Identity and integration of emotional life at work

Who are you referring to when you do so about yourself in the third person? Do you feel any difference when referring to yourself as "I" or "self"? What is the difference between how you see yourself and how your closest people see you? How does that impact your relationship?

Identity has long been a controversial topic. The conservative view from a gender perspective was simple. The identity of a man was seen as strong and dominant. That of a woman was seen as submissive and caring. Perhaps, these conservative views served a good purpose for a conservative world. With the continued rise of technology and ongoing global changes, very few people will argue with the statement that we no longer live in conservative times.

Our world is increasingly becoming more complex. We are increasingly spending more time trying to respond to the complexities around us and less time responding to the complexities within us. To put the previous sentence into perspective lets translate it to figures. Between 2014-2017 there has been a 48% rise of emotional disorders among young people and 1 in 6 adults in England report experiencing a common mental health disorder at any given week. Considering that many people do not report their problems, the true number is likely to be higher.

These figures do not come as a surprise to most mental health professionals. Work psychologists are increasingly trying to communicate this message to leaders and businesses across the world given the importance of health on productivity. Some may argue that our professional life matters the most to our identity, given that we spend so much of our time working and many of our personal goals are either directly or indirectly influenced by our work or type of work that we do. The increased complexity in the world around us has made it harder for us to maintain a stable identity in our professional life. Job insecurity, the gig economy, ongoing changes and adapting to new ways of work. Indeed, the very same place that many may rely on for their identity also posts the biggest threat to their identity because of unprecedented changes in our environment. It is important to remember that this is not just a matter of individuals or teams at work but also for organisations as a whole.

Statistics on mental health at work aren't pretty and even worse so for minorities. 89% of all employees with mental health problems said their conditions had an impact on their working life. Minority groups are known to suffer the most. One of the reasons for BAME groups to have poorer health is because of pressure to alter their identity to fit in. Companies can improve effectiveness and increase profitability by creating an environment that empowers diverse ethnic and cultural identities. For organisations, constant changes in the business environment are posing threats to corporate identity. Change management is known to be particularly difficult because it poses a real threat to existing corporate values and norms which is then manifested as resistance.

Leaders and businesses must become better at bridging the gap between corporate identity and that of their people if they are to survive modern changes in the world. By forming a strong coalition across the organisation through meaningful relationships, businesses become more agile and can spend more time effectively adapting to change and less time fighting among each other.

Victory Consultancy is a personal and organisational change management consultant. Subscribe to our mailing list to join our growing fan base and receive articles on personal and organisational change to maximise your impact.

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