While I’ve been sharing a number of things here about mental health in the workplace, it’s been awhile since I collected up a bunch of stuff in one post. With this being Mental Health Awareness Month, there have been any number of posts made about the subject and I wanted to expound on a number of them.
So, let’s start with creating a safe space for employees to even have the conversation to start with?
On the REBA website –
There is some good advice, starting with this:
Saying you’re there for your employees isn’t enough. Signpost and enforce policy around mental health clearly, involve senior stakeholders in the business to educate and communicate these values to their respective teams, and break down siloes by hosting regular meetings across the business in which employees can voice their concerns.
Putting these processes in place will build a solid footing from which you can start to create a wellbeing toolkit.
This is really where it all starts. As an employer, you cannot say you support the mental health of your staff, you have to actually support the mental health of your staff. If you want a culture that is open to communicating without stigma, then there needs to not just be conversation, but actual resources that can be there for your workers when they need them.
Once you’ve committed to that, then we can talk about moving forward.
This is where we can move on to a recent article by Jill Nykoliation –
There are some really good ideas here, including things like having a weekly meeting just to talk about “being human”:
As CEO, I host all-agency talks each Thursday. We call them “Pirate Huddles.” We discuss how we are feeling, including how I am feeling. We talk about burnout, monotony, fear, as well as gratitude, resilience, vibrations, and the importance of kindness, nature, eating well, sleep, and movement. On the days when I’m feeling exhausted or frustrated, they know. I feel it’s important to provide a living example that each of us are human. That in itself brings comfort.
They also make ample use of getting together as a group to watch YouTube videos and podcasts featuring some of the best mental health advice out there. As she says – no budget necessary.
But, just being a CEO who encourages openness isn’t all there is. Culture might start there, but it doesn’t truly become the culture until everyone is supporting each other. For example:
That article offers up what seems like a simple example, but one that really does make all the difference in terms of creating that culture of mental health support:
A simple ‘how are you’ or ‘is there something bothering you’ can be the start of something.
Encouraging employees to seek out their peers, highlighting any behaviour which is out of the ordinary and attempting to find workable solutions right away is important.
No one really knows how important a three-word question could be. Simplifying this stage can help to develop a positive feeling around mental health in the workplace – even if it is or isn’t present.
It’s the people you work alongside every day who are going to notice if something is not right, and have the social cache to ask the simple question. That needs to become normalized in the workplace, with friends, with family and frankly, everywhere else.
Additionally, there is also this because it’s great if you can ask the question and start an honest conversation, but what’s next? What do we do when someone on our team is struggling?
And, one more link for good measure:
I know, I’m asking you to follow a few links and do a bit of reading here, but this is important. Not just because supporting employees is key to attracting and retaining the best talent, nor because employees who can bring themselves honestly to the workplace are likely to be more engaged and passionate about the job, but because those people who work for you are human beings. The workplace is where they will spend so much of their day to day lives, even when that workplace is virtual. They’ll spend more time interacting with each other than most other people in their lives. If we can’t look out for each other in that space, we’re doing a massive disservice to each other.
Don’t be that company. The times are changing, if you aren’t interested in your employees as human beings, you will not be a place that attracts talent. Just ask all those places unable to fill their open jobs right now.
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