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Workplace Issues

Below are the articles in the Workplace Issues category. Each article title is followed by a brief summary introduction to the content. Click "Read Excerpt" for a more comprehensive review. Click "Add to Package" to buy or redeem the article.

Workplace Issues

Bring Humor to Work (It’s Good for You & Good for Business!)

Humor has numerous benefits in the workplace, creating happier workers and increased productivity.

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The physical benefits of laughter are well documented. Laughter decreases stress hormones, boosts the immune system and raises the heart rate, bringing more blood and oxygen to the brain. It also increases the level of alertness and memory as well as the ability to learn and create.

Benefits for the Office

It makes sense that all that extra brain power and relaxation would lead to enhanced performance at work. But laughter has other benefits around the office, which include:

Stronger Teams. Laughter breaks down barriers, builds relationships and allows for better communication among coworkers. People with a sense of humor often have the ability to deal effectively with people and work issues, and they keep the severity of problems in perspective.

Bullying on the Job

A workplace bully not only harms the victim, but also the company’s bottom line.

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Say the word “bully,” and most people imagine a childhood playground and stolen lunch money. As traumatic as childhood bullying can be, workplace bullying can have an even bigger impact on the psychological and physical health of the victim. It also adversely affects other employees, the organization as a whole and that all-important bottom line.

The Impact and Cost of Bullying

Lower Productivity

How it costs the victim. When a person is being bullied at work, it’s difficult to stay on-task and do one’s best work. He or she is likely feeling distracted, disheartened and disempowered. The stress of the situation also may be having physical effects, such as difficulty sleeping, fatigue, digestive problems, headaches or muscle pain.

For many of us, our self-esteem is closely tied to our work performance. We want to do good work and be recognized for that. If, instead, a worker is ridiculed or bullied in other ways, his or her self-esteem and confidence will decline.

Cultivating Serenity in the Workplace and Beyond

Cultivating serenity in the workplace may seem like a tall order, but its formula is simpler than one might think.

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The serenity prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous says that the key to serenity is accepting what you cannot change, changing what you can, and possessing the wisdom to know the difference. The prayer is a good model that covers a lot of ground, but how do you tell the difference between what you can and cannot change? Here are some things you do have control over.

Your actions. No one can “make” you do anything. If you’re unhappy with your behavior at work or at home, change it, make amends if necessary, chart a new course.

Your words. Spoken or written, the words you choose impact your life and the lives of others. Choose your words carefully with workmates, colleagues, bosses, and clients, and quickly acknowledge any harm.

Dealing with Change at Work

Change at work impacts us emotionally, physically and mentally. What can one do to minimize change’s harm and maximize its gain?

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The world of work is changing at an extraordinary pace. The old rules no longer apply, and new rules are being written and rewritten all the time.

These changes can be unsettling, whether they’re potential or actual, positive or negative. You may be gearing up for a promotion, staring at a wide open field of new prospective clients or launching new products and services. Or you may be hunkering down in the face of outsourcing, downsizing, mergers, takeovers, and local and global competition.

How We Respond to Change

As soon as something nudges you out of your regular routine, or challenges your understanding of how the world works and where you fit into it, it will likely trigger a deluge of feelings, including fear, anxiety, overwhelm, excitement, distraction or denial.

Dealing with Difficult Coworkers

There’s one in every workplace—a coworker who annoys, takes credit, steals ideas, backstabs—but that doesn’t mean the other workers have to be victims.

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Until recently, focus has been on how to manage the difficult boss or managing employees. The issue of problem coworkers has received less attention, yet in one study, 80% of people reported that a single coworker contributed significant stress to their workday.

This stress isn’t just dangerous to employees; it has a negative impact on the entire company or workplace. It can lead to poor work performance, absenteeism and health problems. Sometimes outstanding employees who see no solution to a toxic coworker look for a new job. In today’s competitive work environment where finding and retaining talented people is increasingly difficult, this is a loss few companies can afford.

Complaining to management about a problem coworker is often ineffective and can backfire, making you look like the problem. But, there are some effective steps you can take to deal with this common workplace challenge. Remember, if you believe you have some control, you do.

Look to Yourself First

Are you the problem? Do you listen without interrupting? Do you take everything personally? Are you willing to change? Taking responsibility for your part will make it much clearer how to proceed with a problem peer.

Employees’ Engagement with Work

A look at the level of employees’ engagement and the effect upon business success; what managers can do.

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Employee engagement is golden. That's the key finding of study from just a few years ago titled "Employee Engagement and Organizational Commitment."

According to the study, employee engagement (the willingness of an employee to go the extra mile to help his or her company succeed) has a positive relationship with customer satisfaction, productivity, profit, employees' retention and organizational success and profit.

Similar studies found that in 18 countries, companies with the highest level of employee engagement achieve better financial results and are more successful in retaining their most valued employees than companies with lower levels of engagement.

Those companies with the highest percentage of engaged workers increased operating income 19% and earnings per share 28% year to year, while those with the lowest showed declines of 33% in operating income and 11% in earnings per share.

Employing Nondefensive Communication at Work

Communicating non-defensively not only shifts our relationships, but improves the bottom line.

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You’re in the break room with a colleague, when he looks over and asks, “Do you always butter your bread that way?”

Ha, ha, you laugh. But inside, your story is going like this: Who does he think he is, Mr. Manners? What’s wrong with the way I butter my bread? Jerk. He’s always so critical.

Freeze frame.

If something as minor as buttering bread can provoke such feelings of defensiveness, imagine what can happen with more important issues at work.

What happens, says Sharon Ellison, M.S., is essentially war. Ellison, founder of Powerful Non-Defensive Communication, teaches that the way we communicate with each other uses the same principles and tactics we would use in physical combat, based on the belief that we must protect ourselves by being defensive. As soon as we feel any threat, either of not getting what we want or of being harmed or put down in some way, we choose from among the three basic defensive war maneuvers: surrender, withdrawal or counterattack.

Ethics Are Good for Business

“Ethics” and “integrity” are often discussed, especially over the past decade, with Enron and other corporate scandals having garnered many headlines. But what, exactly, do these terms mean? And how can they be profitable?

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Ethics are a set of principles of right conduct. Integrity is the strict adherence to this set of principles, which does not waiver depending on the circumstances. For businesses and individuals to operate at their fullest potential, both ethics and integrity need to be solidly in place.

“I would go so far as to predict that most new businesses and entrepreneurs who do not have a solid ethical foundation will fail within five years,” writes Peter Koestenbaum, author of The Philosophic Consultant. “Conversely, those who do behave ethically will thrive, both financially and in other ways. Every conscientious businessperson should make it a priority to explore what ethical behavior is, and how he or she can make ethical decisions.”

It’s no secret—whether you’re in a corporation or running your own business—that we’re all working to achieve the same common goal: to make money. But profit motive doesn’t need to overshadow the truth that, ultimately, business is about service. Service means making clients’ needs as important as the desire to increase profits.

How Well Do You Cope with These Common Workplace Challenges?

Doing work that is rewarding and fulfilling also requires the ability to face and overcome obstacles.

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No matter how rewarding our work may be, we all face challenges in our professional lives. These challenges can either serve as opportunities to improve personal and professional growth or they can interfere with our effectiveness and ability to enjoy our work.

Do you have the people skills, flexibility and street smarts to cope with common workplace challenges?

Take this True or False Self-Quiz to determine whether you are maximizing these opportunities for your own personal and professional development.

1. When I feel disconnected or isolated from colleagues or clients, I make a point of scheduling weekly or monthly get-togethers to celebrate successes and reinforce camaraderie and team spirit.

2. When a situation feels "cutthroat" at work or clients are playing hardball, I practice random acts of kindness in the work environment to create and encourage goodwill.

How Well Do You Handle Workplace Conflict?

Like taxes, conflict in the workplace is inevitable. That isn’t all bad. Handling conflict well leads to many benefits.

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Handled well, conflict can strengthen communication, spark new ideas and generate new levels of performance. Handled poorly, however, workplace conflict can damage important relationships and drag down productivity. In fact, many agree that the ability to manage conflicts can make or break a career. Take this Self-Quiz to discover how well you handle conflict in the workplace.

True or False

1. If the conflict is escalating, I offer to set the subject aside and address it later, possibly in a separate meeting.

2. Because good decisions are sometimes reached when everyone gives a little, I keep myself flexible and open to compromise.

3. I do all I can to NOT get defensive. I listen to what others have to say and honestly evaluate whether their opinions might be valid.

How Well Do You Manage Your Emotional Reactions at Work?

Getting "triggered" at work can be damaging to one's career. Through its quiz format, the article shows ways to manage emotional reactions at work.

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Automatic, negative responses to people or events often indicate a hypersensitivity that's referred to as "getting your buttons pushed." At work, these emotional reactions can limit your career advancement and cap the level of success you might achieve.

Usually these sensitivities have their origins in hurtful childhood experiences, such as repeatedly being criticized, rejected or controlled. Because we're all human, we sometimes take them into the workplace with us.

Answer the following two sets of questions to discover how well you manage your emotional reactions at work.

1. When anyone critiques my work—constructively or not—I tend to shut down and withdraw or feel ashamed.

2. When someone hurts me—for instance, if they fail to acknowledge my contribution—I lash out at them or blame myself.

3. I hate it when colleagues tell me I'm "too sensitive."

It’s So Easy to Have a Green Office

It’s easier than one might think to adopt green practices—and it makes good economic sense.

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If Kermit the Frog, the Muppet from “Sesame Street,” were a regular fixture in TV-land today, he’d be crooning the opposite of his 1970s hit, “It’s not easy being green.”

There are dozens of ways to reduce waste and improve resource efficiency, while reducing costs. These work whether yours is an office of one or hundreds. Consider the following practices (only a beginning), and see if you’re doing all you can to “green up” your office.

Notice your printing practices. How often do you reprint things because you got the margins or paper size wrong? Before you print, preview your document thoroughly to make sure you have the right font or correct paragraph inefficiencies (so that you don’t have to reprint to get rid of the three words that ended up on the last page). Print drafts on recycled paper. Remember that “draft quality” printouts save toner. As much as possible, print final documents on front and back.

Oh, the Tales We Tell: Getting Beyond Our Stories at Work

Outlines a path of investigation into the horror stories people tell themselves. It shows how to get beneath those stories to the beliefs and assumptions that really live there, and then offers a strategy for using that self-awareness to free oneself.

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Every day, Jerome begins his work by telling himself his favorite story: I’m not valued around here. They’re heaping on the work just to see when I’ll quit. I’m sure to be passed over for promotion.

His co-worker, Alissa, has her own favorite story: This company’s president is a critical and demanding control freak, who shuts me out of every decision but expects me to know everything....

We live our lives as if the stories are true. We act and react, often in pain, from our often mistaken understanding of another’s words or actions, our assumptions about why they are saying or doing what they are, and our thoughts about how those people—and we, ourselves—should be different.

Stories Damage Relationships—at Work and at Home

Yet, it is these stories, and the emotions that come from the stories, that are usually the source of the pain and/or discomfort we feel in our relationships, whether at work or at home. We want to blame another, but in reality, it’s usually our thinking that is causing the discomfort, says Byron Katie, author of the best-selling book Loving What Is.

The Victim at Work: Are You Playing This Role in Your Workplace?

Playing the victim inhibits success in the workplace. So why does anyone do it? And how can one stop?

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When a drama is going on in the workplace, there are usually three distinct roles being played. According to Dr. Stephen G. Karpman, this “drama triangle” places the victim at the bottom, below the other two roles of persecutor and rescuer.

The Persecutor

The persecutor goes on the offensive, looking to blame, shame and control. She is fiercely attached to her own agenda and is motivated only by the desire to get exactly what she wants.

The Rescuer

The rescuer also goes on the offensive, jumping in to solve problems for other people whether or not it is appropriate or requested. He is motivated by the desire to keep everyone else happy and to feel important and needed.

The Victim

The victim goes on the defensive, relinquishing all responsibility and soliciting sympathy for whatever he feels has been done to him. He is motivated by the desire to be taken care of and understood.

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