NSC Business and Industry Division news Research/studies Leadership

Employers’ ‘therapy speak’ often misses the mark: survey

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Chicago — Results of a recent survey show that workers have trouble trusting employers and supervisors who use “therapy speak” but don’t follow it up with helpful actions.

“Therapy speak” includes statements such as “We understand these are challenging times,” “We’re all in this together” or “We’re like family.” Around two-thirds of the nearly 2,100 workers surveyed said they’ve heard or seen therapy-speak statements at their workplaces.

Harris Poll reports that 71% of employees view these statements as inauthentic – and 69% find them hypocritical. More than half of the employees feel resentment toward leadership when therapy speak is used.

“We’re hitting this tipping point of, ‘I’d rather you say nothing at all than say something just to say something without the action to back it up,’” said Abbey Lunney, managing director of thought leadership at Harris Poll. “[When] the CEO email lands incorrectly – it rubs someone the wrong way or whatever it is – it impacts people’s entire relationship with work.

“Employers think that they’re doing a great job … but they’re missing the mark.”

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