Business Responsiveness To Staff Well-being
We have now approached the final article in this series “Psychology in Business” for 2011, and today we are going to focus on the importance of businesses’ being responsive to the wellbeing of staff members.
Over the last seven posts, we have looked at:
- Why the mental health of your business is vital to your business survival in an unpredictable economic market
- How to survive in a stressed business environment
- Why businesses need to ensure ethical practice to enhance adaptability and productivity in this market
- How to successfully manage staff cuts in business
- The importance of clearly defined staff roles in business
- Successfully introducing change in business
- And involving staff in decision making processes in business
All of these topics are essential ingredients to adaptable and successful business in this changing market. There is a great deal of noise in the business world about social media, constant technological change, changing goal posts in legal requirements, business structures and training. Unfortunately, how businesses are functioning psychologically and how they treat staff can be over looked, due to the bombardment of information, expectations and necessities.
We have already focussed on a range of specific issues and areas of ethical practice within the business management and why this is centrally important for business survival, rather than an “expensive nicety” or “optional extra”. So today we are going to look at an over view of ethical practice of staff within business.
Staff management needs to be directive for the business to run effectively. There needs to be workable structures, timelines, policies and procedures. However, there also needs to be realistic, achievable and sometimes flexible approaches to attaining effective work flow and productivity. Effective communication and appropriate staff input are two key ingredients. When we ask staff about their experience of their position in the work environment in an open and genuinely respectful way, we can learn a lot about our own business. Valuing their expertise and experience are important.
I have witnessed what happens when assumptions, miscommunication and judgement rules the workplace. And this is more likely to happen when managers, business owners and the business itself are stressed. Businesses lose opportunities to benefit from valuable staff productivity and insights. Staff members suffer and often eventually leave, maybe with law suits or Work Cover claims pending. Businesses are then left with more to deal with and new staff to train. Everyone loses!
The important message here is when external stresses such as cash flow issues, extra external demands, and economic instability impact on the business, it is essential to look at how staff are treated within your business. In other words… it is essential to look at your businesses mental health. The whole organism is made up of every person who works within the business. Everyone in the business is like an area in a brain. They all need to be functioning well for the business to function well.
It can be helpful to have a look around your business environment with open eyes every now and then. Our businesses often become like our family or our pet projects, we are too close and too habituated to them to see them clearly. Simple step back and look! Who seems to be working well, who seems most happy, who appears to be struggling, and who is most unhappy? Communicate with staff members on a one on one basis and find out how they are going. Staff will trust you as they learn their best interest is important to you, as well as the best interest of the businesses. You do not have to fix anyone’s problems, especially if their problems are located outside the business. However knowing what staff are going through and supporting them can make a big difference. By supporting them, I mean listening to them, suggesting counselling or appropriate avenues for treatment if they need it, and allowing them appropriate support, either time or financial support for treatment if appropriate to the business. Support can also be to uphold their confidentiality of what they have told you and do not partake in gossip.
Being mindful of your own stress levels as a manager or business owner is just as important. Are you sleeping well? Are you leaning too much on alcohol or other addictions? Do you feel energized or drained as soon as walk through the door of your business? When you talk about or even think about your staff, do feel resentful and critical towards them or do you feel appreciation and see what they do well? How do think of yourself as a manager or owner towards your staff? If you were to visualise a character to capture your relationship with your staff, who would it be? Are you Robin Hood or are you the sheriff of Nottingham? Are you open to constructive feedback from others about how you are going as a manager or business owner? Al these things help to enhance yours and the businesses mental health.
I would love to hear if you have been able to implement any of these ethical staff practices into your business or team that you manage. I would also love to hear about any staff member who can influence their business to adopt any of these practices. Respect and appreciation are far more powerful than control or authoritarian styles of management. To support and embrace our staff team upholds the integrity and maximises business mental health.