Happiness Evangelist

The Place to Be Happy is Here…


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HELP! I am STRESSED.

In Feb 2015, a random sample of 200 Happiest Minds participated in an Employee Health and Well-being Survey organized by Chestnut Global Partners.

The objective of the survey was to gain insight into the work perception and well-being of our people, reflected in the behaviour and attitudes of teams and individuals in the company.

The questionnaire measured three indicators of well-being:

  • Stress – signals of stress can be physical (fatigue, pains and aches) or of a psychological nature (anxiety, irritation, high strung, memory problems)
  • Motivation – a reduced well-being at work can be revealed in reduced enthusiasm in carrying out one’s job, dissatisfaction about the job, reduced pride in one’s work & the company one works for and an intention to change jobs
  • Undesirable behavior at work – Stress and lack of well-being can bring about extreme behavior at work such as bullying, lack of respect for one another, aggression and/or violence.

The results were benchmarked against the scores of 1393 people across three other sectors – Healthcare & Pharma, IT/ITeS and Automotive.

Some results:

  • Sample demographics
    • 78% men
    • 58% in the age group 25 to 34 years and 21% in 35 to 44 years
  • On two indicators of Stress and Undesirable behaviour, Happiest Minds’ scores were found to be comparable with that of the benchmark
  • On ‘Motivation’ Happiest Minds had a slightly better score than the benchmark.

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Raja Shanmugam & Ashok Soota releasing the ‘CGP India Report of Stress & Wellbeing 2015’ at the inaugural program on Employee Health & Wellness Best Practices Forum.

“Stress doesn’t only make us feel awful emotionally,” says Jay Winner, MD, author of Take the Stress Out of Your Life. “It can also exacerbate just about any health condition you can think of.”

Many studies confirm that stress seems to worsen or increase the risk of conditions like obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, depression, gastrointestinal problems, and asthma.

Following some simple stress relief tips could both lower stress and, therefore, health risks.

  1. Breathe deeply. Just a few minutes of deep breathing can calm us and tame the physiologic stress response, Winner says. While it is a good idea to build in a specific time each day to do deep breathing, it can be done anywhere, anytime. Winner recommends that “as we breathe out, we relax a specific muscle group. Start with the muscles in your jaw. On the next breath out, relax your shoulders. Move through the different areas of your body until you’re feeling calm.”
  2. Mindful in the Moment. When we are stressed, there is probably regret of the past or anxiety of the future. To get some stress relief, let us try focusing on what we’re doing right now. “You can calm yourself by bringing yourself back to the present moment,” says Winner. “If you’re walking, feel the sensation of your legs moving. If you’re eating, focus on the taste and the sensation of the food.”
  3. Reframe the situation. The Chinese word for crisis and opportunity have the same characters. Every crisis is a stepping stone to an opportunity.
  4. Being Grateful. When we think about the things for which we are grateful, our problems are kept in perspective. “You need to remind yourself of the basic ways in which you’re lucky. It can be a surprisingly effective method for stress relief.”

In addition,making larger changes to our life that include regular exercise, relaxation techniques, mediation or yoga will help with long term stress management.

  • Join the Get Active Walking Community @ Happiest Minds
  • Participate in the bi-weekly yoga sessions – Tue/Fri: 8.15 to 9 am & Tue/Thu: 6 to 6:45 pm @ SMILES 1

This takes time and effort but the benefits will be substantial.

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Ducks Quack, Eagles Soar

Thank you for your patience in reading this.

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I was waiting in line for a ride at the airport. When a cab pulled up, the first thing I noticed was that the taxi was polished to a bright shine. Smartly dressed in a white shirt, black tie, and freshly pressed black slacks, the cab driver jumped out and rounded the car to open the back passenger door for me.

He handed me a laminated card and said: ‘I’m Wasu, your driver. While I’m loading your bags in the trunk I’d like you to read my mission statement.’

Taken aback, I read the card. It said: Wasu’s Mission Statement:

To get my customers to their destination in the quickest, safest and cheapest way possible in a friendly environment.

This blew me away. Especially when I noticed that the inside of the cab matched the outside. Spotlessly clean!

As he slid behind the wheel, Wasu said, ‘Would you like a cup of coffee? I have a thermos of regular and one of decaf.’

I said jokingly, ‘No, I’d prefer a soft drink.’

Wasu smiled and said, ‘No problem. I have a cooler up front with regular and Diet Coke, lassi, water and orange juice.’

Almost stuttering, I said, ‘I’ll take a Lassi.’

Handing me my drink, Wasu said, ‘If you’d like something to read, I have The Hindu, Times  of India, ET and India Today.’

As they were pulling away, Wasu handed me another laminated card, ‘These are the stations I get and the music they play, if you’d like to listen to the radio.’

And as if that weren’t enough, Wasu told me that he had the air conditioning on and asked if the temperature was comfortable for him.

Then he advised me of the best route to my destination for that time of day. He also let me know that he’d be happy to chat and tell me about some of the sights or, if I preferred, to leave me with my own thoughts.

‘Tell me, Wasu,’ I was amazed and asked him, ‘have you always served customers like this?’

Wasu smiled into the rear view mirror. ‘No, not always. In fact, it’s only been in the last two years. My first five years driving, I  spent most of my time complaining like all the rest of the cabbies do. Then I heard about power of choice one day.’

‘Power of choice is that you can be a duck or an eagle.’

‘If you get up in the morning expecting to have a bad day, you’ll rarely disappoint yourself. Stop complaining!’

‘Don’t be a duck. Be an eagle. Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd.’

‘That hit me right,’ said Wasu.

‘It is about me. I was always quacking and complaining, so I decided to change my attitude and become an eagle. I looked around at the other cabs and their drivers. The cabs were dirty, the drivers were

unfriendly, and the customers were unhappy. So I decided to make some changes. I put in a few at a time. When my customers responded well, I did more.’

‘I take it that has paid off for you,’ I said.

It sure has,’ Wasu replied. ‘My first year as an eagle, I doubled my income from the previous year. This year I’ll probably quadruple it. My customers call me for appointments on my cell phone or leave a message on it.’

Wasu made a different choice. He decided to stop quacking like ducks and start soaring like eagles.

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Have an eagle week 😃


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Creating a Culture of Caring

We face myriad challenges in our daily interactions with people. A caring approach can form the basis for transformation – developing, nurturing and mentoring others will create happier and healthier environments that generate greater innovation and better outcomes.

Role modelling the principles of caring could truly change the culture of the Company.

What does a caring environment look like?

How would it envision a set of values that addressed our responsibilities and also align with our mission that is critical to the well-being of our people and our customers?

Judy McDowell, Randy Williams and Donald Kautz with their Caring Model© identify a set of five values that are essential to success in today’s environment – especially if “success is defined not by wealth alone but by how one cultivates and enriches the human condition”.

  • Always be kind, compassionate and show equality.
  • Generate hope and faith through co-creation.
  • Actively innovate with insight, reflection, and wisdom.
  • Purposely create protected space founded upon mutual respect and caring.
  • Embody an environment of caring-helping-trusting for self and others.

It is therefore possible for us to create an environment of care, support and collaboration – a culture of respect that promotes the flourishing of the human spirit.

This ultimately creates not only a positive return on our quarterly score card, but a culture shift that produces sustainable results.


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Do we give our people H.O.P.E.?

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The Annual Great Place to Work ® Conference was held in Dallas, US in April 2015.

Putting together for you, ten take-aways from the conference.

Where do we stand? What distance do we need to cover?

  1. It’s Personal, Not “Perk”-onal

“The real core of a Great Place to Work® are the relationships that people have with each other. Google is a great example of this. Virtually every perk they offer is matched by someone else in Silicon Valley. What’s distinctive about Google is the great relationships they have with employees.” – Robert Levering, Co-Founder of Great Place to Work®

  1. Your employees are an invaluable source of information. Listen to them

“Our nurses could be nurses anywhere. So could all of our other people. So we ask them…we know you love your work. What could we do to make you love it even more?” – Donna Hyland, President & CEO, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

  1. More than enabling “work-life balance,” great workplaces actively support employees as whole people.

“The question is not: ‘How well do we divide our work life and our personal life?’ The question is: ‘How do we stay whole, as people?’…This is something that we need to help solve for our employees, as employers.” – Kevin Cleary, CEO, Clif Bar & Co.

“Being a great place to work is about great people working, not just about being a workplace where we’re great when people show up. Work and life are integrated. They’re not balanced, and it’s a false equivalency to think that they ever really are.” – Danroy Henry Sr., Chief Human Resources Officer, Bright Horizons Family Solutions

  1. Be as transparent as possible. – “You have to constantly work to ensure that everyone understands what you understand, and the context for the decisions you’ve made. When people have the context for the decisions you’ve made, they may not agree with them, but at least they’ll have the information they need to execute against them.” – Dick Costolo, CEO, Twitter

“We communicate the good and the bad. We don’t hold anything back. You can’t ‘spin’ people in an environment of high trust. We share financial information with our staff; they know our strategic plan, and how they fit into it.” – Jim Proppe, Group Managing Partner, Plante Moran

  1. Many great workplaces are using HR Analytics to become even better workplaces.

“Analytics are another game changer, to make smarter talent decisions. We do all of this work to understand our customers. What about our employees?” – Jennifer Johnston, Senior Director of #dreamjob Marketing, Communications and Events, Salesforce.com

“SAS uses data in everything we do. Workforce analytics helps us better understand our people – from hiring to engaging to building leaders.” – Jenn Mann, Vice President, Human Resources, SAS

  1. Inspired products and services come from inspired people. Connect your employees to a sense of purpose at work.

“The pursuit of excellence hinges on how well we inspire our people, on a deeply personal level, to want to deliver excellence.” – David M. Gordon, President, The Cheesecake Factory

“Purpose is not incremental to your company’s core business. It IS your company’s core business. ” – Kevin Cleary, CEO, Clif Bar & Co.

  1. Leadership commitment to a strong culture is critical to creating a great workplace.

“[I spend] a good one-third of my time or more on internal culture building…. How is it possible not to? Every child, every employer, every family that we serve is affected every day by a human being that works for Bright Horizons. Ultimately, our reputation, our success, turns on every individual experience we have.” – David Lissy, CEO, Bright Horizons Family Solutions

  1. Embracing diversity will serve your culture as well as your business.

“With 4,000 diverse people across the globe, I’m not going to have all of the great ideas. They’re going to come from all over the company, and the more diverse that group of 4,000 is, the better selection of ideas you’re going to have.” – Dick Costolo, CEO, Twitter

  1. A strong company culture is a key strategic differentiator

“Culture is your company’s secret sauce. It’s what makes you YOU.” – Francine Katsoudas, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Cisco

“I firmly believe the most leverageable asset we have is our culture. It’s our competitive edge. ” – David Lissy, CEO, Bright Horizons Family Solutions

  1. People who are building great workplaces are changing the game.

“The Game Changers are the people who change the way things are done, thought about, or made.

You dream the possibilities and run fast into the challenges.

You challenge the status quo.

You take risks for the sake of making something great happen!

You are the optimist in the midst of pessimists.

You are persistent among some who might otherwise be complacent.

You turn transactional into gift-like;

When you’re handed lemons, you make lemonade

Bottom line… You make what seems impossible possible.

But best of all …You give people hope!

You’re the game changers!

Thank you for making a difference in the world!

Marisa Stoltzfus, Consultant, Great Place to Work®

Let us continue to be Game Changers.

Let us continue to Give our People H.O.P.E.

Let us continue to Make a Difference.


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Instilling Pride

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How do we create and build pride among our teams?

P – Provide a positive work environment

“The climate created by the leader their direct reports predicted the business performance of the entire organization. In 75% of the cases, climate alone sorted companies into high versus low profits and growth.” (Daniel Goleman, in his book, “Primal Leadership”). Let us build an environment where we are mindful of our people. An environment where we are attentive to the interests of others, polite and courteous, displaying kindness & concern for others and paying careful attention to doing things correctly.

R – Recognise, reinforce and reward effort

People have a basic human need to feel appreciated, and recognition programs help meet that need.

I – Instill meaning and purpose in what people do

People want to be a part of something useful, valuable, and bigger than themselves.  Let us help them see how what they do makes a difference for others.  Let them see the mission of the Company and how they can fit in to it.  Even more importantly, let us help them see why this mission is important. Those who understand their job’s wider purpose are happier, more engaged and more creative. At the company level, when people see how their roles fit in with the company’s goals, attrition reduces and productivity increases.

D – Develop people

The performance of the team depends on the how well they are trained and developed. Ongoing training enhances effectiveness, helping people taking on significant challenges. It creates a pool of qualified people who are ready to step into new roles. Please reach out to our L&D team for more information on available and customized training programs.

E – Encourage innovation

Let us encourage our teams to be imaginative and innovative;  let us build individuals into a team that enjoys being together at work. Team innovation is the backbone of every successful company. It’s what sets a business apart from the competition, and helps it grow and prosper.

One of our vision statements, achievable by FY 17, is to ‘be recognized for Thought Leadership in our focused areas of technology and solutions.’ To measure this, we have clearly defined criteria: Be placed in the top quadrant by leading analysts for Thought Leadership and ability to execute for at least 2 of our solutions/services; In at least two of our solutions/services/IPs, establish Happiest Minds amongst the top 10 Services companies globally; and IP led revenues as a percentage of total revenues to exceed 10% in 3 years and 25% in 5 years.

A climate of innovation will provide a clear line of sight to achieving these objectives.

Eliciting excellence in others is the essence of leadership, and one of the most effective means of eliciting excellence is to instill a sense of pride in those around us.

Let us all, as a team, work towards instilling a sense of belongingness and pride in our people, so that together we can create happiest people and therefore, happiest customers.