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This site is an archive of our Well Written Blog posts until April 2020. For the most up-to-date content visit NWIJournal.com.

The opinions and thoughts expressed here those of the authors and do not necessarily correlate with those of the National Wellness Institute. Read more.


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The BRATLAB ‘Habit Prescription Dose Value’ Series: Build Positive Relationships to Boost Productivity

Posted By Hanlie van Wyk, Monday, March 2, 2020

In a previous post, we divided happiness into three easy to remember concepts: Pleasure, People, and Prosperity

  • "Pleasure" refers to maximizing pleasurable moments (such as comfort, entertainment, and enjoyment) that lead to the satisfaction of a person’s wants and needs. This might contribute to a level of life satisfaction.
  • "People" is about having positive relationships with others. As social animals, we crave social acceptance, strive for social contribution and seek integration with a community.
  • "Prosperity" is more than what money can buy. It’s about flourishing and living authentically; actualizing one’s inherent potentials as the way to well-being.

Where should you focus your time and energy? Which happiness habit would have the greatest impact on an individual’s and organization’s productivity?

Researchers believe that about 40% of your happiness is within your control. Essentially, this means that happiness can be “generated”, and we could practice “happiness habits” for maximum beneficial impact in life and at work. The Behavioral Research and Applied Technology Laboratory researched nine happiness habits that could improve productivity and divided them into three categories: Foster, Focus and Savor. In this series, we will look at each of the nine happiness habits and explore the value that each one can bring.

Let’s start with Foster, and in particular, the importance of building positive relationships at work.

Building Positive Relationships

Happiness at work doesn’t come from raises, bonuses or perks. It comes from two things: results and relationships, i.e. doing great work together with great people. It comes from the things that you and I do, here and now. When we have healthy connections with the people we work with, we are more likely to show up fully engaged and productive at work. According to Gallup, people who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs. And it doesn't have to be a best friend: just having a good friend in the workplace makes it more likely to be satisfying. This shows how important it is to build healthy relationships at work, and the value of feeling a sense of connection and relatedness. 

Making the Change:  Habits for Fostering Positive Relationships

1. Be civil

Rudeness in the workplace isn’t just harmful, it’s also contagious. "You might go your whole career and not experience abuse or aggression in the workplace, but rudeness also has a negative effect on performance," says Trevor Foulk from the University of Florida. Trevor and his research team noticed that common negative behaviors could spread easily, just like the flu, and have significant consequences for people in organizations.

2. Smile and say “hello”

Saying hello is quick and free! Researchers at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts tell about the power of a smile, and have shown it's the little things that make a big difference in social interaction. Combine saying “hello” with a smile and it humanizes the workplace. Employees who smile more have customers who report higher satisfaction. Kathy Savitt, Managing Director at Perch Partners, a consulting firm, warns, “I think it’s easy for people at many companies to become cynical, which then leads to politics, which can create a cancer that can topple even the greatest companies.”

3. Don’t pair

Pairing occurs when two or more people engage in a “side conversation” about issues and concerns, without bringing those issues to the table to be discussed openly. Exclusionary behavior like this is likely to aggravate an already difficult situation. Failure to address the issue openly could lead to dissension, resentment, reduced productivity, and ultimately, the loss of high performers that become alienated by the toxic culture. If anger and rejection is allowed to brood, there is an increased risk of office aggression and violence. According to Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder, while it is part of human nature to associate with peers that have similar traits and personalities, pairing and cliques can be harmful and counterproductive.

4. Arrange voluntary small group meetings

Change Craft’s research on the impact of fostering positive relationships on productivity found that holding small, voluntary group meetings once a week increased informal sharing of ideas and suggestions. This in turn lead to improved production efficiency (9%) and overall productivity (17%).


Higher connectivity among team members is linked to a team’s performance. By increasing connectedness, psychological well-being is enhanced. Any organization looking to evaluate the impact of investing in these changes or wanting to understand more about how to create happy, healthy, and change-ready cultures should contact Change Craft at hello@changecraft.consulting.

Further Reading

Foulk, T., Woolum, A., & Erez, A. (2016). Catching rudeness is like catching a cold: The contagion effects of low-intensity negative behaviors. Journal of Applied Psychology, 101(1), 50–67. https://doi.org/10.1037/apl0000037

Sommers, S. (2011). Situations Matter: Understanding How Context Transforms Your World. Riverhead Books (Penguin).


About the Author:

Hanlie is a behavioral change expert, systems strategist, author, and PhD candidate for Hate Crime Studies. Her fascination with human behavior started while growing up in South Africa. From working to prevent hate crime to humanizing the workplace, her career spans three decades and four continents researching and applying behavioral change strategies to some of the most challenging behavioral problems. As Director of Change for Change Craft (powered by Behavioral Research and Applied Technology Laboratory) she studies, develops, and applies agnostic systems and practices that make change sticky, and results in high performing individuals and cultures.

Tags:  Emotional  Emotional wellness  occupational wellness  Social  Social Wellness  Worksite wellness 

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Make Yourself Marketable

Posted By Samantha Diedrich, Friday, March 8, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The way to make yourself more marketable is probably not what you think. Check out this short video from Emerging Wellness Professional Samantha Diedrich to find out, and sign up for our newsletter to receive EWP updates to your inbox!

Click here for information about getting becoming a Certified Wellness Practitioner.

Samantha Diedrich, MS, CWP, is a Certified Wellness Practitioner and Health Coach with Aspirus Business Health - Wellness. She is passionate about engaging business partners and clients to improve their lives through health and happiness. She is a member of the National Wellness Institute's Emerging Wellness Professional task force.

The goal of the task force is to motivate emerging wellness professionals to become active members of the organization and to support the EWP Awardee’s efforts to engage and empower the wellness leaders of tomorrow.

If you want to hear more on this topic Sam will be a breakout session presenter at the 2019 National Wellness Conference with the session titled, "Emerging Wellness Professionals: Growing your KSAs to be Marketable in a Competitive Profession" #EWP #2019NWC

Click here for more information about the Emerging Wellness Professionals task force and NWI's award for emerging wellness professionals.

Tags:  intellectual wellness  marketing  occupational wellness  professional development  success  thriving 

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Wellbeing in the Hospitality Sector

Posted By Pam Loch, Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The hospitality sector is the fifth largest employer in the UK

Following the Brexit vote, it is reported that some 330 000 of non-British workers are considering leaving the UK, with many having already made the move back home. While the impact of these staff shortages on the NHS has been well documented, the changing recruitment landscape is set to negatively affect a number of businesses in Britain, particularly within the hospitality industry. HR managers are having to adapt to these changing demographics, and are starting to place greater emphasis on wellbeing initiatives in order to prevent staff turnover over the coming years. 


The recruitment challenges faced by the hospitality sector

The hospitality sector is the fifth largest employer in the UK, employing approximately 4.5 million people. However, maintaining this status may not be easy, especially in the next year. In 2017 just over half of the industry’s workers (53%) were British. With the staff shortages anticipated due to Brexit, this statistic is concerning when you consider that the hospitality sector is anticipated to need to recruit 1.3 million workers by 2024. 

Both staff retention and recruitment are just some of the challenges facing the hospitality sector over the coming years, and for an industry that has historically relied upon non-British workers for its success, it is not surprising that 1 in 5 managers have reported a higher level of difficulty in recruiting staff in the last 12 months. In fact, 16% of businesses do not believe that they will fulfill staffing requirements with British workers by next year.

While the statistics paint a relatively bleak picture, there are proactive steps that HR managers and employers can take in order to retain and attract talent. HR policies and strategies that take into account a variety of wellbeing initiatives have been shown to not only have a positive impact on the health and happiness of employees, but also a correlation on the quality of service that hotels and restaurants provide to their customers.


Mental health in the hospitality sector

It is reported that 70% of British hospitality workers feel overworked, and 45% will take time off due to stress at some point in their career. With a persistent narrative surrounding stress and stress-related illnesses that it’s all “part of the job," it can become difficult to change the stigma surrounding mental health struggles brought on by working conditions - particularly when workers simply learn to live with issues such as:

Fatigue: There are a number of causes for fatigue, particularly in businesses where night work is often mandatory, such as hotels. It is widely known that when circadian rhythms are interrupted, sleep during the day becomes extremely difficult. 

Furthermore, even in circumstances where night work is not required, long days and physical labour are a feature of many hospitality sectors, which only increases fatigue when adequate rest isn’t given.  

Anxiety: In an industry in which pay is often hourly, the fear of financial repercussions from injuries and sick leave can lead to increased levels of stress and anxiety. 

Additionally, the daily expectation of potentially dealing with customers who may conduct themselves with rudeness or arrogance can also be a contributing factor to stress for a number of employees.

Depression: A recent study by the Centre for Psychological Research at the University of Derby, suggests that depression amongst hospitality workers can be influenced by a lack of motivation in the workplace, or what they refer to as ‘external motivation.' 

In other words, the motivation to work comes not from personal or ‘internal’ interest in the task, but external influences such as “I need to earn money”. This disconnect can not only impact the mental wellbeing of staff, but can also contribute to decreased productivity, absenteeism and high employee turnover. 


Effective communication is often the first step

Tackling the complexities of mental health undoubtedly requires effective communication between both employer and employee. However a recent study revealed that 44% of UK hospitality workers would not come to a colleague if they felt they had a mental health problem, and in the case of absenteeism, 38% of workers were afraid to tell their boss that stress and/or mental health was their reason for time taken off work. 

Perhaps more surprising is that 90% of hospitality workers believe that being prone to stress and anxiety would affect or hinder their career progression, and 40% believed it was their personal responsibility to deal with any work-related stress or mental health problems. In the most extreme cases, staff members who came forward with serious mental health complaints have, at times, been met with the insinuation that they should resign for the good of the company. 

While society, the media and organizations have done much to tackle the stigma of mental health, there are still concerns that by being open about the challenges we all face from time to time, there is still the possibility that it can seriously impact our career and long term financial security.

Creating an environment in which communication between management and staff is actively encouraged is therefore vital for a healthy workplace. Motivating staff to come forward in a secure environment where they feel comfortable to express their views, requests and grievances creates an environment in which workers feel valued, and are better equipped to perform their roles. 


The link between physical and mental health

Hospitality is often linked with physical work, including walking long distances, running and carrying in all sorts of conditions. Although the nature of this sort of work cannot be changed, it is important to ensure your staff are physically healthy. For example:

  • Frequent wellness checks not only provide employees with an insight into their own health,  but allows employers to take proactive steps in order to minimize the risk of absences from work through ill-health.
  • Try to ensure that staff take adequate breaks at the appropriate times, and finding cover for the remaining staff, even during peak times.
  • If you provide free meals to employees (particularly pertinent in the restaurant sector) try to provide healthy options in order to maintain high levels of performance, productivity and wellbeing.
  • Provide adequate equipment and uniform for your staff members for all weather conditions so that they are as comfortable and as safe as possible.
  • Providing out of work activities can encourage staff members to lead a healthy lifestyle, while also fostering a sense of unity and team spirit. This might include access to a gym (if available on site), team sports, regular group meditation and/or yoga sessions. 


Support and Respect

The psychological effects (https://click.booking.com/features/2018/06/12/prioritising-staff-welfare-hospitality/) of dealing with rude or even discriminatory customers are just some of the challenges faced by employees within the hospitality industry. We’ve all heard the axiom “the customer is always right” and in such a competitive market, it is understandable that companies are highly motivated by customer opinion, and the effect this can have on profits and brand reputation.

As a result there can be a disproportionately high value placed on customers, as opposed to the opinions of staff that are responsible for serving them. However what’s more difficult to quantify is the impact that unhappy employees can have on the overall success of a business, particularly when they feel unsupported. 

Unfortunately, 52.2% of hospitality workers have actually considered leaving their place of work due to a lack of support. The constant pressure from managers on their staff to maintain the outward appearance of happiness in the face of all kinds of customer attitudes, increases the feeling of discontent and the lack of a support structure. 

However, there are a variety of policies and procedures that if correctly implemented, can ensure that both employers and employees can benefit from an environment that fosters mutual support and respect.

One of the easiest ways to encourage support is through the standardization of procedures concerning customer complaints. By ensuring every member of staff adheres to uniformed company protocols, this can reduce any ambiguity on how a particular situation should be dealt with. This in turn can minimize staff members from feeling undermined by managers in situations that could be deemed subjective. 

Creating staff incentives and rewards can also be a great way to engage staff members, increase productivity, and ease any interpersonal tensions at work. By encouraging cooperation where employees work towards a common goal, tensions can gradually be eased through collaboration and teamwork. 


Wellbeing isn’t just a legal duty

Employers have a duty of care to their employees, which means that they should take steps in order to ensure their health, safety and wellbeing. However tackling mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and stress, should not be simply considered as a legal duty; it can be a key factor in building trust between staff and management, reinforcing an organization’s commitment to its employees.

It’s not always easy however, and often requires advice, guidance or training from individuals qualified to deal with complex and often serious issues. In circumstances where you may not have the resources or experience to deal with mental health conditions, it may be advisable to seek external help to ensure your staff have the appropriate level of support they need.

For many, particularly young people about to enter the workplace for the first time, the fast-paced and emotionally-charged environments produced by some hospitality sectors can create a negative stigma surrounding these types of industries. As a result, a growing number of people have decided against a career in hospitality. As society becomes increasingly concerned with the effects of mental health, it seems that a greater understanding of what wellbeing in the workplace truly means may be the key to meeting the growing need for hospitality staff.

Pam LochPam Loch is a writer interested in both physical and mental wellbeing in the workplace. Her interests have led her to become the Managing Director of Loch Associates Group, who are experts in Employment Law, HR Management and Health & Safety. She works with both employers and staff to ensure wellbeing in the workplace.

Tags:  emotional wellness  hospitality  occupational wellness  resilience  stress 

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5 Ways to Highlight Occupational Wellness in Your Health Program

Posted By Wellsource, Thursday, February 7, 2019
Updated: Thursday, March 28, 2019

This is the second post in a six-part series focusing on the Six Dimensions of Wellness: emotional, occupational, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual. Each post features a different dimension of wellness. This post will discuss occupational wellness and the importance of providing employees a feeling of purpose and satisfaction at work.

Part 1: Using Gratitude to Improve Your Population’s Emotional Wellbeing
Part 2: 5 Ways to Highlight Occupational Wellness in Your Health Program
Part 3: How to Keep Your Workforce Population Moving
Part 4: Six Strategies to Promote Social Wellness
Part 5: Keep Your Workforce Sharp with These 4 Simple Strategies
Part 6: Mindfulness: The Focus Path to Spiritual Wellness

Occupational Wellness 01Quick! What image comes to mind when you hear the term “occupational wellness”? If you think of stand-up desks and ergonomic keyboards you’re not alone. Some people associate occupational wellness with these types of workplace innovations, designed to minimize tension on the joints from hours spent sitting at the office. Others may think of occupational health, which deals with workplace safety and injuries caused by hazardous work environments. However, occupational wellness moves beyond physical aspects of work and “recognizes personal satisfaction and enrichment” that each of us gains through our work.

“When I think of occupational wellness, I think of a well-rounded work environment where employees are free to learn and grow, with all of their basic health needs being met,” says Dr. Brittany Carter, Wellsource Director of Health & Research.

As you develop wellness programs, you’ll want to include a comprehensive occupational wellness emphasis. Why? Because on average, U.S. full-time employees spend one-third of their adult life at work. This is such a significant amount of time that job satisfaction and fulfillment become some of the most important factors in a career. Unfortunately, many people in the U.S. do not feel that their jobs include these components. Less than one-third of Americans are happy with their work, and 70% of Americans currently employed are searching for other jobs. 

Unfulfilling work can take a toll on physical and mental health, increasing risk for chronic illnesses. Those in unhealthy work environments tend to gain more weight, and stress from work can increase the risk of heart attacks. Workplace stress also increases absenteeism and attrition, decreases productivity, and contributes to feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety. Stanford/Harvard researchers say that at least 120,000 deaths annually can be partly attributed to workplace stress (long work hours, job insecurity, and lack of work-life balance). 

On the other hand, an employee’s work environment can encourage them to not only stay but thrive. Having challenging work and work-life balance are the top two reasons employees stay with their company long term, according to a survey by the Aberdeen Group. A culture of corporate wellness helps employees feel good about themselves, their work, and their employer.  


Can money buy happiness and job satisfaction?

It turns out money can buy happiness…to a point. A National Academy of Sciences study found an increase in salary can increase happiness, but the beneficial affects plateau when basic needs are met and individuals are able to live comfortably. That happens at $75,000 a year. After that, a further increase in salary will not equate to greater job satisfaction or happiness. 

Many employees also have a need for consistency between company and personal values. Nine out of ten people would choose a company with values similar to their own over a job that pays more. They’re even willing to take a 21% pay cut to work there. (Millennials would take a 34% pay cut.) No matter what the income level of a company’s workforce, it’s always best to focus on occupational wellness for happy, productive, long-term employees.  

A comprehensive occupational wellness program doesn’t just track employees’ nutrition and fitness, it encourages employers to make sure the entire staff feels fulfilled in their work life. Here are five ways you can bring attention to occupational wellness in each health program you administer. 


1. Remember the mission & vision

Mission statements aren’t just for show. It turns out that having a mission that both leadership and employees identify with and believe in has a great impact on job satisfaction. Not only that, but having employees that feel a sense of purpose in their jobs directly relates to productivity. A Deloitte survey showed that mission-driven companies have 40% higher retention levels. In addition, 73% of employees who report working for a purpose-driven company are engaged, while only 23% at non-purpose driven companies are engaged. Employers have noticed, too. Seven in ten business execs say embracing company mission boosts employee productivity.

Occupational Wellness 02When it comes to having a purpose and feeling fulfilled at work, employees need to be able to believe in the big picture goals of the company, which they contribute to each day through their work. Encourage managers to make sure the people they hire believe in the mission of their company from the beginning. They should include interview questions about candidates’ values to see if they align with the company’s values. It would be difficult for most people to spend hours each day working toward a goal that contradicts their personal values, and it could lead to conflict down the road. Employers should hire people who support their company’s vision and mission, and then reinforce the importance of their vision and mission at company-wide meetings, so that each member of the team is reminded of why they’re doing the work they do each day.


2. Promote the ‘work hard, play hard’ philosophy

Another important element of occupational wellness is work-life balance. Many people feel the need to work long hours in the competitive world we live in. But as the proverb says: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” High-pressure environments can do more than make workers boring and bored. They can have a devastating impact on employee health. A study of over 10,000 participants conducted by University College London found that white-collar workers who usually worked three or more hours longer than their normal work day had a 60% higher risk of heart-related problems than those who did not work overtime.

Overexertion of employees can also be very expensive for employers. Work stress costs U.S. businesses $300 billion a year because of absenteeism, presenteeism (working while sick), employee turnover, work-related injuries, and higher medical costs. According to Gallup reports, only 32% of employees are engaged at work. This lack of engagement costs between 450 and 550 billion per year. All of these figures indicate that it pays to make sure that employees can find purpose and fulfillment in their work, and that they have a healthy balance between productive time spent at the office and time to relax with friends and family.

Occupational Wellness 03Employees can’t feel energized and be productive at work if they put in too much overtime. Encourage managers to emphasize to their employees the value of working a reasonable number of hours each week so that they can spend time with loved ones, exercise, and get plenty of sleep. Work-life balance also means that employers offer enough vacation time and sick leave for their employees to have the chance to recharge their batteries. 


3. Provide peace of mind

A large component of allowing employees to enjoy their time outside of work, free from worry, is providing health insurance. There’s a reason that health insurance was ranked the most important benefit in a recent Glassdoor study. Population health and wellness managers understand the value of affordable health coverage for employees. When negotiating insurance contracts, encourage corporate executives to generously supplement premium costs for their employees. It can improve physical health outcomes, as employees are more likely to keep up with regular preventive exams and checkups when they’re covered by insurance. It also offers major stress relief, as employees don’t have to choose between paying for costly premiums out of pocket or living without coverage. Employees whose health insurance is covered experience not only less stress but also a morale boost, knowing that their employer cares about their wellbeing. Make sure the managers you work with understand the importance of removing this burden from their employees.


4. Never underestimate the value of professional development

Providing growth opportunities is an important way corporations can help their employees achieve job satisfaction. Having the chance to develop transferable skills and earn promotions motivates employees because they feel like they’re getting more out of working than a paycheck—they’re learning things that will improve their performance and keep their company relevant.

Providing flexibility in a job is another great way to motivate employees. Encourage employers to find out about their employees’ career goals and, wherever possible, find ways to incorporate their interests and the skills they would like to develop into their position. This way, they feel that their manager cares about their individual development and success, giving them a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment.

Employees want to be challenged and feel like they’re acquiring skills that they can use throughout their career. There are plenty of opportunities for managers to help them accomplish this. They can encourage employees to take risks so that they don’t become bored. Providing them the opportunity to attend conferences, workshops, or training enhances their knowledge of the industry and helps them grow as professionals. This will give them a feeling of personal growth, while at the same time provide employers with a more knowledgeable workforce.

Occupational Wellness 04It’s important for workers to feel that their efforts are recognized. This might come in the form of a promotion, award, or a simple thank you. Beyond the pay raise that often accompanies a promotion, this act provides a high level of satisfaction for ambitious, hardworking employees. It also acts as a great motivator for employees to be able to see the hard work of their colleagues be rewarded. There are at least 101 effective ways to reward employees. Share some ideas with the organizations with whom you work. 


5. Foster a positive work environment

A fun workplace contributes to work satisfaction and fulfillment. Encourage employers to plan lunchtime socials, group walking breaks, or other activities (inside and outside of work) so that employees can bond and feel a sense of comradery in the workplace. Workplace administrators can try offering volunteer opportunities and corporate social responsibility programs so that employees can feel like they’re making a difference in the world. Creating this type of culture can reduce employee turnover in the long run.

Occupational Wellness 05Public health and wellness professionals can rely on these tactics to provide the most enriching work experience for employees, which will enhance occupational wellness. Making sure employers have these occupational wellness components in place can lead to better employee retention, less absenteeism, and a more productive workforce. To find out more on how you can incorporate occupational wellness in your health program, check out Creating a Culture of Health

This is the second post in a six-part series focusing on the Six Dimensions of Wellness: emotional, occupational, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual. Below are links to the other published in this series.

Part 1: Using Gratitude to Improve Your Population’s Emotional Wellbeing
Part 2: 5 Ways to Highlight Occupational Wellness in Your Health Program
Part 3: How to Keep Your Workforce Population Moving
Part 4: Six Strategies to Promote Social Wellness
Part 5: Keep Your Workforce Sharp with These 4 Simple Strategies
Part 6: Coming Soon!


About Wellsource

Wellsource, Inc. has been a premier provider of evidence-based Health Risk Assessments and Self-Management Tools for four decades, making us one of the longest-serving wellness companies in the industry. With a strong reputation for scientific research and validity, we offer an innovative family of products that empower wellness companies, health plans, ACOs, and healthcare providers to inspire healthy lifestyles, prevent disease, and reduce unnecessary healthcare costs. Our assessments connect lifestyle choices with healthy outcomes, measure readiness to change for maximum results, and drive informed decisions with actionable data.


Works Cited

Bersin, Josh. “Unlocking the Secrets of Employee Engagement.” Deloitte United States, 27 Aug. 2018, www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/finance/articles/cfo-insights-employee-engagement.html.

Dishman, Lydia. “These Are The Best Employee Benefits And Perks.” Fast Company, Fast Company, 3 Feb. 2016, www.fastcompany.com/3056205/these-are-the-best-employee-benefits-and-perks.

“Do Your Employees Know the Business Mission? Here's Why They Should.” Growth Engineering, 12 Jan. 2018, www.growthengineering.co.uk/benefits-communicating-business-mission/.

Economy, Peter. “101 Super Effective Ways to Reward Your Employees.” Inc.com, Inc., 13 Oct. 2014, www.inc.com/peter-economy/101-super-effective-ways-to-reward-your-employees.html.

Ell, Kellie. “Money Is No Longer the Biggest Incentive in Selecting a Job.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 29 Nov. 2017, www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/11/29/money-no-longer-biggest-incentive-selecting-job/901899001/.

Hettler, Bill. “The Six Dimensions of Wellness Model.” National Wellness Institute, cdn.ymaws.com/www.nationalwellness.org/resource/resmgr/pdfs/sixdimensionsfactsheet.pdf.

“How to Develop a Top-Notch Workforce That Will Accelerate Your Business.” Insperity, www.insperity.com/guide/how-to-develop-a-top-notch-workforce-that-will-accelerate-your-business/.

“Is Workplace Stress Taking a Toll on Your Employee Wellness?” Wellsource, 22 Mar. 2018, blog.wellsource.com/workplace-stress-taking-toll-on-employee-health.

Lynch, Shana. “Why Your Workplace Might Be Killing You.” Stanford Graduate School of Business, 23 Feb. 2015, www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/why-your-workplace-might-be-killing-you.

McBeth, Katie. “Money vs. Happiness: How Purpose, Salaries, Jobs, and Careers All Fit Together.” Fiscal Tiger | A Resource for Personal Finance and Credit Card, 25 Jan. 2017, www.fiscaltiger.com/big-money-versus-job-satisfaction/.

“Protecting Workers' Health.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 30 Nov. 2017, www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/protecting-workers'-health.

Stahl, Ashley. “Hate Your Job? Here's What It's Costing You.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 3 Mar. 2016, www.forbes.com/sites/ashleystahl/2016/03/03/hate-your-job-heres-what-its-costing-you/#17970ff76630.

Thompson, Sonia. “68 Percent of Employees Are Disengaged, But There Is a Scientifically Proven Way to Boost Engagement.” Inc.com, Inc., 20 Sept. 2017, www.inc.com/sonia-thompson/68-percent-of-employees-are-disengaged-but-there-i.html.

“UCL Study: Overtime 'Bad for Your Heart'.” University College London, University College London, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT, UK, 12 May 2010, www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2010/may/ucl-study-overtime-bad-your-heart#sthash.ljtjvuTF.dpuf.

Virtanen, Marianna, et al. “Overtime Work and Incident Coronary Heart Disease: The Whitehall II Prospective Cohort Study.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 11 May 2010, academic.oup.com/eurheartj/article/31/14/1737/436396.

Volo, Karin. “How Engagement Affects Company Profit and Performance.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 7 Sept. 2016, www.huffingtonpost.com/karin-volo/how-engagement-affects-co_b_11894874.html.

“Workplace Wellness.” Mental Health America, 19 Nov. 2018, www.mentalhealthamerica.net/workplace-wellness.

Tags:  Occupational wellness  Wellsource 

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NWI Member Spotlight - January 2019

Posted By NWI, Friday, January 4, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Nicole AkparewaNicole Akparewa, RN, MPH, MSN

Creative Director of “Transform Nursing”

John Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health

John Hopkins University, School of Nursing

My mission is to train nurses globally with the tools they need to confidently address health policy, patient advocacy, and patient engagement in both clinical and non-clinical settings. Transformative nursing means that every nurse in every country has the knowledge, the training, and the ability to be effective leaders who will combat health disparities through empowerment, awareness, and education. I am a nurse entrepreneur and coach who teaches online courses for nurses to delve deeply into health and social challenges, and empower the global community of nurses to take the lead on health system change.

The way I have created social impact, which is the effect I want to have on the well-being of the communities I serve, is through blogging and podcasting to build awareness of social justice. I use Facebook Live to speak to the issues that nurses are facing. I also have a course that is focused on social justice and influential leadership called the “Nurse's Influential Leadership Lab” that is all about creating nurse leaders in inclusive practices.  

I lead with passion, bold enthusiasm, and most importantly by example. When it comes to approaching uncomfortable topics in nursing, I don’t ask my students do something that I don’t have the courage to do. I share my stories about nursing, even the times where I felt slighted or shamed, or just fell flat on my face. My relationship with nursing has endured many iterations from infatuation, to bittersweet, to verging on resignation because I didn’t feel comfortable speaking out about issues that made me or my patients unsafe. I finally realized that I have a distinct purpose in nursing — to create a safe space for nurses to have a deeper awareness of how their individual practice can improve the lives of their patients beyond the hospital room, and transcend into their lives and communities.

What makes me who I am is my dedication to my purpose and the atmosphere of support that I provide the students in my courses. I am often termed the “eternal cheerleader” because I champion for nurses to take the lead on health policy and education while being involved in civic engagement. I help nurses make subtle shifts that can bring profound changes, and reflections that yield those “aha” moments as they awaken to new insights. It’s really quite special to watch. My authentic desire is to co-create, collaborate, and build strength in the nursing community through a transformative process that will help you find yet undiscovered joys and new challenges in your profession.

I am originally from Seattle, WA. I graduated from the University of Washington School of Nursing with a BSN and then the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing with a dual Masters in Nursing and Public Health. I knew nursing was my passion when I met a Native American nursing student who worked with pregnant teenagers in her tribe. Until then I never knew that nurses worked in the community.

When I’m not working I like to spend time with my little boy Gabriel, read books, and watch the Golden Girls.

To learn more about Nicole and her work contact her at:

Phone: 443.388.6345
E-mail: transformnursing@gmail.com
Website: TransformNursing.com

Tags:  clinical practice  emotional wellness  intellectual wellness  multicultural competency  Nicole Akparewa  Nikki Akparewa  nursing  occupational wellness  racial equity  success  thriving  Transform Nursing 

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Exploring the Health and Productivity Link in Chilean Companies

Posted By Volney Vásquez Henríquez, Tuesday, October 2, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Volney Vásquez Henríquez  - Professor of Physical Education, Universidad de Chile

The concept of "productivity improvement" is fashionable in Chile. We urgently need as an emerging economy to improve our performance and productive levels by making better use of the available resources. In order to protect that improvement, two National Productivity Commissions have been created under the auspices of our government. We have had the fortune to talk to government officials from both Commissions in order to explain and discuss our vision that the health and well-being of people play a very important role in labor productivity. We have found that the many issues both Commissions will be dealing with are the use of new technologies, innovation, technical training of human resources, and inclusion of young people, old people and women in the labor world, among others. However the issue of the health of people has not been brought forward as yet. This certainly opens the possibility of contributing our knowledge and experience for the generation of future related public policies.

Promondo, the Chilean company I am a Director of, this year celebrates 28 years in the sector of health promotion in the workplace. Over those years ourselves and Promondo have had to evolve, looking for new methods that allow us to continue growing and delivering integrated qualified wellness programs. One way we have done that is, a couple of years ago, we entered into a strategic relationship with the American company Health Improvement Solutions (HIS) located in Omaha, Nebraska. HIS is directed by Joe Leutzinger a specialist with more than 30 years experience investigating the relationship between health and productivity in companies all over the world. From this alliance we have introduced in some national companies a survey that allows us to evaluate how much the poor health of their workers costs them by measuring absenteeism and presenteeism. Some of the companies that we have worked with and implemented this instrument, have already taken action to try to reduce the costs that were identified.

Specifically, we have created a study laboratory with a Chilean company of 350 workers based in the city of Santiago. The results from the Productivity Plus Survey (PPS), informed the development of an intervention program involving implementing improvements in nutritional programs, programs of physical exercise, care of musculoskeletal pathologies, treatments for better sleep, reduction of work shifts, plans of prevention of risks and safety at work, salary improvements, dynamics of approach between workers and management (psychosocial risk), psychological support for workers and family, and treatments for addictions. This company measures the productivity of its employees, shares this information with us, allowing us to monitor our work and review the program continuously. This formula seems to be the ideal one.

After almost 2 years, productivity improvements have been evident and sharing the analysis with the top executives of the company, they have declared Promondo to be a strategic partner of theirs. It seems to me that this is the only way that can make us win the confidence of the entrepreneurs and make our value proposition truly interesting. Otherwise we run the risk of continuing to deliver outdated services that at any moment can become dispensable.

We have shared all accumulated data and experiences with the aforementioned National Productivity Commissions in order to continue to add validated metrics and data to their resources. The Commission’s specialists in economics are assisting us to acquire the most relevant and valuable information for them. We are pleased to be a contributor and our hope is that our proposals are imitated by the entire business sector. Our goal for the next 2 years is to add more companies to our study laboratory in order to be able to demonstrate that healthy workers are more productive and efficient, and that any investment in Health and Labor Welfare can bring significant returns.

If all goes well, all levels of our society will benefit greatly from this: the key will be to identify the tasks of each - the State, workers, entrepreneurs and service providers.

Perhaps this issue is not new for countries where progress has been made in studies and research on health and labor productivity for years. But for us in Chile it represents a new area of interest and we do not want to miss the opportunity to highlight it. The challenge that comes before us seems to be very challenging but exciting. I hope to tell you about our progress in the near future.

 Volney Vásquez Henríquez is the President and CEO of Promondo Corporate Wellness, Professor of Physical Education, Universidad de Chile, Master in Sport Management, Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la Educación, Chile, Diploma in Sports Management, Havana, Cuba, International Cycling Coach, 3 years of work in European professional cycling (1987-1989), 30 years directing programs of Wellness and Health Promotion in more than 50 Chilean companies; international certificate in Health Promotion and Wellness coaching; member of the Glimmer Initiative, U.S.A. 2015.Organizer of 7 editions of the International Forum of Corporate Health, Santiago de Chile (2008-2015), Co-author of the book "Global Perspectives in Health Promotion", IIHP, Washington D.C., 2013.

Tags:  Chile  intellectual wellness  International Wellness  occupational wellness  productivity  Volney Vásquez Henríquez 

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Positive Coping Behaviour Reinforces Employee Productivity

Posted By Dr Dicky Els and Terrance M. Booysen, Tuesday, September 4, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Dr Dicky Els and Terrance M. Booysen  |  Johannesburg, South Africa

In a globalised economy excesses and imbalances in one part of the world inevitably affects the economies of another, and this is typically played out between developed and developing countries.  With the accelerated pace of global development, expectedly there is a knock-on implication to increased business risk through aggressive competition, and more pressure on increasing profit margins. It’s therefore not surprising then to see — at a global level — how executives are forced to re-evaluate, redesign, and sometimes shrink their trading operations in the face of tougher regulatory requirements, exacerbated by revenue declines and higher cost pressures. Organisations are operating in turbulent markets and they have to constantly adapt to increasing business uncertainty and changing circumstances, locally and abroad. Accordingly, the challenge (or the threat) to many business executives may be found in the way they react to severe economic stressors. 

Two of the BRICS countries — namely Russia and Brazil — are in recession, while the South African economy performs below market expectations. Figures released by Statistics South Africa showed that the government, transport, and retail sectors had grown while agriculture, mining, and manufacturing declined in the second quarter of 2015. Compounding matters yet further, the South African mining and manufacturing sectors have announced more plans to cut thousands of jobs.  As the national economy continues to struggle, many organisations are battling to survive, and the effect has a direct and negative impact on the psychological (and ultimately physical) well-being of the nation’s workforce. 

With increased organisational complexities, including the demands placed upon the workforce, there are many factors which could negatively impact the well-being of employees. Increasingly employees are confronted with more unpredictable work-related challenges, whilst their dwindling personal coping mechanisms and organisational support is not nearly enough to help them deal with the stress they are experiencing. Clearly, in order to maintain a positive, healthy, and productive workforce, employers need to deal with those negative factors, all which if left unchecked, will continue to undermine workplace wellness and exacerbate personal stress.     


Invest in positive behaviour 

Employee wellness programmes should deliver more than just health awareness. Stronger emphasis should be placed on positive coping and stress management behaviour that enables employees and the organisation — as a collective — to be more resilient. Well-designed programmes employ strengths-based development processes to reinforce and broaden the response repertoire for employees. Individuals that expend effort to build their talents, competence, and skills are able to gain far more as opposed to those who spend a comparable amount of effort to remediate their weaknesses. As such, organisations should focus on effective talent management which leverages employee wellness programmes to promote a positive, productive, and resilient workforce.  

Employee wellness programmes that promote positive thought, feeling, and behaviour patterns are generally more effective in the long run, and deliver a bigger return on the ‘investment’ because they unleash the psychological capital of their workforce. At the core of these employee wellness programmes is the development of personal competencies that not only buffers the employee, but is also known to transform work-related stress. These programmes are founded on positive organisational virtuousness and a culture of wellness and proactive strengths-based processes that promote transformational coping strategies.

Regardless of whether or not the workplace is known to have various challenges, best practice employee wellness programmes are most often the basis for developing individual strengths that empower employees to flourish. Organisations that utilise employee wellness programmes usually see employee health risks and workforce demands as opportunities and not as threats, harm, or loss. They invest in — and develop — positive organisational behaviour characterised by high levels of self-efficacy, meaningfulness, happiness, optimism, hope, and resilience that results in a committed, open-minded, and connected workforce.  For them psychological competence is strengthened through positive learning experiences, proactive goal setting, problem-focused solutions, and voluntary employee engagement. Typical employee wellness programmes that make use of strength-based interventions incorporate physical and psychological constructs to promote employee health, including positive and appreciative behaviour.    


Employees’ responsibility 

Employee wellness programmes intend to promote a positive employer-employee relationship, job satisfaction, positive experiences at work, and a thriving workforce. But to get this working, it is ultimately the responsibility of the employee. Employees have the free will to choose their coping responses. Some employees may choose to unwind from stress with positive coping behaviour, or they may enjoy a short-term — and sometimes dysfunctional — solution by abusing alcohol, medication, tobacco, and drugs. Expectedly, the positive effects that healthy eating, physical activity, realistic beliefs, and positive workplace experiences have on the reduction of stress and on health promotion are clear. The main difference between resilient employees and those that fall into substance abuse lies in the individuals’ behavioural capacities. Employees differ in how well they perceive, express, understand, and deal with stressors in the context in which it occurs. Those who cope positively tend to have more positive attitudes, better coping mechanisms, less perceived stress, and a better quality of life. It is attributed to their combined internal and external resources which they actively manage with cognitive, emotional, social, and behavioural coping strategies.  

One of the most exciting features of our cognitive ability is how it can enable us to stand ‘outside’ ourselves and observe our own thinking. It is our thinking that creates powerful electromagnetic and chemical signals — for better or worse — that offset an organised set of emotional and physical reactions. It begins with a thought, which suggests that it is our thinking that puts us in a positive proactive or a negative reactive coping strategy. Employees that cope well with stress are generally reflective in their thinking process and they tend to observe, review, and re-appraise their own thoughts, emotions, and actions (and if need be they adapt accordingly). These employees understand that they have free will and internal control over what they choose to think about and dwell on.  Positive cognition utilises positive attitudes — trusting instincts, wisdom, self-insight, optimism, sense of responsibility, creativity, and openness to continuously reframe and counter work-related stress.  

Interestingly, positive emotions that promote positive coping behaviour are consciously accessible as long lasting feelings and are often free flowing. Such positive coping manifests not only as positive emotions, but also includes physical sensations, moods, and attitudes. When employers cultivate positive experiences at work, they enlist positive emotions and workplace resilience is strengthened for their employees. This cultivation of positive experiences builds employees’ positive coping resources in order to distinguish between good and bad emotional responses. Moreover, positive emotions also expand and strengthen the capacity of employees to effectively acknowledge and express their own emotions, as well as maturely respond to that of their co-workers. 

As compared to positive emotions, positive social experiences are underpinned by friendship, compassion, forgiveness, integrity, and dignity; all of which reinforce positive social interactions in the workplace and amongst the employees. Understandably, interpersonal workplace relationships will flourish when they involve employees who enjoy a cohesive, fulfilling, and enjoyable business relationship with their peers. Co-workers who share the same wellness objectives — whether it is to get fit, stop smoking, manage stress, or reduce blood sugar levels — often share the same interpersonal values. When employees enjoy a mutual respect and trust with each other, positive social support is usually enabled, and this gives rise to a greater and more positive social coping behaviour. Accordingly, high quality workplace relationships usually incubate a climate for interpersonal acceptance and inclusion that is in turn generally associated with effective coping mechanisms, longevity, stronger immune systems, and lower blood pressure. Research by Gallup, Inc., found that social interaction and quality relationships have a compounding effect on wellness.  The research found that people who have three close friendships are healthier, have higher well-being, and are more engaged in their work, while the absence of close friendships leads to boredom, loneliness, and depression. Interestingly, those employees who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged, and less likely to get injured on the job (Well-being, The Five Essential Elements, T. Rath & J. Harter, 2010).  



It may be true that organisations are becoming more aware of the benefits of employee wellness programmes, however many organisations still tend to focus only on disease management rather than on integrated health and wellness aspects. More than ever, employee wellness programmes should apply strength-based interventions that develop the positive coping capability and psychological competence of workers. Through the application of employee wellness programmes, organisations can create the ideal working conditions for employees to enhance their quality of life and allow them to achieve their fullest potential. Indeed, resilient employees are a critical asset to have, especially during financially stressful times.   

Employees should be encouraged and supported to develop their cognitive, emotional, and social talents to strengthen and expand positive coping behaviour. Research and case studies prove that employees who display positive coping behaviour generally perform better at work and are more engaged in wellness programmes. These employees also tend to deal with organisational change and personal stress far better than those without positive coping capabilities. 

In respect of an organisation’s human capital, in order for it to claim that it is wholly functional, we believe each organisation must evaluate its employee wellness programmes, focussing upon their progress and their group wellness indicators and business results. Expectedly, these indicators and measurable results must be made known not only to the employees themselves, but also to the organisation’s extended stakeholders. This information is usually articulated in the organisation’s annual Integrated Report and enhances the stakeholders’ understanding of the organisation’s risk profile.  

Dr. Dicky ElsDr Dicky Els is a Lead Independent Consultant in CGF. He specialises in Workplace Wellness and focuses predominantly on strategy development, programme design, and evaluation of outcome-based health promotion programmes. Dr. Els also regularly presents Positive Coping Behaviour Training as in-house wellness interventions. For more information on the Employee Wellness Programme Evaluation or Wellness and Disease Management Audits, contact Dr. Els directly at 082 4967960, email dicky@bewell.org.za, or go to wellnessprogramevaluation.com 

Terrance M. BooysenTerrance M. Booysen, the CEO of CGF has presented numerous interventions to public and private audiences in and out of South Africa and has received many accolades directly linked with corporate governance. He is a regular podium presenter and is considered knowledgeable in the practice, having produced many governance, risk and compliance reports and articles over the years. More information regarding CGF can be found at www.cgf.co.za

Tags:  coping  Dr Dicky Els  emotional wellness  intellectual wellness  International Wellness  mental health  occupational wellness  South Africa  Terrance M. Booysen 

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A Thriving Organizational Culture Drives Employee Engagement

Posted By Dr Dicky Els and Jene’ Palmer, Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Dr Dicky Els and Jene’ Palmer (South Africa) 

Culture shapes the wellness of individuals, businesses, communities and nations.  Although it is not static and can change, it generally manifests itself in the behaviour of a group of people at any given point in time.  Culture is a collective identity that is based on a set of unspoken rules that underpin personal values and interpersonal relationships.  It distinguishes the members of one group from those of another, and typically informs society’s behaviour.  Culture is best described as a set of values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that are shared by individuals and sub-groups.  It is a strong hidden force that positively or negatively affects individuals, businesses, communities and, indeed, South Africa as a nation.  Just as a person who is healthy may not necessarily be flourishing as an individual, similarly an organisation (or a nation) could be functioning adequately, but not necessarily thriving as a business (or a country).

With heightened racial tension still very prevalent in South Africa, South Africans are realising that the virtuous intent, moral goodness, social betterment and ethical leadership that was envisioned for the “New South Africa”, appears beyond our current grasp.  Since 1994 the “Rainbow Nation” has been tested by various socio-political and relentless economic challenges, and the recent Bell Pottinger scandal has only made these matters much worse.  To this end, social issues such as inequality, infighting, bribery, corruption, cruelty, crime and poverty often come to mind for most individuals when asked to describe the existing national culture. Sadly, negative and often traumatic experiences are slowly eroding our hope, optimism, resilience, pride and patriotism.  More than ever, individuals need to bounce back from adversities while at the same time rethink their expenditures, emotional responses, interpersonal relationships and lifestyle choices.  Once again, as individuals and as a nation, we are being forced to learn, adapt, endure and change. 

“Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness.  You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity.”

- Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 2008

Moreover, the degree to which the current socio-political and economic climate fosters the needs, desires, values and conduct of an autonomous group of individuals over those of the nation, is also affecting South African businesses.  Organisations are expected to implement ‘radical economic transformation’ strategies while at the same time managing social, environmental, legal and even political risks.  The by-gone era when organisations would only focus on maximising profit, at the expense of ignoring the needs of its people and the environment, are long forgotten.  Fortunately, business philosophies are changing and organisations are increasingly adopting a more sustainable stakeholder-inclusive approach to creating value.  This approach is supported by international governance best practice guidelines such as those contained in the King IV™ Report* and those issued by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC).  These guidelines advocate a holistic and integrated approach to business and recognise the connectivity and interdependencies between the economy, society and the environment.  In line with this ethos, organisations are expected to balance “the legitimate and reasonable needs, interests and expectations” of all material stakeholders in the best interests of the organisation over the long term.   


Organisational culture change 

If organisations want to transform their business operations to be in line with the above-mentioned business ethos, they need to start by changing their leadership and organisational culture.  According to a recent Harvard Business Review, the failure rate for mergers and acquisitions (M&A) is between 70% and 90%.  One of the most common reasons for these failures is the inability to transform and merge organisational cultures.  M&A’s frequently result in high levels of uncertainty and stress amongst employees which in turn germinate a resistance to change and a decrease in productivity.  This negative behaviour is unintentionally reinforced by leaders wanting to “take charge” and control and manage the organisational culture.  Whilst the introduction of rules, policies, and processes may be effective in communicating boundaries and providing guidelines on acceptable behaviour, they often inadvertently restrict employee engagement.  Such a rules based approach to organisational culture assumes that successful change management can only be achieved by anticipating and resolving problems and criticisms.  There is often little to no involvement of the employees in establishing the desired organisational culture and instead, a strong emphasis is placed on analysing, designing and controlling employee behaviour with varying degrees of success.  In these circumstances, it makes more sense for leaders to let go of the illusion of control, and rather focus on the positive aspects of organisational change which promote enhancement and growth by developing a shared set of beliefs, values, norms and strengths.  

A values-based approach to organisational change encourages employees to align their personal values with those of the organisation.  Indeed, a values-based approach, addresses and challenges the belief systems within the organisation and at same time recognises that employees need to be equipped with positive coping skills to be able to adapt to changing circumstances.  Whilst a unified message sent from the ‘top’ and a transparent project plan gives direction to employees, it is capacity development and change enablement that must take centre stage during the merger or change process. Positive transformational leaders develop purpose and meaning, translate strategic objectives into daily operations and develop interpersonal relationships that add value to the human and social capital of the organisation.  They understand that there is no substitute for high-quality connections.  Through supportive collaboration and alliance building, positive leaders work directly with employees to develop new belief systems, behavioural norms and the desired organisational culture.  They enable change through conversations, dialogue and coaching interactions that inspire employees.  As more employees engage in the process, so the impetus towards positive change becomes stronger. 


Thriving organisational culture 

High-performing organisations invest considerable resources in fostering their core organisational values, purpose and desired culture.  In fact, high-performing organisations consider a thriving organisational culture as a strong competitive advantage.  These organisations intentionally develop individual and group strengths through collaboration, collective efforts, effective communication and cohesive interpersonal relationships at multiple levels, and in different contexts.   

A thriving organisational culture manifests in the individual expressions, language, teamwork, relationships and positive experiences of employees which in turn translates into improved innovation and productivity.  In addition, thriving organisational cultures are characterised by predictable behaviour requirements, the ability to develop and respond to change effectively as well as an environment where employees can meaningfully engage on an individual and a collective level.  In these environments, relationships are built on trust and positive feedback is provided in the spirit of personal and professional growth and development.  Essentially, employees in these positive circumstances generally tend to value their quality of life, and contribute positively to those around them. 

Similarly, high performing organisations with thriving organisational cultures are further distinguished by the existence of truly cohesive executive leadership teams.  The vision and mission of the organisation is clearly articulated and the organisational values are translated into practical behavioural norms (personal conduct).  High organisational commitment and job satisfaction, low incidence of sickness and employee absenteeism, positive industrial relations and fewer strikes, are the main attributes of thriving organisations.  These organisations adopt a strength-based approach, and assign tangible value to high quality relationships and a collective identity that engages employees and develops its human and social capital.  

Employees working in a thriving organisational culture are generally less insular, and they are more able to give and receive support from others.  These employees tend to work in ways that excite, absorb and engage them.  Generally, they tend to be more self-directed and autonomous, while at the same time they also feel more committed to the organisation.  These employees spontaneously create social networks and form positive interpersonal relationships that enable the collective organisation to set goals, work with vigour, and solve problems with resilience.  Not surprisingly, these interconnected employees enjoy authentic relationships and communicate openly and across multiple reporting structures.  On a daily basis, employees experience personal autonomy, self-efficacy, meaningful work, self-actualisation and social acceptance that entices them to contribute with excellence. 

Considering the racial strife and political undertones many South Africans are experiencing at this point in time -- particularly in the workplace -- more organisations and their leadership should pay greater attention to nurturing their organisational culture.  In doing so, the organisation may become an important catalyst for a far greater change that is not limited to the workplace itself; the positive effects may well also affect the organisation’s social responsibility, extended supply chains and South Africa as a whole.  This being said, the ripple effect of embracing culture and its diversity requires ethical and authentic leaders to drive this change, and this is possibly one of South Africa’s greatest challenges in present times.  

* King IV™ Report on Corporate Governance for South Africa 2016 (The Institute of Directors in Southern Africa) (“King IV™”). 

Dr. Dicky ElsDr Dicky Els is a Lead Independent Consultant in CGF Research Institute.  He specialises in Workplace Wellness and focuses predominantly on strategy development, programme design and evaluation of outcome-based health promotion programmes.  CGF is a Proudly South African company that specialises in conducting desktop research on Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) related topics. dicky@bewell.org.za

Jene' PalmerJene’ Palmer is the Chief Financial Officer at CGF Research Institute, and a Chartered Accountant (SA) who has garnered a wealth of experience over the last two decades in the corporate environment including leading a JSE-listed ICT company as its CEO and returning the company to profitability. She geared the company for an acquisition in order to achieve the goal of turning it into a Billion Rand organisation. Jenè’s passion is rooted in assisting companies to reach their full potential and overcome the challenges posed by an economic downturn, weak strategic direction, operational inefficiencies or financial distress. jpalmer@cgf.co.za

Tags:  Dr Dicky Els  International Wellness  Jene’ Palmer  occupational wellness  resilience  South Africa  success  thriving 

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Transformational Leadership

Posted By Alex Lobo, Thursday, January 4, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Alex Lobo MBA
Founder and CEO of the Mexican Institute of Integral Prevention
Member NWI International Standing Committee 

One of the biggest issues in the management of human talent, the achievement of strategic objectives, and the execution of priorities and needs of the organization, is that people do what they have to do to succeed. 

The issue of leadership has been addressed in many ways; most research being around the need to train people, motivate them, and empower them. The main problem is that each human being has different needs, values, beliefs, talents, resources, abilities, and ways of looking at life. Also, the people who lead do so in different ways through different leadership styles and employ different techniques to have their teams achieve their results. From this perspective, change by itself is not enough to achieve goals and results, especially in medium- and long-term strategy issues in companies. It is not enough to provide methodologies, motivation, and tools. It is necessary to accomplish a change from the operational level, to transform at the level of identity; which generates alignment with respect to values and strategy.

Today, work teams need to self-manage, and for this we need a new way of looking at the leadership issue. Not only the change that the leader asks of his teams, but from the process of accompaniment towards an integral transformation of the person. Today more than ever, leaders have the opportunity to become mentors, coaches, cheerleaders, and sergeants of their teams. Always starting from their own example, from their own resources. But above all, the leadership that is required nowadays has to do with the identity of the leader and the identity of the work teams.

The basis of transformational leadership is self discovery. Who should I be to achieve the objectives? Who do I have to convert? What are the features of my personality that I would have to exalt? What to improve? How should my own resources grow? How am I a generator of that process of change in operability, of transformation in identity? 

Affects Of Transformational Leadership On Work Teams

Transformational leadership positively affects work teams from the level of behavior change —new tasks, assignments, skills to be developed — through to the transformation of beliefs and attitudes, regarding the task itself and team members' own abilities. It is also important to influence the habits and discipline of each member, to explore what are the values and moral and intellectual priorities of each one, as well as their intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, which gives a better understanding of what is relevant for each work team. 

The three concrete actions of the transformational leader are: understanding the fears and obstacles through which each work team passes; understanding the context and current situation of the individual and their resources and immediate needs, and facilitate the process of transformation, starting from what is apparently a simple task to what becomes a new identity.

Transformational leadership involves those steps leaders have to take to manage themselves. To be able to increase their influence on others, understand the motivations, limitations, and fears of their work team, and help them to expand an instrumentalist vision of accomplishing tasks and achieving results to a functional vision of capacity expansion and strengthening of human identity.

There are specific characteristics of the transformational leader and specific motivations and ambitions of all human beings. The contemporary leader understands these elements and uses them in favor of results, growth, and the generation of future value. Thus adding competitive advantage through four characteristics for the development of transformational leadership: 

  1. Social-emotional skills:  these are the concepts of self-care, self-knowledge of emotional intelligence, social intelligence, the motivations and unique situations of each individual, decision-making, and always thinking about this concept of "better decisions" and that of resilience, concept, and concrete development goals, how to grow in each of these areas with specific indications, individually and at a corporate level.
  2. Virtues: the transformational leader is someone who is regulated in the moral and spiritual from the cardinal virtues. The need to develop strength as a central element of consistency, ability to face obstacles and not bend to situations that are in the way. Temperance, which is the virtue that regulates one's appetites, passions, and vices that we generate consciously or unconsciously and that obviously distract us, de-motivate us, and generate physical, psychological, and profitability consequences. Prudence, which is having the clarity of doing the right thing for the right reasons at the right time with the right people, and being able to understand and have a broader vision of the different systems, actors, and forces that exist in the business environment — the number one feature of the trans-formational leader. Development of maturity as the core competence, understood as the ability to self-regulate, self-manage, and to achieve what is proposed.
  3. Persuasion: everything that social influence implies, and how to raise one’s levels of influence to have others do it. Evidently here the key piece has to do with the motivation both at the intrinsic and extrinsic personal level. 
  4. The competition vs. the experience: every transformational leader must have worked, documented their personal learning, their success stories and failures. The leader must understand the specific lessons to work with their teams in specific situations and understand that the main task is to inspire and instruct.

Every one of these characteristics is necessary to increase the chances of success in achieving objectives. In addition to these competencies there are five specific habits that transformational leaders have to master: 

  1. Self-management and self-government: eat well, sleep well, exercise, and lead a harmonious, healthy, and well existence.
  2. Continuous learning: the leader is the first apprentice. Lead from learning and not from knowledge; the knowledge leader gives a chair, the leader in learning accompanies the discovery or transformation process.
  3. Listening: it must be active, with an interest and with a fair amount of curiosity towards people and their points of view.
  4. Discipline: there is no obstacle that can resist perseverance and for this it is important to stay focused, not be distracted, and be a bit stubborn through tenacity.
  5. Celebration: the transformational leader knows how to recognize the effort and knows how to reward the results. Understand that the basis of happiness is progress and that it requires taking time to recognize, reward, and give back. 

Although these habits are not generated from one day to the next, if you start immediately, you achieve your domain through repetition. It is also useful to propose a plan of action and individual improvement for the achievement of goals. This is undoubtedly a recipe or proven formula for accomplishing the transformation of work teams and individuals. Conceptually it makes a lot of sense, however the emphasis must be on the execution and implementation of these concepts.

Alex LoboAlejandro (Alex) Lobo is founder and CEO of the Mexican Institute of Integral Prevention, writer, researcher, lecturer, educator, consultant, Wellness Coach, Life & BusinessPerformance Coach. The Mexican Institute of Comprehensive Prevention, is an association Alex founded after extensive experience working in the design, management and implementation of “Comprehensive Prevention” Models in educational institutions, public and private sector and governmental organizations. He has studied administration, international trade, and has obtained a Master degree in the Mexican Business School (IPADE). Furthermore, he has worked in consulting, teaching and research in various institutions in Mexico, the United States, and South America. “Comprehensive Prevention” ensures full personal development and freeing the inner potential. It humanizes relationships and leads to a state of consciousness, well-being and fulfillment.

Tags:  Alex Lobo  International Wellness  leadership  Mexico  occupational wellness  success  thriving  wellness coach 

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