The fast-paced changes in our global home keep many of us reeling and off balance. Change can be difficult at the best of times, even when it is our personal choice. To change to the tune of others, challenges some and destroys others. In our personal lives we try to believe that the quality of our lives is the way we choose it to be. Many people dream of improvement, as their young careers develop and their lives unfold.
At work, it is a different matter. Between the chief executive officer at the bank’s head office and the frontline called tellers, loan arrangers and managers at the bank branches, there are ample excuses for inadequate communication skills and a gross lack of consideration… A perfect recipe for “dis-ease” at the workplace.
Over the last few years, the phrase “employee wellness” appeared. It refers to the physical and mental health of people at work. It refers to their happiness level, to their energy level, to their motivation and productivity level. When there’s wellness, there is greater co-operation and more impressive results. Happy employees are a chief ingredient for success.
The following factors are involved in creating a life quality at work:
* Management and leadership styles
* Communication skills
* Healthy and unhealthy conflict
* Illness, absenteeism and employee turnover
* Resultant stress and burnout
* Recruitment techniques
* Employee education and training
Workplace stressors are a combination of physical, ergonomic, psychological and social problems. They give a good picture of the quality of life in any workplace.
Physical -- heat, cold, noise, bacteria, chemicals and work pollutants.
Ergonomic -- uncomfortable work postures, repetitive motion, poorly designed chairs and work stations, poor lighting.
Psychological -- Unrealistic deadliness, fear of harassment, boring or repetitive work, incentive systems, work overload
Social -- Medical problems, alcohol or drug abuse, family and emotional problems, lack of employee input into the structure and content of work, fear of unemployment, lay-offs, interpersonal relations with co-workers.
Scenario -- Fact or Fiction?
The local branch manager of a large bank copes with the following conditions:
* Severely understaffed
* No input or choice for recruitment -- new people are sent to him.
* No place for staff to eat lunch except desks or washrooms.
* No recognition from superiors.
* Request for a microwave and other small items unanswered.
* Tries to inject enthusiasm but feels unsupported.
Finally, in a fit of frustration, he complains to one in authority. Bad feelings and anger with superiors resulted. Visitors came to inspect and more staff was added. He was not destined to enjoy the fruits of his labour, being told he would be transferred to the “big building downtown” and would be notified of the date soon. He found out from a friendly colleague of the date of his transfer -- one day before it happened! He was not informed officially in writing. The transfer was not discussed.
Does some of this sound familiar? These events happen, not only in banks, but in many places where people earn their living and depend on their colleagues for their sanity and their joy. Life is difficult enough without sabotage, jealousy, poor education, and insufficient funds. Money is not always a factor in the workplace quality of life. Yes, it does take cold, hard cash to buy furniture and other equipment, to re-structure offices, to make a small lunchroom where people can stay, eat and have a change of scenery. It takes money to make it attractive.
It takes money and time to have an excellent training program, a quality training program also saves money-in the long run. But, it doesn’t cost anything to be considerate. It doesn’t cost anything to help each other. The price of a phone call to say thank you, or you appreciate what someone has done is worth more than money. It boosts morale- a priceless commodity that only the best companies have an abundance of. That’s one of the answers to being competitive. People are the winners that create the profits? Customers love happy people.
Help people make changes -- changes in their style of leadership, changes in their attitudes, changes in their behavior, changes to lower stress, changes to increase wellness and reduce turnover, changes in recruitment techniques, changes in interpersonal and communications skills, and changes for more and better training programs.
Allow plenty of opportunity for laughter. Humour works! That’s why business executives, public speakers and political leaders use it. The creation of laughter enhances one’s image, eases tensions and influences people. It helps reassert control and eases awkward moments.
Humour is a useful working tool. Consider your own response to someone who makes you laugh, whether you’re watching television, listening to a colleague or a member of your family.
In the workplace, a well placed joke cuts right through all levels of authority. A shared laugh temporarily erases power and outlook between parties. If properly nurtured, the goodwill and good feeling can live on long after the fun has ended. If you can laugh together, you can work together.
The quality of your life in the workplace is reflected in the faces, voices, and environment all around. It is reflected in the rate of absenteeism and turnover. Banks have a very high rate of staff turnover. You can be pro-active. You can be a victim or a victor. Play the role you like and enjoy the consequences. Whether you are at “ease” or feel “dis-ease” you have your part to play in your own workplace scenario.