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Workforce Development Strategies: Make Your Staff Remarkable

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M. Alan Shapiro, Author

Investing in the right workforce development strategies is a win-win situation for employers and employees. When teams are competitive, productivity increases.

In today’s highly competitive global economy, companies need to continuously enhance their processes for better efficiency and stay on top of the competition. One of the ways to achieve peak productivity is through workforce development. 

Workforce development is an employment initiative that aims to maximize employees’ potentials and provide opportunities to handle problems effectively. It is an essential process in business development that can help create and retain a high-quality workforce. Generally, this involves a change in culture and systems to provide economic prosperity to individuals, businesses, and communities. 

In March 2020, employee retention rates reached an all-time low. This data should keep employers on their toes since poor employee retention can cost the company a lot of time and money. Workforce development strategies can help improve an employee’s attitude towards work and make them feel valued.

When a team is highly engaged at work, they get more motivated to work smarter and harder. All of these positive and mindful actions can contribute to a company’s success. After all, employees perform better when they are satisfied at work. 

The Benefits of Workforce Development

Workforce development positively affects both employers and employees making it a worthwhile and rewarding investment. The following outlines the benefits of pursuing this initiative:

  • Lower turnover rate

When an employee quits their job, it usually costs the company about a third of their annual salary. The process of recruiting and training new hires is expensive and can adversely affect productivity. So, a lower turnover rate can save the company a lot of time and resources.

  • Increased job satisfaction

When employees feel valued and trusted, they are more likely to stick with the company for the long haul. If they are presented with professional and personal growth opportunities, they would be more fired up to do their jobs and provide excellent outputs.

  • Improved productivity and operational efficiency

Workforce development strengthens an employee’s skills and allows them to reach their maximum potential. In addition, it aims to retain and ensure fulfillment for team members, encouraging them to make business operations smooth-sailing and highly productive.

  • Proactive problem resolution

Competent and proactive employees are every company’s best defense when problems arise. Better yet, if they can handle possible glitches even before they happen. Having a trained team that knows how to deal with disputes properly and proactively reassures vendors, clients, and customers. 

  • Enhanced innovation and creativity

A workplace that fosters leadership development and professional growth is an ideal environment for innovation and creative pursuits. Through workplace development activities, employees can effectively communicate their ideas and collaborate as a cohesive team.

An empowered team is an asset to the company and can significantly contribute to the success of any project. On the other hand, a workforce that feels neglected by their employer is likely to leave at the first sign of conflict. 

Workforce Development Strategies You Can Consider

The key to reaping the optimum benefits of workplace development is applying the following strategies:

  • Make it about learning and not training

For most employees, the word “mandatory training” may bring to mind sessions with monotonous lectures while cooped up in a cold conference room. To change this notion and inspire them to participate in learning activities, employers should present programs as opportunities to develop a new skill or interest. 

These learning opportunities may include online programs, mentorship, individualized performance reviews, and group brainstorm sessions. 

  • Let employees take the lead

Far too long, employees have taken a backseat when it comes to their professional development within the workplace. A vital strategy is to allow them to determine the scope and delivery method of the learning activities. Employers can also motivate them to participate by letting them learn at their own pace through accessible and easy-to-follow programs. 

With this tailored approach, they can focus on learning new skills in the most effective way possible. In addition, it can increase the team’s enthusiasm and engagement while curbing resentment towards management.

  • Choose updated delivery methods

To make self-directed learning a reality, the company can consider using a more modern way of delivering development opportunities. They have to keep up with the times and introduce methods that are straightforward yet stimulating. 

Since traditional learning methods are not working anymore, more organizations are now adopting online employee development programs. Not only does it allow employees the freedom to choose their schedules, but it also prevents the interruption of their workflow. Some online learning tools include resource banks, webinars, discussion forums, and self-paced eLearning modules. 

  • Enhance overall communication

As mentioned earlier, when employees are in tune with their company’s goals, they become more inspired to give their best efforts. There should be regular and transparent discussions about the employees’ goals and the company’s objectives to foster a supportive and collaborative working relationship. 

Employers must provide clear expectations and be transparent about the workforce development programs that they want to implement. They should let employees know that they are open to feedback and suggestions. Employees, on the other hand, can take this opportunity to inform their employers if the programs have made a significant impact on their performance or not. 

Staying Competitive in the Global Market

The right workforce development strategies can remedy low retention rates. When team members feel that their professional growth is nurtured, they are more likely to stay and grow together with the company.

Investing in continuous employee development is a win-win situation both for employees and employers. The workers can take advantage of learning and growth opportunities while the management can leverage their employees’ enhanced skills. Employees can also discover new skills and talents that can help them stay competitive in the workplace, which is also to the company’s benefit.
Having a highly-qualified and remarkable staff would significantly improve the organization’s productivity and efficiency, making them fierce competitors in the global economic arena. But to achieve this level of success, employers must remember that employees are the heart of any workforce development program. They must be given the freedom to choose how, where, and what to learn. 

This blog is printed with permission.

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Causes of Workplace Burnout and How to Avoid It

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Madeline Gray, Author

Workplace burnout can affect anyone from any walk of life, regardless of their profession. It often stems from an excessive workload and, if untreated, can seep into all aspects of day-to-day life, affecting mood and general welfare. 

Over half (52%) of U.S. workers surveyed in a recent study by Indeed reported feelings of burnout, with two-thirds saying the pandemic has contributed negatively to this feeling. But why is it such a prevalent problem? And what can be done about it? 

Here, we highlight some of the leading causes of burnout, and examine how it can manifest itself in our daily lives, as well as offering solutions to avoid this feeling altogether. 

What is Workplace Burnout? 

It is common for everyone to not feel themselves at times, especially when work or home life is particularly stressful. However, workplace burnout is a term used to describe the specific feeling of stress or exhaustion brought on by our working environment or job in general. 

Whilst burnout isn’t a medical diagnosis, it can have detrimental impacts on both our physical and mental health. This is why treating it, or avoiding it altogether, can go a long way to helping maintain a healthy workforce. 

Workplace burnout can manifest itself in a number of ways, from reducing feelings of accomplishment to a complete loss of self-identity. But what factors can bring on this feeling, and how can you identify burnout? 

What Causes Burnout? 

One of the key contributing factors is a lack of work-life balance. Particularly during the pandemic when more workers have been operating remotely, it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between home and professional life, especially when you’re working in the same space where you spend your leisure time. 

Another common cause of burnout is feeling out of control when it comes to completing your responsibilities. If you aren’t given the ability to affect decisions that will influence your role directly, this can lead to feelings of disillusionment within the workplace, causing additional stress.

What Are The Symptoms?  

There are plenty of signs to be aware of that  indicate you or a colleague are suffering from workplace burnout. Becoming overly cynical at work, or irritable with customers and coworkers are both indicators. 

Furthermore, if these feelings begin to affect your day-to-day routine, such as inhibiting your ability to sleep, or feeling unmotivated to complete everyday tasks, then it’s even more important to start addressing the problem. Other symptoms can include feeling like you’re always underachieving, and generally doubting your abilities to effectively contribute in the workplace. 

How to Avoid Burnout 

When it comes to avoiding workplace burnout, the buck ultimately has to stop with employers. Creating a professional environment that is conducive to productivity and healthy working is pivotal to both the success of the company, and the general welfare of the workforce. 

Setting unrealistic deadlines, poor channels of communication, and excessive workloads can all contribute to feelings of burnout amongst employees. With the added pressures brought on by the pandemic, it has become even more important for employers to manage their workers effectively, and research would suggest that they have. 

According to a recent study by McKinsey, 80% of employees felt that their company’s leadership has been proactive in looking after the health and safety of workers during this time. By taking a more personable approach, instead of treating employees like robots, workplace burnout will become a far less prevalent issue. 

What Can Individuals Do?

Whilst much of the responsibility lies with employers, there are several measures that individuals can take to protect their own wellbeing. 

According to this guide on workplace burnout, one of the best ways to protect against it is by setting boundaries with both yourself and co-workers. Particularly when working from home, your home life can easily be diluted by professional responsibilities, contributing to feelings of stress and stopping us from switching off. 

Setting boundaries begins with creating a routine you will stick to. This will help you to distinguish between work and home life, as well as managing the expectations of your colleagues by informing them of your availability. 

Another potential measure is to make a conscious effort to improve your communication with management. Lack of communication or feedback on work can be a major contributing factor to burnout. 

Whilst this can be more challenging when working remotely, maintaining good communication channels with senior staff can help provide more clarity on day-to-day tasks, making you feel more in control. Furthermore, if feelings of stress or burnout do begin to creep in, it is worth communicating this with colleagues to prevent the situation from getting out of control.

This blog is printed with permission.

About the Author: Madeline Gray is a freelance writer with a particular interest in employee welfare, and has created content for established companies based all around the world. She has a degree in creative writing and is always eager to expand her knowledge around different subjects.

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Environmental Protection and the Protection of Those Preserving Tomorrow

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Dan Matthews, Author

Many of us are concerned about the environment and our impact on the planet but, fortunately, there is a bright future ahead. People are more interested in sustainability than ever before and as technology evolves, we see more companies using new forms of green energy to make their products.

However, while these changes are helping the environment, the workers that bring these solutions to reality must still be cautious of new hazards that are  dangerous if not handled appropriately. 

Clean Energy is the Future

Many years ago, we wouldn’t even be talking about changing our manufacturing processes, but as the world evolves, more people are witnessing our negative environmental impact and are demanding change. Many companies are jumping on board as they look for new forms of sustainable and renewable energy that will produce clean power and the same high-quality products without the harmful side effects.

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, these clean industries are growing by leaps and bounds. Currently, 2.2 million workers are performing energy-efficient jobs, and the renewable energy sector has brought on almost one million workers over the last couple of years. These positive changes will mean great things for our environment, but hard work is necessary to bring them to life and employee safety is key.

Employee safety should always be at the forefront of management’s minds as safe and happy workers are more eager  to show up to work and are often more productive because of it. However, the typical safety mindset must be shifted as new dangers become apparent. 

New Employee Dangers

One example of a new danger is the generation of biofuels which produce lower carbon emissions than fossil fuels. While the result is great, the creation of biofuels often involves dangerous substances like gasoline and numerous acids, which can be dangerous when they are touched or inhaled. To stay safe, workers must always use protective gear, including gloves and safety goggles, that management should provide.

Solar energy is a very popular form of alternative energy that has many families excited as they place solar panels on their homes. However, solar installers and other employees who regularly work with the energy can be subject to thermal burns, electrical shock, and potential falls from the top of high buildings. This is another circumstance in which  protective gear is essential in addition to adequate training before anyone does the job.

Even folks working in recycling jobs face their share of challenges, especially when it comes to recycling items from construction sites which can include anything from hazardous materials to dangerous machinery with moving parts. Employees must work with extreme caution to avoid harm and use protective gear to stay protected. Of course, renewable energy jobs will also require safety protocols against common threats that impact any industry, including slips, trips, and falls.

Employer Responsibility

It should be stated that it is not all doom and gloom when it comes to renewable materials. In fact, it can be argued that sustainable practices may actually increase worker safety by using materials that are overall cleaner and less toxic, making them less dangerous if inhaled. Also, many of these processes use automation that keeps the worker less involved in the actual process and out of harm’s way.

Even if that is the case, it is still the responsibility of management to ensure the safest work environment possible. Keeping employees safe is the right thing to do, especially in this changing world with a complicated healthcare system and physician shortages that require an employee to wait longer to get the help they need. When employees are not working, they can’t get paid and provide for their families, and companies lose valuable productivity. 

If you are an employee who feels that your company does not have your best interest at heart, then it is your right  to make your concerns known. Talk to management and tell them what bothers you and what needs to change. If your concerns fall on deaf ears, then you may need to take legal action or file a workers compensation claim. Remember that you are not telling on anyone, but instead, you are doing what is right to protect yourself and your coworkers, and you cannot be discriminated against for your actions.
In the end, it is a great thing that our world is turning towards renewable energy and sustainable practices. By protecting the workers that are helping our planet, everyone’s a winner in the end.

This blog is printed with permission.

About the author: Dan Matthews is a writer, content consultant, and conservationist. While Dan writes on a variety of topics, he loves to focus on the topics that look inward on mankind that help to make the surrounding world a better place to reside. When Dan isn’t working on new content, you can find him with a coffee cup in one hand and searching for new music in the other.

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How the Wage Gap is Affecting Women’s Mental Health

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Gemma Hart, Author

In America, women earn 82 cents for every $1 earned by a man. This significant wage gap is not only affecting women’s financial security and independence, it’s also having a negative impact on women’s mental health.

Why Do Women Earn Less than Men?

Perhaps the most common question relating to the gender pay gap is, why do women earn less than men in the first place? Sadly, many explanations for the gender pay gap are dissatisfying and generally unfounded in facts.

The most common explanation given by organizations is that men typically have the freedom to work in more senior positions that demand longer working hours. This is because, despite the fight for equal rights, women are typically the caregivers of their children. They must balance their family commitments while trying to climb the career ladder.

Even today, in the 21st Century, the workplace inherently favors men over women. It still favors unsocial work hours over flexible schedules, those without family commitments over those with children. Too often, women’s roles are put in certain boxes and these boxes can limit their personal and professional potential, resulting in low pay, job dissatisfaction, lost identity, burnout, and ultimately mental health problems.

The Gender Pay Gap and Mental Health

Gender discrimination and the daily experiences women face are structurally embedded in our society and have a significant impact on women’s mental health, often resulting in anxiety and psychological trauma.

Unfortunately, some women blame themselves for considering alternatives like perhaps if they’d delayed having a family, made themselves more available at work, or worked harder for longer, they would have a more successful career. For many, it feels like the best solution is to work harder and do better. However, this can simply exacerbate the symptoms of mental health, causing burnout and an increased risk of depression and anxiety disorders.

How Women’s Mental Health is Affected

There are many ways the gender pay gap impacts the lives of women. They include:

Chronic Stress:

Many women experience chronic stress as a result of the wage gap. They often feel pressured to work harder and for longer periods to keep up with their male colleagues and maintain their job security. Add this to the constant demands of family and home life; chronic stress can quickly set in.

“Chronic overload at work, deadline pressure, double load and family strain […] and a lack of success have a high potential to generate chronic stress […] this gradually leads to exhaustion and a weakening of the immune system. In the long run, this can be seen in different physical and psychological symptoms,” says Dr. Claudia M. Elsig MD at The CALDA Clinic.

Physical Sickness

For many women, experiencing gender discrimination in the workplace directly correlates with worsening physical health, reduced living conditions, and for some substance abuse.

More than 1 in 10 women report experiencing gender-based discrimination at work. And, as such, they are more likely to struggle with reduced physical health. This is particularly true for women who have experienced sexual harassment.

It is extremely common for women to experience high levels of stress due to gender discrimination and this can lead to numerous chronic conditions, from high blood pressure to diabetes.

Poor Living Conditions

A direct result of the gender pay gap is that many women find themselves living in worse conditions than their male counterparts. Despite working in the same level of seniority and performing the same professional tasks, women are still paid less than men and this can mean they have less access to things they need to live well.

As a result, women can find it takes longer to get out of debt, save for retirement, and buy houses, in comparison to men. Understandably, this can cause high levels of stress and also result in women struggling to afford quality food, health insurance, safe housing, and so much more. Understandably, and perhaps inevitably, women’s mental health can be severely impacted as a result.

Depression and Anxiety

The wage gap between men and women is one of the most common causes of rising rates of depression and anxiety among women. In fact, women who earn less than their male counterparts are 2.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression negatively impact women in the workplace, impacting everything from their job performance to their physical health.

Final Words

Change is needed. Women are still overlooked in the workplace and, as you can see above, they continue to be greatly impacted by the gender pay gap. There is a direct correlation between the wage gap and womens’ mental health and it is time to value all employees equally, regardless of their gender. Working to reduce the gender pay gap will not only help to create a more equal society but also a healthier one.

This blog is printed with permission.

About the author: Gemma Hart is an independent HR professional working remotely from as many coffee shops as she can find. Gemma has gained experience in a number of HR roles but now turns her focus towards growing her brand and building relationships with leading experts.

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