Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Servant Leadership Practice--Wholeness is a Focus

One cannot hire an employee's brain without that person's body, nor vice versa. At company-wide meetings, I would say, "I want everyone to go home at least as healthy and whole as when they arrived--perhaps tired, but not sick, stressed or injured." I also realize that something like wholeness is so broad that it's hard to say that it's a focus. However, I believe it's important to have an emphasis on our team mates' well-being: physical, emotional, spiritual and mental.

Safety programs are important and there's been a strong emphasis on them in the last 4-5 decades. Lately, OSHA has gotten involved in ergonomics, which IMHO is a little misguided (see my submitted testimony to Congress regarding field inspectors and the possible ramifications if ergonomic citations are begun). Whether OSHA is involved or not, we need to make sure we have safe places and are educating our employees about safe practices. Paying attention to near-misses (i.e. those events that are not quite accidents but could have been if a few inches or seconds had been unavailable) helps identify potential problems before they create accidents and injuries.

Wellness programs also improve productivity and reduce absenteeism. There are a lot of flavors to them, but the consensus is growing that they need to be a part of an overall culture of care. One of the best texts is Dr. Dee Edington's "Zero Trends".  A quicker read, and full of case studies, is the National Center for Employee Ownership's (NCEO's) issue brief "Wellness Programs and Employee Ownership".

Similarly, productivity and wellness have been linked to stress and emotional well-being. Many companies have provided some financial training to help their employees manage through the financial crisis, and just to stay on top of their own monetary issues. Finances tend to be one of the most frequent stress inducers. We also need to provide a respectful, esteem-building atmosphere so that employees don't leave for home feeling abused and under-valued.

Other essays have already dealt with development and education.

Today, find examples where an employee's wholeness is being jeopardized or how you might improve an emphasis.

For C12 and Truth@Work members, Jesus dealt with people's need for forgiveness often before he dealt with their physical needs. With a blind beggar, he asked why the man had called out to him. He knew the man was blind, but he wanted to know what was the most important concern for him. It was his physical blindness, and Jesus dealt with it. Are there aspects of the work environment at your company that have a lot of employees concerned? What area is of the most concern to them?

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