The untold impact of a mental resilient workplace

Written by Gerrit Brouwer

Gerrit is a SaaS HR Tech and employee wellbeing entrepreneur with a true passion for People and Technology. He has a diverse background working in the military, the enterprise world and the last 10 years as a startup CEO and SaaS sales specialist for people technology companies. Co-founded Keypath in 2019 as employee well-being platform. He is coaching startup and scale up founders to better deal with stress from investors and family related matters whilst still scaling their business.

Since our inception, we have learned that only 10% of employers worldwide provide their employees with a structured well-being program. The alarming outcome doesn’t stop there not even close. As I am familiar with the HR scene in Western Europe, I did some probing around for myself. I canvassed around for some answers and paid attention to their challenges. Most complained about employee disengagement (nothing new), many threw around the word ‘culture’ and ‘employee experience’, some mentioned issues around diversity & inclusion, but none touched on mental health or resiliency in the workplace.

Shockingly, a C-level HR executive even explained it very arrogantly as his bank outsourced everything to external parties and boasted that everybody in banking, in general, is happy and optimally healthy. This particular person believed that just because their careers are not exposed to physical labor or handling chemicals, employees are just dandy.

Knowing a lot of people from the inside, who complain about their ego-driven culture every day, it is an average example of how many employers still operate, that’s why these numbers are still at an all-time high:

On average 2 out of 5 employees are walking around with burnout symptoms and even close to 4 out of 5 employees have health-related issues.

This bank, just an example calculation, is spending 12% of their annual payroll on health-related costs. But, that’s just money, the personal side for an employee is traumatic. As I have experienced a burn-out myself and still being in the final phases of recovery, I know how difficult it is to get back on your feet.

It is very much the reason why I am writing about the untold impact of a mental resilient workplace and why companies should invest in employee well-being initiatives:

Vulnerability is the new black

As Dr. Brene Brown points out during her Ted talks, vulnerability is that unstable feeling we get when we step out of our comfort zone or do something that forces us to loosen control.

In my opinion, showing vulnerability is the golden key for a human being to build a real connection with other people, whilst the ego (continuously programmed for achieving milestones and ‘me-myself-and-I’) needs to be educated that the process or the journey itself is the most important aspect to any employee.

A working environment in which people don’t feel free to be open or make mistakes is disastrous. People will do anything to avoid blame, and genuine accountability goes out of the window to be replaced by bullying and sniping. Trust and teamwork are eroded and the workplace becomes somewhere to dread.

“We just need you to be authentic and real and say sorry we’ll fix it” @Brenebrown

The opposite of burnout is engagement, and an engaged workforce is one that thrives on energy, positivity, and communication. Ideas can be shared freely and everyone benefits from the moments of brilliance and traits that come from groups of enthused people working together. An engaged workforce can’t be fashioned from the odd brainstorm or a staff ideas box.

Stirring up real creativity takes a complete change of mindset. Companies need to embrace vulnerability and work with staff to be open with each other about ideas and emotions.

It goes beyond saying that company cultures should be open and truthful. With toxic and self-fulfilled leaders running the company without caring about others, being vulnerable will remain a mission impossible.

Private situations are the number one stress factor

Stress goes hand in hand with a lack of control over a situation. In 6 out of the 10 situations, private drama like a divorce or financial problems, leave an employee at work “recovering” from a highly dramatic event that’s going to be around for a long time.

In case of a financial issue, employees can get a claim on their wages by a lawyer or other entity. Something I have experienced quite some time, trying to help out employees where I could as a business leader.

Focus on the right initiatives and communicate properly

As I mentioned in my previous blog first of all a decent understanding needs to be created why energy is leaking away. Many companies just throw in a multitude of well-being programs, just to think they ticked the boxes. But without a decent diagnosis within the company, the ‘patient will never receive treatment.’

Every organization undergoes a change from time to time, either a merger or a takeover, change of management, reorganization, etc

What if people leaders are able to detect why and when wellbeing is negatively affected by certain corporate developments. This allows leaders to step in and ensure their people are taken care of.

“Big people don’t make people feel small.” — Robin Sharma

Better decision making

Having a culture of wellbeing in place which is inclusive will attract your employees to be more part of your business mission. Hurdles along the way will be more visible and fewer dropouts will create a more resilient workplace. With the data nowadays at hand, leaders are able to make better decisions going forward. But before we forget, the true impact of making better decisions will be starting with your employees. If they are able to create a healthy routine every day when they are spending the majority of their time in your offices, they will give back. Even more, if they feel heard, recognized and valued at work.

Performance is something traditional in my opinion, having meaning and the joy to work for an authentic leader caring about the employees every day. It’s not difficult though.

“Simply ask how are you?… is making a already a real difference”

It’s your strategy, not a bullet-point in your annual HR business plan

We help employees and employers in creating a more resilient workplace. Circling back to the beginning of this blog, outsourcing the wellbeing strategy is never going to lead to any respectable outcome, it starts with embracing the real importance of wellbeing and implementing it by your own employees. As shared before, internal “ influencers” make the difference as they generate new ideas and help you spread the word.

The benefits will be unseen, the return of an investment will go way beyond the 2 annual salaries in costs when one of your employees is dropping out. We prefer to call it the Value on Investment as it should be addressed by

the real value people bring back to their homes every day.

It needs to be part of your strategy. Now it is time to work on it.

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