There’s a lot of good stuff in here for managers, and CEOs and anyone who has people who work for them, but I wanted to highlight this one:
2. Really have your employees’ backs.
With mental health issues so common, it’s not a matter of if your employees will ever need support, it’s a matter of when. Your team needs to know that when they open up about their mental health, you will have their backs. So, once the conversation has been started, listen, understand what they’re going through, learn what they need, and reverse engineer how you can help them when the time comes. If people need time off, create an open policy on requesting leave. If they need doctors or therapy, ensure that your health plan is designed to help them access those resources. If they’re looking for work-life balance, hold events and get-togethers that are fun and supportive. Put the processes and policies in place to support your employees when they need it most.
The reason I wanted to highlight it, is because years ago, when I had my first mental breakdown, and was only approved to continue working under some very strict circumstances that involved me having a pretty wacky schedule, my manager at the time, Erin, simply made it happen. I needed to go see my therapist every weekday and take a two hour lunch to do it for a few weeks? No problem. I needed to leave earlier than that two hour lunch would normally afford me once a week to go to group therapy, great, we’ll make it up during the other hours. I needed somewhere to just go and breath, her door was always open.
My coworkers were sure to notice this schedule and wonder what was going on? I could say, or not say, whatever I needed to to them and she would back me. (In the end I was fairly honest about what was happening. Most of them got it, but not all.)
In short, she was fantastic and probably helped save my life. (I have no idea how to get a hold of her now and thank her for that, but I hope to one day.)
Work is a place we spend a ton of time. How the workplace handles something like our mental health can have a huge impact. That impact can be positive and help take care of us, or it can not be.
If all you care about is the work, you’re not a manager. You’re just a cog in the machine. And you’ll never get the same kind of commitment, and engagement that you’d get by having your employees backs when they need it.