One positive that has come out of the Covid-19 crisis is the democratisation of mental ill health. No one is immune to the stress and strain that we’ve all been experiencing.
With this comes the recognition, by more and more people, that it’s as normal to talk about your mental health as it is to talk about your physical health.
If Covid-19 has turbo-charged the shift from stigma into solutions, how do we ensure organisations recognise that now is the time to elevate the mental and physical health of their people to be a strategic priority?
According to international keynote speaker, campaigner for mental health in the workplace and co-founder of Minds@Work, Geoff McDonald, the starting point is to understand that people’s energy is perhaps the most important driver of performance.
The questions he challenges executive teams within organisations to ask themselves are:
- If you accept that the energy of your people is the most important driver of their performance, why is it not a strategic priority in your business?
- We spend billions on keeping people physically safe at work, so why don’t we invest in keeping them emotionally and mentally safe at work?
- If you don’t want it to be a strategic priority, have you got it on your risk matrix? Are you comfortable with the level of investment you are putting in to mitigate that risk?
Here are the five steps that Geoff suggests employers can take to embed mental and physical health as a strategic priority:
Create a sense of purpose beyond growth and profitability
Invest in resources that will enhance people’s emotional health. This can include financial support, financial planning, relationship building as well as resources around mindfulness, meditation and yoga as examples
Identify working practices that are causing stress and make changes
Be clearer on what you expect from leaders and their behaviour which can create a lot of stress
Take it to a strategic level, execute it like you would any other strategic priority and invest the resources behind it
And if stigma still exists in your workplace, these are Geoff’s tips on how to tackle it:
- Raise levels of empathy, compassion and understanding through education and training, as we do for safety
- Invest in people’s health (emotional, mental and physical) as a strategic priority
- Share stories of mental ill health, especially from leaders. This is like sending a lifeboat out to sea. When those suffering in silence hear these stories, they cling on to the lifeboat
- Help make people realise they’re not alone – they’re just normal.
You can hear more from Geoff, including some his tips on what not to do, when it comes to workplace mental health and wellbeing, in his virtual keynote, which can be downloaded here.
About the author:
Claire Farrow is the Global Director of Content and Programming for the Mad World and Make a Difference Summits. She also drives the content for Make A Difference News. Claire is on a mission to help every employer – large, medium and small – get the insight, inspiration and contacts they need to make real impact on workplace culture, mental health and wellbeing in their organisation. She has been freelance for more than 15 years. During that time, she has had the honour of working with many leading publishers, including the New York Times