#Energized at work

We recently asked participants in the MUS Wellness Incentive Program to share on the Limeade Feed what energizes them at work, using the hashtag #energized. We wanted to know what gives our MUS employees a sense of purpose and commitment at work. Thanks to all who posted their thoughtful responses!

We identified 5 big themes in the responses, plus a few honorable mentions, and wanted to share with you all some great examples of what makes people excited to work here at MUS. Motivation and energy for work often come in waves. Days that you finish a project or help solve a problem, it’s easy to feel happy about work. But other days, perhaps you don’t see any progress, maybe you have poor interactions with colleagues or students. If that’s you right now, we share these quotes with the hope that some will resonate and remind you of why you do what you do!

  1. Working with students. For those of you who work directly with students, it’s clear that seeing students succeed is highly motivating.

“I am #energized when I see the students accomplish things they didn’t think possible.”

“#Energized by building relationships with students and seeing them make progress in their goals.”

2.  Great colleagues. As one person put it, “having excellent colleagues makes all the difference in how I feel about coming to work.”

“I enjoy the people that I work with. We all have the same goal…helping the students. And are willing to lend a hand to other departments if needed. We keep a sense of humor during those crazy times and it gets us through. We care for each other not only as co-workers but as people.”

“My coworkers and management are what keep me #energized. Everyone is upbeat and positive. We all work together to solve problems and pitch in when someone needs help.”

3. Team work. Related to (#2 Great colleagues), working together for a common purpose is always nice.

“#Energized when the lab all works together to complete a project or solve a problem!”

“Coordinating and collaborating with multiple teams, to meet common goals.”

4. Learning new things  – Working in higher education presents constant learning opportunities, which many of you find to be the best part about your job.

“I’m lucky because I get to see information about the amazing science our researchers are doing. Even though my job is all paperwork and compliance related, it still thrills me to see the cool, fascinating, interesting and beneficial work that our researchers do.”

“I get energized by new ideas and stimulating intellectual conversations with colleagues.”

5. Accomplishing tasks. Nothing feels better at work than being productive and seeing check marks in those To-Do list boxes!

“I am #energized by checking things off my to do list, especially when it’s a large project that I have been working on for a long time.”

“There are new challenges every day, but I feel really #energized when I am able to make progress on a project that I can actually see and feel!”

Honorable mentions:

We asked this question in Februrary/March, the time of year that winter can drag on in Montana. Not surprisingly, many of you mentioned feeling energized by the end of winter and arrival of spring. Although much of the state woke up to a blanket of snow on Monday, the sun is finally out today, at least in Bozeman. Hopefully this translates into feeling extra energized!

Some of you also said that you get a boost of energy from decluttering. If you’re feeling stuck, take your next break at work to clear some space from your desk or clean up a corner of your office.

Finally, several responses included something about how receiving positive feedback is motivating. We all like to be recognized for the work that we do. Help your coworkers feel energized at work and create a healthier, happier work environment by providing kind, thoughtful feedback and a pat on the back for your colleagues who deserve it!

Thanks for keeping us #energized too! —Cristin

Creating a Positive Work Environment

The Wellness team’s office is on the 3rd floor of Reid Hall on the MSU Bozeman campus. Our office gets blistering hot in the summer and frigid in the winter, but is otherwise a great space. We have big windows that let in plenty of natural light, and these days, we have a perfect view of the owls that hang out during the day under the eves of neighboring Traphagen Hall.

We are also surrounded by really wonderful office neighbors, most of whom do nutrition and health-related work. I’ve known many of our 3rd-floor office-mates for years and have enjoyed getting to know them, and hearing about the work that they do. And yet, I will admit that all too often, I get into work-mode, close the door to keep out the sound of classes during the school year or construction during the summer, and only wave a brief hello when passing in the hallway.

So it was a pleasant opportunity this week when a few new employees on the 3rd floor of Reid arranged a “Meet and Treat” event. They provided fruit and coffee cake, and we spent some time getting to know one another or catching up. Despite it seeming a million degrees in the conference room, and having to use our plates as fans in an attempt to cool off, everyone stuck around for longer than I expected. I heard several people ask why we don’t do something like this more often, and at the end of the event, plans were tentatively made for another similar get-together (maybe outside in the shade next time!)

Coincidentally, I had spent time just that morning reading through responses to our latest One-Question Survey we recently asked through our Incentive Program, “What is one specific thing you could do to foster a more positive work culture or environment?” and one of the top responses was a variation of this: Interact more with my colleagues. Answers like these:

  • Consistently say good morning to co-workers every day!
  • Get to know new additions to the department
  • Encourage conversation
  • Make a visit to a different co-worker daily and say hi.
  • Ask the “How are you?” question in a way that gets beyond the reflexive “Fine” answer.
  • Ask two follow-up questions about how my colleagues are doing before sharing my own information.
  • Say hi to everyone I meet in the halls instead of keeping my head down.

No one is advocating here that we spend our time at work only socializing. Of course there’s work that needs to be done. We don’t even need to do formal get-togethers like the one that Reid Hall hosted this week, although many of you did say that more social functions, shared lunches, or team meetings would be helpful. But so many of you commented on what a difference it would make in creating a more positive work culture if we took just a moment to talk to coworkers, ask how they’re doing, greet others in our office, or simply smile.

Other top responses were similar, in that nearly all of the suggestions are (relatively) easy to do, require very little time, money, or effort, and yet can make an incredible difference in overall work culture. Here’s what you said:

  • Communicate. This includes actually listening to what others are saying. Listen to understand, instead of listening just to respond. Open communication. Don’t make assumptions.
  • Stop gossiping.
  • Complain less. Look for solutions instead of complaining. Help shut down complaining when it starts.
  • Acknowledge others’ jobs well done. Recognize and draw attention to specific achievements. Let coworkers know their work really DOES matter, more often. Show gratitude.
  • Be kind.
  • Keep a positive attitude. Look for the positive in every situation. When a challenge comes up, be the light that mentions what benefit the adversity will play for our department.

I think we can all agree that it’s much more pleasurable to work in an office where communication is open and encouraged, gossip is nonexistent, a positive attitude is the norm, hard work is recognized, and people are kind to one another. Doesn’t that sound nice? How about we collectively agree to work towards this? Even if your boss or supervisor doesn’t do much to foster a positive work environment, each individual’s attitude and actions makes a difference. A few extra minutes to actively listen, or to encourage a coworker, or to ask how someone is really doing can make work a happier, healthier place for everyone. 

I purposefully left one top response off the list above, but if all else fails, you can do what many of you also suggested and…bring donuts! (Which, ok, I get it, but as Nutrition Specialist for the MUS Wellness Program, may I kindly suggest bringing in healthy treats instead?! People like fresh fruit too!)

Be Well!


Crushing Challenges at Tech

…many of the best wellness initiatives are grassroots, with someone saying, “Hey, what if we…”

We recently had a couple of wellness-related self-reports from Montana Tech that we wanted to share with everyone. It looks like the Ore Diggers are just crushing challenges over in Butte, building healthy teams and workplaces in the process.

First, the Tech Human Resources office teamed up to tackle last month’s “Plant a Garden” challenge. If there’s one thing Butte is known for, it’s the long growing season…right? Not to worry, the HR team started their very own office garden! Looks amazing!

Meanwhile, across campus, the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology has a group of regular walkers that incorporate campus errands to admin offices, the mail room, and the Mineral Museum. The walking group began with six employees in 2015, and has since grown to regularly include a dozen MBMG staff. If you’ve ever walked around the Tech campus, you know it requires some fitness, as there is not a lot of flat ground! Keep getting those steps and stairs MBMG!

tech walkers
The MBMG crew taking advantage of some lovely spring weather.

Thanks for sharing Tech!

If your department or team is banding together to create a healthier environment and better place to work, don’t be shy—please share it with us, so that we can share it with MUS. You might inspire others to follow your lead! Your Wellness team believes many of the best wellness initiatives are grassroots, with someone saying, “Hey, what if we…”

Be Well!