Is your culture killing your workers?

At some point, we’ve all uttered a variation of the phrase: “This job is
killing me.”

Unfortunately, a
BBC story confirms that it’s probably not a drastic exaggeration.

Stress is an inherent part of work, but many companies are putting the
screws to workers as never before. Layoffs, long (or unpredictable) hours,
unsafe working conditions, poor benefits and spiteful (or incompetent)
bosses are just a few hazards that can undercut employee performance.

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The BBC article quotes a figure from the
American Institute of Stress, which asserts that “workplace stress costs the American economy some $300
billion each year.” Aside from the productivity, turnover and morale side
of things, the health costs of stress are staggering:

There were 120,000 extra deaths annually in the U.S. from harmful
management practices, and that extra health-care costs were $190 billion
each year. That would make the workplace the fifth leading cause of death,
worse than kidney disease or Alzheimer’s.


Measuring workplace health and well-being, not just profits

So, what’s the answer? Offering workers more autonomy and flexibility is a
good place to start. According to the BBC, “For decades research has shown
that giving people more control over how and when they do their jobs
increases motivation and engagement.”

It’s also about creating a culture that genuinely values (and actively
promotes) a healthy work-life balance. The BBC lauds companies such as
Patagonia, Collective Health, SAS Institute, Google, John Lewis Partnership
and Zillow as shining examples of healthy workplaces in action. As the
piece puts it:

People get paid time off and are expected to use it. Managers don’t send
emails or texts at all hours—people work, go home and have time to relax
and refresh. The organizations offer accommodations so that people can have
both a job and a family life. People are treated like adults and have
control over what they do and how they do it to meet their job
responsibilities, not micromanaged.

Most importantly, the companies are led by individuals who take their
obligations to their people seriously.

Of course, none of this happens without empathetic leaders who put their
money where their mouths are in terms of people-first policies. As the
piece states: “Business leaders should measure the health of their
workforce, not just profits.”

Businesses must recognize that burdensome hours or squeezing workers with
unreasonable demands will only decrease productivity and profitability.
Grinding your people into dust—whether through stress, fear, hostility,
pressure, poor benefits or excessive competition—will hurt your bottom
line.

Instead of killing your workers with stress, strive to create a more
empathetic culture that values employee well-being.

Read the rest of the
BBC piece here.

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