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We’re Wasting A Trillion Dollars, And You Can Help Get It Back

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Work is stressful. Most officers are rife with politics, and most employees are exhausted, filled with fear, and generally upset. This is expensive. But it’s not as hard as you might think to recover that cost.

Writing for the Harvard Business School, Carmel Nobel explains:

The World Health Organization released a groundbreaking study that established a definitive link between mental health and economic productivity. The findings were both depressing and hopeful. On the downside, depression and anxiety disorders cost the world nearly US$1 trillion annually. On the upside, every dollar invested in treating those disorders leads to a return of $4 in terms of the ability to work and thus contribute to the economy.

Mental Health

© Flickr user Marie. L.

To quote behavioral economist Nava Ashraf:

“Imagine going to work where you feel a great sense of meaning, where you feel supported by others, where you feel a locus of control,” Ashraf says. “That improves mental health, and that improves productivity. So it’s a virtuous cycle.

It’s not as if this is news. We’ve explained how health issues rob productivity at work, and how depression impacts productivity, and how healthy organizations start at the top. But it is nice to get a round number to work with: one trillion dollars.

So how do you get some of that lost money back? Here’s an idea. Post this sign in your organization (here it is in PDF form.) Don’t ask permission. Don’t tell anyone you’re doing it. Put it up in a few places and wait to see what happens.

We are a company.

When you think of that word, think of us as your companions on this journey to make a difference to our customers and our community.

Here are some things you should know:

1. We’re glad you’re here. You were hired on purpose to be a part of this team. Always remember that.

2. None of us knows everything. It’s always okay to ask questions.

3. There will be good days. Celebrate them. There will be bad days. Accept them.

4. If you can’t work, it’s okay to go home. If you’re sick, go get help.

5. Take vacations. We won’t call you while you’re away, and don’t call us. Recharge and renew, and come back refreshed.

6. Experience elsewhere is just as valuable as experience here. All ideas are welcome, and the quality of the idea is what will be evaluated—not its source.

7. Time is the most precious resource. Respect our time, respect your own time, and help us to make good decisions about how we spend time together.

8. Having fun is not the opposite of being responsible. Enjoy your work, but do your work—even the parts you don’t enjoy.

9. If you’re unhappy, talk to someone. If it’s time for you to move on, let us know so we can help you find what’s next.

10. We’re a team. Let’s communicate, collaborate, and win!

Every one of those points is worth a blog post in itself. And at your organization, there might be a few more bullets based on elements that are unique to your culture.

But no matter where you work, these ten points should be true. And if they aren’t, that might be something to bring up. That might be a reason to look for a new job. Or at the very least, an opportunity to change what it’s like for the people who work with you directly.

Give it a try. Print out a copy and leave it on people’s desks. See what happens. Start the conversation. Change the culture.

Let’s make a dent in that trillion dollars and help everyone be more satisfied, more productive, and more engaged at work.

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Robby Slaughter
Robby Slaughter is a workflow and productivity expert. He is a nationally known speaker on topics related to personal productivity, corporate efficiency and employee engagement. Robby is the founder of AccelaWork, a company which provides speakers and consultants to a wide variety of organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, regional non-profits, small businesses and individual entrepreneurs. Robby has written numerous articles for national magazines and has over one hundred published pieces. He is also the author of several books, including Failure: The Secret to Success. He has also been interviewed by international news outlets including the Wall Street Journal. Robby’s newest book is The Battle For Your Email Inbox.
Robby Slaughter


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