I got a call one day from someone who needed counselling. It was during one of my shifts as a volunteer counsellor. As a stay-at-home mom I do a lot of things; homeschool my kids, provide email coaching, volunteer as a counsellor, and fundraiser for poor families in Ethiopia. As a counsellor and coach I get the privilege to provide support for individuals during their most difficult times.
During this counselling session, this individual shared with me the difficulties they endured in their workplace. They expressed the lack of emotional support they received from their employer during a very difficult time in their life.
This person put in extra effort to make sure their work was completed and to make sure that their boss was happy so that they wouldn't be seen as weak or incompetent. They put their own wellbeing last out of fear of losing their job. In the end, they couldn't keep up and the stress eventually got the best of them.
After the phone call, I thought to myself that this person didn't need much from the employer. They didn't ask for a raise or ask for less work. What they needed was emotional support; so simple yet very powerful.
The work environment plays a crucial part in the health and wellbeing of its staff members. Employers do a great job of making sure that staff are safe from physical danger, but what is also equally important is their mental and emotional health. You see, the workplace becomes our second home. Most working adults spend majority of their lives at work, and it doesn't stop there. Often times, even when at home, they are still thinking about work.
As a leader, what are you doing to ensure the emotional wellbeing of your employees, staff, and volunteers?
Try to implement these steps in the workplace to create a safe space for all:
1. Show empathy: Try to be more aware of the other people's feelings and emotions. Put yourself in their shoes and try to understand what the person is experiencing.
2. Show that you care: Ask your coworkers if they need help or any type of support. Just knowing that you care can really boost someone's spirits.
3. Show gratitude and appreciation: Despite hardships, employees work really hard to get their work done. Many sacrifice their sleep, family time and health for their job.
4. Learn more about who they are outside of work: What are their hopes and dreams? Be that special person that will help them reach their potential in life.
5. Listen to them: Give them the opportunity to share their thoughts, ideas and opinions. Let them know that they're important and that they're heard.
6. Give them a break: Be mindful that their personal life will affect them at work. If they're experiencing a loss or tragedy give them time to grieve and don't put extra pressure on them.
7. BE A FRIEND
As a leader, remember that you have the power to influence the way your employees feel; the happier they are, the more productive they will be. This will decrease turnover rates and make your organization successful.
Malika Salih has a Degree in Psychology and an Ontario Graduate Certificate in Fundraising & Volunteer Management. If you work in the mental health industry, she would love to meet with you to discuss barriers, obstacles, and challenges minorities face in accessing culturally and spiritually relevant mental health support services and discuss how we can work together to create positive change.