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Top 3 Leadership Characteristics Necessary To Support Occupational Well-Being

Occupational well-being is a critical concern in the U.S. and globally. According to Gallup, 44% of workers worldwide report experiencing workplace stress, a statistic that has remained relatively unchanged since 2020. Leadership plays a pivotal role in mental well-being and stress at work and can significantly shape an employee’s life.

Leaders directly engage with employees on a daily basis. Their behavior, decisions and communication styles significantly shape employee work experiences and overall well-being. Although organizations globally are increasingly implementing initiatives such as flexible work arrangements and wellness programs to support well-being, the primary responsibility for mental wellness lies with leaders.

The Power Of ‘Mattering’

If effective leadership could summed up in one word it would be “mattering”—a construct from social psychology that means employees feel they make a difference and have value in the workplace. Studies on “mattering” at work show that if you feel recognized and valued and your employer appreciates your efforts, you’re at lower risk of work stress, burnout and mental health issues. Plus, you’re more engaged and productive and add value to the company’s bottom line. Unfortunately, though, a survey from Workhuman found that nearly half of workers only felt ‘somewhat valued’. And as “productivity paranoia” continues to overwhelm workers, 31.1% say they feel pressured not to take breaks and to seem more proactive with 29.2% feeling concerned that it never seems like they’re doing enough.

Ryne Sherman, Hogan Assessment expert, explains that “Occupational well-being reflects how an individual's professional life impacts their sense of purpose and meaning—a matter that has become increasingly urgent post-Covid-19, as remote work blurs the boundaries between personal and professional.” Critical factors contributing to occupational well-being include mental and emotional support from leaders and employers, a sense of purpose at work, personal support from leaders and financial stability.

Three Essential Skills For Effective Leadership

For individuals who may not inherently possess leadership traits, those skills can be trained. Hogan Assessments contends that leadership comprises a combination of personality traits, behaviors and skills that can be developed over time through self-awareness, learning and practice. Hogan Assessmentsglobal leader in workplace personality assessments, has identified the three most important characteristics you need for effective leadership to support occupational well-being.

  1. Interpersonal Sensitivity. Leaders adept at understanding and empathizing with their team members' emotions foster strong relationships, conflict resolution and positive interactions, enhancing overall employee well-being.
  2. Emotional Intelligence (EQ). Leaders with high emotional intelligence create psychologically safe environments where employees feel comfortable expressing themselves, thereby promoting open communication and enhancing occupational well-being.
  3. Strategic Self-Awareness. Leaders who understand their strengths and limitations and their impact on others can adapt their leadership style to prioritize activities conducive to employee well-being, fostering a positive work environment.

Making Yourself Matter At Work

“Bad leaders perpetrate terrible misery on those subject to their domain,” states Robert Hogan, founder of Hogan Assessments. “However, it is important to note that individuals are responsible for their happiness and well-being and employers cannot be held solely responsible. In fact, it's a joint effort—employees must safeguard their well-being and employers should provide well-being support, mitigate stressors and foster a work environment that is conducive to happiness.”

We all want to feel that we matter for the hard work we do. Mattering in the workplace is more important today than ever, given the prevalence of remote working and the return-to-office tug-of-war between employers and employees. But it’s a two-way street. Employees must let their value be shown, but employers must implement actions that recognize and reward those performances. One study found that 84% out of 1,000 respondents said going above and beyond at work is a must to achieve a successful career. Remote employees who feel unseen are more likely to experience feelings of burnout, loneliness and imposter syndrome—which translates into feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt—all of which can be detrimental to both employees and their work.

Knowing how to get noticed at work and making yourself known as an employee can enhance your visibility. Then, it’s in the hands of business leaders to take the responsibility for their part to create “mattering” for their employees. And, according to the experts, leaders can make that happen by implementing interpersonal sensitivity, emotional intelligence and strategic self-awareness.


A version of this article appeared on forbes.com, posted on May 24, 2024

EXPERD, Human Resources Consultant, Jakarta – Indonesia




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