Work is naturally a big part of a person’s life – what can one do to create a sense of purpose and feel good about one’s job rather than just going through the motions?

Because we spend a greater part of our days and lives at work, it’s important to be aware of how the work environment makes us feel. If we feel grumpy all the time, even if the job pays well, or we are able to support our families, very often that negativity seeps into other parts of our lives, like relationships and health etc. 

One way of feeling good is to utilize one’s strengths. To do things that are more aligned to one’s skills, personality, creativity and talents. Even if it means moving to a different department or looking at different ways of working. When one does what they find more natural, it feels more authentic and purposeful. 

Secondly, it also helps to open up to constant learning and development, if there are workshops or short courses that one can take in line with the work roles and responsibilities, this not only brings a fresh perspective to things but makes one feel equipped and confident about the job. Stagnancy and monotony are one of the most disempowering things in the workplace. 

What strategies can people use to navigate the social dynamics in the workplace, where there is often competitiveness and office politics?

It helps to unpack after a long day at work and spend time in self reflection, just to unwind and switch off from that office role and be truly authentic to who one is. Most often than not, the person we are at work is a result of the different roles and responsibilities we have to take on and might not necessarily be the person we are privately at home. For example a manager may have to be firmer and stricter at work but find that naturally they are relaxed and friendlier outside of the work environment. This is often termed emotional intelligence. The ability to know where certain emotions stem from and if some of the emotions are acquired through social interactions example anger about office gossip or are coming from the internal landscape, example feeling like a failure etc and just being able to manage that awareness to prevent making other peoples issues your problem or making one’s issues other people’s problem. 

Emotional intelligence gives one an awareness and empowers them to act in 4 ways:

1. Building connections with like minded people. Choosing one’s tribe or a social circle they are comfortable in, whose values are similar. 

2. Neutralizing negativity. Being able to squash gossip and negativity at the source and not help spread it around. Being able to confront people and call bad behaviour out but in a gentle and polite manner. 

3. Managing conflict in a calm and professional manner. Knowing who to approach if having grievances and what procedures are followed in the organization if one feels aggrieved. 

4. Listen and observe and assess situation before acting or reacting. This offers up a window of opportunity to choose the best way to handle situations instead of always going by impulses  

5. It also helps to reframe certain situations for example not viewing it as competitiveness but rather excellence. Adopting those positive. characteristics you see in people that really intimidate you to empower yourself. For example befriending that office employee who has confidence or good voice projection or who is very good at PowerPoint presentations, to learn a thing or two from them. 

What are the benefits of getting involved in company activities, such as CSI days and team-building events?

This helps one familiarize themselves with company culture and be up to date with where the company is at and what the organisation is doing. When one is familiar with and we’ll informed about their environment, they get a sense of belonging and confidence. 

Secondly it’s a great way of building relationships. People have a way of bonding and getting to know each other and it can also be a great way to knock down certain negative perceptions one might have had about others, when they actually spend time together up close and listen to their different background stories. 

Thirdly it’s a great way of showcasing ones strengths and talents that may otherwise be overlooked or downplayed in a formal office setting. 

What are some of the ways a naturally introverted person can create a workplace environment for themselves that is nurturing and fosters emotional wellbeing?

Introverts get their fuel from within. This is because people around them and the hustle bussle of activity may be draining for them. And since it’s not always possible to have that private corner office or to be isolated from work makes for long periods of time, however introverts can set aside time in the day to take a breather and be by themselves and fill up. This may include enjoying a cup of coffee alone or taking a walk outside the office block etc. 

It also helps to bring resources at work that one would otherwise enjoy alone at home to indulge at lunch time such as cds, books, music or other form of creative relaxation. This gives them a sense of control over what they consume while nourishing them. 

Thirdly, being honest to the people around you, from the onset regarding the things you can and cannot do like politely declining an offer to go hang out for drinks after work may come off a little snobbish but once you openly communicate what kind of a person you are, people know beforehand and adjust their expectations to your limits, boundaries and preferences.

If the employer provides opportunities for upskilling / studying further etc, some people may see it as the company expecting even more from them and outside of working hours. But how can taking advantage of these opportunities add value to a person’s life and experience of the workplace?

Any form of training however small, is always aimed at making someone better. Better at performance, better at interpersonal skills, better at their job etc. When one views this as something that has come to takeaway from them instead of give to them it makes it difficult to accept opportunities for upskilling. The world itself is constantly changing and the people that are evolving with it are those people who are always open to learning, Change and growth. 

It helps from the onset for one to have a vision of what they would want to do or where they would want to go career wise. So that when an opportunity for upskilling comes up, it becomes easier to take up the offer as it may accelerate them to the capability and capacity level that they have always wanted. It’s difficult to empower someone who has no elevation plans of their own, people comfortable with remaining in one place don’t take kindly to change. 

So many people who have shown a readiness to take up new challenges and prove themselves have had their efforts noticed and it pays off when new job opportunities arise within the Company and management puts their names up for promotion. 

With many offices not able to operate at full capacity at the moment and many workers having transitioned to working from home, what are some of the ways that people can make sure they still feel connected to their colleagues and visible to their managers?

1. Set routines and stick to them. It’s easy to be distracted at home. Create a comfortable work space at home away from distractions. Communicate to friends and family members when they can contact you outside of work hrs. 

2. Have regular status update meetings with your managers or workmates. These can be done virtually. Update them on your progress and find out how they are doing too. Aside from work related conversations it also helps to share the many coping mechanisms that work in similar situations. 

3. Every beginning of the week, note down the deliverables and expectations and seek to achieve these all by the end of the week. 

4. Commit to deadlines and hand work in on time. 

How can managers help foster a sense of team spirit and inclusiveness while the team is working remotely? 

Again similar to the above, managers can make use of various online platforms such as Microsoft teams, Zoom, Google Meet and Skype in order to have weekly catch up meetings with staff members, communicate expectations, assign roles and responsibilities and deadlines. Catch up again to check on progress and share coping mechanism as well as ensuring staff members have the necessary resources to do their work effectively such as office equipment, Stationery, access to data and telephone allowance. Managing change also involves being honest and transparent with employees and timeously communicating any changes to the company structure whether adverse or positive. Being readily and easily available to occasionally check in on staff whether individually or as a group can help give employees a sense of confidence and security in these uncertain times. 

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