Archive for the ‘Spirit at Work Program’ Category

Is having spirit at work simply following your passion?

October 18th, 2011

For some of us, spirit at work is about following our passion. For others, following a passion is not enough. We only have to look at the number of nurses, teachers and social workers who leave their chosen field after a few years, disenchanted. 

People who follow their passion can also lose their way. Once we lose touch with why we are doing the work we do and how it makes a difference, all the constraints, pressures and lack of resources can feel overwhelming. So how can we expect to feel good about our work, never mind experience spirit at work? 

Perhaps you have lost touch with what first drew you to your particular work. Maybe you took your job because you needed work and never took the opportunity to uncover the deeper meaning of what you do each day. You might be at a time in your life where work feels like an unsatisfying burden. Family and personal responsibilities may require you to stay in your current job. Perhaps you retire in a few years and want to leave your work in a good way – feeling good about your organization and your contribution. It doesn’t matter; you get your spirit at work back. And, if you never had it, you can create it. 

I have found that there are two ways to get to spirit at work: Discover and follow your passion, or find the deeper meaning in your current work. Do what you love or love what you do. Based on experiences of everyday people who have spirit at work, I have created and tested a process you can follow to bring forth or enhance your spirit at work. What follows are nine ways to foster your spirit at work. Don’t be fooled by their simplicity. These ideas have been tested. Moreover, most of them have empirical support from other fields.

I invite you to join The Power of Spirit at Work, a six-week eCourse starting October 22. How it works: This 18-hour, 6 week eCourse is presented in six parts, one each week. It includes videos, self-assessments, readings, facilitated e-discussions, and, if you are collecting Continuing Education Credits (e.g., this qualifies for 18 Category A credits), a post test. Click on the link for more information and pricing.

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Posted in Employee Engagement and Spirit at Work, Getting to Spirit at Work, Spirit at Work Program | Comments (0)

Creating Spirit at Work

October 16th, 2011

How do you feel about your work? Seriously. Do you look forward to work every day? Most days? Even some days? Are you passionate about your work? Do you feel good about the work you do and the contribution you are making? Are you making a difference or are you just making money? 

There is more to work than putting in eight, ten or twelve hours a day. Work is much more than meeting deadlines and coming in under budget. And there is definitely more to work than a paycheque and pension. Money isn’t everything and it certainly doesn’t buy the fulfillment many of us are seeking. Yes, we need money to put a roof over our head and food on the table, but once we have that, most of us find we are looking for more. That “more” is an opportunity to make the world a better place. To do meaningful work and make a difference in the lives of others. To feel good about what we are doing. To have spirit at work. 

Spirit at work is present in people who are passionate about and energized by their work. These are the people who would continue to work even if they won a lottery, because to them, work is an opportunity to make a contribution. Spirit at work is something that is inside each person. Accessing it is an inside job. 

This blog is about spirit at work: What it is and how we can foster it. Any yes, we can foster it.

Starting October 22, I am offering The Power of Spirit at Work, a six-week eCourse. This 18-hour, 6 week eCourse is presented in six parts, one each week. It includes videos, self-assessments, readings, facilitated e-discussions, and, if you are collecting Continuing Education Credits (e.g., this qualifies for 18 Category A credits), a post test. Click here for more information and pricing.

Because I have been tardy in getting this newsletter out (those darn competing priorities) I have decided to extend the early bird rate. That is already in addition to the already reduced introductory fee – something we have decided to do for each new course.

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Posted in Employee Engagement and Spirit at Work, Getting to Spirit at Work, Spirit at Work Program | Comments (0)

It is not about Me; It is about the Patient, the Customer, the Client

November 18th, 2009

What will it take for us to learn that employees, regardless of position need to be on the same page? That principals, teachers, admin support and the school janitor are working for the same purpose? That the CEO, directors, IT personnel, finance officers and front-line staff are all needed for the company to be successful? That patients need doctors, nurses, and technicians to work together for their wellbeing?

Last month, I wrote about the report “For Patients’ Sake,” written by Tony Dagnone, Saskatchewan’s Patient First Review Commissioner. The key message of his review was to put patients first. The Commissioner recommended a health care system designed to make the patient the centre of care and not the people who deliver the care – as he says it currently is.

 In the United States, the Joint Commission, a non-profit, independent group that accredits and certifies 17,000 health care organizations, created zero-tolerance policies in regards to intimidating and disruptive behaviours between medical staff.  Now a year later, the American College of Physician Executives has just released the results of a national survey of 13,000 physician and nurse executives. Bad behaviour still exists and it is still having a negative effect.

As reported on the American Medical News site, the findings renew questions about how to deal with issues arising from the doctor / nurse relationship. The results also point to the lack of effect of the zero-tolerance policies.

Practically all (97%) of respondents experienced unprofessional outbursts and overreactions. Some experienced this several times a year, whereas others experienced it weekly. Degrading comments and insults, yelling, cursing, and inappropriate joking were at the top of the list.  Some refused to work or speak with a colleague, whereas others tried to get someone unjustly disciplined or fired. Adults were throwing objects, spreading rumors. Sexual harassment was identified.

This is from a group of professionals who took the Hippocratic Oath or chose a career because they wanted to be of service to others. What happened?

To me, there is more to be concerned about than compliance to a zero-tolerance policy. Something has gone very wrong. And we know that simply telling someone to change their behaviour is not going to change it.

What would happen if we put the patient first? Truly put the patient first? If we remembered why we went into this profession in the first place? If we got to the heart of what matters about our work? If we started to see our work as an act of service? If we adopted the attitude that our work is about the patient, and not us? If we became interested in and supportive to our colleagues?

What would happen if our leaders and management focused on inspiring us, rather than disciplining us? If they really heard what we are up against? If they supported us to put the patient first? If they supported and recognized the team? If they saw their work as serving the medical profession?

Everything would change. Behaviour would change instantly. Patient care would improve over night. Relationships would develop and grow.

I have been researching and promoting spirit at work – that sense that our work is engaging and meaningful and that we can make a difference through our work – for a decade. Not only can we increase spirit at work, as it goes up, so too does job satisfaction, organizational commitment, teamwork and morale. At the same time, absenteeism and turnover go down.

The Spirit at Work program has been implemented in health care with incredible results. Download the Promise of Spirit at Work: Increasing Job Satisfaction and Organizational Commitment and Reducing Turnover and Absenteeism in Long-term Care from

This does not have to be the experience in health care and patients should be able to expect more.

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 Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at and .

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Posted in Inspired Leadership, Seeing Work as an Act of Service, Spirit at Work Program, Transforming Health Care | Comments (2)

Emerging from the Recession: How to Keep Your Employees

November 6th, 2009

Prior to the recession, employee retention was a top concern of employers.  Many organizations experienced a reprieve during the recession, simply because most employees weren’t looking for a new job. They were grateful to have work.  But now what?

Will retention become an issue again now that we are seeing signs that the recession is turning around? I suspect so. Recent research by Watson Wyatt found that the recession has had widespread and unprecedented impact on employers and employees.

Employers have seen a drop in employee engagement due to the actions employers have taken in response to the economic crisis. Watson Wyatt found that overall engagement has dropped by 9% over the last year. The shocking news was that for top-performing employees, engagement dropped by 25%. And this will most certainly impact whether employees will stay or go.

Not surprisingly, a recent study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity shows that most firms are once again thinking about ways to retain talent. What are their plans?

  • 18% of high-performing companies have already increased compensation levels (as compared to 7% or low-performing companies)
  • 18% of high-performing companies plan to implement pay increases (as compared to 24% of low-performing companies)

But is offering money the preferred strategy? Companies report that they have been taking other action to reduce further turnover.

  • 81% of all companies are increasing internal communication
  • 77% have increased their focus on talent management
  • 59% are focusing on succession planning

I have found a key to employee retention is helping employees become fully engaged so that they experience spirit at work – that sense that work is meaningful and fulfilling and an awareness of the contribution one makes.

Below are three ways to foster spirit at work used in our spirit-at-work program. More are found in my book Rethinking Your Work: Getting to the Heart of What Matters.

Help employees rethink about their work by:

  1. Getting to the heart of what matters about their work. Be clear about the deeper purpose of their work, what they are here for and the real point of their work.
  2. Seeing their work as an act of service. It is not so much about what we do and how we do it and how we think about our work.
  3. Appreciating their contribution.  Understanding and appreciating how we make a difference through our work and celebrating our contribution helps us to be more enthusiastic and inspired.

These three ideas are at the core of my spirit-at-work program which we know positively impacts employee retention.

What is your organization or company doing to retain talent? Is it working?


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 Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at

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Posted in Attracting and Keeping Employees, Emerging from the Recession, Employee Engagement and Spirit at Work, Spirit at Work Program | Comments (0)

Why has the public sector gone from being a noble calling to having the highest absenteeism rate?

August 10th, 2009

Working for the public sector used to be considered a noble calling. Today, Statistics Canada reveals that employees in the federal public service have the highest rate of absenteeism in the country. They are followed by health-care and social service providers, provincial public servants and municipal employees. Absenteeism is lowest in the private sector.

Absenteeism rates have been rising in all sectors since the late 1990s. The average days lost to absenteeism due to sick leave, family demands, and other personal reasons has gone from 7.4 days per worker in 1997 to 10.2 days in 2007. For public service employees, the rated jumped to 16.2 days per worker per year on average.  These days are on top of vacation time, maternity leave and other scheduled time off.

Why the difference? Statistics Canada points to an aging workforce, increased women in the workforce, higher stress levels, and more generous sick and family-related leave policies in the public services.

Others point to low morale as the cause. In a recent poll by Angus Reid, one-third of Canadians think it is more honourable to work in the private sector as compared to 15 percent who believe the working for the government is more honourable. Given a choice, 43% of those surveyed said they would choose careers in the private sector, whereas only 33% would choose the public sector.

Those interested in the private sector are drawn by the creativity, salaries and mobility. Those attracted to the public sector say it is because of the generous benefits and job security. Only one-quarter say they were drawn by a “vocation of service.” I believe that this is the root of the absenteeism concern.

While benefits and job security are important, particularly as we weather the recession, they do not give us that deeper meaning and fulfillment so many of us are seeking. They do not give us the feeling that our work is honourable. We need to know that our work matters, that we are making a difference through our work – to have something we call spirit at work. Others call it work engagement, happiness at work or flow, but it all refers to feeling good about our work and the contribution we are making.

Spirit at work can be developed. I took a team of workers through the Spirit-at-Work Program and it dramatically reduced the rate of absenteeism and turnover. Not only did we see an improvement in retention, our research pointed to an increase in job satisfaction and commitment. Morale improved and the group began working together as a team. Why? Employees began to see their work as a noble calling. They appreciated themselves and the work they did. They began to think about their work differently.

I believe that the answer to high absenteeism rates lies in helping public servants see their work as a noble calling and to feel good about their work. How can they do that? By rethinking work. Here are four ways to begin rethinking your work:

  1. Get to the heart of what matters about your work.
  2. Be on purpose at work.
  3. See your work as an act of service.
  4. Cultivate a spiritual value-based life.

Absenteeism has a huge effect on morale, productivity and profitability. It can and should be halted. We will talk in more detail about these four ways in our subsequent blogs.

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Posted in Attracting and Keeping Employees, Purpose and Meaning In Work, SAW and Organizational Outcomes, Spirit at Work Program, Spirit at Work in the Public Sector | Comments (1)

After the Recession, How Do We Get Back on Track?

July 15th, 2009

The Conference Board of Canada announced today that the worst is over and that Canada can expect to climb out of the recession this quarter. That is the good news. But as employment numbers lag behind signs of economic recovery, the bad news is that the damage resulting from the recession is well underway. Experts point to the shock waves of layoffs today and those that are anticipated tomorrow. Those who avoid layoffs are left with “survivor’s guilt.” Others go out of their way to show that they are worthy of their job – some to the point of damaging their health or their relationships.

Rather than working together for the higher good, many employees find themselves looking after their own best interests. They are in competition with their colleagues. Any why not? With families to take care of, mortgages and other financial responsibilities, it is natural for survival mode to kick in. And yet, everyone loses. Employers lose commitment to the company. Customers lose service. And, employees lose shared support and that sense of community that is the glue for an inspired workplace.

What is a sense of community? A sense of community is best described as feeling connected to others at work and through work. This sense of connection involves feelings of trust, mutual respect and a shared purpose with our co-workers. When we feel connected we feel like we belong at work. We are a part of a community, part of a team where others care about us and we care about them. We know that we matter. Everyone knows that their work is important and that they need to work together to achieve common goals. When this connection permeates the workplace, it doesn’t matter if you are the CEO, janitor, receptionist or someone in between; everyone shares the connection. Sharing a sense of purpose and meaning with our co-workers about our work contributes to feelings of community at work and of course, our spirit at work. Connection with others, along with a common purpose, goes a long way to achieving mutual goals and getting organizations back on track.

So what is the answer? It is time to rebuild the relationships damaged as a result of decisions made during the recession. To rebuild a sense of community and a shared common purpose among employees and employers. To help employees become more fully engaged in their work and the reason they took the job in the first place. It is time to rethink our work.

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Posted in Creating organizational conditions, Emerging from the Recession, Spirit at Work Program | Comments (0)