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Holiday Cheer & A Healthy Workplace

As we reflect on a cheerful holiday season, many people will feel the angst of returning to a difficult place to work after the holidays are over.

The reprieve from a hostile or aggressive workplace can be all too short and in some cases leave people feeling despair regarding their work lives.

There is another side to this coin… the healthy workplace.  If you work in such a place that allows for innovation, creativity and occasional mistakes, you might be in the minority, but have a cherished environment which encourages you to be authentic.  These environments don’t emerge from happenstance, but come from leadership and management decisions which support staff.

In the recent book, Bully in the Ivory Tower, many respondents of an independent study report on the essentials of a healthy workplace.  The following elements are in descending order with the most relevant listed first.  These points were critical in developing and maintaining a healthy workplace.

  1. A positive attitude from the boss
  2. Respect from administration
  3. Positive attitudes from colleagues
  4. Clear policies about civility and collaboration
  5. Training for management and staff
  6. Visible human resource department

As people with organizational power have an incredible impact on bullying and aggression in the workplace, people in the power position also can use such power for good to create a workplace people want to return to after the holidays. These points about a healthy workplace are consistent with other findings throughout the study; the boss/management/supervisor can make or break the environment.

If you are a boss/manager/supervisor, consider positive ways to encourage staff, keep the following in mind.

  • Allow for mistakes and misunderstandings.  People typically don’t come to work to offer poor performance.
  • Instead of working from a deficit and looking for errors, work from a place of peace and understanding.
  • Give praise publically and correction privately. No one wants to be humiliated in front of colleagues.
  • Support your staff, “have their back” if a complaint arises. If there is an opportunity to improve or handle complaint differently, be a team in the face of the complaint instead of advisories.
  • Model civility. An organization or department literally takes its lead from the top.  If the boss is an ogre, there will be little ogres also emerging.

The results of engaging employees can be remarkable and develop solutions.

People often flourish with praise and appreciation. During this Thanksgiving season, and upcoming holiday cycle, consider what you are thankful for in your staff, and be sure to show them their contributions are appreciated. And as a staff member, you too can create a healthy workplace by offering appreciation and kindness to colleagues and supervisors.  Everyone is involved in creating a healthy workplace.

To learn more about her upcoming book, the costs of higher education and the solutions and recommendations to higher education leadership also revealed through this study, visit Dr. Leah Hollis and Patricia Berkly, LLC at www.diversitytrainingconsultants.com   Bully in the Ivory Tower was  released in the fall 2012.

Leah Hollis, Ed.D. is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire.