FROM THE BOSTON BUSINESS JOURNAL
June 24, 2016
By Barrie Sanford Greiff and Richard J. Levin
As improbable as it seems, Star Trek and the Dalai Lama have joined forces in the workplace.
Star Trek is the inspiration for several technological inventions and disruptive innovations, including the cell phone and the tablet computer. The program is also noted for its progressive stance on workplace diversity, boasting one of television’s first diverse casts.
The Dalai Lama, meanwhile, is impacting the speed of work. In a fast and frenetic business environment that often triggers mistakes, companies are paying more attention to work styles designed to slow us down. In a business climate that rewards speed, there is new attention to mindfulness — being “present” to facilitate greater focus and fewer errors.
Both mindfulness and technology are leading to renewed attention to the whole worker. An employee who has better tools to work with, and feels more of a seamlessness among work, family, personal interests, and community, will be more attentive, energized, and productive. This is also crucially important in communicating to current employees and prospective hires that they don’t have to check their outside interests at the door. Witness the addition of music rooms and play spaces to the workplace.
Much of this is emerging from increased attention to employee suggestions about work spaces and work styles that foster innovation, collaboration, productive work, and the reduction of stress.
We are also seeing a greater awareness that technology, applied wisely and respectfully to employees and customers (or health care professionals and patients), enhances disruptive innovation. A good example of an innovative workplace will be CBS’s new fall series Pure Genius, whose storyline adapts technology, mindfulness, diverse perspectives, and creativity to holistic health care.
In addition to enhancing productivity and yielding a healthier bottom line, a best place to work is a powerful recruitment tool. In an era of increased competition for the best and the brightest, telling an authentic story of an innovative, respectful, collaborative workplace enhances a company’s competitive status as an employer of choice.
All of this leads to a handy five-part recipe for creating a best place to work:
- Treat people with dignity. Create and nurture a diverse community that values and respects people for their unique perspectives and contributions.
- Acknowledge that a business is part of a wider universe that symbiotically benefits from shared experiences between their employees and local communities — from shopping at local businesses to volunteering at community organizations.
- Promote an environment of learning and discovery, understanding that creativity requires risk.
- Encourage healthy lifestyles that integrate work and personal/family life, support mindfulness, and promote wellness.
- Foster an environment of transparency and open communication where ideas and feedback are freely shared, where executives model ethics and values, and where leaders say what they mean and do what they say.
In the words of the Dalai Lama: “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
And in the words of Mr. Spock: “Live long and prosper.”
Barrie Sanford Greiff, M.D. is former psychiatrist at the Harvard Business School. Richard J. Levin, Ed.D. is one of the country’s first executive coaches.