RUOK? Day – Prioritising mental health in the workplace
Fergus, job management software for trades businesses founder Dan Pollard shares tips for ensuring your prioritise your mental health.
Thursday 10th September marks RUOK? Day which aims to promote conversations around mental health, as a conversation could help save a life. Men are more likely to suffer from fatal injury and suicide compared to women*. Tradies are also six times more likely to die from suicide than a workplace incident**.
With this in mind, it is more important than ever to encourage your team to look after their mental wellbeing as much as their physical wellbeing. And for business owners, it’s important to first make sure to look after your own wellbeing so that you can lead your team more efficiently.
Look after yourself so you can look after your team
The stress and uncertainty caused by Covid-19 makes it more important than ever to look after yourself, not just physically but mentally. It’s easy to let pressure build up which may lead to burnout. You need to stay well for your team and business.
Remember that this uncertainty is temporary and we will adapt to it. Writing a list of your worries can help put things into perspective. Anxiety can build and become quite daunting in our minds, however, once those thoughts are laid out on paper, it becomes much easier to think of an appropriate solution. This can help prevent spiralling into burnout and possible depression.
As a business owner who has experienced the struggles of running trade companies through economic downturns, I am fully aware of how difficult this period will be. I’m passionate about mental health and self-improvement and often speak to tradies about this subject.
One of the first steps is to create order in your own life. If you take pride in your work and life, treat people well, then things often start to create a happier environment.
You also need to speak to people about your feelings. Speaking about emotions is difficult and the reason many of us speak to professionals is that they can listen to our words and help us process our emotions and find the root. So if things are feeling less manageable it might be worth speaking to a professional.
Behind the high rates of suicide among men is a culture of being told to ‘man up’, hide emotions and have a tough exterior. This is something we as an industry have the responsibility to break the stigma around. We must treat mental wellbeing just as seriously as we do other health and safety risks.
It’s important that company owners lead by example and encourage team members to seek help when they need it.
Talk to your team about possible sources of anxiety, and recognise that working outside the home during a global pandemic can mean worries about exposure, even when all steps are taken to protect health. You can reassure them that by using contact tracing forms, health and safety checklists and hygiene, they are well protected.
We are seeing thousands of contact tracing forms and checklists being created and it is reassuring to see that they are in such high demand and the industry is taking it so seriously.
There are some helpful resources available about avoiding burnout and embracing a workplace culture that supports mental wellbeing. Be open with your team, show that you care about their mental wellbeing and recognise that mental health complaints are a legitimate use of sick/personal leave.
Fostering such a culture can lead to lower turnover, less absenteeism and an increase in productivity. The Fergus blog has information on managing burnout here.
If you are struggling, remember there is no stigma in seeking help from a trained professional. Not only will you feel like a weight has been lifted, but it will also likely improve your life and your business. If you’re curious to learn more about starting mental health conversations, visit ruok.org.au
For more info about mental health and suicide prevention specific to the construction industry, check out Mates In Construction.