The ‘Heart’ of a Healthy Workplace

Are you interested in working in a healthy workplace? How about leading one?

What is a healthy workplace?? It may be many things, most certainly it is a workplace that is positive.? When people are engaged in positive emotion, they are more productive, engaged and resilient to change.??They are more connected to each other, and feel safe being authentic.

How can you create this workplace?? Perhaps it is not as difficult as it seems.? It may just take a change in habit!

In her article “Positively Humming: Creating a Productive Workplace”, Anneli Knight states a grim statistic?about how a?’study showed 10 to 15 per cent of people were clinically depressed in the workplace, another 10 to 15 per cent were languishers.?? Lauguishers are often ‘presentees’ – at work, but not really ‘present’.
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Whether or not you agree with her?numbers, there does appear to be a segment of the population that is ‘not connecting’ with our current workplace cultures.
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I wonder – what would it be like – if we changed our habit at work around openness?? What if -?instead?of ‘leaving your personal life/emotions/troubles at home’ we invited people to mindfully, openly share their?experiences with their peers – at work.? What if work was a ‘safe place’ where we could all be free to be who we are.?

Check out this wonderful video.? It is a true lesson for us all.? As the teacher in the video says ‘when someone listens to you, they become part of?your heart.’

So…I wonder.? Is there not a place for more empathy?in our?workplaces?? And, isn’t it true, that when someone shares their experience with you, you ‘connect’ with them in a whole new way?

Many of the leaders I work with are fearful of ‘opening the floodgates’ by welcoming people sharing their personal experiences.? That is understandable – it can get ugly when someone is ‘stuck’ in their problems.?

An important point – also made in the video (in the scene with the young boy in the washroom) – is that our thinking and practice about dealing with emotions might be completely backward in our workplaces.? Because we do not welcome open sharing, the emotional pain and troubled experiences that people keep bottled up within them actually has MORE negative impact on the workplace, not LESS.

I think open sharing can set us ‘free’ to get to work and be productive…in a whole new way.

And, it might be a good idea, to end the sharing session with a glass of orange juice!!

What do you think?

?Deri Latimer, B Mgt, CSP, is an expert in possibilities for people! She is one of fewer than 10% of speakers globally who hold the designation of Certified Speaking Professional, the speaking profession?s measure of excellence in professional platform skill. Deri combines a Business degree in Human Resources with experience from business sectors including health care, manufacturing, education, agriculture, government, mining, transportation, tourism, and professional services. Deri helps individuals and organizations optimize their performance by managing their energy; applying the latest research and practice in positive psychology, appreciative inquiry, emotional intelligence, and employee engagement.? www.derilatimer.com

Children in a Japanese Classroom from J Z on Vimeo.

2 Replies to “The ‘Heart’ of a Healthy Workplace”

  1. Deri –

    Fascinating post. I had not heard the term languishers before.

    While I agree with you that people might do better in environments that allowed them to share openly, I also understand the manager’s concern that this “could open the flood gates.” I find that managers are ill-equipped to work in the way you suggest. And I am not certain they need to be skilled in that area. Issues like depression (or langishers if I understand the definition correctly) are conditions best served by people with therapeutic backgrounds.

    As an analogy, I recall stories about t-groups in organizations during the early days of organization development. The stories are not pretty. People went off to some nice retreat site, were encouraged to speak freely. Barriers came down. People spoke about things they had never shared with anyone at work (or anywhere else for that matter). And then they went back to work where the same hierarchy and political environment was very much alive. When they attempted to keep the open spirit alive, they found that they were putting their reputations and careers at risk. Organizations certainly should treat people with dignity and respect and try to make the work a place where people can thrive. But, I think that may be about as far as anyone (except perhaps a coach or qualified HR professional) should go.

    I doubt that we agree on the approach to this challenge, so I would enjoy continuing this conversation with you and others who read your blog. Thanks for inviting comments.

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful response, Rick! I completely understand what you are saying.
      I was thinking about creating workplaces that are not at either extreme – neither the t-groups you described, nor the ‘leave your emotions at home’ workplaces some people describe to me as being their reality.
      I just worked with an executive team, and during our session this was part of our dialogue. Our theme was emotional intelligence, and we talked about what can happen when we suppress or disallow people to express healthy emotions at work. We not only miss hearing about what might be getting in their way (negative emotions, concerns in their life, problems at work), we also miss hearing about what turns them on (their motivations, passions, connections, etc.) I think we can find a balance here.
      One gentlman in our session said – ‘Where is the line? When does sharing personal stuff become too much?’ Well, I am not sure there is a ‘line’, as such, but I do believe we can establish reasonable boundaries with our teams, allow them to be real, whole, human beings…and then carry on with their day. I am thinking that allowing that sharing might just help – in the case of negative emotions which can greatly impact performance and wellness (which manifests in absenteeism, team conflict, etc.) – with putting them in perspective and being able to strategize to manage them.
      There is no question, there are times when the leader should refer the employee to the EAP (Employee Assistance Program) because the person requires professional counselling. Those are the few cases, not the many. I fear that if we do not allow people to bring their whole self to work, and to feel safe doing so, we are missing out – on a number of levels. And, we end up with more people requiring professional intervention. I say – let’s nip it in the bud…when the negative emotion is small and more easily manageable!
      I, too, would love to continue the conversation.
      And, thank you again for sharing your thoughts with us, Rick!
      Regards, Deri

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