Workplace culture change

A gradual culture change is happening in our workplaces, according to a University of Canterbury workplace analytics group.

Co-leader of the group, Professor Katharina Näswall, says there’s growing awareness of the need to cultivate work environments that don’t expect compartmentalisation. Previously, employees have been expected to leave their emotional lives at home,  she believes.
Managers are a critical component in this paradigm shift, however Professor Näswall says they often lack the training and resources to support staff wellbeing. “To a large extent, human resources processes remain policy and procedure focused, rather than incorporating emotional wellbeing. I’d argue that managers’ skills in this area should be a formal part of their job description, and one they’re evaluated on.”
Even the terminology we use to describe people skills reflects the lack of value we place on them, says Professor Näswall.
She adds that while they are called ‘soft skills’, it can be harder, or more challenging, to ask how someone is doing, and then really listen and respond well.
Evidence shows that when staff feel more valued there are associated payoffs in productivity and commitment. Organisations that include social and spiritual dimensions of wellbeing, as well as physical and mental components, will be more inclusive and supportive of diverse workforces, she says.
“For workers in a cultural minority in their workplace, there can be a need to play a role at work, rather than being themselves.”
Ongoing research by Canterbury organisational psychology researchers highlights the need to develop workplace leaders who can relate to staff as “whole humans”.

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