A little fun, a bit of risk and just a dash of motivation

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Time to get back to the stack of e-mails piling up on my desk, and back to dispensing what I hope is helpful advice to get through these trying times.

First up: “the antidote to reducing job stress and increasing productivity,” courtesy of Bob Pike, chairman and CEO of the Bob Pike Group and the founder/editor of the Creative Training Techniques newsletter.

So, what’s his cure for alleviating stress in the workplace?

Fun.

And here are a few way to do that, all while ensuring that “fun leads to productivity.”

1. Make people smile (at a minimum) and laugh (if at all possible).

2. Positively and publicly remind people of their value to the organization and to each other.

3. Be inexpensive to develop, easily prepared and able to be implemented within time and space limitations.

4. Uplift people’s spirits in ways that make them feel good about being part of the organization, (e.g., not embarrass, belittle or offend anyone in or outside the organization).

5. Be as inclusive as possible, while respecting the right of anyone to opt out without censure, ridicule, pressure or criticism.

Up next …

Risky business

It’s been a while since I passed along a few tidbits of wisdom from my buddy John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

So, digging through the stack, I found an e-mail about the percentage of job seekers starting their own business jumping to the highest level since 2007.

J.C. says that means confidence among entrepreneurs could be on the rise — which could bode well for that economic recovery which we’ve all been hearing about.

The company’s quarterly Job Market Index shows that 8.7 percent of job seekers gaining employment in the second quarter of 2009 did so by starting their own enterprises. That was up from 6.4 percent during the previous quarter and nearly double the start-up rate of 4.3 percent during the second quarter of 2008.

“This environment in not very conducive for starting a business, which makes the increase in entrepreneurial activity among job seekers that much more remarkable,” Challenger said. “Credit is still extremely difficult to obtain and spending by businesses and consumers remains relatively meager. However, there have been some signs that the economy is finally stabilized after its dramatic freefall, which may be enough spark for eager entrepreneurs.”

J.C. might be on to something.

The national Federation of Independent Business’ Optimism Index reached 88 during June, up from 84 during January.

And even though it’s still below the baseline of 100, it appears to be heading in the right direction — after bottoming out recently at 81.

I’ll leave it to J.C. to sum up.

“Small business owners do not quite see the light at the end of the tunnel, but there is a sense that we have at least passed the halfway point,” he said. “Once banks are in a position to open the lending spigot again, we are likely to see a surge in start-ups.”

And, J.C. said, it’s important to keep in mind that CG&C was surveying individuals who were forced into the labor market because they lost their jobs — making them a bit more averse to risk than folks who voluntarily quit to pursue entrepreneurial activities.

“As the economy recovers, the biggest increase in new start-ups is likely to come from those who launch businesses while still employed,” he said. “We could also see a surge in entrepreneurship among retirees. In the recovery, companies will rely heavily on contract workers as they approach re-staffing with caution. They will want individuals who have a clear understanding of the industry and can hit the ground running. Who better than a project-seeking industry veteran?”

Good news for a lot of folks, but I doubt there’s going to be a major rise in the demand for freelance editors.

And finally …

It ain’t money

Why do senior executives and managers go to work each day?

Big bucks? Cushy benefit packages? Cool office with real wood furniture and great views?

Nope.

Challenge.

According to a survey by NFI Research, 78 percent of business leaders are motivated to head to the office by challenge. Seventy percent are motivated by pride in their job and 67 percent by responsibility.

Of course, the folks who work for large companies are in it for the greenbacks. Eighty-three percent are motivated by compensation.

And what is the least motivating factor for throwing on the suit and tie every morning?

Pension /stock vesting (5 percent) and tradition/habit (10 percent).

Although if I had a really sweet pension to fall back on, I might be extremely tempted to make not coming to work a traditional habit.

Mike Boyd is editor of the Colorado Springs Business Journal. He can be reached at Mike.Boyd@csbj.com or 329-5206.