PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - It started as a trickle before the pandemic and then things changed.
"They call the toll on our mental health the second act of the pandemic."
That was from Laura Putnam, author of "Workplace Wellness" and she has worked with 15,000 managers in over 200 countries around the world all the while dispelling old norms.
"When we come to work, we check our emotions at the door," she said. "Now, employers can no longer afford to do that."
She said that employees want to be seen as total people.
"One Monster Intelligence survey found that 91 percent of younger employees want to talk about their mental health with their bosses," Putnam explained.
They also want to see the other side of their manager.
"The problem is that over half of employees are afraid to talk about their mental health with their boss," she said. "You feel like if you show vulnerability, you're showing weakness to the boss."
Putnam went on to say employees who struggle with things such as anxiety are often the highest-performing employees.
So, making those changes is crucial to creating a safe mental health environment where employees arriving don't feel like they're putting weights on their shoulders.
"No amount of yoga or deep breathing or mindfulness can stand up to the weight, as you characterize it, of things like toxicity or having to do the work of three," Putnam said.
Those are the buzzwords employees are using to explain why they were driven from their jobs: toxicity and being overworked.
Now, it's time for employers to change the atmosphere, including getting rid of the "live with it or leave" attitude.
Employers now must be flexible and pay attention to how their workers are feeling in the workplace.
It all begins at the top and replacing the word "boss" with "team leader."
"You are the chief architect when it comes to the culture within your team," Putnam explained.
The team is important because now, workers want to feel a part of something beyond themselves and managers. Ignoring the culture comes at a cost.
"A Gallup study found that the top five drivers of burnout in the workplace have nothing to do with the individual and everything to do with the culture itself," Putnam said. "Those managers need to be making the added effort right now to appreciate their team members not just for what they do, but for who they are as human beings."
Rather than looking at what's wrong with the worker, Putnam says it's time to look at the workplace issues that cause the problems.
"It's things like work overload," she explained. "It's things like perceptions of unfairness, things like toxicity that's tolerated, a lack of communication between manager, and employees."
For that - she said team leaders need to make a point to make personal connections.
"Touching base with each of the team members every week, asking them simple questions like 'what are you working on and how can I help?'"
Simply put, just treat the members of your team as human beings not just for what they do.
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