Is your Workplace Emotionally Healthy?

Well, we all know what happens when an organization has a leader without personal integrity. Enron, Halliburton, Monsanto, to name a few… Integrity or the lack of it flows downhill and is often revealed by how employees are treated. According to one research study, a high percentage of employees were willing to forgo additional salary to work for a company with a good reputation for treating employees fairly.

Mission statements are popular ways of putting a company’s values in writing. The only problem with this is when the observed behavior in an organization isn’t consistent with its so called mission. Then, the result is cynicism and poor morale.

Employees are more than their jobs, and when they’re seen as complete people with personal lives, emotions and distinct personalities, they feel valued. Recognition is important, but equally important is for employees to be rewarded based on what is most personally meaningful to them.

A fear-based work environment is toxic! When employees are shamed and blamed for mistakes, they stop being creative and avoid taking risks that could result in increased productivity and profits.
Most organizations know the importance of good communication, but how many actually achieve this? Employees tend to be more motivated to perform when they understand ‘the big picture’ and when communication is transparent within the company.

Is there really such a thing as work/life balance? Probably not, but when there is a demonstrated commitment to the importance of both work and life, employees feel cared about by their employers. I’ve heard of organizations that tell potential hires some version of: “No one eats lunch here.” Seriously? Personally, I work better when I’m not starving. Most people need a job, and everyone deserves a life. It is up to managers to set the example.

Yearly performance evaluations are expected in most organizations. But, what good are performance evaluations, if the employee has to wait a year to find out what they’ve been doing wrong? Supervisors need to provide on-going coaching to their direct reports to elicit the best performance. This approach avoids year-end surprises and ambushes that can demoralize an employee.

Most bosses don’t view employee retention as their responsibility, but it’s important to remember that people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad supervisors. In order to keep a valued employee, bosses need to be proactive in ensuring that employees are satisfied with their jobs.

Since employees are spending at least 8 hours a day inside an organization, wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume they might have some ideas about how to improve things? Employees should be encouraged to provide input into decision-making processes. When valuable ideas are contributed, they should be implemented. Otherwise, what’s the point?

‘Play to your strengths’ is a phrase used often in today’s business world. But how many organizations really put this into action? The individual strengths and specific talents of employees should be used as effectively and creatively as possible. It’s not enough to have ‘the right people on the bus,’ you also need to have employees in ‘the right seats on the bus.

An employee is only as good as his/her support system. Without the right resources and supportive structure, even your most motivated employees can become frustrated. Organizations need to look for ways to make it easier for employees to do their jobs and reach their goals.

Organizations have a moral responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of employees. Unfortunately, many companies only pay ‘lip service’ to creating a safety culture. In order to send a clear message to employees, any health and safety concerns need to translate into action.

In order for employees to know what’s expected of them, they need to know where the boundaries are. They also need to understand the consequences for overstepping these boundaries. Both the discipline and grievance process for employees should be abundantly clear.

In today’s world, there is no excuse for anything less than complete acceptance and equality for all employees. Regardless of the factors that make up who a person is, employers bear the burden of treating their workers fairly. An anti-harassment policy should be in place, not only for moral reasons, but also because it can prevent the loss of productivity and profits, decreased morale, and costly lawsuits.

So, now that you know what an emotionally healthy workplace looks like, will you measure the emotional health of your own organization?



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