SMITH BRAIN TRUST – It’s a new year, and you’re probably considering some resolutions. Maybe you’re thinking about getting more exercise, changing what you eat, making more time for people you love. What if your workplace was also thinking about some resolutions and looking for a path to self-betterment?
This year, Maryland Smith’s Nicole M. Coomber says organizational leaders should take time to set resolutions for the office.
Coomber, an associate clinical professor at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, says that these days, there is an increased emphasis on workplace wellness, mindfulness and work-life balance. While leaders vary in their managerial styles, there’s a growing sense that teams who achieve wellness and balance also achieve better office productivity, lower employee turnover and other benefits. And those are good reasons for some office resolutions.
For leaders unsure of where to begin, Coomber recommends focusing on establishing wellness goals. Start by identifying obstacles that might prevent employees from accomplishing their individual goals outside of the office.
“If you think about people’s wellness, encouraging employees to achieve better health cut insurance costs and reduce absenteeism,” Coomber says. “Helping people figure out what their roadblocks are could benefit your organization, and healthier people make better employees. It might not seem tied to organizational outcomes, but it certainly can lead to a better workplace.”
To complement wellness goals, Coomber also suggests that leaders consider increasing social support mechanisms in the workplace to instill civility and kindness. “Those behaviors serve to promote wellness in a way that benefits the organization,” she says. “Modeling civility and kindness for your employees creates more effective workplaces and can decrease employee turnover.” ”
These goals, Coomber says, can create a positive ripple effect that affects other aspects of the organization – inclusivity, for example, and overall culture. They can inspire team members to assume positive intent on the part of their colleagues and to approach discussions with curiosity, rather than defensiveness, during disagreements, she says.
These successful resolutions might not happen easily, Coomber says, stressing the importance of providing employees with feedback.
“Understanding where we are in terms of our goals is crucial. It really depends on individual goals, but visual displays of progression and signals about what’s important can help promote interaction and boost workplace morale,” Coomber says.
In general, it’s also the small steps that provide a positive feedback loop that then create the actual change, Coomber says, so don’t wait for a sign or the “right time” to start working toward a goal.
“You have to give yourself little successes along the way because otherwise it can be really daunting to do a huge thing on any given day,” Coomber says. “Small steps lead to larger behaviors. It’s true for any goal you want to accomplish. Remember that writing a book happens one page at a time.”
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