Workplace pressure contributes to mental health issues for the majority of business leaders, according to the IoD. We asked unLTD contributors what business leaders can do to address the problem – for their staff and for themselves.
Just to be clear – for me this isn’t about irradiating all pressure and stress in the workplace. Not only is that unrealistic, but we also can thrive on a bit of both! Yet constant high pressure is not an environment where we thrive so it’s really important to create a balance.
Of course, there’ll be times that workplace pressures will negatively impact our mental health. Work makes up a big part of our life and no matter what work looks like for us, we’ll no doubt feel that pressure at some point.
I can’t emphasise enough that we are all individuals and what works for one may not for another.
And so, we need to take responsibility for ourselves and our own development in this.
As a leader, creating an environment where people feel safe enough to talk about what they are experiencing without fear of judgement is key.
There are many ways to do this, from how you promote people taking ownership of their own health, to what constitutes wellbeing at work, to asking how the company can support and develop people and recognising that both work and homelife will play a part in this.
A clear plan needs to be in place so that when staff report that they need support in this area, they are heard, understood and feel supported.
One-to-one sessions are important, too. Start them by simply asking what’s going on in life! And ask if there’s anything the organisation can do to support. Their answer may not possible, maybe it will be, but until that discussion starts neither side will ever know.
I think it’s really important how you spend your time out of work, too. Work and home life are not separate entities that won’t impact on each other so don’t treat them like they are. What do you do that makes you smile? Are you spending time with supportive people? Do you feel a sense of satisfaction in life? What helps you to relax? All good questions to ask yourself to get a sense of what you need to change.
When life revolves around work and work is demanding a lot from you, you can feel like you’re sinking in it and can’t get out, so it’s important that time spent out of work is in a happy positive environment.
Above all else, I’d always encourage people to talk! To build connections with others in all areas of life. We live in a digital world, but nothing beats that face-to-face conversation – especially when someone is having a difficult time.