We’re living in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world that continues to change at an unprecedented rate. Take a look around you, the world looks nothing like it did ten years ago. And if you had been asked to predict the socio – political upheavals of the last 12 months, well, I’ll bet that you couldn’t have (and if you had? we would have sat and laughed). The world is changing rapidly and we need to find a way to change with it. Whilst we know much about the importance of individual resilience and it’s impact upon performance, we often miss the uncomfortable truth that even resilient individuals will struggle to thrive in organisations that are designed to stifle rather than support.
If you arrived at work this morning, feeling good, shared a few words or a joke with colleagues then you’re probably in an organisation with a positive work culture. If your answer is ‘Yes’ feel the love and sit this article out. If you walked through the door and the toxicity was palpable, sticking to the floor, your shoes, eventually enveloping you, then that negative workplace culture may be damaging more than your day.
Part of us knows already that this isn’t the right way to live. You don’t need to examine the science to know that sort of workplace produces a huge downer on your day, that sometimes it dominoes into the rest of your life, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and out of control. You muster all of your energy (and civility) for work, returning home with a huge vitality deficit, which slowly but surely infects both your personal time and your personal relationships.
But it could be worse than you think. I first noticed this phenomenon whilst working with a range of organisations over a period of years. From FTSE 200 to small charitable bodies, there was one thing that they all had in common. When the leader was all stick and no carrot the results were high levels of absenteeism, stressed out teams, demotivation and eventually a rapid staff turnover. Even more surprising at the time, this behaviour went unchecked and unchallenged leaving employees disclosing how undervalued, overstretched and frankly, ill they felt as a result. It was visible, easily recognisable. Leaders at the top had created a culture so toxic it was visible to everyone but themselves. Good businesses go bad, crack teams weaken or adopt bad practice by osmosis, emulating their leader’s despotic characteristics and eventually good people jump ship. It got me wondering. If negative cultures and dysfunctional leadership result in increased levels of absenteeism, what is the long term impact on our health?
Research in organisational psychology consistently demonstrates that a toxic environment characterised by hierarchical structures, narcissistic leaders, backbiting and gossip not only demotivates employees, reducing productivity, it also harms their health. Authoritarian leaders lack the self awareness necessary to recognise the hidden costs of such practices. Anna Nyberg’s research at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute highlighted a link between leadership behaviours and employee heart health. If your boss encourages a stressful practices in the false belief that a cut throat environment will increase productivity, it may just be damaging your health.
If you walk into work everyday feeling unsupported, dreading the next round of persecution or the pitting of team members against each other it could be time for a rethink. Sarah Pressman’s research from the University of California produced worrying data. Whereas the probability of early death is increased by 20% if you are obese, 30% for excessive drinkers, 50% higher for smokers it is increased an astounding 70% for those with poor social relationships. We do the same things, day in, day out, telling ourselves that we need to pay the bills, kidding ourselves that things aren’t bad, it’s ok really, when inside we know that we are in the wrong working environment. If your workplace is toxic it may just be reducing your life expectancy and that’s food for thought.
If you find yourself in a toxic workplace culture (or even inadvertently leading one) contact us to find out how you can adopt a more positive and productive approach at email@example.com Like to find out how you can embed growth mindset or mindfulness into what you do? Check out our forthcoming events and course brochure. Looking for something more bespoke? We’d love to talk to you about getting the most out of your team by using positive psychology, contact us to find out more.
Do you believe that bad managers get results? That the stick is more effective than a toothless carrot? The truth is, if left unchecked, bad managers will hurt your business and irretrievably harm employee wellbeing. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that one of the keystones of employee wellbeing is the relationship between manager and employee. Positive relationships, promoting opens and transparency, fostering trust and recognising strengths are all the hallmarks of a good manager. They develop employees and cultivate an atmosphere where wellbeing, creativity and innovation thrive. All too often the converse is true. People leave bad managers not bad organisations, it may be a cliche but there’s a reason why cliches become cliches.
Wellbeing is about so much more than a box ticking exercise. Wellbeing domains include
True employee wellbeing aims to maximise each and every one of these domains. But how? Writing for wellbeing, a relatively new intervention is rapidly gaining popularity. Writing? For wellbeing at work? Sounds like a gimmick, right? A growing body of evidence suggests not.
How can managers introduce the concept of wellbeing in a meaningful way?
One of the first things you can do as a manager is develop your emotional intelligence (EI). It takes a healthy dose of this to manage a team effectively and authentically. Take a look at our blogs on EI for practical ways of developing your emotional intelligence muscles.
Reduce Your Stress Levels
We know from research that the first thing to go out of the window when you are stressed is self regulation, a key emotional intelligence competency. Bad managers are more than likely stressed too. Don’t believe us? Case Western Professor Richard Boyatwzis found this competency was responsible for a whopping 78% – 390% increase in performance. Self regulation is the bulwark of good management. If you’ve ever laboured under a tyrant masquerading as a manager who throws things, suffers mood swings, has favourites or maintains petty vendettas you’ll know where we’re coming from on this one. This type of dissonant leadership will eventually demotivate your team, leave you with high levels of absenteeism and a rapid staff turnover. Creativity becomes stifled and innovation grinds to a halt. It damages your brand and your reputational capital to boot.
So where does writing for wellbeing come into it?
Writing for wellbeing (the clue is in the title) improves both physical and psychological health (Baikie & Wilhelm, 2005). Research has demonstrated the following benefits;
Decreased levels of stress
Fewer stress related GP visits
Increases creativity and innovation
Reduced blood pressure
Improved working memory
Improved immune system functioning
Feeling of greater psychological wellbeing
Quicker re-employment after job loss
Altered social and linguistic behaviour
Writing for wellbeing is a great addition to any wellbeing programme decreasing stress levels, impacting positively upon self regulation and improving creativity and innovation at the same time (it’ll help tame that stressed out manager and their negative impact upon your workforce). Take a look at our other blogs on writing for wellbeing to find out how.
To find out more about Writing for Wellbeing at Work contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our events page for details of our training courses. We’d love to hear from you!
Perhaps you’ve taken a personality psychometric prior to a job interview? Or you’ve been asked to complete one within a team that you’re part of? Maybe you’re curious about the entire field of psychometrics and find yourself asking; What do personality questionnaires really reveal? [Read more…]
Mindfulness has been identified as an increasingly critical skill required to navigate the corporate world. But how do you create a mindful workplace?
‘Intent is a force that lives in the universe’ Carlos Castenados
Does every day feel like groundhog day? Are you stuck in negative patterns wondering when things will start to change? Perhaps your career is draining your creativity, you want something more but don’t know what it is. Maybe you do know and you’re afraid to take the necessary leap of faith? Perhaps you’re a square peg in a round career or it could be a relationship that is slowly sapping your self esteem adding to your feeling of disconnection. Maybe you’re too scared to leave. Or you feel that wherever you are or whoever you’re with, you will never be enough.The truth is, as Einstein observed ‘Nothing changes until something moves’. That something is you. And the movement you need is intention. Intention enables you to live with heart rather than habit.
When you think of heart health do you immediately think of gyms, dietary regimes and pills as you head straight for the couch? Sometimes it all seems like too much effort, especially if you buy in to the all or nothing approach. Here at PCG we favour the approach of taking small, bitesized steps towards big changes. Drum roll. Flax seed. The sum total of those incremental steps pay huge dividends when they all start stacking up. And when it comes to heart health, adding flax seed to your diet will provide an impressive return on investment.
Taking a holistic approach to your wellbeing strategy is never simple. Even when your wellbeing strategy is established, growing the health of your staff and remaining proactive is crucial. As Prof. Cary Cooper states, “A workforce that is well works well.” Creating a culture of wellbeing takes time, commitment and constant innovation. The old one size fits all approach to wellbeing is now obsolete. One of the most new and innovative ways to support staff wellbeing is writing. Long since recognised in the US as a workplace intervention, it is slowly gaining popularity in the UK.
Mood Hoovers. Emotional Vampires. We’ve all met them. Whether it’s a colleague at work, your boss, that demanding client, friends, a family member or even a partner. You’ll recognise them by that sinking feeling when you’re with them or the way that you feel depleted after spending any length of time in their company. Maybe just thinking about them leaves you feeling low. They drain you. They sap your energy. You’ll feel like crap after they’ve offloaded their emotional junk on you. It takes time to re-balance and find your equilibrium again after they’ve gone. Negative encounters are part of life. But what if you find yourself surrounded by them?
A Second brain? In Your Gut?
Known as your ‘second brain’ or enteric nervous system (ENS) your gut may be responsible for surprisingly more than digestion. Your gut communicates with your brain, sending and receiving messages. Conventional medicine has long recognised of the link between stress, anxiety and depression and those experiencing irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, pain and bowel issues. New research suggests instead that it may be the other way around with evidence that irritation to the gut may send messages to the brain triggering mood changes.
The impact isn’t confined to the our mood. Researchers also found that the digestive system may also affect our memory and cognitive function. Furthermore, gut health has also been linked to psoriasis and eczema. So if our two brains are communicating in this way, how can we improve the conversation?