Finding meaning in work leads to productivity

By Karen Galarpe,

Posted at Apr 06 2011 08:22 PM | Updated as of Apr 07 2011 04:22 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Do you find meaning in your work? Your answer to that will determine how productive you are at work.

That's because productivity and wellness go hand in hand, according to renowned licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Mario Martinez, founder of the Biocognitive Theory and The Empowerment Code, an organizational training program combining principles of psychoneuroimmunology, neuroscience and cultural anthropology to the workplace.

And if employers want to raise productivity, they have to look into how they can maximize employees' creativity, initiative, and productivity while eliminating conditions that lead to chronic illness, said Martinez.

Dr. Mario Martinez (middle) is flanked by SAS officials, Maxie Ventura-Garin, SAS Institute (Philippines), Inc. Country Operations Director, and Emmanuel Halili, Regional Director for the Pacific Region of SAS Institute Pacific.

Martinez, based in the US, met the local media recently when SAS Institute (Philippines), Inc. hosted a small group interview. He was invited by SAS Philippines to conduct training workshops in their company to understand how employees can communicate effectively in ways that can promote wellness and productivity.

"It's not about reducing stress," Martinez said. "What we have found is that the most important organization in the world is within you--the immune system. Salaries, motivation are not enough. When employees do not find meaning in their work, when they are given responsibility without authority, these make them sick. And when you're helpless, your immune system shuts down."

Martinez's program calls for Empowerment Code groups or solution teams wherein employees, assisted by a mentor, come up with solutions to address business challenges.

"Our Empowerment Code training workshops teach decision-making strategies based on how the immune system responds to uncertainty...We teach how to boost individual performance in ways that indirectly increase wellness," he said.

Employees thus get empowered and receive honor and respect. "Instead of shaming [people], we shape success," said Martinez who holds a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Madrid.

"Gyms, day-care centers, gourmet cafeterias, promotions, raises, elegant offices and other benefits do not prevent chronic illness when the cultural language of an organization lacks honor and respect," Martinez said.

Maxie Ventura-Garin, SAS Institute (Philippines), Inc. Country Operations Director, revealed they are still in the 2nd phase of the program but they have already seen improvements in the workplace and in people's health.

She and Emmanuel Halili, Regional Director for the Pacific Region of SAS Institute Pacific, have already lost weight as a result of the change in mindset.

Halili also saw his blood tests improve significantly when he started curbing his workaholic habits. "Six months ago, I was your classic workaholic. I was in sync with the office even when at home. One of the things I decided to change was to turn off my phone and Blackberry at 7 p.m. to spend time with my wife and kids. My blood tests improved significantly. There's less stress," he said.

"Some team members who were also thinking of going abroad have decided to stay," Ventura-Garin reported.

Tips for workers and employees

Martinez shared that companies should realize what their greatest asset is. "It's not just the employees but the health of the employees," he said.

He also shared some tips for working people on how they can take care of their health:

1. Work meaningfully for 8 to 10 hours a day. Take a break every hour and a half to look at a plant or something green for 5 minutes.

2. If you're sick or burned out, don't go to work. You're just going to be there but not there. That's presenteeism, as opposed to absenteeism.

3. When you get some rest yet still feel tired, you're burning out. You need a break. Relax. Think of the people who love you unconditionally.

4. If you're working 7 days a week, manage your time in a qualitative way. Have a massage on the 7th day, for instance. Massage can boost the immune system for up to 6 weeks.

5. Breathe. Take deep breaths to desensitize the nervous system.

6. Cultivate a culture that honors rather than shames people. Shaming somebody can lead to cardiovascular problems.