Regional Head

Helmi Poortvliet

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Events

  • Regional events overview 2017

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Organizational Health and Wellbeing for Assistants

On October 7, 2017, 14 people attended the latest IMA-event at “Grandhotel Hessischer Hof” in Frankfurt. In her welcome Helmi Poortvliet, head of IMA’s Frankfurt regional chapter, briefly summarized the international conference at The Hague and gave a preview of the upcoming international conference in Frankfurt scheduled for October 2018. IMA Germany National Chairman Vera Berndt welcomed the participants and thanked Helmi for organizing the day’s event as well as Angela Parker and Ulrike Friedrich for a successful career@office in Cologne. Julia Schmidt, National Chairman of IMA Norway, came all the way from Oslo to Frankfurt to give a presentation on “Organizational Health and Well-Being“. She started her presentation with the following words: The future of our profession is all about collaboration, innovation, adaptability and human leadership… Some years ago Julia started a new position: Working 10 to 12 hours a day. Available to her boss 24/7. She started getting home late, cancelled many meetings with friends and found herself burned out. She also had doubts about herself: Am I a good assistant? Her colleagues rescued her. They helped Julia. And this is not a matter of course. During this time she found out what we often forget: “Health is Wealth”. Three words we have to keep in our mind and in our heart. They are so important. She told us things, I am sure you experienced too. She gave one example. Before her boss left the office, he gave Julia a presentation to rewrite/correct and she had 10 min time to do it. But she was lucky that a colleague helped her to do it. She was lucky to have such colleagues. She told us, that her colleagues helped her to survive the days. In the US she told us the prescriptions for anti-depressants have increased 495% since 1991. In the US there are no mandatory vacation times. 40% of employees in Germany said that their job has become more stressful in recent years. Many leaders said they are burned-out. She showed the audience a quote from Pascal Chabot (Author of Global burn-out): "Burn-out is our civilization disease". And we know the reasons: High demands in our work places, the work has doubled, working 24/7, stress, not sleeping enough and not sleeping good enough. Not the hours, but the quality of your sleep is important. A participant at Julia's presentation told us that she has no time to do her usual administration work because even on the plane her boss now has internet access and sends her mails. Before, assistants could use their bosses’ travel times to catch up with all the administrative work such as travel expenses etc. She told us that her boss is sending her e-mails with new tasks every 2 min. Do our bosses think we have nothing to do while they are on the plane? Julia seriously reminded all participants to be aware and not to forget: "It's your life and you have to choose the way carefully". We have to ask ourselves: What is health? According to the WHO "Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absent of disease or infirmity.” What do companies do to keep their employees in good shape? They send their leaders - often when it is too late - to a gym, they send them to a doctor etc. - but is this enough? Julia showed us the "Elements of well-being". These elements are: Physical / Emotional / Financial / Social / Career / Spiritual As example: think about your financials. You go to work, you do not have a good salary. You do not get enough to cover all your bills. This will cause an imbalance inside of you. She told us about companies helping their employees to help them managing their financials etc. How to deal with money etc. When all these mentioned elements are in balance, you will be healthy and a company can keep the staff healthy. And I do not have to explain what it can mean for a company to have healthy and happy employees. After the important elements Julia showed us a quote from Dr. Maria Neira: “The health of business depends on the health of workers“. Why? Who is running the business? And who are these people/workers? WE! Julia’s main message was: Each of us has the responsibility to help our executives make the right decisions regarding organizational help and well-being. It is also our responsibility. My workplace is not only my workplace. It is also the workplace of my colleagues and boss. Make yourself aware that you are also responsible for the health of your boss and colleagues. Also keep in mind that your boss is under pressure as well and is close to the danger zone every day. The zone, where is hardly time to breath and relax. Julia said: "We are sitting in management teams, we are also making decisions as much as our executives do. We as assistants can also influence the culture. You can also do something for your department. Start to do something, raise the awareness, go to the teams, bring the topic "health" to the agenda, let's talk openly about burn-out. Look around if there is a colleague in need. Try to become an "Agent of Change", focus on the positive and things making you feel good. Your number one job is your "health" and number two the health of the people around you. Put the "oxygen mask on first" and then assist the person next to you. Talk to your boss and bring the topic 'Health' into the light in the next team meeting about it. You do not need to talk like an expert, you must talk through your heart. Don't wait for permission, do not wait that somebody comes to you. Communicate through stories and not through figures". If you decide here and now to become an "Agent of Change" keep the following in your mind and soul: - Know your why - Speak from the heart - Communicate your message through metaphor's and stories - Embody your story - Do whatever it takes - Don't wait for permission We talked about the following story: Imagine - in front of you 2 elevators get open. In one there is somebody smiling at you, very friendly and in another elevator someone with a sad or aggressive look is watching at you. Which elevator would you choose? Think about it... An IMA member apparently would chose the elevator with the sad or aggressive look to talk to this person and to find out what is going wrong. Julia gave us examples from "Agents of Change". In in the US Kemetia Foley started “the walking lunch movement“. The people love that movement. Instead of sitting around, they are going together for a walk full of awareness. They try to breathe deeply, they look around to see the beautiful things, they are aware that they are here in the moment and not in the next meeting. Helen Rees from the UK started in her company “the choir movement“. Singing is uplifting emotionally rewarding, relaxing and it is a great activity for community and team bonding. Basefarm AS in Norway where Julia is happily working now - because Basefarm is one of the great places to work in Norway - introduced “the climbing movement“. Many of these movements take place during the working hours and not late at night after the work day. Julia told us that you do not look around outside for these people to start something. You already have them in your company. What will be your movement now? This is the question now? Are you afraid of changing things? Whatever you have in your mind and heart now - make it true. Keep the following advices from Julia in your mind on your way... - Make it your number one job - Visualize what is possible - Map out what is working - Use your influence to engage people - Find the right movement and go for it We thank Julia for this inspiring presentation. Please talk about it with your IMA-colleagues and friends. Feel free and let us know your idea. Every idea even if you think it is small can change the world because even the smallest idea inspires other people. It is like a circle going round and round. Find a way to start your movement. Find a way to become an agent of change – now! Following the presentation, some participants toured the hotel while others lingered to network.