Cate Murden: mental health – is your company a safe place?

The ‘5 Second Rule’, created by Mel Robbins, has become infamous as a super simple hack to help anyone struggling with self-doubt, mental health issues or anxiety to push themselves to act. It has helped millions improve their mental wellbeing and motivation across the globe.

It’s a simple solution to an important problem. As we approach this year’s World Mental Health Day, employers must look to introduce initiatives to support their employees in a similarly simple, yet highly effective way.

The theme for World Mental Health Day 2022 this October is to ‘make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’. And no wonder – according to a recent study we conducted, 87% of the managers who work in the advertising industry said they or their team have had to deal with issues of stress and / or anxiety since the pandemic

Addressing this problem is a big ambition, but there is a simple solution.

So, what is the answer?

The answer lies in having a genuine and empathetic understanding of how the people in your business are feeling and using this insight to create and maintain a working culture and environment that makes employees feel safe. Only then can you be sure everyone feels heard, is comfortable in their vulnerability, connected with their teammates and confident to excel and innovate in all areas of work.

If you want to change the way people are feeling, create a space where they feel able to talk openly and encourage this behaviour to take place regularly. Safe spaces are not about creating a physical space, but rather a culture where employees can show up authentically and speak up in psychologically safe environments – promoting positive mental health for all.

Creating safe spaces

Creating a safe space within the advertising industry requires leaders that are equipped with the toolkits necessary to both feel comfortable with encouraging people to share, but also be able to deal with what comes up and then support them appropriately. It’s also important for employees to push themselves to utilise this space and bring things up that are affecting them.

To do this, it’s crucial that a culture of understanding and openness is encouraged throughout the organisation, through a simple and effective training programme that is specific to the role a person plays within the team.

We know that individuals are often promoted into management positions based on their ability to do their jobs well and not necessarily on their management ability.

Coupled with that, we are now asking more of our managers than ever before; especially in hybrid working environments where they are expected to understand and support their team’s needs – regardless of how frequently they are physically in the same space. Never has it been so essential to upskill managers to help create psychologically safe environments for their teams.

According to our study, 75% of managers report saying being in the office or remote makes no difference to their ability to manage. Yet 55% employees report either only ‘somewhat’ or ‘not at all’ trusting their managers and 44% employees said they need advice on how to switch off, and strategies to deal with loneliness in order to improve hybrid working.

At the same time, all employees need to acknowledge their role in looking after their own wellbeing and mental health – as it can’t just be a top-down approach in the workplace. Employers aren’t therapists, and employees don’t want them to be. They do however want to be supported, in a way that enables them to be the best possible versions of themselves.

First steps

We all have a responsibility to learn, develop and upskill in this area to positively impact how we collectively approach mental health in the workplace. So, for this World Mental Health Day, we are encouraging all people in the advertising industry to take steps to improving mental health globally by introducing this important, yet simple, culture.

Your organisation can become a safe, positive environment for all employees – ensuring better productivity, less staff churn, less sick days and a better bottom line.

Start by asking these questions:

*As a leader, are you comfortable asking people how they are feeling?

*As an employee, do you consistently feel safe to share your thoughts and feelings?

*As an employer, are you prepared to hear your people at their worst, so you can keep them at their best?

Don’t worry if you’re not happy with the answers. That’s not uncommon, and asking these questions is an important first step. The world has changed, and employees now need a new level of support. But safe spaces are a simple solution to help you meet that need.

Cate Murden is Founder & CEO, PUSH Mind & Body.

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