Well-being for Peak Performance Exercises

Work and Organizations Professor Theresa Glomb shares evidence-based practices that anyone can deploy to promote greater productivity and well-being. 

DSC_1887.jpgGlombWe are all struggling to figure out work in this new environment.  But my motto for making work better—“Work Hard. Have Fun. Choose Kind. Be Present.”–still resonates. It may even resonate more in these difficult times.

With these themes in mind, below are simple, evidence-based practices that you can deploy to promote greater productivity and well-being.  Many of these were developed with “normal” work environments in mind, but they will work even when working from home.  They may not all work for you, but I hope that you will try a variety of these activities, modify them for your needs, share ideas with others, etc. We are all grappling with “the new normal,” so it is a great time to try things outside your comfort zone with an attitude of experimentation.  You might find some to bring back into your work environments.

Work Hard

Try “parking downhill” and creating conditions for flow

  • Schedule 60-90 min of uninterrupted work
  • Prepare resources before the start of the day (or week) and plan what will happen; schedule a brief meeting with yourself every day to plan out your day
  • Resist email or media first thing in the morning; instead tackle a work task
  • Set up work for small wins; think about one thing that you can accomplish that day and JDI (Just Do It!)

Consider how to organize work to make work time less fractured

  • Email free times/days
  • Meeting free times/days (and days designated for status/meetings)
  • On call days/evenings rotated through team
  • Start adding NO REPLY NEEDED to your emails (and train others to do so as well)
  • When you are interrupted, write down next steps to minimize attention residue and allow you to quickly get back into your work

Consider how to make virtual meetings more efficient

  • Schedule shorter meetings
  • Create agendas with time allocations
  • Routinize your meetings/status/crisis management with template for each meeting
  • Try being more decisive, driving meeting discussion toward decision making (OHIO—Only Handle It Once)

Analyze your tasks in terms of appropriate effort and time allocation  

  • Classify tasks as minimum, moderate, maximum in terms of energy/effort
  • Track how you spend your time over a few days. Are there any tasks you can cut back on? delegate? simplify? group together related tasks?
  • When you say yes to a request put time for it in your calendar to ensure your task blocks are easier to track and balance

Reduce both task switching and multi-tasking

  • Replace multi-tasking with uni-tasking bursts
  • Use the Promodoro Method. Set a timer for 25 minutes and work on one task only until timer goes off and then take a short break. Repeat.
  • Approach a difficult, unfinished task, by breaking it up into smaller segments. When tempted to switch tasks or stop, slow down and say “when X is done, I will then move on.”

Have Fun

Establish routines for reflecting on the good

  • Reflect on three good things individually and in meetings
  • Send a daily gratitude email
  • Share positive events with others
  • Think about your rituals/celebrations around success
  • Use apps that promote greater reflection & recovery
  • Reflect on what brings you happiness as a colleague or leader and do more of that

Routines for recovery

  • Reclaim the lunch break or coffee hour and be sure to have a meaningful break
  • Build in micro-moments for recovery
  • Build in transition routines (mindful walk outside; deep breathing before logging into your next meeting; mindful hand washing)
  • Integration of nature may be particularly effective for recovery so go outside
  • Set the tone for recovery; if you are a manager, be sure to ask what your employees are doing to take care of themselves
  • Get more sleep—the evidence is unassailable that you will be more productive

Establish questions that align your activities with your values

  • Ask yourself: Is this how I want to spend my time?
  • Ask yourself: Is this activity or request a “Hell yes !”or “no”?  Can you turn something into a “Hell Yes!” activity?

Choose Kind

Underscore prosocial impact by linking work more directly to beneficiaries

  • Share experiences with your team that underscores prosocial elements of the work that you do; ask them to share experiences as well
  • Consider routines (events, letters, feedback) to circle back beneficiary information
  • Ask yourself: To whom was I a good friend/colleague/manager today?
  • Help someone that you normally would not; share your knowledge or expertise and let others know what your strengths are (I am very good at X; I could provide advice for Y)

Try a Loving Kindness Meditation

  • Think of a coworker, just like you. It can be anyone you work with. Start with someone who you like or are neutral about.  Silently repeat one or two of the following phrases while holding this person in your mind.

“____________ has feelings, emotions, thoughts just like I do.”

“____________ wants to be happy at work, just like I do.”

“ ____________would like to be free from suffering, just like I do.”

Next, offer well-wishes to this person using phrases such as:

“May ________be well in body and mind.”

“May _______ be filled with kindness.”

“May ________be safe and secure.”

Repeat this exercise with someone you do not get along with at work.

Be Present

Mindful Breathing Exercises

  • Try mindful breathing for 1, 3, 5 minutes
  • Try 4-7-8 breathing (4 seconds in; 7 seconds hold; 8 seconds out)
  • Do a “desk meditation” for 10 minutes (Calm and Stopbreathethink.org has good free resources)

Mindful Activities

  • Try to catch yourself when you are in a state of continuous partial attention. Stop thinking ahead. Breathe and focus on the present moment.
  • Walking Meditation; walk to meeting, coffee break, etc. mindfully. Stop texting and checking phone and just walk.
  • Doing a mindful eating exercise. Select a meal, or even just a snack and eat it mindfully attending to the colors, taste, and smells of the food. Eat without reading or checking email.

Bodily Awareness

  • Bring increased physiological awareness through the day. Ask yourself: what’s up with my body right now? Stop and notice how you are holding your shoulders or how tightly you are holding whatever is in your hand. Are your shoulders hunched? What is the quality of your grip? Is anything tense? Are you causing unneeded tension?

Purposeful pause

  • Choose how to start your day. Can you visualize your day? Think about what you are looking forward to. Can you resist grabbing your phone and checking email immediately?
  • Try to insert a purposeful pause before reacting or responding. Pause before answering a question, picking up your phone, or shooting off a text or email. Try reading an email or text twice and pausing before composing a reply.
  • Before starting a meeting, consider how you want to viewed by the end of the meeting. Open? Courageous? Reactive? What can you do to bring your vision into reality?

TED Talk on “Let’s Make Work Better” by Theresa Glomb, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCYeEt94EMc

More resources on .



We are Adapting

Every day we strive to adapt to our environment surrounding us, and though the path is filled with uncertainty, there’s also great achievement in having the courage to adapt and embrace the transformations both internal and external. Alumnus Francis Sadac says, “A transformation mindset and capability to adapt and change are critical for continued success, both at an organizational level and at a personal level.” The questions is, how have you transformed over the years? We want to hear from you! In light of our upcoming HR Tomorrow Conference, Workforce Transformation #HowWeTransform, we ask of you to share with us answers to any of the following questions:

  • Have you attended any HR Tomorrow conferences in the past? If so, how have they transformed you? And/or how do you expect this year’s conference to transform you?
  • Where are you currently working? How has your career shifted over the years?
  • What changes in your workplace have occurred since you started? Any changes in the overall professional world that you’ve adjusted to?
  • Have you helped implement a transformation in your workplace? If so, can you describe it?
  • What benefits does change/adaptability/transformation include?
  • What other transformations in your life are you proud of?

Let us uplift one another by sharing our experiences with transformation! Read more about Francis Sadac’s experiences in the starting article below!

Alumnus Francis Sadac, ’97


Where are you currently working? How has your career shifted over the years?

I’ve been at Accenture now for over three years. I joined Hewitt Associates, which was eventually acquired by Aon, right out of the MAIR program, and then spent more than a decade at IBM Global Business Services. Prior to Accenture I did a stint at Northgate Arinso, a major Payroll outsourcer.

I’ve been in HR and organizational change consulting for most of my career, so the shift has not been around roles but around skillsets and areas of expertise.  HR consulting in the 2000s focused primarily on the implementation of HR on-premise technologies such as SAP and PeopleSoft, and I think with a shift to more cloud-based HR platforms, the HR process, service delivery and employee experience aspects have become high priority areas for my clients. With the increasing multi-generational and global workforce, I’ve been talking to my clients more about future skills and capabilities as well as evolving workforce models.

What changes in your workplace have occurred since you started? Any changes in the overall professional world that you’ve adjusted to?

I think the biggest change I’ve seen in my and my clients’ workspaces over the past two decades is the visible push towards inclusion and diversity.  I remember going to meetings as a fresh-out-of-grad-school management consultant and being the only person of color and the only person born outside of the US.  It’s been thrilling to see, hear, and learn from so many voices and perspectives now in the workplace, coming from different generations, genders, sexual orientations, countries of origin, race, and experience backgrounds.

Have you helped implement a transformation in your workplace? If so, can you describe it?

Yes, I’ve worked with many clients on their global HR transformations, from strategy to execution.  Organizational transformation in my mind is at heart around moving towards the new organizational and workforce capabilities that an enterprise needs in order to respond to business competitiveness, industry disruptions, and the push and pull of resources.

What benefits does change/adaptability/transformation include?

Transformation, if done well, will ultimately result in excellent business results. I think transformation ultimately makes organizations relevant and current; a wise person once said there is nothing in life that is constant except for change. So, a transformation mindset and capability to adapt and change are critical for continued success, both at an organizational level and at a personal level.

We are Appreciative of our Corporate Sponsors for the 2020 HR Tomorrow Conference!

We have so much gratitude for our returning sponsors of the HR Tomorrow conference, some of which include ServiceNow sponsoring for the 2nd time, United Health Group sponsoring for their 6th year, and Versique sponsoring for the 2nd time. Thank you so much to each of these companies for the continued support. We appreciate your generosity!

HR Tomorrow’s Morning Keynote Speaker Chris Farrell

We are excited to have Chris Farrell kick off the 2020 HR Tomorrow conference as morning keynote speaker! Chris Farrell is economics editor of Marketplace Money, a nationally syndicated one-hour weekly personal finance show produced by American Public Media. During his keynote, titled “Seizing the Next Competitive Edge in the War for Talent: Valuing Experienced Workers,” Chris will share about the world’s changing demographics and how older workers could serve as the next biggest source of competitive advantage if they are engaged and retained successfully.

Check out the HR Tomorrow website for more information and to register now, so you can hear Mr. Farrell’s outstanding keynote address!

#HowWeTransform #HRTomorrow2020 #umnhrir

Grateful for Corporate Sponsors of the 2020 HR Tomorrow Conference!

We’d like to express our gratitude towards our returning and new sponsors for this year’s HR Tomorrow Conference. Some of our returning sponsors include General Mills sponsoring for their 5th time, nVent sponsoring for their 2nd time, and Polaris sponsoring for their 4th time. Sponsoring the conference for their first time is SALO. Thank you to each of these companies for your support. We appreciate your generosity!

Ecolab as Luncheon Sponsor for 2020 HR Tomorrow Conference

A huge thank you to Ecolab for sponsoring this year’s HR Tomorrow conference. The company has been a longtime supporter of the conference as they are returning for the 14th time, this year as the Luncheon Sponsor.  Jason Grosz is Vice President Human Resources, Global Healthcare at Ecolab, and shares Ecolab’s motivation for their continuous support of the conference.

Tell us about Ecolab. What is Ecolab’s mission, and how has the company transformed over the years?

As a trusted partner at nearly three million commercial customer locations, Ecolab (ECL) is the global leader in driving business performance while protecting people and vital resources. With annual sales of $15 billion and more than 50,000 associates, Ecolab delivers comprehensive solutions, data-driven insights and personalized service to advance food safety, maintain clean environments, optimize water and energy use, and improve operational efficiencies and sustainability for customers in the food, healthcare, hospitality and industrial markets in more than 170 countries around the world. 

Ecolab has been a longtime supporter of HR Tomorrow, and has increased its sponsorship for this year’s conference. What motivated your company to do so and to continue supporting HR Tomorrow throughout the years?

The Carlson School of Management HRIR program is an important source of talent and industry benchmarking. The HR Tomorrow conference is a great opportunity for the HR community to discuss important HR topics, issues and trends. Because the event appeals to a wide range of HR professionals from students to executives, it provides an ideal forum to learn and network. We find our participation at this event to be extremely valuable, we consistently gain new information at the event that helps us continue to develop our HR function and attract top talent.  We’re happy to support an event that has a meaningful impact on not only HR, but the broader local business community.

How is supporting HR Tomorrow beneficial for Ecolab? A number of your employees will be attending the conference; what do you think your colleagues will gain from attending this year’s theme #HowWeTransform?

There are several benefits in sponsoring HR Tomorrow, including the opportunity for our HR associates to interact and network with others in the local community. Our associates learn beneficial information that helps them further develop their personal careers and enhance the support they provide their business partners within Ecolab. Leaders understand the importance of talent in fueling progress and driving results and HR leads the talent strategies that fuel that growth. The more we can do to support the betterment of the HR community and students and professionals within HR, the better we are as a whole.  The world and business landscape is changing exponentially, “How we Transform” is an important question we as HR professionals are being asked and the insights our associates gain from HR Tomorrow will help them answer that question for their customer groups.

As a Carlson School alumnus, what are some reasons HR Tomorrow is significant to you?   

As a current CSOM Alumni board member, and former CHRLS Alumni board member and President, I understand the important role the Carlson School plays in supporting the broader business community beyond just current students.  As Carlson continues its work leveraging business as a force for good and drives its vision to surpass all standards for excellence for the betterment of Minnesota, the nation and the world, HR Tomorrow is an example of that.  HR Tomorrow brings together students, faculty, HR professionals, and others to help share important information and trends that allow for impacting business as a force for good.  It reaches beyond the classroom to unite a common function in a common effort to improve the environment around us.

Thank You for Your Support of the 2020 HR Tomorrow Conference, Corporate Sponsors!

We have returning sponsors for this year’s HR Tomorrow Conference that we would like to express our gratitude towards. Some of these sponsors include Best Buy returning for their 9th year; Blue Cross Blue Shield Minnesota returning for their 7th year; Bristol-Myers Squibb returning for their 6th year, and C.H. Robinson returning for their 14th year. Thank you so much to each of these companies for your longtime support of our conference! We appreciate your generosity.