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Employee Wellness

Generation Gap: Debunking 5 Myths About Gen X, Millennial, and Gen Z Employees

Today’s workforce is generationally diverse: according to an article by think tank Pew Research Center, there are currently four very different generations working side by side in the workplace:

Baby Boomers (those born 1946-1964), who occupy critical leadership roles in the organizations;

  • Gen Xers (born 1965-1980), who may also occupy leadership positions;
  • Millennials (born 1981- 1996), who are next in line for leadership positions;
  • Generation Z (those born 1997-2012), who are just now making their way in the workforce

Bridging the generation gap at work can be challenging because each generation brings with it unique work values, ethics, and preferred ways of managing and being managed. “Generations are defined by socio-economic and political events that occurred during the formative years,” explains Grace De Castro, founder and Chief Empowerment Officer of V+A Consulting, a boutique consulting firm with expertise in customized people programs and creative business solutions. “These events helped shape the way a person thinks, so one generation’s way of doing things may be vastly different from another generation’s.”

As a result, it is not uncommon for older generations to ‘look down’ on younger team members and judge ‘Why are they acting this way, we weren’t like that before?’ or for Millennials and Gen Zers to regard older coworkers in a similarly negative light.

While these thoughts and emotions are valid, it is important for companies to reduce stereotyping and cultivate understanding so that everyone works together harmoniously.

Grace De Castro

“While these thoughts and emotions are valid, it is important for companies to reduce stereotyping and cultivate understanding so that everyone works together harmoniously,” Grace advises. Below, she shares 5 myths about the different generations that need to be debunked or contextualized:

Myth #1: Gen Xers have outdated values. They are homophobic, racist, sexist, etc.
PLAUSIBLE: “It might seem that way because Gen Xers are in positions of authority at work, so everything they say is noticed,” Grace concedes. “But this does not mean that all members of that generation think the same way.”

Myth #2: Millennials and Gen Zers are lazy.
FACT: According to this Forbes article, 4 in 10 millennials consider themselves “work martyrs.” “By this, we mean that they think of themselves as dedicated and indispensable workers who are wracked with guilt whenever they take time off, so many of them actually continue working while they are on leave,” Grace points out. This article by the Harvard Business Review also concurs — millennials are more likely to forfeit paid days off than older generations.

Myth #3: Millennials and Gen Z-ers are entitled and disrespectful.
PLAUSIBLE:
Being entitled means believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment. So are younger co-workers really more self-absorbed? Grace says this would depend on the culture of the organization. This is because while a study published in the Journal of Business and Psychology found no difference in the work ethics of the different generations, she says that millennials are more willing to speak up for themselves and express their opinions — even to their superiors — than their older counterparts. “Millennials are not afraid to ask for that raise or promotion, or to take the risk to move on when necessary,” she says. This is why it’s important for organizations to create safe spaces in the workplace and make sure that employees are allowed to express themselves without fear of repercussions.

Myth #4: Millennials and Gen Zers seek purpose over paycheck.
FACT:
A survey of more than 20,000 LinkedIn members revealed that Millennials were found to be the least purpose-driven generation. Additionally, 84% of Gen Z workers said they would like to do purposeful work for a company in which they believe in, but financial security has greater relevance.

It is actually Baby Boomers and Gen Xers who prioritize purpose. “Sense of purpose deepens as you progress in your career,” Grace explains. “For Baby Boomers, it’s because they have worked longer and are at that age when they want to leave a legacy. On the other hand, Gen Xers are old enough to have experience and financial security, but also still young enough to consider doing other things.” She adds that the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular, has caused many Gen Xers to reexamine their current life path and ask themselves “Am I really doing what I’m supposed to be doing?’”

Myth #5: Millennials and Gen Zers are job-hoppers and have no loyalty.
PLAUSIBLE: Contrary to popular perception, the Pew Research Center says that Millennials actually stay with their employers longer than Gen X workers did at the same age.

However, a survey by Gallup reveals that 21% of Millennials have changed their jobs within the past two years and another 44% plan on leaving the company in the next two years. Additionally, less than half of all Millennials and Gen Z workers feel connected to their jobs , resulting in more than 40% saying that they would change jobs if another opportunity arose.

“So based on data, yes, I would say that Millennials and Gen Zers are job-hoppers,” Grace says. “But the better question leaders should ask is why do they do this?”

Bridging the gap
Grace encourages leaders to keep striving to understand the different generations at work and encourage team members to be more empathetic towards one another. “Being a good leader means you keep levelling up and empowering your team members, and building an environment where good becomes better and better becomes best,” she says.

MindNation offers virtual trainings on how to manage multigenerational employees so that you lessen stress, increase empathy, and build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Book this talk now through [email protected]

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Employee Wellness

Creating Safe Spaces: 5 Ways To Manage Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying is defined as “repeated mistreatment of an employee by one or more employees; abusive conduct that is threatening, humiliating, or intimidating; work sabotage; or verbal abuse.” This is according to the Workplace Bullying Institute, the first and only organization in the United States dedicated to the eradication of workplace bullying.

Workplace bullying is more prevalent than we think. According to a worldwide poll conducted last October 2019 by global online employment solution firm Monster, 90% of respondents said they have been bullied at work. Of these 51% said they were bullied by their superiors, nearly 40% said their bullying came from a fellow coworker, while 4% said they were bullied by a client, customer, or someone else other than a coworker.

What workplace bullying looks like

According to MindNation psychologist Jessa Mae Rojas, examples of workplace bullying include targeted jokes, being purposely misled about work duties, continued denial of requests for time off without an appropriate or valid reason, threats, humiliation, and other verbal abuse, and excessive performance monitoring.

She clarifies, however, that criticism is not always bullying. “If the criticism is relayed objectively, constructively, and directly related to workplace behavior or job performance, then it is not workplace bullying,” she explains. “It becomes bullying only if the criticism is meant to intimidate, humiliate, or single someone out without reason.”

Effects of workplace bullying

A bullied employee can develop physical issues such as digestive problems,  high blood pressure, or have trouble sleeping. They may also suffer from mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and even suicidal thoughts. Business leaders need to address workplace bullying because it can impact the organization negatively in the following ways:

  • Financial loss resulting from legal costs or bullying investigations
  • Decreased productivity and morale
  • Increased employee absences
  • High turnover rates
  • Poor team dynamics
  • Reduced trust, effort, and loyalty from employees

What you can do

As a leader, here are some ways you can manage workplace bullying:

  1. Keep communication lines open. “Regularly check in with your team to find out if bullying is occurring, or if there are factors likely to increase the risk of workplace bullying,” Jessa explains.
  2. Offer employees easy-to-access, confidential mental health benefits with a focus on preventative tools and intervention.
  1. Address all concerns and all forms of aggression. Adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards inappropriate behavior. “Additionally, periodically review your organization’s anti-bullying policies and procedures so team members feel safe and supported in raising a complaint when it first arises,” she suggests.
  2. Arrange, support, and attend training. Teach staff how to resolve conflicts peacefully, give feedback constructively, or reduce their unconscious bias.
  3. Assess your leadership style. According to the Monster poll on bullying, more than half of bullied employees said that their workplace bully was their boss. “So review your own actions to know if your behavior might cross the line to bullying. Ask a trusted colleague for their opinion, and seek help if needed,” Jessa says.

Workplace bullying impacts the morale, retention, and productivity of everyone in the team. As a leader, don’t wait for workplace bullying to become a problem before you address it. Creating a safe space at work makes good sense from a physical, mental, and financial perspective. MindNation conducts virtual trainings on managing difficult conversations at work, reducing unconscious bias, and creating safe spaces at work so that your team can manage conflict peacefully and get along with others. Email [email protected] to book a training now!

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Employee Wellness

#RESHAPE21: How top companies 3M and Bloomberg are addressing Mental Health in the Workplace

Last September 15-16, MindNation had the privilege of being part of Insider’s RESHAPE 2021, the world’s largest leadership and experience summit, sharing the global stage with no less than US President Barack Obama and other top business and thought leaders.

MindNation Chief Marketing Officer Cat Triviño presided over a panel discussion about mental health in the workplace with Alisha Fernando, Head of Diversity & Inclusion for APAC of financial, software, data, and media company Bloomberg, and Kevin McGuigan, Vice-President & Managing Director for SEA of multinational conglomerate 3M.

“Even prior to the pandemic, mental health has already been a global concern, with anxiety and depresison at all time highs and even suicide being the leading cause of death in many countries,” Cat pointed out in her opening statement. For instance, a 2018 survey by the City Mental Health Alliance in Hong Kong revealed that 37% of respondents claimed to have, at some point in their lifetime, experienced mental ill health while in employment. Other research revealed that 25% of working people in Hong Kong showed levels of depression and anxiety that are 2.5 times the global average.

Not surprisingly, these numbers have risen this past year because of the psychological effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Philippines, particularly, results of a Pulse Survey conducted by MindNation of over 5,000 workers found that mental health challenges are affecting 1 in every 3 employees, leading to productivity losses that cost companies up to PHP7 million per year (for every 1,000 employees).

Companies must take an active approach to mental health to combat mental health problems in the workplace. “At 3M, we strongly believe that there is no one that should struggle with mental health alone,” Kevin says. “As an employer, it is our responsibility to ensure that all of our employees feel that they are working in a safe place, that they’re comfortable to be themselves.

Here are some ways 3M and Bloomberg are building a company culture where mental health is valued, accepted, and supported:

  1. Keeping lines of communication open. “We encourage our managers and employees to find a way to connect with each other in ways that are not just tied to work,” Kevin explains. “When I start one-on-one meetings or group meetings, I go out of my way to spend the first few minutes just talking to the individual or the team and asking them ‘How are things going? How’s your family doing?’ This is my way of really striving to make people feel comfortable to express themselves.”

    Additionally, Kevin hosts frequent roundtable sessions and town hall meetings, as well as put out regular Pulse Surveys, in order to get feedback from his team. “These build trust and show that we are able to have candid conversations about what’s working and what’s not,” he says.
  1. Normalizing conversations regarding mental health. “Storytelling is such a powerful tool to address [the stigma surrounding mental health],” Alisha shares. “Everytime I tell someone ‘Hey, I suffer from anxiety and I am getting professional help for it,’ they are shocked and surprised at first, but when we talk about it some more and they see that I am able to live a normal life and have a good job, they realize that having mental health challenges is not shameful or taboo. Sharing personal stories is one way we can shift the way people view mental health.”
  2. Providing flexible work programs. “At 3M, we have a ‘Work Your Way’ program, which not only says you can choose WHERE you want to work — 100% remote, 100% onsite, or a hybrid mode — you can also select the hours you want to work,” Kevin says. “This is because we know that people have been [affected] throughout the pandemic, and allowing them to take two hours off work to go to a therapy appointment, for example, is one way we want to make things easier for them.”
  3. Not viewing mental health treatment as a one-size fits all approach. “No two people experience a mental health challenge the same way; for example, some people thrive on stress and can work really well, but others don’t thrive under stress and it impacts their productivity,” Alisha shares. “So addressing mental health in the workplace comes down to knowing the employee as an individual , understanding what they need, and figuring out how we can best support them,” Alisha points out.

Bloomberg and 3M’s efforts to actively address mental health at work are paying off. “Interestingly, Bloomberg has performed remarkably well over the last 18 months of the pandemic,” she shares. “I credit that to all of the support that we have been providing so that our leaders know how to take care of our people better. Now, not only are our people thriving, our business is as well.”

MindNation 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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Employee Wellness Mental Health 101 Self Help Work in the New Normal

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation