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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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    Revitalizing Workplace Morale: Innovative Tactics for Boosting Employee Engagement in 2024

    This year it has become increasingly evident that the success of any organization hinges upon its most valuable asset: its people. As the modern workforce continues to evolve, it’s imperative that employers acknowledge the pivotal role employees play, particularly when it comes to the success of their companies. One pressing issue that demands attention and has the power to threaten profitability right now is employee satisfaction.
    Recent studies show that job satisfaction ratings are shockingly low, with nearly 22% of professionals describing their job satisfaction as excellent. This distressing figure dwindles further to 13% among non-supervisory employees. This stark contrast underscores the pressing need for employers to address the growing dissatisfaction among their workforce.
    To reinvigorate workplace morale and supercharge employee engagement, organizations must take a people-centric approach to achieving their desired results, and prioritize employee well-being and satisfaction as a strategic contribution to long term success.
    Well-Being Over Salary
    In recent years, it has become clear that people are placing a heavy importance on work-life balance. Surprisingly, well-being has taken precedence over salary as the top contributor to job satisfaction with more employees seeking balance between their professional and personal lives.
    Outdated views of traditional success, solely measured by financial compensation, are evolving and organizations that recognize the significance of fostering environments where employees can flourish both inside and outside the office are better equipped to attract and retain talent. By developing innovative policies – such as flexible work hours, remote work options, enhanced leave policies, and upskilling, reskilling programs – organizations can create more inclusive and adaptable workplace culture. These types of initiatives not only benefit individual employees but also promote a diverse and engaged workforce.
    Embracing the concept of success as a multifaceted endeavor that includes personal growth, work-life balance and skill development aligns with the changing dynamics of the workforce. As a result, forward thinking companies are not only investing in their employees’ professional development but also in their overall well-being, leading to increased loyalty, productivity and revenue.
    Redefining Performance Reviews
    Standard performance reviews aren’t cutting it as new data strongly supports creating new standards to evaluate employee performance as annual or semi-annual reviews no longer align with the pace of most workplaces. Instead, to cultivate a sense of engagement and transparency, more frequent and goal-oriented performance reviews prove more effective for both employees and managers alike. Instead of waiting months to provide feedback, organizations are shifting toward continuous performance assessments, allowing for real-time adjustments, growth, and development.
    It is crucial to create awareness of an individual’s impact on company goals and their peers. By shifting away from merely evaluating an individual’s performance to assessing an employee’s impact, you can help connect their work to strategic priorities and those around them. People who discuss their effects on overall objectives and peers are 2x more likely to rate the performance of the organizations as excellent and to feel recognized by leaders.
    Fostering Inclusivity and Cultural Harmony
    Despite being at the forefront of the larger corporate agenda for some time now, many diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives still miss the mark when it comes to creating truly inclusive environments. A glaring issue is the notable lack of focus on empathy, which can have a detrimental impact on an organization’s culture and morale.
    To have an inclusive workplace, one that emphasizes belonging, business leaders need to break down the walls that stereotypes have built. Successful DEI programs excel in cultivating a culture that fosters open, sincere, and introspective conversations. These are the types of dialogues that can amplify eagerness and motivation to collaborate—enhancing overall engagement, retention, and success. But oftentimes, it can be difficult to have these conversations. To combat this, organizations need to ensure their workplace is that of an outward mindset, one where individuals can develop a genuine appreciation for diversity and actively seek ways to dismantle systemic barriers.
    To truly change an organizational culture, leaders need to address the harmful beliefs and behaviors that hold people back. By shifting mindsets, organizations can pave the way for real change to create inclusive workplaces that embrace diverse perspectives and make everyone feel valued and included.
    Embracing Collaborative Technology
    With remote and hybrid work arrangements becoming the new norm, these changes present a need for effective collaboration in a dispersed workforce. Organizations must embrace collaborative technology that empowers employees to work seamlessly whether they are in office, working fully remote or somewhere in between.
    Tools, including video conferencing platforms, project management software, and virtual whiteboards, are essential for fostering productive teamwork across physical boundaries. As well, encouraging a culture of digital collaboration through providing training and resources is essential to maximize the potential of these technologies. Effective collaboration not only enhances productivity but can reinforce a sense of unity and engagement among employees, regardless of their physical location.
    Cultivating a Positive Culture
    More than a buzzword, crafting a positive company culture can be a catalyst for employee engagement and productivity. United by shared values, a sense of belonging, and a greater focus on well-being, employees are more likely to feel motivated and committed to their work and the organization’s goals. A sense of purpose can significantly diminish feelings of isolation, or alienation and can make the workplace a more fulfilling environment.
    Revitalizing workplace morale in the year ahead will require outside the box thinking and tactics like prioritizing of work-life balance, fostering empathy-centric DEI initiatives, redefining performance reviews, embracing collaborative technology and the cultivation of positive cultures to propel companies toward a brighter future of increased employee engagement and satisfaction. By embracing people-centric approaches, organizations can create workplace environments where employees are not only productive but also genuinely fulfilled.
    The Arbinger Institute is the innovator of leadership and professional development that empowers leaders to transform their organization’s culture to achieve lasting business results. 
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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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