Business leaders launch workplace mental health alliance
A group of global organisations and business leaders have come together to form a first-of-its-kind coalition committed to advancing mental health awareness and best practices in the workplace.
Recognising the importance and priority of mental health awareness and action in light of the pandemic, whose social and economic effects are having a growing impact on employee mental health, leaders from some of the world’s biggest businesses have joined forces to drive change in business and society by tackling workplace mental health.
The Global Businesss Collaboration for Better Workplace Mental Health is made up of founding members including HSBC Group Chief Executive Noel Quinn, Deloitte Global CEO Punit Renjen, Unilever CEO
Alan Jope, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Clifford Chance Managing Partner Matthew Layton and and BHP CEO Mike Henry.
With a vision of a world where all workplace leaders recognise and commit to taking tangible and evidence-based action on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, this business-led initiative has been designed to both raise awareness and facilitate the adoption of best practices.
With the world rebuilding after the COVID-19 pandemic, the founding CEOs urge the business community to “prioritise and invest in the mental health of all employees” and they invite other leaders of businesses, both big and small, from all over the world to “join this global movement to advance the desperately-needed conversation around creating an open, welcoming,a nd supportive workplace environment for all”.
Businesses will need to commit to various actions
To become a member, business leaders must sign a pledge and commit to a number of actions within their business. These include:
- Develop and deliver an action plan to foster good mental health in the respective organisation;
- Promote an open culture around mental health that aims to eliminate stigma;
- Take proactive steps to develop the culture and ways of working towards creating positive mental health and reducing mental ill-health;
- Empower all employees to manage and prioritise their mental health and support one another;
- Inform employees of available mental health tools and support they need;
- Regularly measure the impact of the efforts, being open about our progress, to influence and inspire change in the organisation and beyond.
Mental health a big problem for workplace leaders
Considering that work, including working conditions, is one of the key social determinants of mental health, according to the WHO, businesses have a key role to play in ensuring the mental health safety of their employees, and especially right now.
While the mental health crisis was of concern even before the onset of COVID-19, the social and economic damage inflicted by the pandemic has exacerbated the mental health crisis.
According to The World’s Economic Forum's Head of Shaping the Future of Health Healthcare, Arnaud Bernaert, Head of Shaping the Future of Health and Healthcare, more than half of working adults report increases in anxiety and decreases in productivity at work in response to COVID-19 and as such, coordinated action and public-private partnerships are “key to galvising action among employers globally to promote wellbeing of their workforces now and in the future”.
Punit Renjen, Global CEO of Deloitte states: “The pandemic has cast a spotlight on the need to address mental health in the workplace. As business leaders, we have a responsibility to break down the stigma associated with mental health issues like stress and anxiety to ensure everyone can thrive at work."
5 Ways Leaders Can Create a Healthy Workplace Culture
This week (14th-20th June 2021) is Men’s Health Week. Physical and mental well-being have been important considerations for leaders over the past year, and it is essential this focus is maintained as we build back for the future. Here we have asked 5 experts for practical tips leaders can implement to create healthy workplace cultures.
Know the early signs of burnout
Recently it was reported by the BBC that burnout for health and social care staff had reached emergency levels.
Monkey Puzzle Training Co-Founder Karen Meager has studied the burnout recovery process in partnership with Coventry University: “The past year has seen people suffer from job-loss worries, work from home challenges, isolation, and feeling overworked. These are continuing, and all have the potential to contribute towards burnout. Healthcare workers, executives, leaders, managers and small business owners will continue to be the top people to suffer from extreme burnout.”
“At the onset of burnout, people commonly enter a phase of denial. So leaders need to be aware of those who are reluctant to take their time off, are compelled to work all hours, or have changes in their behaviour or mood, as these can all be indications of burnout taking hold. Encouraging them to take a burnout self-test provides a starting point to supporting these employees through recovery, as is role modelling healthy sustainable ways of working.” Karen suggests.
Encourage professional self-reflection
Creating an environment that encourages self-reflection is an effective tool for promoting personal development. Journaling may not be something you instantly think of for professional development; however, it is a successful technique for adults to aid mindfulness and productivity. “Journaling is a form of self-expression that can empower you to understand your feelings and ambitions and how to deal with them, therefore promoting positive well-being and a healthy workplace culture,” describes Elisa Nardi, founder of Notebook Mentor.
“Just 15-20 minutes of journaling a day over the course of four months are enough to lessen the impact of physical stressors on your health,” explains Elisa. “It can also inspire creativity, aid your memory, and help set actionable goals. It is an underused tool that can help employees manage tricky workplace situations such as conflict, illness or new leadership roles.”
Manage your stress and resilience too
As a leader or manager, often, your complete focus is on the business or protecting your team, but you cannot pour from an empty cup. Leaders should also have strategies in place to manage their own stress, so they can sustain high levels of positive energy throughout the day. “Fueled by a burning desire for success, I ignored all the warning signs of exhaustion, which eventually took its toll on me - I literally collapsed from stress, and I didn’t even see it coming.” reflects Sascha Heinemann, an expert in Performance Recovery and Stress Resilience.
“When leaders manage their energy, create healthy daily habits, and practice resilience, they are able to perform to their fullest capacity and to provide the best possible support for others.”
“Taking a break every 90 minutes or so helps you to refuel, recharge, and re-energize and ultimately allows you to get more accomplished, in less time, at a higher level of quality, and more sustainably. This role model contributes dramatically to a healthier, more engaged, sustainable, and productive workplace culture," he adds.
Instil a sense of purpose for your team
The idea that success equals working 12-15 hour days and giving everything of yourself to your workplace continues to prevail in many organisations. This is not healthy, nor is it productive for anyone involved. “The healthiest and happiest workplace cultures are the ones that are organised around purpose.” describes business and life coach Anand Kulkarni.
“Leaders should be giving meaning to the work they are doing within their business and beyond and sharing this purpose with their staff, rather than focusing on long hours, crippling workloads or someone else’s idea of ‘success’. When people understand why they are doing what they do and how this contributes to something greater, productivity and well-being is increased.” adds Anand.
Promote well-being from the top down
Leaders need to act as role models if well-being is to become embedded at the very core of the organisation. It’s very unlikely that employees will start acting in a new way that puts their own needs first if the leadership team continues to behave in an entirely different manner.
‘Many organisations have worked hard in recent months to put new policies in place that better support well-being, promote hybrid working and attempt to set clear boundaries, but many leaders seem to assume that they are exempt from it all, that’s when it all falls over’, explains leadership experts Martin Boroson and Carmel Moore, from The One Moment Company.
A recent ONS report into Homeworking in the UK revealed that people are on average working 6 hours extra per week, and many are working until late in the evening, indicating that the boundaries between work and life are more blurred than ever.
“Despite all of these wonderful opportunities for people to self-organise, if the leadership team continues to work in the office Monday to Friday, or are communicating at all hours, then it’s a clear indicator that hybrid working is simply a ‘bolt-on’ tactic rather than an integral part of the company’s approach to promoting the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance.’