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In my 10 years of being a professional, I can think of a few employers that I felt really understood what they needed to do and found the ability to cultivate their employees’ productivity.

So, I started to think: What made some employers have a lasting impact, moulding employees from timid to confident professionals. With others, the task always remained the focus, leaving the individual at the same place throughout time.

Sitting with numerous clients and hearing them discuss various work challenges and triumphs, I noticed a link. Employees who felt a lack of connection to their workplace were often less motivated and not as invested in the quality of their work. On the other hand, the individuals who went above and beyond within their work had a sense of connection and belonging.

Multiple researchers have found that workplaces with leaders who took the time to understand their team’s needs and made them a priority were able to positively impact and increase identification, belonging, performance and organizational citizenship behaviour (Liden, Wayne, Liao & Meuser, 2014).

If managers can implement these simple steps within their workdays, they can positively impact employee productivity, creativity, lower turnover intention and the overall mental health of the team.

1. Connection over isolation

I remember leading a team a few years ago. I was so excited about the project we were working on, “Developing and Maintaining Tasks to Meet Deadlines Successfully”. The good news was that the project was done well and on time, but the bad news was that, in the process of everything, I lost sight of the power of human connection.

During one of our quarterly meetings, I had asked how the team felt, and, to my surprise, that’s when I realized that I had missed so much. I followed up with my mentor, and she asked, “During the project, did you create a space for the team to come to you?” I remember that question oh so well!

Yes, it’s important to get deliverables done, but, if you don’t take the time to ask the simple questions, such as How are you? How’s your family? And, How are you finding the project?, then, you won’t be able to take the temperature of the team’s overall well-being.

If you take the time to model care, employees are more likely to give care in return to each other and to their role in the workplace. So, go ahead and do that random check-in and genuinely mean it!

2. Foster wellness and servanthood

When was the last time you prioritized the needs of your employees? Servant leadership is a leadership style where leaders prioritize the needs of the team and other members of the community.

This is enormously important, especially during this pandemic. Many families are homeschooling for the first time, dealing with loss, transitions, uncertainty, etc. Taking a step to ask what the team needs are can help you understand their struggles and decrease workplace anxieties.

Research shows that, as servant leadership increases, the relationship between negative stress and decreased job engagement weakens, and the relationship between positive stress and prosocial behaviour strengthens (Hu, et al., 2020).

Employers need to create a culture that is collaborative, brimming with ideas, supporting mentorships and also encourages professional growth.

3. Encourage healthy work-life balance

When was the last time you assessed your own behaviour when it comes to work-life balance? One thing others can pick up fast is patterns of behaviour. Our actions speak louder than our words.

Leaders set the tone for the rhythm of the workplace. Ask yourself, “How am I modelling best practices when it comes to balancing?”

One simple step can be starting with a consistent wake-up and bedtime routine. Did you know that one single night of insufficient sleep can greatly diminish cognitive functioning? And, chronic sleep issues have been correlated with depression, anxiety and mental distress (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2021).

You may not notice it, but starting with a good night’s sleep can be one step to help regulate your mood and motivation. In addition, you can encourage your team to adopt a healthy work-life balance by modelling behaviours, such as taking regular breaks and not staying late at work.

4. Recognize the signs of poor mental health.

Within this pandemic, many people are feeling new or old, existing emotions that may be negative or unwanted. Unfortunately, most people are not aware of certain signs about their behaviour that can be unhelpful.

Though managers are not expected to be mental-health professionals, they can still learn the signs of poor mental health. For example, the signs of depression, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association (2015), include often feeling sad, hopeless, guilty, loss of interest in things previously enjoyed, irritable or anxious for several weeks. These signs/feelings can impact concentration, learning ability, eating habits or even sleeping routines.

In addition, having mental-health resources and support for your team can help you respond with care, concern and curiosity but not being punitive. Take time to have an open dialogue that will help employees feel accepted and supported rather than shamed.

How can strive mental health, wellness & empowerment Help?

The well-being of your employees is paramount to us.

STRiVE helps organizations develop strategies by providing tools to help employees recover from
burnout and boost productivity. The goal is to provide top-quality evidence-based program development
and workshops, both in person and virtually, while building long-term resilient employees.

We want to help your organization. Contact us at to learn more.

Works cited

Hu, J., He, W. & Zhou, K., 2020. The Mind, the Heart, and the Leader in Times of Crisis: How and When COVID-19-Triggered Mortality Salience Relates to State Anxiety, Job Engagement, and Prosocial Behavior. Journal of Applied Psychology, 11(105), pp. 1218-1233
Liden, R.C., Wayne, S.J., Liao, C. & Meuser, J.D., 2014. Servant Leadership and Serving Culture: Influence on Individual and Unit Performance. Academy of Management Journal, 5(57), pp. 1434-1452.
Schulte, B., 2015. Work interruptions can cost you 6 hours a day. An efficiency expert explains how to avoid them. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 18 June 2021].
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