By Michael Ross, Founding Partner, ROAMcare
Some things go so well together and are so tightly connected that one is hardly considered without the other. Yin and Yang, Batman and Robin, macaroni and cheese! Effective Communications and Professional Wellness are two notions not often thought of as going together. However, the importance of communicating contributes to our physical, mental, and emotional health, increasing our wellness. The use of language whether written or expressed, verbally reflects our care for each other, especially important as we consider our team members and those we communicate with in our workplaces.
Professional Wellness, also known as Employee Wellness or Employee Well Being, is particularly well considered during times when our routines are so extremely manipulated as we are now seeing with the long-anticipated return to workplace normalcy. For many that means a return to face-to-face interactions and adjusting to being at work somewhere other than the dining room table. For most pharmacists, the last fifteen months did not include alternate work sites or virtual online meetings. Prescriptions and IV preparation must be accomplished on-site. However, staff reductions and altered business hours at many hospitals and community pharmacies working to the same strict specifications and at the same workload created a different kind of stress. As restrictions are easing, staffing may take time to return to pre-pandemic levels and introduces an additional level of stress.
Whether working on-site donned in protective garb or laid back on-couch in a virtual meeting room, anxiety leading to depression was markedly increased among the American workforce in 2020. The immediate supervisor of the frontline worker may not be the one who ultimately returns staffing to normal levels and hours, or returns team members to more familiar environs, but it is that immediate supervisor to whom the anxious team member looks for guidance and clarification, and it will be that front line supervisor who can provide support and encouragement, ultimately coalescing uncertain, anxious staff members back into an engaged, productive team.
Everybody wants to be heard. This need is amplified now. Many staff members have been too busy and working too distantly to express their needs. They may fear asking for support yet still have the need to express their thoughts and concerns. As a means of enhancing employee wellbeing, the front line supervisor who listens to team members and relays timely and honest communications is the key person to satisfy these needs.
When supervisors, and team members, begin to speak and listen to each other, the culture of the workplace changes for the better. People are freer to share ideas and suggestions rather than tempted to complain and criticize. Everybody becomes focused on the message of providing care to the patients and support to the complementary caregivers. The entire staff is more willing to ask questions and express concerns rather than acting without thought or clear direction.
There are not many ways everyone on a team can affect the well-being of the entire team. Respect, concern, honesty, and attention are within the scope of every staff person, team member, supervisor, and director. They are four pillars supporting care and wellness and are conveyed through words and two-way communication. Every message from acknowledging an individual for a job well done, announcing a new schedule, forwarding messages from administration, or just being there to listen, are all opportunities to express and support the wellbeing of everybody working together.
Respectful, effective communication profoundly affects the health of your workplace and truly communicate wellness.