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The Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell created the Employee Recommended Workplace Award to honour companies that put the health and total well-being of their employees first. Register for the 2020 Employee Recommended Workplace Award at:

Read about the 2019 winners of the award and watch a video from the winners here. You can also purchase the benchmark report that outlines findings from 2018 at this link.

If we begin our day by just jumping into a routine without a lot of conscious consideration, we risk beginning to operate almost on autopilot. When we’re in this state and not self-aware, days can begin to blend together.

Being on autopilot increases the risk for developing poor health and social habits, which can lead to negative consequences that can affect our workplace experience and our mental health.

This micro skill focuses on how we can become more self-aware and reduce our risk for going on autopilot and developing ineffective lifestyle and social habits.


Self-awareness can be defined as the degree to which we’re consciously aware of our motivation, thoughts and feelings. Psychologists Shelley Duval and Robert Wicklund developed the theory of self-awareness and suggested that it’s critical to have, as it’s directly related to self-control.

How we manage our emotions in the workplace influences how people interact with us. Self-awareness is a key element for emotional intelligence (EQ), described as the ability to recognize and manage emotions, socialize, collaborate and empathize with others. To obtain a quick baseline of your EQ, complete the EQ Quick Survey.

Five categories influence and define our EQ:

  • Empathy – the ability to recognize and positively respond to others’ feelings.
  • Social skills – the ability to develop healthy interpersonal skills.
  • Motivation – the desire to achieve a goal with a positive mindset.
  • Self-regulation – the ability to manage emotions.
  • Self-awareness – the ability to tune in to emotions as they occur and to have confidence in your capabilities and self-worth.

Becoming more self-aware is a practical place to start to mature our EQ.


One key element to becoming the person, parent or leader we want to be is to accept that we can’t control everything that happens in life. All we have control over are our actions. Though we may want people we care about to behave in a certain way, we all have free will and are ultimately responsible for our decisions and actions.

As we become more aware of this, we are able to focus on what’s within our control and to take responsibility for how we react and the choices we make.

As our self-awareness matures, we become more in tune with our strengths and gaps. The next step is to be open to the possibility to coping better with life. There may be value in undertaking professional development that can help develop skills that support self-awareness and EQ.

The risk of not becoming more self-aware is just ignoring or being resigned to how we’re truly feeling, which over time can negatively affect our workplace experiences and our mental and physical health.


The following are a few examples of ways to develop self-awareness:

Complete a personality test – Personality tests can help increase awareness of some natural tendencies that influence how we interact with others. They can also assist us to become aware of potential blind spots. One common personality test is Factor Five. Click on Fast Big Five to complete a free, online version.

Keep a daily journal – Take five minutes at the end the day to write out how your day was and acknowledge what was good and what you’d like to do differently tomorrow. This allows you to process each day, increase your self-awareness of the choices you made, and decrease your chances of going on autopilot. Journaling has been found to be a positive way to move past negative experiences and promote mental health.

Ask for feedback from others on how you’re doing – One activity that promotes self-awareness is being interested in what others think, as well as asking for feedback. 360 In Vivo is a process created for leaders but can be adapted by employees. A self-directed 360 process has two parts: one asking others for feedback and one for evaluating how well you’re able to accept feedback.

Practice daily self-reflection – Consider beginning each day with a focus that clearly defines the one or two goals you want to achieve by the end of the day. This focus can help promote your self-awareness and control over your micro decisions and actions.

Bill Howatt is the chief of research for work force productivity at the Conference Board of Canada and a co-creator of the Employee Recommended Workplace Award.

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