By Mary Ann Faremouth, CPC
Holism is a concept I’ve heard about a lot lately. In general, it is the “theory that the universe and especially living nature is correctly seen in terms of interacting wholes . . . that are more than the mere sum of elementary particles” (Merriam-Webster). To take a holistic approach is to be “concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts” (Merriam-Webster).
The concept of holism is no more clearly visible than in nature itself. As the current president of India, Ram Nath Kovind, once wrote,
Nature does not compartmentalize. Its instinct is integrative and holistic. Nature promotes mutualism. The flower nourishes the bee. The river waters quench the thirst of all living beings. And trees provide a welcoming home to so many birds and animals. There is a rhythm to this togetherness. And there is an almost cosmic bond that allows every living being, small and big, silent and loud, to live in harmony, to flourish, and to thrive. Human beings can learn from this. (The Hindu)
In medicine, to take a holistic approach means to treat the whole person: not only physically but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well. The use of holistic, or mind-body, therapies has significantly increased over the last few years as the global pandemic and other recent events have led to rising rates of stress, anxiety, depression, uncertainty, and other maladies.
But these applications of holism deal with the natural order and the living system of the body. How can holism apply to the New Work World, where systems are manmade rather than natural? Certainly, holistic well-being is not a concept most employers have really had to confront in the past.
Yet while the structures of companies may be manmade, the people working within them are living beings. More and more, job seekers are expressing concerns about the holistic approach of their potential employers. This new era requires companies to meet the needs of the whole person, including their physical, financial, mental, and social health.
Incorporating such vitally important ideas into the workplace is not easy. It requires trust and a sense of cooperation from employees. To fulfill their responsibilities, employers will only be able to integrate these new concepts through focused involvement and guidance. The attitudes of “we are all in this together” and “the needs of all must be considered” have never been so important.
Let’s look at some of the requirements I’ve gathered from job seekers and employers that might allow for more holistic workplaces in the New Work World:
1. Collaborative Teams
The concept of “this is not in my job description” does not lend itself to holistic thinking. Clearly defined job descriptions might not be as prevalent post-Covid as they were in the days before the pandemic. These days, employees often need to be able to collaborate to achieve company goals. Whether that means staying a bit later so a coworker can take a family member to an appointment or coming in early to set up presentation equipment for a new client, such expectations should be conveyed to potential employees early on. Oftentimes, too, companies will look specifically for those candidates who portray a collaborative attitude and team approach. Neither negativity nor a “Me” over “We” attitude will yield positive rewards in the New Work World.
2. Open Communication with Supervisors
Supervisors with open communication and strong listening skills are usually the ones who experience strong employee retention. Their promotion of open and straightforward communication makes their team members feel supported, respected, and valued. During a recent national conference, I noticed that people I had placed over ten years ago with companies that valued such communication were still working for those same companies, often around the same managers. Many of them had been promoted, but it was their happiness with how they had been treated by their management that truly impressed me.
3. Environments of Meaning and Purpose
In a recent conversation, a long-tenured employee of one of my client companies told me, “My supervisor doesn’t just tell me what to do. He tells me why we are doing it and how these efforts will affect the bottom line.” This employee felt valued—that the effort he put into the tasks he performed had meaning and purpose—because his supervisor shared with him the reasons behind the tasks. The meaning and purpose his supervisor provided made the employee feel like an important part of the whole.
Nature and medicine are not the only areas where a holistic approach can be applied to create a “rhythm of togetherness.” Despite the manmade nature of the workplace, the people within it are living beings, working together toward larger company goals. A holistic approach to conducting business can foster a view of wholeness among employees and employers alike to create a more positive experience for all within the New Work World. Whether you are an employer or an employee, reflect on the above points and consider how you might contribute to a more holistic workplace.
Mary Ann Faremouth
Mary Ann holds a CPC (Certified Personnel Consultant) credential, was certified by the Board of Regents of the National Association of Personnel Consultants in Washington, D.C., and was awarded an Advanced Communicator Bronze, Advanced Leader Bronze Awards by Toastmasters. She cofounded Jobs: Houston magazine in 1997. Mary Ann maintains affiliations with professional organizations, including oil and gas, financial, construction, IT, and structural, mechanical, and civil engineering. (www.faremouth.com)
Mary Ann’s award-winning first book Revolutionary Recruiting has been listed by Book Authority as Number #1 Best 100 Recruiting Books; #1 Best Seller, Non-Fiction, Amazon (2019); Top 20 Recruiting books, Recruitics; Readers’ Choice finalist (2019), Houston Literary Awards; Best Non-Fiction (2018), Best Cover (2019), and Best Self-Help (2018), Authors Marketing Guild. Her books support individuals and corporations, tap into each candidate’s unrealized potential to find the right person for each job, maximizing both employee satisfaction and the employer’s bottom line. Mary Ann showcases her expertise of the recruiting world on a monthly podcast for The Price of Business and weekly articles for USA Business. Her new workbook, Revolutionary Reinvention, was recently released on Amazon. Mary Ann lives in Houston, Texas.