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Although the conversation surrounding Covid-19 is often dominated by doom and gloom it has had positive effects on the workplace. One of these is a new culture that encourages empathy about the lives of people and their mental health. This topic was stigmatized for decades. Employees felt uncomfortable discussing their personal mental health experiences. But the pandemic brought about a new culture of empathy and allowed employees to embrace their intersectional experiences.
Early commitment to diversity and inclusion
Entrepreneurs’ primary focus is to launch their startup and get it off the ground. However, many entrepreneurs fail to include diversity and inclusion in the early stages of development simply because it doesn’t seem like it. The priority. It is actually better to encourage diverse communities before you become competitive to create a more inclusive space, grow organically from different perspectives, and attract exceptional talent.
Although this article is focused on mental health, it is applicable to all communities. Startups are not only built on the ideas and contributions of their members. Employees who feel empowered and inspired to contribute their true selves to the company are able to do the best work.
Related: What leaders get wrong about mental health
It all starts with a conversation
What is the first step in creating a culture that promotes overall wellbeing at a startup? It starts with a conversation. It can be difficult for people share their personal stories. Yourteam with an empowering platform to follow suit. You might be surprised to find that when you share a story on mental health issues, a new sense of sensibility will be embedded in the company culture. This could include starting every meeting of the team or individual with a mental health check in.
An executive’s primary goal is to not only lead a company but also to be a trailblazer in solving real-world problems. While there will be many challenges along the way to success, the most important is creating an environment that is safe for employees. To create this type of community, foster dialogue, funnel new ideas to organizational advancement, and foster entrepreneurship.
Mental health strategy
Are your diversity, equity and inclusion (DEIA), strategies accessible both internally as well as externally? If so, are they inclusive of mental health considerations. Many startups don’t even have a DEIA department. However, this is essential for launching a business and creating a work environment that is meaningful. When creating your strategy, think about how mental health affects employees. Also, do high-level research to see what other companies are doing.
Related: Low-cost Mental Health Strategies that Deliver Big Results for Employee Happiness and Company Revenue
Here are some things to keep in mind as you engage in this process:
It’s okay to talk about mental health issues at work. If someone is not comfortable disclosing their condition, they can still seek help whenever they need it.
Does your strategy include information about healthcare benefits and mental health? Potential employees are entitled to know if your startup offers such benefits.
Are you prioritizing accommodations like workplace distraction/noise-reductions, proper lighting, privacy spaces, and the equipment/technology to support these?
Are you providing training and resources regarding stress and overall wellness?
Are you able to conduct focus group interviews to find organizational gaps that can improve employees’ experiences?
Finally, employee resource groups (ERGs), can offer additional space for people to mix, interact, and create synergy. You might also consider creating an ERG to address mental health/disability. This will allow for more discussion and awareness.
Related: Shifting The Narrative: Entrepreneurs & Mental Health
All of it together
Entrepreneurs want to create the best products, and the best companies. Diverse communities are becoming more resilient due to the pandemic. However, they also expect the workplace to change. Even the most well-known companies around the world are losing their way due to a lack of diversity and inclusion initiatives. Do the right thing and create a more equitable and inclusive world with mental health as a enduring factor. It all starts with you.