The idea of someone having my back and me reciprocating has been on my mind a lot lately. In the work I do related to workplace mental health, we talk about this as one of the ways we can improve the psychological health and safety of workplaces.
Everyone wins when people look out for one another and honour each other’s contributions. These are workplaces that have a culture of civility and respect.
For an independent consultant like me, those we can count on to have our backs can vary depending on the projects and clients we’re working with. I am at the top of my game when I feel supported in doing my best work and can tell a client or colleague with confidence, “I’ve got this.”
Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to write for numerous clients whose business is supporting healthier, more productive workplaces. This area of knowledge has taught me how work can be done in ways that benefit everyone. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned about building civil and respectful team and work environments:
Let others know that you value their contribution. Recognition of accomplishments and effort is a sure way to help others feel healthier and happier at work. Be on alert for when you see others going that extra mile or showing up in a way that really benefits the team.
Be flexible and open to new ideas. If the workplace culture is truly open, civil and respectful, people will be more likely to share their ideas. While you may not be able to act on all of them, be as transparent as possible about your decision-making process and invite employees to help develop solutions that may meet their needs.
Reward those who go out of their way to help a co-worker or colleague. This can be as simple as encouraging those that received help to posting the deed and deed-doer on a whiteboard, giving a card that the deed-doer can display on their desk, or recognizing the deeds by drawing for gift certificates, lunch or a team pizza party, etc.
Find opportunities to bring work teams together outside of work. Social activities outside of work can help co-workers learn new things about one another and forge stronger working relationships. Make it okay for people to show that they’re human and to connect as people not just co-workers. Anything you plan should of course consider the abilities of everyone to participate.
Let your people know how important their work is and the difference they make in the lives of clients, co-workers, members, etc. People are more energized and inspired when they know that their contribution matters.
Walk the talk. If you happen to have a successful year or a big win in your business, consider how you can pay that forward – in your community or workplace.
Take a break. Everybody needs one. Find some healthy break activities online that people can do together or on their own. Some great free exercises are available at workplacestrategiesformentalhealth.com/newsletter/Healthy-Break-Activities.
Remember external stakeholders. So what about those (sometimes lonely) consultants or remote workers you’ve hired? I would hope you’d think about treating them with the same civility and respect as your on site co-workers and teams. Consultants like me are often brought in to do the heavy lifting and it’s a lot easier when we know someone has our back too.
Consultants like me are often brought in to do the heavy lifting and it’s a lot easier when we know someone has our back too.
I hope you find some of these ideas useful. I’d be happy to help you in communicating an approach or initiative related to wellness or mental health within your business or to those who make the decisions. Send me a note.
A few great places to learn more about the ways we can improve our work environments so that people are supported to be their best are noted below.