It isn’t just you: People are more stressed, sad, and anxious than they were three years ago. Gallup’s most recent Negative Experience Index shows that 42% of the worldwide population lives on a steady diet of worry. Not surprisingly, all that uncertainty can hinder your employees’ ability to perform at high levels.

Although some employees may not know they carry heavier psychological burdens, others do. As self-reported in a Fast Company-Harris Poll survey, 55% of employees say they’re burdened by the specter of what 2023 could bring. Not surprisingly, around half of the respondents cited anxiety related to their mental health.

In other words, you’re leading a team bringing much more to work than a bag of lunch.

This puts you in a position that — while undeniably challenging — has some hidden opportunities. You can be the role model your workers need right now. By being a strong, supportive force, you can get the work-related benefits of higher productivity, increased morale, and lower turnover. You can also end each day knowing that you’re helping the people around you chip away at the emotional weight they’re carrying.

Of course, leading at a time like this might not seem intuitive or familiar. You’re probably under a lot of strain whether you’re a front-line supervisor, executive, or owner. Nevertheless, your willingness to seize this moment could mean the difference between shepherding a group that can’t seem to progress and guiding talented individuals out of the fog.

Below are a few strategies to bolster the resilient spirit that your team needs right now.

1. Stand out as a visionary.

What’s the first thing many employees lose when they become unhappy and distracted? Their company vision. It makes sense; it’s hard to stay focused on the company vision when worrying about stressors at home or on the job. Still, regularly circling back to your organizational vision is just what your team needs to do.

Remember, your vision isn’t just a bunch of words — or shouldn’t be. Instead, it’s a driving force that offers up a purpose for why you and your direct reports were hired in the first place. Purpose is incredibly compelling for many employees, especially Gen Z and Millennials. A report by McKinsey & Co. shows that 70% of people believe their purpose comes from what they do career-wise. Accordingly, you need to remind everyone around you why they’re putting in 40+ hours each week.

You might have to meditate a bit on this yourself. Do you know your corporate vision? Do you live it and help others “connect the dots” so they understand how their actions contribute to the bigger picture? Routinely reminding everyone of the link between their duties and the corporate vision allows them to achieve “wins” alongside you. As these emotional “wins” add up, they chip away at pessimism and worry caused by feeling aimless.

2. Create an atmosphere of psychological safety.

If your employees feel like they can’t speak their minds or show their true colors at work, they’re less likely to buy into your positive efforts. You must make sure that you’re promoting a sense of psychological safety. Otherwise, you’ll find it nearly impossible to decrease employees’ stress drastically.

To get a better understanding of this concept, take a hint from Amy Gallo, contributing editor at Harvard Business Review: “Team psychological safety is a shared belief held by members of a team that it’s OK to take risks, to express their ideas and concerns, to speak up with questions, and to admit mistakes — all without fear of negative consequences.”

To gauge your current range of psychological safety, send out an anonymous survey to your team or company. This will give you a starting point and identify any process gaps. For instance, you may discover that your “tough love” feedback isn’t working as well as it did pre-pandemic. In that case, you can revise your leadership behaviors to better suit the emotional needs of your team.

3. Lean into compassion when supervising.

Being a leader means having tough talks with your employees occasionally. How you handle these discussions is crucial, particularly if your instinctual response is to be blunt rather than respectful. Your team members may be more sensitive now than in the past, which can amplify what you say and how you say it.

Eric Watkins, President of Outbound Sales at Abstrakt Marketing Group, explains how this phenomenon can work in real life — and how to overcome it. “If someone disagrees with you, resist the temptation to take it as a personal affront. Instead, listen to what the other person says. Show respect and gratitude. You might still decide to go ahead with your original plan. However, your team will see that you took a dissenting idea seriously.”

Ask yourself: Do you lead with compassion? What do you do well? What would you change? Being honest and engaging in mini-retrospectives will enable you to become a more empathetic, aware leader.

We all feel powerless in the face of uncertainty, and none of us know what will happen next. However, there’s one thing you can control: how you mentor and guide your team so that they feel rewarded, supported, and appreciated.


  • Brittany Hodak

    Keynote Speaker and Author

    Brittany Hodak is an award-winning entrepreneur, author, and customer experience speaker who has delivered keynotes across the globe to organizations including American Express and the United Nations. She has written hundreds of articles for Forbes, Adweek, Success, and other top publications; she has appeared on programs on NBC, CBS, ABC, and CNN; and she has worked with some of the world’s biggest brands and entertainers, including Walmart, Disney, Katy Perry, and Dolly Parton. She originated the role of Chief Experience Officer at, and she founded and scaled an entertainment startup to eight figures before exiting. Entrepreneur magazine calls her “the expert at creating loyal fans for your brand.” Brittany’s debut book, Creating Superfans, will be in stores on January 10, 2023.