The Velvet Revolution at Work: The Rise of Employee Engagement, the Fall of Command and Control

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Here are three strategies to improve how you approach mental health within your organization:. Understand that knowledge is power. Make a point of truly trying to understand the advantages of a mentally healthy work atmosphere. A happier team equates to higher commitment, creativity and productivity. On the other hand, it is also important to realize the risk factors that can trigger poor mental health, such as lack of engagement, non-inclusion in decision-making, excessive workloads and more.

There are numerous measures you can take to minimize these risk factors, including awareness of health and safety, greater autonomy, recognition of good work, promoting work-life balance and supporting career development. It is also critical that business leaders are better informed on the current landscape of mental illness.

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The stigma associated with mental illness in our society tends to stem from unfamiliarity. Keep in mind, the great majority of people who struggle with poor mental health can be productive and valued employees when the proper support system is in place.

Building Company Culture: Alignment Leadership

Take practical steps to help your organization. You can access the latest educational and training materials either digitally or in hard copy formats. There are also diagnostic tools, which allow for monitoring employees, that you can download and use, too. Please note that these tools do not replace the need for professional input, but they can serve as tools to help gauge basic general employee mental health. Let employees know where to go if they need help.

If you are facing a deluge of negative emotions amongst your team members, they may feel seeking help is an overwhelming prospect.


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However, if your company has policies and procedures in place that aim to improve the mental well-being of everyone on staff, there should always be a clear path for employees to engage with and share difficulties confidentially. Remember, as an employer, you are not expected to be a mental health expert — in some situations, a referral may be required. When leaders make conscious efforts to embrace positivity — even in turbulent times — we can help our employees experience increased positivity and more success.

The Velvet Revolution at Work : The Rise of Employee Engagement, the Fall of Command and Control

The statistics about making such efforts are telling: one recent study by ValueOptions revealed that employees who utilized mental health tools and met with a mental health provider reported a decrease in absenteeism, and considerable improvement in both productivity and overall mental health. The long-term investment in mental health awareness, education and training will inevitably create returns that outweigh the loss of productivity in the professional world.


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He is an inspirational business leader, international speaker and mental health activist from Munich, Germany. Today, he dedicates his time to fighting the depression epidemic and promoting mental wellness in the workplace. You can connect with him on LinkedIn , Twitter and Facebook. We want to learn—to relate and interact. We want to connect. But over the years, depending on our upbringing, our schooling, and our work, our desire to engage gets suppressed. It gets covered up.

Our job as leaders is to uncover and rekindle that child-like desire to engage with others and our environment. We can learn a lot here because teaching, like leading, is about serving others while achieving a result.

Employee Engagement - Who's Sinking Your Boat?

Indeed, teaching is a function of leading. We teach much more than our subject matter; we teach trust or distrust, courtesy or discourtesy, warmth or coldness —the lessons between the lines. The people we lead are not coming to us from our perspective. They have their own that has been years on the making. Bear in mind that you are teaching young men and women with an educational past that has shaped them. We bring our whole selves to work. Our hope, our scars, our dreams, our fears, our expectations, and our assumptions. Our childhood sense of wonder has been abused.

We are conditioned to want to be right more than we want to be accurate. Behold the class before you. They are not blank slates, nor are they ignorant. There is plenty written on those slates and your task is to rewrite much of that text— if they will trust you and if your good enough to get that close to them. They sit before you, thoroughly trained brainwashed might be a better word in ways of pedagogy that will determine how they hear you, what they hear and cannot hear, and how they will absorb what you say.

We are not leading another version of us.

The Velvet Revolution at Work: The Rise of Employee Engagement, the Fall of Command and Control

We are leading a human being similar in form but different in substance. These people come to you with layers of expectations that have been created starting in the first grade. Like an old kitchen countertop, they have been painted over and over. The oak, cherry, or maple cabinet beneath is smothered by an amour of paint. Thirty countertops, each covered with a dozen coats of paint, file into your room, take a seat, and open their spiral-bound notebooks.

They know the drill; go ahead, start brushing it on.

The sorrow of this parable is that they expect it. They actually expect you to drone on, giving them fact after fact while they fill their notebook and worry about memorizing all this information. A leader has to peel off the old paint and get to that desire to engage that has been unwittingly covered over.

Leading Blog: A Leadership Blog

We have to uncover the desire to engage. The desire to learn. The desire to connect. The tendency is to be instructing. We do need to instruct but it needs to be part of a larger, coherent story that people can feel a part of. We are wired to engage. Our task as leaders is to uncover what is already there. Civility and respect are not the norm in daily workplace interactions. Our own observations make us keenly aware of these dynamics. Now there is research to - unfortunately - support our observations.

Communication Error Occurred.

There were few optimists among those interviewed. This research and our own experiences make on thing clear: treating colleagues in the workplace with dignity and respect is not the norm. Disrespect and incivility erode trust, performance, service, and proactive problem solving in our organizations every day.

All is not lost. I work with senior leaders of organizations of all sizes and industries to help them create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures.

Define your desired work culture. Senior leaders must make values as important as results - and to apply the same discipline to formalizing values expectations and measuring values expectations as they do to formalizing and measuring performance expectations. Values must be shifted from lofty ideals to observable, tangible, and measurable behaviors. By defining company values in behavior terms, those valued behaviors becomes measurable expectations. I do not act or speak rudely or discount others.

I work to resolve problems and differences by directly communicating with the people involved. These behaviors - along with the valued behaviors from their other five values - make it clear what the minimum standards of citizenship are in this organization. Align all plans, decisions, and actions to your valued behaviors. Senior leaders must model and demonstrate these valued behaviors in every interaction. Simply defining these valued behaviors - and marketing them like crazy with, for example, posters throughout your workspace - does nothing more than increase awareness.