Helping Others At Work Might Not Help You

teamwork help others at work

You need to know the difference between being a team player and helping co-workers too much.

A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology shows that helping co-workers as much as possible could lead to emotional drain, mental exhaustion, poor productivity and bad job performance. This is most often the case for workers who care deeply about the happiness of others.

The study, led by Michigan State University associate professor of management Russell Johnson, examined people from various industries. Workers from the fields of engineering, health care and finance completed surveys for 15 days in a row. Each person had one survey to complete in the morning and one in the afternoon.

The survey attempted to measure depletion using a scientifically established scale. Researchers also asked targeted questions about helping co-workers. One such question asked if the subject went out of his or her way to help a co-worker.

The results might put a damper on the “no ‘I’ in team” concept. Helping another person can leave someone drained and unable to perform his or her own tasks. This is especially true for employees who help others a lot.

Researchers recommend that when people need to help others too much, they should try to rebuild their energy levels by taking breaks during the workday. Healthy snacks and even caffeine can also help boost energy for the rest of the day.

The study also states that people who keep asking for assistance, especially from the same person, may unwittingly place a burden on those who are helping them. Perhaps they should ask another person for help the next time, as opposed to asking the same person repeatedly.

Another insight was that a simple “thank you” or acknowledgement of the assistance goes a long way to alleviating the negative effects on the helper. Thanking a co-worker might reverse any mental depletion a person has at the office, simply because a word of thanks is a mental pick-me-up.

Supervisors and managers should take these results to light and develop ways to mitigate any lost production. Supervisors should recognize that it’s okay to ask for help, but everyone at the office should use common sense when it comes to seeking assistance. Team leaders must also realize that simple kindness goes a long way.

If you feel that demands from other people in the office are putting too much of a strain on you and getting in the way of your own work, then you might just need to learn how to say no in a better way and without seeming lazy.

Common Triggers For Quitting Your Job

when quitting your job

Chances are pretty high that once you’ve settled into a secure job, you have no intention of leaving it any time soon.

There are, however, certain situations that can put the idea of seeking a new job front and center in your mind.

According to research by CEB, people have a higher tendency to change jobs after certain events and milestones.

1. Significant social gatherings with your peer group.

Attending a social gathering where you’ll be among peers who are close in age and life experience can inspire a desire for change. For instance, you decide to attend your high school or college reunion.

The reason you go is to catch up with old friends you knew back in the day, and you enjoy sharing a few laughs and some fond memories. As you share life stories, you can’t help but hear about career choices and successes others have had along the way.

Naturally, you’ll compare your job with others and silently measure your career success against that of your friends and associates. Perhaps it’s time to rethink your career goals, start working on increasing your chances of promotion or seek a job that more closely aligns with your values. Attending peer group events can trigger all of these thoughts.

2. Job anniversaries.

As the anniversary of your current job rolls around, you may reflect upon your reasons for taking the job in the first place.

Job anniversaries bring to the forefront everything you like or dislike about your job, as you ponder the years you’ve spent in one place.

3. Promotion anniversaries.

The anniversary of your promotion into a certain job position can lead to positive or negative feelings, depending on how well your job is going.

If the promotion isn’t living up to your expectations, you may decide it’s time to start looking into positions that offer more career fulfillment.

Make sure your career decisions are strategic.

So it could be the case that your dissatisfaction or restlessness with your current job, is less about the company or job, and more due to the fact that you just turned 40.

While it’s never a bad idea to take stock of your career and plan for the future, do make sure that any changes you are thinking about, actually make sense.

This Activity Can Eliminate Gender Gap For Women In The Workplace

gender gap women workplace discrimination

The “glass ceiling” is still very much in force.

Despite efforts that emphasize the recruitment and development of female business leadership, as well as fair practices and elimination of bias, women still remain under-represented in top leadership levels of major businesses.

One pair of researchers discovered a facet of human psychology which may unlock the potential for women trying to advance in a competitive business setting.

The researchers, Jessica Sim (Professor at University of Wisconsin) and Zoe Kinias (Professor at INSEAD), studied two groups of incoming MBA students. They paid close attention to the effect of a particular writing exercise that was part of an orientation activity. Each group was asked to write about values. One group was instructed to focus on personal values, while the other wrote about values in general (also comprising institutional values). The results gleaned from the study were telling.

The focus of the research was how the gender gap was affected by whether a student focused on her own core values. Regular reinforcement of core values, for one group, continued throughout the academic quarter and into exam week.

It was found that the group of women who focused on general values, had a lower GPA overall than their male counterparts. However, those who focused on their own core/personal values scored equally as high as the men.

What the study reveals is a basic human condition: we strive to maintain a feeling of self-worth. Humans want respect from their peers, and they want to know that they are living a meaningful life.

Taken a step further, the study points out how members of certain groups are sometimes devalued in their professional or academic lives. For professional women who see a business culture where women aren’t equally represented at senior levels, the effect can be demoralizing. The resulting self-doubt interferes with performance and leads to a phenomenon known as “stereotype threat.”

Groups known to experience stereotype threat include women in mathematics, white men playing basketball, and also women and minorities in the work environment.

Groups who are encouraged to review their core values show a resilience against threats to their self-worthIn other words, the increased feelings of self worth negate the effect of the stereotype threat.

Sim and Kinias believe the results of the study can be a major step toward advancing the careers of women and minorities in a business setting. Even more importantly, the researchers are fine-tuning their findings in an effort to apply them to other settings.

Both women want to try to implement some form of organizational interventions that can help erase gaps in pay and achievement in the workplace. They hope that increased intervention can help shield women and minorities from the harm caused by stereotype threats, thereby giving women more tools in their efforts to break through the glass ceiling.

Don’t Forget About The Big Boss

boss's boss at work

Getting to know your boss and having a good professional relationship is important to your job, career and sanity. A good working relationship can lead to career success and professional longevity.

However, a relationship with those higher than you shouldn’t stop with your immediate supervisor. Knowing and having a relationship with your boss’s boss is just as important for your time with the company and your career.

Many people find themselves wondering what kind of relationship is ideal in this situation, how and when to interact with their supervisor’s boss, and how to develop and maintain this relationship while still respecting their own immediate supervisor.

As a result of not knowing the best answer to these questions, employees find themselves missing out on opportunities for growth and development. Rebecca Knight (Professor at Wesleyan University) has some excellent tips to avoid this.

Why You Should Get to Know Your Boss’s Boss

Your direct supervisor’s boss is closer to the leadership of the organization, and this person is more likely to have a better understanding of the company’s goals, mission, strategy and long-term plans. Having a strong relationship with this individual gives you access to a greater wealth of information, which, in turn, helps you make more educated decisions regarding your position.

A good relationship with your boss’s boss also puts another person in your corner for promotions, raises or excellent career-building opportunities. That person will be more likely to advocate for you and present you as a potential candidate if he or she knows you well.

Even so, it can be difficult to start or even maintain this relationship when you still want to show respect and professionalism to your immediate supervisor, without appearing to go over your supervisor’s head.

Five Top Tips for Success

  1. Be engaged and interested. Asking questions and demonstrating engagement and interest in your supervisors and the department, shows that you take your role in the company’s long-term growth seriously.
  2. Look for commonalities. Find something that you both truly enjoy and then connect. This could be things like movies, sports, fashion, a particular cause, technology and so on. Use them to connect, engage and develop the relationship.
  3. Be polite. Not everyone will like everyone — if that’s the case with your boss’s boss, maintain a polite and cordial relationship.
  4. Be bold and valuable. Don’t be scared to take on more responsibility or larger assignments, and seek out leadership positions that will help you stand out. Share your ideas and solutions. Also, don’t be afraid to blow your own horn about all of this, once in a while.

But always remember. You still have to report to your direct manager. Your first priority should always be to build and maintain the relationship with your direct supervisor.

How Many Asians Are Working Overseas And Will They Return?

popular jobs for asians

There are many people from South East Asia who are living and working away from home. A few of the main reasons for seeking employment overseas include higher compensation, greater/new exposure and career development opportunities.

As per a survey by the recruitment firm, Robert Walters, Vietnam has the most people working overseas, followed by Malaysia.

asians working overseas

Does this talent plan on returning home?

The majority are interested in returning to their home land because they want to care for their parents, live in a place/culture where they are most comfortable and to leverage their overseas experience to attain greater pay and career progression back home.

do asians want to work in home country

Which jobs/functions are the returning Asian talent most interested in?

popular jobs for asians

In you are planning on hiring Asian talent from overseas, what are the main things you need to consider?

jobs for asians

Robert Walters also recommends making it easy for them to return, by helping with shipping and housing search, and also by giving them time-off during the initial weeks to settle in.

Zika In Singapore – Background, Tips And Workplace Guidelines

zika virus in singapore workplaces guidelines

The Ministry of Health (MOH) recently confirmed 56 instances of the Zika virus, which were locally transmitted in Singapore.

All the affected individuals are residents or workers in the Sims Drive or Aljunied areas. Majority of the cases are foreign workers, who have been working at a construction site in 60 Sims Drive.

As per reports, 36 of the infected people have recovered fully, while the remaining are still infectious.

The Zika virus spreads via mosquitoes and therefore further transmission among the community is possible.

The MOH is working to ensure effective containment and has issued the following guidelines for managing the virus at workplaces in Singapore:

  • Companies should ask employees to monitor themselves for symptoms of the Zika virus, which include red eyes, fever, skin rashes, headaches and joint/muscle pains.
  • Individuals should take precautions to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes at home or outdoors. It is important to monitor the presence of mosquitoes and use things like repellents and nets.
  • Pregnant employees, as well as their employers, must be especially vigilant with precautions and care.
  • Employers must take immediate action to prevent breeding of mosquitoes in the workplace and surrounding areas.
  • People who are symptomatic and have either traveled to an affected country in the last 14 days, or live/work in the Aljunied/Sims Drive areas, should get medical attention right away.

singapore zika virus

The Zika virus is spread through the bite of a species of mosquitoes known as Aedes. This species tends to bite aggressively during the day time, but can also bite at night.

Zika is typically a mild infliction and can cause a viral fever, similar to dengue. However, it is a cause for concern for pregnant women, since it can pass to the fetus and cause birth defects.

At the moment, there is no vaccine for the Zika virus. Have a look at the infographic below for some more details.

singapore zika virus infographic: prevention, symptoms and treatment

A Simple Way To Start Projecting More Self Confidence

how to have confidence

As a politician delivers his speech, he scans the faces of his supporters in the crowd.

A presentation is being given by a college student who emphasizes her points to her classmates and professor.

Striding down the sidewalk, a young professional casually smiles to colleagues on the way home.

“What do these three people have in common?” you ask.

They’re proficient at making eye contact, and as a result, they emit confidence.

Body language expert and author of The Body Language Advantage, Lillian Glass, says that intense eye contact is the best indicator of someone’s confidence.

According to Glass, those who are confident don’t look at their feet, the ground, or the table; they’re always looking up. She explains, “Whether in conversation or just walking in the office hallway, they’re looking at other people. They’re engaging them through their eye contact.”

Making and having eye contact builds a connection, displays sincerity, and helps to produce a sense of trust, linking people.

A study administered at the University of Leuven in Belgium resolved that individuals with greater self-esteem are more likely to keep eye contact than their less confident peers, whose low self-esteem was linked with darting looks. Researchers at King’s College also discovered that we connect higher levels of eye contact with stronger leadership skills, greater aggression and power, and higher intelligence.

However, for many, looking another in the eye — and holding that gaze — can be tough.

If this is something you have a hard time with, try staring at the other person’s eyes for a few seconds, looking at their nose for a few seconds, looking at their mouth for a few seconds, and then staring at their face as a whole for a few seconds.

Continue this rotation during your discussion.

Glass explains that if you use this method, the other person won’t be able to know that you’re not looking straight at their eyes the whole time.

Make a habit of practicing eye contact in your day-to-day life, whether it be on the subway on your way to work, walking outside on your lunch break, and in conversations at the office and with colleagues. You’ll be shocked by how much the perception of your confidence levels increases, once you get better at locking eyes.

How To Deliver Bad News To Employees, In A Good Way

how to deliver bad news to employee layoff

Regardless of if you are the person receiving or giving bad news, no one likes to be a part of the conversation if bad news is going to be involved.

However, when the situation calls for it, there are ways to make hard conversations go a little smoother.

While the words you use have value to the person you are talking to, the tone of your voice and the way you go about the situation has a bigger impact on the conversation, according to recent studies by Saarland University in Germany.

The researchers behind the study, looked specifically the situation where a manager needed to convey the news of an employee being fired. They conducted a series of experiments which involved role playing, in order to reach their conclusion.

Training was received by one group of managers, on the methods of using language that centered on fairness and the facts of the termination, while another group did not receive any training.

Staff reacted much better and were more accepting to information/news that was given by managers who went through the training.

They were less likely to be confrontational when their manager took the time to explain the underlying causes of the situation, instead of being aggressive and demonstrating their authority through their tone of voice.

Then the researchers looked into the importance of fairness versus fact-giving, when delivering bad news to an employee. One group of managers was given training geared towards fairness and factual correctness, and the second group was trained on being strictly factual.

The supervisors who received training only on delivering facts concerning the bad news, did not fare better with employees, as compared to managers who did not receive any training at all.

Through this, the research was able to demonstrate that characteristic of fairness was most important in the conversation concerning a layoff.

According to Professors Manuela Richter and Cornelius Konig, who led the studies, when it comes to fairness, both respect and transparency are involved. A good example of this is when a manager took the time to discuss with the employee that the layoff wasn’t happening because of his/her behavior or performance, but rather the layoff was taking place due to economic situations and difficulties which resulted in the company cutting back.

To give bad news with fairness and empathy, here are some quick tips:

  1. Tell it like it is: Employees stated that they would rather be told the truth, without any toning down, and simply be given the facts of the matter, over a manager trying to say what they believe the employee wants to hear.
  2. Be considerate and prepared: It is best to prepare and practice what you are going to say in advance. Also think about the best time and place to give the bad news, taking into account the employee’s convenience, privacy, dignity and feelings.
  3. Don’t rush things: Don’t try and make the meeting as short as possible. The employee can sense when you’re just trying to get over with it. Keep sufficient time for the employee to process the information, understand it, discuss it, share concerns and ask questions.

63% Of Working Women In Malaysia Give-Up Their Career For Family

working women jobs malaysia

According to the Women, Family and Community Ministry, 63 percent of women between the ages of 23 and 39 in Malaysia, leave their jobs after having children.

“They are in their prime. Most resign to comply with their husband’s wishes to stay at home and look after their children.

This has derailed the government’s efforts to have 59% of women in the labour force by 2020,” said Minister Rohani Karim.

Currently, the 55% of women in Malaysia are part of the working population. Approximately 70% of women attend local universities, with the majority registering in social sciences and arts courses.

This shows that there is a mis-match between the number of female graduates and those that end up working. Also they tend to earn less than men, who lean towards higher paying courses such as engineering.

Performance Reviews: The Lesser Evil?

performance review appraisal

Performance reviews have become a tool for the majority of employers.

But, are they really an accurate reading of an employee’s importance to the company?  More importantly, has anyone ever questioned the validity of performance reviews?

The overarching belief is that performance reviews don’t vary much and that most employees get a rating of “above-average,” with very few receiving poor scores.  There is also the belief that good performers remain good, while bad performers remain bad.

Another question asked about performance reviews is in regards to how they are used.  Do they usually mean a pay increase for good performers, or are they used as an incentive for improving the performance of mediocre employees?

A recent study examined performance reviews and their relation to continued employee performance over a seven-year period. The research was conducted by Peter Cappelli (Professor of Management at Wharton) and Martin Conyon (Professor at Bentley University).

Here are some of the findings:

  • The upward rating of “average” employees to slightly above “average” appeared frequently.
  • Higher scores resulting from a chummy superior/subordinate relationship were not observed. 
  • Also noted was a tendency toward a greater number of “poor” scores than “excellent” scores.
  • The most surprising result of the study was the lack of evidence for good performers being rated that way year after year.
  • The idea that good performers remained good, average performers remained average, or bad performers remained bad was found to be without basis.  While a consistently bad performer tended to be fired, the notion of performance reviews remaining constant over the long term was not supported.

The study also revealed that the review process was looked at by supervisors as more of a continuing relationship, with commensurate rewards for performance improvements.  Poor performers, according to the study, were disproportionately denied pay raises when compared to average or better performers.

Granted, the study only involved the experiences of one company, but no evidence exists elsewhere to dispute these findings.

According to the researchers, the validity, or lack of, regarding performance reviews seems to exist without any real evidence. For those campaigning to remove performance reviews from the appraisal process, perceived lack of reliability is conveniently cited as a valid reason.  But, when the facts are laid out, performance reviews are still the most reliable short-term tool for rating and improving employee performance.

Why Corporate Diversity Programs Don’t Succeed

corporate diversity programs initiatives

Despite Motorcycle Accident Lawyer designed to create a more diverse workforce, women and minorities still don’t fare much better than they did 15 years ago.

According to a recent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission study, the business landscape still shows a significant lack of female and minority opportunity.

Although gains were made by both groups in the year 2000, no significant gains have happened since then.  The reason for this, according to Frank Dobbin, professor of Sociology at Harvard, and Alexandra Kalev, an associate sociology professor at Tel Aviv University, is that typical big money diversity programs don’t work.

Dobbin and Kalev studied almost three decades of data, involving diversity programs in over 800 businesses, to reach their conclusion.  According to their findings, programs put into place by businesses were designed to avoid discrimination lawsuits, more than they were meant to actually increase workplace diversity.

Here are some more details of the study.

 Mandatory Training Programs Don’t Reduce Bias

Mandatory diversity training, cloaked in negative language, may be creating more problems than it’s supposed to cure.

Dobbin and Kalev cited the nearly 1,000 studies which were designed to gauge diversity training effectiveness.  Short-term results show positive results, but after a few days the training was forgotten.

Managers Use Hiring Tests To Their Advantage

Another negative aspect of diversity programs has been in the use of hiring/skill-based testing.

While meant to level the playing field for potential candidates, managers end up resenting being forced to use hiring tests. They want to be the final word when hiring someone, without having a candidate forced upon them due to test results.

In addition, some hiring managers would only administer the test to people they didn’t really want to hire, or simply ignored the test results and hired who they wanted to.

Performance Ratings Are Misused

Ostensibly, an annual review is accompanied by a rating system to encourage fair compensation and advancement of exceptional employees.  But they can also be used as a way to avoid lawsuits.

Managers are finding other ways to skirt performance ratings.  Results cited by Dobbins and Kalev noted that managers give poor rating to women and minorities, or give a high performance rating to all employees, and then promote who they want.

In businesses using performance ratings, the number of minority managers remained about the same.  The percentage of women managers shrank by 4 percent.

Ineffective Grievance Processes

While supposedly put in place as a final step in combating discrimination, grievance procedures, in many cases have only caused greater opposition.

Workers become reluctant to speak up, for fear of retaliation. Managers, hearing no grievances, end up believing that there are no problems.

Often times, employees believe company policies are the final arbiter in workplace fairness, and find grievance procedures to be excessive.

Diversity Encouragement Policies That DO Work

The research found that positive reinforcement methods for diversity programs are a more effective way for companies looking to promote diversity.

The use of holistic and voluntary training/programs also resulted in better results for diversity.

Getting hiring managers involved in college recruitment programs, targeting women and minorities, has found increasing success in diversity-minded companies.  With hiring managers, college recruitment allows their participation to be voluntary, and gives the task a positive spin.  The task of finding the best minority candidates among a college’s student population, causes hiring managers to take their campus visit more seriously.

Mentoring programs for women and minorities are helping with diversity and advancement goals, when employed. Male executives can be eager to mentor young workers, but not necessarily so when it comes to female or minority mentees.  By implementing a formal mentoring program that matches mentors with a diverse set of proteges, businesses have increased their diversity numbers.

By promoting contact between groups, encouraging social accountability, and accenting the importance of Diversity Managers as a role, researchers note that businesses were able to achieve greater workplace diversity.  Companies such as Pinterest and Airbnb achieved great success in their efforts at greater workplace diversity by implementing these programs.

When programs that browbeat companies with diversity training and negative images have been supplanted with more positive approaches, workplace diversity has thrived.  In the words of Dobbin and Kalev, “The very good news is that we know what does work, we just need to do more of it.”

A Few Facts About Workplace Discrimination in Singapore

workplace discrimination singapore

In response to questions during a recent Parliament meeting in Singapore, concerning discriminatory practices in the workplace, Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck mentioned some facts about such cases in Singapore.

In his response, Mr. Teo referred to numbers reported by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP).  According to the numbers, between 2011 and 2015 the average number of complaints about workplace discrimination was 400 per year, with 30 of those complaints (~8%) related to race or religion each year.

When asked about the nature of the complaints, Mr Teo noted that the majority of the complaints about discrimination were related to “unfair hiring practices.” Those hiring practices included mostly discriminatory job advertisements or inappropriate questions asked during job interviews.  The remainder of complaints concerned in-employment issues: such as poor grievance handling and company policies/practices being conveyed in a less than sensitive manner.

A total of 10 employers were warned about race or religion based discrimination, and work pass privileges of 12 employers had been curtailed, according to Mr. Teo.

The question of current measures and enforcement powers, and their effectiveness was also raised, especially the ability of the TAFEP to enforce mandates among companies that were not dependent on work passes for their employees.

Mr. Teo noted that the multi-faceted approach taken by TAFEP had produced relatively stable results due to the penalties and advisory work undertaken by the alliance.  His comments also mentioned the follow-up efforts of TAFEP to ensure that discrimination complaints are not repeated, while also noting that discriminatory practices cannot be eliminated entirely – no matter how diligent efforts are.

Mr. Teo’s final remarks on the subject noted that TAFEP has promised to, not only increase public education campaigns related to diversity, but is also vowing to ensure that future hiring practices are focused on fairness and merit, by intensifying training for relevant employer representatives.

As an employee in Singapore, in case you need to make a complaint about discrimination in the workplace (relating to gender, age, religion, race, marital status or disability), please refer to the TAFEP website and also their complaint submission/handling procedure.