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The Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell created the Employee Recommended Workplace Award to honour companies that put the health and total well-being of their employees first. Register for the 2020 Employee Recommended Workplace Award at: This series of articles supports the award.

Have you ever thought about all the things that must go right for you to get home each day from work?

Perhaps not. The reality is, many of us are on autopilot, focused on getting from Point A to Point B. We kind of take it for granted.

To be safe at the end of each day, many things must go right. Let’s say you drive to work. How many cars do you pass that you count on staying in their lane? When walking down a street, how many things didn’t hit you or fall on you? When you’re walking up or down stairs, how many times did you not slip and fall? It’s incredible how much luck we must have and the number of prudent decisions we need to make to be physically safe each day.

Our mental health in the workplace is similar. Most of us can relate to all the demands placed on us, such as the constant information, workload, expectations and changes in priorities. It’s often easier to notice what’s not going well than what is going well, as our brains are hard-wired to quickly notice what we don’t like or want.

Take the time each day to have “wow” moments. Wow moments are when we notice something positive in our life that releases positive emotions. When we do this, we position our brain to release feel-good chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine, endorphins and oxytocin. We need only to notice wow moments and pause to enjoy them.


Training our brain to look for wow moments can help us find positive waves that can affect our mental state and mood. One study found that happy employees are 20 per cent more productive than unhappy employees. By becoming aware of the benefits, we create opportunities for our brain to release positive neurotransmitters that support our well-being and facilitate mindfulness that promotes positive mental health.

Our mental state in the workplace matters, and the more we can do to positively influence our mental state, the more likely we are to enjoy our experience at work.

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges is to manage our emotions under pressure. When things feel hard, our sensitivity to little things is decreased, and we’re more likely to be frustrated.


Life isn’t easy, but no one said it would be. However, many start with the expectation that things at work and at home are supposed to go perfectly all the time. The reality is, they don’t. After the challenging times come the good times, and then more challenging times.

We can’t control everyone or everything, and there are going to be times when we feel frustrated by moments we experience in the workplace. One remedy is to accept that most days we also have wow moments, if we’re open to noticing them. Like the time you had a challenge that was upsetting you, and after an hour of strain and stress you got through it. Wow! It was finally done.


At any time in any day at work we can feel as if we’re riding waves of positive and negative moments. These moments influence our workplace experience. Most of us want to feel productive and that we’re contributing in the workplace.

Tips for finding wow moments

  • Acknowledge un-wow moments for what they are – Whenever you perceive a negative in the workplace, accept it as a moment in time. Put a name to what you’re feeling in that moment and acknowledge your feelings. Like any wave that dips down, in time it will rise.
  • Be open and acknowledge wow moments – Each day many positive things happen. Someone acknowledges your work or contribution, or you feel as if you’ve made a difference by helping someone. Instead of taking these for granted, slow down, focus on the positive and allow yourself to acknowledge the moment and enjoy its benefit. Keep in mind that life doesn’t come with a guarantee, and it takes a heck of a lot of luck and paying attention to your behaviours to succeed.

Read about the 2019 winners of the award and watch a video from the winners here. You can also purchase the benchmark report that outlines findings from 2019 at this link.

Bill Howatt is the founder of Howatt HR Consulting and a co-creator of the Employee Recommended Workplace Award.

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