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July 30, 2014
by Christie Hunter

Management Style And Employee Mental Health – Is There A Connection?

July 30, 2014 04:55 by Christie Hunter  [About the Author]

Companies As A Collective Enterprise

In management circles, there is a popular saying that you are as good as the people you hire. Corporations are social entities that harness the extraordinary power of the collective, rather than relying on a few good individuals to gain prominence. True, there are few distinguished performers in all companies that act as the face of the enterprise, but that does not discount the contributions of a wide cross section of employees whose efforts and skills are indispensible to the corporation. For every Steve Jobs there are whole cadres of software programmers, project managers, product designers among others who help realize the company’s vision.

Employees spend a disproportionate amount of time at their workplace. In fact, by spending a significant portion of their working age at companies, an office is an employee’s home away from home. For many, work is a calling in life rather than just being a simple commercial pursuit. Since a free market is a place where people willingly seek and associate themselves to occupations, it should be ideally assumed that they have a preference to their line of work and are happy with what they do.

Even though scientific management is a buzzword for many in management circles, managing people and getting the best out of them in many respects is still an art. For employees to fully realize their potential, they must first and foremost derive a certain degree of pleasure and contentment from what they do. It is a grand illusion that monetary compensation is the sole detriment of job satisfaction in anyone’s work. It does act as a powerful motivator but there are other factors that act as powerful incentives for employees to be productive and satisfied. Mental health and wellness can be included as powerful aspects that encourage employees to perform their best. So managers have to be weary in regards to what management style they use with employees because it certainly has an effect on their mental health.

Autocratic Management vs. Management by Consent

Companies are no different than political entities when it comes to how they are run. The style of management has huge implications on employee mental health. Generally, an autocratic management style is found to be at odds with good management practices. This type of management engenders a hostile environment for work, giving birth to office politics with several rival factions jostling for resources.

Companies like these are also riven by internal conflict that hurt them in the long run. There is also a disturbing degree of opacity under this style of management in which many key decisions that are undertaken are shrouded in secrecy without taking any or little input in issues pertaining to employees. Granted that some confidentiality must be maintained in some strategic decisions, but companies where such opacity is pervasive tend to alienate many employees and demotivate them from being active stakeholders in their very own company. Whereas a more open and inclusive style of management has proven time and again to be a more ideal alternative.

How to Dramatically Improve Employee Mental Health

Managers can employ numerous strategies to create a positive environment for employees to carry on their daily duties. Firstly, managers should never shy away to provide their employees recognition and rewards for good performance and productivity. It is no secret that people more often than not take pride in what they do. Providing some well-deserved praise acts as a powerful reinforcement for any employee to sustain their efforts.

Secondly, employees must be provided a certain level of autonomy and ownership in their respective duties. Many managers often get embroiled in micro-management that not only consumes a major portion of their time, but also creates resentment in an employee. Objectives should be outlined, benchmarks should be charted out, but employees should be allowed the leeway of achieving them through their own means.

Extracurricular activities such as company picnics, trips and dinners are often balked at as a waste of time and money, yet they are very effective in providing an informal and relaxed setting where employees can develop bonds of camaraderie and friendship. Such social settings also help dissipate any underlying tension or hostilities among employees as well.

Furthermore, managers should provide employees avenues through which they can address their workplace grievances and complaints and where possible, resolve them to facilitate their subordinates. In instances where management is uncooperative and unwilling to take into account the complaints of their employees, they face a higher turnover than companies in which managers have a more conducive attitude. It also has been shown that the presence of onsite health facilities and sports can dramatically reduce the drudgery and monotony associated with work.

By positively engaging with employees, managers can play an instrumental role in reducing work-related stress and enable their employees not only achieve to their goals, but also organizational goals as well.


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Bickford, M (2005 August, 1). Stress in the Workplace: A General Overview of the Causes, the Effects, and the Solutions. Retrieved May 14, 2014, from  

About the Author

Christie Hunter

Christie Hunter is registered clinical counselor in British Columbia and co-founder of Theravive. She is a certified management accountant. She has a masters of arts in counseling psychology from Liberty University with specialty in marriage and family and a post-graduate specialty in trauma resolution. In 2007 she started Theravive with her husband in order to help make mental health care easily attainable and nonthreatening. She has a passion for gifted children and their education. You can reach Christie at 360-350-8627 or write her at christie - at -

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