Employee Experience

Fostering Authentic Connection: Leading with Care Beyond National Employee Appreciation Day

29 February 2024



Do we need an annual reminder to do something we should be doing every day?

Looking at the results of the first State of the Nation Report into social connection, from Ending Loneliness Together, yes. One in three Australians feel lonely, and one in six report severe, debilitating loneliness. And the demographics are frightening – people aged between 18-24 and 45-54 are the most likely to feel lonely. These are people actively in the workforce, interacting with others daily.

Striking the right balance between being approachable and maintaining authority can be challenging, yet it’s essential for cultivating a thriving workplace culture. And a healthy society.

Leadership isn’t about creating the illusion of a family. It’s about recognizing employees as real people and integral parts of a community in a way that’s authentic to you. So consider the following:


1. **The Engager**: If you’re naturally outgoing and enjoy interacting with your team, prioritize small group discussions or informal coffee breaks where everyone has a chance to share updates, ideas, or even personal stories. This approach fosters camaraderie and builds trust organically.


2. **The Listener**: For leaders who excel in listening, schedule regular one-on-one check-ins with team members. These sessions provide a safe space for employees to express concerns, share achievements, and feel valued individually.


3. **The Facilitator**: As a facilitator, leverage team-building activities or collaborative projects that encourage cross-departmental interactions. Whether it’s a volunteer initiative or a creative brainstorming session, these opportunities promote teamwork and solidarity.


4. **The Mentor**: Embrace mentorship programs where seasoned employees can guide and support newer team members. Mentorship enhances professional development and fosters a sense of belonging and mentor-mentee bond.


5. **The Advocate**: As an advocate for employee well-being, prioritize initiatives that promote work-life balance and mental health awareness. Encourage breaks, offer flexible scheduling options, and provide access to resources that support holistic wellness.


Remember, authentic appreciation doesn’t require grand gestures or elaborate events. It’s about fostering genuine connections through everyday interactions, human to human, beyond hierarchical boundaries.

Let’s commit to building cultures of care and compassion, not just on designated appreciation days but every single day.