Investing in Workforce Development by Spreading Joy

#behavioralhealth #BH365 #joyinwork #BHLeadership When I read Richard Sheridan’s book, Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workforce People Love, it rang so true to me. I don’t think there’s any workplace that thinks, “we don’t really care if people like working here or like their job,” but Joy, Inc. took the concept 180 degrees from where most conversations take place about employee engagement or employee satisfaction. I’ve worked in the behavioral healthcare industry for almost 20 years, and the organizations where you walk in and think, “these people love their jobs” are few and far between. The business of behavioral health at its core is helping people find their best selves, helping them overcome sometimes significant challenges or get past traumatic events. It’s a business of the heart and literally every day we have the opportunity to positively or negatively impact someone’s life. It’s a business based on person-to-person interactions, but so often both sides are left feeling more like a transaction has taken place rather than a relationship being developed. In order for our front-line staff to feel like they can truly invest in their clients, they themselves have to feel like they’re supported by the organization. Supervisors need to have time to truly get to know their staff so they can provide emotional and professional support as needed. Staff need to feel like they’re a part of a team that not only supports them, but that they are an essential part of supporting their colleagues. And there has to be room to grow. This kind of a culture doesn’t happen on its own. It has to be part of a strategic effort on behalf of the entire organization to design and potentially redesign how they do business. Investing in people is critical to successful clinical and business outcomes. No one goes into this industry to make a lot of money (though I’d strongly support any effort to increase wages in our workforce). Our staff aspire to a higher purpose and if we don’t nurture that in the organization’s culture, we not only risk a stagnant work environment with ongoing challenges with retaining staff, but the positive impact we could be having on our client population could be limited. At the same time, we can’t expect everyone to have a passion for the mission. We can’t expect 100% of staff to be “high-performing.” Competence should be rewarded. In order to be able to recognize either, there have to be clear expectations and an understanding not only of performance goals, but the goals of the organization, strategically. There must be fair and reasonable performance reviews, and opportunities for professional development and growth that everyone can access, clinical and administrative staff. As you see in my interview with Mark Ware, there are a lot of great resources to help leadership teams. When working with leadership teams I’ll often incorporate a reading assignment, a few articles or a leadership book to foster discussion, ideas, or just good healthy debate among colleagues. It’s also a good test. If your team feels so busy and overwhelmed that they can’t fit in the time to read a book for discussion among managers, they’re not likely to find the time to do other, more important projects. You may then need to look inwards at your tasks to reshape what you’re working on so that you’re free to help others improve productivity, efficiency, and most importantly, joy at work. Here are a few articles, books, and videos that provide quick tips on continuing the journey of investing in your leadership teams. Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love is a must read if you are looking to improve employee engagement by working on your organization’s culture. Afterwards you’ll be able to communicate the business value of joy in work. Patrick Lencioni and The Table Group have a wealth of resources, summarized in his book, The Advantage, but also well explained through his series of fables, the Five Dysfunctions of a Team, the Truth About Employee Engagement, and the Ideal Team Player. Shane Rodgers’ article, The career advice I wish I had when I was 25, includes some good tips that are fun to discuss during a team meeting. You’ll be surprised by which ones resonate with different members of your team. Do you remember a time when a supervisor unexpectedly expressed appreciation for your work? It’s surprising what a quick email or staff meeting announcement can do for employee morale. Here are 33 Employee Appreciation Messages to Boost Your Organizational Culture. Harvard Business Review’s Get Your Employees Engaged is a 5-minute video featuring employee engagement insights from Doug Conant, former president and CEO of the Campbell Soup Company.

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