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How to Cultivate Emotional Wellbeing at Work

How to Cultivate Emotional Wellbeing at Work

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, workplaces have shifted to a new normal. Most workplaces made the move to remote work, requiring their employees to change gears and work from home. Furthermore, due to the economic damage caused by the pandemic, many have lost their jobs and face uncertainty about their futures. 

As a result, mental health concerns have now skyrocketed to an all-time high. A study conducted by NIHCM Foundation reported that the symptoms of anxiety and depression felt in the workplace have tripled and quadrupled from last year. More than 51% of respondents also reported that their mental health has worsened since the pandemic began. 

While we collectively navigate through the storm, it is crucial that workplaces acknowledge the mental health crisis. Despite the uncertainty, employers need to invest in their most important asset – their human capital and prioritize their emotional wellbeing. Now more than ever, it is critical that teams unite together and show that they truly care for each other. 

The Importance of Emotional Wellbeing 

Many often overlook emotional wellbeing and face the consequences without knowing. These consequences include decreased motivation, diminished productivity, low team morale, high stress, and poor work/life balance.

Leaving emotional wellbeing unmanaged can result in further mental health concerns, such as burnout. Burnout is an occupational phenomenon, defined as fatigue from chronic workplace stress that has been left unmanaged. In addition, employee burnout can lead to more issues in the workplace. In Emotional Wellbeing: Solution to Burnout & Turnover, we discuss how turnover and burnout are correlated; if employees are feeling burnt out, they may try to encourage a team member to leave the company with them.

How to Cultivate Emotional Wellbeing at Work

Prioritizing emotional wellbeing will set employees up for success. In these times of uncertainty, it is crucial to think positively and encourage ourselves to be in the right mindset – that we can control our emotions and will overcome our challenges. If we do not take care of our emotional wellbeing, this can snowball into bigger issues, affecting both our personal and professional lives. 

Workplaces need to emphasize the importance of emotional wellbeing. It is never too late to begin; employers just need to take the first step; tuning into their emotional intelligence. Below, we have compiled a list of emotional intelligent strategies to begin cultivating emotional wellbeing in the workplace! 

Open Up the Conversation 

Leaders need to express to their team members that mental health needs to be prioritized, and that it is okay to not be okay. The negative stigma of mental health needs to be minimized; one of the best ways to do so is to lead by example. In Top Three Reasons Why People Don’t Show Emotions at Work, employees may refrain from showing emotions at work because they believe that their emotions are invalid. 

Leaders can begin encouraging discussions about emotional wellbeing by incorporating it into their daily work routines. It can be as simple as starting off each meeting with a one word check-in, or sharing a mental health resource via email to help prioritize emotional wellbeing. Leaders need to tear down their walls and allow vulnerability in; sharing both their accomplishments and challenges will encourage team members to do the same. 

Once team members begin to express their emotions, leaders need to make sure to actively listen and offer support wherever possible. For example, if a team member is struggling to meet a project deadline and it is impacting their work, offer help by adding flexibility to their deadline or delegate an additional team member to help lessen the workload. 

Team Goal Setting

In order to keep the team accountable, set goals collectively as a team. Have a meeting and break the goal down. Brainstorm actionable steps on what team members can do individually to achieve the goal, and what efforts will be done collectively as a team. Keep a record of the goals so that the team is able to track and measure their progress. 

For example, let’s say the team goal is to exercise more. Not only can exercise build mental strength and improve emotional wellbeing, but it also gives employees a break from sitting and working in their desk all day.  Individually, team members can incorporate at least 15 minutes of mild exercise into their workday. This does not have to be intensive exercise, but can be as simple as stretching or going for a walk around the block. Collectively, the team can conduct a monthly team exercise activity, such as a virtual group yoga session at the end of each month. Keep each other motivated by asking for updates and encouraging each other to track their progress; you can even make a tracker document to keep everyone accountable. Another idea to encourage accountability is to include an incentive; for instance, the company will host a virtual lunch if everyone meets their goal. 

Setting emotional wellbeing goals as a team not only keeps everyone accountable, but will keep team members motivated while simultaneously building a meaningful and caring culture.

Team Socials

With the shift to remote work, team members may be feeling disconnected from each other. With quarantine and social distancing rules in place, employees may be feeling alone and isolated. To help cope with this, employers can host team socials to deepen the team’s bond and make time for socializing. 

As the team is no longer gathering in the office, the art of in-person interactions has faded. The feeling of isolation is more prominent as employees are now alone in their office, with the boundaries between work/life balance blurred. By hosting team socials, this can lessen the workplace stress, designate time for social interaction, and overall, cultivate a culture of connection. These socials do not have to be extravagant activities, they can even be as simple as setting time to unwind and update each other on their personal lives. 

Emotional Wellbeing Begins with Emotional Intelligence 

While these are a few ways to cultivate emotional wellbeing at work, we encourage you to  think outside the box and share your ideas on how to cultivate emotional wellbeing with us. Tuning into your emotional intelligence is the first step of managing emotional wellbeing; this ranges from becoming aware of your emotions to strengthening your interpersonal relationships. Know that cultivating emotional wellbeing is not something that occurs overnight, but is an ongoing journey that takes time. Do not be afraid to reach out and ask for help; remember, you are never alone!

We acknowledge that the support for managing emotional wellbeing and burnout may be beyond our EQ prevention tactics and encourage you to seek out professional help if needed. If you reside in Canada, here is a list of mental health resources you can reach out to. If you reside in the United States, here is a list of mental health resources you can reach out to. 

For more information on how your emotional intelligence competencies can help with managing your emotional wellbeing, check out our blog post, Battling Burnout with Emotional Intelligence. Alternatively, if you are interested in a team activity that can cultivate emotional wellbeing while physically apart, check out our Virtual EQ Retreats, which are tailored to enhance team relationships through identifying individual strengths and areas of improvement. 

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Emotional Wellbeing: Solution to Burnout and Turnover

Emotional Wellbeing: Solution to Burnout and Turnover

The workforce is experiencing a feeling of fatigue. In December, Morneau Shepell released the monthly mental health index, which shows that for the past eight months, the emotional well-being of Canadians is continuing to fall. 

There was a brief chance for everyone to recharge over the holidays; however, it doesn’t excuse employers and team leaders from their duty to focus on enhancing their organization’s well-being. 

Even though it is a new year, people are still experiencing the same fatigue, frustration, and mental health struggles from 2020. The most prominent step leaders can take into taming the despair 2020 has brought on – is to care about their employees’ emotional well-being. 

Burnout and Turnover 

Burnout has a direct correlation to turnover. According to the 2020 Employee Care Report, 1 in 3 employees have left a job because they didn’t feel their employer cared about them as a person. The report also outlines that 58% of employees have encountered a colleague attempting to encourage a colleague to leave with them! So not only is burnout a global crisis, but it is also a turnover problem.

The most significant cause of burnout and turnover continues to be the lack of care and compassion in the workplace. Considering the mental toll most people have endured in the past year, employers need to re-focus their attention on their team’s well-being. A new survey has found that many Canadians are thinking about making significant career changes in 2021, as they continue to battle with their emotions while employers continue to ignore them.

With only 31% of employees feeling that their employers genuinely care about them, burnout will continue to hinder employees’ well-being. People will not only leave their jobs in 2021 but will take their friends with them. 

It Starts with the Leadership Team

Leaders feel the pressure to manage their teams more effectively, especially as they have been thrown into a new, virtual work environment, forcing themselves to create new workplace norms. Although getting processes in-line for the new year is essential, it may be time to put aside your spreadsheets and ask your team how they feel. 

Most of the world was forced to endure a COVID-adapted holiday, where travelling and visiting friends and family were off the table. Likely, teams may not start on a positive and eager note to get back on top of their day-to-day duties and deal with the workplace challenges 2021 will bring. To understand the team’s emotional well-being, leaders need to take the first step and show their team members that they genuinely care. 

If employers fail to come from a place of compassion, their relationship with their team will continue to deteriorate. Below are some simple, emotionally intelligent tactics that leaders can use to understand their teams’ state better. 

Put Yourself in Your Team’s Shoes

Motivating Your Team With Empathy emphasizes that it’s time for leaders to put themselves in their team’s shoes. It was not the usual holiday situation for your employees. Likely, they were unable to connect with their families and are feeling down in the COVID dumps. 

To start the year right and avoid continuing the burnout cycle, why not start the year off with one-on-one check-ins. Ask your employees individually how they are feeling and what they need to be successful this month. Instead of delegating all the work missed over the holiday season, start showing that you care by putting your team members’ feelings and needs first. As a result, a sense of connection and trust between employers and team members will be built. 

Be Flexible

With the transition to remote work, companies are experimenting with virtual teams and rotating people back to come back to work and space out their office workspaces. Employers need to ask each member of their team what is their comfort level with both remote and in-office work.

With everyone in different situations, it is essential to have conversations with individuals on how they work best and how their leaders can support them moving forward. If employers support their teams with flexibility, it creates a foundation of trust and respect, which will keep employees working hard for the organization.

Encourage Assertive Conversation

Assertiveness comes from a place of building confidence in employees to speak their minds and voice their concerns. Leaders need to allow employees to communicate to them about their work boundaries going into 2021. 

Creating and setting boundaries can be difficult, especially during a whirl-wind of a global pandemic, so encourage your team to reflect on what they can and cannot handle. Create a safe space for employees to discuss boundaries and have an empathetic response ready when they open up about their needs.  

The Solution to Burnout and Turnover


Employers know that turnover is never easy. However, they need to look behind the reasons for turnover and burnout and actively try to improve their employees’ emotional well-being. It is evident that burnout and turnover come hand-in-hand and that the impact can be detrimental to organizational success. Although there are specific tactics such as instilling empathy, flexibility, and assertiveness into the culture, there is one overarching leadership skill all managers need to practice – leading with emotional intelligence. 

Emotional intelligence can lead to higher employee engagement levels, retention and job satisfaction, which all help protect organizations against burnout and mass turnover. Addressing employees’ emotional well-being and giving them a voice to share their greatest fears and concerns in 2021 allows employers to foster better relationships with their teams. Strengthen Your Culture With EQ also outlines the benefits of a culture of compassion – increased productivity, stability, employee satisfaction, improved communication, and employee morale. All steps in the direction of limiting turnover! 

Starting 2021 off with an emotional intelligence approach will help identify burnout problems at the beginning of the year and allow the team to collaborate on the best way to build mental resilience into the organization’s repertoire. The core of practicing EI in the workplace is genuinely caring about employee’s feelings and creating a safe space to let emotions be constructively expressed so that burnout is actively managed rather than reacted to when it’s too late. 

The bottom line is that leaders can go into 2021 better prepared to handle the factors of burnout and turnover by fostering emotionally intelligent conversations and coming into the year with a sense of compassion for how their team is feeling. 

If interested in learning more about utilizing Emotional Intelligence as the superpower for 2021, check out either of these workshops, Leading Remote Teams with Emotional Intelligence or Leading High Performing Teams. Also, check out our Virtual EQ Retreat, specifically designed to assess and develop a team’s emotional intelligence through a remote learning platform! 

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