For years, it was the classic sitcom plot: an individual went to work, where they became their “work-self” and then reverted to their “true-self” after hours.
Much like Clark Kent and Superman, employees were encouraged to keep their personal lives out of the office. This created a strange sense of dichotomy, putting the employee in the position of having two distinct personas, but never fully engaging in either.
Within the last few years, however, employers have realized that embracing employees as more than simply “worker bees” is essential to corporate success. To accomplish this, employers are encouraging their employees to bring their whole selves to work.
What Does “Whole Self” Mean?
Bringing your whole self to work is a philosophy switch that may seem foreign to some. Rather than being afraid to share details of your life ’outside the office’, whole-self employees value their experiences and influences and understand their impact on their work. Put simply, bringing your whole self to work means you don’t have to separate the personal from the professional. This can lead to greater engagement and increased productivity.
How Can You Encourage Whole Self?
Employers who want to maximize employee engagement must do more than simply start a corporate program. The mindset of everyone in the organization must change. Instead of having “employees” who do work, view your organization as having “people” who do the work.
A Best Companies survey includes the statement, “Management cares about me as a person, not just an employee”. Companies that scored high in the survey were all rated highly in this area. This underscores the sentiment that employees want to be valued for their whole selves, not just what they do.
Once companies begin to change their mindset about employees, they will start to build trust with them. Employees will see that they are valued for who they are and be more engaged in their work.
Get to Know Your Employees
When you understand that employees are your greatest resource, you want to find out how they can best meet your corporate needs. Discovering the hidden strengths and talents your employees posses can help you connect their skills with professional development. This will encourage greater interaction between the employee’s whole self and their job and allow them to leverage their strengths. Further, when employees connect in a deeper way to their job, they can see how their contributions contribute to the organization.
Allow Your Employees to Grow
Part of encouraging employees to bring their whole selves to work is creating a culture where everyone is able to grow. Setting a standard of high expectations can challenge your employees to do their best. It is essential to have healthy expectations – unrealistic ideas of perfection can hinder growth and cause your employees to shut down. When you allow your employees to thrive and grow in their positions, they feel supported and cared about.
Encourage your employees to bring their whole selves to work with your own example. Allow them to see you as a person, not just their boss, and they will respond in kind. As a result, the company will benefit, and you will have a team of people who love what they do.
Michele Bailey is president and CEO of Blazing Agency and My Big Idea™. These two lines of business work congruently to support her clients’ success.