Pain or Pleasure: What do You Feel When You Go to Work

Maybe I am a hopeless romantic, but I believe that workplace environments are akin in many ways to romantic relationships. If we spend the majority of our time in a certain place, doing certain things, we should love it, just as we should love a romantic partner.  Both need some degree of give and take and require mutual effort in order to thrive.

Relationship Between Work Environment & Job Satisfaction in an Organization for Employee Turnover by David Ingram defined work environment as follows.

“A work environment is made up of a range of factors, including company culture, management styles, hierarchies and human resources policies.”

Here are four smart questions to help you to determine the quality of your work environment.

Do I feel safe, stable, and secure?

Consider the physical environment of the workplace. Building maintenance and upkeep impacts the feeling of safety. Is the building constructed of strong materials? Is it constructed in a way that limits damage during inclement weather? Does the ventilation system provide adequate fresh breathing air? Does the heating and cooling system provide protection from the temperature fluctuations? Are structural problems repaired immediately? Is the office space clean and pest free?

This question addresses the basic human need for safety. The location, type, and maintenance of the workplace all impact one’s feeling of safety when at work.  Many social workers practice in areas of great need. The buildings are often in financially impoverished areas. Some offices are located in places labeled as high crime areas.  Many social workers travel to their clients, so the “office” is where the client happens to be at any moment. We meet clients under bridges, in wooded areas, or in homes. The actual location may not be as important as the measures to maintain as much safety as possible for both workers and clients.

Another aspect of safety involves the stability of the employer. This addresses whether the agency or organization is financially sound with strong support, as well as if the leadership has a vision for the work and communicates the vision clearly. The organization’s actions and behaviors toward clients and employees should align with the stated mission, and employees should be assured that they will have longevity in their employment. The sense of security is reinforced when employees receive adequate benefits and paychecks are distributed as scheduled.

Can I be my true self?

This question goes beyond individual personalities. It requires an in-depth assessment of style, mode of operation, as well as personality, on an individual and corporate level.  Every workplace environment has its own collective personality. Think about where you currently work. Do you feel as if you fit? Some work environments have suit-and-tie, serious personalities. Others have a looser and more playful character. These descriptions depict opposite ends of the continuum, but most work environments fall somewhere in the middle. Your comfort level plays a role in your effectiveness at work. Comfort promotes confidence.

Think about your interactions with co-workers and colleagues. Do those interactions cause you to feel welcome and important related to the organization’s mission? Are disagreements handled with reasonable discourse and discussion? Does the supervisory team focus on the mission of the organization or on their own professional rise in the organization? Do employees work as a unified team?

Can I realize the full extent of my skills, abilities, and interests?

Before answering this question, social workers should have a clear understanding of their skills, abilities, and interests. We become frustrated when we cannot use or expand upon these aspects of self. A lack of challenge causes boredom and complacency as we resign ourselves to accept the droll of stagnant repetition.

Workplace environments that encourage employee growth cultivate loyalty.   Some social workers may only think about how their skills, abilities, or interests enable them to meet the requirements of their jobs. They should, however, think about the impact these qualities have on their capacity to meet and exceed the mission of the organization. Insightful leaders in an organization will understand and use all available resources to meet the organization’s mission. This includes allowing staff members to do what they do best.

Are we working toward the same outcome?

Do you share the vision and mission of your organization? Does the result you are working towards match the result your organization expects? These are crucial questions for social workers who have been on the job for at least five years. You have worked in the organization long enough to know whether your goals align. If you are or have been in a committed relationship, think about the dissonance that occurs when the individuals disagree on joint goals and desires. No one is happy and the relationship suffers.  Employment is not very different. You will commit to the organization’s stated outcome and method for achieving it when you work in your ideal work environment.

The Joy of Giving Lasts Longer Than the Joy of Getting

The happiness we feel after a particular event or activity diminishes each time we experience that event, a phenomenon known as hedonic adaptation. But giving to others may be the exception to this rule, according to new research from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

In the paper, “People Are Slow to Adapt to the Warm Glow of Giving,” forthcoming in Psychological Science, Chicago Booth Associate Professor Ed O’Brien and Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management’s PhD candidate Samantha Kassirer found that participants’ happiness did not decline, or declined much slower, if they repeatedly bestowed gifts on others versus repeatedly receiving those same gifts themselves.

“If you want to sustain happiness over time, past research tells us that we need to take a break from what we’re currently consuming and experience something new. Our research reveals that the kind of thing may matter more than assumed: Repeated giving, even in identical ways to identical others, may continue to feel relatively fresh and relatively pleasurable the more that we do it,” O’Brien explains.

The researchers conducted two studies. In one experiment, university student participants received $5 every day for 5 days; they were required to spend the money on the exact same thing each time. The researchers randomly assigned participants to spend the money either on themselves or on someone else, such as by leaving money in a tip jar at the same café or making an online donation to the same charity every day. The participants reflected on their spending experience and overall happiness at the end of each day.

The data, from a total of 96 participants, showed a clear pattern: Participants started off with similar levels of self-reported happiness and those who spent money on themselves reported a steady decline in happiness over the 5-day period. But happiness did not seem to fade for those who gave their money to someone else. The joy from giving for the fifth time in a row was just as strong as it was at the start.

O’Brien and Kassirer then conducted a second experiment online, which allowed them to keep the tasks consistent across participants. In this experiment, 502 participants played 10 rounds of a word puzzle game. They won five cents per round, which they either kept or donated to a charity of their choice. After each round, participants disclosed the degree to which winning made them feel happy, elated, and joyful.

Again, the self-reported happiness of those who gave their winnings away declined far more slowly than did the happiness reported by those who kept their winnings.

Further analyses ruled out some potential alternative explanations, such as the possibility that participants who gave to others had to think longer and harder about what to give, which could promote higher happiness.

“We considered many such possibilities, and measured over a dozen of them,” says O’Brien. “None of them could explain our results; there were very few incidental differences between ‘get’ and ‘give’ conditions, and the key difference in happiness remained unchanged when controlling for these other variables in the analyses.”

Adaptation to happiness-inducing experiences can be functional to the extent that it motivates us to pursue and acquire new resources. Why doesn’t this also happen with the happiness we feel when we give?

The researchers note that when people focus on an outcome, such as getting paid, they can easily compare outcomes, which diminishes their sensitivity to each experience. When people focus on an action, such as donating to a charity, they may focus less on comparison and instead experience each act of giving as a unique happiness-inducing event.

We may also be slower to adapt to happiness generated by giving because giving to others helps us maintain our prosocial reputation, reinforcing our sense of social connection and belonging.

These findings raise some interesting questions for future research – for example, would these findings hold if people were giving or receiving larger amounts of money? Or to giving to friends versus strangers?

The researchers have also considered looking beyond giving or receiving monetary rewards, since prosocial behavior includes a wide range of experiences.

“Right now we’re testing repeated conversation and social experiences, which also may get better rather than worse over time,” O’Brien explains.

3 Ways to Keep a Positive Attitude and Be More Successful

Your life is going to be full of setbacks, that’s just the nature of things. Life is full of ups and downs, and the best thing you can do is position yourself to make the most of those good times while hedging against the rough ones. Keeping a positive mindset is the best way to do this.

What do you do when things seem to go wrong? You have to be positive. You have to be optimistic. Think about it. If you don’t respond positively, then what is the alternative? And how has that alternative been worked out for you in the past? You have nothing to gain by focusing on the negatives. Everything you want in life is on the other side of failure, and the only way to get there is to stay positive and keep pushing forward.

Here are three simple ways to stay positive and weather the storms that life throws your way.

Surround Yourself with Positivity

One of the most effective ways to set yourself up for success is to engineer your environment and build productive habits that will move you toward success on autopilot. Since you become what you think about most of the time, it only makes sense to think about positive things in life.

Starting your day by reading some encouraging words can help set the tone for the whole day. Some great personal development authors include John Maxwell, Brian Tracy, John Covey, Tony Robbins and Gary Vaynerchuk. Put inspiring quotes all around your office, on your computer and phone desktops or even stuck up on the fridge at home. Commit to spending more time around positive people too, since their attitudes will rub off on you.

You can also automate your success through habits that can help you in life. Building a morning routine and a bedtime routine can help.

Take Care of Your Physical Health

You should also take good care of your physical health by making daily exercise a part of your routine. You don’t have to sign up for a marathon or anything to reap the benefits of exercise. As little as 20 minutes per day of moderate exercise can help improve how you look and feel.

Your diet is also important. Eat plenty of fresh veggies, fruits, legumes and whole grains to give your body the nutrients it needs for optimum health and performance. You might also want to incorporate superfoods into your meals, such as blueberries, garlic, turmeric, and oatmeal. These can help you fight off inflammation, boost your energy levels and improve your heart health.

Set Goals, Make Plans and Take Action

One of the best ways to build confidence and stay optimism is to accomplish goals that are important to you. Success breeds success. When you’re productive and find yourself achieving small goals, you feel good about yourself, and you become empowered to push harder to achieve even more.

Action is the key to success, but not all actions will help you in life. Some people are busy all day long, yet they never seem to get anywhere. The key is to know what you want to accomplish, to develop a plan that will make it happen and then to take action on that plan every day without allowing yourself to become distracted by non-essential tasks.

Some people think that time management is all about doing more things every day. But the opposite is actually true. Effective time management is about doing less things, not more things. You must discipline yourself to do the most important things – the things that will really make a difference and drive results. As you learn to do this, you will propel yourself toward your goals in a way that you cannot even imagine at this moment.

As you move rapidly toward your goals, you’ll begin to feel very excited and energized. This will then motivate you to push even harder and accelerate your progress, resulting in even greater levels of accomplishment, higher feelings of self-esteem and more positivity than you’ve ever experienced in the past.

Study Finds Pokemon Go Players Are Happier, Friendlier

Pokemon Go people are happy people. That’s the finding of media researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Madison who leapt to study the wildly popular mobile game shortly after its release in July 2016. Their work, newly published in the journal Media Psychology, shows that Pokemon Go users were more likely to be positive, friendly and physically active.

James Alex Bonus, a UW–Madison graduate student studying educational media, says he joined the throng playing the game when it was new, but was surprised by the mix of reactions in news coverage.

“There was plenty of negative press about distracted people trespassing and running into trees or walking into the street,” says Bonus. “But you also saw people really enjoying it, having a good time together outside.”

Pokemon Go creator Niantic now claims 65 million regular users and more than 650 million app downloads. Even in the first few weeks following release of the game — in which players “catch” wild, virtual Pokemon creatures lurking in places like parks and public buildings, and train them to do battle against one another — players were easy to pick out on sidewalks.

To Bonus and grad student collaborator Alanna Peebles, the immediately large pool of players presented an opportunity to capture the effects of augmented reality games — apps like Pokemon Go that make use of mobile technology to lay the playing field and rules over the real world.

“There’s this idea that playing games and being on your phone is a negative social experience that detracts from things, but there haven’t been many chances to ask large groups of players about their experiences,” Bonus says.

The researchers, including grad student Irene Sarmiento and communication arts Professor Marie-Louise Mares, surveyed about 400 people three weeks after the game was launched, asking questions about their emotional and social lives and levels of physical activity before segueing into Pokemon.

More than 40 percent of their respondents turned out to be Pokemon Go players, and those people were more likely to be exercising — walking briskly, at least — and more likely to be experiencing positive emotions and nostalgia.

“People told us about a variety of experiences with differential relationships to well-being,” Bonus says. “But, for the most part, the Pokemon Go players said more about positive things that were making them feel their life was more worthwhile, more satisfactory, and making them more resilient.”

They were also more social. Players were more likely than nonplayers to be making new friends and deepening old friendships.

“The more people were playing, the more they were engaging in behaviors that reflected making new connections — making Facebook friends, introducing themselves to someone new, exchanging phone numbers with someone, or spending more time with old friends and learning new things about them,” Bonus says.

Surprisingly, the survey respondents who showed more social anxiety were not less likely to be Pokemon Go players, even though aspects of the game encourage chance interactions with people (including strangers).

Results like that, that run counter to prevailing descriptions of gaming and researchers’ expectations, make Bonus all the more interested in studying new ways to interact with media.

“We don’t look at media this way that often, but maybe we should,” he says. “We often focus on media violence and aggression and hostility, but there are opportunities where media is contributing to good life experiences.”

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