Stress was etched deeply across her face.
She came up to Vanda North after a presentation Vanda had made at a networking meeting on overcoming the strain of stress and building resilience. She didn’t need to tell Vanda that she needed help! So they arranged to meet.
Fast forward to six month later and although there it is still a high level of stress at their office, the staff and the boss laugh frequently and know that whatever gets thrown at them, they can cope. What a difference.
Wellbeing is a much talked about topic in the workplace today. However, with budgets all being very tight, the key question is ‘What is the return on investment (ROI)?’
This is a small office a letting agency.
It had recently move premises and the whole move and been a nightmare, everything that could go wrong – did! The computers and phone system was still not working correctly and in their business this was an absolutely crucial element. They had just had the ‘grand opening’ party where they had added stress of putting on an ‘Isn’t it all wonderful!’ face and rushing like mad to be ready for the date.
Then to cap it off a rat died in the roof space next to two offices and the aroma (stink!) was unbearable, the rodent removers were unable to get at it and so they had to wait for it to stop smelling, so those extra staff had to scrunch in with the others, downstairs. It just seemed that everything was really stressful and tough going.
Here is the list of things which were initially causing the team and their boss to feel stressed:
Rat smell; Slow PC’s; Deposits; Emails; Gemini; Dirty cups in kitchen; Bad/slow drivers & people in small cars that think they are driving tanks!
People; communications; relationships; self:
Complaints due to lack of communication; Lack of information; No appreciation; No training; Not being able to finish urgent jobs due to already midnight!! Phone calls from irate people; No shows; The boss! Rude clients; Landlords; Tenants
Tenants! (Especially if they’re not there for appointments) Tenants who think you can move mountains in ref. to maintenance issues; Not always having the confidence
Too much to do, too little time; Lateness (applicants); Not enough time to do work; No lunch break; Slopping floors; Interruptions; Innovate; Being late; Not feeling like I have enough time when I’m getting ready to go out (for a meeting).
The Mind Chi intervention Process
It was agreed that Vanda would visit the office for an hour on four Thursday mornings before the office opened to the public. At the first meeting Vanda taught the group the Mind Chi Basic 8 steps that take just 8 minutes a day to do.
It was agreed that all the staff may take the 8 minutes during the work day, so as to be sure they would do it. As their ladies room was very spacious and pleasant the summary of the Mind Chi 8 steps were hung up there, so they may have a moment of peace and quiet to do the routine.
At the second meeting there were many questions and clarifications about the Mind Chi 8 minute routine and a few minor tweaks were made so that it suited each person better. For example one person is very athletic and so arranged to do about 30 seconds of strenuous movement as a way to release the strain from their body (Mind Chi step 6 – choose your BEAT) whereas others did some gentle stretching to ease tension.
At the third meeting some specific issues were discussed and some suggestions for other ways of working together were put forward, with one outcome being they would put a lunch break in place as they now realised that their brains work far better after a short break (Mind Chi step 3 – looking for solutions to negative things in the past 24 hours)On the forth meeting they refined the Mind Chi Basic process and again discussed ways they could move forward and be active to make work go well, rather than only bottling up the strain when it didn’t.
A crucial part of this project was that Suzy Dale, a specialist in workplace psychology and with extensive experience in measuring perceptions and performance at work. Suzy worked with Vanda to craft a questionnaire at the start of the four sessions and then again at the end of the month. Please see ‘1 month later’ for the before and after results.
Please also see the write up that covered that part of the story: http://18.104.22.168/~mindchi/index.php/yes-work-life-balance-is-possible-with-mind-chi/
1 month later
The measurement one month later showed an amazing result. All participants reported an improvement in work/life balance; 80% reported an the increase of positive self talk and almost 70% of respondents reported an improvement in resilience, general health and coping strategies . Half of all participants also reported a improvements in energy during and after work, concentration, decision making and self confidence. All for an investment of 4 hours of training and 8 minutes a day of performing the Mind Chi Basic routine.
3 months later
Three months passed and the Mind Chi team and Dale Associates returned to see what had happened in those three months. You can see from the attached graph that even though they still had a high stress office and there were several staff problems, plus the phones were still not working correctly… in ten of the twelve measurements participants had noticed an improvement.
6 months later
Dale & Associates and Mind Chi followed up in another three month and six months from the initial intervention. 75% of participants reported continued improvements in coping strategies; self confidence and decision makingas a direct result of having undertaken Mind Chi. Half of all participants reported continued improvements in health, resilience, Positive inner thoughts and memory and a quarter of all participants had sustained improvements in work/life balance, concentration, sleep and energy during and at the end of the day. Here is a note sent to Vanda after the 6 month visit, so you can experience the attitude of the group.
1) Yes we are still having meetings on Thursday, which is nice for us all to have a get together and talk any issues through
2) There have been a couple of new processes in place to make things run smoother
3) Lunches…..only sometimes enough time to eat something, but the opportunity is always there should we wish to take it
4) I walk in the door in the morning with a very cheery “MORNING” (except this morning as I was the first one in!!!) Nicky and I have now joined a gym!!!! Which is great fun and we are really enjoying it…………… which means that we need to leave work on time. “
From Dale & Associates:
I’ve taken the data which was consistent and have plotted it to show % of participants who reported an improvement. What I think it shows is that:
1. There is a latent improvement in coping strategies, decision-making and self-confidence (ie % of participants reporting an improvement increased from 28 days post MC to 6 months post MC).
2. The improvements participants reported in positive inner thoughts, resilience, health and work-life balance at 28 days were not sustainable (ie % of participants reporting an improvement decreased between 28 days post MC and 6 months post MC).
3. Improvements in energy and concentration were moderate at day 28, and then decreased at 6 months.
Possible implications for Mind Chi:
1. Early indications are that MC can lead to sustainable improvements in coping strategies, decision-making and self-confidence, but we need to be careful about the significance we attach to this study as numbers of participants are so small.
2. Need to reinforce positive inner thoughts, resilience, health, WLB between 28 days and 6 months. (Of course bearing in mind that other factors could have contributed to the decline in % participants reporting an improvement)
3. Need to reconsider whether improvements in energy and concentration are desired outcome measures, and if so, how these can be bolstered in original training, and then reinforced post training.
From Vanda North of Mind Chi:
We are still in the early days of discovering what assistance people need to maintain the Mind Chi routine habit.
It is similar to how most of us KNOW what we SHOULD do for our wellbeing, time management, good relationships, etc. yet even though it feels good and we see the positive results, we can STILL stop doing it – why!?
This is what we discovered with this group. They asked for 3 monthly ‘Mind Chi top-ups’ to keep them focused and experiencing the benefits. SO this needs to be built in to a program. The original Mind Chi model did include either an in-house Mind Chi Mentor conducting on-going monthly sessions.
The initial 100% improvement in Work/life Balance at the 28 day evaluation was because it was such a crucial area at that time. No one was taking lunch breaks and most stayed late many evenings. So by discussing this topic and agreeing a solution, everyone experienced a major improvement. This was not noted at the 6 month evaluation because they had started to slip back into old habits and it no longer ‘felt’ as significant as when it was a new achievement. The ‘relativistic’ nature of the brain had equalised it’s importance.
However, I believe that it is highly significant that Coping strategies; Decision making and Self confidence increased and held an improvement amongst 75% of participants. Here are three most crucial skills for the building of resilience and managing the strain from life’s stresses. Apart from the statistical results here are the observations of the non-tangible office attitude.
When Vanda first met the group, the atmosphere was definitely tense. The boss was in the room which was both good and bad as she was the start of the anxious atmosphere so needed to hear how the rest of the team felt and they had to be brave enough to say so! After the first week, the team told Vanda later, they thought Vanda was crazy and was not at all convinced about the Mind Chi routine at all. However, they did it as something needed to happen. By the end of the first month, they were actually very surprised and delighted by the really great steps forward and how very different the whole office atmosphere had become.
The third month visit, saw them still dealing with a lot of problems and the comment ‘ We still have a lot of stressful things happening, but now we have a way to cope.’ At this meeting it was decided that the boss should work several days from home and that they would all get more work done that way! There was much laughter and a wonderful feeling of cooperation.
At the six month visit, a few of them had slipped with doing their Mind Chi 8 minute routine and realised that they had created more strain for themselves because of it. So they committed to returning to the routine. However, even in this situation the ‘feel’ of the group, the quality of the interactions, ability to positively make suggestions to make better processes were all like night and day from the previous 6 months.
ROI on Wellbeing initiatives
This is a relatively new field and an accurate definition of what is and isn’t included in the measurement of wellbeing in the workplace is still being decided. Aspects that are currently being measures and where a difference and savings may be seen include: Absenteeism; Presenteeism; Turnover; Sickness and Injury. The results achieved from the Mind Chi intervention were extremely cost effective and with a little extra support and on-going sessions the overall effect would have continued to grow and embed. To this end, Mind Chi offers Mind Chi in Action – a follow-up program that still only takes 8 minutes a day – and is tailored to addressing specific problems or goals such as time management, effective communications, seld-concept and work/life balance.
For the FULL Mind Chi Case Study for Workplace Wellbeing, Stress Reduction and Work-life Balance, please email [email protected]