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Leadership: You Can't Do 'Enough'

A leader’s role in creating workplace well-being

Loneliness is a public health crisis that impacts the overall mental health status of U.S. workers and their ability to contribute on the job. Leaders must now manage this new epidemic, which was brought to national attention by Dr. Vivek Murthy, the 19th and 21st Surgeon General of the United States in a prescient article written with his wife, Dr. Alice Chen.

The article, published in March 2000, warned of a "social recession" caused by a breakdown in communal bonds due to the lack of physical contact experienced during COVID-19. Little did we know then how profound an impact loneliness would have on well-being in the workplace. Nor did we appreciate the forces contributing to employees feeling a dearth of wholeness, ultimately compromising their ability to be successful at work.

As organizations have adapted to a new post-COVID-19 world, leaders have grappled with work structure decisions. Do we demand everyone come back to the office full time or adopt a hybrid policy? Do we allow managers to decide who can work remotely and who cannot? Or, do we adopt a fully remote work policy and forfeit prime office real estate to meet worker demands for flexibility? As leaders continually navigate a changing reality, human behavior factors need to be contemplated along with economic and workflow considerations. Let’s examine the forces that compromise employee wholeness by eroding well-being in the workplace and examine what leaders can do to address them.

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