Mark Dickinson of DONE! Hospitality Training Solutions tackles a touchy subject within the industry
Pain is something that every employee is familiar with. Pain that is not treated becomes suffering and leads to death. Death means a separation of the employee from the organization, irrespective of whether they are still present in the company or leave. This death creates a bad smell. The odor of dissatisfaction, anger, frustration and broken dreams is all too familiar in organizations, but frequently unaddressed. Poor communication from up to down is the killer. It is always the responsibility of the top of the pyramid to solve this issue: management must own their business environment, but instead frequently blame the employees.
Employees in pain at any level create destruction and this evidences itself in myriad ways. The World Health Organization states that between 40 and 70 percent of mental health issues never get addressed. In this profit-oriented world, expenses are often a prime target when it comes to making cuts in order to increase the bottom line result, while dealing with mental health is considered a luxury. Management mindset: “Employees should feel grateful that they have a job and they should contribute to the business objectives with all their hearts.” But what if that employee is struggling with their manager and cannot express how they feel? What if an employee is being bullied? What if an employee is unable to manage their finances? Where do they turn? Companies rarely provide services for these issues.
A famous edict in the hospitality industry is, ‘Leave your personal problems at the door.’ In today’s world, however, this has to change. Organizations are compelled to recognize that employees suffer from mental health disorders and are required to assume responsibility for their welfare. Plausible deniability is no longer an option.
Organizations must provide support for their people. The cost of mental health in lost performance and unresolved personal issues of employees can reach as much as 4 percent of GNP. To solve the problem properly, we must first recognize that it exists and that the organization is responsible for the mental, financial and social wellness of employees. In other words, the company must participate in the lives of the people who deliver their products and ensure the holistic wellbeing of their personnel.
Steps to creating a sound mental health solution for every employee:
1. Listen to employees – get an outside resource for polling employee mental health, asking questions such as how they feel, whether they think they’re appreciated and what problems they’re facing. Ask them:
a. Do you feel listened to?
b. Do you feel your pay is fair for the work that you do?
c. Do you feel that you have job security?
d. Do you feel appreciated for what you do?
e. Do you think that there is favoritism in your workplace?
f. Do you feel that your managers care about you?
g. Do you feel that your managers are capable of managing you?
h. Do you feel that you have the freedom to get on and do your job?
2. Provide employee resources for neuropsychiatric disorders, a professional expert or service that can support employees and help them get the assistance and treatment they deserve.
3. Ensure that the company mission, identity and beliefs are the top priority of management and are frequently revisited in meaningful ways, and communicated to team members.
4. Treat those with mental health challenges as important team members for whom you are responsible and accountable, and eliminate workplace issues that cause or contribute to mental stress.
5. Allocate individuals and funds within the organization to create solutions for employees struggling with mental health challenges. Recognize and acknowledge that mental health is important and that mental suffering is a real sickness.
6. Invest in frequent motivational events that inspire, encourage and bond employees together. As Spencer Johnson famously said in The One Minute Manager, “People who feel good about themselves, produce good results.”
Companies that take mental health seriously and provide support for employees, engaging them in the spiritual side of the business, are more likely to grow and succeed and spend less resources on solving employee unhappiness.