How to help languishing employees flourish at work

What is languishing?

Psychosocial impairment in terms of perceived emotional health, limitations of activities of daily living, and workdays lost or cutback.

Corey L. M. Keyes — The Mental Health Continuum: From Languishing to Flourishing in Life

Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield.

Adam Grant — Feeling Blah During the Pandemic? It’s Called Languishing

The cost of mental health disorders in the workplace

How to support languishing employees

Listen before you act

There’s a lot of focus right now on the tough labor market and how to navigate it, and I think it’s just as important for companies to look at how they can improve morale to keep the employees they have and avoid having to hire in the first place.

Survey employees to find out why they’re feeling ‘blah’. There are a lot of factors that can cause low morale. Knowing the exact source of the problem in your team can help you better refine your approach to address it. This kind of survey can also help start a conversation about morale and workplace mental health across the team.

Matt Erhard — Managing Partner, Summit Search Group

In general, the pandemic has created something of an online meeting culture, and there are pitfalls associated with sitting in meetings all day, broadcasting, but not really engaging.

It’s engagement, interaction with other humans, that powers and inspires us. So, first, I’d suggest looking at meeting strategies. Any meeting longer than 30 minutes needs to be looked at critically. And meetings with more that 7-ish people (that’s the maximum number for meaningful engagement) need to be weeded out.

Eliminate those, and then there’s more time for real engagement. The right kind of engagement varies from person-to-person. Email, text, phone call, or even a one-on-one virtual meeting, it all can make a difference.

Miriam Ruth Bowers-Abbott, MA — Associate Professor, Mount Carmel College of Nursing

Instil languishing employees with purpose

Human beings crave a sense of purpose. If they’re not finding their sense of purpose at work, they seek it in other places. However, in the current environment, people are confronting the limitations of their partnerships at home, the limitations of achieving their dreams for their families, which contributes to this general sense of languishing.

In theory, every business is founded on a mission and vision. Often, companies lose sight of this as they get caught up in the day-to-day operations of production and/or service creation. The first step would be for every business to resurrect and refocus on their sense of mission and vision. What’s the difference that they make in the world? How can they celebrate this with their employees? How can they do this in a way that feels authentic?

Rich Heller — Therapist, Rich in Relationship

Flourishing begins with acknowledgement

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