Mental Health in the Workplace: Normalize Discussions

In case you missed our previous post, we are spending the month of November in important conversations about mental health in technology – and hosts Panel Online Seminar With industry experts on November 24th. We will share best practices for raising mental health awareness in technology organizations and creating healthy work environments for team members.

Our three panel experts come from different cultural and professional backgrounds, but I recently spoke with them separately and they shared a common belief: Creating a healthy and safe mental space for employees begins with the normalization of mental health discussions at every level of the organization.

Normalization of mental health discussions

When I asked Sachin Shah, Chief Technology Officer, Consultant and Angel Investor, how CTOs and team leaders should approach mental health with team members, he stated the importance of starting with self-awareness and consistency.

“I think for CTOs and team leaders, it should be part of their daily responsibility to take care of people. And that means just turning the conversation around mental health and how not to feel okay is fine. If, as a CTO, I do not feel okay, normalization of that conversation can To show the team that it’s okay to discuss it. “Today I do not feel great. I do not feel 100% and I have to take time off. To set an example for themselves or normalize it helps everyone.”

Dr. Tariq Sonny, Chief Technology Officer and Psychotherapist, had similar thoughts when asked about the biggest issue in the current state of mental health in technology: “The biggest issue for me is also a very basic issue. There is not enough talk about it. Talking about it is still taboo. I read that at least one in five Americans will need some help with a mental problem. If every five people have issues they need to discuss, we can not be stupid when it comes up. We need to start with that. Have more discussions about how you are doing. “

Shelly Benhof, Sitecore’s MVP and founder of Hoffstech, LLC, stressed the importance of two-way conversations: “We push the fact that education can come from anywhere, both top-down and bottom-up, and that should be true of mental health conversations. When teams learn from each other “From everyone on the whole team, and also respect their work and opinions – it really helps security. It helps cooperation and friendship. And they have this team that helps them learn and get through things. It makes these bad days easier. The same goes for mental health.”

Creating safe spaces for employees

Initiating calls so that team members feel comfortable sharing their situations is a great way to open lines of communication. Another thing that our experts recommend is to find places to hold a place for these discussions. Shelley mentioned a previous employer who used a basic tool when the epidemic forced changes in interactions.

“COVID-19 certainly turned it into a moment of rupture. Companies were suddenly forced to support a 100% remote workforce and many were not ready at all, especially for management. Then on top of that, every employee, you know, wonders what’s going on with the world. One company. “She just created and then promoted the Slack channel to talk about mental health. And it was really interesting how many people I never thought would jump in share what they are experiencing. It has become an amazing safe space for openness.”

Sachin said it is also important to pay attention to the ways you communicate and how often. Clear communication is more important than ever, given the virtual nature of our tools. In terms of Slack or teams or chat, there are increased options to get the message out of context. And it may not necessarily encounter the other end of the receiving end. It leaves much more room for interpretation as to what that person means. “

He clarified, properly, its meaning. “It puts effort into creating interaction more often than just your one-on-one. You need to create comfort for all parties so that these interactions do not feel suffocated or embarrassing. Everyone should be able to be honest about his location.

Join us on November 24 at 14:00 GMT for our webinar on mental health in technology

Maintain SPACE for your teams

Dr. Sonny and I talked for a while about the recently released SPACE framework, which seeks to measure productivity far beyond lines of code written. Several aspects encompass concepts such as developer satisfaction and well-being, as well as communication and collaboration. I asked him if he thought These aspects at the same level of importance as things like profitability and successful product launches.His answer was to the point.

“Realistic or not, it’s necessary. If we do not move away from mere fertility quantification and also move to quality measurement of things, we are going to suffer. Hybrid and remote work is going to be the norm. So we need to learn to measure things differently. Focusing on employee well-being will increase the quality of work, reduce errors and create less lag time. Imagine you are saving time in your QA because more satisfied employees are doing a better job. Less time spent on QA is more productive than just spending larger amounts of bad code. Then the queue reduces what the QA will send back, which reduces what the developer teams have to rush. Creating mental health for your teams increases the quality of work produced at each stage. So it’s vital. “

Our experts agree that mental health is more cared for by organizations and team leaders, and that providing safe spaces for health conversations is beneficial to both employees and organizations. Sachin declared that, “We are doing more than before the plague, but we can certainly do more still. And we must.”

Communication builds trust and allows employees to feel valued, seen and vital. Building a healthy culture remotely can be challenging, but it’s not impossible and it starts with honoring a commitment to your teams to approach their mental health the same way you would approach their physical health.

Sign up for our webinar on mental health in technology on November 24 at 14:00 GMT

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