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Quality Tools for Quality of Life


Written by: Jennifer Stepniowski, Communications Director, Pro QC International Quality of life has experienced a notable increase in industry discussion. As an Influential Voice for the American Society for Quality (ASQ), I have personally noted a significant increase in the amount of content focusing on this topic. Outside of the industry, even Harvard Business Review has reinforced the connection of quality of life and the workplace. The results are overwhelming. According to sources such as The Energy Project, Harvard Business Review, GROW and Shawn Achor, recent research suggests: 70% of workers are disengaged. Workers today report being exhausted, emotionally depleted, unfocused and lacking purpose. 75% of our job success is predicted not by intelligence, but by our optimism, social support network and the ability to manage energy and stress in a positive way. Increasing your optimism can improve your productive energy by 31%. Although our genes influence about 50% of the variation in our personal happiness, our circumstances (like income and environment) affect only about 10%. As much as 40% is accounted for by our daily activities and the conscious choices we make. Increased activity reduces stress, increases self-efficacy and is proven to help balance work and family. While much of the research indicated here is conducted in the United States, a global comparison can be made here: Most sources agree that the benefits of work-life balance and general well being for employers include: Increased productivity Fewer sick days Lower turnover Employees are more adaptable to change More positive work environment Reflects brand outside of work in a positive way If such positive results can be achieved here, why not spread the word? I recently enjoyed sharing this information with the local ASQ community in the Tampa Bay, Florida area. I discussed how the quality tools we are so familiar with in the industry could also be used by employers and employees to improve their quality of life and general well being. Think about it. As quality professionals, an audit (evaluation) is usually the starting point for change. To assess quality of life, consider the following resources: 1) Conduct a personal S.W.O.T. analysis. Here's a useful worksheet: 2) Take a survey. General Review of Well Being (GROW) Assessment - What is your quality of life at work? Harvard Business Review - How does your quality of life compare to others? The Energy Project Audit - Are you performing sustainably at the highest level? Once a comprehensive evaluation is conducted, it is easier to identify areas of improvement and develop / implement corrective actions. Suggestions for using quality tools for quality of life are included below: Organize the issues noted in the assessment(s) and use Pareto to improve the 20%. Set goals, making sure they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely (SMART). Templates are easy to find online. Brainstorm ideas for action items regarding how the goals will be achieved. Create a GANNT chart for organizing the process and setting timelines for meeting goals. Use an app or set calendar reminders to help meet goals Flowchart your day or a specific activity to identify areas of improvement. At the end of each day, organize the to-do list for the following day and make note of three things you are thankful for. A January 2014 release from Harvard Business Review indicates "stress levels and physical complaints declined roughly 15% after employees were directed to spend ten minutes writing about three things that had gone well each day." Develop a personal mission statement. Keep it somewhere that will be seen frequently. Use ISO 26000 as a guideline for personal social responsibility. I recently shared my personal experience here. The article can be found in the December 2013 issue of Quality Progress. Article: Use Lifehacker's Daily Personal Inventory Form to identify root causes and make visual connections. It takes about a minute each day to complete the form, and the data is impressive. Action for Happiness believes that everyone's path to happiness is different. But, review of the latest research has found 10 Keys to Happier Living that consistently tend to make people's lives happier and more fulfilling. On their website, they identify these ten areas and offer actions for each. Several people that had attended the ASQ presentation approached me and advised that these issues were consistently ranked as the highest level of concerns for employees. Many companies are seeking out ways to support efforts for win-win results. Additional resources include: The Happy Manifesto: Make your organization a great place to work (Free download) - The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuels Success and Performance at Work - Shawn Achor: The Happy Secret to Better Work (Video)

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