How Authenticity at Work Can Be Achieved Through Emotional Labor

Authenticity at work doesn't need to lead to burnout if emotional labor is leveraged in the right way, according to experts at Fast Company.

In the days before the COVID-19 pandemic, authenticity at work had an entirely different meaning. One was professional and placed boundaries in the office, meanwhile at home, they could be who they "really are." But after years of working remotely, that line eventually blurred. Now, many young workers are looking for workplaces where they can be themselves without seeming inauthentic. But how can an employee take emotional risks, be compassionate, and retain talent through empathy without experiencing burnout?

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Being constantly emotionally attuned isn't something that many people are used to doing at work. Consequently, many workers can experience burnout due to the exertion of something called "emotional labor." Emotional labor is when one purposefully regulates emotions to aid another person in emotional growth and development. While emotional labor used to be repressing emotions or problems at work; now, it's having the ability to express them reasonably and consciously. For authenticity to be a prominent feature of one's leadership style, Fast Company says that leveraging emotional labor is a must. Communicating feelings as they occur can create a tight bond between leadership and employees, but doing so in a way that seems explosive or unfettered can result in more harm than good. It can be extraordinarily difficult to monitor one's emotions in this way over an extended period of time.

Utilizing emotional labor while also consciously working to prevent burnout can be done in various ways. Using mindful practices, identifying a leader's own values, and building relationships based on trust and transparency can all create a safety net that prevents burnout. By creating a place where leaders and workers can feel they can be honest about their emotions with a level head, interpersonal conflict can be mitigated.