10 Tips to help you Thrive and Flourish at Work Feb 2019
Even though it is still early in the year, I have been concerned by the number of people I have seen who have come describing how their work experiences are making them stressed and physically and emotionally unwell. This is happening to people in a wide range of occupations including health and welfare professionals, administration, education, academia and small business. Tales of being bullied or harrassed by supervisors or colleagues, being treated unfairly when it comes to promotion or discriminated against because of their gender, age or part time status are all too common. Some of these workers are employed in emotionally demanding positions which have the potential to put them at risk of physical attack or verbal abuse by the people they care for.
However, workplace stress is not confined to those workers who are treated badly or are exposed to challenging situations. Recent articles in leading international newspapers and business publications point to the rise of anxiety and depression in younger workers - particularly Gen Y women (born after 1982) as they struggle to create some semblance of work-life balance. These women are said to be less likely than men to take breaks during work hours and are more prone to stress.
When thinking about what elements make for wellbeing at work, Martin Seligman PhD, in his wellknown book "Flouirish" A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Wellbeing", asks what does it mean to flourish at work? Seligman talks about 5 Elements of Wellbing:
Positive Emotion - this includes general happiness and satisfaction with life
Engagement - this relates to the idea of being completely absorbed in a task which we care about and are committed to.
Relationships - this involves being connected with other people in a meaningful way
Meaning - this is related to motivation and doing something that is important to you - gives you a reason for doing it.
Accomplishment - this involves a sense of achievement in the activities/tasks
When people lack a sense of wellbeing at work they will not thrive or flourish. Like plants they will become stressed and if not provided with what they need, they will eventually wither and die (burn out) and need to take sick leave and eventually possibly resign. Workplaces can be places of energy, pride, co-operation and provide a sense of satisfaction and belonging or they can be places of dread, where there is a culture of blame and fear which can sap our energy and leave us feeling worne out and undervalued.
What can we do to help us thrive or flourish at work?
My 10 TIPS
1. The first thing is to know what you are good at and what you really love doing. Find a job which meets these two requirements. For some people, this may mean that they may have two jobs - one they love and another one which brings in money. Many artistic and creative types find this is the only way they can combine their passions with a steady income.
2. Find a job with a company which aligns with your personal values, ethics and beliefs. If you find yourself in a job which is opposed to these, you will never be happy, so once you discover this, then start searching for something else ASAP.
3. Know your personality and what you need in order to feel safe and comfortable in the workplace. If you are an extrovert don't stay in a job which requires you to spend a lot of time alone without the opportunity to interact with others. If you are more introverted, you will be stressed by jobs which have open plans and leave you without quiet time or a place to work independently on tasks.
4. Know what causes you to feel stressed. This is different for everyone. For some it may be unclear expectations, high workload, unrealistic deadlines, poor teamwork, difficult personalities, poor leadership or minimal supervision. For others it may be the lack of resources, being micro managed or unpredictable behaviour of others. Work out a self care plan to help you manage these stressors eg. exercise regularly, take adequate breaks, address any problems or communication difficulties quickly.
5. Keep setting yourself goals to keep your work interesting. No matter how much you love your job it can become routine and boring if you keep doing the same things every day. Look for novel ways to do things.
6. Look for opportunities to learn more about your field - take advantage of training offered and seek this out for yourself outside of your organisation. Never stop learning.
7. Learn how to accept legitimate criticism or negative feedback without becoming upset and defensive. Learning from our mistakes is important for our growth and development and if you can acceprt this when fair, you will show you are committed to self improvement and benefit from taking corrective action on your own performance.
8. Seek feedback from supervisors and support from colleagues. If unsure about your role or duties or the direction of any proposed changes ask questions to ensure you understand expectations. Debrief any issues with trusted team members.
9. See change as your friend, not your enemy. It is natural and normal to fear the unknown and to want to stay with the familiar, but change is an opportunity for growth. It all depends on your attitude to it. If you search for the possibilities and opportunities change brings rather than what you may be losing, it will help you to make an informed decision as to whether the change is one you are prepared to embrace or if it is time for you to move on to another role or a different workplace.
10. Establish and maintain a healthy work/life balance. Keep to regular work hours as much as possible and avoid excessive hours or taking work home except in occasional unusual circumstances. Limit the time you talk about work at home and make it a rule to do something to mark the end of the working day eg. go for a walk or do some short meditation exercise when you get home to clear your head of the work issues. Change out of your work clothes and leave the day behind as you focus on your family or friends.
If you would like help with any work related issues or finding ways to help you thrive and flourish at work, I would be happy to assist. Please contact me on 0438 855328 or visit my website at www.dawnvincent.com.au