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How to Nurture Well-being and Mental Health at Work

September 15, 2023

TRANSFORMING
WORK

WITH
SOPHIE WADE

How to Nurture Well-being and Mental Health at Work

How to Nurture Well-being and Mental Health at Work

Paula Allen, Global Leader and SVP of Research and Client Insights at Telus Health, brings her career-long expertise spanning health and productivity management, workplace and mental health, and total well-being strategies for the workplace. Paula shares her insights about how increased uncertainty and overwhelm in a fast-changing world affect workers’ mental health. She explains why investing in a strong culture and relationships, and well-being initiatives which focus on empathy and recovery, are key to achieving and sustaining a healthy workforce and business outcomes.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[03:03] Images of stress-related structural brain changes cause Paula to study neuropsychology.

[06:00] Paula is appalled witnessing how adults with mental health issues are treated in the workplace.

[06:32] The CEO asks if Paula wants to change the situation—she says “Yes!”.

[07:17] Paula boldly calls a prior CEO at her company after hearing him talk about providers’ failings.

[08:14] They had the opportunity to redesign the system from the beginning so people struggling would get what they needed.

[09:30] With an empathy-based approach for physical health, they achieve better outcomes.

[10:30] With access to research, Paula hones in on the drivers behind different workplace behaviors.

[12:27] Focusing on and sharing expectations of recovery are beneficial all round.

[13:30] They discover a correlation between the decrease in middle management and increase in mental illness.

[14:30] Most supervisors know something is “off” early on, but they just don’t know what to do.

[16:45] A manager’s core job is to ensure teams are productive but that only happens when people are feel safe and get training.

[18:20] We have had a reset relating to mental health since the pandemic.

[18:58] Because people derive part of their identity from their work, fostering a healthy environment is critical.

[20:35] A few reasons why employees in need are not using their employer’s benefits.

[22:32] Stigma comes from lack of knowledge; Paula shares an interesting way to reframe how we treat people who are struggling.

[24:36] Occupational health is also mental health. Paula notes her predictions with the coming change of pace with AI.

[28:17] Paula talks about the recent organization-led innovations in the mental health space and shares some interesting demographic data.

[31:12] The very real increase in stress younger generations is having to live with and how to face it.

[33:08] Paula touches on the increasing pace of change and its negative impacts on human mental health — and what to do about it.

[36:23] Paula shares an interesting research parallel between the management of dementia and overwhelm.

[38:18] The Stockdale paradox.

[40:30] Paula discusses the types of support benefits that exist today and the ones that would be ideal for flexible, distributed workforces.

[44:41] The solution to mental health in the workplace is multi-layered.

[46:26] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: Our best source of resilience is our relationships with other people. Social support is the core of everything to feel a sense of belonging in some group. So if you are feeling off, reach out and talk to someone — you don’t have to talk about what the issue is. Just be connected. On the other side let people in your life understand that they’re important and keep connected to them.

QUOTES

“Giving people what they need allows the clinical work to come to fruition.”

“When you look at drivers of productivity, of absence, of turnover, of innovation, of collaboration, of really strong workplace culture, you end up coming back to mental health and well-being.”

“A manager’s job is to help make sure that their teams are productive. People are not going to be productive if they don’t feel safe. We’re not training managers to be counselors, clinicians, or psychologists! We’re training them to create healthy workplaces that are productive.”

“If your people aren’t in a good place, you’re not going to be in a good place as an organization. The pandemic made this pretty clear.”

“Make sure that people do not feel alone, that they feel connected to your workplace. Have team meetings that are small enough that people can’t be on a screen with the camera off. If your employee is feeling isolated in your workplace relationship, you are going to pay for it and they are going to suffer.”

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