TEAM DEVELOPMENT

Team Development
workplace centre creative

Witnessing the coronavirus, COVID-19 make its mark across the world has been a harrowing experience for everyone as it has left in its wake, a trail of death, poverty, and uncertainty. Events of the past months escalated at an alarming rate into a full-scale pandemic with thousands of lives lost because it crept upon us, and here we are today still battling to contain the spread of the virus.

As a fallout, businesses have had to rethink their processes, lay-off non-essential staff, and operate skeletally and in some organisations remotely through the adoption of digital technologies. These are indeed unprecedented times characterised by corporations and individuals as well as fighting for a chance to survive and thrive in what has become the new reality.

While medical professionals battle to save lives and seek a permanent cure to the coronavirus, it has become very critical for organisations to build versatile and productive teams to survive.

Teams have become a key tool for organising work and operating efficiently in the modern workplace; this is because teams have the potential to promptly gather regardless of location, quickly and seamlessly function, organise themselves and execute projects with ease.

Again, they have proven to be remarkable tools for employee motivation and growth as employees make deliberate efforts, and often volunteer to be coopted into teams they see as versatile, productive, and align with their career goals.

Although human resources departments have traditionally focused on individual employees, the development of teams that can work together effectively should become the highest priority for every organisation. Organisations need to educate employees about how to collaborate effectively with their colleagues and learn to contribute to projects by making group contributions instead of individual contributions.

To help organizations recover from the COVID-19 scourge, it will be important to reevaluate the strengths, competencies, and weaknesses of each staff, assign them to various teams with clearly defined goals, objectives, and deliverables.

However, it is pertinent to note that productive teams do not just happen, they take time and effort to build, develop, and grow into maturity.

According to HR and Management consultant Susan Heathfield, the purpose of creating teams is to provide a framework that will increase the ability of employees to participate in planning, problem-solving, and decision making to better serve customers.

Heathfield maintains that increased participation promotes the following:

  • A better understanding of decisions
  • More support for and participation in implementation plans
  • Increased contribution to problem-solving and decision making
  • More ownership of decisions, processes, and changes

To be able to fulfill the purpose for which they were created, which is primarily to develop and implement better systems that improve products or services and optimize delivery and customer experience as well as generate revenue, team members must understand each other and the importance of focusing on the task.

COVID-19: A LETTER TO OUR TEAM By Erik Reagan, CEO FOCUS LAB.

COVID-19: A LETTER TO OUR TEAM

It’s been surreal to watch COVID-19 make its mark across the globe. From international coverage, national declarations, state-wide news conferences, and city updates, we’ve had a lot of things in front of us. I wanted to take a few minutes to collect my thoughts and plans for Focus Lab so we can continue to be operating from the same play

1. NOW, MORE THAN EVER, WE NEED TO BE PATIENT WITH ONE ANOTHER AND EXTEND GRACE IN ALL DIRECTIONS. THAT INCLUDES PATIENCE AND GRACE WITH AND FOR YOURSELF.

You may find yourself or others struggling to attend our regular meetings with new things happening around us during work hours. Or perhaps meetings are fine, but it’s a struggle to create the same space for deep work that we had previously. Whatever the changes and struggles, know that you have the support and encouragement of your team leaders to flex your schedule around in a way that works best for your family and your projects.

When the chance to be present to people’s thoughts and feelings arrives, we show up. And we do so with an earnest desire to meet them where they are, from a place of openness and humility.

OUR CORE VALUE, “EMPATHY IN ACTION”

If you find that you need to adjust your work hours a bit, the most important thing is that you communicate this clearly to your team leader and those with whom you work closely.

Be gracious with and understanding of one another when unexpected things come up. Certain meetings may be less optimal for some time, simply due to the suddenness of these changes. I could write up all the tips in my head and on the internet and still not cover every possibility of what we might experience in working from home, so that leads me to my second call to action.

2. ADAPTABILITY WILL BE A FOUNDATIONAL TOOL THROUGHOUT THE COMING WEEKS.

If there’s one thing I can guarantee you for the coming weeks, it’s this: There will be surprises. From changes we’re making to how we work, to changes that our clients need to make, to types of change we can’t anticipate. Changes will come. And we all need to have a spirit and mind of adaptability. If we don’t approach each workday with the willingness to accept something new or unexpected, this will be much harder.

It’s time to flex this newly developed “Yes, and” muscle!

Some Personal Suggestions

If you would permit me, there are two things I want to mention I believe them to be valuable and worth mentioning to the team today.

The first is about your family budget. It’s yet unclear what the economic impact of COVID-19 will be on the globe. In this uncertainty, I think it’s wise to hone in on your financial management. Spend only where you need to for a time.

The second is about protecting your health. I’m talking not just about physical health, but also emotional and mental. Your health affects your ability to care for yourself and those around you. Here are a few things worth thinking about:

  • If you typically go to a gym, but can’t right now, consider some at-home exercise. Don’t just let the physical activity go to the wayside. 
  • Stay Hydrated
  • Close social media and news sources while you’re working.
  • Consider giving this article a read: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy During the Coronavirus Outbreak
  • Take time to breathe. If that sounds strange or new to you, I encourage you to check out your App Store for meditation apps that have useful guides for simple breathing practices.
  • Reach out to your friends and family. And I don’t mean via social media, but rather a voice or video call. Stay connected emotionally while we can’t all be connected physically.

WRAPPING UP

We’re all adjusting. We have a steady barrage of media coming our way during every moment that passes. So as we settle into our work week, work diligently to set the media to the side and be digitally present with your team, your work, and our clients. You might consider setting specific hours where you read on your state’s latest updates regarding COVID-19.

And lastly, as cheesy as it may sound, try to stay positive. It’s easy to get pulled out by the undertow of negativity. Yes, this is a negative worldwide event we’re experiencing. But we can’t allow that to result in us wearing negative lenses as we look at everything around us. Be cautious about how you’re looking at the things around you.

Prioritize gratitude.

Prioritize moments of silence.

Prioritize being fully present with those around you.

Prioritize positivity.

There was a man who traveled to a village to speak to a wise man. He said to the wise man, “I feel like there are two dogs inside me. One dog is positive, loving, kind, and optimistic and then I have this fearful, pessimistic, angry, and negative dog and they fight all the time. I don’t know who is going to win.” The wise man thinks for a moment and responds, “I know who is going to win. The one you feed the most. 

So feed the positive dog.”

There you have it. With each day that begins, feed the positive dog.

With Gratitude,


Erik.

Navigating The Unknown With Resilience, Innovation and Agility

Navigating The Unknown With Resilience, Innovation and Agility

The world has suddenly been plunged into an unforeseen crisis. When it started to pan out in China in December 2019, it seemed far away and remote, and many of us were relatively confident that it would be contained just as it was with Bird Flu, SARS and Ebola. little did we know that most countries, particularly the advanced ones, were ill-prepared for a pandemic and that the kind of devastation being experienced across the world could happen.

We are where we are today, and we begin to ask how do we move from here to there?  As business owners our first thought is how to ride through this, and not only survive but come out strong.

More than ever, this is the time to be Resilient, Innovative and Agile.

Resilience is having the ability and capacity to go through a difficult situation and come out strong.  To survive in this time, you need to be resilient.   

Being Agile is possessing the ability to adapt to change quickly, take decisions, implement them and understand that failure is part of the process. It is also a time to come up with innovative solutions to move ahead.

At a time when there is so much uncertainty, no one seems to have a firm grasp of  what is going on, you have to lead with what you have as well as your instincts , you will have to keep forging ahead and be willing to change. 

A resilient and agile mindset, asking questions and working through the answers will help you navigate through this period.  Below are six things you can do:

Be Positive, Do Not Panic – we are all in this together and panic is the last thing you want to do. It’s affecting the whole world but one way or the other we will get through it. It’s tough, but we are still here and therefore, we have hope for a better tomorrow. It is time to roll up our sleeves, put on our “out-of-the-box” thinking cap and begin to make changes.

Remember, when the going gets tough the tough get going -Do not let fear in as that could paralyze you. You can listen to the news to get just enough information to know how to move forward.

Do not dwell on the negative, look at the pandemic with a holistic approach – it’s global, there are 7 billion people on earth, solutions are coming in at a fast rate, social distancing and testing are working, more people are recovering than dying,  we will make it, we will survive and thrive at the end of this.

Set up a Crisis Management Team   – In a time of crisis, you need a group that will drive your business response to the events. This could be a small group comprising of 2 -10 people, depending on the size of your business.  The first thing is to look at is Business Continuity. If you have a business continuity plan, it’s time to pull it out and implement the relevant aspects of the plan.

However, the plan may not cover some of the issues presented by the pandemic as most likely this type of crisis was not considered.  Whether you have an existing plan or not, you need to ask questions.

The key questions here are focused on customers and employees, without whom there will be no business.

How can you continue to operate during this shutdown?  

What key products and services have been affected?

How are your customers affected?

Are you still able to provide services expected to your customers?

Do you have the right infrastructure to see you through this period?

Do you need to move some assets and investments around?  

How are your employees faring?  

What can you do to help with their well-being, safety, and other needs?

Do you have the tools for them to work from home?   

What is your financial state?

Where do you need to cut costs?

Do you operate a lean model temporarily?

What services can go remote?  

Through this exercise, you will be able to quickly identify some key steps you need to take and define the action steps and assign responsibility. You also need to identify some key parameters that are fundamental to your business survival and ensure you review them consistently throughout this period.

Set up an Innovation team – This is the time to think out-of-the-box – either by innovating existing services or creating new ones. Stay at home, Social Distancing etc. have resulted in much wider use of technology.

Review your products and services and determine the direction you need to go in being innovative:

What products or services have been impacted?

Is there a service you can still offer your clients remotely?

How can you leverage technology in these times?

Ask – If I were to change my service / delivery model and make it more technology-oriented, how would that help?  In your industry what are the essential needs?

Do you have products or infrastructure that can help meet certain needs in high demand due to the pandemic? For example, some factories have dropped their core products and started producing face masks and ventilators. Some grocery stores, restaurants, and other retailers have quickly strengthened their Ecommerce models so that customers’ needs can still be met through online purchases.   

Review your strategy for the year – In the context of this pandemic what is relevant? What does not make sense anymore? Which services can you continue to provide? What needs to go to the cooler for now. Do a SWOT (Strength Weakness Opportunities Threat) analysis in this VUCA (Vulnerable Uncertain Complex Agile) time. 

How can you move through the year and be relevant and thrive beyond the now? Tweak, revise and adapt to be more relevant today. Remember you must have an agile mindset and be ready to adapt continuously as the economic environment continues to change.

Read, Learn and Share – Knowledge at this time of ambiguity and so many unknowns help. Join discussion groups, read articles, attend Webinars and share your knowledge as well. One mustn’t fill oneself with negative things, only solutions and things that will help your business and others move forward.

Collaborate, Get involved and Give – If you are a small business or a large one, this is the time to collaborate with other organisations or someone else in your industry or related business. Two are stronger than one. Explore collaboration to deliver a service or product.

Is there anything you can give back to customers, frontline health or essential services companies/workers or even the vulnerable in our society?  This calls for joint efforts and seeks opportunities to collaborate with other organisations to make you stronger – educate others and give back.

This is an unprecedented crisis. Even though the Spanish flu pandemic occurred in 1918, one would not imagine that a century later, with all the technological advancements, the world would be unprepared for another pandemic. The possibility seemed so remote and we didn’t pay adequate attention across the world.

However, we are in this now and we need to forge ahead. No one has all the answers, no one has been there, everyone is predicting the future partly from past events like the 2018 recession, 9/11, and scientific models. These, however, are only part of the equation.

Therefore, we all have an opportunity to be part of the solution. Ask yourself what tools and resources you currently have, what you can learn from what is going on; put these together, look inwards, trust your instincts, be ready to take risks to navigate through these uncharted waters.

You must remember that if you fail, you should fail fast (don’t stay there), look for ways to improve and try again, because failure is the path that will ultimately yield success.

I believe this pandemic is an opportunity for everyone to be more innovative, creative, adapt to change quickly, be more sensitive to the needs of others, be generous, and ultimately come out stronger and together we can make the world a better place.

Business Etiquette and the fate of the handshake

Business Etiquette and the Fate of the Handshake

As a result of the ravaging effects of the COVD-19 pandemic and considering the anecdotal projections by U.S medical experts suggesting that social distancing may extend till 2022, the ubiquitous handshake is under a serious threat of extinction.

Except for a few countries where handshaking is regarded as culturally offensive, the handshake in business settings is historically an indication of the amicable completion of a business transaction or agreement.

Rarely would you attend a business etiquette training without the facilitator taking participants through the techniques of a good handshake. This, we have learnt repeatedly, would help to make a strong first impression and coupled with other desirable etiquette practices and excellent negotiation skills would ensure the deal is sealed.

Will the handshake, a globally accepted mode of greeting simply disappear in the face of the current pandemic? Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker opined in a recent CNN interview that, “it is safe to say that the handshake may be doomed if the current contagion continues.”

Furthermore one of the world’s leading experts on infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci made bold to suggest that “we may never shake hands again” which pre-supposes that other acceptable modes of greeting and concluding transactions which do not involve skin to skin contact may eventually replace the handshake.

Time, of course, will tell but human beings have short memories. We all recall the sudden national rise to super hygiene practices that trailed the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria. Hand sanitizers surfaced overnight in offices and many public areas and the ubiquitous handshake was quickly replaced by the elbow touching Ebola handshake.  

These practices did not stand the test of time as they quickly disappeared post-Ebola.  Five years later, we have joined the world to revamp the same hygiene practices and mode of greeting that was predominantly peculiar at the time to the African countries ravaged by the Ebola virus.

One could argue that, had the Ebola and other recent viruses impacted the world as COVID-19 has done, perhaps the hygiene and social distancing practices that have rendered the handshake unwelcome may have stood the test of time.

The Spanish flu in 1918 is the only other virus that could be akin to COVID-19 in terms of its impact on the entire world, albeit with far greater quantitative impact than CoVID-19. One can only wonder if the handshake would still exist today, had medical experts at the time ventured to recommend its abolishment as part of the measures to curb the spread of that pandemic.

What implications does all this have for HR practitioners and business etiquette practices?

 I foresee significant cultural transitions occurring in the near future in the manner in which businesses will be conducted and in our human interactions in general.

Apart from the obvious increase in the reliance on digital technology as a means of business communication, we may begin to see in the Western world, the adoption of Asian cultural greetings  – clasped hands or bowed heads, but without the subservient implications that sometimes underlie their styles of greeting.

Social distancing will become buzz words in our business and social etiquette dictionary as these will become the expected norm for proper human interactions.

This is the time to revamp training curricula in line with the current global realities and in line with what has become the new norm.

Bola Adeniyi-Taiwo

WORK-LIFE BALANCE

work-life balance
2020 Workplace Trends

There was a time when working late nights and weekends seemed like the prerequisite to earning more money, advancement, and recognition in the workplace. In a bid to earn more income, some employees would put in extra hours, sacrifice their time and extracurricular activities, and in some cases neglect their families.

However, that trend is rapidly effacing as employees now seek jobs that would give them better work-life balance and incentives that positively impact their wellbeing. 

As you may have rightly deduced, we are considering 2020 Workplace Trend #5, Work-life balance. 

According to Wikipedia, the term ‘work-life balance’ is recent in origin, as it was first used in the UK and US in the late 1970s and 1980s, respectively. Work-life balance is a term commonly used to describe the balance that a working individual needs between time allocated for work and other aspects of life. Areas of life other than work-life can include personal interests, family and social or leisure activities.

It is now apparent to employees that business is a shared value and as such, long-term job security and attractive salaries alone are no longer enough to make them stay in a job, but a flexible work schedule will. Talents now favour jobs that avail them time for family, friends, hobbies, and self-care. 

Giving credence to this point, HR services company Randstad maintains that job seekers of today claim good work-life balance invariably sway their decisions when evaluating an organisation. 

“Finding and keeping good staff can be difficult especially in a tight labour market. Employers who offer work-life balance and flexible work options are likely to have a competitive edge, gain access to a wider recruitment pool, and are more likely to hold onto existing staff.” – Employment New Zealand.

Employers who understand the importance of retaining top talents in their organisations know that one of the ways to do so is to keep them happy and satisfied – this is what has bolstered the work-life balance trend in the workplace. 

In a bid to appeal to suitable candidates, some organisations have begun to explore various strategies for flexible work schedules and related trends like remote work, compressed workweeks and onsite amenities to cater to employee well-being. 

They do this with the understanding that when people see them as being the employer of choice, it will give them a competitive edge for attracting the right candidates who will not only join their organisation but stay and grow with it.

When you make work-life balance part of your organisational policy, you can be sure that productivity will increase and your organisation will never be short of high performing talents.

Investing In Employee Well-being

investing in employee well-being

Two weeks ago, we talked about developing soft skills. We determined that soft skills were a necessity for employees who wished to thrive in the modern workplace.

This week, we will be considering a trend that is very critical to the success of any organisation – investing in employee well-being.  

At a time like this, when everyone needs encouragement and some ray of hope to latch unto in the face of the growing global COVID-19 pandemic that has already claimed thousands of lives, prioritizing the well-being of employees has never been more important.

Employers are meant to play a leading role in the overall health and well-being of their employees since they are usually among the first group of people to feel the impact if something goes wrong with an employee. 

Employers who pay attention to their employees’ well-being have a major advantage over those who don’t because a physically, emotionally and financially healthy and happy workforce will allow them to focus on critical operational decisions that will advance their organisations instead of looking to replace ailing staff regularly, at the detriment of progress.

What exactly is well-being?  

It refers to all the different ways employees feel about themselves – their lives, their jobs, relationships as well as their colleagues. Feelings of wellbeing are largely influenced by individual day-to-day experiences with family, neighbours, vendors, colleagues, and superiors. These negative or positive feelings affect how they carry out their tasks and interact with different teams that make up the workplace. 

Key factors to consider in employee well-being

Nancy Reardon, Chief Strategy and Product Officer at Maestro Health, believes that employers need to look at a more holistic view of their employees’ well-being, including mental/emotional health, stress management, preventative care options and more. 

She highlights three key areas of employee health and provides some well-being strategies leaders can implement to achieve a more thoughtful approach to employee well-being.

Physical Health.

Employees must have the health and energy to be productive and get things done regularly. While this is the most obvious component of employee health and well-being, Reardon says it’s these traditionally healthy choices and actions that help employees avoid chronic conditions that can ultimately affect their emotional and financial health (medical bills/debt).

“Employer-sponsored benefits and wellness programs that drive education and engagement are critical components in driving physical health,” Reardon explains.

“Employees need to understand how and when they should access healthcare to ensure they remain on track to achieving their health,” adds Reardon.

For some employees, it may be hitting 10,000 steps on their Fitbit, while, for others, it may mean seeing a decrease in their A1C levels, to decrease the high risk of developing diabetes.

Financial Health.

Reardon stresses the critical link between physical health and financial health and vice versa, and how one affects the other.

For example, an employee — even one with a moderate salary and benefits – may be unable to afford or access care, healthy food options and more. Similarly, says Reardon, “an employee who can’t cope with financial pressures at home may develop health issues down the line.”

Reardon advises employers to offer their workers access to financial services and resources to help them understand and overcome financial obstacles and empower them to effectively manage their economic lives.  

Emotional Health.

Emotional well-being is impacted by both financial and physical health. Yet not all employees have the capacity to emotionally cope with the ups and downs of life without it impacting their day-to-day work lives.

When crafting their well-being programs, Reardon says employers can offer mental health services like mental health days, Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and even mindfulness incentives to encourage employees to take care of their emotional health. 

As earlier stated, employers have a crucial role to play in the well-being of their employees. When employers invest in the health and well-being of their employees, they come across as caring, humane and considerate, which serves as an effective motivation to the employees. 

One of the most effective ways for employers to show they care is to make the health and well-being of their employees a priority.  

COVID-19: Your Role as an Employer

COVID-19: Your Role As An Employer

The COVID-19 pandemic has gradually become a global one. Spreading from country to country and affecting or finding its way into every single daily human process and routine, including the workplace.

Already, a lot of companies locally and internationally have had to change their work pattern and process to adjust and help curb the spread of the pandemic. The world health organization and international and even local bodies have advised Social Distancing and many other safety precautions.

Since the workplace is a place where people spend most of their time, the workplace has an important role to play in curbing this pandemic.

How Does COVID-19 Spread?

When someone who has COVID-19 coughs or exhales they release droplets of infected fluid. Most of these droplets fall on nearby surfaces and objects – such as desks, tables or telephones. People could catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects – and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. If they are standing within one meter of a person with COVID-19 they can catch it by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled by them. In other words, COVID-19 spreads in a similar way to the flu. Most persons infected with COVID-19 experience mild symptoms and recover. However, some go on to experience more serious illness and may require hospital care. The risk of serious illness rises with age: people over 40 seem to be more vulnerable than those under 40. People with weakened immune systems and people with conditions such as diabetes, heart, and lung disease are also more vulnerable with high severity.

Source – WHO (World Health Organization)

The question now is, as an employer of labour, what is your role to help curb the spread of the pandemic in the absence of a known and potent vaccine?

ENCOURAGE REMOTE WORK

Looking on the bright side, COVID-19 could be an eye-opener for the workplace in general into the possibilities and the efficiency of remote work. Encourage your staff to work from home if they can. Provide need equipment and support to facilitate this process.

In a scenario where you cannot afford to work remotely, the following will suffice.

MAKE SURE YOUR WORKPLACE IS CLEAN AND HYGIENIC 

Surfaces (e.g. desks and tables) and objects (e.g. telephones, keyboards) need to be wiped with disinfectant regularly. Surfaces are the fastest ways a virus can spread when touched by employees and customers.

Encourage regular and consistent thorough hand-washing by employees, contractors, and customers by providing washing equipment, sanitizers, and disinfectants to easily accessible places in the office.

Make use of posters and office sign items if you have to, and also brief your staff (at least once daily) about the status of the pandemic an also or look to WHO’s Situation Report to get the latest news and advice.

IF THERE IS EVER A CASE OF COVID-19

Develop a contingency plan of what to do if an employee shows symptoms within the NCDC or WHO listed symptoms of COVID-19.

The plan should entail putting such employee in a place where they are isolated from others in the workplace, totally reducing contact with such person and contacting the right authorities.

Don’t forget to do this without stigmatization, discrimination and the spread of panic.

You can also talk to your local health authorities (NCDC) handling the pandemic about your initial plan and as for the help with the approved guide.

SOFT SKILLS

The modern workplace is a living organism that is constantly evolving, and the only way to stay relevant as an organisation is to keep abreast of industry trends and implement programs that promote growth and efficiency within the organisation.

We have been looking at 2020 workplace trends, three weeks ago, we considered Trend #2, Remote work. We determined that remote work is rapidly gaining acceptance in workplaces, especially in Information Technology companies. We concluded that promotes work-life balance and increases productivity while cutting cost for employees as well as the organisation. 

The third 2020 Workplace trend we want to consider is the development of soft skills.

According to the Arkansas Department of Education, 2007, Soft skills are a cluster of productive personality traits that characterize one’s relationships in a milieu. 

Soft skills include social graces, communication abilities, language skills, personal habits, cognitive or emotional empathy, time management, teamwork and leadership traits. 

Soft skills cover three key functional elements: 

  1. social skills
  2. people skills 
  3. personal career attributes 

These skills are crucial for today’s workplace as they complement hard or technical skills. Soft skills have become a major criterion for employment as well as advancement in an organisation.  

An employee’s soft skill is a crucial part of their contribution to the overall success of their organization, especially if such an organisation deals with customers on a face-to-face basis. A critical success factor for an organisation like this is the ability to promote activities that help employees develop these skills through team-building activities and wellness enhancing programs. 

Soft skills

The following is a top ten list of soft skills compiled by Eastern Kentucky University 

  1. Communication – oral speaking capability, written, presenting, listening, clear speech & writing.
  2. Courtesy – manners, etiquette, business etiquette, gracious, says please and thank you, respectful.
  3. Flexibility – adaptability, willing to change, lifelong learner, accepts new things, adjusts, teachable.
  4. Integrity – honest, ethical, high morals, has personal values, does what’s right.
  5. Interpersonal skills – nice, personable, sense of humour, friendly, nurturing, empathetic, has self-control, patient, sociability, warmth, social skills.
  6. Positive attitude – optimistic, enthusiastic, encouraging, happy, confident.
  7. Professionalism – businesslike, well-dressed, appearance, poised.
  8. Responsibility – accountable, reliable, gets the job done, resourceful, self-disciplined, wants to do well, conscientious, common sense.
  9. Teamwork – cooperative, gets along with others, agreeable, supportive, helpful, collaborative.
  10. Work ethic – hard working, willing to work, loyal, initiative, self-motivated, on time, good attendance.

Although difficult to quantify, soft skills play a critical role in employee performance and productivity. They help facilitate human connections needed for high-performance and efficiency in the workplace. 

Classes of unemployment

Classes Of Unemployment And How To Thrive In It

There are three main classes of unemployment: cyclical, structural, and frictional. Cyclical unemployment is, unfortunately, most familiar. It occurs during an economic downturn and has been seen to be common in the banking sector in our country.

Frictional unemployment is the period when a person resigns from his or her current job before getting another one – this is also politely referred to as ‘between jobs’.

Structural unemployment happens when there is a paradigm shift in the skills needed in the workplace and it causes a category of people to become irrelevant.

This article will cover these main types of unemployment and show you how to stay on top of such a situation.

CYCLICAL UNEMPLOYMENT

As mentioned earlier, cyclical unemployment has been seen in the Nigerian labor market on many occasions, especially in the banking sector.

Top banks in Nigeria have been known to lay off thousands of staff at the same time. This has left a lot of people hanging out to dry.

Cyclical unemployment is usually always caused by a number of things, but majorly an economic downturn. Other causes include cash flow within a company that can force a company to sell and be acquired by another company, or downsizes; and hereby laying off excess load.

HOW TO SURVIVE

It is very good to follow a career path and have a job.

However, the best position anyone can be in life is to have options. Create options for yourself. Be it a side gig, or skills that can get you another employment and get you back on your feet in the shortest possible time.

STRUCTURAL UNEMPLOYMENT

Structural unemployment exists when there is a shift in the economy and then this shift causes a disparity between needed skills and the skills possessed by the labor force.

This type of unemployment is most common during paradigm shifts. For example, the shift or move from analog processes to digital processes has pushed many professions out of business.

Autor et al. (2003), computers have displaced workers in a wide range of routine work, including many clerking and manufacturing jobs — work that is typically concentrated at the middle of the income distribution.

Accompanied with employment growth both at the top and bottom of the skill and income distribution, the automation of routine work has contributed to a hollowing-out of labour markets across the industrial world (Goos et al. 2009).

Many third world countries will face structural unemployment in this current era of the digital revolution.

An example of this is the industry’s replacement of machinery workers with robots. Professions like Typing, Cartography, and routine based profession has been made redundant by more computerized approach and automation.

Workers now need to learn how to manage the robots that replaced them. Those that don’t learn need retraining for other jobs or face long-term structural unemployment.

HOW TO SURVIVE THIS

Keep growing and learning. Keep yourself up to date with new technologies. For example, it is estimated that in this age of seamless translation from one language to another aided by technology, the future will not be about who understands human languages. It will be about who understands computer languages.

FRICTIONAL UNEMPLOYMENT

Frictional unemployment occurs when workers resign from or leave their current jobs without having new ones.

This can happen for many reasons, varying from individual to individual or scenario to scenario.

The reason could be a miscalculation, a risk, a naïve move, not fully ascertaining the new contract, poor workplace culture or people, or they’ve saved up enough money to enable them to seek a new job.

Frictional unemployment also occurs when students are looking for that first job or when mothers are returning to the workforce. It also happens when workers are fired or, in some cases, laid off due to business-specific reasons, such as a branch or business location closure.

Frictional unemployment is short-term and a natural part of the career journey. As a matter of fact, frictional unemployment is good for any economy, as it allows workers to move between, jobs and to jobs where they can be more productive.

HOW TO SURVIVE THIS

What to do when you’re between jobs plays an important role in this picture. Make use of your unemployment phase productively. Increasing your productivity level by learning and acquiring new skills, also, being mentally and emotionally balanced will help you thrive and manage this phase well, and even get the best of it.

Are you a Professional? Join this conversation and add the other types of unemployment you know. Also, share how they affect the economy and how to survive it.

Remote work

2020 Workplace Trends #2 Remote Work

Some weeks ago, we talked about training and upskilling as 2020’s #1 workplace trend. We also highlighted both micro and macro upskilling and concluded that talents remain and are loyal to organizations that take their training and development needs into consideration and make adequate provision for it.

This week, we are looking at the second workplace trend for 2020 – Remote Work.

Remote work is on the rise.

You may have heard some people refer to themselves as Digital Nomads, or mention that they are working or would be working remotely. The idea of working at a location other than one’s corporate office has been practicable since the last decade but is only recently becoming pervasive and 2020 will see it in the mainstream. 

The substantial advancement of multiple facets of workplace technology has given remote work an upper hand. Besides, the rise of new generations is impelling firms to redefine the modalities of work, and the odds are clearly in favour of remote working.” – Finance Online, 2019.

What is remote work?

Simply put, it means working at a location that isn’t your office, it is a work style that allows people to work outside a traditional office environment or corporate office setting. Remote work hinges on the notion that work does not need to be done in a specific place to be carried out efficiently.

Remote work eliminates productive time wasted commuting to and from work every day to sit at a designated desk or workspace to work; Instead, individuals can execute their tasks, smash their targets and exceed expectations from any location at all. 

Remote work gives professionals the flexibility to order their days in such a way that their professional and personal lives can be meaningfully experienced while coexisting in a way that one complements the other instead of impeding it as popular opinion erroneously suggests.

How to work remotely

“There has been a cultural paradigm shift in what society deems to be an appropriate workplace – and remote work has capitalized off of that newfound freedom.” – Finance Online.

The beauty of remote work is being able to choose from a wide range of options, the one that makes the most sense to an individual and aids their personal and professional goals. It also gives individuals the freedom to set their schedules to work at a time they are most productive.

Professionals can work remotely on workdays and only visit the office to attend in-person meetings and strategy sessions. On the other hand, certain days of the week could be set apart for talents to work remotely, maybe two or three days a week.

There is also the option of working out of coworking spaces which essentially act as hubs of technology, productivity and community. Coworking spaces provide a platform for networking, learning, sharing and business opportunities.

Benefits of remote work

Remote work offers professionals a more flexible lifestyle in which they can maximize every moment they have to do better. It also promotes better health and well-being; commute to work and back could be exhausting, to say the least, remote work provides recourse for exhaustion brought upon by daily commute and time spent in traffic. it saves money, especially because you no longer bear the cost of commute. It encourages employees to be resourceful, proactive and expand their knowledge base. It provides escape from office politics as well as a toxic work environment.

Remote work does not only benefit the employees; it also benefits the employer as it saves cost by reducing company overheads leading to more revenue.