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Mental Health in the Workplace | Disruptive Minds

Mental health as a business priority. A webinar from our Disruptive Minds Taskforce.


Our second quarterly ‘Disruptive Minds’ webinar, hosted in partnership with the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, focused on mental health and wellbeing within the workplace. We asked our SME founders for their thoughts on how employee wellbeing and mental health can be made a priority, with wellbeing practices being implemented into business models.
Our own research has found that small businesses are more likely to be impacted by employee mental health, if not looked after in the right manner. Small teams have big responsibilities when it comes to employee wellbeing, for both the employee and the employer. The success or failure of a business can be driven by ensuring employees are both mentally and physically well, so their wellbeing needs to be a business priority.
Our group discussed the current wellbeing state of the workplace, to help us get an idea about how the last few years of the pandemic may have affected this.

Adapting to Employee Needs

Serial entrepreneur, Tru Powell, told us that the pandemic had a major effect of those involved in his Aston Performing Arts Academy. Like many similar institutions, they had to close their doors quickly, and with this closure, those involved also lost resources and escapism making many “depressed and low.”

While everything moved online, this didn’t solve their problems as there was huge disengagement. As such, they moved quickly to bring in a full-time online therapist. This allowed staff and the community to get the support they needed through booking anonymous sessions. Additionally, the leadership team realised that it wasn’t just the community and employees they needed to support, but that they had to be mindful of their own mental health too.

The Importance of Boundaries

It’s all about connectivity for Kat Pither, founder of Yogi Bare. For Kat, it’s a vital way to keep your business running as well as ensuring employees are well, and Kat championed technology as a great way of staying connected throughout the pandemic. However, this wasn’t without its own set of problems, with boundaries becoming blurred.

“Boundaries went out the window,” she said. “Work became many people’s escapism during this time (the pandemic), and for many, there was no 9-5 anymore, people would be working on the weekends, or in the evenings – and I think it was so important to set firm, but kind boundaries for my employees.” 

The key for Kat was flexibility and understanding that people are people. Being able to relax on a day off, knowing what their needs are and nurturing these; this was all vital in respecting and maintaining these boundaries.

Mike Dunn, Managing Director of Excel TM Group agreed, with his own experiences during the pandemic fuelling this.  

“I wanted my team to be able to come to me and have the ability to say, Mike, my little boy is not well, or, my little girls fell over, whatever it might be and for them not to feel under pressure, or wondering if they’re going to get in trouble for being a parent. We are in an industry where these things are sometimes frowned upon, but I wanted to break that stigma.” 

Kat added, “we base so much off archaic templates from the 1950s, and we live in a totally new world with new challenges and technology in our lives. There are no boundaries with tech, and I think it’s so important to take a step back and think that if you employ people that are passionate about what you do and you inject passion and creativity, you could get far more done, quicker, better, and with more care.”

Encouraging Positive Activities

Shan Hanif, founder of Genflow, found that the pandemic caused mass panic in their industry, as the changes the pandemic had on brands then had a knock-on effect on how creators worked.

“I rallied my team together on a positive mission. There were so many people out there whose income had stopped, so the team started reaching out to people to find out how we could help,” he said. “So not only was that a positive focus for my team, it was a positive focus for people we’re interacting with.” 

“It was something to look forward to because we were winning together, in a world where at that time it felt like everything was going to go west,” said Shan. 

Now more than ever, it is so important to be aware of how you and your employees are feeling. By making wellbeing a priority, you can ensure your team is successful and well supported. The above are all great ways to encourage positive change and be aware of your employees’ mental health, and for more information and advice, watch the full conversation below.

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Disruptive Minds: Mental health in SMEs

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