In my previous post about “Well-being in Organizations – Social Complexity Perspective” I wrote about how the employee well-being and commitment are interrelated. Thus the well-being is very closely related to the efficiency of the organization also. One comment I received was that it was a cool post but I didn’t give any tools for the readers.
That is true in some sense. To be more precise, I didn’t give any “tools of instrumental rationality”. (See Ralph D. Stacey’s excellent book.) Instead I gave some tools for reflexivity and practical judgment. I think that is only proper way to talk about these things in general blog posts.
However, I decided to make a little experiment and write a typical “Three things to do for improving your stamina”-type post. Let’s see how this works out. So here you go (more in depth analysis of the used concepts can be found from my previous posts):
Five things that can increase well-being in your organization
1. Invest on teams that give possibilities for identification and commitment. Make sure also practices against ingroup favoritism and prejudice are in place.
Like I wrote in the earlier post, identification isn’t enough for commitment to emerge. Commitment means that the group values are integrated in one’s self as a guiding principles. The down-side of this is that strong commitment will lead to ingroup favoritism, which will mean that different teams and projects are fighting and going to their own directions.
Thus it is also important to make sure also practices against ingroup favoritism and prejudice are in place. These could involve increasing the number of groups, having common goals, highlighting positive group identities etc. (Again, look at my previous posts.)
2. Offer values that people can commit to and which bring good self-esteem.
The values can’t be pushed from outside. They have to be real values that people want to live according to. If the values will be coercively pushed it will lead to inner conflicts and weak identification, or to very bad self-esteem. Both are bad for the company and for the people’s well-being alike.
This is a difficult dilemma to solve in many companies that are heavily profit-oriented. The true values might be anything but the one’s people would like to internalize. (e.g. pollution, lay-offs, etc.) However, if this dilemma can’t be solved there is no hope for real commitment and thus the efficiency will be average at best.
3. Give security and continuity in a form of real social networks (not institutions).
This means that people have to trust to the leaders of the company and their co-workers. An essential part of the well-being is the lack of insecurity and fear. Thus all the fear-mechanisms (like judgmental performance evaluations) should be defused. Instead people should be able to build caring human relations.
This is again a really difficult task in most of the companies with bureaucratic HR practices. But if this isn’t solved the people will seek security and social networks outside of the company. Again this will lead to weak identification and decreased commitment.
4. Treat the employees fair and ethical
I already listed some elements of this in my previous post. Basically the values, rules and decisions have to be equal. People need to feel they are treated fair and the same way as others. Ethics is very important factor in organizational dynamics. Without ethics we will lose our self.
(Btw, this doesn’t apply just for humans – take a look at this video about unfairly treated monkeys.)
5. Use reflexivity and creativity instead of bureaucracy
There is really no hope for any company to develop and renew if people are used like machines in processes. People need to discuss and reflect upon what is happening. They have needs to understand not just the work-tasks and roles, but also their identities in the company. They need to be able to question the bureaucratic practices and change them when needed, instead of submitting to them.
Again, this is difficult in many companies just because the personnel, including the leaders aren’t competent in the areas of dialogue. If everything is focused on the tasks – well, then the tasks aren’t handled very efficiently. We are social beings and everything happens through social processes.
That’s it! Five concrete things to do to improve your well-being and efficiency. Not very easy ones, but what is? Good luck.