Archive for the ‘Purpose and Meaning In Work’ Category

Why should we be interested in developing gratitude?

September 17th, 2014
The evidence that cultivating gratefulness is good for us is overwhelming. Although some of us are naturally more grateful than others, gratitude is something we can develop. Let me tell you about some interesting research by Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, leading American investigators of gratitude.

During a ten-week study, they randomly assigned a large group of people into three groups. Every week, one group wrote down what they were grateful for, another wrote about hassles and the third wrote about neutral matters. At the end of the ten weeks, which group do you think felt better about their lives?

Those who kept a gratitude journal not only felt more joy, happiness and satisfaction; they exercised more, had fewer physical symptoms like headaches, stomach upset and muscle stiffness, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week than participants in the other two groups.

Need more convincing? Look at these statistics. In comparison to those people who do not keep gratitude journals, people who keep gratitude journals:

· Are 25% happier

· Sleep ½ hour more per night

· Exercise 33% more per week

· See a reduction in their systolic blood pressure by up to 10% and

· Decrease their dietary fat intake by up to 20%

Writing a gratitude letter and making a gratitude visit to a person who has made a significant difference in your life, but whom you have never properly thanked, is another powerful way to increase your sense of well-being. One study showed that simply writing and delivering one letter increased happiness more than any other gratitude intervention. A single gratitude visit boosted happiness for one month, but additional gratitude visits increased happiness even after six months.

Practicing gratitude has a positive effect on both the person receiving it and the person expressing it. It is hard to be upset or negative when we are being thankful. Hans Selye maintained that “among all emotions, there is one which, more than any other, accounts for the presence or absence of stress in human relations: that is the feeling of gratitude.” Moreover, study after study presents compelling evidence of the ripple effect of gratitude. So it doesn’t matter what we are grateful for, we will feel the benefit through all aspects of our lives, including work.

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A Time of Review . . . A Time of Intention

December 31st, 2013

Traditionally, on the last day of each year, I  take the opportunity for reflection. What were the highlights of 2013? What did I achieve? Did I really make a difference in the life of another? Did I grow, personally and professionally? Did I live in alignment with what I say matters to me? Was I intentional? Purposeful?

Did I flourish? Did I get to the heart of what matters about my work? Did I work in a way that was meaningful to others? Did I make a contribution?

Overall, am I happy with how 2013 turned out? With my accomplishments? The risks I took? The lessons I learned?

What am I grateful for?

What are my desires for 2014? My intention? What do I want to change?  How will I get there?

Lots to ponder. This type of reflection is a great opportunity for closure of the passing year. To acknowledge the gifts and accomplishments of 2013.  And, at the same time, it generates excitement and energy for the coming year. It helps us set our intention and to take responsibility for the forthcoming year.

As 2013 comes to a close, I invite you to carve out some time to do a similar reflection. And would love to hear about your accomplishments for 2013 and your intentions for 2014. Something magical happens when we write our goals . . . whether that is the power of intention, a reprogramming of the brain, or the law of attraction . . . the research shows that we are more likely to achieve our goals when we write them down.

This process has helped me to appreciate the relationship that I have with you . . . whether that is through the eCourses or self-studies you participated in, the newsletters I have crafted for your reading pleasure, or the collaborative work we have done together. Thank you for that!

I have received a lot of positive feedback from you with regards to the online learning environment we are creating and plan to grow it in 2014. I look forward to connecting again in the new year.

Wishing you a flourishing 2014!

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Posted in Employee Wellbeing: Refilling the Cup, Getting to Spirit at Work, Mindfulness, Purpose and Meaning In Work | Comments (0)

Five Ways to Increase Positivity at Work

March 29th, 2011

We can increase our positivity ratio by decreasing our negativity or increasing our positivity. Here are five ways to increase the positive in your life and your work.

1. Find meaning in your day-to-day life. What is good or positive about a situation? What is the “silver lining” in a difficult situation? What are you here for? How are you contributing through work?

 2. Savour the good. We have a lot of good things happening in our lives and at work, but we tend to skip over them. Be mindful. Appreciate. Slow down and attend. Enjoy. Recall the good. Share with others. Celebrate.

 3. Count your blessings. Give thanks. Show appreciation. Express gratitude. Keep a gratitude journal.

 4. Make connections. Develop relationships. Spend positive time with others. Cultivate loving concern for others. Connecting with nature is another way to increase positivity. Go outside, especially in spring or summer.

5. Use your strengths. We are far more likely to flourish when we have opportunities to do what we do best. Discover your strengths and find ways to incorporate them into your life and work. Simply learning about our strengths will give us a boost, though temporarily, in positivity. The lasting boost comes from finding ways to apply them.

Living with purpose and meaning, living in the moment, appreciating self and others, practicing gratitude, connecting with others and drawing on our strengths are wonderful ways to increase our positivity ratio and spirit at work.  Not only do they feel good, they have an incredible impact on how we experience our work.

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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Posted in Creating organizational conditions, Employee Engagement and Spirit at Work, Getting to Spirit at Work, Purpose and Meaning In Work | Comments (0)

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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Employee Engagement: What is an employer or employee supposed to do?

February 5th, 2010

Research is showing us that what drives engagement is different for different groups, whether that be generations, sector, gender, or position. However, a study completed by the Kingston University for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), found that two factors were most important in driving up engagement, for all groups.  and employee voice emerged as the most important drivers, regardless of group or sector. The third most important driver was the way in which senior managers communicate with employees.

Meaningfulness of work

Here are three ways to increase employee engagement:

1. Connect to the meaning underlying the work

We want to know that our work matters. That we are making a difference. That someone or something is benefiting. Understanding the meaning underlying our work is key to being fully engaged and to experiencing spirit at work.

All work has meaning. While it is easier to see the meaning underlying a public sector position or a job of service such as teaching, nursing or social work, it is important to dig for the meaning in all jobs. Employers can help employees make the link between their work and the broader organizational goals and to connect with the organization’s deeper purpose.

Appreciating the contribution we make through our work goes a long way to increase our spirit at work and our sense of well-being. In my workshops, I help employees uncover the deeper meaning of their work, why it matters to them, and to appreciate themselves and their contribution. I also help them make the connection between their work and the deeper purpose of the organization.

2. Ensure that employee’s have a voice.

Regardless of what role we play within the organization, we want to be acknowledged and heard. Not surprisingly, being heard and having the ability to share your views upwards was the second engagement driver. We want to be involved. To participate. To be able to express our views. And to know that our opinions will be taken seriously by our immediate supervisor and senior managers.

There are several ways to give employees a voice. The most important is to create an environment where employees feel like they can contribute openly and honestly and that their opinions matter. Then, ask for their opinion and ideas. Give them an opportunity to participate in planning sessions. Ask for advice in meetings. Make sure that you let them know they are being heard.

3. Share the vision and make communication a priority.

I believe that the key role of senior management in any organization is to create a compelling vision for the organization. What is the purpose of this organization? What do we stand for? Where are we going? The next step is to share the vision and deeper purpose of the organization with employees and to inspire employees to fulfill that purpose and achieve the vision. To connect with the vision and see how their work contributes.

Communication is key. Almost every employee survey points to concern with communication. Yet, for employees to be fully engaged, they need to experience communication. Both ways. Earlier we spoke about the need for employees to have a voice. Here we are talking about information coming to the employee and senior management being open, approachable and transparent.

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 (link below) 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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Posted in Attracting and Keeping Employees, Creating organizational conditions, Employee Engagement and Spirit at Work, Purpose and Meaning In Work, Seeing Work as an Act of Service | Comments (2)

What has been your greatest contribution this year?

December 31st, 2009

As another year comes to close, we are given an opportunity to reflect over the past 365 days.  What has been your greatest achievement this year? What are you most proud of? How have others benefited from your work?

Before you look forward to a new year with new goals, take time to reflect where you have been, what you have learned and what you have contributed. Far too often we push forward before taking the time to pause, reflect and celebrate. To feel good about ourselves and our contribution.

I often make the mistake of listing what I haven’t done or not yet finished, rather than celebrating what I have achieved or started. Too often I finish a project and instead of taking the time to appreciate my accomplishment, turn to the next assignment.

In a recent blog “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time,” I talked about how too much energy expenditure and insufficient recovery leads to burnout and breakdown. Taking time to reflect and celebrate helps balance our energy expenditure with recovery time.

It also gives us an opportunity to recommit to projects, and if need be, let things go and change direction.  

In 2009, my biggest achievement has been getting my book published. Rethinking Your Work: Getting to the Heart of What Matters is based on almost a decade of research. It shows how, by simply rethinking work, we can have a profound sense of wellbeing, renewed enthusiasm for work and increased job satisfaction.  Helping others become engaged so that they can experience or create spirit at work is my life’s work, so I feel very good about incorporating this research and experience in a book.

What has been your greatest achievement this year? Please share so that we can celebrate together.

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 inspirational 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.

Tags: job satisfaction, meaningful work, rethinking work, spirit at work, managing energy, Val Kinjerski,

Posted in Employee Wellbeing: Refilling the Cup, Getting to Spirit at Work, Purpose and Meaning In Work | Comments (8)

Happy at Home, Happy at Work

December 16th, 2009

For the longest time we were counselled to keep work and home separate. Leave work at work and home at home. We thought that we could just shut down parts of ourselves as we moved back and forth between the two.

Research is showing us that it doesn’t work that way. A study by Marshall and Kelly Goldsmith has shown an “incredibly high correlation between people’s happiness and meaning at work (something I call spirit at work) and happiness and meaning at home.”

Because work and home are such different environments, the researchers concluded that whether we experience happiness and meaning tends to depend more on who we are than where we are. So they suggest that if we are going through a negative work life experience, that we ought to be looking within rather than blaming others, our jobs or our communities.

In my own research, I have found that it is not so much what we do, but how we do it and how we view it that leads to spirit at work. This is where the “rethinking” part comes into play. As we start to think about whom we are serving and how our work makes a difference in the lives of others, our experience of work and how we feel about ourselves changes. The more we contribute, the deeper meaning and fulfillment we experience and that leads to an increased sense of wellbeing.

Somewhat different from the Goldsmiths, I have found that people who experience spirit at work see its creation as a shared responsibility. Shared between the employee and the employer. Tapping into their personal power, they take responsibility for creating a positive work experience. At the same time, they hold the organization accountable to create the conditions that foster spirit at work.

The Goldsmith’s research had another finding worthy of report. “Overall satisfaction at work increased only if both the amount of happiness and meaning experienced by employees simultaneously increased.”  They needed to experience meaning and fun – both at home and at work – to feel satisfied.

At first glance, I was surprised by this finding. Until I thought about people in the helping professions like nurses, teachers, and social workers; employees exposed to difficult situations (e.g. police, medical emergency teams); others with great decision making responsibility (e.g., CEOs, Deputy Ministers, emergency doctors) or advocates. It became so clear that while their work was meaningful and had potential for long-term benefit, they needed opportunities to lighten up. To have fun. To enjoy short-term satisfaction. To re-energize.

Similarly, employees who are in jobs that appear meaningless need an opportunity to see how they are making a contribution. The focus on high short-term satisfaction quickly loses its lustre. That is why in my work, I help employees, regardless of position, uncover the deeper meaning of their work.

I am not surprised about the high correlation between our experience at work and home. We are only fooling ourselves if we believe that we can separate work and home or community. It takes an extraordinary amount of energy to keep them separate and even more so if we are experiencing difficulties.

What can we apply from this research to the workplace?

  1. Uncover the meaning in your work and in your life. Seek alignment between the two.
  2. Manage your energy. Refill your cup.
  3. Have fun. Celebrate successes.
  4. See your work as an act of service. Who are you serving and how is it contributing?
  5. Develop a sense of community at work. Encourage teams. Promote purpose and fun.
  6. Get interested in your colleagues. Take time to know them.
  7. As an employee, take responsibility for your own wellbeing and spirit at work.
  8. As an employer, create the conditions for employee well being and to foster spirit at work.
  9. Accept that work impacts home and vice versa and do what you can to support both.
  10. As an organization, be clear about the deeper purpose of the organization.
  11. Rethink your work. Get to the heart of what matters about your 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 inspirational 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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Unleashing the hero within

December 10th, 2009

Social workers are often unsung heroes. Working with the disadvantaged and vulnerable, their work is mostly off the radar screen. Yet the work they do is courageous and often remarkable.

CNN has named Filipino Efren Peñaflorida its ‘2009 Hero of the Year.’ Efren is a social worker and educator in the Philippines, who works with Filipino youth by using a pushcart.

Peñaflorida and his group of volunteers take their Kariton Klasrum (pushcart classroom) to different sites across the city, every Saturday. They go to where the children are: the cemetery, the municipal trash dump, and the deplorable housing conditions. They teach basic lessons in Mathematics, English, and Science along with basic hygiene to poor and underserved children.

Peñaflorida knows that poor children are most susceptible to gang influence and membership. Just like the children he serves today, when he was younger, a gang member challenged to a fight. But, Efren walked away and embraced his education, promising to create a positive alternative for other children to build a better life.

At 28 years of age, Efren, the founder of “Dynamic Teen Company” offers Filipino youth an alternative to gangs through education.

“Our planet is filled with heroes, young and old, rich and poor, man, woman of different colors, shapes and sizes. We are one great tapestry. Each person has a hidden hero within, you just have to look inside you and search it in your heart, and be the hero to the next one in need,” said an emotional Peñaflorida, during his acceptance speech.

“So to each and every person inside in this theater and for those who are watching at home, the hero in you is waiting to be unleashed,” he added. “Serve, serve well, serve others above yourself and be happy to serve. As I always tell to my co-volunteers of the Dynamic Teen Company you are the change that you dream as I am the change that I dream and collectively, we are the change that this world needs to be.”

What would it take to unleash your hero? How can you serve others above yourself? How can you be a hero at work?

Seeing our work as an act of service is key to the experience of spirit at work, that sense that our work is meaningful, engaging and that we make a difference.

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 inspirational 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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Finding Meaning in Health Care Leads to Increased Job Satisfaction

November 11th, 2009

Nowhere is it more important to find meaning in one’s work than in health care. The emotional stress experienced by health care employees to provide quality of care during times of staff shortages and administrative demands to perform with fewer resources is taking its toll. The demands of the health care environment have resulted in the need for nurses to find coping mechanisms to decrease the stresses of their work. One such way is to find meaning and fulfillment in their work.

The literature suggests that nurses are most fulfilled when they feel they are making a difference in the lives of others, when they are able to complete a job to the best of their ability, and when they are helping other people learn.

I have found that not only does finding meaning and fulfillment in one’s work – something I call spirit at work – take the bite out of stress, it contributes to a sense of well-being, increases job satisfaction and commitment to one’s work and organization. At the same time, absenteeism and turnover goes down. All of which are good for the employee, the patient, and the bottom line.

The research of Rhonda Bell, PhD, Health Care Management Consultant provides additional support. Rhonda examined the relationship between spirituality and job satisfaction among registered nurses and licensed practical nurses. She had hoped to gain an understanding of the relationship between the elements of spirituality (purpose and meaning in life, innerness or inner resources, unifying interconnectedness, and transcendence) and job satisfaction (general job satisfaction, intrinsic satisfaction, and extrinsic satisfaction) levels among nursing professionals.         

As expected, Dr. Bell’s research showed a significant correlation between spirituality and job satisfaction. The more nursing staff felt that they had purpose and meaning in their life, had inner resources to draw upon, and experienced a sense of connection and transcendence, the more satisfied they were with their work.  

The relationship between spirituality and intrinsic job satisfaction was even stronger which suggests that nurses may be more satisfied with the intrinsic factors of job satisfaction when they are more spiritually oriented.

So how can we apply these findings in health care?

Employee retention is key to resolving the nursing shortage issue. Introducing a spirit-at-work program will go a long way to reconnecting nurses to their work, the patient, their colleagues, and their organizations. How? We take employees through a process of rethinking their work. The program helps them to find meaning and fulfillment by getting to the deeper purpose of their work. Discovering how they make a difference in the lives of others. Developing a sense of community with their colleagues where they feel that they belong and share a common purpose. Connecting to something larger than self.  That is spirit at work and when we experience it, everything changes.

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 inspirational 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 http://www.kaizensolutions.org/. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at http://www.rethinkingyourwork.com/.

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The Upside of the Recession, but . . .

October 15th, 2009

We have all experienced the negative impact of the recession, but what about the positive? A recent survey shows that the recession has made significant numbers of Canadians re-evaluate what’s important to them. And, less than 10% say making more money and career success are their top priorities.

Canadians are saying that the recession had caused them to rethink what is important in their lives. They are making time for themselves and creating their own personal vision of meaning and fulfillment. In fact, 77% of Canadians said that they were more focused on their personal lives than their careers. So they are doing charity work, embarking on a second career, pursing a holiday, spending more time with family, or going on adventure travel trips in order to bring more meaning and fulfillment to their lives.

The upside is that employees are re-evaluating their priorities. They are choosing to focus on that which matters. The study also indicates that they are taking time to refill their cups – an important factor in creating and maintaining spirit at work.

The downside is that respondents weren’t looking at work as an avenue for meaning and fulfillment. Yet that is where we spend most of our waking hours. And if work isn’t fulfilling, it is depleting.

Employers are in a key position to help employees rethink work by making the link between work and meaning and fulfillment. One way is to create the conditions for employee engagement and spirit at work. We have found that spirit at work can be increased and when it does, employee satisfaction goes up, commitment to their work and organization increases, retention increases and productivity improves. Simply by rethinking work! Learn more about the strategies in Rethinking Your Work: Getting to the Heart of What Matters.

 

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” An inspirational speaker, consultant and writer, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. She is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now.

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