Talk to Dr. Uday Shinde, Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship at Governors State University, for very long, and eventually the topic of workplace outcomes or workplace satisfaction will come up.
He shares staggering statistics from a 2017 Gallup report which tracked responses from employees in 2015 and 2016 showing only 33 percent of employees are engaged at work. A staggering 51 percent are disengaged, and 16 percent were actively disengaged—or miserable.
“We spend so much time at work, yet we don’t really like what we’re doing—and that is sad,” said Shinde, who joined the GSU College of Business in 2015.
Those sobering statistics (from the 2017 Gallup report), along with the low level of confidence many have in corporate America, drive Shinde to encourage his students to leave their mark on the business world by making it a better—and more satisfying—environment.
“I look at business and the workplace in a very different way,” he said. “We have to make it more human so that people can be more engaged, and people can have greater satisfaction. If you’re happy with your work, you want to do it. And if you want to do something, you’re going to want to do it well.”
His passion to improve workplace outcomes also drives his research. Currently, he is working with professors at another university to determine if the use of mindfulness techniques can help reduce stress levels for accounting students. His research also has covered topics such as social responsibility, ethics, and spirituality in the workplace.
GSU Newsroom: What is mindfulness?
Shinde: The idea is to find your own calm center, which allows you to then manipulate your focus and pay attention. With anything we do, if you want to be successful, it’s important to be able to focus. That’s difficult with so many stimuli around. I’m sitting here, and I have to write emails, I have to perhaps meet students, and there’s always social media there to distract you.
This is what information has brought to us. We carry so much information in our pockets that it’s hard to really pay attention. It’s as Herbert Simon said, “A wealth of information creates a scarcity of attention.” And it does.
If you cannot manipulate attention, if you cannot pay attention where you want to, when you want to, it affects everything. So we take some time. Ten minutes of your time on a daily basis. That’s what matters. How consistently you spend time with yourself.
If you can’t spend 10 minutes of a day with yourself, it’s kind of unfair to expect other people to enjoy your company. As you start enjoying that and start realizing its value, you can start interspersing your day with those sessions.
GSU Newsroom: How does practicing mindfulness help in the workplace?
Shinde: You develop a resiliency at work. Things don’t bother you as much as they would have. And you develop the ability to manipulate your attention and focus.
GSU Newsroom: Why do the areas of social responsibility and ethics in business interest you?
Shinde: Often, when folks look at business, they think, “How do I make money?” In the general population, confidence in the business world is very low. Not so long ago these numbers were lower than the confidence in our politicians and Congress. It’s such a depressing thing. It’s something I would like to change. If anything can bring about a change in our society, I think it’s business. We have to see that business is an enabler of social responsibility.
GSU Newsroom: What is social entrepreneurship, and how does it impact society?
Shinde: Many people think of entrepreneurship in terms of “How do I make quick money?” Social entrepreneurship asks, “How do I make a difference?” And in the process, you also make money.
I’ll give you a very simple example: Tom’s shoes. Buy one and give one free. It’s one of the greatest examples of social entrepreneurship— is microfinance.
Muhammad Yunus from Bangladesh won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. His whole idea was to make finance in small amounts available to poor people. He started Grameen bank and he just gave the poorest of the poor—people who had nothing—loans, simply based on human faith. What he found was that his loans were always paid back. Most commercial banks didn’t have that rate of repayment.
This model has now taken off across the world, where people are realizing that you can look at trust and human relationships as a resource for business.I want to make my students aware of this. They can start social entrepreneurships. They can not only make a living but they can change people’s lives.
GSU Newsroom: How do you bring the principles you teach into your classroom?
Shinde: I like to get to know my students. Students should feel like their professor actually cares.I like to set an atmosphere from the beginning where my students are engaged and they feel like they can engage with me so that they can learn skills and tools which are useful for them throughout their lives. Gandhi suggested the idea of a “practical idealist.” That’s how I like to think of myself, and I want my students to keep the highest ideals while obtaining all the practical tools necessary to achieve those ideals. I’m here to make sure they succeed. I should like to think that this is how I make a difference.
GSU Newsroom: What is a personal motto?
Shinde: Know thyself. Be the change you want to see.