Robin Roberts on why HR should encourage employees to ‘show up fully’ at work

Robin Roberts, co-anchor of Good Morning America and president of Rock’n Robin Productions, is often surrounded by influential people or reporting on moments of impact.

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For this broadcaster, authenticity means being herself without fear, despite the high stakes of her job. She says she can do this thanks to a sense of psychological safety and authenticity in the workplace, a perspective she shared on a recent Human Resource Executive webinar, sponsored by Paycom.

The impact of workplace authenticity

Roberts suggests that HR leaders should create an atmosphere that supports self-care,  which can encourage authentic expression—and that will ultimately allow employers to enjoy the advantages of having employees who feel comfortable presenting a diverse range of viewpoints. “You have to take care of yourself so you can be your full self and show up fully in work and in life,” says Roberts.

This concept is called psychological safety, and research from Harvard Business Review demonstrates that in an environment of trust, employees can engage more deeply in their work contributions. The data shows that psychological safety can lead to a 50% increase in productivity while driving down burnout by 40%. There’s also evidence that people are more engaged, less stressed and take fewer sick days.

Robin Roberts on a positive workplace experience

Robin Roberts
Robin Roberts

In her conversation with host Trinity Thomas, workforce marketing partner at Paycom, Roberts recounts her own experience of being open with leadership and co-workers at GMA and producing station ABC during her struggles with not one, but two, life-threatening illnesses: breast cancer and a bone marrow disorder, diagnoses she received just five years apart from one another. She says her work environment “embraced” her during these difficult times, and that being comfortable enough to share her circumstances led to a wide network of support.

When one co-worker told her “This is our fight,” she was moved, sharing with the audience that fear could have prevented her from being open about her circumstances—but it would have also kept her from the valuable sustenance she received from her team at work.

Apart from the value of encouraging employees to be authentic, Roberts also shared how important it is for HR leaders to fuel a culture that accepts, not just tolerates, diversity. Roberts’ experience as the head of her production company gave her the opportunity to look closely at the people her team, hires both on-camera and behind the scenes.

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She reminds HR that leaders need to be mindful of any opportunity to be inclusive, sometimes in less-than-obvious ways: “When you’re put in a position to have a little say, use your voice.”

Jill Barth
Jill Barth is HR Tech Editor of Human Resource Executive. She is an award-winning journalist with bylines in Forbes, USA Today and other international publications. With a background in communications, media, B2B ecommerce and the workplace, she also served as a consultant with Gallagher Benefit Services for nearly a decade. Reach out at [email protected].