Do you want to build a Psychologically Healthy & Safe Workplace but are not sure how to go about it? The first thing you should know is that you don’t necessarily need to spend thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring in and add another module to your Health & Safety Management System. Sounds great, right?
If you want to learn more about the alternative, read on to discover all about SELF-WORK and how it can help you both in and out of the workplace. We’ll cover:
- Understand What Mental Health Really Is
- The Source of Ill Mental Health in the Workplace
- The Solution: Emotional Intelligence
- Actionable Tips
Understand What Mental Health Really Is
Most people who want to promote psychological health and safety get stuck from the get-go because it means dealing with feelings, and that’s the really hard part of it. So, let’s first understand mental health in a more objective and actionable way.
There are 3 aspects to psychological well-being, and as these factors fluctuate so does our mental health:
- Biological (pertains to each individual) – the way our brain and our neurological system are developed
- Social (workplace environment) – the culture, systems, and processes in place in the organization
- Developmental (skills and abilities that can be developed through self-work) – our emotional intelligence
The Source of Ill Mental Health in the Workplace
Knowing this, it becomes clear that in the workplace the key reason for ill mental health is the LACK OF EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE skills and abilities among those in positions of leadership or positions of power in the organization. Because they are the ones who ultimately create and shape the organizational culture and workplace environment if they do not have the skills and abilities necessary to recognize how their actions, decisions, and words impact those people around them they can end up perpetuating behaviors that create ill mental health for all.
To see the real impacts of this in the workplace let’s take a look at overloading, one of the big issues organizations face today.
There needs to be a system in place to make sure that people aren’t overloaded. But that in itself presents a problem: who’s going to make the call as to when somebody is overloaded or not? What organizations usually do is put a generic number in place that will help them decide. However, that doesn’t work! Because all humans are different, and all humans work differently and have different skills, and different abilities, and process things at different speeds.
What is really necessary then is to have somebody in a leadership position who has the emotional intelligence to look at the system in place, recognize possible gaps – where it doesn’t reach everyone – and fill them. And it’s essential to have a leader able to look at their team and recognize any changes – such as when someone is not producing as much, or is quieter in meetings, or even more vocal than normal – and who is then able to talk to their people, dropping the numbers and everything else, putting themselves in their shoes, and offering compassion to find a way to move forward that will benefit the organization and the team-member both.
The Solution: Emotional Intelligence
Well, great! Let’s just get people with emotional intelligence for our organization, then! This makes it seem easy, like all you need is to select a specific product from a menu or vending machine, but that’s far from the truth.
Like any other skill or ability, emotional intelligence requires work to be developed. It takes self-work and all forms of human interaction to do so, and that’s a big undertaking.
Emotional intelligence is made up of 5 different areas:
- Self-awareness – being aware of your actions, the motivations behind them, and the impacts they bring both to you and those around you
- Emotion regulation – “name it to tame it”, stopping your emotions from steering you when they don’t serve your best interests
- Empathy – putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and showing compassion
- Self-motivation – being able to motivate yourself and others
- Social awareness – understanding and perceiving social norms and others’ emotions and feelings
And, as expected, some people are really good in some of these areas, but not so good in others.
Unfortunately though, according to subject matter expert Joan MacMillan, in society today most of us have not developed these skills and abilities of emotional intelligence.
That’s because most humans in the post-digital technology era are lacking opportunities for human interaction that lead to developing these skills and abilities, resilience, and other important factors for our mental and psychological well-being.
Another reason behind this societal deficiency is that nowadays it has become very habitual for us to look and try to place blame elsewhere, instead of looking inward and doing self-reflection and self-work.
A big consequence of this is that when we don’t use or don’t have the necessary emotional intelligence, our egos – which don’t require any practice – take over and try to protect us. So, every time we screw up, get criticized or receive some feedback, it’s going to be very easy for us to let our egos tell us we were not in the wrong, point fingers elsewhere, not learn from the situation, and not really grow as a person.
The good news though is that if you have noticed these issues in your workplace, even if you don’t have the authority, the support, or the budget to act on this, there is something you can do. YOU CAN START BY WORKING ON YOU! Improving your own emotional intelligence can do wonders to help others do the same. Not only will this help you grow as a person and improve your psychological well-being if those working around you see that you’re doing self-work and see that you are making real changes on things like how you are making decisions, how you’re emotionally reacting in the workplace, and how you’re putting kind of your value into action, all that can generate a ripple effect and cause changes in the organization all by itself.
As we mentioned, self-work is not the easiest undertaking, so to get you started on this journey of self-improvement and help you better reap the rewards of your inner work, here are some actions you can take:
- Listen to the Transmit Safety Podcats Episode 04: Psychological Health & Safety with Joan MacMillian, and dive deeper into what we discussed in this post.
- Check out the Emotional Intelligence and Evolved Decision-Making Course offered by Joan MacMillan, a subject matter expert in all areas of human behavior, emotional intelligence, and Occupational Health & Safety.
This course is designed to help individuals develop their skills and abilities of emotional intelligence. It allows us to better understand why we do the things that we do, as well as how people around us are making decisions. Different from most courses out there, this one actually makes you think about YOU, it causes you to learn about YOU, and will help you both in and out of the workplace.
- Do therapy. When your car has a problem, you want to get a mechanic, a professional who knows what to do to fix your car. When you are sick, you want to go to a physician, a professional who has the subject matter expertise to be able to deal with whatever your ailment is. Well, when you want to develop the skills and abilities that will help you get to a state of psychological well-being, you go to a therapist or a psychologist, a professional who has the psychological background and expertise to guide you in this process.
⚠️ However, remember that not all therapists are awesome or a good fit for you, so be sure to shop around for a professional that works for you.
Thank you for reading!
If you want to drive a little bit more of this important conversation, you can contact Joan MacMillan on LinkedIn and Instagram (@cammaclearningevolution), or learn more about it all on her website.
If this post has helped you, or if you want to share your #SelfWorkJourney with me and our Transmit Safety community, you can do that over on LinkedIn, Instagram (@transmit.safety), or Twitter (@transmitsafety).
And, don’t forget! To continue discovering ways to become an impactful Health and Safety leader, and achieve workplace health and safety through a no-bullshit, simplified and holistic approach, make sure to tune into the next episodes of the Transmit Safety Podcast, out every other Monday.