As we continue to live with and get a grasp on life post pandemic, mental health in the workplace is a critical element to a high performing, engaged team and as a leader, it should be your number one priority. The tools you need to support your team’s mental health are the same tools that make you an effective leader.
So how can you support your team’s mental health?
You must first be vulnerable
Trust leads to vulnerability. For your team to have trust in you, an environment of psychological safety must be established and fostered. Showing to your team or individuals that being vulnerable is a state of humanness that happens and it shouldn’t be frowned upon, especially not at work. Being vulnerable and allowing our emotions to be acknowledged is crucial for an individual to feel seen and heard.
By sharing the challenges you are facing, whether at work or in your personal life, demonstrates that we don’t all have it together and it’s okay to be open and vulnerable.
Read the blog: Do emotions belong at work?
Be the change you want to see
Leading by example is how to instil the behaviours your team needs to succeed. Start by showing up as a human, share your challenges and be vulnerable. Show no judgement and always assume positive intent.
Start how you mean to go on and always make sure that you’re humanising, normalising and personalising the situation.
Start building a culture of connection
A culture of connection is the core foundation of a successful, high performance team. Establishing regular check-ins, especially when your team is remote, allows individuals to have space to show up being vulnerable and open with how they’re feeling. Regular check-ins establish trust and confidence in you, their leader, that you will show up for them as well.
Your approach should be as unique as the individual
Every team member has individual problems, concerns and challenges that need to be treated differently. There is no cookie-cutter response when someone is being vulnerable. More often than not, the individual just needs to know that their feelings are being acknowledge.
Approaching the conversation with the following framework will ensure that your team member feels seen and heard.
Humanise the Language
Speak to your team that way you would speak to your friends and family. Remove the ambiguity and speak with simplicity and clarity. Speak with compassion and make sure you’re actively listening.
Normalise the Emotion
We are all human and we all have emotions and feelings. You, as the leader, need to make sure that your team member is feeling okay with whatever it is that they might be feeling. Achieve this through recognition of their emotions and reassurance that however or whatever they’re feeling is ok.
Personalise the Message
Whilst there may be overarching themes or messages that you need to consistently communicate to your team, taking the time to find the best way to personalise the message, making it really specific and unique to the individual, will go a long way in creating a successful, open dialogue.
Communication is key!
As a leader, you should be in constant communication with your team. They should feel like they have a direct line to you when they need it.
Always be sure to keep your team informed about changes or updates within the organisation, clarify new norms, modifications to their working routine etc. This removes unnecessary stress and manages expectations. Alert your team to mental health resources and encourage individuals to use them.
Always be aware of the shame and stigma that are still prevalent around mental health which prevents many people from seeking treatments or using their mental health benefits. Normalise seeking help and encourage your team to talk to you if needed.
What can organisations do?
There’s only so much individuals and leaders can do. Mental health initiatives should be a top-down approach, ensuring everyone has access to and is aware of the resources that are available to them.
Here are a few additional things that organisations can do to normalise and support mental health in the workplace:
- Schedule mental health talks/informative seminars etc
- Invest in training for leaders or individuals
- Modify policies and practices surrounding mental health issues
Mental health in the workplace is as important as ever and it needs to be a conversation we’re all having consistently. Show up for your team, your peers and your co-workers to remove the stigma and shame around mental health.