Category Archives: Self Care

Work-from-home-burnout

The real dangers of Work-From-Home burnout and how to properly tackle them

Work-from-home (WFH) burnout is a real, serious, and increasingly common risk for remote workers across the globe. Learn the signs of WFH burnout, how to combat it, and where employers/virtual managers and employees can reach out for help.

The world is grappling with the novel coronavirus pandemic that continues to take a toll on nearly all aspects of people’s lives. The vast majority of the workforce across the globe has willy-nilly adapted to a new work environment — the new “normal” in the context of the pandemic. But working from home has also opened a Pandora’s box of workaholic tendencies, anxieties and fears, proneness to overworking and burnout, and potential mental health problems.

While the virus itself poses a risk to our physical health, the impact of the whole unnerving situation on our mental health is anything but negligible, and this is especially true for remote workers whose home has transformed into their office. Between working harder and longer hours from home and juggling family responsibilities, people who have been working remotely due to government-imposed restrictions are facing an increased risk of WFH/ lockdown burnout, with potentially long-term repercussions.

Work-from-home-burnout

Different Remote Workers in Different Industries, All Overworked and Burned Out

What used to exclusively be their own oasis of relaxation where they’d spent quality time with their loved ones and unwind has also become their work environment for several months now. In a recent BBC News video, three professionals working remotely in different industries share their WFH experiences in terms of feeling the signs of burnout and overworked during lockdown in the UK.

 

“When I used to work at the gym I’d finish my work at the gym and then get home and rest but this just feels like there’s no end”.

Ana, a young personal trainer living in the UK, has been intensely working from home since March. Stuck at home, she started posting more educational content and live streaming workouts on Instagram, which quickly increased the number of clients from different countries. To provide her services online to clients in different parts of the world, such as the US and Australia, she’s been working almost round the clock. “I’m constantly working”, confesses Ana. From 30 sessions per week, Ana now manages 50-60 sessions per week.

 

“Because I lost all the gig income, I had to really buckle down”.

For David Altweger, a middle-aged musician and owner of an independent record label, the pandemic has had a devasting impact on his gig income. Running a record label online requires a lot of hard work and longer hours, so it’s no wonder that David’s workload significantly increased. He starts his day at 5 a.m. with a strong coffee. David’s workday is around 16 hours, as he’s got to handle every aspect of his business himself, including design work, office work, and, with his distributor closed due to lockdown, even CD deliveries, which are quite time-consuming, taking him at least 2 hours a day.

“Sometimes I feel like Covid Father Christmas delivering music to people’s door”, confesses David. His Moka pot is his “secret weapon”, but at the end of the day, he feels “completely knackered”.

 

“Lockdown has brought out the workaholic in me”

Abbey, a young art director working remotely for an ad agency in the UK has been feeling the pressure to stay productive and has been experiencing the effects of overworking due to fear of losing her job too. “I’m doing ten times more because there’s so much uncertainty around jobs and everything”, laments Abbey, for whom “the need to keep working” at all costs is so strong and deeply embedded that she oftentimes refuses to tend to her physiological needs for food.

She finds it difficult to take a break just to have lunch because she “doesn’t know how to switch off”. A major contributor to her inability to switch off is the fact that work and relaxation take place in the same environment i.e her home. Separating the two is as difficult for Abbey as it is for other remote workers around the globe.

In America, where over 30 million people have filed unemployment claims since March, the pressure to stay productive and even be more productive than prior to the Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to a dramatic rise in the number of overworked people working from their homes. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) poll , 45% of US adults say that this whole situation associated with the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health.

I find myself working all the time, even when I should be getting ready for bed”

41-year-old New Jersey resident and mother-of-two Alana Acosta-Lahullier is overworked and feels burned out to the bone. Alana says she feels “an obligation to get everything done right”, even if doing so is detrimental to her mental health and well-being. Between her full-time job, working remotely for an electrical contractor, parenting, and helping with the schooling of her daughter and son, who has ADHD on the autism spectrum, she’s “constantly on the verge of a panic attack”.

Don't forget to subscribe to our monthly eMag - WorkLife

Expert insights and tips on how to build resilient and mentally healthy workplace cultures delivered straight to your inbox each month.

Panic-Working Is a Manic Defense

Even Gianpiero Petriglieri, a psychiatrist, MD, and associate professor of organisational behavior at the Business School for the World (INSEAD) admitted in late March that “by the time I went to bed at 3 a.m., I was exhausted, edgy, and miserable” due to “panic-working” from home.

The obsession with staying productive at all costs is considered a “manic defense” by psychoanalysts. Panic-working gives us a false sense of security and the illusion of being in control. It numbs us in the short term but this defense comes at a high price – feeling disconnected from reality, our experiences, and other people, and completely burned out.

Fighting Fire with Fire: A Vicious Cycle

Remote workers are oftentimes pushing themselves too hard as a way of coping with their anxieties and fears caused by the pandemic and the recession. But overworking in an effort to stay productive does not serve them well; in fact, it’s akin to self-sabotage because it eventually leads to burnout, more anxiety, depression, and other repercussions on their mental and overall health.

Both employers/virtual managers and remote workers need to be aware of the increased risk of burnout associated with working from home, recognise the (early) signs, and effectively combat it as early as possible.

Working Harder and Longer Has Become the Norm

Transition to a work-from-home culture has been challenging for managers across the globe. Finding new ways to ensure that their remote teams stay productive is one of their main priorities. However, instead of worrying about their teams’ underperformance, virtual managers should be on the lookout for overperformance, which has been found to be productivity’s enemy rather than its ally.

According to a 2017 working paper published by researchers at Harvard Business School, task selection is a common way through which workers manage their increased workload. More specifically, they tend to complete easier tasks, a behavior labeled as Task Completion Bias (TCB). Although TCB has been found to improve short-term productivity, it negatively impacts long-term performance measured by revenue and speed alike. Workers who do not exhibit this behavior tend to be significantly more productive than those who exhibit TCB.

Research shows that the vast majority of remote workers are more productive than their in-office counterparts. They work harder and longer hours than ever before for different reasons, including the fact that employers apply increasingly more pressure for efficiency purposes. for financial rewards, and out of fear. Remote workers fear for many things – they fear for the health and safety of themselves and their loved ones; the economic fallout and uncertainty of the future; they fear for losing their livelihood/financial security and no longer being able to provide for themselves and their family, and more.

But the reality is that overworking makes a remote worker more prone to WFH burnout.

The Warning Signs of WFH Burnout

Work-from-home or lockdown burnout refers to a state of exhaustion on physical, emotional, and mental levels caused by prolonged and excessive stress associated with panic-working/overworking from home and disruption to the work-life balance.

Although burnout is still not classified as a medical disorder, the World Health Organisation (WHO) included it in ICD-11 last year as an occupational phenomenon and is defined as “a syndrome” that results from chronic and unsuccessfully managed workplace stress.

What to watch out for:

  • Chronic fatigue/exhaustion and apathy
  • Depression and/anxiety worsening over time
  • Constantly elevated stress levels and reduced energy levels
  • Feeling overwhelmed and mentally drained all the time
  • Inability to focus and forgetfulness/memory issues
  • Lack of motivation, feelings of negativism toward one’s job
  • Declining performance, avoiding work or inability to switch off
  • Chest pain, shortness of breath and/or heart palpitations
  • Irritability, anger, and sleep disorders (e.g. insomnia)
  • Dizziness and headaches/migraines
  • Loss of/reduced appetite and/or gastrointestinal issues

Early recognition of these signs via virtual channels such as chat apps and video calls is of the utmost importance. It’s worth noting that a worker who is affected by WFH/lockdown burnout does not necessarily have to exhibit all of the above signs, because it manifests differently in different people.

Burnout can also weaken a remote worker’s immune system, which in turn may increase the risk of getting infected with the novel coronavirus.

Tips To Combat Lockdown Burnout

  • Establish clear boundaries that separate work from personal life to prevent work-life balance disruption
  • Set office hours and create a schedule designating work, free and family time to regain control
  • Avoid the tendency of being the perfect worker, which adds extra pressure
  • Take time off to unwind and discover a new hobby
  • Maintain social interactions/connections to avoid social isolation and detachment
  • Don’t suffer in silence -Talk to your team, virtual manager and reach out for help
  • If you are a manager or supervisor, make sure you can provide first aid for mental health incidents involving anxiety, stress and burnout.
  • As an organisation, provide workplace mental health training and resilience building skills training for your managers, supervisors and leaders.

Reach Out For Professional Help From Therapists

It’s absolutely crucial for virtual managers to learn to recognise the telltale signs of work-from-home burnout as early as possible in order to minimize its long-term impact on remote workers’ mental well-being as well as to properly address it in a timely and efficient fashion. The Workplace Mental Health Institute ( WMHI) is here to help virtual managers across the globe with a suite of tailored, top-tier and results-driven telehealth training courses and services, counseling, and coaching sessions on mental health, well-being, and resilience of employees working remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

If you’re an employee working from home and you’ve been feeling the effects of burnout and overworked during lockdown, it’s in your best interest to take some time off to decompress and to speak with a qualified therapist. In case your job offers free counseling sessions through an employee assistance program (EAP), then do yourself a huge favor and take full advantage of it for the sake of your mental health and well-being in these uncertain and difficult times.

Author: Peter Diaz

Peter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Facebook-logo Podcast Icon LinkedIN-logo

How to stay calm in the storm

How to stay calm in the storm

9 simple strategies to swim while others are sinking

The storm arrives. A deadly virus spreads. People start dying. Borders don’t matter. Armies are helpless. Stock-markets plunge. Economies around the world tumble. Thousands lose their jobs. Relationships break up under stress. News of doom and gloom is the flavour of the day, every day. Depression skyrockets. A mental health tsunami is at hand!

Welcome to the world we live in. Disruption is the new normal. This is a time of many inner and outer changes; changes that will lead to great stress and unhappiness if left un-managed. This stress can lead to toxic build-up within that creates immense mental health problems and can sabotage the happiness, health and harmony we enjoy in our day to day life.

Neuroscientists have found that chronic stress shrinks the area of the brain responsible for memory, learning, and decision making, which can lead to impaired cognition. Chronic stress can also contribute to significant health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, auto-immune diseases, anxiety, depression, and more.

How to stay calm in the storm
How to stay calm in the storm

How do we handle this storm that has come upon us? How do we stay centred even as the world shakes? How do we swim while others are sinking? How do we manage our mind to continue to enjoy peace, stability and calmness even as the external storm rages outside?

Wisdom is the stabilizer of life – Vikas

Wisdom is the stabilizer of Life. Wisdom teaches that we live in two worlds simultaneously, the inner and the outer world. Our external world is not always in our control, but our inner world can always be in our control.

To become joyful and experience happiness in our daily life it is necessary that we maintain awareness of both these worlds. Awareness is the practice of staying awake moment to moment; to be fully present, to choose deliberately.

The more aware we become, the greater our control over our life grows, and vice-versa. Here are 9 powerful solutions to a time of crisis, guaranteed to keep you calm in the storm of life.

Don't forget to subscribe to our monthly eMag - WorkLife

Expert insights and tips on how to build resilient and mentally healthy workplace cultures delivered straight to your inbox each month.

  1. Have a willingness to make and follow hard choices – Crisis forces you to take a realistic look at the bigger picture of your life and make some hard choices to move forward. Be willing to do this rather than resist it. Make difficult choices if you need to and demonstrate a whatever-it-takes attitude. Remember, it takes less energy to get an unpleasant task done “right now” than to worry about it all day.
  1. Have a personal vision – Having a personal goal of getting out of the crisis, as it will become the light that guides you forward. A goal will motivate you and make it easier to take corrective measures while having no goal will just make you drift and lose direction through the crisis. Goals give you power. Choose not to waste your precious present life on guilt about the past or concern for the future.
  1. Set a clear strategy – To reach the goal, plan a clear strategy, and communicate it to others who are a part of it. Plan your journey forward and walk the plan. It is a truth that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Simplify your life! Start eliminating the trivial things. Eliminate unnecessary commitments.
  1. Focus Avoid multi-tasking; it is tiring for your brain. When you have many things to do, multi-tasking may look like a good idea at first. But our brain cannot multi-task; it quickly switches between tasks so it appears to us that we are multi-tasking. In fact, it only adds to your stress. It is more efficient to do one thing at a time andwith focus, so that you increase your performance and finish the task earlier with less stress.
  1. Take baby steps – A wisdom teaching says ‘If you know but do not do, you do not know!’ To learn how to swim, you must get wet. Take positive and persistent action on a regular basis. Even if the results are not fast to come, trudge on ahead towards your goal. Take baby steps if you have to, but whatever you do, make sure you are moving ahead all the time. The direction you are going in is important, not the speed.Just do what’s in your power, and brush aside all other concerns. Remember as the wisdom master Lao Tzu said, ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’. So, take action, today!
  1. Be persistent – Probably the key quality to coming out of crisis is persistence – a determined mind that just never gives up. Once your mind is set, stick to your target with crab-like persistence, changing only if a better way shows itself. Practice consciously doing one thing at a time, keeping your mind focused on the present.
  1. Capitalize on opportunity – There is good even in the worst of times. Identify this by looking deeply at how you can benefit in the long term from the current crisis. Be quick to spot opportunity and to seize it to your advantage. Warren Buffet, the world’s best performing investor, is famously known for making his greatest and largest purchases at a time of crisis when everyone else is selling. Welcome change as an opportunity and challenge to learn and grow
  1. Be patient – Be willing to wait for the reward of your efforts. Believe that the strong man is a patient man. A crisis has little flexibility for the impatient or the irritable. Take time to be alone on a regular basis, to listen to your heart, check your intentions; re-evaluate your goals and your activities. If you have an endless to-do list, prioritise your activities and do the most important ones first.
  1. Stay optimistic – The night is darkest before the dawn breaks. Behind every dark cloud is a silver lining. The sun shines even when the clouds cover it. The dark night leads to sunrise and the day will end in darkness. Be aware of the larger movements and rhythms of life and stay optimistic even as you go through this time of chaos and crisis. You are bigger than it, and this is not the end of your life; it is just a comma in the sentence of your life, not the full stop. Having a positive mind-set is the greatest asset you can have in a time of inner or outer crisis.

We may be in the middle of a surging wave, but with the strategies I’ve shared above, we can always learn to surf it, and come out on top.

Vikas Malkani

Vikas Malkani (aka Mr. Wisdom)

Founder of SoulCentre, Asia’s Premier Centre for Meditation, Mindfulness and Stress Management.

Vikas has been called the ‘World’s #1 Wisdom Coach’ and is a TEDx Speaker, a bestselling author and a coach who trainsindividuals and businesses to get maximum results with minimum effort.

Balance-and-harmony

Keeping our KIDS healthy and strong

Create certainty in uncertain times

As a mother of two teenage daughters, business owner and CEO, Montessori educator, loving wife and caring homeowner, I know what it means to “juggle chainsaws”. During times of uncertainty, like this pandemic, it is my duty – better yet, our duty – to stay informed on the topic of safety, take the best safety measures, stay home, wash hands and make the best of the situation. The latter is probably one of the hardest tasks for most people. “How in the world do I keep a safe and sound mind during this uncertain time?” you probably ask. The answer is: “Create as much certainty as you possibly can in your own environment. That starts with your mindset, your clarity, and your time ownership.”

Right now, parents are either working from home amongst all the other family members and chores that are waiting to be done, or in the worst case one or both parents lost their jobs and entrepreneurs are struggling to keep their business afloat.

Teachers are asked to move their curriculum to an online version and students are asked to stay focused in front of a computer screen (if they’re lucky enough to have a computer) for an entire day – day in, day out. Daycares have been closed for safety pre-cautions, toddlers, pre-kindergartners and kindergartners are expected to stay entertained while mommy and/or daddy work from home. In worst cases, mommy and/or daddy are trying to figure out how to pay rent, groceries, utilities because the income is no longer coming in.

Keeping our KIDS healthy and strong
Keeping our KIDS healthy and strong

Financial stress, lack of communication and constant arguing are some of the main reasons families fall apart. This stress is heightened through this time of uncertainty as emotions are raw and amplified.

We (the parents and guardians) are asked to stay calm, figure out our “new normal”, maintain “socially distant” and remain calm for the sake of ourselves and our family.

Amongst all, we yearn human connection!

To add insult to injury, being annoyed, stressed out, frustrated and anxious, makes our kids annoyed, stressed out, frustrated and anxious as well.

This means, if you want your children to stay mentally strong, you, the parent have to  take care of yourself first, gain clarity, find joy, be grateful and stay/become calm. Sounds simple. I personally use two apps to gain more calmness and clarity, especially in times of uncertainty. Your contentment will reflect on your environment and the people that live in it:

So the question now is HOW? How to make time and space to juggle all these TASKS? How to create a NEW NORMAL? How to deal with UNCERTAINTY? How to COPE? How to stay CALM?

Don't forget to subscribe to our monthly eMag - WorkLife

Expert insights and tips on how to build resilient and mentally healthy workplace cultures delivered straight to your inbox each month.

The answer is simple and complex all in one: Create elements of CERTAINTY:

  • Have family meetings: dump all your thoughts on a big piece of paper, talk about your ideas, thoughts, fears and hopes with each other – be free of judgement.
  • Create a time-system with chores and responsibilities for each child, each family member, make specific time slots for specific tasks, love on each other, be grateful for one another
  • Set boundaries: in time & space, outline working hours and family-time hours.
  • Let everyone in the family have a voice and allow them to be part of this process and find agreement in it. Put it in writing and hang it on the fridge.
  • Plan free time for fun & balance.
  • Make time for family activities, create & play games, give all family members ownership for specific tasks (see meaningful task list).
  • Move, make intentional time do yoga or a workout routine (either together or separately)
  • Create clarity and certainty: talk & listen, strategize and give gratitude for the things
    you have (rather than focusing on the things you don’t have at the moment), be intentional

You are in this together, your children are an active part (or at least that’s the goal) of your family. Allow each family member to be a contributing member and watch how this time will draw you closer together. It is work and it will be worth it.

  • Give your child/ren meaningful tasks, allow them in the kitchen and integrate them in everyday chores. Rebellious behavior comes from frustration and frustration is caused by meaningless tasks.
  • Have a clear daily structure and allow time for creativity. Allow boredom to spark creativity.
  • Make time to spend outside (keep your distance to others, use all safety measures to not be exposed), walk in the rain, go bike riding, jog, play ball with your family, plant a small garden or plant some seeds – all of this will make your inside time more bearable.
  • As a family, create boundaries, make a day planner with the tasks that each family member wants and must complete.
  • Make a vision board with the things everyone would like to do, once this time is past, be specific and write it down what each family member is looking forward to.
  • Create an individualized space for reading, to study, to work, to play, to be by oneself and also intentionally create time and space to come together, create new games and play them, be creative, paint, sculpt and cut.
  • Identify home improvement tasks that you can do together.
  • Cook meals together, bake, make easy recipes, picnic, work out, do yoga via YouTube or an app.
  • Laugh! Hug. Talk, listen, sing and make up songs, dance, learn a new language together, read a book together, watch funny YouTube videos, go through your old pictures together and scrapbook a photo-book.
  • Write or draw letters to friends and family, create a book together (draw, write and be creative).
  • Build a fort,
  • Create your own funny videos on your phone.
  • Create a gratitude jar where everyone gets to write something that they are thankful for each day on a piece of paper, fold it and put it in the jar.

In simple terms: create balance and get harmony.

Balance-and-harmony

Balance and harmony

As a parent, this all starts with ME, my communication. I am in charge of my kindness, wellbeing, calmness, my joy and therefore I am in charge of how my children are kind, well, calm and joyful. My inner peace will flow over to my children, my environment and my family. It starts with ME. I take care of myself, remind myself daily that the quality of thoughts, words, feelings and tasks are my choice. I reap the results. I connect with kindness, understanding, knowledge, structure and fun to the people that are closest to me. I create the ripple effect that I yearn for. It starts with me.

AGES 2 - 3

  • Pick up and put away toys
  • Make bed
  • Dust with a cloth or swiffer
  • Put away Silverware
  • Wipe down baseboards
  • Wash doorknobs
  • Fold rags and dishtowels
  • Put clothes in hamper
  • Put clothes up in dresser

AGES 4 - 5

In addition to previous tasks:

  • Set & clear table
  • Feed pets & water plants
  • Wash windows & sills inside
  • Wipe kitchen and bathroom counters
  • Match socks
  • Simple garden work
  • Prepare simple snacks
  • Use handheld vaccum

AGES 6 - 8

In addition to previous tasks:

  • Put away dishes
  • Clean up spills
  • Prepare and pack lunches
  • Sort, wash & fold laundry
  • Take out trash & recycle
  • Simple meal prep:
    – Wash produce
    – Weigh ingredients
    – Simple cutting

AGES 9 - 11

In addition to previous tasks:

  • Clean stove & microwave
  • Mop & sweep * Vaccum
  • Clean toilets
  • Tightening screws
  • Make smoothies
  • Simple baking
  • Volunteering in neighbourhood

AGES 12 - 14

In addition to previous tasks:

  • Mow lawn
  • Babysit siblings
  • Cook
  • Clean full bathroom & kitchen
  • Keep environment tidy
  • Change lightbulbs
  • Simple sewing & mending

AGES 15+

In addition to previous tasks:

  • Babysit for pay
  • Organize home office
  • Sort & file documents
  • Iron clothes
  • Wash car
  • Trim hedges
  • Simple home repairs
  • Make meal plans
Brigitta-Hoeferle

Brigitta Hoeferle

Renowned Montessori educator & parent, International Speaker, Founder of The Montessori School of Cleveland, and Owner and CEO of the NLP Center of Atlanta

Grief-and-Loss

4 Steps to navigate grief and loss amidst COVID-19

As COVID-19 has become a household word across the world over the last month, many of us find ourselves in uncertain territory. We are grieving the familiar bedrock of our lives like office time, schedules, in person meetings, and social activities. With children home from school, self-quarantines in place in much of the world, and restricted travel we are all navigating a new normal.

As we walk this unfamiliar path, perhaps fear, questions, and doubt are trying to overtake familiar landmarks like balance, trust, confidence and faith that things will all work out.

You are not alone. Most of the world can resonate with feeling anxious or uncertain, or walking through the pain of loss. Loss of job, routine, finances, stability, or even loved ones. But, believe it or not, there is hope and help despite how hard things might look in this moment. You can find your way again by taking these steps when your world feels out of control.

Step 1. Establish your mindset

It’s said that mindset is everything. You would never begin a journey without knowing where you are hoping to end up. In the same way, when we are in uncertain times, we need to have a mindset that will withstand the trial.

Grief-and-Loss
4 Steps to navigate grief and loss amidst COVID-19

One way to combat a negative attitude that often accompanies hardship is to choose a centering thought. Be intentional and choose something that is meaningful to you like a favorite expression, a significant truth, a motivational quotation, or a faith-based truth. Make it your own and refer to it often. Put it on your emails, social media, or say it in conversations to keep it in the forefront of your mind. When we choose a mindset that is framed in the positive it help us avoid getting stranded on the dark path of negativity.

Step 2. Determine your non-negotiables

In a crisis, instead of constantly reacting to your circumstances, a bit of proactive planning will give you a head start. Stay focused by creating a list of your non-negotiables. Think about things like physical, emotional, mental, and soul care. Then ask yourself a few questions: What’s important to me? What routines will I try to keep no matter what? What can’t I live without? What won’t I tolerate? What guidelines would I like people to follow?

Once you’ve asked yourself these questions, make a realistic list of what you need. Whether it’s diet, exercise, sleep habits, regular social activities, faith involvement, children’s bedtimes/schedules, or working hours, you get to decide how you’re going to navigate your hard place. Once you’ve made your choices, be sure to communicate your needs to others so they can help you take care of yourself in this way.

If you don’t determine what your absolutes are, they will be determined for you. So be proactive!

Don't forget to subscribe to our monthly eMag - WorkLife

Expert insights and tips on how to build resilient and mentally healthy workplace cultures delivered straight to your inbox each month.

Step 3. Ask for Help

In researching my two books, Alongside and Hope in the Hard Places, I surveyed hundreds of people who had faced all manner of loss, grief and hardship and asked what their greatest struggle was during that time. A huge percentage said that although they were lonely, overwhelmed, depressed, hopeless or afraid, it was very difficult to ask for or accept help.

Pride, shame, embarrassment, or guilt are significant roadblocks that stand in the way of hurting people getting the help they need. But it’s important to understand that being in need is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of being human!

Many people want to help and when we allow them to, we give them a chance to feel good in an uncertain time. Trying to handle everything on our own will burn us out. But in times of uncertainty, we have a chance to see the best, and be the best, in terms of our relationships.

Step 4. Stay engaged with others

There are many ways you, too, can be a source of help and comfort to those around you. Try one of these ideas to encourage and help others while maintaining your relationships:

  • Call a friend and ask how they’re doing, giving ample time to listen.
  • Have coffee dates or happy hour with friends or family by Facetime or video conference.
  • Change your regular book club or study group to phone or video, and take a moment to share your highs and lows with each other.
  • Download a video sharing app for your phone and use short video messages to stay in touch with groups of friends or colleagues.
  • Order a box of cards online and take time to write one note of encouragement per day to someone you care about.
  • Read an uplifting book at the same time as a friend and make a weekly phone date to discuss it.
  • Host a virtual dinner party where you and your friends make the same thing at your own homes and then sit down to eat together online.
  • Meet friends for take-out and maintain social distance by eating and chatting in your parked cars next to each other! (if your local authorities allow you of course!)

These practical steps are a way to set your course toward positivity and caring for yourself despite the tumultuous world circumstances. Even amid grief and loss you’re facing today, you can walk through the next days and months with hope, purpose and clarity.

Sarah-Beckman

Sarah Beckman

Speaker, Pastor, and Bestselling Author of Alongside and Hope in the Hard Places

A-Message-from-Shirelle

A message from Shirelle to kids everywhere

Hi. My name’s Shirelle. I’m a dog.

Really. I’m a husky-mix, and I live in California with my human friend. I’m not sure of his actual name, but because I think he’s the best sounding, smelling and feeling human, and the face I most love to see, I call him Handsome.

I also have a website, AskShirelle.com, where I give advice to people who write in. I get all sorts of questions, about everything from difficult parents and kids, to pet issues, to crushes and dating. LOTS on crushes and dating!

But lately, what I’ve mostly been hearing is fear and confusion about this awful crazy Coronavirus. Parents are worried about how to care for their family, kids are scared their parents won’t be able to feed them, everyone’s wondering how long they’ll be shut in… and of course, everyone’s wondering if they or their loved ones are in real danger!

And they’re right to worry!  At least for a while.

You see, the difference between this virus and the many, others out there that make people (or dogs) sick is that this one is new.  As far as anyone can tell, it didn’t even exist till last year.

A-Message-from-Shirelle
A Message from Shirelle to Kids Everywhere

So all these other diseases and toxins out there have been investigated and worked on by doctors and scientists for centuries, to a point where humans know how to cure, or protect against, almost all of them. But not this one. So yes, that makes it scary.

But here’s the good news. Doctors and scientists are a clever bunch, and they are busy working on solutions to keep us safe. They just don’t have them yet, but they´ll get there. In the meantime, governments all over the world are doing their very best to contain the virus. To keep it from spreading, as much as they can.

And how are they doing that? Oh you know very well – it’s what you’ve been hearing everywhere for the past few weeks. They’re telling everyone:

  • Stay home as much as possible
  • Stay six feet (two meters) away from other people as much as possible
  • Wash your hands as much as possible
  • Keep your hands away from your face as much as possible
  • Don’t cough or sneeze on others, as much as possible
  • And especially, if you’re feeling sick, keep yourself inside and away from anyone else.

If everyone in the world did this, perfectly, the virus would find no one to hitch onto, and it would die off within a couple of weeks. But … it’s not possible for everyone to do these perfectly. People have to get food, doctors need to work on sick patients, and you all have families and loved ones we’re there for.

So does that mean we’re all doomed?

Not a bit.

First of all, because we know what to do, we can keep this nasty little thing from hurting most of us.

And second, although the world economy is taking a big hit, with all these people not going to work, we’ve seen it way worse (you might have heard of The Great Depression, in the 1930s, when it seemed like no one was going to be able to make money again for ten years! And the world survived that!).

And we know that this will end. Maybe in a few months, certainly within a year. And when that happens, the economy around the world will EXPLODE! Can you imagine how many people will suddenly be rushing out to restaurants, to beauty salons, to clothes stores, to movie theaters, to dance clubs, to travel – everything they were unable to do during this.

But third, biggest of all, there’s something about this craziness that’s different from most of the other awfulness we’ve seen before, or ever will again. Do you know what it is?

Don't forget to subscribe to our monthly eMag - WorkLife

Expert insights and tips on how to build resilient and mentally healthy workplace cultures delivered straight to your inbox each month.

For once in our lives: EVERYONE IS ON OUR SIDE.

You know how, when you play a sport, everyone on the other team wants you to lose, so they can win? Or if you get into an argument, the other person wants to prove you wrong? Or how, way too often, some people dislike or distrust some groups of other people, because of their color or their religion or their nationality?

There’s NONE OF THAT in this! When a person gets sick from this virus, EVERYONE IN THE WORLD wants them to get better. EVERYONE wants you to wash your hands, EVERYONE wants you to stay safe.

So I’m not going to tell you to be happy about this. But maybe you can find some things to enjoy in it. Maybe you get to spend more time with your parents than usual, and have some fun with them while they can’t go to work (I can tell you, I am LOVING having Handsome home so much! I have never gotten so many walks, cuddles, or treats!). Maybe you can catch up on the reading you were supposed to do three months ago, so you’ll get a better grade at school – even if all your classes are online – or learn an instrument. Or get better at that videogame that’s always beaten you.

Or, and here’s my favorite idea, maybe you could take this time to do something absolutely wonderful for someone. Do you have neighbors who need to stay locked in, who could use someone to bring them some food, or take care of their garden, or walk their dogs? You could be that person. Or even just calling them and talking with them, or singing a song.

Do you realize that you kids and we dogs have a superpower in common? We make people happy just by being there, just by giving them a smile or wagging our tails. You and I can be the best part of a person’s day, so easily.

So in the end, yeah, this stinks. But it’s also an adventure. And just like Harry and Hermione and Ron battling Voldemort, or The Avengers battling Thanos, you’re going to have bad days and good ones, victories and losses, and laughs and tears.

But, also like them, you also get to use this time to find out, and show everyone around you, who you really are.

And when we’re all past this rotten time, that’s what people will remember, and that’s what will matter.

For the rest of your amazing, beautiful, and treasured lives.

Be Brave!

Doug-Green-and-Shirelle

Shirelle (with Doug Green)

Shirelle is a Husky Saluki mix, and Handsome (aka Doug Green) is a licensed Marriage and Family
Therapist in Los Angeles. Together they help kids aged 8-15 with social, developmental and emotional
issues that concern them

Bad-Boss-in-workplaces

Mental Health Expert Warns: 8 types of manager you could avoid for a mentally healthy workplace

Bad bosses are to blame for rise in workplace mental health issues

A recent study commissioned by global staffing business, Robert Half, showed that half of workers surveyed quit due to a bad boss. The survey results seem to support the theory that people leave managers, not companies.

Mental Health Expert and the CEO of the Workplace Mental Health Institute, Peter Diaz has warned that bad bosses are contributing to a rise in mental health issues in the workplace. We already know that workplaces are increasingly under more pressure due to the state of the global economy and the level of digital disruption happening across all industries. These pressures are being felt by many people as employees are being asked to do more with less time. At a time when employees need to be further supported given the challenging economic environment, it seems many businesses and managers haven’t got the memo.

Peter Diaz says there are eight types of bad managers you could avoid for a mentally healthy workplace.

Bad-Boss-in-workplaces

1. Rude and Insulting Managers

This type of manager seems to find joy in making others feel less powerful or special. They openly criticise you in front of others and even raise their voice from time to time. Whether they do it on purpose or do it without even realising, this type of behaviour is incredibly destructive. You can let them know how their actions affect you however often this behaviour is attached to narcissistic personalities and those who feel threatened by others. Giving them feedback is unlikely to change their behaviour.

2. Ungrateful and Inflexible Managers

Many managers struggle with the concept of thanks and making their staff feel valued. Even worse, not only do they fail to make you feel appreciated, they also fail to be flexible. As most millennials will tell you, flexibility in the workplace is very important. In fact, it has been identified by this generation as one of the most important elements of the ideal workplace. Staff need the ability to blend their busy lives with work, whether it be family, kids, illness, study, causes – managers need to be considerate and flexible and find a way to meet staff in the middle.

3. Disorganised and Last Minute Managers

This type of manager typically makes their inaction your emergency. I think we have all worked with someone like this and can vouch from personal experience that this type of manager is dangerous and soul destroying. Helping them to better manage themselves and their responsibilities is not your job.

4. Unapproachable and Arrogant Managers

This type of manager is difficult to work with. Often staff will avoid dealing directly with this type of manager because they find them so intimidating. Often when these managers do engage, they are always right and tend to gloat about it. This is a personality and style issue. You can can do your research and work out how to crack their ‘self-loved’ veneer – but it can be a challenging task.

5. Managers Pick and Play with Favourites

Unfortunately, these types of managers are everywhere. They overtly pick favourites and these people seem to get away with blue murder including not doing their job. They also tend to be the ones put up for promotion and other opportunities. Other staff often end up carrying the load which burns people out and leaves them feeling undervalued, underpaid and exploited. You can try to pamper the boss with praise and sell your soul to get into their good books – but if you are a person with a moral compass this usually isn’t the best option.

6. Micromanager

This type of manager will give you things to do and then tell you how to do it and check every aspect of your progress. Most capable staff will only put up with this behaviour for a short period of time before leaving or exploding. The key is to build confidence and trust fast while establishing mechanisms to keep your manager constantly updated. This tends to add so much work to an already busy load that most people move on to other roles to get away from the micromanagement.

Don't forget to subscribe to our monthly eMag - WorkLife

Expert insights and tips on how to build resilient and mentally healthy workplace cultures delivered straight to your inbox each month.

7. Too Busy and Unavailable Managers

We are all busy in the year 2019 – but the people we should be most available for, are our staff. If it means that managers have to get to work earlier, or lock in staff time that can not be double booked, then this is what must happen. Managers who find themselves too busy for their staff are not managers, they are simply absent colleagues. Staff need engagement with their manager, they need to be able to access their manager to discuss and resolve issues and seek guidance on work related matters.

8. Distressed and Overwhelmed Managers

Bosses are human too. When they are distressed and overwhelmed, they can become a risk to the mental health of their team. Self care is very important for bosses too. Here you can encourage your boss to care for themselves. Do things they enjoy and have regular small breaks throughout the day to improve productivity.

Bad managers can cause mental health issues in their workplace, and through bad management they can also worsen issues staff may be experiencing. If we can better equip businesses and managers to understand and deal with mental health issues in the workplace, we can save lives – many lives. Importantly we can also help managers to be better managers.

Peter Diaz and Emi Golding have written and released a book to provide organisations and managers with practical assistance on dealing with mental health in the workplace. Their much anticipated book is called: Mental Wealth: An Essential Guide to Workplace Mental Health and Wellbeing. This latest workplace mental health book provides important guidance for all organisations, leaders and managers on mental health in the workplace and how to build resilient and meaningful cultures and processes that enable organisations to support and appropriately manage those with mental health issues.

It is more important than ever that every business, organisation and manager across the country is positioned to deal with mental health issues and understand the warning signs. We all need to step up and ensure we are taking care of people. The only thing that gets us through hard times is people. We need to help people and support them to cope and to be resilient.

The Workplace Mental Health Institute is the leading peak body for research, advice and training relating to workplace mental health.

The book is available for purchase from a number of different outlets like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Powell’s, Indigo, IndieBound and many other bookstores worldwide and online.

Please visit https://thementalwealthguide.com for more info on this book.

Author: Peter Diaz

Peter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Facebook-logo Podcast Icon LinkedIN-logo

WMHI-Lessons-Learned

Focus on the Learning, Not the Lesson

Does your workplace see mistakes as the learning opportunities?

A friend from my days as a psychologist in the Army once told me about her role as a counsellor for Army recruits. Twenty-five years ago recruit training methods were, well, different to what they are today. Many recruits found the style of their instructors to be intimidating and scary, leading some of them to have second thoughts about their worthiness to be a soldier. Upon seeking some guidance, recruits would reflect that they weren’t cut out for the role.

WMHI-Lessons-Learned

Imagine the recruit’s instructor has said to the recruits, “Right you lazy lot, get your useless behinds to the mess hall, make sure you eat ‘cos you’re going to need something to puke up this morning in training, then be back here in 15 minutes, or you’ll be scrubbing the showers with your toothbrushes!”. The recruit, understandably, explains to my friend that they don’t feel their instructor has much faith in them. (This ineffective training style has thankfully disappeared from recruit training establishments!)

Don't forget to subscribe to our monthly eMag - WorkLife

Expert insights and tips on how to build resilient and mentally healthy workplace cultures delivered straight to your inbox each month.

My friend would ask them to tell her what it was that the instructor had actually asked them to do.

  • “Go eat breakfast, then be back in 15 minutes”, would come the reply.
  • “And what happens if you focus on the other stuff they’ve said?”
  • “I feel horrible, can hardly eat, and just want to go home”.
  • “Does that help you to achieve your training goals?”
  • “No.”
  • “What difference would it make if you were only to focus on the message, but not the delivery?”

The recruit’s face would visibly shift with the new thought, “I’d know what they wanted me to do, but I wouldn’t take all the other stuff to heart”.

Thankfully the majority of us do not experience this degree of ferociousness in the feedback we get at work. Regardless, the principle is the same – focus on the message, not the delivery. The delivery does not change the message, only the impact of the message, so if that impact is not helpful try to focus just on the message. Reframe the message in a way that is positive rather than negative. Instead of “My boss hates it when I ramble in my emails”, think, “My boss prefers brief emails”.

Those of us who are managers can focus on identifying what an individual needs to learn in order to avoid repeating a mistake. In providing performance management, the error will be a part of the discussion, but not the focus of the discussion – effective work behaviour is the focus. Some workplaces do not see mistakes as the learning opportunities they present, but in an environment where the employee’s manager is able to coach them through the lessons learned, the result is an employee who is better prepared to apply the new knowledge to their advantage.

When the culture is that of blame the focus is on the mistake, or the lesson – when the organisation has a coaching culture the focus is on the next step, or the learning.

Author: Alison Skate
Alison Skate author

Alison Skate is a Workplace Mental Health Specialist for Workplace Mental Health Institute. She began her career as a psychologist in the Australian Army more than twenty years ago. Alison is a leadership coach and workshop facilitator.

EQ-better-leader

5 Ways Emotional Intelligence Can Make You a Better Leader

As a business leader, your ability to connect with, collaborate with, and inspire the people on your team is crucial. Something that affects your ability to fulfill these roles is your emotional intelligence, a concept popularized by American psychologist and journalist Daniel Goleman in his book, aptly named, Emotional Intelligence.

Like intellectual intelligence, emotional intelligence can improve over time—which is good news for anyone hoping to lead more effectively in both their professional and personal lives.

EQ-better-leader

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence, often noted as EQ or EI, is a person’s ability to recognize, understand, manage, and influence their emotions and other people’s emotions. The concept emerged after decades of research suggested that IQ (a measure of a person’s intellectual intelligence) was not always a great predictor of success.

That is, many people with high IQs fail to develop healthy relationships, profitable business ventures, or even general well-being. Likewise, some people who trend lower on the traditional IQ scale enjoy both subjective and objective measures of success in many areas.

This led psychologists to realize that there must be other things also contributing to whether a person succeeds in life. Emotional intelligence, as it turned out, is one of them.

Don't forget to subscribe to our monthly eMag - WorkLife

Expert insights and tips on how to build resilient and mentally healthy workplace cultures delivered straight to your inbox each month.

Based on research from Goleman and other psychologists, EQ has a few key components:

Self-awareness: you can recognize your emotions and understand how they influence your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors

Self-regulation: you demonstrate impulse control, integrity, and the ability to manage your emotions in a healthy way

Social awareness: you’re comfortable in social situations, can pick up on subtle social and emotional cues, and are sensitive to unique group dynamics

Relationship management: you feel empathy for others and are able to inspire and influence people in an engaging way

5 Benefits of Emotional Intelligence for the Leader in You

By sharpening the above components and becoming more emotionally intelligent, you can expect your leadership skills to improve. Here are 5 specific ways:

  1. Improve your communication. The ability to convey exactly what you need from your team, and the ability to listen to what their needs are, can maximize productivity, prevent costly oversights, and ensure that everyone is clear about your company’s mission and expectations.
  2. Defuse conflict. As an emotionally savvy leader, you can prevent small issues from devolving into larger ones, and even address more serious issues with tact and timeliness.
  3. Set a positive workplace standard. You can help create a culture of trust and collaboration that impacts everyone from your colleagues to your customers.
  4. Leverage adversity. Being able to make difficult decisions and reflect honestly on the outcomes allows you to learn more from your challenges and setbacks.
  5. Connect with, develop, and retain quality talent. People want to work with strong leaders. By taking ownership of your own emotional intelligence, you can literally influence and strengthen your team at every level of your organization.

But the benefits don’t stop there. People with a high EQ have been shown to have better mental and physical well-being, less perceived stress, and healthier relationships. So, no matter what your job role is within your organization (or even your own family), know that developing your emotional intelligence can have a profoundly positive impact on everyone around you—including yourself.

How valuable is EQ in the workplace? Tell us what you think.

Author: Peter Diaz

Peter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Facebook-logo Podcast Icon LinkedIN-logo

Mental-Health-Month-Activities

17 Things Your Workplace Can Do For Mental Health Month Activities

Three elements that contribute to a sense of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace are feeling valued, connected to others, and safe. Mental Health Month gives us an opportunity to reach out and let people know that they matter. That they matter to us.

Design your mental health month activities with these three elements in mind, to create a culture of compassion, fun and connection.

Have a look at these activities below to find something suitable for your team:

Mental Health Month Ideas that are Quick and Low Cost

Happy-Employees

1. Hold a morning/afternoon tea to raise awareness

This is the traditional event. Provide food and they will come! But be careful with this one. If mental health and wellbeing has not been at its best lately, this can backfire and be seen as tokenistic. If you’re going to do this activity, you want to make sure you follow it up with a long term strategy, or have your Senior Exec team pledge their genuine commitment to mental health and wellbeing.

2. Register your team for the Compassion Games

A little bit of kindness can go a long way. Look at the difference it has made in the video at the website here: http://compassiongames.org/

3. Hold a ‘Lunch & Learn’ session on resilience at work

A quick and easy way to introduce the idea of positive mental health and wellbeing to a large number of employees, in a casual and laid back way. Contact us to find out about having a workplace mental health specialist attend your lunchroom in October.

4. Put posters up in the workplace

Mental Health poster do not have to be all doom and gloom In fact, we think it’s better if they focus on the positive side. You can download our posters for free at https://www.thewmhi.com/mental-health-awareness-posters

Don't forget to subscribe to our monthly eMag - WorkLife

Expert insights and tips on how to build resilient and mentally healthy workplace cultures delivered straight to your inbox each month.

5. Tell each other what you like about them

Perhaps you write on a card for each of your team mates, or just make a point of telling them. Either way, find your way to let others know you like having them around. You never know who may really need to hear it today.

6. Engage your team in the ’10,000 Step Challenge’

The research is very clear – physical health and mental health go hand in hand. Have some fun with it by challenging your colleagues to a ‘Step Challenge’. Have participants track their steps with an iphone, fitbit, or pedometer, and log it each day. Offer a prize to the winners each week.

7. End your meetings with “proud and thankfuls”

Let your colleagues know they are appreciated, by this short ritual. At the end of a team meeting or briefing, having each person nominate one person they are thankful for, and why. You’d be surprised what a difference this can make to teamwork and connection.

8. Include an employee story in your newsletter

Have an employee who has experienced mental distress share a little bit on what helped them to feel better. Make sure the story is positive and inspirational – there’s no need to go into all the gory details. It’s even better if this is a person in a senior position. It lets people know that mental health can affect anyone, and that it’s OK to talk about it. Make sure the person is fully comfortable with talking about it.

9. Share some information or videos by email

Let people know it’s Mental Health Month, and share some information on where people can go to get help in the local area. Find some (tasteful) funny or inspirational videos and share them with others.

Mental Health Month Ideas for the Truly Committed

1. Host a ‘Wellbeing Day’ with a range of resources for all staff

This can be an annual event. Find an appropriate space and invite all staff to come along for the day/half day/short session. Set up some tables and invite local health professionals to share some information about their services (yoga, fitness, nutrition, counselling, volunteer groups, etc). Have lucky door prizes and competitions.

2. Invite a Speaker to your workplace event

Invite a mental health or motivational speaker to attend your event and start a conversation about wellbeing. Our specialists are available throughout October, so contact us for more information.

3. Launch an Online Learning Program

Online courses can be a great way to educate employees who have little time, or who are dispersed geographically. Pretty much anything can be delivered by an online format – so long as you have internet connection. This is a quick and simple way to get need to know information to your people.

4. Run some live training on mental health or resilience

Live training is the best way to learn about mental health and wellbeing. Our Workplace Mental Health Specialists are extremely knowledgeable, yet down to earth and fun facilitators who will make sure you have a great time while learning such vital skills that you can apply at work or home, for the rest of your life.

5. Announce the roll out of your Employee Wellbeing Survey

What better way to really find out how the workplace impacts on employee wellbeing than by asking the people themselves! Of course, this has to be done carefully. Our EWS16 Assessment uses validated measures, to help workplaces discover the true level of mental wellbeing within their specific organisation, but more importantly, to identify which activities will make the biggest difference to their employees overall. So their efforts can be channelled in the right direction.

6. Create a ‘Green Room’ space

Workplaces that are benchmarking when it comes to mental health and wellbeing are very aware of the impact of the physical environment on mental health and wellbeing. If you don’t have one, consider setting up a space that is more relaxed and laid back environment for staff to use when they like. It doesn’t have to be labelled as a ‘mental health space’, but just a nice room or area with some couches, magazines, a ‘pod’, a few plants, or whatever – be creative!

7. Put out the call for workplace champions or ‘first responders’

Just as we have designed Workplace Health & Safety Officers, so too it is recommended that workplaces have ‘Mental Health First Responders’. These people need specialised training in how to respond to people that may be in emotional distress. They may also sit on the Wellbeing Committee and be involved in wellbeing initiatives for the organisation. It helps to ensure that initiatives are communicated and adopted organisation wide, and means that work can be distributed amongst team members.

8. Begin your ‘WELL Certification’

WELL Certification is the leading tool for advancing health and wellbeing in buildings globally. A WELL Accredited Professional can help you to achieve certification for your building, workspace or community. Contact us for more information. So, please, let me know what you did for Mental Health Month, will you?

Author: Peter Diaz

Peter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Facebook-logo Podcast Icon LinkedIN-logo

Bullying-WMHI-blog-header

5 More Subtle Signs of Workplace Bullying

You may not think of your office as a place where bullying occurs, but believe it or not, this kind of interpersonal conflict happens in places other than just the schoolyard.

In fact,

research has shown that as many as 1 in 4 people report that they have experienced workplace bullying firsthand.

Unfortunately, workplace bullying often goes under the radar. Why? First of all, it’s not always as obvious as the overt name-calling, shoving, and teasing that we have come to associate with made-for-TV bullies. Secondly, bullying can be embarrassing: a team member who is being bullied may not want to talk about it for fear of looking weak. He or she may also feel pressure to avoid ‘dobbing in’ a coworker, or becoming the target of the bully if they step in on someone’s behalf.

But workplace bullying can and should be addressed by managers in any business or company. In the work environment, bullying tends to be a long, slow, and progressive process, whereby the perpetrator emotionally and psychologically manipulates his or her target over time. This can lead to serious problems with an overall workplace environment and may even contribute to lost productivity, increased errors, and other issues that are common with a distracted and unhappy team member (not to mention a worst-case scenario in which companies are held legally liable for failing to protect an employee against bullying).

Are you a psychologically safe manager? Take the self-assessment to find out.

5-More-Subtle-Signs-of-Workplace-Bullying

Don't forget to subscribe to our monthly eMag - WorkLife

Expert insights and tips on how to build resilient and mentally healthy workplace cultures delivered straight to your inbox each month.

So, the first step in putting an end to workplace bullying in your company is to learn how to tell if, when, and where it’s happening. Here are 5 subtle signals that your workplace environment may be home to some bullying:

  1. Frequent use of the blame game.

Is there a person on your team who seems to always have an excuse for his or her performance? Does he or she frequently point fingers at someone else, using another person as a scapegoat? Responsibility has to lie somewhere: if someone is unwilling to take personal responsibility for their own actions or inactions, then chances are they’re attempting to unfairly shift that responsibility to someone else.

  1. Minimising the thoughts, contributions, and feelings of others.

Having a patronising attitude toward someone is a subtle way of putting that person down and making him or her feel victimised. A team member who appears to make fun of, minimise, undermine, or discredit someone’s ideas or needs (especially on a consistent basis) could be bullying. They may laugh derisively at someone’s thoughts or ideas; or physically disengage in communication by turning away and changing topic drastically.

  1. Deceit and dishonesty.

We all tell white lies from time to time. But if a person has a pattern of frequently lying, raising false hopes, or saying they’ll do something and then failing to follow through, then this could be a sign that he or she is trying to take advantage of the people around him or her.

  1. Intentional isolation by way of ignoring or excluding someone.

A sensation of “us versus them” can be seriously detrimental to the health and unity of a company. Team members may achieve this by purposefully not inviting someone to a work event or failing to include them in pertinent discussions, meetings, or projects. Purposefully underusing a team member or persistently delegating undesirable tasks to him or her (especially if they fall within many people’s job descriptions) can also be seen as an attempt for separation.

An example of this is, ‘ghosting’, where the bully will ignore a team member’s attempts to communicate for legitimate work reasons, while they acknowledge other people’s communication that they consider more important. While this practice is, unfortunately, widely tolerated in Australia, it is, nonetheless, damaging.

  1. Excessive flattery.

Going overboard on compliments and flattery is disingenuous at best; at worst it can be a form of manipulation, persuading the target to check for the flatterer’s approval on any decisions or action. It can also be used as a prelude to more overt bullying, encouraging a person let their guard down, therefore becoming easier to manipulate.

The best bullies tend to be very smooth operators, able to hide their bullying well, and will leave just enough wiggle room to claim their good intentions are being misconstrued, in the event they’re called out. The best defense against bullies is education and awareness. When people are aware of the signs, it becomes harder for the bully to operate freely.

Keep in mind that workplace bullying can happen at any level and in any direction within your company. Everyone, from senior level executives all the way to the newest team members should be held to the same standards that are necessary to create a positive and healthy work environment.

To your mental health,

– Peter Diaz

Author: Peter Diaz

Peter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Facebook-logo Podcast Icon LinkedIN-logo

Are you Staying Strong Through Coronavirus?
Find Out More
close-image