Bring Your Problems to Work

Upon first hearing this you absorbed the advice as wise and common sense. New evidence from scientific studies suggests that this supposedly sage advice handed down by executives, leaders, and HR departments across the globe is simply misguided and wrong.

The link between stress and mental health is undeniable. The more stress someone experiences, the more prone they are to suffer mental and emotional consequences. Not surprisingly, those consequences can affect your company's bottom line.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on workplace productivity, employers lose billion worth of productivity per year due to the personal issues of their employees. In addition, the Us.S. Surgeon General issued a report showing the indirect costs of untreated mental health disorders results in a $79 Billion annual loss to companies because of lost productivity and absenteeism.

Those are powerful numbers, and although the intent of the "don't bring home to work" advice is to ensure a harmonious environment and a productive thus profitable company, it's clearly having the opposite effect.

When a business truly values its employees and sees them as partners in the company's success, and not simply a "resource," productivity and morale increases. The underlying message when being told to "leave your personal problems at home" is that you should simply turn off your emotions when you come into the office. This would be fine if we were robots but we are not. We are living, breathing beings with true and complicated emotions. Not acknowledging this indisputable fact comes across as callous and unaware.

What if one of our main goals as leaders was to show our employees that we truly value them as people and not just commodities?

What advice or directive would we in turn give them if we noticed that they were under some sort of emotional duress or just having a plain old bad day?

Jennifer Borba von Stauffenberg owns a PR Firm in San Diego and encourages her employees who have occasional life challenges to be "authentic" in the workplace and share any personal challenges to the degree that is comfortable for them. She treats them with respect by giving them the time they need to regroup -- whether it be a few minutes or the remainder of the day. This philosophy pays dividends by cultivating employees who are loyal, motivated, and regularly give 110% to the firm's many clients.

We spend as many if not more of our waking hours with our co-workers than our respective families. Given this, it is not at all unnatural or wrong to occasionally confide in a co-worker or to take a moment or two to acknowledge your feelings and regroup before plunging back into daily tasks.

Acknowledging that our employees are not just a means to an end and treating them with empathy and respect will foster a more engaged workforce. In turn, this will have positive reverberations across your entire team, department, and company.