One of the biggest consequences of the pandemic and working remotely is “scores of Americans and workers languishing,” said the CEO of leadership coaching platform BetterUp Alexi Robichaux.
Robichaux said languishing “is the absence of well-being.” He described it as the “blah” feeling many employees may feel at work — the middle ground between “depression on end” and “peak performance on the other end... where you may not have a clinical diagnosis or be feeling an acute mental illness, such as depression or other forms of mental illness, but you also aren't flourishing.”
“That means you don't feel like you have a strong sense of purpose," he said. "You may not be feeling like yourself. You have lower levels of psychological engagement in your work and in your life.”
Mental health has big impacts on employee performance at work, with “salient repercussion in terms of people’s creative potential,” as well as their ability to contribute in the workplace, Robichaux said, adding that if he was a public company CEO, monitoring his employees' mental health would be one of his number one priorities.
The human mind is the “unit of productivity for most industrialized countries,” he said, so mental health is critical to employees' ability to “be at their best and perform in a peak state.”
“That impacts everything from civic behaviors in the workforce related to collaboration, civic engagement, citizenship behaviors, we know that things like creativity go out the window when people aren't in these states,” Robichaux warned.
Employers can take steps to help their employees.
“One is celebrating small wins,” he said. “As simple as that sounds, a sense of purpose and progress is huge in helping people feel psychologically engaged and motivated. Taking time in the workplace to structure ways to celebrate small wins, especially coming out of this pandemic, where it's been a long haul for all of us, can go a long way.”
Employees themselves can also take measures to improve their mental state once they recognize they are languishing.
“Maybe you find in the morning you just don't have that pep in your step, and you're not looking forward to the day the way you used to,” Robichaux said, adding that workers who languish have “the inability to focus for long periods of time" and find focusing "extra tiresome or troublesome."
As a result, people can become cynical, he said.
Robichaux noted that these feelings are normal throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. “The majority of us are somewhere in this middle state on this spectrum of mental health today.”
The key, he said, is to have “positive behaviors,” like gratitude exercises. There is significant research Robichaux said that “just counting your blessings” at bedtime can increase “your positive emotion and your sense of meaningfulness and purpose in your life.”
Kristin Myers is a reporter and anchor for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.