Your workforce spend a lot of time in their minds – make it a safe place

Today & Tomorrow’s Workplace

Human Intelligent (HI) Workplace
Helping Leaders Help Themselves

June 17, 2024

Today & Tomorrow’s Workplace will be Different.
Will your organization and leaders be ready?

It has been found that the primary role of the brain is to survive. This does not mean we wake up in the morning thinking of having to survive, but more so that our brain is always on the lookout for any sort of threats subconsciously. When things are going well for us psychologically, the prefrontal cortex (PFC) portion of our brain is mostly active.  This portion of our brain is our executive function and is involved in our critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, memory, It even serves as our brakes when we’re tempted to do something incorrectly.

 We know our work environments can be either an engaging place to be or at times a stressful one. This is where leaders play a significant role. When workers are disengaged there is 37% higher absenteeism, 49% more accidents, 18% lower productivity, and 50% increased turnover.  It has been found that managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement. We’ve also learned that for 70% of workers, their boss’s behavior has a bigger impact on their mental health than their doctors and can lead to increased physical signs of stress.

When those in management demonstrate effective leadership behaviors such as listening, being empathetic, compassionate, and creating a safe workplace environment, things tend to change. When workers feel psychologically safe it leads to increased engagement, they are happier and 2X less likely to be sick, 6X less likely to be absent, 9X more loyal, 31% more productive, and 55% more creative.

All of this leads to the state of mind that leaders are in and the state of mind they create in their workforce. It boils down to the neurochemistry of all. For example, when someone feels excluded or marginalized, our brain produces higher levels of cortisol which tends to shut down the critical thinking found in the PFC and activates conflict aversion and protective behaviors. Unfortunately, these effects tend to last up to 26 hours which imprints it into our memories, which is why it is easier to remember a negative experience from our past than a positive one.

The other side of this is when we’re involved in positive conversations with our bosses, or they recognize or show appreciation for our contribution. This experience in turn produces oxytocin, a feel-good hormone that improves our abilities to communicate, collaborate, and trust others, all found in our PFC.

We know from research in the book Neuroscience for Leadership, that our brain needs a leader to create an environment that feels safe and certain. Our brain needs leaders who communicate well, make understanding them easy, and create fair and transparent processes, so our brains do not waste precious effort in second guessing or trying to understand what to do next.

With all of this in mind (no pun intended😊), the questions to consider are, what state of mind are your leaders in and in turn what state of mind are they creating with their workforce?  Organizations and their leaders should consider the following.

Organizations are going to need to ensure their leaders model effective leadership behaviors by creating an organizational culture where the worker’s experience is one of being engaged while collaborating with their diverse team members. They will need to create an organization where the workforce feels psychologically safe when raising different perspectives, taking risks, being innovative, or being creative. It is a workplace where the workforce feels listened to and understood by their leaders. It is a workplace where the workforce finds fulfillment in the work they do and the organization they work in.

Ensure you take care of yourself and take care of your team.

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