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Happy workers get positive feedback

by Steve Hart : Published in Herald on Sunday. September 30th, 2007

Helping to motivate people at work is what Janice Davies enjoys – she has carved out a career for herself as a personal motivator helping unhappy workers become positive.

“I help people to become winners,” says Davies who has twice faced complete burn out through stress and has written books on self-improvement.

“I am a 'been there/done that lady', who teaches people about success and self-improvement and stress reduction.”

She has just released the results of a survey of one thousand companies she completed via her website when she asked managers what their biggest challenge was when it came to staff attitudes.

Among her findings were that negative attitudes and disengagement from work is prevalent. She also found that successful companies offered plenty of positive reinforcement and rewards to staff, that positive people give good customer service and companies that embrace enjoyment and fun as an investment in employees do well when it comes to staff satisfaction and retention.

“The largest percentage of answers included complaints about people arriving at work but taking a long time to actually begin working, “ says Davies. “There are high levels of disengagement which confirms a Gallup report in 2004 which estimated more than $3.6 billion in NZ a year is lost in productivity.

Plenty of people that think the world owes them (a living) and this translates into a lack of personal responsibility that leads to the blame theory or blame culture, where people refuse to take responsibility for their decisions.

Therefore, the values regarding responsibility and work ethics are challenged in these workplaces.”

Davies says results from the nearly 500 people who replied to her survey showed that workloads have increased with the number of urgent requests increasing at a time when fewer staff and resources are employed or available to meet them.

Her findings mirror a report from the University of Otago, which reveals, among other things that almost half of the cases of depression or generalized anxiety disorder are directly related to workplace stress and high job demands

“For some people the workload pressures did not allow for any positive feelings at work,” says Davies.

“Some staff reported feeling un-empowered with others not having the life skills to be empowered.
That reveals a lack of personal development and low self-esteem which can lead to them wanting to resist change, stick with entrenched beliefs and have a high level inflexibility.”

The Gen Ys came out on top, with many younger people apparently more willing to try new ideas and adopt new ways of working than older staff who, says Davies, appeared to be “set in their ways”.

The employees who remain positive and keep their sense of humour were valued highly by employers and were seen as making a positive difference to the working environment,” she says.

The survey shows that company loyalty appears to have disappeared in some organisations with people not yet understanding the benefits of loyalty.

“It all comes down to attitude,” says Davies. Positive people give good service. But if you’re just doing a job because you need the money, then this can translate into a lack of on-the-job enthusiasm.

People who were not acknowledged for a job ‘well done’ lost interest in suggesting ideas, and striving to achieve.

A report on Leadership in New Zealand by Dr Lester Levy confirms the absence of these employers skills with 37.4% of employees thinking their bosses have low self-awareness and unable to create good relationships.

She says that the attitude of employees can be improved, turning the ‘can’t do’ into ‘can do’ if employers educate and motivate staff so they can see and/or reap the benefits of being more positive at work.

“In a positive working environment people are more willing to work as a team, will focus on the goal and believe that things can only get better and enjoy finding solutions” says Davies.

She says people spend most of their time at work so life is more enjoyable by being happy there.

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