Healing Your Workplace: Powerful Prescriptions to Improve Employee Attitudes

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By Jack Singer

We live in a stressful society, filled with uncertainty in the job market and the economy. A large percentage of employees admit to being unhappy and disengaged at their jobs. Recent research shows that among the least happy and least engaged employees, the annual per-person cost of lost productivity because of sick and personal days is more than $28,000, compared with $840 among the happiest and most engaged employees. Furthermore, job stress alone is estimated to cost U.S. industry at least $300 billion a year in absenteeism, diminished productivity, employee turnover, and direct medical, legal and insurance fees.

Below are five powerful prescriptions for enhancing employee morale and job performance, and minimizing job stress at your self-storage organization.

Provide your employees with empowering goal-setting strategies. 

People are significantly more likely to reach a goal when they write it down as opposed to simply thinking about it. Have regular meetings with your team where, in addition to encouraging them to discuss their areas of discontentment, you join them in writing down short- and long-term specific and action-oriented goals.

For example, a manager might say, “For this month, we will have four meetings in which we will design and implement our new plan for developing a psychologically healthy workplace. Bring an idea with you to each meeting.” In the meetings, ask people to visualize themselves feeling successful once they have accomplished those goals. Ask them to imagine it as if they have already accomplished the goal. Finally, have them write down ways in which they can sabotage their own efforts to accomplish those goals. Encourage them to be honest about the kinds of self-talk or self-defeating behaviors they have engaged in before.

Provide your employees with a sense of control over their jobs.

Studies reveal how important it is to give employees a legitimate say in how they conduct their jobs. Not only does the perception that management actually cares about their feelings positively influence morale, but giving workers some control over their own schedule and how to approach their work tasks dramatically reduces job burnout, absenteeism and turnover.

Have frequent meetings with employees where you listen to their issues and allow them to suggest resolutions. Encourage workers to determine their own specific strengths and put them to use on their jobs.

More examples of providing employees involvement in their work are self-managed work teams, employee committees or task forces, continuous-improvement teams, team-centered hiring processes in which employees select their peers, and participative decision-making projects.

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