They’re Bringing Those ‘Whole Self’ Problems to Work

We talk about “authenticity” and wanting, practically demanding, that employees bring their “whole self” to work. Except, that is, for those nasty personal problems like a fatally ill relative, or an abusive relationship or… So we say, “Leave your personal problems at home.”

No wonder Vadim Liberman reconciled those conflicting precepts by telling a DisruptHR audience, “What we really want is not authenticity but the illusion of authenticity.”

For so many of us, even providing that much is hard, even impossible.

“We need workplaces that allow us to be whole beings when we show up each day,” says Melanie Winter. A crisis hotline worker and program facilitator at Victoria, BC, Canada’s Need2 Suicide Prevention and Education, “In these private and vulnerable moments with strangers, I get to hear stories of how their lives are impacted by mental health each day.

“They’re scared to be their whole selves at work,” Winter tells her DisruptHR audience, detailing the economic and personal consequences of stress, depression and other mental unwellness. “We fail to recognize that what’s happening outside of work is the same thing that is happening inside of work and we need to figure out better ways to handle it.”

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What are those ways? There’s no blueprint here; it’s a call to action. A call to “be a leader for change,” says Winter. Doing nothing, she says, means “we fail people.” You need o send the message that we’re all human and this is a human driven workplace.”

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