Managing stress in the workplace

Managing stress in the workplace

Are you tired? Do you feel irritable? Do you suffer from headaches, muscle tension, and struggle to concentrate at work? If so, you may be one of the millions of people across the country who are feeling the effects of occupational stress. So how can we manage stress in the workplace?

Occupational stress

Occupational stress has many emotional symptoms such as feeling overwhelmed, feeling depressed, feeling anxious about going to work, lacking confidence, and experiencing mood swings. Alongside this, many people report physical symptoms such as general aches and pains, feeling nauseous, losing or gaining weight, and pain or tightness in the chest.

According to a 2019 report by Qualtrics, more than a quarter (29%) of UK workers reported that they felt stressed or emotional because of work, either ‘always’ or ‘most of the time’. Work-related stress, anxiety or depression accounts for around 44% of all cases of ill health and is estimated to cost the UK £34 billion per year. Worst of all, however, chronic stress has been shown to exacerbate many serious health problems such as mental health disorders, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes.

It’s very clear that stress is not something that should be brushed away by employers and employees alike, but rather has to be recognised and managed for the benefit of both the individual and the business.

The cause

Occupational stress can be caused by a lot of things. Excessive workloads or unrealistic deadlines are some of the most common, along with difficult relationships with colleagues, disagreements with the management style, being micro-managed, being unclear about what it is that you are meant to be doing, and feeling as though your skills and abilities are being wasted. Stress can be caused by one of them, all of them, or it may be something different. Every person is unique. The important thing is to take some time and think about what is it that is specifically causing these feelings of stress at work.

The approach to managing stress

As many of these causes are due to difficulties imposed upon the employee by the employer and, aside from raising concerns, there is little that the employee to change these causes. What can be changed, is the approach that we take to manage stress in our day to day lives. Try to take a walk during lunch hours to clear your mind for half an hour, work regular hours and take the time off that you are entitled too, make an effort to manage your time both in and outside of work, reflect on your thoughts and feelings often, try to develop relationships in work, and accept that there are some things that you do not have control over.

One of the best treatments for work-related stress is exercise. Aerobic exercises such as running, swimming, dancing, and walking increases the production of endorphins in the brain improving your mood. Exercise also offers the perfect opportunity to reflect on the things that have been causing you stress. Many people report that engaging in exercise allows them to think more clearly and find solutions to their problems that they previously could not work through. Naturally, this can have great benefits to both mental health and performance at work.

Finally, finding time to unwind with people in a friendly and sociable environment is essential to keeping on top of stress. Human beings are inherently social beings. Socialisation, whether that be by talking with friends, going for a coffee with a co-worker, or going for some food after work, has been shown to decrease stress-related anxiety, make us feel more confident, and promote a sense of attachment to those we are close to. This is one of the reasons that we love to host events that bring together people from across different industries to enjoy time together in a friendly environment.

Want to talk more about stress at work or interested in coming to one of our events? You can contact me at carl@refind.co.uk.

 

You can view more about Carl Hinett our Executive search of HR professional’s specialist here.

 

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The importance of networking

Networking – it’s a word that can make people recoil, yet we all know the importance of having a strong business network and how much it can benefit you and your company. So why so much negativity?

I guess it doesn’t help that we’ve all heard the networking horror stories – or had to suffer some personally!

Too salesy

There are always the few people who are super salesy and just attend to get their business cards out to as many people as possible without even bothering to get to know them. Or the ones who introduce themselves and immediately launch into their 5-minute pitch before asking, ‘And tell me what exactly you do?’

Lacking in the manners department

Some people don’t seem to have any manners at networking events, charging up to a group who are deep in conversation, to butt in with their introduction. Whilst others stand in the corner on their phone and make no attempt to introduce themselves at all!

Choosing terrible subjects to discuss

I’ve cringed listening to some people talk, apart from the salesy chat, there are other definite no-go’s when it comes to networking conversations.

Number 1 is politics! Just don’t do it.

I’d also steer clear of any offensive jokes or anything too personal, to avoid an awkward situation.

Finding the right event

Having said all of that, if you find the right networking event to go to, then it can be enjoyable, fun and beneficial. Meeting people and growing your network opens up opportunities for you and your business.

You might get direct business, you might not – but don’t forget it’s not just about that. Extending your network and making friends also gives you the chance to get help or advice from your peers, get invites to other events to meet more likeminded people or get referrals. You never know, it might lead to business, but it may not be until a year down the line, so you must think long term.

Thursday Brunch

We run a ‘Thursday Brunch’ breakfast networking event, with guests being interviewed on specific subjects, whilst cooking. It’s informal and relaxed and a fun environment to meet great people, have fun and take away some useful information. If this sounds like the sort of event you’d like to join, you can sign up here: https://buff.ly/303KcE9

To have a chat about your executive search, contact me at carl@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about Carl Hinett our Executive search of HR professional’s specialist here.

Want to hear more about our senior HR and Shared Services professionals golf society? Sign up here.

Job titles: the complex to the downright hilarious

Job titles have long been the basis of determining a person’s status and role within a business. I have noticed a considerable change in this over the last few years and have found job titles to be quite ambiguous, especially in the HR arena.

Understanding broad job titles

Job titles mean different things to different businesses, which can become quite confusing for everyone involved. HR Business Partner and HR Director are the two broadest areas as there are so many different levels in each role. I find that base salary and reporting lines are the best way to understand exactly where the role operates within a business.

‘Outside the box’ job titles

We live in a world where people no longer want traditional job titles and are trying to be innovative regarding titles. I feel that job titles should reflect the culture of a business and its people. A couple of businesses we have recently worked with have totally nailed this approach and continue to lead by example. During a recent conversation with a senior HR Director, they talked about people within your business being your differentiator and if you want them to ‘think outside the box’ then why give them an ‘inside the box’ job title. An interesting approach and one I’m sure will resonate with some of you.

Plain funny job titles

However, some companies have taken this to the extreme and I have uncovered some hilarious titles! Some of these titles give no clue as to what the job entails, although there seems to be quite a few around making people happy…whatever that means 😊.

Here is a list of some of the strange ones I came across:

  • Director of Making People Happy and Content 
  • Creator of Happiness
  • Commissioner for Happiness and Purpose Fulfilment
  • Chief Happiness Hacker
  • Happiness Wrangler
  • Snake Milker
  • Bacon Critic
  • Wizard of Light Bulb Moments 
  • Recruitment Wizard
  • Sourcing Ninja

It appears there are no limits to the levels of creativity we can now reach with job titles. What’s the funniest title you have seen recently?

If you want to have a chat, you can contact me at carl@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about Carl Hinett our Executive search of HR professional’s specialist here.

Want to hear more about our senior HR and Shared Service professionals golf society? Sign up here.

How to nurture HiPo’s to benefit your business

High potential employees – or HiPo’s – increase the value of a business. They outperform their peers, doing more work and putting in more effort. Most businesses will have recognised that between 3-5% of their staff are high potential employees. There are 3 important attributes for a HiPo who is likely to succeed and get a senior position: aspiration, ability and engagement.  There are many factors that fall into these 3 attributes – leadership abilities, performance, competency and confidence when challenged.

HiPo’s need minimal supervision, are fast learners, reliable, can complete any tasks, work well under pressure and aspire to rise to leadership. They are a huge asset to your business. So how can you nurture them to fulfil their potential and benefit your business?

Nurturing HiPo’s

The important thing to remember when discussing programs to retain and progress HiPo’s is that these individuals have been identified as having potential. They are not fully-fledged leaders, ready to step into a senior or critical role – yet. They likely will be, but they need developing and nurturing.

Training onsite and offsite, coaching, workshops and seminars can all help in the nurturing process, supporting the individuals to enable them to reach their potential. Real-life situations are really helpful, just be aware that it’s not too much, too soon.

Reducing risk

SHL’s ‘How to Reduce Risk and Realise More Value in Your HiPo Programme’ eBook says:

“Through objective assessment of all three factors (above), you can accurately identify your top talent while ensuring you avoid the most common HiPo programme risks:

  • The risk that they will fail to rise to a senior position
  • The risk that they won’t be effective in a more challenging role
  • The risk that they will leave to join competitors, diluting your bench strength”

Benefits of a successful program

HiPo’s represent a company’s strongest leadership pipeline. By investing in the success of them, you are investing in the future of the company as a whole. By identifying, cultivating and investing in employees with exceptional aspirations, rare abilities, and greater engagement, you can ensure that the next generation of leaders within your organisation will be equipped to boost performance, foster innovation, and maximise corporate growth.

What are you doing with your HiPo’s? What successes have you had? If you have stories to share, I’d love to hear them, email me on carl@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about Carl Hinett our Executive search of HR professional’s specialist here.

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Executive search – ‘worst-case’ interview scenario?

Everyone gets nervous before an important meeting or interview. It doesn’t matter how much you may have prepared, there are some common intrusive thoughts that always manage to worm their way into your head the night before and cause you to think about possible escape routes should the worst happen. Through our executive search experience, we can help.

But worry not, you don’t need a getaway car parked around the corner to survive an awkward interview. There are tried and tested things that you can do to overcome these embarrassing moments. And who knows, if you flip the situation successfully it could work in your favour and become an example of how you have managed uncomfortable situations.

The person that you are meeting isn’t focused on you

If you notice that the other person is frantically typing on their laptop and hasn’t said in advanced that they may be taking notes or replying to a work email, then your brain may go into overdrive and wonder whether they are mind-numbingly  bored in your presence.

Read the situation and your audience, and if you’re still not confident that you’ve got their attention then politely asking questions to advance the conversation could resolve any worries that you may have. If they need to rearrange to a more appropriate time, then this gives them chance to do so

Being too early can be just as awkward as being too late

When travelling to an interview you can sometimes misjudge the traffic and end up an hour early…. It’s better than being late and although tempting, it might not be the time to show them how keen you are!

The chances are that whoever you are meeting is busy and won’t be sat waiting around for you an hour before (or after) your scheduled appointment, so if you know that you’re going to be too early go and grab a latte and steady your nerves. 15 minutes is plenty early enough to get there.

You forgot your presentation or interview materials

This problem can be easily resolved by planning properly. Try not to rely too heavily on paper materials, which can be misplaced or lost. Instead, ensure that you have an offline copy of your work ready and waiting on your laptop that you will be able to bring up regardless of the wifi situation.

And if your laptop dies, make sure that you’ve sent an email to yourself with all of the key documents on, so you can at least access them on your phone as a last resort. After your meeting, ask the person that you’ve been with if they would like you to email over a copy of any document that you’ve just used so they will be able to access them when reviewing your meeting.

Everybody has at least one awkward interview story, and how you deal with any embarrassment can say a lot about you and how successfully you manage situations. Also, a little bit of humour can go a long way, and we can all be united in our common awkwardness.

To have a chat about your executive search, contact me at carl@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about Carl Hinett our Executive search of HR professional’s specialist here.
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Have we lost the work-life balance?

Work-life balance

Work-life balance. We talk about it all the time. It’s so important to make sure you have a balance between your work and home life – we’re big advocates of it here. But how good are we all at keeping the balance and should it even still be a ‘thing’?

There are many factors to be considered when addressing the work-life balance argument – for me, they all centre around technology. Technology has allowed us to change the once rigid working environment – with a set place of work and working hours – to be much more fluid and relaxed. Which, although positive in many ways, doesn’t help to keep the structure in place between your work life and your social life.

Remote working

Remote working allows us to work from anywhere, not just in the office. At home, on a train, in another office, even abroad. All you need is your laptop and phone and Wi-Fi connection and you’re away.

Flexitime

Flexitime gives employees the freedom to choose their hours to fit around their other commitments outside of work and can sometimes mean starting late but finishing late or, starting early to get an early finish.

Technology

Mobile phones and laptops are great because you can take them easily wherever you go, to work remotely. But this often comes with its own problems – if you use the same laptop or phone for both personal use and for work, it can be difficult to switch off. Many phones have emails and Slack and other forms of communication for work connected to them, which allows totally switching off from work almost impossible! Then, of course, there is the work WhatsApp groups, which can go off at any time, day or night.

Blurred lines

All these technological factors blur the lines between your work life and your home life. But is it necessarily a bad thing? In my opinion, the freedom and flexibility businesses and employees now have, to work where and when they want, is brilliant. And, although the factors blur the lines so work can creep into your home life, it also means your home life can merge into work life too – you are able to juggle other responsibilities around work, rather than following a strict 9-5 Monday – Friday in the office. Having said that, it is still important to make sure you keep a balance and sometimes – press the off button!

To discuss further or to have a chat about your executive search, contact me at carl@refind.co.uk. You can view more about Carl Hinett our Executive search of HR professional’s specialist here.

Want to hear more about our senior HR professionals golf society? Sign up here.

Employee onboarding – warm welcome or completely clueless?

We know how important onboarding is for our candidates. The wrong experience can have a hugely detrimental effect on a new starter.

The process ensures new employees receive all relevant information and understand how the company works and what is expected of them. This information allows them to transition from a new joiner to a productive team member, and so is a vital process within any organisation. 

It’s not just about the new starter

It’s not just about the new joiner either, your onboarding process can affect existing team members who will register the way a new employee is treated.

Onboarding begins before the new team member even enters the building – both internally and externally. Calling the new employee is clearly important to let them know the basics, but also letting the existing team members know what is happening.

King of onboarding

We understand how important onboarding is, so we’ve incorporated it into our process. We’ve had congratulations packs created for all our new starters – a nice surprise and welcome on the first day in your new role.

Graze are king of onboarding. Check out this desk set up for their new starters. How happy would you be if this was your desk on your first day…

Graze – king of employee onboarding

Returning to work onboarding

My wife, Gemma, wrote a blog about onboarding, with a difference – the importance of onboarding returning maternity leavers. “Yes, they’ve always been employed and aren’t “new’, but when I returned to work after 10 months out, a lot had changed, and I mean a lot. It was almost like returning to a new business. This, coupled with the fear of returning to work, was surely a recipe for disaster.”

Some key points are addressed about being introduced back into the company/role after a substantial period away, including new technology, new faces and new structure. You can read the full blog here.

In any capacity, onboarding is important to your business – it makes for happy employees and better business efficiency, as it gets employees up to speed quickly.

To have a chat about your experiences with onboarding or returning to work you can contact me on carl@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about Carl Hinett our Executive search of HR professional’s specialist here.

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You can ‘goal’ your own way…achieving business goals

Achieving business goals

Achieving goals, whether they’re personal or professional, can be tough. We’ve all got our own personal mountain tops. The goals that we set ourselves that, from the outset, seem nearly impossible to conquer…

I read a book called ‘The One Thing’ by Gary Keller. The premise is: what is the ‘one thing’ that you need to do that will subsequently make everything else fall into place and become easier?

In the book, Keller talks about breaking down your goals into long and short term, and how by doing this you can turn them into more manageable and less intimidating tasks.

Once you’ve broken them down, you can then consistently ask yourself questions about your progress to keep you on track with your overall goal.

The process

This process works in two parts. The first is about finding the right direction, and the second part is about chasing the right action.

For the first part, think about the big picture and identify what your overall goal is, what is the one thing that you want to do or achieve. This can be anything from your career goals to a personal ambition that you have.

The second part of this process is more short-term and practical. You have to ask yourself questions that provide you with a small focus on what you can do right now to help you get to where you want. For example, making that phone call that you’ve been putting off, or signing up for that networking event that you find intimidating.

Stay on track

By repeatedly asking yourself these more focused and short-term questions, you will not only keep on target to your overall goal, but you will also find yourself taking actionable steps that all build on one another and provide you with the momentum to finally reach your mountaintop!

To have a chat about your goals or your executive search, contact me at carl@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about Carl Hinett our Executive search of HR professional’s specialist here.

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Let’s talk about time management

We’ve all heard of it and, although it’s something that comes around like clockwork, whenever it’s time for a performance review, it’s still something that we ironically don’t always have the time to work on, me included.

It’s easy to be ‘busy’ at work, but are we busy in the right context? Or are we all just busy being fools? And how can we make our time at work more productive?

Alleviate pressure

We live in a world where we are always switched ‘on’. Our smartphones constantly alert us to any new messages and emails, our smartwatches vibrate all day long and alert us whenever we make so many steps, and we always seem to be on the computer where there is no shortage of information being directed our way.

There’s pressure from our peers, directors, business owners and employees asking us questions, and there’s no longer an off switch for anyone.

So, how can we implement some simple structure that will help alleviate some of this pressure?

Plan, plan, and then plan a bit more. It’s not the most revolutionary answer I’ll admit, but it works.

Most people don’t plan for the following day, but you’ll be surprised at how effective setting aside time to assess the rest of your week can be.

Get organised

Create your own spreadsheet or write a list of all of your tasks for the week, whichever method works for you, and take a break every hour to assess what you’ve achieved since you last checked over your list. You will either be amazed at how much you’ve done, or surprised at how much you’ve procrastinated!

Treat your time like you would your finances – keep a close eye on them!

The most important thing is to be honest with yourself, and question how you should delegate your time. Doing this will help you identify your biggest waste of time, so you can change it!

To have a chat about your executive search, contact me at carl@refind.co.uk

You can view more about Carl Hinett our Executive search of HR professionals specialist here.

Want to hear more about our senior HR professionals golf society? Sign up here.

How do you get the most out of networking?

Tips for networking

Networking is something that gets talked about a lot in the market. Many HR professionals know they should network to further their careers but always find an excuse to shy away from it and often say they have never really benefited from it.

Others have openly admitted that they either lack confidence in large groups of strangers, have never attended a good networking event or just see if as a pointless task that takes up too much time.  At a recent event, someone said to me that they found networking difficult because from an early age, ‘they were taught that they shouldn’t speak to strangers!’.

I’ve attended many networking events over the years, some were really good and some, well, could have been better.  I must admit in my early days, networking meant pointless conversations with people that were only interested in selling to me.  I often left these events feeling a little unaccomplished, wondering why I had bothered going.

My perception has changed over the years and what I have learnt is that networking is actually a really useful and effective business tool – when used in the right way.

 

Networking effectively

We all know that networking is fundamental to good business but how can you take the pain out of it and make it work more effectively as a business tool for you?

1 ) Re-frame the situation

If you get put off by the word networking, then call it something else! After all, it’s merely a tool to meet new people. Networking has moved on a lot in recent years and is no longer just about attending a formal event, vying for attention, exchanging business cards and selling, selling, selling.

It has evolved to be more about providing the opportunity to meet new and passionate people. So, for me, it can be something as simple as going to see someone in another department instead of sending them an email or meeting someone for a coffee instead of the usual conference call.   It doesn’t have to be formal.

2) Confidence

Lots of people say that confidence is a major deterrent to networking and can often mean that they are stuck for conversation.  If you’re attending an event it’s natural to feel a little nervous, but you can turn nervous energy into a positive. Just remember these key things:

Relax and be yourself; you’re networking because you chose to, and everyone is probably feeling the same, so relax and remember networking is merely a tool for meeting new people.

Be prepared; do your research, take a look at the delegate list and see if there is anyone you’re keen to talk to. One way to start a conversation is through a shared connection, so research what they’re interested in and their experiences/background.

3) Set an objective

Why are you attending the event? What do you want to get out of it?

Admittedly many people only network so that they can sell and, while this may be your end goal, remember no one wants to be sold to at a networking event, this has happened to me numerous times and I was very much put off.

The real benefit of networking lies with the relationships that can be forged as a result. Remember relationships are developed over many months and years, so follow up is key.

Also, always remember the golden rule…give before you receive. Ask yourself how can you help that person and add value before you ask for anything.

4) Conversation

Networking events can be full of outgoing, confident people that love to talk, so use it to your advantage and ask open ended questions. This way people will tell you all about what they do, what they are there for and what they are looking to get out of the event. I don’t mean that you only ask one question then listen to someone waffle on forever, it’s more of an introduction to get the conversation flowing.

A good friend of mine once told me that you need a story to engage with people, a great piece of advice that has stuck with me ever since.

Think about why you are there, what’s currently happening in your market and your thoughts on it. But the most important thing is to make eye contact and smile, no one wants to speak to a miserable stranger.

Don’t forget the basics: (it’s not cool to be fashionably late!)

  • Be sure you know where you’re going and plan your journey, there’s nothing worse than turning up stressed out because you got lost on the way there.
  • Turn your phone off, concentrate on the people around you, that’s the reason you’re there after all.
  • Try not to plan anything straight after the event. This way you are free to leave whenever you want and you won’t feel under pressure.
  • Finally, make sure you follow up with anybody that you met with. If you had a good conversation with someone suggest you meet for a coffee to keep the relationship fresh.

This is not an exhaustive list, merely tips and tricks that work for me. Over time you’ll find what works for you, but hopefully, you’ll be able to adopt some of my tips to work to your advantage and get you started.

If there is one thing I have learnt from networking, it’s that it’s all about building relationships – give and enrich the experience people have with you and this will go a long way.

 

To have a chat – or if you are passing through Birmingham and want to meet for a coffee you can contact me at carl@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about Carl Hinett our Executive search of HR professional’s specialist here.