In May, our CFO Sheryll Inkson spoke at a Women in Leadership Conference where she shared the stage with many inspiring and empowering female speakers. She discussed the importance of supporting your employees, social belonging, and the idea of “Work-Life Coexistence” and the importance of creating a psychologically safe workplace for all.
How we work is changing.
We live in a world where work is changing. We are more connected than ever before and the ability to connect with people all over the world has made us less geographically bound. The rise of telecommuting has shifted our understanding of what it means to be an employee, and this shift has also affected how we perceive trust in the workplace.
Corporate culture has changed too: there’s a growing understanding that employees need time outside of work to recharge their batteries, which means that flexibility is becoming more common than ever before. Employers are realizing that happy teams create higher-quality work for their companies; this recognition has led many companies to invest heavily in creating environments where employees feel safe enough and supported enough to take risks and experiment with new ideas. These changes contribute directly towards increasing engagement and innovation amongst workers at every level within organizations—big or small!
Work-life coexistence is a term that denotes the balance between work and life. The idea of work-life balance seems to be in vogue, with many companies touting flexible working arrangements as one possible solution. But does this actually address the needs of employees? We’d like to introduce Work-Life Coexistence: instead of clear “work” and “play” times as standard hours that need to be adhered too, we are instead focusing on the optimal time for each individual to get things done. Whether that is 5AM-7AM when the house is quiet and you have a moment to yourself, or maybe it is later in the evening when you are at your most creative. This looks different for each individual, and as leaders, it is important that we recognize and empower this way of working.
While there are many benefits associated with different types of flexibility, such as remote working or job sharing, these options may not necessarily translate into improved employee engagement. A recent study by Boston Consulting Group found that while 80% of executives surveyed agreed that their organization’s culture was important for attracting talent and retaining staff members long-term – only 52% believed it had a positive impact on financial performance. In other words: companies have realized the importance of “culture” – but don’t necessarily know how to create one. Instead, they focus on making small changes like offering more paid parental leave policies or providing snacks in break rooms rather than addressing larger issues like how people actually feel when they go through their days at work (which requires more than just flexible schedules).
The importance of social bonds.
In the workplace, social bonds are the glue that keeps a team together. They’re also essential to your health and well-being. Some critical components of reinforcing these social bonds is ensuring that all employees understand the distinct value they are bringing to a team, working towards a shared vision and, wherever possible, encouraging cross-functional teams to work together to solve problems.
How can leaders create a psychologically safe workplace?
In order to create a psychologically safe workplace where everyone feels valued, leaders need to be able to clearly communicate what you expect from your employees. This includes:
- A clear, shared vision of where their work fits within the larger picture of your company and how it contributes to its goals
- Trust that they will do their best—and support them when they don’t
- Autonomy over how they do their job, including setting priorities and being allowed input into decisions about changes in corporate culture
- Feedback on how well they’re meeting expectations (and praise for successes)
- Leading by example: showing employees that it is ok to work from home until you can drop your children off at school, or work remotely while you support a family member, or working later to allow you to attend that lunchtime workout class that helps promote physical and mental health!
Know Them, Grow Them, Lead Them, and Inspire Them
In order to become a successful leader, you must first know your team members. Knowing your team members’ strengths and vulnerabilities will allow you to assist them in reaching their full potential. Helping them grow will lead them toward their goals and teach them how to work together as a cohesive unit with each other. Inspire them by leading by example; if you want others to follow, then show that it’s worth it by doing so yourself!