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Six Things Employees Really Want in 2019

Six Things Employees Really Want in 2019

The silly season is over and we can now begin to slowly get back into our work routines. It’s time to start planning our next twelve months with hope and optimism, and gearing ourselves up for a new year with inspiring strategies and stretch goals. We all have ideas as to how we’ll grow our businesses to the next level, but every plan is only as good as the person who executes it.

This raises a question for leaders: “What do my employees want in 2019?”

Besides having secure jobs that provide them with satisfaction, here are six things that employees want from their organisations because they provide fulfilment for them.

1. Meaning and Purpose

Research has shown that employees are yearning for work that provides them with meaning. This translates to them understanding whose life they enrich through their work. For them, it’s about establishing a personal connection to the work, and understanding how it contributes to others or society. Also, meaningful work means giving employees work challenges that are not mundane or routine based. These are projects that stretch and grow them but don’t set them up for failure.

2. Communication

Communication is such a vast topic, and can span from listening to receiving feedback and managing conflict. Although these may all be applicable, what employees want the most is to engage in dialogue in a kind, respectful and fair manner. They want to know that their ideas are heard and seriously considered. It’s important to them to receive regular feedback on their work as well as suggestions on what they’re doing well and where there is room for improvement.

3. Recognition

Conveying appreciation for work done is the foundation to motivate and stimulate engagement. Employees want to know that you, the leader, have seen their work and taken the time to praise them for it. They want to be recognised for their strengths, skills and the effort they applied to a task, which will result in them repeating the positive behaviour. This will in turn raise service quality, performance standards and customer satisfaction.

4. Job crafting

This is giving employees the choice as to how to complete a task. It may be scary for some leaders because they feel they’re giving away control, but employees want the freedom to decide how they perform a certain task. It’s important for leaders to give them the autonomy to bring in their creativity, personality and unique strengths. Leaders can set the boundaries of when they want something done which will ensure that it’s within the organisation’s policies and standards, but thereafter it’s good to give your employees free reign.

5. Work-life balance

The traditional 9 to 5 working day may look good on paper, but in reality, we often commit more time to work then that.  Employees want the agility to combine their lives with work, and vice versa, which will give them the flexibility to decide when they want to play and when they need to work. Again, stipulate the boundaries of the 40-hour work week, the need to complete tasks on time, and to come to the office at least once a week or whatever applies to your organisation and industry. Be mindful that people are productive at different times of the day, in different environments, and in various circumstances. As much as many organisations are doing their best to hold onto the traditional working hours, flexi-time will become the accepted norm.

6. Connections

We know that relationships are a key factor to our happiness, and having healthy, trusting relationships at work matters to us. Employees want good camaraderie and friendships with their co-workers because that reduces stress, enhances trust, and opens up communication. Make it easy for employees to have a social area where they can connect and exchange work experiences with their colleagues.

Employees aren’t demanding the impossible from their organisations, and with some effort and changes, every organisation can meet these six needs. Let’s be honest; we all want positive, fulfilling and happy work environments, and it doesn’t take much to make it happen.

Three ways to end the year off on a positive note

Three ways to end the year off on a positive note

The end of the year is fast approaching and with that, there comes the inevitable reflection on how 2018 has treated us individually as well as how we have fared in our work. It is easy at this time to look at what has not gone well or how we didn’t achieve everything we set out to accomplish. Negativity bias is a part of our survival instinct – we tend to focus on threats to our well-being rather than see the bigger picture of all that we have done. Negativity bias, while helping to protect us from harm, also limits our ability to feel satisfied and grateful for what is positive in our lives.

As social beings, another feature of our human programming is that we compare ourselves to others, using what they have achieved as a benchmark for our own accomplishments. While this social comparison serves to keep us in line and on par with others, it can also leave us feeling self-critical and even depressed.

It is at this crucial time of year, where employee morale can drop, exhaustion is setting in and people are naturally reflecting on their year, that we employ helpful and positive strategies to assist our organisations to find satisfaction and validation.

Positive Psychology aims to provide practical and effective strategies to manage our emotions and leverage our thoughts towards a sense of well-being and happiness. In this article, we will share a few key strategies that you can use in your organisation.

Three ways to end the year off in the positive

1) Three good things

As mentioned above, negativity bias is our brain’s way of identifying threats to our well-being. However, in this day and age, not all negatives are harmful to our survival, so we need to learn ways of countering this natural tendency to home in on what has gone wrong. A simple but highly effective strategy to help balance out our negativity bias is the exercise of three good things.

Take your team through a reflective exercise where they list all their failures or setbacks for the year. This will leave them feeling drained and often depressed – have them reflect on this feeling. The second part of the exercise is to couple every one of these negatives with three positive experiences they have had in the year and why they happened. These can be simple or grand macro level achievements they have had.

It has been shown that for every one negative we need three positives to balance our emotional experience; this is called the positivity ratio (Fredrickson, 2013). Once these have been listed, the team can share and reflect together. This exercise can be done collectively or individually and has many proven benefits for your team, including increased positive emotions, reduced depression and an increase in their sense of gratitude and appreciation.

2) A growth mindset

A growth mindset is one of your organisation’s biggest assets. To be able to review our challenges by the lessons we have learnt and how they contribute to our progress, rather than viewing them as an indicator of who we are and how we are limited. A growth mindset allows us to be more resilient and breeds optimism and hope for the future. If 2018 has been a challenging year for you, which is true for most organisations, this shift in thinking can provide a much-needed breath of fresh air.

The best way to practice learning goal orientation is to review the goals set as an organisation as well as by each individual at the start of the year. While reflecting on each goal, answer the following questions:

1) How did you achieve this goal?
2) What were the obstacles you experienced in reaching this goal?
3) What lessons have you learnt in the process?
4) How does this change the way you will approach goals in the future?
5) What steps could you take to ensure you have better success?

This exercise is a valuable way for your team to reflect in a constructive way. Inevitably there will have been setbacks or obstacles to achieving your collective and individual goals. However, learning to view them as lessons towards personal and professional growth will assist your team to feel a greater sense of accomplishment and optimism as well as help them set constructive learning goals for 2019.

A growth mindset is also an effective strategy to empower your team to overcome their social comparisons, as reviewing their lessons on an individual level they are being validated for their personal growth and development. This provides a buffer to the effects of comparing oneself to others.

3) Gratitude

Gratitude is a concept which has received a lot of attention in recent years. This is because of its simple and yet profound effects on our sense of overall well-being, life satisfaction and for its ability to boost positive relationship building. Finding ways to be grateful in the workplace can have many effects on employee morale and help build healthier and happier teams.

Perhaps one of the simplest gratitude exercises you can practice at the end of the year is a written Naikan Reflection (developed by Yoshimito Ishin a businessman and devout Jodo Shinshu Buddhist). Ask your team to reflect on the following questions:

1) What have I received from (person x)?
2) What have I given to (person x)?                                                                   
3) What troubles and difficulties have I caused to (person x)?

Have the team reflected on these questions, write their responses and then share with the group. This exercise, while challenging, helps people to become aware of the resources and opportunities they have been afforded as well as to help them reflect on whether their actions have contributed positively or negatively to the organisation. You can tailor the questions to be more specific if necessary.

“The miracle of gratitude is that it shifts your perception to such an extent that it changes the world you see.”
– Dr. Robert Holden (“Britain’s foremost expert on happiness”)

In conclusion:

At the end of the year we automatically go through a reflective process, however, the way in which we reflect on what has happened in the year can affect our well-being and satisfaction. Positive Psychology has developed some simple and powerful tools to help overcome our negativity bias, social comparisons and negative emotions.

By reflecting with a positivity ratio, developing a growth mindset and cultivating gratitude, we can not only counter the end of year exhaustion but promote team morale, satisfaction and optimism. Whether you practice these at your next few meetings, or at your end of year function, all three of these strategies can help give your team the boost they need to end 2018 in the positive and start 2019 off with a bang. We wish you a healthy and reflective period ahead.

Eight Unknown Indicators of a Positive Organisational Culture

Eight Unknown Indicators of a Positive Organisational Culture

While the ever-present stress of working in today’s world puts strain on individuals and organisational cultures, there are some fundamental environmental and cultural factors which can ease the pressure. Unfortunately, even though we may want to do our best work and have a positive work experience, this is often compromised by factors outside our control, and these unresolved conflicts impact overall organisational culture and business success.

Most organisations don’t plan on being negative environments for their employees’ well-being; however if they don’t pay attention to the unseen culture of the organisation, it can lead to some serious negative side effects, including:

  • High absenteeism
  • Stress-related health conditions
  • Reduced productivity
  • Unhealthy and toxic communication habits
  • Politics and internal conflicts
  • High levels of dissatisfaction

These side effects speak for themselves in terms of the impact they have on organisational culture and employee well-being; however, what often happens is that we leave them untouched hoping they’ll resolve themselves. Unfortunately, this is often not the case, and prolonged negative work environments usually lead to:

  • High staff turnover
  • Reduced work satisfaction which impacts commitment and motivation
  • Low staff morale and team unity
  • Higher amounts of HR issues relating to employee conflicts
  • Burnout

So how can we tell that we’re working in a negative work environment? Well, there are a range of factors, but the truth is – you’ll feel it. Mistrust, closed communication, reduced collective problem solving, increased discomfort and reduced motivation are key indicators that your organisation is on a downwards slope.

But how do you know if you’re working in a positive organisation?

In South Africa there appears to be a lot of focus on logistical elements of organisational management which, while important, can lead to the people focus being less highly regarded. In this article we aim to highlight the key signs of whether you’re working in a positive organisation, and through it we hope to expose you to the often unseen elements which impact your employees and, in the end, directly impact your bottom line success.

Indicators of a Positive Organisational Culture

  • Value Integrity

It is all well and good to have a values list stuck up on a wall in the office, however truly positive organisations bring their values to life. It’s simple to say, “we value diversity”, however is your organisation really upholding this value? Does everyone have equal representation? Can everybody share from their personal viewpoint without being shut down or silenced?

Value integrity comes in many forms from the words said, the actions performed, and the morals upheld in the organisation. These will differ depending on the values of your organisation, however one of the key indicators of whether you value integrity in your organisational culture is whether your own personal values are in accordance with those laid out by your organisation. If there is a connection on a personal level, it will filter out into every level of the organisation.

  • A Relaxed and Productive Environment Organisational Culture

While it may seem obvious that we need to work in an environment that is conductive to concentration and productivity, this may not always be the reality. Bull pens, casual interruptions, social media access and colleague conversations can all have an impact on our capacity to do the “deep work” that truly improves organisations. Another area to consider when reviewing your working environment is whether you’re relaxed in your work space. Our brains require a baseline level of relaxation before we’re able to fully commit our attention to the task at hand, so notice whether your work space allows you to relax and concentrate fully on your tasks. A positive organisation should be encouraging a conducive environment through physical, sensory and mental conditions, as much as is possible within the given industry.

  • Commitment to Excellence

A positive organisation prioritises quality as much as quantity when it comes to outcomes for its clients. This is a balancing act and requires attention to both features when considering employee performance. While this may seem obvious and most organisations already have quality audits to ensure they’re producing the best products, what can often be forgotten is the people side of what it takes to achieve excellence. A positive organisational culture should be supporting the employees within the organisation to upskill, learn, and progress in their careers, and experience personal development through their roles. When an organisation commits to the individual improvement of its employees, the overall quality of their outcomes grows exponentially. Is your organisation committed to excellence?

  • Open and Honest Communication

Corridor talk, internal politics and a lack of transparency are just some of the common problems experienced in many organisations. When open communication is not present, this can often lead to mistrust, a lack of psychological safety and employees wanting to “vent” to their peers which fuels the cycle to continue. Open communication can be either formal or informal, written or verbal. A positive working environment and an organisational culture with open communication will be easy to identify as there will be fewer cliques, less gossip, rumours, politics and uncertainty.

  • Collaboration and Support

A healthy and positive team environment is one that supports creativity, problem solving and collaboration. There will also be compassion, respect and understanding underlying interactions. If you’ve ever been in toxic team environment you’ll know the signs – taking credit for someone else’s work, backstabbing, rumour spreading, unequal opportunities for expression, and bullying. A positive team environment is perhaps one of the key elements to creating a positive organisational culture because once teams are working together effectively and supportively, it can quickly spread into the culture of the rest of the organisation. If you want to identify whether you’re in a positive organisation, start to notice whether you have collaboration, peer support, learning through doing (reflection and problem solving), and both formal and informal meeting opportunities.

  • A Sense of Humour

“A good sense of humour is an escape valve for the pressures of life.”

In South Africa we’re incredibly lucky to have a culture of humour. To laugh at ourselves, at what doesn’t work, at our frustrations and at each other in a kind way is one of our biggest weapons against the potential slip into negativity. A good sense of humour creates a light and playful culture within an organisation and can really be the antidote to daily stress as it releases endorphins and reduces cortisol (our stress hormone) built up throughout the day. Do you laugh enough in your organisation?

  • Flexibility

Unfortunately, in the traditional working paradigm, the elimination of humanity is standard operating procedure. A progressive, positive organisation considers the individual, and with that comes a flexibility in management of resources, time, expectations, methodology and differences in outcome – of course without compromising the quality of the organisation’s objectives. Flexibility while challenging to manage can be a vital way for employees to experience autonomy and acknowledgement because when we’re seen and heard as ourselves we’re more in control (over time use, task completion and work-life balance) and will experience a rise in intrinsic motivation and commitment to the organisation.

  • Emphasis on environment, family and health

In this millennial world, the nature of our organisations has changed. From CSI (Corporate Social Investment) initiatives, family fun days, unconventional team building events and wellness programmes, there’s a revolution happening when it comes to an organisation’s responsibility to support, respect and act towards improving the lives of its employees and the greater community. This is becoming more common in organisations across the board, but provides a good indicator to see whether you’re in fact working in an organisation that has positive intentions.

Take Home Message

There’s a lot of pressure to be a better organisation, a better leader and a better person. This article is not intended to cause guilt, blame or negative sentiments towards your organisation because it doesn’t meet these criteria. Rather, it may help to explain why you’re experiencing conflicts and chaos at work and will hopefully give you a starting point to begin making positive changes in your work place.

If you’re not sure where to start, then don’t worry. 4Seeds is passionate about building skills and resources for happier workplaces in South Africa and we’d love to help you.

We’ll gladly come to your office for a FREE 30-minute Positive Workplace Talk to help start the conversation and to build awareness about how you and your organisation can become healthier, happier and more successful. If you’re interested, or know someone who may need us, then send an email to info@4seeds.co.za and we’ll be happy to get involved.

The times are changing and we’re here to support you on your route to success.

7 Ways A Kindness Company Culture Can Boost Your Bottom Line

7 Ways A Kindness Company Culture Can Boost Your Bottom Line

Have you ever stopped to wonder what your company culture is centred around?

The topic of kindness at work would probably be considered controversial and unnecessary for a traditional organisation. However, as our need for happiness and satisfaction at work grows, kindness becomes a valuable and inexpensive method to change your company culture and boost your bottom line.

While in the past kindness may have been perceived as weakness, research is growing in support of the positive impact that a kindness company culture can have not only on your employees, but on your company’s success.

A primary concern for most companies in today’s economy is to ensure a secure bottom line, and to stabilise its workforce to guarantee consistent and sustainable income. And while this is a necessary consideration for any business to survive, the need for healthy and happy employees is imperative for any business to thrive. We know that a people focus builds profits, and while the tendency may be to lead the way we were led, if we are to create impactful and happy organisations we need to learn a new set of skills. Kindness, among other things such as resilience, engagement and purpose, plays a key role in building positive, productive workplaces.

For those of us who have experienced rudeness, pettiness or have been the butt of an office joke, the value of kindness is obvious. However, a growing body of research is showing some interesting and important findings about why a kindness culture in your workplace will boost productivity and serve your bottom line. Here are some of the findings:

  1. Kindness boosts customer satisfaction and sales

Customers want to be treated with respect, and if they have a negative experience with your staff they are likely to share their experience with others, and if you’re unlucky on social media. In today’s economy it is genuine kindness that can give your company the competitive edge as it encourages people to return and spread the word about your business.

     2. Only 10% of people say thank you at work

This statistic, while true, is also terrifying and begs the following questions: Do you thank your staff for their efforts? Do you make an effort to show appreciation for even the small roles that people play in keeping your company going? It is a fundamental human need to be respected and held in high esteem. We want to belong, and when we are validated for our efforts we begin to build positive relationships. So, next time someone brings you a coffee, or cleans your office, be sure to say thank you – it costs nothing!

    3. Kindness increases positive relationships in the workplace

Kindness in the workplace can be as simple as saying thank you, holding the door for somebody, or offering to assist a stressed colleague. However, it can be translated into even more beneficial behaviours such as the sharing of information. A company culture that encourages people to share resources, information and recognition is the true sign of a kind company culture. Sharing increases productivity, problem solving and creativity, thus producing better products with a greater impact.

    4. Kindness increases inclusion and reduces lawsuits

Sexual harassment, racism, homophobia and other common HR issues are any leader’s biggest nightmare, because on top of affecting the office climate they can have a serious financial and PR impact. Breeding a company culture of kind words, non-judgemental listening, and sharing is a sure-fire way to reduce these incidences. A company culture that values respect above bias, holds all employees in esteem and holds rude people accountable, sets a strong foundation on which to build inclusion and diversity, thus breaking down harmful stereotypes and the punishable behaviours associated with it.

   5. Kindness is contagious

We already know the power of a smile and how when someone smiles at us we share it with others. The same works for acts of kindness. When someone does even a small act of kindness we want to repay this kindness either to that person or to others. Random acts of kindness have a powerful impact on our happiness levels because it feels good to do good. Encouraging this company culture of small acts of kindness in the form of volunteering time, offering coffee or helping a colleague are a few small ways for you to start boosting kindness in your company and in turn grow the happiness levels of your team and the individuals which keep it going. No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.

   6. A kindness company culture reduces absenteeism

A recent study into the cost of absenteeism because of stress-related conditions amounts to over £6.5 billion a year. Stress is therefore the number one biggest cause of absenteeism and loss of productivity to companies worldwide. It would be completely absurd to ignore the impact of stress on your employees as it has a direct impact on your bottom line.

Kindness is a small but effective first step to reducing stress in the workplace. As already mentioned, when there is a kindness company culture people are more willing to help each other, to share information which can ease another’s stress, and build positive relationships which reduce social anxiety and stress related to belonging to a team. Kindness is therefore a highly cost-effective strategy to reduce stress levels and combat the multitude of related conditions which are rising as a result.

   7. Kindness boosts attention and productivity

Research shows that when we are stressed or unhappy our attention is compromised. A good example is to consider how being tired affects your concentration, problem-solving ability, mistake making and time taken to complete a task. The same is true for unhappiness; it drains our cognitive capacity and in turn our quality and quantity of work output. As previously mentioned, kindness boosts well-being and overall happiness within an organisation which has a direct effect on the ability of your staff to achieve amazing results in a shorter time.

Take Home Message

There is a quote by the Dalai Lama that seems poignant to share at this time.

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

Kindness is perhaps the most underrated practice that you can use to leverage the best from your employees and build a sustainable income. Kindness impacts each individual, the relationships they build and the customers they serve. It is therefore in the best interests of every company hoping to stay relevant and competitive to invest time in building a kindness company culture.

Please share this article with anybody you feel would benefit. Consider this your act of kindness for the day, as sometimes even the kindest people you know need to have their passion reignited.

Breaking the Touch Taboo: 9 Reasons Why You Should Use Touch in the Workplace

Breaking the Touch Taboo: 9 Reasons Why You Should Use Touch in the Workplace

Touch in the workplace has long been the topic of much tension, with sexual harassment being a trigger point for legal action and civic concern. This has left many managers feeling that they cannot use touch for fear of causing harm or damaging their relationships with staff. This article aims to lay out the value of using physical touch in the workplace and how when used appropriately it can positively impact company outcomes, improve work relationships and increase employee well-being.

Touch is a Basic Human Need

From the time we are born, touch provides necessary sensory input for our physical, emotional, psychological and social development. This is a known fact; however as we get older, touch becomes a sensitive issue, and our touch anxiety grows. “If I touch them, what will happen if they get the wrong idea, and could I damage this relationship?” is the question playing in the back of our minds. While our need for touch remains fundamental to our sense of connection and support of others, we become more hesitant, which is in turn compounded by the context of the professional environment.

As the world becomes more digital and virtual, many of us are becoming “touch deprived”, and despite our adult touch anxiety, we still have a fundamental need for physical contact. Touch forms part of how we communicate, bond and socialise non-verbally with others. The less often we touch, the less connected we feel which impacts many areas of our health. Within the workplace setting there are many unseen impacts of reduced touch, and hopefully, through this article, you will feel a greater sense of self-efficacy in using and receiving this powerful communication tool.

Let’s have a look at the nine benefits of physical touch and how they translate into positive workplace outcomes.

The Nine Reasons Why You Should be Using More Touch at Work

1) It increases Oxytocin

Oxytocin is known as our “cuddle hormone”, though don’t let this put you off. Oxytocin is the hormone associated with human bonding, and when released it can help us develop a sense of safety and trust in one another. Trust is a cultural value of paramount importance in organisations, as it boosts our creativity, innovation, perceived purpose in the organisation’s vision, and in turn leads to greater commitment to the organisation’s objectives for the long-term. So this “soft” hormone has some powerful benefits.

2) Touch Counteracts Stress

In this world filled with change and uncertainty, stress is a constant; however physical touch can be part of the antidote as research shows that physical touch releases large amounts of dopamine – “our happy hormone”. Dopamine is not only associated with feelings of happiness and well-being, but also plays a major role in increasing feelings of relaxation, and we all know that we are more productive, participatory and pleasant when we are relaxed. Dopamine counters stress and in turn the many modern-day diseases we suffer from as a result.

3) It Boosts our Immunity

The more touch we receive, the better our immune system is able to perform. This becomes especially relevant when we think of the time and costs incurred from absenteeism. So, the more we touch, the more productive we are and the better able we are to perform our roles without needing to take sick leave.

4) Work Needs to Satisfy People’s Needs

We are living in a new age where people are not only looking for their pay cheque, but also for a sense of purpose and meaning in their job. It is therefore essential that companies provide this in order to retain their staff. As physical touch is one of our fundamental human needs, providing more appropriate touch in the workplace can help to satisfy this need while boosting staff retention.

5) Touch Boosts Effective Interpersonal Communication

Touch serves many functions in the workplace from validation (a tap on the back), to interaction management (tapping a shoulder to get attention), persuasion (holding someone’s arm to direct them where we want to go) and celebration (high fives). All of these appropriate uses of touch in the workplace enable healthy non-verbal communication in the office environment, and when missing can influence the effectiveness of our interactions by creating confusion, increasing mistrust and reducing feelings of appreciation.

6) It Increases Perceived Managerial Social Effectiveness

Touch is related to self-esteem. The higher our feelings of confidence, the more we are able to use touch effectively. In the workplace this can be an area of much deliberation because if touch is used ineffectively it can damage relationships. It is therefore very important for managers to be aware of the needs of their individual staff so that they can meet them appropriately. When this is performed effectively, staff will perceive their manager as being socially effective and hold them in higher esteem. And considering that management is one of the top five reasons why people leave their jobs, this is a valuable method to retain staff.

7) Effective Touch is a Sign of an Authentic Leader

We have all heard of the term “authentic leadership” and we have covered this topic in many of our blogs. An authentic leader is one who is totally themselves at work. They show integrity in their actions which means that they hold nothing back from their staff. Touch is a non-verbal indicator of authenticity as although it is unspoken, we are all able to perceive when someone is being ingenuine when we come into physical contact with them. The use of touch is therefore a powerful first step for any manager who wants to become more authentic in their leadership position.

8) Touch Boosts Likeability

We tend to like people who show that they like us. Touch is a primary non-verbal way of showing care and appreciation and therefore plays a valuable role in increasing how much one is liked in their office environment. This is useful for anybody however for managers in particular, the use of touch can boost managerial likeability. So if you are looking for a way to win over your new team, this could be just the simple solution you are looking for.

9) Touch Increases Role Performance

Research has shown that the amount of touch a supervisor offers their staff impacts their perception of feeling supported, not only by said supervisor but by the organisation as a whole. This has a profound benefit on organisational outcomes because when staff feel they are fully supported by their company, their performance is boosted and they are more likely to perform organisational citizenship behaviours (volunteering for tasks and supporting co-workers).

In Conclusion

As you can see from the reasons above, touch plays a powerful role in mediating our workplace relationships and reaching organisational outcomes. From boosting role performance to reducing absenteeism, there are a lot of reasons for using more touch in the workplace. Now before you head off to stroke your co-workers, please be aware. People have different touch profiles and will respond differently to touch. In order to achieve all the benefits that touch has to offer your company, it is, therefore, necessary to be mindful of each individual and manage your use accordingly. Touch is the oldest and strongest of our human senses; use it wisely and effectively and your organisation is sure to see massive benefits.

 

8 Feminine Values You Need in the Workplace

8 Feminine Values You Need in the Workplace

We know that times are changing. From being brazen in our industrial pursuits, there is now a growing awareness for the environment and the impact we have on the earth. We see this shift in our attention within the workplace too; from more dogmatic, hierarchical frameworks, we’re now moving into a more flexible, non-linear organisational structure. And along with these changes, we’re seeing a change in the way we work, interact and innovate.

Without wanting to disregard any other reasons, we believe this shift is primarily because of a movement from a patriarchal system to a more matriarchal approach. We’re speaking from the point of view that we all have both masculine and feminine qualities within us, and that we need to learn to include and embrace our feminine values. We do not need to overpower our masculine values, but rather bring both equally into everyday life so that we experience more balance and harmony inside and outside the office.

The Difference between Feminine and Masculine Values

Without going down the Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus path, it’s important to unpack the difference between masculine and feminine values. It’s also important for us to recognise that we (yes all of us) have both masculine and feminine qualities. We’re all able to direct rational action towards a considered goal, as much as we’re capable of caring for an injured friend. We can fight the enemy as much as we can nurture those who follow in our footsteps. We can organise and control as much as we’re able to endure the ever-changing economic climate with grace and hope. The point is that we’re all capable of great power, and in the past, we’ve been more tuned into the masculine side. The shift that’s happening now is a call for us to respect and enable our feminine values to bring ourselves and our companies into balance. Thus, creating a healthy, happy and prosperous future.

A Call for Feminine Values in the Workplace

In the past our companies have been built on power, strength, perseverance and hard work. And while these are essential characteristics in a successful business, we can no longer negate the need for the feminine values of democracy, collectivism, social intelligence and communication. These values have often been, and are still considered, second rate in many workplaces. They are low on the list of priorities when we consider the bottom line, and independence, personal gain and individuality are the behaviours that are rewarded.

With burn-out, stress, chronic fatigue, data overload and as we become an even more detached society, we need, more so than ever, to embrace feminine values in the workplace, and in our daily lives.

8 Feminine Values We Need in the Workplace

The importance of having feminine values in the workplace is essential for the success of companies going forward, and the attitude with which we embrace this new shift will set the innovators apart from the rest. In the list below, we offer you eight fundamental feminine values that you need to consider and embrace to get the most from and for your team. The list includes the work of Anne Litwin and Joyce Fletcher, authors in the field of the feminine at work.

Let’s dive in!

Value 1: Intuition

Did you know that you have as many neurons in your gut as in your spinal column? That’s why you need to “trust your gut”. However, we’re taught from an early age to counter our intuitions with cognitive reasoning, as if these belly intuitions are less valuable than their brainy counterparts.

There are two levels of intuition: the gut response or a “feeling” you get about a situation, and the judgement calls you make. These both need to be brought to your attention before taking action, or the impulsivity and indecision will leave your team feeling frustrated.

The Lesson: Trust your intuition and make careful judgements.

 

Value 2: Holistic “360-degree” Focus

There is a large body of research that substantiates how women think differently to men. An appropriate analogy is: the male brain is like a filing cabinet (everything in its right place), while a woman’s brain is like a messy spider’s web (everything connected to everything else).

This quality is often thought of as unfocused and less effective, however, this style of thinking allows for a more holistic perspective where everything is considered to ensure the best solution for all. This style of thinking often leads to increased creativity and innovation when problem-solving and can be especially helpful when doing strategy and business development.

The Lesson: Consider your problem from all possible angles, including the web of impact it will have on those within and outside the company.
 

Value 3: Democratic Collectivism

The saying “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” is exactly what this value is all about. The essence of collectivism is about finding the best situation for everyone involved. Clearly, this value was left by the wayside by almost all pioneering industrialists of the past – which is how we’ve ended up with the social and environmental repercussions we have now.

To consider the collective is to ensure and empower the voice of every individual within your organisation. A democracy may be “ineffective” in a business setting; however, your staff are the first interaction your clients have with the company. If they’re unfulfilled or neglected, do you think they will provide the best service to your customers?

The Lesson: Respect each part of the machine that is your company. A validated collective is better than any single individual.
 

Value 4: Connection

Relationships are the number one reason why people leave or stay in their job. This means that the connections made at work will directly determine how committed a person is to the company. It’s, therefore, an essential component to any successful business to enable and encourage healthy, professional connections in the workplace. Open, transparent communication which provides clarity, unity and motivation is sure to bring out the best in your team, and in turn, they will trust and support your decisions.

Another valuable point here is that every individual has capabilities which will expand and enhance your company’s mission. When these skills and strengths are known and enabled in each individual, the organisation’s potential increases exponentially.

The Lesson: Make a conscious effort to connect with each individual in your company.
 

 

Value 5: Empathy

To understand another’s suffering and provide support and space is a truly feminine quality. And while you may feel that this may “not be appropriate for the workplace”, you’re sadly mistaken. We’re only one person and having a work personality and a home personality is tiring and is, fortunately, becoming outdated.

Having empathy for your employees means you will recognise the difficulties they experience, and this will translate to your clients as well. If you practice empathy, you will become more in touch with your customers wants and needs.

Empathy with your team can practically come down to flexibility – with time, hours and commitments. Flexibility increases engagement and staff morale and reduces absenteeism and staff turnover.

The Lesson: Practice empathy and the rewards will be double what you put in.
 

Value 6: Mutual Interdependence

This value is perhaps one of the hardest to incorporate into a traditional corporate environment because of the built-in hierarchy and independent culture. However, a high-performing team will always outperform the individuals within the group and knowing the impact that every team member has on each other’s success is a valuable step in creating mutually beneficial and high-quality outcomes.

Another point to consider is that when there is a culture of interconnection, there will be a greater number of perspectives, opinions and ideas which, when harnessed, can create far superior outcomes.

The Lesson: Harness the power of interdependence and move upward faster.
 

Value 7: Emotional Engagement

For many of us, emotions are things that are left at the door, or in a lot of cases not even expressed behind closed doors. The skill of engaging emotions in the workplace is an artform and will take years to perfect, but we have to start somewhere.

Emotions are part of all of us and getting along is not always easy. It is inevitable that people won’t always get along and this friction can be the source of most dissonance in the workplace. This does not end well and can lead to people leaving the company or disengaging from their workplace, creating an unhealthy culture.

When we can openly own our emotions, they lose their power and we become more honest and authentic. This word authentic is not so simple to achieve, but it is a value which we need to strive for because when we bring our whole self to work we perform, connect, engage and innovate better.

The Lesson: Encourage emotional intelligence through open, constructive communication and non-judgemental listening.
 

Value 8: Supportive Leadership Style

We’ve all experienced it – the boss that makes our life a living hell. And hopefully, some of you will remember a leader who was a mentor, who saw your unique potential and helped guide you to become a better version of yourself.

These are the kinds of leaders we need in this world – ones who support weaknesses and nurture strengths so that the workplace becomes a place of learning, growth and development.

The Lesson: Be the leader you wish you had.
 

In Conclusion

Embodying feminine values is no longer a “nice-to-have”, but rather they’ve become necessary to remain sustainable, successful and balanced as a society. As a disclaimer before you go out and practice them: for each of the values mentioned above, there is a masculine counterpart that needs to be present for a good balance to occur. Please also remember that these are not female (gender) qualities, but rather the feminine attributes which are within all of us. You have the ability to become a powerful person for your family, community and company, but this requires the awareness, intent and knowledge of both sides of the coin.

This article is written for anybody who wishes to embrace the shift and create a healthy balance in their personal and professional life.

We wish you luck. We’re here to support you on your leadership journey.