ACT 2020 Featured Capstone:

A Compassionate Approach to Work-Life Balance

Ratnesh Sharma

IT Technology Leader

A Compassionate Approach to improving work-life balance and

reducing burnout while working from home during the pandemic.

 

 

Describe Your Capstone Project.

The pandemic has taken a toll on the general well being of employees where they have to work hard in an “always-on” environment, prioritizing work and tight deadlines while still trying to balance the unique challenges of working from home- taking care of kid’s education, meals, doctor visits, etc. The workplace stress adds to the fear and anxiety experienced due to the disease, resulting in burnout. To make matters worse, employees often are not aware of the need to take a mental or emotional break from home or work life and take care of their own needs.

 

My three-step approach implements actionable steps to create a culture that recognizes and prioritizes the needs of employees working from home. A work environment that tries to be flexible in accommodating the needs of employees rather than meeting expectations in the workplace. The experimental solution, though delivered virtually, has its foundation on a proven, compassionate approach based on years of personal compassion cultivation, mindfulness and applied compassion training.

 

My project involves a weekly share during company office hours, active management of a social media channel to address work-life challenges, and offer solutions and a weekly "coffee break" hour to check-in and deliver mindfulness and self-compassion exercises to an employee group of four hundred. If successful, the goal is to reach out and extend the program to the larger employee base of over twenty-five thousand.

Describe Its Impact.

The weekly project share has been very successful. Employees are sharing their work from home experiences and how they have managed their work-life balance. This has legitimized blocking calendars to take care of their needs. Leadership has been sharing their own experiences and I already discern a shift in employee's expectations. More importantly, what started out as an experiment, has been very well received and we have a backlog of employees willing to share their own experiences.

How has the ACT Program helped you become an Ambassador of Compassion?

My capstone project helped me identify a need at my work where a compassionate approach could help reduce burnout and stress and lead to higher employee satisfaction. Being aware and recognizing common humanity as well as a bias for action helped me leverage my inner skills and the learnings from the ACA program to come up with a multi-tiered approach to bring compassion to the workplace.

What advice would you give to someone who's considering registering for the ACT Program?

In ACT my biggest discovery is around confidently taking on the mantle of being a Compassion Ambassador. I have been involved in compassion training for years, but always as a participant. An Ambassador, on the other hand, leads and brings compassion out to the world. This required me to actively seek out opportunities in the workplace, convince leadership on the benefits of a compassion program, build and launch the program and then take an active role in being a facilitator and leader. This "taking charge" and owning the success of the program has been very transformative.

I had to leverage all my inner skills and the learnings from the ACA and the ACT program.

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