Leadership advice, Mental health and wellbeing FTL

World Mental Health Day: Employee mental health is a business priority

By Nazir Ul-Ghani

Nazir Ul-Ghani, Head of EMEA at Workplace from Facebook, shares why investing authentically in employee wellbeing is key to fostering loyalty.

Striking a work-life balance and prioritising employee mental health has never been more important. People’s lives and livelihoods have been considerably disrupted by the pandemic, creating a heightened awareness of wellbeing and a need for more empathy and flexibility to reflect our new world of work.

The risks of ignoring employees in this period of change are huge. In fact, we recently found that 58% of UK workers would consider quitting their jobs if leaders weren’t empathetic to their needs. With reports of the ‘Great Resignation’ widespread – where employees are leaving the workforce or switching jobs at an alarming rate – empathy is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’, it’s critical for attracting and retaining talent.

Doing right by your employees: yoga classes won't cut it

It’s clear that business leaders need to rethink how they can create employee experiences that ensure staff are supported, engaged, happy and - ultimately - loyal. In today’s workplace, mental health and wellbeing programmes cannot simply be covered in online training or left to line managers. They should be a priority for leadership and management teams everywhere if they want to move with the times and do right by their employees.

Ultimately, business leaders must consider the impact of their own actions on employee wellbeing. It’s easy to say mental health comes first, but companies also need to stick by that promise even when the going gets tough. Providing yoga classes isn’t enough. Businesses need to listen to their people’s needs and deliver when it counts. And that means all of their people - not just those that work in offices close to the CEO and the HR team. 

How to provide a nurturing environment when working remotely

In distributed workforces, companies will need to find ways to prioritise wellbeing, hear honest feedback and make a concerted effort to level the playing field for all, to support a healthy work-life balance. Here, technology can play a huge role, but leaders must be at the helm, engaging with and listening to their people. We’re seeing companies, such as lastminute.com and Moneypenny use Workplace to connect every employee in their organisations and encourage them to open up about their wellbeing and needs. This is paving the way for a new type of leadership – one that enables two-way communication with all employees, no matter where they are. 

Why the new world of work demands more vulnerable leadership

The pandemic created many new pressures that have impacted the wellbeing and mental health of employees and leaders alike. And in response we’re seeing new levels of openness on the topic. Today, according to our research, just 9% of UK employees think their leadership teams shouldn’t be open about their own mental health struggles. It’s clear that in the new world of work, people want to work for a new type of leader that is transparent and vulnerable. Demographics in the workplace have shifted, values are changing, and employees will no longer settle for companies that don’t respect their needs.

Today, leadership is no longer about having all the answers: it’s about openness, authenticity and - above all - empathy that is rooted in ensuring employees’ best interests are a business priority.


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