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Featured

Piril Yagli: Bringing Mental Health In The Workplace Front And Center

Piril Yagli started her career in Insights and Analytics 15 years ago at multinational corporation Procter & Gamble, where she conducted consumer research on the preferences, attitudes, motivations, and buying behavior of people buying fast-moving consumer goods.

In 2020, she joined MindNation as its Chief Insights & Analytics Officer, this time surveying the preferences, attitudes, and motivations of clients towards work and their mental health. Thanks to the data that she and her team are able to gather, MindNation is able to customize its Employee Assistance Program to meet the specific needs of an employee in an organization, a rarity in the mental health care industry where most EAPs only offer fixed packages. 

“I believe that a true mental health and well-being program is and should go beyond just providing a standard one-size-fits-all service,” Piril explains. This is because the people who comprise an organization have different needs and challenges, depending on their age, gender, educational attainment, or even socioeconomic background. 

“In a company, you have all kinds of employees — from white collar to blue collar, from members of GenZ to GenX, all  with completely different challenges that need to be addressed,” she points out. “For instance, our data shows that young, less experienced employees in a business process outsourcing company would like to learn about curbing loneliness during the lockdown or avoiding burnout. On the other hand, more seasoned employees are more interested in finding out how they can work better with younger team members or how they can provide better guidance or support. A one-size-fits all approach cannot fully cover all these needs.”


The importance of Pulse Surveys

MindNation gets its data through Pulse Surveys, biannual online surveys that are conducted the moment the client signs up with the company. “Through Pulse Surveys, we try to extract three types of information. The first is how employees feel about their mental health and well-being status, and if they feel satisfied with their company’s efforts,” Piril enumerates. “Next is to establish a benchmark so that we can track progress and revise the program accordingly. Lastly, we want to figure out the key stressors that employees are facing and what remedies they are after so that we can address the challenges directly.”

The MindNation Pulse Survey differs from the surveys of other EAP companies in two ways: first of all, MindNation created a proprietary Company WellBeing Score©,  a single sum generated from the different variables in the survey. “We use this score to track, measure, and compare one company to another,” Piril explains.

Which brings us to the second unique feature of MindNation Pulse Surveys — comparisons. “MindNation is able to compare data and scores of different companies because of our extensive database, which has responses from over 15,000 employees and growing, ” Piril proudly shares. “This allows us to tell a company ‘This is the state of your team’s well-being versus those of others in the same industry,’ and then follow-up with suggestions on how they can do better.” 


Wake-up call

That being said, business leaders should not feel disheartened or question their leadership skills if their companies get a low score in the Pulse Surveys. “A big portion of employees in every company, across all industries, are facing mental health and well-being challenges during this pandemic,” Piril points out. “Business leaders should not take alarming Pulse Survey results as a poor reflection of themselves. Instead, they should treat it as a wake-up call, as an opportunity to immediately correct ‘mistakes’ and provide resources so employees can have better well-being.” 

For Piril, what is important is that leaders be open, listen, understand and act in urgency to meet the needs of the employees, whether it’s providing access to psychologists and WellBeing Coaches or tailoring webinars to topics that interest their team members.

“From our analysis, we found out that on average 8% of the employee population in the Philippines has suicidal or self-harmful thoughts,” Piril reveals.

They especially need to be proactive in addressing the needs of employees who are suicidal, of which there is an increasing number. This is according to the analysis of suicidal thinking employees in the MindNation Pulse Survey database. “From our analysis, we found out that on average 8% of the employee population in the Philippines has suicidal or self-harmful thoughts,” Piril reveals. “Assuming that there are 41 million active employees in the Philippines, this means that around 3.3 million employees need immediate help.” 

Importance of suicide prevention policies in the workplace 

Employers need to provide help because suicidal employees are the ones facing more productivity loss, taking more sick leaves, and thinking about quitting the company more than the average employee. So by prioritizing the mental health and well-being of their organization, leaders are not only saving 8% of their workforce, they are also improving productivity, and positively impacting the bottom line. 

Organizations can do this by paying attention to and making mental health services a basic benefit for all employees, stopping stigma in the workplace by cultivating a safe space for mental health discussions, and ensuring that each employee has someone to talk to curb their feelings of loneliness especially during these times of isolation and uncertainty.

Download the MindNation Suicide In the Philippine Workforce 2021 toolkit now to learn not only about suicide prevention, but also enhance your capacities to support employees who may be struggling with varying mental health issues and suicidal ideation. http://bit.ly/mn-suicide2021

How is your team doing lately? Message [email protected] to find out how we can set up a Pulse Survey for your organization.

Categories
Suicide Prevention

Stop The Stigma: Debunking The Top 5 Suicide Myths And Facts

CONTENT WARNING: This article includes descriptions of suicide that may disturb some readers.

Despite increased awareness drives about mental health challenges in recent years, suicide continues to be a serious public health issue. According to the World Health Organization, more than 700,000 people die by suicide every year; this number does not include those who attempt to die by suicide and survive. Even more troubling: suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in 15-19-year-olds. 

Unfortunately, many of us do not recognize the signs that someone is at risk for suicide or self-harm because of the many misconceptions society has about it. Additionally, the stigma prevents those with suicidal ideation to get the help they need to get better. 

“Not talking about suicide does not prevent suicide,” point out Luis Villarroel of Kintsugi-Psy. “All it does is make suicidal ideation cultivate in secret rather than out in the open, where people can help one another and address their issues.” 

Luis shares five common and harmful suicide myths and provides the facts to debunk them: 

Myth: Talking about suicide will lead to and encourage suicide.
Fact: On the contrary, talking about suicide allows individuals with suicidal ideations to seek help, rethink their opinions, and share their story with others so they do not feel hopeless and alone. “Anytime someone initiates a conversation about wanting to take their lives, we should take it as a call for help and never assume that they are joking,” Luis adds. 

Myth: Suicide attempts happen without warning.
Fact:
“Suicides are very rarely spur-of-the-moment occurrences,” Luis says. “Individuals who are suicidal show warning signs, especially to their loved ones, but it’s possible that these loved ones did not recognize those signs. This is why it may seem like the suicide was sudden.” 

Some warning signs of suicide include:

  • Withdrawal from friends, family and community
  • Dramatic change in behavior
  • Giving away possessions
  • Tying up loose ends, like organizing personal papers or paying off debts

“While it’s possible that there are other explanations for the above behavior, it’s always better to be safe than sorry,” Luis explains. “Reach out to the person and ask ‘Are you okay?’ or ‘How are you doing lately?’” If they don’t want to share, don’t force this issue, just say “That’s fine, I just wanted to know how you were,” or “Glad to know you’re okay, I’m always here if you need me.’”

But if you are really concerned or have concrete evidence that the person is attempting suicide:

  • Don’t leave the person alone.
  • Call your local emergency number right away. Or, if you think you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room yourself.
  • Try to find out if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs or may have taken an overdose.
  • Tell a family member or friend right away what’s going on.
  • Encourage the person to call a suicide hotline number
  • Get help from a trained professional

Myth: People who attempt suicide and survive will never attempt it again.
Fact:
This myth comes from the belief that the physical pain of self-harm will deter someone with suicidal ideation from further attempts. “But people who attempt suicide already believe that death is a preferable alternative to their current situation,” Luis explains. “So if they survived their attempt but the circumstances that led them to think about suicide do not change, you can expect that the attempt will repeat. Maybe the method used to end their lives will be different, but the ideation will still be there.”

Suicide attempts should be taken as call for help. Loved ones must work together to let the person with suicidal ideation see that other options for staying safe or solving their problems are available to them. 

Myth: Suicide only affects individuals with a mental health condition.
Fact:
According to the National Alliance On Mental Illness, many individuals with mental illness are not affected by suicidal thoughts, just as not all people who attempt or die by suicide have mental illness. Relationship problems and other life stressors such as criminal/legal matters, persecution, eviction/loss of home, death of a loved one, a devastating or debilitating illness, trauma, sexual abuse, rejection, and recent or impending crises are also associated with suicidal thoughts and attempts.

Myth: If a person is serious about killing themselves, there is nothing that we can do.
Fact:
“There is always something you can do; the question is, what are you willing to do?” Luis points out. “Reaching out is one thing, but don’t leave it at that. When someone expresses struggles or pain, take the extra step, be it helping the victim of an abusive relationship leave, or connecting someone with depression to a mental health professional. Show your concern in concrete ways.”

As individuals, we should not be afraid to speak up about suicide, mental illness, or to seek out treatment for an individual who is in need. Eliminating the stigma starts by understanding why suicide occurs and advocating for mental health awareness within our communities. Start by sharing articles on suicide awareness and prevention, as well as those related to mental health;  additionally, look for and connect with groups that have the similar objective of wanting to remove the stigma surrounding suicide. 

“Breaking the stigma  about suicide is going to be hard, you may encounter resistance because of the stigma surrounding it,” Luis admits. “But suicide is something that we have to accept is a reality in our society, and talking about it can help any individual who is struggling with unhealthy thoughts and emotions get the help they need.” 

If you or a loved one is in crisis, the MindNation Chat Helpline is available 24/7 if you need someone to talk to. Additionally, MindNation psychologists are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions via sms chat, video chat, or voice call. Rest assured that all conversations are secure and will be kept confidential. Chat with a friend or book a session now though bit.ly/themindnationchat. 

Categories
Suicide Prevention

5 Key Strategies for Suicide Prevention In The Workplace

Executing a successful suicide prevention program at work requires making sure that there are enough people trained to recognise the risk and taking steps to provide appropriate and effective support. Here are some ways you can achieve this:

  1. Promote good mental health and destigmatize mental health problems
    The best prevention strategy is early intervention. Leaders can help reduce the risk for suicide by building a culture where mental health matters and asking for help is not taboo. You can do this by talking about mental health and therapy in company-wide meetings or mid-level manager one-on-one meetings to promote its importance and advocating or promoting pro-mental health work benefits such as paid mental health days, sufficient vacation time, and other policies that acknowledge the importance of both physical and mental health.
  2. Extend support and psychological health services.
    According to the results of the MindNation 2020 Pulse Survey, 42% of employees named “access to psychologists” as one of the top ways companies can support their mental health and well-being.
  3. Reduce stress at work.
    It’s important that managers help employees maintain work-life balance and make time for self-care so that they can manage stress better. This can be done by fostering an atmosphere where a direct report can bring feedback whenever they need assistance, and setting clear goals and then giving employees the freedom they need to reach those goals.
  4. Prevent and take action against bullying and harassment.
    Bullying, harassment, and intimidation in the workplace adds to stress at work, which can aggravate mental health challenges and increase the risk of suicide. Employers have a legal and moral obligation to provide a safe and positive work environment in which the rights of all employees are respected equally. You can do this by adopting a zero-tolerance policy towards bullying in any form, and act swiftly and decisively when allegations are made.
  5. Educate and train managers and other key staff on mental health and suicide prevention.
    Managers are in the best position to observe changes in behaviour or hear from co-workers that someone appears to be having difficulties. MindNation conducts virtual trainings on topics like Mental Health First Aid and Managing Depression And Suicide to boost awareness as well as interpersonal and social competencies.  

To learn how to execute these strategies properly and how MindNation can help you, download our Suicide in the Philippine Workforce 2021 toolkit now: http://bit.ly/mn-suicide2021.

Visit www.mindnation.com or email [email protected] to know more about mental health services for the workplace.

Categories
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. 

Categories
Mental Health 101

5 Steps To Choosing The Right Therapist For You

Looking for a therapist — whether it’s for self-improvement, to heal from past traumas, or just to maintain good mental health — can be daunting. After all, this is someone whom you will be sharing your deepest and most uncomfortable feelings to, so it is important that you choose a mental health professional who will make you comfortable and give you the right kind of help.

We asked psychologist Luis Angelo Villarroel of Kintsugi-Psy to share some steps for choosing a therapist to help you reach your mental health goals: 

Step 1: Ask yourself: “What kind of help do I need?”
There are many types of mental health professionals, specializing in different areas of mental health. Each of them plays a key role in identifying and treating your mental health challenges:

  • Psychologist. Uses evidence-based strategies and interventions to help people overcome challenges and cope with past traumas, present issues, or future concerns. 

“If you need help dealing with day-to-day problems, best to see a counseling psychologist. On the other hand, if you are looking for someone who can treat certain disorders, you will need the expertise of a clinical psychologist.”

Luis Angelo Villarroel, Psychologist

Just like medical doctors, psychologists have different areas of specialization: there are clinical psychologists, educational psychologists, assessment psychologists, industrial psychologists, child psychologists, etc. While they are all educated in mental health concerns, some are more equipped to deal with certain aspects than others. “If you need help dealing with day-to-day problems, best to see a counseling psychologist,” Luis explains. “On the other hand, if you are looking for someone who can treat certain disorders, you will need the expertise of a clinical psychologist.” 

  • Psychiatrist. They are the only type of mental health professional who are licensed to prescribe and monitor medication.Most psychiatrists do not offer counseling services, but will give referrals to therapists.
  • WellBeing Coach. They work one-on-one with individuals who want to improve their health and well-being, using concepts drawn from psychology, behavior change, and life coaching fields. A WellBeing Coach can help clients overcome obstacles to maintain healthy habits for life.

Don’t worry if you are unsure which one is suited for you. Luis assures that if the mental health professional that you visit first feels that some other form of therapy will be more suitable for you, they will inform you from the get-go.

Step 2: Start your search.

Once you have narrowed down what kind of therapy or therapist you want, it’s time to begin your search. There are a number of different places where you can begin choosing a therapist. Some options include:

  • Searching online through search engines or social media hashtags. You can also ask around in reputable forums or Facebook groups. 
  • A more secure way would be to inquire with hospitals. “Call the hospital help desk and ask if they provide mental health services,” Luis suggests.
  • An even better option is to ask trusted people for recommendations — friends, family, or your primary care provider. And don’t worry if you end up choosing the same therapist as your friend or loved one; like doctors, mental health professionals are bound by the rules of doctor-patient confidentiality. “Even if your spouse is my patient, I will treat the two of you as individuals,” assures Luis.

Step 3: Check their credentials

For psychologists and psychiatrists, make sure they are licensed to practice and that they follow guidelines and a code of ethics. Note that while WellBeing Coaches are not required to have a specific degree and they don’t have oversight by a governing board, you can do your own research to check if they are legitimate.

Step 4: Inquire cost

While therapy should always be considered an investment, it is prudent to know how much you will be shelling out per session, especially since mental health concerns cannot be resolved in just one session. That said, note that the professional fee of a therapist is not an indication or reflection of their experience or lack thereof. “Sometimes the cost can be dependent on the location of the therapist; if their clinic is located in a high-end part of the city, for example, expect their cost to be higher due to rent or other factors not necessarily linked to their skills,” Luis explains. 

Step 5: Book a session and get started on your mental health journey

Here is an article outlining about what you can expect during your first session with a psychologist or WellBeing Coach. 

Use this initial appointment to determine if you feel comfortable with the therapist you have chosen. While talking to the therapist, think about these questions:

  • Do you feel like you can talk to this person?
  • Do you feel like you can be honest?
  • Does it feel like this person accepts you?
  • Are they a good listener?
  • Will they customize their approach for you?

Know that you can always change therapists, whether it’s just five minutes into the first session or after five sessions. “You are free to withdraw from the therapy anytime you feel it is not working out, if you realize your therapist isn’t a good match for you, or you feel you are not being supported well into your therapy process,” Luis assures. “On our end, we will offer to make whatever adjustments you need so you become more comfortable and continue treatment. But ultimately, rapport with your therapist is very important– the treatments will only work if you feel comfortable with us.”

Finally, know that you have every right to terminate the relationship if the therapist behaves unprofessionally or crosses boundaries. In the Philippines, you can report these untoward incidents to the Professional Regulation Commission or to the Psychological Association of the Philippines.

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide if you have chosen the right therapist for you. “We will exhaust all means to help,” Luis says. “And even if we do not work out, I will always encourage you to continue looking for another professional. Sometimes, just talking to someone you can trust — or being able to trust someone again– is already a big help in achieving growth and healing.”

MindNation offers 24/7 teletherapy sessions with psychologists and WellBeing Coaches through video chat, voice call, or SMS chat. Psychologist session starts at P1,500/hour while WellBeing Coach session starts at P500/hour. Book a session now at bit.ly/themindnationchat. 

Categories
Employee Wellness

5 Ways To Help Someone Feeling Overwhelmed

If someone is feeling overwhelmed, it means that something is too much, or almost too much, for them to manage. While it’s possible to be overwhelmed by good things (i.e. love or gratitude), it is just as easily possible to be overwhelmed by tasks, chores, and problems.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has left many people feeling overwhelmed because work-from-home has become the new norm and so the lines between work and personal lives are no longer clearly delineated,” says relationship coach Aileen Santos. “From my personal experience, people can cope with any amount of stressful work — as long as work is the only thing that is stressing them out. But when personal issues get added to the mix, that is when they buckle.”

This is why when someone says they are feeling overwhelmed, we should not ignore or minimize their pronouncement. “Don’t just look at a team member’s workload, because we don’t know what they are going through behind the scenes,” says Aileen. “We don’t see the triggered traumas, stress, or fatigue that they are experiencing; the workload could just be the last straw.”


“When a team member starts verbalizing that something is happening at home, you need to pay close attention because that could lead them to becoming overwhelmed.”

Aileen Santos, Relationship Coach

Implications of being overwhelmed

When someone is feeling overwhelmed, it can affect their physical and mental health, along with their productivity. They feel physically ill or fatigued without knowing why, start withdrawing from friends and family, have trouble focusing or completing even simple tasks, and might even start to develop mental health challenges like depression and anxiety. All these might just compel affected employees to leave the company, which will end up costing the business even more money. “Millennial and Gen Z employees are now prioritizing their well-being and work-life balance above everything else, even salary, and they are willing to quit their jobs if they feel it is bad for their health,” Aileen reminds. 

For those in personal relationships, not addressing signs of overwhelm can make the bonds even more strained and fractured. 

What to do

It’s important that team leaders and loved ones take steps to support someone who is feeling overwhelmed to avoid bigger physical and mental health problems later on. If someone you love or work with are showing signs of struggling to cope, here are some things you can do:

  1. Listen.  “All companies are struggling during the pandemic, so you might have already gotten used to hearing about work stress,” shares Aileen. “But when a team member starts verbalizing that something is happening at home, you need to pay close attention because that could lead them to becoming overwhelmed.”
  1. Take the load off. A person can only perform their best if they are not overloaded with work, so team leaders and supervisors need to constantly be aware of what each member is doing and redistribute the load when they feel it is becoming too much. 

To step in, start by bringing up observable behavior, then explain that you are redistributing work because you care for the employee’s well-being and not because you do not think they can no longer do the work well. An example would be :“I notice that you have been missing a lot of deadlines already, and there are more coming up. I am concerned that you are taking on too much and it will affect your health, so I’m going to reassign this and that to ease your load.”

For partners and spouses, make sure your relationship at home is a partnership. “Share the load at home — don’t expect your partner to be a breadwinner and at the same time manage the household, while you just focus on your work,” Aileen explains. “Both of you have to support and take care of each other.” 

  1. If the person refuses help, put your foot down. It is not uncommon for a person who is struggling to be in denial about their situation. “There are people whose sense of identity is based on helping others, so they do not recognize that they are the ones who need help,” Aileen points out. “They are more attuned to the feelings of others than to their own.” If this is the case for your loved one, it might be time for some tough love. “Encourage them to rest, even if it means resorting to tactics such as paying for a hotel staycation even before they agree to it,” Aileen suggests.
  1. Get the help of a mental health professional. Psychologists and Wellbeing Coaches can help overwhelmed people address past trauma or teach them ways to cope with stress. Or they can just offer an unbiased and listening ear to someone who needs to express struggles.

    “The companies that are doing well during the pandemic are ones who are prioritizing their employees’ well-being, such as hiring the services of a mental health care provider or even training and reassigning personable team leaders to become in-house mental health champions,” Aileen shares. 

On the other hand, if a loved one is resistant to the idea of seeking professional help, or does not have the time for a session, take it upon yourself to learn what you can do for them. ““There are so many resources available now, from hotlines to teletherapy, so take advantage of those,” Aileen instructs. “If you are seeing signs that your partner is feeling overwhelmed, take the initiative to research or call a hotline to find out what ways you can help them.”  

  1. Lastly, look after yourself. You cannot help someone who is feeling overwhelmed if you yourself are facing struggles of your own. “Self-care is self-preservation,” Aileen says.

So look after your own well-being, such as taking mental health days, eating right, sleeping well, exercising, and finding ways to destress; being calm and relaxed will make you more able to help someone else. 

The MindNation Care Now Plan is customized to support an employee’s holistic health. Services include access to 24/7 teletherapy sessions with psychologists and WellBeing Coaches, Group Support Sessions, free audio and downloadable mental health resources, and so much more. Partner with us to build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Visit http://www.mindnation.com to learn more about our services. 

Categories
Work in the New Normal

6 Ways to Create A Greener Home Office

There are lots of reasons to encourage your team to implement earth-friendly practices in the way they work from home. Not only is it good for the environment, but it can reduce their expenses as well as improve their health and job satisfaction. A 2018 Gallup study showed that employees who feel that they contribute to “the present and future conditions of the environment” feel more engaged at work. In addition, the 2015 Cone Communications Millennial CSR Study reports that  as many as 91% of millennials would switch to use a company or brand based on its commitment to social good and investment in things like environmentally-sound and sustainable practices. So if you want to attract and retain top talent, it pays to make the environment a priority in your business.

Here are some changes you can ask your staff to implement to make their home office more environmentally friendly.

  1. Make the most of natural light. If your team members have the opportunity to choose the room where they will set up their office, opt for space with plenty of natural light. This move will allow them to reduce their energy usage, thus saving money on electricity.

On the other hand, if their home office is located in the basement or some other part of the house that gets no natural light, gently suggest that they use LED bulbs to mimic sunlight.

  1. Be energy-efficient. Remind them to switch off and unplug TVs, lights, and equipment when they’re not being used. A 2019 study by Duke Energy, an American power company, states that electric power is consumed by many devices when they are switched off but are still plugged in, which can account for as much as 20% of the electricity bill.
  2. Go paperless. Digital documents are easier and more affordable to store and retrieve. They reduce clutter in the office and if your business is in the cloud, the documents can be accessed from anywhere.
  3. Implement sustainable printing techniques. But if cutting out paper completely is not an option, remind your team to implement sustainable printing practices. Before they even start printing, they should ask themselves if the page they are about to print is really necessary. If the answer is yes, then use recycled paper and print on both sides of the page. Moreover, their choice of printer, ink, and toner is also important so tell them to look for environmentally-friendly options such as refillable printer cartridges.
  4. Add plants. Adding some greenery to the home office can do more than brighten up the interior design. Psychologists at Exeter University found that employees are happier and perform better when living plants are added to the workplace, with a 15% increase in productivity and significant improvements in memory retention and other basic tests. Plants also emit oxygen and reduce air pollution, making the air in the workplace cleaner and healthier to breathe. If you have the budget to spare, send over some low-maintenance succulents to the team so that even those without a green thumb can benefit from them.
  5. Start a conversation. If you set a good example, then your employees will follow suit. Promote your environmental values and the little things you’re doing in such a manner that it will motivate others to join you. Work with your HR department to hold awareness training sessions so that the staff becomes aware of the benefits of creating a more sustainable working environment. 

Being environmentally-conscious in business isn’t just good for the environment or society at large — it’s also good for the business itself. A green and healthy workplace produces happier and motivated workers, and increases employee productivity.

 MindNation is a mental health and wellbeing company that works with like-minded, innovative, and empathic organizations to make happier, healthier, and more productive employees. Our program is based on a person’s holistic wellness (physical, emotional, mental, social, and cultural). We partner closely with companies using a data-based approach, creating customized solutions, and leveraging the expertise of our scientific board of advisors. For more information, visit www.themindnation.com or email [email protected]

Categories
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.