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Can You Lift Your Team’s Spirit?

Do you get dragged down by other people’s negativity?  Let’s face it, despite our best efforts of trying to stay positive, optimistic and enthusiastic it’s hard to stay upbeat and engaged when pessimists or cynics surround us.  But how can you lift the spirits of others in your team?

Emotions have been found to be highly contagious.  When someone is in a strong good or bad mood studies suggest that you can actually catch it, and then pass it on to others.  And just like the common cold, these emotions can then ripple throughout your workplace.  Given researchers suggest  that a positive workplace culture is critical for your wellbeing and productivity at work, it makes sense to try and find ways to spread more positivity.

So how can you ensure positivity and wellbeing ripples through your workplace?

“At Swisse we aim to create a team spirit that really celebrates life every day,” explained Elise Morris, Director of People and Culture at Swisse Wellness, who were recently recognized by the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business as a global example of excellence for their Whole Person Wellness Program, when I interviewed her recently.  “This is underpinned by the three pillars of our Whole Person Wellness Program – Movement, Nutrition and Mindfulness.”

For example, providing access to gym facilities and being flexible in how you design your work spaces and flow can encourage people to move and interact more with each other.  Educating people about how the food they eat impacts their ability to perform, and stocking fridges and staff room with superfoods and healthy snacks can help your people make better choices.  Research has found that bringing people together for team lunches can play a part in building team spirit.

You can also encourage your team to be in a positive frame of mind by cultivating more gratitude, and by understanding how their role contributes to the overall purpose and goals of your organization. Swisse even go so far as fostering the practice of mindfulness by encouraging all staff to participate in a meditation practice together, for twenty minutes at 3pm every day.

Unfortunately, even though your intention of introducing such practices is to help people flourish within their workplace teams, some employees may actively buy in from the start, while others may take longer or be harder to engage.  So how can you successfully introduce wellbeing practices into your workplace team?

“The challenge is to understand where your skeptics are coming from,” explained Elise. “By putting aside your own biases, opinions, and the need to be right, can allow you to really listen, and establish a common ground to start connecting.”

She suggested trying to:

  • Establish common ground – it’s important to understand and meet people where they’re at, and what they want from the program to encourage them to engage with it voluntarily.  And while on the surface it may seem that some start from different places or are skeptical about the language you use, actually you will find that usually you are not that far apart.  After all, most of us want to come to work each day, want to do good things, and have a positive impact on others.  Take the time to really listen to others, about what they want to do and achieve from the program.
  • Use generative language – it can be easy for your team conversations to be all about identifying the problems and gaps.  Having a strong commitment to notice and challenge each other when the language you’re using is stuck in focusing on the deficits, can enable your team to create a culture that values strengths and possibilities.
  • Use evidence-based practices – to ensure your team’s wellbeing program is safe, professional and effective make sure that it’s grounded in the rigor of science.  For example, use the evidence and neuroscience around practices such as cultivating gratitude, resilience, meaning and purpose.

What can you do to lift your team spirits and improve their wellbeing?


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