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British Chamber

 This Friday is the International day of safety and health at work. Your health at work is vital as it effects all aspects of your life. We look at stress and burnout in the workplace with the Community Help Service which is a non-profit organisation helping to solve a range of difficulties encountered by the people who turn to it in times of stress through therapeutic methods. You can see more of their work on their website here.

Mental Health in the Workplace

The World Health Organization defines positive mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community. Employees with good mental health will perform better in their work.”

Work is excellent for both our mental and physical health. Research has consistently shown that good quality work can boost and protect health.

Features of working life that are known to promote mental health include:

  • Being valued at work
  • Having meaningful work
  • Being able to make decisions on issues that affect you
  • Being adequately trained for the work that you do
  • Having the resources you need to do the work
  • Having a job that is well designed and not overloaded
  • Having work that is well organised in terms of work schedules and time off

A further positive element of the workplace concerns organisational culture, which can be supportive of mental health and wellbeing. Elements of culture such as management and communication style can contribute to positive mental wellbeing. In addition, positive management practices in relation to such areas as participation in decision making and providing timely and supportive feedback can contribute positively to employee wellbeing. Another vital element is the promotion of a positive health and safety culture. Social support in the workplace is also essential – colleagues can help individuals share, cope with and overcome personal problems.

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The Great Brussels Bake Off with Chair of the CHS Board Geoff Brown (right)

Stress is not always a bad thing. Some stress helps one stay focused, motivated and meet new challenges in the workplace. However, when positive work features are missing or inadequate we find that satisfaction declines at work and consequently mental health is adversely affected. When stress exceeds one’s ability to cope, it stops being helpful and starts causing damage to one’s physical and mental health.

 

Burn out’ is currently a very popular diagnosis which is mostly used in the workplace, particularly by self-diagnosis. People like the diagnosis as it implies an excellent work ethic and makes the experience less personal.  Whereas it is an extremely helpful concept, reflecting contemporary unhealthy work circumstances and ways to improve them, it can also sometimes camouflage and distract from the more complex clinical picture of a given client. This means that it is very important that we give each presenting client particular attention to understand their particular psychological profile and differentiate burnout from more serious mental health concerns.

Christina Maslach is an eminent “burn out” researcher. She defines “burn out” by the presence of three symptoms:

  • emotional, mental and physical exhaustion (complete breakdown),
  • losing interest and motivation for work and
  • being inefficient at the work place.

 

At CHS we often see clients who are experiencing stress in the workplace. These clients seek our help at different stages. Some are just starting to feel overwhelmed by work demands; others are bordering on burnout and others come to us when they have already ‘burnt out’ and are physically and emotionally unable to return to work. We try to help them at each stage.

Typically we find that many young and ambitious employees will overwork, ignoring work life balance so that work becomes too central. This is often to the detriment of social life and even adequate self-care. Often these ambitious individuals will forgo social engagements, exercise and other necessary parts of daily life in order to work unreasonably long hours. Some work up to 18 hours a day. This is obviously not realistic or even humanly possible to maintain.

Some of the warning signs that we as clinicians at CHS look for are the following:

  • Feeling anxious or depressed
  • Anger and irritability
  • Sense of meaningless, pointlessness and loss of sense of purpose
  • Feelings of being unappreciated
  • Low energy /exhaustion
  • Anxiety, particularly feelings of panic
  • Memory problems
  • Concentration problems
  • Stomach problems
  • Social withdrawal
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Using alcohol or drugs to cope

 

How to prevent burnout?

Some useful tips to stay mentally healthy at work and prevent burnout include the following:

  • Clarify your job description – ask your supervisor for an updated description of your duties
  • Ask for new duties if work is becoming tired and has lost its challenge
  • Prioritize tasks, tackling high priority or more challenging tasks first
  • Break overwhelmingly large projects into small steps that are more manageable
  • Delegate responsibility and don’t try to do everything yourself
  • Be willing to compromise
  • Adjust perfectionistic or unrealistic work standards which set you up to fall short
  • Change negative focus which can drain your energy and motivation and try to see what is positive about your work
  • View work tasks as challenges and not as difficult obstacles to overcome
  • Ask for help by turning to your co-workers for support
  • Create a balanced schedule, making time for yourself to regain your energy reserves and prevent becoming depleted and plan regular breaks
  • Don’t over-commit yourself to doing work that you cannot manage
  • Take time off if burn out seems inevitable and make sure you recharge your batteries
  • Support your health with exercise – make time to exercise because activity that raises your heartrate and makes you sweat is a very effective way of lifting your mood, increasing energy, sharpening focus and relaxing both mind and body
  • Make considered choices regarding food such as minimizing sugar and refined carbs
  • Reducing your intake of food that can adversely affect your mood such as alcohol or caffeine
  • Eat more omega-3 fatty acids to give your mood a boost
  • Avoid nicotine and drink alcohol in moderation
  • Turn off screens an hour before bedtime – light emitted from phones and tablets suppress your body’s production of melatonin and may disrupt sleep
  • Replace stimulating activities with calming activities before bedtime

 

If you are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted to the point that you are no longer able to make the necessary changes to prevent a crash, you can call CHS to set up a confidential appointment with one of our therapists on (+32) 02 6476780.

Last week we announced our 10 negotiation principles and now that Article 50 has been triggered we felt it was due for a timely reminder as to what the priorities of our members are going to be during the negotiations.

WHAT BUSINESS NEEDS FOR A STRONG EU-UK PARTNERSHIP – 10 NEGOTIATION PRIORITIES

In order to underpin a stable, attractive and competitive European economy, the British Chamber of Commerce in Brussels (BCCB) have identified ten priorities that should underpin any future UK-EU relationship:

TRADE & INVESTMENT

Equivalent access and treatment: European businesses should be able to access the EU and UK markets, participate in trading mechanisms, trade and provide services across Europe under compatible and equivalent conditions, so as to maintain free and fair economic relations. A deep and comprehensive agreement should guarantee the new UK-EU relationship enabling mutual market access, compatible with EU rules on free movement of goods and services.  A close stable regulatory cooperation should ensure continuation of equivalence in standards and treatment. This includes continuation of tariff-free trading, simplified customs procedures, absence of duty rates and other restrictions, coordinated trade defences vis-à-vis third countries and tariffs and mutual preferential access to third countries’ markets, as well as open data flows.

Freedom of investment and establishment: UK and EU businesses should continue to participate in Europe’s economic life by enjoying mutual protection and unrestricted conditions of establishment and investment. An agreement should ensure that all entities engaged in economic activities, as well as movement of capital between the EU, the UK and third countries, are not subject to unjustified or unnecessary restrictions, for instance being able to rely on unhindered financing under stable equivalent conditions.

LABOUR MARKET

Skills, Qualifications & Employment rights: European businesses need to rely on the right skills at the right time and place, to ensure innovative and dynamic economies and support full employment, as well as on clarity on the rights of the workforce and related obligations of employers during the transition to a new UK-EU relationship. A system between the UK and the EU that provides adequate availability of these skills throughout Europe is a must, including through continued (and where possible enhanced) mutual recognition of professional qualifications in the new EU-UK relationship.

REGULATION & LAW

Competition: UK and EU businesses should benefit from healthy competition and a level playing field, in the interest of all European consumers, while embracing the opportunity provided by under the new relationship. An agreement should foster regulatory cooperation for continued alignment and equivalence in competition and M&A rules, to facilitate approvals, prevent abuses, limit compliance burdens, and ensure proportionality of antitrust investigations, as well as ensure close coordination on clearance of notifications.

Contractual relations and dispute settlement: European businesses must be able to maintain smooth contractual relations, without uncertainty as to the applicability of law in EU-UK cross-border situations, as well as benefitting from streamlined cross-border judicial procedures, certainty as to the competent courts and mutual recognition and enforceability of judgments, to safeguard attractiveness of EU-UK trade and investments.

Better Regulation: The principles of better regulation and proportionality should underpin the new EU-UK relationship and the agreements enshrining it, so as to avoid undue regulatory burden.

ENERGY & CLIMATE

To ensure a level playing field and respecting the principles of the Energy Union, under the new relationship the UK should have continued access to the Internal Energy Market (IEM) and commit to Europe’s climate goals.

TAX

In the negotiations towards a new relationship it should be ensured that the taxation of cross border trade and business activities does not become unnecessarily complicated or lead to double taxation. This applies in particular to the following tax matters: clarity in the application of the UK-EU VAT; keeping or reproducing frameworks that abolish tax impediments, such as the EU Arbitration Convention or legal frameworks on cross-border dividends within groups of companies; and maintaining a common system of taxation applicable to interest and royalty payments between associated companies from the UK and different EU states.

INNOVATION

IP and anti-counterfeiting cooperation: European businesses should be able to rely on continued consistency in the application of IP rules, including the application and protection of trademarks, designs, copyrights and patents. This should be complemented with anti-counterfeiting and anti-fraud cooperation between UK and EU authorities.

Innovation: UK and EU businesses have a shared interest in ensuring ongoing cooperation on knowledge exchange, research priorities and funding, and maintaining open participation in EU and UK R+I+D and education programmes.

 

The British Chamber’s Annual General Meeting is set to take place on the 31st May, where the results of the President of the British Chamber will be announced. Following the changes in the articles of association, members will also be given the opportunity to vote for a new Council to be put into place.

Last year’s AGM, the British Chamber opened its doors to Chief Minister of Gibraltar Fabian Picardo who spoke about Gibraltar’s place in Europe. We also discussed the progress of the events organised in 2016.

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The formal agenda this year will allow us to report on the work that was done in 2016, as well as giving a summary of our financial performance for that year. It gives us a chance to discuss how that work has continued on into forming the programme for 2017 and the progress made in the current year.

We’ll also be taking a look at the big issues facing the chamber in 2017; the negotiations of the UK leaving the EU being the obvious example. We’ll discuss how the chamber is planning to aid you in this process and our strategy. Make sure you keep the date free and join us to discuss the progress we made as an organisation in 2016.

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The Annual General Meeting is a free event open exclusively to our members and attendees will be invited to stay a little longer for a networking cocktail. If you’d like to register, click here to visit our events page or contact Andrew (Andrew.moore@britishchamber.be)

 

 

dihk-dataGerman enterprises continue to believe in the European integration. The EU and its Single Market are fundamental for business. Based on the free movement of goods, capital, workers and services, which are all intrinsically tied to each other, it provides free trade by overcoming internal borders and regulatory obstacles. The United Kingdom’s decision to depart from the EU has lead to great uncertainty among German companies and must be prevented from becoming a precedent for other Member States. Especially SMEs now fear the setting up of burdensome trade barriers. The Brexit-negotiations thus need to strengthen the European integration while keeping EU-UK-relations as firm and as close to the status quo as possible.

Importance of the EU Single Market

Completing the EU Single Market is one of German businesses and thus DIHK’s top priorities. The further opening of markets combined with the removal of bureaucratic obstacles and barriers to trade in the EU creates prosperity and makes the benefits of the European Union visible to companies and citizens. While abolishing tariff controls nearly 50 years ago has spurred cross-border trade, increased mobility of workers is crucial for businesses to compete and excel with their products and services. An EU-wide level playing field as regards public procurement helps saving taxpayers’ money and the common application of EU-law gives enterprises much needed legal certainty. Furthermore, the Single Market ensures the EU‘s global competitiveness and increases its attractiveness as a place to invest. Given the worldwide emergence of new markets and competitors, this is more important than ever. The basic prerequisite to fully benefit from the Single Market is EU-Membership.

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German-UK relationship

Germany and the UK are closely connected both politically and economically. This close partnership should be preserved. The UK is Germany’s fifth largest trading partner. The total sum of imports and exports between both countries exceeds €127 billion. The UK is Germany’s third largest export-market after the US and France. More than 750,000 Jobs in Germany depend on trade with the UK. The UK-market is of particular importance for car-manufacturers, the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. Almost 15 percent of cars manufactured in Germany are sold in the United Kingdom. About 2,500 German companies have branches in the UK, employing about 400,000 British.

Furthermore, the UK and Germany are closely linked in the field of investment and banking. Therefore, investment protection should be a keen interest for both the EU and the UK. At the same time, it is hardly imaginable to have the central financial marketplace of the EU being based outside the Union.

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Which future for the EU-UK economic relationship?

Even with an EU-UK agreement that prevents new tariffs, additional bureaucracy will become necessary, e.g. formal notifications to customs authorities. Year by year, the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry issue millions of certificates of origin and other types of foreign trade documentation. When the UK will leave the EU, this will lead to a steep increase of these numbers. This administrative burden will hit German and British exporters. Especially small and medium-sized Enterprises often lack sufficient human and financial resources to tackle the new bureaucratic trade barriers. Thus, it should be in the interest of both sides, to keep burdensome measures as little as possible.

Furthermore, both sides should continue to pursue a forward-looking and open trade policy. Given the worldwide protectionist tendencies and policies on the rise, there is a mutual interest in a common approach to further expanding the rule-based multilateral system of free trade. Common initiatives for opening up world-wide markets would be excellent opportunities to underline the strong commitment of both sides towards each other.

The Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Deutscher Industrie- und Handelskammertag – DIHK) is the umbrella organization of 79 Chambers in Germany (IHKs) and the worldwide network of 130 business representations abroad. All companies registered in Germany, with the exception of handicraft businesses, the liberal professions and farms, are required by law to join a Chamber. Thus, DIHK speaks for more than 3,6 million enterprises.

Bccb team

School is back in session…

After a peaceful summer, the chamber welcomes a series of new faces to its team.  Alexandra Trandafir joined us in August 2016 as Business & Trade Executive, responsible for managing the Business & Trade Development programme. Cristina Pop joined us in June 2016 as Office Manager. Charline Bloch joined us in April 2016 as EU Events Executive, responsible for the EU Committee and developing the programme with our members. We’re delighted they have joined our team and excited for the growth of the chamber.

As always our work is supported by some fantastic interns and this year is no different. Our interns are all supported through the Erasmus scheme for one year placements and they all began in August 2016. Alex Bolton studying International Business & Management at Aston University is our Business & Trade Officer, Ed McGuire studying Politics & International Relations at Bath University is our Business Events Officer. Alex and Ed will both be working with Alexandra on the Business and Trade Development programme. Aniko Lakezi and Maria Giovanna Caruso are both studying Politics and International Relations at Bath University, they will be both EU Event Officers working with Charline on the EU Committee programme planning. Andrew Moore studying Politics & International Relations at Aston University is the new Communications Officer working with Uzma and Francesca. Two new roles were added to the team with Jack Whittaker as Membership Development Officer, he is studying International Business & Management at Aston University and Juozas Beniusis as Web/CRM Designing & Developing Officer who is also from Aston University studying Computer Sciences. Jack and Juozas will be working with Konstantina.

The team look forward to seeing you at the chamber over the next few months.

As we head towards a ‘Brussels summer’ and our team are putting together the autumn events agenda, we’re looking forward to seeing all of you after the break. I just want to take a brief moment to say thank you to the team who have helped us put together the programme so far and will be leaving over the summer to either newer pastures or back to their studies. Robbert Dekker, Operations & Strategy Executive left at the end of June to be an independent CRM Consultant, James Pearson, Business & Trade Executive leaves us in mid-August as he moves to Montreal and we want to say thank you to them for all the hard work they have put into the chamber over the last few years and wish them lots of luck with their new challenges ahead!

Our work is supported by some truly wonderful interns who will all be finishing their terms with us over the summer.  Thanks to Dersim Rosa Karadag, Tom Pickup and Danny Owen who have continued developing the programme for the EU Committee and developing the communications/putting together our Members Directory/Annual Report. We wish them luck in their final year at university. Thanks to Clément Staner and Claudia Gherman on the Business Development side supporting James and developing the programme further over the last few months and also thanks to Trang Nguyen for making our financial systems make sense to rest of the team and keeping us in check!

We’ll have plenty of new faces joining us over the summer and we look forward to you all meeting them at the chamber offices in September.

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Have a great Summer!

On Wednesday 25th May the British Chamber hosts their 106th Annual General Meeting, one year on from the grand reopening of their newly-refurbished office space. Members are invited to a networking drink in the business lounge before the meeting starts at 17:30 sharp. The AGM presents the opportunity for members to hear about and discuss the chamber’s performance over the last 12 months and to hear the year’s financial reports. We’re also excited to announce that the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo QC MP will be delivering a keynote speech on Gibraltar’s place in the European Union.

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Fabian Picardo was first elected as Chief Minister in 2011 before 2015 saw his re-election for a second term. Mr Picardo will deliver his speech on Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory, and its place within the European Union. This issue brings into perspective the broad and far-reaching effect the question of British membership to the Union really has. Since the 1980s, Gibraltar has seen its economic environment change and now boasts a private sector continuously driving new projects. With the referendum looming however, is Gibraltar seeking a new relationship with the EU?

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Chief Minister of Gibraltar – Fabian Picardo

 

After a Q&A session between members and the Chief Minister, President Thomas Spiller will deliver his address. Mr Spiller will be reflecting on his presidency at the halfway point of his term and will look back on the progress made on delivering on the 3 core aims of his mandate:

  1. To develop a new business strategy and ensure the longevity of the chamber
  2. To build the brand and increase visibility of the chamber
  3. Enhance the British Chamber offering
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President Thomas Spiller

 

The President will then hand over to CEO Glenn Vaughan as he recaps on the progress made at the chamber over the last 12 months. 2015 saw a big period of growth for the Business Development Group, chaired by Olivier Van Horenbeeck. The EU Committee, chaired by James Stevens also continued its strong programme, drawing on the outcomes of 2015’s Business Attitudes towards the EU survey. It was also an exciting year for the chamber’s young professionals’ network, Brussels New Generation, with one highlight being hosting the Great Brussels Charity Bake Off in March; raising €2500 for CHS.

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Glenn Vaughan, CEO – British Chamber Of Commerce in Belgium

Registrations are still open for members to attend this year’s AGM, click here to sign up now or you can get in touch with Daniel at daniel.owen@britishchamber.be

 

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