Recap: Transform Spotlight Series – Mental Health in the Workplace: A Global Perspective

To wrap up Mental Health Awareness Month, the Transform Spotlight Series showcased “Mental Health in the Workplace, a Global Perspective.” Our diverse panel of experts shared insightful discussions and valuable insights. This event provided a platform for HR leaders from around the world to address the pressing issue of mental health in the workplace.

Led by Mine Dedekoka, our lead ambassador from Istanbul, Turkey, the event featured Global Ambassador panelists from Nairobi, Kenya; Lagos, Nigeria; Dubai; and Toronto, Canada. Attendees tuned in from all over the world, including India, Brooklyn, Switzerland, Kenya, Chicago, Germany, Nigeria, Canada, Denmark, Raleigh, NC, and more!

Throughout the discussion, it was evident that mental health remains a significant concern in today’s workforce, affecting individuals’ well-being and overall performance.

Our panel included:
Host: Enrique Rubio, Head of Global Community, Transform
Moderator: Mine Dedekoca, Lead Ambassador, Istanbul Chapter
Elizabeth Okonji, Lead Ambassador, Lagos Chapter
Rhency Padilla, Lead Ambassador, Dubai Chapter
Jav Saeidi, Advisor, Toronto Chapter
Terry Shiundu, Lead Ambassador, Nairobi Chapter

Key takeaways from the conversation:

 Mental Health for HR Leaders

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of mental well-being in our personal and professional lives. Our panelists shared invaluable insights into how HR professionals can prioritize their mental health while supporting others.

Terry emphasized the need for HR professionals to care for themselves, stating, “Who cares for the HR? We need to take care of our own mental health. Self-care is not selfish.” She highlighted the importance of seeking support from networks of HR professionals and setting boundaries to prevent burnout.

Jav emphasized the importance of finding activities outside of work to recharge, draw energy, and maintain balance, “Find things that you’re passionate about outside of work and balance that with what you do at work.”

Elizabeth shared her personal strategies for managing stress, including “Surround yourself with a supportive network of colleagues, friends, and mentors” and building an “umbrella network” from which to seek feedback. She underscored the importance of recognizing when to take mental health breaks and experimenting with different coping mechanisms.

Rhency echoed the sentiment, emphasizing the importance of finding what works best for each individual by saying, “Understand that what works for one person may not work for another.” He encouraged HR professionals to explore various strategies for managing stress and maintaining positive mental health.

Mine expanded on the role of leaders, emphasizing the need for leaders to take the initiative in educating themselves about mental health and supporting their teams, emphasizing the importance of leaders collaborating with HR and taking responsibility for providing learning opportunities to enhance the well-being of their teams. She stressed, “So if we have these leaders who can take the initiative because they spot something very important that is missing in the organization, straight away, take the initiative, partner with the organization, raise your hand, and go and educate yourself and maybe spread and share the news with all the other leaders as well.”

Key Takeaways for Actionable Advice:

  1. Prioritize self-care
  2. Recognize individual needs
  3. Build a support network
  4. Take mental health breaks
  5. Balance and Recharge

Remote Work

Mine introduced the topic of remote work and how it affects a global workforce. Several important insights were shared regarding the role of leaders, the importance of coaching, psychological safety, and the need for organizational support in managing mental health in a remote work environment.

Terry highlighted the responsibility of leaders in supporting the mental well-being of their teams, emphasizing the need for leadership to take an active role in providing support. She stressed the importance of equipping leaders with the tools and resources necessary to effectively support their teams’ mental health, stating, “If we can actually spend the time with them and provide them with the tools that they need to feel like they’re prepared to be able to support them, I think that’s really important.”

Elizabeth emphasized the value of coaching as a practice in promoting mental well-being, both for leaders and HR professionals. She highlighted coaching as a means of shifting the burden of finding solutions away from individuals and towards collaborative problem-solving. Elizabeth remarked, “For leading people, as the one who’s sort of guiding and leading the team where people come to work, People leaders have the responsibility to make sure that their people are healthy so that they can be productive so that your business can win.” She also brought up the issue of working on a global team and setting expectations for team members who work different hours with deliverables.

The panel and attendees agreed this was a big issue that affected psychological safety and overall company culture. Leaders had to set examples for their team, which meant taking unplugged vacations and not sending emails late. If they did set the expectation that a response wouldn’t be needed immediately, it would reduce anxiety and stress in the workplace. Collaborative tools such as Google Docs and Slack and utilizing their features like schedule send and pausing notifications were suggested as a way for people working at different hours to maintain their schedules and workloads without disrupting others.

Panelists all agreed that creating a supportive organizational culture to promote mental health in a remote work environment is important for employee well-being. They stressed the need for clear communication and boundaries, utilizing collaborative tools, and prioritizing work-life harmony.

Key Takeaways for Actionable Advice:

  1. Equip leaders with tools for mental health support.
  2. Promote coaching for leaders and HR professionals.
  3. Set clear expectations for remote work communication.
  4. Encourage unplugged vacations for leaders.
  5. Utilize collaborative tools for asynchronous work.
  6. Establish a supportive organizational culture.

The ROI of Employee Mental Health

Before wrapping up the conversation, our Head of Global Community, Enrique Rubio, rejoined the panel to ask one final question, ” Why should business leaders care for people’s health in the workplace?”

Mine: “Happy people stay longer at a company. The replacement cost for a person, especially middle managers and upper-level managers, is quite costly. So I would advise everyone to take good care of their employees.”

Terry: “Business leaders must care about employees’ health and well-being because when people know you care, they will give their best to the organization. This will promote high retention and engagement. You keep your best people with you because you care about their well-being.”

Rhency: “Mental health impacts the physical health of people. So when it impacts the physical health of people, this will impact the work and productivity of the workplace. “

Jav: “Ultimately, if we can make sure that they feel supported and can give their best at work, then ultimately that company is going to be more successful than if we don’t focus on it. It needs to be a priority and top of mind.”

Elizabeth: “If you are a business owner, you’re an organization. Think about this from a selfish point of view. First, your organization cannot achieve goals with your logo. You do it only through people and people are made up of their mind and their bodies. So if you have a disability policy or you take care of the physical health of the people, health insurance, whatever, you have physical days when they’re physically unwell to be away from the office. What’s happening with their minds? They’re not complete with their minds, and you can’t achieve your organizational goals without these people. So if someone’s mentally unwell, they’re not there. They can’t produce, and you can’t succeed.”

Thank you to all of our panelists and attendees for participating in this thought-provoking and engaging conversation! Stay tuned on Transform Plus for more insightful events in the near future. Check out the full community events calendar here.

If you are interested in getting involved in the Transform Global Ambassadorship Program and making a difference in your area of the world, learn more about how you can participate!

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