Teaching Compassion In The Workplace

Mental health issues affect many employees. This reality might be typically ignored as these disorders can be invisible and hidden at work. The stigma attached could lead employees to become hesitant to look for treatment from the fear that they might jeopardise their jobs. At the same time, managers and other employees might wish to help but do not know how to do so. So what can be the remedy to this?
 
Work Happy is a debut talk series designed to help open up the discussion on curating happiness inside the workplace. This post will dive into strategies recommended by the professionals, their personal anecdotes and advice.




The topic of mental health
Many companies fail to approach the topic of mental health with priority which leads to employees feeling unsafe and vulnerable. This poor attention can leave workers feeling confused and overwhelmed by work. 'Humans of New York' by Brandon Stanton is a great book relevant to this dialogue. The book takes to street portraits and interviews between people across New York City to learn more about wellbeing and what things matter to individuals.
 
The problem with "healthy work-life balance"
When the term ‘balance’ is used to express a healthy work-life, it can bring to mind a visual of scales. A person trying to keep the two parts horizontal in position with one another. It should be made okay for people to spend more time in a particular area like family as this night be necessary to restore daily motivations. Another way of visualising this balance could be with four quadrants categorising health, work, family and friends. Focusing on each area is just as important for someone's welfare.
 
Practical solutions to adopt
Common but powerful suggestions include hiring a mental health councillor inside the company and working to break the mental health dialogue barrier. Employees and employers should be encouraged to show awareness and investigate if something appears at odds with co-workers. Listening to employees with depth can be fruitful to help give relevant advice but the company should be transparent with what services they can offer.
 
Strategies encouraging happier employees
Although it might not be the primary duty for a company to keep an employee happy, there are methods on how happiness can be encouraged in the workplace. For example a social break time. e.g. regular 15-minute coffee roulette talks can be a powerful break from work. Questionnaires curated by HR should be encouraged to hear true insights on the current state of things.

 
External support available outside a company
Signposting to where help is available in alternative to raising the issue or concern between a manager. Signpost examples such as contact details for mental health charities or other external local services e.g. a drop-in service offered by a mental health charity can support employees in situations of emotional distress or crisis. There should also be come consideration made to hire external mental health councillors if individuals lack sufficient resources. 
 
Supporting co-workers at times
Just like the expression, "You can take a horse to water but you won't make it drink", you should leave an individual alone and give them the space needed. You should not force a person to open up if they are not ready to do so. The best form of support might involve taking a step back and trying to help within your limits. Some situations are best left alone. 
 
Achieving a healthy work lifestyle
To set your own personal boundaries. For example not answering emails in late hours. A suggestion mentioned is to simply embed the line – “Please respond when you are available as ‘the query’ is not urgent” to an email being sent to a co-worker. Often it is things like this which can help towards setting better boundaries in the workplace. 
 
The following were suggestions on how to help build a happier workplace. Although not extensive, they are ideas to think about.
Reference list

Speakers from the talk
Jodie Cariss - Founder of 'Self Space'
Toni Jones - Founder of 'Shelf Help'
Samantha Clarke - Happiness Consultant
 
Useful resources
Website - Time to change

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9 comments:

Anita said...

Congratulations on raising a very important issue. Truth be told everyone struggles sometimes but most people are afraid to admit it, especially in high-pressure work environments. I particularly like your thoughts on work-life balance. To me, it is an ideal that just brings added pressure. I also feel that recognizing and celebrating that we are all fragile and sensitive beings is the first and most important step. No one has to be on top of everything all the time!

Azubike Eze said...

Respecting each Other's boundaries, is a good way of affirming ourselves as unique beings entitled to have and express unique feelings. This lifts our sense of self.

Ben said...

I think this is something that all of us can stand to read. All of us can get so wrapped up in our own stuff, especially at work, that we forget that others are going through their own stuff, too.

Marie at Complete Literature said...

If mental health were paid more attention to in the workplace, so much more (and better) work could be done!

Cha said...

this article is very timely, especially right now when the pandemic is causing too much stress on people. having an environment that helps alleviate these stresses is really helpful in keeping us to move forward. thanks for this!

Alexis said...

Mental health is the workplace is very important, it is the reason I left a few jobs. Companies need to understand that happy employees are more loyal and productive.

Gervin Khan said...

What a great article to read, building a full of love and a full respect in a workplace will alleviate the stress of every employee and this will also help people to be more productive with their work.

Nkem said...

In the past, I think it was more customary at work to separate the personal from the professional, but that often left people with a sense that they had to be a robot when they came into work. There is a fine line between being your full self and having your human experience while still being professional, but I think we should be walking that line, because we spend so much time at work anyway!

emman damian said...

We should really acknowledge the need to maintain and check the current state of our mental health. We should also check the workplace and ensure that we are aligned with it.