There is amazing work being done right now in many workplaces on changing attitudes to mental ill health. The appointment and training of mental health first aiders, and the encouragement of people to speak up about their mental wellbeing, is making great strides in de-stigmatising mental illness. This creates the environment where people can be helped who otherwise would have suffered in silence, with sometimes catastrophic consequences.

The HSE in 2021 reported a strong upward trend in mental ill health, stress, anxiety and depression, in the workplace. They said that evidence showed this could not be explained by the Covid pandemic alone. The occurrence was 2,480 per 100,000 workers.  New cases amounted to 1,360 per 100,000 workers.

The greatest prevalence of unhealthy stress, anxiety and depression was among professionally qualified people between 25 and 34 and the 35 to 44 age groups. The majority put the causes down to intrinsic work issues, excessive workload followed by lack of employer support.

This directly correlates with the evidence shown in Alkoomi organisation culture surveys. Almost without exception, the lowest scoring elements of organisation culture point to low recognition and appreciation for the work people do. Many of the organisations we have worked with say they provide high challenge, high support environments. Their employees say that there is a lot of challenge without the requisite support to have them be successful. Most people in our surveys say that they are very proud of the work they do. It is often one of the highest scoring items. However what many also say is that they do not feel their efforts are valued by their bosses or the rest of the organisation.

Extraordinary leadership in any organisation will pay heed to the cultural drivers of mental ill health caused by work particularly the imbalance between challenge and support. Extraordinary leaders work on the development of a culture where people feel valued and are contributing to something greater than themselves. Extraordinary leaders work on developing a culture where people’s daily contribution is recognised and that their opinion matters. They work on developing a culture where people own the vision for the future and are inspired to help make it happen. Extraordinary leaders do that because they truly care about the people that depend on them for their future wellbeing, and because they instinctively know that if they pay attention to these things the business will be successful no matter what.

Photo by Gianfranco Grenar on Unsplash