Clearly, the reality is that work is too much for almost everyone across the entire spectrum, and there are lots of people looking for something better. Something that gives them the ability to be economically stable and also the ability to live a life outside of work with their mental health intact.
I think a little anxiety and anger are appropriate now. Being distracted from your work should actually be a pretty normal reaction to what is going on in the world. Just replace your own national politics for the UK in that survey and can you really say that something hasn’t prevented you from being your best at work during the last couple of years? I’m in the US, I think it’s crazy that there are people going about their work as if nothing is happening, but I also know that is the corporate culture for many of us as well. For the hours you are “at” work, that’s our time. Spend your own time worrying about the world, grieving for lost loved ones, caring for your family, or your own needs, etc.
This is wrong on so many levels. Your people are not hours of labor on a spreadsheet, they are human beings, and human beings should absolutely be affected by what is going on in the world. Expecting them not to be during work hours tells me a lot more about the management team than it does about the workforce.
It surely doesn’t say anything good about the management team either.
The reason I wanted to focus on this is that it can also be very easy to underestimate how much time people are spending on their work when the work is being done remotely, or in a hybrid situation. Even in the legal or consulting worlds where many of us are billing our time, or at least tracking time worked on projects, it’s not telling you the whole story. There is a lot of time spent on miscellaneous tasks that are getting lost in whatever tool you’re using to track the amount of time worked.
It’s the 15 minutes I logged in to check my schedule before accepting a handful of meeting requests before heading to bed. The time spent clearing out the inbox over my first cup of coffee, or answering questions for a newer coworker, it’s all very likely to not show up in the “official” time because it happens, and then we forget about it.
Do you know how much time your people work without considering it time worth tracking? Do you know how much those little interruptions add to the overall stress levels?
Having HR professionals understand this is important. Having them try to influence the business leaders might help too. At the end of the day, though, this only gets better if the entire culture buys into it. Any individual manager who isn’t capable of making reasonable accommodations because they haven’t been trained or because the actual business practices create a roadblock for them only proves that this is all just talk.
People who’ve struggled for years to continue working at the risk of their mental health deserve a lot more than talk.
It’s that first line that should grab your attention because so many people do not see mental health struggles as something that impacts them, or will impact them. But the numbers don’t lie. Someone you know, probably even someone very close to you, is dealing with mental health struggles as you read this. Someone you work with is doing the same themselves or supporting someone else who is.
How great would it be if we all recognized that and provided a safe place for them to talk about those struggles instead of not welcoming their voices and causing more harm?
I don’t think we can even imagine how helpful that would be because we see it so infrequently. It’s time for that to change.
This is sometimes a missing piece regarding mental health and work. It’s not just the people who work for you, it’s the people who work for you with kids or other family members dealing with mental health issues. “Why do employers need to take a leadership role in addressing this crisis? For starters, young people…