the opposite effect and can create further issues that have a knock-on-effect on our wellbeing. By taking ownership of our behaviour, we develop our self-awareness and become less controlled by circumstances or other people.

Whenever you find yourself in a difficult situation, whether it’s with work colleagues, management or clients, it’s important to understand what role you played and how your words and actions contributed. We have control over how we feel, speak and behave and by taking responsibility, we can determine more positive outcomes. Rather than going on the defensive and trying to shift the blame, try to learn from your mistakes and you’ll soon begin to develop a more positive mindset.

How does accountability affect our mental health?

When we’re accountable for our words and actions, we are able to grow as people, accept our mistakes and learn to be better. This also allows us to take more control over our lives and forge a better future for ourselves where we’re in the driving seat. By choosing how we respond to circumstances we strengthen our internal power.

How can we learn to be more accountable?

Observe all of your words and behaviours – Make a conscious effort to observe your words and behaviours and recognise each time that you shift the blame onto someone else to avoid being reprimanded. Pay attention to the outcome of the situation and ask yourself, honestly, how did that benefit you? You’ll likely find that rather than remove any blame from yourself, it actually had the opposite effect and made the situation worse. Consider how you could have done things differently and notice how much more positive the outcome is when you learn to take accountability.

Let go of the past
– By playing the blame game, we’re inadvertently prolonging the situation and any negativity surrounding it and often it turns into “he says, she says”, which results in a battle that usually goes unresolved. When we accept responsibility and learn to correct our actions, we can begin to let go and move forwards, leaving feelings of resentment behind us. This not only means that we can improve our relationships at work, but it also means we can improve our own behaviours, thoughts and emotions, creating a much healthier mindset.

Tuesday 23 May 2023

Learning to Be Resilient at Work

Resilience is being able to overcome the effects of difficult situations or traumatic events that may happen throughout your life. It’s necessary to learn how to be resilient as we grow from being children so that we can deal with things that could cause us to experience anxiety, stress or depression.

But as adults we are still likely to face situations that will test our mettle and resilience, in particular in the workplace. Without a certain amount of resilience, we’d be unable to attain our goals and remain positive and happy in the face of adversity.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development undertook a study on employee resilience and found that: “Positive affect refers to moods such as joy, cheerfulness, enthusiasm and alertness, while optimism refers to the belief that one will generally experience good outcomes. Employees who possess both of these are more likely to behave in ways that mitigate the effects of adverse events, or even prevent them in the first place.”

What do we need to be resilient?

In order to become more resilient at work and maintain our wellbeing, we need to have particular inner strengths:

  • Self-control
  • Gratitude
  • Compassion
  • Self-confidence
  • Mindfulness

Not only does resilience help us to become stronger but it can also make us much wiser and at peace with ourselves. We are more likely to take risks that will help us to progress in our job because we know that we’re capable of recovering from any setbacks or trauma. Adapting to adversity doesn’t mean that we won’t experience the effects such as anger, frustration, sadness or stress, but it does mean that we are more equipped to deal with it and bounce back.

How can we become more resilient?

1. Gratitude

A great way to focus on the positives is by practising gratitude on a regular basis. When we make a conscious effort to be thankful for the good in every situation, it helps us to be more resilient against disappointment and deal with challenges with a more positive attitude.

2. Learning from past experiences

Take time to remember past experiences that you found upsetting or stressful and how you dealt with that particular situation. What personal skills did you use to overcome the difficulties and how can you use them in the future? You might even remember a time when you were really afraid of something that actually turned out much less frightening than you’d imagined. Often the fear of the unknown can be worse and when you do take courageous steps, it builds more self-confidence within you, so you are less afraid to experience the situation again in the future.

3. Mindfulness

Mindfulness is considered a core principle in developing our resilience because it arms us with self-control and helps us to focus on something other than negative feelings like anger, regret or resentment. When we dwell on negative emotions it can hinder our progress and make us afraid to grasp opportunities. It’s not uncommon for people to rush around at work, totally blinkered to what’s going on around them. This in itself can create feelings of stress and anxiety and make our jobs unbearable at times. When we become mindful of our actions and what’s happening around us, it helps us to slow down and focus more clearly on the task at hand, ultimately relieving some of the negative emotions and making us become more resilient to any challenges we might face.

Tuesday 9 May 2023

Tips For Managing OCD At Work

Obsessive compulsive disorder, also known as OCD, is a mental health disorder which can seriously impact a person’s life and wellbeing. A range of subjects such as cleanliness, safety in the home or outdoors, tidiness and negative thoughts can play over in the individual’s mind, causing them to act out obsessive or compulsive behaviours. These kinds of acts caused by OCD can make life extremely challenging and demanding both for the individual and the people closest to them. What we might consider simple daily tasks are exceptionally stressful to someone who suffers with the condition, especially in the workplace where they have little/less control over their environment.

Ways to cope with OCD at work

Managing the symptoms of OCD at work may at first seem overwhelming and insurmountable but there are strategies that can be put into place to help sufferers cope with their anxiety and keep their compulsive and obsessive behaviours to a minimum.

1. Recognise the triggers

If you're a manager, it's helpful if you can form a trusting relationship with your team member and one in which they can feel able to share with you the issues they have without fear of being sidelined. Gaining an understanding of what triggers the person’s anxiety and compulsive behaviours can help you assist them to either avoid or minimise certain situations. For example, if you know that a situation is arising where they might feel anxious, give them plenty of notice so they have time to practise relaxation techniques and develop strategies to deal with the possibly stressful situation.

2. Be flexible

A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information showed that aerobic exercise can reduce anxiety, depression and the severity of OCD symptoms. Allowing individuals with OCD time throughout their working day to exercise not only reduces tiredness and anxiety, but it can also improve cognitive function and concentration. Just short 10-minute walks each day can help ease obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour. You could also consider allowing them to work from home on days when they aren’t required in the office and introducing flexible working hours.

3. Ease the pressure

Anyone with OCD may struggle daily to stick to a strict routine, especially when it comes to hitting deadlines or arriving to meetings on time, so giving them a bit of leeway could greatly reduce their feelings of anxiety.

4. Check in with them

While you don’t want to appear like you’re micro-managing or scrutinising their work, it’s also important to offer support on a regular basis to an employee with OCD. Even if this just means having a coffee and a chat to see where they’re up to with their current workload or asking them if there’s anything in particular that you can do to help, it could really take a weight off their shoulders and help them to relax a little.

5. Offer support

Over time, symptoms of OCD can gradually increase if they’re left untreated so it’s important to encourage your employee to seek professional help if it's significantly impacting on their life. OCD UK offers information and support for those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and is a good place to start when seeking support.

Further information

If you would like to know more about OCD and how to help someone with it, we have produced a booklet which you can download :