OPINION: Why leaders need to prioritize their own mental health in the workplace

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

By Erik Osland

May 30, 2024

Ignoring employee wellbeing is a recipe for lower productivity, decreased engagement, and high turnover. Here are five ways you can avoid that.

Employee happiness is at an all-time low.

Satisfaction in the workplace is steadily dropping at a rate of 6% per year since the start of 2020, and then plummeting at a rate 10 times faster than the previous three years in 2023. Popular anti-work trends like the “Great Gloom,” the “Great Resignation,” and “Quiet Quitting” serve as ongoing reminders that well-being in the workplace is vital to an organization’s success, and it starts at the top.

Executives are often charged with supporting their employees’ health and wellness, but what about their own? Research from last year showed nearly 70% of the C-suite are seriously considering quitting for a job that better supports their well-being. Couple that with the fact that 2023 saw a staggering rate of CEO transitions, and one can surmise that burnout is alive and well among corporate executives.

The case for “health-savvy” leadership is simple: we lead our best when we feel our best. Even the most skilled and experienced leaders can find themselves handcuffed by stress, anxiety, or physical exhaustion, often triggering similar feelings throughout the workplace.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and evolvedMD, a Scottsdale-based company, is spearheading the integration of behavioral health services in modern primary care. We’ve put together five ways leaders can beat burnout and maximize well-being for both themselves and their organizations:

1. Put yourself first

It may seem counterintuitive to prioritize your own needs when tasked with overseeing an entire organization’s needs; however, leadership teams must intentionally lead by example for employees to follow.

Start with some internal reflection to assess how you’re feeling and identify challenges you’re facing both in and outside the workplace. What are you doing that is best contributing to the team and what is distracting from its success? What motivates you and how can you bring more of that to your work?

Once you’ve taken a personal inventory, you can start brainstorming solutions and making changes.

2. Set boundaries as a policy

The 2024 Global Talent Trends report, published by HR consulting firm Mercer in March, found more than 8 out of 10 employees are at risk of burnout this year, and less than half of employers design work with wellbeing in mind. That combination is a recipe for lower productivity, decreased engagement, and high turnover.

Setting boundaries that encourage and maximize work-life balance can go a long way, so long as leadership follows those same boundaries, too. Employees who see their managers signing off at 5:00 p.m., leaving the laptop at the office, or enjoying time away from work with their families and friends are more likely to follow suit.

3. practice and incentivize self-care

In today’s fast-paced work world, it seems like 24 hours in a day are never enough. Taking time for your personal mental health is a necessity, not a luxury. Pursue hobbies, practice mindfulness, prioritize relaxation, and promote incentives for employees to do the same.

Creating a culture of self-care can prevent burnout, curb attrition, and improve the quality of services your organization provides.

4. Foster psychological safety with employees

Invite open and honest dialogue between employees and their managers, recognize and appreciate your employees, and cultivate an environment where they feel seen and heard.

By being present and listening to employees, you can better anticipate their needs and incorporate them into your communications strategy.

5. Leverage community with vulnerability

Leading can be lonely. It is easy to max out your own capacity by shouldering a load meant for many.

However, failing to delegate or ask for help can translate into failed projects, lost revenue, and high employee turnover rates. Seek support and guidance across your entire organization, be open to new ideas and perspectives, and prioritize collaboration over perfection.

How evolvedMD can help

In 2023, evolvedMD touched the lives of nearly 21,000 patients and their families who either did not have access to affordable mental health care or felt discouraged from seeking help due to the stigma surrounding mental health. They have partners in Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado.

To learn more visit, www.evolvedMD.com.

 

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Author

  • Erik Osland

    Erik Osland is a corporate leader turned serial entrepreneur, Erik Osland is a successful healthcare founder and Co-CEO and Chief Development Officer of evolvedMD where he helms a passionate team at the forefront of healthcare innovation. evolvedMD is spearheading the integration of behavioral health services in modern primary care.

CATEGORIES: MENTAL HEALTH

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