The culture around mental health is changing fast. Work to address stigma and a greater openness mean managers’ roles are changing and employees’ expectations are shifting. A supportive workplace is no longer seen as a ‘bonus’, but is becoming the new normal. And quite right too. This change needs to be driven from all sides, with senior leaders role-modelling positive workplace principles to build and maintain a culture where everyone really belongs.
Here are my principles for a healthy workplace. Of course there are more – add to my list using the #PositivePlaceToWork hashtag 🙂
Dr. Lynne Green is the Clinical Director for Kooth and healthcare professional with more than 20 years working in the Mental Health Sector. She is passionate about improving access to mental health support for all ages, and is involved in a number of projects to destigmatise mental health and provide a clear pathway to help and advice when people need it the most.
Create a workplace where there is both give and take.
The phrase “bring your whole self to work” has found its way into the lexicon of UK workplaces. But this call-to-action isn’t a one-way street. Your “whole self” isn’t just the person with ideas and drive. It’s also you when you are struggling, stressed or suffering. Employers need to meet their staff half way.
→ Consider how best to ensure that staff feel able to express any concerns or stresses they may be having. During reviews, how about checking in with how the person is feeling both inside and outside of work? Would they feel able to tell you if they are feeling stressed? If not, how would you know?
→ What signs would you notice? Would changing a meeting every so often to a more “neutral” environment, for example, going for a walk or to pick up a coffee help the person feel more able to open up?
Hardly any of us freely admit ignorance, confusion or weakness. But what if your workplace allowed for that kind of openness? According to Google’s extensive research, the best performing teams operate in an environment where frailty is respected, confusion is shared and there are no stupid questions. Think about your workplace: is it (psychologically) safe?
→ Consider what could be done to improve this? For example, could there be a place where questions are submitted anonymously? Can this message of vulnerability be accepted, encouraged and communicated through training or a team-building day?