Landing a promotion, getting your first full-time job or returning to work after having a baby are all meant to be exciting milestones in a person’s life. However, expectations of these events may leave employees feeling underwhelmed when they occur. Contributor Dr Arun Thiyagarajan, Medical Director – Bupa Health Clinics.
To mark Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19th May), Bupa Health Clinics1 has released a new report which reveals Britons admit to feeling upset or down after comparing their experience of a milestone to someone else’s on social media. Eighty-five per cent of people said they felt this way when returning to work after having a baby; 70% said it happened when starting their first job and 64% said they felt low after getting a promotion and seeing someone celebrate the same occasion on social media.
Bupa Health Clinics’ Medical Director, Dr Arun Thiyagarajan, says: “This new research shows how important it is for business leaders to be aware of their employees’ highs, as well as lows. It is important for leaders to be aware of external pressure that employees can bring into work and not just recognising pressures of things at work.
“It’s easy to assume that someone getting a promotion or returning to work after having a baby has good mental wellbeing, but that isn’t always the case.”
Dr Arun Thiyagarajan, continues: “Half of Britons say that their mental health has been negatively impacted by pressure to achieve life milestones. In reality, reaching these milestones can be hard work, from landing the dream job, successfully getting a promotion to winning a big client you may feel as though it is an anti-climax and can create a feeling of being underwhelmed.
“Social media can be a fantastic way of engaging with friends and family, staying informed and building and maintaining a network. However, it can be easy to forget that what we see on social media is just a snapshot of a moment in time that can sometimes leave people feeling depressed and inadequate when their experiences don’t match up.”
Dr Arun Thiyagarajan, Medical Director at Bupa Health Clinics gives his five top tips on how to support employees:
Spot the warning signs
Be aware of any changing behaviours or moods within your team. Keep an eye out for any major shifts in attitude or productivity and address them as soon as possible. More often than not, we try and hide when we are feeling down or upset. Look out for anyone who is noticeably changing their behaviour and offer to sit down with them and see how you can support.
Check in regularly
Keeping issues to yourself is very common in the workplace. Arrange regular one-to-ones with employees who are going through life events, such as after returning to work from maternity leave, to see how they are doing. If further support is needed, a more holistic view of your health can be easily achieved – visit a GP/
Learn about the support that is out there and offer it to your employees. Appointing a member of the team as a mental health first aider is a great way to offer mental health training and support for staff. Having someone available to speak to about anything that may be worrying your employees can make a huge difference to their mental health, whether this is something happening in the workplace or at home.
Morale in the office is not only important for productivity, it also has a huge impact on mental wellbeing. Encourage openness in the office with regards to mental health. Organising wellness events or breakfasts where speakers attend and talk to your team is a great way to show your employees that they can talk about their personal lives without being judged.
Preparation is key
As well as checking in with staff, be mindful how physical health can play a huge role in how vulnerable their mental health can be. Encourage lunchtime walks, introduce healthy eating at work, ensure your staff leave on time so they get enough downtime outside of work.