Including Emotional Support at Work

Building a business is hard work. Sustaining the organization over time is even more difficult. For leaders on all levels of the corporate ladder, designing a workable business plan, and implementing corresponding strategies can become an overwhelming challenge.  There will be long days and sleepless nights along the way. Even the most even-keeled rational person can become emotionally drained. In these volatile economic times, how can organizations solve this dilemma before there is massive employee burnout?

Here’s what I have learned from my Great Dane, therapy dog, named Beretta. Beretta and I have been visiting hospitals and business organizations over the past five years. His job as a therapy dog is to offer emotional support to individuals-whether they are patients or hospital staff or employees. Staying positive during troubling times can seem overwhelming, yet with emotional support shown with a wagging tail, nuzzling his muzzle, Beretta offers a ray of sunshine in the darkest moments.

Whether patients are worried about how to combat an illness or employees are feeling the stress of an overscheduled workload, Beretta brings a moment of calm that punctuates a feeling of emotional upheaval in these individuals’ lives. Staff members who see this gentle giant on a regular basis, look forward to his quiet presence. Emotional support is a type of support that bolsters individuals with a renewed confidence to keep moving forward.

When considering the business culture, it may not be possible to have a Beretta canine companion present on a daily basis—although more workplaces are allowing pets on the premises. Regardless, it is possible to develop teams that embrace strategies for offering emotional support to fellow team members. Even leaders in the C-Suites find it lonely sometimes, administering through challenging times. They, too, need to be reminded that others understand. Mentoring your emerging leaders, providing scheduling strategies for blending work/life commitments, and encouraging respectful understanding of fellow workplace members’ individual challenges are all types of emotional support.

How would you answer the following to boost emotional support throughout your organization?
• Review your open door policy. How do you make yourself available to people and give them the opportunity to seek your advice? Describe what it means to be non-judgmental.
• What ways can leadership involve employees in decision-making so that there is a sense of ownership with company goals. How are you providing strategies for employees to enjoy the people with whom they work?

Smart leaders find ways to include emotional support strategies in the building of their workplace culture. They know that there are times when the business will be navigating through difficult circumstances, and there will be a need to have the best output available from all staff members. Celebrate the successes once a tough job is completed. Businesses need to remember the human side of the organization. Even if the reminder comes from a 4-footed canine, named Beretta.

If you are dog-tired of a lack of employee engagement in your organization, fetch yourself a copy of Leadership Unleashed: A Great Dane’s Wisdom for the Business World . Even if you execute only one of the concepts in this book, your organization will be transformed.

Dr. Ann Gatty is president of Strategic People Solutions, a business consulting firm, helping businesses add value-assets to their businesses. For the past twenty years she and her husband, Gene, have been providing leadership development programs, business implementation strategies, and solving HR employment issues. Ann has recently created The Business Sphere of Excellence® a strategic business planning model used to construct annual and long range business plans helping businesses run more efficiently and profitably. Dr. Ann Gatty is an expert in understanding and improving the workplace culture which is fundamental for implementing any successful strategic initiatives. In order to better explain the importance of employee engagement, Ann partners with Beretta, her Great Dane therapy dog to present her key findings.
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