Wellbeing in Business | Struggling to fit in & the power of corporate giving by Paige Henderson
By Paige Henderson: Editor | Charity volunteer | First generation Uni graduate
Paige Henderson is the Senior Editor for Role Models Yorkshire, a social enterprise which offers an early careers consultancy for schools in low socio-economic areas of Yorkshire.
Paige’s passion for editorial began with helping young people across the North of England to express themselves through writing, leading free creative writing lessons across the North East. Her interest in helping organisations manage effective and inspiring communications is fuelled by a desire to encourage young people to think creatively about the world they want to grow up in.
“Never burn bridges. Today’s junior prick is tomorrow’s senior partner.” Although the film Working Girl has now delighted an audience spanning three decades, it appears the office is still rife with trust issues.
For those of us trying to get onto the career ladder, the effort to establish mutual understanding and dependability is so important. Sharing our ideas helps us to identify potential partnerships, raise our personal profile and stay current in an ever-changing business climate.
And opening ourselves up can have an extraordinary impact on our wellbeing, too. Helping others out at work is proven to make us feel secure in our skills, more in control of our day at work and, most importantly, give us higher levels of life satisfaction overall!
But more and more I find myself being guarded around colleagues and bosses.
Why? We’ve all felt like Tess in Working Girl. We’ve all been upstaged in front of the boss, had a big idea stolen by a colleague at a meeting or had to put up with naysayers. Feeling frustrated, we respond with more of the same. We get petty, competitive and aggressive with those who seek to make us feel like we don’t belong.
But when did it become normal to be a Boss B*tch? Why is frostiness synonymous with corporate success? I blame The Devil Wears Prada.
For those of you who need a refresher on the 2006 blockbuster, fresh-faced graduate Anne Hathaway lands a job as super-diva Meryl Streep’s assistant. It’s over the top, home to iconic one-liners and is frequently praised as a grilling indictment of the impact of backstabbing bosses and their power-hungry motivations.
To a working-class girl where office blocks were surely the pinnacle of a sophisticated career, The Devil Wears Prada supplied me with a dubious set of role models. To fit in, it seemed, I’d have to don the verbal equivalent of Working Girl’s dodgy 80’s power suits (no shade, Tess): clean cut, no, razor sharp lines and sizing up to anyone and everyone in the office.
I was used to the “treat others as you wish to be treated” malarkey. Suddenly, I believed that to get ahead I must treat others as unwelcome competition.
It’s on us to create a new generation of Role Models.
Need persuading? Here’s my top 5 lessons about the benefits of being kind in business:
Listened to someone give a really interesting talk? Tell them!
Everyone loves receiving a compliment, but we often neglect to dish out praise on much beyond a colleague’s new cut and colour. Give credit where credit’s due and send a small thank you note or quick email when someone’s knowledge and insight has pointed you in the right direction. Bonus tip: sending along a news article or an item you heard on the radio that links to what they spoke about proves that you’re open to keeping up communication. This will give you a useful name and number should you need help on a future project. You genuinely never know when you need to get in touch with a Feng Shui Consultant (true story).
That being said, not everyone is doing amazing in their career.
We’ve all done jobs we haven’t loved or have struggled to find the perfect opportunity. Equally, we’ve all been given unsolicited advice. Although the offer of a friend of a friend’s phone number and a rumour about work going at X and Y is well meaning, it can easily feel condescending. Knowing when to shut up and listen is sometimes the best skill in our business arsenal.
Rather not keep listening?
We’ve all fallen out with colleagues, whether over a personal or professional matter. Like gratitude, forgiveness can benefit the giver as much as the receiver. By letting something go, you admit that your career is strong enough to withstand someone’s mistake, however frustrating or upsetting.
There is a big return on investment when it comes to small tokens
Being nice doesn’t have to mean sending out freebies. Businesses can set themselves apart from the competition by investing their time rather than their money, donating their skills to help community projects and small charities.
Never underestimate the power of a free mug
On my first day as an editor at a small publisher, my boss had bought me a personalised ‘P’ mug. I instantly felt welcome and ready to work as part of a new team. Follow up: bourbon biscuits always appreciated.
Are you interested in developing your corporate giving initiative?
If you’re a business person who is interested in donating their skills and expertise to help empower the next generation of career men and women in Yorkshire, get in touch with Paige at firstname.lastname@example.org
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I’m a primary school teacher and I’m a mum to a beautiful, bright and bubbly six-year-old. I witness the ups and downs of wellbeing in children every day. Every parent faces the same dilemma – how to ensure the wellbeing of our children – particularly from a mental health perspective in a world that is more pressured than ever in more ways than one.
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