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    Evolving the Workplace Through Rebellious Trends

    Over the past few years, we’ve seen a number of workplace trends develop which have taken over the headlines of nearly every career website and blog. Some, like remote and hybrid work, have resulted from the natural evolution of a post-pandemic workplace. Others, like “quiet quitting,” are simply old concepts (employee disengagement) given a catchy new name by TikTok influencers.
    But still, other trends take on a different form – one of rebellion and dissension. Today’s employees have watched the workplace change drastically in a relatively short time, and not always for the better. The current strength of a candidate’s job market and the ubiquity of trending hashtags have emboldened workers to make a few changes of their own, both to their post-pandemic work routine as well as to the way things have always been done.
    As employees continue to push boundaries, employers must now choose their battles as they determine which are really necessary to retain top talent while driving growth and profitability. Let’s look at a few workplace trends that have resulted from dissatisfaction and a desire for change.
    Coffee Badging
    Over the past year, many employers that have allowed employees to work remotely since the start of the pandemic have reversed course, now demanding a return to office. Leading the charge are high-profile companies like Google, Meta, Apple and Microsoft, all extolling the virtues of “coming together” in the office several days a week. However, some employees who have worked from home for over three years are taking issue with the requirement. Their solution? Make a brief appearance in the office just long enough for security badge records to show they were there, then head out. While some may see this as a dishonest method of gaming the system, others view it as a way for employees to take back the leverage they rightfully earned while keeping companies afloat throughout the pandemic.
    Office Peacocking
    Upon witnessing the backlash to RTO mandates, some employers are hoping to quash the rebellion by doing some redecorating. After years of working from the comfort and familiarity of their homes, employees need some extra incentive to reacclimate to an office setting. Forgoing the allure of ping-pong tables and free snacks that workers now consider way too 2010, employers have opted to overhaul their offices, replacing sterile cubicle farms with inspiring décor. These redesigned workspaces prioritize collaboration and comfort through their use of vibrant colors, plants and natural light with the intention of easing employees’ transition from home back to a corporate environment.
    Hush Tripping
    Each year, millions of paid vacation days go unused. Furthermore, when employees do take time off, 29% say they feel guilty for doing so. If only there were a way to take some much-needed time away from work without burning any PTO, all while avoiding the ire of managers and coworkers who are left to cover the workload. For some, the answer is simple – pack up and go, then work remotely while enjoying vacation time that no one needs to know about. After all, as long as work gets done, does it really matter where it gets done? And if it helps prevent a disengaged or burnt-out workforce, all the better. This trend highlights the importance of work-life balance to employees, as well as the need for open communication with managers.
    For those who don’t like their jobs, there used to only be two options – keep slugging it out or quit. Now, there’s a custom flavor for every disengaged worker’s palate. For those who are willing to complete their job duties but not go above and beyond, there’s quiet quitting. For those who want to throw a wrench in the system and go out with a bang, there’s loud quitting. But somewhere in between, there are those who are openly dissatisfied with their jobs, but unwilling or unable to make a move due to economic or job security concerns. In fact, due to recent tech layoffs and the spiraling cost of living, both quiet and loud quitters may show signs of resenteeism and stick with their current roles – a distinct departure from the Great Resignation.
    Every few months, the workplace evolves, and the ease with which we’re now able to communicate via social media has accelerated its evolution. Workers haven’t been shy about voicing their concerns and frustrations, and while employers may push back on some issues, they have had little choice but to bend in order to stay competitive. The number of viral workplace trends and hashtags over the past year demonstrates employees’ dissatisfaction and desire for change. And though we’re nearly three years removed from the COVID-19 pandemic, the workforce is caught between settling into old habits and prompting the change that should have occurred years ago. Stay tuned…the next chapter is soon to come.
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    How to Improve Workplace DEI Through Payroll Management 

    Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) are near the top of the list of many issues that concern employees today. ADP’s People at Work study reports that 76% of employees would think about finding a new job if they discovered an unfair gender pay gap or learned that their company doesn’t have a DE&I policy. It’s a particularly critical concern for Gen Z, who are set to make up over half the global workforce by 2030.
    This places DE&I as a top concern for employers too. Many businesses are publishing policy statements on the topic, but practical changes are far harder to implement. McKinsey observes that UK companies struggle to simultaneously achieve gender and ethnic diversity.
    Moreover, many women in tech feel, and sometimes are told directly, that they are token “diversity hires”. Others talk about not being taken seriously, even when hired or promoted on their own merits.
    HR professionals are taking all kinds of steps to address DE&I, like examining recruitment policies and wording recruitment ads in ways that appeal to women, members of underrepresented ethnicities, and disadvantaged groups. Many workplaces are investing in professional development for BAME and female employees and cultivating welcoming workspaces.
    But pay gaps remain a significant problem, placing payroll front and center for DE&I issues.
    Pay equality
    Understandably, pay equity is still a primary issue in the quest for workplace equality. The pay gap is narrowing, but it indeed hasn’t disappeared. A survey by ADP found that 60% of women think that they are underpaid for their roles, compared with 46% of men, and significantly more women than men are unhappy with the pay they receive.
    Part of the solution is to commit to pay equality, but that’s only possible when workplaces have accurate data about pay equality. Staying organized with payroll processes results in more reliable data, which can be used for pay reviews and to check pay disparities.
    Automation also helps ensure that employees receive all the pay they are entitled to and there aren’t “hidden” pay gaps. Often, overall compensation includes disparate aspects like bonuses, overtime, and paid leave. If pay is not calculated and paid in full and on time, the real-world experience of take-home pay could be very different.
    For example, if 5% of an employee’s pay is due to overtime, and manual payroll processes mean that overtime calculations consistently lag two or three months behind regular salary payments, the employee might not be receiving the full pay they expect, even if their compensation package looks great on paper.
    Pay transparency
    Without transparency, it’s impossible to achieve real equality, so this goes hand in hand with the previous point. Transparency matters a lot to employees, with a recent report noting that job ads that include salary details attract six times as many applicants, while increased pay transparency does effectively narrow the gender pay gap.
    Transparency also promotes trust in the company, which makes employees feel safe, secure, and included — the ultimate goal behind DE&I policies.
    An awareness of this lies behind the EU’s Pay Transparency Directive. While the UK doesn’t yet have similar legislation, companies that stay ahead of the game could have an edge in attracting top talent. Given that remote work is commonplace, candidates could choose to work for EU companies with more transparent payroll processes.
    Conversely, companies with opaque, confusing, and inefficient payroll processes lack transparency into who receives what compensation in actual terms. That’s particularly problematic in companies where employees commonly work shifts, overtime, and/or on a contract basis, making it difficult to compare real-world compensation. These organizations can also use automation to make payroll more reliable, trusted, and transparent.
    Pay flexibility
    Flexibility is essential to everyone nowadays, but it’s particularly crucial for women.
    Women are still more likely to bear the majority of the childcare and elder care burden. In some ethnic minorities, such as Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities, families still expect that women will care for extended family members.
    When people think about flexibility in the workplace, working hours and remote work options are the first things that come to mind, but payroll and compensation play a key role. Streamlined payroll management practices make it far easier for companies to support flex work, because it lightens the burden of calculating compensation for irregular working hours.
    Automated payroll also enables companies to support flexible payment arrangements, like if an employee prefers to be paid weekly or bi-weekly rather than monthly for the sake of easier budgeting. This way, the company can accept such requests without worrying about the payroll team getting overwhelmed.
    Pay reliability
    Getting paid on time and in full isn’t often mentioned as a DE&I issue, but it’s worth pointing out in this context. According to LinkedIn’s Future of Recruiting, compensation remains the top priority for jobseekers, despite ongoing concern for work-life balance and flexible working arrangements.
    Employees from middle-class backgrounds are more likely to have enough financial stability that they won’t worry if the pay is a day late or overtime payments come through a couple of months down the road. But a delayed paycheque could be disastrous for those living under financial stress.
    BAME employees and single-parent families, which women more often head than men, make up a disproportionate percentage of employees who desperately need to be paid bang on time. They can’t afford to wait for even a portion of their expected income.
    This is where efficient, automated payroll processes come in, guaranteeing that employees receive their full pay when they expect it. With this kind of assurance, employees who are facing financial stress can take overtime or extra shifts with the confidence that they’ll be paid this month and not four months down the road when they finally finish their calculations.
    Payroll can add to your DE&I efforts
    For as long as pay gaps continue to dominate DE&I conversations, payroll will play a significant role in driving equality and inclusion in the workplace. Impressive statements and revised policies have their place, but taking practical steps to improve payroll processes and care for every employee’s financial needs speaks louder than a thousand announcements.
    By Sabrina Castiglione, Chief Operations Officer, Pento.
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    5 Ways Managers Can Help Their Teams Avoid the Dreaded End-of-Year Burnout

    According to Nuffield Health’s 2023 Healthier Nation Index, 44 percent of employees said their jobs had negatively impacted their mental health this year.
    Unsurprisingly, adverse feelings towards the workplace can ramp up as the festive season becomes a major source of stress and anxiety due to an intense social calendar, end-of-year reviews, and meeting tight deadlines.
    I’ll discuss how managers can prevent end-of-year burnout in their teams and encourage employees to protect their physical and mental health.
    #1 Get organized, early.
    If employees are feeling the weight of burnout due to excessive work demands, it’s time to reassess and reorganize your team’s project priorities.
    Consider scheduling one-to-ones or team meetings to review everyone’s current existing workload, to determine which assignments demand immediate attention and which ones can be postponed for a more suitable time.
    Additionally, when facing large and intimidating projects, it’s often helpful to spend more time together, working out how to break them down into smaller, more manageable chunks.
    If an employee’s schedule is overwhelmingly full, managers should support in finding solutions. This could include, for example, helping them to embrace the power of delegation. Whether employees outsource tasks to colleagues or externally, let them know seeking assistance does not mean they are failing or that they will be looked upon negatively.
    This is more helpful than risking missed deadlines or an individual becoming so overwhelmed that their productivity suffers.
    #2 Set boundaries.
    No doubt, there’ll be circumstances when you or team members have reached out to colleagues for additional support, and some of them have come back with ‘no,’ unable to help at that time.
    In the same vein, managers must be comfortable doing the same, even though many of us lean towards “people pleaser” behavior. This means it’s tempting to start saying ‘yes’ to additional work if you’ve managed to free your schedule slightly.
    Remind yourself that it is fine to say no to taking on extra responsibilities, try to set firm boundaries with yourself and your team, and let them know it’s OK to follow suit.
    Don’t just set boundaries for during office hours, either. It’s essential to do this after hours or if working remotely too. One example could be agreeing with everyone that none of you will check work emails in the evenings between certain hours so you can focus on spending time with loved ones and winding down after a busy working day.
    Other examples could be urging teams to take their full lunch periods, setting aside regular breaks, and leaving on time at the end of the day. Managers who lead by example make it easier for others to embrace their own wellbeing, too.
    #3 Encourage self-care.
    Lack of self-care is one of the most significant contributors to end-of-year burnout.  In fact, according to our 2023 Healthier Nation Index, only 15 percent of us take time to focus on self-care, when trying to support our mental health.
    Workplaces need to communicate ways for employees to prioritize self-care during the working day and when at home, and help build supportive environments that facilitate healthy behaviors.
    From inviting experts to help teams learn about the different self-care practices to researching new ideas that could potentially benefit the whole company, building awareness and positive behavior change is key to creating a workforce that makes self-care a focus.
    Small changes like five minutes of meditation or deep breathing exercises can be hugely impactful, helping employees maintain a state of calm, even during the busiest working periods. Psychological research has shown that moving and changing your environment and the stimuli around you improves problem-solving skills and mental focus.
    Encourage employees to go for a walk when they can and use their garden if they are working remotely. Ideally, actively build these activities into diaries or working practices.  More physical activity will release anxiety-reducing endorphins, which help improve mood and reduce stress.
    #4 Notice signs of chronic stress.
    I’m often asked, ‘How do we know when someone has reached ‘chronic’ stress levels?’
    The answer is if you notice stress affecting an employee’s ability to live an everyday life and perform their daily work routine.
    While this is by no means an exhaustive list, signs of chronic stress include indecisiveness, mood swings, procrastination, an increase in errors, and even increased absenteeism.
    According to a report, long-term stress weakens the responses of the immune system, because stress decreases lymphocytes, the white blood cells that help fight off infection. This means highly stressed individuals are potentially more at risk of colds and sickness than those experiencing minimal or average stress.
    You might notice those suffering from chronic stress are working more or regularly staying late to complete tasks. Ironically, people often do this because they believe it helps them avoid these feelings.
    This can also lead to leavism – employees using leave days to catch up with work. This is an ineffective coping mechanism. We end up ignoring our relationships, eliminating our social lives, eating, and sleeping poorly.
    #5 Make the most of workplace support.
    One of the longer-term side effects of staying in a heightened state of stress for too long, is that it can impact our physical and mental wellbeing. This can lead to mental health concerns like anxiety and depression. That’s why it’s so important to let employees know their mental health should always be a priority.
    If you think an individual’s mental health is seriously affected by the stresses that come at the end of the year, you should signpost them to your work’s wellbeing offerings.
    Many businesses provide support for stress and personal problems through workplace mental health support like cognitive behavioral therapy CBT, or employee assistance programs (EAPs).
    These offer direct, confidential contact with experts who can support individuals with emotional distress, from family issues, work-related problems, addiction, and mental ill-health.
    #6 And finally, kindness is key…
    Practicing kindness to others and yourself is crucial, especially at this time of year.
    Mounting personal and professional pressures in December can cause everyone to hold themselves to an impossible standard and set an insurmountable to-do list.
    Remember that no matter what level we have reached at an organization, everyone can only do their best to get everything done without compromising their emotional wellbeing.
    By treating ourselves and others with kindness and understanding, we not only reduce the risk of burnout but also enhance our ability to be present, enjoy festive moments, and engage more meaningfully with our work and personal lives, all year round.
    By Gosia Bowling, Mental Health National Lead at Nuffield Health.
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    6 Workplace Wellbeing Trends that Will Continue to Rise in 2024 

    According to our 2023 Healthier Nation Index, 44 percent of us said our jobs had negatively impacted our mental health at some point this year.
    Employers have a responsibility to help individuals manage both their physical and mental wellbeing. But it’s clear businesses still need to work harder to provide targeted support to their employees.
    But the good news is that changes in the corporate world are trying to make this possible. Previous Nuffield Health research showed that 2 in 3 businesses offer physical and mental wellbeing to their workplaces.
    With this in mind, I suggest six workplace wellbeing trends we can expect to see grow in prominence in 2024.
    #1 Workplace ergonomics
    Our 2023 Healthier Nation Index showed that 36 percent have taken time off work due to musculoskeletal issues, which shows there’s a significant need for physical wellbeing support in the workplace.
    As we move into a more permanent hybrid work set-up in 2024, we’ll see the development of specialist programs and more technological innovations as potential solutions to improve workplace efficiency and prevent MSDs.
    For example, wearable technologies like exoskeletons are revolutionary mechanical frames that a worker can wear to support and protect the body from the strain of arduous work. Research shows they can offload up to 40 percent of a load, and reduce the labor required by muscles.
    Virtual reality is also on the rise, as it can assist in employee training by simulating work environments and helping employees identify workplace hazards.
    Away from tech and innovations, it’s vital for employees and employers to note their legal requirements to provide a provision at work and at home including desk and DSE assessments.
    #2 Shifting organizational values.
    Research shows the hybrid work model has been forecasted to rise to 81 percent adoption, with Gen Z amongst its most enthusiastic supporters.
    In the past, we may have seen resistance to such demands from businesses, but now, more than ever, employers are working on ways to stay open to employee suggestions and adapt work models accordingly.
    We’ll see more of this in 2024, which highlights that workplaces are beginning to understand the importance of ensuring workers are satisfied across the board rather than just adequately remunerated.
    Companies will continue to focus on how to improve work/life balance, wellness, intellectual challenge, and personal growth and development.
    #3 Non-negotiable self-care
    According to our research, only 15 percent of us take more time to focus on self-care, when trying to support our mental health. Self-care time has traditionally been reserved for outside work hours, like a morning walk or a hot bath at night.
    However, work is invariably intertwined with our life routines, and it’s becoming clear to businesses that weaving moments of self-care throughout the day will be more beneficial to employees than grinding through a hard day and leaving their “me” time for later.
    In 2024, we’ll see more businesses encouraging their employees to educate themselves on their self-care needs. More will provide employees with helpful tools or sessions that encourage them to slow down and breathe.
    Whether it’s introducing company mindfulness sessions, inviting in experts to teach individuals about different self-care practices or researching new ideas that could potentially benefit the whole team, building awareness will be key to many businesses next year.
    #4. Inclusive wellness initiatives
    Workplace wellness is for everyone, and in 2024, diversity and inclusion efforts will continue to extend to wellness programs.
    Many businesses are starting to rethink their benefits offerings to promote fairness, equal opportunity and prevent burnout. For example, is offering a subsidized gym membership a benefit if employees are not located near a gym or able to afford the reduced membership?
    To address such disparities, gathering feedback from employees is essential. Understanding their unique needs and challenges allows tailoring benefits to address immediate concerns.
    In 2024, there’ll be a heightened focus on ensuring that every employee, regardless of background or abilities, has access to the support and resources they need to thrive.
    #5 Reducing financial stress.
    Our 2023 Healthier Nation Index revealed 59 percent of individuals believed the cost of living or a change in personal finances had negatively impacted their mental health over the past year.
    Financial worries can significantly impact mental health, and without effective support, mental health conditions can affect a person’s confidence and identity at work.
    More businesses will adapt their wellness offerings to enable employees to cut costs where they can. For example, offering flexible work options, like remote work, flexible hours, or compressed workweeks, can help employees better manage their schedules and save on commuting costs.
    There’ll also be a greater focus on offering childcare benefits or access to discounted childcare services, which will also support employees in managing the high costs associated with childcare.
    #6 NOT sleeping on the job.
    Our Healthier Nation Index highlighted that poor sleep is still a huge issue across the nation. On average, Brits are only getting 5.91 hours of sleep a night, this is down from 6.11 in 2022 and 6.19 in 2021.
    There still exists a vital need for employers to be more attuned to the sleep needs of their staff and the potential role it has in improving employees’ physical and emotional wellbeing if businesses prioritize its importance.
    In 2024, more companies will collaboratively engage with their healthcare partners to bolster sleep education and the relevant employee benefits needed to support those struggling.
    We believe more businesses will provide wellbeing support through external services like cognitive behavioral therapy, an effective therapeutic therapy for insomnia. CBT-I considers how your thoughts and beliefs about sleep may influence your sleep behaviors, examines behaviors and habits around sleep, and introduces techniques like relaxation and sleep restriction.
    By Marc Holl, Head of Primary Care at Nuffield Health.
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    Understanding the Toll of Compassion Fatigue on Workplaces

    Compassion is a vital emotion in a professional setting, helping to build and strengthen team relationships and business collaboration worldwide. However, the physical and emotional strain of consistently supporting colleagues can be taxing, especially amidst the various challenges facing the UK economy.
    In this article, I’ll explore the repercussions of compassion fatigue in the workplace and offer insights into how businesses can provide the necessary support to help their employees avoid growing feelings of fatigue and helplessness.
    What is compassion fatigue?
    The term “compassion fatigue” was first introduced in 1992, in the realm of medical professionals. It described the adverse health effects and deteriorating patient outcomes resulting from healthcare workers’ excessive exposure to trauma.
    However, its scope has broadened to include individuals in various challenging roles beyond the medical field.
    Compassion fatigue can affect anyone whose job-related stressors and triggers permeate their daily thoughts, mood, and overall well-being. Some individuals describe the feeling of becoming so saturated with distressing scenes that a psychic numbing can occur.
    Several additional factors contribute to compassion fatigue, including the ongoing strain of the cost-of-living crisis, the uncertainty stemming from global conflicts, and the constant presence of social media in our lives.
    How does it physically and emotionally affect individuals?
    Compassion fatigue can have both a physical and emotional impact on individuals. Firstly, acts of caring and feeling decrease, and these are substituted by an outward detachedness. Individuals become more task, and less emotion, focused, and may start to isolate themselves, engaging less with their colleagues and teams.
    In the short term, compassion fatigue can manifest as various physical health issues, including headaches, migraines, as well as gastrointestinal issues like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Over the long term, it heightens the risk of developing cardiovascular problems, obesity, and diabetes.
    Mood swings, ranging from moderate to severe, become commonplace, disrupting an individual’s ability to think clearly, regulate emotions, and sustain a sense of hope. All these factors combined can contribute to the emergence of stress-related mental health concerns, like anxiety or depression.
    How does it impact workplaces?
    In the absence of supportive measures from leadership, the repercussions of compassion fatigue in workplaces could be significant. Firstly, many experiencing the condition struggle with unmanageable negative emotions, like anger, irritability, and reduced tolerance.
    These often lead to interpersonal challenges, making it difficult for employees to maintain positive relationships with their colleagues and fostering a sense of disconnection from their workplaces. Cognitive functions like clear thinking, sound judgment, and effective decision-making may be compromised, affecting the ability to focus on tasks.
    Work behaviors and routines may become increasingly erratic. Some employees may exhibit increased absenteeism, take more sick days, or spend less time in the office. In contrast, others might invest extra hours working to catch up, or they may carry work home as they struggle to concentrate and find themselves less productive during regular office hours.
    Supporting employees in times of need
    A crucial step in addressing compassion fatigue is to implement training programs that acknowledge and address the emotional toll of work roles. Consider inviting mental health experts to run in-house employee seminars, which delve into topics like stress responses, emotional resilience, and self-compassion.
    This approach not only welcomes discussions about emotional well-being but also makes them an expected part of the workplace culture.
    Leaders should also scrutinize and eliminate behaviors that may exacerbate anxiety or stress among employees. For instance, if bosses are responding to emails at 10:00 p.m., an unwritten expectation may emerge that others should follow suit.
    Encouraging leaders to remove work emails from their phones and endorsing similar practices within their teams can help establish consistent, much-needed cutoff times for work-related activities.
    Highlight the value of breaks during the workday, emphasizing the importance of self-care activities like taking a refreshing outdoor walk and enjoying a proper lunch break instead of hastily eating at your desk.
    These seemingly minor adjustments encourage employees to recharge, prioritize self-care, and shift their focus away from factors that contribute to negative behaviors.
    Research indicates that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is highly effective in treating compassion fatigue, as chronic exposure to suffering can influence negative thought patterns.
    Employers may want to consider incorporating emotional well-being support, like CBT, into their employee benefits packages to assist those already grappling with emotional wellbeing challenges.
    CBT therapists can also help employees recognize lapses in self-care and boundary setting, enabling them to understand and respond to their symptoms or experiences differently over time. This can significantly enhance their overall well-being and quality of life.
    The good news is that there are practical measures you can employ to tackle compassion fatigue, both for yourself and your team, to rekindle emotional well-being within the realm of work.
    For many, compassion fatigue is a transitory phase, a clear sign that your body and mind are desperate for a recharge and a healthier work-life balance.
    When businesses heed these signals and respond accordingly, they can help employees rebuild enthusiasm for their work and in turn, most importantly, their capacity to reconnect with others.
    By Marc Holl, Head of Primary Care, Nuffield Health
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    How Remote and Hybrid Workers Can Benefit from a Return to Office

    Over the past decade, we’ve watched much of the workforce gravitate away from the office to a remote or hybrid model. This culminated in the COVID-19 pandemic, when everyone could work from home. Now, two years later, the workforce has continued its return to normalcy, though that normal looks a bit different.
    One difference that remains a point of contention is some employers’ desire for a return to the office and the inevitable pushback by employees who have worked remotely for the past several years. After all, workers have proven they can be just as productive from home while eliminating a daily commute and improving work-life balance. So why go back now?
    It’s hard to argue the conveniences of remote work, and employers that refuse to embrace it may hinder their recruiting and retention efforts. However, for employees, there are times when the office can provide something that remote work can’t, and these intangibles may incentivize incentivize workers to embrace an RTO, even if only temporarily. Here are a few instances when working from the office can prove advantageous.
    When You’re New at the Company
    Whether you’re a recent grad just starting your career or a veteran employee changing jobs, the new employee onboarding process is a time to learn as much about the company as possible. This may include interacting with coworkers and management face to face, attending in-person meetings, or immersing yourself in the company culture. Though a comprehensive onboarding program should also have a digital component to ensure new hires feel comfortable working remotely, those who live within commuting distance of the office can use this to their advantage and make a solid first impression during their first few weeks on the job.
    When You’re Applying for a Promotion
    According to LinkedIn’s Workforce Confidence Index, in a survey of over 25,000 workers, 58% believe it’s essential to be seen by the leadership team. When applying for a promotion, this is especially true. Whether intentional or unintentional, proximity bias can cause management to show preferential treatment to those they see or interact with regularly over those who are out of sight, out of mind. While promotions should ideally be awarded based on work quality and experience, being seen regularly by leadership can sometimes carry greater weight.
    When You’re Recovering from a Mistake
    Nobody is perfect, and throughout the course of your career, mistakes are bound to happen. When they do, the best course of action is to face them head-on. Facetime in the office sends management a proactive message that you’re trying to correct your wrongdoing. While the same efforts can be made remotely, optics can speak volumes, especially when rebuilding trust with managers and coworkers.
    When You’re Planning a Career Change
    A career change can involve several different things – learning new skills, transitioning into a different role, or leaving the company. Either way, it’s a big decision and one you don’t want to regret. Interacting with employees in other roles or departments whom you wouldn’t typically encounter working remotely can help you explore possible career paths within the company while generating new ideas and creating opportunities. Though other opportunities may not exist and leaving may be the right option, the interaction the office provides can help decide this conclusively and avoid regret later.
    Of course, not all remote employees have access to an office, as employers now can expand their recruiting efforts far beyond their physical location. This, combined with advances in video conferencing software that have made it an integral part of every employee’s toolkit, ensures that remote and hybrid work remain a top workplace perk that is here to stay. However, the office still has something to offer, and employees should realize this and take advantage of it. Those who do can combine the convenience of a remote or hybrid schedule with the benefits of an occasional trip to the office in order to help achieve career success.
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    3 Tips to Support the Safety of Diverse Business Travel Groups

    In the big, wide world of global companies, it’s crucial you have the power to send out your top talent to get the job done wherever it’s needed most. Many employees also see international postings as central to their career development.
    Supporting and encouraging all staff demographics to take advantage of these opportunities increases job satisfaction and talent engagement. Employees who don’t feel supported in this way may seek opportunities elsewhere.
    However, different employee demographics – including women, LGBTQ+ groups, and those with disabilities can face additional challenges when working globally.
    In this article, I highlight some of these challenges, offering a step-by-step roadmap to protect and support diverse business travel groups while prioritizing the importance of equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) for employees.
    #1 First steps
    To embrace the concept of EDI, it’s essential to understand its meaning and the significance it holds within our workplaces.
    While there’s a wealth of literature covering this subject, let’s break it down succinctly:

    Equality in the workplace signifies providing equal opportunities and ensuring fairness for all employees and job applicants.
    Diversity encompasses the broad spectrum of individuals in a workplace, and it involves not only recognizing but also appreciating and valuing these differences.
    Inclusion entails fostering an inclusive workforce where every individual feels valued and welcomed in their professional environment.

    EDI is essential when it comes to business travel because we want to know all employees are treated fairly and have the same opportunities as everyone else. However, this comes with a responsibility to offer support and keep staff safe during assignments.
    Unfortunately, there are still more risks associated with certain demographics than others when it comes to travel.
    Considering these complexities, it’s vital to have an accessible company travel policy, which contains both the essential safety information for diverse travel groups, and which meets EDI requirements.
    ISO 31030 documentation is essential here, as it provides a framework for organizations to develop, implement, and continually improve their travel risk management processes. According to its travel risk management guidelines, employers must prepare travelers for travel through practical training and education.
    “[…] Attention needs to be given to the traveler’s profile in relation to destinations because factors such as race, competencies, nationality, cultural identity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, occupation, position, disability, or medical history can all affect the risks associated with the travel […]
    In short, your company has a duty of care to effectively communicate to all employees the necessary responsibilities, which help them to comply with relevant international laws and regulations.
    #2 Cultural intelligence & doing business
    Many companies talk about being global companies that are locally relevant. Of course, we travel for business to build better relationships and gain access to other markets; this means that to leverage international scale, we must use cultural intelligence so our strategies are locally relevant in each individual market.
    To ensure business success and the safety of different employee demographics, we must tailor our travel risk management approach to the unique needs of our company. This means profiling the traveler before they go on an international workplace assignment and the destination and checking whether the area is medium-high-risk for that individual.
    Global employers must collect information on potential legal factors for all assignment locations. The best organizations track legal developments and keep information up to date.
    For example, in more than half the world, LGBTQ+ people may not be protected from discrimination by workplace law. Very few jurisdictions legally recognize the gender identity of trans people, and sexual acts between people of the same sex are criminalized in more than 70 countries. Only a tiny minority of states recognize same-sex partnerships.
    Even incorrect workplace attire can cause significant offense to other cultures. For example, in India and China, women are expected to wear knee-length skirts and avoid low necklines. In France, it is forbidden to wear niqabs and burqas, and in Sudan, women are not allowed to wear trousers.
    Once important cultural and legal distinctions have been made, businesses must confirm that employees understand the nuances of what’s expected of them.
    Working with a travel management company here, is ideal, as they collect and remain current with legal and non-legal country information and can help your business develop risk management plans before employee travel.
    They can also provide employee training, which informs employers and employees about specific locations. It outlines the legal, socio-cultural, and workplace situation for different groups in the specified country.
    For example, companies like Maiden Voyage provide in-person training workshops to support diverse business travel groups, including women, disabled travelers, and LGBTQ+ business travelers in other companies.
    Providing training like this means all businesses have appropriate support and accurate information about assignment destinations to their employees before travel.
    We believe it’s essential to build a spirit of community across travel management companies so all individuals are kept safe when traveling. The more we do this, the less likely it is for incidents to happen abroad, and we see that as most important.
    #3 Safety on arrival
    Once employees have reached their destinations, attention to the safety of their surroundings is essential.
    Ensure your travel policy makes it clear what is expected of them in terms of increasing their safety while abroad. For example, you might want to highlight the expectation that employees should take taxis late in the evening instead of walking alone in the dark.
    One of the main benefits of using a travel management company to support your business can be particularly helpful, as they provide 24/7 emergency assistance to your employees if they run into difficulties once they arrive at their location.
    There is also safety advice needed when working abroad, to keep staff safe, while not on work premises or if they are extending their trip for ‘bleisure’.
    For example, staff could be encouraged only to use licensed taxis and to take copies of their passport, fronts and backs of their credit, debit, and prepaid ATM cards, and other travel documents. Keeping copies in their luggage and one in their jacket means if any document gets stolen, they can take the copy to your local embassy.
    Stories about poor hotel safety have been rife this year, with examples including Former X Factor contestant Lucy Spraggan revealing she was raped by a hotel porter while competing on the ITV talent show in 2012.
    Now, more than ever, hotels must be checked to ensure they meet the safety requirements of all employees. For example, hotels that prioritize guest safety know that when someone is checking in, they should be handed their room details discreetly and that the hotel reception shouldn’t say their room number out loud, so details can be overhead.
    Employees should be informed that if this does happen, they have the right to request a different room from the hotel.
    Where possible, vulnerable or solo female travelers should not be checked into rooms on the ground floor or at the end of a corridor. Double locking, hotel door entry systems, which only allow guests to enter, and available on-site parking are all other important safety features to be considered.
    Safeguarding employees during international travel is an imperative duty for any responsible organization. The potential risks and challenges associated with overseas journeys are multifaceted. It’s vital to implement a robust travel safety policy, provide comprehensive training, and maintain clear lines of communication.
    Additional nuggets of safety advice for ‘out-of-hours’ activities show employees you genuinely care about their health and wellbeing and not only about the company’s bottom line. As well as fulfilling moral and legal obligations, you’re helping to foster a more loyal, productive, and engaged workforce overall.
    By Laura Busby, Commercial Director, Good Travel Management.
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    The Unspoken Privilege of Wellbeing During the Cost-of-Living Crisis

    The surge in the cost of living is deeply impacting both workers and businesses, as the escalating prices of vital commodities and services add to financial strain and psychological stress.
    A substantial 47 percent of UK employees revealed they have minimal to zero savings remaining by the close of each month. Furthermore, an additional 15 percent indicated their households encountered difficulties covering monthly expenses.
    Numerous employers are taking proactive measures to assist employees amidst escalating costs. After a demanding two years contending with the Covid-19 pandemic, a silver lining emerged: an enhanced emphasis on employee benefits and their significance to the workforce during that difficult period.
    With the cost-of-living crisis causing further issues for employees, there has never been a better time for companies to recommunicate their benefits offerings to assist staff through another increasingly uncertain and stressful time.
    However, according to research, today’s benefits appeal mostly to the highly paid, but further research shows there is a strong business case to provide employee benefits that demonstrate diversity and inclusion.
    I address some of the assumptions workplaces might make about employee wellbeing, why they are problematic, and how to provide support during the cost-of-living crisis.
    Why does the cost-of-living crisis impact the workplace?
    Nuffield Health’s 2023 Healthier Nation Index revealed 59 percent of individuals believed the cost of living or a change in personal finances had negatively impacted their mental health over the past year.
    Mental health can be significantly impacted by financial worries, and without effective support, mental health conditions can affect a person’s confidence and identity at work. The ability to concentrate and work productively can decline, and businesses may report an increase in absenteeism and presenteeism among those struggling.
    Another issue employers might face is staff taking up second jobs to meet their increased outgoings. Research shows 5.2 million workers have taken on an additional position to help pay for the increased cost of living, and another 10 million plan to, in response to rising costs.
    Employees working all hours to try and meet basic needs could easily result in fatigue and burnout. And as we all know, tired, anxious, and exhausted employees do not equate to healthy, productive teams.
    Workplace burnout may impair short-term memory, attention, and other cognitive processes essential for daily work activities, making employees significantly less productive. Burnt-out employees are also 63 percent more likely to take a sick day and 2.6 times as likely to be actively seeking a different job.
    Keen for self-care
    More businesses are encouraging employees to prioritise self-care during these challenging times. While well-intentioned, financial instability is making it difficult for employees to afford basic necessities, let alone invest in self-care activities or wellness-related expenses.
    Those working irregular or unpredictable schedules, find it near impossible to plan and commit to self-care activities. The reality for many, especially those in lower-paid or high pressure roles, is that they can’t simply take breaks, when they feel like it or need it from stressful jobs.
    Those in marginalised groups face much more than just work stress too. Compared to other economic classes, they are more likely to face exposure to crime, drug-saturated neighbourhoods, and overcrowded residences.
    Lower-income employees may not have access to the same resources that higher-income employees do, like fitness facilities, healthy food options, and mental health services.
    Nutrient-dense foods are also now too expensive for many households to afford. A recent study estimated that lower-income families would need to dedicate a whopping 43-70 percent of their food budget to fruits and vegetables to meet dietary guidelines.
    Where do we go from here?
    It’s clear the ongoing stress associated with living with less than one needs can create constant wear and tear on the body. This, in turn, disrupts and harms the body’s physiological stress response mechanism while also diminishing cognitive and psychological responses essential for confronting challenges and daily stressors.
    Many businesses pride themselves on offering a suite of perks for employees, which they claim will help those during particularly difficult times, like the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. However, our 2022 data actually suggests that 1 in 3 employees are offered no physical or mental wellbeing services by their employer.
    We believe responsible businesses should offer these services to their staff. Those who don’t already should invest in the health of their employees by speaking to expert health third-party providers who can guide them on the best offerings to introduce.
    For the two-thirds of businesses that do offer employee benefits, it’s worth noting some of these might not be accessible or suitable to all employees. For example, is offering a subsidised gym membership a benefit if employees are not located near a gym or are able to afford the reduced membership?
    Managers need to fundamentally rethink their benefits offerings to promote fairness and equal opportunity and prevent burnout. When deciding which to offer – specifically during a cost-of-living crisis- it’s essential to gather feedback from employees to understand their unique needs and challenges. Tailoring benefits to address their immediate concerns can have a significant positive impact on their well-being and loyalty to an organisation.
    Providing employees with fair and competitive wages is one of the most direct ways to address financial challenges related to the cost of living. A living wage can help employees cover their basic needs without having to struggle as much financially.
    Investing in employees’ professional development through tuition reimbursement or training opportunities can help them start to build the skills needed for potential higher-paying roles, which they may be able to apply for more quickly in the future.
    Making sure you provide access to relevant benefits is also key. For example, offering flexible work options, like remote work, flexible hours, or compressed workweeks, can help employees better manage their schedules and save on commuting costs.
    However, if employees’ roles do require them to be physically in the workplace, perhaps your business might consider providing transportation benefits instead, like subsidised public transportation passes, which can help alleviate commuting costs. Offering childcare benefits or access to discounted childcare services can also help employees manage the high costs associated with childcare during a cost-of-living crisis.
    Where signs of burnout, financial stress, or anxiety are recognised, employers should signpost employees towards the emotional wellbeing support available to them. This may include Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) or cognitive behavioural therapy sessions (CBT), which give individuals direct access to a specialist who can help them explore and understand the factors which are impacting their health and wellbeing.
    Communicate helpful resources like where to apply for monetary support, how to access debt management helplines or find financial literacy programmes. Regardless of whether this support comes from an external resource or from your own company’s offerings, this advice can empower employees to make informed decisions about budgeting, saving, and managing their finances.
    Additionally, highlighting community resources, government programmes, and nonprofit organisations can help employees find accessible self-care resources if they have limited financial means.
    During these challenging times, employees want to know their employer has their best interests at heart. Wellbeing is tied to feeling valued and appreciated, and it’s essential our colleagues are met with understanding and assistance every step of the way.
    By Marc Holl, Head of Primary Care, Nuffield Health.
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