Career & Education

Step inside my office

Launching Leaders

with Debra Fraser

Sunday, July 28, 2019

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Being asked to meet with your manager is enough to give anyone cause for pause. Your mind starts racing, searching for your latest alleged transgression; thinking, “what did I do now?”

While it is that all that has happened is that you're just being told “I need to talk to you,” this one sentence can send many people searching for their resumes. However, more often, these days, it's simply an actual invitation to, well, talk.

Leaders are now recognising that, while intelligence in terms of skills and competence are the primary employment factors, emotional awareness and intelligence are of equal importance.

I HAVE BAD NEWS

Too often, especially in our culture, bosses and managers only interact in any meaningful way with staff members to berate or correct them. Hence, many employees have been socialised to expect that any arranged meeting must be to read them the riot act, which usually means a reprimand, being written up, or worse. However, in high-stress vocations, such as the security forces or health services, it is critical that team members not only feel empowered to express themselves in a safe and confidential environment, but have ready access to counselling, and if necessary professional treatment. And since organisational culture is shaped by individual behaviour, it's noteworthy to mention some of the key benefits of counselling and other intervention measures. It tends to:

• reduce depression and improve mental health;

• mitigate workplace stress;

• improve communication between managers and staff; and

• promote employee job satisfaction.

It doesn't require a death on the job or in the family for someone to feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Oftentimes, just the sheer magnitude of the work portfolio can be the reason. Many companies are not equipped internally to handle job-related anxiety or tension and require assistance from outsourced human resource professionals to implement effective solutions.

THE GOOD NEWS IS

In order to effectively address and treat matters related to mental health, depression, and, in turn, workplace productivity, organisations often turn to specialised human resource consultants and other trained practitioners. Even outside traditionally stressful occupations the corporate landscape can be a mean dog-eat-dog battlefield in which targets met equal temporary job security. So while fanning the flames of competitive spirit is encouraged, doing so at all costs could mean short-term gain and mid- to long-term burnout and high staff attrition rates.

Although counselling, culturally, has been stigmatised as something for crazy people or team members who can't hold it together, in the present-day workplace in which doing more with less is key and automation is rapidly taking human jobs, both employees and employers have to develop effective and sustainable strategies to create and maintain a healthy work environment.

Improved staff morale and productivity are the usual by-products of engaged and satisfied employees. For this formula to work, ease of access to get help, if only to talk it out with a sympathetic ear or receive counselling, is critical to team members feeling heard and valued, which eventually augur well for the bottom line.

Debra Fraser, MBA, is CEO of Caribbean HR Solutions, a board member of the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica, a member of the Human Resource Management Association of Jamaica, and a member of the Society of Human Resources Management in the US. Please direct comments to dfraser@caribbeanhrsolutions.com


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