Moral Injury – Part II: In the Workplace

posted in: Business, Leadership, Parenting | 0

A few months back, I wrote a piece on moral injury – especially as it pertains to the military. However, I could not help but see the correlations to the same concepts in the workplace. It’s not a new thought. Have you ever experienced a co-worker being bullied or treated unfairly or unjustly, and felt unable (or unwilling) to offer support? Have you ever seen a co-worker, struggling with health or personal issues, that then led to them losing or being let go from their jobs? Have you ever seen an organization “downsize” and let go of strong, capable workers to help bolster the company’s bottom line?

Examples of symptoms and effects experienced because of these occurrences (like those from military settings) are:

  • shame
  • guilt
  • anxiety about possible consequences
  • anger

Sound depressing and/or familiar? Well – I don’t believe it has to be this way, and what’s even more exciting is there’s a ton of information out there, and examples that turn the idea of “that’s just the way it is” on its head. No one (at least to my knowledge) has done more work on the subject of identifying moral issues in the workplace, than Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why and Leaders Eat Last. “In the military they give medals to those who are willing to sacrifice themselves so that others may gain. In business, we give bonuses to people who are willing to sacrifice others so that we may gain. We have it backwards.” This quote is from his TED talk on “Why Leaders Eat Last”.

So what can be done? Can we avoid negative and/or toxic environments? Are there ways to protect ones self? Well – coming from the world of holistic medicine, the best way to deal with this is proactively, learning to recognize the signs or “red flags” that may give an indication of the nature of a work environment, also known as determining the root cause. And then, while you may still choose to work with, or for this group, at least you go in with understanding and knowledge.

Here are a few great resources to read, watch or consider, to help learn more about what YOU can do to be a part of a solution, of identifying the signs of moral injury in the workplace and considering what you can do to help prevent them, or at least to arm yourself with knowledge and resources:

  • Inspirational Leadership – I have always found solace and comfort in learning from those WAY more talented than I. This link will take you to a list of 30 of the best TED talks on leadership, of which, by the way, Simon Sinek is there – twice!
  • Liz Ryan, Human Workplace Blog – Liz Ryan is a coach, consultant, and writer. She is also the founder of Human Workplace, which is self-described as “an idea, a mindset and a set of practices for employers, educators, entrepreneurs, career coaches and developers, HR folks, students and other leaders.” Her blog is a great source of inspiration and practical ideas. There are several blog posts dealing specifically with identifying the red flags in negative work environments.
  • Finally – no one has more power to help us, that we do ourselves. My current favorite person to help us learn self value and self-worth is Tony Robbins. Here’s a link to a recent article with him with a recommendation of a couple books to check out. And finally, here’s a direct link to an audio version of his “priming exercise” – something I often utilize myself as well.



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