Thought Leadership: Creating an Encouraging Workplace


I love the Apple TV+ show Ted Lasso.  For those less TV-involved folks, the show is about an American football coach who is hired to coach a British soccer team. The feel-good comedy brings lots of laughs, but it also manages to address more serious topics, as well.

The third season of the show shines a light on mental health, including mental health in the workplace. Ted’s mental health suffers due to past suppressed traumas, and ultimately impacts his work. When Ted starts having panic attacks, viewers are reminded that our mental health affects every aspect of our lives, including our careers.

I recently came across this article from SHRM that highlighted the importance of a prominent show like Ted Lasso taking on the topic of mental health.

“They are shining a light on an issue that needs a brighter light shone on it,” Michael Cohen, an attorney with Duane Morris in Philadelphia, said in the article.

A study from the Workforce Institute at UKG showed managers have a bigger influence on employees’ mental health than therapists or doctors, so making mental health a priority at your company can pay big dividends in having a healthier, happier workforce.

No matter what business you’re in, creating an environment that prioritizes employees’ mental health is a win for everyone. The SHRM article points out that there are small things you can do as part of your efforts to build a community where people feel safe and appreciated, which contributes to improved mental health.


Accountability and Morale

I found this article so intriguing that I wanted to share some of my thoughts on its main points.

1.  The plotline shows how holding employees accountable for harassment and bullying can improve morale and productivity. Conversely, a lack of accountability for misconduct can create stress, burnout and turnover.”

One of the most important things I took away from this article is the importance of having zero tolerance for bullying in the workplace and a system in place to hold employees accountable for their actions.

BEMA-Colors-Separator-Line-1-1536x10Providing a Helping Hand

Baking equipment manufacturer Rademaker inspires others through its collaboration with The Women’s Bakery, an organization that teaches women baking skills and provides equipment for them to open their own bakeries in East Africa. The initiative provides women with the opportunity to own and run their own businesses while also providing nutritious, low-cost food for their communities. It’s a win-win.

“I believe it is our obligation as people on this earth to take care of and help each other as a result of the help we have been given,” said Eric Riggle, president of Rademaker USA. “The smallest gestures are more valuable than the greatest of intentions, so don’t overthink or underestimate your ability to help someone.”

That commitment to helping others carries over into his leadership at Rademaker.

“My philosophy and what I try to instill at Rademaker is to be the light that you want to see in the world,” he said. “You never know where the next great idea will come from, and that person you help today will pay that help forward for generations to come.”

BEMA-Colors-Separator-Line-1-1536x10Team Unity and Trust

2. “Ted emphasizes team unity and relying on one another for support.”

To truly operate as a team, you have to trust each other. In the show, Ted is constantly reminding the players they must work together. Especially when you have a small staff, creating trust between team members so they can rely on each other is a top priority.

This goes hand in hand with the first point about creating an environment where bullying is not tolerated and accountability is required. Without those two things, it’s impossible to create an environment built on trust.

BEMA-Colors-Separator-Line-1-1536x10Kindness and Employee Morale

3. “To forge a workplace culture of kindness, simple gestures like thank-you notes and regular check-ins with your staff can go a long way. One of Ted’s hallmarks is ‘Biscuits with the Boss,’ where he brings homemade shortbread cookies to Rebecca each day.

Kindness matters, especially in the workplace. Simple gestures go a long way toward improving employee morale and mental health.

Most of the time people just want to know their hard work is appreciated. When workers are tired and stressed, a positive culture and environment can help them continue to do their best and push through those difficult moments.

BEMA-Colors-Separator-Line-1-1536x10Empowerment and Management

4. “If you’re willing to let someone be autonomous, that doesn’t mean you ignore them; that doesn’t mean you don’t give them goals and check in on them,” Dan Pontius, president of Choose Mental Health, an Orem, Utah-based nonprofit focused on children’s mental health, said in the article. “That’s what the character Ted Lasso does. He’s hands-on. He’s in the middle of it. He’s got a story for you. He’s got an analogy. It’s an excellent example of management where you are concerned and taking care of your staff.”

At BEMA, we are working to create a culture that values each team member’s strengths and ability to work independently, but we also set individual goals and support each other in reaching them.

Creating a culture where employees feel empowered but not ignored is often a delicate balance, but regular check-ins and open-door policies can go a long way toward building a culture of openness and respect that is key to good mental health.

An ideal workplace where mental health is prioritized isn’t an overnight project. It’s an ongoing process, and while there are policies we can put into place to help direct change, we also must realize that it’s a work in progress every day.

Come to the workplace (remote, hybrid, in-person) each day with a Ted Lasso attitude.  Positive, encouraging leadership at all levels can have a contagious impact on your team and company.

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