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5 Practical Ways to Stay Positive, Even at Work

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While it’s entirely normal to feel the weight of the world on our shoulders, we each have the ability to stay emotionally, physically, and spiritually healthy through the choices we make. I believe that taking ownership of our own stress levels and practicing self-care are two ways we can begin to find the balance we all seek in our individual lives. When we move beyond fear into the conscious choice of embracing happiness and self-care, we move from away from stress and overextension, and toward success. Plus, when we’re taking care of ourselves, we’re overflowing with positivity that can be shared and passed to others. Taking ownership of our own well-being has profound ripple effects on our families, friends, and workplace.

In my new book, Be Happy Now, I give readers advice for getting out of a discouraging self-talk rut and teach them how to work with their emotions to move past negativity to a positive future. Of course, the first step is to be aware of your environment and your reactions to the world around you.

To get you started on the path to increased happiness, I’ve identified 5 ways to stay positive and avoid stress – even at work.

Stay positive tip #1: Acknowledge yourself every day

Self-realization is a powerful tool. You can begin to recognize patterns in your stress levels by observing and acknowledging how you’re feeling and acting. Ask yourself: Am I having fun? What do I need? As you become more aware of your emotions, begin to acknowledge how your own behaviors are contributing to your feelings of well-being. For example, maybe you’ve been working through lunch every day, or sitting at your desk for 9 hours at a time. These behavior patterns impact your emotions and can have serious consequences on your health, stress levels, and overall well-being.

Start by making small changes. Take time to eat a healthy lunch and leave your desk for ten minutes mid-morning to walk in the fresh air. Acknowledge yourself and your accomplishments. At a minimum, take inventory of your strengths and keep track of your wins – even the small ones. Don’t forget to be thankful for what you’ve accomplished and take the time to acknowledge your hard work and commitment.

Stay positive tip #2: Increase Emotional Intelligence (EI)

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is becoming more important than IQ in the world of business, influencing leadership and employee development. Because we’re moving from the information age to the intuition age, expanding awareness and increasing our emotional intelligence will allow leaders and employees to better navigate the work environment and improve the effectiveness of teams throughout the organization. Emotionally intelligent employees will begin use their increased awareness to better solve problems, effectively manage others, and create a satisfying and cooperative work environment.

When you experience expanded awareness, you can remain curious and learn more about yourself and your surroundings. It becomes easier to not take things personally. High EI allows us to discern, but not judge. We become open to insights to the toughest problems; we begin to catch things before they fall through the cracks. When we expand our emotional intelligence, curiosity, and awareness, we can truly get ahead at work.

So how do you expand your own EI? Start by observing yourself without judgment. Notice when you complain, or when you get upset and what triggers it. Hold yourself accountable for how you react, positively or negatively. Self-awareness and EI go hand-in-hand; you can’t sustain EI growth without more self, and situational, awareness.

Stay positive tip #3: Walk away from toxic situations.

If you are with colleagues and the discussion prompts anxiety, remember that you have the power to walk away or shift the topic. For example, if politically-charged discussions are prompting anxiousness or fear, take control by r disengaging or changing the topic.

To understand what might be toxic to your well-being, list your triggers. Acknowledge what’s prompting feelings of uneasiness. Then, realize that it’s okay to disengage when you’re feeling triggered — whether it’s brought on by watching the news or water cooler gossip — or something else. Self-awareness gives you the power to realize you’re in a potentially stressful situation and take control over that situation.

Stay positive tip #4: Seek support- or a break.

Who do you go to when you’re feeling stressed? And how do they react? If you are entering relentless “vent” sessions with colleagues, you might be doing more harm than good. Ensure you have a proper support system in place so when you’re feeling stressed, you have an immediate outlet.

Managers can be a great support system during times of work stress, especially if they are meeting employees regularly for one-on-one conversations. When managers acknowledge employees for their hard work, it can help employees feel valued and accepted.  Managers have a lot of influence over the level of comfort and safety their teams experience. However, support doesn’t always come in the form of a listening ear. Some people might need 10 minutes in a quiet, secluded room without electronics to recalibrate, while others may feel the need to dance to their favorite music for 5 minutes – wouldn’t that be a fun work environment?

Stay positive tip #5: Go all-in on self-care

One of the biggest benefits of self-care is the ripple effect it can have on those around us. When we are positive, we naturally pass these emotions to others. I recently blogged about how to trust your super power; it all comes down to taking 3 minutes (at minimum) for self-care and retrospection every single day.

Take 3 to 10 minutes daily to sit quietly, breathe deeply, and allow your thoughts to run wild. Then place focus on your breath or a word. Like I explained in my blog post, you might begin to notice sounds, feelings, and thoughts, but let them pass. Then take notes of any insights that come to you during this meditation time, and act on them if you’re feeling inspired.

Taking time for yourself through meditation, exercise, a quick walk outside, or another activity, will ensure you remain grounded and ready to tackle another day, week, or month of work. Taking time for your personal self-care is never selfish. You’re actually giving more to your colleagues and organization when you bring the best version of yourself to work each day.

5 Elements of Employer Brand that Retain Talent

Bonus: Creating positivity tips for HR and management

As leaders, we have the responsibility within our organization to train and teach employees how to be productive, while ensuring they feel acknowledged and supported. At the end of the day, happy employees lead to happy customers and a better employer brand. You can be an instrument of change in an otherwise toxic environment by focusing on positive performance management, coaching, and stress management. Create points of engagement by listening to what employees want and provide the support to make it happen.

You can also keep your eyes open for signs that stress might be high, such as constant complaining, anger, or less (or unusually more) desk time. Sometimes there are simple fixes. For example, maybe employees need a comfortable room to nap in, or perhaps they need to feel supported to take a vacation where they’re not expected to check email. Simply being an advocate for work-life balance within your organization–and practicing it for yourself– is a solid first step to keeping stress levels low. You can also lead by example by choosing to remain calm, even when employees are feeling stressed.

We all want to be happy and stay positive– and stress, over-extension, and discouraging thoughts shouldn’t stand in our way. When we make a conscious choice to embrace fulfillment, even amidst challenges, we can experience more fun, pleasure, and joy. It takes employees, managers, and HR leaders coming together to shift negative thinking, and create safe places of acknowledgement. When employees regularly practice self-care and work-life balance, and feel appreciated by their peers and managers, positivity is par for the course.


Katie B. Smith is a RiseSmart Certified Career Coach. Katie holds her Advanced Corporate Coaching certification from Coach U and a Professional Coach Certification (PCC) through the International Coach Federation (ICF).

Katie believes that seeking to uncover and align with our authentic selves is vital to our becoming the best leaders we can be. And her clients often comment on her unique ability to help them identify tangible goals with personal and professional meaning, allowing them to experience more freedom, higher income, greater business results, and greater peace of mind.



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About Mildred Blankson

I am a Human Resource Professional with a Masters Degree in Human Resource Management. I have several years of experience in Human Resources and i hope this blog will be a great resource in helping you find the perfect job or candidate that you seek.

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How to Leverage Company Benefits to Recruit and Retain Top Talent

One-third of organizations have increased their overall benefit offerings in 2016, according to a research report compiled by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). As recruiting and retaining top talent continue to become increasingly difficult for employers, robust benefit packages play a key role. When salaries and perks (think: free lunch) are nearly equal from company to company, employees are likely to opt for the company that offers the best benefits and greatest opportunities.

Medical and financial benefits aside, employees are looking for lifestyle and career benefits. SHRM reported that the top reason employers increased benefits in 2016 was to remain competitive in the marketplace—and the three biggest focus areas for change were in the health (22%), wellness (24%), and professional and career development (16%) categories. Robust benefit packages that include career development, health and wellness, and flexible working options provide a platform for employers to stand out. Nearly one-third of employees look for external positions because they desire “overall better benefits,” second only to higher compensation.

The type of benefits you offer speaks volumes on how you treat and support employees, which always manifests by way of your external employer brand. It’s not enough to say “we have great benefits,” because “great benefits” are now table stakes. Companies have mastered the art of talking about perks, from catered lunches to team building activities. Failure to talk about the real support and development opportunities you offer to employees might translate to missed opportunities. So how can hiring managers and recruiters promote employee benefits to help with recruiting and retention?

#1: Kick “industry standard” out of your vocabulary

When recruiters and hiring managers list their company’s benefits and summarize with the catch-all phrase, we offer “industry standard” benefits, it’s not enough. When all else—compensation, vacation days, and perks—are even, offering a standard benefits package won’t help your company standout enough to secure commitment from a top employee. Even though it might be tempting to default to a quick response, it pays to provide more detail about the benefits your company offers, in length, during the interview process.

And even more importantly than providing a laundry list of benefits (but kudos to you for that list!), explain how these benefits fit in with core company values. For example, if you offer flexible work arrangements and flexible hours, explain that these arrangements support your company’s value of work-life balance. If you provide a gym membership or showers at work, talk about how it enhances company culture or creates opportunities for employees to get the exercise they desire in a convenient way.. When recruits begin to see how your benefits support their shared values and interests, they’ll see the benefits you offer are much greater than “industry standard.”

Employers hoping to keep a competitive edge are offering more than the “industry standard” at every stage of the employee journey, including at severance – according to a recent study by RiseSmart. If you’re on the cutting edge of severance offerings, use those benefits to differentiate your company form the competition.

#2: Talk about goals in the recruiting and interview process

Before an employee is even hired, find out what they’re looking for in their employer and what their short and long term goals are. Ask questions like, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” and “How are you hoping your employer will support you along your career journey?” Employees, many of whom are seeking opportunities for career development and continuing education, need to know you plan to invest in their individual career goals.

A Career Builder survey found that 45% of employees, regardless of generation, plan to stay with their employer for less than two years. During their tenure, they expect to benefit and grow with each new role and and at each new company. It’s important to convey to prospective employees that you invest in each individual employee, regardless for how long they plan to stay in the role for which they are being hired.

#3: Amplify the employee voice

Remind employees early on that they have a voice to share about company culture and employee benefits. Glassdoor, for example, recommends employers invite new hires to reflect on their first few months at the company. Whether this leads to internal feedback or a public review, it can assist efforts aimed at creating a positive employer brand.

L’Oréal recently launched a #LifeatLoreal hashtag to encourage employees to share photos of their experiences at work. The campaign all stemmed from the idea that people would trust their peers on social media when it came to L'Oréal being a great place to work. Employees posted a wide variety of pictures, including snapshots of various benefits and perks in action—such as flex days and catered lunches. Encourage employees to share the experiences they enjoy the most on the social channel of their choice.

#4: Keep employees engaged with benefits

On average, salary is only about 70% of an employee’s total compensation. When employees don’t take advantage of the benefits offered by the company, it’s equivalent to leaving 30% of the total compensation package on the table. Employers who keep employees engaged with benefits are more likely to see benefits manifest as part of the employer brand. An employee is highly unlikely to leave a Glassdoor review that mentions a positive benefit if she has never actually utilized the benefit.

Try hosting monthly or quarterly Q&A sessions to discuss available benefits. When you roll out a particularly hefty benefit, such as a new 401K offering, or an update to parental leave policy, give employees ample opportunity to ask questions. You could also share success stories from employees who have taken advantage of a particularly niche benefit, such as an hour of free lawyer services, to showcase how the benefit is used and encourage other employees to check it out.

#5: Benefits are the forgotten negotiation tool

If you are a hiring manager or recruiter engaging with a candidate, think beyond salary, or equity. Everything is negotiable, from vacation days to health insurance choices. Savvy employees, especially as the war for talent continues to heat up, will use benefits as negotiation tools—but don’t shy away from doing the same thing on the employer side. It’s often easier to offer more benefits than to secure additional salary for an employee.

Don’t be afraid to talk about your full complement of benefits, including your severance benefits. Prospective employees may feel more comfortable about joining a company that will take care of them, in the event of a downsizing or restructuring event. You may want to consider offering perks like outplacement and career transition services to employees who leave voluntarily as well as those who are involuntary subjects of a layoff. Knowing that you are invested in their career, even after they leave, will help you create a workforce of dedicated, engaged, and satisfied employees.

The world is small and everyone is connected. When you invest in employees, it leads to a positive employer brand. In the new Employee Relationship Economy, former employees will someday become vendors, customers, brand evangelists, recruiting references, or even boomerang employees. In a world where the employee/employer relationship is no longer finite, it’s important to convey your full support for employees’ career endeavors at every stage of their career journeys -- beginning early in the recruiting and interview process.

In every recruiting conversation, highlight your dedication to each employee’s career. When you frame up your organization’s benefits in context of how they fit in with the employee’s journey, it’s easy for the candidate to see how your company would support his journey. Communication about employee benefits can go a long way in the recruiting process—and will have a direct impact on your employer brand. If you offer much more than “industry standard,” you should be screaming it from the rooftops. Your current and prospective employees deserve to understand just how committed you are to their personal and professional journey.

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