Archive for the ‘Getting to Spirit at Work’ Category

How are you going to foster your spirit at work this year?

January 25th, 2011

What is it about your work that moves your heart? Or does it? Are you satisfied with where you are at with your work and the contribution you are making? Or, are you like most people, looking for more?

Looking for an opportunity to make the world a better place. To do meaningful work and to make a difference in the lives of others.

Work gives us an opportunity to find meaning and fulfillment that we are so desperately seeking. It provides us a way to make a contribution; a difference in the lives of others. It gives us a chance to create a sense of community and to belong.

I have been researching and promoting what I call spirit at work for a decade. It is now, my life’s work. Spirit at work is about finding meaning and fulfillment through our work. About being fully engaged and energized by what we do. Understanding we make a contribution through our work and feeling good about it.

We have learned that when we get to the heart of what matters about our work, when we feel that the work we are doing is important and can see how we make a difference in the lives of others, and when we share a common purpose with our colleagues or clients everything changes. For us, our organization and the people we are serving.

The creation of spirit at work is a shared responsibility: shared between us and our employer. But, it begins with us. That is where the power lies.

How are you going to foster your spirit at work this year? Who can you call upon to act as your accountability partner?

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore this topic in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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Selecting an Accountability Partner: Who is right for you?

January 14th, 2011

Working with an accountability partner is a powerful way to increase your spirit at work and achieve the goals you have set for 2011. Have you committed to an accountability partner yet? If not, what is holding you back? Perhaps you are unsure of how to select someone. If so, here are some tips and questions to help you choose the person that is right for you.

What are you looking for in an accountability partner? Who you choose is one of the most important factors in your success. Look for someone who you are comfortable with and who inspires you, someone whose opinion matters to you and that you would feel poorly about letting them down. Choose an accountability partner who will challenge you and not shy away from asking those hard questions we tend to avoid ourselves. For this reason, a friend or a loved one is not usually the best choice.

While it works best to choose a person nearby, also consider partners that you can connect with by phone or email. Choosing the right person and maintaining consistency in meetings is more important than proximity.

Once you have clarity about the goals you intend to work on, use the following questions as a guide to finding the right accountability partner for you:

1. What am I looking for in an accountability partner?
2. Who do I respect and hold in high esteem?
3. Who would be comfortable to question me, challenge me,
and keep me focused?
4. Who am I confident that will maintain confidentiality?
5. Who would I never think of disappointing?
6. Is there someone who is also interested in growing personally
and professionally so that we can be accountability partners for each other?
7. Who knows me and my tendencies (For example: to procrastinate or to over commit)?
8. Who will follow through on this commitment to me?
9. Who has the time to help me?

Having identified a few possibilities, interview one or two people who best fit your criteria. Share your goals with each person and ask if they think they are a good match. Are they interested? Are they comfortable and willing to hold you accountable for achieving your goals? Do they have the time?

If you are unable to find a suitable person, consider the option of joining a group or contracting with a coach. You will be glad you did.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore this topic in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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Have you made your New Year’s commitments public?

January 4th, 2011

Have you made any resolutions this year? If so, did you tell anyone? People who make their New Year’s resolutions public are ten times more likely to succeed at their goal. Are you surprised?

The first day of the first month of a new year. What better time to stop and reflect on where we have been and where we want to go. How we want to be in this world. Many of us join in the tradition of creating New Year’s resolutions. Many of us do so knowing that the likelihood of follow through is slim.  Are we really committed to change or is making these resolutions just a fun tradition?

Passionate commitment carries many positive effects. It fulfills our need to connect with others and to belong as our commitment often involves social duties like helping others out. It empowers us as we take charge of our destinies and gain insight into ourselves. It reinforces our sense of autonomy.

The likelihood of pursuing and achieving our goals (including New Year’s resolutions) increases as we make our commitment public. Another reason for increased success is our desire to appear consistent to ourselves and others and to avoid embarrassment or awkwardness. Part of the reason is the increased support we receive from others.

Choosing an accountability partner will go a long way to helping you achieve your desired goals. The idea of having an accountability partner is to find someone who you respect and trust to give you feedback, a new way of looking at things, and a supportive nudge to move forward.  You will want to commit to working with someone who will question, challenge, encourage, and inspire you to achieve positive results.

Want to make those resolutions stick? Make your goals public and find an accountability partner.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore this topic in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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The Gift of Giving at Work: B’s Diner Outreach

December 13th, 2010

The heart of B’s Diner is its owners: Brenda Der and her husband Bob Ziniak. The fact that this is no ordinary diner is evident by Brenda’s comment: “We just feel that this is our home. And we want to bring people into our home.”

Shortly after they opened the diner in 2002, Brenda noticed people in the back alley regularly going through garbage dumpsters, carrying what they could in their shopping carts. She was emotionally impacted by talking to them and the pain she saw. She decided to help.

Brenda started to feed the people that were hungry. And she invited those that were cold into her warm restaurant.

Shortly after, she and her husband began holding weekly dinners for the less fortunate. They covered the cost of these dinners through their tips and donations from customers. On occasion, they would provide entertainment: a movie and popcorn or a karaoke night.

This week, Brenda and Bob will host their annual Christmas celebration, which includes a meal and entertainment by many of the diner’s clientele. While everyone is invited, the Christmas meal will be free for the under-privileged. Others who can afford it are asked to bring a donation.

Their generosity is even more inspirational when we hear about Brenda and Bob’s own financial struggles. Last summer, their son, Jeremy, died when he was swept into an undercurrent. The diner was closed for two months after his death, leaving the couple with unpaid bills and arrears in rent payments. Not to mention the unexpected funeral costs for their son.

Their beloved customers were quick to help. Not only did they join an 18 day search for their son’s body, they threw a fundraiser to help the family with the bills and arrears so that they could reopen the diner.

Many of the customers support Brenda and Bob’s efforts through contributing to the B’s Diner Outreach. They donate things like money, clothing and sleeping bags. One customer said, “In a sense, it’s like a community project. It’s very much a restaurant where we are both customers and participants.”

Recently, Brenda and Bob have faced additional financial stress: the transmission in their van died and the two ovens in their restaurant broke down – irreparable due to age. They have no money to replace the ovens.

Yet, in spite of their added difficulties, the Christmas celebration will go on, albeit, at a different location. How does Brenda respond to the breakdown of the ovens?

“We’ve had bigger hurdles than that this year, a lot bigger. As down as we are, it helps to do this. It does make me feel better to help other people.”

Kindness and generosity at work goes hand in hand with spirit at work. Not only does the person receiving the act of kindness benefit, so too does the person showing kindness and anyone observing. It just feels good to help another out or to see someone being helped out.

How are you offering the gift of giving at work? Is there something that you and your colleagues can be doing? What about your organization?

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore this topic in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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Count Your Blessings: The Wonder of Gratitude

December 6th, 2010

The ability to notice, appreciate and savor the elements of life is an essential determinant of well-being. Research has shown that those of us who are grateful are happier, more hopeful and more helpful to others. We are less anxious, more spiritually inclined and report higher levels of well-being.

Gratitude can lower blood pressure, improve immune function, increase the amount we exercise, and increase generosity and cooperation. It is not surprising that people with spirit at work are more grateful than those employees with low spirit at work.

We are all familiar with the feeling of gratitude. Somebody does something nice for us or gives us a gift and we, in turn, feel thankful. We know that they didn’t have to make the gesture and that they did it for our benefit. We experience gratitude when we value the gift and the intent of the person who gave it to us.

Too often, others are benevolent towards us but we are unaware of it or fail to understand the value of their offering. We miss out on the feelings of gratitude and, of course, the benefits. The foundation of gratitude is knowing the gift or kind gesture was freely given, no strings attached. There is also awareness that one didn’t do anything to deserve the gift.

But gratitude is more than a grateful response. It is also a sense of awe and wonder for life and thankfulness for what we have.  Really, gratitude is an approach to life – a way of thinking – that can be chosen freely. It is not dependent on wealth, occupation, position or health.

We can choose gratitude even when we are unhappy with our work, colleagues or boss. We can choose gratitude when we feel stress. We can even choose gratitude when we are criticized and feel inadequate.

In my research, I have found that gratitude goes hand-in-hand with work related outcomes such as job satisfaction, organizational commitment, organizational culture and spirit at work. As our sense of gratitude increases, so too does our experience of these work-related outcomes.

What are you grateful for in your life? In your work? And who are you grateful to? Have you told them? I invite you to bring gratitude into your life and work.

Is your organization ready to create a comprehensive spirit at work strategy and bring gratitude into the workplace? Contact us today for a free consultation.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter. The focus of December’s newsletter is gratitude. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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How do you deal with competing priorities in the workplace?

November 25th, 2010

How do you manage competing values? Competing priorities in the workplace? Or do you?

Most of us find it easy to name our values and priorities. But then what? Do you plan your work around them? Make conscious decisions with them in mind? Or do you simply react to the demands that come your way?

Sometimes competing values are called “shadow values” because they are more difficult to identify, yet they are powerful enough to influence our behaviour. Consider for example how our behaviour might be influenced if we are afraid to lose our job, or we want to be liked, or fear humiliation if we speak up.

Competing values or priorities in the workplace often result in conflict between your personal or professional values and your work. Alternatively, your values may be in conflict with those of your colleagues or your agency policy or goals.

Here are some examples of competing values in the workplace:

o A nurse or doctor is pro-life, but works in a health care setting that provides abortions.
o A lawyer knowingly defends a person who took the life of another.
o A social worker who values keeping children safe is directed by the courts to return a child to drug using and physically abusing parents.
o A hospital employee turns away a sick patient because he or she cannot pay.
o An employee in a manufacturing company knowingly uses materials known to cause cancer, but because they are less expensive.
o A druggist sells cigarettes because of the income it generates.
o A gas company turns off the gas to a family home because they are three months in arrears.
o A carpenter cuts corners in order to come in under budget.
o An employee works in a company whose goal is to make money, not serve its customers.
o An employee closes a deal by making promises he knows he cannot keep.

What are some examples of competing values and priorities in your workplace? How do they impact you, your relationships with others, and your work? How do they impact your spirit at work? How can you resolve them?

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore this topic in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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Is it possible to save the world and still be home for dinner?

July 12th, 2010

Author Will Marré says yes. In his book “Save the World and Still be Home for Dinner,” Marré explains how to work, live, and love in extraordinary ways by finding a work-life harmony rather than living life as a constant balancing act. I think you will enjoy the World Business Academy’s review of “Save the World and Still be Home for Dinner” that follows.

“The model is a tapestry, rather than a scale.” It is a mistake to attack one’s triple bottom line—relationships, lifestyle, and career—sequentially. Marré writes: “Our quest is nothing less than sustainable abundance … an abundance of everything that really matters in life, both material and spiritual.” 

He calls on people “to uncover your greatest gifts of talent, energy, and passion and to start using them so the rest of us can benefit. This is your authentic mission. This is how you were designed to ‘save the world’”. 

To create a life of sustainable abundance, we must begin “with understanding our Drive, Design, and Desires in the here and now.” When we do that, “we feel both deeply content and constantly energized. We are living our Promise.” 

Marré offers practical steps for defining our greatness and delivering it, as well as questions to determine whether we’re headed in the right direction. His book will help us all “integrate being a force for good and living our good life.”

Far too often, we accept that we must be consumed in order to make a contribution. Then we struggle with work-life balance.

I fully agree with Marré s advice to uncover our greatest gifts of talent, energy, and passion and use them so that others can benefit. We are all gifted. We all have something to contribute. And when we are offering our gifts and feeling good about our contribution, we start to experience spirit at work. Then everything changes. We can save the world and be home for dinner.

Are you living your promise?

Start rethinking your work today for a better tomorrow.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our newsletter where we will explore this topic in more detail.

Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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Which path are you on?

March 18th, 2010

How do people get to have spirit at work? And why do they have spirit at work and others don’t? Although we tend to experience spirit at work in a similar way, my research shows that we get there in different ways. Here is an excerpt from my book: Rethinking Your Work: Get to the Heart of What Matters.

Some people have always had spirit at work. For others, spirit at work develops over time, and at some point — often at midlife — it comes together. For a third group, spirit at work occurs as a response to a crisis or personal event — a response that, for many, becomes transformative.

Finally, there is a group of people who, shall we say, wear their spirit at work on their sleeves. Their experience of spirit at work is in direct relationship with their experience at work. If things are going well at work, they have spirit at work. If things are not going so well, they don’t have spirit at work.

I call these the four paths to spirit at work. I now want to introduce you to Larry, Noreen, Ben and Sheila, and briefly discuss the paths they took. Larry’s path was always there. Noreen took the coming together path. Ben experienced the path of transformative events and Sheila is on the contextual sensitivity path.

Always there. Larry has been a dentist for more than thirty years. He has always had spirit at work, has always loved his work. He describes himself as a people person who helps out, cares for others, and is simply dedicated to what he does. That was how he grew up; that is what his family did. For him, the experience of spirit at work was constant, with peaks but never valleys along the way. When I asked how he developed spirit at work, he credited “gifts I have been given.”

“It’s in me,” he added. Unlike people who believe everyone is born with spirit and each of us chooses whether to develop it or not, Larry believes we either have it or don’t. “You have to come into the world at least half-cocked,” he joked.

Coming together. Noreen, an educator, feels that while it is possible to experience fleeting moments of spirit at work as a young adult, she is more typical in coming across it later in life. Only in midlife had she acquired enough diverse experiences in life to make the connections. She describes her skills, faith and passion coming together such that she suddenly felt “at home.” All previous roles — as a mother, wife and teacher — worked to prepare her for the experience. Noreen believes that, “Spirit at work is related to midlife, a time when you are pulling everything together.”

Transformative events. Ben is a physiotherapist whose work has changed over time. The more experienced he became, the more his skill level increased, resulting in constant improvement. His transformation occurred when he took an acupuncture course where he learned about holistic medicine. This precipitated the biggest change in his life, both personally and professionally. He says that, “It was life-transforming. It changed everything.” Transformative events can relate to spiritual growth or a personal crisis. Later in this chapter, I will talk about the path of transformative events as a result of a personal crisis.

Contextual sensitivity. Sheila loves her work as a graduate coordinator and administrative assistant but experiences spirit at work only when her work setting allows it. For her, it’s up to how the leaders run the organization, how well they promote teamwork, and how they recognize and treat each employee. When her boss is supportive and inclusive, she has spirit at work. But when the organization casts a negative influence, she has seen herself change from a committed to a bitter employee. She was only able to regain her spirit at work by moving to a new organization. Sheila is on the contextually sensitive path to spirit at work, one that is dependent on the work environment.

These brief profiles illustrate the four distinct paths to spirit at work.

Can you identify the path you are on?

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore this topic in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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Pause and Pay Attention: A Mindfulness Strategy

March 1st, 2010

My last two blogs (Can mindfulness training protect us from high stress,challenging work situations?  The Art of Being Mindful) about being mindful were so well received that I decided to share another excerpt from my book: Rethinking Your Work: Getting to the Heart of What Matters.

Pausing and paying attention is another simple way to enjoy the benefits of mindfulness. Here is the excerpt:

Pause and Pay Attention

Take a five-minute walk. Inside or outside. Your task is to observe. To be mindful. To notice. To pause and pay attention. Sights. Smells. Sounds. Touch. Taste. Feelings. As you walk around, see these things through the eyes of a child, as if you were seeing them for the first time. See with wonder, delight and absorption. This is mindfulness, or moment-by-moment, non-judgmental awareness. Come back and jot down what the experience was like and what you noticed.

I find that people are often very surprised at what they observe, especially if they apply the exercise in a familiar territory like their workplace. One group of employees was shocked to notice pictures on walls they had been walking past for years! Others were surprised to actually observe the route they took to work. They could not believe the scenery they had been missing. Rather than view the drive to work as drudgery, one person began to look forward to the changing fall colors. One woman had never before noticed a scent in her workplace. 

All this because they took the time to notice. To be mindful. 

Whenever you have a moment, pause and pay attention. Practice mindful eating. As you eat your meal, become fully conscious of the smell and taste of your food. Be aware of the color. Feel the texture. Notice what happens as you chew the food, feel it move from your mouth down through your throat to your stomach. 

Take time to pause and pay attention to everyday tasks like gardening, grocery shopping, washing dishes. Use the opportunity of being stuck in traffic to breathe and notice your surroundings. What is the scenery? What colors are new vehicles? What songs are playing on the radio? Think of it — you don’t have anything to do but be. Enjoy the moment. 

If you phone someone and are put on hold, close your eyes and become aware of your body. Notice any tension you might be holding and release it. Observe your breath. Choose to use the few minutes that on-hold status has given you. Give thanks for the opportunity to pause and pay attention.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore this topic in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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The Art of Being Mindful

February 25th, 2010

In my recent blog Can mindfulness training protect us from high-stress, challenging work situations? I promised an excerpt from my book regarding being mindful. Here it is:

Being Mindful

We frequently go through our day-to-day actions on autopilot. Not thinking. Not being aware of what is happening around us. Zoning out or not paying attention. Shutting down the inputs because we have reached our capacity. We often lose the present moment because we are thinking about the future or worrying about something that happened in the past. In doing so, we miss the gifts of the present — a smile, the beauty of a flower, the warmth of a touch or the gift of kindness.

When we are caught up in thoughts or worries, we are effectively absent from our body. No one is home. We might be walking by a beautiful garden, but we cannot see the flowers. We can be served a delicious meal, but we do not taste it. Our loved ones may be sending us strong cues, but we do not hear them. We are preoccupied. But by shifting our attention to the present moment — to our breathing, walking and surroundings — we come back into our body and become aware.

Mindfulness is about paying attention on purpose. Noticing in a non-judgmental way. Being present. Living in the moment. Being aware. Giving 100 percent attention to what we are doing. It is about tasting the food we eat, smelling the scents of the out-of-doors, seeing the beauty in the everyday. It is about being present with our customers, clients, colleagues, friends and family members. Being in touch with their needs.

Being mindful involves quieting the mind and practicing stillness in order to create space for a deeper way of knowing, and increasing awareness of self and what matters. Thus, to be mindful is to observe self or as Wayne Dyer calls it, to witness one’s life. As we become an observer, we gain clarity about our unique purpose.

Being mindful is a way to access our own resources for growing, healing and self-compassion. Mindfulness provides access to the inner wisdom required to create the kind of life we wish to lead. Moreover, it is a practical way to get in touch with our authentic self. It involves self-observation and self-inquiry.

So, we want to shift our attention to the present moment and the nuances around us. We want to use all our senses, taking time to taste and smell, hear and see, touch and feel. We want to take the time to feel our connectedness with all things.

Mindfulness reflection. In what ways have you been mindful? Examples might include paying attention to the taste and texture of the foods you eat, being present and fully listening to a colleague or friend as they talk, or thinking carefully before speaking so that your message will be heard. Maybe it is listening to sounds, smelling smells and seeing the sights around you. We’ve all experienced mindfulness. Take a moment to remind yourself how it felt to be present, open and aware. What could you do to be more mindful?

I would love to hear about how you have been mindful at work and what difference that made.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore this topic in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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