Week 5 of our Mental Health Series - Why does recruitment have such a bad reputation when it comes to mental health?

4 mins

The 'boom market' nature of recruitment, further exacerbated by the high-achieving attitude ...

The 'boom market' nature of recruitment, further exacerbated by the high-achieving attitude of many of its workers, can result in mental health issues being put on the back burner.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are numerous ways for employers to alleviate the pressure, such as putting frameworks in place for check-ins and ensuring that conversations around mental health and performance are kept separate.

While outside factors will always play a part in an employee's mental health, their work will greatly impact how they feel. A staff member’s primary job may be to perform a job, but you also want them to be a happy, enthusiastic and productive member of the team. This second part will not happen on its own; it must be made a priority. No longer is it acceptable for an employer to declare that the industry is ‘cutthroat’ or the job ‘stressful’ and wash their hands of it.

Recruitment can be challenging; job positions can be difficult to fill, clients can be demanding, and candidates may pull out of the process at any time. Pressure is part and parcel of the job. But there is much that can be done to ensure that employees have the tools to deal with this pressure.

Staff members who are valued, secure in their job, and made to feel like their employer has faith in them will be much better positioned to brush off potential setbacks. If a staff member is having a bad day, in all probability they will already be self-critical about their abilities. On top of that, if they know that their manager will be disappointed or that it will be seen as a mark against their name, they will likely take that setback much harder. The fear of failure can creep in and they will feel less confident to try again. So, what steps can employers take to ensure that this outcome is avoided?

Train them confident

It is an employer's job to train a new hire to fulfil their role, so a comprehensive and ongoing training and development programme is key. Staff members need to feel confident that they have been given the tools to succeed, understand their exact role and what skills they can work on in order to thrive.

Failure is normal

Failure happens – it’s key for people to understand that it’s simply part of the learning process. But that doesn’t always make it any easier and employers should appreciate that staff may be affected by a knock-back. Showing them that this is okay by treating them the same despite perceived dips in performance will allow them to ‘try, try again’ if they don’t succeed. Challenges will not be challenges forever; with the correct guidance they can overcome them.

Show up

If an employer is suffering from mental health problems, employers can help with giving them a sense of stability. By being there to listen, checking in regularly and showing that you will be doing those things consistently, will show that you value their wellbeing first and foremost.

Company culture will also help hugely with this. As an employer you cannot be everywhere at once, so by instilling these qualities of approachability and transparency in all team members, particularly in line mangers, you can ensure that everyone can help each other. This is where an office environment can have a huge impact. Being around others who are facing the same challenges that you are and being able to openly discuss it with them will help everyone to pull each other up and boost morale. If you have a bad day and you are working at home with no-one to use as a sounding board, it can feel like you are the only person struggling. However, that doesn’t mean to say that home working cannot have the same environment, particularly if you implement regular social interactions and opportunities for discussions.

Keep well-being and performance separate

Ensuring that discussions around mental well-being and performance are kept separate is extremely important because an inability to do so can have detrimental effects. Of course, it is key to have a line manager with whom you can raise issues, but you may not feel comfortable about speaking to them about how your personal life is impacting you. Or you may be concerned that they will assume it will affect your work performance. It is for this reason that it should be made explicitly clear that conversations about mental health are wholly separate from those around performance and that one will not have a bearing on the other.

We would recommend providing opportunities for staff to speak to a team member outside of their team or even outside of the organisation. At Hamilton Barnes our Head of Wellbeing, Rhonda D’Ambrosio, is that alternative support avenue for employees. Knowing that Rhonda is completely independent of the team, and that conversations with her will have absolutely no bearing on an assessment of performance, makes employees feel more comfortable in disclosing any issues rather than burying them, to inevitably have them bubble up somewhere else. Rhonda is trained in mental health coaching but her background in recruitment gives her a unique understanding of the challenges recruiters are likely to face, not to mention how the determination to 'make hay whiles the sun shines' and competitive nature of many in the industry may impact wellbeing positively or negatively.

Ultimately, as an employer it is in your interest to ensure that your workforce feels confident in their roles and feels able to raise any concerns. Those who feel supported and valued will be better motivated, more creative and a greater asset to your team.

Find out more about Rhonda’s work by visiting her LinkedIn profile and checking out her not-for-profit Mental Health In Recruitment. Want to join our team? We’d love to hear from you – reach out today.