Addressing mental health at work
The team lead level: supporting teammates
We know that authentic leadership cultivates trust and improves employee engagement. And this is no different in the realm of mental health. So what can leaders be more mindful of?
Normalizing mental health and vulnerability
Few of us have been immune to the discomfort created by the pandemic. This universal experience has been one of the silver linings of connection—we’ve embraced the discussion around mental health stigma and living through struggles collectively. Leaders who’re transparent, human, and relatable are often the ones who end up being trusted confidants.
Checking in: Gear up for difficult conversations
Staying connected is so important, especially when we’re all isolated in different spaces physically.
At Jostle, we rely heavily on 1:1 meetings for our team leads to stay in touch with every teammate individually and look for cues from those who may be struggling. Navigating sudden change like a global pandemic meant that we had to increase our cadence to check-in even more regularly. However, not all leaders always know what to say or do when being entrusted with sensitive information. The most important thing is to hold space, be compassionate, and offer support. [link to C@W 1:1meeting summary]
Offer trust and flexibility
The “next normal” may be just around the corner but there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to supporting mental health. Everyone’s needs are different and will continue to evolve through time. That’s why as a leader, you can proactively offer flexibility to let your team thrive, adjust, and integrate their personal needs in their work schedules.
Accommodating flexibility doesn’t mean lowering standards. Instead of measuring input in hours, focus on supporting and elevating your team’s productivity.
“Start the conversation early – build in mental health, resilience, and EQ training into new hire onboarding. In my case, you need to give salespeople the helmet and pads to keep their mental game strong while working under stress. Anxiety in sales is NOT optional, it’s part of everyday life. Therefore it’s critical salespeople treat self-care like a daily multivitamin which is practiced daily to effectively manage stress in sales.”
The organizational level: mental health infrastructure
The costs of mental health are drastic for any company. Decreased productivity, absenteeism, and low morale can hit employees and their organizations hard. It’s every leader’s job to personally care about mental health and destigmatizing it in the workplace.
Mental health policies and resources
It might be time to take a closer look at formal rules around paid time-off, flex work, and your sick leave policy. Re-invest budgets to offer workshops on mental health, and focus on building connection. Offer Lunch n Learns to go through reviewed initiatives and reiterate the support that your organization offers, such as counseling coverage and therapy benefits.
Company-wide pulse surveys
Do you know how your employees really feel? Recently, we conducted a short Jostler check-in survey, asking for feedback on general well-being, work-life balance, team support, and vacation plans. The response we received was encouraging and helpful in making plans to support employees further while remote work continues for the foreseeable future.
Maintaining a psychologically safe workplace
A psychologically safe and healthy workplace is one that supports taking risks; protecting employees who are willing to be transparent about failures and show up as their authentic selves. Leaders can shape this type of culture by welcoming curiosity, encouraging creativity, and promoting healthy conflict.
“The way you speak and act as an organization impacts how people feel at work. Take a look at your culture of connection: do your rituals, communication channels, habits, and ways of working harm or support employee well-being?”
After talking to these insightful leaders, what’s obvious is that mental health should matter, whether or not we’re in a pandemic.
What’s less obvious is how you should go about gauging how your people are really doing (especially in a non-face-to-face manner). The key is to simply ask—in a way that makes sense for your organization, your team, and the individuals involved. Then, be prepared to act on what you hear.
October 4 marks the start of Mental Illness Awareness Week. It’s an opportunity to share about the ongoing work and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide. We’re all learning to take care of our mental health, so let’s support each other along the way!
What did you think of the article? Do you have any plans to celebrate Mental Illness Awareness Week at your organization? Let us know in the comments below!
Disclaimer: We’re not mental health professionals and this isn’t professional advice. If you feel that you may need medical support, please consult a qualified health care professional.