Despite a continued drive for equality, there remains a 9.4% wage difference between the sexes. As testament to this, the Financial Times reported that around 80% of UK employers pay men more than women, a figure which has worsened in the last six years. In light of this, Rethinkly – unveils a nationally representative study addressing the struggles women face communicating difficult conversations in the workplace.

A common challenge women face in the workplace include: 28% of women saying that the inability to communicate within the workplace has had the largest impact on their productivity, as well as 27% of women saying they encounter challenges with their speech when attempting to confront difficult issues at work. Rethinkly’s software removes all real-world references to create a safe space that is designed to inspire autonomy of expression.

Rethinkly’s research highlights that miscommunication might be at the heart of this pattern and in turn, is not allowing women to navigate conversations about what they deserve, as an alarming 30% of workers admit they harbour all workplace tension and find confrontation too difficult. To combat this, Rethinkly creates a virtual world, which staff can anonymously enter using anonymous avatars, helping women feel safe and supported during these challenging conversations.

The use of visualisation can help women depict their contribution to managers and peers and give them the autonomy to address what they deserve, all while being anonymous. Co-founders – Andrew Jackson and David Tinker – discuss why miscommunication exists in so many offices and further outline how virtual reality tools can be used to promote better communication in difficult conversations.

Key stats:

30% of women harbour all workplace tension and find confrontation too difficult
28% of women say that the inability to communicate within the workplace has had the largest impact on productivity
27% of women say they encounter challenges with their speech when attempting to confront difficult issues within the workplace

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How does Rethinkly work:

By design, the software removes all real-world references creating a neutral, virtual space that is solely designed to inspire autonomy of expression. In this context, users are able to create avatars that can express emotion and gestures, enabling detachment for reflection and transparent communication. By utilising a virtual world – the platform reframes problem-solving and communication in the workplace and beyond, in scenarios where people may feel uncomfortable expressing their feelings or opinions out loud. As such, the power of imagery and visualisation prevails where words fail, with Rethinkly combining the most effective principles of storytelling, psychodrama and coaching to address the issue at hand. 

Understanding the power of images, the NHS has been relying on the software for years as a tool to help patients express themselves when they otherwise couldn’t, alongside corporate firms such as IBM which have integrated the software into employee development and coaching initiatives. Crucially, the software can either be used under expert direction – which may be appropriate for particularly complex issues including the mental health sector. Users can be taught how to use the software within minutes, making it a scalable solution, especially for teams within businesses. Research on the use of virtual realities in these settings is constantly evolving, and Rethinkly uses a combination of insight from practitioners, academia and case studies leading to one of the most sophisticated tools for addressing communication issues worldwide.

Rethinkly co-founder, Andrew Jackson, concluded: “If we think of the teams and groups we work in, why do some perform better than others? Well, it turns out that people being able to express themselves, say what they think, call out bad stuff, and feel connected to their colleagues are the things that really make a difference. For most, employee voice means sending out an annual survey and then trying to work out what to do with the results. Ambitious organisations are using tools like Rethinkly to discover what their talent really thinks and feels only then do you have real power through more comprehensive data to make positive changes.
“Most challenges at work stem from a lack of or just bad communication. Communication challenges are directly aligned with morale, productivity, and commitment which have real business impact. Effective communication and building a strong culture based on healthy engagement are often talked about but surprisingly difficult to achieve. But when organisations start to embed and grow critical communication skills and adopt them as a competitive advantage, they can start to see a significant shift in their trajectory. ”