Why 2022 will be the year of workplace mental health support

Without rehashing the significant event of 2020 and 2021, one thing is for sure – most of us are left mentally drained & exhausted – even the holiday season did not provide many of us with any respite – particularly if you had chosen to go and have a PCR test for whatever reason.

While Covid may have taken centre stage as the dominant topic throughout 2020 & 2021, there is another pandemic, the silent pandemic, that started to rear its head – mental health and wellbeing.

The one positive, as I see it, coming out of Covid was the acknowledgement of mental health issues.

These issues either developed because of the lockdowns and uncertainties surrounding Covid or even more importantly, mental wellbeing issues that may have already existed in the population.

The pandemic was merely the catalyst that brought them to the surface.

Prior to the pandemic, discussion about mental health and wellbeing, in public or in private, may have been seen upon as someone ‘losing their marbles’.

However now, thankfully, it’s being viewed, acknowledged, and treated as a real concern that can affect anyone of us.

Why am I mentally drained?

This article is not intended to be a self-help guide to address any mental health and wellbeing issues – if you are indeed suffering from any mental health issues, please see a general practioner, therapist, psychologist or counsellor who will at least provide you with a starting point for addressing your needs.

Working from home

If you were employed in a services-based industry, most likely you were instructed to work from home. While initially this was a blessing (wow, work-life balance at last!), over time, it may have turned out to be burdensome.

Why?

  • The lines between end of workday and family time started to blur
  • The need to show your boss you are indeed putting in the effort – maybe even extra effort
  • Seemingly endless online meetings, just to make sure your still connected with your team
  • Guilt – even though you had opportunities to hand out the washing or prepare dinner at 11am, you may have felt guilt about not being at your desk/computer.

Additionally, as businesses slowly transition to a hybrid working model, e.g. 3 days at home and 2 in the workplace – your employees may find this hard given how ‘use to’ they have become to working from home.

And not to trivialise, those who have pets are finding it even harder to leave their fur babies alone after all those months of constant presence.

Suffice to say, there is a lot going on!

 Out of a Job

And for those who simply could not work during lockdowns (hospitality, entertainment), they might be jaded with their industry and considering alternate vocations – those that may not be so at the mercy of what we’ve just gone through.

Regardless of business/industry, 2022 will demand of you a different approach in the workplace to endure the mental health and wellbeing of your current and future employees.

In a 2020 report, McKinsey [https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-insights/mental-health-in-the-workplace-the-coming-revolution] referred to mental health in the workplace as ‘the coming revolution’.

And perhaps the most revolutionary aspect is that employees are starting to expect more support for their mental health from their employers.

How can businesses support mental health in the workplace?

Mental health and wellbeing is a broad area and there are numerous reasons and factors that may affect one’s positive mental wellbeing, and these factors may be external (pandemics) or internal (unresolved issues).

However, what is clear is that businesses will need to adopt a more person-centred approach in the future.

Remember, a company is a social entity – it’s made up of people.

And, ultimately, the relationships between those people determine the company’s success.

Again, it’s the ‘soft skills’ in the business leadership that tends to set a positive tone within any business.

The good news is that nothing has changed – the top 5 skills that any business leader needs to have (to drive a positive culture), are;

  1. Integrity
  2. Listening skills
  3. The ability to positively motivate others in the business (including the managers)
  4. Empathy
  5. Trustworthiness

If you are the owner/MD of a business or even a senior manager, one of the strongest soft skills you can learn to develop is that of empathy.

Empathy does not equate to being a weak manager, rather, a manager who is in touch with yours and their own feelings.

We are human beings, not little bits of numbers on a spreadsheet or a Xero data file.

Without us humans, nothing really gets done.

At Safety Services Australia, we are always evolving and helping you to maintain the positive state of your people is our top priority.

If you are having challenges with a positive culture and morale within your business, please reach out to us for a no obligation chat (02) 9634 5912.