Every company says it cares about employee well-being. But if nobody would say the opposite, the statement is hollow.
So the real test is not what they say but what they do.
Too often, internal talks and training about well-being attract the same people again and again. Others, who perhaps need this most, stay away. I’ve lost count of the number of HR people who’ve told me this, and fret about how to attract a wider audience.
Well, if the people in charge don’t show up that sends a pretty clear message: it’s not important.
It says: we don’t want to hear about that stuff.
Which in turn becomes a major block for staff experiencing difficulty. Naturally enough, they assume that nobody wants to know.
Obviously, we’re all busy. The entire management team can’t come along to everything. But it makes a difference if somebody senior attends.
Yesterday, for the first time outside London, I gave a talk about my breakdown. The audience comprised several dozen lawyers at the large East Anglian firm Birketts – plus the firm’s two most senior partners.
At the end, one of those two asked me what else they could do to help normalise conversations about mental health.
I thought about it for a moment, then made a suggestion which elicited lively debate from people around the room. But my suggestion, and the lively debate, aren’t what inspired this post.
What really matters is that the man in charge came along to listen and, in front of all those employees, he asked that question.