Keep it Positive in the Workplace, Brandi Advises
JoAnna Brandi, president of JoAnna Brandi & Co., has spent the past 18 years consulting companies on customer and employee relations. So at the July 9-11 MeritDirect Business Mailer’s Co-op in White Plains, N.Y., she tackled the subject of keeping employees happy on the job — a timely topic considering this trying year. She offered seven tips for not only keeping employees happy on the job, but also productive.
1. Give people the opportunity to use their strengths and skills. Noting a recent survey which revealed that 84 percent of employees in the U.S. are unhappy with their work, and less than one-third of the U.S. workforce is engaged, involved and passionate about work, Brandi noted that people in their “strength zone are more likely engaged in their jobs.”
Others, she pointed out, are more likely to treat customers poorly. In fact, she said the average employee uses his/her strengths just 14 percent of the time. She noted that managers focus too heavily on employees’ weaknesses rather than their strengths. To that, she advised, “Help them expand their comfort zones by using their strengths.”
2. Provide challenge, stretch goals and opportunities for advancement. “Exciting work and challenge are top reasons for staying with jobs,” she said. “Use strengths to overcome weaknesses. When strengths meet our challenge at the end of the comfort zone, we come to a positive state of flow. Then a sense of well-being abounds.”
3. Provide a balance between stress and money. Noting that nobody has any extra time and everybody multitasks today, Brandi said employees multitask to the point where they go beyond their comfort levels. “Time’s not the issue,” she said. “The issue is energy. Everything has an energy cost.”
4. Express authentic appreciation. When employees receive appreciation that’s deeply felt, it changes the vibratory and heart rate variability, she noted. “A leader who uses this skillfully will get everyone on the same wavelength,” Brandi said. “At the beginning of every meeting, start with gratitude. Ask everyone in the meeting to speak out loud about something they’ve appreciated, and they’ll start using a different wavelength at the company.”
5. Create connection to people and purpose — a “cause.” There are three phases to happiness, Brandi noted: pleasure, engagement and meaning. Meaning is connected to something, because it gets people attached to the cause.
6. Shift from “power over” to “power with.” The old “my way or the highway” attitude among managers still exists in some form at many companies, she pointed out. “Believe in employees’ brilliance,” she advised. “Everybody teaches, everybody learns. Master the art of letting go.”
7. Use positive leadership practices. Managers tend to get locked into a negative model, Brandi said, and can only see what’s wrong. Honor the place that negative thinking has in business, but get over worshiping that place, she said. Five times more energy comes out of positive feedback. And there’s a clear link between positive emotions and longevity on the job.