Quick Contact
Quick Contact
Four Reasons Why Regular Rest Boosts Employee Engagement

Four Reasons Why Regular Rest Boosts Employee Engagement

While we all know how good a holiday feels, or how much more productive we are after a restful night’s sleep, demands on our workforce are at an all-time high. There is increased awareness about how regular rest boosts employee engagement, but despite this, recent research has shown that stress in the workplace is higher than it has ever been. In this article, we will share some of the latest scientific findings which prove how regular rest boosts employee engagement and productivity at work. While we may think of rest as a nice-to-have, it is, in fact, a key component of healthy and effective employees, who contribute to the success of your business in the long run.


The Impact of Stress on Company Outcomes

Stress and its effects on employees has received more attention from scientists the world over in recent years. It has been called “the number one silent killer” because of its impact on our health, performance, and company outcomes. However, despite this, most organisations still expect more input, commitment, and engagement from their staff. This is not to say that companies should not expect a lot from their staff; rather focus attention on reducing the harmful effects of sustained stress for the benefit of the company as well as its employees.

Recent research done by The American National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety found that healthcare expenditure is 50% higher in individuals with high-stress levels. This means that high-stress workplaces increase their healthcare expenses by 50% every year because of the negative impact of prolonged stress on their employees. Another study, completed by Forbes in 2015, showed that 60% of absenteeism can be attributed to the side effects of psychological stress.

Some other negative effects on health and well-being include:

  • Increased cardiovascular illness
  • A lowered immune system which makes us more susceptible to illness
  • Increased irritability and reduced time invested in workplace relationships
  • Increased burn-out and mental illness
  • Increased mistakes and ineffectiveness
  • Reduced efficiency and problem-solving ability
  • Poor quality of work outcomes
  • Increased staff turnover
  • Increased absenteeism and prolonged disability leave.

In short, unmanaged stress can result in a dramatic rise in annual company costs. While we know that stress is inevitably part of all workplaces, company outcomes improve when more emphasis is placed on creating a healthy workplace culture that identifies, manages, and mitigates stress. Employee well-being and productivity increase in direct proportion.


Four Reasons Why Regular Rest Boosts Employee Engagement

In today’s working world, stress is an inevitable part of our working lives. In some cases, stress and burn-out are worn as a badge of honour, showing off our dedication and commitment to our jobs. People are rewarded with promotions based on the amount of time they put in outside of working hours. This is a dangerous culture to encourage as it creates a system based on unhealthy work-life balance and makes “time off” a reward for the time put in. The impact of this type of workplace culture is making people ill and is not, in fact, improving company outcomes – it’s increasing company losses!

In order to tackle the stress-addicted conditioning we’re fostering in our society, we need to start encouraging employees to take more regular rest breaks. We’ve listed some key findings which show how increasing the amount of regular rest boosts employee engagement in the long run.


1)     Mental Concentration is a Muscle

John Trougakos, Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour and HR Management at the University of Toronto, explains that our brain is just another muscle, and, like our body, it gets tired after strenuous exercise. Prolonged mental concentration causes our brain to become exhausted and less efficient. It may seem obvious, but having regular rest boosts employee engagement because after a mental break we’re able to reengage with more vitality, creativity, and dedication than if we were in a perpetual mental marathon.


2)     Regular Rest Improves Health

Stress causes many negative health issues and reducing it will improve cardiovascular, immune, and mental health. In addition, most of us work sitting down for large chunks of the day, and while it may not be possible to change this, taking regular movement breaks while at work can help to mitigate the effect that prolonged sitting has on our health. Most common health effects of sitting include:

  • Increased obesity
  • Increased general inflammation
  • Increased diabetes and high blood glucose levels
  • For every hour increase in sitting time, there is an 18% increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

In order to break this passive – but unhealthy – habit, we need to instill a workplace culture which encourages regular movement breaks, and empowers people to take regular rest intervals in their day to move, talk, exercise, or lie down. While this may seem contradictory to our usual working way, it will increase employee engagement and health rapidly and for the long run.


3)     More Working Hours Means Less Productivity

While it may seem impossible for those who spend hours on end in front of their computers, a growing body of research has shown that the more hours spent working, the less productive we become. A study performed by the University of Illinois found that “all work and no play” dramatically reduces mental focus, creativity, and efficiency. Taking regular rest breaks boosts employee engagement by allowing for restoration of mental resources and energy needed to give our full attention to the task at hand.


4)     Taking Time Off Increases Work Satisfaction

A recent article published by Harvard Business Review states the importance of taking time off to increase our happiness at work and outside of it. It is a well-known fact that a happy employee is more productive, engaged, committed, and effective than their unhappy counterparts. When people have time to cultivate their relationships outside working hours, they return to work happier, and when people have had enough rest and restoration between working hours, they’re better able to give their all. People who have this healthy work-life balance are happier, healthier, and more engaged.


In Conclusion: Regular Rest Boosts Employee Engagement

In the age of information, where stress is inevitable, it is the responsibility of organisations to find strategies to mitigate the negative impacts of stress on their employees, for the long-term benefit of all. One of the simplest ways to manage this is to instill a workplace culture that supports regular rest.

Whether it’s as simple as creating 15-minute movement breaks every few hours, or as big as including an employee wellness programme, encouraging your employees to take regular rest breaks will increase the physical, mental, and emotional resources they have to commit to meeting company objectives.

For more information on how you can start creating a healthy workplace culture, contact us on info@4seeds.co.za. Our consultants are available to help you set up a sustainable and strong strategy that puts your best resources – your people – first.

Four Ways that Healthy Workplace Relationships Can Build Motivation

Four Ways that Healthy Workplace Relationships Can Build Motivation

Isolation is becoming more common in today’s working world. We’re working remotely, and individually on tasks and, as a result, our working lives are becoming busier and more stressful. Because of the increased pressure to perform under challenging circumstances, we often forget about the people around us on a daily basis, and how our workplace relationships can support our individual success. We tend to think of social interactions as the food of procrastination, and building workplace relationships is often low on our list of priorities when deadlines are looming.

Ongoing research into the Science of Human Happiness is proving how workplace relationships can build motivation. In fact, healthy workplace relationships may be the missing piece of the puzzle when it comes to persevering towards the end of the year.

In this article, we’ll expand on some of the recent findings which support how workplace relationships can build motivation. As we approach the end of the year, there’s no better time to bring people together to appreciate accomplishments, celebrate successes, and make plans for the future.

1)      Connection is a core motivator

As explained in our last blog about the Self-Determination Theory, one of the core drivers of building internal motivation is connection to others. There’s a difference between setting one’s own goals and those that are set by the team.

Connection to others acts as accountability measurement – when we’re responsible for the execution of part of a project, we’re more likely to persevere, perform, and stay motivated so that we can play our part for the whole group. This brings a sense of responsibility which is greater than when we work alone.

2)      Emotions are contagious

Recent research into human emotions has found that emotions are contagious and take under a minute to spread. This is true for both negative and positive emotions, and while stress, anxiety, and negativity spread like wildfire in companies, the same is true for motivation, inspiration, and positivity.

Surrounding ourselves with healthy workplace relationships builds motivation because we can be inspired by colleagues to persevere and be reminded of the bigger picture. Positive workplace relationships can also bring humour and light-hearted fun into the workplace, thus reducing stress and increasing the sense of well-being.

3)      Connection Boosts Health and Performance

Humans are social creatures by nature. Our brains are wired to connect, and recent research has found that disconnection and isolation can actually present as physical pain. A sense of connection has also been found to reduce cardiovascular illness and boost our immune system.

When we’re ill or feel pain, we can’t think clearly or perform at our optimum, we’re more likely to take sick leave, and our concentration, clarity, and motivation suffer. Healthy workplace relationships can build motivation by increasing positive emotions and physical health, thus boosting the fundamental building blocks of performance and efficiency.

4)      Cooperation Give us Perspective

When we work alone, we often find ourselves thinking in linear and often self-destructive ways. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves, over and above what’s expected from our work tasks.

Workplace relationships can help to us to gain perspective on our current thinking, highlighting ways to look at a solution differently, and offer some humour into our challenges. Positive workplace relationships provide a safe platform for us to learn, collaborate, and share information, which in turn can help us to discover new solutions or find a new perspective on our current situation. When we have a new strategy or a helping hand, we can go about our work tasks with a renewed sense of motivation.

In Conclusion: Workplace Relationships Can Build Motivation

As the year draws to a close, it’s the perfect time to appreciate and reach out to the people with whom we have good workplace relationships. Celebrate successes, commiserate mistakes, and gain new perspective on current challenges. Connections in the workplace are essential to staying healthy, reaching goals, and keeping motivated in these last few months. Learn to take the time to build positive workplace relationships, and motivation and efficiency will follow.

Are you interested in a year-end function that boosts connection for the long term? Are you looking to host an event that supports healthy workplace relationships while celebrating at the same time?

At 4Seeds we specialise in building positive workplaces through the use of scientific, practical, and fun workshops. We develop bespoke and affordable events that are tailored to your company’s needs. If you’re interested in hosting an event with a difference then get in touch with us on info@4seeds.co.za.

We look forward to working with you to create community and connection in your company.

3 Strategies to Keep You Motivated Towards Year End

3 Strategies to Keep You Motivated Towards Year End

As the year starts to wind down and we begin to reflect on the past year in anticipation of another year end, motivation can be a huge challenge. It’s sometimes difficult to stay dedicated to what we want to achieve when the finish line is in sight. Keeping ourselves motivated at work and at home takes intentional action, clear objectives, and using our social networks to keep us accountable.

Before we unpack some proven strategies to keep you motivated, it’s important to understand how motivation works. A key framework for understanding motivation is the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) which was developed by Edward Deci and Richard Ryan.

What is the Self-Determination Theory?

Most of us recognise motivation as either intrinsic (self-initiated) or extrinsic (for rewards or recognition). While motivation can be either internally driven, or for external gains such as money or social recognition, the Self-Determination Theory posits that motivation exists in a continuum. An example of this is training for a marathon which may be motivated both intrinsically (for the love of running) and extrinsically (for social recognition). Self-Determined motivation therefore needs us to focus on what is driving us on both sides for most cases- however true intrinsic motivation is also possible and achievable.

The Self-Determination Theory also presents the idea that motivation is driven by our desire to meet three universal human needs:

  • Competence
  • Autonomy
  • Connection

Basically put, we all have the innate human desire to grow, learn, and accomplish our goals. We want to feel as if we’re accomplished, competent, and that we’re valuable contributors. We also want to determine our own goals, have our own ideas, and craft our own identity, without being controlled or told what to do. Lastly, as humans we’re naturally social. We need to feel connected to others, understood, and that we belong. Each of these three universal human needs underpins what is at the core of our motivation.

In this article we will share three proven strategies to keep you motivated, guided by these three universal human needs. These strategies work to increase your sense of accomplishment, to empower your sense of autonomy over your own life, and to support you to remember and connect with your social networks so that you can continue to succeed and feel driven towards reaching all your personal goals for 2019.


3 Proven Strategies to Keep You Motivated

1)     Motivated by Competence: Reflect on your achievements, and re-evaluate your goals

Often when we set goals at the beginning of the year, we write down big and often unrealistic expectations of what we can achieve. Taking time now to reflect on what you have accomplished can help you to recognise your achievements, thus boosting your motivation to pursue what is still on your list. Once you’re feeling more competent in what you have done, it will make it easier to re-evaluate what you still want to achieve. Re-evaluating your goals requires you to be realistic about what you can do, and asking these questions can help:

  • “Is this goal actually my goal?” and “What is driving this goal? Is it an intrinsic desire or is it extrinsically motivated?”
  • “Is this goal realistic for me to achieve?” and if not “How can I make this goal more specific and realistic?”


2)     Motivated by Autonomy: Reward yourself for your personal accomplishments, and remember to rest

When you start to reflect on your year and all the efforts you’ve made, you may realise just how tired you are. It’s really important for your resilience and stamina to know when you need to rest and restore your energy. We’re not machines and without enough rest we’re unlikely to reach the finish line successfully. Knowing when to reward yourself for work done – and when you deserve a break – can be difficult, because we’re often our harshest critics. This this is where your autonomy can come into play.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • “What am I proud of that I have achieved this year?”
  • “What is the best way to reward myself for my hard work?”
  • “What is the best way for me to restore my energy?”

It’s also important to keep the bigger picture in mind. Why have you been so driven and what are you working towards? When we remember what we’re moving towards we learn to see that life’s biggest accomplishments are a marathon, not a sprint. They take time, and usually you’re the only one who will give yourself that time. Make sure you’re using your autonomy to increase your stamina, so as not to exhaust yourself to the point of burn-out.


3)     Motivated by Connection: Appreciating and Engaging in Your Social Networks

Motivation is largely impacted by our social circumstances, and there is a growing body of research which is proving the value and importance of gratitude. When we learn to focus on what we have, and feel appreciation for the moments, achievements, and the people who have positively impacted us, we become more productive and satisfied and feel more connected. When you start to feel your motivation wane (especially at this time of year), reflect on the people who have supported your goals so far. Write down their names and the ways they’ve helped or supported you in achieving your goals. If it feels appropriate, tell them. Sharing your appreciation may be just what they need to feel uplifted and motivated.

Practicing gratitude can be extremely helpful in team meetings. Try asking your team to:

  • Write down the names of 10 people who have supported them this year.
  • Share one quality or strength they appreciate in each of their team members.
  • Write down the resources they need to reach their goals, and then ask people for help.

We often feel isolated when we want to succeed because we want to feel wholly responsible for our achievements. When we learn to ask for help we’re more likely to actually reach the finish line.


In Conclusion

Motivation can be difficult when we’re tired and isolated. Self-Determination is a spectrum which may require external support to achieve our personal goals. The important take-home message is that motivation is governed by our internal needs. If we remind ourselves of our accomplishments, acknowledge the people that support us, and remember to rest and restore, we’re more likely to reach the finish line without illness or exhaustion.

Are you booking your year-end function? Are you looking for one with sustainable results and a real sense of personal and team satisfaction? Then 4Seeds is the perfect company to organise this for you. We develop bespoke events to suit your team’s needs, and make sure that everyone walks away feeling motivated, satisfied, and connected.

If you’re interested in one of these bespoke events, contact us at info@4seeds.co.za.

Challenging Your Limiting Beliefs Can Help You Achieve Your Goals

Challenging Your Limiting Beliefs Can Help You Achieve Your Goals

As most of us already know, setting goals is the only tangible way we can reach new heights in our lives. However, while it’s all well and good to want changes in our behaviour, career, relationships, appearance, or mental health, setting goals is only the first step to getting what we want. The real work begins on the path to achieving those goals.

One of the obstacles we need to overcome in order to transform and grow is our limiting beliefs. These beliefs constrain performance; by believing them we don’t think or act outside of them. This leads to frustration, reduced self-esteem, and inhibited performance.

It’s by not challenging your limiting beliefs that you slip back into your comfort zone and never reach your full potential.

Challenging your limiting beliefs is one of the most effective ways of increasing your motivation and achieving real change in line with your goals. However, challenging your beliefs takes constant attention, self-reflection, and practice, which is often why we don’t succeed.

Here is an outline of the five most common limiting beliefs, and strategies you can use to start challenging them. Doing so is a sure-fire way of achieving the goals you never thought possible.

Five Common Limiting Beliefs and How to Challenge Them

Limiting beliefs can also be defined as “cognitive distortions” – literally the way we use our mind and perceptions to distort reality. Dr David Burns compiled this list of the top five cognitive distortions:

1)      All-or-Nothing Thinking

All-or-nothing thinking is when we think in terms of extreme opposites, for example, “If I’m not successful, then I’m a failure.” The truth is we can’t all be the best, but we can still be on the spectrum of success. So, we won’t all become CEOs, but we can still progress to become team leaders, middle managers, or department heads. However, when we apply all-or-nothing thinking, we limit our ability to achieve relative greatness and celebrate our achievements.

Challenging your all-or-nothing beliefs: Next time you find yourself thinking in black-and-white, ask “Is this really a clear-cut black-and-white situation?” Then challenge yourself to find the shades of grey in between.

2)      Magnification or Minimisation

These types of beliefs are opposites of each other, but each is equally powerful at limiting our potential. An example of these limiting beliefs in action is when your boss gives you feedback on your performance (some good and some bad), but you magnify the negative aspects, focusing on your mistakes and how you’ve failed (magnification), or you ignore the positive feedback and think that your achievements are “no big deal” (minimisation). Both magnification and minimisation prevent us from seeing our achievements and value, which distorts our perception of our abilities and growth areas, thus reducing our self-confidence.

Challenging your magnification beliefs: Next time you find yourself focusing on your mistakes, try reframing your “failures” as “growth areas”. Add “YET” onto the end of a statement “I am not good at timekeeping yet.”

Challenging your minimisation beliefs: Start focusing your attention equally on your areas of development as much as your successes. Next time you find yourself dismissing compliments or positive feedback, try asking yourself “What did I do well?” and “What value do I add?”.

3)      “Should” Statements

“Should” is potentially one of the most harmful types of limiting beliefs. When we say we should be doing something, we create a disconnect between who we are and what we should be. The word implies that we’re trying to live up to someone else’s expectations, values, or permissions for our behaviour. “I should be more friendly to my colleagues at work.” is a good example, as it implies that we’re not enough. A natural introvert, analytic, or observer won’t have this strength. By perceiving that we “should” be different to WHAT we are, we prevent ourselves from actually thriving and growing as WHO we are.

Challenging your “should” statements: Start with catching the “shoulds” as they happen. Ask yourself “How can I phrase this differently?” or “Is this something that I personally value enough to pursue?”

4)      Personalisation

Personalisation is when we take responsibility for things that don’t turn out well, even though we weren’t personally responsible for the outcome, and it was out of our control. When we fall prey to personalisation beliefs, it’s easy to slip into an anxious, self-deprecating mindset. The impact of this is that our brain gets hijacked by our anxiety which reduces our cognitive ability, and, in turn, our performance. This will lead to mistakes and the affirmation of our weaknesses and failures. It’s a dangerous negative cycle which over time can lead to burn-out, lowered self-esteem, and reduced job performance.

Challenging your personalisation beliefs: Next time you catch yourself taking responsibility, ask yourself “Is this, in fact, something that I need or am responsible for?” and “Am I actually able to change the outcome by taking responsibility?” and lastly “Am I willing/able to take responsibility for the outcome of this?”. Challenging your limiting beliefs may require you to admit your boundaries, limitations, or weaknesses, but by doing so you’ll succeed at what you’re responsible for and in turn increase your achievements.

5)      Overgeneralisation

Overgeneralisation is when we take the meaning that was ascribed to one scenario and apply it to a similar or different unrelated scenario. An example of scenario one: “I was always picked last for team sports at school.” Overgeneralisation of this scenario would present as: “Because I was always picked last for team sports at school, I’m not a good team player. I won’t even try to be a team player and no one wants me on their team.” This may seem like an oversimplified example, however, we all have negative experiences in our past, and if we aren’t aware, these can quickly become limiting beliefs that prevent us from taking on new challenges.

Challenging your overgeneralisation beliefs: Start catching yourself when memories from your past come up with current tasks. Or start noticing when negative feelings show up. In these moments ask yourself “I know this happened in the past, but is it an accurate perception of what is actually happening now?” or “I know I’ve been through something like this in the past that didn’t work out well. What can I do now that would prevent the same from happening again?”

In Conclusion

Challenging your limiting beliefs takes courage, practice, and perseverance. However, when you start to replace these beliefs with more positive ones, you’ll be able to see yourself, others, and situations more accurately and objectively. If you begin reframing your self-talk, you’ll notice the difference not only in your self-esteem, but also in your performance, motivation, and goal achievement.

At 4Seeds we know that taking this step can be difficult. We have personally and professionally seen the impact that challenging your limiting beliefs can have on happiness and goal achievements. We pride ourselves on being strong accountability partners, who can help you identify your limiting beliefs, keep you aware of them, guide you to reframe them, and celebrate your successes.

If you want a coach or accountability partner, we’re here to help. Contact us at info@4seeds.co.za for a FREE 30-minute discovery session.

We look forward to meeting you.

The 4Seeds team

Four Ways in which Self-Compassion Builds Perseverance

Four Ways in which Self-Compassion Builds Perseverance

As humans, we all have the innate desire to achieve, to progress, and to become better versions of ourselves. And while it may seem contradictory, self-compassion builds perseverance towards achieving our goals.

According to Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology, achievement is considered to be one of the five fundamental pillars of human happiness because it is one component of the PERMA model (positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishments). Achievement is part of how we feel satisfied with our lives; however, the path to achievement is often gruelling and unpleasant, littered with obstacles which can challenge our perseverance and motivation. If we can’t overcome these challenges, we may feel as if we’ve failed, and it can be difficult to bounce back and carry on working towards what we want in our life.

While self-compassion may feel contradictory to perseverance and goal achievement, it does in fact play a powerful role in keeping us motivated. Self-compassion is defined as the thoughts and actions which “show kindness and understanding of ourselves when we are confronted with our personal failings” (Neff, 2015). It is how we relate to ourselves and also how we act when confronted by personal weaknesses. Self-compassion can be developed and can help to keep us working towards our goals, and accepting our failures along the way.

This article will explain the four ways in which self-compassion builds perseverance, so that you can begin to have a better relationship with yourself and in turn improve your goal achievement, perseverance towards the life you want, and also learn to enjoy the process.


Four Ways in which Self-Compassion Builds Perseverance to Achieve Our Goals


1)      Self-Compassion Provides a Realistic Self-Assessment of Failures

Self-compassion is an explanatory style. It’s how we communicate with ourselves, and it can be developed. This cognitive retraining can assist us to become more objective when we experience personal failures. Self-criticism is one of the many ways in which we self-sabotage. We believe that if we’re hard on ourselves, we’ll do better in the future. However, the opposite is in fact true. Self-criticism is more destructive than it is helpful. When we employ a more self-accepting perspective of ourselves, much as we do with our loved ones, we can experience a gentler and more accurate assessment of our reality, and in turn, reduce self-criticism. When we’re kind to ourselves and accept our shortcomings, we’re better able to assess and act in more constructive and successful ways in the future.


2)      Self-Compassion Helps Us Find More Enjoyment in the Process

Self-criticism doesn’t assist us to grow or help us to develop. All it does is reduce self-esteem and in turn, increase stress and the likelihood of failure in the future. Achievement is deeply ingrained into who we are as humans, and goal attainment is essential for our sense of self-worth and life satisfaction. However, when we self-criticism, we make ourselves suffer, and often the path to achievement has sufficient pitfalls and challenges without us adding fuel to the fire. Cultivating self-compassion can help us to become more grateful for what we have, it can boost our self-esteem, and in turn, help us to achieve our goals while enjoying the process.


3)      Self-Compassion Increases Task Performance Under Pressure

Most of the time when we set our minds to a goal we become more disciplined, focused, and driven. However, the downside to this single-focused motivation can lead to increased anxiety and self-induced stress. While stress is helpful to keep us on our toes, when the pressure to achieve our goals becomes too high it affects our performance, increasing mistakes and the potential for errors and failure. Practising self-compassion can help to lower anxiety and self-induced stress, thereby increasing our task performance and the likelihood of our success.


4)      Taking a Self-Compassion Break Builds Our Perseverance

Self-care is portrayed as a luxury in the media. We think of it as treating ourselves, and as a reward for our hard work. However, self-compassion is actually an explanatory style that can be used every day to increase our self-acceptance and improve our relationship with ourselves. In turn, when we practise regular self-compassion, we’re better able to identify when we’re tired, burnt out, or need time out. While it may seem contradictory, taking self-care breaks can improve our perseverance in the long run. Achieving big life goals takes endurance, and in order to keep motivated and have the energy to finish the race, we need to make time to rest, restore, and reflect along the way.


In Conclusion: Self-Compassion Builds Perseverance

Achievement is one of the fundamental pillars of our happiness as humans; however, the path to goal attainment can be challenging, tiring, and demotivating. It’s at these moments of low energy or exhaustion that we can employ self-compassion to build perseverance. Practising self-compassion also has many benefits from which self-acceptance, realistic self-assessment, and self-kindness can develop. When we practise self-compassion, we increase our performance and in turn the chances of success despite setbacks and obstacles.

4Seeds is passionate about supporting people on their path to goal attainment through individual and executive coaching. If you’re interested in increasing your self-compassion, if you’re looking for an accountability partner to help keep you moving towards your goals, or if you’re interested in setting goals and achieving them, then get in touch. Contact us on info@4seeds.co.za for more information about our coaching packages and to find out how we can help you to live your best life.

Eight Myths Busted about Coaching in the Workplace

Eight Myths Busted about Coaching in the Workplace

It’s human nature for people to want to evolve, which means that we strive to grow, develop and self-actualise. No-one is happy to just stagnate or stay too long in a comfort zone. Everybody needs a stretch goal to work towards, and a challenge and opportunity to upskill into becoming a better version of themselves. Sometimes we aren’t ready for the growth spurt and may feel overwhelmed by the mere thought of it. At other times we need someone to champion us on, to believe in us, and to hold us accountable for our commitments. Or we need an independent sounding board who can challenge our thinking and behaviour. Regardless of what it is you need, coaching in the workplace can support you to grow to your optimum.

It’s a known fact that all sportspeople have coaches that help them to bring out their best. In the working environment, it’s becoming more fashionable for executives and leaders to make use of coaches, but this is still a small minority. However, in mainstream everyday life, very few people spend time with a coach.

There are many reasons why people don’t want to use the services of a professional coach, however from experience people are generally misinformed and incorrectly educated about coaching so they shy away from the service.  In this article, I will address some of the primary myths out there preventing people from getting the benefits of coaching in the workplace. 

The Origin of Coaching

Before I define coaching, I’m going to start at the beginning and explain its origin. The philosophy of coaching goes back to the 1880s with the development of professional sports where a coach was regarded as a professional tutor. There isn’t one pioneer who can be accredited for coaching; rather it’s a philosophy that evolved through the various psychology theories and humanistic sciences. Whether it’s the person-centred theory, gestalt therapy, behaviour therapy, cognitive therapy, rational emotive behaviour therapy, reality therapy, narrative therapy, or solution-focused therapy, each one contributed to coaching as we know it today. In the same vein, one can add influencers such as Timothy Gallwey, Werner Erhard, Thomas Leonard, John Whitmore, and Graham Alexander to the list of people who played an active role to sculpt coaching since the 1970s. Starting off as a self-help principle in the 1970s and 1980s, businesses began to understand the relevance of coaching managers to assist them to attain their peak performance and also for the company to increase its bottom line. In the 1990s, the coaching industry gained momentum with various articles and books being published on the subject. Today, coaching has become a common word in organisations with companies understanding that people development is very relevant.

What is Coaching?

There are endless definitions for coaching but for now, let’s keep it simple. Coaching is a process that improves a person’s performance. It focuses on the current moment and not on the past because what has happened and cannot be changed. The only change that is possible is the client’s approach and attitude about the past. Coaches partner with their clients to find new ways of doing things, thinking about concepts, and behaving differently, all in the spirit of maximising the client’s potential. So, it’s about creating awareness, learning new ways, choosing to act, and self-reflecting on the progress.

Now that you have an idea of what coaching is and where it originated, let’s dive into some of the workplace myths about coaching.


Eight Myths Busted About Coaching in the Workplace

1.      Coaching is just glorified therapy

In actual fact, they cannot and should not be compared to each other. Therapy works from the context that something in your past needs to be “fixed” and so it delves into your past history and childhood. Coaching is a catalyst process where the coach and the client work in the here and now on methods that can catapult the client forward in attaining his or her goals. Coaching sees the individual as wholesome and healthy, with all the necessary resources to achieve his or her potential.

2.      Coaching in the workplace needs a lot of my time

One of coaching’s core principles is that it’s a non-dependent model, so coaching programmes try to create no co-dependency. Coaching sessions can vary from one or two sessions to three or six-month programmes in which you meet your coach every two weeks for 60 to 90 minutes. But if you want to grow and develop, you do need time for the action items that you have identified.

3.      Coaching in the workplace is for people who have problems

It needs to be emphasised that coaching is not a remedial performance review process. Neither is it a process that will transfer a manager’s problem to the coach. Rather, coaching is there to support the client to get unstuck in their thinking or behaviour, to get committed, and to become re-engaged by developing new tools to increase performance. Through coaching, people understand how their behaviour might hinder their own growth and we jointly explore ways to create a positive shift.

4.      I am successful so I don’t need a coach

Ironically, it’s exactly at this time when you need a coach the most because the coach will support you to maintain this level of peak performance or take you to the next level. Coaching has its greatest success when a person is already motivated, committed and thriving but wants to continue to explore their blind spots and have a neutral sounding board.

5.      Coaching in the workplace is the same as mentoring

Think of it like this: the mentor is the wise sage who has been there done that and has the t-shirt. A coach guides you on your journey of peak performance without being the expert. Mentoring is an informal, unstructured approach which answers your questions and provides advice. In contrast, coaching is more structured, sets clearly defined goals and milestones of success, and holds you accountable.

6.      Coaching is expensive

Of course, costs vary based on the coach’s level of experience, years of training, and professional credentials, but most organisations are willing to pay for a coach. Different rates apply for personal and professional coaching and it’s best to research this upfront. Nowadays coaching is effective and efficient as it can easily be done over Zoom or Skype so it saves time and travelling costs.

7.      Coaching in the workplace is only for senior management

Coaching is for everybody in any organisation and there is no limitation. If you want to grow and develop then coaching is for you regardless of where you are in the company structure. Nevertheless, it does depend on whether your organisation limits coaching to only senior management.

8.      I will lose face with my team if I hire a coach

Educate your team that coaching is about self-development and growth and that you are striving to be a better leader and role-model to them. You can even invite them to give you feedback as you go along or share why you behaving differently and that it’s part of your coaching journey. Include them in the process.

In Conclusion

Coaching is here to stay and play an even more impactful role in the workplace. It gives you a safe and confidential environment for you to explore your thoughts, so it’s important to be vulnerable and identify your gaps with the fundamental goal of becoming the best possible version of yourself.

Contact us on info@4seeds.co.za if you need an independent sounding board who can challenge your thinking and behaviour.


Five Factors Causing Unhappiness in Teams + How to Combat Them

Five Factors Causing Unhappiness in Teams + How to Combat Them

Unhappiness in teams, just like joy and sadness, is contagious. In fact, research has proven that our emotions are contagious within seven minutes. This means that just one unhappy employee can have a negative impact on a team or organisation in only seven minutes.

While we have all probably experienced the impact of unhappiness in teams, there is a great need for organisations to cultivate a more positive workplace culture which will improve the well-being of employees. Happiness is becoming the new measure of job satisfaction; in fact, happiness at work has become so important to people that it’s one of the primary reasons why people choose to either leave or stay in their job.

In this article, we will show why unhappiness is an important indicator for your team’s performance, how to notice the signs of unhappiness, and what to do to combat the spread of unhappiness in your organisation.


Ten Signs of Unhappiness in Your Team

As we have mentioned in previous articles, there is extensive research proving the effect happy employees have on organisations. However, there is also a lot of information showing the impact and substantial costs that unhappy employees can have on the organisation and its bottom line.

Becoming aware of the warning signs of unhappiness in your team is a good starting point. This requires keeping your finger on the pulse of the team, noticing toxic or negative behaviours before they spread.

Ten Warning Signs of Unhappiness in Your Team are:

  • Reduced organisational commitment
  • Poor time management – leaving early and arriving late
  • High staff turnover
  • Low levels of accountability
  • Increased micromanaging
  • Low levels of volunteerism and organisational citizenship
  • Poor engagement, productivity, and performance
  • Limited problem-solving and innovation ability
  • Poor workplace relationships
  • Increased stress, burn-out, and absenteeism

Based on these findings – which is by no means an exhaustive list – it becomes apparent even to the most traditional of leaders, that happiness at work is not just a nice-to-have, but is in fact vital for the economic viability of a business and the sustainable productivity of its workforce.


Five Factors that Cause Unhappiness in Teams, and How to Combat Them

While unhappiness in teams is more prevalent than we would like it to be, research is being done to understand its causes and influences, and how we can increase happiness at work.

4Seeds is passionate about this illuminating and evolving research into Positive Psychology and positive organisations. We strive to build happy cultures for organisations which in turn cultivates an engaged, productive, and committed workforce, delivering a more sustainable positive impact on society. This is our philosophy.

Here are the five key factors which cause unhappiness in teams, and what we are doing to combat them.


1)      Unsupportive Management

Research has shown that poor leadership is the predominant reason why people leave their jobs. While this may be a hard pill to swallow, it is fact. Happiness levels in organisations need to start at the top!

Our Meaningful Leadership Development Programme is designed to equip new and experienced leaders with the soft skills and personal mastery needed to lead others effectively. At 4Seeds we believe that with a combination of self-awareness, strong soft skills, and the passion to make a meaningful impact, any leader can create a positive culture at work. Read more about the Meaningful Leadership Development Programme.


2)      Lack of Tools and Research to Complete the Job

Job performance and productivity require each individual to have clarity on their role and the resources (tangible and intangible) to meet the job demands competently. If one does not have the resources (time, equipment, knowledge, supervision, or confidence) to achieve the outcomes of their job, they can quickly become disinterested, disengaged and depressed. Achievement is one of the fundamental pillars of happiness, so organisations need to provide the necessary resources for each individual to fulfil their role effectively.

4Seeds specialises in employee engagement. From organisation-wide assessments to bespoke interventions, we are the perfect learning and development partner to assist you to build and sustain the resources and human capacities needed for your teams to move from unhappy to engaged. Read more about our service offerings.


3)      Little Opportunity for Professional Growth

As we all know, growth and development are invaluable to our motivation at work. Why should we work if we don’t know where it will lead? Learning and development are fundamental to every organisation that wants to train and maintain its staff.

4Seeds offers workshops and trainings which serve to build the skills needed to survive and thrive in the modern workplace. From resilience and stamina, to strengths-based work efficacy, we have 12 training modules which can be tailor-made to suit your employees’ learning and development needs. Read more about our Positive Team Building Interventions.


4.      Poor Internal Processes and Systems

As W. Edwards Deming (American engineer, statistician, professor, author, lecturer, and management consultant) so aptly put it “eighty-five percent of the reasons for failure are deficiencies in the systems and process rather than the employee. The role of management is to change the process rather than badgering individuals to do better.”

Effectively, systems and processes within an organisation take strategy, innovation, foresight, and a willingness to learn and adapt along the way. Ours is to be an objective, external partner to your strategic development. We have expertise in corporate governance, systems thinking, industrial psychology, and leadership, and can provide a fresh perspective to take your company into the future. To learn more about this offering, please get in touch with us at info@4seeds.co.za


5.      Dissatisfaction with Colleagues

Team dynamics and conflicts are inevitable. Without the skills and insight to respect diversity and share frustrations, collaborate on ideas and build trust, any team is just waiting for unhappiness to strike. Positive co-worker relationships are considered one of the top five reasons why people stay at their jobs. So, creating positive, respectful and collaborative working relationships is vital to the productivity and happiness of each respective individual involved.

At 4Seeds we are experts in building human capital and positive relationships. Our Positive Team Building packages provide a choice of 12 topics. Each one of these topics will upskill the individuals on your team while cultivating a positive, cohesive working culture. The workshops can be done individually or grouped together into a more integrated team-building strategy. Read more about our Positive Team Building Workshops.


In Conclusion

Unhappiness in teams can no longer be an afterthought. If future leaders begin building happiness into their strategy for the years to come, we are more likely to create a stable, lucrative, empowering, and happy economy.

4Seeds is dedicated to this mission and have made it our core purpose to build happier organisations in South Africa. We would love to hear from you and assist your organisation to go from unhappy to satisfied, from unfulfilled to engaged, and from individual surviving to collective thriving.

Get in touch with us to learn more about our services and how we can help you.


Unhappiness is at the Root of Human Survival

Unhappiness is at the Root of Human Survival

The concept of the pursuit of happiness is everywhere – in our offices, communities and, and even in our homes! And obviously, it’s companion unhappiness is rife in society which ensures we buy more, consume more and desire more in order to heal our unhappiness.  We’re constantly asking ourselves if we’re happy and what recipe would make us happier: More money? A bigger house? A more prestigious job? A better partner?

But if you’ve pursued any of the above goals, you’ll know that once you get there, somehow you still feel incomplete and not happy… yet. So, you pursue the next goal, the next achievement, and buy yourself your next possession; always hoping to find the happiness you so desperately want and deserve.

So, if the answer to what makes us happy isn’t the perfect life with all the bells and whistles, then what can make us happy? The answer to this question is in understanding human nature.

In this article, we’ll will explain how and why we function as we do, and how unhappiness has served our evolution as a species. This is not to say that we should be unhappy or strive for dissatisfaction by any means, what we’ll aim to explain is why we are this way so that we can better understand, learn, and grow from simply surviving to thriving.


Unhappiness as a Means of Survival

As we all know, our survival as a species has required us to be alert and aware of dangers so that we can protect ourselves and our loved ones. While we have evolved massively into a modern, tech-savvy, and aware species, this instinct is still intact and is controlled by the oldest part of our brains, known as the reptilian brain.

This reptilian brain is situated at the back of the brain and is responsible for fight, flight, freeze, feed, and fornication. So, while the threats may have changed in our environment, we’re still wired to scan for danger.

In Positive Psychology this is known as the negativity bias, and while it is necessary for human survival on a day to day basis, it can limit our ability to be happy. If we’re constantly looking for the negative in our environments, how can we home in on the positive?

Hedonic Adaptation: A Safety Strategy which Leads to Unhappiness

The second component to our survival is hedonic adaptation or the hedonic treadmill.

The basic concept of the hedonic treadmill is that no matter what happens in our external circumstances, we’ll always return to our individual happiness set point. In fact, this set point is said to make up 50% of our overall happiness and well-being.

This ability for us to return to where we started serves us hugely when we encounter traumatic or difficult times in our lives. However, this hedonic adaptation is happening continuously in our daily lives and may be the root of our unhappiness and feelings of dissatisfaction.

In our offices, homes, and communities we seek structure, routine and stability. This serves us as it helps us feel secure – we can switch off our reptilian brain and be productive. This ability to find a new comfort zone and stick with it is helpful, as the more stability we have around us the more we think we are able to meet our survival, physical, social, emotional, and psychological needs.

While this is true for most of us, there is a downside to hedonic adaptation which is that we become complacent, lacklustre, and jaded by the system we have worked so hard to build and maintain. We adapt to our situation so effectively that we lose our sense of joy and excitement.

Hedonic adaptation leads to discontent with what we have. We stop feeling excited about where we’re going, and adapt so well to our routines that we no longer see our lives for all they encompass. This leads to unhappiness and the pursuit of what could make us happier.

The hedonic treadmill also results in fear of doing something new and stepping out of our comfort zones because it may threaten the status quo we’ve worked so hard to build. We make the decision to rather be comfortable and unhappy, than try something new which we believe could be a threat to our survival and could also make us even more unhappy.

The irony of our unhappiness is that the opposite of this is actually true. Because we have a happiness set point, if we get outside of our comfort zones or have to manage a difficult event, we not only return to this happiness set point but can actually surpass our previous level of happiness and thrive.


Breaking the Cycle of Unhappiness: Moving from Surviving to Thriving

At 4Seeds we design and deliver team, leadership, and organisational programmes which helps us to counter your innate negativity bias with scientific and practical strategies to increase your happiness levels.

We meet individuals where they are, and through a process of scientifically meaningful workshops and interventions can help your organisation step out of its comfort zone, out of fear and stress to develop even greater resilience, productivity, and progress.

Contact us on info@4seeds.co.za to find out how we can move your organisation from surviving to thriving.


The Importance of Humanity in the Digital Future

The Importance of Humanity in the Digital Future

Modern organisations are undergoing continuous change, with expectations from consumers as well as employees increasing dramatically as our economy becomes more innovative, fast-paced, and demanding.

We’ve already begun the technological revolution, and just like the Industrial Revolution, we’re creating machines which are becoming more and more intelligent, to the point that they’re able to replace many of our physical and cognitive functions. We’re becoming even more reliant on technology to minimise inconveniences, reduce human error, and maximise our production and processing potential. While this is an incredible feat of human innovation which should be celebrated and revered, it’s becoming necessary to redefine the role of humanity in this technological future.

As computers become even more intelligent, we need to be asking what humans can bring to the table to ensure that we don’t become redundant in the face of our own inventions. While you’re reading this, there are computers which are self-learning and able to adjust, analyse, and improve their functionality without human intervention. While this is happening, we have to ask ourselves what role we want to be playing in this future we’re creating. Douglas Rushkoff, the author of Team Human, is bringing awareness to this topic. In his TED talk he says, “It’s not about rejecting the digital or rejecting the technological. It’s a matter of retrieving the values that we’re in danger of leaving behind and then embedding them into the future”.

There’s a growing body of research that shows that while technology is providing us with more convenience, greater global connections, and more efficiency, the impact of social media, for example, is detrimental to our self-esteem, which in turn boosts our depression and anxiety levels. Navigation apps reduce our brain’s ability to solve problems, orientate, and memorise.

So, what values do you think make us inherently human? Ethics, morality, scenario-planning, intuition, empathy, collaboration? And how can we harness our human capacities, so we’re able to not only cope with but engage and positively influence a world filled with technological shortcuts?

The answer is in psychological upskilling. We need to develop psychological resources to not only cope with our current conditions but to grow our innate human potential, so we’re able to stay on track with our technological advancements.

As the leaders of today’s organisations, we need to be aware of this gap and focus on the humanity behind our work. We need to be anchoring our values, discussing and devising ethical protocols and how to manage diversity and inclusion, collaborating and co-operating, as well as helping our organisations to keep connected to the meaning, purpose, and humanity of its existence, now more than ever.

At 4Seeds we are acutely aware of the importance of humanity in the modern workplace. We have made it our mission to support organisations to bridge the gap between the dehumanising digital world, and the meaningful and positive roles we play at work, which keep us motivated, productive and committed. We know that through empowering leaders, managers and employees with the psychological skills of resilience, strengths-based job crafting, value-driven team goal setting, and self-awareness, we can help you and your organisation play a vital role in the progress of humanity in the digital future.

Join us for our next Meaningful Leadership Development Programme which is taking place in Johannesburg on 13th and 14th August 2019.

Learn more about the course and book your seat or drop us an email: info@4seeds.co.za

Five Ways Your Workplace Can Make You an Ethical Leader

Five Ways Your Workplace Can Make You an Ethical Leader

South Africa has seen its fair share of unethical leadership in recent years, with the political and economic infrastructure being manipulated and managed for the benefit of a few. However, even though we know that this behaviour is unethical, the business world remains a complicated place with many grey areas which regularly test our moral compass.

Leaders, as the responsible people in the organisation, are often seen to be the ethical navigators and feel responsible for the misdemeanours or transgressions of others. Despite our best efforts, we cannot change the behaviour and motivation of others. However, without clarification of the expectations of the organisation, we cannot expect people to always know whether they are doing the right thing.

This does, unfortunately, mean that leaders have a role to play in ensuring that people remain within the moral conditions laid out by the organisation, and can be held accountable if these conditions are not in place.

In this article, we outline five conditions that you can apply to ensure that you are acting as an ethical leader. We hope to offer you some guidance which can protect you and your organisation from the unintended consequences of unethical behaviour.


Five Ways Your Workplace Can Make You an Ethical Leader


Codes of Conduct and Best Practice guidelines

Putting into a place a set of rules and regulations which stipulate the nature of managing unethical, illegal or morally challenging situations in the workplace, is a vital step for your organisation. When we don’t know what is expected of us, it’s easy for situations to unravel and ethics can become an emotional area to solve after the fact. Deciding on the policies which work for the team as well as unpacking the ethical challenges of your industry, the best practice guidelines for managing them, and how to regulate your organisation’s daily work, is a great way to collaborate on governance for which everyone has agreed to and is then responsible for upholding.


Training on ethics and company culture

Having the ability to make ethical decisions is not a given skill. Educating your employees will empower them to make informed decisions about their actions, and is essential to ensure that your staff are able to make ethical decisions. Providing regular training and seminars is one method, and can include the following:

  • Updates on the latest best practice guidelines
  • Updates on national and international industry rules and regulations
  • Instilling commitment for your corporate values
  • Providing guidance through challenging situations
  • Encouraging them to speak up about mistakes and uncomfortable ethical behaviours where the team can discuss and learn from their mistakes or the challenges of others.



One of the key behaviours of ethical leadership is consistency and fairness. If only certain policies are respected, individuals are dealt with in disparaging ways, or consequences for unethical behaviours are inconsistently punished – then your organisation is in trouble. People notice when they are not managed fairly, and inconsistency can quickly deteriorate the trust, collaborative spirit, and psychological safety of people at work. Being consistent in what is regulated and how it is fairly implemented is key to ensuring that your reputation and codes of conduct are upheld inside and outside of the workplace.



Do what you say, and admit when you don’t. Being an ethical leader means being a role model for best practice. This requires you to know your core values and to behave them. As an example, it is one thing to say that you want everyone to be punctual but you are late for meetings, or that you respect your employees’ health but then send them tasks when they are on sick leave, or that you value work-life balance but you yourself always work overtime. Integrity is a highly necessary part of ethical leadership because, without it, your team will inevitably see you as false and will lose trust and respect for you. In order to be an ethical organisation, you as the leader have to be willing to follow the same protocols of behaviour that you set out for your staff.


Check your motivations

While there are many definitions of leadership, there is one concept that underpins them all. The idea of being responsible for something greater than oneself, and while there have been many tyrannical leaders in history, the true meaning of a leader is one who is not motivated by self-advancement but rather by the progress of the team and company as a whole. If you want to be an ethical leader you need to become aware of your motivations and be vigilant with yourself. Make sure that you know who you are and how your behaviours impact those around you. If you are making decisions which drive your own success or financial gain, you will not only lose the commitment of your staff, but you are setting an example that individual gain is more valuable than collective success.


In conclusion

As you can see, ethical leadership is as much about your own behaviour and intentions as it is about setting up clear and consistent procedures to guide ethical decision making. Being an ethical leader is not a simple task and requires regular self-awareness, education, and policymaking in collaboration with your team.

We wish you the best of luck in implementing our suggestions, and please do contact us on info@4seeds.co.za if you have questions or need assistance.