For Brigid Walsh, the General Manager of health retreat Golden Door, there has never been a better time to reassess our workplace cultures and see how we can encourage more nurturing and supportive work environments, both for ourselves and those we work with.
Here the self-confessed ‘triple-A personality’ shares her tips for building a healthier work environment, and what to do when you realise you can’t achieve it all.
Through research and my own professional and personal experiences, I’ve learned that particular personalities are more prone to corporate burnout. A-type personalities – the kind of people who are very driven, bright and like to be in control – are one of those personality types. Chances are, that’s a significant proportion of any given workforce.
I used to call myself a triple-A personality. We have lots of fantastic characteristics but if you lose that balance, you can beat yourself up when you make mistakes. That’s when you start building pressure and your drive works against you.
There are no particular job roles or industries that cause burnout, per se. At Golden Door we see exhausted business owners and high-flying corporate types, as well as young people in middle management. The common factor is that, due to personality traits, people are putting a lot of pressure on themselves.
That’s not to say that the environment in which you work doesn’t have a lot to do with stress levels, of course. High-volume work, long hours or a bad workplace culture can all contribute significantly.
Practical tips to nurture a supportive work environment
Here at Golden Door, we’ve got a fantastic environment and facilities that our staff can take advantage of. But it goes beyond that; we’re like a family. We work hard to develop and nurture a healthy and supportive culture. As part of that, we:
- Keep constant communication and make sure it goes two ways – it’s important your staff feel listened to.
- Empower your team. Implement a social committee, share some decision-making powers or initiate recognition awards.
- Help your team to be really clear on the purpose of the organisation so they can be passionately connected to it.
- Stand by your own cultural values and standards around respect and kindness – and, crucially, reinforce them when things don’t go right. Show that things can change for the better as a result of when things don’t go right.
- Have clear systems and procedures in place so everyone knows the expectations of their involvement.
- Celebrate the small things.
All those things make people feel like they want to come to work. I like to think that my team knows that they can get support in the workplace, for both personal and professional issues. We don’t separate work and life.
Then remember: you can’t do it all
Changes like those I’ve mentioned don’t necessarily cost money but they can be very time-consuming. There are times when I think, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m falling behind on my emails because I’m also trying to stay connected with my 100 staff, my new guests and stay close to our product.’
For me the balance is very much a work in progress and I will always push the boundaries. But I’ve also experienced crippling anxiety so I’ve learned to recognise when I need to pull back and look after myself.
You can’t feel guilty about that – just know everyone else is better off around you when you’re at your peak.
Golden Door provides an environment to help nurture the body, mind and spirit. It does this through the most caring and passionate and talented staff to support people’s goals, what their individual goals are. Then the experiences are transformative.
Photo credits: Golden Door, StockSnap