Helping Women’s Mental Health Thrive
Now, more than ever, women know what they want in the workplace.
They want a job that’s not just a job—they want a place to make a difference, flexibility on where, when, and how they work, and more opportunities for growth and leadership. If they’re not getting what they want, they’re not afraid to leave: for every woman that gets promoted to a position of leadership in their company, two women leave the same company.
Why? The answer is simple. Women are overworked and underrecognized more than ever before and have been since the start of the pandemic. They take on DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) and employee wellbeing initiatives. Some women say this work is not recognized in their regular performance reviews, and 43% are burned out and stressed due to taking on work-related responsibilities they feel they’re not valued for.
Heavy is the head that wears many hats
Women taking on multiple roles is common—they take on multiple roles at work and are often expected to fill multiple roles at home. Pile all these roles and responsibilities on, and it can take a toll: one in five experiences a mental health condition every year, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
Managers and HR often won’t hear about these issues, as a survey showed women are less comfortable talking about their mental health with the higher-ups than men. A smile and an “I’m fine” could be masking more than you know.
How to support women’s mental health
Employers should recognize that women need support in the workplace, whether they talk openly about it or not. Whether they choose to speak up or remain silent, as an employer, there are a number of ways to support mental health.
Putting wellbeing first
A job is a job, not a lifestyle. When women go home, some go home to their “second shift” as wives, mothers, or caretakers: 9.5 million Americans take care of their elderly parents and dependent children—and 61% of those caretakers are women.
Even if they don’t go home to a “second shift,” recognize that people need boundaries between work and home and time to focus on themselves. During the workday, create time for employees to participate in stress-reducing daily activities, like a meditation or walk break. If your workplace is remote or hybrid, encourage employees to log off at the end of the workday and to leave work at work.
Adopting a “no tolerance” culture for workplace harassment
While a little over half of women report workplace harassment, these numbers show some are still uncomfortable reporting it. Create a culture of safety by adopting a “no tolerance” culture for workplace harassment; this shows you take their safety seriously and that you are committed to having a safe workplace for all.
Supporting the authentic and whole self
When people feel like their true selves are stifled, their productivity and happiness suffer. Give your employees room to be themselves, whether it’s letting them tackle projects in their own unique way, supporting their personal fashion choices, or encouraging them to share their thoughts in meetings. Fostering a sense of belonging makes for a fun and creative work environment, further feeds a culture of safety, and protects mental health and wellbeing.
Offering mental health tools
Access to mental health care is lower among women than men, with higher costs and limited provider availability as the top reasons women don’t seek it out. To make this kind of care easier to access, consider offering benefits like telehealth, access to therapists and doctors, and other tools such as mindfulness and meditation apps.
Attacking the pay gap
The pay gap still exists—for every dollar men earn, women earn 77 cents. Be sure to measure and address any existing pay gaps within your company by conducting an annual internal audit to illuminate pay gaps between woman and men with similar jobs. Compensation is a large part of the employee experience, and addressing fair compensation is one way to ensure that everyone feels valued and that your organization is living up to its own standards.
Being a supportive leader
When you are open about your mental health and wellbeing and take steps to protect it, you give your employees a permission slip to do the same. Be an open person and an active leader and listener who shows support. This greatly reduces stress on the job and lets everyone know you have an open-door policy, where anyone can come to you at any time.
Give a welcoming, helping hand
Many ideas on how to support mental health can apply to anyone in the workplace, but women have suffered an extra blow to their overall wellbeing since the start of the pandemic. Workplaces thrive from diverse perspectives, and as women play a critical role, employers need to create environments where everyone is welcomed and valued.
Content provided by Q4intelligence
Photo by peopleimages12