Is the boss invested in your mental wellbeing?
While there’s no silver bullet to ensuring you’re truly happy in your job, employers that actively attempt to create and maintain a mentally healthy workplace, tend to have more productive staff. Recent research suggests that mental health conditions result in 12 million days of lost productivity in the Australian workplace annually.
The same research also suggests that if you perceive yourself to be within a mentally unhealthy workplace, you’re four times more likely to take time off work due to a mental health issue. While absenteeism alone is a massive issue for employers, so too is what’s called ‘presentism’, where you might be physically at work – yet due any number of mental health issues – you’re unable to work to your capacity.
The bottom line is that the state of your mental health is a win-win for all concerned, including you, the boss, your family and the broader community.
What to look for
With that in mind, Mycareerjourney.com.au went in search of the sort of qualities you should be looking for within employers who recognise value of helping to nurture your mental wellbeing.
For starters, if you’re looking to change jobs, don’t take for it granted that what looks to be a progressive company – be it start up or an establish mid-sized business – is necessarily a trailblazer the mental health stakes.
It’s important to look beyond the more obvious stuff, like flexible super options for those forced to leave work, or more diverse claims packages that consider mental health issues, and focus on how open the lines of communication are within workplaces.
The common traits held by the top 50 Best Places to Work in Australia (as ranked by greatplacestowork.com.au), include effective communication patterns around clarity, courtesy and productivity, plus their willingness to invest in their people.
Three home-grown companies amongst the top ten
Three of the top 10 Best Places to Work in Australia (1000-plus employees) are home-grown businesses, including IT company Atlassian, retailer Mecca Brands, and rental company Kennards Hire.
While US-based IT company, Salesforce took top honours as the best place to work in 2018 (1000-plus employees), four of the remaining six on the top 10 list were US-based companies Cisco Systems Australia, Hilton, Mars, and Campbell Arnott’s, with the remaining two, IT company SAP, and transport company DHL both having their head offices in Germany.
The two Australia-based companies to take top honours in the 100-999 employee, and under 100 employee categories were IT company Canva, and professional services firm Avenue Dental respectively.
Empowerment, flexibility and open communication
As diametrically different as these top companies are, what they share is an investment in the wellbeing of their staff. Clearly, companies that empower their staff to achieve collaboratively – and provide greater freedom and flexibility to work in ways that suit them – have happier staff, and happier staff have a greater wellbeing.
Unsurprisingly, if an employer is positively adding to your wellbeing, you’re less likely to be looking for another job. For example, over the last 12 months, the voluntary turnover at the 50 Best Places to Work decreased by 30 over percent, from 15 percent to 10 percent.
Ask these questions
No longer regarded as taboo, a growing number of organisations actively encourage staff to speak up about any mental health issues they might be dealing with. To find out whether companies are likely to take your mental wellbeing seriously, ask them the following questions.
1) Does the organisation recognise the importance of actively promoting mental wellbeing within the workplace, and what programs do they have to substantiate this claim?
2) How easy is it to speak up within the organisation without fear of judgement?
3) Does the organisation recognise that taking care of their employees’ emotional health is tributary to better productivity, and hence the bottom line.
4) Is depression perceived as a personal weakness, and what avenues are available for staff to share their experiences?
5) What does the organisation do to proactively provide a conducive work environment?
6) How important is work/life balance to the organisation and can it show examples?
7) How welcoming is the organisation to new employees?
8) How does the organisation ensure that every person is well equipped to handle their job, has flexibility and independence in handling projects and gets regular mentoring and guidance about their careers?
9) What access is there to professional help in the form of internal counsellors, doctors and even formal external employee assistance programs?
10) Is there a buddy-system where fellow employees are actively encourage to look out for those they work with?