Mental Health Problems and the Workplace

October is Mental Health Month. Recently there has been bigger mindfulness of the impact of mental health problems on individuals and the workplace. The economic impact is realized through direct treatment costs to the health care system as well as indirect costs, such as reduced or lost productivity due to absenteeism.

Mental health problems account for about half of employee absences due to illness each year in Canada for example, 3.5 days lost per employee per year are due to mental health problems. It is estimated that mental illness results in 35 million lost workdays each year in Canada.’

Employees living with mental health problems may feel and behave out of character at home and work. There may be feelings of things not quite right, yet they are unable to pinpoint the problem. Their co-workers, supervisors and family members may start to notice a change in mood and behaviour.

 

 Signs that indicate an employee or colleague may have a mental health problem are:

·      Regular late arrivals or often absent

·      Lack of teamwork or an over-all disinterest in working with co-workers

·      Lower output

·      Increased mishaps or safety problems

·      Numerous complaints of exhaustion or unexplained pains

·      Difficulty focusing, not being decisive or forgetting things

·      Making apologies for missed deadlines or poor work

·      Decreased attention or involvement in one’s work

·      Working excessive overtime over a prolonged period

·      Expressions of outlandish or grand ideas

·      Displays of irritation or pointing the finger at others

 

It is important to highlight that people behaving in these ways may be just having a bad day or week or dealing with a difficult situation in their personal life that may be temporary. A pattern that continues for a more extended period, however, may point to an underlying mental health problem.

 

Stress is a consistent part of life and work, and it can be positive or negative. Unwarranted hurtful stress through life events, including workplace issues, can contribute to mental health problems. Work itself can be expected to generate a certain level of stress associated with meeting deadlines and expectations, the need to feel valued and the loss of control over one’s time.

 

There are many causes of workplace stress. One key to effective stress management is maintaining awareness of the potential stressors and readiness to address them before they become problematic. Some of the most critical sources of work-related stress are listed below.

·    Poor communication

·    Incongruity in work demands, individual ability and amount of control over working practices

·    Work overload and work underload

·    Shift work and/or night work

·    Segregation, isolation and/or unstructured support for home workers

·    Short-term contracts

·    Role conflict, uncertainty and changing roles

·    The uneven weight assigned by management to consultation, support and control

·    Lack of training for managers in communication and people skills

·    Idleness

·    Uncomfortable physical workspace

·    Introduction of new technology, if not planned and gradual

·    The culture of presenteeism, in which an employee feels the need to be seen working at all times

·    Work-life imbalance

·    Home-based stresses that support or feed off of work-based stresses

 

Managing workplace stress can include training for employees to raise awareness about the causes and effects of stress, as well as to learn skills for coping with stress at work and in their personal lives.

 

Research has shown that some job stressors are worse than others, such as jobs that continuously involve imposed deadlines over an extended period and give individuals little control over the day-to-day organization of their work (high demand/low control). These jobs can lead to more than double the rate of heart and cardiovascular problems. As well as significantly higher rates of anxiety, depression and fell of being undermined. High demand/low control jobs also lead to substantially higher alcohol, prescription and over-the-counter drug use, and a significantly higher susceptibility to infectious diseases.’

 

Jobs that require high physical or mental effort but offer little in the way of compensation, status, financial gain or career enhancement (high effort/low reward) also affect employee stress levels. These jobs are associated with triple the rate of cardiovascular problems and significantly higher rates of depression, anxiety and conflict-related problems

 

The health of workers does not have to be compromised by stress. Changes to the workplace can make for a more mentally healthy workplace, especially when employees feel adequately rewarded and have greater control of their work.

 

Mental health problems can seriously affect someone’s ability to work. If left untreated and the mental health problem worsens, the employee may need to stop working altogether.

 

On the other hand, employees may try to continue to work knowing that they are not performing to their usual standards. If mental health problems are acknowledged early, and proper treatment is obtained, most people can quickly return to their regular performance at work, and much unhappiness and suffering can be avoided.

 

Monika B. Jensen Ph.D
TEL: 905-683-9953

WEBSITE: www.aviarygroup.ca
PRINCIPAL
FAX: 905-683-9912

 

 

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9 Essentials to Honing Your Leading Edge and Boosting Team/Culture Performance

Many leaders feel they can’t do much to change behaviors and culture. But overwhelming research shows that’s not true. Leaders have a major impact on “the way we do things around here.” A team or organization’s culture ripples out from its members and leaders. The single biggest key to transforming a team or organization’s culture starts with its leaders defining and developing their behaviors.

Teams and department/divisions with exceptionally strong leaders build thriving peak performance local cultures even if the bigger culture they’re part of, and leader they report to, are weak. Organizational culture exists simultaneously and independently at three levels: the unit/team, department/division, and entire organization, and those micro or main cultures can be enriched at any level.

Nine elements especially stand out from this latest review of best leadership and team/culture development practices:

  1. Lead, Follow, or Wallow – highly effective leaders make critical choices to proactively change, grow, and develop rather than being changed
  2. Strong Leadership Cuts Through the Management Maze – team/organization performance is dramatically improved when good managers learn how to become great leaders
  3. Yield of Dreams – highly effective leaders tap into this infinite and renewable energy source
  4. The Heart Part – courageous conversations, two-way communications, and openness, come from, and expand, trust
  5. Coach Diem – outstanding leaders seize key coaching moments to up everyone’s game
  6. Making Teams Work – too often managers build a “scream team.” Extraordinary leaders build dream teams by boosting collaboration, cooperation, and coordination
  7. Three Core Questions Defining Your Team or Organization’s Culture – too many vision/mission/values statements are lifeless gibberish and generate a high “snicker factor”
  8. Hitting the Shift Key – the best leaders and teams act on their understanding that their culture ripples out from what they do, not what they say
  9. Setting the Culture Compass – failing to map a route through the many swamps and sinkholes of team and culture change are why 70% of these efforts die out

Rate yourself on this checklist. How’s your leadership? How’s your leadership team?

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Practical Ways Leaders Can Model Culture Change

A department, division, or organization’s culture ripples out from its leadership team. A team that wants to change “them” needs to start with a deep look in the mirror to change “us.” Organizational behavior reflects leadership team behavior. This is much like an old parenting adage, “children are natural mimics; they act like their parents despite attempts to teach them good manners.”

In their 10-year global study of leadership and culture development (published in their book Beyond Performance: How Great Organizations Build Ultimate Competitive Advantage), Scott Keller and Colin Price report, “programs in which leaders model the desired changes are four times more likely to be successful. In an organizational context, the key elements of role modeling are transformation among senior leaders, symbolic acts, and developing a cadre of ‘influence leaders.’”

Here are just a few ways leadership teams can model the behavior they want to see rippling throughout their culture:

  • Bring customers, customer advocates (salespeople are excellent ones) and front line service deliverers to key planning and operational sessions.
  • Put on an apron or pick up the phone and serve customers without being introduced as top leaders. You’ll be sending important signals. And might even learn something.
  • Serve your producers and servers. Continually ask them what the leadership team can do to help them provide higher levels of service/quality. Hold managers accountable for serving their teams.
  • Overlook weaknesses unless they’re clearly causing problems and must be addressed. Develop and nurture strengths that align with the individual’s passions and what the organization needs from him or her.
  • Celebrate, honor, cheer, applaud, reinforce, laud, praise, extol, and otherwise reinforce all behaviors that exemplify your core values and desired culture.
  • Ensure leaders are first in line for leadership and key skill development. Model those skills in meetings, coaching activities, and team decision making and planning. And having senior leaders deliver those sessions to the next level of managers infuses the training with a whole new sense of priority.
  • Search out and destroy all executive status symbols, perks, or privileges that contribute to the “we/they” gap.
  • Agree on three or four Strategic Imperatives that will strengthen your culture. Establish cross-functional teams to lead those changes and set a rigorous follow through process with regular updates to the leadership team.
  • Get unfiltered and anonymous feedback on your leadership effectiveness with 360 assessments. Build personal and team development plans around that feedback that leverages strengths and addresses any “fatal flaws.” Involve others in your personal and team development process.
  • Hold regular meetings with team members in groups and individually to discuss your leadership and culture development progress.

The most effective communication is face to face. The most believable communication is behavior.

You can watch our recent Executive Team Building and Culture Development webinar for a deeper look.

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Coaching Matters: Are You a DIY Manager Choking Growth and Development?

Good managers often have strong technical expertise and analytical skills. They love to jump into the details and resolve tough problems. Effective leaders resist the quick-fix, I-can-do-it-better-myself temptation. He or she knows such do-it-yourself projects reinforce the upward delegation cycle (“Hey, boss. Here’s another one for you to solve”). This leads to him or her becoming ever busier while team members’ growth is stunted, and the organization slows down to the pace of the stressed-out manager.

The sad story of hard driving entrepreneurs or upwardly mobile and ambitious managers choking their organization’s growth is an all too familiar one. These entrepreneurs and managers become the barrier to the organization reaching its next level of growth. These managers don’t make the transition from running operations to building a team that runs operations. Their own stunted leadership growth prevents them from making the critical transition from driving and directing to coaching and developing.

Countless studies show leaders with highly developed coaching skills have a huge impact on their team or organization’s results. For example, less than 15% of employees with leaders rated in the bottom ten percent of coaching effectiveness rate their work environment as a place where people want to “go the extra mile.” However, when leaders are rated in the top ten percent of coaching effectiveness, “going the extra mile” leaps to nearly 50% — a threefold increase. A MetrixGlobal survey found that “business coaching produced a 788-per-cent return on investment and significant intangible benefits to the business.”

This month’s Harvard Business Review features an article on “The Best Leaders Are Great Teachers.” Management professor and author, Sydney Finkelstein, (his new book is Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Manage the Flow of Talent) reports,

“…the best leaders I studied were teachers through and through. They routinely spent time with employees, passing on technical skills, general tactics, business principles, and life lessons… and it had a remarkable impact: their teams and organizations were some of the highest-performing in their sectors.”

A manager sees people as they are. And they’re often a growth choke point. A leader sees people as they could be — and nurtures that potential through strong coaching and development.

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Communicating and Listening Non-Judgmentally: Tools for Dealing with Mental Health Issues in the Workplace

I am finding as I train, coach and mediate that the issues in the workplace are becoming more complex. In recent events, some high profile individuals have come to the attention of the media as a result of their actions. We are finding mental health issues are more of a concern and the means to address them is less easy. In this article, I am attempting to share some tools you may want to engage in when speaking with your colleagues or employees.

Communication is not just saying words; it is creating correct understanding. Active listening is an essential skill in the communication process. Dr Marius Pickering from the University of Maine identifies four characteristics of empathetic listening.

Continue reading

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7 Ways to be Seen as a Leader

7 Ways to be Seen as a Leader

Municipalities Need CAO Candidates with Strategic Thinking Skills, Political & Business Acumen, and Those Who Are Innovative.

Do you have what it takes?

 

Having a nice resume showing your relevant education and skills might land you the job, but you won’t be able to truly succeed as a CAO unless you have something more – strong leadership skills. There are many ways to be recognized as a leader without having to do something heroic like leading an army to war. Here are 7 ways to prove yourself as a strong leader in your municipal position:

 

COMMUNICATION

An open line of communication is vital in any relationship, especially a professional one. A good leader is always available for honest and open discussions and feedback with their team, but you must be ready to listen as much as you speak. In today’s digital world, effective communication also includes email, social media posts and nonverbal cues like body language and facial expressions.

 

LEADING BY EXAMPLE

If you aren’t committed to your job, why would you expect anyone on your team to be? A positive attitude can be contagious, but not as much as a negative one. How you approach tasks and situations will set the tone for those working with you so stay positive and enthusiastic as much as possible.

 

PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS

When things go wrong, and they always do, how will you react? A good leader will take ownership of any issues and work quickly to solve them, as well as prevent them from happening again.

 

RESPONSIBILITY

Everyone loves to receive praise, but how do you handle criticism and accept blame? A good leader needs to be able to accept the good and the bad without finger pointing and playing the blame game. Accept your mistake, find a solution and move on.

 

MOTIVATION

Most employees need more than a paycheque to stay engaged and interested in their job. A good leader will recognize their employees’ strengths, weaknesses and interests to make sure they feel valued, heard and appreciated. This can be as simple as a small reward for a job well done, mentoring a new hire or assigning additional responsibilities to increase involvement.

 

FLEXIBILITY
A good leader must roll with the punches. In today’s world of increased citizen engagement and councils’ need to periodically change community direction, you must be ready to change directions at the drop of a hat. Last minute changes, mishaps, covering for other employees … a leader must be able to take it all in stride and accept that nothing ever really happens when or how it is supposed to.

 

DELEGATION
If you try to do it all yourself, you are setting yourself up to fail. Some feel that assigning duties to their team shows weakness, but it is actually the sign of a good leader. Delegating tasks, while keeping your employees’ strengths in mind, gives you more time to focus on the important things.

 

The key to being a good leader can be found in the skills that you likely already have. Now it’s time to nurture and grow those skills and become the superstar you were always meant to be!

muniSERV is Canada’s leading online solution for helping municipalities and professionals connect.  We help municipalities save time and money searching for the consultants & CAOs they need while offering professionals the opportunity to showcase their profile and services to get found and grow their business.

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Strategies to Overcoming Unconscious Bias in the Workplace

Unconscious bias is hitting the news. From Bay Street to Main Street to Starbucks the impact of unspoken bias is real and harmful to the workplace. Bias stands in the way of making correct decisions in hiring and promoting. It also has a vital impact on your staff and the workplace in general. Let’s explore how we can become aware of our own bias and stop it in the workplace?

 

First, let’s define it. “Unconscious bias refers to a bias that we are unaware of, and which happens outside of our control. It is a bias that happens automatically and is triggered by our brain making quick judgments and assessments of people and situations, influenced by our background, cultural environment and personal experiences. (ECU: 2013 Unconscious bias in higher education) 

 

We all have a bias. The question is, do we identify it and then what do we do about it? In addressing one of the most crucial training issues facing the workplace today, unconscious bias, employers can assist in creating an inclusive, civil and respectful workplace. 

 

Research indicates that unconscious biases are prejudices we have, yet are uninformed of. They are “mental shortcuts based on social norms and stereotypes.” (Guynn, 2015). Biases can be based on skin colour, gender, age, height, weight, introversion versus extroversion, marital and parental status, disability status (for example, the use of a wheelchair or a cane), foreign accents, where someone went to college, and more (Wilkie, 2014). If you can name it, there is probably an unconscious bias for it.

 

Hence if we think we are unbiased, we may have unconscious adverse thoughts about people who are outside our own group. If we spend more time with people from other groups, we are less likely to feel prejudice against them.

 

This universal tendency toward unconscious bias exists because bias is rooted in our brain. Research shows that our brain has evolved to mentally put things together to make sense to us. The brain sorts all the information it is blasted with and labels that information with universal descriptions that it may rapidly access. When we categorize these labels as either good or bad, we tend to apply the rationale to the whole group. Many of the conclusions are taken from previous experiences and learnings.  

In an article, “The Real Effects of Unconscious Bias in the Workplace”, a few of the known unconscious biases that directly impact the workplace include:

  • Affinity bias is the tendency to warm up to people like ourselves.
  • Halo effect is the tendency to think everything about a person is good because you like that person.
  • Perception bias which is the inclination to form stereotypes and assumptions about specific groups that make it awkward to make an objective judgement about members of those groups. 
  • Confirmation bias is the openness for us to pursue evidence that sanctions our pre-existing beliefs or experiences. 
  • Group think is a bias which occurs when people attempt to fit into a specific crowd by mirroring others or holding back opinions and views. This results in individuals losing part of their characteristics and causes workplaces to miss out on originality and creativity.

Horace McCormick’s research found more than 150 identified unconscious biases, making the task of rooting them out and addressing them daunting. For many organizations, however, identifying as many as possible and eliminating them has become a high priority.  

 

You can address discrimination issues by increasing your awareness of your unconscious biases, and by developing strategies that make the most of the talents and abilities of your team members. 

Unconscious behaviour is not just individual; it influences organizational culture as well. This explains why so often our best attempts at creating corporate culture change with diversity efforts seem to fall frustratingly short; to not deliver on the promise they intended.

 

What you can do: 

  • Be aware consciously of your bias 
  • Focus more on the people, on their strengths
  • Increase Exposure to Biases
  • Make small changes 
  • Be pragmatic 
  • Challenge stereotypes and counter-stereotypical information 
  • Use context to explain a situation 
  • Change your perception and relationship with out-group members 
  • Be an active bystander 
  • Improve processes, policies & procedures  

Also, managers can play a crucial role in unearthing these hidden biases by declaring their intentions to be non-biased. They can also provide transparent performance appraisals that emphasis on the employee’s exceptional abilities and skills, and grow a stronger mindfulness of their own unconscious principles.

 

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Dealing with Escalated Situations in Your Workplace

Resolving workplace conflict is an expected part of the job managers and Human Resource Practitioners. Whether you work in education, healthcare, human services, business, or any field, you might deal with angry, hostile, or noncompliant behaviour every day. Your response to the defensive reaction is often the key to avoiding a physical confrontation with someone who has lost control of their behaviour.

These ten De-Escalation Tips will help you respond to challenging behaviour in the safest, most efficient way possible.

  1. Be empathetic and non-judgmental
  2. Respect personal space
  3. Use non-threatening nonverbal communication
  4. Avoid overacting
  5. Focus on feelings
  6. Ignore challenging questions
  7. Set limits
  8. Choose wisely what you insist upon
  9. Allow silence for reflection
  10. Allow time for decisions

 

 To help you towards more efficient conflict de-escalation and resolution, the following basic steps can be followed:

  • Obtain the name of the person with whom you are speaking: People respond favourably to their own name. It also makes the conversation more personal. Ask for the person’s name early in the piece and use it throughout the discussion.
  • Use Active Listening: Clarifying, paraphrasing and using open-ended questions ensure that the individual you are speaking with knows you are aware of their situation and frustrations. Resaying a person’s own words back to them demonstrates that you have understood entirely what they were trying to say.       
  • Show support and suspend judgement: Empathy needs to be shown during conflict situations. Respecting the other person’s point of view even if you do not agree entirely will be the first step to resolving the conflict. 
  • Get them to agree and say yes: Having the person agree with you on general factual points leads the conversation towards a more favourable outcome. If you can show that you have understood their point of view by making clarifying statements you generate a state where the other person must reply with an affirmative response. The sooner you can get the person to say yes then sooner the conflict will de-escalate. It always works.
  • Avoid clichés: The worst of these being “Calm Down”. Did you ever notice how people who tell you to calm down are the ones who got you mad in the first place? Saying those words during a verbal conflict usually gets the classic retort “I AM CALM” very loudly usually with an animated hand gestures as well.       
  • Show empathy: You need to show compassion and understanding and give the conflict your full attention. Do not make impulsive decisions. Take the time to work through the problem.
  • Consistency in Courtesy: The person you are dealing with first thing in the morning deserves the same level of respect, civility and patience as the individual you are dealing with at 2 in the afternoon. They warrant the same high level of service and professionalism as the first person you spoke to. You need to maintain that position of positive brand ambassador and an excellent professional service.

There are many physical aspects of being mindful of in conflict situations. It is important always to be aware of features of conflict such as your body language, your emotions, your judgement, and your initial thoughts. Keeping these in mind is essential when trying to de-escalate a problematic situation.

Monika B. Jensen is the principal of the Aviary Group, consulting company that address workplace discord.  For more information, visit www.aviarygroup.ca

 

 

 

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Private Security Trends and the Need for more Trained Private Security Resources

The Canadian Occupation Projection System (COPS) predicts that by 2018, there will be a significant shortage of Private Investigation and Private Security professionals for the projected number of job openings in Canada.

 

This is due to a large number of impending retirements and the increasing demand for trained professionals in the Private Investigation and Security field. The current security climate in Canada, the privatization of public security functions and the gaps in accessible knowledge and streamlined training in the private security field, including the gaps between private and public security, are all indications that there is an imminent and urgent need to provide professional and comprehensive private investigative and security services to Canadians. This not only increases individual safety and security within municipalities but also ensure the Canada as a whole maintains its credibility and reputation as one of the safest Countries in the World.

 

In 2002, the Law Reform Commission of Canada opened a dialogue on the trend in the growth of private security in Canada. A continued rise in law enforcement expenditures, combined with economic downturns, have contributed to pressure being placed on police services around the world to become more effective and efficient. This has resulted in a growing trend of privatizing some functions traditionally performed by public policing to the private security industry as well as the growing cooperative efforts between public and private security. Private security plays an increasingly important role in community safety and addressing issues of crime and social disorder.

 

It is often assumed that privatizing and outsourcing traditional law enforcement tasks will result in reductions in the numbers of sworn police officers. This is very far from the truth, on the contrary, public and private security collaboration may in fact result in innovative initiatives that previously did not exist, and with the growing need for security actions in communities, may in fact provide law enforcement with extra resources and partners to undertake more actions without being overworked and understaffed while utilizing various community expertise.

 

There is a growing need for more security trained private resources and more collaboration between all security facets in Canada.  In Ontario, Private Investigators as well as Security Guards are licenced and regulated by the Ministry Of Correctional Services and Community Safety.

 

Anyone that acts in these rolls must have a licence. To obtain a licence, you must meet some requirements, one of them is completion of a Ministry-approved course provided by a registered provider such as Focus Investigations. A minimum 50 hour course for Private Investigator and a 40 hour course for Security Guards is mandatory.

 

These courses can be completed online making it easy for students to complete at the curriculum at their own pace. The process is as follows:

 

1. Complete Ministry training course and receive a “Completion Number”

 

2. Book a written exam at a SERCO Canada location that provides these tests. 

 

3. Upon successful completion of the exam, a candidate may now apply to the Ministry for their license. 

* For Security Guards, Emergency level first aid training is also required.

 

More information can be found on the licensing and industry here:

https://www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca/english/PSIS/FAQs/FAQs-Licences/PSIS_faqs_licences.html

 

Additional training that is useful for security professionals as well as anyone working in a security related field such as:

 

Notetaking:

 

Knowing how to take notes is important for the following reasons:

 

  • Notes are referenced for several reasons and potentially by several people.
  • Supervisors might want a rundown of the events you encountered the night before, clients may want to know about incidents that affected their businesses, and law enforcement may need these notes to help with an investigation which could conclude in a court case in which the notes will be used to prove or disprove an allegation.
  • It is vital that security personnel know how to take proper notes so that the facts are covered and there is no confusion that renders the reports useless.

 

Crisis Intervention

 

A crisis occurs when someone loses control over their behaviour. These moments are often preceded by warning signs that tells you someone’s behaviour is starting to escalate.  Security officials and any employee having to interact with the public may be faced with a situation where they are called upon to defuse a situation. By following the tips in a crisis intervention course, they often prevent a situation from becoming critical and dangerous and they are prepared and confident in any crisis they may face.

 

 For more information or to enrol in one of these courses, visit us at http://www.focusinvestigation.net

 

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Managing Gossip in Your Workplace

By: Monika B. Jensen

Gossip is widespread in the workplace. At times, it appears as if employees have nothing better to do than gossip about each other. They chat about their organization, their coworkers, and their bosses. They often take a half truth and flip it into an entire hypothetical reality. Speculating on the team’s future, who will let go, who is seeing who and what employees are doing in their personal lives.
Employees are capable about gossiping about everything, and they do in a workplace that fails to bring about a stop to the chatting employees.

A certain amount of gossip is likely to occur in any place of work; employees are curious to know what is going on and like to chat about work matters. The essential point is to determine when the gossip is inappropriate. In which case, if it is not addressed, it may lead to low employee morale or a toxic work environment.

As a manager, the need to stop the gossiping occurs when it becomes disrupting to the workplace and the business of work, it is hurting employees’ feelings, it is damaging interpersonal relationships, or injuring employee motivation and morale.
Since research shows that gossip is disruptive in the workplace, what can we do to address it? Let us look at a few different approaches as a team and as an individual to addressing gossiping in the workplace.

When you deal with gossip as a team considers putting a ban on gossiping. Some workplaces have adopted an official ban on workplace gossip by having employees sign a pledge. Although extreme it may be effective. To discourage gossiping encourage employees to speak to each other about issues that are causing them problems before they bring it to their supervisors or other parties’ attention.

In the age of social media, it becomes easier to spread rumours and gossip about others. This can cause tremendous harm to the culture of the workplace. Organizations, today need to deal with social media and keep an eye on emails, personal blogs and Facebook discussions among employees. Finally confront rumours promptly. Providing factual information about layoffs, problematic situations or surplus of employees serve them better than to leave them speculating on their own. It is important to discuss the impact that gossip may have in the workplace. Talking openly the differences between active communication and gossip. In today’s workplace, verbal harassment has legal ramifications. Employers have a duty to take action against verbal harassment when they become aware of it.

So in dealing with gossip as an individual, always share information.

Be generous with the non-confidential material. This has proven to put a check on the gossip mill. Interestingly closed doors can set off alarms even if the intent is innocent.

Let people know that you may be interrupted at any time unless in a private meeting. Be sensitive about appearances.

Often rumours and gossip form around cliques in the workplace. Try to avoid forming groups and reach out to new people to keep the loop open. If all else fails, walk away. Gossip loses its momentum when there is no audience.

Find a way to tactfully suggest a more efficient channel for complaining or remove yourself from the discussion. If you start to focus on the positive qualities of your colleagues, you will automatically have nice things to say about each other.

Workplaces that have the highest levels of gossip seem to be the ones where employees are not engaging in work duties. Stay busy. If your day is full of tasks which you find thought-provoking and rewarding you will be less likely to get distracted by trivial activities.

We spend long hours at our job, make a point of cultivating relationships and activities outside your workplace. Having strong relationships outside the office provides sources of emotional support and objective advice often.

Unfortunately lurking at the extreme end of the gossip spectrum is workplace bullying. What may seem harmless rumors to some, may amount to intimidation and harassment for the targeted employees. Complications of physical and meth health issues arise and need to be addressed in the proper forum.

Finally become a role model. Do not indulge in any gossip yourself. Become a leader in this area. Do not feel the need to chat to feel connected, liked or to be informed about your team. Taking a stand to prevent random gossiping creates a better workplace for everyone.

Monika B. Jensen

Principal, Aviary Group

905-683-9953

mjensen@aviarygroup.ca

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