By Miranda Massie on February 4, 2015
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.-Helen Keller
I work on a remarkable campus with many remarkable people. I feel privileged have this opportunity and I often leave meetings thinking, “Wow, that person is really great at this” or “I am in awe of this person’s ability to do that…” This happened to me just the other day and then another thought popped into my head: “Isn’t it interesting that regularly I think these things to myself and then never actually share them with those colleagues?”
This year, Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday and I find myself disappointed. In years past, a highlight for me has been to write personal Valentines for my co-workers-a tradition I started on my second week of work at UBC in 2011. I make a trip to the store and pick up the paper Valentines with Elmo or Strawberry Shortcake on the front and drop them off at peoples desks (because who doesn’t like to get a Valentine!) It is something fun and silly that tends to make people smile and hopefully lets them know that they are appreciated.
Taking the time to do this in a professional setting is often overlooked. We are busy rushing from meeting to meeting, constantly juggling priorities without always having the time to connect on a personal level with our colleagues.
In an effort to make up for my inability to shower my colleagues with Valentines on February 14, I have decided instead to send a small number of personal gratitude Valentines. I am going to actually share with others what I admire about them, how I appreciate their work and how they provide me inspiration.
Last year, I wrote about How To Be Your Own Valentine.
Did you know that practicing gratitude actually has health benefits?
- Sharing our gratitude for others or taking time to reflect on what you are grateful for can have a positive effect on levels of happiness and pleasant emotions.
- If harnessed and used as a personal strength, this gratitude can lead to increased relational wellbeing, helping us feel more connected to others.
- In addition, the simple act of witnessing gratitude (by others or towards others) can have a motivating effect on our own behavior. It can lead to increased social awareness, higher likelihood to support others and can motivate us to emulate these qualities in ourselves.
This Valentine’s Day, in addition to recognizing romantic partners and loved ones, I invite you to reflect on your colleagues. Whom do you admire? Who provides you with professional inspiration? If you are able to make the time share your feelings of gratitude with them you both might just end up a bit healthier than when you started!
All my best,
Algoe, S. B., & Haidt, J. (2009) Witnessing excellence in action: the ‘other-praising’ emotions of elevation, gratitude, and admiration. The Journal of Positive Psychology 4 (2), 105-127.
Emmons, R. A., & Crumpler, C.A. (2000) Gratitude as a Human Strength: Appraising the Evidence. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 19(1), 56-69.
Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 84(2), 377-389.
By Miranda Massie on August 6, 2014
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,
Posted in Editorial, Mental Health, Miranda Massie, Physical Health, Spot Light | Tagged appreciation, Celebrate, community involvement, culture, gratitude, Haida, health, hummingbird, indigenous, Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, recognition, success, thank you, wellbeing, workplace | Leave a response
By Colin Hearne on August 6, 2014
Appreciation is a fundamental human need. Whatever else we derive from our work, nothing rivals the feeling that we truly matter – that we are recognized for contributing a unique value to this beautiful university. Studies in North America also reflect this phenomenon. More than two-thirds of people surveyed by Boston-based Globoforce through their Workforce Mood Tracker said they were motivated by praise, while 78 percent said they would work harder if their contributions were recognized or appreciated.
Recognition and appreciation can come in many forms: a simple thank you, an award, an invite to lunch; and is equally important when coming from a colleague as when coming from a supervisor.
Every Day is Colleague Appreciation Day
Here are some examples for inspiration as highlighted by Dr Robert Nelson in his book, 1501 Ways to Reward Employees
- Royal Victoria Hospital in Ontario has a special voicemail line for employees to leave anonymous messages about their co-workers’ good performance, which are then written on cards and given to the complimented employee’s manager for individual recognition.
- Aircraft manufacturer Boeing has an online employee peer-to-peer recognition system for employees to enter co-worker recognition. The system then sends an email, notifying the giver’s and recipient’s managers, and enters points into employees’ electronic cards for redeeming merchandise.
- ComDoc in Ohio utilizes employee emails to HR that are then distributed company-wide to recognize and share news of accomplishments.
- Toronto Scotiabank has an award-winning comprehensive peer-to-peer recognition program that enables and encourages employees to recognize each other for living the company’s values.
- Wells Fargo’s electronic peer-to-peer recognition program utilizes e-cards, e-wards, and “Ride the Wave” annual awards to make it fun and easy for employees to recognize each other’s’ performance to organizational values.
What You Can Do Today
Every single person reading this article has a co-worker who does their job in such a way that you are able to do your job more effectively. You know who I’m talking about, the people who always have the answers and are there for you when you need them. So, why not take a minute today to try some of these creative ways to give cheers to your peers?
- Random acts of kindness: Make it a point to not leave on Friday afternoon until you have performed an act of kindness for a coworker. Help them with a project, grab them a cup of coffee, or buy them lunch.
- Leave them a note: Write a secret note of thanks to your co-worker specifically describing what they do to deserve your praise.
- Celebrate successes: When one of your coworkers reaches a goal or a milestone, do what you can to help them celebrate! Bake a cake, decorate their workspace: or sing a song of celebration.
- Become a UBC Health Contact: Be the person in your office or unit to share healthy information for UBC employees. Get the news about the latest corporate fitness discounts, free workshops and free trainings. and spread the healthy news to your peers. Click here for more information.
- Write them up: Tell Your Team: If a coworker goes above and beyond, put it in writing and praise them in a group email or note!
- Support them when they’re down: Consider how you can support co-workers under stress.
- Start a peer-to-peer recognition team: If your workplace doesn’t already have one, why not approach your manager with this idea? Develop a team to recognize your co-workers. Rotate the members on an annual basis so everyone has a chance to serve.
Make It Happen
One excellent way to build a system of support, recognise achievements, and build a culture of rewarding is to create a Healthy Work place Initiative Program for your department. The Healthy Workplace Initiatives Program (HWIP) is a fund available to UBC departments to support healthy activities in the workplace. The program provides start-up funds to starting health-related initiatives. The application deadline for next round of funding is Nov. 21, 2014. For more information, or to be inspired by previous programs, visit our website.