Tips and stories to add value to you and your organisation
Here’s a conundrum for us to consider…
Most people would agree that good mental health is a key part of employee welfare.
Most people would agree that a healthy workforce is a productive workforce.
So, here’s my puzzle. If these two statements are true, how come so many businesses don’t budget much, if any money, for coaching, counselling, or welfare programmes? And if they do, then cut them back in a crisis, when people are the most stressed?
When was the last time your organisation even had a meeting to focus on mental health and welfare?
I’m not talking about a line item in an HR review, I mean a proper meeting between senior operations leaders, to discuss the causes of stress and find ways to mitigate it.
Training a few mental health first aiders is a great start and yet will not solve any structural problems.
If an organisational process is busted it doesn’t matter how many sticking plasters we give people, the stress is still there.
Better to fix the process, or so you’d think.
And yet people often ignore the effect that complex procedures and petty administrative rules have on people.
They have a habit of grinding away at us, bit by bit. They sap our autonomy and can make us feel like children in school, ordered about with no power to speak up.
We can ask people how they feel, but let’s be honest. Would you tell HR or your boss just how fed up you were and risk being thought of as ‘not a team player’?
‘Hi Richard, I’m about to complete your appraisal. How are you finding things here?’
‘Well Boss, your processes are wasteful, I’m not allowed to buy a pencil without you agreeing to it, the leadership are clueless and bitchy and the workload is off the scale. I don’t sleep so well now and my blood pressure is higher than Mount Everest.’
‘Wow, that’s super feedback Richard. You’re definitely not going to be penalised for it. No way. No. No. No. However, we do need to make sure we only have team players here…’
Mental health is a serious issue. Just because we can’t see inside our heads doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Companies have to install machine guarding equipment, PPE and defined walkways and so on. What do they really do about improving mental health? What do they do to remove irritations and stress loading?
Often very little.
‘We don’t have any budget for that.’
‘We are too busy fighting fires for that.’
‘We sorted all that out last year.’
‘We’ve already been on a course.’
These are some of the pushbacks I get when talking to prospective clients about coaching, counselling and mental health support activities. An organisation would often rather pay for someone to be off sick than invest in preventative measures. They will budget for a new car for the MD before they budget for mental health work.
So this week, we can all take a look at our business budget. I know times are tough and yet if now isn’t the time to invest in the mental health of our workforce, when is?
Please really care for people. They need it. And your profit line benefits from it too.
Next week: Goodwill Counts
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