The modern work environment has undergone numerous changes in recent years. Where the adoption of technology crawled along in industries that were loath to change, it received a much-needed kick under the bum when Covid came around. While staff enjoyed the freedom of working from home, technology was suddenly called upon to solve service delivery, production and customer engagement issues.
However, the post-pandemic remote working solution was not without flaws. One of the most alarming concerns to show face was the effect that the new working arrangement had on the mental health of team members. It has, therefore, become vital to know: What is mental health, Why we should be aware of it, and How we can help to make a difference.
What is mental health?
We’ve all faced those challenging days where we are down and out, sluggish and disinterested. It can be because of pandemic-induced fear, boredom, uncertainty, lack of interaction or because we simply dislike the reflection staring back at us in the mirror. Regardless, these days can get the better of us if we are not rooted in an engaging team environment or tapped into a wellness support system. Despite trying everything, we can’t shake this feeling of being unmotivated. This means it’s a good time to check our personal mental health!
For those unfamiliar with mental health, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines it as an individual’s state of mental well-being and how it contributes directly to how they realize their own abilities, cope with normal stresses of life, work productively, and make a contribution to their community. This alone indicates that mental health is an important matter – and must be addressed and discussed more openly.
Why we should be aware of it
The recent spike in mental health issues are directly linked to the lockdown periods. Being in isolation or quarantine for prolonged periods – whether with family members, strangers or completely alone – had adverse effects on the mental health of many people across the globe.
Another workforce problem that we saw during the pandemic was a work-life imbalance. Since the onset of lockdown, team members had to take their work into their homes. Through no unfair conduct, a very real personal boundary was being crossed. Team members began grappling with the consequences of mixing the two responsibilities. The resulting problems affected the demands of their work and the personal needs at home.
We are two years in and the pandemic still continues to take its toll. In a 2021 webinar, the UN and the World Health Organization declared that “Mental Wellness” would be the next pandemic. While not everyone will contract COVID, everybody can experience stress and anxiety. Since Covid is here to stay, it is absolutely important for companies to take measures to ensure that the mental health of their entire workforce are being regulated and administered to. Failure to do so, can lead to a far greater collapse in productivity or employee satisfaction.
How we can make a difference
Combating mental health is not just a task for the individual facing the challenges of stress, anxiety or depression. It is also, in part, the responsibility of the company to ensure that everyone within the organization is functioning smoothly. This includes the implementation of mental health and wellbeing initiatives to keep staff motivated, positive and energized.
Listening goes a long way when it comes to mental health. Having channels of communication available to all team members at all times, is the single-most effective way of addressing mental health concerns. With engaging team members, open HR representatives, anonymous engagement platforms and an approachable leadership structure, a company can create an environment of trust, even with a sizable workforce.
The Boldr Way
At Boldr, we understand that mental health has a huge impact on the lives, relationships and productivity of Boldranians. We believe that in order for them to be happy, healthy and successful, we have to take part in creating a safe space for team members to have healthy and positive mental health.
Work meetings usually start with check-in questions, like “what’s one word to describe your week?”, or a simple ”how have you been?”. Leadership imposed no-meeting Fridays to make sure team members get rest to recover from zoom fatigue. We incorporated mental health webinars and learning sessions throughout the year to further equip and empower team members on specific mental wellness topics. We have a space where Boldranians can explore and learn about mindfulness and meditation at their own pace. The idea of this club is for Boldranians to learn and share their own meditation journey.
Our in-house mental health specialists are also within reach and ready to talk to our team members whenever they need help or guidance in processing their life stories and emotions (Thanks Theo and Jael!).
Partnership with MindNation
We partnered with MindNation, a leading mental health and well-being organization that provides like-minded companies with mental healthcare support. This approach ensures team members that their concerns are being heard, which, in turn, enables them to perform at their fullest capacity.
Through MindNation we have weekly boosts on wellness and mental health; updated toolkits, posters, guided messaging, blogs and resources; sessions with licensed psychologists; 24/7 unlimited social conversations with wellness coaches and mental health staffers; webinars on mental health and wellness; and participation in pulse surveys to gauge team member mental health needs and progress.
Getting Unstuck Together
Our main goal is to provide team members a safe space to be their authentic selves. We ensure that team members are not only empowered, but also empower one another by being more open in a culture that is safe and welcoming. The goal of creating a culture of mental health support at Boldr is not to remove the “mountain-sized” problem or anxiety of the individual team member, but to make sure the team member is not alone when he or she journeys that mountain-sized problem.
Daniel Cosico is the Senior Company Impact Lead at Boldr. He is an advocate of community transformation, has passion for organizational development, and is an internationally-accredited Certified Learning and Development Professional.