Friday, February 26, 2016

An accident waiting to happen

In reading the industry news the other day I came across an item about a forklift driver that intentionally ran into a co-worker with the forklift and then pushed him, resulting in assault charges against the driver! Wow. What could’ve gone so wrong that this man felt the need to use a forklift as a weapon? Maybe we’ll never know. That got me thinking.
It’s not always easy to tell if and when an employee is struggling with an issue, regardless of whether it’s work-related or personal. Some people wear their emotions on their sleeve, while others hide behind the “everything’s fine” mask. And some hit a co-worker with a forklift.
So what can we do? People’s emotions and responses to stress, conflict, uncertainty, confusion, criticism, are things we can’t control. What we can control is our company’s culture; it’s the culture that sets the tone for the company and creates the working environment. If that culture is negative, it sabotages any good programs, services or support we try to provide to employees. It’s unhealthy; it leads to more stress, burnout, anger, turnover, less productivity, more absenteeism and higher health care costs.
Think about it. There are always deadlines, too much work and not enough time, and each person handles these things differently; some thrive on it and some wither; some welcome it and for some it’s a source of constant anger and frustration. Mix all of that together and you really can have an accident waiting to happen.
If only there was a magic formula, where we could wave our magic wand, chant some special incantation and POOF all would be good. No, this is one that takes work; a lot of it and it can’t be accomplished in a vacuum. There isn’t one right way to create a positive, healthy, productive workplace culture. No two places are the same. From the people, to the products and services, to the company’s size, to the company leaders – all of it influences the nature of the work environment. Creating a safe environment where diversity is respected, voices are heard, talents are appreciated and recognized, there is a balance between life and work and employees feel empowered doesn’t just happen. You and your team have to work at it – every day. As a leader, you need to make that happen. The rewards you reap in the long run are more than worth it.


Posted by MJ Thomas

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