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Can a Tough Year be the Catalyst that Changes how Employers Support Employees?

May 20, 2021 Eliza Graham

"Anything that's human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting and less scary."
~Mr. Rogers

May is mental health awareness month, and according to one report, nearly half of the U.S. workforce has reported suffering from mental health issues since the pandemic began. Never has there been a brighter spotlight on mental health than today - and where it took a pandemic to help the stigma significantly drop, employers are now taking new approaches to address the mental health of their employees. 

The other day, I was struck by this Facebook post  asking if it was okay to cry at work and if a tough year could make work more human? Approximately 31,000 full time employed and self employed workers were surveyed across 31 markets. It was reported that 1 in 6 employees have cried with a colleague this year alone. It’s about Psychological Safety, when your organization has your back so that you can show up as your whole self.  It’s a simple yet powerful concept of treating humans like humans.

Because of virtual work, we've gotten a glimpse into the lives of our co-workers and learned that it's not just our lives that are imperfect, but everyone is experiencing similar hardships like: interruptions from pets, kids, spouses, the amazon delivery truck, slow internet… you get the point. Life is messy, and with an increase in alcohol consumption, domestic violence, and lack of sleep, your pandemic life might actually be better than some. 

As someone who has suffered from depression at various stages of my life (some worse than others), quarantine hit me hard. Years ago, I learned the hard way how vital human connection is for our survival and how detrimental isolation can be for one's overall health. Even if you don't suffer from mental health conditions, isolation will eventually creep up on you, so it's no surprise that a pandemic forcing the world to shut down and isolate would create a greater concern for mental health.

So can work be more human? 

Can a tough year be the catalyst that changes how employers support employees? 

During the pandemic and beyond, can we have sympathy and patience for how others might be showing up at various times because they are not perfect and…...well, human?  

I recently found myself tongue-tied when asked a simple question during a meeting, yet my feeling of embarrassment quickly passed. I found myself feeling safe being a vulnerable human because others were being vulnerable humans. And that, my friend, is how psychological safety is created….vulnerability. To create a work environment where people show up fully as themselves, leaders must be vulnerable. 

If you need a lesson in vulnerability or a refresher course, I highly recommend checking out Brene Brown: The Call to Courage on Netflix. 

At SHIFT, we believe that in the end, all people want to be seen, heard, and understood.

Are you ready to step up and be more vulnerable? Are you ready to do human better? 

TOPICS: Happiness, Disengagement, Employee Engagement, leadership, Remote Work