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    3 Ways to Adopt a Holistic Approach to Mental Health in the Workplace

    According to new research, scientists advocate for a holistic approach to mental health that integrates physical and mental wellbeing.
    They emphasize that while the medication is commonly used to treat mental health conditions, it is equally important to consider environmental, lifestyle, and social factors. This comprehensive approach focuses on addressing the emotional, physical and mental needs of individuals.
    Several practical steps can be taken to help employers implement this holistic approach in the workplace to create a supportive and healthy environment for employees.
    Here are some strategies to consider…
    #1 Establish clear lines of communication
    Dealing with employees with mental health problems requires employers to lead with empathy and recognize any personal issues which may have affected their wellbeing at work. After all, they’re only human, and while many desire to leave their troubles at the door, often that is easier said than done.
    That’s why encouraging open and regular communication is a key component in adopting a holistic approach to mental health.
    With a recent poll revealing there’s still a stigma attached to discussing mental health issues with colleagues, leaders should foster an environment where employees feel safe discussing their mental health without fear of judgment.
    To break this barrier, employers can establish regular check-ins and group discussions. These sessions provide a supportive platform for employees to share their experiences and seek advice, promoting a culture of openness and understanding within the workplace.
    #2 Encourage physical activity
    Promoting physical activity is equally important, as physical and mental health are interconnected.
    It’s well known that physical exercise releases ‘feel-good’ chemicals such as endorphins and dopamine, which make us feel positive and relieve stress—but the benefits of ’emotional fitness’ on physical health are less widely known.
    However, recent findings from Nuffield Health’s 2024 Healthier Nation Index found that in the last year, 46.20 percent said work had negatively impacted their physical/mental health.
    Despite the well-documented benefits of physical activity for improving mental health, many employees lack the time to engage due to work demands. Nearly half (45.70%) of respondents admit that lack of time due to work acted as a barrier, with 42.91 percent stating that more time should be put aside for it.
    However, physical activity is vital for improving mental health, and a holistic approach requires employers to understand this link and promote movement in the workplace.
    Employers can support their workforce by encouraging regular outdoor breaks, subsidizing gym memberships, or offering on-site health assessments. These initiatives promote physical health and enhance mental well-being.
    #3 Signpost relevant wellbeing resources
    Sometimes, just talking things through with someone who’s removed from the situation and has professional training in alleviating emotional issues is key to improving mental health problems.
    As an employer, providing wellbeing support to your workforce will not only help boost emotional well-being, but it will also enhance productivity and likely increase retention.
    Available support may consist of services like Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Counselling, and Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to assist employees dealing with personal difficulties that might negatively affect their work performance, health, and wellbeing.
    But if employees don’t know how to access it, what use is that to them?
    Enhancing access to mental health support means clearly signposting the available resources through various communication channels, such as regular emails, a virtual wellbeing hub, or an office huddle, to keep employees informed. This ensures that employees know how to access the help they need when they need it.
    And if in-house support is not available, providing information on external charities and services can be beneficial.
    By Gosia Bowling, National Lead for Mental Health at Nuffield Health.
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    The Post Non-Compete Workforce: A Business’s Guide to Adapt and Survive 

    In a move targeted to promote more efficient matching between employer and employee, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has set its sights on non-compete agreements, proposing a ban that could significantly impact the job market. The FTC’s proposal aims to curtail the widespread use of non-compete clauses, which have long been controversial for their potential to stifle competition and limit worker mobility.
    At its core, a non-compete agreement is a contractual provision that restricts employees from working for a competitor or starting a competing business for a specified period after leaving their current employer. Proponents argue that they protect a company’s trade secrets and prevent employees from taking valuable knowledge and clients to competitors. However, critics argue that non-competes can hinder innovation, limit job opportunities, and suppress wages by trapping workers in undesirable positions.
    The question is not, “Will this affect our business or industry,” but rather it’s a question of when and how. And in order to mitigate risk moving forward, there are impactful actions that every organization can take to evolve with the changes in a way that doesn’t hinder growth for the business.
    The Current Landscape
    The FTC’s proposed ban attempts to address these concerns by prohibiting employers from enforcing non-compete agreements nationwide. If implemented, the ban would mark a significant departure from the current patchwork of state laws governing the use and enforceability of non-competes. But beyond these surface-level speculations, there’s a lingering question as to how certain industries continue to operate moving forward without risk or damage to business development or growth.
    Take a look, for example, at industries where closed ecosystems and client ownership are paramount. Fields like law, talent management, and consulting — where relationships with clients form the bedrock of business — will likely experience heightened concern and debate over the ruling. Critics in these sectors fear that eliminating non-compete clauses could erode their competitive advantage by making it easier for former employees to poach clients or leverage sensitive information.
    However, for professionals who frequently move across industries and for those in roles where client ownership is less relevant, such as executives in B2C companies, where you sell to millions as opposed to a small group of big-spending corporate clients, the impact of this ruling will likely be minimal. These roles often emphasize internal management, employee relations, and strategic planning rather than direct client relationships.
    Proactive Change for the Future
    Regardless of the degree to which industry may or may not be affected, perhaps this indicates it’s time to take a closer look at traditional business structures, policies, and operations and find opportunities to evolve for the better, not the business, of course, but also for the individuals that make up the organization. In determining whether or not this ban would actually cause collateral damage, leaders have an opportunity to solidify and strengthen their company’s culture through precautionary measures.
    The Role of Company Culture
    It’s true – you can’t be everything to everyone, but it’s important to plant a stake in the ground when it comes to company identity and culture and, more importantly, ensure actions and decisions are reflective of that culture. How are employees treated, developed, and supported? What does internal communication look like? Then, apply these trends and values to situations that fall outside of standard operating procedures. For example, in the absence of a non-compete clause, if an employee were to leave the organization taking with them valuable intellectual property, how would current employees feel watching leaders pursue action against that employee?
    These considerations don’t vary solely based on industry but also present different challenges based on the size of the organization. Intellectual property and client relationships will likely hold greater weight for a smaller organization, and in that same list of vulnerabilities, these companies tend to feel greater pain after losing an employee.
    Consistency is Key
    Looking towards the future, companies that don’t succeed in solidifying their processes in a world without non-competes will lose great talent, and one thing is for certain: this ban will place a great deal of flexibility back into the hands of the employee. It’s been years since the pandemic hijacked conventional workplace models, but companies are still straddling the fence between directions in which to grow – first, granting remote work opportunities, then enforcing a ‘return to office’ mandate, teasing the idea of a four-day work week, or insisting all executives work six days per week in response to low performance.
    Consistency is key. It’s imperative that company expectations and policies match company culture. In doing so, there’s a greater chance of building a talented team whose values reflect those of the company, resulting in strong retention and lower turnover.
    Ultimately, while the ruling has sparked strong reactions in client-driven industries, it may pave the way for greater job flexibility and mobility across the broader workforce. The final form of the ruling has yet to be seen, but its ramifications could reshape employment practices nationwide.
    Kyle Samuels is the founder and CEO of Creative Talent Endeavors, an executive search consultancy and agency.
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    Relationship Challenges at Work: 3 Steps for Building Rapport

    People in today’s workplace often face a range of challenges that can seriously undermine wellbeing—from loneliness and exclusion to stress and burnout to conflict with colleagues or managers. A key factor influencing this is unsatisfactory working relationships and the lack of rapport management skills that help address them. Research suggests that many people are dissatisfied with their working relationships, and understanding how to improve them is thus of critical importance. This article explains ways of achieving this.
    People sometimes think of personal development as an individual matter. In fact, however, growth is always influenced – for better for worse, and to a greater or lesser extent – by those around us. When our relationships with our co-workers – colleagues, leaders, managers, or direct reports – are problematic, our wellbeing is affected, and this will negatively affect our growth. Positive relationships are key to wellbeing and growth, but how can this be achieved? This article explains three steps that HR managers can take.
    1. Understand what triggers positive or negative rapport
    First, it is important to understand what the key triggers are that affect whether rapport is positive or negative. We call these the GAAFFE Triggers:


    Goals: Do you understand each other’s goals and are they aligned?


    Autonomy–Control: Are you aligned in the amount of freedom or direction that you each want in order to do your work well?


    Attention–Inattention: Are you aligned in the amount of attention/collaboration or independence that you each want in order to do your work well?


    Face: Are you supportive of each other’s/everyone’s need for respect and inclusion?


    Fairness: Are you treating each other/everyone fairly?


    Ethicality: Are you each acting with integrity and promoting ethical behavior?

    For instance, consider the following authentic example:
    Christoph works for a scientific consultancy company. He is an ambitious and hard-working young man, keen to perform well, get promoted and to earn more money. He has been given increasing responsibility and praised for his work. However, he found out that colleagues in a different division of his company were being promoted more quickly than in his division and were earning more money. He spoke to his boss, Robert, about this. Robert acknowledged that Christoph was performing above his grade but said that, in his view, staff should not be considered for promotion until they had worked in their role for a set period of time. Christoph was unhappy about this response from his boss and started looking for another job.
    In this case, Christoph’s goals were thwarted by his boss, and he felt he was being treated unfairly. This triggered a negative reaction, both towards his boss and the company. Yet his boss seemed unaware of the impact on Christoph of his response.
    This brings us to the second key point.
    2. Explore employee experiences of working relationships
    The second step is to find out how employees are feeling about their working relationships. For this, it is particularly valuable not only to explore how far they are having a positive experience of each of the GAAFFE triggers, but also to ask how important the issue is to them personally. This is because, despite all of the GAAFFE triggers consistently affecting people’s perceptions of the quality of working relationships, individual priorities may nevertheless vary. What is especially annoying or upsetting for one person, may be less critical for another. In addition, contextual factors play a big role. 
    In recent research, using a tool known as the Relationship Management Profiler to probe employee attitudes towards their line manager, it emerged that all respondents rated mutual understanding and awareness of Goals to be important or very important. However, over 25% reported that their experience of this was low or very low, indicating there was a clear issue that needed addressing for more than one-quarter of the participants of the study. Sometimes, if the figures are given the other way round, for example, that 75% are having a positive experience, it can sound high and give the impression that all is well. However, it is important to consider the details.  
    This raises another issue: the danger of relying on mean or summary scores. revant behavior is likely to vary from person to person and from department to department. As a result, overall ratings may easily mask some fundamental issues of concern. Even within one setting, the experiences of different individuals may vary because of personal differences and interpersonal ‘chemistry.’ So, it is always important to look at the full range of responses, and not to ignore low experiential ratings, even when they are given by a small minority. Even 15% negative ratings can have a detrimental effect on employee morale, and for the individuals concerned it can have a significant negative impact on their wellbeing.
    So, what can be done? This brings us to the third step.
    3. Support rapport skills development
    Insights from Step 2 will indicate the issues and contexts that are in particular need of attention. Here, we note some key relationship management strategies for taking action. They can be divided into three broad areas:

    Attend: pay close attention to what people say or do and how others react
    Think: reflect on what you notice, using key concepts such as the GAAFFE triggers to make sense of it
    Engage: find ways of connecting with others and of empowering them as much as possible. In addition, tackle difficult issues and flex where possible to accommodate individual preferences.  

    By helping employees and managers to engage more in these three steps, progress can be made towards a more inclusive workplace culture that support wellbeing. 
    Helen Spencer-Oatey is Managing Director of GlobalPeople Consulting Ltd. and Emeritus Professor at the University of Warwick. She is well known internationally for her work on rapport management and is co-author, with Domna Lazidou, of Making Working Relationships Work: The TRIPS Toolkit for handling relationship challenges and promoting rapport (Castledown, 2024).
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    Navigating the Impact of the ‘Flexi-fallout’ on Employee Wellbeing

    Remote and flexible working arrangements have become the new norm, and in 2023, at least 44 percent of employed adults worked this way.
    But as businesses begin to transition back to onsite working, employees are growing concerned that they will lose the flexibility they’ve grown accustomed to.
    This anxiety will likely cause an increase in flexible working requests under the Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023.
    To address these concerns and support employee wellbeing during this transition, employers must take proactive steps to assess and mitigate the potential negative impacts of the ‘flexi-fallout.’
    Consider the impact of the ‘flexi-fallout’ on employees
    While mandating a return to onsite working may seem like a straightforward solution to increase productivity, it’s essential to consider the broader implications for employee wellbeing.
    For the majority of employees, the flexibility afforded by remote or hybrid work arrangements is pivotal for maintaining a work-life balance, and removing these options could result in increased stress, work dissatisfaction, and ultimately, burnout.
    Research has shown that hybrid work models can enhance productivity and job satisfaction, with 65 percent of hybrid workers reporting increased productivity and 59 percent experiencing improved job satisfaction.
    Before implementing any changes, employers must carefully evaluate how transitioning back to on-site working will affect their employees’ emotional well-being and productivity and whether the change is warranted.
    It is crucial to engage in open dialogue with employees to understand their perspectives on flexible working. By soliciting feedback and addressing concerns, employers can ensure that any decisions regarding workplace policies are informed and considerate of employee needs.
    Model benefits during the transition
    Workplace culture plays a major role in employee wellbeing and happiness, and maintaining a healthy outlook will help to facilitate a smooth transition back to onsite working and prevent a flexi-fallout.
    Employers should lead by example by encouraging employees to embrace the change in working policy and help them feel more motivated and supported about returning to the workplace.
    Taking a punitive approach to enforcing onsite attendance can backfire and lead to increased worker dissatisfaction and potentially higher employee turnover.
    Instead, employers should emphasise the benefits of returning to in-person working, such as increased social interaction, collaboration, and creativity.
    Office environments offer opportunities for spontaneous interactions and idea-sharing that can enhance problem-solving and alleviate feelings of isolation experienced by remote workers.
    Emphasising the value of these face-to-face interactions can help employees feel more connected and engaged with their work and colleagues.
    Establish a supportive workplace culture
    Creating a healthy and inclusive culture at work is vital for prioritising employee wellbeing and maintaining employee motivation and efficiency.
    Employers have a responsibility to cultivate a good working environment and must establish open lines of communication and stress the importance of a healthy work-life balance.
    A recent survey found that one in three workers have quit a job due to poor management and toxic work culture, but organisations that establish a respectful, transparent, and trustful environment are more likely to make their employees feel valued and empowered.
    Encourage workers to raise concerns they may have and remind them about setting boundaries and taking regular breaks to protect their well-being while enhancing job satisfaction and reducing the risk of burnout.
    Support employees with the right resources
    Transitioning back to onsite working from flexible working can be a struggle for some employees, but making resources and support services available can ease this process.
    Mental health support services like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) sessions can equip workers with tools to manage stress and anxiety and address other mental health concerns that can create further workplace challenges.
    Counselling services like Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) can help employees deal with personal or work-related challenges to mitigate stress and improve emotional and mental well-being.
    Improved employee well-being can reduce absenteeism and enhance productivity to the benefit of both workers and employers.
    All teams should also complete emotional literacy training which can help colleagues empathise with each other as they undertake workplace changes, and this will also help with coping with complicated interpersonal dynamics to foster healthy communication and resilience.
    By prioritising employee wellbeing and fostering a supportive and resilient workplace culture, employers can ensure a smooth transition back to onsite working while maintaining high levels of morale, productivity, and job satisfaction to successfully avoid a ‘flexi fallout.’
    By Gosia Bowling, National Lead for Mental Wellbeing at Nuffield Health.
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    How New-Age Mentorship Programs Have the Potential to Increase Employee Retention

    The workforce is a living, breathing entity that changes with each generation. The speed of this change has never been more significant than now. There are several key factors driving this accelerated change:

    Labor scarcity faced by industrialized nations in a post-pandemic world
    The digital revolution experienced by Gen Y millennials and Gen Z Zoomers—the two generational cohorts that represent the future of the modern workforce.

    No workplace generations have been studied more carefully.  We know almost everything about them, thanks to research universities, the Big 4 accounting firms, the Big 3 management consulting firms, and think tanks. Wise employers will look to the needs of these younger generations to target their employee retention efforts.  Mentorship, career and professional development, and working for a management team that cares about them personally top the list of priorities gleaned from multiple surveys across the Millennial (45 and under) and Zoomer (25 and under) crowds.
    New-Age Mentorship
    Traditional mentorship programs still exist, of course. However, mentoring now goes beyond the traditional model, where more experienced (and typically older) workers assume the role of teacher and advisor. Such traditional mentoring opportunities were formal, hierarchical, and prescriptive in nature where the mentee was expected to listen and learn in a one-way transfer of information. That’s no longer the case in new-age mentorship programs. While the aim remains to provide guidance and support to help someone reach their full potential, modern mentoring’s goals are much broader. A few central components of modern mentoring include:

     Skill building
    Gaining greater organizational exposure
    Addressing mentees’ career and professional development needs and goals

    New-age mentorship is more collaborative, diverse, and asynchronous in nature, aligning it with today’s needs for more agile and adaptable work environments. It assumes that all generations can benefit from the mentoring relationship with the focus being on giving rather than getting, sharing values, and gaining focused training and expert insights in real-time, bite-sized chunks rather than via formal year-long commitments.
    The beauty of new-age mentorship programs is that learning goes both ways, and all participants benefit. Here’s how companies are experimenting with new-age mentoring programs and how your organization might want to consider adopting and rolling out its own program.
    Reverse Mentoring
    Reverse mentoring involves more junior members of the workforce “training up” more experienced coworkers on newer technologies, exposing them to the most current digital media platforms and the like. With so much changing so quickly, many older and more senior coworkers are sponges for new information, and the younger cohorts can thrive in sharing their know-how and expertise.
    Peer-to-Peer Mentoring
    Not all organizations have the infrastructure to assign more experienced professionals to teach earlier-career workers the important techniques and shortcuts that increase efficiency and get better results. A productive work around is to recognize individual achievement by recognizing someone’s expertise in a given area and asking that individual to mentor peers. Opportunities to mentor or serve as an onboarding “buddy” are often the first step in any “high potential” (Hi-Po) or emerging leader program.
    Team or Group Mentoring
    Group mentoring occurs between a group of mentors and mentees rather than just one mentor and one mentee at a time. It allows for a diversity of thoughts, ideas, and voices. Creating a broader sense of collective wisdom, group mentoring capitalizes on everyone’s expertise rather than the experiences of one mentor alone. In team mentoring, one individual may take on a more dominant role in overseeing multiple mentees, or the program can be reversed where a singular mentee has multiple mentors. The intentional variety of feedback and opportunity to develop stronger team alignment is core to team mentoring’s value proposition.
    Flash or Speed Mentoring
    Upskilling often relies on exposure to new perspectives, and flash mentoring allows employees to connect with a mentor for only one or two sessions. It’s all about quick and deep skill acquisition and less about career guidance. Virtual or in-person “coffee chats” allow for greater networking and organizational exposure opportunities while providing quick insights into solving common challenges.
    Digital Mentoring
    Wait, there’s an app for that!  Online mentoring software platforms are springing up as we speak and are particularly well-suited to today’s remote, hybrid, and satellite workplaces. Such apps help employees foster meaningful relationships and maintain personal connections, even while working from home or operating in different time zones. They’re intended to establish deeper connections between mentors and mentees, drive greater loyalty and connection to the organization, and alleviate much of the isolation, loneliness, and anxiety that particularly plagues the younger Gen Z workforce.
    There are other approaches that include “mentoring constellations,” “mentors of the moment,” and similar, short-term mentorship models. What these new-age programs have in common is their intended purpose of enhancing relationships, upskilling individuals and teams, and building a stronger sense of connection, purpose, and shared values.
    How to Get Started
    If you’re looking for an opportunity to introduce new-age mentorship programs to your organization, start with these three steps:

    Have your team watch the movie “The Intern” with Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway together. It’s a fun, funny, lighthearted, but touching movie that will get everyone on board with the spirit of what you’re trying to accomplish.
    Do a little research beyond this blog article to determine what kinds of new-age mentoring opportunities might work best for your organization, and bring your initial findings to the potential participants themselves for their input and buy-in.
    Launch your first program with a small group to gain traction, monitor feedback, and develop best practices and guidelines moving forward in preparation for the broader rollout.

    New-age mentorship often involves more egalitarian relationships where both parties can learn from one another. It’s about giving as much as getting. This flexible and dynamic approach to team and individual development involves elements of coaching, mutual support, networking, and skill-sharing. You can’t get a much better return on investment for your retention dollar. If all goes well, the momentum will take care of itself, the buy-in will be strong, and your program will be fully up and running in no time.
    Paul Falcone is a bestselling HarperCollins Leadership author of 17 books, a long-time columnist for SHRM, the former CHRO of Nickelodeon, and the principal of Paul Falcone Workplace Leadership Consulting, LLC in Los Angeles.
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    Why Boots’ Return to the Office is a Mistake

    Another month, another controversial move by a big company. This time, it’s Boots scrapping their two days of working from home in favour of a full return to the office. It’s the kind of swimming against the current that can make even the best of us question our direction; do they know something we don’t? From Boots to Zoom, the big names are burying their stake in the ground – but what if the devil is in the details of these statements? They are, after all, articulated by their CEOs.
    Let’s investigate.
    In its statement, Boots justifies its decision based on the perceived effectiveness of informal in-person interactions during the company’s current three-day office policy. The CEO said, ‘There is no doubt in my mind that the informal conversations, brief catch-ups, and ability to meet in groups in person have been far more effective and better for our unique Boots culture than the enforced formality of remote meetings.’
    This statement clearly fronts an executive’s view. There’s no doubt that more in-person time benefits command and control leadership, where leaders can feel like there is progress and positive outcomes because they see everything with their own eyes. But this ban on any flexible work will, at best, favour a group-think mentality and, at worst, deliver authority bias.
    The HR expert might also argue that it’s all just a thinly veiled attempt at reducing headcount in tough economic times. If this is true, what type of employees do Boots want to cut? Brian Kropp, Chief of HR Research at Gartner, says forcing employees to return fully on-site is a risk to diversity, equity, and inclusion because underrepresented groups of talent have seen vast improvements in how they work since being allowed more flexibility — and could be lost if flexibility isn’t an option.
    Boots’ statement goes on to explain that the changes only apply to a subset of office workers and that it won’t change the working model for the vast majority. In fact, it claims that since Boots frontline employees are used to being on-site, this makes it fair between knowledge and frontline workers.
    Is that what the frontline wants? Not better tools, communication, networking, career progression opportunities, or inclusion as members of the company’s mission, but less flexibility for knowledge workers? It doesn’t make sense. Office mandates don’t empower the frontline. They facilitate the creation of rules and processes in isolation, creating ivory towers where ideas and decisions are out of touch with customer issues.
    Hybrid working was the great leveller that democratised decisions and helped office workers empathise with frontline challenges through free-flowing, digital communication. Toyota, for example, is known for the excellence of its Toyota Production System, created through a culture of ‘pulling’ ideas from the frontline instead of pushing mandates from the top. Companies should follow in Toyota’s footsteps to democratise ideation, not isolate it to a physical location and time of day.
    But five days in the office means two more days of interactions and potential ideas, says Boots. Again, does it? Where is the data supporting that statement, let alone this whole decision, besides the CEO’s absolute belief? It doesn’t sound like a business decision based on new insight. Instead, it sounds like their leadership thinks interactions and ideas only occur when they’re around to see them; if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
    Maybe three days a week in the office isn’t the sweet spot for everyone, but Boots’ new five-days-in-the-office policy certainly doesn’t sound like progress. Working from home has earned its place and can back it up with data. Hopefully, the market will recognise this instead of following blindly in Boots’ footsteps.
    By Kaz Hassan, Community & Industry Insights Lead at Unily.
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    Overthinking is Not a Disorder, it’s a Superpower

    Most of us are no strangers to experiencing feelings of overwhelm and disruption caused by our own thoughts, commonly understood as overthinking. Research shows we are becoming more anxious as a nation, and it’s no wonder, given the various external factors such as the cost-of-living crisis and global political conflict that have taken place over the past couple of years.
    While a certain amount of overthinking can be constructive, it has the potential to quickly consume us and, in extreme cases, can have a detrimental effect on our mental health and work performance. Overthinking can also lead to tensions within teams, causing you to over-analyze actions of yourself or others or check up on people more frequently. Let’s face it: nobody likes being micro-managed.
    While many factors influence our individual causes of overthinking, it’s easier to stay in control when we have a deeper understanding of why we are overthinking.
    Firstly, how do we define ‘overthinking’?
    Research shows that overthinking – whether it’s in our personal or professional lives – can have serious effects on our well-being and mental and physical health. There’s a fine line between what constitutes constructive critical thinking to make more informed decisions versus overthinking. Critical thinking typically revolves around a clear purpose, driven by logic and with a clear outcome, while overthinking tends to be the polar opposite of this, with many different outcomes and possibilities that make it difficult to see the clear path.
    What causes our brains to overthink?
    Overthinking is often triggered by change and uncertainty – of which we have all experienced a lot over the past few years. And as we all continue to navigate change in an ever-evolving workplace, a whole new set of anxieties have begun to settle in for both leaders and employees. For example, an increase in virtual communication tools has removed the ability to read the expressions and body language of co-workers, leaving room for uncertainty around interpersonal relationships with co-workers.
    Outside of the day-to-day, ongoing global layoffs have resulted in heavier workloads, more ambiguity, and greater uncertainty, leaving some to obsess about all possible scenarios and outcomes beyond their control. Many leaders are now also concerned and anxious about how hybrid and “return to office” policies will impact their workforce.
    When we allow ourselves to overthink, it can feel like a weakness. Your inner critic can be harsh but is also usually trying to protect you – often from fear of failure or shame.
    How can we identify when we are overthinking?
    Understanding overthinking is key to managing it. By identifying when it happens, you can rationalize your thoughts to manage the outcome. Overthinking tends to manifest itself in three main ways: rumination, worrying, and decision-making.
    Rumination involves repetitive thinking or dwelling on negative feelings, which might result from a situation at work when made a mistake or forgot something important. The memory of this is triggered in our brains causing ‘flashbacks’ that can come through at any time of day or night, stopping us in our tracks or disrupting our concentration.
    Worrying, in the context of overthinking, is spending more than necessary time considering things that are in the future. It’s helpful when it leads to action, but most of the time, we tend to worry about things that are out of our control.
    The more practical and in-the-moment way we can overthink is when making decisions. This can happen when we want to make the best decision possible, so we exhaust all possibilities to make sure we do, causing us to overthink the details that are often insignificant in the bigger picture.
    What techniques can we use to help manage overthinking?
    If you think you’re a serial ruminator, what are your ruminating thoughts telling you that you care about? What can you do about it? For example, if you are continuously thinking about a mistake you made at work, instead of punishing yourself, try to focus on what it has taught you. Feeling remorseful is natural, and shows how much you care. This is why we talk about ‘learning from our mistakes.’
    When worrying, there are a couple of different approaches that have been proven successful. The first is allowing ourselves time to let our worries run free, writing them down to get them out of our head, seeing if we can do anything about them now, and if not, leaving them until our next “worry time.” The second focuses on the “here and now.” There are many techniques that can help us get out of the past or future, such as mindfulness, breathing exercises, and journaling – some work for us and others don’t.
    When faced with a decision, a way to avoid overthinking is to settle on an option as soon as the desired outcome is achieved. Ask yourself, does this decision solve the problem or achieve the outcome? If the answer is yes, job done. It’s not always easy, especially for important decisions that require a higher level of thought, but for day-to-day decisions, this technique can be highly effective. Forcing ourselves to be satisfied and see the positive benefits of the decision and the time saved can help us do it more often.
    Understanding what drives our overthinking and employing the right techniques to address them is an ongoing process in our personal and professional development. And sometimes, having an unbiased external party to act as a sounding board, like a professional coach, can help us reflect on our thoughts, understand their impact, and recenter ourselves for a positive path forward. It’s all about developing an understanding of what makes us tick and how to best use it to our advantage.
    By Sinead Keenan, Chief Innovation Officer at EZRA,
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    The Reskilling Revolution: How Asia-Pacific is Leading the Charge in the Future of Work

    The landscape of work is undergoing a dramatic transformation across the globe. But in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, something truly remarkable is brewing. Here, innovation, flexibility, and a willingness to embrace change are shaping the future of work in exciting ways. This article explores five key trends that will define the APAC workplace and how talent acquisition, recruitment, HR, and employer branding professionals can navigate this evolving landscape.
    1. From Routine to Revolution: The Rise of the Innovation-Driven Workforce
    Gone are the days of rote memorization and repetitive tasks. APAC is experiencing a rapid shift towards a workforce that values creativity, problem-solving, and critical thinking. A McKinsey & Company report predicts that by 2040, China and India will contribute a staggering 50% of global GDP. This economic boom is pushing APAC companies to automate routine tasks at an unprecedented rate.
    The focus is now on upskilling employees for roles that require a different skillset – one that prioritizes digital fluency, analytical thinking, and the ability to solve complex problems. Singapore’s ambitious goal of achieving a 50% job transformation rate by 2025 (as highlighted by LinkedIn’s Jobs on the Rise Report) underscores the urgency for innovation-driven skill development. Leading companies like Alibaba, Tencent, and Huawei are at the forefront of this movement, heavily investing in R&D and fostering dynamic cultures of innovation.
    Actionable Insights:

    Conduct skills gap analyses to identify areas where your workforce needs upskilling or reskilling.
    Partner with training providers to offer relevant courses and workshops on topics like data analysis, problem-solving, and digital communication.
    Encourage a culture of continuous learning by providing employees with opportunities to attend conferences, workshops, and online courses.

    2. Bridging the Gap: The Rise of the Hybrid Workforce Model
    Remote work isn’t a perk anymore; it’s a reality for a significant portion of the APAC workforce. A recent M Moser Associates survey reveals that a staggering 45% of Asian employees prefer a hybrid work model, significantly higher than the global average of 37%. Companies like Fujitsu, with their “smart work” policy, and Grab, with their “flexible work” program, are recognizing this shift and proactively responding to employee preferences.
    This flexibility allows them to attract top talent in a competitive market while catering to the evolving needs of their existing workforce. However, creating a seamless integration between remote and on-site teams, fostering employee engagement in a hybrid environment, and navigating legal and logistical hurdles remain crucial challenges that HR professionals need to address.
    Actionable Insights:

    Develop clear policies and guidelines for remote work arrangements, including communication protocols, expectations around performance, and data security measures.
    Invest in collaboration tools and technologies that facilitate seamless communication and teamwork between remote and on-site employees.
    Organize regular virtual and in-person team-building activities to maintain employee engagement and company culture in a hybrid environment.

    3. The Human Touch in the Age of Automation: The Skills of the Future
    As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) redefine job roles, the need for a blended skillset becomes paramount. While technical expertise is important, the World Economic Forum emphasizes the growing importance of “soft skills” in the APAC region, particularly analytical thinking and design/user experience.
    AgileHRO predicts a rise in demand for skills like data analysis, problem-solving, and digital communication, coupled with empathy, emotional intelligence, and the ability to build strong human connections. This focus on “soft skills” positions Asian workforces to excel in an environment where building rapport and adapting to change are key differentiators.
    Actionable Insights:

    Integrate soft skills training into your employee development programs, focusing on areas like communication, collaboration, and emotional intelligence.
    Encourage teamwork and cross-functional collaboration to promote idea exchange and the development of essential soft skills.
    Recognize and reward employees who demonstrate valuable soft skills such as leadership, problem-solving, and adaptability.

    4. Beyond Borders: The Rise of Borderless Talent Acquisition
    The intense competition for talent in Asia is pushing companies to think beyond national borders. With a whopping 90% of the APAC workforce open to remote or hybrid work arrangements (as per PWC Asia Pacific’s Time report), the talent pool is expanding exponentially.
    Singapore, for instance, with its diverse talent pool and thriving startup ecosystem, attracts tech talent from across the region. Companies like Sea Group and Razer leverage this advantage effectively. AgileHRO predicts a rise in “borderless talent acquisition” strategies, where companies utilize remote work flexibility and invest in reskilling and upskilling programs to attract and retain top talent from a global pool. This not only bridges the skills gap but also future-proofs the workforce.
    5. Well-being at the Forefront: Prioritizing Mental Health in the Evolving Workplace
    Compared to other regions, Asia grapples with significantly higher rates of low work productivity, anxiety, and depression. A TELUS Health report highlights this as a “growing concern” for workplace well-being in the region. With a work productivity score of just 47.2 compared to the global average of 58.2 (and significantly lower than the US and Europe), prioritizing mental health is no longer optional for APAC organizations.
    Companies that create supportive work environments that prioritize employee well-being will have a significant competitive edge. Implementing flexible work arrangements, offering comprehensive mental health resources, and fostering a culture of open communication are key to achieving this. Certis’ 2022 Employee Assistant Programme, which provides mental health resources and support to all employees and their families, serves as a commendable example.
    Actionable Insights:

    Implement flexible work arrangements that cater to individual needs and help employees achieve a healthy work-life balance.
    Offer comprehensive mental health resources, including access to employee assistance programs (EAPs) and confidential counseling services.
    Foster a culture of open communication where employees feel comfortable discussing mental health challenges without fear of stigma.
    Promote healthy habits and well-being initiatives, such as mindfulness training and stress management workshops.

    The future of work in Asia-Pacific is brimming with exciting possibilities. By embracing innovation, agility, and a human-centric approach, talent acquisition, recruitment, HR, and employer branding professionals can navigate this transformative landscape and build a future-proof workforce that thrives in the years to come.
    AgileHRO is a leading provider of innovative HR solutions, empowering organizations to build, manage, and engage a global workforce.
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