It seems inevitable that ISO45003, the global standard for ensuring Psychological Health in the workplace, should start to gain pace in 2021. It comes hot on the heels of a global pandemic and major disruption, #BlackLivesMatter and the Harry and Megan mental health induced debacle. Initially, at face value, it would seem this is the ‘Best of Times’ for ISO45003 to make it’s debut appearance.
- “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,’
The opening text to A Tale of Two Cities which has an underlying theme of the importance of compassion.
Yet, while never before have we needed these guidelines so desperately, they come at possibly the ‘Worst of Times’ in respect to our ability to strategize an objective implementation of psychological safety in the workplace.
Many leaders are still a little confused with the constant changing of isolation and social distancing rules (some of which don’t withstand logical inspection) and exhausted with the continuous uphill battle to keep the business afloat.
- ‘Both the organization and workers have a shared responsibility for maintaining and improving health, safety and well-being at work’
and calls for
- ‘The participation of workers, in all stages of the process’ recognising that this is critical to the success of managing psychosocial risks.
This is great in theory but not necessarily so easy in practice given the culture of fear many organisations are now operating within. Fear of legal repercussions of getting Covid measures wrong, fear of failing objectives and declining profit margins, fear of diverse opinions amongst employees, fear of the dreaded ‘ping of isolation’ going off because one employee sat in his car too close to a stranger’s car at the traffic lights and now half the office are packing up in the hope of heading home.
Yet the benefits of getting this right are huge and recognised by ISO45003,
- ‘Effective management of psychosocial risk can lead to benefits such as improved worker engagement, enhanced productivity, increased innovation and organizational sustainability.’
The question therefore has to be, how can leaders inspire a transformation from an Organisation in Fear to a Fearless Organisation? The answer is the same as it’s always been, in leading by example.
Leaders need to demonstrate a nurturing and somewhat more vulnerable approach within the workplace. They need to show that they don’t always have the answers, are occasionally unsure of the right approach and they do sometimes mess up! And that this is ok because overall, we all tend to get more things right than we get wrong and the important thing is to put yourself out there and take the occasional risk.
To also let their true personality shine through their stoic, professional persona once in a while, even if at times they may be perceived as a little kooky.
Above all, leaders need to hold high the beacon of positivity and optimism and light the way for the team. To relish finding solutions to the most difficult of challenges and not drown in a whirlpool of disaster and negativity, taking everyone else down with them.
This doesn’t need to mean a drop in standards, we need to continue to strive for excellence, but in a more caring, respectful and kind way. Ironically, by showing more compassion in the workplace, research suggests we can expect far greater levels of achievement.
Jarvis Lorry, a character in A Tale of Two Cities, demonstrates the conflict professionals have been under for too long with this quote:
- “If you knew what a conflict goes on in the business mind, when the business mind is divided between good-natured impulse and business appearances, you would be amused, Mr. Darnay.”
I believe ISO45003 gives us licence to let those good-natured impulses proliferate our working day and our interactions with colleagues and the professionals we come into contact with. Making the workplace a safer, happier and more productive place to be.
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