Mental health has been a taboo topic in many workplaces for far too long. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the importance of addressing mental health issues in the workplace. Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, co-authors of “Anxiety at Work,” recognize the increasing prevalence of anxiety among millennials and Gen Z and emphasize the importance of discussing mental health in the workplace. The authors note that anxiety disorders have significantly increased during the pandemic, with 32% of people experiencing anxiety-related problems in 2022 compared to 18% pre-pandemic. Shockingly, 75% of Gen Z and 50% of millennials left their jobs for mental health reasons.
Creating Openness and Trust in the Workplace
Gostick and Elton believe that it is crucial to create a culture of openness and trust in the workplace where employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health without fear of judgment or discrimination. They suggest that organizations need to prioritize mental health and show that they care about their employees’ well-being to prevent losing top talent. They also emphasize the importance of leadership in promoting a culture of mental health awareness and support, citing examples such as Nabeela Ixtaban, the chief people officer for Walmart in Canada, who has made it safe for her employees to discuss their mental health.
Gostick and Elton also recommend having an ally at work, someone to talk to and share experiences with. By getting to know each other’s stories, teams can come together and work towards shared goals, both individually and collectively. They also suggest celebrating progress and looking back to see how far teams have come, acknowledging successes and gaining confidence and motivation to continue moving forward.
The authors also emphasize the importance of breaking bread and sharing meals together as a way to build deep and meaningful relationships. They suggest that sharing food is a sacred act that helps people survive and serve each other, and some of the best stories and conversations happen around the dinner table or breakfast table. They also mention a study by Robert Waldinger at Harvard School that found deep and meaningful relationships to be the most important factor in people’s happiness and health.
Positive Mindset to reduce Anxiety
To cultivate a positive mindset and reduce anxiety, the authors suggest having symbols and rituals in our daily routines. For instance, practicing meditation, prayer, or reading positive quotes first thing in the morning and reflecting on the best parts of the day before going to bed. Additionally, the authors suggest practicing gratitude with loved ones by sharing three things that they are grateful for. They also recommend making one’s inner voice their best friend, practicing self-compassion and reframing negative self-talk to boost self-esteem and confidence.
Gostick and Elton’s book, “Anxiety at Work,” provides practical tips and strategies for managing anxiety in the workplace. They also have a newsletter and podcast that offer resources to help individuals and organizations address mental health issues in the workplace. By breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health and prioritizing mental health in the workplace, we can create a culture of openness, trust, and support that benefits both employees and organizations.
John is the Amazon bestselling author of Winning the Battle for Sales: Lessons on Closing Every Deal from the World’s Greatest Military Victories and Social Upheaval: How to Win at Social Selling. A globally acknowledged Sales & Marketing thought leader, speaker, and strategist. He is CSMO at Pipeliner CRM. In his spare time, John is an avid Martial Artist.