Posts Tagged ‘employee wellness’

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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What makes social workers happy and what keeps them in the field?

April 6th, 2011

Social workers experience higher than average levels of attrition, stress and burnout than other helping professions such as nursing and teaching. Whereas 6 per cent of American nurses and 8 per cent of teachers left their occupations in any given year from 1992 to 2001, the figure was 15 per cent among social workers. Researchers at the University of Calgary suspect similar findings in Canada.

Common issues faced by social workers include scope of practice, perceived freedom and flexibility, work-life balance, support mechanisms in their workplaces, the physical workspace itself, as well as their relationships with clients and colleagues, including supervisors.

“Social workers, by their very nature, care about people,” says John Graham, a U of C social work professor. “People in human services . . . suffer from high caseloads (and) need the support to do their jobs.”

Given this concern, Graham, along with PhD Candidates Andrea Newberry and Micheal Shier teamed up to investigate what made social workers happy and what kept them in the field. This positive and affirmative approach is in high contrast to the traditional problem-based approach such as studying sources of stress and burnout.

Surveys were sent to 2500 social workers in Alberta. Of the 700 returned, the researchers completed in-depth interviews and job shadowing with the 13 “happiest” social workers.

The happiest social workers reported higher levels of fulfilment in areas such as flexible work schedules, better work-life balance and a stronger sense of engagement.  Having a high degree of freedom built into their jobs gave them the flexibility to manage the demands of their jobs with their personal lives including the opportunity for “self-care.”  This behind-the-scene support made a big difference and enabled them to do their jobs well.

“We’re much better at helping others when we’ve learned to find satisfaction and happiness in what we do, and to develop organizational cultures that reinforce these principles,” says Graham.

Their findings have implications for a variety of career fields. Our experience and research tells us that when employees get to the heart of what matters about their work, when they feel like they are making a difference, and they feel like they are part of a community, employee spirit at work –that sense that we are fully engaged and fulfilled by our work – increases. When employers create the conditions to foster spirit at work, the effects can only multiply.

We have demonstrated that not only can you increase spirit at work, as it increases so too does personal well-being, job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Client service and productivity goes up. And absenteeism and turnover goes down.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore spirit at work and its contributing factors 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 inspirational speaker, she helps renew employee wellness and increase performance and retention 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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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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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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The Time Crunch and Wellbeing

July 2nd, 2010

The Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) research on how we use our time highlights the fact that more and more of us are caught in a time crunch. The trends suggest that we are increasingly sacrificing satisfying and meaningful relaxation and leisure time in order to attend to the more pressing demands of work, childcare and looking after dependent seniors. There is considerable research demonstrating the strong connection between time use, leisure and culture on the one hand, and wellbeing on the other.

Here are some questions to ponder before you read the research:

1. Are you spending excessive time at work?
2. Do you work standard or non-standard work hours?
3. Do you have permanent or precarious work?
4. How far do you commute to work? And how do you get there?
5. How much do you feel the pressure of time?

Now here are the research findings:

Working in the labour force is strongly and positively associated with individual and family wellbeing. But there is compelling evidence that excessive time spent in paid labour leads to poorer health. The risks are believed to come from having less time to recover from work, longer exposure to workplace hazards, and less time to attend to non-work responsibilities. Long hours have a significantly negative impact on life satisfaction and time-related stress, which in turn, have a negative effect on wellbeing.

Non-standard work hours are associated with lower self-reported health, higher levels of stress, psychological distress, greater depressive symptoms, greater relationship conflict for dual-earner couples, and lower life satisfaction. Evening work is particularly bad for the children of evening workers since the lessened contact reduces the parent’s ability to support the child’s development and to secure childcare.

Workers in precarious employment have poorer health and experience higher levels of stress, mental illness, and substance abuse. Precarious work also tends to have lower pay than permanent work and often does not offer access to training, paid vacations, paid sick leave, employment insurance, pension and other benefits.

Long commuting hours are associated with self and medically reported sickness and absences, sleep problems and elevated risk factors for heart disease. Long commutes also disrupt family life by reducing time together. Car travel is more detrimental to wellbeing than train travel, since in the latter case commuters tend to walk to and from the train station. There is consistent evidence that individuals who use cars more tend to have higher rates of obesity related illnesses, elevated heart rate, and reports of anxiety. Car travel also harms community wellbeing by contributing to air pollution and climate change. By contrast, time spent in active commuting (e.g., walking or biking) is associated with improved mental and physical health outcomes, such as reduced risk of stroke.

People experiencing time pressure have lower levels of satisfaction, higher levels of stress, lower self-reported physical and emotional wellbeing, and greater insomnia. Work-life conflict can lead to higher levels of anxiety and depression; sleep disturbances; infectious disease and suppressed immune functioning; poor dietary habits, a lack of physical exercise and obesity; increased dependence on cigarettes, alcohol, medications and drugs; hypertension, high cholesterol, coronary, musculoskeletal and digestive problems; allergies and migraine headaches; burnout; and increased costs for medical consultations and prescription drugs.

It is difficult to experience spirit at work when we feel caught in a time crunch. What are some things that you might do to reduce the pressing demands of time and refill your cup?

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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How Healthy is Your Workplace?

May 6th, 2010

Effective health programs extend beyond the physical and mental health of employees and occupational health and safety. They focus on creating organizational cultures and conditions that inspire a highly engaged and effective workforce.  Companies that develop and promote comprehensive strategies that include health programs and engagement strategies can expect to reap the rewards through more engaged employees, lower costs, improved productivity and financial performance.

The National Quality Institute (NQI) provides twelve questions for organizations to see how they measure up to the NQI Healthy Workplace Criteria. These questions provide a great starting point for organizations interested in becoming healthier. 

1. Is a strategic approach in place for developing and sustaining a healthy workplace and is it based on employee needs?

2. Do your leaders demonstrate, through their comments and action, a commitment to the management of a healthy workplace?

3. Is there an overall health policy in place stating your organization’s intent to protect and promote the health of all employees by providing as healthy an environment as possible?

4. Do you have a formal assessment process to determine employee needs, attitudes and preferences in regard to healthy workplace programs?

5. Are the workplace health assessment results analyzed and are improvement goals set out in a Healthy Workplace Plan?

6. Does the Healthy Workplace Plan lead to improvement of all the key elements of a healthy workplace – the Physical Environment, Health Practices and the Social Environment and Personal Resources?

7. Do you have a mechanism in place to review relevant occupational health and safety legislation and are you in compliance with such legislation/regulations?

8. Do you have methods in place that make it easy for people to provide ongoing input on healthy workplace and organizational issues and to seek assistance?

9. Do you measure employee satisfaction levels (and I would add employee engagement and spirit at work) in order to improve the workplace?

10. Do you identify the contributions of your employees and provide appropriate recognition and rewards?

11. Are there good levels and trends in employee satisfaction (and I would add employee engagement and spirit at work) and morale?

12. Do you train your employees in healthy workplace principles and methods?

At Kaizen Solutions, we work with organizations and employees to create positive, healthy workplaces that foster well-being and spirit at work. We know that the factors that contribute to a healthy workplace also contribute to employee spirit at 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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How Proactive Employers Create a Healthy Workplace

May 1st, 2010

Proactive employers have adopted a broad definition of workplace wellness. Acknowledging workplaces as a key determinant of health, these employers go beyond the traditional occupational health and safety initiatives and health promotion programs. They consider how the culture of the organization impacts employee wellbeing and thus, productivity.
 
Comprehensive workplace health initiatives focus on three areas:
 
1.Creating a safe and physically healthy work environment. The emphasis is on preventing injuries or illness and eliminating hazards. Examples are workplace design and ergonomics, safety guidelines, air quality and elimination of hazards.
 
2. Promoting and supporting healthy lifestyles. These are the traditional health promotion activities at work which address lifestyle practices of employees. Examples are: stress management programs, smoking cessation programs, fitness programs or subsidies, and healthy food choices in workplace cafeterias.
 
3. Creating a healthy organizational culture that fosters employee wellbeing, engagement and spirit at work. These are the management practices and strategies that focus on culture, leadership, relationships, and working conditions. Key factors include attitudes, values, respect, inclusion, recognition, meaningful work, communication and work-life balance or what some refer to as work-life fit.
 
Proactive organizations know that they can maximize their business performance by improving their work environment and investing in health programs for their employees.

At Kaizen Solutions, we work with organizations and employees to create positive, healthy workplaces that foster well-being and spirit at work. We know that the factors that contribute to a healthy workplace also contribute to employee spirit at 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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The Business Case for Creating a Healthy Workplace

April 10th, 2010

Healthy employees are absent less often, have higher morale, are more productive, and have lower healthcare costs. The result: happier employees, a better bottom line for the business and a higher level of customer satisfaction.  These positive effects also have a ripple effect on employees’ families, their communities, and the healthcare system.

Addressing employee health and well being has always been a strategy to contain costs. Now it has become a key strategy for attracting and retaining employees. Towers Watson argues that keeping their workforce healthy, productive and engaged will be the most critical issue for employers over the next few years.

Proactive organizations are aware of the benefits of health and productivity programs to both employees and employers, thus, are going beyond the typical employee safety programs and healthy lifestyles promotion. They are also looking at the organizational culture such as leadership, meaningful work, morale, relationships, social support, and balance between job demands and resources – all of which have a dramatic impact on employee health and sense of well being, and spirit at work.

Need more convincing?

In a meta-analysis of the literature on costs and savings associated with wellness programs, Katherine Baicker and colleagues from Harvard found that medical costs fall by about $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs and that absenteeism costs fall by about $2.73 for every dollar spent.

The companies with the most effective health and productivity programs (in the Towers Watson study) report a financial advantage. Look at the outcomes:

  • 11% higher revenue per employee
  • lower medical trends by 1.2 percentage points
  • 1.8 fewer days absent per employee per year and
  • 28% higher shareholder returns

At first glance, it might seem that 1.8 days less absenteeism per year isn’t much. But if your company has 100 employees, 1.8 days translates to 180 workdays lost per year. That is 36 weeks. Where else can you get that kind return on your investment?

Towers Watson also found that high health and productivity effectiveness companies are also more likely to have:

  • lower health care costs
  • lower levels of presenteeism
  • fewer lost days due to disabilities and
  • lower levels of turnover relative to their industry peers.

How do they get these results?

The most effective health and productivity organizations didn’t focus only on the physical and mental health of employees. Emphasis was also placed on the organizational conditions which contribute to employee spirit at work and productivity such as:

  • recognition and rewards
  • organizational leadership and
  • effective communication.

What are you doing to create a healthy workplace?

At Kaizen Solutions, we work with organizations and employees to create positive, healthy workplaces that foster well-being and spirit at work. We know that the factors that contribute to a healthy workplace also contribute to employee spirit at 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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