Workplace Wellbeing

What’s working well for you in managing your wellbeing?

This is a question I asked at a lunch I ran last week for a local business hub in Castlemaine.

The responses included… meditation, fitness activities, healthy eating and getting out in nature. These are such wonderful things to do to help boost positive emotions that help us feel good and function well in the world.

I’m currently studying a Certificate in Creating Wellbeing with an organisation called Michelle McQuaid – leaders in wellbeing conversations and cultural change. This course is funded by the Mental Wellbeing of Business Communities Grant Program through Business Victoria. As secretary of Business Mount Alexander, I’m rolling out a series of three catered events for people in business throughout the Mount Alexander shire to learn more about this important topic.

Workplace studies have found that when people have higher levels of wellbeing they are likely to feel more engaged, be more productive, satisfied in their job and less likely to burn out. Wellbeing reduces likelihood of quitting, reduces workplace incidents, lowers absenteeism and staff turnover.

Michelle McQuaid uses Dr Martin Seligman’s PERMAH Framework (2012) which points to six wellbeing factors that enable us to feel good and function well: Positive Emotion; Engagement; Relationships; Meaning; Accomplishment and Health. Cultivating each of the PERMAH factors can help us thrive and this model caters for everyone where our wellbeing needs are different and varied depending on who we are, what’s happening around us and the choices we are making.

We typically move in and out of feelings of stress on varying levels every day as our nervous system responds to events and activities.   

So how do we become an active participant to best manage our mental health and wellbeing? Acknowledging and reflecting on ‘what’s working well’ for yourself and others is a wonderful step but how do we make change when things are not going so well?

Where are you struggling?

This is an important question to ask as it helps us think about and identify what is happening now and what steps or actions we can take.

  • Perhaps you work in a solo business and feel a lack of connection?
  • Is your end-of-financial-year paperwork piling up?
  • Are you seeking a career change and going round in circles with indecision?

What have you tried?

What I’ve learnt in my wellbeing training is to start small. Researchers have found that we best care for our wellbeing by regularly engaging in wellbeing activities, also known as ‘positive interventions’. It’s about creating tiny habits that help us make the change we need.  I’ve printed out and stuck a chart on my wall to remind me of simple things that I can try, including:

  • Savouring the good things
  • Phoning or messaging a friend for a chat
  • Reflecting on what you’ve learned at the end of each day
  • Helping someone with a five minute favour
  • Scheduling rest breaks
  • Breathing deeply

Personally, I had been struggling with low energy each day, I felt quite sluggish and unmotivated. I noticed my diet was carb heavy and I wasn’t doing much exercise.

So I tried an app called Streaks as a tool to help me work towards my health & fitness goals. The app allows you to enter five daily habits you want to commit to. Mine were:

Walk | Drink 3 glasses of water | Eat Greens | Eat Protein | Read

Each night before bed, I mark what I’ve completed and the app shows a streak of my ‘achievements’ over time. If I miss a day then the streak resets to zero, but when I view the month it highlights all the days I’ve completed each task.

I’m happy to report I’m exercising more and eating less carbs, which flows on to feeling much better.

Understanding why you want to make improvements (using the PERMAH model for example) and committing to consistently prioritising your new habits will help sustain your motivation to succeed.

What have you learnt?

We know the saying – Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Sometimes when we try new things they don’t always work. Rather than seeing this as a failure, this is feedback for us and rather than beating yourself up with self-criticism, instead practise self-compassion for your efforts. This is a time to learn from the experience and adjust, which loops us back to ‘playfully experimenting’ with introducing another small change (tiny habit)!

Conclusion

Caring for our wellbeing can be challenging and feelings will ebb and flow based on our efforts and what is happening in the world around us. When we make time to actively participate in caring for our wellbeing, we begin to notice incremental improvements, leading to feeling happier, healthier, more productive and resilient. Yes, it takes effort and commitment  but by prioritizing a small amount of time each day can set you on the path to feeling good.

You can listen to the sound recording (9 mins) of this article which was presented on Gen’s radio show about mental health and wellbeing – Mind Ya Head (94.9 mainFM).

The right job match

Applying for a job is tricky enough. It’s competitive, takes mental and physical energy, can be disruptive, and all the decision making and emotions, pinning your hopes on your dream job.

So, what makes the role you’re going for a perfect match?

When I started coaching in this space a mentor drew a Venn diagram (above) to outline four key elements to making sure the job is right:

Skills – to do the job

Remuneration and rewards

The work aligns to your values

Encompassing these three things is the organisational culture and making sure the work environment is a good match for you.

4 key components for assessing if the job is right for YOU

I like to draw people to these four points, when I coach – to help them understand the importance of not leaping at the first job that’s offered with a good salary. I don’t discount that often a job is about an income to pay the bills. Big tick there. But, if your skills aren’t aligned, adequate training’s not provided, and the work culture is unsupportive and causing stress, then you’ll find yourself back to square one. And resigning comes with angst, especially if you have a loyal work ethic.

In my mid-20s I started a job with a property management firm after backpacking through Europe and the UK. I didn’t do my due diligence and it didn’t last. I took the secretarial job because I had six years’ office admin experience under my belt with great organisations, and I’d made the assumption that all workplaces look after their staff. This one didn’t. Not only was I yelled at across the room for making a typo or missing a comma, my team mate who sat next to me was often ‘bitchy’ towards me. I tried to fit in and I upheld my professionalism. I grinned and bared it. Then I resigned. After six weeks. It was my shortest stint in a job ever.

Fast forward 25 years (or so) – I’ve enjoyed a fulfilling career in HR and career management working in cultures that have been a wonderful match for me – and given me the confidence to start my own career coaching business.

Now, my son has stepped into his first full time job and I’ll share how I supported him to find a role that he absolutely loves…(this story flows on from my previous blog post)!

Aidan finished year 12 last year and decided to pursue an apprenticeship in welding. We looked online together to see what was advertised and reviewed each job ad. My son is introverted, a bit nerdy and pretty smart. We talked about the type of engineering environment that would suit him. He was keen to find a work culture that was supportive and inclusive of their employees. A good sense of ‘team’ with a results focus. There were other factors too, including location (accessible by public transport).

With these criteria in mind it wasn’t long before he found a job that ticked the boxes, he applied, was interviewed and landed a labouring job with an engineering firm that makes sterilisation units for the health care sector. He is SO happy and thriving in the role after five weeks. The team are great. His boss is supportive. The money is right. Location tick!

So, what if the culture isn’t right. You can do the job. The money is right, but the environment leaves you wondering after a few weeks, ‘have I made the right choice?’

Firstly, if this happens, don’t beat yourself up – treat it as a learning curve.

To avoid this situation…review the company – look at the website. Google any articles about the organisation. Check their Facebook page and any reviews you can find. Do you know people who work there? Or past employees you could chat with.

When called to interview, listen to how they talk about the organisation and team.

Interviews are a two way process. You are assessing whether this is the job for you, being curious about the work culture and the job will help you make the best decision in working for them. You could ask – how would you describe the team culture? How does management lead and support the team?  Is there a position description and training (and written processes) for the role?

Having sound leadership practices and work structures in place are proven to reduce the risk of stress for employees in the workplace. This Harvard Business Review article summarises this beautifully on Making Work Less Stressful and More Engaging for Your Employees.

So…for the job seeker – understanding what you want and need in the role AND workplace is a good starting point. When I coach people who are looking at a career change, I invite them to complete a values and motivators exercise. This helps give clarity on what’s important to them and help with decision making and to job search strategically.

This method has proven well for my son, and many others I have coached. Aidan’s workplace pays him a little above Award, gives rostered days off and offers flexible hours. His manager sets clear instructions and guidance, with enough rope to work autonomously, and gives praise and encouragement for his achievements. Aidan speaks highly of his experience and, as a mum, I couldn’t wish for more for my child stepping out into the workforce.

What’s Gen up to?

A client emailed me this week asking, ‘Are you still career coaching?’

YES!!! I am. 🙂 She pointed out that my last post was written in 2019 about the business awards. Well, here I am with what’s been happening in my world since December 2019.

🌸 I had an office built (thought I’d start with the big news!)

🌸 My chickens went broody three times and I now have six lovely chooks (2 roosters!!!)

🌸 I worked with many clients in Melbourne over Zoom who had been affected by redundancy. What I found was that…1) It took longer for them to find their ideal role…2) They valued my support more than ever on helping keep them feeling motivated and positive in the times of lockdown…3) My clients all got jobs that were in their field and rewarding.

🌸 I started a radio show with my friend Ange who is a counsellor. The show is about mental health and wellbeing, called Mind Ya Head and airs each Wednesday at 9am on 94.9 mainFM in Castlemaine.

🌸 I’ve been continuing my volunteer role as Secretary with Business Mount Alexander. Currently working on re-engaging the business community since last year. Have some great networking events coming up.

🌸 On the creative side, I continue to play the guitar, am part of a ukelele group called the Ukettes, plus I’ve joined a gospel choir. Such joyful things to nourish my soul.

🌸 I’m drawn to learning more about mindfulness and have signed up again for Mindful in May, plus I’m studying an online course through FutureLearn/Monash Uni called ‘Maintaining a Mindful Life’.

How are you doing? If you’d like to have a confidential chat about your career goals, you can reach me via gen@thegoodlifecareers.com.au. Go well! 🙏

Celebrating success

Last night I attended the Mount Alexander Business Awards 2019 at the Castlemaine Town Hall. This event is put on by Mount Alexander Shire Council and held bi-annually. My coaching business was a finalist this year in the Microbusiness category.

I was excited to attend this celebratory dinner and catch up with friends. There was such a buzz in the room – a sense of unity and pride in our business successes. Whilst I didn’t scoop up the trophy for my category, I had prepared a speech just in case. I’m sharing it with my readers because I still felt like a winner…

FINALIST-1200x630

Firstly, I’d like to thank my family for their encouragement in my business and their support tonight.

Thanks to Mount Alexander Shire Council, Eva and Marg for coordinating this wonderful event and to the volunteer judges. Thanks to Workspace Australia for sponsoring the micro-business category – it’s these partnerships that help make these awards a success.

For me these awards are a great opportunity to not only reflect on my business operations, it’s growth and my professional learnings but to CELEBRATE tonight with other business folk in our shire.

Well done to the nominees and the finalists. I was thrilled to hear that Tesha from Mother Lover and Jacinta from Jac the Hitcher were alongside me as finalists. I’ve been following both these women’s business stories both on the socials and meeting them at local events run by Ladies Who Launch.

I launched The Good Life Careers seven years ago after quitting my corporate job in Melbourne and moving to Harcourt. I consulted to HR firms, supporting people on career transition programs whilst I built up my work coaching job seekers and career changers here in Central Victoria.

The best investment I made when I started my business was work with a marketing coach. Marion, a successful business woman with Celine Martine, helped form my vision & mission statements, consumer profile and a marketing strategy. This gave me clarity in my message and brand which then led to my logo, website and social media platforms. With these foundations I had confidence to move forward with my business.

Running your own small business is not dissimilar to looking for a new job or embracing career change. When people invest in my services they develop a strengthened and targeted approach to finding work.

I help my clients by providing a framework for them:

  • To reflect on their skills, achievements and strengths so they have clarity about their value offering
  • Give them the tools to research companies so they align themselves to organisations with similar values.
  • Coach them in communicating a clear message – both in job applications and through talking to their networks.

The rewarding part of my work is when I hear the news that my client has landed an interview or better still…been offered the job.

Through my coaching I see people move forward with greater confidence towards their goals AND this is what drives me to continue doing what I do.

Thank you… and enjoy the night!

Position yourself for career success

Goodlife Careers-5652_SAMPLEIs it time for a career change? Are you feeling stuck in your current job and want to explore regional employment opportunities?

Come along to this three hour workshop to map out a career plan, with practical steps you can start straight away plus a job search strategy that will set you on track to reaching your career goals.  Continue reading “Position yourself for career success”

Start your new job on the right foot

by Genevieve Ward

New Job First Day

I work with job seekers on a set three month Career Program which keeps my clients focussed, on track, motivated and equipped with the skills to find their ideal role sooner rather than later. I’ve been asked, ‘What if I find a job before our program ends – say two months into the program?’ To which I reply, ‘Not only is that a fantastic outcome, but our career coaching doesn’t stop when you get a job!’ Here’s some food for thought about integrating into your new role and future proofing your career with continued growth and development.  Continue reading “Start your new job on the right foot”

Feeling supported through change

Sunflower TRI recently said to my partner, “Oh I’ve picked up some work on a factory closure that starts next week”. He replied, “What a shame for the workers!” He’s absolutely right. He went straight to the heart of the situation – the emotions the staff members will experience when facing the prospect of finding a new job.

As a Career Coach, my role is to soften the blow for the people affected by organisational restructures by guiding workers to think about what’s next, get their resume updated, build their interview skills and their confidence throughout the redundancy process.  Continue reading “Feeling supported through change”

Choosing The Best Path

Beach Sunset PathwayHave you been faced with a choice and not sure which direction to take? This happens to all of us at some point, and to varying degrees. Indecision can be stressful, especially when something’s riding on it, such as getting a job.  I’ve seen people struggle with decisions relating to their job search and career, when they’ve needed a sounding board to work things through. Continue reading “Choosing The Best Path”

The People You Meet When You Volunteer

Volunteer HappinessThis week is National Volunteers Week in Australia where the theme is Give Happy, Live Happy. This message is about volunteers making a difference to other people’s lives, but also the effect of volunteering on their own well being, by lifting mood and happiness. I volunteer my time with a local group – Harcourt Progress Association, by coordinating the advertising for their monthly newspaper – The Core. This newsletter didn’t exist two years ago and I really enjoy working with the Editor and being part of its growth. The Core is now at 24 pages and features interesting articles, event information, a crossword, local stories & much more. Continue reading “The People You Meet When You Volunteer”

Taking Care of Yourself When Facing Change

With unemployment in Australia at its highest since 2002, we are seeing more businesses taking measures to restructure and offshore or outsource their processes, meaning job security is becoming a thing of the past.  Continue reading “Taking Care of Yourself When Facing Change”