I think most of us can recall when an employer attempted to “help” with a serious issue in a way that really just didn’t cut it. I suspect that right now there are more than a few organizations that this applies to:
“Why do people react negatively to mindfulness training and other (seemingly) well-intentioned offers of help? In theory, it should be good when organizations make any effort to help improve worker well-being. Isn’t an imperfect solution better than no solution at all? Research from behavioral economics in the area of ultimatum bargaining suggests that people react negatively when they perceive an offer of help as being unfairly small. Giving a little help can be seen as worse than giving no help at all.”
We’ve seen the memes. The ones about the law firm offering a lunch hour yoga class to overworked, stressed, associates who haven’t had time to even take a lunch break in months. Or the “reward” for months of 70-80 hour work weeks is free pizza. It just makes people angry because it’s a token that does nothing to actually recognize the work involved, or correct the problems that created this mess to start with.
Workplace stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues are not just something a little mindfulness can fix. Workers are waking up to the fact that it’s the company culture that is contributing to this. Offering a way for employees to help “fix” themselves might seem like a nice thing, and in many ways it is, but doing it while not making any effort to recognize the contributions managers and corporate culture make to the problem, along with a commitment to make changes, is the very definition of “too little”.
It’s a good way to send the message that the workplace will never change, or even make an attempt to change and that employees who want change should look elsewhere.
More and more of us are.