One of the most pressing topics for modern organizations today is the mental health of employees, which has a negative impact on the well-being of organizations. In the post-pandemic era, global mental health statistics have worsened particularly, including in the workplace, and they extend to all levels of the organizational hierarchy. The situation is complicated by the stigmatization of the topic. Many people experiencing symptoms of deteriorating mental health try to hide it because they are afraid of the reaction of other people and colleagues.
Providing mental health services to employees around the world not only impacts their health and well-being, but also increases business profits.
Leaders of leading organizations today already recognize the priority of mental health and are trying to bring it from the individual challenge format to the organizational level. In the growth and development of an organization and in the productivity of employees, one of the most important factors is their mental health and a psychologically safe working environment.
Mental health problems at the individual and organizational level manifest themselves in the form of symptoms such as:
It is difficult to adapt to constant changes.
Decreased ability to concentrate
Failure to achieve goals
Increased alarm level
Frequent conflicts or desire to isolate yourself from relationships with colleagues
Failure to achieve company goals
Deterioration in overall results
Team dysfunction (lack of trust, lack of belonging, unproductivity)
Increased reputational risks
We help organizations develop policies and programs in the field of employee mental health, create a psychologically safe working environment and transform organizational culture in this direction.
Main products and services in the field of mental health:
Diagnostics - assessment of the mental health of employees and the level of psychological safety of the organization (mental health index, psychological safety index)
Policy development – development/adaptation of the organization's mental health policy and corresponding document.
Program Design – Developing an employee mental health program tailored to the unique needs of the organization.
Forming a highly effective culture - creating a psychologically safe working environment where employee creativity, ability to adapt to change and the quality of work increase.
Follow-up – periodic assessment of implemented changes (Follow-up and Assessment) and ongoing support in the form of consultations.
Our approaches are based on:
• Mental health assessment (employee survey, on-site observation)
• Holistic approach – understanding the issue from the perspective of the overall company context (overall, assessing the possible impact of policies and work climate on employee mental health)
• In-depth knowledge of organizational psychology and therapeutic approaches.
Depending on the specific needs of the organization, the programs we create may include activities such as:
The complexity, ambiguity and rapid change of the modern world are the biggest challenges for both individuals and organizations. Each of us feels the difficulties of adapting to change on our shoulders, and this pressure manifests itself in different ways in our daily lives, whether it be confusion, stress or burnout. One of the main questions of today is - how to deal with all this? What do we most need in order to achieve the desired results in the light of the current reality, without losing the feeling of fulfillment and happiness that comes from being involved in the process?
In Gestalt psychology, development (life in general) is seen as the interaction of the organism and the environment, as a result of which the personality changes and grows. This attitude is called creative adaptation. The contact of a person with the environment is the more creative, the less it is conditioned by rigid formulas and schemes. Accordingly, its growth and development is greater. Creative thinking is even more relevant in a world where the pace of change is accelerating and where artificial intelligence will replace many routine tasks. One of the major challenges facing modern organizations is how to build an organizational culture that encourages creative and growth-oriented thinking, where employees themselves are change makers, where they are created according to a clear vision and values.
systems and decisions are made. To better understand the benefits of creative thinking, let's take a closer look at how it differs from reactive (fixed) thinking, what determines their formation. First of all, it should be said that both types of thinking have different rules of the game and both games are an integral part of our reality.
Reactive thinking works according to the rules of the outer game. This is an orientation towards external reality, this is the development of knowledge and competencies that the environment requires from us. It is our existing knowledge and experience, managerial, technical and leadership competencies adapted to the requirements of the outdoor game. As a result, the so-called "traditional ways" of adapting to the environment are formed and strengthened. Fixed or reactive thinking. Reactive thinking is defensively oriented, trying to play in such a way that it doesn't lose. Every day more and more energy is required to respond to the changing and growing demands of the environment. During outdoor play, a person's sense of security and worth depends on external validation. Since any knowledge today becomes obsolete, and the environment sets new tasks for a person, external assessments also change rapidly and are unstable over time. Adapting to them requires a lot of energy from a person. As a result, anxiety and feelings of pressure increase.
Fixed or reactionary thinking (same external game) reacts to problems,
It is possible to reduce the severity of problems, but not to bring about qualitative changes. This is one of its main limitations. When the outer game dominates and the inner game constantly follows it, the result is increased stress and tension, and a decrease in human happiness. The external game finds a corresponding reflection in the organizational culture. In fixed mindset organizations, innovation and innovative approaches are not encouraged or implemented, they are intimidated by competition, and they struggle to maintain their position. In conditions of reactive management, the “language of guilt” is often used, there are frequent conversations about problems and endless attempts to find their causes, although they cannot be eliminated, there is no qualitative change in the context that caused the problems. The employee is uninitiated and waits for tasks, is afraid to make a mistake, so he does not take a step towards innovations. In such an organizational culture, the worker is lost and depressed, unable to develop and realize his creative potential. Hence, his engagement and happiness index is very low. As for the inner game, this is a process directed from the inside out, which is based on self-knowledge, awareness of one's own desires. The focus of the inner game is “what I want, what worries me”, and not “what I need, what they will tell me”. Accordingly, it is development-oriented, in which case a person contributes to the valuable work for him with his unique “I”, unique vision. A person focused on the inner game has a vision of the future and consciously takes steps towards it. Indoor games develop creative thinking. At this time, with each contact with the environment, the individual creates a unique experience, creating something that did not exist before. Creative Thinking "It's a game to win with all your heart, with nothing to gain and nothing to lose" (Larry Wilson, The Game to Win). The "inside game" does not depend on external debt. In such cases, failure is also an experience and, as a result, self-esteem is not destroyed. The internal game is a complex internal system in which the individual ability to give meaning (who we are and how we see our own identity, how we see our role in the world) is built; Decision-making process (what are the values and beliefs based on which we make decisions), self-awareness and a high level of emotional intelligence. Inner play, also known as the growth mindset, combines skills such as dignity, sincerity, high self-awareness, cooperation, courage, humility, intuition, inner wisdom. It is these qualities that are vital for us to grow and develop in contact with the environment, and not vice versa, to be repressed and become hostile. These character traits develop creative abilities in us and create the right ground for the development of new competencies, a better mood, interest and openness.
Those organizations that focus on the internal game, attach the greatest importance to the vision and values, the coincidence of the values of the organization and the employee. Such organizations create space for development, gaining new experience, introducing innovations. Teamwork and collaboration are encouraged. In such a culture, they promote self-awareness and action with conscious motivation, choosing things in accordance with the interests of the worker. Welcome openness, changes and support each other in these changes. Today's complex, fast-paced and ambiguous reality requires individuals and organizations to pay more attention to the inner game as it is a more reliable system to navigate. Establishing a healthy relationship with the environment without a strong internal play structure is unthinkable. Understanding the importance of the internal game for the leaders of the organization and readiness for transformation is the first step, although the successful transformation of the organization is possible with an integrated approach, consistent and daily work. It is a process involving continuous and often painful decisions. Proper assessment of this process and appropriate preparation are prerequisites for the desired change. For simplicity, we can say that the successful transformation of the organization is associated with consistent changes in all three areas (vision, organizational culture and performance systems) and maintaining their balance. We share this approach in ACT, in the direction of management consulting ACT offers organizations a successful transformation model POWER3. The balance of the three forces achieved in the process of transformation can become a prerequisite for a harmonious transition to the inner game. Finally, if we can move from reactive thinking to creative thinking, we can create a vision that best aligns with our inner values. Values will energize us and give us the strength to master every day the work that best expresses our core message and brings us closer each time to the vision we created.
Have you ever thought that a cup of coffee with a colleague in the office in the morning, questions about yesterday evening's news or plans for the day can affect your efficiency during the day?
What answers do we get when we ask our team members about the behaviors and actions the company uses to improve the organizational environment and improve employee performance? Most of you will probably answer: team building that took place last year or is planned in the near future, monthly meetings to check the current status of projects, corporate events, trainings, etc.
Despite this, few employees will be able to name rituals that exist undeclared in the company. Using them, smart executives effortlessly:
Rituals help team members translate values into their daily activities. Returning to the coffee cup example, having an honest conversation with a colleague early in the day about plans or tasks for the day can be an incentive to be more active and bold in group discussions throughout the day, as well as being more receptive to other people's opinions.
Organizations that incorporate their declared values into daily rituals attract people whose values these rituals correspond to. On the contrary, interaction problems often arise in organizations where declared values are not embodied in rituals.
Building Strong Relationships
People who feel connected work more effectively together. Shared rituals help bring together a diverse workforce and reinforce the culture of an organization.
Rituals increase the sense of belonging and trust between team members. This is especially important in organizations where there is relatively less communication between different departments and positions.
A well-known example of corporate culture is the Grundfos Olimpics Olympic Games, where Grundfos periodically brings 1,000 employees from 55 countries to Denmark to participate in the "Olympics". During this period, employees from different countries live with their Danish team members, which greatly contributes to the deepening of interpersonal relationships.
Stimulate desired behavior
The implementation of small, even insignificant rituals often has a significant impact on improving the effectiveness of the organization.
An example of such a ritual in the research and consulting company ACT is the so-called “Muda Competition” (Muda), which is based on the principles of Lean Management. This competition is held periodically and serves to reduce, and in the best case, eliminate unnecessary costs (including time, human resources, etc.) in the organization. Its main idea is to improve the existing system from the bottom up, at the initiative of those people who have to deal with this or that process in their daily activities and most objectively assess the shortcomings in them. Accordingly, all employees take part in the competition. The competition provides for various nominations - "The chosen Muda for exile", "The most original Muda name", "The most reasoned explanation" and "The simplest solution to the Muda issue".
The winning teams of the competition are rewarded with various prizes, and the reduction in identified costs is reflected in an increase in the overall efficiency of the company.
Reducing stress levels
In a rapidly changing environment, organizations need to remain as flexible as possible. Often this adversely affects their results. In the midst of ever-changing economic, political and other changes, it is important to maintain the strength of organizational culture.
Rituals help to ensure the internal stability and resilience of the organization. They help team members stay focused on the main goal, despite difficulties, and not fall into despair. Rituals have proven to be a guarantee of organizational health for many organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Examples of such rituals are virtual holidays and Happy Hour.
Organizational rituals are often found in the cultures of well-known companies such as Google, Zoom, Zappos and others.
For example, an example of such a ritual at Google is the weekly open meetings (so-called TGIF) with high-ranking executives, where company employees from all over the world can ask questions on topics of interest to them and get comprehensive answers.
Zoom's organizational culture is distinguished by its focus on people. The management encourages employees to bring family members to the office, which helps to preserve the health of the team, on the one hand, and the personal life of employees, on the other.
Zappos stands out for its creative organizational rituals. The “strange talent show”, which has become a symbol of the company, serves not to discover stars, but to reveal individualism. Each employee is given the opportunity to enjoy their uniqueness and share their strange or uncomfortable talents with team members.
At the end of this article, I will share with you some undeclared rituals, some of which may already exist in your company, and you can learn about the benefits they create for your company:
Morning coffee meetings - every day in the company should begin with the phrase - "Hi, how are you?". Each of us needs to relax and wake up, which allows us to talk on general topics. A 5-10 minute conversation with an employee often turns into a discussion of plans for the day. Such dialogues often end with the questions “What are you working on today, what are you going to do today?”, which creates a general idea of \u200b\u200byou or your colleague's plan for the day.
15-minute stand-up meetings with team members - sharing information about plans for the day and their projects - one of the most important rituals that creates a general idea of what stage the team is at, whether additional resources have been freed up somewhere or whether anyone needs Any help to complete the project on time.
Circle of acquaintance - the team forms a circle and shares with each other information about themselves that the rest of the team does not know. The existing ritual is often performed in conjunction with the coffee ritual, but in a relatively small circle, the latter requiring the participation of the entire team. This creates a kind of bond between team members, which helps in the coordinated execution of common projects.
Adaptation of a new employee. All new employees must adapt to the work environment and team. Change is not easy for everyone, so it makes sense to plan some type of team-initiated activity with a new employee, one of the simplest examples of which is organizing a Pub Crawl evening.
Knowledge sharing - team members periodically meet and share their experiences (mistakes and positive experiences), which contributes to the overall growth of team members. Also, team members realize that mistakes, to a greater or lesser extent, can make everything, which leads to a decrease in the level of stress caused by the fear of mistakes.
Perhaps some of these rituals have already entered your daily life. In addition, think about what other rituals exist in your company? How do they affect the efficiency of you and the company as a whole? When or who created them? The main thing to remember is that rituals are not created by themselves, but are created, strengthened and initiated by people.
„Culture is not just one aspect of the game – It is the game. In the end, an organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value.“
Lou Gerstner, Jr. – IBM
We often come across of such a statement, in today’s world a transformation is not a choice, it is a new norm and whether you want it or not, the companies could not survive without it. But when is the best time to really transform an organization? Is it enough just to look at and look through the future of the industry and develop a new vision of the company to meet a new reality? Obviously, taking steps without having the right vision is more like wandering blindly in the forest, though in line with the vision it is most important to guess how sufficiently equipped we are; how much our values, competencies, skills, systems, or any other resources are capable to support us to follow the path to our future company with minor losses and essential creativity.
It is probably no news to anyone to say that the real transformation begins with one’s self. By realizing and analyzing the company's own leadership qualities, values, limiting beliefs and thoughts, and feeling its role and importance in the new vision of the company, the internal shifts that lead us to the first steps on the path of the change begin.
The key questions in the transformation process sound like this - where am I today and where do I want to be? What prevents me from getting where I want to get? What will help me to walk this path with minor losses and an environmentally friendly way? What are my leadership qualities and skills and what is my leadership energy like? In which role can I best demonstrate them?
These questions are quite difficult to answer, and if the company could not afford to create a field where the internal search process is invigorated, then the answers might also be superficial. Creating this field is the basis of a transformational organizational culture, and only on such a basement can a culture be built that can breathe with live, create and make a system shape accordingly to ensure the realization of a company's vision through the realization of individual human capabilities. The values in such a culture have a leading role where there is a vivid consensus in understanding them. All this is translated into the language of common game rules in daily activities, which is one of the major conditions to achieve the best results.
In today's fast-paced and unforeseeable world, revision of the structures and positions of the companies that have been successful for years but have lost their flexibility is now even more urgent and can no longer adequately respond to the challenges faced in the surrounding environment. Today it can be that in the same position, in the same company, different competencies and skills are prioritized for different time periods and that too is never enough. That is why it is extremely important to understand the roles together with the positions, to strengthen the team leadership along with the individual leadership, to meet the expectations instead of writing the detailed descriptions of functions and duties, to bring in the best results, to create projects to be done and to execute them as it is supposed according to project rules.
Too often in the companies where hierarchical systems are strictly determined, employees feel like being trapped within their own positions, often finding it difficult to see and recognize that the organizational vertical limits their ability to fully express themselves and their interests, while the brilliant results are achieved through flexible systems based on teamwork principles. In such hierarchical systems, the rules are canonized while the employees do not understand their importance, and the rules are followed without any enthusiasm, where it is forced, or even ignored, while horizontal arrangement and team principles vitalize the rule. The rule and the system can be understood not as a punishment, or as a hindrance, but as a support in order to do our job best. These are the changes that ACT underwent in the first stage of its transformation, as a result of which the organizational culture in the company today is a clear example of a living order.
Team play is seen as an integral part of a transformational organizational culture. It requires understanding and respect for your own and team members’ strengths and weaknesses. Successful team play is impossible without the ability to open up, recognize failure and success, share and self-reflection. It is also important to know how to speak a common language so that we do not lose our uniqueness; how to balance each other and overcome a task, the success of which often depends on the competence, skill, responsibility and concerted work of many people. Team leadership also implies the understanding of the fact that even the best qualities of a person can become a barrier if he is not in the right place and in the right role, and that all qualities are equally important for a magnificent success.
The Companies where equal importance is given to both the results and the way in which these results are achieved; as well as the Companies that are equally centered on the outside and the inside environment, achieve more glorious results, are innovators, and are resilient to storms threatened from the outside world.
ACT's unique management model, named The Power of Three, allows us to simultaneously see and implement the need for management and transformation in three areas. A real transformation is possible only if you have a clear vision of where you are going, and share the relevant values needed to realize that vision while they should come right from your heart. This could be done best through the development of systems and enforcement mechanisms. In such a model, the culture is congruent and organic to each employee of the company and ensures the maintenance of vitality and sustainability.