How Happy Are You at Work? A New Test Aims to Improve Employees' Morale at Work

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), July 11, 2006 | Go to article overview

How Happy Are You at Work? A New Test Aims to Improve Employees' Morale at Work


Byline: Laura Davis reports

DO YOU get through the working day by slumping behind the stacks of paper building up on your desk and praying that nobody will approach you to borrow the Tippex or offer you a cup of tea?

Or are you the sort of person who sees the positive in everything, even finding a silver lining hidden among disappointing profit margins or tucked inside the broken office kettle ?

David Sommerville, a chartered psychologist, believes that the everyone is capable of this second, more cheery outlook upon working life.

He has devised a test that diagnoses employees' problems and then helps them to look on the bright side and achieve a sense of wellbeing.

"We felt there was a need in the market to enable people to look after themselves and others they work with," he explains. "It's not just an issue of being fit and healthy and of getting enough exercise.

"There's much more to it than that when you're dealing with morale in the workplace.

"We often don't look after ourselves as well as we should and I'm not sure we look to each other as much as we might." Participants are asked to consider a list of around 50 statements and to rate how strongly they agree with them.

They include phrases about the work place such as "I receive enough support from my organisation when I am unwell" and "This organisation helps empower me as a person"' about their career opportunities - "I set attainable goals for myself" and "Fresh challenges are always available to me at work"' and about their personal wellbeing such as "Sufficient sleep is a luxury to me" and "Other people probably think I do not look after myself very well".

This is then analysed and a work profile is drawn up ready for a one-to-one session with a trained adviser.

David, who works at the University of Chester and for Wirral NHS Trust, has also drawn up profiles for whole corporate teams or departments.

"As well as giving them a profile we encourage them to work on issues with the coach and at the end of an hour and half they have usually identified one or two priorities.

"Then there is a follow-up a month later to see how they are getting on," explains David, who is speaking at Liverpool Comedy Trust's second annual Laughter Conference on Monday.

"We don't focus on the problems but on the positives, so we don't talk about what is wrong with where they are but ask them where they want to be and how they think they can achieve that.

"If you focus on the negativity when you are working as an individual then you get a bit defensive and get into a blame culture."

David created the questionnaire just over a year ago.

It has been successfully piloted at Wirral NHS Trust.

People in a whole range of jobs from administration staff to surgeons taking the questionnaire and finding ways of being happier at work.

The research identified five different types of workers.

People are not restricted to one particular category but could find themselves falling into different ones depending on their mood and circumstances at work.

They range from the Morphs to the elusive Wellbeing Manager, the personality type we should all aim for. "Only about 20% of people are Wellbeing Managers. Then there are people called Adventurers who cope, they look after themselves but are quite cynical about the organisation they work for.

"They make up 30% of people," says David.

A further third is made up of Morphs, the lowest in the chain of worker types as they mould themselves into whatever shape their company wants without considering their own happiness.

"Cubicle Workers, if they could, would lock themselves away in a little cubicle and ignore everybody else. They make up 10% of people," lists David.

"Utilities make up the last 10%. They just say 'I'm here to be used, please use me'. …

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