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How Can Company's Top Leaders Prioritise Mental Health Of Their Employees In 2023?

According to the World Economic Forum, depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy USD 1 trillion every year in lost productivity and take a terrible human toll

The last few years have taken a toll on people across the globe. The pandemic had all of us, in some capacity or the other, facing loss, grief, and general anxiety about the health implications of covid. In addition to this, employees all over the world also had to deal with drastic shifts across their workplace—From adjusting to working from home to coping with salary cuts, all while battling the personal challenges brought on by nationwide lockdowns everywhere. 

A lot has changed and improved since 2020 but the truth is that we are still reeling under the impact of the pandemic; operating in the midst of mass layoffs, especially across sectors that previously booming, an impending recession, the rapidly growing threat of climate change, and growing anxiety about the future. It is no surprise that employees are weighed down by stress which can negatively impact their overall well-being as well as their performance at work.

Mental stress is a silent but brutal killer. According to the World Economic Forum, depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy USD 1 trillion every year in lost productivity and take a terrible human toll. If we do not change how we approach mental health as individuals and organisations, the cost to the global economy of all mental health problems could amount to USD 16 trillion by 2030.

As we move into 2023, towards an uncertain future, leaders of organizations have to commit to supporting their employees’ mental health and well-being. How can leaders best do this? 

Prioritise mental health

It is one thing to talk about the importance of mental health and another to actually prioritize it in everyday work life. The latter implies acknowledging the role of mental health in the overall well-being and performance/productivity of employees. Creating a culture that focuses on boosting holistic health requires changes on all fronts including workplace communication, employee policies, employee engagement practices, etc. It should be made clear to every employee that their organisation truly looks at psychological well-being seriously and is ready to offer support whenever needed. Knowing that their workplace is a ‘safe space’ for them can make a world of a difference.

Encourage and practice vulnerability 

Stories are a powerful tool for building connections. Leaders can benefit from sharing their own narratives of facing and overcoming challenges, breaking the myth that leaders cannot be vulnerable. This has a huge impact on the employees across levels. Typically, interaction with the leadership is restricted to occasional emails that are often impersonal. Future leaders have the opportunity to change this and create a more linear and authentic workplace, where sharing one’s struggles is not looked down upon instead it is supported. This practice also welcomes everyone to ask for help without feeling self-conscious.

Break stereotypes

It is 2023 and it is our duty to ensure that mental health is no longer considered taboo. As people in positions of power, leaders need to guide the way by showing empathy and compassion to everyone, acknowledging the unique challenges that every individual faces. There must be no room for stereotypes, which means actively working to spread awareness about mental health, how it can impact different people in different ways, the relevance of therapy, etc.

Support and empower

Another critical way to offer support to employees is by providing the right tools to improve their mental health. Think training, readily available educational material, easily accessible diagnostic tools, a team of experts, and helplines, both internal and external, that employees can independently reach out to if required. It is also necessary to provide an environment that is flexible and designed to empower employees to give their best. Listening to employees and their needs will be instrumental in bringing such an environment to life.

Train managers and leaders

To engage with employees on a deeper and more meaningful level, managers and leaders must be equipped with the right training to address their team’s needs/challenges. Managers and leaders do not have to act as therapists but knowing how to handle an employee’s emotional challenge is necessary to better understand them. Training enables them to identify unspoken signs of mental health issues, stress, and other related problems.

That mental health will be a top priority for leaders in the future is well-established, the question then is how effectively leaders are able to do it. Skills and traits like empathy, authenticity, and vulnerability along with strong yet compassionate communication will play a key role in making mental health matter. 


Tags assigned to this article:
Mental Health employee wellness

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