In South Africa at this time, we are all faced with significant adversity – loadshedding, increased cost of living and rising crime statistics to name just a few.  And that’s before we get to the more personal ones such as loss of loved ones, illness and relationship difficulties.  For employees, this all has to be dealt with before getting to their job tasks for the day, and they are struggling. 

Before the working day even begins, many employees have had to negotiate a cold wash followed by a prolonged journey to work due to power outages.  When they get home, they are faced with the challenge of feeding their family on a much tighter budget, and then just as they get ready to try to relax with their favourite TV show, the lights go out again.  Many of your employees are frustrated, angry, anxious, sad, and in the recent winter months, cold.  Some may be grieving and others may be depressed.  Some may even have had to change their living circumstances, something that rates high up on the scale of most stressful life events.  My question to employers out there is:

             “Are you doing anything to try to help your employees at this time?”

The benefits of offering a regular space to your employees where they can listen to others who experiencing similar challenges, and vent their own frustrations and feelings, are huge.  Really, it might seem like a small thing, but by offering these spaces you won’t believe the appreciation you will receive, and in turn, improvements in employee engagement and productivity.  For a small spend, your will reap the rewards in terms of employee retention and profitability.

When I present a proposal for these support sessions to potential clients, I see waves of doubt in some of their eyes.  Some don’t verbalise these doubts, but it is clear to me from their body language that they exist.  I can see them asking themselves the following questions:

  1. Is this really my problem?
  2. Can I really afford to spend this money?
  3. If I spend the money, will I see the positive results?
  4. I’m also struggling and who is supporting me?
  5. Will my employees be open to attending these sessions?

Given the opportunity, my answers to these questions are as follows:

  1. No, essentially it’s not your problem. However, when your employees “fall apart” it will become your problem.
  2. Can you afford up to R2 000.00 a month? And how much per employee is this if you have 25 participating in the sessions?
  3. Yes, I assure you that you will.
  4. You too can join the sessions.
  5. When presented in the right way, your employees will be queueing up to get into the room.

Over the past year I have been facilitating these support sessions with more and more clients, and I can say without a shadow of a doubt, they are helping…I don’t have a single dissatisfied client.  I know this from the employee engagement during the sessions as well as from the feedback received from the Managers afterwards.  The employees are just loving that their employer cares enough to offer them the space and that they have the opportunity to talk about the many challenges that they are currently trying to deal with.  And it’s not all deep and heavy…many a laugh is had as well, and let’s be honest, there’s nothing like a good laugh to make people feel better.

I think that what Covid has shown us all is that mental health is everyone’s responsibility.  As an employer, your employees spend most of their waking hours serving you for which of course you serve them back in the form of a salary.  However, now just a little bit more is needed and believe me, you will have no regrets.  Get in touch and I promise, it won’t take long for me to convince you.

Take care everyone.

Your Partner in Mental Health Matters @ Work



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