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Love what you do

Ok we are back. The long balmy summer days are over, the fun times spent with family and friends are a distant memory and it's back on the treadmill for us.

Nowhere can you get a better indication of how people feel about returning to work than on the daily commute.  I have huge sympathy for the great British public. So many of them look sad, stressed and ready to give it all up. 

I coach a large number of senior executives and most of them are incredibly stressed, exhausted and overwhelmed by the demands made on them and their perceived lack of control in their lives. 

This is not good for business as we know happy, motivated people create immense value for the organisations they work for. People are much more successful and fulfilled in the workplace if they can manage their stress, remain objective, be responsive rather than reactive, show compassion to themselves and others as well as build trust with their colleagues and other stakeholders. So what can we introduce into our lives to make these changes?

Mindfulness training is getting quite a lot of coverage at the moment. Arianna Huffington’s book “Thrive” is a best seller and explores the latest research that shows how mindfulness and meditation training can really make a difference to our working lives. 

As well as individuals, many employers are now becoming aware of the benefits of supporting the development of their employees through training in Mindfulness as part of their CSR and CPD programmes.

We know that there is a high proportion of economic output lost in the UK each year through absenteeism, poor performance, employee turnover, accidents and stress-related compensation claims. 

The main causes of workplace stress are:

  • Demands: employees often become overloaded if they cannot cope with the amount of work or type of work they are asked to do
  • Control: employees can feel disaffected and perform poorly if they have no say over how and when they do their work
  • Support: levels of sick absence often rise if employees feel they cannot talk to managers about issues that are troubling them
  • Relationships: a failure to build relationships based on good behaviour and trust can lead to problems related to discipline, grievances and bullying
  • Role: employees will feel anxious about their work and the organisation if they don't know what is expected of them
  • Change: change needs to be managed effectively or it can lead to uncertainty and insecurity.

There’s a lot that employers can do such as:

  • Make sure employees understand what they have to do and how to do it
  • Meet training needs
  • Consider whether working flexible hours would help employees to manage demands
  • Involve employees in the way work is carried out
  • Consult employees about decisions
  • Build effective teams with responsibility for outcomes
  • Review performance to identify strengths and weaknesses
  • Give employees the opportunity to talk about issues causing stress
  • Be sympathetic and supportive
  • Keep employees informed about what is going on in the organisation
  • Have clear procedures for handling misconduct and poor performance
  • Have clear procedures for employees to raise grievances
  • Tackle any instances of bullying and harassment and make it clear such behaviour will not be tolerated
  • Carry out a thorough induction for new employees using a checklist of what needs to be covered
  • Maintain a close link between individual objectives and organisational goals.

It's not all down to employers though, we each have a responsibility for our own health and wellbeing. We know that there are lots of things we can do that will enhance performance such as: 

  • Regular exercise
  • A healthy and varied diet
  • Giving up the things that don’t help such as smoking, excess alcohol and unhealthy relationships.

For many, making these changes just seems too overwhelming when balanced against all the other demands they face. 

I recommend 3 things that will make more difference than anything to getting control and perspective back:

  1. Sleep: reorganising our lives to get 7 or 8 hours a night is transformational ( even former insomniacs like me can be trained back to the glorious feeling of waking up refreshed and ready for the day)
  2. Regular exercise: just 30 minutes walking a day can make a difference in how we feel, you don’t need to run a marathon or sign up for the gym, start with walking and use your iPhone to provide a musical accompaniment or an audio book if you get bored easily.
  3. Meditation every day: No please don’t stop reading I promise you it’s easy, so a little more about this...

I have been interested in meditating as I live a fast paced life. I travel a lot, I work long hours, have kids and other responsibilities, I eat quickly, I like fast music, I could go on but you get the gist!

I wanted to learn how to meditate but don’t have much time and know that going to a class would not work for me. In looking for an option for one of my time starved executives I discovered Headspace It’s a fantastic app that provides you with 10 minute guided meditations. You can progress after the first programme. As long as you have a phone and some headphones you can do this anywhere, I have used it in car parks in-between meetings, trains, aeroplanes etc. It’s perfect and of all the suggestions I make to clients it’s the one that is making the most difference.

So value your headspace, know that your mind is the most important resource that you have and treat it well. Take a minute to think and consider what’s happening in your head. This way you will do what you love and love what you do. What do you think? 




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