The event took place on Thursday 14th November 2012 in the Waterton Business Centre, Bridgend. The newly appointed Chair of HPMA Wales, Joanna Davies (Director of Workforce and OD - Powys teaching Local Health Board) enthusiastically welcomed all of the delegates and provided a brief summary of what the day would bring before introducing the speakers.
Finding Happiness: Using Positive Psychology in the Workplace
The morning workshop was led by Mark Hodder, Head of Learning Design and Delivery for Public Service Management Wales. Mark is very experienced and knowledgeable about his subject and he grabbed the delegates’ attention within minutes with his interactive and enthusiastic workshop (the sweets provided as part of the workshop also helped!).
One of the core principles of Positive Psychology is that success flows from happiness, so the workshop concentrated on exploring the techniques that can be applied within the workplace to develop satisfaction and success, new behaviours, and allow both colleagues and managers to provide more effective feedback in the work environment.
Mark used Minalay Csikszentmihalyi’s “Experience Sampling” exercise to gauge the delegates’ levels of happiness, relaxation and alertness. He presented various fascinating studies and theories within the field of Positive Psychology, including:
• John Medina’s “Brain Rules”, which contends that people do not listen to boring things. This makes it all the more important to maintain people’s attention.
• The life expectancy of residents in a Nursing Home was increased by up to 7.5 years if they were given the personal responsibility of looking after a potted plant.
• William James’ theory that behaviour causes emotion, e.g. if you smile, you become happy, and that on a daily basis we should focus on 3 things that went well that day to promote positivity.
Mark then went on to explain how to ensure that feedback is constructive by praising effort rather than ability. This enables individuals to strive to be challenged, rather than stick to doing what they know. Mark also presented Losado’s “3:1 ratio at work” theory, which advocates telling an individual 3 qualities you admire in them and 1 quality they could do more of. Additional resources, including the UPENN website which includes tests for you to complete and IJournal and Mappiness Apps for your mobile, were also recommended.
Mindfulness at Work, Rest and Play
The insightful afternoon session was run by Moira Morgan, Development Manager and Mindfulness Coach based in NLIAH and Academi Wales. The evidence base for Mindfulness is growing and becoming popular as a form of treatment for anxiety and depression.
Moira described the “permanent white water” environment which many of us feel we are constantly working in and can cause a “burn out”. This is where Mindfulness can be beneficial.
Mindfulness is defined as a ‘stripped down, mysticism free, meditation practice that involves becoming a witness to our own thoughts, feelings and sensation’ and is said to ‘cultivate self-awareness so we can be more skilful at using our energy – mental, emotional and physical- in ways which increase our inner resources, not deplete them’. Mindfulness is also said to improve mood, promote better pain management, maintain brain plasticity, increase creativity and make you more ‘towards’.
Moira led us through some Mindfulness exercises but highlighted that it is a skill that takes practice and can sometimes be hard at first to master.
The day’s session was brought to a close by Jo Davies who encouraged the delegates to complete the feedback forms and here are some of their thoughts on the day....
“Very enjoyable day, very informative and I feel I have been engaged throughout and will take things I have learnt and introduce them into how I think and behave going forward”
“They are absolutely brilliant and very timely in terms of the need for culture change in the NHS; which is steeped in set behaviours and responsive reactions”
“Thoroughly enjoyed today”
Both brilliant speakers, different approaches but really helpful”
“Gave me time to stop and think. Just need to practice this all more”