Is your workplace a beacon of psychological health, or do employees experience the Sunday night dreads over the coming week? Is there a sense that it is run with integrity and transparency, or are folks waiting for (maybe hoping for) some investigation or even indictment?
I periodically post questions that help us determine the psychological well-being and ethical culture of a given workplace, often drawing upon experts in employment relations, organizational behavior, and psychology. I’ve collected some of them here, with links to the original posts. Read ’em and cheer…or weep:
1. The New Workplace Institute’s “Eightfold Path” toward a psychologically healthy workplace:
- Is there a sense of zest, “buzz,” and opportunity in the workplace?
- Do employees feel they are valued and treated with respect and dignity?
- Is the organizational culture friendly, inclusive, and supportive?
- Is organizational decision making fair, transparent, and evenhanded?
- Are diversities of all types welcomed and accepted?
- Does the organization face tough questions concerning employee relations?
- Are allegations of mistreatment of employees handled fairly and honestly, even when the alleged wrongdoers are in positions of power?
- Are compensation and reward systems fair and transparent?
2. From the American Psychological Association’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program, how does your workplace stack up based on these criteria?
Every year, the APA recognizes North American employers who excel in these five categories:
- “Employee involvement”
- “Work-life balance”
- “Employee growth & development”
- “Health & safety”
- “Employee recognition”
3. From psychologists Linda Hartling and Elizabeth Sparks, what kind of workplace culture do you have?
Hartling and Sparks note that a healthy “relational” culture is one that values “growth-fostering relationships, mutual empathy, mutuality, [and] authenticity,” creating qualities of “zest, empowerment, clarity, sense of worth, and a desire for more connection.”
By contrast, they identify three types of “non-relational” cultures that hurt morale and productivity:
(1) “traditional hierarchical” cultures that emphasize top-down power;
(2) “pseudo-relational” cultures that value superficial “niceness” over constructive change; and,
(3) brute “survival” cultures that pit everyone against one another in the quest for status and institutional spoils.
4. From Chief People Officer Kevin Kennemer, questions about willingness to mistreat employees:
- Does your company employ leaders and/or employees who lack that strong inner conscience to resist shocking behavior?
- Do you think your coworkers are capable of inhumane treatment?
- Do psychologically abused employees find themselves stranded and secluded from their coworkers?
- What do you do if you see an employee being psychologically abused by a supervisor?
5. From business ethics & law professor Marianne Jennings, does your workplace exhibit any of the “seven signs of ethical collapse”?
- Pressure to maintain numbers
- Fear and silence
- Larger than life CEO
- Weak board of directors
- Conflicts of interest
- Innovation trumping any other priority, such as ethics
- Belief that goodness in some areas atones for wrongdoing in others
6. From writer and organizational consultant Art Kleiner, who are the core groups in your workplace?
If you want to understand how an organization includes or excludes, identifying the core group is a vital first step. Examine the core group members in terms of demographics. Look at the inclusionary or exclusionary practices of those within the core group. You’ll get a lot of answers about the culture of a particular workplace or institution, along with some insights about what is required to achieve positive change.