Do Emotions Belong in the Workplace?

Thought leader Liz Fosslien gives advice on how we can foster empathy in the workplace


Now that we are getting back to “normal” post pandemic, how can we recognize and support struggling employees, especially in remote and hybrid work settings?


Here are valuable insights on how to navigate this challenge effectively.



Identify warning signs: Performance and engagement

Early intervention through recognizing signs of employee struggle is essential for maintaining employee mental health.  Be mindful about sudden performance declines and disengagement; rather than a sudden dislike for the job, these behaviors could indicate underlying problems.


Address these concerns through compassionate conversations that acknowledge an employee’s abilities while expressing genuine support.


Suggest using such lines as: “I’ve noticed a decline in your performance lately.  I just wanted to check in on you and see if there’s anything personally affecting your work that I can help you with.”


Build personal connections: Check-ins and open dialogue

Incorporating personal check-ins into regular one-on-one meetings between managers and employees is an effective way to connect with workers about their mental health.  Suggest dedicating time at the beginning or end of these meetings to ask about the challenges employees may have faced during the week.


By creating a safe space for open communication, employees are more likely to share their struggles.


“Asking that question offers them an opportunity to share what’s going on with them,” she said. “Just giving people permission to feel their feelings in the workplace can prevent issues from escalating into severe problems.” 


Foster openness: The power of storytelling

Storytelling is a powerful tool for leaders to create an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their struggles, and emphasizes the importance of vulnerability in leadership — especially during challenging times such as reorganizations or shifts in priorities. 


“It’s okay to express emotion.  It’s been a challenging couple of years.  It is absolutely normal for people to feel exhausted, overwhelmed, yanked around,” Fosslien said.


Leaders should acknowledge the emotional challenges and provide avenues for employees to voice their concerns, she said; by normalizing these emotions and sharing personal experiences, leaders can alleviate feelings of isolation and promote open dialogue.

I Power Seeds

Here are our takeaways and thoughts - pause and reflect, then nourish and grow!

Emotions are hard in our personal lives and it is even more complicated in the workplace.  However, utilizing these suggestions will give us additional tools in our toolbox.



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