Get rid of the ROBOTS…

At the moment I’m doing a lot of research into how to change the stigma within a workplace…

What really frustrates me is that there’s loads of information out there that tells businesses why they should be looking at the better mental health of their staff, they stick on-line all sorts of graphs and figures that state how your company can be more productive, you can make more money etc. etc.

What they don’t tell you is that you should be focussed on the change because it’s the right thing to do, because your employees aren’t statistics, that equate to revenues, or returns on investment, they’re human beings, they’ve got families and daily pressures just like you do, they just don’t have your money, your dividends, you’re share of a successful company…

The average person in work today, with a normal job, a normal wage, only has approximately 1 months worth of savings, making even more people than ever before, that much closer to living on the streets… Now that’s anxiety!!

Now my companies monthly revenues fluctuate, probably more so than most my size, but because I am open with my staff about the company growth, as well as talking to them more about their issues with kids, wives, lifestyle, health, they’re more attached to the way we drive as a unit.

Now this is OK for an SME where the MD can have a eye on the individual, and I’m also a guy who cares deeply about people and that comes naturally to me, probably because of my sketchy history, however, I’m also aware of the fact that some MD’s will not feel as comfortable dealing with these types of issues…

In addition, as we look at bigger and bigger businesses it’s important to understand our limits and know that a multi million £ organisation can’t afford for the CEO to spend an hour with everyone one a week trying to understand about everyone…

But is is important we try to find where we set the happy medium!

Mind, the mental health charity did a business study, they asked a range of questions based around taking care of staff and the responses were as follows:

  • More than one in five (21%) of staff said that they had called in sick to avoid work when asked how workplace stress had affected them…
  • 14% of staff said that they had resigned and 42% had considered resigning when asked how workplace stress had affected them…
  • 30% of staff disagreed with the statement ‘I would feel able to talk openly with my line manager if I was feeling stressed’
  • 56% of employers said they would like to do more to improve staff well-being but don’t feel they have the right training or guidance…

So, what’s to be done… I believe it’s simple…

I recently set up this blog just to vent about my mental health issues within business, within a week I had over 10,000 people across the UK and Internationally following me…

I have had proactive CEO’s and MD’s getting in touch who do feel confident in approaching the topic and are implementing change for the better, allowing their staff more access to things like free confidential counselling, a non-invasive opt in process that’s simple to set up…

I’ve had individuals getting in touch telling me that they felt it was like reading their own blog and that they’d never known what was really wrong with them until now; thanking me and telling me that they’re going to seek help, learn more and go to their doctor so check on their blood pressure and other likely causes of every day anxieties to define an appropriate route forward…

I’ve had People working with government asking me to come and define ways to support other SME’s like mine to understand what they can do to brave the storm…

The secret is clearly the story… I feel that we can do a number of things to start to rectify how you can approach this topic within your business without then need to send out a white paper, or try and make people fill out an awkward questionnaire while they’re watched over by Debbie in HR…

  1. Get a speaker in! Go and find someone who’s making waves in the Mental Health world and draft them in for an afternoon to tell an inspirational story about their battle through the darkness… You may be able to find someone who directly relates to your industry or to a role within your business, so much the better… What you’ll find is that people are much more ready to relate to an individual… As humans we don’t want to be asked loaded questions by people who may or may not have their own issues, only to feel like we’re being judged and graded; working for any company trying to feed our families is hard enough, without the added pressure of wondering whether you’re boss thinks because you’re a bit ‘mad’ now he may need to get someone new in to fill the role… What a speaker does is lightens the load, they set your staff free and although they may not immediately stick their hand up and call out their problems, you can offer them support mechanisms off the back of that appearance and you’re definitely more likely to see an uptake than lose an employee.
  2. Think about your culture! How do you run your business at the moment? Are you as an individual accessible to people? You may have thousands of employees you may have 4. If you have 4, are you accessible to them, do you care? If you have thousands, are you accessible to your top Directors, do their teams have access to them? What does accessible mean? Accessible means, how do you interact? If you can’t speak to someone then you can’t evolve in the sense of a relationship with that individual… Team building may seem a bit old had so lets chuck that in the bin and go skiing for god sake, break you business down into segments, you can’t eat an elephant in one go so find things that people are passionate about and stop making every day about work… Your staff across the board will be vastly more productive if their lives at work allow them to fulfil their potential as individuals as well as blow off a bit of steam and perhaps do some of those things they don’t get to do at home… Remember, on one end of the spectrum you may have junior staff from a background that means they never got to ski, you may have a married chap who spends the weekends looking after his kids and doesn’t get time to take 2 hours our for a few games of pool… Give your people time, and they’ll give you their spirit.
  3. Surprise people! Why don’t you surprise the staff by putting your head on the block? There are a number of ways to be more open in your business, but a good one could be something like a video diary… Set up your own video diary or on-line blog that’s run through your company intranet or mailed to your staff once a week, where they can see the reality of what you go through… I can guarantee if I saw my boss in the reality of the day to day grind, I’d definitely feel more empowered to open up about how I feel… Then you give them the resources to follow up on that, with free confidential counselling in the office; a massage therapist in a room a couple of times a week where you can go and have an informal natter and a back massage… there are any number of ways to evolve as a team and I promise you it always comes back to being human.

I asked someone I have a lot of respect for what they thought of the blog and I gave them some of the feedback I’d received from people all over the UK… he sat there and looked at me, drawing on one example specifically and he said, can’t you see Thomas, you’ve saved a life…

I don’t say this to blow my own trumpet, I say it because that single solitary sentence really made me sit up and listen…

I felt a resounding pride at that moment, that’s not the way I’d even considered what I was doing…

But lets image, if every FTSE 500 company CEO got up on Monday morning and instead of considering “How much do I have to spend to rectify this mental health thing?” they started thinking, “What can I do to save more lives today?” then wouldn’t our country and our economy be heading in beautiful new direction!

As Bruce Almighty would say – #BETHEMIRACLE

 

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “Get rid of the ROBOTS…

  1. A colleague of mine recently said to me we should do something to raise more awareness of mental health issues within the workplace.

    Myself and her son who is also a colleague suffer with severe anxiety (although not severe enough I can’t work). A speaker sounds like an amazing idea but working in a charity which is currently struggling financially means things like this will be put on the back burner for more pressing issues.

    We do have use of Bupa EAP which I have used but they were of little help to me but could maybe be of more help to someone else if they suggested it to their employee?

    Regards

    Like

    • Hi Shareen, I totally understand. You don’t need to pay for a guest speaker though. I often to speaking slots within businesses free of charge because it puts the word out and may offer someone within the organisation a lifeline they never felt they had. What I’d usually recommend is to look into a mental health charity that’s local to you and contact them direct because they’ll always be happy to come and talk for free, because that’s part of their remit. This type of initiative could just be the catalyst that someone, with perhaps a deeper seeded issue, needs to break the cycle and take some action in dealing with their issue. In addition you’ll have already bridged the gab between them and a local mental health charity so half the battles done! 🙂 Have a jump on google and see if there’s any mental health organisations nearby your offices, it doesn’t have to be on the next street, it could be in the nearest town or city but there will likely be one about that can support you in doing this. It’s ever more important to keep on top of this type of thing as those every day anxieties can escalate and if people know where to turn should they do so, then there’s a mechanism in place to help catch them before they fall. The fact that you have recognised some issues within yourself and have discussed these with a colleague who feels the same is a huge step in terms of what we’re trying to achieve. It only takes one person like yourself to take the initiative to set up a charity speaker and you might just save a life…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I will definitely have a look into it and see if it’s something I can make happen here.

        I’ve just got my referral for cbt but will possibly end up on medication soon if I can’t get my anxiety under control unfortunately.

        Fingers crossed I can help someone before they get to the stage I’m at.

        Like

      • I really wish you all the best Shareen just try to take the medication easy and if it doesn’t feel right be sure to talk to your doctor because sometimes it can take a few types of medication to find the one that works for your body make up.

        Like

      • I got my prescription yesterday – 50mg Sertraline. Will start taking it this evening and see how it goes. I also got my CBT referral finally so fingers crossed something works for me and in about 4 weeks time, I can feel an improvement even if it’s small

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s