Whether we are physically together or remote, working part-time or full-time, newly employed, or a long-serving employee, we all play a collective role in the well-being of our work environment. A great work environment makes for happier employees and improved productivity. What can we do to create a positive space for everyone? Dr. Lisa Elsinger, a wellness program manager at Broward College, provides some tips for building healthy relationships with co-workers.

When we think about health and well-being, it’s common for diet and exercise to be first on the list. We often emphasize individual actions people can take to improve health. Of course, our own lifestyles are a major predictor of our overall health and ability to function, but a critical component of our health is our relationships, including those with our co-workers.

The way we treat one another at work influences our stress levels, focus and productivity, mood, and engagement in the organization. It can also affect our sleep, energy levels, confidence, self-efficacy, and many other facets of personal life. When you have a workplace where people feel connected and supportive of each other, the environment feels more invigorating and empowering even during the most challenging times.

Attitudes and energy are often sensed without a person even speaking, and while the potential for misinterpretation exists, overall, we’re pretty adept at gauging the atmosphere in a group of people. You’ve likely heard someone say, “the excitement in the room” or “the energy was contagious.” On an individual level, we all know people who seem to brighten a room or with whom we feel a greater degree of comfort. These feelings validate the notion that we can affect each other just by our presence. Over the last year, our transition to work from home has not diminished the effect of attitude and energy even in a virtual room.

Words and actions emanate from our attitudes and beliefs. In the professional environment, they have the power to influence collaboration, quality of work, organizational culture, and the entire employee experience. Getting to know colleagues personally helps foster positive relationships and the sense of belonging, which is an important contributor to mental and physical health.

Collective well-being is more than getting along with co-workers and functioning well as a team. It denotes a genuine caring with actions that demonstrate inclusivity, empathy, and compassion for each person. Respecting each individual’s personal traits, lifestyles, and cultural practices, and appreciating the richness of a diverse workforce creates a strong and nurturing community. 

Whether we are physically together or working remotely, consider these tips on how each of us can contribute to collective well-being in the workplace:

  • Be a welcoming and friendly presence even during inordinately busy and stressful days
  • Stay calm during crisis: think clearly and avoid panicking or losing composure
  • Demonstrate reliability: be trustworthy and maintain confidentiality
  • Exude strong morals and values: high self-standards and act with integrity
  • Stay humble: not self-aggrandizing, acknowledge others for their work and contributions
  • Share the workload: be collaborative; offer help when possible and distribute teamwork equitably
  • Help others succeed: take pleasure at people’s successes, avoid being competitive
  • Take a clear stand on issues that matter, with tact and confidence
  • Promote inclusivity: appreciate and acknowledge the value of a diverse workplace
  • Respect individual health
    • Avoid coercing co-workers into “fitness challenges” if they are reluctant, or consuming foods that they must avoid or prefer to avoid
    • Do promote simple healthy activities such as taking brief frequent breaks during the workday
    • Prioritize your own self-care, set boundaries, and maintain healthy habits – feeling well leads to doing well, which includes relationships and communication

As people continue working from home or begin to transition back to the office, we want to ensure that organizations are ready to adapt to the future of the workplace, no matter what that looks like. While we are not entirely responsible for people’s feelings and actions, we all play a critical role in the collective well-being of our workplace.

Lisa Elsinger, PhD, is a lifelong advocate for taking care of mind, body, and spirit, so people can live with vitality and give their best to the world. She leads the Live Well wellness program at Broward College, where she integrates health and well-being into employee experience and organizational culture-building strategy. Dr. Elsinger values being immersed in Broward College’s altruistic initiatives, advocating for student and community health, and empowering people to share their stories to support and inspire others.
Empowerment Broward College Employees Broward College Leadership