If morale at your company or organization seems like it is at an all time low, you are not alone. Last week, The Conference Board reported employee morale is at the lowest level since they started tracking it 22 years ago. Less than half of all workers are satisfied with their jobs.
With that news it can’t be a surprise that so many companies are performing poorly. The model of the past looks as if organizations go out of their way to make their employees unhappy. They rule by fear, indifference, and ask you to be grateful for having a job.
Not all companies are bad places to work. Just this week Fortune published their 100 Best Companies Places To Work. Other companies in corporate America are catching on as well. Sue Shallenbarger points out in her WSJ Article ” Thinking Happy Thoughts At Work” , these companies are bringing in coaches and other experts to teach happiness to the employees. Some of the happiness inducing modalities used are meditation, inner peace, gratitude, and other techniques,which have wide ranging influences from positive psychology to Hinduism.
There have been many research studies over the years which show the positive impacts of happy employees, including less absenteeism, lower turnover, higher productivity, and more creativity. So get this, happy employees can improve your bottom line. Try it as an experiment, see what happens.
Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Catch your employees doing things well and right. Then tell them. What we dwell on grows. Focus on what is working well, what people are doing right, and watch things improve.
2. Bring in a coach, or other specialist to empower the people you work with how to be happier. The full impact of a practice such as meditation is not even known, but what we is known is that it reduces stress, clarifies thinking, people have reported being more creative, and feeling more alert.
3. Make a gratitude list every day for what, and who you are grateful for at your organization. Now go out and tell the people on the list you are grateful for them, their work, and their contribution. Be specific. It might be worth sounding a little crazy, to make a real difference.
The strategy to bring out our best is not always what is most obvious. The common approach is to work harder and longer, until you are worn out for the day, week, decade, or your life.
If you could reduce stress, improve performance, and concentrate better from a single activity, Would that give you enough icentive to get your butt out of your office? If you are the boss and realized that you could reduce employee stress, improve thinking, and maybe even impact performance, would you bringyourself to encourage them to for wa lk in the park?
Researchers at the University of Michigan have found that contact with nature, from passive views of nature through windows to walking in an outdoor setting, leads to an increased ability to concentrate on tasks requiring high mental effort.
Nature provides a constant source of energy . Whenever we safely make contact with beauty in nature, these attractions trigger our brain to release Dopamine, a neurotransmitter that produces good feelings that we seek.
Nature can reduce feelings of overwhelm. Studies reveal that through consciously making connection with natural areas, humans have been observed to reverse challenging personal situations (stress, overwhelm, depression and mental confusion.)
Nature can provide stress relief. Research at NASA shows that long distant views – even painted views in photographs and posters – induce a sense of “mental tranquility,” a natural calming down of the mind. Spending even a few minutes in your favorite place on the earth can help to ease the intensity of daily stresses of life. The smells, sounds, colors and textures that surround you in nature have been known to relax the nervous system. The mind slows down so that you can start to access parts of your connection to your inner spirit that you cannot access when there are high levels of stress and tension in your body. The scent of the dirt, the colors of the sky, and the aromas of the plants increase your sensory awareness and heighten your perceptions.
By spending time in your favorite spot in nature, solutions may arise that were not there before, or you may just feel a few moments of peace . Now are you willing to get your butt out of your chair?
Career Freedom in it’s most basic form is exercising your power to choose, what you do, when you do it, and how you go about doing it. Many like to take the position that they do not have a choice when it comes to their career, that they are some sort of trap because of financial, family or other reasons. They are still making a choice to put whatever it is over the choice concern their work. The key to freedom here is being aware of where you have choices that you previously did not see, and perhaps making different choices.
Career like almost any other endeavor in life, can be looked at as a game. Most people are in career games they did not consciously choose ,or chose for the wrong reasons. Everyone in their family is a doctor, so they became one; or they chose if because it was lucrative, or for one of many other reasons.
They are playing the game of wealth, status, and prestige. A game that has been handed to them. Unfortunately this is a game that relatively few people win. If everyone could win that wouldn’t be very much fun. It is no surprise that so many people suffer from work related stress illness, ranging from discontentment to hatred ,or even depression over their work.
People feel trapped to some degree; they don’t see they can make the decision to start playing a different game. Choosing the game you are in, and what you are playing for is a huge responsibility, it would mean freedom. Pursuing what you want, not what your parents want for you, teachers think is best for you, or the media suggests you should want. In the end this is the only type of game worth playing, a game whose outcome is intrinsically important to the individual playing it.
As in traditional games, not only does winning have to be important to you, but playing well does too. While winning is much more fun, you can still do really well, play great, and not have the highest score. I wouldn’t mind the payout the losing team at the Super Bowl or World Series receives.
Playing to win requires perseverance, courage, and heart, which you can only sustain when something is intrinsically important to you, it connects to who you are at your essence;
So how does one figure this out. I have had clients that figured it out in a couple of weeks and others have taken longer. The process of discovering can be played like a game as well. Before you can even name the game, consider what winning looks like? If you were looking back one year from now, and your situation was perfect what would it be like? What would it feel like? How would you know that you were winning your career game?
What would have to happen for you to win?
Taking this on is not for everyone. It requires a strong commitment and can be challenging at times. After all it were too easy, that wouldn’t be a game worth playing. If you take this path, there will be lots of distractions and pressure to play a game someone else thinks you should play, a game that seems like it has an easy pay off, although it will be on someone else’s terms.
Consider this quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 18th Century German Poet: “Concerning acts of initiative there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius power and magic in it.”
In a feature that aired on CBS News “Sunday Morning” they point out:
The copy machine was invented in 1937, but the idea was rejected by the likes of GE and IBM. It would be 10 years before Xerox’s machine would make its debut. John Grisham’s first novel was rejected by a dozen publishing houses … and Henry Ford went bankrupt 5 times.
Citing an American Psychological Association(APA) study, Medical News Today reports three-fourths of Americans say they are stressed about work & money; one-third of Americans are living with extreme stress, and the most commonly cited source of stress— mentioned by 74 percent of respondents — was work.
If you are think you are one of these people with a high degree of stress and poor quality of life due to work, take notice! companies large and small are recognizing that happy & healthy employees affect the bottom line in a positive way.
This month the APA recognized five organizations for their comprehensive efforts to promote employee health and well-being while improving performance. Companies presented with the American Psychological Association’s 2008 Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award (PHWA) were Arkansas Educational Television Network, Cooperativa de Seguros Múltiples de Puerto Rico, Nike Tennessee, Porter Keadle Moore (Georgia) and Westminster Savings Credit Union (British Columbia).
If you run a company or own a business and believe that it wouldn’t be practical for you to implement this, listen to what these organizations report: A turnover rate of 11 percent compared to the national average of 40 percent according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Surveys completed by employees of the winning organizations showed overall well-being and job satisfaction for employees to be significantly greater compared to national averages.
According to the APA report; at Westminster Savings Credit Union, high employee satisfaction and low turnover means that two thirds of WSCU’s openings are filled internally, lowering administrative costs. Increased productivity is another benefit for the organizations. In 2007, Nike Tennessee increased productivity by 51 percent, while reducing injury rates by almost 30 percent. And at Cooperativa de Seguros Múltiples, an insurance company in Puerto Rico, employee loyalty is high with a 15-year average length of service and a turnover rate of less than two percent.”
In a New York Times article published this week on the same subject, they point out that “48 percent of the employers in the survey said stress created by long hours and limited resources was affecting business performance, but only 5 percent said they were taking strong action to address those areas.”
The Times highlights some well know organizations that are showing initiative in this area as well. They include:
GlaxoSmithKline has program called “Team Resilience” which combines things like health assessments, discussion groups and follow-up evaluations to deal with workplace stress.
PricewaterhouseCoopers also addresses stress in multiple ways. For example, in annual surveys, employees asked for more coaching and opportunities to connect with more experienced colleagues — and got them.
Workplace Options, a provider of work-life employee benefits, reports that a recent poll of more than 700 working adults found 76 percent believe it is important that companies offer employees wellness programs to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The U.S. Surgeon General states that 50 percent of this year’s high-cost employees in terms of health care were not in that category last year, and more than 87 percent of health care claims costs are due to an individual’s lifestyle, according to a study by Indiana University. To combat these trends, it is important for companies to consider adopting wellness initiatives that incorporate coaching for maximum results.
Predominantly from the viewpoint of Corporate Wellness, Talent Mangement cites the benefits of coporate wellness programs and coaching. “According to recent studies, pairing personalized coaching with employee wellness initiatives leads to higher success rates.”
What i think is evident is that employers are starting to realize that a happy healthy employee performs better. In order to affect this employers are recognizing that they must look at the employee in terms of their whole life, and how they can help them maintain a quality life.
Fast Company published 18 of the most innovative business minds of the past year. There are some familiar names on the list and some new. Regardless of the industry you are in, chances are you will find someone on this list who inspires you.
Included is Timothy Ferris; Author of The Four Hour Work Week.
Ferriss is a Princeton University guest lecturer in High-Tech Entrepreneurship, the first American in history to hold a Guinness World Record in tango, a national Chinese kickboxing champion, and even a MTV breakdancer in Taiwan. But, what he’s most known for is his 80-20 principle, suggesting that people outsource everyday tasks. He adds, “I’m asking some important and long-avoided questions that make people uncomfortable.”
Follow this link for the other honorees;
I participated in a Life Coaching Segment for the Late Show that aired this week on CBS.
Watch as I attempt to coach comedian Andy Kindler on getting a handle on his life and career.
The movie “Peaceful Warrior” aired on Showtime this week. A few years ago I read the excellent book it is based on Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman . The movie reminded me of some really valuable lessons the story offers, a few of which I have listed below:
I call myself a Peaceful Warrior… because the battles we fight are on the inside.
Everyone wants to tell you what to do and what’s good for you. They don’t want you to find your own answers, they want you to believe theirs. I want you to stop gathering information from the outside and start gathering it from the inside.
Death isn’t sad, the sad thing is that most people don’t live at all.
Everything has a purpose, even this, and it’s up to you to find it.
Socrates: Where are you?
Socrates: What time is it?
Socrates: What are you?
Dan: This moment.
This moment is the only thing that matters.
The people that are the hardest to love are usually the ones that need it the most.
3 Rules of Life
Paradox: Life is a mystery. Don’t waste time trying to figure it out.
Humor: Keep a sense of humor, especially about yourself. It is a strength beyond all.
Change: Know that nothing stays the same.
The Journey is what brings us happiness not the destination.
If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever. Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change. Free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is a law, and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.
You haven’t yet opened your heart fully, to life, to each moment. The peaceful warrior’s way is not about invulnerability, but absolute vulnerability–to the world, to life, and to the presence you felt. All along I’ve shown you by example that a warrior’s life is not about imagined perfection or victory; it is about love. Love is a warrior’s sword; wherever it cuts, it gives life, not death.
Pain is a relatively objective, physical phenomenon; suffering is our psychological resistance to what happens. Events may create physical pain, but they do not in themselves create suffering. Resistance creates suffering. Stress happens when your mind resists what is…The only problem in your life is your mind’s resistance to life as it unfolds.
Wake up! If you knew for certain you had a terminal illness–if you had little time left to live–you would waste precious little of it! Well, I’m telling you…you do have a terminal illness: It’s called birth. You don’t have more than a few years left. No one does! So be happy now, without reason–or you will never be at all.
Moderation? It’s mediocrity, fear, and confusion in disguise. It’s the devil’s dilemma. It’s neither doing nor not doing. It’s the wobbling compromise that makes no one happy. Moderation is for the bland, the apologetic, for the fence-sitters of the world afraid to take a stand. It’s for those afraid to laugh or cry, for those afraid to live or die. Moderation…is lukewarm tea, the devil’s own brew.
Autho wrote a profound book of meditations “More Language of Letting Go which offers bold perspective on taking responsibility for our lives. The passage for January 6th in particular speaks with a clearer perspective than anything else I have read on this topic.
This passage begins outlining the risks one would take when they go skydiving, bungee jumping, or a number of other sports, rides, etc. You are asked to sign a waiver acknowledging the danger in what you are about to do. “You sign the waiver to protect others from being liable in case of an accident”.
She suggests that we take this same viewpoint with all of the choices we make in our lives. “Ultimately no one is responsible for my life but me. There is no one to blame, no one to sue, no one to ask for a refund.”
To help the reader on this path, she created a waiver for the reader to sign. This waiver asks the reader to take responsibility for the decisions they make. Where and who they live with..how you spend money and time… “There are inherent dangers and risks in all decisions I make. Life and people have no obligation whatsoever to live up to my expectations…Life is a high risk sport and I may become injured along the way.
The passage concludes with “Although people may voluntarily nurture and love me. I and I alone am responsible for taking care of and loving myself.”
This is pure poetry about how to get the most out of life.
Business Week profiles pickle maker Rick Field, the founder Rick’s Picks. He describes what it takes to transform a hobby into a thriving business with national distribution.
“Background: In 2003, Field, a director and producer for veteran journalist Bill Moyers, left TV to turn his pickle-making hobby into a full-time business he named Rick’s Picks.” more