Having worked in the recruitment industry for 15 years, and across 3 different countries, I have made some great friends and had some amazing mentors. I love the work that I do, and still, get such a sense of achievement when I find the right talent for a client. But my career has not all been smooth sailing - I have been on a steep learning curve at times! I have watched colleagues of mine excel and fail as quickly as a roll of the dice. And the pressure can be intense, sometimes ending in hostility or a highly toxic working environment.
The result of such intense pressure in the long-term can surely only lead to anxiety, stress, absenteeism, high staff turnover or unemployment? Throw a pandemic into the mix and it becomes a disaster for our mental wellbeing.
Is it enough to just talk about the importance of wellbeing in the workplace, without there being an implementable industry standard for protecting our people?
Two different company directors jump to mind (my previous employers), who both had opposing opinions about workplace wellbeing. I witnessed how they both managed their people and their compassion (or lack of), for mental health. There needs to be more to help our industry and it cannot be just left to each business owner, I will tell you why.
Let start with Director X:
He/she saw mental health concerns as a form of weakness. They were noticeably short-sighted in their actions, highly motivated by money and turned over staff regularly if they felt they did not meet their expectations. They never invested time to get to know their team and their strengths. This person never looked at the big picture or tried to find out what obstacles might be affecting staff performance.
Director Y on the other hand:
Actively sought out support for their team and had mental health processes in place for their people to be able to talk openly about their difficulties within work and home. This leader gave their people an outlet to be able to overcome and manage their feelings of stress and anxiety.
Unsurprisingly Director Y was more profitable. Their people were more engaged, absenteeism was exceptionally low and staff turnover was non-existent. Also, because Director Y's people felt that their wellbeing mattered and they were cared for, they always gave their best performance.
I am so happy to be a Champion for Mental Health in Recruitment, and we need more voices to drive change in our industry, remove discrimination and normalize conversations and action around mental health. I believe that there needs to be a standardized approach or even government legislation to educate employers and encourage an understanding of what mental wellbeing in the workplace truly means.
Mairead Moore x