Unless you’ve taken a year long sabbatical and have been living on a remote island (lucky you) you’ll have heard of workplace resilience. Recognising that the world of work is in a constant state of flux, many organisations have implemented workplace resilience programmes. But how many of them have really been effective?
Using words to increase wellbeing? Writing for wellbeing as a method of reducing workplace stress? We bring you the lowdown. The latest estimates from the HSE Labour Force Survey shows the total number of work related stress, depression and anxiety in 2015/16 was 488,000 cases with a staggering 224,000 new cases. The cause cited? Workload, tight deadlines and poor management. An increasingly stressful corporate environment means that employees are feeling stretched across all sectors. But where do words fit in this corporate conundrum and how can you use them in your anti-stress arsenal?
A growing body of research has demonstrated the power of words upon wellbeing. Yes, writing is fun but is also has a meditative effect upon our stressed minds. Let’s take a look at the science:
Writing has been linked to a whole host of health benefits;
“Expressive writing influences attention and habituation to stressful stimuli and to negative emotions and … it may influence restructuring of cognitions related to stressors and stress responses.” (Lepore et al, 2002, p.114)
An analysis of preliminary findings linking expressive writing and reductions in blood pressure (Davidson et al, 2002)
A recent meta-analysis showed that “experimental disclosure is effective, with a positive and significant” effect (Frattaroli 2006, p. 823)
Reduction in resting blood pressure levels (Crow 2000)
Psychological effects, such as lowering of depressive symptoms, rumination
and general anxiety (Lepore 1997)
But what does this mean for workplace wellbeing? Here’s what the evidence
suggests so far. Workplace writing for wellbeing sessions;
▪ Reduce levels of stress
▪ Staff recover more successfully from traumatic events
▪ Result in fewer days lost to sickness, absenteeism and presenteeism
▪ Improve working memory
▪ Increase flow
▪ Strengthen immune system
▪ Improve creativity and innovation
▪ Increase wellbeing
▪ Build stress management capacity
▪ Improve confidence
▪ Increase mindfulness
1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year so it’s likely that there’s someone in your team, department or organisation who is experiencing a mental health issue right now. That figure is compounded by a recent Shaw Trust survey which found that 72% of workplaces had no formal mental wellbeing policy. In addition to this, 23% of managers were unable to name a single mental health condition.
So what can you do right now to introduce writing for wellbeing into your day?
Keep a journal. Make time each day to journal about whatever is important to you. Commit to 10 minutes and go wherever the muse takes you. There’s increasing research to suggest that journalling provides improved leadership insight resulting in greater clarity of thinking and better decision making.
Connect to your authentic self:
Brene Brown describes authenticity as
“The daily practice of letting go who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”
Set time aside to ‘check in’ with how you are feeling. Are you able to sum it up in one word? Good.
Now take five minutes and without censoring yourself, expand upon that word. Don’t worry about style, spelling or grammar. Let go of your inner critic and just go for it. Unleash your creativity.
Take a look at what you’ve written. What does it tell you about how you really feel? Writing for ourselves in this way can tell us a lot about who we are. Perhaps something you’ve written resonates or provides an insight into some aspect of your day, your life, or a project you are working on.
Turn down the volume on the constant chatter, press pause on workplace pressures and tune in to your authentic self. This exercise will help to ground you creating a mindful space for you to reflect before you continue with your day.
For more information or to talk to us about our Workplace Writing For Wellbeing training courses contact us at email@example.com
Do you believe that bad managers get results? That the stick is more effective than a toothless carrot? The truth is, if left unchecked, bad managers will hurt your business and irretrievably harm employee wellbeing. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that one of the keystones of employee wellbeing is the relationship between manager and employee. Positive relationships, promoting opens and transparency, fostering trust and recognising strengths are all the hallmarks of a good manager. They develop employees and cultivate an atmosphere where wellbeing, creativity and innovation thrive. All too often the converse is true. People leave bad managers not bad organisations, it may be a cliche but there’s a reason why cliches become cliches.
Wellbeing is about so much more than a box ticking exercise. Wellbeing domains include
True employee wellbeing aims to maximise each and every one of these domains. But how? Writing for wellbeing, a relatively new intervention is rapidly gaining popularity. Writing? For wellbeing at work? Sounds like a gimmick, right? A growing body of evidence suggests not.
How can managers introduce the concept of wellbeing in a meaningful way?
One of the first things you can do as a manager is develop your emotional intelligence (EI). It takes a healthy dose of this to manage a team effectively and authentically. Take a look at our blogs on EI for practical ways of developing your emotional intelligence muscles.
Reduce Your Stress Levels
We know from research that the first thing to go out of the window when you are stressed is self regulation, a key emotional intelligence competency. Bad managers are more than likely stressed too. Don’t believe us? Case Western Professor Richard Boyatwzis found this competency was responsible for a whopping 78% – 390% increase in performance. Self regulation is the bulwark of good management. If you’ve ever laboured under a tyrant masquerading as a manager who throws things, suffers mood swings, has favourites or maintains petty vendettas you’ll know where we’re coming from on this one. This type of dissonant leadership will eventually demotivate your team, leave you with high levels of absenteeism and a rapid staff turnover. Creativity becomes stifled and innovation grinds to a halt. It damages your brand and your reputational capital to boot.
So where does writing for wellbeing come into it?
Writing for wellbeing (the clue is in the title) improves both physical and psychological health (Baikie & Wilhelm, 2005). Research has demonstrated the following benefits;
Decreased levels of stress
Fewer stress related GP visits
Increases creativity and innovation
Reduced blood pressure
Improved working memory
Improved immune system functioning
Feeling of greater psychological wellbeing
Quicker re-employment after job loss
Altered social and linguistic behaviour
Writing for wellbeing is a great addition to any wellbeing programme decreasing stress levels, impacting positively upon self regulation and improving creativity and innovation at the same time (it’ll help tame that stressed out manager and their negative impact upon your workforce). Take a look at our other blogs on writing for wellbeing to find out how.
To find out more about Writing for Wellbeing at Work contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our events page for details of our training courses. We’d love to hear from you!
‘Intent is a force that lives in the universe’ Carlos Castenados
Does every day feel like groundhog day? Are you stuck in negative patterns wondering when things will start to change? Perhaps your career is draining your creativity, you want something more but don’t know what it is. Maybe you do know and you’re afraid to take the necessary leap of faith? Perhaps you’re a square peg in a round career or it could be a relationship that is slowly sapping your self esteem adding to your feeling of disconnection. Maybe you’re too scared to leave. Or you feel that wherever you are or whoever you’re with, you will never be enough.The truth is, as Einstein observed ‘Nothing changes until something moves’. That something is you. And the movement you need is intention. Intention enables you to live with heart rather than habit.
When you think of heart health do you immediately think of gyms, dietary regimes and pills as you head straight for the couch? Sometimes it all seems like too much effort, especially if you buy in to the all or nothing approach. Here at PCG we favour the approach of taking small, bitesized steps towards big changes. Drum roll. Flax seed. The sum total of those incremental steps pay huge dividends when they all start stacking up. And when it comes to heart health, adding flax seed to your diet will provide an impressive return on investment.
Taking a holistic approach to your wellbeing strategy is never simple. Even when your wellbeing strategy is established, growing the health of your staff and remaining proactive is crucial. As Prof. Cary Cooper states, “A workforce that is well works well.” Creating a culture of wellbeing takes time, commitment and constant innovation. The old one size fits all approach to wellbeing is now obsolete. One of the most new and innovative ways to support staff wellbeing is writing. Long since recognised in the US as a workplace intervention, it is slowly gaining popularity in the UK.
Mood Hoovers. Emotional Vampires. We’ve all met them. Whether it’s a colleague at work, your boss, that demanding client, friends, a family member or even a partner. You’ll recognise them by that sinking feeling when you’re with them or the way that you feel depleted after spending any length of time in their company. Maybe just thinking about them leaves you feeling low. They drain you. They sap your energy. You’ll feel like crap after they’ve offloaded their emotional junk on you. It takes time to re-balance and find your equilibrium again after they’ve gone. Negative encounters are part of life. But what if you find yourself surrounded by them?