Respect and dignity
Creating a psychologically safe and healthy workplace
We are witnessing a significant shift in workplace culture and accountability across North America. We are only now starting to move away from a time when employers would manage their employees using tactics of threats and fear – where persons with the power to provide a benefit, would use said power to bully, harass, or even solicit favours from employees.
The movement for workplaces that are founded in respect and dignity for employees is well under way. It is the obligation of employers to provide a workplace that is free from harassment, discrimination, and violence. Moreover, it is the duty of employers to provide for a psychologically safe and healthy workplace.
Municipal employers may have a greater obligation than that of their private sector counterparts. Politicians, administrators, and staff, all of whom have purview to develop or implement policies and efforts to manage workplace wellness, are subject to greater scrutiny and transparency than private sector workplaces. Simply put, government employers are often held to a higher standard.
If you’re not sure if you have a psychologically safe or unsafe workplace, simply ask yourself the right questions: Can your employees bring forth ideas or ask questions of management with the expectation that they will, in fact, be heard? When an employee is having trouble meeting a challenging deadline, are they fearful for their job, or can they expect support to get the project completed on time? When an employee makes a mistake, is it held against them to the end of time?
Darcy Michaud has been practising HR for 20 years, several of those serving as the Director of HR for the County of Huron. Darcy successfully started his own HR consulting firm, HRprimed.
a version of this article was published in Municipal World, July 2018.
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