Linked: Making workplaces better for people struggling with mental health will make work better for everyone
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Linked: Making workplaces better for people struggling with mental health will make work better for everyone

The reality is if you allow people to be flexible and get their work done in the way that makes the most sense for them, individually, they will all benefit from that decision. There won’t be a fairness issue because of some accommodation because everyone is getting the accommodation they need to do their best work.

What’s wrong with that? Isn’t that what management says they want?

Linked: Will mental health resources evaporate post-pandemic?
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Linked: Will mental health resources evaporate post-pandemic?

It just goes to show what I’ve always said, your company is not your family, it’s not even a friend, and it will always do what is good for itself first, second, and always. If something also happens to be good for you, great, but that’s never been the goal, so you have to make decisions based on what is good for you, not the company.

If you think that’s an overly negative thing to say about CEOs and upper management, go read those percentages again, and consider how many of those same people expect your loyalty, and your dedication during difficult times, without offering the same in return. Also, consider how many HR people have proclaimed themselves as being there for employees, and yet also think employees expect too much. It’s not overly negative when it’s true.

Linked: Work burnout rises despite company investments in mental health
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Linked: Work burnout rises despite company investments in mental health

As I’ve said before, many employers did the easy stuff. They invested in some mental health tools, promoted using employee assistance programs, talked more about mental health, heck they even gave people more time off or at least pushed people to actually use the time off they hadn’t been. And yet, here we are. Why?

Because they haven’t yet done the hard work of making the workplace not the place that hurts mental health to start with. There’s no easy fix for that. It won’t happen in a few weeks, but if you don’t start looking at it, you’re going to find yourself without many employees to keep going. Because in 2021, people have options, and those options are only going to keep growing as younger generations make very different decisions about their careers than those of us in older generations are used to.

The workplace will change one way or another. If your’s doesn’t want to, it will be killed.

Linked: 1 in 3 Employees Might Quit “for the Sake of My Mental Health,” Survey Shows
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Linked: 1 in 3 Employees Might Quit “for the Sake of My Mental Health,” Survey Shows

This is a real problem, our C-Level folks think they are addressing the issues of burnout, mental health, etc. because they’ve adopted an employee assistance program and instructed their people managers to be concerned about mental health issues, but they’ve not actually given them any training in how to do that. That’s a real problem and puts those managers in a real bind. How do they support the people who report to them, when no one has taught them appropriate ways to do that?

Linked: Should employers provide mental health training for management?
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Linked: Should employers provide mental health training for management?

The one that gives me pause is the last bullet, but not because leaders shouldn’t have that knowledge, but more because human nature tells me that is the one most likely to be misused and create really uncomfortable situations. There’s a very fine line between being aware of signs of someone struggling and diagnosis. I absolutely do not want anyone in the workplace diagnosing people. Watch out for signs of stress and ways you can support the folks who work for you proactively? Sure. Decide for yourself that they have depression, or should be referred to an Employee Assistance Program? Not so much.

But, here’s the thing I will fully admit when saying this. Avoiding this type of behavior is absolutely something that solid mental health training should be a part of. I’ve heard far too many instances lately where organizations are reading a lot about mental health, and burnout, in the workplace and then dispatch their managers to have conversations with their teams about it, and zero training.

Those conversations are dangerous. You have to enable your leaders to go into those conversations with some education and expertise on the subject Just telling them to go and have the conversations without getting them up to speed on how to do so, creates a situation that is likely to end up with some very alienated employees.