As we move forward in 2021, the pressure on organizational leaders to support their people continues to mount. The past year has been tough for everyone and the data continues to show that people are struggling.
A recent Mind the Workplace report by Mental Health America acknowledges that many workers are experiencing early signs of burnout. Nearly 83 percent of workers feel emotionally drained from their work. Additionally, nearly 9 in 10 employees report that workplace stress affects their mental health.
Increasing mental health concerns around burnout, isolation, anxiety, depression, and substance misuse are challenging organizations more than ever. Organizations are asking their leaders for help to mitigate these risks, adding another layer of responsibility.
As more is asked of leaders, organizations must prepare to offer them additional support. Leaders need to possess the skills to feel confident and comfortable having conversations on mental health and well-being.
Continually investing in empathetic leadership will be a growing part of every leader’s role. Empathy in leaders is directly correlated with decreasing an individual’s chance of burnout and increasing their sense of belonging. This contributes to overall loyalty and commitment to the organization.
As organizations create return-to-office plans and visualize managing a hybrid workforce, they will need to rely on their leaders to manage in a flexible and empathetic manner. Flexible, empathetic leaders help organizations reduce turnover and increase job satisfaction. Leading in this manner requires organizations to place just as much focus on supporting their leaders as they do with their front-line staff.
Before leaders can support their teams, they must first focus on themselves. Without this focus, they risk struggling with compassion and caregiver fatigue. Organizations should encourage their leaders to put on their oxygen masks first by emphasizing protecting and investing in their own mental health.
Self-care is a widely discussed topic these days. Because it means different things for all people, there is no “one-size-fits-all” self-care plan. Identifying a sustainable self-care plan is a great first step for leaders. They must understand that self-care requires reflection on what they need to be at their best. Additionally, they have to be able to identify the gaps and understand different strategies they can implement into their daily routine to re-energize and build up their resiliency bank.
As organizations continue to face challenges around mental health and well-being, having a mental health strategy that supports leaders is essential. Giving them the appropriate tools and resources will help create a culture of help-seeking and support.