It has attracted over 17.1 million viewers worldwide, everyone has seen it, everyone is talking about it, you guessed it, Oprah’s interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
It has been trending far and wide, more recently with the controversial hashtag #AbolishTheMonarchy. Whatever your thoughts are on the interview, we can all agree that it has caused controversy and divided opinions on a global scale.
The interview contained several startling revelations about the royal family, with Meghan claiming that members of the family had “concerns and conversations” regarding the colour of Archie’s skin. She went on to say that they had gone to extraordinary lengths to deny him a royal title, including refusal to provide him with security.
During the British tabloid onslaught, in a bid for help, Meghan contacted Her Majesty's Human Resources Department as in her old job there was a union, and she believed they would protect her. However, she was told there was nothing they could do as she was “not a paid employee of the institution”. Meghan also revealed that life in the royal family had driven her to suicidal thoughts, “I just didn't want to be alive anymore”.
Meghan’s situation is unique, but trying to navigate through a mental health crisis, is sadly not.
It is clear that, especially with the current pandemic, employers need to understand they can no longer take a “hands-off” approach when it comes to mental health in the workplace. So what should employers be taking note of from this interview on mental health in the workplace?
Creating a supportive environment is key and ensuring that mental and physical health is treated equally is too. According to Acas, if staff feel they can talk openly, fewer problems are likely to build up. Employers should provide digital mental health training to managers so that they’re equipped to handle regular one-to-ones, allowing employees to talk about problems they’re having. This could lead to; less time off for a mental health issue and improved morale in the workplace.
There are many organisations and charities in place to support employers in getting help and information about mental health in the workplace, such as Mind, Gov.uk and the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
In 2020, CIPD launched a survey where its findings determined that “management style is the second main cause of work-related stress”. Training for managers is key to ensure they are able to spot the early signs of mental health among employees. It also enhances confidence to be able to have a supportive conversation with employees who may be experiencing a mental health issue. The U.K government has launched a Voluntary Reporting Framework to help businesses put in place the key actions needed to support better mental health outcomes for employees. This will help ensure that an employer's approach to inclusive employment and progression is integrated across the company and taken seriously by managers and employees.
In an open letter to the government, Jill Mead (Co-founder and Managing Director TalkOut) recently wrote: “ Workplace culture needs to change and it’s vital that businesses take their responsibility in supporting employees with their mental health seriously”. She goes on to explain that the company culture frames the potential of the business, defines your possibilities and overall mission.
Recently at Staff Treats, we had a great opportunity to interview PhD and cultural diversity coach Nadège Minois, and take a closer look at cultural diversity and how this can be harnessed in the workplace.
The U.K mental health charity, Mind, says “diversity means something different to everyone and this is something that influences how people experience and seek help for mental health problems. For example, for one person diversity may mean cultural differences, and for another, it can relate to living with a disability”. The Meghan and Harry debacle is a prime example of exactly what not to do when it comes to diversity. It is not appropriate to question people’s abilities based on skin tone nor deny them opportunities.
From an HR perspective, CIPD said it is important to remember “ not one size fits all, appreciate that everyone's experience is different and provide appropriate support, flexibility is key”.
It is clear that companies who focus on making employees feel engaged, empowered and appreciated, create a workforce with a high sense of purpose, but what does this look like? One way is ensuring your business supports the wellbeing of your employees and provides an open space for diversity and inclusion.
There are also many ways to authentically gather information about your company culture, and connect with employees, whether it be a survey or a face to face chat.
Is a re-think of your company mission overdue? Does it consider people from different cultural backgrounds, does it make space for people who are differently-abled and does it allow for employees to thrive through health and wellbeing?
Make yourself available to employees and striving to lead by example, engaging directly with concerns and issues will build confidence and trust.
For more ways to support your employees and how you can support the wellbeing of your team. Book a demo with us today.