The Intelligent Workplace

The Intelligent Workplace

Episode 38

Counterbalancing the challenges of the new normal with positive psychology.

​Kelly Michael
Human Link​​

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
The modern workplace is changing rapidly thanks to technology, but the recent pandemic has increased the rate of change for many businesses.
Virtual offices have replaced the physical space and with it, a new era of collaboration outside the traditional workplace has begun. But for some, working remotely can often feel like living at work, not working from home.
While technology has changed the way we work, it has also influenced who we work with, the rise of the gig economy and the ease at which a company can engage a specialist for particular tasks means that not only are employees working from disparate locations, the people they work with can also change on a regular basis.
All of these factors, while providing flexibility for both employees and employers, may have long-term effects on the mental health of the modern workforce. Alongside the rise in productivity tools, and the proliferation of virtual office software, is a wave of new thinking in the wellbeing space. A new era of positive psychology that may counterbalance the negative effects of the new working environment.
Kelly Michael, co-founder of Human Link, is an experienced psychology practitioner who specializes in positive psychology and wellbeing in the workplace. In this episode she dives into some of the current health and wellbeing issues facing companies and how to navigate them in the modern workplace.
Episode Links

Listen to the episode

Chris Lukianenk…:

Hi, I’m Chris Lukianenko and this is The Intelligent Workplace brought to you by LiveTiles. My chance to speak with the industry experts and explore the new ideas and technologies that are shaping and transforming the modern workplace.





Working remotely can often feel like living at work, not working from home, amidst health and safety concerns, economic turndowns, and social distancing induced isolation teams are feeling unprecedented levels of disruption and uncertainty, both personally and professionally.








Introducing LiveTiles Vibe. Vibes are simple interactive cards emailed to employees. They are easy to send, fun to receive. Only take seconds to complete and are secure and confidential. Whether you’re working from home or back at the office with LiveTiles Vibe, you’re only one click away from knowing how the team is feeling, if your remote culture is thriving, or if you need to make a change. For more information, click the link in the show notes.









The modern workplace is changing rapidly thanks to technology, but the recent pandemic has increased the rate of change for many businesses. Virtual offices have replaced the physical space and with it, a new era of collaboration outside the traditional workplace has begun. While technology has changed the way we work, it has also influenced who we work with, the rise of the gig economy and the ease at which a company can engage a specialist for particular tasks means that not only are employees working from disparate locations, the people they work with can also change on a regular basis.



All of these factors while providing flexibility for both employees and employers may have long-term effects on the mental health of the modern workforce. Alongside this rising productivity tools and virtual office software is a wave of new thinking in the wellbeing space. A new era of positive psychology that may counterbalance the negative effects of the new working environment.



Here to discuss the effects of positive psychology on the workplace, and how it can benefit our overall wellbeing, is co-founder of Human Link, a new company specializing in this area. Welcome to The Intelligent Workplace, Kelly, Michael.


Kelly Michael:

Thank you. It’s great to be here with you.


Chris Lukianenk…:

We’ve been chatting off mic just beforehand, I think this is going to be a lot of fun. I’m really looking forward to our jumping into this topic with today.


Kelly Michael:

Could go all over the place, who knows.


Chris Lukianenk…:


It could. Let’s try and keep it on the straight and narrow. Before we dive into the topic today, why don’t you give us a bit of background about Human Link?


Kelly Michael:






Yeah. Great. So at our absolute core Human Link, as the name suggests, is about people. We’re an organization of behavior experts who partner with companies to build strong, innovative, and inspiring organizations where people flourish. I think it’s fair to say that we live in a society, in the moment that is very focused on scorecards and KPIs and we’re driven by efficiency and effectiveness. We’ve moved away from understanding people actually drive all of those outcomes.








And that when we focus on putting people back at the heart of the things that we do, when we create space for people to explore their internal worlds and understand their values, their strengths, their talents, their passions, their purpose, their personality, when we create space for people to explore those things, it fundamentally can change, I think most importantly, their lives. But also how they show up within their teams and their organizations as well. And ultimately that is what is going to drive effectiveness. That is what’s going to drive efficiency as well.



So it’s not saying that KPIs and scorecards and things like that unimportant, because obviously they’re critical for business success. But, it’s saying that actually we can create greater gains for those things. When we put people back at the heart, genuinely at the heart of the things that we do.


Chris Lukianenk…:

I love that you used the word flourish, it makes it feel like going to work is more than just about collecting a paycheck.



Kelly Michael:


Yeah, absolutely and it should be, it absolutely should be.


Chris Lukianenk…:

Yeah for sure. Now look, before you began Human Link, you worked with children on building their social and emotional skills. Have you always been inquisitive about human behavior?


Kelly Michael:




My mom would laugh at that question I think. She tells stories of me as a really small toddler, really small child, saying that I would watch people intently. She would talk about how I would stare at people and I would watch them. Really she got the sense that I was almost trying to read people and understand people before I would make a decision, whether I would engage with them and I would speak to them. So a little judgemental as a child, I think.






She would tell these stories that even from a very young age, I would be fascinated by people and I would watch people quite intently. I really think that, that’s just come with me throughout my life experience. I found that at school, when I was coaching sport, I used to coach ice hockey and I found it fascinating the way that teams connect at different developmental stages, different ages.






And then that carried with me into my corporate career. And then I did, as you said, I started an organization named Everyday Leader, that works with teenagers in social and emotional wellbeing, really driven by the fact that in my corporate career, I started to question why we waited until people were in leadership positions or they were in their 40s or 50s to actually teach some of these skills.









But why were we teaching them at 50 and not at 15 because people have lived a substantial amount of their lives. It had these huge domino effects in their lives, and we’re only now just starting to teach some of these skills and allowing people to kind of wrestle with some of these skills. I just really found myself thinking about, well, what would happen if you taught that at 15 and not 50? What would the world be like? What would people [inaudible 00:05:57] experiences of the world would be like? So yeah, I started it.


Chris Lukianenk…:

Oh, that’s fantastic. Yeah, I like that idea. I wanted to dive into the concept of positive psychology today and how it’s been used in the workplace. Can you give us a bit of an insight into how the mindset around psychology has changed in the modern era from back in the old days, fixing negatives to these days enhancing positives?


Kelly Michael:



Yeah, great question. We’ve seen huge changes and growth in psychology. If we think about much of the 20th century, the question of what is wrong with people guided a lot of our thinking and research and treatment. If we had a scale where minus five was like the worst suffering, psychology in that era was largely focused on how to get people from a minus five to a zero, which was really, really important. And as a result of that, we have huge insights and invaluable knowledge in regard to illness and treatment, but it really was only looking at one side of a scale.




The 21st century as that started to unfold and largely driven by Martin Seligman’s work. We started to wonder what was the other side of that scale? So [inaudible 00:07:04] a minus five to a zero, but can we have a zero to a plus five? What else can psychology add to human flourishing? And that’s where this question has really changed from what is wrong with people, to what is right about people? What makes people flourish? What makes for a meaningful life. If I could put that really simply it’s about focusing on what’s strong and not what’s wrong.



Chris Lukianenk…:


I’m enjoying this, this morning. So look the theory behind that has changed, but has also maybe the end game shifted as well. I mean has what we call happiness changed in our modern lives?


Kelly Michael:





I think that’s an interesting question, on the surface level, I want to say that I don’t believe our experience of happiness is in how we experience it as individuals or how we feel it has necessarily changed, but we certainly understand more about it. We understand more about its causes. We understand more about its outcomes. I think that our environment is ever changing. We live in a very fast paced world, that constant change. So, I think that the external pressures that kind of press in have definitely changed. I think the fundamentals of happiness, are still the same, but our knowledge and understanding has definitely grown and our environment is constantly changing.


Chris Lukianenk…:

But it’s not a one size fits all concept is it, because what may be happiness to me may not be happiness to you?


Kelly Michael:


Yeah, absolutely. I don’t think anything is ever one size fits all. Show me some clinical research or clinical trials where a hundred percent of people get a particular outcome. I really don’t believe anything is one size fits all, but there are some, I guess, facts or truths about happiness that does the same for us all. But what brings you happiness is certainly individualized.


Chris Lukianenk…:

I’m a pretty simple man. So I reckon that would be different. A game of football and a beer is all on need. Thank you very much.


Kelly Michael:

Nice, the simple pleasures in life.


Chris Lukianenk…:

That’s it. Can you have too much happiness?



Kelly Michael:









Yeah. If we think of happiness as the experience of positive emotions, such as joy, contentment combined with a sense that life is good, it’s meaningful, it’s worthwhile. Then no, I don’t think you can have too much of that. Barbara Fredrickson’s work is probably really interesting in this space because it shows us that when we experience positive emotions, our awareness broadens, we increase our creativity, our resilience, problem solving abilities. It can actually even impact our physical health and our physical health can improve. And we’re actually more socially connected. So I don’t think you can have too much of that, but I do think where happiness can get a little bit sticky is when we’re bypassing, ignoring or suppressing other emotions that are potentially more uncomfortable or unpleasant.





Nobody is happy a hundred percent of the time and that the unpleasant emotions that we experience, they’re important too. They’re giving us valuable information and it’s really a matter of us judging whether the information that’s coming in from those emotions is appropriate for the experience that we’re having. One of my favorite researchers, Robert Biswas-Dienerhas a great book called The Upside of Your Dark Side. It’s all about this point of our unpleasant emotions are actually really important to they’re important data points.


Chris Lukianenk…:


What about chasing happiness, much like gold at the end of the rainbow, can chasing it actually lead to a negative outcome, if you just get too wrapped up in finding that perfection?


Kelly Michael:

Yes. I love that you just said gold at the end of the rainbow, because I often say to students that happiness, isn’t the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It is the rainbow. It’s actually the day to day experiencing. It’s the small moments that we are not chasing this thing. It’s very elusive when we do that. We never actually going to get to that part, if that’s the way that we treat it.




I think if you’re chasing superficial or short lived drivers of happiness, like a bigger house, a new sports car, pair of the latest sneakers, if you’re me, that’s probably my driver, then yes that could potentially lead to negative outcomes or at least feelings of being unfulfilled. Because, we know that chasing that type of happiness is very, very short lived. And it kind of keeps you on this hamster wheel of needing the next new thing and the next new thing and the next new thing to feel good.




So when we chase those quick feel good factors, I don’t think we build long-term wellbeing or happiness. On the other hand, people who look at their happiness holistically through more domains of wellbeing. Looking at things like social connection, physical health, psychological health, looking at purpose, spirituality sits in there, engagement. So whether we’re in flow, whether we’re achieving financial elements in our environment, if we look at our wellbeing through those lenses, then we’re more likely to have a grounded, more steady state of happiness.



Chris Lukianenk…:


I love that sort of analogy about the rainbow being more important than the pot of gold. It reminds me of a song from the 90s by the famous Tom Cochrane, Life as a Highway. I want to enjoy that ride, that whole way through.


Kelly Michael:

It is so true. Although, I was really hoping that you would bust out into song then.


Chris Lukianenk…:




If you’ve heard me sing, you don’t need to hear that. There’s a whole industry being built around wellbeing. Is this a passing [fed 00:12:23] or are we placing too much impo… We were talking before off the mic about older generations and the difference between generations, the older generation, my parents would just say, just get on with things. Why is wellbeing so important?


Kelly Michael:

Well, I hope it’s not passing fed or I’m might out of a job.


Chris Lukianenk…:

Yeah true.


Kelly Michael:





I think this is the difference between a basic view of wellbeing and a more holistic balanced view. We’ve learnt so much over recent decades. Neuroscience has given us new understandings of how brains and our bodies work. If I think about an example of this, it would be about how stress affects people physically and their performance. We’re learning more and more every day.









And I think that we get to build on the generations that came before us. While also acknowledging that the world we live in has changed and it continues to do so. I think we’re learning how to enhance our response to some of those intensifying pressures of what life in this century actually means. The other piece I think is potentially the linguistics piece. Older people might say, or older generations might say that wellbeing isn’t important and just get on with it. But actually there’s many elements of older generations that we would classify as positively working on their wellbeing.








So you think about older generations, they really, really valued social connection. They didn’t have all the distractions of technology, we have these days, but they really, really valued social connection. And they had really strong interconnected communities in some way. Now we know that social connection is critical when it comes to happiness and wellbeing. So, I think the other piece is just a language thing, in that they actually did really value wellbeing. We just didn’t have the constructs and the frameworks to wrap around it then, but we do now.


Chris Lukianenk…:

When I think of wellbeing, I think I need to separate the yoga pant wearing Instagram influencer element of the [inaudible 00:14:15] with the more educated people such as yourself, because wellbeing is actually a really complex idea, isn’t?


Kelly Michael:



Wellbeing is very complex, so absolutely. However, there are small things that we can implement over time to make significant positive differences in our lives. So, I think about things like gratitude practices, random acts of kindness, micro goal setting, sleep, even taking a moment to move or intentionally mindfully breathe every hour makes a huge difference to people’s energies throughout the day. So yes, it’s complex, but actually in some ways it’s also simple. It’s a nice little paradox for us to try it. [crosstalk 00:14:54].



Chris Lukianenk…:


Yeah it is. So sleep it is actually one really major element of wellbeing is it? I know it’s important, when you have children and [inaudible 00:15:02] get through life in those early years and you’re a zombie and all of a sudden it comes full circle and you get maybe eight full hours of sleep a night, I know personally, oh wow. What a difference it makes in my life. But I didn’t really think of that as a wellbeing element, but I suppose it is.


Kelly Michael:




Yeah, absolutely. And this is that point around the fact that we’ve got to start looking at wellbeing really holistically. When we look at physical health, we’re absolutely talking about movement. We’re talking about nutrition and hydration, and we’re also talking about sleep. Sleep is critical on so many levels. Not only in my ability to focus and perform, but long-term for my longevity and my long-term health, things like cancers and things have all been linked to lack of sleep. So yes, sleep is absolutely critical.


Chris Lukianenk…:

Next time my wife tells me to get out of bed and turn off the alarm. I’m going to tell her I’m looking after my wellbeing for the long term.


Kelly Michael:


[inaudible 00:15:55] we had a conversation and you said it was really important. And I said, it was really important [crosstalk 00:16:01]. It is the simple things, right? But it’s the simple things that we often think they’re so simple that we don’t do them. We look for this magic answer to wellbeing, but it’s actually often in the small little things.





Like how easy is it to… Every 60 minutes just move, you can do at your desk stretching, you can stand up. If it’s difficult in your office, you might go for a walk to the bathroom, have a bit of a stretch in the store. We can do that. How difficult is it to mindfully breathe every hour, just to stop for a moment and take four deep, slow, steady breaths. We’re all capable of doing that, but we don’t do it. And yet it can make a huge difference to how our energy is throughout the day.


Chris Lukianenk…:

The simple things in life are often the best.


Kelly Michael:

Yeah, it’s really, really true.


Chris Lukianenk…:

What about in the workplace? How are companies addressing the wellbeing of their employees?



Kelly Michael:


In my experience, this is really quite varied. Some companies are well aware of how critical it is and they’re really leading the way, they’re innovating. They’re kind of trailblazing around some of this and then, they’re doing an amazing job looking at it in a very holistic way. I think other companies believe it’s important but they don’t really know, what to do or how to implement it.





In my experience, there’s a large chunk of businesses sitting here. This is a space where there’s often a single factor focus. They might only focus on physical health or they might just focus on mental health awareness. But we know that we see the greatest impacts when we take a holistic view. I mentioned the [inaudible 00:17:37] of wellbeing before. We can also look at factors such as work design in this space. When we look at it in this way, that’s when we can really make a difference.











I think that it’s also really important that we also make it accessible for everyone. And I mean this in a few ways, so wellbeing, happiness, social and emotional education, in some ways. I think we use a lot of different words to explain all of it or different chunks of it. It shouldn’t just be for leaders or talent that’s been identified to be in leadership stream. So we see this often, some people get access to this and others don’t. And for me, I think that’s largely a scaling issue. And I think it’s a space where there’s a huge opportunity for technology to make a massive difference in creating access for everyone. I think we have to get that right, because I do not believe that the science of wellbeing, so living a joyful and meaningful life should only be for a select number of people.












Like that to me is hugely, hugely problematic on so many levels. The data is pretty clear now that when people have access to these types of programs, when they’re hire in these skills, that they do live more meaningful lives, they are happier. They have stronger relationships. We see more pro-social behaviors. We see more altruism, we see more kindness, we see physical health benefits, and then… When talking long-term disease benefits as well, people not ending up as chronically ill. This work is actually really, really critical. It cannot only be for a select number of people, but we’ve got to work out how to create better access for this. It cannot just be for leaders in organizations who are going through trainings and things like that. I think that’s really, really important.








And I think the other thing about access that is important for organizations to think about, is that the early wellbeing and positive psychology research was quite ethnocentric. So it was driven largely by western ideals and individualism. I think this is absolutely changed now, but we have to make sure that whatever we implement, everybody can access. And that it also has an element of collectivism to it as well, which for an organization makes utter [inaudible 00:20:01] complete sense to me, because yes, we want to empower people individually. We want to make sure that they have the tools and the mindset and the knowledge to be able to look after their individual wellbeing and to really flourish in their workspaces.






But we need to have that collectivism element as well for organizations to truly flourish, for cultures to truly flourish. And then I would take that a step further than that and say for societies to truly flourish. But it’s also remembering that different cultures will have a different focus. Yes, Western cultures are largely driven by individualism, but if we look at other cultures, particularly if we look at certain Asian cultures, collectivism is a major driver for people within those cultures. And so when we go out and we present wellbeing and we are not aware of this, it actually could be quite disengaging or off-putting for large groups of people.


Chris Lukianenk…:


So in the corporate world, is it less about putting our leaders through positive psychology courses and more about making the idea of positive psychology, more accessible to all employees?


Kelly Michael:






I think it’s great that a lot of organizations are starting to consider this in their leadership courses and their leadership training. In my opinion, not enough are doing that. We are living in a time of increased stress, anxiety, isolation, strong leaders are likely feeling elements of that for themselves, but they’re also carrying some of that load for their team. And you can’t feel from an empty cup. So, yes we have to create spaces for leaders to learn about their own internal worlds. How they’re showing up. When we look at that, we create leadership congruence, we support leaders to be able to genuinely care and create high-performance teams, where people are truly at the heart of that.






So yes, I think this needs to be taught in leadership courses and more so than just positive psychology too. If we look at other elements of psychology, we’ll get neuroscience, we look at behavioral psychology, organizational psychology, performance psychology, how do we layer all of that in, to create the spaces where people can truly rock up to work, authentically as their best selves. I know that sounds a little bit cliche, but I truly believe that, that’s part of the spaces that we need to create.





But back and looping back into your original question. Yes, it needs to be more than just leaders, who are exposed to this type of work. Absolutely it does. We cannot leave it just for those people at the top of an organization. Look at any organization, how many people are actually leaders, which would mean 1%, 2% of people actually ended up in leadership streams, Like what an injustice to the 98% of an organization, to not have this type of learning flow through.





And I don’t mean just for the individuals, also for the organization. We look at creativity rising, when we do this type of training, we look at critical thinking improving, problem solving improves, relationships improve, pro-social behaviors improve, organizational performance, happiness with the organization. All of these factors actually improve in some way when we expose people to this learning. So why would you not want it for your entire organization?


Chris Lukianenk…:




In terms of the technology, it’s probably less these days about giving them a mindful [inaudible 00:23:23] and maybe a culture survey. In this day and age where we are, many of us working from home and that sort of thing, it’s about staying in contact, understanding people’s individual situations and that sort of thing. And that’s where the technology sort of helped bridge that gap a bit can’t it?


Kelly Michael:





Yeah, absolutely. I think technology is going to be critical in our ability to scale much of this work. I think it really an important and key factor in being able to do that and being able to create access. And I’m not talking about… As you said, then just short surveys or anything like that, because the problem with a lot of surveys for organizations is that we ask questions that we then don’t know what to do with. So we don’t know what to do with the answers. And to me, in my opinion, that’s worse than just not asking the question to begin with.







So if you’re asking people to be vulnerable, you’re asking people to take their time, to answer surveys about their wellbeing and how they’re feeling and even how they feel about the work that they’re doing. If you do nothing other than present that data at a board meeting somewhere, that’s a huge injustice to your people. Like that is worse than not asking the question to begin with, because your people will come more disengaged with that. So, I think technology has a great role to play in taking us past just these checkbox kind of surveys, because it has to be deeper than that. It’s got to be bigger than that.


Chris Lukianenk…:

I’ve written myself a note here to ask you about the concept of Nudge theory, not anything that’s new, but in terms of how it might interact with the technology and how that can then be used in conjunction with positive psychology. How does that all work?



Kelly Michael:


Nudge theory isn’t something that’s new, as you’ve said, it’s been used a lot in the health sciences and really quite successfully as well. I think when people need to confront significant shifts in how they think, how they behave in order to get different results, we’re actually wired to resist, deep down our comfort zone safe space.





It’s the changes of any sort, are not only scary, but they can actually be perceived as dangerous for us as well. Our brains are wired with a negativity bias. We constantly looking for threats, and I think sometimes that change can be seen as a threat in some way. So Nudge theory or nudging is taking bite sized pieces to help us get to a desired goal. It makes real sense, for me it’s about meeting people where they’re at and slowly taking small, tiny steps to get people where they want to be.


Chris Lukianenk…:

So instead of doing a massive culture survey, maybe you break it down into shorter, sharper in the moment type elements do you?



Kelly Michael:


Yeah, absolutely and I think you get to be more responsive that way too. Culture surveys, [inaudible 00:26:03] them once a year maybe, sometimes twice a year. Whereas if you break it down into tiny pieces, you get to be more responsive. You get to see what’s happening in real time, and you empower your employees to be able to see what’s happening for them in real time as well.


Chris Lukianenk…:

So how are we tracking success or otherwise of these positive psychology type programs in the workforce?



Kelly Michael:


I think that’s quite [inaudible 00:26:28], some times it is through surveys, we’ve spoken about culture surveys and different surveys that can be done around wellbeing. But I think there’s also a role for personal stories, for role modeling, the felt experience actually plays a huge part here. We have research at a lab level, so if we know we implement this and this is likely to happen, but I think it’s a growing space and there’s a growing number of tools that don’t just rely on subjective information as well, which is really interesting.



Chris Lukianenk…:


Do you feel like these technologies and these programs are going to be even more important in the post pandemic world?


Kelly Michael:

Yeah, I love the word post pandemic. I’m not actually sure we can even say post pandemic [crosstalk 00:28:27] or know when that’s going to be or what that’s going to look like. Yeah, I do. I actually think that, if we’re talking about measurement and we’re talking about people’s wellbeing, I would say that we should never be waiting for post pandemic world. I think it’s the right here, the right now, what people are confronted with.



We are seeing alarming increases in anxiety, depression, loneliness, people feeling disconnected, people feeling stressed and overwhelmed, and these are all really, really natural responses to what the world is going through. And I don’t just mean from a pandemic point of view. There’s much more than just that happening, we look at a lot of the racial tensions and racial reckonings that’s happening in the world at the moment, that are desperately needed and have been needed to happen for a long time.



The world highly stressed system at the moment, so I think that we shouldn’t be waiting for it to be post pandemic, to be having these conversations or to be thinking about what we can do. I think organizations really need to dive into these conversations now, and they need to be looking at what they can do right now. And I think that, that is where tech can make a massive difference in empowering leaders with the skills, knowledge, and mindset, to know how to have some of these conversations, to know what to do.




And then also looking at how do we equip larger organizations and systems to be able to flow through some of this information, to again, be able to alarming people from a knowledge and skill set perspective.


Chris Lukianenk…:

So do you have any thoughts on where you see the positive psychology movement heading in the corporate world in the future?


Kelly Michael:




Fully ingrained would be my first answer to that. I would love to see it, being fully embraced and embedded within organizations and really allowing it to drive cultures and employee experiences. But I think it has to be larger than just positive psychology. I think we need to be looking at neuroscience, behavioral psychology, organizational psychology, and performance psychology to really support all of that work, because I think it’s when we can do that, that we’re going to really improve people’s experiences.


Chris Lukianenk…:

We want labels. So if I’ve got a department in the office, what’s the department going to be called? That looks after all of these different sciences.


Kelly Michael:


You sound like somebody who’s studied the brain. The brain [inaudible 00:29:25] labels, I would call that to the people sciences potentially.


Chris Lukianenk…:

Nice. I like that, that’s fantastic. So in wrapping this whole conversation up, what could we as individuals, those of us listening here today, take away from this and make changes in our lives to have a more meaningful life and look after our wellbeing.


Kelly Michael:



Big question, big question. I do love the fact that you’ve taken a personal responsibility kind of lens to that question, because we can’t be in a space where we’re waiting for organizations or governments to put this in bigger scale. Because, I believe that many of them have great intent and they’re trying to do this work, but that’s going to take a long time, but each and every single one of us can actually make small changes in our lives that will have a really positive impact on our wellbeing.





When I think about the fact that we are in this highly stressed state as a world at the moment. When I think about the pandemic and other things that we’ve mentioned, there’s a lot of people that really feel like they’re in this pit of despair. There’s a feeling of lack of hope for some people, they don’t feel like they have much certainty. It can be a place where we feel quite fearful.







I think if people are sitting there, one of the things that we know is that benefit finding can be very useful. So being able to truly acknowledge where we are at, which is also critical, we don’t want to be [inaudible 00:30:53] this. Like if we are feeling a certain way, we need to acknowledge that. In fact, just the act of labeling our emotions. So being able to sit down and say, okay, well, how is it that I’m feeling right now? Okay, well, I’m feeling afraid or I’m feeling worried or I’m feeling concerned. Do you see act of labeling emotions, particularly those unpleasant ones helps to take the sting out of them.





So being real to our experience, allowing whatever is true for us in that moment to show up, to be able to label it can actually be really, really beneficial. But if we find ourselves there benefit finding says, okay, well, I’m going to label how it is that I’m feeling. I’m going to accept that and make space for that. But I’m also going to acknowledge or find some of the benefits of this. So yes, I’m afraid. Yes, I’m worried. Yes, I’m concerned. But actually I’ve also been able to spend more time with my family, or I’ve been able to take my dog for a walk depending where you are in the world.




What are the benefits that I can find out of this experience? And we know that that can help shift people. Out of that real valley of those unpleasant emotions into slightly more pleasant state. It can help us to start to feel like we have elements of control coming back. We might be able to get little bits of clarity. I don’t think that we’ve got a lot of certainty at the moment, but potentially we’ll get little bits of clarity.





So I think benefit finding if people are really struggling in this space is really, really important. I think self-care in whatever way that looks for you. So engaging with your hobbies, engaging with good people, building your social connections is critical. It’s not a nice to have. It’s an absolutely critical thing at this point in time in history. So work out what brings you joy and chase that in some way, work out who you can connect with socially. Is it your family? Is it your friends? What does it look like to continually tapping into those social connections that you have?




And actually interesting I mentioned Barbara Fredrickson before, her lab is doing some really interesting work at the moment on… Actually not just tapping into the social connections that already exist, but what happens when we challenge and teach people to create connections with acquaintances or strangers, and what impact does that actually have on our happiness and wellbeing. And some of the initial work coming out of that lab is really, really interesting. So is there an opportunity for us to widen our social connections?




We’re going deeper with the people we know [inaudible 00:33:26] we widening with people that we don’t know? I think that’s really important and critical as well. Little things like, do I have a gratitude practice? Instead of waking up in the morning and grabbing my mobile phone and scrolling through my emails and looking at my calendar and wondering how I’m going to cope with this day, and particularly for people who are still at home with children and they’re trying to home-school, plus they’re trying to manage work and it’s this blended space.



Can I take a moment in the morning instead of reaching for those things, to actually reflect on the last 24 hours and find things that I’m grateful for and going deeper into those things. It’s not just, oh well, I’m grateful that it was a sunny day. Well, I’m grateful that it was a sunny day because it allowed me an opportunity to go and sit outside for a moment and to just be, or it allowed me to go for a walk or… Again, depending where you are in the world, it allowed me to sit down and have a coffee with a friend.




So really getting specific around our gratitude, can you start your day like that? Interestingly around gratitude, you don’t even actually have to do that every day. If we look at the dosage data on that, two, three times a week, that’s going to be enough to have a positive impact for you.



Random acts of kindness, can I do something kind for somebody else? Can I tell somebody that I’m grateful for them? That’s going to have a huge impact, not only on the person that you’re sharing that gratitude with all or you’re being kind to, but it’s going to have a huge impact on you as an individual.



Talking about micro goals, you might not be in control of everything that’s going on at the moment, but focusing on what is in your control? What are the things in your control, and what are the micro goals that you can set around those things? Because, that makes a massive difference on our hope.






So how can you look at setting those goals as well? So there’s a lot of different things that we can do, but I just think it’s really important for people to understand that whatever people are experiencing right now is valid. It is okay. We don’t have to pretend that we’re okay and we can keep charging on and we can just keep going. It’s okay whatever we’re experiencing, but there are definitely things that we can put into place to support ourselves.






And it is imperative that we do so now more than ever. So it’s about prioritizing those things. It’s about having boundaries that say, no, this is actually really important for me. And if you need me to show up in a certain way, if you need me to perform, if you need me to be this way in relationship, then I have to have space to actually look after me.


Chris Lukianenk…:

So I’ve just been sitting here writing some notes while you’ve been going through all of that, thinking about ways that I can improve my health and wellbeing. And I’ll give you a quick taste of what I’ve written down here.







So, organized lunch with my best mate, tell my friends and family that I love them. Take a walk with my two Labradors and the family more often, to help out with the physical side of the wellbeing. And while I’m doing that, leave the phone at home. And lastly, I’ve written here, just be grateful about the great part of the world that I live in. Hobart, Tasmania, it’s a beautiful part of the world. And I think I need to be more appreciative of that.


Kelly Michael:

Absolutely sounds fantastic.


Chris Lukianenk…:

Kelly, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed talking with you today, both on and off the mic. It’s been absolutely fantastic. Thank you so much for your time. It’s been awesome.


Kelly Michael:

I have loved being here. Thank you for having me. I love referring around this kind of stuff. So it’s been a great conversation.


Chris Lukianenk…:

Pleasure. Cheers.




Thanks for joining me on The Intelligent Workplace Podcast brought to you by LiveTiles. If you have any feedback or want to suggest a guest for a future show, email



Thanks for listening. I’ll catch you…


More Episodes

The need to simplify communications for firstline workers.

Stephanie Donahue is both a Microsoft MVP and RD who has a focus on helping organizations leverage their investment in SharePoint to create and maximize ROI. She believes that setting a strategic path using an innovative road map and consistent methodology is the key to a successful implementation. Stephanie is an active blogger and event speaker with over 17 years in the I.T. industry and over 8 years of experience with SharePoint.

View Episode

How to land a job that hasn’t been created yet.

Christopher Bishop is a nonlinear, multimodal careerist who has had eight so far, including rock musician, jingle producer and web site project manager. Chris also spent 15 years at IBM in a variety of roles including business strategy consultant and communications executive driving social media adoption and the use of virtual worlds for training and events.

View Episode

Loving your work, and stories of triumph, during a pandemic.

Steve Clayton is Microsoft’s Chief Storyteller and General Manager of Microsoft’s Innovation, Culture and Stories team. The team is responsible for the company’s storytelling with a focus on employees, media, customers, partners and candidates. Steve and his team have a history of innovation in storytelling to bring the company’s mission to life for these audiences.

Steve was the architect of the acclaimed “88 Acres” story that heralded a new direction for Microsoft’s corporate storytelling and led to the creation of His team creates a wide variety of content including keynote demos for Satya Nadella, Microsoft Life, the company intranet, social channels and wide range of storytelling that has helped transform the culture of Microsoft.

View Episode