In my therapy practice, discontent(s) with/in workplace experiences, dynamics, and relationships are frequent topics of discussion. Considering that many people spend the majority of their days at work, this is not surprising; however, it is concerning. Spending considerable time in a space that causes distress can be mentally, physically, and spiritually draining. Below are 3 C’s you can put centerstage to foster a healthy workplace environment.
[responsibility for or attention to health, well-being, and safety -Merriam Webster]
In 2012 Google conducted a study (Project Aristotle) to determine what made a team most effective. The single most impactful factor was psychological safety. Kaloudis (2019) explained “A team feels psychologically safe to its members when they share the belief that within the team they will not be exposed to interpersonal or social threats to their self or identity, their status or standing and to their career or employment, when engaging in learning behaviours such as asking for help, seeking feedback, admitting errors or lack of knowledge, trying something new or voicing work-related dissenting views.” Intention in the areas of leadership style(s), workplace environment, and company culture can help to create a community of care that helps your team thrive. When there is a sense of psychological safety, employees are more likely to take risks, deepen engagement and communication, increase their creative/innovative and collaborative outputs, and establish or deepen team trust.
Every workplace is a community and every community has a culture. The need and desire for belonging is core to being human. In fact, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, belonging is the third most important need after physiological needs (think survival: food, water, shelter, etc) and safety needs (think security: physical safety, economic stability) have been met. What is the culture of your workplace?
Privileging connection and intersectional inclusion are important aspects of fostering a healthy workplace community. Such commitments can lead to increased innovation, expanded skills and ideas, enhanced problem solving, deepen community, and employee retention. Furthermore, in a connected community environment where there is a deep sense of psychological safety there is increased capacity and likelihood of open and honest communication.
On a team where there is psychological safety and a sense of community, the potential for healthy and effective communication steeply increases. Communication within and across every level of your organization is crucial to sustainability. The benefits of healthy communication are many, including: increased employee engagement, creative collaboration, boosts in employee morale, enhanced employee engagement, reductions in toxic relational dynamics, healthier navigation through conflict, increased productivity, and employee retention. Ways to increase communication include: prioritizing time for employees to connect, committing to transparency, addressing conflicts early and directly (and seeking support with this if/when necessary), prioritizing time for fun and/or relaxation during the workday.