Before we can do amazing work with the people we most want to serve, we need our employees to feel appreciated and supported. Let’s talk about something on their plate that needs addressing.
There’s a new challenge to most businesses, and that’s the mental wellbeing of employees. We don’t talk about it much, yet with the advent of mobile devices, our home stress comes with us to work and our problems at the office find their way to our houses.
First off, very few people want to self-identify as dealing with mental health issues. But that doesn’t mean they’re not present. According to surveys like the World Health Organization’s 2017 workplace report, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness in a given year.
How can we help? And should we help?
Probably the most important ways managers and leaders and coworkers can make the workplace more navigable for people dealing with mental health challenges is to normalize talking about it.“Wow, I’ve been dealing with some stuff at home and it’s really got my anxiety levels up high.”
The key is to do more “I” talking than “you” talking. No one wants to hear, “You sure look stressed.” But if you say, “I’ve been slogging through depression lately. I’ve got to chunk up my day better,” that opens people to say, “Oh wow. Need me to listen?”
Chunk up assignments, projects, and everyday work with more checkpoints. One issue when mental health challenges happen is that everything feels a bit more daunting, more of a grind. Even if the deadline is the same, adding more checkpoints means that incremental progress is acknowledged and easier to reference. Sometimes, just knowing you’re getting work done helps reduce stress and anxiety.
Add a Reset Button
My best advice for helping is to install more “reset buttons.”At work, we get wound up sometimes. Deadlines, tough meetings, conflicting client needs can all contribute to a ratcheting feeling of intense emotions.
Culture improves immensely when you build the practice of reset buttons into place. The moment we see a little distress and energy in a person or a conversation, maybe say, “Maybe we can hit the reset button for a second.”
If everyone agrees, it’s a moment to stop talking, take a breath (or four) and reset the moment. How many times have you felt really ratcheted up in a moment but it’s just temporary? That’s what this helps.
Empathy Drives Amazing Business
If you work to help employees have a better environment for managing stress, anxiety and depression, that will result in better work performance and less absenteeism. Sure, this isn’t a quick “write better subject lines” fix or a piece of software to change the business, but is that what will earn you better employees and the best customers?
Help your employees feel heard, understood and nurtured, and you’ll have the best customer advocates in the world.
About Chris Brogan
Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies update organizational interfaces to better support modern humans. The age of factory-sized interactions is over. We all come one to a pack. And it’s time to accept that we are all a little bit dented. Chris advisesleadership teams to empower team members by sharing actionable insights on talent development. He also works with marketing and communications teams to more effectively reach people who want to be seen and understood before they buy what a company sells.
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