Until recently, mental and emotional health was just not something high performers talked about – and certainly not in the boardroom.

Let’s face it, in the business environment, achievement and profit are the drivers of effort and conversation, and rightly so. But the demands of delivering consistently high performance exact a high price, and it’s time to put mental health on the agenda.

One good thing about the COVID pandemic? People are now talking more about mental health and recognizing the need for strategies to help us deal with the demands of the world – and the impact on our Work, Self and Life.

A year ago, attendees of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland were warned by mental health experts of a five-fold increase in referrals to psychiatric clinics. Bipolar, they said, is now known as “CEO disease” because addiction, depression and anxiety are linked to the tenacity, resilience and risk-taking qualities that make an exceptional senior executive.

They called it a mental health epidemic.

And then along came COVID.

A Mental and Emotional Health Strategy

In this recent Forbes article about research done after the first lockdown, 64% of people reported common signs of depression and 57% suffered from anxiety. It’s clear that we need a mental health strategies – not just for yourself, but for your business, as well.

Research numbers predict a crisis in absenteeism, productivity and retention and the ability to attract and recruit the right people. Sincere and strong mental health policies can minimize business disruptions, help you keep valued employees and make you more attractive to people who are a fit with your culture.

Problem or Opportunity?

This isn’t necessarily a problem. It’s a massive opportunity to recognize that how people work is undergoing a huge transformation – and to create a culture with core values and policies that demonstrate the importance of a well and resilient workforce.

Companies around the world are reaping the benefits as they look at a range of options to support individual needs and preferences. Like the proposed flexible 3-2-2 work week structure by academics at the University of Zurich. This work week consists of 3 days at the office, 2 days working from home, and 2 days for family and friends.

And it’s paying off, for people and business.

  • Not commuting, in the US alone, has saved people about 89 million hours every week since the pandemic began.
  • Unilever in New Zealand is testing a four-day work week, with no pay reduction.
  • Microsoft‘s four-day work week in Japan saw productivity and employee satisfaction and wellbeing increase more than 40%.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Educate yourself and your teams to help de-stigmatize mental health issues
  • Learn how to recognize and deal appropriately with someone who needs support
  • Model healthy behaviours from the top down
  • Actively engage in conversations with your employees
  • Offer mental health sick leave and free counselling
  • Review workloads as part of quarterly talent reviews and 360 feedback sessions
  • Work on preventative as well as remediation programs
  • Where possible, offer flexible hours and work-from-home options (post-pandemic) to allow people to deal with family or personal obligations.
  • Focus on outcomes and results versus how long someone spends at their desk.

Whatever works for your company, better mental health means a healthier bottom line. Time to put it on the agenda.

The Challenge

Please let us know if you need help with:

  • A keynote presentation on the principles of Your Oxygen Mask First about how to take care of yourself and your team, in challenging times
  • A working session for your team. These are full of practical tools and information on how to stay resilient and learn more about mental wellness.
  • A Mental Wellness strategy.