1 to 7 June is Volunteers Week. At advice giving organisations we all know the great work that dedicated teams of volunteers do to help advise and support people.
But if you’re a paid worker – have you ever thought about volunteering for an organisation?
Volunteering works best when you get involved in an organisation that does work that you’re passionate about – but even if you only occasionally volunteer, there are still real benefits for you.
Volunteering is now recognised as having a direct impact on health and wellbeing – for the volunteer – as it can help to reduce isolation, and boost your mood by feeling that you’re ‘giving something back’.
The Mental Health Foundation has produced a short, easy-to-read booklet – Doing Good Does You Good – which outlines some ways you can improve your wellbeing by doing good – including looking at Volunteering, Mentoring, Doing something for a good cause, and Random acts of kindness.
“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.” - Bob Marley
- a worksheet to help improve your integrity skills;
- a values exercise – to help you identify what values matter the most to you;
- a worksheet on honesty and integrity; and
- a range of TED Talks on values, honesty and integrity
- being proactive
- critical thinking
As part of the Learning at Work Week activities that were on offer in May, a number of partner organisations learning activities took place during lunch times. These were popular as they allowed people to take part in activities, but still have time for appointments, meetings and other work.
Lunch and learn – also known as ‘brown bag’ sessions (because of the brown bags that people used to use to carry their lunches in) – are often used by organisations to provide short, accessible opportunities for employees to learn.
Recognised benefits of lunch and learn programmes of learning are:
- Helps with understanding what others do in the organisation
- Encourages growth, sharing knowledge and skills, and can build confidence
- Strengthens a sense of community – by people sharing things that they are involved in outside of work, or their hobbies and passions
- Builds a stronger work culture – by people feeling they are valued and supported
Lunch and Learn programmes don’t have to be all about work though – there are benefits to people sharing their skills, or learning new skills like how to draw, make wood carvings, or learn self-defence or yoga.
An article on how to deal with burnout – burnout was recently recognised by the World Health organisation (WHO) – by dealing with your To-Do Lists.
This article describes how limiting your work in progress (WIP) by setting a limit for how many things you’ll be actively working on, and sticking to the limit – using post it notes can help deal with To Do Lists that are too long, and burnout that can leave people feeling unable to tackle even simple, straightforward tasks.
How to tackle your To-Do Lists (The Guardian)
Mindfulness and meditation are great ways to help take a breather from our busy and stressed lives – but you don’t have to have 30 minutes to sit and do meditation. Some mindfulness exercises can be done in a few minutes – at work, at your desk, or on the bus.
There’s a simple mindful breathing exercise you can do at your desk, or in your staff room on your break, or why not try the Mindful Appreciation, and just identify 5 things during your day that normally go unappreciated.
“If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap.’
If you want happiness for a day — go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime — help someone else.”
For the start of a new year, we’re focusing on another of the 7 essential soft skills – this time it’s optimism.
Optimism is less about positive thinking than it is about positive action. Increasing your level of optimism can help to increase your resilience, and proactivity.
For a range of factsheets around being more optimistic, including an Optimism Health Checker, TED Talks, and a complete TED playlist ‘Charming talks for a boost on a bad day’ visit the Unimenta website.
This free short quiz on ‘how healthy your workplace is’ has 12 questions on things like having someone you can raise issues with, whether regular feedback is given to staff, and whether people understand each other’s roles and their contribution.
This is just one of a range of free quizzes from Monkey Puzzle Training, a learning organisation providing learning and development through coaching, training and personal development. To have a look at the other free quizzes available – on things like ‘What’s your work life balance type’ and a ‘Time Sabotage Assessment’, visit the Monkey Puzzle Training website.
April is national Stress Awareness Month. We’ve covered stress a few times in the ASA Bitesizes, but we wanted to flag up some useful websites and resources again, to help people stop and think about their stress levels – think of it as your annual stress test.
Work-related stress results in about 12 million working days being lost each year in the UK, and can lead to physical health problems like heart disease, problems with your immune system, insomnia and digestive problems.
74% of people in the UK have felt so stressed over the last year that they have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.
This NHS Moodzone webpage has information on 10 stress busting approaches to help you reduce your stress levels, and to help your stress from getting unmanageable.
Recognising that you’re stressed can be difficult to do – especially with work-related stress. Take this stress test to find out how stressed you are:
In this TED talk from Margaret Heffernan, who is a former CEO of five businesses, she talks about how to bring out the best performance in teams – and its not about the ‘superstar’ performers – it’s the coffee breaks, and the times when members of a team ask each other for help, that brings about the best results.
What do Arianna Huffington and a former FBI Hostage Negotiator have in common?
They’ve both taken part in Professor Adam Grant’s podcast for TED, called WorkLife.
Adam Grant is an American Organisational Psychologist who is interested in how to make work better for people. His podcasts have interviews and discussions on things like ‘Networking for people who hate networking’, ‘The perils of following your career passion’, and ‘When work takes over your life’.
Ranging between 30 to 40 minutes, these TED (audio only) podcasts can provide a great way to switch off from work in your lunchtime. With interviews and contributions from people who are trying to do things a little bit differently in the workplace, as well as other psychologists, the podcasts provide an easy way to start thinking outside the box about the world of work.
If you like the podcasts, then why not check out some of Adam Grant’s articles: