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Is Expecting Workplace Happiness Expecting Too Much?

Employee HappinessIf you’re like most working adults, you have a Linkedin profile that connects you with other professionals. This month, one particular article caught my attention.

The article, “Four keys to happiness in your job” by Gary S., a CEO of oDesk spoke on what a person needs to thrive in their career. To me, all the factors were pretty self-explanatory and even common sense: impact, growth and development, financial reward and work-life balance.

What got my attention wasn’t the content of the article itself, but the comment a man named Kevin Rockwell left in response. “Nonsense to your 4 points…Most people could care less about what kind of impact they’re going to have on the world, their growth and development within the company, or for the flipping work-life balance. Geez, that last one is ridiculous. People want to pay their bills… Here’s a suggestion, Gary – one night this week sit down with your family to a dinner of noodles with cream of mushroom soup as a sauce and a side of pinto beans. Then get back to me about how important your four points are.”

Regardless of who I agree with, this debate sparked my curiosity and caused me to ask some questions around the office. One coworker in particular surprised me when I asked him if he cared about the impact his job made on the world. The man I asked is one of those fit, All-American men with a cheerful disposition, a happy family at his remodeled home and a job that he’s good at. But when I asked him my question, he stared at me with a stumped look. He said he had never thought about it. He said that as long as his impact and integrity at home were positive, he didn’t care about his job.

Hmm…

Why are the two not intertwined, I asked. Well, I guess they are, he said. He then went on to describe a past job at a large corporation you’re quite familiar with where he made lots of money but he hated every second of it. For you Harry Potter fans, he compared his workplace to Azkaban and his coworkers to dementors. He was literally drained of happiness.

Obviously we work because we need to pay our bills, but beyond that, shouldn’t we work because we enjoy it, we’re good at it, and we care about what we produce? From serving tables to protecting the President, we all have a role to play and when a person is doing his or her best at all hours of a day, expressing fully his or her values and beliefs in a consistent manner, a habit is forged that produces character. Life becomes integrated. What is held to be true, good, and virtuous in one setting . . . is true, good, and virtuous in ALL settings. There is no switching from “work mode” or “work values” to “home mode” and “home values.”

What do you think? Have you thought about these keys to happiness before? Do you care about how your work and home life integrate with each other?

 

Thriving in a High Demand Work-Life

con•sci•en•tious: A person wishing to do what is right, esp. to do one’s work or duty well and thoroughly.

Thrive at work

After my first interview, I already knew that the attendees of the Michigan Townships Association convention would turn out to be a pretty conscientious bunch.

And like so many who serve, and who also have very demanding schedules, township officials can easily fall victim to the More With Less Paradox, in which the positive attributes of drive and responsibility, combined with a demanding schedule, trigger people to live in a way that sabotages their ability to reach their goals.

Does this sound like a day you might have?

•    The morning alarm blares. Snooze button. Snooze button. Snooze button.

Two important facts and a lesson: One, nothing sabotages a day faster than starting it off with a little procrastination. Two, there is no form of real, actual torture that will break your mind and body faster than multiple sleep interruptions.  The lesson? The snooze button is secretly plotting to destroy you.

•    With a grunt of frustration and physical aches, you get up, “Ugh, I’ve got so much to do . . .”

Snoozing yourself into being behind schedule creates a rushing energy, which in turn leads you to think first of stimulation (“Coffee, I need coffee!”) instead of connecting with why you are working so hard.  The speed and busyness of your day can fuel a lack of focus and a sense of disconnection with what is important. You may end up thinking of yourself as  “struggling” rather than as “thriving.”

•    “Breakfast? I’ll just grab some caffeine and get something to eat on my way to or at work.”

Caffeine can be very effective for productivity and health, but too much caffeine, on an empty stomach, creates the perfect biochemical storm for a monumental 3:00 p.m. crash.

•    You land at work, and it goes well . . . until around 9:30 a.m., when the first energy lull hits. Time for a little cubicle trick-or-treating or a break-room doughnut.

The first three hours of work are the most productive time in your entire day. You will never be in a better state to be productive, patient, persuasive . . . or any other P word that means you get a lot accomplished. This routine sabotages your peak work time, resulting in more work tomorrow, or even worse, work to take home.

•    Lunch. Open the menu and the debate begins. Heart-healthy option or a burger?  Living inside the More With Less Paradox, it is too easy to think, “You know, it has been a stressful day. I deserve that cheeseburger.”

BOOM, the post-lunch lull hits you head on.

This day continues, but its tone has been set. Your available energy reserves are low, but the need to keep going causes you to switch to an emergency stress-based fuel—cortisol. This might keep you going, but at a high cost. Cortisol is not a clean energy. It builds up and increases crankiness, reduces our ability to innovate, and increases our chances of dying from the top four killers of men and women.

You make it to the end of the work day, but often with lingering guilt at how long your to-do list still is. Unfortunately, that frustration bleeds into your downtime, and you find yourself thinking, “Why am I so cranky? Why can’t I be more organized? Why do I have so little patience? Why am I so wiped out?”

•    In a flash, it’s time for bed. “I’m exhausted, but why is it so hard to get to sleep or stay asleep?”

As soon as sleep starts to deepen . . . the alarm blares into action and it is time to start another day.

As an expert in stress, motivation and wellbeing, I’ve been researching adults in high demand jobs for 23 years. I’ve seen the More With Less Paradox sabotage good people from Penang to Port Lawrence.  Each time I immerse myself into a new field, such as township management, I find two categories:

Strivers – Those who work hard and often meet their goals at work, but who also struggle with high levels of stress and fluctuating levels of motivation.

Thrivers – Those who work hard, consistently meet their goals at work, and thrive professionally and personally.

Have you ever wondered, “Why do some hard working adults thrive, while others struggle?” I am obsessed with that question and, as a result, I’ve found a Core Truth.  Thrivers are rarely smarter than strivers, and they don’t care more about their work.  They just think and live better. The bottom line is that thrivers are better at:

• Mentally approaching their work, especially under pressure

• Keeping their energy up

• Having a clear understanding of why they are working so hard

• Designing the flow of their day

This article and my presentations at MTA on January 29th, 2014 will help you to build a day that fuels the Core Four elements of thriving in a high demand world.

As an example of the Core Four in action, consider a 2011 research study from the University of Michigan and Portland State University on what actually energizes us at work.

First, think about what you do when you are running out of energy at work.  Most people take a break of some kind, grab more caffeine, go for a walk, get a snack, switch tasks, etc.  But what works?  What fuels us best? Could you be accidentally tripping yourself while thinking that you are moving full steam ahead?

If you are like the majority of the 214 knowledge workers who were surveyed, you would:

1.   Check email.

2.   Switch to another task.

3.   Make a to-do list.

4.   Offer help to someone at work.

5.   Talk to a coworker/supervisor.

Of these most common breaks, which ones were shown to increase energy and vitality?  None.

What breaks were positively related to vitality? What steps can you take to help yourself thrive more at work?  What ideas can you pass on to your teams that will energize them at work?  Here are six evidence-based ideas that fuel the Core Four:

a.   More Goal-Setting, Less Reorganizing:  Setting a new goal and chasing it down, even if it is a small goal, will energize you more than reorganizing your to-do list.

b.   More Learning, Less Worry: Under stress, people thrive more by focusing on learning something new, not by worrying about failing, about what they might miss, or even by winning.

c.   More Feedback, Less Venting: Everyone needs to vent, but don’t do it at work. Venting in the workplace is one of the few double jeopardy work breaks, meaning that it is connected to both low vitality and high fatigue. Having high energy at work comes from seeking and giving quality feedback.

d.   Help More, Offer Less:  Human beings are at their best when they help others, give to others and show concern for others. Those who struggle with fatigue will, with open hearts, offer help to others.  Those who rated high in vitality more often actually do something to help others.

e.   More Meaning, Less Distraction: Reflecting on what gives you joy and meaning at work will energize you even more than taking a break.

To thrive in today’s busy world, change your day so that it includes more of these elements, and the Core Four will fuel your leadership for the greater good of your communities.

I look forward to meeting you January 29th, 2014!

If you would like to download Andy’s complete infographic on the Suprising Truth About What Energizes Us At Work, go here:  www.andycore.com/more-energy-at-work

 2013 MTA Conference Keynoter Andy Core is the author of the upcoming book, Change Your Day, Not Your Life.  He is an award-winning thought leader on increasing employee engagement, productivity, and wellness motivation; his talent lies in helping hard-working, conscientious adults thrive at work and in their personal lives.  www.andycore.com 800.605.8480

He is ofte

Increasing productivity through better work-life balance

n hired as a Keynote speaker, fitness speaker, wellness speaker, work-life balance speaker, stress management speaker, and as a work-life balance and peak performance expert for Sales, Leadership, Customer Service and Worksite Wellness Conferences and Events.

 

Improve Productivity in the Workplace

Andy Core is an expert in Work-Life Balance, Well Being and Peak Human Performance

All too often, individuals are inappropriately placed in roles within an organization. Productivity in the workplace cannot flourish when then feel as though they have to persevere with the role, even though they cannot really engage with that role. Consider the following attributes when deciding what role to allocate to an individual within your company.

Problem Solver or Steady Doer?

Not all roles within a team are the same; some people are excellent at solving the problems that the team is facing, whereas others are better at maintaining day to day task. Excellent performance in either of these roles requires a different array of skills. In order to match the right person with the job, it is worth considering setting a short test in order to gage the way in which an individual thinks. This could be a written test or a practical test, depending on time restraints. Seeing how a person thinks allows you to allocate them to a role that they will feel best utilizes their skills, allowing them to engage fully with the task at hand and keep productivity in the workplace rolling along.

Workload

Different people respond in different ways to stressful situations. Placing an individual in a stressful role when they are unable to cope with such pressure is a recipe for disaster. The person is unlikely to be productive and eventually the individual will disengage from the role. Similarly, placing somebody in a low-level role when he or she thrives under stress will lead to that individual becoming disillusioned with the role, and so they will also disengage. This is obviously counterproductive.

An employee whose skills are suited to a particular role will engage with that role and feel far more valued, leading to productivity in the workplace. Productivity breeds profit.

For more information about Andy’s work-life balance programs Contact Us Now!

 

 

Employee Engagement: Four Steps to Productivity in the Workplace

Employee engagement increases productivity in the workplace and therefore profits

Employee engagement increases productivity in the workplace and therefore profits will increase as well.

Andy Core is an expert in Work-Life Balance, Well Being and Peak Human Performance

Employee engagement is vitally important when we are trying to maximize productivity in the workplace. When employees feel as though they are an integral part of the business, they will do everything in their power to ensure its success. Yet, the field of employee engagement is often neglected by businesses, both young and old. There is a sense in which we expect people to just buy into the company from the word ‘go,’ and all we need to do is let the engagement develop organically. Sadly, this is not the case; follow these four steps in order to maximize your employee engagement.

Leadership

Being a leader requires more than just telling people what to do. It also requires you to put forward a vision for the organization, and to stick to it. Employees need to know what they are working toward. It is the job of the employer to set forward the aims of the company, and foster a particular philosophy that the employees can buy into and thereby increase productivity in the workplace.

Management

Employees don’t want to be belittled, and they want to feel as though their job matters. Make sure that your managers have excellent management skills; they need to know what makes the employees tick in order to ensure that they fulfill their potential.

Communication

In many companies, the first time that employees hear about decisions from above is when they are affected by them. This has the potential to be highly disruptive, with many people becoming disillusioned with their company as a result. To avoid such problems, it is important to ensure that your employees have a voice, that where a decision is likely to affect them, they are consulted and have a chance to air their views. When an individual has their voice heard, they will feel as though the business cares about them.

Consistency

It is not enough merely to say what you are trying to do; it is vital that you then try to follow it through. All too often, employees are given an outline of the aims of a company, only to see those aims altered after a few weeks. This leads to confusion, and a confused workforce is less likely to maintain productivity in the workplace. Ensure you avoid this issue by staying true to your company; stick to the aims that you have outlined.

Ensuring that your employees engage with the company is vital to maximizing the profitability of your business.

For more information about Andy’s work-life balance programs Contact Us Now!

 

 

Develop a Philosophy to Maximize Productivity in the Workplace

Having a company philosophy that employees can follow will help to maintain productivity in the workplace.

Andy Core is an expert in Work-Life Balance, Well Being and Peak Human Performance

To attain the maximum productivity in the workplace the employees need a clear vision of where the company is headed. We may hear about certain companies fostering a particular philosophy or culture about the office, but rarely are we presented with any real explanation as to what this means. The result is that many start-up companies underestimate the importance of such a focus, and their businesses suffer as a result. There are two main advantages to a company adhering to a particular philosophy.

Focus

The business world is filled with opportunities. The temptation is always there to invest, but the difficulty comes when deciding how to distribute the pot of money. All too often, a company will spread itself far too thin; they will make investments left, right and center without any real direction, and so will step outside of their area of expertise. By adopting a particular philosophy, we are able to bring a degree of structure to this process; we are no longer faced with a random array of options.

Employee Engagement

It is well documented that employees who enjoy their jobs are far more likely to maintain productivity in the workplace. Choosing a philosophy for the company to adhere to certainly facilitates this. When a company has a certain set of aims that are known to the employees, it provides guidance when problems arise. It also enables the employees to buy into the company; they can see the direction that the company is hoping to go in and so will know the role that they are playing.

Do not fall foul of the mistake that perennially affects businesses; choose a philosophy and stick to it! Your company’s productivity in the workplace will benefit from it.

For more information about Andy’s work-life balance programs Contact Us Now!

 

 
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Change Your Day, Not Your Life
A realistic guide to sustained motivation, more productivity, and the art of working well
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About Andy Core
Author and speaker on work-life balance, productivity and wellbeing
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