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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.


Resilience- The New Workplace Buzzword

Resilience- The New Workplace Buzzword

The Context

Every now and again, buzzwords creep into our business language. The main one at the moment is resilience, with leaders wanting to build resilient teams and raise people’s resilience in the workplace. But what is resilience? Can it be developed or even influenced? Many people refer to it as the stand-up syndrome, or the ability to persevere during tough times. Let’s begin by looking at the roots and definition of resilience.

Resilience in the face of challenging situations has been around for centuries, as is evident in myths, fairytales, art, and literature which portrays heroes and heroines. And it continues in today’s thriving movie industry. Just look at Aquaman, The Avengers, Wonder Woman, Black Panther, or Spiderman to name a few. It is only recently though that individual resilience is spilling over into the workplace.

Resilience was first studied as a scientific concept in the 1970s while researching children who were classified as high-risk problem children. Over the next three decades, further research was conducted which indicated that resilience led to increased positive behaviour, academic achievements, a happier and more satisfying life, and a decrease in mental illness, emotional distress, criminal behaviour, and risk-taking activities. Looking at these benefits, it’s no wonder that everybody wants to increase their resilience, especially leaders in the workplace. But resilience is more than just bouncing back from adversity. It has two important benchmark criteria: firstly that you are doing better than anticipated from the adversity, and secondly that there has been a positive outcome. It’s not just about bouncing back and being in the same state of mind as before. Growth needs to happen based on a “threatening” situation. You can obviously appreciate that resilience takes time, practice, and a mindset to develop. In a work context, adverse situations are often present, but do we always come out better than expected or grow from it? Our case study is about how to implement resilience in a working environment.


Client Background

Our client is in the insurance industry and has a solid track record of delivering excellent customer service. They go the extra mile with every client, and through their stellar quality work, outperform their competitors. The company is a medium-sized business with approximately thirty employees, which made it easy to engage with every employee and make a lasting and positive impact. The Managing Director had scheduled a strategy session with the team, and wanted to include tools and techniques to support the employees to be resilient in an anticipated challenging year ahead.

We were invited to facilitate a half-day workshop on developing resilience. The purpose was to impart knowledge and tools for the team on how to increase their level of resilience, and manage difficult situations and/or aggravated customers. It was about boosting the team with practical know-how so that they could thrive in the coming year.


Approach and Processes

We started off by providing background information on what resilience is, the benefits of developing it for both an individual as well as for the organisation, and ended off by sharing practical tools on how to build and maintain resilience. We also played a fun physical game with the team to assist them to transpose the learned material into real work-life situations. In this case study we will share two main resilience tools that you can apply in managing your day-to-day irritations, frustrations, and disappointments.


Tool 1 – Question your Internal Beliefs

In a moment of distress we seldom start by looking at ourselves, but rather jump right into being reactive and finding fault in the situation, which leads to us going down the blame and fault-finding path. This is not a helpful process for us. We taught the team to reverse this by questioning their assumptions and beliefs about the situation that was causing them distress; first looking inwards and then identifying their thinking traps. The practical tool to apply is the ABCDE method in which the following steps are followed.

The “A” stands for Adversity, and you need to pinpoint and name the situation that is causing you distress.

The “B” stands for Beliefs, and these are the assumptions you are making on what is causing you the actual distress. These are you sinkholes in your thinking.

The “C” stands for the Consequences of holding onto these beliefs around the adversity. It is very helpful to gain clarity of the consequences of holding onto the assumptions and beliefs.

The “D” stands for Disputation. Here we question ourselves whether the beliefs and assumptions are the only feasible explanation for the adversity. We begin to become open-minded and curious about possible alternative reasons. We challenge our thinking by looking for evidence and pondering the implications of our beliefs, assumptions and consequences.

Finally, the “E” stands for Energization. In this last step, we become energized by removing the limiting and negative assumptions around the adversity which usually results in us moving towards a positive action.


Tool 2 – Examine the External Environment

Only in this tool do we look outwards at the external environment that is adding to the level of distress we are experiencing. It can be friction with a colleague, time management, unreasonable work deadlines, or not having the necessary resources available. We imparted a short, practical tool for the team called ADAPT, and designed a plan of action to work through the adverse situation.

The first “A” stands for Attitude and is about questioning your mindset and exploring which thinking sinkholes are in the way. It also includes examining your emotions and the perception you have.

The “D” stands for Defining the problem and setting a realistic goal.

The second “A” stands for generating Alternative solutions. Brainstorming different ways of how you can accomplishing the set goal and writing down some alternative ideas.

The next step, the “P”, stands for Predicting the consequences. This entails examining the alternative solutions generated in the previous step, and evaluating their level of effectiveness. You start to look at things from all angles, and place yourself in other people’s shoes.

And the final step, the “T”, stands for Testing it. Moving into action and implementing the plan.


Impact and Results

This two-step process was a start for the team to adjust their thinking towards life’s challenges. It was about accepting that life is fluid, and that irritating, frustrating and annoying situations will happen to all of us on a regular basis. We cannot prevent them from happening, however we are in control of our thoughts, we can regulate our emotions, and we can choose how we will react and grow from the challenge.

For organisations, teaching people resilience skills is very beneficial to their profitability and productivity. In a recent study by Gallup in 2018, figures showed that 23% of people suffer from permanent burnout, and 44% from occasional burnout.

If your employees or leaders are experiencing similar challenges, and you’d like our support, contact us on info@4seeds.co.za to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with our expert team.


Four Strategies to Make Your Team Building More Effective

Four Strategies to Make Your Team Building More Effective

Whether it’s a fun day out, or a more in-depth process, team building is essential to training and maintaining your staff while building relationships in your organisation. However, all too often, these events can become costly and do not reap the rewards they were intended to. In fact, in some cases, team building events can actually cause further damage to the relationships within an organisation. While there are potentially countless reasons why your team building doesn’t work, there are some strategies you can adopt when preparing for your next team building intervention that will ensure that your organisation gets the results it needs.

Because of the complicated nature of team dynamics, the costs involved, and the time lost, there is often a tendency to avoid planning regular events. However, effective team building does not need to become a burden. At 4Seeds, we are experts in organising effective team building interventions with sustainable results. In this article, we will share our four strategies for effective team building which will help you prepare for, and run, your next intervention successfully.


How to Make Team Building Have Sustainable Results


  • Needs Analysis

    Why are you organising a team building? The reason why many team building interventions fail is because the purpose of the intervention is unclear. If you don’t know why you want to engage in team building, you are unlikely to get results. Gaining an understanding of what the underlying needs are of your team is essential.

    By brainstorming, doing a survey, or asking your team directly, you can uncover what is wanted and needed from their work, relationships and team dynamics. From there, you will have the clarity to start researching the best options for your team building intervention that will address your needs more effectively.


  • Activity Selection

    Deciding what kind of activity is the most suitable for your team intervention takes some effort. Having a good sense of what your team needs will help to support this process – however, you will still need to answer two key questions: “Should the intervention be short- or long-term?”. For example, if your team needs stress relief then a short-term intervention is sufficient, but if they are struggling with effective problem solving, a long-term intervention will probably be more suitable to increase the collaborative efforts and overall morale in meeting the challenge effectively.

    The second question is: “Should the intervention be organisation-wide or team specific?”. Most organisations go for a specific team intervention, however in cases where organisational trust needs to be developed or a team needs to align their values to the organisation’s culture, a whole organisation approach is the only effective way of getting sustainable results.


  • Team Participation

    Whole team participation is essential to effectively building strong relationships at work. Without the whole team being part of the decisions made, you will not get the buy-in needed in order to get long-lasting results.

    Once the needs of the team have been identified, and you have researched appropriate options, start to consider what is most suitable for the whole team. Can everyone participate? What is the level of physical fitness needed for the activity, and does your whole team have what is needed to take part? Finding activities that will foster a healthy sense of competition without fear of failure is key to effective team participation, and the best fit for the team is best decided by the team instead of for the team.


  • Sustainability

    Sustainability of team building processes is essential in order to really get results in the long-term, however often team buildings occur in isolation from the working environment. Retreats, days out, or work-away experiences are a fantastic way to restore the morale and energy in a team, and often this is when the most creative ideas are uncovered and the strongest bonds are made.

    Unfortunately, in many cases these amazing results quickly dissipate on returning to the workplace. If the ideas which were formed and the relationships that were built are not supported in the working environment, people will become jaded and are likely to engage less and less with each team building event. So, in order to have sustainable improvements after a team building event, it is essential to incorporate changes, introduce structures, and support the individuals after the event. Having regular check ins with the team to build onto the work that has been done and to note any further needs, is a cost effective strategy to get more sustainable team building.


Are you planning on running a team building intervention? Are you looking for an accountable and professional team building partner?

4Seeds is a consulting company which supports the development of happiness in the workplace. We believe that only with satisfied individuals can teams thrive. We have made it our mission to provide short- and long-term team building interventions that support this vision. With our team of playful and professional facilitators, we are the ideal partner to support your teams and organisation to thrive.

Get in touch with us now for a free 30 minute consultation. Email us at info@4seeds.co.za to get started.


Case Study: Managing Conflict and Building Effective Relationships in the Organisation

Case Study: Managing Conflict and Building Effective Relationships in the Organisation

Relationships: A Context

Building positive, trusting relationships is paramount in every organisation to ensure that communication is flowing, ideas are emerging, people are volunteering to assist and support one another, information is being shared, and collaboration occurs.

In his hierarchy of needs, Maslow reiterates that people need to feel loved and have a sense that they belong to a community. We all want to be liked, wanted, needed and loved, and this is no different to wanting to experience it in a work environment. Toxic working relationships cause distrust, miscommunication, frustration and loneliness. They drain us emotionally, physically and physiologically. They zap our energy, and influence our performance and productivity. They make us dread going to work, and we can even become physically ill from toxic relationships.



We experienced a situation in an organisation a while back where the team was talking to one another but not truly communicating. They were polite, friendly and respectful, but they didn’t listen to each other. They didn’t air the conflict that was very noticeable in the room. Many difficult conversations were swept under the carpet which resulted in the team not being able to make decisions that mattered to the business. Each team leader was bickering about what wasn’t right, and whose fault it was. People were beating around the bush in conversations instead of saying what they truly felt and thought.

Throughout this process, people became cynical and expressed snide remarks that were hurtful. It didn’t take long for trust to break down and relationships to become superficial.


We were called in to help this team to build trusting, positive relationships.


Approach & Process

We engaged with the team over eight months and had to start gently before we were able to go a level deeper. The four key items we focused on were:

  1. Sharing what they appreciated and valued about one another. This was a new concept for the team as they were accustomed to talking about what was wrong and what someone didn’t do. They had to sit back and recognise the strength of a fellow team member and openly share it. To stretch them a little further, we asked them to articulate how a team member made their work easier.
  2. Learning to listen and not to interrupt was our next approach. To allow a team member to complete their sentence in full. To hold back on any knee-jerk reaction, and to hear what the person was saying. To make notes of thoughts and ideas that were coming up for the listener and to go back to them when it was their turn to speak.
  3. Engaging in open-ended questions that allow for clarification and expansion of viewpoints. Not to make any assumptions or judgement about what was being said, but rather to ask to ensure deep understanding. To summarise if needed based on what was heard.
  4. Express one’s feeling was the last aspect we brought in as this was going to force the team to show vulnerability and humility. Baring their heart on how they felt about a decision or situation. But having learned the previous tools, they were in a strong position to be heard and understood by their colleagues.



This four-step process rebuilt open, candid communication in the team which had a ripple effect on their trust and relationships. I still engage with them on odd occasions and can say that I’m delighted that they have upheld these strategies. Their relationships have remained positive and the once poor level of communication has completely turned around.

If your team is experiencing similar challenges and you would like our support contact us at info@4seeds.co.za to schedule a 30 minute free consultation with our expert team.


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.

Company Culture: A Call for More Civility in the Workplace

Company Culture: A Call for More Civility in the Workplace

In the workplace there is little room for civility and kindness unless it is ingrained in a company culture. Business tends to lean towards being hard-nosed and competitive with people adopting the “what’s in it for me” attitude. This has resulted in an unspoken culture of incivility in companies, a behaviour that we’ve all probably engaged in from time to time but one which we don’t approve of. Incivility means that we’re disrespectful and undignified towards others, and express this by not listening attentively, by looking at our phone while someone is speaking to us, working on our laptop while talking, taking credit for a job that we didn’t do, blaming others and not taking ownership when we make a mistake, walking away from people while they’re still talking, publicly mocking or belittling people, being dismissive towards others, ignoring or excluding people in conversations, and withholding information. We may not be doing these things with malice but rather from a place of ignorance; however, in a workplace environment incivility in a company culture comes at a high cost. It doesn’t matter if you’re directly involved or if you’re observing incivility towards a colleague, it affects you just as much!

Incivility can be summarised as being blatantly rude towards others and not respecting diversity. Most leaders are actively doing their best to promote and get a healthy balance within their teams and using diversity to appreciate and leverage off each other’s many and varied talents, skills, strengths, ideas and perspectives. Incivility simply pours ice cold water over diversity. Research shows that incivility within a company culture results in decreased work performance, reduced creativity and brainstorming by up to 39%, disengagement in meetings, a lack of attention to instructions, and emotional exhaustion. Incivility comes at a high cost to organisations, but it is seldom ring-fenced as such. We think that people are under pressure to perform and busy with work tasks which makes multi-tasking acceptable, when in actual fact it is not. We’ll start to see little cliques developing within our teams and will notice that some of our colleagues are more isolated from the team than they should be. We all see it, but we don’t always take the time to stop, think about it and reflect over its impact on others, the team and our organisation. We may be directly involved and know how emotionally draining it feels to be sidelined or bullied by others, but we don’t often stand up for ourselves. We see it, we hear it, we feel it, but we don’t do enough about it to stop it, and we allow this uncivil behaviour of others to wash over us. Incivility in the workplace is not ok and it’s not acceptable. The change can come from leadership and be filtered down, but it can also start with you and be filtered down to your co-workers.

To shift the lever from incivility to being civil and respectful can start with being kind and empathetic towards others by using these tools.

  1. Saying thank you can go a very long way. These are two very simple and easy words that we only use 10% of the time at work. Be civil by thanking the people around you for their contribution, for their ideas and for their commitment. Thank you is also about acknowledging the person and being respectful of their work, time, ideas and resources. It’s about not taking other people for granted. Make a conscious effort to thank people more often.
  2. Share resources and knowledge: At work we often hold onto our knowledge believing that if we share it with others it may make us perhaps dispensable or vulnerable as others can use our work, ideas and concepts. Quite the contrary is true! When we share our knowledge and resources, we make room for innovation and allow for creativity with new ideas and concepts. Sharing is definitely caring, and often through conversation entirely novel ideas emerge. Not to mention that nowadays most of the knowledge can be googled and doesn’t have the prestige and power it did 20 or 30 years ago. Share your time and knowledge openly, frequently and generously.
  3. Give feedback generously and express gratitude: Giving someone feedback goes a level deeper than simply saying thank you as you have to be more specific. Articulate clearly what you liked about what they did and want more of, or what you think could be improved on. The art here is not to be general, but to really take the time to be specific about their behaviour, language, skill or process as that depth helps people to make the necessary change, by either repeating a behaviour, tweaking it or mastering it. Also, share what you’re grateful for in the person, and acknowledge them for the strengths and values they bring to your work.
  4. Attentive listening and attention: How often do you catch yourself listening with one ear, nodding away to the person talking, but already thinking of something else? It’s an unhealthy habit many of us have developed that is completely rude. We know very well what it feels like to be on the receiving end and we don’t like it at all, so be civil and don’t do it to others. Stop what you’re doing and honour what the person has come to share with you. Listen attentively to them about what they want or need from you. Tune into their mind and way of thinking so that you can solve a problem quicker or address their concern without miscommunication. Listening saves time and demonstrates respect towards the other person.

The time has come to reduce incivility in the workplace and to shift into humane engagements that value respect and honour diversity and kindness. Don’t wait for others to kick-start this; be courageous and start with your team and your co-workers.

Take this brief civility assessment to establish what your score is as well as areas that you can improve on: http://www.christineporath.com/take-the-assessment/

Do your bit to change your workplace into a happy environment.

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.


The 5 Drivers of Happiness At Work

The 5 Drivers of Happiness At Work

In recent years the idea of Happiness at Work has become of greater importance to business leaders. However, for many company’s this is still a pipe dream, falling to the wayside when deadlines, outcomes and year end targets are looming.

The 2018 Global Happiness Report has stated that 83% of people rate work as “very important” to their overall well-being. While this may seem obvious due to the amount of time we spend in our workplaces, this high rating indicates the value that we place on work, to provide us with a sense of satisfaction and meaning.

In South Africa, 40% of full time employees are dissatisfied with their work (Global Happiness Report, 2018) and this percentage is just too high to ignore if we want to create a thriving and inclusive economy.

When we think of employees, what we want is people who are present, performing and productive. However, happy employees are not just people who are present at work and do their job, they are:

• More innovative
• More productive
• More intrinsically motivated to reach job expectations
• More satisfied with their work
• Healthier and live longer
• Able to form stronger relationships with their colleagues
• More likely to remain in their jobs
• And they are more committed to company goals

When we look at these results of having happy employees in the workplace, it is difficult to continue driving the bottom line without investing our efforts in creating happier employees. After all, what we put in we will get out 10 fold, once we have committed individuals working within thriving teams.


So How Does Happiness At Work… Work?
Approaching the topic of happiness at work, can often be daunting. This is due to the perception that happiness within the work environment is an extra, an illusive, intangible “nice to have”. However, we all know that culture eats strategy for breakfast and thus regardless of how valuable a clear corporate vision is to achieving success, it needs to be underpinned by a commitment to creating a positive working environment for our staff. One which supports individual and team performance whilst building trust, pride and recognition.

The Happiness At Work Model, developed by the iOpener Institute (UK) is one of 4Seed’s powerful offerings, backed up by science this model offers a clear path to a happy workforce.

The 5 Core Ingredients to Happiness At Work
The Model of Happiness at Work consists of 5 core drivers, otherwise known as the 5 C’s. Let’s unpack these further to get you on your way to enhancing happier employees in your company.

1) Confidence
Confidence is the precursor to the other four drivers. Fundamental to maintaining intrinsic motivation, confidence comes from each individual feeling competent in their skill to task ratio. When we have a lack of confidence we tend to avoid certain tasks, be too cautious of making mistakes and risk coming across to clients as insecure. To become a strong contender in the current economy it is essential to put your best foot forward and the surest way to ensure you reach your targets is by building your employees confidence. Here are 3 simple ideas to boost confidence in your team:

• Notice their individual strengths and look at molding their tasks towards their skill level.
• Provide support for new unknown tasks, or ensure someone is available to do so.
• Ensure that your employees receive the proper training to excel in their role, whether this is internal information sharing or external courses.

2) Contribution
Once confidence is being built we can begin to look at how employees contribute in the workplace. Companies are organisms consisting of individuals working together to create a cohesive goal. Contribution is an essential to the “doing” of the company and without shared, collaborative effort, the “doing” can become more like being dragging the team through the mud. When reviewing contribution, there are 3 questions you can begin asking:

• How are your employees contributing to the bigger whole?
• What relationships do they have which encourage innovation, support and accountability?
• What formal or information structures can be put into place which will encourage the sharing of information, responsibility and achievements?

3) Culture
Culture is perhaps the most elusive concept behind building happiness at work, however when we begin to create collective beliefs and behaviours, which are healthy and robust, a culture develops which can independently ensure motivation and engagement without much input. You can begin creating a happy culture by:

• Revisiting company values
• Evaluate individual employees’ values and look at the overlap between the two
• Review the current behaviours in the organisation, and reflect on how operations could be more aligned towards the vision and values of the company and its employees.

Culture is a massive topic, all of its own, however by taking the steps mentioned above you will begin to create an integrated value to action relationship, which is a healthy start!

4) Conviction
Conviction is made up of the motivation and resilience to continue striving towards the goal, even when times are bad. We all know how variable business can be and having the necessary resilience to continue moving forward when things are at their worst is something every company needs. Conviction is bred from finding meaning in our work. You can begin building conviction through:

• Having your team review their “wins of the week”, this can help boost morale and remind people of the value in their actions.
• Encourage supportive relationships within teams, when we contribute we find strength in others.
• Problem solve as united front

5) Commitment
Commitment is perhaps the most challenging of the 5 drivers. Commitment is something that is becoming rarer in the modern working world. Commitment is about finding value in the work that is done and being fully aligned to the company’s vision. With the world as it is, people move jobs often which creates a barrier to long term commitment. However, fear not, all 5 of the core drivers work together, and thus if the other 4 factors are carefully commitment can become a spin off.

What’s Next?
In honour of International Happiness Month, 4Seeds is offering a 30% discount on all Happiness at Work Assessments booked before the end of March.

This offer includes individual assessments, collation of the results, a personalised team feedback session, and a report which will highlight the areas most needing focus within your specific organisation. Contact us now to book your slot for this limited and powerful offer.


Workplace interventions to bust procrastination

Workplace interventions to bust procrastination

As you begin to read this workplace intervention blog, stop for a moment and think of what is lingering on your to-do list. I’m sure you can think of at least one thing that needs your attention but is not receiving it. You keep pushing it to the side and parking it for another day, ever optimistic that it will either miraculously solve itself or someone else will do it for you. That’s procrastination in a nutshell. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one – everybody does it!

We may know why we are pushing the task to the side, but there must be something in the way of us getting it done. It’s this unknown ‘something’ factor that causes us to do nothing and it is important that we understand it. Some of us may not be sure what we are supposed to do or when it needs to be done by. Others may think that the task is boring and can’t get excited or interested in it. So for them every other task is more appealing than the current pressing task.

We often know when we are procrastinating. We can feel it through our emotions way before we or others notice it. We have, however, become masters of suppressing the sense and the early warning signs our body-mind gives us.

We understand the consequences of procrastination and either have to drop everything else we are doing to make the final, final and I mean final deadline or we opt to not do anything.

We are all procrastinators in different areas. However, in the workplace we need to work out how we can minimise the amount of time we spend procrastinating. Some people may have thought it a good idea to overload people which meant that if they deliver 60% and miss the other 40% then it was a good deal. This really doesn’t make sense because the additional and unnecessary pressure burns them out faster which results in mediocre work, low engagement, less camaraderie and support of others, and it has an impact on relationships and team morale. The person becomes absorbed in themselves, leaving little room for any “We” or “Us”.

A recommended approach is to:

  1. Be clear and specific about the outcome. Vagueness fuels procrastination. In order to be clear, you need to take time to think and plan.
  2. Set a timeline that is tight but achievable.
  3. Obtain commitment from everyone – they should understand exactly what needs to be done.
  1. Check in regularly and help out when needed. Refrain from micro-managing because that might mean the timeframe is met but you will lose a valuable follower in the process.
  2. Build in a small buffer time into your task. Many careless mistakes happen when we’re in a rush and may be overlooked. We think or believe we are super human machines! Sorry, to burst your bubble – we are humans!

Be realistic when allocating tasks to others and buffer in some time for procrastination.

Try these approaches out and let us know if they worked for you and your team. Contact 4seeds for more information about workplace interventions.

Managing Burnout and Stress

Managing Burnout and Stress

Often stress and burnout are words that we use to describe our current life and we can even associate or blame our work for these conditions. That certainly might be true because work demands are more likely to exceed what is actually possible, for example a client demanding the impossible at very short notice, a new product being launched, or your colleague is on leave and you’re covering for them. It honestly isn’t difficult in this day and age to feel overwhelmed, anxious and out of control in balancing life’s demands. We know it isn’t good for us because our health suffers, our emotions are all over the show, our productivity is not great and not to mention our relationships take strain. We are all fully aware of what the costs of stress and burnout are, but we cross our fingers and hope that one day it will all work out somehow. But it doesn’t and it won’t until you decide to take control of your life!

We need to say “STOP, that is enough”. We need to draw the boundaries, learn to say NO and to manage our life. If we don’t others will manage it for us and that’s precisely why we end up being burnt out. It is easier said than done and you may think that I don’t understand, but trust me I do and I had to learn the very hard way. There comes a point where either your body resigns and forces you to your knees, or a cherished relationship ends. I know we all think we are immortal and that we will be spared!

So, what is the way forward? Well, firstly you have to decide what to scale down on, pass onto others or start to re-negotiate deadlines. You know best and will know what takes away from your time and drains you. Gently begin to change that. Reduce your work demands by say 10% which might equate to two hours, but hey it’s two hours more to do things that you value and that are good for you.

Secondly, learn to say NO and understand that NO is not towards a particular person but rather the given task. It could be “NO, not now but next week” or “NO, this work is better done by Moses, because he is naturally good at it”. No, means you need to question if this is actually your job and responsibility. We often don’t question, we just accept like law-abiding citizens

Thirdly, think about the role model you are setting for you colleagues, peers, friends and children. Are you demonstrating that life and especially work life is difficult, draining and exhausting? How motivating is that and how can you effectively lead and inspire others if you can’t lead yourself?

Trust me I know how difficult this journey is, but if you put your mind to it, get focused and start by taking baby steps, you will lead a healthier, more abundant and happier life!