It’s Time To Act and Put the Spotlight on Mental Health

With World Mental Health Day, it’s time to put a spotlight on this important issue and talk openly about how companies can better support their people, their wellbeing, and their mental health – especially as companies begin shifting to a post-pandemic future.
October 7, 2021

This article is authored by Gordana Landen, the CHRO of the Adecco Group.

It’s time act and to put the spotlight on mental health.

The COVID-19 pandemic has elevated our role as human resource professionals, highlighting how business-critical our department is when it comes to taking care of our workers – the heart of our companies.

Mental health, wellbeing, burnout, and stress, among other key issues, have been at the forefront of leaders’ minds (and employee minds!) since the COVID-19 pandemic first began.

Despite this, many leaders and workers alike struggle to discuss mental health openly and honestly. There has long been a veil over the matter, a type of taboo around topics like anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. With World Mental Health Day, it’s time to put a spotlight on this important issue and talk openly about how companies can better support their people, their wellbeing, and their mental health – especially as companies begin shifting to a post-pandemic future.

The research is clear: Burnout is a big deal

Around the world, countries and companies are struggling to manage the effects of employee burnout.

It’s important now, more than ever, for businesses to re-evaluate and reassess how they can better support employee mental health.

Burnout has been a significant cause for concern across the workforce for almost 40% of people, according to our Resetting Normal research. Thirty four percent of women say their mental wellbeing has worsened over the past year. It’s even worse for younger leaders: 54% of young leaders report that they have experienced burnout, the same group who shoulder significant responsibility for future progress.

Most managers are still far behind when it comes to identifying signs of burnout in employees, our Resetting Normal research shows. More than half of all managers find it hard to identify when staff may be struggling with mental health issues (53%) or overwork and burnout (51%).

Employees agree. Almost four in 10 workers suffers from overwork or burnout – and their managers don’t always notice, they say. Sixty seven percent of non-managers say that their leaders do not meet their expectations for checking on their mental wellbeing.

Photo 3 - RN (1)

A future hybrid working model may unlock more opportunities to advance diversity and inclusion within the workforce, but companies can’t achieve these goals without building better and more flexible working environments and thinking more about employee wellbeing. One key facet of this Mental health. It’s a trend reinforced by our research during the pandemic.

No “one size fits all” for mental health

All of this overwhelming research points to one solution: companies need to take action, now, on mental health. It’s time to allow for open, honest conversations.

There are many ways companies can tackle mental health in a way that’s best for their companies. Reviewing the number of days people can take off for sickness or mental health might not be the right way to solve challenges but it is certainly a great starting point.

Companies need to create and reinforce a culture where their people and leaders can have honest conversations about mental health. It’s important to encourage a space that allows for workplace empathy.

Leaders need to be empowered, trained, and supported to identify and deal with situations where their people are struggling with overwork, burnout, and other mental health issues. In other words, emotional intelligence is one of the key competencies for current and future leaders.

How mental health ties into wellbeing overall

Mental health doesn’t stand alone: it’s interconnected to other aspects of wellbeing, such as physical health and social wellbeing. In fact, studies have shown that exercises, from dancing to aerobics to swimming and beyond, can help alleviate depression and anxiety.

One study of more than 1.2 million people in the U.S. found that people who exercise on a regular basis report 1.5 fewer poor mental health days a month compared to those who do not exercise. Another example? When people have strong relationship and are connected to others, that can also have a positive impact on their mental health.

That is why it is also important for companies to take a holistic approach to wellbeing for their people and consider all aspects of the equation.

Companies first need to understand what their people need for their wellbeing because, as I already mentioned, there is no one size fits all. Each company is different, and each company will require a different wellbeing approach. Finding out what people need can be done through a combination of employee surveys, meetings, and workshops. Once the company has a clear sense of what their employees need, they can better develop a plan that may include resources, processes, and training for its people and its leaders.

At the Adecco Group, we ran regular pulse checks during the height of the COVID-19 crisis to better understand how we can help our workers. We continue to run regular surveys to check how our people are doing. This has helped us create tangible actions and policies to help people, like our New World Guiding principles. This set of guiding principles help us navigate through a shifting landscape as we see a changes in how people are working and how people want to work in the future.

Our guidelines consider elements like hybrid working and establishing a better balance between office and remote work, prioritising a results-based culture and taking deliberate actions for wellbeing. The guiding principles are driven on a country-by-country basis, so we can further consider the local needs of our colleagues and local cultural aspects. We are also continuing to run workshops across the world in order to further develop our global approach for wellbeing in addition to local initiatives that already support our people’s wellbeing in our countries around the globe.

Understanding the importance of Wellbeing

Though the pandemic is not over yet, and the crisis continues in many countries around the world, companies are starting to consider their next post-pandemic steps as vaccine roll-out continues.

Whether companies are still managing a crisis, or starting to transition to a new normal, one thing is crystal clear: the focus on wellbeing - including mental health- will be integral to ensuring employees and businesses thrive in the future of work.

Gordana Landen, CHRO, The Adecco Group

Gordana is a Swedish national, born in 1964. She graduated from Stockholm University with a BSc in Human Resource Development and Labour Relations. Gordana joined the Adecco Group in 2019 and has been a Member of the Executive Committee since January 2019. Before joining the Adecco Group, she served as Chief Human Resources Officer at Signify (formerly Philips Lighting) in Amsterdam from November 2015. Between 2008 and 2015, she was Senior Vice President for Human Resources at Swedish paper manufacturer SCA. Gordana spent 15 years working for Swedish telecoms company Ericsson in Sweden, the UK and the United States. She was Vice President for Human Resources, Organisation and Business Services between from 2006 to 2008, having risen through the ranks with a wide range of human resources roles, including Regional HR Manager and Director for Human Resources and Organisation.