3 Benefits of Emotional Vulnerability in the Workplace 

A group of diverse employees working together at a table

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In the workplace, we often perceive revealing our true emotions to be a negative trait. As such, it’s very common for employees and business owners alike to hide their feelings while they’re at work.

While this might suffice over the short term, over time it negatively impacts the business as a whole. For this reason, the utility of emotional vulnerability is being explored in many workplaces today.

This post explains what emotional vulnerability is and how it can benefit your business. 

What is Emotional Vulnerability?

A picture of the word emotion in the dictionary.

First, let’s look at what emotional vulnerability is and what it means in the workplace.

The idea of emotional vulnerability is to be upfront and honest about your emotions. It means putting those feelings out there so others know where you’re at and what you’re thinking.

Following the pandemic and subsequent labor shortages, workers shifted their requirements and expectations of employers. This means that many businesses will need to pivot their workplace culture in order to accommodate these newer views.

For some businesses, this may mean re-evaluating things like team member benefits and various forms of compensation.

For others, it may mean adding flexibility to workers’ schedules so that they can better balance work and personal life.

Whatever the focus, it requires understanding where employees are at, which requires having open, honest, productive conversations with them.

Vulnerability and Professionalism: Are they opposites?

An employee with an uncertain expression on their face.

What concerns business owners most about the idea of emotional vulnerability is that it could impact the overall professionalism of the business.

However, vulnerability isn’t about letting emotions run wild at the workplace.

Rather, emotional vulnerability at work means being willing to acknowledge and examine feelings in a safe space so that employees can get things off their chest that might be interfering with their work.

If it’s not practiced, there’s the risk that employees’ feelings will be bottled up. Eventually, these bottled-up feelings can overflow and harm the business, causing employees to walk out on their jobs (and leave a scathing review on Glassdoor) over something that could have been prevented if healthy communication had occurred. 

Helping employees express themselves and feel heard

Creating space for employees to communicate openly and honestly with their coworkers and management is key.

When one is able to be honest about their emotions, they will feel safer, more comfortable, and at ease. This is beneficial to the mood, morale, and ultimately the satisfaction of your employees. 

Promoting emotional vulnerability at your workplace will benefit you professionally, too.

When employees are properly supported emotionally as well as in their work, it’s going to help them perform to their best every day.

As we’ll see, one of the biggest benefits for the business is reduced employee turnover.

“When an employee can share their emotions and make their coworkers aware of any important information, the workplace dynamic will be stronger. Employees can work better together as a team when they connect emotionally.”

– Synthia Brooks, business writer at State of writing review and Boom Essays

Benefit #1: Happier Employees

A carton of eggs with emotional expressions drawn on them in sharpie.

Because it encourages employees to come forward and open up rather than be quietly disgruntled, emotional vulnerability can lead to feedback that will improve the overall atmosphere of the workplace.

Of course, everyone is human, and not everyone will get along with each other all the time, but being transparent about where people disagree can help them bridge the gap and find ways to cooperate.

Business owners who want their employees to be open and productive will notice the benefits of a workplace where emotional vulnerability is encouraged. 

Think about it. You have most likely had a job in the past where you dreaded going in every day. Why was that?

Probably, there were a number of reasons, including:

  • your ideas being ignored by management,
  • feeling uncomfortable around certain coworkers, or
  • feeling expendable, unappreciated, or stuck.

These are all things that happen in the absence of trust and healthy workplace communication.

By making it known that emotional vulnerability is valued at your business, you can help employees make stronger connections, feel more satisfied with their job, and become excited for work instead of disappointed. 

Benefit #2: Increased Resiliency

Allowing employees to be emotionally vulnerable will help them increase their strength in a number of other areas.

Simply put, those who feel unable to express themselves will not be as successful in their work as those who do.

On the other hand, those who display emotional vulnerability are often seen as brave, courageous, and resilient

Encouraging your employees to be open helps them to build up their resiliency. It also helps them to work on problems rather than simply ignore them and hope they go away.

When an employee is more comfortable with expressing their emotions, they’ll be more likely to overcome challenges and do their best every day. 

Benefit #3: Better Teamwork

An embarrassed employee talking with a group about their emotions.

Groups who can’t work together are often missing one key ingredient. This key ingredient is vulnerability, which is crucial for building genuine connections.

When we confide in others, we build relationships with those individuals. Being vague and shy prevents us from getting to know and understand our coworkers. 

If you notice that your employees are failing to work successfully as a team, it may well be that they need help in being emotionally vulnerable.

If you want to help with this, you can use team-building exercises to do so.

Use these exercises to encourage them to open up, whether that be sharing their work struggles, or simply filling each other in on what they’re working on right now. The important part is that the team communicates well. 

“The most successful teams have a close bond and connection with each other. Lack of closeness is what causes separation amongst group members.”

– Bruce Thack, project manager at Paper Fellows and Custom essay

Promoting Emotional Vulnerability in Your Business

Introducing vulnerability to your employees isn’t always a simple process. When introducing the concept of emotional vulnerability, you’ll need to ensure both new and established team members are involved. As such, a dedicated training course is often the best approach. 

This course can consist of videos, roleplay scenarios, and team learning exercises. After the course has been completed, you can then start to see the benefits of this process in your business, and in the employees themselves. 

Remember, it’s important to not pressure employees to be vulnerable. You can prevent conflict by creating a comfortable space that encourages employees to be open. Over time, you will likely notice changes in the behavior of those who work at your business. 

Regulated expression of emotions is beneficial to your workplace. When employees are encouraged to be emotionally vulnerable, they’ll feel more valued and will be able to bring their all to work each and every day. 

Emotional Vulnerability as a Business Value

One of the key factors that goes into managing a successful business is establishing business values. These are the guiding principles that should be shared by everyone in the company.

Some common business values include:

  • dedication,
  • resilience,
  • integrity,
  • a strong work ethic, and
  • respect.

Emotional vulnerability can be a business value, too. As a value, it coincides with honesty, transparency, and healthy communication.

When going over the values of your business, consider incorporating emotional vulnerability. By introducing it as an important value, you can help your company align around it and take it seriously. 

Marketing Strategist and writer Rebecca Leigh works at Academized and Dissertation help. Rebecca attends virtual conferences, assists businesses, and writes blogs online on sites such as Do my assignment.

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