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My 5 year old knows what an amygdala is – do you?

I was so excited when my daughter came home talking about the prefrontal cortex and how to regulate emotions in the brain.

Why?

1) Firstly because I really hope it will help with her tantrums!! and

2) I wish we had all studied neuroscience at school so we could optimise our own wellbeing before reaching the stage of burnout and exhaustion.


Did you know less than 10% of employees who suffer from mental health challenges actually reach out for support?


There is so much in the news these days on the #thegreatresignation and #quietquitting and too many companies are adopting a reactive model, when early intervention is needed.

Read my article below on how mental health support and employee wellbeing are different and what organisations need to start doing differently to support their employees who also likely don’t know what an amygdala is!


Why mental health support and employee wellbeing programmes are different and what organisations need to start doing differently to support their employees

Since the pandemic many more companies have invested in Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) which provide counselling and other valuable support services.

Whilst this is brilliant and much needed – there are some issues with this strategy as a sole solution and why burnout and exhaustion are still at a sky-high levels.


Challenge 1 - It relies on people reaching out for support


Recent BITC research found that less than 10 per cent of employees who experienced work-related poor mental health went to their EAP for help, compared to 14 per cent who contacted their line manager*

Unfortunately, in many workplaces the stigma around mental health still exists - together with people not recognising the signs - means that simply having the availability of support is not enough.

What organisations can do to encourage people reaching out for support.

· Raise awareness of the support that is available

· Share stories about people’s journey with mental health to destigmatise

· Have leaders talk about when they have used the services so they can role model

· Talk about the symptoms of mental health issues and benefits of support


Challenge 2 - When support is eventually taken it is usually when the employee is already at breaking point, burnt out and overwhelmed


Employees often do not prioritise their wellbeing especially in a society that has rewarded long hours, and overworking – with an ‘always on’ culture seen as the norm.


By the time any help is sought so much damage has already been done; some of which could potentially have been avoided had the right support been given at the right time.


Organisations need to integrate wellbeing into the DNA of their organisations and encourage all employees to build wellbeing practices into their every day.


Some examples of how employers can do this:

  • Implement practices such as daily​ no meeting times for recharge/rest

  • Develop employee knowledge on wellbeing including; nutrition, mindfulness, anxiety management

  • Empower employees to build self-care habits into their working day – e.g. walking meetings, 2-minute breath work, boundary setting, lunch away from desks

  • Inspire by role modelling & showcasing how managers and leaders look after their wellbeing

  • Create a wellbeing culture with a success and recognition model which doesn’t reward presenteeism & long hours

Inclusion & wellbeing

It is important to ensure Equality, Diversity & Inclusion programmes include wellbeing support.


Whilst optimising wellbeing is imperative for everyone, research shows that people from certain groups may experience higher levels of stress & burnout– these include minority groups & working parents.


The lack of inclusion in the workplace can negatively impact health and wellbeing on top of other every day stressors that everyone is facing. This can magnify the impact on their mental health. For parents & carers there is the additional mental load of their out of work responsibilities.


Examples of practices that employers can implement:


- Create safe spaces for connection e.g. employee networks - Be proactive in providing development tools & techniques on managing wellbeing through targeted programmes - Educate & inform managers & leaders on bias and it’s impact - Offer coaching support which can be tailored to the individual circumstances


Of course, the best thing organisations can do is create a sense of belonging and true meritocracy in the workplace by eradicating biases, implementing inclusive policies and creating a level playing field where everyone can be themselves & thrive at work.

This is a journey that many organisations have been on for years and it continues to be a learning curve as employers struggle to embed sustainable inclusion practices across the DNA of the whole organisation.


In the meantime employees are being impacted by the lack of inclusion that still exists – and therefore we cannot solely rely on organisational polices and processes as the ‘fix’. Employee support is vital; along with culture change which has wellbeing at it’s core.

To share your thoughts on this article or discuss driving wellbeing and inclusion in your organisation contact me on Shivani@wallfloweracademy.co.uk


NB An amygdala is the part of our brain is which is responsible for our emotional and behavioural responses; it activates the flight or fight response which can be triggered by stress, & anxiety. It is this part of the brain we want to try and influence with wellbeing interventions but it requires conscious & consistent effort.


Shivani Uberoi Founder: The Wallflower Academy; Creating workplaces where everyone can be themselves.


* Source: BITC research


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