It's Time to Value our Highly Sensitive Employees!
'People with higher sensory perception and processing ability are rated as the best performers by their managers' (Bhavania Shrivastava) cites research into personality traits & workplace performance. Hello -isn't that a description of Highly Sensitive People?
Indeed it is. Depth of processing & the ability to sense subtleties are 2 of the key characteristics of Highly Sensitive People. It's reassuring to see research that backs up what we already know - that HSPs are extremely valuable members of the workplace. Not that they may feel valued sadly. I suspect many will be struggling (much as I struggled many moons ago) with the egos & politics prevalent in some large companies. And don't get me started on open-plan offices. The noise & distractions associated with sharing your working space with other employees, let alone the fact that you're probably absorbing much of their stress - as well as experiencing your own - can be an instant recipe for overwhelm for sensitive workers.
Quite apart from dealing with potentially toxic work environments, sensitive employees in our Western culture also contend with a lack of appreciation for their sensitivity. Unlike the East where sensitivity is highly valued, the West tends to favour those who are assertive & quick to make decisions. Neither are characteristics that come naturally to a HSP.
Yet, in spite of these significant negatives, HSPs are still performing better than their non-HSP co-workers. As Elaine Aron says in her book 'The Highly Sensitive Person': HSPs are 'intuitive visionaries, able to see the big picture, creative, aware of and thoughtful to the needs of others, good influences on the social climate, vigilant with quality, highly conscientious, loyal, able to pick up on subtleties in the environment and in interpersonal communications, and are often gifted. In short, they are ideal employees'.
Other writers have pointed out the emerging need for 'right-brained' people. Those with 'high concept', 'high touch' capabilities of intuition, empathy, compassion, creativity, ability to see the big picture (Daniel Pink 'A Whole New Mind'). All traits that can't be reproduced by technology but are found in Highly Sensitive People.
The time has come for our Western workplaces to take note of the 20% of their workforce that have the ability to help their organisations thrive instead of fail. Small changes to the working environment, such as the provision of quiet spaces for reflection & a healthy diversity & inclusion culture will ensure those that are HS will be working at their best, & ultimately will benefit all employees.
If you're a Highly Sensitive Person feeling undervalued by the company in which you work, you have a choice. Step into your strengths, know that you are a valuable asset & speak up for what you believe in. Or research other more progressive companies that understand the qualities that you bring, & consider moving. Your abilities are far too precious to be wasted in a place that isn't able to nurture & draw them out. You have a responsibility to yourself & to Society to find an environment that gives you the opportunity to let your talents shine. Your time has come Highly Sensitive Workers!
Photo credit: Foter.com
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