As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to negatively impact our overall daily mental health, people everywhere are starting conversations around the potential problems that we can expect at work and life at home. While it is great to see that mental health is at the forefront of the minds of most Albertans, why is it that my “spidey senses” are telling me that addressing workplace mental health continues to NOT BE a priority for leaders in today’s world of work? Why is it that addressing workplace mental health continues to be viewed as a distraction – as something that gets in the way of, “Work to be done” or, “We have a lot going on” or, as something “We just don’t have the budget for.”
This “Work First/Business First” world of work attitude by leaders of organizations large and small, for profit and not for profit is, simply put, dangerous! When I reflect upon how many amazing leaders that I have met over the past 13+ years now, I continue to be surprised at the fact that these same leaders often do not make the time nor do they provide the money and people resources to invest in positive workplace mental health strategies.
What will you typically hear me saying to leaders in response to this? “Get it out of your head that there’s no value in addressing workplace mental health because it gets in the way of work to be done, the fact that you have a lot going on, or that you just don’t have the budget for this. ‘Work to be done requires positive mental health – positive workplace mental health. When we’re not well, it affects everything we do at work, at home, at play. We spend so much of our daily hours at work. This simple fact alone sends the message that we have to give attention to workplace mental health.”
And, I’ll continue to respond to leaders with these poignant thoughts. “At the end of the day, if you’re raising positive workplace mental health levels, how could this not spill over into productivity? How could this not spill over into shifting the relationships between everyone at work? How could this not result in more happy at work? Isn’t it really all about everyone’s daily mental health in today’s always busy, always stressful, Alberta world of work? Sure it is! Isn’t it really all about taking a leadership position of responsibility to build happier and healthier workplaces, especially during this unprecedented time around the world?”
My best advice? Leaders! Take the lead. Be bold. And lead from a position of courage to do things differently. Appreciate all of the positive changes that will take place at your workplace when you begin to replace your “Work First/Business First” world of work attitude with an authenticity and kindness that declares to everyone, “You Matter! Positive Workplace Mental Health Matters, even when up against “Work to be done” or “We have a lot going on” and “We just don’t have the budget for this.”
Simple? Yes. Easy? Well, I’ll leave that one up to you to reflect upon and ponder for a while.