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All About You: Find the positives in your workday

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Motivating employees to work safely is part of the safety professional’s job. But who motivates the motivator? In this monthly column, veteran safety pro and professional speaker Richard Hawk offers his entertaining brand of wisdom to inspire safety pros to perform at their best.

Today is my day off!

Lately I’ve been “back in the saddle” as a safety pro, working six days a week at a nuclear power plant. It’s a short-term assignment that continues until next month.

Since being back in the workplace, I’ve noticed that nearly everyone I work with views their days off as a sort of oasis. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but it’s made me realize – and also experience firsthand – that basing our happiness on our days off risks making the rest of the workweek feel like a stint in prison.

During my “Attack Stress at Work” seminar, I include two activities. During the first activity, I go around the room and ask each person to tell me about something they experience at work that causes them stress. We then brainstorm about each stressor and suggest ways to reduce its impact. The suggestions are often quite innovative and insightful.

The second activity is my favorite. Each person in the room relays what they enjoy (besides making money) about their job. Many of their answers revolve around camaraderie. Whether it’s having coffee with work friends during breaks or collaborating with colleagues on a new project, engaging with others generates good feelings at work.

Thinking back on my experiences at work these past six days, my favorite parts were my interactions with others. My work is serious, of course, so I can’t let talking or joking around get in the way or distract me, but I believe the upbeat banter improved my performance as a safety and health pro.

What about you? Aren’t there many things about your work as a safety and health pro that you enjoy? Things you do that make you feel good? They don’t have to include other people, but I think you’ll find they often do.

Sure, you’ll always have things you don’t like about your job. In my current position, I sometimes have to wear protective clothing besides the standard personal protective equipment – especially around heated components. It can be uncomfortable. But that’s not what I dwell on. Instead, I think about the positive aspects of my situation.

Here’s a personal activity that will help you enjoy your work more: write out a list of what you like about your job. Here are five items from the list I wrote earlier today:

  1. Getting together for a pre-shift briefing. There’s a lot of “good morning” joking before it starts.
  2. The appreciation I receive from people after doing a radiation survey of their work area.
  3. Collaborating with co-workers to set up a laydown area for equipment.
  4. Writing in the shift logbook. (Yes I like that!)
  5. Post-project briefings, especially when the project was a success.

After finishing my list, I realized how blessed I am to be in a profession that helps other people work safely.

Too often, we dwell on what we don’t like about our job. In fact, as I’ve mentioned in previous columns, we tend to notice the negative aspects of everything we experience, whether it’s shopping, meeting people or even eating at a restaurant. Of course, you shouldn’t put your head in the sand and ignore the negatives – especially those you have the ability to change. And don’t get me wrong – I love my days off! But what makes for a more inspired and happy life is to take time to identify and acknowledge the things you like about your day-to-day activities, particularly at work.

Why not make a “what I like about work” list of your own?

This article represents the views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

Richard Hawk helps leaders inspire employees to care more about their safety and health so “nobody gets hurt.” He also has a long history of success getting safety leaders to increase their influence and make safety fun. For more than 35 years, Richard’s safety keynotes, training sessions, books and “Safety Stuff” e-zine have made a positive difference in the safety and health field. Learn more about how Richard can improve your employees’ safety performance at makesafetyfun.com.

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