Regardless of the industry, your most valuable resource as a leader are your employees. As PR professionals, we know the challenges of our industry–the late hours, the stress of being in reputation management or crisis mode, and so many other aspects that add stress to what we do.
Though we can acknowledge there are several factors in our lives that are simply out of our control, one thing we can control is how we can show our employees compassion.
As you go about providing regular support to the people who make your organization go, consider these three tips to help them best embrace mental health in the workplace.
1. Managing the stigma
Over the past few years, we’ve heard and learned more about the stigma of mental health than ever before–, what it is, and how many layers exist and why it’s important for each of us to manage. As leaders, managing the stigma is more than changing the narrative around mental health. It is also about the language we use in our conversations. Think about how loosely we use words such as crazy, insane, psycho, etc. We can begin the work to embrace mental health by removing these negative connotation-oriented words not only from our personal vocabulary but also our professional vocabulary. When conflict arises we may want to say something is “insane” or some other synonym. We can manage our language in professional spaces by correcting our adjectives to the verbiage that is more appropriate and emotionally intelligent. As leaders, we cannot ask our staff to be vigilant about language if we are not.
2. Making Check-In’s personal
With the increase of virtual/hybrid office cultures, check-ins are becoming a pivotal point for all industries and there lies an opportunity. Check-ins do not always have to be an “ ice breaker” and then straight to business. Spending a few extra moments to know your staff on a more personal level can improve their sense of belonging, well-being and productivity. More importantly, knowing your staff on a more personal level can begin to create a safe space of empathy. Moreover, empathy is a proven step in the right direction for cultivating a welcoming environment to embrace mental health in the workplace. We can recognize some of our staff members may not be willing to participate in more personal conversations and that’s perfectly fine. Just ensure there’s an open-door policy if they change their minds about opening up.
3. Evaluate Staff Burnout
As PR professionals, most of us follow the RPIE ( Research, Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation) process for campaigns. Therefore, we already know how crucial evaluation is for future planning. The same can be said about evaluating staff burnout. So how do we go about informally conducting that evaluation? There are several ways we can go about gathering the information, but a classic anonymous survey is a great tool to use. Our recommendation would be to use a Google form for collecting the qualitative data. For this survey, the type and quality of questions will be very important. The type of question refers to how you want your participants to answer them. Do you want to use a Likert scale, checkbox, or open-ended questions? The quality of the actual question is just as important as the type. You want to ask thought-provoking questions to get the best qualitative data to find specific problem areas to begin finding solutions. Check out this link to create quality questions for your employee surveys.
As we navigate these new work environments, leaders should be concerned about the health of the people who are on their teams. And we should create environments for them to feel comfortable and do their jobs well. We may not be able to solve every issue, but we can make an attempt to support our teams. We know our industry can be stress-inducing, however, we can start the healing journey by managing the stigma, making check-ins personal, and evaluating employee burnout.
Oh yes, and leaders, do not forget to take care of yourself in the process. Many leaders make a personal sacrifice to take care of themselves. Check out these free and confidential resources below to help you or a loved one on their mental health journey.