Decades ago it used to be so that once you worked for a company, you would stay there for the rest of your life. The company would take care of you through your health care and retirement. Especially in the US, this is no longer the case. Over the past few decades, economic downturn has caused layoffs; company stakeholders require higher returns, which means that a company must not only produce on time and within budget, but preferably with fewer employees than actually needed…
Over the past 15 years I have seen the effects of this economic shift on the health and general quality of life of my clients. My business focuses on helping people who are no longer aligned with their current work create a career where they feel recognized, so they bring out their best performance in their work, and can make the impact they want to make in the world. However, when a client initially comes to me, they often are experiencing a sense of burnout from their work for quite some time instead.
People can handle (not necessarily manage!) a lot of stress. Yet when this stress continues for a long period of time, the body revolts. Stress can lead to headaches, back aches, sleep disruptions, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. People may experience anxiety, frustration, depression and/or anger, and relationships suffer under all of these factors. And all the while the company they give so much of their time and energy increases demands for projects, requiring greater output at as low of a cost possible and often putting people in work relationships that are mismatched…
A wonderful HeartMath coach who was in a program I taught years ago sent me an interesting Stanford Business article, called ‘The Workplace Is Killing People And Nobody Cares’ by Dylan Walsh. It is an interview with the author of the book “Dying for a Paycheck” by Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor of organizational behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business. He states “We are harming both company performance and individual wellbeing, and this needs to be the clarion call for us to stop. There is too much damage being done.”
Shifting a company’s mentality to recognize the true cost of their employees’ wellbeing will take time. Luckily there are things that we can do, individually and as leaders in our organization to make a start. Here are a few strategies that I recommend.
- Emotional Resilience helps you deal with the daily pressure and demands on your time and energy. This is often one of the first things I work on with clients. When stress is overwhelming, the body creates too much of the stress hormone cortisol. The result is that the brain goes in fight or flight mode, and prevents people from complex thought. This is why people under stress become reactive. In my work I teach a skill set of scientifically proven techniques that create great results, improving both the client’s health and the company’s bottomline.
- Conversational Intelligence is a body of work created by Judith E. Glaser that I have found to be very impactful. It shows us a model of how our language can create an environment of either trust or hostility. Whether this is within a Fortune 500 company or within your family, you learn to use the neuroscience of the brain to create more bonding and through that, better performance. In Judith’s words: “…Through language and conversations we learn to build trust, to bond, to grow, and build partnerships with each other to create and transform our societies.” You can download a paper that Business Coach Brian Branagan has available on his website and a talk he gave some months ago, about how he uses this model successfully in his work with clients.
- BG5™ assessments for individuals and leaders When individual clients come to me, they often are looking for a different career. They tend to feel undervalued and they may not be clear on the next phase of their career. Alternately, when I work with company leaders, their focus is often on how they can maximize their ability to lead their team, board and investors, for the business’ optimal performance. Contact me for a free Career Skills Map or if you want to learn more.
- Group Analysis and group engineering is especially helpful for small groups and organizations who want to maximize the effectiveness of their team and support their business’ performance, with more flow and individual wellbeing. Employee analyses are combined in an in-depth group model, to help the leader determine where specific employees might have the most impact. The model also helps the group understand the qualities each individual brings and how interactions can be optimized for the best results.
These strategies are just some that I use, and are only a few of many out there. Ultimately, I believe that as a society we are in a process of a mentality shift: one where as individuals we realize the current work structure is holding us back from the best we have to offer. That ‘best’ can only surface when we are healthy, rested and emotionally supported. And it’s amazing to see that more and more people are choosing this as a reality for themselves!