By: Monica Grainger, RSW, MSW

For years we have been bombarded with leadership mantras, motivational speakers, and gurus who espouse their innovative, evidence-based, best-practices meant to marvel and inspire the masses. Leaders who are excited to teach their employees new models, new strategies, new evaluations believe they will profit from greater teamwork, increase in production, and yield greater economic results.

What leaders ignore is the toll it takes on their employees. Employees are feeling an incredible amount of pressure to perform, are faced with more work and fewer resources and have less emotional support. Consequently, there is a great emotional disconnection with leaders, managers and their employees.This emotional disconnection arises when employees sniff out their disingenuous leaders energetically offering new and improved strategies but in reality they are piling up more work, and forcing employees to continually outperform themselves.

Employees feel overwhelmed, become more and more discouraged and for some, feelings of incompetence arise. Many spend longer hours at work to cope with the new changes while others adopt the “work to rule¨ mentally. Regardless of their approach to greater workloads, their mental health becomes affected in different ways. Some experience anxiety or depression and some experience them concurrently. At the very least, the emotional disconnection between the leaders and their employees makes a tense and unpleasant environment for everyone.

I have outlined some practical suggestions to increase the emotional connection amongst employees and between employees and their leaders.

Employees:

  • Discuss amongst yourselves how you can support each other
  • Share resources
  • Get together at breaks and lunch time to build a greater sense of community
  • Hold brief meetings to strategize ways to deal with greater workloads
  • Present ideas for a better work environment
  • Encourage one another

Leaders:

  • Be genuine
  • Mentor, support and provide a time period to incorporate these new strategies
  • Praise employees on their unique abilities
  • Incorporate employees ideas and practices in staff meetings
  • Encourage mentally healthy exercises (i.e.yoga) in the workplace at lunch or after work hours.

In the end, a supportive environment and recognition of a good performance will go a long way!