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Financial Wellness

10 Ways Financial Stress Impacts Employee Productivity

In a survey of more than 6,000 full-time employees in the Philippines, financial pressure was ranked as the second source of stress during the COVID-19 pandemic (the first one being fears of the COVID-19 virus).
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Organizations that fail to address financial stress are more likely to encounter poor work performance. This is because a team member who is overwhelmed by money worries will most likely experience a decline in physical and mental health and productivity, specifically:

  1. Physical ailments such as headaches, gastrointestinal problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. In countries without free healthcare, money worries may also cause a person to delay or skip seeing a doctor for fear of incurring additional expenses.
  2. Insomnia or sleep difficulties due to worrying about unpaid bills or loss of income.
  3. Weight gain or loss. A person may resort to overeating to cope with financial stress, or may even skip meals to save money.
  4. Depression. People who struggle with debt are three times more likely to feel down and hopeless, and struggle to concentrate or make decisions.
  5. Anxiety. Uncertainties about one’s financial situation may leave the person feeling vulnerable and distressed. Also, constantly worrying about unpaid bills or loss of income can trigger anxiety symptoms such as a pounding heartbeat, sweating, shaking, and even panic attacks.
  6. Relationship difficulties.  Money is often cited as the one of most common issues couples argue about. Left unchecked, financial stress can make one angry and irritable, cause a loss of interest in sex, and destroy the relationship if differences cannot be worked out in a constructive way.
  7. Social withdrawal. Financial stress can cause an individual to withdraw from friends, curtail their social life, and retreat into their shell — which will only aggravate stress.
  8. Unhealthy coping methods. Money stress can lead to drinking too much, abusing prescription drugs, taking illegal drugs, gambling, overeating, or suicidal ideations and self-harm. 
  9. Increase in absenteeism. Absenteeism is defined as the practice of regularly staying away from work without good reason. According to the 2020 Financial Stress Survey conducted by John Hancock, a U.S-based insurance company, the average number of work days missed due to financial stress more than doubled from 2019 to 2020. 
  10. Reduced productivity. This is because even if employees are not missing work, they are bringing the worry to work, which has an impact on productivity and related cost to employers. Nearly 6 in 10 workers say they worry about personal finances at least once a week at work, and in terms of lost productivity, the John Hancock survey said that the amount of time spent brooding over personal finances at work equates to over 47 hours per year (equivalent to six working days) .

“The average number of work days missed due to financial stress more than doubled from 2019 to 2020.” 

John Hancock 2020 Financial Stress Survey



Additionally, there is a cyclical link between financial stress and mental health problems:

  • The decline in mental health makes it even harder to manage money because the person may find it harder to concentrate or lack the energy at work to tackle a mounting pile of bills. Or they may lose income by taking time off work due to anxiety or depression.
  • These difficulties managing money lead to more financial problems and worsening mental health problems.

When employees receive help and support for their financial stress, they become more focused at work and experience improved overall well-being. Download our free Achieving Financial Wellbeing toolkit https://bit.ly/MN_financialtoolkit to learn how you can help your employees increase their financial health, meet their short-term and long-term financial goals, and balance today’s challenges with tomorrow’s needs. 

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Employee Wellness

Eric Santillan: 7 Simple Ways Managers Can Reduce Workplace Stress

Eric Santillan’s road to psychology, counseling, and organizational development started — of all places — when he was studying to be a Jesuit priest in the early 2000s. “Jesuit formation is very psycho-spiritual,” he explains. So apart from studying theology, he also trained as a career and marriage counselor, moderated student organizations in the university, and even designed curriculums for schools. In 2006, he left theology school to become a full-time psychologist and counselor.

Today, Eric is a member of the MindNation Scientific Board, a relationship counselor, and a productivity and Organizational Development consultant. “As an OD consultant, organizations come to me when they have issues and problems and need clarity,” he explains. “And then I use organizational and management tools to help their people thrive and reach their full potential.”

Stress during the COVID-19 pandemic
One of things Eric realized in his 22-year career as an OD consultant was that big problems stem from minor irritations. “Little stresses build up over time and if they are not addressed, they blow up,” he shares.

An example would be the issue of workplace stress. A MindNation Pulse Survey of more than 6,000 full-time employees in the Philippines taken from September 2020 to April 2021 revealed that 61% of respondents are feeling stressed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eric clarifies, however, that the pandemic did not cause this spike in stress; rather, it simply magnified stressful situations that would — pre-pandemic — have otherwise been just considered to be inconveniences. “People already had mental health challenges before the pandemic; the pandemic just highlighted them and made them very real,” he explains. Some examples of these stressful situations:

  1. Bad management practices. Employees were already dealing with long working hours, heavy workload, job insecurity, and conflicts with co-workers or bosses long before the pandemic, but they have become more overwhelming now due to pandemic-related stressors like work-life imbalance, isolation, managing fears about the COVID-19 virus, and financial insecurity.
  2. Limited physical and psychological space. Prior to the pandemic, parents could take a breather from child-care duties and other household responsibilities by sending their kids to school or just leaving the house for some “me-time” at a nearby coffee shop. But school closures and social distancing policies now meant that people are stuck at home 24/7 with little to no reprieve.
  3. Missing support systems. “Deaths in the family and becoming a new parent are stressful transitions, and the pandemic has erased whatever support we would normally get during these major life changes,” Eric points out. Mourning rituals have been shortened, grandparents can no longer visit to help babysit — the people most affected by these transitions have no choice but to struggle on their own. 


How stress affects work
If left unaddressed, stress can contribute to decreased organizational performance, decreased employee overall performance, high error rate and poor quality of work, high staff turnover, and absenteeism due to physical and mental health problems.

As a manager, it is therefore important to take steps to ensure that employees are not subjected to unnecessary stress. “For a business to thrive, all elements have to be operating at their peak. So in the same way that you conduct preventive maintenance on your machines to make sure they are always running 100%, so should you have a program in place that makes sure your people are always at their best,” Eric says.

How to reduce workplace stress
While managers and leaders cannot address all the stresses that a team member is struggling with in their personal lives, there some things that they can do to make the workplace less stressful:

  1. Ask yourself: ‘Am I the source of stress?’ It’s possible you are inadvertently causing your employees stress, so be open to feedback about your leadership style. Another way to find out is to check the turnover rate in your department. “In teaching, there is a concept called ‘student factor’ or ‘teacher factor,’” Eric relates. “When one or two students fail in a class,that’s probably a student factor; but if 10 or 15 people flunk, then that’s a red flag, it’s a sign that there is probably an issue with the teacher. So it’s the same with workplace turnover– is it an employee factor or a manager factor? In some companies I have worked with, managers get sent for retraining if a certain number of people resign over a certain amount of time.”
  2. Get to know your team. Take into account the personal lives of employees and recognise that the demands of home will sometimes clash with the demands of work. “Letting your team know that they are not just workers, but that they’re recognized as individuals, goes a long way,” Eric says.
  3. Praise in public, correct in private. This simply means that when you have something positive to say about a team member, make sure others are aware of the praise; but if you are issuing a correction or reprimand, handle it one-on-one. Praising in public pumps up the self-esteem of the team member, while handing out negative feedback privately ensures that the employee is not publicly shamed in front of his or her peers. The latter creates stress and resentment, and damages morale.
  1. Mess creates stress. Disorganization contributes to stress, so always be clear when relaying instructions, Make sure that everyone is properly trained for their job, and encourage an environment where employees can openly raise concerns about their duties and workload.
  2. Try to celebrate small wins. Don’t wait for a project to end so you can celebrate; instead, break up the projects into milestones, and give positive feedback when people do a good job. “A company I know gives a small fund to each department, so that team members can treat themselves whenever they feel there is a cause for celebration,” Eric shares.
  3. Practice what you preach. “Don’t say anything that you will not do yourself,” Eric cautions. So model work-life balance and stress management techniques so that employees down the line will follow suit.
  1. Partner with a mental health and well-being company that addresses mental health challenges holistically. This means working with an Employee Assistance Program provider that addresses all dimensions of an employee’s well-being — physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and cultural — because you cannot have one without the other. 

And if you do already have an Employee Assistance Program in place, don’t rely on it to be the cure-all for all your team’s well-being concerns. “Addressing workplace stress is not just the work of the EAP partner,” Eric shares. “It should be part of the organization’s culture.” This means normalizing the conversation about mental health in everyday interactions, granting paid mental health leaves, or even giving special mental health assistance to employees being groomed for leadership roles so they do not feel overwhelmed or stressed. “This way, the mental health program becomes holistic and robust, not just something offered on the side,” he adds.

“Workplace stress is a management issue,”

Eric Santillan

“Workplace stress is a management issue,” Eric concludes. A great manager is aware of their team member’s stress levels and takes proactive steps to reduce stress in the workplace. By reducing workplace stress, you not only improve the lives of your team members, you create an environment where they enjoy coming to work each day and become more productive. 


MindNation is a mental health and well-being company that uses a data-based approach to create proactive, customized, holistic health programs for your employees. Partner with us to build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Visit www.themindnation.com now!

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Featured

Auie Macapaz: Normalizing mental health today for a better tomorrow

As Talent and Organizational Development Manager of direct selling beauty company Avon Cosmetics Inc. (ACI) in the Philippines, Laurice “Auie” Macapaz oversees the mental health and welfare of close to 300 employees. Not an easy task during the COVID-19 pandemic as team members are grappling with fatigue, anxieties about job security and income, and other mental health challenges.

But the realization that the company needed the services of a mental health and well-being company started back in 2018, when two ACI associates were diagnosed with clinical depression. “Back then mental health programs were not yet mainstream for organizations, so it was only when we were faced with this particular challenge that we saw how lacking our mental health coverage was,” Auie relates. Because the costs of psychiatric consultations and medicines were not included in their then-healthcare provider’s plan, the two Avon associates had a hard time managing their symptoms. 

“While we tried our very best and worked closely with our company doctor, the fact remained that we didn’t have anything in our program that could specifically address the needs of associates with mental health conditions.”

Laurice “Auie” Macapaz, AVON Talent and Organizational Development Manager

Additionally, even the direct manager of the two employees was at a loss on how to provide care. “None of us knew how to properly give support because we lacked awareness and training about mental health,” she shares. “While we tried our very best and worked closely with our company doctor, the fact remained that we didn’t have anything in our program that could specifically address the needs of associates with mental health conditions.”

In the end, the two associates opted to resign from the company because their psychiatrist told them that it would be better for their health if they just took time off from work. “If we had the services of a professional to help them navigate what they were going through, they would probably have lasted longer in  the organization, or at the very least, would have been able to manage their condition better,” Auie laments.

This where MindNation came in
MindNation fulfilled Auie’s wish for ACI to have a well-being program that is focused on holistic health and customized for each employee’s needs. The partnership recently celebrated its first anniversary, and proved that achieving good workplace mental health is a marathon, not a sprint. 

 “It was a slow start in the beginning, very few of our associates were availing of the 24/7 teletherapy services,” Auie admits. “This is because many of our associates come from a generation where if you tell them you are depressed or anxious, they would respond with ‘Oh, just pray about it,’ or ‘You’ll feel happier if we go out for a meal.’ They believe that you should only talk to a psychologist if things are already dire.”

Auie and the rest of ACI’s Human Resources department worked to change this mindset by exerting efforts to normalize talking about mental health and therapy during monthly check-in sessions. “I would nonchalantly tell the associates ‘Oh, I have had four sessions with a MindNation WellBeing Coach already and this is what I learned,’” she says. “I even shared with them that my teenage son has also been seeing a WellBeing Coach and it’s helped him so much this way and that.” Because of these initiatives by HR, bookings for sessions started to increase.

Another obstacle that Auie and MindNation encountered was ACI’s low open rate for the weekly newsletters (WellBeing Boosts) that MindNation sends to all its client-partners. “In the beginning, only 10% of the recipients were reading those emails,”  Auie reveals. She admits that this is because the associates are so swamped with work and correspondence on a daily basis that if the email does not come directly from their boss, they will not bother to open it. 

To solve this problem, Auie and MindNation decided that instead of sending emails to each and every employee, MindNation would send the materials to Auie, who in turn would upload them on the Facebook group page of Avon Philippines’ associates. “We have about 250 members in that Facebook group, and for the past few months I have been getting 160 views each upload. So from a 10% open rate,it’s now at more than 60%, which is not bad,” she proudly shares. 

But more than these numbers, Auie is happy that there is now a change in attitude of the employees about mental health. “I see it when our associates attend the MindNation Company Culture Drive Talks every month,” she shares. “Before, they would just sit there and listen; now they are interacting with the speaker more. Before, when the speaker would start off by asking them how they are feeling, they would just say ‘I am fine’ or ‘I am okay;’ but now they are more authentic in their feelings, they are divulging more emotions and acknowledging how they are really feeling.” 

Special group session

Auie is also thankful to MindNation for instances when the company went above and beyond what was required of it. “Last month, one our Business Development Managers (BDM) shared during a MindNation Group Session that one of the members of her sales team committed suicide, and that she was feeling guilty and sad about it,” she shares. “The WellBeing Coach facilitating the session picked up on that and a few days later, MindNation reached out to us and offered a free session for that BDM and other associates who knew that person who passed, to help them cope and make sense of their emotions. I think that was a great thing, it was more than what MindNation signed up for, and I really appreciated that.” 

Future plans
There is still a long way to go. “My wish is that those who had teletherapy sessions would share their experience with others, so that those who are shy or hesitant will also get help,” Auie says.

Plans are also underway to train select ACI team members to become wellbeing champions in the organization. “I am so excited for those people to get trained in mental health first-aid and become the go-to people of our associates if they have questions about the different mental health services that MindNation is offering, so that they can get the help they need,” she adds.

Ultimately, Auie’s dream is for Avon representatives to become multipliers of mental health and well-being. “I want to normalize mental health and well-being so that we can become each other’s active supporter in dealing with mental health challenges,” she says. “At ACI, we have almost a million people in our sales force — many of them women — and all our field associates have access to them. Our company mission is to empower women, so if we could teach these women and mothers how they can take care of themselves and others better by normalizing the conversation about mental health, then the world will be a better place.”

Auie highly recommends that other companies partner with a mental health and well-being company as a way of supporting their HR team. “Times are hard now and we cannot do it alone,” she says. “I cannot imagine being in this pandemic, taking care of all my people, and going through this roller coaster of emotions without the assistance of MindNation.”

MindNation can help you build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Visit www.mindnation.com to know more. 

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Featured

Raymund Sison: Nurturing Well-being And Creativity To Make Ideas That Matter

Advertising agencies can be fun and exciting places to work for, but the industry is also known for being highly fast -paced, extremely competitive, and its staff constantly under intense pressure to come up with great ideas on a regular basis. 


But Raymund Sison wanted a different kind of work culture. The Creative Chief of independent digital agency Propel Manila, together with other members of the company’s leadership team, constantly strives to create an organization that puts their people’s well-being over profit. 

And their efforts are paying off. Today, Propel Manila is not only a highly successful creative agency — it counts as its clients fast-food giant Jollibee and luxury brand Kiehl’s — it is locally and internationally recognized for its advocacy works such as Recreate Pride 2020, Complex Emojis (this one in partnership with MindNation; more on that later), Pride @ Tech, and Love Versus Hate.

“I believe creatives and communications professionals have a duty to offer our best and brightest ideas to help solve the world’s most pressing problems,” Raymund says. “We should use our creativity to create ideas that truly matter to the community.”

Keeping creative

“Creativity is not just about doing design or writing; you can be creative in every little thing you do at your office, even if you’re an accounting firm or an engineering company,” Raymund points out. “It’s about finding more innovative ways to do your accounting in the middle of the pandemic, or using digital means to make your engineering even more robust and secure.”

When team members are creative, they solve problems faster and easier than ever before, discover new ideas that will keep clients interested and engaged, and help businesses adapt, innovate, and thrive — — all necessary during these trying times when tried-and-tested business methods are no longer working.

If your team is struggling to be creative because of the pandemic, here are five tips from Raymund on how to get their brains fired up and thriving: 

1. Prioritize the team’s well-being. “When people are well, they do well; and when  they do well, the business does well,” he points out. “At Propel, we believe that the best kind of talent development is human development, so we created programs that will help our team grow professionally, mentally, and emotionally.”

To start, Propel has a Mind Matters Program, a mental health and well-being policy that includes free mental health cards and mental check-ups for staff, weekly talks and forums on mental health, and the designation of the last Wednesday of every month as Mind Day, a no-work day. 

Raymund also encourages his team to take a rest whenever they need it. “I always encourage my people to please tell me how I can help them be better, be creative, or be a better human being,” he says. “If they are stressed, then I will give them the time to breathe.”

2. Promote inclusivity. Safe spaces boost creativity because when a person feels safe, they can be more open about their thoughts and ideas. “Openness is the foundation of creative thinking,” Raymund points out. 

Propel does this by making sure their office is inclusive and respectful of everyone’s rights. “Our bathrooms at the office are gender neutral; we also have a Pride at Propel group in the office for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer employees,” he shares. “Recently, there were talks in our industry about harassment, so right away we made sure to reifnorce our anti-harassment and anti-discrimination polcies to make sure that we have a safe environment for everyone.

 3. Support diversity. Raymund is proud to say that half of Propel’s 70-plus team is female, while 19% are members of the LGBTQ+ community. “We like to keep our talents as diverse as possible because when you put them together and make them work on one goal, that is where brilliance happens,” he says.

4. Practice servant-leadership. “To quote from Simon Sinek, ‘Leadership is not being in charge, it’s taking care of those in our charge,’” Raymond declares. “My leadership style is very much a combination of a kuya (big bother) and barkada (friend); there’s a lot of care but I’ll also be the first one to call you out if needed. I believe that calling out is a way of showing care, because you are telling your team the truth on how they can be better.”

5. Walk the talk. Propel espouses purposiveness — how can the team use their creativity to help the community? “And because mental health is one of our main advocacies, we feel it’s important that we spread the word about the importance of well-being in the workplace and the community,” Raymund says. “This is where our partnership with MindNation comes in.”

Last July 2020, the two companies worked together to create the world’s first ever Complex Emojis, free social media stickers and gifs which users can post to communicate their hard-to-understand and complicated emotions. The ad for this was named a finalist in the 2021 Ad Stars, the world’s only international advertising festival which combines creativity with cutting-edge technology, and also in the  Asia Pacific Tambuli Awards, the creative show that celebrates creativity with positive world impact. 


In August of that same year, Propel Manila Culture Head Mau Valenzuela joined MindNation CEO Kana Takahasi and Head of Communications and Content Cat Trivino for a Mental Health Matters Livestream via Facebook, where they discussed mental health in the advertising industry, and how leaders can have better mental health care practices in the workplace. 


Lastly, to mark Pride Month last June 2021, Propel partnered with MindNation for the latter’s toolkit on supporting LGBTQ well-being at work, which is a guide for business leaders on how they can make their workplaces safe and inclusive for their queer employees.

“I want my team to continue to create more ideas that matter to the world,” Raymond says. “Creativity is such a superpower and I want to use it as a force for good, to make people better, to change behaviors, and make the world a little better than it was before. Right now is a pivotal time in our society. More than ever, we need to come up with insightful, innovative, and empathetic solutions that can help address humanity’s needs. For me, the pandemic is not an excuse to not have great ideas; there’s no better time to be creative than today.”

Are you passionate about workplace well-being? Partner with us to build a world where mental health is valued, accepted, and supported. Visit www.themindnation.com or email [email protected] to know more! 

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Featured

5 Ways To Properly Interact With Persons With Disabilities

One billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability, according to the World Health Organization. Despite this large number, there are still many able-bodied people who do not know how to properly act towards persons with disabilities (PWDs). They stare, use the wrong words to refer to the disabled person, or even make insensitive jokes. “Most of the time, these are not done intentionally,” says Ed Geronia, a writer, technology entrepreneur, and who has a mobility impairment due to polio. “People just don’t know any better because there is still a lack of awareness about the situation of PWDs, they only know about disabilities from what they see in the media.”

““When in doubt, it’s always okay to ask a PWD ‘What should I call you?’ or ‘What’s the proper way to refer to you?’”

Ed Geronia, Writer, Technology Entrepreneur

It’s important that able-bodied people learn how to interact with PWDs properly so that they will not inadvertently hurt or offend them. Treating someone differently based on their appearance or a certain characteristic is a form of discrimination, and targets of discrimination often suffer effects ranging from low self-esteem to a higher risk of developing stress-related disorders such as anxiety and depression. “At my age, I can brush off jokes and not be as easily offended, but it can be harder for younger PWDs,” points out Ed. “They internalize these hurtful words and actions and those make it harder for them to adapt to society.” 

Ed shares some tips below for properly interacting with people with disabilities.

  1. Never assume what a PWD can or cannot do. “Don’t think that someone who cannot go up or down a flight of stairs,” says Ed. “I can be just as adept as an able-bodied person as long as I have my cane and there are handrails. Similarly, don’t assume that all deaf people cannot communicate properly; they can, it’s just their mode of communication is different from ours.”

    So if a loved one or colleague is a PWD, learn as much as you can about their disability by joining online resource groups or communities. “When you understand their situation more, you will realize that many of your assumptions are unfounded,” he adds.
  2. Be patient. It takes persons with disabilities a longer time to complete tasks compared to able-bodied people. “The world in general is not very PWD-friendly,” Ed shares. For example, not all countries have audible signal lights to aid the sight-impaired, or wide sidewalks for those who need to use wheelchairs. So if, for example, you are accompanying a person with a  mobility impairment up a flight of stairs, or standing in line at the automated teller machine behind a person with a sight impairment, don’t rush them. Instead, ask what you can do to assist.
  3. Always ask before you help. On more than one occasion, Ed has experienced helpful strangers snatching his cane away from him in their eagerness to assist when they encounter him going up or down the stairs. “I know they’re just trying to help, but when they take my cane away out of the blue, it throws me off-balance and I either trip or fall,” he shares. “I usually have to tell them ‘It’s okay, I can manage.’” 

Another example — when you see someone in a wheelchair going up a ramp and they are steadily ascending, just let them be; don’t suddenly grab the handlebars and start pushing, you will just jolt the person and impact their balance. 

So before you help someone, ask first if they would require assistance, and don’t be offended if your offer is declined.“Many of us are just doing things at our own pace and even though it may seem to you that we are struggling, we are fine and would rather complete the task on our own,” Ed adds.  

  1. Avoid offensive or inappropriate language. Commonly accepted terminology includes “people/persons with disabilities” and “a person with a visual/hearing/physical/speech/cognitive impairment.” On the other hand, annoying or offensive terms include: wheelchair-bound (use wheelchair-user), victim of, suffers from, retarded, deformed, or crippled. “When in doubt, it’s always okay to ask a PWD ‘What should I call you?’ or ‘What’s the proper way to refer to you?’” Ed assures.

    Moreover, do not ask a disabled person that you just met or are not close to “What happened to you?” or “What’s the story behind the cane?” This makes people with disabilities feel that they are seen first for their disabilities instead of who they really are. “If you are really curious, ask first ‘Do you mind if I ask why you have a cane?’” Ed shares. “And if the person says ‘Yes, I mind,’ just leave it at that, don’t force the issue.”

For this same reason, do not describe a person as disabled or handicapped unless it is clearly pertinent to the conversation. Do not say “Do you remember my friend Robert, the deaf lawyer?” Instead, just say “Do you remember my friend Robert, the lawyer?” 

  1. Educate yourself. By learning about the different forms of disabilities, you also learn how you can bring about the necessary changes needed to improve how you interact with them. For those who want to get started, Ed recommends the following books and movies:
  • The Theory of Everything (film). Tells the struggle that world-renowned genius Stephen Hawking went through while dealing with his motor-neurone disease.
  • Crip Camp (film). A critically-acclaimed documentary film about a camp designed for teens with disabilities and how these campers became disability rights activists. 
  • Sound of Metal (film). About a heavy metal drummer who loses his hearing.
  • Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law (book). A memoir by Haben Girma, a disability rights advocate and the first deaf-blind graduate of Harvard Law School.
  • Criptionary (book). A humorous collection that brings attention to the everyday struggles and obstacles faced by persons with disabilities 
  • I See Things Differently: A First Look At Autism (book). Written for kids, it will help them understand what autism is and how it affects someone who has it.

Persons with disabilities are human too. By acknowledging their differences as you would acknowledge anyone else’s uniqueness, you show them the respect and empathy that they deserve and avoid unconsciously offending or hurting them.

If a loved one with a disability is struggling with mental health challenges because of the way they are treated by others, our psychologists are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions. Book a session now through https://bit.ly/mindnationchat.

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Employee Wellness Work in the New Normal

3 Strategies To Boost Trust Between Your Remote Team Members

In the book “New Insights On Trust In Business-To-Business Relationships,” authors Sandra Simas Garca and James Barry state that when buyers and suppliers enjoy high levels of cognitive trust among themselves — that is, they are confident in the other person’s ability to do the job — it leads to better communication, easier conflict resolution, and more collaboration. 

The same benefits can extend to members of your remote team so as a leader, it’s important you ensure that everyone is working hand in hand to achieve company goals. “Trust is the only way teamwork can happen because if teammates don’t trust one another, there will be conflict and resentment,” advises Darlyn Ty-Nilo, President and Managing Director of Viviamo, Inc., a custom publishing and marketing company that creates various paper products for specific target markets. “Conflict will lead to lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and, finally, inattention to results.” 

“If someone in your junior’s family got hospitalized, for example, or if a peer’s home got flooded after heavy rains — these will affect their mental health and productivity. By knowing where they are coming from, you can make the necessary adjustments and support.”

Darlyn Ty-Nilo, Viviamo Inc. President

Darlyn shares three tips for building trust and boosting teamwork among team members:

  1. Create avenues for deliberate communication and work visibility.
    These are the first two principles of the “Visible Teamwork” framework created by podcast host, author, and career coach Pilar Orti. “It means creating structures where team members are continuously talking to and aligning with each other,” says Darlyn.  “When people are constantly updating each other about their work, it’s easier to find out who needs help or how ideas can be further refined.” 

In this time of remote working, this means making attendance to virtual check-ins and alignments mandatory. At Viviamo, Inc., for example, Monday mornings are sacred because this is when they hold their town hall meeting  — all of their 17 employees gather virtually and spend up to two hours aligning on priorities of the week and other matters. On top of these, departments are expected to hold their own regular meetings every week. 

It also means utilizing dashboards, collaboration tools, and chat groups to keep track of deliverables and project status in real time. “So if you see, for example, that the target was not met today, you can act on it right away and do better tomorrow, instead of waiting to act on it at the end of the month. By then, everyone is already stressed and anxious,” she points out.


2. Know your team member’s context and mood. Part of creating deliberate communication is making an effort to get to know your team members on a personal level. This is because an employee’s mood, emotion, and overall disposition can impact their job performance, decision making, creativity, turnover, teamwork, negotiations, and leadership. “If someone in your junior’s family got hospitalized, for example, or if a peer’s home got flooded after heavy rains — these will affect their mental health and productivity. By knowing where they are coming from, you can make the necessary adjustments and support,” Darlyn explains.

To encourage team members to open up, Darlyn has instituted a buddy system among Viviamo’s employees. Each group is composed of three to four members and they must follow one rule — no shop talk allowed. “They are just supposed to check-in on each other’s mental and emotional state,” she relates. Groupings are changed every quarter so that there is enough time for members to build relationships but also have opportunities to get to know others in the organization. 

3. Make time for planned spontaneity. This is the third and final piece of the Visible Teamwork framework. “Building trust cannot be all related to work,” suggests Darlyn. Virtual coffee hangouts, drinking sessions, and other virtual teambuilding activities increase trust  in the workplace because they allow  team members to relate better to their colleagues. Encourage everyone to participate in these bonding sessions, but don’t force attendance on those who beg off; instead, explore other options for establishing interpersonal relationships such as casual one-on-ones or more frequent chats with their buddies. 

Teamwork brings numerous benefits to companies. It fosters cooperation, broadens different perspectives and ideas which might end up bringing much better results, and increases productivity. 

MindNation conducts bi-annual Pulse Surveys so that managers can understand employee struggles, how they feel about the company, and flag possible sources of stress. Those who are struggling can avail of 24/7 teletherapy session with psychologists and WellBeing Coaches or participate in Group Sessions. For more information about our services, visit www.themindnation.com or email [email protected]

Categories
Employee Wellness

What’s Your Bias? 3 Examples of Unconscious Bias In The Workplace And How You Can Reduce Their Impact

In a previous article, we shared some general ways you can build a more supportive, accepting, and respectful workplace. Today, we dive deeper into how you can address unconscious bias in your business and foster a more diverse and inclusive company.

There are many types of unconscious bias (over 19), but here are the four key ones and how you can avoid them:

  1. Gender bias. This is the tendency to prefer one gender over another. Examples include:
  1.  Providing more resources and opportunities to one gender (typically men) over another;
  2. Reviewing an employee of one gender differently from another gender — even when the evaluations are purely merit-based; and 
  3. Rewarding an employee of one gender differently from another gender in the form of promotions, raises or other merit-based rewards.

“Communication is key. Avoid sweeping generalisations and do your research on different cultures. A gesture or custom that you’re indifferent to might offend someone from a different cultural background, and vice versa.”

Salma Sakr, MindNation Chief Growth Officer

A major result of gender bias is the creation of the “glass ceiling,” a metaphor for the evident but intangible hierarchical impediment that prevents women (and even minorities) from achieving elevated professional success. If you want to break this glass ceiling, here are some ways you can avoid gender bias at work: 

  • Set gender-neutral recruitment standards. Do this by defining the ideal candidate profile ahead of time and evaluating all candidates against those standards. 
  • Create diversity goals. Set qualitative gender diversity goals to create a more gender-balanced team. Support and provide resources for women to take on leadership roles. 

2. Ageism. This is seterotyping or discrimination  against individuals or groups on the basis of their age. This can also include ignoring a junior’s ideas because they are considered “too young,” or assuming someone should behave in certain ways because of their age. 

Preventing ageism involves combatting age-related stereotypes as well as engaging older team members in the workplace. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Don’t make assumptions based on age: For example, don’t automatically presume that older workers don’t know how to use technology or aren’t open to learning new skills. Provide equal learning opportunities for everyone. 
  • Foster cross-generational collaboration: Create two-way mentorship programs where a senior team member is paired with a new hire. This kind of collaboration facilitates communication between team members of different stages, which can help break down misconceptions about age. 

3. Cultural bias.  Cultural biases are assumptions, stereotypes, and belief systems about a different culture, based on our own limited experience of that world. In the workplace can create misunderstandings, biased treatment and barriers to career advancement; if you are manager who believes that all South Asians are good in software programming but who like to make a fuss over nothing, for example, you might never give your team members from India the opportunity to speak their mind, causing them to eventually leave the company due to lack of opportunities.

Here are some ways you can be sensitive to individual backgrounds and beliefs when in a professional environment:

  • Notice the little things. Someone from a different cultural background might behave in a way that you interpret as rude, shy, or standoffish, but that could simply be the way you interpret it. You need to think deeper, and really acknowledge that what you call ‘truth’ is actually just accumulated information from your own cultural background.
  • Communication is key. Avoid sweeping generalisations and do your research on different cultures. A gesture or custom that you’re indifferent to might offend someone from a different cultural background, and vice versa.
  • Be flexible. We all operate in different ways and have different views of life – even within the same sub-cultures. In a professional environment, always respect others’ customs, such as national holidays, dietary requirements and political attitudes. If in doubt, talk about something else!
  • Be yourself! We’re all human at the end of the day, and you’ll often find that smiling and offering a friendly face are universally recognised behaviours, wherever you’re from!

4. Race/ethnicity bias. This is any discrimination against any individual on the basis of their skin color, or racial or ethnic origin. It can take many forms, such as:

  1. Direct discrimination: not hiring or promoting someone based solely on their race
  2. Indirect discrimination: happens when a rule or policy set by an employer places people from certain racial, ethnic or national groups at a disadvantage.
  3. Racial harassment: includes any unwanted conduct related to an employee’s race, especially when it violates their dignity or creates an offensive environment.
  4. Victimization. when someone is treated badsly because they complained about discrimination or helped someone who has been the victim of discrimination.

Leaders can put a stop racial discrimination at work by:

  • Creating channels where employees feel safe speaking up about racial issues. It’s important for managers to seek input from missing voices to help obtain different ideas for a diverse point of view.
  • Actively communicating their stance on racial discrimination and what won’t be tolerated along with the consequences for violation. Racism, in any form, should never be overlooked, excused or tolerated, regardless of someone’s rank or title.
  • Spreading awareness by providing resources to educate individuals about the culture of racism and the history of different races. Most individuals are unaware of racial injustice and the comments they unconsciously make towards their BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) colleagues.

Companies can actively reduce bias through training along with embedding processes, policies, and expectations that help create a culture rooted in diversity and inclusion. Ultimately, it’s management’s responsibility to demonstrate their commitment to diversity and inclusion and the value it brings to the company as well as holding others accountable. 

This August, MindNation is holding webinars to help organizations reduce unconscious bias in the workplace so that team members become happier, healthier, and more productive. Email [email protected] to schedule a session now!

Categories
Fitness Get Inspired

James Michael Lafferty: 4 Essential Rules For A Positive And Energetic Life

Jim Lafferty is not just the CEO of Fine Hygienic Holding  (FHH), a wellness company that makes personal care and hygienic products. He is also an athlete, Olympic coach, philanthropist, speaker, and corporate trainer — all on top of being a devoted family man to his wife and five children. 

He began his career as a fitness trainer for Procter & Gamble employees in 1983 before moving up the ranks and becoming the company’s CEO, eventually going on to hold top positions at other Fortune 500 companies. Throughout his journey, health and wellness has been his priority, not just for himself but also for his team. “The starting point of being successful is your health; if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything,” he points out. 

Apart from exercising regularly and watching his diet, here are Jim’s strategies for living a life full of energy and positivity:

“We take on many roles in life — for instance, I am not only a businessman, a coach, and an athlete, I am also a father, a husband, a brother, a nephew, so on and so forth. I believe that at maximum, we can only do five roles well.”

Jim Lafferty, CEO of Fine Hygienic Holding  (FHH)
  1. Acknowledge that you can’t do everything. “We take on many roles in life — for instance, I am not only a businessman, a coach, and an athlete, I am also a father, a husband, a brother, a nephew, so on and so forth,” Jim enumerates. “But I believe that at maximum, we can only do five roles well. And my five roles are to be the best husband, father, philanthropist-coach, athlete, and CEO out there. Everything else — such as being a brother and a nephew — is not a priority for me, and my family understands that.”

This is why Jim is very clear about what he says “no” and “yes” to. “I get offers to sit on other boards all the time, but I turn them down because they will take up too much time from what I really want to do,” he explains. “At the end of the day, I am clear on what legacy I want to leave behind, and that is to be a good father and contribute to society in the best way possible.”

  1. Cope with setbacks by employing perspective. When asked to name the biggest challenge he has ever encountered and what he did to cope, Jim says: “I don’t stress out over setbacks very easily because I always try to keep things in perspective.” 

As an example, he relates the story of a female employee who was five months pregnant with twins when she caught a severe case of COVID-19 and had to be hospitalized. To protect both the mother and babies’ health, doctors did an emergency c-section and delivered the babies prematurely. Unfortunately, all three passed away not long after. “What can I possibly be going through now that’s even close to what the husband and father are going through?” he points out. “I get upset, yes, but are those bad news really that earth-shattering? If you widen your perspective and learn what other people in the world are going through, you realize that more often than not, you have nothing to complain about.” 

  1. Prioritize employee well-being. When Jim came on board as CEO of FHH, one of the first things he did was to align the company’s values with his own. “We are a wellness company and wellness starts at home; and home for us is our employees,” he shares. To start with, he spearheaded the construction of a world class, state-of-the-art fitness center at the company’s headquarters in Dubai, and initiated company-wide fitness challenges like push-up competitions to encourage employees to take care of their physical health.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the company partnered with MindNation to launch an Employee Assistance Program that includes 24/7 teletherapy support from qualified psychologists and WellBeing Coaches to all Fine employees and their immediate family members so that they can cope with the mental health challenges brought about by social isolation and other worries. “We try to protect our employees as much as we can, physically and mentally, because you cannot have good health without either one,” Jim explains.  

Finally, Jim has taken it upon himself to make the company more diverse and inclusive. “When I arrived at the company, the management team was 100 percent comprised of men, and they only came from two countries,” he relates. “I met each and every one of them, and those who were not performing well were let go in the most graceful and dignified way possible.” To fill up the five vacancies that resulted from this reorganization, Jim talked to headhunters and imposed one rule — that only female applicants be considered. “Everyone was surprised, but I told them there are talented women all over the city, don’t tell me we can’t find any,” he points out. 

All five roles did get filled up by women, and today FHH boasts of women comprising 38% of leadership roles in the company — unprecedented in the Arab world. “I’ve seen a lot of progress on acceptance of women as leaders but it’s an uphill battle and it’s going to take time,” Jim admits. “But if we want to be responsible members of society, we have to participate in the changes that society has to go through.”

  1. Celebrate the journey, not the destination. When it comes to long-term goals, Jim is not a believer of deadlines and timelines. For Jim, it’s about seeing his children progressing happily in their lives and the organization growing and becoming better. “But I don’t tell myself ‘Oh, I have to do this or see these results by the end of the year,’” he shares. “Instead, I ask myself, ‘Am I closer to the goal today than I was yesterday?’ And if the answer is ‘yes,’ then I already feel accomplished. You can’t measure life by a stopwatch.” 

Happier and healthier employees are productive employees. Partner with MindNation to provide your team with a well-being that is holistic, data-driven, and customized for your needs. Email [email protected] to know more. 

Categories
Relationships

Not A Love Story: 4 Ways To Move On After Being Ghosted

“Ghosting” refers to abruptly cutting off contact with someone without giving that person any warning or explanation for doing so — the offender essentially “vanishes” into thin air, as if they were a ghost. 

While the term is recent, the practice is not. “In the 1990s, Filipinos called it nang-indyan (not showing up for a date),” explains psychologist Riyan Protuguez. “In English, we borrowed from the military and called it someone ‘going AWOL’ (Absence Without Leave) or ‘going MIA’ (Missing In Action).” And if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of ghosting, you are not alone — a study of 1,300 people published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships in 2018 revealed that a quarter of the participants had been ghosted by a partner.

According to Riyan, ghosting can have a negative psychological impact on the person being ghosted. People who have been left hanging by a romantic interest or partner will tend to blame themselves, i.e. “What did I do wrong?” or engage in self-doubt, i.e.“Am I not good enough?” As a result, their self-esteem suffers, which can lead to a host of other mental health concerns. It’s even worse if the one who is ghosting engages in love bombing first (i.e. overwhelming their partner with loving words, actions, and behavior) — before disappearing, leaving the other person bewildered and anxious.

“Ghosting” refers to abruptly cutting off contact with someone without giving that person any warning or explanation for doing so — the offender essentially “vanishes” into thin air, as if they were a ghost.”

Why do some people choose to ghost?

There are several reasons a person ghosts another, but the most common ones are:

  1. It’s a form of experiment. “Some millennial daters like to experiment,” Riyan shares. “They deliberately cut off contact to check how into them the other person really is.” In short, it’s a convoluted form of playing hard-to-get.
  2. They are emotionally unavailable. “People who ghost do not know how to handle the difficult situation of turning someone down or ending a relationship,” says Riyan. “They don’t know how to communicate their feelings, so they just withdraw.” 

How to move on after being ghosted

Being ghosted often triggers painful emotions, and while it can take some time to work through the pain, it is possible to move on. Here are some tips:

  1. It’s not you, it’s them. Don’t blame or question yourself. “Ghosting is committed by people who are emotionally immature and who have their own issues, so it is never your fault,” Riyan assures.
  2. Explore self-care activities to divert your attention. Spend time with trusted friends and loved ones, write in your journal, exercise, or watch your favorite tv show.
  3. Set boundaries. Delete their number from your contact list, unfriend and unfollow them on social media, and throw away or donate the gifts you received from them. If they try to woo you back with love bombing  — and people who ghost usually do — “Always remember that you don’t deserve someone who treats you this way,” Riyan reminds.
  4. Lastly, don’t be afraid to try again. One bad experience should not stop you from finding the one that is right for you.

How to avoid ghosting others

If you ever find yourself in a position where it seems easier to just disappear than to engage in a difficult conversation, always put yourself in the other person’s shoes. “Do your best to treat others with kindness and honesty,” Riyan suggests. “Your words may hurt, but it’s better than disappearing without an explanation.:”

Some ways you can turn someone down gently:

  • “It was nice meeting you but I just didn’t feel the connection.”
  • “I am going through some personal stuff right now, and it’s best I deal with it on my own.”
  • “I know we have been talking for awhile now, but I don’t feel a spark anymore, I hope you understand.”
  • “I’m sorry but I don’t see this going any further, I respect you and hope we can still remain friendly.” 

Reeling from being ghosted? MindNation psychologists are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions if you need to process the complex feelings you may have after being left hanging by a romantic interest. They can also give you further coping strategies to make sure you come out the other side stronger and more confident than before. Book a session now through https://bit.ly/mindnationchat

Categories
How To

5 Ways To Effectively Communicate With A Loved One

Do you have difficulty telling your partner you are frustrated at them? Do a friend’s annoying habits trigger you, but you choose to stay silent to keep the peace? 

This is where knowing the difference between constructive and destructive criticism comes in. 

“It’s important to relay feedback to a loved one even when it’s negative because we want to help our loved ones to become better versions of themselves,” says MindNation psychologist Jessa Mae Rojas. “Additionally, when we are able to go through difficult communications with our partners unscathed, the relationship becomes stronger.” 

This does not mean you have to call them out about every little annoyance; some things are better left unsaid. “As long as what you are saying helps the person improve and does not make them question their self-worth or self-confidence, then that is constructive criticism,” Jessa says. “Everything else is just nitpicking.” 

Ready to have the constructively critical conversation? Here are some do’s and don’ts for relaying feedback to your loved one:

“It’s important to relay feedback to a loved one even when it’s negative because we want to help our loved ones to become better versions of themselves.”

Jessa Mae Rojas, MindNation Psychologist

DO:

  1. Time it right. Don’t do it when they are tired after a long day, or if YOU are tired after a long day. And especially do not get into the conversation when you are angry because you might end up saying something destructive instead. If tempers are high, step out of the room for awhile, take deep breaths, or do activities to distract you until you calm down. 
  2. Focus on specific behaviors, not on your partner’s whole personality. Don’t just say, “You’re just no fun.” Get specific instead by saying, “I’ve noticed that you don’t seem to enjoy online parties with my friends. Can you tell me why so I can understand better?”
  1. Give your partner a chance to explain or offer feedback. You have had your chance to speak, now it’s to sit back and listen. Remember that you are having a dialogue, not a monologue. 

DON’T

  1. Diagnose your loved one. “I think you have mental health issues,” or “Wow, your childhood really messed with your brain” will only deviate the conversation  from the main issue. 
  2. Make “You” statements. If you say, “You are impossible to talk to and you just don’t listen,” your partner will justifiably feel defensive. “I sometimes find it difficult to talk with you,” is a much more positive way to broach the subject.

If despite your best efforts your criticism is received in a negative light, don’t fan the flames by responding angrily. Instead, seek to understand why your loved one is acting this way. “Have a heart to heart talk; ask them ‘How would you want me to talk to you about this next time? Would you rather I write it down or send you a text message first, instead of talking to you about it directly?’” Jessa suggests. “These can help pave the way for more productive conversations in the future.”

If you and your partner are having difficulty communicating with each other, MindNation psychologists and WellBeing Coaches are available for teletherapy sessions 24/7 to help you build a stronger and lasting relationship. Message https://bit.ly/mindnationchat to book a session now!