Posts Tagged ‘meaning’

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)

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)

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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Posted in Emerging from the Recession, Purpose and Meaning In Work, SAW and Organizational Outcomes | Comments (6)

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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Posted in Attracting and Keeping Employees, Purpose and Meaning In Work, Seeing Work as an Act of Service, Spirit at Work (SAW) in Action, Spirit at Work in the Public Sector | 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)

What does Blink-182, a Pop Punk Band, have to do with Spirit at Work?

July 31st, 2009

While the music of Blink-182 may not be your favourite, this band’s story illustrates how a brush with personal disaster can transform our experience of work. Faced with a personal crisis, we have a tendency to re-evaluate our priorities and our way of being, putting us on what I call, the transformative events path to spirit at work. When we have spirit at work, we are fully engaged in our work, we find meaning and fulfillment in that which we do and we see how our work makes a difference in the lives of others.

Here is Blink’s story. Having sold some 13 million albums, the pop punk trio was at the height of their music career. Then due to extraordinary pressure and irresolvable differences, the band took a time out, resulting in a four-year hiatus. Last year, drummer Travis Barker nearly died in a plane crash – a crash which took the lives of his assistant and bodyguard. It was that event that led the group’s singer-guitarist Tom DeLonge to re-evaluate his priorities and break the radio silence toward his band mates. In an interview, DeLonge said that “It was very clear to me after Travis’s (near-death) that all these forces of nature were pushing for (a reunion) to happen.” The group decided to put aside their differences and come together to play again. Blink-182 is now on a 50-date North American comeback tour. But it took a near-death experience to get them there.

My research has shown that there are four paths to spirit at work: always there, coming together, contextually sensitive, and transformative events. Members of Blink-182 are on the path of transformative events.

What is the path of transformative events?  Stuff happens. We get sick. We are diagnosed with a debilitating disease, maybe one that is terminal. Our marriage ends in divorce. Our children make bad choices with negative and long-lasting results. The company we work for downsizes or goes under, and our spouse loses his or her job. We lose a loved one. The path of transformative events occurs in response to a crisis or spiritual awakening and can precipitate spirit at work.

A personal crisis (as Blink experienced) demands a response before it results in spirit at work. It requires that we do something. Individuals often begin to question their values, life priorities and lifestyle, a process sure to affect their relationship with work. Often, they begin to question the meaning of their work: Why are they doing it? Who is it helping? What is the contribution? How does it related to their deeper purpose? This response can turn a difficult event into a transformative event.

Why should we be interested? The recession has led to an increase in job loss, organizational takeovers, and downsizing – a significant life event for those impacted by such a decision. But even how we respond to events that are unrelated to our work – such as serious accidents, divorce or the loss of a loved one – will impact how we do our work. Thus, all of these events become opportunities as well as challenges. Once the necessary grieving has taken place – and that is important – times of crisis offer the potential for growth, change and spirit at work. A personal crisis gives us the opportunity to rethink our work – if we take it.

What is the next step? It is important for employers to realize how actions taken during the recession – some necessary for the survival of the company – have impacted employee spirit, job satisfaction and commitment. Action needs to be taken to rebuild relationships and help employees gain a renewed enthusiasm for their work and increased job satisfaction. At the same time, employees need to take steps to foster their spirit at work – the first being rethinking work. Everything changes when we rethink our work.

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Posted in Creating organizational conditions, Emerging from the Recession, Employee Engagement and Spirit at Work, Purpose and Meaning In Work | Comments (0)

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)

International Happiness Day and Spirit at Work

July 10th, 2009

Today, July 10, 2009 marks the first ever International Happiness Day. How appropriate given that it has been 10 years since Martin Seligman, a psychologist from the University of Pennsylvania launched the field of positive psychology. Rather than looking at deviant behavior and what doesn’t work, positive psychology focuses on what does work, what makes people happy and what makes a fulfilling life.

Spirit at work goes hand in hand with positive psychology. Rather than looking at burnout, stress and everything that is wrong at work, spirit at work consider what is right, what contributes to our sense of well being at work and how to become more fully engaged in work. Essentially, rethinking our work!

What is spirit at work? Spirit at work is about finding meaning and fulfillment and being fully engaged in our work. It is about making a contribution through our work and seeing how that contribution makes a difference. Spirit at work is accessible to everyone. It does not matter if we hold administrative, blue-collar, the trades, professional or management positions. Research has shown us that spirit at work can be developed and when it is present, everything changes. Job satisfaction and commitment to work goes up. Teamwork and morale jumps. Absenteeism and turnover goes down. Why? In short, people with spirit at work are happier.

The purpose of this blog is to help you rethink your work. We will do this by sharing stories, telling you about the latest research, and giving you ideas about how to create spirit at work.

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Posted in Creating organizational conditions, Employee Engagement and Spirit at Work, Employee Wellbeing: Refilling the Cup | Comments (0)