Dear Diary…

Encouraging employees to write down their experiences can also help improve employee engagement.

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The good old diary has been the source of many stories. Films have been based on the experiences noted down in the diaries and journals of people.

While writing a diary was a hobby that most people indulged in not so long ago in the past, there are very few today who have the time to pick up their pen to scribble a note in their diary or journal.

In this hectic and chaotic world, writing a journal can actually be very cathartic and therapeutic, especially for employees who have very challenging work schedules.

In fact, it will be a great idea for employees to keep a journal in which they can write regularly about their feelings, their colleagues, the activities at work, what they like, what they learn, what they approve of and even what they dislike. The exercise will help them in more ways than one, and to an extent help improve employee engagement.

Mental health: The diary or journal can play the role of a therapist. Just as a therapist lends a patient ear, quietly listening to all that a person has to say, the diary allows the owner to write anything and everything that comes to his mind. It allows the owner to pour his heart out, which can be a very healing experience. The whole exercise, if indulged in regularly, can keep the mind relaxed and light. For people who find it difficult to mingle and make friends, especially at work, keeping a journal can go a long way in helping them express their feelings and rid them of the feeling of loneliness. It may even help keep depression at bay for some.

Reminder: A journal can be the best place for employees to put down their goals. Every time they pick up their diary or journal, they will be reminded of the goals they hope to achieve in life, and how far or close to them they are. Encourage your employees to also put down their team’s and the company’s short-term and long-term goals in the diary. It is the best way to not only keep track of how much has been achieved and remains to be achieved, but also to not let the goals out of sight.

Creativity: While putting thoughts down on paper, the writer expresses clearly, sincerely and with honesty. Regular writing can stimulate the brain and awaken the creativity that may be lying dormant within an individual. If team leaders ask employees to maintain short-term diaries, only for specific projects, at the workplace, and request them to exchange these diaries amongst team members and also with the leader, it could be a very enlightening exercise. Of course, such an activity cannot be forced. The employees should volunteer to share their project-based diaries. Such exchanges can lead to very powerful insights.

Introspection: Journal writing forces the writer to go through all the events of the day— the situations faced, the reactions shown, the action taken, mistakes committed, and so on. This analysis of one’s own actions can help a person identify personal weaknesses, strengths and shortcomings. Being aware of one’s own self is the first step to achieving success in life. Again, a weekly activity can be organised within teams, where the members can be asked to share one quality that they learnt about themselves on going through their diaries and on self-introspection.

Report card: An individual’s diary or journal is not very different from a report card. In fact, it is even better than a normal report card and has a long-term impact on a person’s personality and career trajectory. It documents the personal and professional achievements of individuals, which one can go over frequently and at any time. It gives a good boost to one’s self-esteem. Encourage the employees to make a table at the back of the diary, and list the achievements and failures alongside the date. This table can be a ready reference for them as well as their team leaders/reporting managers, if required, and may even be handy during appraisals.

Expressions: Not all thoughts can be openly discussed. Not everyone is comfortable discussing their emotions with others. So the diary or journal offers the best means to express one’s deepest thoughts, secrets and emotions. Writing regularly makes the writer become intimate with one’s own self. Such intimacy is healthy for the mind and helps the writer or journal keeper develop healthy and intimate relations with others too.

Memories: The moments recorded in a diary bring back memories every time it is read. These memories go a long way in preserving relationships and keeping one rooted. Also, going through a diary at leisure can be a good pastime. It is almost like reading a novel, authored by the reader.

Simply put, employers who care for the mental well-being of their employees should encourage them to maintain journals or diaries. Even though it may seem like a huge task at first, once they begin, they are sure to develop a fondness for this ‘friend’ that listens, absorbs, manages to rid them of their anxiety, helps them identify their negative and positive traits, and offers them guidance without uttering a single word. Those who are in the habit of writing regularly admit that it is their way of meditating, and swear by its calming effect.

Go on! Encourage your teams to maintain personal journals and fill them with their experiences. Help them vent, release, de-stress, introspect, organise their thoughts and find their island of calm within the pages of a diary!

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