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Employee Wellness

#RESHAPE21: How Top Companies 3M And Bloomberg Are Addressing Mental Health At Work

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.mindnation.com now!

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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 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. 

Mental health and Omicron
The COVID-19 Omicron variant has caused many employees to continue working from home while sick or caring for someone who is sick. While symptoms are milder compared to previous variants, those who are living with children, the elderly, or with co-morbidities have to deal with uncertainties and inconveniences that can take a toll on their mental health.

“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,” says relationship coach Aileen Santos. “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.  “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,” shares Aileen.
  1. Take the load off. A person can only perform their best if they are not overloaded, 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. 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. 
  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. 

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Employee Wellness

4 Ways To Support Your Employee’s Career Advancement

A whopping 97 percent of millennial employees consider development in a job important, according to a survey by analytics and advisory company Gallup. The report further states that millennials are the generation most likely to switch jobs and be on the lookout for new opportunities because “they want more out of life, and they believe they can get it.”

Business leaders should therefore give importance to an employee’s career advancement. If they don’t, they risk undermining morale and productivity by leaving talented workers feeling like they aren’t valued.

“The most important part of a company is its people,” says James Michael “Jim” Lafferty, CEO of Fine Hygienic Holdings, a  wellness company with headquarters in Dubai that makes personal care and hygienic products. “And if you value your people, you should care about how they are developing in their career and in everything else that comes with it.”

Apart from being a multi-awarded business leader, Jim is also a mentor and coach to national and Olympic-level athletes. “One of our key roles as leaders is to nurture the next generation of talent,” he wrote in his blog. “It means pushing them….Believing in them. Stretching them.”

“One of our key roles as leaders is to nurture the next generation of talent.”

James Michael “Jim” Lafferty, CEO of Fine Hygienic Holdings

Here are some strategies you can use to promote the development of your employees:

  1. Take an interest in your employee’s career goals

Communicate frequently with your team so that you stay attuned to their career aspirations and expectations. Then help them outline a potential career path within the company so they can better visualize their future. Clear, direct, and consistent communication from you about career advancement steps can help workers feel more engaged.

  1. Promote trainings and skills development courses
    There are many virtual learning opportunities available now, so encourage your team to pursue relevant business courses and workshops that will further their career advancement. If you cannot pay for the entire course fee, at least subsidize it —  investing in employee career development can deliver a strong ROI for your business. 

Another option is to conduct an in-house training program, where you or your executives can conduct virtual sessions touching on your various expertise. 

Lastly, look for companies that hold self-improvement webinars that anyone in the team can benefit from, whether they are seasoned executives or new hires. MindNation offers Company Culture Drive talks, which are interactive virtual trainings that cover topics ranging from Beating Burnout to Managing Difficult Conversations.  

  1. Do not sugarcoat feedback.
    “This is the biggest issue in managing people; it’s hard to sit down and tell people ‘You’re not up to your potential,’ ‘You can be so great but you don’t just apply yourself,’ or ‘You need to work on XYZ,’” Jim points out. “But people need different things at different points in their life — sometimes it’s a pat on the back, other times it’s straight feedback. The latter may not always be what they want, but it’s what they need to become better.”
  1. Support work-life balance.
    Encourage your employees to work smart, maximize their efficiency, and leave time and energy for their non-work interests. Taking care of your team’s well-being can also prevent stress from rising and leading to burnout. By adopting policies that enhance work-life balance, you can help your workers find the time to do their jobs, attend to personal demands, and even engage in professional and personal development activities that can help them become the best version of themselves.

“Developing people is at the foundation of great leaders,” Jim wrote. “Building up the skills and capabilities of one’s team is the only sure way to sustainable success in business.”

MindNation’s well-being program is based on a person’s holistic wellness — not only can we help you build teams that are physically, mentally, and emotionally well, we also help them discover their passion and purpose in life so that they become happier, healthier, and more productive. Visit http://www.mindnation.com to know more about our services.

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Employee Wellness

4 Ways To Build A Compassionate Workplace

A 2020 MindNation survey pointed out that 53% of Filipino employees are currently suffering from varying degrees of mental health challenges. The top sources of their anxieties are fears about the COVID-19 virus, financial problems, and work performance pressure. It’s predicted that these numbers will continue to worsen and have a long term impact on work environments, health, and work-life balance.

“Business leaders need to be more understanding about how the pandemic is affecting their team members and provide new and different ways of supporting their employees,” says MindNation psychologist Jessa Mae Rojas. “One of the ways they can do that is to be more compassionate; that is, creating a work environment in which employees feel safe and comfortable to express their needs.”

“Business leaders need to be more understanding about how the pandemic is affecting their team members and provide new and different ways of supporting their employees.”

Jessa Mae Rojas, MindNation Psychologist

According to Monica Worline, Executive Director of the CompassionLab at the University of Michigan, a research scientist at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University, and co-author of Awakening Compassion at Work, organizations that operate with compassion enjoy the following benefits:

  • Increased employee retention.
    Employees who receive empathy, understanding, and help from their colleagues and superiors are likely to stay in the organization for a long period of time and direct all their efforts for the benefit of the organization.
  • Stress reduction.
    Employees in a compassionate workplace can vent out their professional troubles to each other and socialize in the office. This lets the stress dissipate and increases the likelihood of being more productive.
  • Stronger interpersonal bonds.
    Leaders and managers who follow compassionate approaches at work have employees who will want to reciprocate the goodness they receive. This will lead them to form healthy and strong professional relationships with their team members. 

Lack of compassion at work, on the other hand, results in more absenteeism (the practice of regularly staying away from work without good reason), presenteeism (showing up for work without being productive, generally because of ill-health) unhappiness, and disengagement from work. “All these lead to less productivity and increased employee turnover, both of which are bad for the company’s bottom line and image,” points out Jessa. 

As a business leader, you can express compassion in the workplace by:

  1. Initiating difficult conversations with team members on a one-on-one level if you notice they are in pain or undergoing some personal stressors. Regular check-ins are essential so that you get to know your employees on a deeper level and can spot signs that something is amiss in their work or persona lives. And when they do confide in you, communicate understanding and support so that they feel secure and comfortable enough to tell you their needs, whether it’s extra time off or even financial assistance. “Even just telling the person you care and that you’re there for them can be good,” says Jessa.
  2. Actively listening to others without judging them.
    A great place to start is to start a meeting by asking the attendees “How are you?” or other open questions related to their well-being and not saying anything until they’ve completely finished responding. And if a team member is not being forthcoming, just keep reiterating that you are always available to listen whenever they are ready.
  3. Carefully stating criticisms in a constructive manner, so that someone who is underperforming or made mistakes will not take the negative feedback personally.
    In an empathetic work environment, leaders and co-workers treat each other with respect no matter what designations they hold. Additionally, they are open to negotiations and not dictatorial, and ready to lend assistance should anybody need a hand.
  4. Offering learning opportunities such as webinars and resources that focus on mental health. Sometimes, people are not even aware of what it is they need, i.e. self-care or self-compassion until it is already too late. Additionally, leaders may not be properly equipped to conduct mental health first aid or engage in difficult conversations. So partner with a mental health and well-being company that can create a customized program for your employees, making sure that services are geared towards achieving holistic health. 

Emotions and mental well-being influence productivity at work. No person who is undergoing depression or other mental health challenges can work with the same efficiency if they are stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed. Leaders who push for a compassionate workplace culture can directly foster advancement and help distressed employees become capable again.

MindNation can help you develop a more compassionate workplace culture. We hold training programs to help team members to become more empathetic, active listeners, and build emotional resilience. Partner with us to build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Visit www.mindnation.com or email [email protected] to know more about our services. 

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Employee Wellness

Enable And Empower: 4 Ways To Make Your Company Inclusive For Persons With Disabilities

In the Asia-Pacific region alone there are 370 million persons with disabilities (PWD), with 238 million of them of working age, according to data from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Hiring people with disabilities increases diversity in the workplace, which has been proven to boost creative thinking, problem-solving, and team morale. 

Unfortunately, people with disabilities commonly experience at work. According to a report by the International Labour Organization, PWDs are often confronted with prejudices regarding their productivity. They also face discrimination at the hiring stage. A survey carried out in France shows that less than 2% of those having mentioned their disability in their CV were called for an interview. 

For Ed Geronia, a journalist, person with mobility impairment, and co-founder and Chief Information Officer of Sari Software Solutions making workplaces welcoming and supportive of the needs of persons with disabilities is a win-win for everyone in the organization. “Everyone benefits from an inclusive workplace, not just those with a disability,” he says. This is because when employees feel a sense of belonging and feel more connected at work, they tend to work harder and smarter, producing higher quality work. 

“PWDs should know that they can earn as much as an able-bodied team member if they are doing the same kind of work.”

Ed Geronia, journalist

Ed recommends some ways companies can make sure that their workplace is disability-inclusive:

  1. Review and refine job roles and processes. Part of this means ensuring that you hire someone based on the job qualifications, not on the basis of their disability. “There’s this notion that people with autism are good at math, so you made it a company policy that you will only hire those in the spectrum for accounting work,” Ed points out. But doing this is a disservice for both the PWD applicant and the other members of the team because you are basing your decision on a stereotype. “People should be hired solely for their capabilities, skills, and talent.”

Furthermore, don’t deny a person a training or promotion just because they are disabled. “Don’t tell someone who is mobility-impaired that you cannot make them manager because you assume they cannot travel to different work sites,” Ed says. “Instead, tell them what the position entails and let them determine if they can do it or not.”

Finally, make sure that your benefits and incentives for employees are the same for all. “PWDs should know that they can earn as much as an able-bodied team member if they are doing the same kind of work,” Ed says.


  1. Partner with community organizations that train persons with disabilities to be ready for employment. In the Philippines, these include:
  • Project Inclusion Network, a non-profit organization that matches PWDs to employers. 
  • IDEA Philippines, which offers vocational training for deaf young people 
  • Microsoft Enabler Program, provides cloud & AI training for PwDs, accessibility education for employer partners, and inclusive hiring from non-profit organizations supporting PwDs.
  1. Have disability awareness and disability sensitivity training. Start by training someone in your human resources department to be a disability advocate. “This way, you have someone in the company who is looking out for the needs of your employees who have disabilities, both visible and invisible,” Ed says. Then move on to the rest of your management team; many might be harboring unconscious biases against people with disabilities and consider these team members inferior. “You have to treat these trainings as investments, because when you know the needs of your employees who are disabled, you can take steps to make things better for them,” he adds.
  2. Adopt best practices from other companies. “In the Philippines, we have to realize that there are still gaps in PWD employment policies,” Ed points out. “Let’s look for companies who are embracing inclusivity and find out what we can copy from them.” 

For example, Philippine-based Lamoiyan Corporation, makers of Hapee Toothpaste, prioritizes hiring deaf employees for factory work. “If it’s just manual, if it’s just using the hands or the eyes, they’re as good as you and me—in fact, they’re more focused because of their handicap,” founder Cecilio Pedro said in a 2016 interview. The company is also supporting three schools for the deaf in the country, where they provide free education for the deaf through sign language.

A disability-inclusive workplace is more than just hiring people with disabilities. It offers employees with disabilities — whether visible or invisible — an equal opportunity to succeed, to learn, to be compensated fairly, and to advance. “Many organizations are already starting to adopt policies on gender equality,” Ed points out. “Why not take it a step further and also include equality for PWDs?” 

MindNation offers virtual trainings on diversity and inclusion so that your organization becomes a safe space for everyone, regardless of their age, gender, race, and physical and mental disabilities. Partner with us to build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Visit http://www.mindnation.com to know more.

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Employee Wellness

Josh Alfafara Of The Executive Centre: 5 Leadership Lessons I Learned During The Pandemic

When premium flexible workplace provider The Executive Centre launched its flagship office in Makati, Philippines last June 2021, Country Manager Josh Alfafara knew he had his work cut out for him. “Leading a new business in the middle of a pandemic was challenging, to say the least,” he recalls. “Everyone was asking why we were selling office spaces at a time when everyone is working from home. But I said ‘Why not?’ I felt that this was the best time to do so because people are now looking for flexible ways of working.” 

This mindset has helped Josh and his team ensure that TEC Philippines remains top of mind for small and medium enterprises and multinational companies looking for a truly first-class flexible workplace solution within prime locations and prestigious office addresses. “We differentiate ourselves from our competitors in the service aspect that we give to our members,” he explains. “Even when the government imposed a strict lockdown, we never stopped communicating with our members, addressing their needs, and letting them know that we are available for them all the time.” 

“I don’t tell my team ‘You do this, you do that;’ instead I ask them ‘Where can I help?’ ‘What can WE do?’ And if my team member is not delivering, it’s on me. Where did I lack in terms of giving support or in providing resources?” 

Josh Alfafara, The Executive Centre Country Manager

Here are five leadership lessons that Josh has learned as he continues to lead his company and his team through the pandemic:

  1. Be flexible in your approach. “We can no longer go around publishing pictures of office spaces because no one wants to spend any money,” Josh points out. “So instead of being salespeople, we positioned ourselves as consultants of workplace strategy. We asked clients ‘What do you need at the moment? You have 2,000 square meters of office space that no one is using? Ok, that’s something we may be able to help you with.’” By building that trust and giving their expert advice on flexible workspaces, TEC was able to build loyalty with their clientele. 
  1. Servant-leadership is the key. Josh built his team in the middle of the pandemic, and while it felt good to be able to provide people with work, he also understands that it can be demotivating for them to market something when everyone is hiding at home. “As a leader, my role is to bring out the best in my team so they can do what they need to,” he shares. “I don’t tell my team ‘You do this, you do that;’ instead I ask them ‘Where can I help?’ ‘What can WE do?’ And if my team member is not delivering, it’s on me. Where did I lack in terms of giving support or in providing resources?” 
  1. Be transparent in communications. Josh has frequent and structured one-on-one conversations with his direct reports to align on goals and expectations. “As an employee, nothing is worse than thinking you are doing great but finding out at the end of the year during the performance review that you’re terrible at your job,” he says. “So it’s important that I meet them regularly to find out what they are lacking in, or what training they require.”
  1. Employee well-being drives results. To a certain extent, Josh does not believe in keeping work life separate from personal life. “People are people, and they have feelings and mental health. You can’t expect them to have mental health for home and a separate mental health for work,” he explains. He makes sure he has an open-door policy where people can just talk to him if they are struggling, not just with work but even in their personal lives. “When I talk to my team, I ask them how things are at home without getting too personal, and I believe that showing them this genuine care has helped them perform better at their job.”

This importance to employee well-being is what pushed TEC to partner with MindNation. “I believe that all businesses should have a mental health program in place. Leaders should treat it as an investment in their people because at the end of the day when you take care of your people, they take care of the business, which drives results. It’s hitting many birds with one stone and it’s absolutely necessary,” Josh says. 

He recalls that during the early days of his career, mental health was not a priority; people had to pretend to be sick to take time off. “But for me, if a team member is struggling today, I’d rather they let me know right away so that they can take whatever break they need and come back stronger tomorrow, instead of dragging their feet and dragging the rest of the business down,” he says. 

  1. Self-care is not selfish. Leading a business during a pandemic can be physically and emotionally draining. As someone who admittedly experiences anxiety, Josh makes sure he prioritizes his mental health as well. “I make sure I set limits as to when I check my phone and my work email. One of my favorite things to do is listening to a guided meditation app,” he shares. “I also make sure I have people can talk to, including a coach that I consult with on a regular basis, where I become the most vulnerable and let it all out.” 

Lastly, Josh makes sure his team members know all about his self-care habits so that they follow suit and take care of themselves as well.

Josh’s professional goals for the year include seeing TEC Philippines finally take off, perhaps even expanding to another site within the country. “Business is doing very well although it’s not where we want it to be because of the pandemic and the new spate of lockdowns,” he admits. “But we are doing what we can and I always encourage my team to have patience; we’ve done it before, we’ll get through this again.”

However, he is mindful that the company’s success should never come at the expense of the team’s well-being. “Now more than ever, leaders have to be available for the team and not leave them out in the dark,” he says. “If you are present with your team, they can help you make the business succeed.” 

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. Visit www.mindnation.com or email [email protected] to know more. 

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Work in the New Normal

6 Ways To 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.mindnation.com or email [email protected]

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Employee Wellness

4 Effective Onboarding Tips

Research by workplace thought leader Society for Human Resource Management reveals that it costs businesses up to 9 months’ salary (on average) to recruit and train a new employee. On top of this, it may take new employees up to two years to achieve the productivity level of an existing employee.

One way you can keep employee turnover low is to make sure that new hires go through a proper onboarding process. “The first few weeks a new team member is on the job are some of the most crucial because you’re setting expectations and building their personal investment in your organization,”says Kana Takahashi, MindNation’s Chief Executive Officer. “When you have an effective onboarding program, new employees feel right from the start that they are part of the team, will work harder to achieve the company’s goals, and will stay for a longer period of time.” 

Onboarding begins as soon as an offer is accepted and typically lasts through the first year of employment, at a minimum. If you already have an onboarding process in place, here are some things you can add to the activity to make it more engaging — and possibly even fun — for the new team member:

“One of the purposes of onboarding is to acclimate the employee to the organization, to make them see how their role fits into the organization, understand the mission and vision of the company, and what the work culture is.”

Kana Takahashi, MindNation CEO
  1. Get everyone in the company involved. The onboarding program used to be solely the purview of the Human Resources department, but for Kana, it’s important that all departments — and their heads — take time to welcome and talk to the new hire. “One of the purposes of onboarding is to acclimate the employee to the organization, to make them see how their role fits into the organization, understand the mission and vision of the company, and what the work culture is,” she explains. “This is achieved by having them interact and socialize with as many people as possible.”

At MindNation, Kana starts the onboarding process by taking the new hire through the necessary paperwork. The person is then introduced to the leadership team, where they receive information about the company’s values, goals, and culture. Afterwards, an announcement formally welcoming them to the company is posted on the company’s Slack channel. 

“Then for the next few weeks, they go through the different departments, talking to the heads and members so that they get a grasp of the working dynamics and understand everyone’s role more,” Kana explains.

  1. Have a get-together to welcome the new member. Colleagues can also participate in onboarding. Before the pandemic, it was customary to take new employees out to lunch or dinner to help break the ice and allow them to get to know their new colleagues in a relaxed environment. Today, these teambuilding sessions can be done in a virtual set-up and are no less effective. “When an employee feels valued by their team on both a personal and professional level, they are more likely to stick around for the long haul and be happier,” says Kana. 
  2. Provide consistent and clear communication. New hires will want to jump into their role quickly, but make sure their enthusiasm is tempered by clear expectations and parameters during onboarding. Otherwise you might end up receiving output that does not meet your needs, while the employee will feel disappointed that they failed you. So assign projects and set goals, and be sure to guide them to the resources they need and the people they can turn to for help. 
  1. Then create avenues for giving (and receiving feedback). This is another crucial part of onboarding because it ensures that the new hires are settled in and have everything they need to be successful in their work. “All departments in MindNation have weekly alignment meetings to determine that all tasks are delivered and to ensure that the employee’s workload is enough and does not burn them out,” Kana shares. “If they are struggling, we adjust timelines or give more guidance — anything that they need to make their working experience better.”

Additionally, new hires at MindNation have weekly or bimonthly one-on-ones with their line managers; these are not for project updates, but informal conversations centered around the employee’s mental health and well-being. 

First impressions matter, and you can start off your relationship with your new employee on the right foot by treating the onboarding process as a part of your business’ success.

Taking care of a new  team member’s well-being is part of an effective onboarding process. MindNation’s holistic well-being program ensures that everyone from new hires to veteran executives become happier, healthier, and more productive. Our services include 24/7 teletherapy sessions with psychologists and WellBeing Coaches, Group Sessions, virtual webinars, and surveys and analytics. For more information, visit www.mindnation.com or email [email protected]

Categories
Employee Wellness Work in the New Normal

3 Tips To Boost Trust Between 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.mindnation.com or email [email protected]

Categories
Employee Wellness

Ways To Reduce Unconscious Bias In The Workplace

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. 

MindNation holds 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!