Given what we’ve all been through during the pandemic and are still going through both workwise and in our personal lives, you’d think that the mental health of staff would be a top priority for organisations.
Now, no doubt it may well be and the vast majority of companies are working hard to make sure that their staff have the support they need. We’ve seen a proliferation of online tools and resources that are available to employees, from online fitness classes to stress counselling. Clearly, mental health and worker wellbeing has become a key business imperative.
Yet, a recent Morgan Philips and Fyte online poll on LinkedIn, found that out of the 550 responses received only one in three respondents said that their manager will either ‘often ask’ (14%) or ‘only occasionally’ (19%) enquire their wellbeing – the other two thirds said that their manager never checks in to see how they are doing! This is a shocking statistic as you’d think that managers would be talking to their teams very regularly and asking about their mental state and general demeanour.
This does not appear to be the case. Now while managers have a lot on their plates already and let’s not forget that they may well need just as much support given the pressures they’re under, we would expect those numbers to be higher, especially now that many of us working remotely when it’s even harder to see the signs of deteriorating mental health. Our findings are backed up by a Harvard Business Review and Qualtrics survey in which 40% said that no one had asked them how they were doing.
Flexible work options
So, what can managers do help their teams look after their mental health? Firstly, it’s important to check in regularly and be open about your own struggles as a manager and what you are doing and which you can encourage your colleagues to do. Personalising the experience can be powerful, “Have you been outside connecting with nature today? I find that whenever I sit in my local park, I come back feeling energised.” This type of chat will encourage others to share what works for them.
The other important thing to remember is that everyone is different. Where one of your team members might need more flexibility because of their childcare responsibilities, another might be overloaded with work so you can help to alleviate the stress by setting realistic deadline expectations. Your team needs to know that you will listen and accommodate wherever possible. This requires patience and understanding from everyone as we all have to adapt.
Communication of organisational changes or updates should be another key area of focus – there is nothing that contributes to stress more than not knowing what’s going on. Recognition cannot be understated so whether during team calls or company calls, thanking your team can work wonders for mental health. Even a LinkedIn post, tagging team members, will set you apart as someone people would want to work for.
Providing resources and guides as well as training for managers to better understand mental health issues so that they can spot those early warning signs are just two of the ways that will help make a difference. But managers need also to take the initiative and normalise conversations around mental health. And of course make sure that they’re ok too and have people to support them.