Written by Graham James, Director at Pluxee UK
There’s a concept of masculinity within the workplace that often discourages vulnerability, driven by concerns about career consequences and the fear of being perceived as ‘weak’ or not good enough.
Breaking the divide between strong leadership and emotional openness is crucial for nurturing emotional intelligence. Addressing this separation means handling leadership roles while navigating masculine norms that in many cases suppresses inner struggles and personal challenges. It starts with awareness, at the outset rejecting dismissive behaviour and creating safe spaces where a simple yet important question can be asked: “Are you okay?” or “How are you feeling?”.
Recognising that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, it’s important to acknowledge the diversity of individual needs and experiences and diversify the available solutions for employees. Designating mental health first aiders with identifiable lanyards provides tangible support, complemented by transparent relationships with line managers.
Employers play a critical role. The art of attentive listening builds trust, and courage is needed to challenge traditional expectations and initiate transformative conversations. Recognising that solutions aren’t always necessary, building a non-judgmental atmosphere, and encouraging open dialogues about emotions are pivotal steps. As we mark International Men’s Day, we need to collectively reshape workplace cultures to prioritise inclusivity and support, ensuring the mental health and wellbeing of all employees.”
What can employers do to support mental health in the workplace? Here are my top tips:
- Prioritise active listening. Develop the skill of active listening to cultivate an environment where trust and understanding can thrive.
- Start supportive conversations. Foster a culture where conversations about emotions are encouraged, challenging traditional expectations and supporting transformative changes in individuals’ lives.
- Respectful understanding. Recognise that offering solutions isn’t always necessary, especially when you may not be familiar with someone’s circumstances and background.
- Create a judgement-free environment. Create a workplace culture that is non-judgmental, emphasising understanding rather than solely focusing on fixing problems.
- Promote open communication. Encourage open dialogue about emotions, providing a platform for individuals to express their feelings while actively listening for cues that offer deeper insight into their emotional well-being