The Future of Work: Building a Resilient Workforce in 2021

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has revised its guidance surrounding COVID-19, in large part due to the rollout of several new vaccines approved by the FDA. The EEOC has addressed vaccines in the workplace and how employers should handle an employee’s refusal to take them. READ HERE

This past week MBL’s wellness coordinator, Cristina, had the opportunity to join WELCOA (Wellness Council Of America) for a half day event focused on mental wellness in the workplace. The day featured executive leaders from within the Wellness and HR industries focusing on the urgency in addressing mental health in the workplace. The morning started off with keynote speaker, Laurie Ruettimann, Author, entrepreneur, and host of the Punk Rock HR podcast, who focused on what it takes — and what to teach others — in order to improve your work environment and build a resilient workforce in 2021.

According to Ruettimann, self-leadership is the number one ingredient to building a workforce that has the capacity to manage and cope with difficult situations and events. At its core, self-leadership is self-awareness. It is the act of defining who you are and what you stand for so that you can operate like a leader no matter where you fall on an organizational chart. Through experience, Laurie has found that self-leadership is the answer to “fixing oneself”, taking control of ones life and being one’s own agent of change. In other words, leading oneself in order to become a better being, and a better employee who can stay calm, cool and collected regardless of what life has in store. She believes that to lead others well, you must first be an expert in your own thoughts and behaviors, and thus know how to lead yourself. 

Ruettimann preaches that self-leadership includes three components comprised of self-awareness: 

  1. Self-awareness of personal values. Self-leaders have a set of values that guide them in all that they do. If you’re not sure what your values are, or if you’ve never sat down with yourself to take inventory, now is a great time to reflect. Getting clear on your values requires you to be self-aware, or in other words, it requires you to know yourself on a deeper level. It might feel funny and awkward at first, but getting clear on your values will help you navigate everything you do, ultimately allowing you to live a life with integrity and purpose. Interview yourself and ask questions like:
    1. 1) What am I good at?,
    1. 2) What exhausts me?,
    1. 3) What is the most important thing in my life?
    1. 4) Who do I love?
    1. 5) What stresses me out?
    1. 6) What’s my definition of success?
    1. 7) What type of worker am I?
    1. 8) How do I want others to see me?
    1.  9) What type of person do I want to be?

Journaling these things is a great place to start. Talking about them with others is another great accountability exercise. Get curious with yourself and throw away the judgement. Instead, guide your daily living with compassion, humility and gentleness. Ruettimann holds firm to the idea that you can’t lead others—including yourself—if you’re not clear on important facets of your personality, including your preferences, communication style, values and expectations.

2. Self-awareness of intentions and behaviors. Self-leaders have a clear picture of what’s important in life. They have aligned what they do, with what they want, thus their actions match up with their goals and values. Most importantly, self-leaders are well-versed in accountability and self-responsibility. They don’t blame others or look outside of themselves for solutions to their problems. Ruettimann says that we can’t outsource everything and that self-leaders first look within themselves for answers, as usually we find that we have all the answers we need, we just need to be brave and stare long enough to find out. 

3. Self-awareness of personal perspective. Self-leaders are emotionally regulated individuals. According to Psychology Today, emotional regulation is “the ability to exert control over one’s own emotional state. It may involve behaviors such as rethinking a challenging situation to reduce anger or anxiety, hiding visible signs of sadness or fear, or focusing on reasons to feel happy or calm.” This does not mean not to “feel your feelings”. In fact, processing feelings and understanding where they are coming from and why is a major proponent of emotional regulation and intelligence. Emotionally intelligent individuals make for very effective leaders. They understand their own and others’ emotions and how they [emotions] drive behavior, then use that to motivate and inspire.  Life throws curve balls and work presents difficult problems that need to be solved. Self-leaders lean on their problem-solving techniques because they’ve “done the work” and continue to do so. They have meditated, journaled and invested in continuous learning to gain insight into themselves. One’s level of self-leadership, and general leadership ability doesn’t change or improve without deliberate and intentional practice, and since self-awareness is the foundation for self-leadership, it makes sense to focus on developing that skill. As you become more self-aware, you can then self-monitor and provide internal feedback that enables you to adjust and make corrections to thoughts and behaviors as necessary so that you can lead yourself, and others towards success. 

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