The Leader Magazine

JUN 2019

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not committed to a psychologically healthy workplace, it isn't going to prevail over time. As the employee experience is heavily influenced by employees' immediate supervisors, it becomes necessary to loop the supervisors in, provide them training, and clarify their role in shaping their employees' experience so they become invested in making it happen. Encourage managers and supervisors to check in with their teams not only on the work itself ("what-ness") but on how they are doing ("who- ness") to better understand who they are, what's happening in their life, and to build an authentic relationship. 5. Transparency, open communication, and employee involvement It is necessary to create transparency and openness, and to engage employees in two-way communication. By involving employees in the decision-making process, they are more likely to adhere to the decisions and have a greater sense of control and empowerment, which contributes positively to their mental health. "This is true in the design of the workplace, the nature of the work being undertaken, and how people need to work to be and feel effective," Harvey said. Thoughtful communication strategies can help reduce the stigma around mental health and provide people with the language to have conversations about it with their colleagues. It doesn't need to be a difficult conversation as long as people are equipped with the right skills and awareness is raised around the challenges faced. 6. Workplace, a place for humans As technology advances, employees can, and are, doing more virtually. While this allows work to be done from anywhere in the world, employees most often work from home. As a result, they are feeling increasingly isolated and disconnected from each other on a human level, a leading indicator of mental health. Humans innately need to connect. AMP's Harvey said that aside from school, the workplace is one of the only options where people are still "forced" to physically come together. A key aspect of the design and purpose of the workplace is to be a safe place where employees can have a human-sensory experience, where they can connect, build trusted relationships, and collaborate in a way that, as of yet, cannot be fully achieved virtually. 7. A healthy physical workplace While points 1-6 focus on the non-physical aspects of the workplace environment, it's crucial to meet the requirements of a healthy, physical workplace. A large body of research and third-party rating systems such as Fitwel, WELL, and LEED developed a list of evidence-based strategies that are proven to positively affect employees' physical and psychological wellbeing. At a high-level, the most impactful strategies address the following: • Healthy air quality • Ample access to natural light • Appropriate level of lighting, temperature and noise • Biophilic elements and view to nature • Ergonomic and height-adjustable furniture • Choice and access to a variety of space types for different tasks (collaboration, learning, socializing, focus, etc.) • Options for walking in-between and on the floors as well as to/from the building l et's change the narrative! Taking any of these actions as an organization shouldn't be a one-shot effort. To keep the momentum going, feedback from employees and active participation from every level of the organization are necessary on a day-to- day basis. Without a doubt, organizations – and, specifically, the employee and workplace experience – influence our state of health. The question, however, is whether your organization will be a passive contributor to illness, or if it will consciously and proactively contribute to the wellbeing and mental health of your people. We hope the actions outlined here make this decision simple. Gensler supports research and learning about psychological wellbeing, and collaborates with industry and academic experts to raise awareness. So let's change the narrative, and the next time you ask someone "How ARE you?" take a moment to actively listen. 24 JUNE 2019 th E l E ad E r Zsuzsi Nagy, left, is a design strategist at Gensler, a global architecture, design, and planning agency. Joan Price, MC r , is director of Global Client r elationships Gensler. Additional resources: "Provide a language and tool kit for leaders and employees to help them have safe and good-quality con- versations. Leaders particularly need to recognize their responsibility in proactively engaging and navigating conversations. This is especially key where the work environment, colleagues and/or work itself could be contributing to health concerns." – Lisa Harvey, head of Workplace Experience, AMP Article resources:, last retrieved on 04/03/2019, last retrieved on 03/31/2019, last retrieved on 04/03/2019

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