The Secret to Wellbeing at Work
With events that have occurred over the last 12 months, workplaces have changed significantly and one thing that is essential is realising the importance of people at work. People create success for us and we need to value and appreciate them! One approach is just keep doing more of the same through a highly driven culture that burns people out, or adopt the concept of being very serious about employee wellbeing. As a leader, if we arrive at our destination with NO people on our bus, success will be very shallow. Look after your people and make sure they are there at each and every bus stop on the way!
Kindness Improves wellbeing
My blog shows the “The Importance of Kindness at Work.” A traditional office culture is competitive, confident (almost to the point of being arrogant), and other not-so-positive traits are idolised, because those are what are most often associated with success. In fact, kindness isn’t even on the radar a lot of the time. The good news is that this tide is changing, and it’s becoming less and less acceptable to act this way in the workplace. The focus is now on being authentic, courageous, and kind, and with good reason. Being kind isn’t hard to do, and it has incredible results.
The APA’s Emotion journal recently released a study that aimed to show how even the smallest acts of kindness in a workplace have a ripple effect, making the environment and culture much more positive. Essentially, it shows that kindness begets kindness, and helps it spread. What does all this tell us? That kindness breeds happiness, confidence and a much more positive workplace culture and environment. Doing kind acts and being kind in general, no matter how small or simple the gesture, improves both the giver’s and the receiver’s wellbeing. Kindness also helps people cope with stressful conditions at work, and the other interesting thing is that kindness is catching. Kindness benefits everyone, not just those involved in the kind act; it is catching, spreading through the workplace and improving the culture and environment.
Get your team together and discuss random acts of kindness with them. Ask them if they have any ideas, whether small or large and offer up your own examples. Encourage your employees to start doing these kind acts randomly, from that point on. It may take a while for the idea to take hold, as some may worry about coming off as disingenuous – but that’s why there should be an emphasis on small acts of kindness. You don’t have to make grand sweeping gestures to be kind, even something as simple as bringing someone paperwork from the printer to save them getting up is a generous act. Once the kindness campaign catches on, you’ll soon see the positivity and camaraderie growing. Kindness is important in any workplace, so ask yourself how you can start making yours a kinder place.
IS being ‘NICE’ REALLY the answer?
In a Wellbeing People article, “Google’s secret to workplace wellbeing” was outlined. And, Google announces that it believes ‘being nice’ is the answer. In 2013, Google began ‘Project Aristotle’, which was a project set to improve the productivity of its workforce by finding the right recipe for a good working environment and improved workplace wellbeing. It is a well-known fact that Google work hard to keep employees motivated and happy within the workplace, offering perks such as massage rooms, free lunches, nap pods, haircuts and even space within the company garden to grow their own vegetables! In true Google-style, the company measured and analysed the data they collected from these perks and were at a loss when they found that the workforce was perhaps not as happy as expected.
Upon finding from the analytical data collected during the project, that his team wasn’t as happy as he’d first believed, Google’s executive took them away and announced his own personal struggle with stage 4 cancer. Whilst this announcement shocked and upset the workforce, it also encouraged them to speak out about their own personal problems and caused them to bond. Whilst Project Aristotle hadn’t been completely successful in its findings for the scientific solution to workplace wellbeing, during the journey of the project, the company found that the main contributor to workplace wellbeing was for the team to bond, and finally concluded that the secret to a happy and productive workforce is quite simply, to ‘be nice’.
NEUROLEADERSHIP is the KEY
Alan Caugant shows that “The Secret to Wellbeing at Work is…. Neuroleadership.” Underneath all the safety, health, and fitness programs the company offers is a pressing need for Neuroleadership. If you really think about it, what really holds people up at work is a sense of psychological safety or brain-friendly environment, If I’m upset or unhappy, can I raise the issue and will somebody listen or will I be punished? If I’m behind on my project, can I explain why?, If I’m not getting along with my manager, is there a place we can talk about it?
One of the HR leaders made it very clear. “When our CEO and senior leaders started having all hands meetings and discussed their own challenges with stress, anxiety, overwork, cognitive impacts everyone felt relief.” The company is now training all its leaders in listening, flexibility, and brain knowledge. Overwork is an epidemic right now and banks like JPM Chase are implementing new management policies to force people to take weekends off. As I put it early in the pandemic, CEO now means Chief Empathy Officer. And that means Leaders must also take care of themselves. A new study by EMSI and Visier shows that mid-level managers are resigning 11% faster than any other employee group right now, they feel the stress more than ever.
Science shows that genetically, the human brain has not changed much in 50 000 years, which means that our ‘cavemen’-brains are struggling to deal with the high and constantly changing demands and challenges of the 21st Century workplace. Although our brains are very adaptable and able to learn new skills and as a result of neuroplasticity form new pathways throughout our lives, they often struggle to cope with the extreme demands of constant change, ‘neuro-overload’ and excessive stress most of us face in the 21st Century workplace. By applying Neuro-based leadership, leaders can create brain-engaging, high-performance cultures where people are able to thrive and excel in the VUCA workplace. It’s not a ‘silver bullet’, but by applying the principles and practices of neuro-based leadership, Neuroleaders empower their people to function at their best by considering and managing some of the neural processes that precede behaviour. Neuro-based leadership is definitively transforming the way we lead and manage ourselves and others by brining neuroscientific insight and understanding into leadership development, safety management, management training, change management, learning, consulting and coaching.
Learn about the Neuroscience of Leadership
In my ebook, “The Neuroscience of Leadership,” I outline that leading change is one of the most challenging parts of the leadership role. We humans aren’t always keen on changing the behaviours that we’ve become comfortable with so why would we do it just because our leader wants us to? Well, in many cases we wouldn’t. Or we’d do it ‘on the surface’ but lapse into our old habits when no one was looking. What holds us back is our brain’s reaction to change. The neural networks which recognise and react to threat are stimulated and we resist change because we are focused on potential danger. That’s where an understanding of neuroscience can be a help.
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Stay Kind. Stay Courageous.