Should Companies Have Counselling Services For Their Employees?

What do YOU think? Should you have someone to turn to when shit hits the fan? Or are you afraid of approaching anyone at your workplace for fear of misplacing your trust and jeopardising your career?

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Image via www.personneltoday.com.

These questions have been on my mind for a long time, swirling and whirling in my mind ever since I re-joined the rat race in the corporate world. While it isn’t my first job and neither will it be my last, yet I still feel a little disconnected.

I have been facing some work-based difficulties at the office. I find it hard to gel with my coworkers. I find it hard to deliver deadlines. I have fallen behind in my tasks. I have lost precious sleep thinking constantly about the impending training demonstration that I’m supposed to deliver. I have even refused to keep my manager updated on my work progress for fear of disappointing her. I keep to myself most of the time at the office, only opening myself up to one or two colleagues whom I can bring myself to trust. I find it difficult to collaborate with others on projects, unsure whether I’m at fault for being unable to communicate my ideas to them or that they feel uneasy when I approach them.

That’s where the thought of office counselling comes in. In my previous job, there was a part time counsellor seated at the Human Resources department. All new employees are required to have a short session with the counsellor before starting work. These sessions can continue if the employees want to get in touch with their career selves or if they feel that they need someone to talk to; to confide in. Now here I am, in a new place with new faces and new processes, feeling rather overwhelmed and alone. I’m not sure who I should or could turn to, whether the company even has this counselling service in the first place.

What do you think? Should companies have a certified counsellor or at least someone who has the experience in employee counselling? It could be anyone within the Human Resources department, or it can be someone entirely unrelated to the company; an outsider with no ties whatsoever to protect the identities of troubled employees.

Stress comes in many forms and one of the most common issues in the workplace is work-related stress, which can directly affect an employee’s capability and capacity at the office. In today’s fast-paced corporate world where everything is urgent and has a deadline, there is  no company that is stress-free or has stress-free employees. Personal difficulties can affect anyone, such as work-related stress, marital or family issues, or alcohol and drug addiction. More often than not, these problems (if left unsolved) can impair an employee’s performance at work and result in lower productivity, strained relations with coworkers, and frequent absences or accidents.

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Image via http://www.defactodentists.com.

There is no way that either of us can avoid working. Work lies at the heart of every community, from the smallest village to the biggest civilisation. To work is to be able to support ourselves and to provide support to our society. To work is to be able to give structure and purpose to our lives, to keep the body and brain occupied, and to promote a sense of satisfaction. If and when work is rewarding and enjoyable, it can provide an individual a lifetime’s worth of wealth and fulfilment. Yet, when it causes unhappiness and stress, work can make life an utterly and truly miserable one.

No matter where you are, work-related stress is a growing problem. You could be working in the United States, Australia or New Zealand. You could be struggling with the rising costs of living in the Southeast Asian countries. Regardless of where you work, there is an increasing number of people who reported that they feel undervalued, overworked, underpaid or unfulfilled in the workplace.

These negative feelings can lead to further complications with mental health if left untreated. Seeds of anxiety, depression and low self-esteem can grow. Suicidal thoughts will trigger as a result of work-related stress, along with the possibility of physical health problems, relationship issues, loss of sleep, and the feelings of self-doubt and inferiority bubbling low below the surface.

Stress is a natural and useful human response, but too much of it can be unhealthy, and will cause chaos and havoc across the body, from headaches to high blood pressure and depression. A little bit of stress (in the form of a challenge) is safe enough to make us want to improve ourselves and be a better employee. But too much of it and as a manager, you’ll wonder where your employee has gone, while as an employee, you’ll begin to question how you even got there in the first place. Don’t ignore these signs, and more importantly, don’t brush it off as if it was a persistent mosquito. You’ll never know when it will turn around and bite you.

It makes me feel good to let it all out here, but that still doesn’t solve my problem. Until I know who can help me out here, I will be sitting at my desk week in, week out, wondering if I made the right decision.

Source: The Family Enhancement Centre | Counselling Directory | Personnel Today

Of Coffee, Caffeine and Abdominal Pain.

Can Coffee Cause Abdominal Pains

Did you know that coffee can cause stomach cramps and abdominal pain?

I didn’t know this because once upon a time, I had been an avid coffee drinker. I had to have at least one cup of coffee a day or I’d get cranky. Also, many scientists, studies and surveys have claimed the importance of coffee and how it can help you in terms of your health and other mindful matters. So I figured I’d better get myself caffeinated as much as possible.

Unfortunately, my coffee-drinking days came to a screeching halt when I found myself rushing for the toilet immediately after downing a cappuccino. This happened quite some time early this year in January 2016. I thought it was ordinary stomach cramps but I suspected that it could have been the coffee. I was appalled because I loved coffee! Something was wrong but I couldn’t quite place my finger on it. How could coffee do this to me?

Chemicals in Your Coffee

You see, coffee contains a complex concoction of chemicals, several of which could be responsible for causing stomach pain and discomfort. One of the chemicals is a type of acid called chlorogenic acid, and according to an article published in the medical journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition in 2006.

Apparently, if we experienced stomach pain after drinking coffee, we should consult a doctor because in rare cases, stomach pain induced by coffee may be a sign of a health condition requiring medical care. I didn’t, though, and haven’t gone to see a doctor yet because I was told that I wasn’t alone in this. That there have been a good number of people who suffered from the same thing.

Chlorogenic Acid

Most people I know don’t seem to be suffering from this. But if you’re anything like me, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, a regular exposure to the chlorogenic acid in coffee, especially on an empty stomach, can lead to an irritation of the stomach lining which is also known as gastritis. Gastritis can often result in stomach or abdominal pain. Additional symptoms of gastritis include heartburn, hiccups, nausea and vomiting.

Stomach Ulcers

If left untreated, severe gastritis can lead to the formation of a hole in the stomach lining, which is also known as a peptic ulcer. If an ulcer has formed, any acidic liquids and foods can make you suffer from an even greater pain than gastritis alone. Some of the severe symptoms include vomiting blood or a dark substance that resembles coffee grounds, and blood in the stools. If you do not go for medical treatment, the peptic ulcers will continue to worsen and cause additional pain and discomfort.

The caffeine in your coffee can also contribute to stomach pain through several different means, apart from keeping you awake at night in bed. Your central nervous system is stimulated by caffeine, and this causes the stomach to produce excess stomach acid. This excess is the one that contributes to gastritis or ulcer formation. Caffeine can also cause cramping of the abdominal muscles which may result in additional pain or discomfort.

Treatment

So, if you frequently experience stomach pain after drinking coffee, this could be a sign that you have gastritis or a peptic ulder. Your best bet is to avoid drinking acidic beverages which includes coffee, fruit juice and carbonated sodas if you want to reduce your chances of suffering from gastritis. You should also avoid alcohol, tobacco and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like aspirin and ibuprofen as they can irritate your stomach. Though, you might still want to pay a visit to your doctor to be on the safe side.

Which reminds me… Perhaps I should go and see mine since this isn’t the first time, and quite possibly won’t be the last time either if I forget and drank a hot steaming cup of cafe latte.

Book Review: Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff.

9780099592532I’ve seen this book making its round on Tumblr for quite awhile and I figured that it must be a pretty good book, considering how so many people all over the world have begun reading it.

So I started searching for it online and found that MPH Online had stock of this title. A click or two later and the book was being prepared to be shipped over to my place of residence.

I don’t usually buy books online, but when I do, it must be good enough for me to want it. When it finally arrived in my mailbox, I couldn’t wait to get started. After all, it did look rather tempting from what little I could siphon off the back of the book cover, and the front cover’s design of the word ‘Fates’ being among the flowers and ‘Furies’ being among the thorns.

Fast forward a few weeks later to this very morning after I was rudely awakened by a power cut in our condo. I couldn’t go back to sleep so I stayed up reading the last five chapters until the end and learnt that this has got to be the most complicated and convoluted story I have ever read. Coming back to my mentioning of the front cover design, now I will tell you what the correlation is between the fates and the furies.

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff was the first half of the book told of a marriage between two young lovers who met and tied the knot only after two weeks of meeting one another.

Every story has two sides.
Every relationship has two perspectives.
And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years.

At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed.

Fates was the story of Lancelot ‘Lotto’ Satterwhite whose point of view of his marriage to Mathilde Yolde was as rosy as the fresh blooms of spring, and as joyous as the first day on a white and snowy Christmas. His side told of happiness when he first met her, the sex he had with her, the gratitude and thankfulness that he felt having her as his wife. He had naively believed that she was pure; an angel sent from Heaven to be by his side through thick and thin. I don’t blame him. After all, as a reader upon reading his side of the story, I thoroughly believed the same.

It was only after I finished reading ‘Fates’ that upon entering the double doors of darkness in Mathilde’s life that I realised I had thrown caution to the wind and thought that their marriage was one of unity and faith. Furies kicked off with the bad news of Lotto’s passing which was never mentioned on the last few pages of his life in the part of Fates. We only learn that Lotto has passed away, leaving his wealth and inheritance to his wife, Mathilde. And now we take a journey to the grimy underworld (literally, if you’ve read what her life was really all about) to learn the truth about Mathilde.

She was neither a hired assassin, nor was she a witch dabbling in dark arts. She just wasn’t your average girl-next-door. She had no friends when she was young. She was abandoned by her parents at her grandparents’ home after a freak accident involving her baby brother, whom she had deliberately meant to harm. Later on, we’ll learn that she had to stand on her own two feet at a tender age of 14, do what she thought was best for her and grow an outer layer of toughness to survive in harsh reality. There were many things tied to her past that she did not share with Lotto. She only showed him what she felt he, and their friends, were entitled to know.

Fates and Furies had been a magical ride for me. Lauren Groff had been poetic in her writing style and waxed lyrical with each word, sentence and paragraph. There had been instances of relatability to famous quotes and phrases from the world of stage plays and theater. Groff’s insightful portrayal of marriage between Lotto and Mathilde had been even more complex than it first appeared. She skillfully strummed the vibrant tunes of love, devotion and annoyance that made up the basis of any real marriage.

I had to pay close attention to what I was reading as the developments would sometimes seem irrelevant or vaguely unreasonable in the first half of the book, yet somehow start being apparently revelatory in the second half. Even before I reached the end of the book, I began to flipped back and re-read the chapters that I’ve already covered. It was indeed a masterful tale of marriage and secrets. Everyone has secrets. It only becomes a burden when these secrets become everyone’s problem.

If you thought that these disclosures and reversals had been piled on a bit too thick, well, they kind of make up for a dizzying ride that will shake your confidence in what you think you know about your spouse — and yourself. It was a book that challenged my beliefs, critiqued my thoughts, and questioned the norm of marriages and what are they really made of.

For a different and more comprehensive version of the Fates and Furies book review, you can go to The Nature of Things. Now I shall keep calm and carry on with my next book, Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie.

 

Battle of the Sexes: Male Managers vs. Female Managers.

Battle of the Sexes!
Image statistics via www.servcorp.co.jp.

On our way home from lunch earlier today, I was telling my husband about my new job and then I realised that in all my past and current employments (I have been working for about 3 years now), the only managers I’ve reported to, served under, and worked with have all been females.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t have a beef with reporting to a female manager but I’ve never reported to and worked for a male manager, hence I have no idea what it feels like (though I get some friends telling me that working for a male manager doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better either!).

But I know exactly what it feels like to work for a female manager. Women are women, and they have their follies. Some would be menopausal and cry at the tiniest bit of dissent. Some will rule you like an iron lady. Some prefer male managers because they are less emotional and more rational, while others prefer to work for female managers because they are more compassionate and understanding.

Females Over Males

According to Gallup.com, female managers are more engaging than male managers.

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Image statistics via content.gallup.com.

Why do they say that?

Well, based on some research conducted by Gallup, it was found that female managers themselves tend to be more engaged than male managers. Gallup finds that 41% of female managers are engaged at work, compared with 35% of male managers. In fact, female managers of every working-age generation are more engaged than their male counterparts, regardless of whether they have children in their household. These findings have profound implications for the workplace. If female managers, on average, are more engaged than male managers, it stands to reason that they are likely to contribute more to their organization’s current and future success.

Given that female managers being more engaged than their male counterparts, this would result in higher engagement levels in more engaged and higher-performing work groups. It is discovered that employees who work for a female manager are found to be 6 per cent more engaged than those who work for a male manager, at least 33 per cent to 27 per cent, respectively. Female employees who work for a female manager are the most engaged at 35 per cent while male employees who report to a male manager are the least engaged at 25 per cent. That is a significant difference of 10 per cent.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that all female managers are more successful in the work place compared to male managers. It just means that female managers are more able to find tasks that are stimulating enough to challenge their employees.

The Gallup surveys also found that these ladies in power have a higher tendency to build relationships with the people who wor for them, encourage positivity in the work place, set the standards clearly for the employees, all the while providing feedback and checking in on them more. These are all traits that make them the best work place motivators.

Working With Women

Personally, working with female managers have given me more reason to want to work with a male manager, just to see what it feels like. I have had friends working with male managers and they have shared incidents and stories where these men in suits and power were either arrogant and know-it-all, or meek and a pushover. Some use sex as a reason for their employees to climb the corporate ladder, while others belittle and bring you down.

That doesn’t mean women are perfect either. In my 3 years of working, I was unlucky to have worked for 3 female managers who were she-devils, iron ladies, tiger mothers. They picked on the nitty-gritty details and highlighted all my faults that I think I would have been better off as a rotting wall that is being studied and scrutinised before being given a fresh coat of paint. They would rather accuse me of a crime than admit they were wrong.

And then I had the liberty of working with 3 more female managers who were angels (may God bless them!) and saved me from the depths of my depression. But that’s just me. Until this very day, I still wonder what it feels like to work for a male manager.

What do you think? Who would you prefer to work with? A male manager or a female manager?

Spoil Your Senses, 282 Metres Up in the Sky!

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What do you do when you have friends visiting from the States? And these are not just your friends. These are the people whom you grew up with and have lost touch with ever since they left the country, never to be seen again until many years later in the unforeseeable future. These are the ones you hung out with because they lived next door to you and happen to be your neighbours too!

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Well, what my family did was to bring them for an unforgettable journey high up in the sky. I bring to you, the sights and sounds of the surroundings at the KL Tower! It was more of a Photowalk Sunday or a Photowalk Weekend, but because I’m posting it up today, I’ll call it the Photowalk Wednesday.

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We saw a monkey posing for tourists on the railing of the tower above the Malaysian flag.

Let me tell you a little bit about the Kuala Lumpur (KL) Tower before I continue with the photo-bombardment.

Located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, the KL Tower, as it is fondly known by locals and tourists alike, is the 7th tallest freestanding tower in the world. The construction of the tower began on October 4, 1991 and was completed on March 1, 1995 before it was opened to the public on July 23, 1996. It was a phase-by-phase construction so it took a few years before it was fully completed. There was even a tall and intimidating jelutong tree (below) just next to the tower, which was claimed to be as tall as the tower. I believe not as the tree was still growing and has yet to reach the estimated height of the tower.

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The KL Tower is often used for communication purposes and features an antenna that reaches the height of approximately 421 metres (1,381 feet). The roof of the pod is at 335 metres (1,099 feet), while the rest of the tower below is home to a stairwell and an elevator that allows visitors to reach the upper deck. The upper deck contains a revolving restaurant called Atmosphere 360, which presents diners with the opportunity of eating while enjoying a panoramic view of the city.

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Thus ends my introduction of the tower and begins our short and sweet photowalk of the surrounding area as well as the partial aerial views of the city centre from the revolving restaurant!

One could see literally everything from one’s vantage point at 282 metres high. You could see the day turn to dusk (below) …

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… to the breathtaking sunset hues in the sky ablaze and fiery (below) …

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… to the evening blues as night approaches (below) …

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… to the curtains of darkness that drew the day to a close (below).

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You could see the river of lights from the endless traffic (below). You could see the rest of the world being lit from ground up to the highest peak. You could see everything.

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It was an amazing experience, both for my family as well as the friends-cum-neighbours who dropped by last week for a visit. It was a visit not to be forgotten as it comes with a back story that led to this discovery. As they always say, the rest is history because all that mattered was their visit, their presence, and the enjoyable moments we had with them.

The food was great (it was served buffet-style) and the customer service was impeccable at Atmosphere 360, the revolving restaurant. The only downside was the birthday party that a family had for their one-year-old daughter. Because there were so many kids running around and screaming, I found it hard to enjoy my meal. Otherwise, everything was fantastic!