October Wellbeing Workshops

Globally 2020 has been the most significant Wellness focused year of all time

In this year full of COVID Challenges, Wrkit is here to help. This October celebrate human health and wellbeing with Wrkit, as we focus on a variety of wellness events and workshops in connection with World Mental Health Day.

A leading employee benefits provider, we can help you arrange speakers, supports and events to celebrate not just Mental Health lone, but a whole spectrum of human health.

Workshop Series Topics (Interactive Webinars, each lasting 40 – 60 minutes)

  • Covid Mindfulness
    Learn to appreciate and practise calming techniques during episodes of COVID worry
  • Anxiety Management
    Learn how to recognise and manage worrying or anxiety provoking thoughts
  • Reframe with a Positive Mindset
    Explore ways to look at life during a challenging time differently, with a positive mindset
  • Coping with Uncertainty
    Manage the uncertainty of reopening of schools and workplaces with some practical psychological tools
  • Setbacks and disappointments
    Learn to manage a variety of disappointments related to COVID with a selection of mind enhancing techniques

Contact Details

Jason Brennan
CTA in Psychotherapy, BA in Psychoanalysis, Certificate in Humanities, CBT practitioner’s cert, Member: IAHIP, TAI, EATA, ITAA

Tel 089 6127812 | Email jason.brennan@wrkit.com | Web wrkit.com

Jason Brennan is a coach and psychotherapist with over 20 years of experience. He supports clients suffering from anxiety, depression, stress, grief & loss, trauma, relationship issues, short and long-term therapy, obsessive thinking, lifestyle, work, and life stage challenges.

He authored his first book Win: Proven Strategies for Success in Sports, Life and Mental Health with friend and mental health advocate Brent Pope – having worked with corporate and sports teams of all levels providing training, workshops, and coaching.

Stress awareness with others

Now many weeks into lockdown, most of us are adapting well to the new way of working and being social in more creative ways. It is without doubt that for everyone it has been a struggle at times and although the lockdown parameters will be loosening over the next month, it is still a very challenging time for staff, managers, colleagues, parents, families and children.

COVID-19 is a truly global experience with so many countries clearly affected and having to adapt as best they can. Each household has its own unique set of challenges with individuals self-isolating on their own, single parents working and trying their best to manage alone, large families having both parents working and juggling childcare with the disappearance of supports like school or day care and having to try and work and educate at the same time. There are also many people isolating by themselves and at times challenged by the loneliness and repetitiveness of each day.

The stress and strain on everyone is real and is being felt in all households throughout the country. So, it is extremely important to be mindful when connecting with colleagues and staff working from home, to be conscious and alert to some of what is happening for them emotionally, psychologically, and physically.

After the first two weeks of lockdown in the UK, a working from home survey produced these results:
– 60% exercising less
– 60% more fatigued
– 64% acknowledge that worry is affecting sleep
– 41% health concerns for family

Now after 4-6 weeks in, survey stats are showing that:

  • 44% of people currently working from home find they are working longer hours and finding it hard to switch off from work
  • 51% of employees find that they are interrupted during their working day by family members and that multiple roles placed on parents is very challenging  
  • 79% of employees surveyed are missing their usual working environments
  • 89% say missing the socialising with work colleagues ranked as the main reason for this

Spotting employees who are struggling or stressed

*10 Signs an employee may be suffering from stress and anxiety during COVID-19

1. Late to meetings, taking more time off work than usual or general regular lack of communication

2. Greater obvious use of substances such as alcohol, tobacco

3. Increased irritability, poor concentration, reduced productivity

4. Deteriorating personal or work relationships, as experienced directly or indicated by others

5. More ‘emotional’, moody or over-reactive to what others say

6. Acting differently or unusually, that is out of the norm for them, or not being their usual self

7. Changing of eating or sleep patterns and personal appearance such as visible hygiene indicators – consistently not caring so much about appearance

8. Physical reactions such as sweating, fast paced breathing, very nervous, talking anxiously most of the time

9. Feeling continually low, depressed, and focusing on negatives, preoccupied with Covid 19

10. Overly tired and fatigued

What can you do?

If you are worried or concerned about someone’s health and wellbeing, or have received feedback from others who are concerned, the first thing to do is arrange some time to talk with the person one to one, and in the most private and confidential setting as possible. Let them know that you are connecting with them to talk about how they are finding working from home during this challenging time.

Explore what is happening for them and specific areas they are struggling with.

Check in on their wellbeing by asking about their general daily routine and if they are making time to connect with others regularly and getting out to do some exercise.

If you have some concerns, discuss with the person what your concerns are specifically.

Let them know that you are there to help support them and explore ways of doing this. Ask them how you can best help and if they are struggling to come up with ideas, suggest somethings you can do based on the areas that were discussed. Agree a plan and offer various supports available in your organisation such as EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) and ensure you agree to meet again soon after. Agree regular ongoing support meetings for a while, to see positive change occurring.

*Ref: Hughes, R., (2013) 10 Signs an employee may be suffering from stress and anxiety, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) – adapted from.

Building the healthy daily habits for Wellness Success

In recent years there has been a substantial rise in various online and mobile wellness apps. The main areas of focus being on measuring sleep, promoting meditation, engaging in physical exercises such as steps, running or cycling, mood monitoring, an increased awareness of nutritional intake and measuring the effects of positive psychology on thinking and on mood.

Why is this?

Research now shows that the regular practise of a variety of healthy habits can have a significant impact on increasing physical health and psychological wellbeing. Findings show that one of the keys to this is completing some focused wellbeing actives in a manageable and integrated way. The message here is: Little and often.

Various apps such as Calm, Headspace and Insight Timer have been created to attend to many of these areas, as has our employee wellbeing tool POWR – Positive Occupational Wellness Resources which has taken it one step further. Not only does POWR measure overall health and wellbeing, but it provides unique personalised health plans to help easily enhance a person’s overall wellbeing and education. Sitting within POWR are over 420 clinical plans designed to help staff engage with their wellbeing, with built in push technology to provide some much-needed encouragement in achieving greater results. POWR plans target the 6 keys areas of wellbeing – mind, life, work, sleep, active and food; with plans added each month, alongside a huge number of new blogs, articles and videos.

How to get the best from a wellness application?

With an app like POWR and others such as Calm, the design taps into several scientific research findings which shows that key areas to invest in and create healthy habits with are:

  • Regular meditation
  • Focused breathing
  • Mild exercise
  • Positive thinking

The analysis of various research shows that regular meditation significantly improves areas such as stress, anxiety, depression, quality of life, and emotion regulation (mood). Longer term it also improves other areas such as general positivity, self-generated positive emotions and can provide real benefits to close relationships and social outcomes.

Further research shows that regular mild exercise also has a significant effect on psychological wellbeing, while more moderate exercise has a significant effect on depression and anxiety, comparable with usual psychological care. Based on these findings and others, POWR brings this research all together and provides easy access to hundreds of clinical plans in each of the 6 targeted areas, making it accessible, available and easy to log into to work on wellbeing, every single day. With built in meditations, visual and auditory breathing exercises and a positive psychology reinforcing reflection tool, it really supports and promotes the benefits of these finds.

Take the challenge!

POWR is the ideal tool to help employees create healthy habits. To encourage this we have also created the POWR Formula for Success, which includes challenges in the areas of exercise, meditation, positive psychology journalling, wellness and stress relief articles and focused breathing challenges, to complement the 6 pathways in POWR which are always available for users to interact with, complete plans in and grow their wellbeing. This POWR challenge is designed to quickly get staff involved over a two weeks’ timeframe as a company challenge to help them feel healthier, socialise what they are doing, be more active and be more in tune with how they want to be.

Coping with COVID – Appreciating our Humanness

Happy elderly couple having a video call looking involved

This is the 4th in a series of 6 articles on supporting employees during this unusual and difficult time in businesses and in our lives. With the expansion of lockdown and restricted movements, many employees will be realising that this will go on for a while and that the last 4 weeks may become the norm. While most employees will naturally accept the present state of affairs, for many it will be a difficult mindset to adjust to. Some will be feeling anxious, frustrated and worried about the uncertainty the future holds.

It is important therefore to recognise that all Humans react in unique personal ways. We all struggle with and accept big changes in our own time and in our own ways, as we all move along the change curve at different rates and stages.

Many employees over the last few weeks will have enjoyed aspects of working from home, such as getting up later, not having to battle with public transport, more time with family and even getting in a bit of sunbathing. Others will have struggled with the sense of confinement, missing the social aspect of being with colleagues, not able to enjoy their usual coffee routine, their regular exercise groups and lunch catchups. Additional challenges are also appearing for some employees, like having to become a teacher to their children, or single parents isolating alone without their usual support network.

So where are we finding ourselves and what can psychologically help?

For me personally, at the weekend I had a zoom call with a group of friends I met while living abroad. We all zoomed in from different corners of the world – Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and Canada. It was wonderful to see them all again but what was really fascinating, was how we were all adapting to the same experience. We were all isolating in our houses, with our families, unable to wander far, working from home as best we can, using similar technology, struggling with similar issues and even talking about the same shows we are watching on TV – sharing further viewing recommendations.

These zoom calls have really deepened my appreciation of this being a truly global and specifically Human event and it is bringing our Humanness to the fore in some very lovely ways. In psychology there is a practice called ‘reframing’ which is a mental skill that is applied often in sports psychology but is also a good strategy to practice in everyday life, especially given the present situation.

Reframing is looking at and thinking about a situation by applying a different ‘psychological’ lens. Literally framing it up differently, putting on a different set of metaphorical spectacles and seeing some of the not so obvious aspects of a situation as positive and beneficial.

To do this, ask yourself:

  • What aspect of this present situation is an improvement?
  • What do I actually like about some of my routine that has changed?
  • What might I like to continue doing more of?
  • How am I learning about myself and my abilities in adapting to this situation?

Some quick reflections might be:

  • Liking more time with family, which is helping with relationships
  • The lack of commuting is a welcomed relief for me and for the planet
  • I am getting to know my neighbours more and creating a better connection with my community
  • I am thinking more about how others are getting on and reaching out more often to intentionally connect
  • I am reconnecting with some old friends and some old pastimes that I love but didn’t have time for

While employees are struggling with uncertainty and the need to adapt each week to new and unfolding information, it is important for managers and leaders to help foster some of the positives that each employee is experiencing amidst the many challenges.

To be Human is to be relational and some of our present experience is opening the door to deepening relationships in a very human way – connecting and sharing genuine and real daily experiences. Employers can take this opportunity to share stories, allowing some vulnerability and foster a culture of checking in on each other and of course sharing the positives inherent in reframing aspects of our shared situation. 

Challenging COVID-19 – Eustress

This third article in our series of 6, looks at the ongoing challenge of the COVID-19 restrictions. The article will focus on how these challenges are affecting employees physical and psychological health and most importantly how they can lean into difficult times using the Eustress mindset.

As the weeks roll on and restrictions continue in our battle with COVID-19, this is the time that staff will begin feeling some of the negative side effects of spending so much time cooped up at home. They will naturally be getting more frustrated or anxious at the situation and unfortunately more irritated with each other because of what is going on. Their sleep will start to be affected as their routines are shifting, as they are not required to get up at the same time as they used to when they were traveling to work, or school drop off. A new routine will be settling in which requires them to perform a few other extra commitments such as extra child minding, schooling, cooking and cleaning and an extra effort to be committed to exercise.

Our bodies love routine and structure, so the shift in adapting to this new routine will be causing some tension psychologically, emotionally and even physically with tiredness, broken sleep and sometimes skin irritations like eczema flaring up. 

Now is a good time to invest in Eustress!

Eustress stems from the ancient Greek word ‘eu’ meaning well or good stress. Unlike common everyday stress, and unlike distress, Eustress is very good for us. The best way to think of Eustress is to imagine it as the feeling we get when we focus on something we enjoy doing, over an extended period of time. A hobby or project that we invest time and energy into, not for anyone else but because we want to do something for ourselves, something new, where the challenge is reward enough. Eustress actions are personal challenges we set ourselves that are not too easy but are ultimately rewarding.

These activities bring a healthy distraction from what is going on in our world at any time. Allowing us to commit and focus our mind and bodies in a very productive, engaging way which will ultimately provide healthy results.

Examples of Eustress include learning to:

  • Sing, draw or paint
  • Speak another language
  • Author a short story or book
  • Play an instrument
  • Code
  • Create a website or understand graphic design
  • Clothes design and creation
  • Practice calligraphy
  • Understand more about the cosmos
  • Take a course in DIY
  • Complete a professional course of interest

The Eustress mindset is about committing to something that requires an ongoing regular focus, leading to the success of achieving a larger goal. There are many Eustress activities that staff can sign up for and accomplish over the next number of months. One of the keys is for them to find an activity that has structure to it and could lead to a test. For example:

  • Find a competition that they can sign up for in the future e.g. a marathon, performance, test or exam 6 – 9 months away
  • Set a timeframe based on this deadline and work backwards, with weekly or daily sessions
  • Be creative and really commit to a challenge to create some personal pressure

Encourage them to enjoy these focused sessions as a break from the norm, so choosing something they are genuinely interested in is important. By applying their time and energy, employees will begin to feel better over the coming months as they progress their Eustress strategies.

To find out more about what is available check out the Wrkit learning section for ideas and courses staff can sign up for. POWR also provides hundreds of plans, articles, blogs and daily, weekly and monthly goal setting measures, including workplace challenges.

Consideration, Compassion, Connection and Commitment

Although a lot has been written about the mental health and wellbeing of employees and staff during these last unusual weeks, not an awful lot has been written about the major multitasking that all staff are now facing into. Due to the social isolation strategy most nations have adopted, there are many, many parents now working two jobs from home, with most of their normal supports no longer available.

Employees have not only had to adapt to a new working environment, they now must juggle these multiple roles and structures at once. With World Health Day this week, it is a very good time to pause and reflect on how well employees are managing and adapting to this shift in expectations and to show support and celebrate their resilience.

It is also very impressive how many company cultures have shone through by showing understanding and appreciation of the new challenges their people are facing. One influential organisation very early on communicated a simple message to their work force to help them prioritise their time and energy and it was ‘family first’.

As the weeks are blending into each other and a new norm is settling in and staff are making the best of the situation, it is helpful to look at some ongoing healthy approaches to adopt and keep in mind when connecting with staff remotely.

Consideration:

It is important when connecting with staff that a moment is taken to be mindful of what they are being asked to do each day and the time they now have to give to their other roles at home such as child minder, educator and home maker. It is good to ask them now and again how they are finding the juggling of demands and how you as their manager or colleague can help.

Compassion:

With a lot of energy and attention being diverted, it is important to show compassion for the situation teams now finds themselves in and it is likely that over time performance will drop as energy begins to wane due to the multiple demands. This will be most apparent for parents of multiple young children needing care, attention and structured time to learn and be engaged with.

Connection:

For all team members connection is vitally important at this time, not just to cover off business but to be social and have an outlet. This is vital for staff who are not with family and are isolating alone. For these staff it is very important to consider how in a short space of time they have lost a lot of daily personal connecting and energy from others.

Commitment:

There will be ongoing competing demands for employees’ time and energy now and over the next number of months. Staff may not be able to show the level of time commitment that they normally would be able to provide. In the long run, as per the aforementioned company message ‘family first’, managers who are showing consideration and compassion will ensure greater commitment from their employees when normal routines return, and we are back in the workplace once again.

Mental Skills for Mental Health – Goal Setting

This is the second in the series of posts focused on the continuing mental impact of the COVID-19 virus, which all businesses are now reacting to. One of the most challenging impacts has been how employees can best continue in their roles with the effect of social distancing and remote working. This blog and the next 4 in this series will focus on the mental health and wellbeing of staff and managers, as they navigate the impact of this temporary new way of working.

As a psychotherapist, leadership and mental skills coach with nearly three decades of experience, I have worked with hundreds of people and businesses facing into challenging and uncertain times. My early training was as an emergency service first responder and trainer, so I understand how a fast onset of unusual and unexpected changes can impact people emotionally and psychologically. In my first blog from this series I wrote about some things to be expected over the coming weeks. In this blog I will be looking at an essential skill for staff to focus on and one which managers and leaders can promote. This is the key skill of planning and goal setting, for personal health and wellbeing.

The mental skill of goal setting is often undervalued as it seems so straight forward and something that we already are good at. It is however a vital first step in driving wellness and ensuring our mental health stays healthy. It is also one of the first things that is challenged and undermined when we feel unwell, as our energy drops, and we begin to feel demotivated and disengaged.

In sports psychology, one of the key plans of action for an athlete is first and foremost to have a plan. Have a plan for when it gets tough, when athletes feel demotivated, when the situation feels overly pressurised and when focus begins to wander. A key element of preparation is to revert to focused goal setting – remembering their training, going back to basics, back to what they know and create a go-to plan that is ‘ready to go’ for when it gets tough. 

Goal setting is a skill we call on all the time, going through our daily routines – making breakfast, sticking to a timetable, working to deadlines. It is a skill we know well, and we mostly do it unconsciously, however what many people are not aware of are what are known as ‘process goals’.

Process goals are particularly good to have for when times are tough, when people are distressed and when there is a lot of uncertainty. Process goals help bring what feels out of control, back into control – starting with ourselves and our control over how we think, how we feel and how we can influence the inherent energy of our body. We use process goals to feel more confident and clear headed. Examples of ways to do this, are grounding and centring which are often referred to as ‘anchoring’ techniques. These techniques anchor the person to something they know works for them; gaining some control over the situation and helping them feel better, quickly. 

At the moment staff and colleagues are feeling various levels of uncertainty, which is a natural reaction and not one to be overly concerned about. Everyone is feeling it and as leaders it is something we should be empathising with. Here we can encourage staff to goal set in order to maintain, where possible, the same working routine, as they would if COVID-19 didn’t exist. This will help normalise what is going on and help foster engagement and daily structure. Encourage the same starting time, finishing time and usual breaks as well as suggesting some extra structured time each day to support others, such as children and partners working from home also. Acknowledging that this is a team effort and we all need to set some goals to help with daily household routines, childcare and exercise.

Regarding work processes, look at any impending deadlines and goal set by negotiating new timelines; realistically integrating the new COVID-19 factors. Encourage staff to goal set some wellbeing strategies, by inviting them to explore what has worked before and reminding them to keep practicing these regularly. Check in with them to see what weekly goals they are setting – work related and wellbeing related, to help ensure they do not take on too much and invite them to create some goals if they are lacking some ion certain areas.

Explain ‘process goal’ setting and how it can be achieved by with various breathing techniques, short meditations or having a go-to set of encouraging and reassuring words or phrases. This is a good strategy for staff to start working on straight away. Talk openly about how at times it will be tough and it will feel scary or frustrating over the coming months; start to plan now for these times with some process goals strategies. Give them some examples of process goals – such as thinking about something they do that helps them feel better in the moment, to calm and sooth themselves. Avoiding negative and worrisome future predicting and instead focusing on constructive here and now planning immediate next steps planning.

Remind them that these are the same mental skills that all top athletes and military personnel practise to perform well and to manage their own wellbeing under major pressure. Reassure them that these techniques work, they are easy to practise, and they achieve results. All of this starts with the simple ability to goal set and to keep on goal setting – each day, especially when it gets tough.

Coping with BIG Changes

Recent international events have brought home to everyone how much of a global village we really are. This can be feel a little scary at times, but thankfully just about all countries are now responding to the challenges that COVID-19 is producing.

The Coronavirus is something that we can all individually tackle with some simple measures such as washing our hands routinely and keeping an adequate distance from one another. However, these and more extreme changes like imposed travel restrictions will impact us psychologically and emotionally over time. In response to these significant challenges, the team at Wrkit will be posting a set of 6 blogs to help you deal with the psychological changes that will occur in the coming weeks and months.

Our first post from our series of 6 is on the topic of Change and the common effects big change can have on our lives and while we know a lot more about how naturally occurring events such as earthquakes, hurricanes and pandemics can impact us, we still go through a common psychological process when confronted by these events.

Having previously lived in Wellington New Zealand for many years and having experienced hundreds of earthquakes, when the big ones hit and movement was restricted it was always very disconcerting and concern about ourselves, our friends, our family and the future quickly set in.

For starters, initially there is usually a shocked response related to what is happening to us and this can become a re-occurring experience as more events unfold, a little like a series of aftershocks. With this shock we can also experience denial and disbelief. This can often present as a lack of interest towards the situation or a downgrading of its importance in our life, kind of a ‘don’t care so much’ reaction. This is very common and a natural early response, which will gradually give way to a fuller understanding of the situation. Feelings of powerlessness and a sense of injustice or unfairness are also common, especially if our regular routines are affected as we gradually work to assimilate and understand what has happened.

A desire for control can play out then, and frustration or worry overtime can build into anger and fear/panic unless we are able to work these emotions through. It is simply our body trying to exert control over what is happening (motivation), not realising that what is happening is much bigger than ourselves, with way too many things out of our control. Our body can then react by making us feel low – sad, upset and down (demotivation), as it tries to slow us down, urging us to think clearly and not just react.  Action rather than just reaction is important, and the good news is that there are lots of actions we can take mentally to help us overcome changes whether they are big, small or even global.

Over the next number of weeks, we will be looking at ‘Mental Skills for Mental health’ and covering psychological techniques such as Goal Setting, Eustress, Reframing, Perspective Thinking, Self-Talk, and of course Resilience. For now, let’s look at some simple ways to help ourselves to process through some of what is going on around us at this early stage.

Each day take some time to write out answers to the below questions:

  • How am I feeling today?
  • How intense are these feelings – from 1 to 50 – (50 being extremely intense)?
  • What can I do to influence these feeling today?
  • How will I factor this into my plan for the day/ week/ month?

Remember that whatever you are feeling is ok, all feelings are ok – it is what we do with them that is important, as some behaviours are not ok! If for example you are angry or afraid the best ways to tackle these feelings is to channel this energy and take back some power. As a first step take this action:

  • Take a moment to breath in and out a number of times
  • Slow your breathing to slow your heartrate
  • Clear your head by focusing on your breathe  
  • Slowly count to 10 in your head as take longer breaths in and out

Plan a helpful healthy physical outlet such as running, cycling, HIIT challenges; be physical in some goal-oriented way to focus your energy.

At home set goals such as spring cleaning, gardening, DIY projects which are all great for some physical output and to have a distracting challenge.

Make a daily action plan. What will you do today that will help you to accomplish your goals? Create some deadlines and achieve some results. Create some small to medium goals to get some wins on the board which will make you feel better and more in control of what is going on and within your influence.

The importance of assertiveness in our overall wellbeing

Following on from the recent world Mental Health Day, Wellbeing & Leadership Manager @ Wrkit, Jason Brennan, explains that it is important to take time out to reflect on our overall mental health and wellness and what might be contributing to ongoing areas of unwellness.

One key area of wellness is healthy communication and the ability to confidently speak out about what is important to us, what is affecting us emotionally and psychologically and what might be contributing to our not being heard. This is the important skill of assertiveness.

Assertiveness is defined as:

  • Someone who is being assertive behaves confidently and is not frightened to say what they want or believe
  • Being assertive means being able to stand up for your own or other people’s thoughts, feelings or rights in a calm and positive way, without being either aggressive, or passive in behaviour

Assertiveness is standing up for ourselves and our personal rights by expressing our thoughts, feelings and beliefs in a direct, honest and appropriate way. By being assertive we need always to respect the thoughts, feelings and beliefs of other people and in so doing we are promoting an I’m OK, You’re OK philosophy – respecting the worth, value and dignity of ourselves and others.

Being able to communicate effectively means

  • Slowing down
  • Figuring out how we feel
  • Exploring why we feel this way
  • Understanding what relates to me and what relates to not me (others or external situation)
  • Think about how to influence the external
  • Create a plan to execute
  • Consider context for contact (where and when to talk)

Part of our plan might be to communicate and explain to others what is happening for us and how they might be contributing to this and to work on a plan to change and improve the situation.

Some tips to being assertive are –

REFLECTION:

  • Understand how we feel and why we feel this way
  • Manage our emotions with clear thoughts
  • Maintain self-control in how we want to share these insights

EXPRESSION:

  • Express ourselves through this reflective understanding
  • Choose to speak out and be heard considerately and appropriately (avoid blame)
  • Encourage two-way openness
  • Ok to disagree, assertiveness is about self-expression

CONGRUENCY:

  • Listen and respond to others point of view appropriately
  • Admit to mistakes and apologise if appropriate and helpful
  • Treat others as equal – I’m ok, You’re ok
  • Feel good about having activated the skill of assertiveness and understanding

Author: Jason Brennan, Wellbeing & Leadership Manager @ Wrkit

The workplace culture equation

Culture = Commitment + Convenience + Communication

It seems like such a simple equation, right? And the truth is, that maintaining a positive workplace culture really does come down to this simple equation. Putting it in place, however, is a different matter.

Researching and setting your goals, and then implementing a strategy to achieve your goals will require buy-in from literally everyone in your organisation. After all, the word culture is defined as ‘the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular group of people’. In other words, a culture only exists because of the actions and attitudes of the people who create it.

Let’s look at the constituent parts of the culture equation individually;

Commitment

Commitment is not achieved at board level, although that is essential to the outcome. It simply begins there, where the directors and leaders of your organisation understand the value of a strong positive company culture and are prepared to invest in achieving it. Like all achievements though, it will take effort and persistence to make it happen;

Have a clear plan – a well-researched plan, with achievable goals is an absolute must. You will need to completely understand your existing organisational culture, warts and all. To create a thriving positive culture, you will first need to eliminate any negative elements, and that means finding them and acknowledging their existence. When it comes to planning something as complex as an entire culture, an ‘honesty first’ approach will serve you well.

Understand the elements of employee engagement – to truly create an environment where all employees are fully engaged, you must first embrace the elements that make up ‘engagement’. The five core elements that you will need to commit to are as follows;

  • Recognition of your employees’ achievements – make sure they know their roles and congratulate them for performing their role well. Do it often. Encourage employees to recognise each other. Make sure to remind everyone that this is an expected pat of their role
  • Professional & Personal Growth – almost all people want to know how they can develop, not only in their jobs, but also in their lives in general. Companies that provide the tools that allow this to happen will improve employee contentment. Put something in place for them.
  • Wellness (physical, mental & emotional) – it goes without saying that someone needs to be well enough to do their job. We are not talking about being ironman fit, or achieving spiritual zen, but we are talking about providing opportunities for employees to improve their physical, mental and emotional states, and encouraging them to take those opportunities. Everyone wins when they do.
  • Financial stability – employees need it. Just like your organisation needs to constantly balance the books to stay afloat, so do your employees. The problem is, very few people are trained to do so. So, train them. It seems obvious, right? The bottom line (no pun intended) is that your employees will feel pretty good when they are not in financial difficulty. Give them the tools and knowledge to help them achieve it.
  • Having a voice – so many people feel ignored at work. They believe, right or wrong, that they do not have a voice in their organisation. It simply makes them feel bad. Give them that voice. Find ways that they can contribute to the company, to the culture, to the business. Whether it is open sessions, meetings, surveys, or one to one feedback, show them know that their opinion is important.

And this is the most important thing to remember. You need to address all five core elements. Put it this way; imagine buying a gym membership and only working on your biceps. Sure, you might be able to lift heavy things, but you wouldn’t get fit by doing it.

A top-down approach is key – this part is simple. The leaders and senior management in your company must set the example in order to prove to everyone else that the company culture is precious to the organisation. Not only do they need to be actively participating in events organised, social nights, wellness days, or fitness initiatives, but they also need to constantly (and I do mean constantly) encourage others to participate. Your company culture will take time to mature, but it will require constant nurturing for it to thrive.

Convenience

Here are some interesting statistics;

  • 60% of employees do not use company sponsored benefits because they cannot find them.
    (Harvard Business Review)
  • 60% of employees will stay long term with an employer that shows an interest in their health
    (Irish Times)
  • Only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged at work
    (Gallup)

If the first statistic above improved, the second two would follow suit.

You absolutely must make any employee benefits, perks, information, or policies regarding your company culture available 24 / 7 / 365. Add them to your intranet, put posters up, distribute flyers, and send carrier pigeons if necessary. Just make sure absolutely every single person in your organisation knows where to find them.

Communication

Over-communicate the message. Tell your employees over and over about your company culture, how proud everyone in your organisation is to be creating a special place to work, about the tools you want them to use to help in that development, and about their role in maintaining and contributing to that culture.

Ask your marketing team about the ‘rule of seven’. They know that in order or your message to be absorbed, your customers need to see it seven times. The message about your company culture that gets delivered to your employees is no different.

The culture of your organisation will be built by your employees, and that message needs to be clear in everyone’s minds.

Your company culture is like a garden. It needs to be designed, planned and constructed. Most importantly though, it needs to be nurtured. If it is neglected, it will die. If it is nourished, it will blossom. If everyone understands the goals and everyone understands their roles, the workplace culture equation is easily understood too.

Author: Tom O’Driscoll, Founder, Product & Solutions Director @ Wrkit