A Psychotherapists Journey Through Mental Health, The Great Re-imagination, And What Leadership Needs To Know

Throughout the last few years the world of work as we know it has been transforming at a rapid pace. The coronavirus pandemic offered an inflection point where daily business practices were forced to make radical changes given the constraints that had befallen them. Yet, in this time as we learn to live with Covid, and businesses are finding their way, new questions arise that are not only redefining work culture but the value of how we rethink mental health as a fundamental building block of business life.

Millennials and Gen Z certainly have the way in rethinking business as usual. At this moment people are beginning to reconsider their relationship to work, and what they need from an employer going forward. The media has dubbed this period “The Great Resignation” where there is a mass exodus of employees quitting their current jobs and searching for something with more flexibility. While there is certainly some truth to that, it is a lot more nuanced and amplifies something that has been sorely needed in work culture, the value of mental health, and the importance of meaning-making from employees across the enterprise to leadership in the C -Suite. Over the past couple of years, the coronavirus pandemic has given organizations a second to reset and begin to uncover some of these key elements that will be crucial for business success in the years to come.

Mindset Matters as a column was partly born out of this writer’s experience as a practicing psychotherapist, executive coach, and anthropologist. Through these past couple of years, the extraordinary change throughout the corporate ecosystem has been evident and offered this practitioner the need to reflect on how organizations should reevaluate their business culture through the lens of mental health. While it may still seem counterintuitive, these soft skills are going to be more coveted than ever, particularly as we move away from a top-down power structure to an open model that values ​​a decentralized approach with lots of flexibility. As these new ideas come to the surface, it is important to extrapolate how these changes will impact organizational culture and highlight senior leadership’s choices to best navigate these challenges.

Let’s start with the phrase, “the great resignation” which has its merits, but misses out on the gradations of what’s happening today. Yes, many people are voluntarily leaving their jobs looking for greater flexibility, however, this is more than just about resignation, this is about reimagination. Job seekers are not just looking for flexibility, but for a balance. This balance between their relationship with life and work has become paramount in this process. During the heart of the Covid pandemic, people were feeling a level of uncertainty causing anxiety, depression, and other various mental health issues. The need for psychological safety and the meaning of work has taken center stage in this changing work culture. As companies begin to explore new work policies and reimagine the workplace of the future one does not have to look much further than the wants and desires of the current and future workforce.

Leadership must imbue the idea of ​​meaning-making into their organization’s ethos and recognize that a one size fits all approach is a thing of the past. Mental health and well-being are no longer a sign of weakness but are critical to the long-term outlook of a business’s growth and success. It is now up to senior leadership to once again reimagine their role in the day-to-day operations. Part of great business acumen should not be limited to numbers and data analysis, but rather, a greater understanding of the empathy for human needs. Even as we go full steam ahead into the digital age, the value of a human-centered work environment must evolve along with it.

No one is asking C-level executives to be psychotherapists or executive coaches, but rather to understand the fundamentals of kindness, empathy, and active listening as essential tools to refine the future of business life. The role of mental health in this new work environment cannot be overstated. As businesses are figuring out the basic mechanics of this new hybrid model, there will be new challenges ahead surrounding team building, work / life balance, culture clash, and more. Building a corporate infrastructure where the role of mental health, wellbeing, and psychological safety is on par with any other business vernacular is the wave of the future, so it is time for leadership to get on board.

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