One redeeming aspect of the last year is the conversations that have been created. Conversations around social justice, climate issues, working rights, and – last but not least – our mental wellbeing.
Sadly, these discussions have come out of necessity: with the pandemic prompting a ‘mental health crisis’, we’ve had to start taking wellbeing seriously. And as the line between work and life is now blurred, it means people leaders should consider a mental health strategy.
It’s time “you alright?” became a genuine question and not just a casual greeting. The first step to addressing wellbeing in the workplace is asking your people how they feel. You’ll have a very different approach if people are generally ok than if most of your team are struggling.
Employee surveys are a good route because – though they may seem impersonal – they offer a safe environment for people to share their feelings. If you use a wellbeing-specific question set and technology that understands context and sentiment in written language, you’ll be off to a good start.
Your managers are key to your wellbeing strategy – but first make sure they’re equipped with the right tools, from relevant training to knowing how to look after themselves. They’re more likely to have diagnosed mental health issues of their own, so don’t lean too hard without warning.
What you can do is offer training, or helpful techniques – like a process of regular check-ins, encouragement to model healthy coping techniques, or allowing appropriate flexibility. We cover this in our wellbeing survey too, so you can see where there might be gaps.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach here, which is why your strategy begins with listening to what people need. It could look like team workshops, or free counseling sessions, or just clarifying rules about flexible working.
The most important thing is to take some kind of action and be vocal about it. The very act of talking about mental health at work tells your people “you don’t have to leave it at the door”. And that’s a powerful gift to your employees.