In the spirit of National Stress Awareness Month, let us look at the importance of leaders having the willingness and ability to have open and honest communication in the workplace about stress and its bearing on people’s mental health.
To many people, mental health screams stigma because of the way it has been talked about, and not talked about, for years. Mental health is not just a personal problem for people to address on their own. It’s both a human and business problem. Everyone suffers when mental health is treated as a topic to be avoided.
Today, we have a huge opportunity before us to disrupt the cycle and actively make changes to support holistic well-being to better empower people and position organizations for success.
Employees who feel like they can openly communicate their stressors at work are more apt to stay well, perform better, and less likely to struggle.
The difference starts at the top, with leaders taking the first step in being transparent and honest about their own struggles, how they manage their stress, and ways in which they adapt their behavior as a result. Humanizing yourself shows employees they are not alone and that goes a long way toward creating a nurturing and conducive work environment where it’s easier for staff to ask for help and perform at their highest potential.
Being vulnerable by sharing your own struggles does not make you a weak leader, but a much stronger, courageous, authentic one. Historically, that is not what we’ve been taught. In fact, we’ve been taught the direct opposite.
This is new for many leaders. Organizations need to invest in teaching senior leaders and managers how to talk about mental health and encourage them to do so regularly. Without the emotional skills to do so, progress is seriously limited.
Knowing how to lead with empathy and listen when employees are hurting is essential to making an important impact on how mental health is seen and addressed in the workplace.
Emotional skills and raised awareness among leaders prepares them to be an important part of the solution and better help their team members. Not all team members will feel comfortable sharing their struggles, but you can be guaranteed everyone is struggling with something.
Now more than ever, mental health at work matters. Embrace conversations about mental health in your organizations because it’s the most important thing that makes or breaks people and companies today.