How to Be an Understanding and Supportive Leader

Research done by Ellen Kossek and Leslie B. Hammer showed that teaching managers sensitivity and supportiveness of employees’ work/life issues improves employee health and satisfaction. Training for supervisors consisted of awareness building, how to plan coverage, how to deal with scheduling conflicts and how to collaborate with other managers to address staffing.

The study showed that prior to training, managers were perceived as being insensitive and unsupportive. There was a correlation between this perception and poor worker attitude, worker health and loyalty. Blood pressure, heart rate, sleep quality and overall health were poor and workers stayed with the company less than a year. After training, the supervisors were seen as being more supportive and understanding of work/life issues and all health factors improved. Compliance with safety programs, motivation and loyalty to the organization improved as well. 

The training addressed four key areas:

  • Providing emotional support:
    • Do you care about your employees’ work/life balance in your organization?
  • Providing structural support:
    • Do you work with employees ahead of time to resolve scheduling conflicts?
  • Modeling healthy behavior:
    • Do you model healthy work/life behavior?
  • Partnering with other managers to address issues through initiatives like cross training:
    • Do you have strategies in place to deal with scheduling and family conflicts? 

These issues are becoming more important as our culture changes and evolves. New generations are entering the workforce and work/life issues are paramount in their perception of success. This means more demands on employers in this regard.

Take time this week to consider the four areas above and how you, as a Leader, are doing in each. If you’d like assistance developing in any of these areas, I would love to help! Contact me today at to start the conversation.

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