We all want to feel on top of our game – but how can we achieve it? Anthony Landale looks at the energies that people need to bring to their work and how HR professionals can prompt people to get back in touch with their vitality.
There's a new word that has recently entered the management lexicon. Vitality. It seems as though companies are aware that we employees might not have enough of it and they are keen to help us find ways to bring more of it to work.
What is it about our vitality that they want and is it something we have within us?
It is of course easy to understand why employers want more of it flowing in their organisations. It's an extremely attractive quality. When individuals bring vitality to work it makes them good to be around. They are infectious, they raise the spirits of those they come into contact with, and people seek them out. So in that sense it's not just about the performance of the individual, it's about their impact on others as well.
Is it possible for people to bring vitality to work every day?
Well, given the choice, most of us would probably like to do so. We want to give our best at work and there is little doubt that when we are healthier and happier we are more efficient and more productive. Indeed research from the Institute of Health and Performance Management (IHPM) suggests that people who are in good health are 20% more productive than those who are not.
But vitality is as much to do with energy as health and that gives us a slightly different lens through which we can consider it. With energy we are talking not only about physical performance but with mental alertness, emotional resilience and even that spirit energy that is to do with optimism, purpose and inspiration.
If you are in HR and it's part of your role to encourage vitality, how might you help those who are flagging?
The answer is to help people understand their energy, how it impacts on others and how it can be nourished and sustained. And this might be a challenging conversation for some because the intent here is to get people to realise that they need to bring more 'get up and go' to work and that to achieve this they may have to change some ingrained habits.
So, given all of this, here are some ways that you can encourage people to harness and even boost their energy:
1. Physical energy prompts
Unfortunately when it comes to exercise, while 80% of us think we are pretty active, in reality only 37% of men and 25% of women are active enough to benefit their health. Both the Department of Health and The British Heart Foundation suggest that we should be exercising moderately for 30 minutes at least five days a week. However exercise is only one part of the picture. If you are working with someone who needs more physical oomph, then prompt them to take regular breaks, to eat brain-rich foods rather than unhealthy snacks, to drink sufficient water to maintain attention and to cut down on teas and/or coffees which put their body into a stress response.
2. Mental energy prompts
When it comes to helping people with their mental energy it's often about their expectations of themselves and others. Ask them what's driving them and see if you can help them to step back so that they see the bigger picture rather than drowning in the detail of their projects. Of course, mental nourishment can also come in other ways. You may also find it useful to help people with their planning, with their problem solving and with their creativity.
3. Emotional energy prompts
This is primarily the area of relationships, and when people are worn out emotionally, you may just have to give them great listening and acknowledgement. You don't have to solve anything for them. Your attention and care is enough. For those who are more resilient, however, it may be that you can prompt them to engage differently with their colleagues, find the courage to tackle difficult situations or even work out with them what support network they need to develop.
4. Spirit energy prompts
We aren't talking about religion here. This is the energy that is all to do with purpose and meaning and for many people this is the energy that is often most difficult to access. But if you can help your colleagues reconnect with what difference they want to make at work then you may be providing the most powerful help of all. So ask them what uplifts them. Help them to reflect on times when they felt they were at their best. Challenge them to get in touch with their passion and to evaluate just what a difference it makes to them and others when they bring that energy.
All of these energies help to make people more vital and all people will find, at times, that they need an energy boost. Within HR, part of your job is to get that energy flowing more powerfully in the individual, the team and the organisation.
Anthony Landale is from Illumine. For more information, call 01753 866633 or visit www.illumine.co.uk