In my editorial last month, I invited our readers to reflect on their work environment, and to try one new thing to create a healthier workplace. The University is a large entity and attempting to establish healthier environments can be a daunting task. If each individual member of our staff and faculty community tried to make one change, we could harness this momentum and the impact could be felt on a wider scale.
So, what can we do as individuals to make our working communities healthier?
In posing this question, I am reminded of a 5X15 event that I attended as part of the Indian Summer Festival in June. Five dynamic and engaging speakers are invited to each talk for 15 minutes, unscripted, on a topic of their choice. I was fortunate to hear Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, visual artist and member of the Haida Nation, speak as one of the evenings presenters. Michael recounted an old Quechan legend that made its way to Haida Gwaii called The Little Hummingbird.
Michael spoke about belonging, specifically as individuals to a larger community and how in Haida communities, people rely on individual members to “do what they can” in order to contribute to the larger whole. No matter how small or insignificant an individual may perceive their gesture to be, acknowledging that it all contributes to the betterment of the future of the group is essential.
I really appreciate this idea that in doing what we can with what we have at our disposal, we have the ability to take an active and participating role in our health at work.
An easy way to embark on this journey is through recognition. ‘Thank you’s’ are free and gratitude does not cost a thing. Best of all, rewarding the work of others through recognition has been proven to benefit one’s health.
Peer recognition has the most impact, as colleagues tend to be the people that see day–to-day work and tasks being completed. This type of public recognition is more meaningful and lasting as it fulfills two of our innate human needs: the need to belong (social) and the need to be appreciated (esteem). People who feel appreciated and valued in the workplace are more productive, generally happier and more likely to extend their gratitude to their families, social networks and communities. Showing and receiving gratitude and appreciation has been shown to release the hormone oxytocin in the body which serves to bond relationships, reduce negative emotions and relieve pain.
This month, I invite you to be generous with your ‘thank you’s’, and to show your appreciation for colleagues when you feel it is deserved. If you are looking for other ways to recognize staff and faculty at UBC, or want to find out what the University does as an organization to reward employees, visit the Staff Recognition page.
With recognition in mind, I would like to thank all of our readers who take the time to provide feedback and send their appreciation. We do this work for you and hope that it helps you move towards a healthier UBC!
All my best,