It’s good to talk
If there’s any silver lining to be found over the past year, it’s that we’ve seen the importance of considering the complete experiences of our people. The pandemic introduced a more human element at all levels of business, and there’s a huge opportunity to continue to bring that into the way we work in the future.
Studies show that mental health has declined significantly as a result of COVID-19, even for those lucky enough to remain in employment and able to work remotely. 38% of respondents in research conducted by Mindshare reported that no one from their organisation had called to check in on them while working remotely, which only adds to levels of stress and disconnection.
One of the things I’ve been telling my clients is that you have to check in with your people. Literally just ask them how they’re doing, then follow up and ask how they’re really doing. Leave space for it, share your own challenges. It can be tough when you have days filled with Zoom meetings, but you need to leave time on your calendar to check in on people and have the space to continue that conversation if necessary. It can make all the difference for employees to feel that sort of authentic support.
Some organisations have appointed behavioural health ambassadors to champion this; to co-ordinate these conversations and dig into what it is that their employees need. A lot of companies are better equipping their leaders and managers to have what can sometimes be uncomfortable conversations. As soon as someone says they’re not doing well, that’s the time to have that conversation. You’re not trying to solve the problem through a 20-minute chat. That’s not realistic, but what you’re doing is genuinely listening and showing that you care.
It’s about creating a culture within your organisation where these conversations are more common. In the US, it’s becoming more acceptable to talk about topics like this but that’s not necessarily the same across the globe. It’s important to be cognizant of the geographical context of the organisation, especially when you’re thinking about multinationals.
But if you don’t take steps to create a more inclusive culture and make space for people to share what’s on their mind, there will be increasingly detrimental implications, particularly on the diversity of your workforce.
Read more from Andrea Alexander in our ‘Well-being rises to the top of the agenda’ article on pages 20-2 of the Spring 2021 issue of Chartered Banker magazine.