Twenty things that matter at work and how to make them better
by Steve Hunt, Robert Richardson & Robbie Echeveria
Happiness in life primarily depends on three things: health, social relationships, and how we spend our time. The third of these is shaped by work. Work also impacts our health and social relationships. The quality of our work profoundly impacts the quality of our lives. Work matters a lot. This is why, two years ago, we started a podcast called “Work Matters: a podcast about things that matter at work and how to make them better.”
Work Matters is for everyone who works or who wants to work. It focuses on the true end-users of SAP solutions: any employee, job seeker or student who may use SAP technology to find work, build a career or get work done. We were inspired to start the show as a result of meeting people in the SAP community who had devoted their lives to improving some specific aspect of work. The show originated from a thought Steve had while talking with Ilyce Glink, the founder of an SAP app solution that supports employee financial wellbeing, “I wish I could share what Ilyce is saying with my nephews and nieces starting new careers and families.” Steve quickly found willing partners in Robert Richardson and Robbie Echeveria, and with the support of Andy Grieg, Morgan Garner, Domi Caputo, the SAP.iO community, and the Open SAP platform Work Matters became a reality. Fast forward two years, and we have recorded twenty shows with many more scheduled!
So, without further ado, here are twenty things that matter at work and few tips from each episode on how to make them better.
Episode 1: Money matters. In the first episode of Work Matters, we discuss money, work, and happiness with Ilyce Glink the founder of Best Money Moves, a company focused on employee financial well-being.
- Money doesn’t buy happiness. But lack of money does cause stress. The first step to improving financial wellbeing is getting comfortable talking about money, especially with family. A second step is tracking all the different ways you spend money, no matter how small they may seem, and asking, “is the value it brings worth the cost it requires?”
Episode 2: E-mail matters. The way we use e-mail, texting and other electronic communication tools influences how others perceive us at work. We talk with Joe Freed, the founder of Cultivate, a company dedicated to improving the quality of electronic communication.
- We all get stuck rapidly cleaning out our inboxes. But be careful. Email isn’t just about your own productivity. Responding to a lengthy e-mail message with an overly short response can imply that you do not care about the person’s views. Studies also demonstrate that emojis enhance communication. You can and should use them at work. Just don’t go overboard! 😜
Episode 3: Resilience matters. Work is often a significant source of stress. Even if we cannot eliminate the causes of stress, we can learn to manage them. We talk about how to be resilient with Dr. Andrew Shatte, Chief Science Officer at meQuilibrium, a company dedicated to employee wellbeing.
- Resilience is a learnable skill! Developing a good understanding of which of six factors tend to trigger your emotions is fundamental to being more resilient. It also helps to understand what factors trigger your colleagues, friends, and family members.
Episode 4: Micro-learning matters. Constant learning is critical to having a successful career in a fast-changing world. Christine Tutssell, SVP at Axonify explains how micro-learning methods can integrate focused learning into our day-to-day jobs and lives.
- Our best learning often occurs in increments of three minutes or less. Learning is a bit like eating, even the largest meal is best consumed in a series of small bites.
Episode 5: Finding a job matters. Finding a job can be challenging in a world of internet career sites and applicant screening systems. Doug Berg of ZAPinfo (now part of Indeed) shares insights based on experience as a recruiter and staffing technologist on how job seekers can get noticed and get hired.
- The average job seeker may have to apply to more than 30 jobs to get a single interview. View the application process as a learning journey on how to get noticed. Studying the online profiles of people who have the job you want can also help you understand how to position yourself for success.
Episode 6: Reinvention matters. Reinvention involves changing career direction and switching to new types of work. It often comes from wanting to do something new. It can also be a result of job loss. Mihir Gandhi of Eightfold AI explains what goes into a successful reinvention.
- Informational interviews are an extremely valuable tool for defining career directions and finding career opportunities. Also think about alternative ways to demonstrate your qualifications. Many activities we may not associate with work, such as being a scout leader, sports or theater parent or a dinner club host involve skills employers care about.
Episode 7: Appreciation matters. Showing appreciation increases motivation and improves work relationships. Yet many employees feel unappreciated. Goran Rice of Semos explains why people hesitate to show appreciation, why it’s essential, and how to improve.
- We create cultures of appreciation in our workplace by showing sincere appreciation toward others. The best step to being recognized is to take time to recognize others. It is also useful to set up standard methods for showing appreciation, so people know the culturally appropriate way to send a note or gift of thanks to their work colleagues.
Episode 8: Asking questions matters. In this episode, we recap Season 1 episodes 1-7.
- We can learn a lot by asking people to talk about things they care about. Take time to ask people what matters to them, and then listen to what they say – you may be amazed how much others know about things you never considered.
Episode 9: Mental Health Matters. Caring for our mental health is essential to maintaining happiness, motivation, and drive at work and home. Regina Athié tells us how we can implement small changes to our everyday lives to improve our overall mental health.
- If you or someone you know may have mental health concerns, you are not alone. Tell someone you trust. Everyone experiences mental health issues in their lives, either directly or through someone they care about. It is part of being human.
Episode 10: Self Leadership Matters. We talk with Laurie Ruettimann, author of the book “Betting on you: how to put yourself first and take control of your career,” covering four elements of self-leadership that impact happiness at work.
- Jobs tend to be more engaging when we take on assignments that require us to learn something new. It also creates opportunities and gives us more control over our careers. And when faced with challenge work situations, remember your job is not your identity. Work is what we do, it is not who we are.
Episode 11: Belonging Matters. Feeling like you belong and are included at work has a significant impact on your work satisfaction, mental health, and personal happiness. Arthur Woods uncovers why belonging matters and how to cope if you don’t feel like you belong.
- Everyone experiences feeling excluded or not fitting in at some point in their life. Be sympathetic and supportive to those you work with who may feel left out. If you don’t feel included, you have options. Moving on is undoubtedly one. Many organizations will also help you reshape your work to fit your needs if you ask in a constructive and respectful manner.
Episode 12: Remote Work Matters. Remote, hybrid and distributed work is the future of many teams worldwide. In this episode, Dr. Laura Hambley shares tactics to improve various work formats.
- Having a space at home that physically separates where you work from where you live helps productivity and mental wellbeing – even if it is just a dedicated corner of the room. Setting clear work life boundaries is particularly critical when working remotely.
Episode 13: Family Matters, Part 1: Mothers In this episode, Dr. Pamela Cohen discusses the balance of motherhood and work and how employers can support parents.
- Parents should discuss expected changes to their work patterns before the arrival of a new child, including clarifying that expectations may need to be adjusted post-partum. You may think you know what to expect when you are expecting, but becoming a mom inevitably requires rethinking expectations around work and life. Be ready to adapt.
Episode 14: Family Matters: Part 2, Fathers and Other Parents. Dr. Pamela Cohen discusses the balance of fatherhood and work and how employers can support parents.
- Non-birth parents tend to underemphasize how much having a child will affect their work patterns, and companies often incorrectly assume the change will be minor. Birth parents need your support, and that means rethinking expectations about your work commitments so you can fulfill your new non-work commitments.
Episode 15: Getting Discovered Matters. Getting discovered can unlock your career potential. We get ideas on how to make this happen from Dan Swift, an expert in using online technology to build networks and unlock opportunities.
- LinkedIn is an amazing tool for discovering new career opportunities. But most people do not understand how to use it to maximum advantage. There are very specific things you should have in your profile, but many people do not have include them.
Episode 16: Authenticity Matters. This episode explores authentic work relationships where we feel comfortable having honest, candid, and productive conversations. Jill Popelka, President at SAP SuccessFactors, explains why authenticity is critical to creating high performing teams.
- Authenticity is not about sharing everything; it is about having the courage to share potentially sensitive but relevant information in the proper context. If you want people to trust you, then you need to demonstrate you trust them.
Episode 17: Interviews Matter. We talk with Prem Kumar, whose work at Humanly analyzes why some people succeed while others struggle during hiring interviews. Learn the science behind great interviews–whether you are the interviewer or interviewee.
- The best answers to job interview questions tend to be about 2 to 3 minutes long. Knowing this and several other seemingly minor things about interviews can make the difference between getting and not getting a job offer.
Episode 18: Evaluations Matter. Nathan Mondragon, Chief IO Psychologist at Hirevue, shares the background, design, and best approach to hiring evaluations or pre-hire examinations that screen candidates during the hiring process.
- Being well-rested before taking a hiring test or interview is essential, but surprisingly many people do not realize this. Candidates are increasingly evaluated by an algorithm. Just as with humans, there are ways to improve your score when being evaluated by artificial intelligence.
Episode 19: References Matter. What is the best way to answer the question “do you have any references?” Arnim Wahls, CEO of Firstbird, explains the right and wrong ways to use references to advance your career.
- The best time to get references is before you need them. Do not think of references as a box to check to get hired. Think of them as a way to differentiate yourself from others. The right reference from the right person can help you stand out from the crowd.
Episode 20: The Future of Work Matters. Christian Schmeichel, Chief Future of Work Office at SAP, discusses how to manage our careers in the face of a rapidly changing world of work. Christian shares specific strategies to take at different career phases ranging from “knowing yourself” and “learning a foreign language (the reason may surprise you),” to “always be learning new skills.” And Robert gives career advice to his own children!
- We cannot know the future, but we can know ourselves. Self-awareness is a critical skill for navigating a changing work environment. Cultivating a mindset of continuous learning is critical to stay relevant in the workforce.
We started this podcast with a mission to help people navigate work lives… to lead happier, healthier, more fulfilling lives. We hope to have touched on a few topics of value to you. Subscribe to the show and let us know if there is some aspect of work that matters to you. Perhaps we’ll address it in a future episode!
Sincerely, Steve, Robert and Robbie.