Sini Lindholm | 25.5.2023

The Power of Being Seen and Heard

In the past few weeks, we have been closely working with two different organizations, focusing on the employee experience. These organizations operate in different industries, and the nature of work varies between them. One of these organizations is a company with thousands of employees, while the other has fewer than 200 staff members.

Despite the significant differences between these organizations, the need to be seen and heard in relation to the employee experience is central to both. In both of these organizations, this is a crucial aspect that people feel is lacking.

In employee surveys and interviews about the employee experience, this need emerges through the theme of appreciation. The experience of not being appreciated as a workforce, despite the essential role both groups play in the business, is prevalent. The feeling of appreciation is a key motivator for individuals, alongside the sense of progress (Amabile T., Kramer S., 2011). Therefore, how we nurture this energy in the workplace is not insignificant.

Unfortunately, in many organizations, there is a prevailing sense of a “stale marriage.” Official agreements were signed at some point, but the psychological commitment has weakened. Renewing the vows would be necessary in many places.

COVID and hybrid work have weakened the emotional connection in recent years, increased the sense of distance, and consequently, indifference has grown. These stagnant organizational unions could benefit from utilizing tips used in a healthy romantic relationship. Here are signs of a healthy union applied to the world of work depicted by Minna Jaakkola, an expert of family and romantic relations from Väestöliitto.

Signs of thriving partnerships:


Communication is an essential part of a functioning relationship, whether in a romantic partnership or an organization. It is often heard that there is not enough time for communication. While understandable and initially harmless-sounding, it often leads to people feeling excluded and uncared for if communication is limited, of poor quality, or misdirected.

Some organizations have also become masters of silence regarding difficult issues. They want to maintain harmony, a kind of light cocktail culture, but the result is something entirely different. Everyone knows there is an issue, but no one brings it up. In my experience, people are generally relieved when the issues are finally brought to the table. The sooner we address the issues, the less emotional burden there is in discussing them.


Disagreements are part of a relationship, and the ability to argue constructively is as important as the ability to negotiate. How many of us know how to argue skillfully and safely in a romantic relationship? Similarly, in the workplace, it is essential for us to learn how to engage in constructive conflict. It is a vital skill in the working world that most of us need to develop. We often fear offending others or being labeled as difficult.

Constructive conflict requires trust and psychological safety. It means being vulnerable and raising issues without fearing the other person’s reaction. Do we create such a space for others? And do we have the courage to speak up if we don’t feel safe doing so?


Just as a romantic relationship is not always rosy, not everything goes smoothly in the workplace either. We all have bad days, make mistakes, experience failures, and face uncertainties. However, can I feel safe in this group without being blamed or labeled? Once again, trust comes into play. Can I trust that I will be supported and that no one will stab me in the back? Will someone lend a hand when I stumble?


In a successful romantic relationship, it is essential to care about and be genuinely interested in your partner. Bringing a bouquet of roses once a year doesn’t keep the flame alive in a relationship, just as it doesn’t in an organizational context. Acknowledging others, being present in encounters, and small acts of appreciation—these are the building blocks of a positive employee experience. In this era, there is a lot of boundlessness. Many people face overwhelming workloads, needs, expectations, and demands from different directions. The feeling of inadequacy is familiar to many. In this era, we humans need boundaries. We need to learn how to set them ourselves, but we also need the support of others and our supervisors to establish and maintain them. Boundaries create security, increase the sense of control, and give us the feeling that we matter.

Unfortunately, in many organizations, there is a prevailing sense of a “stale marriage.” Official agreements were signed at some point, but the psychological commitment has weakened. Renewing the vows would be necessary in many places.

Just as a romantic relationship requires faith and hope, organizations also need them in times of transformation. When trust has been shaken, and the employee experience has declined, we need to believe that things will be fixed, can be fixed, and are desired to be fixed. Alongside faith and hope, we need evidence and visibility of progress.

I wish everyone faith, hope, and respectful encounters. Let’s take care of each other, ask how others are doing, how we can help, and bravely address issues. Creating a sense of being heard and seen by others is not rocket science—we are all capable of it if we choose to do so. How will you choose to strengthen your colleague’s employee experience today?

Sini Lindholm

Sini Lindholm: Sini on kokenut kokenut organisaatiopsykologi sekä liiketoiminnan ja organisaatioiden kehittämisen ammattilainen, jonka intohimona on olla tekemässä työelämästä elinvoimaisempaa. Sinin kohtaat yrityskultturin, johtamisen ja johtoryhmien kehittämisprojekteissa sekä esihenkilöiden valmennuksissa. Sini on erikoistunut johtoryhmien ja johtoryhmien dialogin kehittämiseen sekä tukemiseen.