What can you do to make people happier at work?

The focus for a knowledge cafe1 (facilitated by David Gurteen at Portcullis House in Westminster) threw up some valuable insights and reflections.

James Brown the business psychologist kicked off with some personal stories and highlights of the growth in poor mental health identified by the CIPD.  For example, in 2017, 55% of organisations in 2017 reported mental health conditions have increased.  The figure was 41% in 2016.

The knowledge cafe itself led to a great conversation.  James has posted about it here.  What I took from it was:

  • How important it is for each of us to think about our personal purpose and find ways to integrate what we do at work with who we are
      • Aimee Campbell from Unilever told me about some of the work that they were doing to encourage people to reflect on their own personal purpose and what it meant for them.  
  • The importance of celebrating success and learning from what we do well 
      • James Brown talked about the work the NHS is doing to Learn from Excellence and find ways to report positively so that the organisation learns and so that people recognise what is great about their work, and not be subsumed by the stresses and challenges of everyday work and some of the negative press that surrounds mistakes
  • Giving people a voice 
      • Some one said that there is nothing like a change programme to silence peoples’ voices.  
      • We debated the difficulty during change work of of being open to listening while maintaining a new course, and how leaders need to remember to keep re-stating the reasons and rationale for change so that people do not lose sight of that even, as they do not like some of the implications for how it affects them
  • The problems caused by social media 
      • Social media encourages people to value immediacy, fame and “good news” rather than reflection, substance and reality (note to self: what do you expect a bunch of people involved in a knowledge cafe to value?).  Does this contribute to the rise in poor mental health highlighted by James Brown at the start of the meeting? 
  • Less face time:
      • It is getting more and more difficult to give people face to face time in a global, digital business environment.  How can we mitigate the problems this causes?  How can we make time for it, or improve the digital experience so that our group screen to screen time offers the same value as group face to face time.  Is this even possible?

On this last point David Gurteen talked about how he was using Zoom to get high value conversations using the Knowledge Cafe methodology.

1 A final word to plug David Gurteen’s knowledge cafe.  This is an open, conversation based approach to learning.  Responding to a core question – e.g. what can you do to make people happier at work? – people gain insights in multiple small conversations followed by a plenary round circle.  It is a very powerful approach for personal learning. 

#knowledgecafe #mentalhealth #employeeengagement #resonantleadership

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