This thing called work is where we’ll spend, on average, around 90,000 hours of our life. That’s a whole lotta time. So, don’t we deserve to feel good while we’re doing it?
It’s a rhetorical question, but I’m going to answer it anyway. Yes. Yes, we do. We all deserve to feel better for being in work.
We all deserve an environment, a culture and experiences that make us feel good about ourselves. Because when we feel good, we’re able to be at our best and do our best work.
And when people feel good, organisations do good
Time and time again, we see the data. Organisations that invest in wellbeing create happier, healthier, supported and fulfilled employees. And these employees are more productive, more innovative, better at collaborating, take less sickness absence and are less likely to leave. The investment isn’t just morally sound, it makes perfect business sense. Right?
Well, the stark reality that The Work Project uncovered is that less than 50% of people actually feel their wellbeing is better for being in work.
One of the lucky ones
I know I’m stealing a phrase from Emily’s blog, but I am one of the lucky ones. One of those people whose wellbeing is better for being in work. And no, it’s not a shameless plug for Home. I’ve always felt that what I do gives me a sense of purpose, a social connection, a challenge and all the great feels that come from success.
That was until I was diagnosed with depression in early 2023.
In truth, I knew something wasn’t right with me – and for a long time I did my best to hide it. But being told I had depression confused me; it made me feel broken and a bit helpless. And at that point, I wasn’t reaching for some of the traditional wellbeing plasters, like free fruit, motivational talks on “how to be more resilient”, or branded, reusable water bottles.
What really helped me was a complete culture of wellbeing.
A culture that engrained psychological safety. The safety to speak up, to say, “I need help” and not to feel scared or judged as a result.
It was a culture that understood that life is messy and complicated, and we all need flexibility to how and when we work. Flexibility that empowers us to take care of ourselves and the ‘things’ going on in life.
It was a culture led by leaders who spoke openly about all forms of wellbeing and were comfortable (is anyone ever comfortable?) in being vulnerable themselves – giving me the permission and confidence to be vulnerable too.
Personally, for the first time, wellbeing wasn’t consigned to an intranet page, an annual awareness day, an awkward conversation with a manager that wants to be anywhere but there.
It was completely humanised. Listening and responding to my personal circumstances to put me in the best position to feel good…. to be my best self, again. And in return, able to bring that best self to work, every day.
And am I fixed? No. Because I’ve learned that that’s not how depression works. But, as I keep exploring this journey – and who I am – I know that with the support of my family and my workplace, I am one of the lucky ones.
But luck shouldn’t play a part in anyone’s wellbeing.
Let’s evolve how we think about (and invest in) wellbeing
Wellbeing has become a regular and much needed conversation. As organisations, let’s embrace that conversation, be part of it, listen to the needs of our people.
Because those that take a holistic approach to wellbeing:
- Creating supportive environments, where people don’t have to hide what’s going on
- Developing leaders that are equipped with the skills and knowledge to support their teams – and are comfortable being uncomfortable
- Offering flexibility in how we work, making juggling life and work more manageable
Will see their people become the best version of themselves. And those same organisations will see those people, bring their best version to work every day.
No sticking plasters. This is wellbeing at the core of who we are.
Let’s get to work.
If you’re struggling with mental wellbeing, please talk to someone. Anyone.
While watching The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse with my son, there was one line that really spoke to me… and I hope it does for you too:
“What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said? asked the boy.
‘Help,’ said the horse.
‘Asking for help isn’t giving up,’ said the horse. ‘It’s refusing to give up.”
― Charlie Mackesy, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse