What We Learned About Gratitude: "Nya:wëh sgë:nö’" … “Thanks for being”

We gathered on February 22 for A Human Workplace Olympia to talk about “Gratitude All Year Long.” Gratitude is universal – words of thanks are present in every language and many cultures have rituals, symbols, practices, and celebrations to express their thanks, appreciation and gratitude.  In some cultures, an expression of gratitude is an acknowledgement of a person’s very existence and a wish for their well-being.  For example, in the Seneca Nation, “nya weh sgeno” translates to thank you for being or I am thankful you are well. 

On February 22nd, we explored expressions of gratitude and how gratitude allows us to be present in the world and acknowledge others’ presence in the world. Ultimately, to be grateful is to be mindful.  Being grateful requires paying attention and noticing what is happening in the present moment. 

We began this session by acknowledging that the meeting was taking place on the traditional land of the Nisqually people.  Then, we introduced ourselves to each other and shared one thing we are grateful for – family, health, and nature were common themes.  One person expressed her gratitude for the existence of coffee and many around the room could relate to this!  We also talked about how gratitude is expressed cross-culturally noting that there are many beautiful expressions of gratitude around the world. 

What is gratitude?

We talked about some of the research on gratitude.  Robert Emmons, PhD, the most pre-eminent researcher on gratitude says that there are two components of gratitude.  It is an affirmation of goodness in the world and in our lives.  The second part of gratitude is recognizing that this goodness comes from outside ourselves.  The research on gratitude is very clear that gratitude is good for us!  It can also be cultivated through practice.  This short video from the Templeton Foundation lays out the many benefits of gratitude, including reduced anxiety and depression, better sleep, and increasing both optimism and resilience. 

 The Greater Good Science Center and UC Berkley provides an overview of the what and why gratitude

Gratitude practices

There are numerous ways to practice gratitude.  We tried out two of them.  First, everyone wrote down ten things they are grateful for.  This is known as gratitude journaling.  Writing down three things you are grateful for 21 days has been demonstrated to increase optimism!  It is also a great way to reflect on your day and if you share what you’re grateful for with others, it’s a way of connecting with them.

We also wrote a gratitude letter.  This practice involves thinking about someone at work who has done something that we appreciated but had never thanked them for and writing them a thank you letter.    The act of writing the letter is beneficial in and of itself, but the real benefit comes from delivering the letter (in person!) to its intended recipient.  Check out Dr. Emmon’s article on 10 ways to become more grateful. 

To those who were with us on the 22nd, don’t forget follow up on delivering your gratitude letter!

Gratitude at work

There are also specific ways that gratitude can be practiced and cultivated at work.  Shawn Achor, PhD, CEO at GoodThink and happiness researcher, suggests starting meetings by saying:

•       one thing you are personally grateful for,

•       one thing you are grateful for about the team, and

•       something you are grateful for about one member of the team.

In a different approach, a company called Lucidchart created a gratitude org chart that contains a note of thanks for every single employee from their manager.  Karl Sun, the founder and CEO at Lucid describes this and other ways to cultivate gratitude at work in this article.

Many of the practices described in Sun’s article are free or low-cost, easy, and they make a difference!  When employees are thanked by their supervisor, they experience a stronger sense of self-worth and self-efficacy.  Gratitude at work also increases trust and the likelihood that people will help each other out.

You too can practice gratitude!  The beauty of gratitude is that it benefits everyone involved.  Those who express gratitude feel good and so do those who receive it.  Who are you going to thank?  Can you take two minutes right now to express gratitude to a coworker?

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Register Now for March’s A Human Workplace Olympia

March 22 from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. join us at the Helen Sommers Building 106-11th Ave SW, Suite G015, Olympia for an experiential workshop on, “Advocacy and Allyship: Bringing Out The Love In Moments Of Fear”

A key part of work life is our daily interactions with coworkers. We have typical conversations about the work itself, then we also have experiences with each other in the break room or during a lunch walk. These shared moments can bring joy and collegiality to our work. But what happens when a conversation or an experience ends up hurting or offending someone? How do we respond to incidents when we are insulted? What should we do when we observe someone else being hurt by remarks or actions?

For the March gathering of A Human Workplace Olympia, we explore what it feels like to experience words and actions that cause some level of fear, even if we are in a generally positive, even loving environment.

Ayanna Colman, Senior Peformance Adviser with Results Washington, will lead this gathering. Ayanna will present information regarding workplace micro-aggressions often experienced by marginalized communities (women, people of color, people of different faiths, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals, etc). She will share the challenges and barriers that marginalized groups may face in the workplace.

Then she will lead us through various scenarios to discuss our reactions as well as to explore options for responding as an ally when someone is uncomfortable, hurt, or something doesn't feel quite right. We will wrap up our session thinking about resources and tools we can use to overcome those moments of fear to bring about a more loving work environment. Walk away better prepared to create a more human workplace for all!

For more information and registration check out the event here.

Welcome Jeannie Macnab!

Jeannie Macnab joins A Human Workplace and our efforts to Make Government More Human at Results Washington. Jeannie will serve for six months as a Workplace Transformation Intern to fulfill the requirements for a Masters in Transformational Leadership at Seattle University. She will focus on conducting more primary research interviews, leading the launch of A Human Workplace Seattle, gathering related resources to share on the website, and writing for the blog. Jeannie brings 25 years of experience and has worked extensively in local government in the health, human services, education and criminal justice systems. 

In her current role as the Trust, Safety & Inclusion Manager for the King County Office of Performance, Strategy and Budget, Jeannie is responsible for workplace culture, employee engagement, cross-team collaboration, and business planning. 

A native of New Zealand, Jeannie is a naturalized US citizen and has also lived in France and India.  She currently resides in Seattle. She is married and the parent of two energetic girls.  In her (limited!) free time, Jeanine has a long-standing yoga practice, coaches a girls’ soccer team, is an avid reader, loves to travel and is a “foodie” with a passion for cooking healthy and delicious food.

Welcome Jeannie!

Gratitude Topic for February Gathering

In American culture, it is common to talk about giving thanks and being grateful in the month of November.  It turns out, there are huge personal and professional benefits to practicing gratitude all year round!

In this session of A Human Workplace Olympia, join this supportive community to learn about the physical and psychological benefits of gratitude.  We’ll talk about how gratitude promotes happiness and wellbeing in people and workplaces.  You’ll assess your disposition toward gratitude and we’ll try out several gratitude practices.

Evidence based practices are drawn from the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California Berkeley, GoodThink, and The Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

Jeannie Macnab, Workplace Transformation Intern with Results Washington and A Human Workplace, will cohost this gathering.

This workshop will be held Friday, February 22 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Helen Sommers Building, Room G015. RSVP today to reserve your seat for this gathering. When you register, your email will be added to the mailing list for A Human Workplace. For more information check out www.MakeWorkMoreHuman.com

We welcome all participants; please contact us to request accommodations. Email Renee.Smith@gov.wa.gov with your speicific needs. Thank you and we look forward to you joining us. 

Thanks to Denise Matayoshi Miño

Sincere thanks go to Denise Matayoshi Miño for her dedication, tireless efforts, and insightful contributions to the development of A Human Workplace this fall. As a Workplace Transformation Intern, Denise helped with research, gathering design, strategic thinking, program planning, and meeting logistics. She wrote a powerful blog post and stretched to write some other pieces too. Denise offered crucial insights for diversity and inclusion strategies. By speaking from the heart with me about her experiences as a woman of color she helped me become a better leader. I’m excited for her next career steps and the impact she will make in her new role. Thank you Denise for your example and passion for making work more human!

Denise Headshot.jpg

Thank you Denise!

Your love and hard work behind the scenes touched so many people. <3

Next Gathering of A Human Workplace Olympia Set for January 25

A new year has begun and 2019 is certain to hold both times of challenge and stress as well as times of ease and peace for each of us. Those ups and downs are a normal part of the human experience, but we can adopt practices to cultivate resilience when faced with hard times.

In this session of A Human Workplace Olympia, join this supportive community to learn about the impacts of stress and the benefits of responding to stress using resilience practices. Become familiar with multiple practices, test one out, share insights with others, and make a personal resilience plan for 2019.

Evidence based practices are drawn from the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California Berkeley.

Details: This workshop will be held Friday, January 25 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Helen Sommers Building, Room G015.

To attend register here. Space is limited!

Next Meeting of A Human Workplace Olympia is December 14

The next gathering of A Human Workplace Olympia will be December 14 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Helen Sommers Building in Olympia.

The topic will be: Bring Your Whole Self to Work.

In a truly Human Workplace, every one of us is valued for our diverse identities, experiences, and interests. Those things are not separate from our work because we are not seaparte from our work. These infuse our work with unique insights and contributions. 

But it can be really hard for us to see these links for our own work and for others, especially when we are told by society to separate the personal from the professional. Consider...

What do you bring into your work from growing up in the South or from your Hispanic heritage or from having a disabled brother?

What insights come from your skills at canning or spelunking or training horses?

What books are you reading, what films are you watching, what music are you listening to that inspire how you work?

In this experiential workshop, join us to explore identities, experiences, and interests as sources of brilliance and contributions. Through individual, paired, and small group activities, reflect on and identify how these inform your way of working, and then value the contributions that come from this diversity for yourself and for others.

See more clearly the value we get by bringing our full selves to work and of welcoming others to do the same.

RSVP by registering here to reserve your place in the workshop. 

Join us at a Workshop in Tacoma, Seattle, or San Diego!

If you are in Tacoma, Seattle or San Diego in the next two weeks, join us for one of these events each focused on bringing more humanity to the workplace.

October 29 - November 1 - AME (Association for Manufacturing Excellence,) San Diego 2018 International Conference, with numerous inspiring and educational sessions. Our session Thursday November 1 is: "Make Work More Human: The People Side of Quality Improvement." The secret to any Lean management system is less fear and more… love! Hope to see you there.

November 6 and 7, 2018 - Hope to see you at the 7th annual Washington State Government Lean Transformation Conference sponsored by the Governor and put on by Results Washington. The theme is "Improving the Washingtonian’s experience…
one human at a time". The two day conference features dozens of interactive sessions attended by more than 2,000 public servants learning principles and methods to improve value delivered for all Washingtonians. So many terrific sessions to attend! We will be offering two, "A Human Workplace: What’s at the Center of Your Work?” and “A Human Workplace: Does Love Belong at Work?" Hope to see you there!

November 7, 2018 -The first meeting in Seattle of the HumansFirst.Club will take place on the Microsoft Campus in Redmond from 4-7 p.m. This interactive experience will include a panel of leaders sharing about putting humans first at work. Then engage in dialogue with participants about how to ignite and accelerate a shift in organizational cultures to value humans first. 

A Human Workplace: Olympia Meets October 26

“Through work, human beings earn for themselves and their families, make a difficult world habitable, and with imagination, create some meaning from what they do and how they do it.” – David Whyte, poet and author

Our public service can be difficult and heartbreaking, and it can be thrilling and heartwarming.

For millennia, poets have helped human beings take solace in struggles and joy in triumphs. We too can benefit from poetry. Whether we find ourselves confounded by or victorious in our work in this moment, a poet’s imagination can help us find meaning in our public service just as it is.

On Friday, October 26 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, A Human Workplace: Olympia will gather at the Helen Sommers Building, 106 11th Avenue SW, Olympia, WA 98504, Room #G015 B&C.

We will reflect on and explore work through the medium of poetry. As always, our approach will be thought-provoking, accepting, interactive, challenging, and human-friendly. Take away insights and encouragement to inspire your work and sustain your public service.

No prior experience with poetry is necessary to participate and find value from this experience! :)

Please RSVP to reserve your space.

For questions about event access or to request accommodations please contact Renee Smith at 360-764-3166 or renee.smith@gov.wa.gov. Two weeks advance notice when possible will allow us to provide seamless access.

A Human Workplace Moves to Results Washington

On Monday, October 1, A Human Workplace moved from the Department of Enterprise Services to join Results Washington. Renée Smith, founder of A Human Workplace, is thrilled for the opportunity to devote herself full time to this effort to make public service more human across Washington State government. In her new role as Director of Workplace Transformation at Results Washington she will continue her human-centered research and thought-leadership, expand the resources and development opportunities for state leaders, teams, and lean advisers, and extend the Human Workplace community to touch more Washingtonians and workplaces everywhere. For more information please email Renée at renee.smith@gov.wa.gov.

A Human Workplace: Olympia announces September 28th Gathering

Join us in Olympia to explore, discuss, learn and share what it means to make work more human with increased love and decreased fear. We meet monthly in person in Olympia. 

Next gathering is September 28, 2018, from 10 a.m. - 12 noon at 1500 Jefferson St SE in Olympia, WA, for an interactive workshop Exploring Empathy and Inclusion

A Human Workplace should be an inclusive workplace that deeply values people and works to make sure that all people know their full participation is welcomed and needed.

At this gathering we will continue to explore practical applications of empathy by taking a deep dive into the topic of Inclusion. What is inclusion? Why is it essential? How do we create an inclusive workplace?

Join together with other public servants (and perhaps a few guests from the private sector!) where we will:

  • Meet and connect meaningfully with colleagues
  • Learn about inclusion
  • Practice new skills to help create inclusion
  • Decide how to apply these insights on the job
  • Gain encouragement to make work more human

To attend, please sign up here to reserve your seat. Hope to see you there!

A Human Workplace: Olympia to meet August 10th on Human-Centered Design

Join us on August 10, 2018, from 10 a.m. - 12 noon at 1500 Jefferson St SE in Olympia, WA, for a hands-on, interactive workshop on improving experiences through design thinking.

Register today for  Human-Centered Design: Improving Experiences.

Building on the May gathering when we learned about and practiced empathy, now take that empathetic awareness and apply it to a design challenge. You’ll work through each phase of the design thinking process from empathy to testing a prototype. This process is fun, fast, and engaging. And these skills and practices can be readily applied to designing both customer and team member experiences.

We welcome back Jessica Dang from Results Washington to facilitate and guide us through this human-centered design workshop.

Feel free to share this invitation with others, and do register to RSVP so we can prepare materials.

A Human Workplace Meets Next July 13th in Olympia

A Human Workplace: Experiencing the Science of Awe

It's summer and a perfect time to gather outside on the East Plaza Lawn of Washington State's Capitol Campus in Olympia (rain or shine!) for July's Human Workplace to explore the science of awe and its benefits

Join us Friday, July 13 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon on the Washington State Capitol Campus in Olympia on the East Plaza Lawn (over the Plaza Garage.)

We humans experience awe when we encounter nature, art, vistas, large structures, and more. And fortunately, the state capitol has all these! Studies show that experiencing awe can promote altruism, well-being, calm, collaboration, and kindness. When we have a sense of something greater than ourselves, we are more cooperative, positive and helpful towards others.

At this meeting we will experience inspiration in our surroundings and ponder how that can foster thoughtful, generous, and compassionate actions toward others as well as support personal well-being. Experience awe in a walk-about on the beautiful campus with a colleague, reflect on this experience with other participants, and consider how these insights can be practically applied to situations of conflict, pressure, exclusion, and disconnection at work to create a more effective and human workplace. 

Space is unlimited this time! So feel free to bring your colleagues but please pre-register here so we create enough materials.

 For more information on A Human Workplace, check out: https://www.makeworkmorehuman.com

It'll be an AWEsome experience. ;)

June 22 Human Workplace Meet Up in Olympia

Registration for the next Human Workplace Meet Up in Olympia is now open for June 22nd from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. to explore Empathy and Diversity.

A human workplace is a diverse workplace where ALL team members are welcomed to bring their unique ideas and perspectives. When people know their contributions count, they are more engaged, more loyal and do amazing things for customers and for their teams.

Diversity makes a difference in outcomes too. Research has shown that diversity impacts innovation, market share, client awareness, and whose ideas are endorsed. But we also know that implicit biases, those attitudes and stereotypes outside our conscious knowledge, can cause us to prefer or discriminate against others in ways that contradict our conscious values.

These are complicated issues but they are crucial issues, so A Human Workplace is coming together in June with safety and respect to begin to learn and understand more about diversity.

Join us on June 22 for A Human Workplace Meet Up to explore how we can use empathy as a way to appreciate the diversity of others.

Through stories, reflections, and guided activities we will practice curiosity, listening from the heart, respect, sitting with discomfort, and self-management. Gain insights into the unique experiences of others as well as things we share in common.

Feel free to forward this invitation to others, but please register to RSVP because space is limited.

For more on A Human Workplace, check out: https://www.makeworkmorehuman.com

May 11th Human Workplace Meet Up: Explore Empathy

When it comes to the workplace we know a lot of people, but do we really understand them?

That’s where empathy comes in. In May we begin a series of meetups focused on empathy.

Psychology Today offers this definition of empathy, “Empathy is the experience of understanding another person's thoughts, feelings, and condition from their point of view, rather than from your own. You try to imagine yourself in their place in order to understand what they are feeling or experiencing. Empathy facilitates pro-social (helping) behaviors that come from within, rather than being forced, so that we behave in a more compassionate manner.”

On May 11, 2018, from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. at the Department of Enterprise Services, 1500 Jefferson St SE, Olympia, WA 98501, come explore ways to increase your empathetic muscles and discover the ways empathy can lead to more productive interactions with our co-workers as well as those we serve.

We are very happy to have Jessica Dang from Results Washington to guide us through this deep exploration of empathy for this Meet Up.

Feel free to share this invitation with others, and do register to RSVP so we can prepare to welcome you!


Love is Topic for Next Human Workplace Meet Up

“Does love really belong at work?” he wondered.

“Well, do people belong at work?” she asked in reply.

“Yes, of course,” he said.

“So then, yes, of course, love belongs at work,” she assured him. “Not romantic love, but all the other kinds of love that are also part of being human. Those belong at work. If people are going to be at work, then love must be at work. Otherwise, work won’t work. People won’t work, at least not well.”

At the next Human Workplace Meet Up in Olympia, WA, we will explore the concept of love at work. Join other public servants and friends of government to explore the many types of love that are part of being human and essential for success at work.

Through stories, reflection, and dialogue, together we will better understand loving experiences that support our best contributions, surprising innovations, and effective collaborations. We aren't talking about romantic love, but love expressed in empathy, care, respect, trust, altruism, inclusion, kindness, and friendship.

Feel free to share this invitation with others, and do register to RSVP so we can prepare to welcome you!

Group of happy coworkers

What kind of love belongs at work?

Topic Announced for Next Human Workplace Meet Up on March 9: What's at the Center of Your Work?

What's at the center of your work?

When a Human Workplace Meet Up gathers next on March 9th from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. at the Department of Enterprise Services in Olympia, participants will break new ground as they engage in an exploration of the question, "What's at the center of your work?" 

Every day in every organization and team, for every person, something is at the center of work. Something is deemed to be most important and that something drives every other decision and action about everything else. Make Work More Human advocates for putting people at the center, but what else could we put there? What else do we put there? A whole lot of other things apparently. And all of those other things have serious implications for the workplace, for the people doing the work, and for the customers served. 

At this Meet Up you will have the opportunity to dive into a new model for understanding what we choose to be centered on at work and the impacts of those choices. Through reflection and discussion, you will contribute to this new model and expand thinking about the deep importance of being human-centered and the consequences when we are not.

I hope you'll be there for this ground-breaking exploration and dialogue.

RSVP at EventBrite to reserve your seat today!

January Meet Up Discussed Human-Centered Leaders and Teams

On January 26, 2017, the second gathering of A Human Workplace Meet Up met. Renamed "A Human Workplace Meet Up," more than 30 people gathered from across state and local government to continue dialogue and advocacy for making work more human. 

This month the group explored what it actually mean to be human-centered. Specifically, what does it look like to be a human-centered team? And what does a human-centered leader actually do?

Their insights will be shared in future blog posts coming soon at Make Work More Human. 

A Human Workplace Meet Up gathers next on March 9th from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. at the Department of Enterprise Services in Olympia. RSVP at EventBrite if you want to attend. 

A Meet Up Table Group discusses human-centered work

A Meet Up Table Group discusses human-centered work