The last few years have taken a mental toll on many of us. Speaking with candidates during the pandemic it was evident that issues including financial security, social isolation, restricted mobility and of course the unknown risks of COVID-19 had sadly caused mental health issues to become both more common and more severe.
Although the focus on the pandemic may have eased, mental health remains a greater concern for many than it was pre-pandemic. A proportion of the population remains vulnerable to the virus, workplace absence remains high increasing workload on colleagues, working patterns are still in flux and the rapidly rising cost of living is pressurising both household finances and company budgets… the list goes on.
Greater awareness, understanding and support
There is also good news however. As we’ve previously discussed in these blogs, employers are becoming more aware of mental health challenges, and many are proactively putting in place both preventative and support measures for employees. Even where employers are less forward thinking, the ever-increasing interest in mental health in wider society means there is now a huge variety of quality resources including books, online resources and support groups available that individuals can access outside of work. The website of the Charity MIND has useful pages on seeking help for mental health issues: https://tinyurl.com/4avabt6u, while a search of “best [mental health / mindfulness / stress busting etc] self-help books” will come up with curated lists of books and synopses of what each delivers on subjects from.
Self-awareness and acceptance
Judging by my conversations with candidates, these resources together with ever more discussion around psychological wellbeing are encouraging people, whatever their state of mind, to manage their mental health proactively as they might their fitness and physical health.
Many are practicing mindfulness. Some have learned techniques to help manage stress and anxiety. Increasing numbers are actively making the decision not to ‘maximise their career potential’ due to the possible or probable impact on their health. Not only is it becoming increasingly common for candidates to turn down a promotion or job offer for the sake of their mental wellbeing, but some candidates are proactively seeking a step down on the career ladder because they believe it will improve their quality of life. At a personal level I find such decisions both brave and admirable, especially where the individual has given full consideration to what they are doing and why.
The factors that impact mental wellbeing, either positively or negatively, are complex and rarely happen in isolation. For example, taking a promotion may increase work-related stress but simultaneously improve general mental wellbeing due to reduced financial stress or a personal sense of achievement. Similarly, in some circumstances individuals have improved the quality of their time at home by working extra hours to increase their sense of control and professional security. For others long hours are simply a source of frustration or resentment.
While making a detailed list of factors that contribute positively or negatively to mental wellbeing and prioritising them can help identify which ones really matter, it is important to acknowledge that there isn’t always a good solution. Sometimes it is necessary to accept there are things we cannot change or that doing so is simply not worth it due to the mental toll involved. However, oftentimes a relatively simple change may make a big difference, for example ensuring you have clear targets as well as open and regular communication with your line manager can provide reassurance that you are meeting expectations and so reduce stress.
How we support you
As society’s understanding of mental health and the resources available to help continue to improve, it is encouraging that both individuals and employers are making time to think about and act on psychological wellbeing.
Stress, anxiety and other mental health issues are personal, in terms of our susceptibility to them, what triggers them, how they manifest and our ability to manage them.
Our purpose as recruiters is to find both the right person for the job and the right job for the person. We do that by listening and, should you want us to, sharing our opinions.
The best feelings in this job are knowing you have improved a candidate’s life and that you have helped a company to succeed. They are almost always one and the same and they gave a huge sense of achievement and satisfaction.
If you would like further details about any of the trends or would like to speak with us about how we can support you then please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0330 174 6801.