November 17, 2022
Editor in Chief, Gallup
While a focus on kindness and well-being has long been a key factor in a healthy workplace, many business leaders have overlooked their value in the past. However, this perspective is changing as younger professionals bring their ideals into the workplace and place a higher emphasis on a healthy work-life balance.
During the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2022 Business Solves Corporate Citizenship Conference, Gallup’s Editor-in-Chief Mohamed Younis led a discussion with business leaders on how to create a kinder workplace.
The COVID-19 Pandemic Had a Major Impact on Creating a Kinder Workplace
As companies adapted to hybrid work models due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it brought with it a new perspective on how co-workers see one another in the workplace.
“We've been able to see people for who they are and not just what they do at the company,” said Misty Gaither, Senior Director & Global Head of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging at Indeed. “At all levels of our organization, we’ve seen the imperfections — from the CEO down to your entry-level employee ... We've had to rethink how we work with each other, and I think what that dialed up is a level of compassion, empathy, and vulnerability.”
In agreement, Patty Riddlebarger, VP of Entergy, described how the pandemic’s impact is shaping the way we look at expectations of kindness.
“One of the silver linings … is that we've been able to be a little more real and human with each other,” Riddlebarger said. “I hope that we keep that as we move into whatever this next phase is going be for our companies.”
Good Values Need to Extend Beyond the Workplace
Gaither pointed out that just a few years ago, the World Health Organization declared burnout as a real diagnosis; however, there is still a stigma around mental health in the workplace.
“We think about mental health as separate from just overall health,” Gaither said. “That's one thing we can actually start to do differently and look at it more holistically.”
Looking to the future, Riddlebarger is fostering a diverse and healthy company culture where employees feel empowered to break out of that stigma and be their authentic selves.
“Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance, but belonging is when they're playing your jam,” Riddlebarger said. “We want people to feel that sense of belonging, and that comes down to building trust and care among the individuals on your team.”
Businesses Should Develop a Stronger Workplace Culture in a New Phase of Office Culture
Remote and hybrid work models have a major — and generally positive — impact on the well-being and mental health of employees. However, businesses that continue to hold these policies must ensure they are taking opportunities to bond with new and long-standing employees.
“It's being intentional and getting to know people appropriately, personally, and professionally,” Gaither said. “[Create] whatever type of environment you can for folks that are in the office and [see] what happens organically.”
As businesses continue to develop their culture and make strides to offer a kinder, more inclusive environment, they need to keep in mind the importance of positive mental health.
“If our employees aren't in a good place mentally … they're not going to be able to do their very best in terms of taking care of our customers,” Riddlebarger said. “We need to prioritize [mental well-being] and … pay attention to how they are doing.”
From the Series