We need to talk about mental wellness – now!
Last month the UN warned of a mental health crisis looming off the back of Covid-19. Of course, this has been a stressful time but now many business owners, myself included are starting to see the harsh reality of that prediction unfold first-hand – in our teams and amongst colleagues.
And the reasons for this are extensive. From employees with partners who may have lost their job or those trying desperately to balance daily calls and still home-school their children, stress levels and anxiety are sky-high. People are feeling fragile and terrified of getting sick.
Research also suggests that the youth are a high-risk group during this time – being the least prepared to cope emotionally with the unrelenting uncertainty the world is facing at the moment -largely a result of lack of experience – to no fault of their own. This just paints a clearer picture for a country like South Africa in terms of what we are dealing with given that our workforces comprise a significant number of new graduates coming into the market.
Living in the age of content, there is a lot to read in the press and on social media about how as business owners we can support and help our employees but for me, the first hurdle is to obliterate the stigma from the conversation first.
Perhaps for some, this isn’t the easiest topic to address – historically the corporate world has had little patience for ‘feelings’ in the pursuit of the bottom line but if the emotional wellness of your staff hasn’t always been a priority item it must change. This is not because business owners don’t care but rather because until now external factors have never impacted the workforce at such scale.
With that said, it is more important than ever to be having these conversations with our teams. And while I am no expert, I think the process has to kick off with those of us at the helm of our companies which means sharing our own experiences, ensuring our people feel there is a safe place to talk, and offering support where needed.
If you know someone who needs immediate support, reach out to one of our strategic partners, HR Studio, who can really help you offer better support to your employees and their families.
I am really interested to know how other business owners are addressing these challenges.