There are a lot of women in the Mums in Heels community who make me feel proud to be a woman, and to be a mum. I often wonder how do we manage to pull everything together – our kids complicated schedules, family and household management (just to put this in perspective one family eats approx. 1,095 meals per year, snacks and parties not included. Managing food is a worthwhile endeavour), social networking, friends, holiday planning and corporate jobs or managing our own business. I wonder where do we get the energy to manage all of that and still look so good?
Modern moms may look like they are doing it all, having it all, always looking so damn good, but I can tell you (from personal experience again) that it’s only a perception.
I believe we often find our escape and reward in the work we do and that’s why it is very important to feel happy at work most of the time, to feel fulfilled and to find meaning in what we do.
Today I am sitting with Aurelie Litynski, an expert on finding and creating Happiness at Work, to talk about how working mums can feel happier in their jobs. I am asking Aurelie about her daily life as well. She is a mom of two girls aged six and three-and-a-half, she is a wife and a Chief Happiness Officer at her own company, Happitude at Work, and, on top of all that, she volunteers at PWG Zurich.
Once again, I am trying to find out: how does she do it?! What fuels her and gives her direction in life, what happiness at work means and how to achieve that? We will also talk about the upcoming PWG conference in March.
Aurelie is French. She has moved to Switzerland to work in Geneva, where she has met her Polish/Swiss husband. They started a family and moved to Zurich for his career almost 11 years ago.
Aurelie started her company two years ago with the main mission to increase the happiness of corporate employees leading to a better performance both on an individual level and on a team level.
Like many women we all know, Aurelie felt frustrated at her corporate job to the point where it started to accumulate and have a negative impact on her personal life. That’s what made her change her career, focusing on her strengths and learning as much as possible about how to improve the work environment for employees so they feel happier at work, work better together and minimize their frustrations.
Tsitaliya: Aurelie what does it mean to be a Chief Happiness Officer for companies?
Aurelie Litynski: Being an employee years ago, I always wished that managers and co-workers had a better understanding of the impact that their attitude had on the work environment, our motivation and our health. I also felt the need to have more opportunities to communicate & brainstorm as a team on what could be improved in our daily work to increase our performance.
As I decided to become a Chief Happiness Officer, I went to learn from worldwide experts on this topic and I created the approach that I wished I would have had as an employee.
When I work with my clients, I initially create awareness on the topic of “happiness at work” to emphasize the value for the company and the employees, and thereafter I help teams to implement a strategy where their happiness is valued higher.
Tsitaliya: Aurelie what are your top three tips for moms looking to feel happier at work?
Aurelie L.: First create an environment where flexibility is permitted. Don’t be afraid to ask for flexible hours. Don’t forget that when we have more flexibility, we feel much more calm and more productive, efficient and responsible. We also organise our time better.
Clear Communication with your managers and colleagues about what is important to you at work and what are the challenges as a working mom. Companies are focussing g on employees a lot more today and if you are being open and honest you might find solutions how the whole team can work better together.
Focus on yourself: ask yourself what do YOU need to feel happier at work? As soon as you know what would make your life easier and what would make you happier, make a plan and make it happen.
Tsitaliya: You are a mom of two, an entrepreneur and also volunteer at the PWG Zurich. How do you find time for all these and your relationship? Do you ever find time to socialise? What brings you at the moment the greatest fulfilment?
Aurelie L.: It’s a question of priorities and mindset. I have always enjoyed to be busy, and in the end it is not a matter of finding the time; I just do it because this is what comes natural to me and how I lead my life best to be happy.
When I became a mum, I reduced my work to 60% to spend more time with my kids. But honestly I was not fulfilled, and I felt like I was missing something on the professional side to challenge myself.
When I founded my company Happitude at work, I started to be more active at networking events. This is when I became a member of PWG. Every event I attended gave me so much energy and motivation to move my business forward. And now I am supporting PWG to organise their yearly conference. Although it’s a lot of work being engaged in organising a conference, working on something that is a good cause for women and the workplace really lifts me up and makes me feel empowered.
So yes, I am extremely busy with 2 kids, my own business, volunteering, husband, household and everything around, but this is how I gain my motivation and charge my batteries.
As long as “Mama” is happy, the whole family is happy!
It took me a few years to realise that I do not need to feel guilty about getting my motivation from my active every day. I prefer to spend quality time with my family rather than quantity time. Being my own boss also gives me a lot of freedom which has other advantages for my family.
I stopped trying to find a daily work-life balance. There are days where my priorities are more towards my business and other days where I’m fully present with my family. The most important is to be aligned with what makes YOU happy. The rest will follow.
Tsitaliya: Tell me what do you love the most about being a mom?
Aurelie L.: For example, when we have family time and we all play together, I love that the girls take my side when my husband jokes about me and “teases” me. They always want to take my “defence” and let’s admit it: I love it :)
Parenthood is difficult, so we should embrace these funny moments more.
They often come to me and say “I love to give you a hug” and this makes me realise how important I am to them and I can see true love in their eyes.
Tsitaliya: When you have doubts how to deal with certain situations as a parent what do you do? Who do you turn to for advice?
Aurelie L.: When I’m struggling with parenthood, I talk about it! When you express your feelings or doubts out loud to someone else, you often find the answers yourself. My best friend Marie and my mum are the first people I turn to. My husband is of course also my best buddy, we are a real team and with the years, we have become experts in couple’s communication :)
Tsitaliya: How important is for you and your image what you wear? What role clothes play in your life? What’s the most important thing for you when you choose what to wear?
Aurelie, L.: Now that I have my own company and especially when working on the topic “Happiness at work”, it is very important to reflect my energy through what I wear. I always used to wear lots of colours but now I pay more attention to choose certain colours and styles that align with my message and brand. $
When I wear something that reflects my personality I see a clear difference in my behaviour and level of self-confidence.
Tsitaliya: Do you have a style Icon or a role model you look up to when you are in doubt or struggling with inspiration and motivation in your life?
Aurelie L.: To be honest: No. In Switzerland I am struggling to find the style I like for an affordable price. I always do my shopping back home in small French boutiques or in Poland when I go to visit my husband’s family. For me it is more important to buy unique clothes rather than expensive clothes.
Tsitaliya: What do you personally get from being a member and volunteer at the PWG? There are many women’s groups and networking events. But I am sure as a mum you are very careful about organising your time efficiently so you can also be with your family! I wonder what do you find special about the PWG and why did you choose them in particular?
Aurelie L.: A friend of mine recommended me PWG when I started Happitude at work. She knew I would get along with the group. The same week I discovered the blog of the event manager, now president of PWG: Ana Tediosi. I was reading her blog about working mums . I immediately told myself: “OMG I have to meet this lady!” What she first wrote could have been my words and I was completely aligned with her message. We met, got along very well and a few days later I attended my first PWG Event. I think you don’t just choose a group, you choose the people from the group. It’s like in the workplace: most the time, you don’t leave the company, you leave managers. At the end it’s all about people and communication.
Tsitaliya: There is an upcoming conference that the PWG is organising: The Rise of Diversity, redesigning the corporate culture. Can you tell me more about it?
Aurelie L.: I am the conference leader for the yearly conference of PWG happening on Saturday March 30th. This Conference is going to be very special: we put all our effort to create a programme where you won’t get only inspired but you will leave the conference with lot’s of hands-on tools to apply in your workplace the next days.
Crucial topics will be addressed:
Prof. Gudrun from the University of St Gallen will speak about Unconscious Bias in the workplace. We will learn in a panel discussion about the tactics and strategies that women leaders use to balance their various roles. In another panel, top leaders such as Bea Knecht from Zattoo or Martin Grieder from Sonova will share how they make diversity a part of the culture organisation.
On top of other great sessions, participants will have the opportunity to learn new skills during workshops focused on career, happiness at work, communication and many more.
This conference is open to men & women with the focus to redesign the workplace culture.
It is the go-to event if you want to achieve more performance through diversity.
Tsitaliya: Finally I want to ask you about your best tips on networking?
Aurelie L.: Always identify your goals before you go to a networking event and you speak to people. Why am I joining this event? What would I like the outcome to be? With whom do I really need to speak?
If your goals are set from the beginning, you will have a clear message and you will be more confident and professional. When I know that I need to get in touch with a specific person who might be important for my business, I define exactly what I would like to gain from our talk in advance. It’s working pretty well!