mental health Great People Inside

Organisations Have to Prioritise Young Workers’ Mental Health

Young workers aged between 18 and 30 are more likely to have mental health issues than their senior colleagues, with a whopping 48% reporting suicidal thoughts or feelings. This information has been made available from a survey of around 3,884 people conducted over two years by Accenture revealing this worrisome fact. In comparison, only 35% of older workers experience such dark emotions.

Even though they are more susceptible to experiencing such feelings, 45% of young workers admitted to ‘holding back’ from talking about their mental health in the workplace, compared with only 22% of older employees.

Younger people have also reported that they are experiencing more pressure in their lives than their older counterparts, with 4 out of 10 people between the ages of 18 and 30 revealing that the pressures from work are affecting them on a daily basis, 1 in 3 are worried about the mental health of someone close to them.

Barbara Harvey, managing director and mental health lead for Accenture UK, has said “It’s clear that many young people face challenges with their mental health before they enter the workforce and while working, and that they are affected more often than their senior peers. Therefore, mental health must be a priority issue for employers.”

The aforementioned study has also brought up to the attention of the general public about the advantages of working in a supportive and open culture, with 41% of those working in such environments experiencing mental health challenges, compared with 65% in less supportive environments.

Mental ill health has been estimated to cost the UK economy around £94 billion per year, according to figures released in 2018 by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), with 1 in 6 people across Europe struggling with their mental health.

The financial aspect alone offers a compelling and insightful reason for organisations to take action in addressing this problem. For example, in 2017, an independent review commissioned by the British prime minister put the annual cost to UK employers of poor mental health in workers between £33 billion and £42 billion.

Additional action needs to be taken. Here are 3 simple actions leading organisations have started taking to get things moving faster in the right direction.

1.   Onboarding is Essential

Young people often enter the workforce with little sense of what is about to hit them. It’s important to help them make the transition to a kind of pressure many have never faced before.

Boots, a UK health, beauty and pharmacy company, regularly reaches out to secondary schools, colleges, and local universities. It runs workshops and gives talks that help potential recruits better understand the workplace, and taps its own younger employees as leaders of these events to ensure that the messages resonate. Boots also helps young hires to build skills and confidence and better adjust to their new responsibilities through group discussions and workshops. Early-career tutors are trained to help these workers and are, in turn, helped by others; they know how to escalate any concerns to a colleague who has had specific training on mental health issues.

2.   Train Them How You Want Them

Once people have been onboarded, they need help understanding how to manage the stresses and strains of the job and how to deal with those particular situations. The key here is to design solutions.

The international law firm Allen & Overy has many trainees, most of whom join on a two-year contract. Working with and led by the younger cohort, senior managers created a programme that focuses on the human element of life as a lawyer. Trainers equip new lawyers with ‘practical resilience skills and advice’ to help them achieve a healthy work-life balance in a high-pressure environment. Among those lessons are included how to set and maintain boundaries between personal and work time. A message that is best delivered by people who have experienced that.

One recent pilot initiative coming out of this process involves ‘protected evenings.’  It allows trainees to flag nights that are important to them, giving them more control over their schedules. Trainees also publish a newsletter every two weeks that helps address key concerns on their agenda.

3.   The Role of Senior Leaders

They should be open about the challenges they have faced and they should show vulnerability. When they speak up, not only would they help their struggling younger workers realise that they’re not alone, they would also be giving them some language to use to describe their own experiences.

Paul Feeney – CEO of Quilter a wealth management company in London – has stated that making it personal is the best solution: “In our industry, we have a saying, ‘Don’t take it personal.’ We should make it personal. People need to know it is OK to not be OK. The best thing to do is open up and talk about it.”

The more we can do to reduce the stigma of this topic and bring it further out of shadows into the mainstream, the less will people need to be brave to talk about their experiences. And they will be happier, more confident, and more productive at work and beyond.

There is a real value in providing companies with the tools to carry out regular organisational assessments and this is where Great People Inside comes to your aid. Our online platform offers the best solutions and tools for your company to thrive in every type of industry and any possible situation your organisation may find itself. In terms of lowering your employee turnover rates, we recommend our GR8 Full Spectrum assessment for hiring and 360° Survey for retention. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

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