Do you love your workplace? If not, the soundest advice may be to go find a new one.
However, while that may be the best solution, sometimes, for a myriad of reasons, you might need to stay where you are for the moment.
My experience under such circumstances turned out to be both testing and a turning point in my career.
I worked for a not-for-profit group some years ago after relocating to another city. Their altruistic aims were one of the reasons for seeking employment there. But I soon found that staffing and financial resources were constantly squeezed and a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants attitude was required (and expected) because there were few processes or systems in place.
There was no way that I could complete all that my several managers desired that I’d achieve each day in my very public open-plan office. Worse still, each manager felt theirs was the worthier task for me to prioritise. Due to the constant heavy workload, both co-workers and managers stayed at their desks to eat lunch and many put in hours of extra unpaid work each week. It seemed to be a workplace designed to produce stress, and that was evidenced in the poor mental health and productivity of some managers and co-workers.
It was difficult not to be infected by the contagion of secondhand stress and negativity wafting throughout the building. Feeling increasingly marginalised, I also fell into the trap of making my own and my co-workers’ days (and my family’s evenings) more miserable by complaining about the management and facilities.
Finally, I woke up to the need to take a spiritual stand to think and talk positively, no matter what. And when I did that things began to improve.
That’s not surprising. Our greatest buffer against negativity has been identified in workplace studies to be high spiritual intelligence (SQ), including an acknowledgement of our “higher self.”
Indeed, an Australian paper published during August in the Journal of Spirituality, Leadership and Management found that spirituality and mindfulness enhance organisational outcomes such as job satisfaction, organisational commitment and staff well-being.
When I decided to adopt a spiritual approach, which replaced distrust, fear and avoidance in what seemed like a pressure-cooker job, it not only helped me, it helped to transform how my workplace functioned.
Here’s how to do it:
1.Be true to Yourself
We’re not defined by our job. When we’re clear about that, then we can accept that this could very well be the best place for us at the moment if we are open to making the most of it. I didn’t accept the scepticism of my co-workers that there could be change for the better because I was learning that change starts with us. As Jesus put it; “the kingdom of God is within you.”
Decide not to be resentful. Expressing gratitude for those things that co-workers and management are doing well can have a transforming effect on the workplace. I found that every time I thanked someone for their great idea or their enthusiasm, things improved.
3.Take time out
Take the initiative and give yourself a break. Leave the building for lunch. Walking in nature is particularly beneficial for your mental wellbeing. Take spontaneous mental “mini vacations” throughout the day, too. I found these helped me to refocus on the presence of good; the power of honesty and integrity in everyone; and Love’s care for all in the office.
4.See the other side
When an organisation is struggling there’s a temptation for workers to disengage rather than “buying-in” to the organisation. Instead of criticising managerial skills, I found it helped me to assist them by accepting additional responsibilities above what my job description and salary dictated. Such patience and “buy-in” can be just what’s needed to enhance workplace morale and production, and can lead to an improved job description and accompanying remuneration.
5.Speak Up– for the greater good
Finally, let a spiritual, gentle approach empower you to speak up at the right time. This is not about drawing attention to yourself in competition with co-workers or in complaint about management, but about inclusively sharing good ideas. Gradually I found myself called upon to do so at a higher level, with wider scope and across the organisation. My experience afforded the opportunity not only to instigate change but to develop greater compassion and engagement with both staff and managers, assimilating skills for subsequent jobs.
Spiritual thought-leader, Mary Baker Eddy once wrote that evil (e.g. dysfunction, resentment, exasperation, hurt, negativity, stress) would vanish before the reality of good. “One must hide the other. How important, then, to choose good as the reality!” she concluded.
It could be said that such spiritual capital shapes the health and wellbeing of our workplaces as it shapes us individually.