Mental Health

Emotional Wellbeing

Mandy Kloppers

Byline: Mental Health Awareness Week: The importance of being your authentic self in the workplace

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It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and it’s never been more important for employees to feel like they can bring their full, authentic self to the workplace.

Nicole Bello, Group Vice President EMEA at UKG has recently written a byline exploring this year’s theme, ‘No mind left behind’, the need for people to be treated as individuals in the workplace and how businesses and managers can make this happen.

Nicole Bello, Group Vice President EMEA, at UKG

The conversation around mental health in the workplace has only grown in recent years as people continue to face a range of challenges in their personal lives, and accessing mental health care is becoming increasingly difficult. It’s therefore crucial that managers prioritise worker wellbeing and mental health – and empowering them to bring their authentic selves to work plays a significant part in this.

No mind left behind

According to Mind, one in four of us will experience mental health challenges, so leading from a place of empathy, openness and authenticity is crucial to ensure every person in the workplace that experiences mental health problems feels heard.

This year, the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week is ‘No mind left behind’. It can be easy for employees to mask feeling burnt out, anxious, or depressed. This can be detrimental to their overall well being – and severely impact their work life – if they don’t get the support they need. Managers must therefore put the mental health and well being of their people high on their list of priorities when it comes to both the day to day and wider business decision making, to create a culture where people are able to share their struggles in a safe, non-judgemental way.

Individual employees also have different mental health needs. For some, work may be a trigger for stress and anxiety, and need to be able to work in a way that mitigates this. For others, it may be home life that is impacting their mental health. Managers must therefore not only ensure that no mind is left behind, but must support each employee based on their individual needs and challenges.

Bringing your authentic self to work

There’s an opportunity for businesses to embrace the individuality of their people, which can contribute to overall well being and job satisfaction. UKG recently launched research into the different personality types in the workplace, each with their own preferred ways of working, communication and collaborating. Many workplaces employ people from different backgrounds, cultures and age groups too, and each person wants to feel appreciated, heard and encouraged to bring their full self to work.

Not only does this give people the space to share any struggles with their managers so they can be properly supported, but it also means that they feel embraced, listened to and will instil a culture of acceptance.

This in turn can improve mental health, because work is a significant part of our lives after all, and if we’re unable to be open and receive the support we need – whether it be shift swapping to allow for a mental health day or having clear lines of communication to reduce anxiety – it can only make things worse. HR tech has an integral role to play in this, as it can be a crucial tool for managers to better support their people, while improving the employee experience for their teams.

The power of people and technology

The latest workforce management solutions offer an opportunity for employers to listen to the needs of their people. Personalised surveys are one way to enable employees to share their experiences privately with management, so they can directly influence change in the workplace to improve their own experience and that of their colleagues.

Once businesses are armed with insights from their employees, leaders and managers must then implement change. For some people, this might be increased flexibility and taking control of their own schedule so they can accommodate for mental health days or improve their work life balance.

​​This can be delivered through an HR portal, accessible remotely via a website or app, where staff can self-service actions that permit them to update schedules and book time off. For example, employees could arrange shift cover without consulting their manager via the portal, giving them the autonomy to decide when they work.

Now is the time for businesses to assess how they support their employees’ mental health and well being, and to take stock so they can better understand people’s needs – creating a more inclusive, open working environment that invites everyone to bring their authentic selves to work.

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