Creating Happy Workplaces

Case Studies Learn Grow Lead

I know that in a post-pandemic world some of you might feel like if someone else talks to you about wellbeing you might scream, but I want to go deeper than that by getting you to focus on the culture of your organisation. A large and growing body of research tells us that a positive work environment has positive benefits for the organisation, its staff and its clients.

Reported benefits for the individual include increased levels of motivation, improved performance, improved relationships, more creativity, more resilient, less hostility & conflict and a greater sense of work/life balance; while teams identified increased camaraderie, a decrease in sabotage, improved levels/feelings of competency, easier, more collaborative team work, reaching agreement more easily and greater levels of respect.

Yes, true wellbeing comes from only one place – a strong focus on creating a positive workplace culture. So here are 4 characteristics that should be on your radar as a leader:

1. Purpose

As educators I don’t think we would have chosen this job unless we felt that we believed in the power of education to make a difference and by doing that we are serving something greater than ourselves, which is the core of understanding purpose. However, in our current environment I think we need more than this. We need to think about deliberately engaging in activities for the benefit of others including our staff who often are forgotten in the focus on our students. Knowing that my work matters to my organisation by being recognised for the things you do is a great start to improving this characteristic.

2. Engagement

This area refers to the level of connection we have with an activity or our environment. It is not just about turning up to work every day and delivering our teaching but finding ways of showing up and applying ourselves in a sincere and dedicated way that leaves us feeling fulfilled by our work. I know

we all get a surge of this when a student finally “gets it” but a thoughtful leader looks at ways to build this into the work environment so that all staff feel that what they do truly matters. Tapping into the strengths of the individual and the team is one proven way to increase engagement.

3. Resilience

Resilience is the capacity to recover from adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress. This area has been sorely tested far more regularly lately and for many of us drawn on more than at almost any other time in our lives. It is no surprise that we have found ourselves feeling depleted in this area and probably not bouncing back as rapidly or as high as we used to.

3 strategies that Lucy Hone, Ph. D., who is an adjunct senior fellow at the University of Canterbury (NZ) suggests for building our own personal resilience are:

1. Acknowledging that at times “life sucks”. It isn’t always going to be a bed of roses, but in the end this too shall pass.

2. Choosing to focus on things you have control over, staying in the present and minimising the time spent thinking about everything else

3. Reflecting on your own practice and habits and thinking about “Is what I am doing helping or harming me?” and then making the necessary changes

4. Kindness

Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate and you would think that this just went without saying, but we all know places where kindness was a rare thing. There are many ways that we can show kindness in the workplace. Sharing resources, being a good listener and giving credit for accomplishments are just a few, but as well as what you do, how you behave like demonstrating compassion and empathy, showing gratitude and apologising when required also are great for building a more positive culture.

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