It is commonly thought that a happy workplace is a productive workplace, but is this really true? Emotions certainly affect how we approach our work and positive emotions are not problematic on their own. Yet, just like how negative emotions can stifle our motivation to approach problems, so can positive emotions stifle our willingness to see those problems in the first place, if we’re not careful.

 In her article in The Examiner, Jan Aylesworth outlines how being too happy when arriving to work can result in its own set of problems such as overconfidence, unwillingness to deal with problems that will lower your emotional state, and overestimate our own value. Being aware of the dangers helps to minimise them, but what should we expect from workplaces if not happiness? Perhaps the answer is to seek satisfaction instead: this would avoid the dangers while also meaning that dealing with problems results in satisfaction and ultimately, happiness.

Yes it’s true: looking at pictures of kittens improves productivity according to new research from Japan. Reporting in NECN, it was found that improving one’s emotional state and lowering stress levels resulted in increased productivity. Not into cats? Then having a chat with a co-worker or celebrating a co-worker’s birthday will have the same results. Keeping a positive outlook will help you meet your goals and improve your job satisfaction.

It’s all too easy to reach for a cup of coffee or a sugary snack to trick ourselves into feeling more awake, but these foods don’t really help us become more productive. Talking to CNN, David Solot suggests turning to a more-or-less permanently healthy diet to improve your productivity for when you need it. However, improving your diet just before you need to take that test, deliver a speech, or run a marathon will not help you. Instead, it’s far more effective to have healthy eating habits with junk foods such as snacks being an occasional indulgence. Still… why does an indulgence need to be regular or even unhealthy? What are your biggest indulgence foods, and how often do you have them?

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With around one in ten people in the workplace liable to suffer from a mental or emotional disorder during their lifetimes, everyone needs to be aware of the signs and symptoms that someone may need some help. Managers and HR practitioners need to be confident in dealing with potential issues or at least have contacts they can call upon for such eventualities.

This article from Forbes raises two issues that warrant further comment. The first is the question of what should and does happen with workplace assessments or surveys that flag serious problems with an individual. In this case, the individual was highly stressed to the point of risking harm to themselves or others. Little was done. The writer took themselves to a counsellor for help. The second issue was that the counsellor was of little use for them. While we only have the writer’s assessment to go on, it shows that a person facing a serious problem with stress had little assistance from their workplace to help them deal with it. The writer finally sank into severe depression.

Research from Canada a couple of years ago suggested that people who are in an undesirable work position can manage two years before risking serious emotional difficulties as a result, and this was the case with this writer. The author also talked about how people who are having trouble coping with a mental health issue will attempt to hide it. This is supported by research from Australia’s National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) which concluded that students with mental health issues will raise it when they are near to losing their ability to cope with it.

Employers and HR practitioners need to be aware of the warning signs of mental or emotional problems in workers, and be prepared to assist quickly, decisively and confidently when problems are brought to their attention.

“Isn’t it time we kicked the perfectionism habit?” In this way, Leah Eichler raises an important question about how we have allowed the concept of perfectionism to become a pseudo-negative. The question is whether that perfectionism is adaptive, which serves as a motivator and is tempered by an awareness of the realities of the situation, and maladaptive, where unconstrained by considerations of the context, perfectionism serves to cause anxiety and negativity.

In recruitment, the old joke is that to the question about weaknesses you should say something that sounds like a negative while being positive. “I am a perfectionist. I drive myself too hard. I am far too punctual and love to work.” Yet in the contemporary business world, being a perfectionist means you are not able to move quickly, view something as a continuous work in progress, or collaborate to get something out to market before your competitors. Ironically, while perfectionism is rooted in a fear of failure, perfectionism in the contemporary business world can cause the very failure the perfectionist fears.

Skill sets—training in selected units for specific roles rather than whole qualifications—are a useful entry point for workers who may find undertaking a full qualification daunting, according to a new literature review by Australia’s National Centre for Vocational Education Research. Yet while their use has benefits in terms of ease and responsiveness to change, the review warns of their potential to lower worker mobility. The literature review is part of a larger ongoing project into workforce skills development to be released in 2013. Read more here

Making judgements about others’ personalities is something we all do regularly, and our accuracy is important for social cohesion and making good interpersonal decisions. The Realistic Accuracy Model describes how we can achieve this through the availability of information, and using that information correctly. Read the report here.

Reporting on a USA study by The Korn/Ferry Institute, Singapore-based AsiaOne news reports that working mothers have an edge at work due to skills they learn while bringing up children. The skills range from leadership in motivating and inspiring others to agility in translating past lessons to new situations. Including return-to-work parents in a diverse workforce is a common element of addressing skills shortages and the ageing workforce, and it appears that the skills brought by this group would make a valuable addition to any team.

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