If you want to change the culture of your workplace to embrace mental wellbeing as a core consideration, you have to start with a leadership team that genuinely understands the challenge, buys into its aims and leads by example. That’s a big and daunting goal, though; so what practical steps can you take in getting your people managers ready to support mental wellbeing at work?
- Start at the top, by encouraging senior management not just to talk the talk but to walk the wellbeing walk themselves. Positive behaviour, from sensible working hours to making time for yoga, mindfulness or resilience sessions, sets the tone for the wider workforce; and managers feel the personal benefit of a healthier lifestyle too – a healthy business drives healthy results.
- Training is key, of course: as a minimum, managers should be able to spot the early warning signs both in colleagues and in themselves, and know how and when to refer others for help.
- Those basic skills can be learned and embedded from the outset by incorporating them into managerial induction courses and then making them an integral part of the core competency requirements and performance targets.
- We’ve identified four key aspects of mental wellbeing that can help people care for themselves and their colleagues, and essentially start the conversation. These are: resilience in the face of stress; empathy and the ability to listen; self-care and the importance of a healthy lifestyle; and engagement and support in the workplace. The evidence indicates that managers who cultivate these strengths – and they absolutely can be learned – tend to be more successful in broad terms.
- Finally, even skilled managers need the underpinning of robust DEI and ESG policies, so it’s important these are in place, and that they resonate with managers. That framework gives them the space to appreciate how mental and physical health really intersects with diversity, equity and inclusion. Crucially, when people feel understood, they tend to be happier and more productive at work.