Letter from America
1st September, 2019
The Three “A’s” to wellbeing in the workforce:
authentic relationships, accountability, and admission
I used to be really good at three things;
having surface level relationships, making excuses, and running away from my
Consequentially, my mental health took a
turn for the worse and I experienced a three-year depression that eventually
lead to two suicide attempts. This put me in a residential treatment center during
my junior and senior year of high school.
But sometimes the worst times can teach the
Now you may be thinking, “Okay, but how
does this relate to work?”
As many know, mental health is a growing
concern worldwide. However, it often gets brushed under the rug in the
workplace. It makes sense that mental health takes a back seat when employees
are taught to always complete the next task at hand. No matter the industry,
that is the simple nature of work; do what you have to do and do it right now.
But what happens when this laser focus
makes everything else seem irrelevant? Sure, the work gets done. That should
continue to happen for companies to flourish and reap benefits, but not at the
sense of sacrificing employee fulfillment. The good news is that employers
don’t need to change the “Get It Done” mentality. There just needs to be
additional pieces added to the puzzle.
I currently work for a Fortune 100 company
in the business to business sales segment. I have been employed by a
professional hockey team, and also previously spent time in the marketing
division at my university’s athletic department. All three workplaces have been
a tremendous experience and have provided growth and learning opportunities.
What I have noticed through my experiences
and speaking with other working professionals is that some employees miss the
mark on the three “A’s” for well-being in the workforce, while some employers seem
unaware of their importance.
Authentic Relationships, Accountability,
These are the three “A’s’,” not only
critical for employees to deploy, but for employers to acknowledge. My worst of
worsts happened when I was blind to the significance of these. If we don’t
cultivate authentic relationships, establish accountability, and learn to admit
our wrongdoings, then well-being in the workforce is going to have a pretty low
roof. The unfortunate thing is that a domino effect is well set up to take
place if these aren’t taken seriously. Employees may grow discouraged, the
level of care diminishes, work output drops, and company revenues suffer. Furthermore,
inferior behaviors such as lying, making excuses, and even jealousy can be
byproducts if the three “A’s” aren’t incorporated into the workplace.
Let’s take a deeper dive into how these
aspects affect well-being in the workforce.
A #1: Authentic Relationships
If you think about it, this should be one
of the more obvious and prioritized components by companies. But it seems too
often come as an afterthought. Employees spend the majority of their time in
the workplace, and it is not just critical, but rather a necessity, to have
authentic relationships with co-workers. Sure, you don’t always need to know
one another’s life story or greatest struggles. But we need to go deeper than
knowing what color dress shirt he has on, what hair style she changed up, or
what each other’s sales numbers are. Authentic relationships are key to
employee satisfaction and workforce prosperity.
Brené Brown, one of the leading researchers
on vulnerability and mental health in the United States, has brought to light
that above all else; money, fame, success, prosperity, and even happiness, that
human beings aspire for interpersonal connection and belonging. That is
our “why.” One of the methods to fulfill connection and belonging is by
implementing vulnerability. In fact, Brown goes on to mention that the only way
to reach true internal fulfilment is by being vulnerable and true to who you
challenge is that some employees can feel afraid to live and work as their true
selves. Whether it’s the fear of being dismissed, ruining existing
relationships, or receiving judgment from others, employees are frequently
finding it difficult to be who they are, therefore, making it difficult to
create authentic working relationships. It’s a fairly simple concept; if you’re
struggling to operate as who you truly are, then the relationships you have are
going to struggle authentically as well.
sent out a survey to more than 800 people ranging from ages 18-61 in various demographics
and work industries. I asked what the single greatest obstacle is to reaching
mental wellness at work. Below are a few quotes that I received:
· “Feeling like my voice or opinion won’t
· “Not being as good as my co-workers when
it comes to providing a service.”
· “Letting people down and failing to do
what is expected.”
· “Completing a job to the best of my
ability but the results don’t meet the needs of my team.”
· “Not living up to expectations that
others have of me.”
· “Not being good enough.”
· “Not being taken seriously as a woman.”
· “Not being respected or taken seriously
for my younger age.”
· “Constantly overthinking my working and
wondering whether it’s good enough for others.”
· “Constantly being compared and ranked
success is great but there is always more work to be done.”
reality is that all of these can happen at some point in a given workplace.
But, having authentic relationships with people you can trust, have fun with,
laugh with, and work well with, will put a lot of these insecurities to rest.
Relationships are essential for renovation.
take a look at what employees and employers can do to improve.
Responsibility for Authentic Relationships in the Workforce
intention about being vulnerable and transparent.
importance of having authentic relationships and how they can often times put
workplace fears and insecurities to rest.
Be open to
discuss struggles, not just things that are going well.
Responsibility for Authentic Relationships in the Workforce
comfortable workplace environment for employees to leverage building authentic
building opportunities outside of the day to day work tasks.
Make it a focus.
The more the team is aligned and trusting of one another, the better the work
output and potential for success is.
A #2: Accountability
When I was in
college, I pondered about the idea of writing a book. I wanted to write
something that could be a tool to help people that struggled with similar
instances of adversity that I experienced. I had ideas, stories, and even the
outline written out. But I was too afraid to take the next step of actually
writing the book. I was hesitant that the amount of time put in would not be
worth it in the end. I doubted my abilities of making it good enough for a
publisher to accept. Most notably, I feared judgment from peers and even losing
friends, due to the subject matter being rather deep and revealing.
All this caused
me to wait on writing the book for seven months. I knew exactly what I was
going to write, but felt burdened to start because of these fears. What changed
this trajectory is what I like to call self-imposed accountability.
I knew I wanted
to write this book, but I just didn’t have it in me to do it on my own. So, I
sought a mentor, we linked up, built a relationship, and I asked him to hold me
accountable during my writing process. This changed the entire outcome of the
process. Fast forward to three months prior to my college graduation, “The
Battle Against Yourself,” was published and put out on the market.
writing a book, teaching a kindergarten class, performing a surgery, or making
a sales call, we all need some sort of accountability during certain moments. And
sometimes, our only choice is to self-impose it.
The other type
is what I like to call external accountability, which is essentially set up or
arranged in advance. Workplace aspects like mentorship programs, trainings,
seminars, and one on one meetings are potential opportunities.
is a vital part of well-being in the workforce because it forces us not to go
at it alone. It plays a role in contributing to the trophy we long for most,
human connection and belonging. Take a look at what Brené Brown says here:
“One of the greatest
barriers to connection is the cultural importance we place on "doing it
alone." Somehow, we've come to equate success with not needing anyone.
Many of us are willing to extend a helping hand, but we're very reluctant to
reach out for help when we need it ourselves. It's as if we've divided the
world into "those who offer help" and "those who need
help." The truth is that we are both.”
Responsibility for Building Accountability
from the equation when asking for help. Questions are key to progress.
requires a relationship. Go to those you know, trust and can grow from.
accountability when you want or have to do something important. Accept
externally placed accountability, even if you didn’t choose it.
Responsibility for Building Accountability
mentorship programs for employees.
Create a culture
shift to break the stigma that a manager offering help to an employee is a bad
thing for the employee.
power of team alignment and accountability to the well-being of the workforce.
A #3: Admission
Out of the three “A’s,” this is probably
the one I’m most passionate about. It’s also the one that I suffered the most
at years ago. When I was sent out of state to a residential treatment center, I
was faced with an eye-opening experience. I knew that my trajectory would keep
heading south if I allowed it to, or it could change courses if I chose to. One
of the discoveries I learned there was that I was the root problem. Sure, some
things in life weren’t going my way and caused a lot of stress. But I learned
that despite the challenges, I was in control of my decision making. I had to
admit my wrongdoings; my selfishness, irrational behavior, and focus on the
wrong priorities. It was painful to admit, but growth wasn’t possible
Sure enough, this can very easily translate
into the workforce in either a positive or negative manner. Maybe not to the
same level of severity, but it can certainly alter mental health at work. One
of the best things an employee can do is to learn to admit shortcomings and
wrongdoings, and take ownership of mistakes.
There are three areas where admission takes
place; in the way we feel, act, and think. The treatment center and high school
scenarios were admitting my actions were wrong. But sometimes it may not be in
our acting or thinking. It may be in how we’re feeling, something we just can’t
shake off at work. Instead of hiding and disregarding it, which only masks the
problem, transparency with necessary team members is important.
Nine days prior to starting my first
professional internship in the workforce, I lost one of my best friends in a
car accident. I had so much anticipation and excitement prior to starting work,
but my world unexpectedly turned upside down. As much as I tried to be myself,
I just wasn’t. So, during the first couple days on the job, I told a couple of
co-workers and managers what had happened, so they were aware of the
circumstances, possibly affecting work performance and emotional capacity
during that time.
Employee Responsibility for Building
Put down your pride, admit what
you’re responsible for and what you need to improve.
Understand that admission is
painful in the short term but beneficial long term.
Take ownership in the areas of
how you think, feel, and act.
Employer Responsibility for Building a
Culture of Admission
Remove the stigma that an
employee will be consequenced when they tell the truth.
Encourage employees to speak
openly about suggestions and observations they have.
Promote the good of taking
ownership instead of weighing on the bad of the mistake.
The reality is that every employer and
employee have an abundant amount of priorities on their plate at work.
Pressure, stress, and anxiety are more common than ever in the workforce. When employers
take ownership of adhering to their employees, that is where change happens.
Authentic relationships, accountability, and admission are necessities for
employer prosperity and mental wellness among employees.
The cool thing is that both sides win…so
let’s start tripling down on those three “A’s!”
<< GET THE MAD WORLD NEWSLETTER >>
Greg Vogt lives in Northern California and works in business to business sales for a Fortune 100 company. At age 23, he authored, “The Battle Against Yourself,” which became available on all major online retailers. Greg has spoken at more than 30 organizations, and keynoted at major universities including UCLA, UC Davis, Long Beach State University, Arizona State University, and his alma mater, the University of Arizona. He is excited to continue the movement for improved well-being in the workforce. To find out more about Greg and his work, please visit www.gregvogtauthor.com.