An Enriching Organisation

‘If Aristotle is right that the good life entails developing one’s human potential, then providing conditions in which employees can do so is a clear moral responsibility of leaders of work organizations. The logic is inescapable: Organizations that deny employees the chance to develop their potential deny them the opportunity to realize their humanity. And that is unjust.‘ James O’Toole

Creating the Good Life (2005)

Through my research inquiries I strove to define what are those organisational conditions or practices that could provide an enriching workplace – the Enriching Organisation. My initial outcomes identified a wealth of different headline organisational enrichers or diminishers:

Headline organisational enrichers or diminishers Actions that support or undermine human flourishing at work. Endeavour Consulting Geneva

Taking these forward in the research, I wanted to determine how an organisation might foster human flourishing of its employees and stakeholders. However, the vast range of potential drivers or elements of workplace flourishing/well-being, touching on all aspects of organisational life, rather hinders a comprehensive transmuting of them into specific organisational approaches. 

‘Management cannot provide a man with self-respect, or with the respect of his fellows, or with the satisfaction of needs for self-fulfillment. We can create conditions such that he is encouraged and enabled to seek such satisfactions for himself, or we can thwart him by failing to create those conditions.’ Douglas McGregor

The Human Side of Enterprize (2006)

Despite this, from the research it was possible to identify clusters of operational needs that related to the six different conditions of my notion of workplace flourishing. The diagram below adds these nine organisational supports or needs (Meaningful work, Living values, Work-life choice, Relatedness, Supervisor behaviour, Solidarity, Self-direction, Growth and development, and Subsidiarity) that seem to encompass where the organisational setting can influence one’s workplace flourishing. These nine supports comprise the framework for my idea of the Enriching Organisation.

Schema Model of Workplace Flourishing and Enriching Organisation Robert Atkinson Endeavour Consulting Geneva

However, it became evident to me that, prior to designing and developing any enriching approaches, organisational leaders must want to embrace an overall enriching purpose alongside their functional purpose(s). In other words, to become an Enriching Organisation, where human flourishing is at the heart of its work, any organisation would necessarily have to embody the supporting values and virtues of workplace flourishing within its basic organising premise.

Thus, all associated organisational approaches would be aimed at fostering workplace flourishing. And, by essentially sprouting from this rootstock of an enriching organisational purpose, it would prevent the narrow cherry-picking found in many organisational well-being approaches and ensure the coherence in organisational practice that workplace flourishing requires.

To expand on this I propose a set of guiding or organising principles, that can be used as bench-marks by organisational leaders and staff when planning their organisational approaches. These organising principles for an Enriching Organisation are given here:

Purpose-Principle: We have an overriding focus on people, with an aim to enrich their lived experience, thereby contributing to societal betterment.

  • To ensure that organisational achievements are authentic, meaningful, visible, and valuable towards overarching purposes – All individual and organisational work goals are framed towards and evaluated against personal and social betterment outcomes.
  • To ensure that our espoused organisational values and integrity are followed – All organisational behaviours and practices can be assessed against stated organisational values (via internal and external checks and balances).
  • To reduce work stress, sustain healthy lives, serve individual life-style needs, and support the achievement of external goals, the organisation is flexible towards and proactive in promoting employee work-life flexibility – All staff define and negotiate their working commitments and conditions against organisational needs.

Place-Principle: We strive to engender a work environment where staff self-actualisation and community are combined.

  • To gain a team-focus, share personal experiences, reduce conflict/rumours, and build community connections – All organisational activities are designed around an organisational citizenship ideal; encouraging staff connectedness and trust.
  • To promote trust, open/ongoing feedback, and dialogue – All supervision is approached with a supportive and accessible stance, and with a transformational focus (to assist, mentor, and inspire).
  • To ensure there is fairness and equity in remuneration, benefits, employment rights/security, and working environment – All organisational conditions are founded on the basis of community solidarity and individual dignity.

Practice-Principle: We operate through employing organisational processes, procedures, and practices that enrich the work experience and by removing those that diminish it.

  • To support choice, autonomy, and control in work – All decisions are transparent and made at the lowest appropriate level with the suitable participation of those concerned.
  • To promote self-direction and goal attainment – All positions and tasks are jointly defined (employee, team, leaders), with realistic: aims, objectives, variety, and scope.
  • To support personal and group development and growth – All organisational approaches facilitate reflection and learning opportunities in their design and functioning.

Endeavour looks to engage its clients with these ideas, particularly as the directions for the future of work as so fluid. Connect with me if you are interested to investigate these ideas for your own organisation.

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