I once worked in a client service centre of a big corporation in the UK, where I got told by a caller to pass the call to someone else who could speak English simply because of my African background. I was so willing to do so when my boss – Adele, picked up the call on the other end to say, “Yinka speaks perfectly fine and can attend to any of your queries or inquiries. Many thanks for calling” or something like that.
I was not only relieved but also appreciated the fact that I was on Adele’s team. You can only imagine how that response boosted my happiness and confidence levels. My dedication to work also got a lift.
Civility and respect at workplaces go beyond what happens among colleagues to include interactions with all stakeholders.
A psychologically healthy and safe work environment recognizes the need for civility and respect among its people, with a sincere show of respect, care, and consideration for others and acknowledging their dignity. So, how psychologically healthy, and safe is where you work?
Peter Drucker once said – “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” This quote is so accurate and profound that it birthed different exciting offshoots. My favourite is “Culture eats strategy for breakfast, operational excellence for lunch, and everything else for dinner.” With everything else in this context, meaning change agility/management, branding/marketing, and even innovation, culture remains as critical to the success of any organization as its human capital.
A toxic workplace subjects employees to harmful behaviours such as bullying, harassment, micromanagement, lack of support or respect, and negativity, thereby becoming a breeding ground for a physically, emotionally, and mentally drained workforce. This toxicity is responsible for poor management practices, lack of communication, low morale, and unhealthy workplace culture. Culture stands out as a critical indicator of a healthy and safe workplace.
Generally speaking, we are all responsible for our health and well-being; however, our jobs and work environments also impact our health outcomes. Some studies have shown how toxic workplaces trigger illnesses like high blood pressure, heart diseases, and declining mental health. Aside from spending more of our waking hours on work-related activities, our workplace can aid or impede one’s psychological well-being through physical and non-physical conditions. Therefore, organizations owe their workers the duty of care to preserve their physical and mental health and wellness by creating an environment that protects them from any psychological meltdown.
As laws and regulations permit, there are frameworks for safeguarding mental health and psychological safety at work in different countries. However, organizations need to fulfil some psychosocial conditions before being globally recognized as psychologically safe places to work.
Detoxifying a workplace thereby involves allowing these psychosocial factors to guide how people work, including deadlines, workload, work methods, relationships, and interactions with supervisors/managers, colleagues/co-workers, and clients/customers. Employees that feel psychologically supported usually have greater job attachment, job commitment, job satisfaction, job involvement, positive work moods, and desire to remain with the organization, organizational citizenship behaviours, and high job performance.
Aside from civility and respect, other psychosocial drivers that organizations deploy to detoxify their workplace are by:
• Building an organizational culture characterized by trust, honesty, and fairness. Beyond the corporate creed, these values should be practiced and not just spoken.
• Creating a workplace where the leadership communicates expectations to employees. Clarity is achieved by showing/training staff on what they need to do, telling them the importance of their roles, making them appreciate how they contribute to the bottom line, and informing them of upcoming changes.
• Documenting and assessing both physical and psychological demands of all jobs to determine how hazardous they may be to workers’ health and well-being.
• Encouraging and supporting the development of interpersonal, emotional, and job skills for growth.
• Acknowledging and appreciating employee’s efforts fairly and timely with recognition and rewards.
• Supporting and responding appropriately to workers’ psychological, emotional, and mental health concerns.
• Involving employees in discussions on how job roles are determined and vital decisions making process.
• Ensuring workers feel safe to ask questions, seek feedback, report mistakes/ problems, and propose new ideas without fear of negative consequences to their jobs, career, or self.
• Recognizing the need to balance work, personal life, and family demands.
• Ensuring employees are physically safe and protected from work-related hazards, risks, or accidents.
• Engaging and connecting with employees to motivate them to do well.
• Managing workload so tasks and responsibilities get done within a reasonably allotted timeframe.
Creating a psychologically safe workplace involves a collective effort from management and employees. Leaders should set the tone by modelling positive behaviours and creating an environment that promotes psychological safety. Employees should also take responsibility for their behaviours and interactions with others by striving to communicate openly and respectfully. By fostering a psychologically safe workplace, organizations can create a positive and supportive culture that benefits all business stakeholders, including the community they reside.
Olayinka is a well-being specialist, writes from Lagos. Email: [email protected] or follow her on LinkedIn: https://lnkd.in/efCmu87J