Articles

Article 1- Life is like a box of chocolates

This is a famous dialogue taken from one of my favorite movies “Forrest Gump” where the protagonist rightly states that ‘life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get’. I don’t like chocolates but yes I do love this statement. There could be many interpretations of this statement, but here I am going to give you my version.

Life being highly unpredictable is a fact, but that is also what makes it interesting. Not knowing what tomorrow holds for us actually makes us look forward to each day. But sometimes, or maybe in some cases a lot of times we don’t get the flavor of chocolate we were expecting. The unpleasant reality becomes obvious only when we have already taken a bite. So now we are in a situation where we are wondering whether to chew it up or spit it out. We don’t always like what life throws at us. We have two choices, either mope about it or get up and face reality. Everyone has their share of problems. Like the saying goes ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’. No one has a perfect life, we only have some perfect moments along the way. Yes there will be times when we get frustrated and doubt ourselves, but know that a little faith can go a long way.

Patience, hope, love, and off course hard work can take you a lot farther in life than you think. There will be some people who will doubt you and others who hold your hand through these trying times. Just remember to hang on tight and not let go. If you really want something in life then it’s truly worth working towards it. Remember that nothing is permanent, be it happiness or distress.

You are never going to get used to loving the unpredictable flavors but we learn through time and experience that they are ultimately not that bad. Accept your reality, don’t run away from your problems, face them and come out stronger. I once read somewhere that ‘running away from a problem only increases the distance from the solution, the easiest way to escape the problem is to solve it’.

Article 2- How to create a stress free work environment 

What is Stress

Stress is a common reaction to any discrepancy that occurs when our mind and body is unable to cope with the demands of the external environment. Stress caused at the workplace is one of the most common problems that cause employee dissatisfaction and therefore leading to reduced productivity and performance. Stress caused at the workplace is referred to as occupational stress.

Causes of Stress 

Work overload– One of the primary causes of stress at the workplace is work overload. The demands of the job may often be greater than what the employee can cope with, hence causing stress. This situation usually occurs when the number of employees in the team is less and the burden has to be borne by the rest of the team.

Unfriendly work environment– It is very important to have a friendly work environment. One spends almost 8 hours of the day with these people and therefore maintaining a healthy relationship is crucial. Often any form of hostility among employees can increase the amount of stress in the workplace.

Downsizing– When the economic conditions are volatile; often a company has to resort to downsizing. This usually results in employees being fired, therefore causing unrest and stress among all the employees. There will always be speculation and anxiety regarding who will be the next to be laid off.

Working in shifts– Stress is common among employees working in a BPO (Business process outsourcing) or call center kind of workplace. The employees have to work in shifts which mostly change every fortnight causing a shift in their biological clock as well, therefore resulting in odd sleeping and meal timings.

Underutilized job ability– Often times the cause of stress at the workplace could be the underutilized talent of the employee. The role given to the employee may not always be one that satisfies them the most, and therefore could lead to dissatisfaction and frustration at the workplace leading to stress. 

Effects of Stress 

Fatigue– One of the most common effects of stress is fatigue. This feeling of tiredness and lack of energy may often be the result of inbuilt stress in ones life.

Headache– Headache is one of the early signs of stress. They are different from the occasional headaches that one gets. If they are persistent in nature and cause problems in normal everyday functioning then it could be classified as an effect of stress.

Stomach problems– Gastric problems are also found to be common in people who undergo high levels of stress in their lives. This could either be acidity, stomach ulcers or an irritable bowel syndrome.

Sleep disturbances– Insomnia is one of the first effects of stress. It maybe because of relentless pondering and thinking over the stressful issues in ones life. This lack of sleep further reduces ones productivity the following day and the cycle continues.

Eating disorders– Lack of appetite is another indicative of stress in ones life. Stress could either result in reducing the appetite of the person therefore resulting in weight loss or could lead to binge eating, therefore resulting in a sudden weight gain.

Anxiety– Anxiety often can be the cause and an effect of stress.

Drug and alcohol abuse– People often resort to indulging in alcohol and drug abuse to reduce stress in their lives. But alcohol and drugs are often a problem and not a solution since it can cause addiction problems and other health risks.

Chronic health problems– Stress in ones life can often lead to chronic health problems like diabetes, heart diseases and stroke. Accumulated stress if not dealt with at an early stage can cause major health risks. 

Steps to reduce workplace Stress 

Communication– Communication is a key factor that can reduce the stress levels at the workplace. It could be communication between the team members, communication between the team leader and the subordinates or even communication of the top management and the employees. Communication often reduces a lot of vagueness and clarifies a lot of questions that could lead to stress in the future.

Feedback– Feedback is very important in a team since it allows the team members to be on the same page. It lets the employees get clarity on any situation and lets them have an open forum where they can present their concerns if any.

Proper job description- Job description at the time of assigning a task or at the time of employment is very important. It reduces a great amount of discrepancy in the expectations from the job. It is necessary for the employer to make sure that the employee can deliver what is expected of him.

Prioritizing and organizing– Prioritizing and organizing is one of the simplest ways of reducing workload and therefore stress in one’s life.

Maintain friendly relationships– It is not always possible to get along with all your colleagues, yet it is one of the most important factors in creating a stress free work environment. Working in a team always means coming across people with different ideas and having to compromise on several issues. As much as it is difficult, it is very important to have a good rapport with your team members and team leader. Therefore maintaining cordial relations with your colleagues will help reduce stress and can add to the fun one has at the workplace.

Recreation and exercise– Recreation or exercise always helps reduce the level of stress in our lives. Recreation could be of any kind, it could be physical in the form of jogging, going for a walk, playing a sport. It could also be keeping yourself busy in some hobby like reading a book, dancing, cooking, watching movies etc. These kinds of activities often help you relax and help you divert your energy into something positive. Providing recreational facilities for employees has slowly taken importance in several organizations these days. It could be anything from celebrating festivals to hosting annual day functions or sports events.

Good eating and sleeping habits– Healthy eating will always lead to healthy living. Good nutrition and diet is the key to maintaining a stress free life. It is a simple step to a healthier lifestyle on the whole. Workers in offices should be encouraged to have their meals at the right time. 

Conclusion

There is no magic pill for reducing or completely eliminating stress in one’s life. Everyone at some point goes through stress in their lives. But by taking simple steps we can reduce the effect of stress in our lives. Learning coping mechanisms can always help us be prepared to handle stress in a more effective manner. These mechanisms are not only effective in the workplace but also in our day to day lives.

 

 

Article 3- Safety of women in the workplace

 This is indeed the right time for us to reflect on a topic such as this. Today when crime against women is coming under a lot of scrutiny in our country(India), we really need to think about whether workplaces are safe enough for women. Do organizations take special interest in the wellbeing of their female employees? What essentially are the measures that can be taken by women themselves and by the organizations in order to prevent violence against women? These are some of the points we will be exploring.

Times are changing and we find that the no. of female employees is steadily rising in workplaces. We need to examine whether women feel safe at their place of work, whether safety of women employees is a priority to the management and what steps can be taken by the management towards achieving this.

Opportunities for crime against women

Workings late at nights, traveling to different locations for work etc. have become a prerequisite in companies these days. Our country has so many BPOs that having women work in night shifts is invariable. Sometimes the office buildings and its surroundings are deserted at nights; sometimes the roads outside the offices get deserted at nights, in cities like Mumbai and Delhi, women often travel back from work by local train/metros late at night creating perfect opportunity for crimes to occur. Women employees often find themselves in such situations and are sometimes left to fend for themselves, if their company has not taken into consideration the chances of such situations to arise. Apart from this they could even find themselves faced with a situation of sexual harassment from their coworker and may not know whom to approach with their problem and what the outcome of such charges will be towards their career.

Measures to be taken by female employees themselves

One of the best things that a woman can do for herself is to try and be self-sufficient.

Awareness of the surrounding-They need to be aware of their surroundings and must prepare themselves for handling tough situations they are faced with.

Talk to the boss– Working late maybe part of their job, but they can talk to their manager/boss and ask if they can be given options like completing the work at home, returning back home with a group of coworkers or be escorted home with a trustworthy person.

Addressing sexual harassment– If faced with a case of sexual harassment, they should be quick to bring up the issue with a trustworthy senior.

Safety of peers– They should take up concerns about their safety and also of their female co-workers which the management may have overlooked. Women should be aware of their rights and take it upon themselves to defend themselves and their peers.

Steps taken by management

Every company or employer needs to give great deal of importance to the safety of all their employees at the workplace. Physical and psychological wellbeing of all the employees is important, especially the women workforce. Factors like sexual harassment at the workplace is a growing concern and the management really needs to come together to make an environment favorable for their female employees to work in.

Work out policies– Companies need to work out policies that protect and make the women employees feel safe to work in their workplace. They must realize that employees are the assets of any company and their safety should be of utmost concern.

Flexibility at work– The organization can give flexibility to their employees to work from home if it is after working hours.

Provide transport– They can provide company transport when their employees are working late hours, making sure that female employees are not the first to be picked up or the last to be dropped off.

Background check– Having reliable cab services with complete background check and police verification of the cab drivers as well as the security guards working in the office and employing female security guards in the buildings during night times can also be another option.

Committee against sexual harassment– They can set up a committee for addressing sexual harassment cases within the office.

No tolerance policy– Companies should adopt a no-tolerance policy regarding indecent and lewd acts by any employee.

Self-defense– Conducting self-defense workshops for the women employees may also create a positive and encouraging environment for the women workforce within the organization.

Conclusion

Such small steps can go a long way in ensuring safety of the women workforce. The safety of women we must understand will ultimately reflect their trust towards the company and will in turn reflect in their performance and loyalty towards the company.In 2013 a bill has been passed in the parliament that seeks to protect women from sexual harassment at their place of work. This I believe is only a small step towards protecting the women of our country(India). There needs to be a complete change in the attitude of the men in our country towards women, which according to me will come about with a spread of greater awareness, a stricter judicial system, better and wholesome education for all, greater self-confidence among the women and awareness of their rights, and ultimately imparting of good morals/ values by parents to their children. Just one last advice to all the women out there, be smart, be aware, be safe.