Archive for the ‘Spirit at Work (SAW) in Action’ Category

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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Posted in Getting to Spirit at Work, Seeing Work as an Act of Service, Spirit at Work (SAW) in Action | Comments (0)

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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Service in Action: Learning First Hand

September 21st, 2009

 

Writing a book where seeing your work as an act of service is a central theme has a way of bringing one’s attention to customer service. I really lucked out when I chose Hignell Printing from Winnipeg, Manitoba.  

Hignell Printing is a small Canadian company that has been in business for over 100 years.  I suspect that they have been in business for this length of time because they know something about being of service. So what did they do?

1. Provided a personal touch. I submitted several requests by email for quotes on printing my book. Herb Krushel, the Account Manager, immediately phoned me to talk about my books and the printing process. Only Hignell and one other printing company contacted me by phone.

 2. They walk the talk. Many companies speak about the value of service in their literature or in their mission statement, but are incongruent in their behaviour. Highnell walks the talk. As part of the footer, Hignell writes:

 At Hignell we offer the best in service and quality work at competitive prices. We are caring and responsive and have hundreds of satisfied customers throughout N. America. 

 Herb closes his correspondence with,

Thank you, and please do not hesitate to call with questions. I look forward to being of service to you.

And I experienced that to be true. Given that this is my first time self-publishing, I had many questions. Not once did I feel that my questions were silly.

 3. It takes a whole company to provide service. When Herb was away on holidays, Dave Friesen, Client Services, took over in order to keep the process going. Rather than just cover off for Herb, Dave also called and developed a relationship with me.

 4. They demonstrate flexibility. My father-in-law passed away during this process and his memorial was held during the same time that I was getting my book ready for print. I also committed to having the book ready for Amazon by October 1st. Talk about  competing priorities. When I shared this with Cori Jones, the Customer Service Rep, she said,

I will try and make this as easy as possible for you.  . . . .
Let me know if you need anything further.

Rather than having to send everything back by courier, I was able to send my changes and approval via email.

5. Everyone is interested. Even though my project was transferred to Cori for production, today, I received the following email from Dave.

I happened to walk by the printed covers for your book a couple of days ago, and I read the back cover. WOW, looks like this will be a great book ! Congrats !

 So what can we learn about service from this printing company?

  1. Provide a personal touch. Take time to reach out by phone.
  2. Get interested in your clients or customers.
  3. Demonstrate alignment between what your company says you believe in and how you deliver services.
  4. Give employees the flexibility to respond to customers’ needs.
  5. Help all members of your company or organization see how they contribute to excellent customer service.

It is time to rethink our work and how we are serving others through our work.

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.

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Posted in Creating organizational conditions, Employee Wellbeing: Refilling the Cup, Inspired Workplaces, Seeing Work as an Act of Service, Spirit at Work (SAW) in Action | Comments (2)

Service Makes All the Difference

August 21st, 2009

Earlier this week, I was grocery shopping at Sobeys (IGA) and had an unusual retail experience.  The service was extraordinary!  I keep reliving the incident and feeling good about employees feeling good about their work. Let me tell you the story.

Every once in a while, I decide to be adventurous and try something new.  On this particular day, I was drawn to a new fruit – quince.  It was bright yellow and looked like the larger half of a pear. Not sure about the taste, when it was ready to eat, or how to prepare it, I asked the man restocking the bins. (I am sorry that I didn’t ask his name, but I will call him Tony.) Tony had no idea. But he thought another employee would know so set out to find him.

Tony came back shortly; the employee in-the-know wasn’t available, but a colleague in the back thought a quince was a cross between a pear and apple, just a little tarter and a drier. I decided to give it a try and continued on with my shopping.  

About ten minutes later, Tony found me at the other end of the store. He thought that he (and his colleagues in the back) should have first-hand knowledge about this fruit so cut one open. He also thought that I might like to taste it before buying, so came looking for me. Wow!

When is the last time you remember getting service like that? I couldn’t get Tony out of my mind. Or how good it felt as a customer. When we see our work as an act of service, how we think about and do our work changes. We are clear that our work is about the customer, client, patient, student, etc. and not about us.  I don’t know if Tony consciously thought about this, but his actions were a definite demonstration.  It was obvious that he was an engaged employee.

I wasn’t the only one who benefited from this interaction. We have learned that deeper meaning and fulfillment comes from service. The more we serve, the more fulfilled we are. How might you serve others through your work?  What would it take? Start rethinking your work today for a happier and more fulfilling tomorrow.

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Seeing Your Work as an Act of Service: An Antidote to Absenteeism

August 19th, 2009

In our last blog, we talked about helping employees see their work as a noble calling. And how that would help them to feel better about their work and, at the same time, reduce absenteeism. All work matters and all work makes a contribution. When we begin to rethink our work and see it as being important, how we do our work and how we feel about our work changes.

It is not so much about what we do, but how we do it and how we think about our work. Serving others is the path to deeper meaning and fulfillment and spirit at work. We fulfill our deeper purpose by serving — serving others or serving a cause. It is through service that we make a contribution, and that is where meaning and fulfillment come from. As the saying goes, “It is through giving that we receive.”

Shelia’s story demonstrates this well.

Sheila was a graduate coordinator at a university. Among other responsibilities, she fulfilled the role of counselor to students. She dealt with students who ran out of money before their next loan was available, got kicked out of their apartment or ran out of food. Rather than be annoyed with the students, Sheila welcomed them. In fact, she looked forward to helping them. That was her job and she was there to serve. Sheila felt good about being able to help the students solve their problems. She took pride in helping them achieve their goals and was often invited to their graduation ceremonies. She knew she was making a difference. Sheila was very clear about her purpose — to serve.

Sheila’s experience was different than her colleague’s experience. Although they did the same work, Sheila had spirit at work; her colleague was struggling with burnout. What do you think was different? Sheila’s co worker was frustrated with the students and their lack of responsibility. She saw their visits as an interruption to her work rather than as a part of her job. She couldn’t believe that these students could be so irresponsible and working with them took a toll.

Often it is just a matter of our attitude and thoughts, because the work we are doing is already about service. This is the case for many employees and especially for those in the public sector and helping professions. However, if we do not see how we are serving others and do not take time to feel good about serving them, we lose most of the benefits. As did Sheila’s colleague.

What would change if you saw your work as an act of service? What would you do differently? How would it feel to see your work as a noble calling? Start to rethink your work today.

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