A time like no other
In a year like no other, 2020 has created many unusual and unexpected events, events for which no one could have been prepared. We are all living and dealing with the global pandemic of COVID-19 and through worldwide media coverage many of us saw the tragic, distressing and unnecessary death of George Floyd (and many others) and the subsequent events and protests that followed compelling us all to change! With all these events and many more occurring it makes all of us at Integral Engineering Co. feel the urge to ask everyone in our community "How are you doing right now?" so "How are you?"
During June 2020 the Institution of MECHANICAL ENGINEERS published an eye opening article by Joseph Flaig which indicated that a large number of engineers are currently experiencing high levels of stress either from finding their work or workplace to be stressful, and as a consequence their mental health is being impacted detrimentally. This is significant!
“While serious personal and health issues bleed into engineers’ everyday lives, the most immediate impact is often at work. 67% of people surveyed said they have gone to work despite feeling emotionally or mentally unwell, while 42.3% said poor mental health or emotional well-being has affected their work.”
Whether an employee is an engineer or not, it seems that many people who are working remotely and wouldn't normally be in a remote workspace or environment, are feeling isolated and experiencing increased levels of anxiety and, unfortunately, we often don't see the visible signs of someone facing mental turmoil. At Integral Engineering Co. we are always striving to make sure we are aligning and demonstrating Integral Engineering Co.’s four core values of Trust, Respect, Excellence and Playfulness both in the workplace and in our daily interactions with clients. Keeping this in mind means we are always attempting to ensure that Integral Engineering Co.'s teammates feel they can communicate safely and confidently whilst living in our value of Respect, “Integral Engineering Co. pledges to have open communication, to treat every member of every project with respect.”
What can we all be doing?
So what can we all be doing to make sure staff feel supported and able to share if they are going through mental health issues? At Integral Engineering Co. we started looking for different suggestions and solutions and came across the website Workplace Strategies for Mental Health which said, “Many employees can and do work while experiencing mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety, with little impact on productivity. Of course, like any illness, there are situations in which the individual is not able to work due to the severity of the condition. However, in the majority of cases, supportive performance management can be the key to continued productivity.”
We liked the following simple suggestions taken from this website but we have tweaked them and added some of our information (for the original version please visit the Workplace Strategies for Mental Health website):
- Create a positive team culture and positive workplace environment, either in person or when video conferencing. How? In groups, be encouraging, focus on what was done right. In private, provide feedback on poor outcomes as gently as possible with the mindset of a coach; you WANT them to get it right, not to feel bad about getting it wrong.
- Have ongoing dialogue with your employees. Ask them open ended questions, follow up with things they mention. Learn what is important to them, especially their personal lives.
- Listen as much as you talk! This cannot be overstated.
- Strengthen the workplace relationships that you have. Do this by being authentic and encouraging your employees to bring their true selves to work, too.
Does your workplace already have effective strategies in place to create a workplace that encourages positive employee mental health or is there something your workplace can do to improve, particularly for employees who are working remotely right now and finding it difficult? In times like these it is more important than ever before that we all feel safe, supported, accepted and mentally well!
“Anything that’s human is mentionable,
anything that is mentionable can be more manageable.
When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming,
less upsetting, and less scary.” - Fred Rogers
- Flaig, Joseph. ' ‘We carry on until we feel broken’ survey shows stress at crisis levels.' Institution of MECHANICAL ENGINEERS, June 24, 2020. https://www.imeche.org/news/news-article/feature-'we-carry-on-until-we-feel-broken'-survey-shows-stress-at-crisis-levels
2. 'Supportive Performance Management.' Workplace Strategies for Mental Health (Compliments of Canada Life). Accessed August 11, 2020. https://www.workplacestrategiesformentalhealth.com/managing-workplace-issues/supportive-performance-management
Image by Natasha Spenser from Pixabay