2020ish: The Great Awakening
If we’ve learned nothing else from the pandemic (and truth be told we’ve learned a lot), it’s that it’s critically, crucially important to treat our fellow human beings with respect, compassion, and understanding. That’s in every area of life, but for us at Culture Theory, it’s especially true in the workplace. See elements of the business world, and by extension the world of tech, have evolved seemingly in a vacuum, where common decency and emotional well-being have been left out in favor of intense competitiveness, ambition, and financial gain.
These traits are not mutually exclusive, but are so often they are framed as necessary trade offs. As if success must involve suffering and de-humanization. But the pandemic has caused many of us to question things that we once just accepted. And it forced a lot of us to finally stop and question this approach, as thousands upon millions of humans suffered serious financial and emotional hardship, while the richest people in the world increased their wealth exponentially. The veil has been lifted.
Workers around the globe are demanding
better emotional wellness at work, and leaders are taking notice and are willing to provide it. Through catastrophe sometimes comes clarity. There is simply a better way to work.
When companies care for the emotional well-being of their employees (and not just their customers), there is significant evidence to show that things like productivity and optimism increase and have a noticeable impact on company output. Leaders who exhibit high emotional intelligence tend to outperform their peers 90% of the time. Retention? Take care of the emotional wellness of your employees and provide them soft skills training and you will turn your team into ambassadors for your company or cause. It is statistically, the single most important investment you can take as a company, because it will pay back exponentially.
Employees who are trained to feel genuinely optimistic and empowered to be in control of their own work and time feel far more inspired and driven to succeed professionally. Giving positive feedback is only the start when it comes to fostering optimism in the workplace! Finding ways to encourage your employees to think positively without enforcing toxic positivity is the sweet spot. What we mean by this is much of positivity is built into processes and structure, rather than lots of forced cheers and behaviors. However, if you create a healthy work culture that nurtures your employees’ well-being in sincere and thoughtful ways, you stand an excellent chance of sidestepping the toxic positivity trap. Doing so will make your team or teams much more productive and innovative, which will make your company that much more competitive, no matter what industry you’re in.
In addition to optimism, when given the tools and support for resilient behaviors, people tend to bounce back better from failure. Employees who are not afraid of being punished for failing are more likely to own up to their mistakes and work harder to fix them and avoid making them again in the future. This is only really possible in a high-trust, psychologically safe work environment.
It Starts at the Top
One way to foster trust and good faith is for upper level management to acknowledge their mistakes to the rest of the team, whenever those mistakes are the type that will impact everyone. Doing this at an all-hands meeting will show everyone that even executives and managers are not infallible and it will reassure them that failure will not be punished, but learned from. When employees don’t need to fear repercussions for honest mistakes devoid of malicious intent, it becomes much easier to not only identify and fix those mistakes, but to grow from them. Having that resilience will, again, lead to greater productivity and innovation, and thus more success overall.
Building and maintaining emotional wellness in your workplace can seem overwhelming, especially if you don’t have complete buy-in from your executives or even the rest of your team. Try not to be discouraged by this - change is coming! More and more people in positions of power are starting to recognize the value of emotional wellness in workplace settings and are slowly but surely taking steps to make it a priority. At Culture Theory we specialize in promoting emotional wellness through teaching others about their own innate emotional intelligence. If you’d like to sign up for one of our workshops or some special one-on-one consulting, you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow our blog and/or our podcast where we discuss the many facets of Ei in professional settings. We care about your success and helping you build a more compassionate, human-centered workplace where great people can come together to accomplish incredible things!