Employers need to take responsibility
Tools like BioBeats are a way of employers taking responsibility for their employee’s mental wellbeing; something that is particularly important in these difficult and uncertain times.
Button says that she worries for the employees of companies that don’t offer tools and resources to support mental and physical health. “It’s going to be a super testing time for people,” says Button, adding that “even those who don’t normally suffer from anxiety are going to start to feel an escalating sense of worry. For those who already have mental health conditions or who are borderline, it’s a really scary time.”
Button says it cannot be about hosting a yoga class or ticking a box any longer; it is both business critical and vital for every individual that businesses take this seriously. If they don’t, she adds, “One, it’s really going to affect the health of the nation and two, it’s not healthy for their bottom line.”
Analysis published by Deloitte in January 2020 revealed that poor mental health costs UK employers up to £45 billion each year, a rise of 16% since 2016, an extra £6 billion a year. Commercially, says Button, the amount spent on absence, “can be dramatically reduced if you do take care of the mental health of your people.”
It all comes down to culture
The current crisis has created a testing time for us all but perhaps more so for those in leadership positions. Maintaining the positive mental wellbeing of your staff and trying to uphold a healthy bottom line have never been more reliant on one another, particularly as most businesses operating successfully are currently doing so almost exclusively online.
Operating online has its benefits but also potentially its downfalls when it comes to providing a space for honest and open conversation. The important thing, says Button, is recognising that “it comes down to the culture.” And this, she adds, “needs to start from the top; the CEO, the leaders to set the expectations of change.”
First and foremost, Button believes, you need to let people feel “psychologically safe to open up.” Your emotional truth is quite easy to hide behind a screen, as Button explains: “The problem with going online is it makes it so easy for us all to hide our stress. You’re not physically in front of people, you can’t pick up on those signs.”
Whether people want to talk to their manager about the way they’re feeling or not, and both choices Button is quick to point out, are “absolutely fine”, fostering an open and supportive culture is key. As is acknowledging, she adds, that “everyone’s going to be going through a completely unique experience right now,” particularly in terms of differing living environments.
Button believes that to operate during this time of crisis and beyond comes down to a few things: “it’s setting the right expectations and creating a safe culture, and then also giving people the resources they need.”
As to what will happen as a result of this crisis, Button is “hopeful that it will be an important wake-up call.”