Innovators don't ignore risk; they are just better able to analyze it in uncertain situations.
Six in 10 people say poor mental health impacts their concentration at work.
Image: WHO (2014) – Global Health Estimates<h2>The toll of lost productivity</h2><p>Untreated mental disorders (in employees or their family members) result in diminished productivity at work, reduced rates of labour participation, foregone tax based income, increase in workplace accidents, higher turnover of staff and increased welfare payments. Six in 10 people say poor mental health impacts their concentration at work and estimates indicate that nearly <a href="https://www.mqmentalhealth.org/articles/workplace-mental-health" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">70 million work days</a> are lost each year in the UK because of poor mental health.</p><p>It is also increasingly evident the negative role that stigma plays by decreasing the chances of people seeking proper diagnosis and treatment. For example, according to a <a href="http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fniah-spnia/promotion/mental/index-eng.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2008 survey in Canada</a>, just 50% of Canadians would tell friends or co-workers that they have a family member with a mental illness, compared to 72% who would discuss a diagnosis of cancer and 68% who would talk about a family member having diabetes.</p><p>The good news is that evidence is showing that treating anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions is an affordable and cost effective way to promote wellbeing and prosperity.</p><p>Just $1 of investment in treatment for depression and anxiety leads to a return of $4 in better health and ability to work. This is good for individuals, families, communities, economies and societies at large.</p><p>Employers can become agents of change. The risk factors for stress in the workplace can be modified, and an organizational climate that promotes wellbeing and creativity can be developed by targeting workplace policies as well as the needs of individual employees. Similarly, effective treatments exist for common mental disorders, and an employer can facilitate access to care to those who may need it.</p>
Scientists have proven that small talk with coworkers leads to stronger team cultures and better collaboration.
- A recent Rutgers study has found that although small talk in the office can be distracting, employees and employers alike gain far more from these seemingly trivial interactions than we lose.
- Non-work banter can lead to more cohesive culture and higher-quality output.
- To deliver output with a higher value, you need to view productivity through a different lens, one that has leeway for freeform discourse.
Not just trivial chat<p>Of course, every office is likely to have at least one or two curmudgeons who perceive all small talk as meaningless chit chat, and we're all better off letting these people do their thing unfettered. However, when taken across an entire workforce, the positive benefits for the organization start to stack up. </p><p><a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/reality-mining/200911/the-water-cooler-effect" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">One study by MIT</a> found that office small talk promoted cohesion among employees, even in regimented environments such as call centers. </p><p>There's even reason to believe that teams come up with the best ideas when they are shooting the breeze, as opposed to working on ideas. "We have this very rich vocabulary to describe moments of inspiration," noted "Where Good Ideas Come From" author Steven Johnson in <a href="https://www.ted.com/talks/steven_johnson_where_good_ideas_come_from" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">his 2010 TED Talk</a> of the same name.</p><p>"All of these concepts, as rhetorically florid as they are, share this basic assumption, which is that an idea is a single thing. It's something that happens often in a wonderful, illuminating moment. But, in fact, what I would argue and what you <em>really</em> need to begin with is this idea that an idea is a <em>network</em>."</p><p>Showing a slide of William Hogarth's 1755 painting "An Election Entertainment," Johnson noted that "This is the kind of chaotic environment where ideas were likely to come together, where people were likely to have new, interesting, unpredictable collisions, people from different backgrounds." Sounds like something hard to accomplish when we're relegated to individual bubbles. "So if we're trying to build organizations that are more innovative," Johnson concluded, "we have to build spaces that, strangely enough, look a bit more like this."</p>
"An Election Entertainment," William Hogarth
Wikimedia Commons<p>In 2017, IBM, one of the original pioneers of remote working, <a href="https://qz.com/924167/ibm-remote-work-pioneer-is-calling-thousands-of-employees-back-to-the-office/" target="_blank">recalled workers</a> to the office in a bid to promote better collaboration and improve organizational agility. Ryan Holmes, founder of the social media management tool Hootsuite would no doubt agree with the strategy. He <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/ryanholmes/2017/12/11/how-2000-random-coffees-changed-my-companys-culture/#5f3d226c4ffc" target="_blank">credits</a> a cross-departmental initiative matching employees for coffee dates with having transformed the culture of his company, creating a mindset of open conversation.</p> <p>All this underscores the role that seemingly trivial conversations can play in building a company culture based around trust and communication. This type of culture is the most <a href="https://www.greatplacetowork.com/images/media/2018_millennials_report_3.0.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">critical driver</a> for employee retention among the notoriously transient millennial generation. </p> <p>However, many of us are now working remotely for the foreseeable future, and there is a <a href="https://diginomica.com/traditional-office-dead-major-change-ahead-workplace" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">lot of talk</a> that the traditional office may be consigned to history. </p> <p>So what does this mean for small talk and even more importantly, overall employee wellbeing and productivity? </p>
A risky proposition<p>Pandemic-induced remote working practices mean that employees are working <a href="https://voxeu.org/article/covid-19-teleworking-and-productivity" target="_blank">longer hours</a> than ever before, promoting an "always-on" culture. Despite a significant increase in working time, around <a href="https://digital.com/coronavirus-employee-work-from-home-productivity/" target="_blank">30 percent of U.S. employees</a> report being less productive than they were before the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. Neither is this an American phenomenon – a <a href="https://voxeu.org/article/covid-19-teleworking-and-productivity" target="_blank">study from Japan</a> shows similar worrying trends.</p><p>Of course, there are confounding factors at play here. Many employees are caring for or homeschooling their children alongside their daily work. Some won't have an appropriate home office setup or decent connectivity. The overriding feelings of anxiety brought on by the pandemic and its far-reaching implications will also be affecting many people. </p><p>But the sudden change also means that many employees have seen a sudden drop in work-based interactions. The chances are that the majority of leaders are probably unaware of the productivity benefits of small talk, and even those that were aware may not have done much to address the issue. After all, the shift was sudden, and nobody knew how long it would last. </p><p>Either way, the loss of office social interactions represents a risk for companies. Employees may become disengaged, and productivity will drop even further. A company culture of trust and transparency can become that much more nebulous with distance. </p>
Redress the balance<p>Given it seems likely that remote working is here to stay, at least for now, then employers and employees can take some simple steps to help promote social interactions and engagement between remote workers. </p> <p>First of all, make sure that the channels of communication remain open, even if the <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/videoconferencing" target="_self">communication there is indeed inferior</a> to being in the same room. Most companies operate a chat-based communication system that supports audio calls, video or both – whether it be Slack, Skype, or MS Teams. Create a dedicated channel that's only used for social interactions, and start using it and encouraging others to do so.</p>
Keep talking small<p>The suddenness of the shift means that employers and employees alike are having to get used to the new normal very fast. But small gestures can go a long way towards achieving a sense of normalcy, even if employees are locked out of their everyday office environment. </p> <p>Even those who are considering a more permanent shift to working at home should be mindful that losing out on small talk and trivial interactions holds far more risks than benefits to net productivity.</p>
Teaching your child metacognitive techniques can improve their learning and life skills.
- Metacognition is the idea of "thinking about how we think" - this can give us insight into our feelings, needs and behaviors that allow us to adapt and grow.
- Metacognition can (and should) be taught from an early age to allow for students to do their best in school and in life.
- Simple forms of metacognitive thinking techniques can be taught at home and in the classroom.
Why children should learn metacognition from an early age<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUwNjM2NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNzI4MzUwMX0.rUZDnHDz-ATJTVDu4-8U4nv84X5rnGzAWCSN9UlDYh0/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C351%2C0%2C0&height=700" id="28119" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4d8ec0d774cb198fcd2ae27aebcdaa6d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="children standing on bright yellow background holding books concept of school learning metacognition" />
Metacognitive thinking in children can allow them to adapt and overcome obstacles at school and in life.
Photo by Rawpixel.com on Shutterstock<p>In simple terms, metacognitive thinking teaches us about ourselves. According to Tamara Rosier, a learning coach who specializes in metacognitive techniques, thinking about our thinking creates a perspective that allows us to adapt and change to what the situation needs.</p><p>A simple example of metacognitive thinking (or reframing) is this: </p><p><em>"Math tests make me anxious."</em> This is a statement, a thought. Turning to metacognition, this train of thought evolves into<em> "What about math tests make me anxious...and what can do I to change that?"</em> </p><p>According to Rosier, children who are taught to think of themselves as being either "good" or "bad" at a particular task can end up with a fixed mindset that makes them passive in approaching a challenge relating to that task. However, teaching kids to become more metacognitive helps them develop a mindset that leaves more room for growth and adaptation, promoting self-awareness and resilience.</p><p>This isn't just a hunch, there are many studies that prove the worth of teaching metacognition to children. <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053810013000068" target="_blank">Research suggests</a> that as students' metacognitive abilities increase, they also achieve at higher levels. </p><p>Even beyond academic learning, metacognition can help young people gain awareness of their own mental states so they can begin to answer important questions like "how do I live a happy life?" and "how do I feel good about myself?"</p>
How can we teach our children metacognitive thinking?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUwNjM2OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MjQ0MjMwN30.dZjm64puC1SltpbYsJzQEgYsyJvfBqTK-JV9Xfqy7a8/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C87%2C0%2C87&height=700" id="9e72d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="80b44c15587c39705ddfc7488eaf365e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="" />
Teaching children metacognition can happen at school and at home with just a few simple tricks...
Photo by ImageFlow on Shutterstock<p><strong>Teach children how their brains are wired for growth and productivity.</strong></p><p>How your child thinks about learning will greatly impact their performance while learning. <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ryan_Korstange/publication/330563817_Developing_Growth_Mindset_Through_Reflective_Writing/links/5c4861b8299bf12be3ddba12/Developing-Growth-Mindset-Through-Reflective-Writing.pdf" target="_blank">Research shows</a> that when students are able to develop a growth mindset (compared to a fixed mindset), they are more likely to engage in reflective thinking about how they can learn and grow which serves as motivation to do so. </p><p><strong>Provide opportunities to reflect on what they've learned.</strong></p><p><a href="https://www.edutopia.org/blog/8-pathways-metacognition-in-classroom-marilyn-price-mitchell" target="_blank">According to Edutopia</a>, higher-order thinking skills are able to be fostered when students recognize their own cognitive growth. Simple questions like<em> "before this test, I thought earthquakes were caused by _____, but now, I understand them to be caused by ______."</em> </p><p>This kind of thinking promotes the idea that they have learned a new fact or acquired a new skill, which allows them to become more motivated to learn and grow. A very simple way of doing this could be having students keep an education journal where they track things like what tasks they found easy each week at school, what assignments they found most difficult, and what new things they learned as a result of their studies. </p><p><strong>Simple interactions in the classroom can promote metacognition.</strong></p><p>Even the way teachers interact with students can help improve metacognition. Before a class, a teacher could give a few tips on how to actively listen and learn. Following the class, the teacher could ask students to write down three key points from the class. After, the teacher should share what they believe to be three key points from the class and ask students to self-check how closely their answers matched the teacher's answers. </p><p>This activity is able to increase active listening and improve metacognitive monitoring skills at the same time. </p><p><strong>Making the most of "teachable moments" everywhere (at home, in the classroom, etc.) </strong></p><p>You can model metacognition by talking through problems. Children can learn a lot from listening to their parents or teachers use higher-order thinking strategies (or metacognitive thinking) out loud. </p><p>Taking advantage of "teachable moments" like this can allow children to see metacognitive thinking in action and promote the idea that everyone makes mistakes and the best way to correct those mistakes is to work them through and think about it as an opportunity to learn and improve. </p>
Big Think's co-founder and CEO, Victoria Montgomery Brown, offers six pieces of advice to founders in her forthcoming book.
- Big Think's CEO and co-founder Victoria Montgomery Brown explores the challenges of being a female entrepreneur in her forthcoming book, Digital Goddess.
- In one chapter, Brown offers key insights into how to raise capital when you have no money and no MVP.
- She advises to use every edge at your disposal; perseverance and tenacity are essential.
Credit: Harper Collins<p><strong><a href="https://bit.ly/2ZAbMqO" target="_blank">Get the free download:</a></strong><strong> 7 Things You Need to Sort Out Before Starting a Business</strong></p><p><em>Digital Goddess: The Unfiltered Lessons of a Female Entrepreneur </em>by Big Think founder Victoria Montgomery Brown is available for <a href="https://bit.ly/2B9sCDz" target="_blank">preorder now</a>.</p>