If you have ever hit rock bottom you will know how hard it is to climb your way up again. It takes a lot of effort, perseverance and belief, when all you want to do is curl up in a ball and forget about the world.
When you add on top of these feelings, the pressure to go to work, perform in your role, lead a team and maintain workplace relationships, life can quickly become overwhelming.
I have hit rock bottom a couple of times and know from personal experience that climbing back up has felt like trying to conquer the Himalayas in high heels.
Often those who feel they have hit rock bottom keep these feelings to themselves, so it isn’t apparent to the people around them. In our professional lives, it is often not seen as ‘appropriate’ to share with our colleagues when we are feeling wobbly. That is why it is important to be mindful about how we communicate with others at work because we never know what is going on in the background of someone’s life.
Here are some ways that you can support your team members at all times, whether they are facing difficulties or not.
If you have an awareness of the warning signs that your colleagues have when they are feeling mentally wobbly then you can reach out and listen to what is going on in their lives.
Some signs to look out for might include missing a deadline, lack of focus and making silly mistakes, increased emotional reactions, being withdrawn from peers, being late for work or taking more time off than usual.
If we feel like we belong and are connected to others at work, oxytocin is released. Oxytocin has the power to regulate our emotional responses, lower stress and anxiety, and help us to work together more effectively. If we feel isolated and disconnected at work, cortisol (known as the stress hormone)l will flood our body making us feel worse than we already do. When this happens, effective performance is pretty much impossible.
You can create a sense of belonging in the workplace as a leader by embracing diversity and inclusion, promoting open communication, encouraging teamwork and acknowledging team members’ contributions and achievements.
Creating professional connections with each other not only makes a difference to our own wellbeing and performance but it also makes a difference to the wellbeing and performance of our colleagues. Successful organisations will see the value in investing their efforts into cultivating a sense of community.
Creating and nurturing a thriving workplace community could include organising events and activities that facilitate connection between employees beyond their work responsibilities, such as virtual hangouts, team building exercises or informal social gatherings.
It's essential to maintain a supportive and empathetic company culture that encourages everyone, from the CEO to the Intern, to seek help when needed. By offering professional development programs and initiatives that build on the steps outlined above and are tailored to your organisation's unique needs, your team members will feel comfortable discussing their challenges and seeking assistance so they can perform at their best.