Posts

Mindfulness at Work

4 Tips: How to Cultivate Mindfulness at Work

Mindfulness by definition is, “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.” Seems simple enough, right?

However, achieving a state of mindfulness as defined above, while balancing the busy schedule of a working professional seems like another impossible task on the grand to-do list. According to the Global Wellness Institute, the health and wellness industry hit a record high of $3.4 trillion dollars in 2014, and that number continues to grow as more and more businesses seek to launch health and wellness initiatives of their own.

While mindfulness is a highly personal state of being, to me, it is the feeling of being more aware of myself and what’s happening around me. This takes dedication and a willingness to be fully aware of even the most-minute aspects of my daily life, both at home and at work. It may feel awkward and uncomfortable at first to carry this mindset over into your work life, but with time, mindfulness can give you the tools to handle the ups and downs of office culture. No matter how you achieve it, once you experience the effects of having a mindfulness practice, it can help you to successfully navigate all areas of your life.

To get started, here are four areas of focus that will help cultivate a mindfulness practice within the office:

  1. Awareness and Breath

Despite the ubiquity of health and wellness programs in contemporary office culture, it feels as though our society is more stressed than ever. Most of us work at least 40 to 50 hours a week, and then juggle personal tasks like looking after kids/pets, rushing to the gym, staying in touch with friends, a monthly book (read: wine) club, etc.

Our lives get so jammed packed, we need multiple calendars just to keep up with it all. The American Psychological Association found that “…money and work are the top two sources of very or somewhat significant stress (67 percent and 65 percent in 2015.)”

Next time you are feeling overwhelmed or out of control, take a few minutes to simply take some deep breaths. By completing the easy task of breathing, you are already more mindful because you acknowledged how stressed you felt before reacting. From there, take it one step further by aiming for balanced breath; equal lengths of inhaling and exhaling through the nose. I like to count to four in my head while breathing in and then repeat the cadence while exhaling.

While continuing this breathing exercise, observe how the signs of stress in your body reveal themselves. Were your shoulders up to your ears? Was your jaw clenched? Is your breath short and chest tight? Legs constantly dancing?

After you’ve identified the symptoms of stress, try to relax that specific area of tension by at least 20%. As little as 2-5 minutes of controlled breathing will bring you to a greater state of control over your feelings and help take your physical being out of fight or flight mode. By increasing circulation to the brain and slowing your heart rate, you’ll have greater clarity, allowing you to better assess the situation at hand. If you would like to go one step further and give meditation a try, Headspace is a great app for beginners.

  1. Forgive Yourself

Gary Hamel, one of the world’s most influential business thinkers said, “You can’t build an adaptable organization without adaptable people.” To me, the essence of this quote is understanding that none of us are superheroes; it can be very difficult to finish everything within the work day and still live a balanced, healthy personal life.  This is why it is crucial to let go of any emotional baggage you might carry with you, in both your personal and professional life.

Forgiving yourself when things are not going as planned is critical in accepting the way things truly are and gives us the ability to move forward toward a more productive mindset. Feeling guilty, mad or frustrated can render us unwilling to be open-minded.

Instead, use this as a learning experience to reflect on what you can do better next time these feelings of frustration emerge, focusing on understanding why the end goal is important and then letting go of whatever is out of your control. Flexibility within the workplace is key to success, regardless of the environment in which you work. Behind every great person, company or business success, there was probably a moment where the prospect of failure was faced and overcome. The difference between losing and victory was likely a reinvention or evolution of an approach that turned failure into triumph. So make a conscious effort to learn from difficult situations in the moment and then, let go.

  1. Lighten Up

If you’re a “Yes Person” like me, your workload can rapidly become overwhelming. One way to counteract the weight of a stressful week at work is to lighten up and laugh more often. If you’re laughing while reading this, you’re off to a great start.

We’ve all had moments when things took a wrong turn and it feels like the WORST has happened. In these situations, it’s hard to remove the typical ‘should have, could have, would have’ narrative that is on constant loop in your mind. Next time, break the habit of being hard on yourself by focusing on a positive aspect. Ask yourself: what is it that is making me so upset? Why do I feel like this is so important?

Once you have answered the questions above, approach this situation with gratitude for what you DO have, it will likely help illuminate the problem and help reshape your frame of mind from “this is what I need to do… [Fill in what you are dreading]” to “this is want to do because… [Fill in what you are grateful for.]”

If you still need a lift, reach out to your colleagues; the people around you are there for support and will offer much needed perceptive on some of the challenges you’re facing. Try spending lunch with a good friend or co-worker to brighten your spirits with fresh energy and bring you back to the reality of what’s truly important. After all, “An optimist laughs to forget; a pessimist forgets to laugh.” – Tom Nansbury

  1. Recognize Others

The average American spends over 2,000 hours a year in the office, which means aside from sleep, we are spending more time with co-workers than anyone else in our lives. This is why ‘working with great people’ is such an important core value for many working professionals.

Recognizing the fact that your team plays a major part in creating a positive office environment is crucial for work happiness. Treating work relationships with mindfulness will open your eyes to the great things people are doing around you every day.

In, The Neuroscience of Trust, published by The Harvard Business Review, the author states, “Neuroscience experiments by my lab show that when people intentionally build social ties at work, their performance improves.”

A Google study similarly found that managers who, “express interest in and concern for team members’ success and personal well-being outperform others in the quality and quantity of their work.”

In the daily flow of work, a simple ‘thank you’ can go a long way to boost morale. The inverse is also true: communicating negative aspects of work can have a detrimental effect on office culture. Unfortunately, it is much more common for workers to receive communication about the negative aspects of work or area where their performance was perceived as lacking.

We have all received an email from a boss on what needs to be changed/improved/updated. In comparison, when was the last time you got an email stating all of the great things you and your department has been doing? If you have received praise for a job well-done, didn’t it inspire you to continue the actions that led to the business success you were lauded for? Bringing to light the exceptional actions of you and your co-workers has much more weight to then the contrary.

A company that fosters a culture of mindful employees leads to a team that is recognizing, communicating and celebrating the accomplishments that make the organization successful. Increased employee mindfulness will also contribute to reduced stress, increased productivity and a better bottom line for the company; a win-win for all.

For more information on creating a culture of recognition and improving the way you and your colleagues feel about work, check out, “Top 5 Ways to Boost Employee Morale,” on the Achievers’ blog.

Learn More Red CTA Button

 

 

About the Author
Phoebe Licata
Phoebe Licata is an Employee Engagement Consultant at Achievers by day and inspirational yogi by night. Her endless positivity propels her along her journey of consulting with companies on their employee engagement and rewards & recognition strategies. Connect with her on LinkedIn to talk about how to make your employees happy, engaged, and more productive at work!

 

 

 

Wellness and Company Culture

5 Ways Wellness Programs Can Enhance Employee Engagement

Look up from your computer and take stock of the colleagues working around you, they might not be at their desks much longer  A recent Gallup study reports that approximately 51% of them [U.S. workers] are either actively looking for a new job or keeping an eye out for openings.

Some say it’s a people or a hiring problem, others chalk it up to the natural employee lifecycle. However, this career transience can be more properly understood as a consequence of poor company culture.

While companies spend billions of dollars and thousands of hours working on enhancing their consumer-facing brand, they spend a fraction of that on their employer brand.

Companies often neglect their “employee value proposition,” meaning they don’t spend enough time thinking about how to differentiate themselves from other companies in a job market that has seen increased competition for talented employees.

For a company to differentiate itself in this increasingly competitive market, it needs a laser-like focus on its employees. More than the just good of the company, your employees are interested in achieving work-life balance and seeing to their own personal well-being. They want to work for a company that values those things as well.

Work and life aren’t easily distinguishable from one another these days because every employee, from CEO to the newly hired intern, carries things with them from their personal lives into the workplace. The personal and the professional exist in symbiosis, neglecting one is doing a disservice to the other.

Invest in your team holistically. It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to make your team feel cared for in the place they spend nearly one third of their lives. Making this effort can increase employee retention, engagement, and attract new talent.

An investment in the well-being of your employees as individuals is an investment in the company itself. One of the best ways to show that your company is committed to its people just as much as it is to its customers and profits is by building a well-functioning wellness program.

Establishing an employee wellness program impacts more than just the individual, it creates a more productive, motivated, and engaged workforce. Don’t believe me? Here are five examples of how wellness can turn your company culture around, creating real business impact:

1. Goals

light bulb

Wellness programs are an effective tool to align company goals with the health and well-being of your employees. They clear a path for employees to incorporate their personal well-being into their work, as opposed to handling work and wellness as separate entities.

One of the main reasons that people don’t participate in wellness programs is because they don’t believe they have enough time (as many as 51% of employees according to an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Study). However, it only takes a little creativity to align wellness goals with productivity goals, and this small effort will ultimately impact the business in a big way.

Starting with an easily accomplished task, such as setting reminders to break up screen time by taking a short walk, can establish momentum that will help build efficiencies into the work day and ultimately help to reduce burnout.

2. Morale employees working

It’s not a leap to suggest that the way an employee feels about their job directly impacts how they perform on the job. Morale and engagement are intertwined.

Around 70% of U.S. workers report not being engaged at work. In thinking about the colleagues I referenced in the opening paragraph, seven out of ten of them aren’t being utilized to their full potential. That’s disturbing.

Wellness initiatives can strengthen the commitment of the individual to the company. It’s a reciprocal relationship; employees who feel cared for are likely to match that feeling in commitment to the company – not to mention engaged employees perform 20% better than their counterparts.

If your office morale is low, don’t be afraid to get creative and try some out-of-the-box morale boosters.

3. Stress

employees

The presence of high amounts of stress in the workplace can make or break the relationship between employee and company. While a manageable amount of stress is healthy and motivates people to succeed, it can easily become overwhelming.

Stress presents itself in two forms, eustress and distress. The former pushes people to reach their goals and the other stifles production and growth. The root cause of stress for 80% of employees is work.

A wellness program that takes this into account and provides resources or activities to deal with high and sustained-stress situations can help identify and address negative stress before it becomes a problem. If stress does become a problem, it can lead to increased absenteeism and decreased productivity.

4. Relationships

employees

Fostering friendships in the office is beneficial both on a human level and as a good business decision. The Gallup study referenced above shows that about 20% of U.S. workers report having a best friend at work, which in itself isn’t that interesting. However, if employers could get that number up to 60%, the study posits that the resulting bonds would influence higher customer satisfaction and a 12% increase in profits!

The difference comes from a sense of being part of a team, rather than feeling isolated. Your employees will carry a greater sense of responsibility and purpose because they won’t perceive their work as only impacting them as an individual, but how it impacts the team, and company as well.

Offering activities that bring your team together outside of work can help foster closer relationships. Something as simple as sponsoring a company kickball or softball team can lead to seven times more engaged employees, and a more robust bottom line for the company.

5. Culture

laptop

A commitment to wellness is a commitment to building a strong workplace culture, and it follows that caring for your team means caring for your business. A strong workplace culture impacts more than just your employees, culture seeps out into the interactions employees have with customers, partners, and the community. Engaged employees are also your best resource in attracting talent, they’re the ones most likely to be extolling the virtues of your company culture on sites such as Glassdoor and LinkedIn.

Your company’s biggest asset is the people that have bought into the company’s mission. Ignoring the needs of the people that keep the ship afloat is dangerous and might leave you swimming with your head just above water.

Has your company invested as much in its people as it can or should? If not, what do you think you can do to change that? Leave a comment and start the discussion!

For more information as to how wellness can impact employee engagement, click here.

Learn More Red CTA Button

 

 

About the Author
Barron Rosborough
Barron Rosborough is a seasoned digital marketer and writer from Los Angeles, CA. He writes on topics ranging from wellness to leadership (and everything in between). He is currently the Digital Marketing Coordinator at SnackNation, a curated healthy snack subscription service for offices and homes.

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Ways to Boost Employee Morale

Are you one of those bosses who feels their employees should simply be happy to have a job at all? Unfortunately, some supervisors really do feel this way, particularly when the job market is tight. However, it’s an expensive point of view to maintain, especially in an economy that is nearing full employment: Discouraged employees are 87 percent more likely to quit, and you’ll spend a minimum of 21 percent of an employee’s annual salary on a replacement. To avoid this unnecessary expense, follow these five simple tips on keeping employee morale high:

1. Ask for input on special events

Have you ever had a bright idea for a company party or celebration, only to find that no one seems to share your enthusiasm? To avoid lackluster celebrations that don’t do anything to boost morale, encourage your staff to anonymously submit suggestions for the venues and types of employee appreciation events they’d like to see, and then encourage everyone to vote on their favorites. Employee retention depends on giving workers the sense you care about their priorities and that you seek their input on matters that impact them.

2. Encourage honest feedback

Seek genuine opinions from your workers, and don’t be afraid to  apply changes based on their feedback. Employee engagement will increase when you’re perceived as caring and confident enough to hear negative feedback. Winning your employees’ trust not only boosts employee morale, but it improves business results as well. The Harvard Business Review revealed that employee trust is essential to a company’s financial success. Your staff will also more readily buy-in to any changes that you make. Google uses this strategy with great results, creating “Google Cafes” in which all staff members share creative new approaches.

3. Hold yourself to the highest standard

Leadership is all about modeling hard work and dedication. Show your team that even though you have the right to leave early or delegate all the hard work to subordinates, you stay in the trenches and get the job done. Employees will feel supported and inspired by your example. Great leadership is key to employee happiness and success. Gallup’s leadership research shared, “When leaders focus on and invest in their employees’ strengths, the odds of each person being engaged goes up eightfold.”

4. Promote from your own talent pool

According to Forbes, external hires made 18% more than internally promoted employees  in the same jobs. Be fair and examine your internal talent pool before jumping the gun on bringing in an external hire. Give your employees opportunities for growth and advancement so that they will want to stick around and give you their all. If you make the effort to discover the unique skills and talents of each worker, you’ll be in a better position to know whom to promote when the opportunity arises.

5. Build employee motivation with rewards and recognition

Employee recognition is key to making your staff feel that it’s worthwhile to go the extra mile. Celebrating accomplishments through rewards and recognition lets your team know that you truly appreciate their efforts. It also builds a strong sense of teamwork when you encourage workers to offer each other public statements of appreciation. It’s a strong, positive motivator knowing your hard work isn’t going unnoticed and that you’re appreciated by your coworkers and leadership.

Snack Nation’s infographic revealed 36% of employees would give $5,000 a year in salary to be happier at work. Start boosting employee morale and happiness by following employee recognition best practices. With the right recognition program, your workplace culture and company’s bottom line will strengthen. Learn more about encouraging employee success by downloading our white paper: “The Total Package: Including Recognition in the Compensation Toolkit.”

Download White Paper Red CTA Button

 

 

 

How to Spot Who’s Going to Quit Next

Most of your company’s expenses are unavoidable, but employee attrition is one of the costs that you can have significant control over. Employee attrition can cost six to nine months’ worth of the departing worker’s salary, so it’s in your best interests to find ways to address employee attrition head-on. Of course it’s necessary to create a culture in your organization that makes people want to stay — but it’s equally important to be able to recognize which employee is planning to quit next. Research into employees quitting provides some actionable insights:

Demographics most likely to quit

Over half of employees who leave their jobs do so within the first year, according to a study by Equifax. This statistic indicates that the early phases of your new hires’ careers are the most sensitive and that you should pay extra close attention to new hires who show continuing signs of disengagement at the workplace. To this end, it is important to focus your onboarding program on how to engage employees as quickly as possible to avoid high turnover. It’s also helpful to be aware of which industries have the highest percentage of employee turnover. The average turnover rate in 2015 across all industries was 16.7 percent. However, the banking and finance industry saw an 18.6 percent turnover rate, the healthcare industry was at 19 percent, and the hospitality industry topped the list with a whopping 37.6 percent employee churn rate.

Specific traits that mark a quitter

While knowing that your industry tends to have especially high turnover rates can cause you to be more alert to the risks, it also helps to know what specific traits to look for in your employees. Research conducted at Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University yielded an actionable set of behaviors that you should be watching for. If employees display at least six of the behaviors listed in the Utah State University study, the likelihood they are planning to quit in the near future reaches 80 percent. Top behaviors listed in the study include:

  • Less focus on the future: Since they know they won’t be around as projects are completed and rolled out, workers planning to quit in coming weeks tend to show markedly less willingness to sign onto long-term projects. They may also pass up opportunities for training and development, and show less interest in advancing to higher positions within the company.
  • Less connection to work: As they begin to withdraw and their engagement level drops, workers planning to leave soon tend to display lowered productivity. They’ll come up with fewer new ideas and suggestions for innovation, and they won’t go beyond the required minimum effort.
  • Less social energy: Employees likely to quit soon begin to retreat from normal socializing at work. They become “more reserved and quiet,” and they also avoid interacting socially with their boss or other managers.

Employee engagement is a reliable indicator. Reviewing the problematic behaviors listed above, it becomes obvious that they all describe a worker who is not engaged. The direct correlation between engagement and retention is further demonstrated by the USU’s list of behaviors that don’t correlate with quitting: If you have an employee who suddenly schedules a lot of doctor’s appointments, shows up at work in a suit, or even leaves a copy of their resume on the copier, you may want to check in with that person — but (contrary to conventional wisdom) those actions don’t necessarily indicate that the worker plans to quit. And, interestingly, these non-problematic behaviors can all occur in a fully engaged worker. Predicting employee attrition, then, becomes a matter of being able to recognize lack of engagement, rather than other less reliable markets.

Developing your action plan

Using employee recognition as an indicator enables you to identify your most loyal employees. These top performers are the ones who are not only engaged in producing high-quality work, but they’re also the ones who reach out to recognize their colleagues and promote an atmosphere of warmth and recognition within your organization. Conversely, once you find out which people are most engaged with their coworkers, you can also more easily become aware of the ones on the opposite end of the spectrum: the employees who are retreating from engagement and showing signs that they might quit.

Recognizing coworkers is a solid sign of engagement

According to a recent Achievers study, it was discovered employees who were about to be promoted sent an average of 3.8 times more recognitions than their coworkers; meaning active recognizers are more likely to be promoted within their organization as opposed to non-active recognizers. Those employees who feel appreciated and engaged tend to reach out to express active recognition of their colleagues are more likely to stay than quit, and they’re also the ones you need to nurture and groom for leadership roles.

Once you identify the members of your staff who are in greatest danger of quitting, you can develop managerial practices to build employee morale and loop the outliers back into a sense of alignment with the company. A desire to be recognized and appreciated for the work that they’re doing is one of the primary reasons that people quit their jobs, and a Forbes survey found 79 percent of employees “don’t feel strongly valued for the work they put in.” That same article stated, “When you take into consideration the high cost of turnover and an increasingly improving job market, these findings ought to get you thinking about your own recognition strategies. How can you expect employees to stay at your organization if they’re not getting the appreciation they deserve?”

Don’t lose top talent and take action immediately by developing the right employee recognition strategy for your business. The more you increase employee recognition, the more you’ll increase employee retention and engagement as a result. To learn more about how you can increase employee retention through a culture of recognition, download our Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition.

Download Guide Red CTA Button

Woman Takes Employee Surveys for Employee Morale

How does that make you feel? Why employee mood is important

If you want to keep a pulse on your company’s health, you need to understand how engaged or disengaged your employees are feeling on a regular basis. It’s no longer sufficient to gauge employee satisfaction just once or twice a year. After all, if leadership, employee morale, or performance problems aren’t solved quickly, they can lead to a drop in productivity, job satisfaction, and customer service. Big data and frequent employee surveys are a great way to measure employee mood and satisfaction in real time.

Why companies need to understand their workforce

There’s a reason world-class companies are constantly assessing employee satisfaction: engaged employees are the engine that fuels growth, great ideas, and customer satisfaction.
It’s important to remember that employee engagement directly relates to the success of an organization. Would employees recommend other skilled people in the industry for a job at your company? Do they project a positive image when dealing with your clients and customers? Do employees feel they can openly approach supervisors with suggestions? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, then disengaged employees might negatively impact your business without you realizing it.

Stay on top of employee needs every day

Businesses are using real-time data to track their markets, their customers’ behaviors, their advertising performance, and more. So why don’t we start applying this same level of analysis to tracking employee engagement? Forget annual surveys: you should be measuring engagement on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

Frequent employee surveys will allow you to track the effects of changes in your business, such as new system implementation, changes in management, changes in company structure, or anything else that might affect engagement and morale.

Make smart changes based on employee feedback

Employee surveys are an excellent way to keep managers informed. Gather feedback on a variety of your business practices, including training, onboarding, work environment, leadership effectiveness, systems, and more. This feedback will empower you to take a data-driven approach to improving your processes, evaluating your leadership team, and improving employee engagement.

It’s also worth using survey data to influence business decisions. Will employees react positively to a merger? What benefits do they actually want? What do they think about your company’s new growth strategy? These are the kinds of important questions a survey can answer quickly to keep your business on track.