3 Things You May Be (Unconsciously) Doing That’s Causing Stress

Stress may be inevitable, but it’s also important and manageable.

Stress is defined as any type of change that causes physical, emotional, or psychological strain. It is our body’s response to anything that requires attention or action.  

“Stress is a spectrum,” says Kana Takahashi, Chief Executive Officer of MindNation. “There is a good kind of stress, which provides us a sense of urgency to get important things done. On the other hand, there is bad stress, which can lead to physical and mental health problems.”

Everyone experiences bad stress to some degree, mostly because we may not even be aware that we are doing things that contribute to stress. Three of the most common causes of bad stress are:  

  1. Comparing ourselves to others

Doing this will leave us feeling happy and dissatisfied. “Instead of thinking about what others have, you should remind yourself of the positive things in your life,” says Kana. “This can be easier said than done, especially if you are a competitive person, but once you do, the rewards are worth it.”

  1. Procrastinating

When you put off a task, you build anxiety and feel nervous, which is a huge obstacle to peace of mind. “But when you take the time to adequately prepare for the day or week ahead, you can help eliminate stress,” Kana advises. 

  1. Sweating the small stuff 

Are you a worrier? “If so, it’s probably adding unnecessary stress to your life because when you focus on what could go wrong, you’re not letting yourself appreciate what’s going right,” points out Kana. “It’s especially important not to waste your emotional energy on things that are out of your control. So when you’re late for work because of a bad Internet connection, just take a deep breath and accept that it is what it is. 

The next time you find yourself spiraling into stress, take a moment to step back and see if you are doing any of the above. When you begin to understand the cause, you can take steps to combat it and protect your mental and physical health.

If you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or just need someone to talk to, you can reach out to MindNation’s chat helpline on FB Messenger http://m.me/themindnation for FREE. The service is available 24/7 and is completely CONFIDENTIAL. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

10 Signs Your Company Has A Healthy Workplace Culture

Healthy workplaces tend to exhibit a common set of traits that foster excellence, productivity, and camaraderie.

Mentally healthy workers are happier, more productive, and more loyal. As a manager, you must make sure that your company has policies and practices that support a culture of growth, employee engagement, and prevention of mental illness. Does yours fit the bill? Below are 10 characteristics of a workplace that prioritizes wellness:

1. Relaxed and productive atmosphere

People enjoy going to work and do not feel stressed or afraid. They do not have to worry about being bullied, harassed, or intimidated by co-workers. Managers encourage them to be creative and think outside the box. 

2. Staff that’s committed to excellence.

Because employees feel good about the company they work for, they stay focused and strive to deliver top-quality products and services. 

3. Low employee turnover.

If staff retention rate at the entry or mid-levels is somewhere around 10 percent, that signifies that the employees are satisfied and the company is doing something right. This is particularly true if they are in the retail, hospitality, or IT industry, where the turnover is traditionally high. 

3. Frequent, open, and honest communication across all levels. 

Senior managers have an open-door policy and juniors are welcome to voice their opinions without fear of reprisal. Ideas are frequently exchanged during meetings. Difficulties are resolved in positive ways. Feedback is viewed as an opportunity for growth and not taken negatively. 

4. Team members that cooperate, support, and empower each other.

Co-workers are close, loyal, and trust each other. They joke around a lot and laugh often. Everyone works smoothly together and does not engage in office politicking or backbiting. 

5. Diverse and inclusive. 

The workforce is composed of people of different backgrounds who are valued for their individual strengths and experiences. Employees feel that they belong but at the same time know that they are also unique among their peers. 

8. Flexible and innovative.
Employees are encouraged to find new and better ways of doing business, even if the old ways are just fine. Management is also brave enough to do away with policies that do not work. .

9. Positive reinforcement

People need acknowledgement, appreciation, and gratitude to be motivated. A positive company thanks employees regularly in the forms of rewards, bonuses, raises, promotions, and certificates of achievement.

10. Emphasis on health, happiness, and well-being

The company trusts the employees enough to allow them to work on a flexible schedule so that they can lead more fulfilling personal lives without sacrificing work commitments. And when team members face challenges such as accidents, illnesses, or personal tragedies, everyone goes the extra mile and treats them with understanding, compassion, and respect.

Job stress cannot be avoided, but a healthy workplace culture can make the stressful atmosphere easier to manage and yield positive outcomes like lower employee turnover rates, reduced absenteeism, and increased productivity. Regularly ask for feedback on how your workplace could be improved, and remember to deal with problems as soon as they occur.


If you need help creating a mental health and well-being program for your company, MindNation is an innovative mental health and wellbeing company that partners with like-minded organizations to build healthier, happier, and more productive teams. Its program is based on an individual’s holistic dimensions of wellness to ensure that services provided suit his or her unique requirements and objectives. Email them at hello@themindnation.com to learn more about their products and services.

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

6 Ways To Support Employees With Mental Health Problems

As mental health in the workplace becomes an increasing priority, business leaders must do more to care for their staff

Despite an increased awareness of mental health issues, many employees still struggle in silence because they either do not know where to go for help or they fear that they will encounter stigma and discrimination at work.

This lack of action can have serious implications for any organization’s bottom line. According to the World Health Organization, the estimated cost of depression and anxiety to the global economy is US$ 1 trillion per year in lost productivity. On the other hand, workplaces that promote mental health and support people with mental disorders are more likely to reduce absenteeism, increase productivity, and benefit from associated economic gains.

So how can business leaders manage and support their employees with mental health concerns? Below are some ways: 

  1. Make mental health training mandatory for managers and supervisors. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine revealed that of the 2,921 managers who had access to mental health training in their workplaces, all displayed an improved understanding of mental health overall, with half  reviewing the responsibilities of their staff in an effort to prevent possible mental health issues and 57% of them starting discussions with their employees to improve their understanding of anxiety and depression.
    Managers are in the perfect position to help colleagues in the workplace because they are the ones who have a better understanding of an employee’s day-to-day well-being and can provide a direct line for inquiries and support. Note that training does not mean instructing team leaders to diagnose and treat mental health concerns; instead, it’s teaching them what to do if they see signs and symptoms of emotional distress in their juniors, including how to obtain help.
  2. Support employees through listening rather than telling. The most meaningful and helpful way to fight the stigma of mental illness is to encourage all members of staff to be willing to listen when a colleague is talking about their experiences — and to listen with empathy. According to Rob Stephenson,  founder of InsideOut, a social enterprise working to end the stigma of mental ill-health in the workplace — “We don’t need to understand every condition, or every person, to be good, human listeners. We just need to become better active listeners in the workplace, so we can say ‘OK, I can see you’re struggling here, let’s have a…chat and you can tell me about it.”
  3. Establish an employee assistance program (EAP) and encourage employees to use it. While many companies use an EAP to support workplace mental health, a 2017 study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information revealed that only 1%-5% of employees of a company avail of the benefits of an EAP due to stigma, shame, and concerns about confidentiality.
    Here are some things you can do to assuage their fears:
  • Communicate — during onboarding sessions and through visuals or email reminders — what EAP services are available and how these can help employees respond to personal or work issues. Emphasize that the services are confidential and free of charge. 
  • Provide direct access to mental health professionals via phone, email, or chat. This allows an extra layer of comfort and privacy.
  1. Use communication to reduce stigma and increase access to mental health resources. Don’t wait until Mental Health Awareness Month (May) or Suicide Prevention Month (September) to talk about mental health, EAP benefits, and other resources. 
  • Promote them frequently, such as in monthly newsletters, weekly departmental meetings, or even in casual virtual catch-ups. 
  • Ensure that your executives mention emotional well-being every time they talk about recruiting talent and building an inclusive culture that helps employees bring their best selves.
  • Offer webinars so employees can learn more about mental health and resilience.
  1. Promote holistic well-being. Mental health is more than just one’s state of mind; it involves several factors, including physical, social, emotional, and cultural wellness. Business leaders therefore need to integrate all aspects of this by:
  • Building as much flexibility as possible into all employees’ schedules so that they have opportunities for work-life balance. A 2019 survey conducted by UK-based event management company Wildgoose discovered that 39 per cent of those who worked flexibly had benefited from better mental health and increased productivity.
  • Promoting or offering access to apps that can help with stress reduction, sleep, and meditation such as Headspace or Calm. 
  • Offering fitness center memberships, subsidies or reimbursements for fitness classes. Ultimate Kronos Group, an American multinational technology company, set up virtual fitness classes for employees and their children in the middle of 2020 and even held a competitive company-wide step challenge in October.
  • Encouraging employees to use their vacation time, such as by limiting the amount of vacation employees can carry over into the next year
  • Providing accommodations and developing a return-to-work process so that employees who need to take a leave of absence because of a mental health issue feel supported when they come back. An example would be letting the returning employee resume work step-by-step, gradually increasing work hours and task complexity until the symptoms of the mental health concern have subsided.
  1. Make work interesting, social, and fun. Create opportunities for employees to build connections with each other, such as through virtual social events and electronic message boards. When team members have strong positive relationships at work and  are able to tell their co-workers and managers what they struggle with and how they can best be supported, it opens communication and smooths out many misunderstandings, paving the way for higher productivity. 

It is an employer’s responsibility to create a workplace where people feel they can be open and supported. Helping employees who are unwilling to talk about their struggles is a daunting task, so it might be a good idea to partner with a mental health and well-being company to help you craft a mental health program for your workplace. MindNation (www.themindnation.com) is a one-stop shop for all your well-being needs. Their program is based on an individual’s holistic dimensions of wellness to ensure that services provided suit his or her unique requirements and objectives. Email them at hello@themindnation.com to learn more about their products and services. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

Top 10 Mental Health Myths Debunked (Part 2 of 2)

This time we talk about suicide, medication, and why seeking professional help is important.

Last week, we discussed some common misconceptions about mental health (insert link). This week, Prof. Jhon Carandang returns to shed light on five more misunderstandings about mental wellness. 

  1. Mental health concerns are like cancer; the person can get better, but the condition will never go away. 

Prof. Carandang: “This is partly true, but there is no need to regard it in such a negative light. People can and do recover from their mental health concerns, but they will need to continuously attend therapy, take their medication, or religiously practice self-care to prevent relapses. With the right care and support, many people with mental health issues go on to live productive and fulfilled lives, have good relationships with others, and excel and work. ” 

  1. When my friends confide their problems to me, I always give them tons of advice but they just wouldn’t listen. So it’s their fault they can’t snap out of their depression/anxiety/stress.

Prof. Carandang: “This is because more often than not, people who are troubled or struggling do not need advice; all they require is someone who will listen to them. I honestly believe that listening is the highest form of kindness that you can show others; when you take a pause and try to understand someone else’s perspective, it is only then that you truly grasp what he or she needs. Even as a psychologist, there are many times when I don’t say anything during the entire hour of therapy, and my patients are thankful for it.

The only exception to this rule is when your friend is talking about committing self-harm, suicide, or harming other people. In this case, you need to convince them to seek the help of a professional immediately, or offer to accompany them to one. If they are resistant, reach out to a mental health professional yourself, so that he or she can give you tips on how to handle the situation and convince your friend to see an expert.”

  1. People who take medication for their mental health will become addicted to it or experience negative side effects.

Prof. Carandang: “Addiction and negative effects to medication only occur if the patient veers away from the dosage or treatment plan prescribed by his or her psychiatrist. Never self-medicate, and always show up for follow-up sessions even if you are already feeling fine.”

  1. People who commit suicide display warning signs before committing the act. Their family/friends should have spotted the signs and been there for them.

Prof. Carandang: “More often than not, people who have suicidal ideations do not show signs that they are thinking about taking their own lives. Just as not everyone who is sad is depressed, not everyone who is happy is not struggling inside. This is why we should be mindful of our words and actions, because someone who is thinking of suicide is already experiencing severe depression, and what we say or do can inadvertently be the trigger that pushes their vulnerabilities over the edge.”

  1. Therapy is a waste of money. Why spend money talking to a professional when I can just talk to my friends for free!

Prof. Carandang: “Don’t think of it as simply paying to talk to someone; think of it as similar to going to a doctor when you have a physical illness — we don’t balk about paying them when our physical health is on the line right? So why should it be any different when we need to consult with a psychologist or psychiatrist about our mental health? Now, if financial constraints are really the issue, I think it’s also the responsibility of the patient’s friends and loved ones to pool funds to provide the necessary mental health care to the patient. Think of it as your act of charity; you could literally be saving a life by donating money to cover the costs of therapy. Or you can help them look for companies that offer free counselling services.”

MindNation offers FREE counselling services through its 24/7 chat helpline on FB Messenger. If you are struggling or know someone who is, you can reach out to us anytime and from anywhere. Rest assured that all conversations will be kept secure and confidential.

What other topics about mental health and wellbeing do you want us to cover? Let us know in the comments below. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

Warning Signs That Your Employee Has A Mental Health Concern

Knowing what to look for is the first step to opening a productive dialogue surrounding mental health and getting your team member the help they need

According to the WHO, 1 in 5 people all over the world will experience a mental health concern at some point in their lifetime. These statistics, compounded by the stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic, make it highly likely that someone in your workplace is experiencing mental health concerns like stress, depression, and anxiety. 

Because of the stigma surrounding mental illness, employees who are struggling may be reluctant to come forward. As a result, mental health concerns often go unrecognized and untreated, leading to bigger problems for the organization and the employee in terms of lowered productivity, increased absenteeism and presenteeism, and poor relationships with team members. 

It is important for managers to be able to identify the warning signs of mental health concerns. “Early detection and intervention may help to prevent problems from getting worse,” says psychologist Dr. Rhalf Jayson Guanco. “By identifying the issues that the team member is probably not aware of or does not acknowledge as problematic, but which impact or are more likely to impact on their well-being, we can determine if immediate action is required or if assistance from a qualified mental health professional will be necessary.”

According to Dr. Guanco, if your employee exhibits the signs and symptoms below for more than two weeks, it could be a sign of a mental health concern: 

Appearance and behavior

  • Appears untidy; displays poor hygiene
  • Trembles or shakes
  • Wears inappropriate attire 

Cognition

  • Seems confused or disoriented
  • Has gaps in memory of events
  • Has serious difficulty in problem solving

Emotion

  • Appears sad/depressed
  • Tends to be anxious for no apparent reason
  • Switches emotions abruptly

Speech

  • Speaks too quickly or too slowly
  • Vocabulary becomes inconsistent with the level of education
  • Stutters or has long pauses in speech

Thought patterns and logic

  • Seems to respond to unusual voices or “sees things”
  • Expresses racing, disconnected thoughts
  • Expresses bizarre or unusual ideas

Remember that mental health concerns are unlike other performance-related issues, so your approach must be different. Whether you consult your human resources department or the corporate department first, it’s important to gather opinions of experts before doing anything rash. As a team leader, you must have a plan that is win-win for your employee and your company. 

MindNation is an innovative mental health and well-being company that partners with like-minded organizations for happier, healthier, and more productive employees. Its comprehensive need-based program is based on each individual’s Well-being Capital © (a system that studies the Physical, Emotional, Mental, Social, and Cultural dimensions of well-being) to ensure that services provided suit each organization’s unique requirements and objectives. Drop us a line at hello@themindnation.com if you want to know more about our products and services. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

How to Say “No” At Work Without Putting People Off

Your goal is to ensure that disappointment doesn’t escalate to insult.

Mental health experts always advise us to say “No” to requests that make us feel stressed or uncomfortable so that we protect our boundaries and not feel overburdened. But this is easier said than done when it comes to the workplace, where begging off from a task assigned by a higher-up can negatively impact our career, while declining a client’s request for help can strain our relationship with them. In fact, a 2015 study by Linked In revealed that more than 58% of millennials globally consider themselves a “yes employee” – someone who does as they are told and is more apt not to question authority. This can result in a workforce that sees higher incidences of burnout, which can lead to mental health concerns.

So how can you say no to unreasonable requests, pointless meetings, busy work, and demanding clients without coming across as lazy, selfish, or disrespectful? The suggestions below might help: 

  • Show a valid reason. Don’t simply say “No.” Share your logic, the facts, and what motivated your decision. For example, don’t thumb down a proposal and have the team making conclusions about why you did so, i.e. “He doesn’t care about our opinion” or “It’s because she’s not benefitting from it.” Instead, cite the data and the thought process that led you to that position, so that you let others know that you gave careful consideration before making a decision. Say “I analyzed the pros and cons and believe we should turn this down because…” or “I cannot grant you this request because according to our company policy…
  • Offer an alternative. Instead of closing the door, offer something to smooth over the effect of your rejection, i.e. “I can’t help you right now but try me again when my current project has been completed” or “I don’t like this proposal but I’ll give you another week to come back with a better one…”
  • Be confident but humble. It’s important to take a firm stand, but not one where you come across as a know-it-all. You alienate more than you convince when you make statements like “The only reasonable conclusion we can draw is…” or “The right answer is…” Instead, use phrases like “I’ve concluded…” and “I believe…” to demonstrate a combination of resolve and humility that avoids provoking unnecessary conflict.
  • Be respectful. When saying no to a person of authority, particularly someone who might misinterpret your denial as disrespect, it can be helpful to ask permission to say no. This allows you to honor their authority while maintaining your integrity. For example, you could tell your superior, “You’ve asked me to take on a new project. I think it’s a bad idea for me to take it on, and I’d like to share my reasons. If, however, you don’t want to hear them, I’ll take it on and do my best. What would you like?” In most cases, the boss will feel obligated to hear you out.
    Now if the boss refuses to hear your reservations, you need to decide if this is an environment you want to spend a significant part of your life in.
  • Negotiate. Sometimes a “no” can turn into a “yes” if the other person is willing to modify the request or do something in return. Let’s say that your boss asks you to start working on a new project, and you know it’s not possible to do your other projects well if you have to add this one. Instead of saying, “I don’t see how I can do that” or “That’s not possible” — negotiate. Say something like, “Is this new project X a higher priority than project Y?  Because if we could move the deadline on Y by just a few days, then I can get X done.” 
  • Apologize and offer to do what you can.  Finally, when you ultimately say no, express your regret and offer to move as far in the direction of their request as possible. An example would be telling a customer “I’m afraid our current policies don’t allow this, but I will talk to my superior if we can do this in the future.” This lets the person know that even though you can’t fulfill this particular request, you hope to be able to fulfill the next one. 

Saying no isn’t being selfish. It’s being smart with the limited time you have each day, because no matter how many tasks and people you take on, the number of hours in a day remains the same so the amount of rest your body needs will also remain the same. By saying no and prioritizing your well-being, you become a healthier, happier, and more productive worker. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

5 Ways To Recharge Your Energy

Managing your energy more effectively throughout the day to boost productivity

In today’s fast-paced world, multitasking seems like a great way to get a lot done at once. But according to American-Canadian cognitive psychologist and neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, doing more than one thing at a time is taxing on the brain and drains precious mental energy. “Asking the brain to shift attention from one activity to another causes [parts of our brain] to burn up oxygenated glucose, the same fuel they need to stay on task,” he says. “The rapid, continual shifting we do with multitasking causes the brain to burn through fuel so quickly that we feel exhausted and disoriented after even a short time.” This leads to a rapid decline in decision-making skills, creativity, and productivity. 

“It’s funny to me to think about how quickly we freak out when our cell phone battery starts to weaken, but how seldom we even notice when our own brain power starts fading away,” says Salma Sakr, Chief Growth Officer at MindNation. 

“So in the same way we  keep an eye on our finances to make sure we don’t go bankrupt, it’s important we pay attention to how we spend and invest our energy so we don’t end up running out. “

How can we best replenish our mental energy and attain consistent peak performance when faced with so many things to do at work and at home? Salma suggests 5 ways we can keep our body and brain primed throughout the day:

  1. Start your day right
  • Hold off on checking email, social media, or any media for that matter, right when you open your eyes. “This way you can fuel your brain with something positive, inspiring, or energizing first,” Salma suggests. 
  •  Don’t rush through your breakfast, coffee, or smoothie. Take time to savor the meal. 
  • Try listening to a guided meditation or podcast, or reading a few pages of an inspirational book. 
  • Go for a walk, do some gentle yoga.
  • Add a little humor to the morning by sharing a funny story with a friend or family.

“Once you get started and you feel that energy starting to flow, you end up doing more than you expected and you actually enjoy it,” Salma says.

2. It’s not just WHAT you eat, but also HOW you eat

  • Make sure to eat slowly, and stop before you think you’re full. 
  • Also make sure that you’re eating often enough to maintain a consistent energy level. Going too long between meals can actually cause your energy to tank and even reduce your immunity.

3. Find time to move throughout the day

“I suggest you try to get up and move for at least 10 minutes every hour using a 50-minute, 10-minute work cycle during the day,” Salma offers. “If you feel more tired, or more stressed, you may want to shift to 25 minutes on and five minutes off, so that you’re recharging even more often. You can even combine strategies, whatever the day calls for.”

4. Don’t forget to practice self-care

“Incorporate the things you enjoy doing into your routine, such as listening to music, using aromatherapy, doing gratitude exercises, thinking about someone you care about, or watching a funny video,” advises Salma.

5. At night, unwind properly

  • Place your digital device out of reach, because it’s way too tempting to check in when it’s by your bed.
  •  “If you have to sleep with the TV on, make sure to choose shows that are relaxing or even boring, so your brain isn’t trying to pay attention,” Salma suggests. “Also, set a timer for the TV to turn off.” 
  • Listen to an audiobook or read a few pages of a book. “Most people who read before bed only actually read a few pages because their eyes start to get tired and their brain starts to recognize this consistent thing they do when they are ready to fall asleep,” shares Salma.
  • Create a quiet comfortable space to sleep in. Studies show that a cool temperature of about 20 degrees is best for the body to rest, and you should also minimize light and sound. 

Take a few moments right now to write down a couple of ways you can recharge your energy throughout the day. Make sure your plans are realistic, and keep them short and simple. Then, think about someone you could ask to join you from time to time to help you stick with your commitment.

Make sure to  repeat these new habits consistently enough for adaptations to start to add up.  “A good rule of thumb is  the power of two days — never miss two consecutive days of completing a new positive habit,” Salma shares. “You can miss a day — because let’s be honest, life gets in the way and all our plans need to be realistic — but fight the urge to miss a second day so you don’t fall back into your old habits.” So push yourself (though not too much) and use the ‘2-day rule’ as a way to build your habit. 

Finally, don’t be hard on yourself. It’s not easy to break out of old habits and build new ones so be patient, start small, and be kind to yourself. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

5 Ways to Build Remote Workforce Engagement

How can your team build and maintain social bonds in a time of social distancing? Find out below. 

An employee is considered “engaged” if he or she is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and has a positive attitude towards the organization. This leads them to take positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.

On the other hand, a disengaged employee may range from someone doing the bare minimum at work to an employee who is actively damaging the company’s work output and reputation.

When employees are engaged, they are more likely to invest in the work they do which leads to a higher quality of work produced.  In a study of companies with over 500 employees, researchers found that 71% of managers felt that employee engagement was one of the most important factors in overall company success.

Engagement rises when employees have strong relationships with their co-workers. In fact, according to research conducted by Gallup, employees who report having a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged. But because the majority of workers are now working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become a challenge for many to build and maintain social bonds at work, and companies are finding it difficult to keep employee engagement levels up.

What can team leaders do to build remote workforce engagement? Here are some ways: 

  1. Make time for small talk. Back when everyone was at a physical office, there were plenty of opportunities for idle talk, whether it’s chatting in the pantry during a coffee break or eating lunch together at the corner restaurant. As a leader, continue to provide opportunities for some socializing during remote working hours by reminding yourself that not all conversations have to be about work. Don’t be afraid to drop the occasional off-topic email, Slack message, or funny meme, and remember to acknowledge employees’ birthdays or other special occasions during regular team meetings.
  1. Organize occasional face-to-face gatherings. Even though most work can be done virtually, it does not mean that it should be done so all the time. Plan an in-person get-together once or twice a quarter in a setting where COVID-19 safety protocols are followed. This can be as simple as an outdoor restaurant so people can share a meal to a whole-day company retreat in a nature setting. 
  2. Provide clear direction. Engagement does not mean that everyone on the team has to be besties with one another; it’s also about making sure that everyone feels that they are still part of a team and not feeling isolated. What do they do next? Who can they turn to? Not being able to answer these questions can leave a remote employee completely disengaged.

So just like you’d take a new employee through an onboarding process, make sure that a remote employee knows about the tips, tools, and processes that will help them succeed. 

Who can they contact if they need help?

What is the official work schedule and working hours? 

What sort of output should be expected from them?

  1. Give and encourage feedback during online meetings. During physical gatherings, you can get insight on whether or not a team member is engaged through non-verbal cues like facial expressions. Maintaining the same connection can be difficult during virtual meetings if you have to deal with connectivity issues or if there are just too many people on a call. So make sure to help remote employees stay engaged by reducing distracting noise during video-conferencing sessions, stopping to gain their feedback whenever possible, as well as mentioning them when they say something laudable. 

In addition, help remote workers align more seamlessly by providing the meeting agenda ahead of time so that those with technical issues can still follow along. 

  1. Offer rewards. The best way to motivate people, whether working on-site or remotely, is rewarding them for efforts and positive behaviors. Some things you can do apart from the standard congratulatory email:
  1. Gift them with non-work related classes they can access for free or at a reduced cost. By giving them an opportunity to take part in a wide variety of options such as exercise or cooking you are even supporting their mental and physical wellbeing.
  2. Give out movie or music gift cards so employees can choose options online from the comfort of their home.
  3. If you have company swag, mail them to an employee for a job well done or as a simple token of appreciation.

By creating and encouraging meaningful connections with your remote workforce, you motivate and inspire them to become advocates of your organization and make them happier, healthier, and more productive team members. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

8 Ways To Improve Diversity And Inclusion In Your Workplace

A diverse and inclusive team positively impacts creativity, innovation, and the company’s bottomline 

Workplace diversity refers to a company that employs people of varying characteristics, such as gender, age, religion, race, ethnicity, cultural background, sexual orientation, languages, education, abilities, etc. Such a team brings diverse viewpoints and perspectives to the organization, all of which can help you develop great new products or services and ways to cater to customers. 

A diverse workforce has many direct and tangible benefits, such as:

  • Higher revenue. Companies that have more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue.
  • More innovation. Inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their market.
  • Better decision-making. When diverse teams made a business decision, they outperformed individual decision-makers up to 87% of the time.
  • Higher rates of job acceptance. 67% of job seekers said a diverse workforce is important when considering job offers.
  • Better performance than competitors. Racially and ethnically diverse companies outperform industry norms by 35%.

Hiring a diverse team, however, is just the first step to success. The next thing to do is to create an inclusive culture, one where people from all backgrounds feel welcome. Inclusivity can contribute fully to the organization’s success, and is the key to maintaining diversity in the workplace. 

Below are ways you can support inclusion and diversity in your workplace: 

  1. Make sure your management team models diversity and inclusion. The makeup of your top executives speaks volumes about your culture and sends a strong message not just to your employees but also to customers, partners, and shareholders . Are men and women equally represented? What about people from various cultural and religious backgrounds?
  1. Observe diverse traditions, celebrations, and holidays from other cultures. The easiest and most fun way to do this would be to create a culturally diverse holiday calendar in the office. Encourage your colleagues to get involved and find appropriate ways to celebrate these different traditions. It can be wonderful for team-building and a great way for colleagues at different levels of the organization to connect. 

When larger organized celebrations are not practical, make it a point to personally acknowledge a significant religious or cultural holiday. Even just sending a greeting via email can mean a lot to a colleague especially if he or she is far from home. 

Apart from celebrations, be sensitive to your colleagues’ cultural or religious practices. For example, avoid scheduling client lunches during a time of fasting or holding meetings during a time of prayer.

  1. Foster diverse thinking. This is important because different people from different backgrounds and generations sometimes have vastly different perspectives on all sorts of issues, from how they compose an email to how they receive feedback during employee reviews. Make sure that team members cultivate their empathetic skills, so that they are able to understand how other people at the company think.
  1. Strengthen anti-discriminatory policies. Explicitly prohibit offensive behavior (e.g. derogatory comments towards colleagues of a specific gender or ethnicity), and reprimand, demote, or terminate offenders depending on the severity of their act. By protecting your employees from offensive and harmful behaviors, you promote a positive and inclusive work environment. 
  1. Be aware of unconscious bias in the evaluation process and promotion opportunities.

Some ways to do this include: 

  • Rewriting job descriptions so they are gender neutral and use words that strike a balance of gendered descriptors and verbs
  • Creating a blind system of reviewing resumes so you don’t see demographic characteristics
  • Setting diversity goals as an organization, so that you can keep track of your progress.
  1. Segment employee engagement surveys by minority groups. An annual pulse survey is common among companies, but many neglect to segment that data according to gender, generation, ethnicity, etc. By only looking at total numbers, you might miss the whole picture and an opportunity to identify issues pertaining to those groups.
  2. Have an open-door policy. One of the best ways to learn what employees care about is one-on-one talks with their manager. In order for these discussions to truly be effective, managers must have an “open door” policy so that workers feel comfortable in speaking their mind honestly and openly.
  3. Offer diversity and inclusion training. This helps employees understand how cultural differences can impact how people work, and interact at work. It can cover anything from concepts of time and communication styles to self-identity and dealing with conflict. 

Promoting inclusiveness and diversity within your workplace is one of the best ways to foster an open-minded, global company culture. Not only does this make good business sense—helping your company to better understand colleagues, clients, and customers around the world—it also makes the workplace a more interesting and personally enriching environment for everyone.

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

Top 10 Resolutions for Your Most Successful 2021

Achieve happiness, productivity, and work-life balance with the right New Year’s resolutions

It might feel a little hard to come up with a resolution this year given all the uncertainties, and some of you might just want to take it “day by day”. But the new year brings new hope, and resolutions help us with our direction on how we want to improve this 2021. 

Ultimately, everyone’s goal is to become healthier, happier and productive in both professional and personal lives. Below are some resolutions that can take you there:

  1. Do something you love everyday. 

In their book “First, Break All The Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently,” authors Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman of the Gallup organization interviewed 80,000 managers and discovered that those who answered “Yes” to the question “Do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?” were more likely to be happy and productive at work. So find out what fuels your passion, whether it’s related to work or a personal endeavor, and make time for it everyday. 

  1. Have daily me-time. 

When you are a manager or entrepreneur, you will most likely spend every minute of your workday doing something for others. Then when you shift to home mode, there are the family needs to contend with.

So resolve to set time aside for yourself everyday to do something that is different from what you’re already doing all day long. Exercise, journal, meditate, nap, play with your pet, water your plants, or do any other activity that relaxes you. 

  1. Give yourself a pat on the back when you deserve it. 

The Gallup study also found out that people who received praise or recognition for their work in the last week were more happy and productive. 

Obviously, you cannot (and should not) rely on your boss or colleagues to heap praises at you. Instead, make it a point to recognize yourself for your stellar efforts. One way to do this is to keep a “Sunshine Folder” — literally a folder in your computer (or an envelope for hard copies) that contains positive feedback, thank you letters, and other reminders of your accomplishments.

  1. Learn something new every day. 

Is your daily routine starting to get, well, too routine? The good news is you don’t have to take up an extreme sport to venture out of your comfort zone. By simply paying more attention to your intellectual wellness, you can make room for growth, improvement, and learning which can be useful at work. Use reading challenges to build a reading habit, or subscribe to Google Alerts to receive articles on topics that interest you everyday. If reading is not really your thing, engage in healthy debates with a friend, learn a musical instrument or foreign language, or watch more documentaries on tv.

  1. Renew professional contacts and network

Look up old colleagues, engage in small talk with co-employees from other departments, and attend webinars that relate to your profession. You’ll benefit from these in the long run.

  1. Practice professional courage.

What do you usually do when an issue occurs at work? If you’re the type who shies away from addressing the problem, make 2021 your year to take charge. Speak your mind — just don’t do it rudely or argumentatively; be polite, concise, and impersonal. When you stand up for yourself, colleagues will admire you and you will prevent relapses from occurring. 

  1. Learn to listen more, talk less.

If a team member confides a problem to you, resist the urge to step in and fix it unless they expressly ask for advice. More often than not, they just want a sounding board, not necessarily a problem-solver. By listening empathetically you allow their emotions to become “unstuck” and can even empower them to solve their problems on their own.

  1. Track everything

Planner apps are great for keeping an eye on your work tasks, so how about keeping track of your personal goals too? Invest in personal exercise trackers so you can keep track of steps, calories consumed, weight, sleep, and exercise. They can boost your confidence when you see your progress, and free up your mind from the tiny details that can be very taxing at the end of the day. 

  1. Take up a new hobby or activity

Resolve to let 2021 be the year you take the first steps in participating in an activity or interest that you’ve always been interested in, whether it’s photography, redecorating a room, or a new sport. You’ll add a new dimension to your world, and this can positively interact with your business success.

  1. Laugh more

As a manager, it’s easy to get bogged down in serious matters like deliberation, advising, and problem-solving as you strive for business success. But take time to smile, laugh, and joke more — yes even during work hours (just make sure the jokes are appropriate). You don’t have to become best friends with your team, but there’s also no need to constantly be their parent either. 

While seemingly simple, it may be hard to get these recommended resolutions done all at once. So, pick a couple that resonates with you, you’re likely to stick with, and tackle those first! And if you falter, don’t give up; restructure it so it’s more doable and try again the next day. After all, each day is another opportunity to be a better YOU.

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation