“Self-Care” at Work Is Finally Front And Center
In 2021, we moved psychological safety from the bibliography to the table of contents
I haven’t felt inspired by much these days. As far as decades go, the 2020s are off to a paltry start — not as roaring as we expected — and as humans, we haven’t exactly been redeeming ourselves.
That said, I was modestly surprised by some of the things I’ve heard from people in my industry (nonprofits) lately. In recent years, I’ve surveyed colleagues near and far about lessons they’ve learned from the previous year. It’s anecdotal, though the responses always reflect the “current moment” in my sector and other industries. Every December, I invite answers to the following question:
“If [year] has taught me anything, it’s…”
At the end of 2020, the great bulk of responses were about being one with chaos. These professionals, unsurprisingly, acknowledged that life was flux while trying to ride waves of uncertainty. “Count your blessings, because tomorrow it could be worse,” said one. “Some days you’re the windshield, and some days you’re the bug,” joked another.
We were pummeled by crises — health, social, economic — from all sides, and as we rounded the corner to 2021, it seemed all we could do was keep our heads afloat and roll with the punches.
That same chaos abounded in 2021, of course.
Organizational life got stickier, and millions of people were (are) quitting their jobs each month as employees and employers alike maneuver the dance of how to exist in this professional paradox. I joined the great resignation myself, unintentionally.
However, what I found in colleagues’ comments for 2021 was much more progressive than I anticipated; I might almost say optimistic. Of the dozens and dozens of responses, were people concerned about external issues like goals or strategy or processes? Hardly. Over three-quarters of these eager organizationists were no longer looking outside themselves; they were looking in.
If I had to categorize the overwhelming majority of responses, it would be under the moniker of “self-care” — full of that psychological safety Harvard’s Amy Edmondson has been telling us about for…