Does your workplace offer a respectful culture for supporting employees’ personal problems and matters of contention?
By Kate Warbuton
The writer Annie Dillard famously said “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives”, and for many of us, a large portion of our day is spent at work; in fact, a staggering 90,000 hours over a lifetime. An authentic part of being human is being genuine. Being true to one’s own self and feelings. An honest portrayal of one’s identity, nature, personality, with some arguing that it is those qualities that go a long way in securing a job in the first place. But how much of our ‘true selves’ do we openly display in our work environments?
The HubSpot CRM platform found some eye-opening statistics, showing that 39% of employees reported that they didn’t feel appreciated at work, and 4/10 workers are actively disengaged during work hours, so it is not surprising that this topic is one that it is often only debated amongst close colleagues, amidst fear that it could influence their career progression. Sadly, this can also lead to a lack of motivation, people isolating themselves and struggling to concentrate, difficulty sleeping and losing interest in activities that were previously enjoyed.
This is why it is so important for managers and employees alike to remember that employers always have a duty of care to their employees, which extends to supporting their health, safety and wellbeing, among other things. However, unfortunately studies show that workers tend to be too scared to show any weakness or mistakes, through fear of losing respect, or, as previously mentioned, hindering their future career moves in the company.
Looking back on my career to date, I remember a time when I was working for a CEO overseas, a strong and highly ambitious boss who seemed unfortunately detached from his employees. One morning, another PA in the office had called in to inform us that a family member of hers had passed away, and that understandably she would need to take the day off. At that morning’s team meeting, the CEO went berserk. He had a fierce reputation, and was certainly not somebody who you would want to get on the wrong side of. He instructed me to call the young PA in question, and ask (tell) her to come back in, as this was a day when she would particularly be needed, which of course, put even more stress on her. I racked my brains for a solution, finally claiming that she had already left to be with family members. She later told me that she had found that experience unethical, vulgar and extremely bad-mannered, as no doubt, we all did.
What makes workers productive?
Managers, Directors and Executives need to remember that staff who are happy and healthy at work, are much more likely to be both productive and loyal to their company, and in today’s competitive business world, this is essential for companies that wish to stay ahead, but unfortunately, there seems to still be a great deal of work to be done to promote this satisfaction amongst employees, ensuring that these individuals feel supported and understood.
Mental health is a human right, and one that cannot be taken away. The core issue here is whether or not we can truly be our authentic selves in the workplace. Obviously completing our jobs in the appropriate way, but also allowing ourselves to occasionally be vulnerable amongst our peers when we need to be, without fearing any abuse, bullying or humiliation. This is essential for companies that wish to stay ahead, and unfortunately there does seem to still be further work to be done to improve and to promote mental health in the workplace, to ensure everybody’s mental wellbeing.
This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is doing a fantastic job in continuing their work focusing on respecting the rights of people with mental health conditions, offering equitable opportunities to attain the highest quality of lives whilst also addressing discrimination and stigma, encouraging dignity, recognition and respect.
You may also enjoy reading about how the mental health of employees working remotely can be supported best