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Financial worries affecting your work? Take these 3 first steps towards peace of mind…

According to the Australian Psychological Society 2015 survey, 49% of people worry about their personal finances making it the nation’s number one stressor.

It’s safe to say this affects us at work, either subconsciously or consciously as we wonder what to do, as we look for another job or hold down two jobs. Then there are those people who can’t afford to retire thus creating a bottleneck for promotion. I have friends in this situation.

Unfortunately it’s generally not until people are nearing retirement that they take more notice of their financial health and become concerned with having enough for that longest holiday of their life (ie retirement). As an example 10 years from retirement you only have 260 fortnightly pays left and a remaining mortgage of $100,000 can take 10 years to pay off, depending on interest rates among other factors.

So how can we prepare ourselves so that we enjoy peace of mind, knowing that if we lost our job or some other event occurred, we’d have the financial reserves to see us through?

Here are 3 first steps…

Step 1: Get a realistic view of your situation

Once you are measuring something, you can manage it.

Do a budget, covering your income and expenses as they stand now, realising that this is fluid. Yes you’ve heard this before but have you actually done it? Have you recorded for a period of 3 months to get a realistic view?

Before seeing someone I always get them to spend 10 minutes on a budget so they have an idea of their surplus or deficit. However the biggest difference I saw was one couple who thought they had a surplus of $1000 a fortnight when in fact it turned out to be a deficit of $500. That’s why they came to see me – they didn’t know why they weren’t getting ahead.

What is surprising for most people is how the simple act of recording can help with confidence in making changes.

Step 2: Work out your endpoint

The next step is to work out what you want retirement to look like and of course this involves conversations with significant others.

Once you have your start point and endpoint you can fill in the dots and contingencies can be catered for. Namely you want to pay down bad debt and build assets to support your retirement income. This may sound like an enormous task but it’s not. It’s just a matter of developing a positive association with money and healthy habits, much like you did when learning to brush your teeth.

Step 3: Get started

While this is a very general overview, here are a couple of tips to help you get started…

  • Allocate at least 15 minutes per week to review your finances and discuss them with your significant other, if you have one.
  • Look at financial calculators online to determine how quickly you can pay off debt and accumulate savings, as well is how much you may need for retirement.
  • Make it fun! This way you’ll keep doing it. Use colourful tools (ie calculators, spreadsheets, paper, pens etc), create vision boards, and reward yourself with inexpensive, healthy connection (e.g. giving each other massages).

The way we think determines the lifestyle we lead and thus how much money we need, now and for the future. And more money rarely solves a money problem.

When you build practical skills for a healthy mind, body and wallet, you are indirectly providing yourself with a pay rise.

When will you make some time for your financial wellbeing?

10 Simple Steps to Reducing Negativity At Work

Modern workplaces can be stressful – lots of work, pressing deadlines, people issues and working extra hours to name a few – and stress can easily lead to negativity.

If you’re experiencing negativity at work – whether it’s coming from somebody else or from within yourself – you can take steps to change it. It often takes patience and practice because negativity can be a habit but, as you’d know, habits can be changed!

It’s entirely possible to reduce negativity and help make your workplace a happier place for everybody.

Here are 10 simple steps to help you get started today…

1. Take an honest look at yourself. Are you spreading negativity? It’s normal to sometimes to feel discouraged, overwhelmed, jealous or angry at work. The trick is to become aware of when you’re sharing how you feel to try to make yourself feel better. By telling everyone how bad you feel, you can easily become a happiness sapper and source of tension for the people you work with. Try to be a positive companion where possible.

2. Step up your self-care. Stress can lead to negativity and if you’re under stress, you’ll have lots of stress hormones in your body. That means physical self care is crucial. Eating well, physical activity and adequate sleep all help to reduce the toll of stress hormones and are proven to improve your mood.

3. Engage your curiosity. When something or someone doesn’t do what was expected, don’t get angry or upset. Approach it like a puzzle. What parts of it went right? Where was the pitfall? How could you use this knowledge for future planning?

4. Refocus your energy onto what’s strong and less on what’s wrong. That could be particular people, a process, a relationship; anything that is strong and working well. A strengths-based focus is proven to boost wellbeing.

5. Find and give support. Research shows that having a trusted friend at work is crucial to being happy and resilient to stress. Invest time and energy into positive relationships at work.

6. Challenge negative thoughts. Sometimes negative thoughts are justified but more often they come from our internal fears or lack of confidence. Ask yourself “what would I tell a friend who was feeling this way?”. Coach yourself – or others- into taking a balanced and realistic view.

7. Reassure when change seems threatening. When uncertainty comes up, be friendly and kind – whether it’s to yourself or others. We all need encouragement from time to time.

8. Create a sense of meaning. Finding a way to connect your work to what is meaningful to you can help you to take a bigger view and remain positive in challenging times.

9. Let go of how things were “supposed to be” and accept “how things are.” Management or others might not act in the way you believe they should. Systems and processes might suck. That’s normal. To keep these things from stressing you and making you negative, find some appreciation in ‘what is’.

10. Keep things in perspective. Or try on a new perspective. Getting get stuck in negative thinking patterns will only create a downward spiral of emotions for yourself and those around you. Stay realistic, avoid comparisons, and take a longer view.

Action Steps

Which will you use TODAY to help reduce negativity in yourself and/or others?

Providing certainty in uncertain times

Although having fallen out of fashion in recent years, we used to see lists published periodically of those jobs with the highest satisfaction ratings. Job or employee satisfaction as a concept isn’t very sexy anymore. About ten years ago we moved on to employee engagement as the ‘must have’ indicator. More recently we moved again and are now seeing ‘employee advocacy’ as the coolest HR performance indicator in town. It seems that employees need to actively promote their companies now to be considered truly connected/engaged/satisfied. I don’t agree with this measure, but that is for another day.

About 15 years ago, results of an Australian survey were released listing those jobs with the highest satisfaction rating. To the amazement of most, taxi driving came out on top. Why? It was argued that driving a cab provided high levels of control and autonomy, as well as a great opportunity to meet new people. At the end of every shift, the driver knew exactly what they had earned and as a cash business, didn’t need to chase debtors. I asked two full time drivers their thoughts and they wholeheartedly agreed. I suspect things may have changed these days.

A 2014 US survey http://www.careercast.com/jobs-rated/jobs-rated-2014-ranking-200-jobs-best-worst ranked the top roles using a subjective assessment of factors including Work Environment, Stress and Hiring Prospects.

What hasn’t changed across time is that personal satisfaction and general wellbeing increases when several critical conditions are met. Professor David Rock described the SCARF Model http://www.your-brain-at-work.com/files/NLJ_SCARFUS.pdf and its application is changing the way leadership is playing out in contemporary workplaces. As foundations for wellbeing we all desire Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness. If you don’t believe me, try taking any of these away and see how you feel.

What seems to be spiking in importance in modern workplaces is the need for certainty. This is perhaps driven by the increasing lack of certainty in many jobs. It ranges from the big things like lack of job security and poor role clarity to small things like not having a set agenda or finish time for a meeting or not knowing what time I will be able to go home tonight and therefore which train I will catch. Our brains seek pattern recognition and we form habits based on the certainty of repetition. If a routine or job becomes habitual, it requires less energy to perform. When things are constantly changing, we activate a different part of our brain, which uses far more energy. So when certainty is taken from us, our brains send threat signals. Stress and anxiety follow and can become endemic across work groups.

Leaders cannot predict the future, but must strive to provide their followers with as much certainty as possible. For example, if a role becomes vacant and the team needs to carry an additional load until a new person is hired, leaders generally have a very good idea of how long that will take. They should let the team know how long this will be and do everything in their power to deliver inside that estimate. These small things, including showing gratitude along the way, make major differences.

In the end, leaders who show genuine regard for the need for certainty will see better performance than those who sweat over employee advocacy scores.

Working With Someone You Can’t Stand? 5 Ways To Handle It Well…

It’s a fact of life that sometimes personalities clash at work.

Regardless of how easy to get along with you might be, you’ll occasionally run into a person that just rubs you the wrong way. Sometimes it’s because their values or beliefs are different to yours; sometimes it’s a behavioural style difference. Regardless of the reason, any anger, hurt or stress that results from the situation can impact on both your productivity and your wellbeing if you don’t find a way to handle it in positive ways.

Here are 5 ways to help you with this common workplace challenge…

1. Get to Know Them Better

As much as it may grate, make an effort to get to know the person a little better. Family problems, insecurity and other personal issues can manifest as arrogance, rudeness or indifference. If you understand why the person acts the way that s/he does, then maybe your dislike could transform into acceptance, or at least feeling more neutral about them.

2. Look for Redemption

Generally, you dislike somebody because of a specific trait and because of it, you don’t look for qualities that you may actually like. Instead of focusing on the traits that you can’t stand, look for redeeming qualities. Everyone has strengths and good qualities. Find the good in that person and focus on that instead of the aspects that drive you nuts.

3. Keep It Professional

One of the easiest ways to interact successfully with somebody that you don’t like is to limit your engagement with them and politely cut to the chase when you’re talking with them. Open the conversation by introducing the work topic that you need to discuss and move straight into the details. Instead of thinking about how much you dislike the person, focus on what will enable the two of you to work together in harmony.

4. Figure Out Why You Don’t Like Them

Sometimes looking inward is tough but the reasons for disliking somebody may be your problem instead of theirs. If you don’t like them because you’re jealous or you feel inferior to them, then you need to resolve these issues within your own mind in order to be able to move past it. If it’s because they don’t do things the same as you do, or value what you do, then it may be an opportunity for you to practice tolerance and acceptance.

5. Change Your Behaviour

You may not be able to do anything about how other people behave but you can certainly control how you react to them. Be positive and pleasant. Look for their strengths. Give a genuine smile at them when you pass them at work; you may get a smile back!

Action Steps

Try some of these positive ways to reduce the negative feelings you have when interacting with that person you don’t like. You just might feel better for doing so!

Which approach will you try first?


7 Simple Ways To Build Positive Work Relationships

Are your relationships at work a source of support or of stress? Are they both?

If you’ve been a subscriber to our Wellness Wednesday Tips for any length of time, you’ll be aware that building our wellbeing is not a purely individual pursuit. It’s strongly influenced by our relationships with other people. This is particularly true for work relationships. They not only affect our physical and mental wellbeing, but also our job satisfaction and even our career success!

So if you want to be happy and healthy at work, it’s crucial to try to have positive relationships at work. This doesn’t mean that you have to be best friends – or even friends at all – but it does mean it’s worth putting some effort into getting along well with the people you work with. Here are seven ways you can do just that…

7 Ways To Build Positive Work Relationships

We often like to see ourselves as independent individuals but time and time again research shows that we are incredibly interconnected. Positive relationships are crucial to our wellbeing.

As we all know, happy relationships are a central source of happiness and fulfilment. Equally, difficult relationships can become a major source of angst.

Given the huge proportion of time spent at work, work relationships play a significant role in your wellbeing. How well you get along with the people you work with can make all the difference between dreading your Monday morning commute and looking forward to starting a new week.

Here are 7 ways you can build positive relationships with the people you work with…

1 – Cultivate relationships with positive, supportive people.  Try to connect with colleagues who are positive and supportive. This will help you both to be more resilient to stress. While you can’t always avoid negative or unsupportive individuals, you can limit the how much time you spend, and the depth of relationship you develop with them.

2 – Check your personal baggage at the door.  If you had a fight with your spouse last night or are worried about your finances, work is not a great place to talk extensively about it.  While you may have sympathetic coworkers, bringing your personal issues into the workplace can make people uncomfortable and affect your relationships.

3 – Don’t gossip.  It may seem entertaining and innocent in the moment, but it’s almost always destructive. If you want others to trust and respect you, don’t participate in gossip.  If someone starts gossiping, try to change the subject or politely excuse yourself from the conversation.

4 – Do your job well.  People who don’t do their job well, or who let others pick up the slack, are typically respected less by their colleagues. If you want others to value and respect you, try to go above and beyond what is expected and look for ways to assist others.

5 – Choose a positive attitude.  As cliché as it may sound, a positive attitude goes a long way in the workplace. Research shows that moods are contagious, whether positive or negative. To build good relationships, try to limit complaining. People will be more attracted to you if your style is positive and upbeat.

6 – Don’t let conflicts fester.  If there’s a conflict brewing with someone, nip it in the bud by taking the initiative to resolve it.  Be straightforward and courteous, and always address the issue in private.  Be open to hearing the other person’s perspective. Take responsibility for your part in the conflict, and apologise if appropriate.

7 – Be accepting of differences.  The more accepting you are of people being themselves, the more likely they will accept you as you are, and the healthier your relationships will be.

Positive, healthy work relationships can make your job more enjoyable and less stressful. They can enhance your wellbeing both physically and mentally. They can even also help you be more successful in your career. That would make them worth the effort, wouldn’t you agree?

What can you do today to build a positive relationship at work?