In previous articles, I mentioned the ongoing research cited by the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Center for Organizational Excellence in embracing the principles of a “Psychologically Healthy Workplace.” This is another piece of the Workplace Excellence puzzle—the role of smart communication in the design and implementation of healthy workplace practices.
Smart Communication in the Workplace
Management cannot initiate new workplace programs or initiatives without understanding employee needs, perceptions and concerns.
When a company invites me to help them develop a new workplace program, the first step is opening a series of programs where employees are encouraged to communicate.
Anonymity is often necessary in order for employees to feel safe in objectively relating their needs, perceptions and concerns.
Examples of Bottom-Up Communication Strategies:
- Employee surveys
- Suggestion boxes
- Individual or team meetings with managers
- Maintaining a participative, open, two-way communication culture
The information obtained by communicating with employees must be given genuine consideration by management. Employees need to believe that the company is truly interested in their perceptions, concerns, and suggestions for improvement, rather than simply soliciting feedback from employees in order to make them feel important. This includes not only assessing employee needs but directly involving them in the development and implementation of workplace practices that address those needs.
How management communicates with employees is critical to the successful implementation of new workplace practices. Not only do employees need a basic awareness of the availability of new programs, but they need to know clearly how to gain access to them, along with strong messages that management encourages and supports these new initiatives.
Examples of Top-Down Communication Strategies:
- Newsletter, memos, etc. that explain the goals of Management
- Using multiple channels (e.g., print, electronic, and video, orientation and training sessions, staff and team meetings, etc.)
- Leading by example, where all levels of management regularly participate in the same psychologically healthy workplace activities with the employees
Nothing encourages employees more than knowing and believing that top management embraces the same workplace activities they are promoting for their employees.
Smart communication is an important part of building a psychologically healthy workplace. On that topic, the honorable Alexis M. Herman, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, said it best:
“This is not pie in the sky: this is about the bottom line. Building psychologically healthy workplaces isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s also the smart thing to do.”