No matter what estimates we use – people spend a lot of time at work.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics reports that full-time workers typically work 8.5 hours each weekday (or about 42.5 hours per week). EuroStat estimated that EU workers average 40.3 hour work weeks, and Statista found that Singaporeans typically spend 43 hours each week at work.
And, these hours add up.
The most often-cited statistic reports that we spend a total of 90,000 hours of our lives at work.
When we dedicate so much time to our jobs, it’s important to make it the best experience we can for our employees and for ourselves.
Beyond the Social reason for wanting a positive workplace, there’s also an Analytical reason: it supports productivity.
Workplace stress and anxiety cause higher turnover rates, more sick days and ultimately, billions in lost dollars to the global economy. In my previous post, I shared some of the primary causes of workplace stress, which can be summarized by WebMD as:
- Lack of opportunity for growth or advancement
- Unrealistic job expectations and poor management
- Issues with colleagues or other employees
- Concerns about job security
- Challenges with work-life balance
To help your employees thrive as individuals and productive team members, it’s essential to develop a positive culture and address stressors that typically impact your workforce’s ability to get their jobs done.
For Talent Development teams, start to combat workplace stress and improve productivity by building programs to support:
- Professional development and career pathing
- Diversity and inclusion
- Conflict management
- Management coaching
Strengthening Professional Development and Career Planning
I worry I may become a broken record on the importance of career development, and yet, the data points again and again to its relevance in supporting productivity, employee engagement and reducing workplace stress.
By investing in employees and teaching them new skills, you can help allay concerns over job security or a lack of career advancement.
In addition to building robust professional development programs, succession planning and career planning should be considered in partnership with managers.
Employees will be more mentally at ease and more productive if they see opportunities for continued growth and learning – even if that path is not always vertical.
Consider how you can work one-on-one with managers to identify succession planning opportunities, career paths, cross-trainings and lateral moves that engage employees with the growth they seek and help them build confidence in their futures.
Promoting Diversity and Inclusion
Workplace relationships can be a major source of strength or stress for employees.
Sometimes, challenges arise simply as a result of employees not understanding the differences in the ways they prefer to approach work or in the way they interact, think or behave. And we also know that group think is not good for business.
By investing in initiatives that bring greater awareness and respect for differences, your team can promote a more positive workplace culture.
I recommend considering initiatives that connect to traditional views of diversity and inclusion as well as diversity of thought, such as Emergenetics® programming, to foster understanding and true appreciation for the benefits that come from different perspectives.
When employees feel their viewpoints are valued, they will be much more likely to engage in their work, respect their colleagues, push forward productive conversations and positively impact your organization’s culture and bottom line.
Addressing Conflict Management
In additional to diversity and inclusion, one specific program that can make a difference in your culture and reduce challenges with colleagues is conflict management training.
A 2019 Udemy report shared that conflict management is the number one soft skill needed by employees, as the typical person spends 2.8 hours each week resolving disagreements.
Imagine the time savings, productivity increases and stress decreases you could see by giving your team members the skills they need to manage these conversations effectively!
As you look at your Learning & Development initiatives, reflect on what tools or trainings you offer to support conflict management.
For those using Emergenetics, I also recommend that staff bring their Profiles to conversations to help each party understand what may be driving their different perspectives and any resulting conflict.
Tools like the Emergenetics+ app can help hone employee conversations to support understanding and more effectively navigate disagreement.
Supporting Management Coaching
Even when you address core causes of workplace stress through Talent Development programs, managers still have a critical role in defining the tone of their employee’s experience.
As a talent developer, you can have an impact on productivity by coaching managers to set realistic job expectations, support employees and create an engaging workplace environment.
Your management training programs can provide new and existing leaders with the tools to effectively lead others, and one-on-one coaching can serve as a supplement to address individual challenges and identify opportunities for growth.
As a starting point, partner with your managers to build self-awareness. Tools like the Emergenetics Profile could support their journey as well as mindfulness exercises and 360 reviews.
With these insights, managers can get a better understanding of their values, what drives their expectations and where employees may feel encouraged or unmotivated.
The tone of your culture can help or hinder your organization’s productivity and success. Make sure you’re investing in programs that turn your workplace environment into one of growth and positivity.
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