New Year Reflections
Lisa Seagroatt, guest blogger and Managing Director of HR Fit for Purpose returns with more great advice about creating healthy workplaces.
January is usually a time of reflection for many of us, me included and a time for making plans for the year ahead. What plans are you making to improve your business productivity during 2020?
Another year has gone by so quickly as we start yet another decade! What happened to December 2019 and the last 10 years? I don’t know about you, but time seems to pass by faster the older you get, and I do believe I sound more like my parents every single day!
For me January marks a time of great personal sadness as my mum died on 18 January and I cannot believe I am now approaching my 50th year having lived most of my adult life without her friendship to help me in times of trouble – and there’s been a fair few of those times over the past 22 years!
It’s also often a month where it’s very hard to motivate oneself to do anything after the glitz and glamour of the festive season fades, practically disappearing overnight once the New Year sales start. I personally find that rather depressing particularly as we are often subjected to endless days of ‘saucepan grey skies’ which make the month of January even more difficult to contend with. All the twinkly bright lights of Christmas and the lovely social events we might be lucky enough to have planned with friends and family come to an abrupt end; unless, of course, you’re like me and plan in a number of ‘nice’ social events in January to help take the sting out of its tail as we leave Christmas and the old year behind.
The often-gloomy grey weather and lack of sparkly decorations and pretty lights everywhere can have a very negative affect on our mental health and this will undoubtedly manifest itself at some point in the workplace. Add that to the fact that many people get paid before Christmas making January a stressful and very long month to manage to make ends meet before pay day comes around again. Christmas is expensive and its easy to overspend making January even more challenging when the bills start to drop through the letter box.
When I was responsible for a large team of people, the management team would try to make sure that the workplace, particularly during January, was as cheery and stress-free as possible. For some employers, that’s difficult to achieve as there are many workplaces which cannot avoid workplace stress (think of our emergency services for example) so it’s really about making the best out of what you can to help staff ease themselves back to work as productively and positively as possible. Good leadership and management play a key role here. Whenever possible, we would make sure that the return to work in January was a period of positive forward planning in the workplace and actively involved the staff in key discussions making around the objectives for that year so that they could positively contribute to helping achieve them.
Sickness absence and resignations tend to spike during January, and this is frequently linked to stress, anxiety and/or depression and the thought of physically returning to a workplace that may not have the best culture when it comes to looking after its staff.
I know how that feels as I’ve been there. Several years ago, I resigned from what had previously been a much-loved job as I could not face working there anymore. A once positive environment had become very toxic which in turn had caused me to suffer with stress, anxiety and depression, resulting in a number of serious panic attacks and two years of mental ill health issues which were quite paralysing at times making it impossible to find work – particularly when I was unable to drive.
Inevitably, a number of staff resignations followed mine, all for very similar reasons, breaking up what had once been a really high performing workforce who were quite dedicated to contributing to a place of work which had once been vibrant and healthy.
Toxic workplace culture isn’t productive or profitable. It’s the complete reverse and can cause irreparable damage to any business. It doesn’t take much to create an unhealthy workplace culture – it can happen almost overnight. The recovery however, is likely to be very slow, painful and extremely costly for business.
So, when you’re making your new year business resolutions, particularly if you’re looking at forward planning and perhaps wanting to improve your staff turnover, remember that good leadership and management are the key to ensuring that your business is both healthy and productive – it will flourish and grow on a healthy recipe of positive workplace culture and good staff morale.
If you are experiencing issues with staff turnover you may need to give some thought now to improving your workplace culture to ensure that your business doesn’t just survive into 2020 and beyond– it positively thrives! After all, isn’t that what we all want our businesses to do?
A Happy and Healthy Workplace Culture to you all!
Lisa Seagroatt is the Managing Director of HR Fit for Purpose. They help their clients to focus on improving workplace practices around positive people management, helping them to develop their line managers and grow a healthy workplace culture. The aim of a healthy workplace culture is to enable businesses to thrive and grow - good employee engagement leads to low sickness absence, low turnover and high productivity in the workplace.
This is one of a series of articles about the impact of bullying and unacceptable behaviour in the workplace. Nicki Eyre is a Transformational Coach based in Harrogate offering training and coaching support programmes for businesses and individuals. She and her team support businesses to prevent bullying, as well as individuals struggling to cope with bullying, during and after the experience. Nicki is also a speaker on the topic of workplace bullying.
Contact Nicki for a confidential discussion about your experience:
t 07921 264920