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Why prioritising your mental health is essential to your career

Mental health

When work is satisfying and rewarding, it is one of the best ways to enhance your wellbeing. It can provide structure, purpose, and connection. It can also be an important way to contribute to your independence, your family, and your community. On the other hand, poor quality work and working environments that demand excessive workloads, have low job control and security, or unfair or discriminatory work conditions, pose a risk to your mental health.

In this article, we explore why prioritising your mental health is essential to your career. We also share practical considerations for both businesses and staff to create the healthiest work environment.

Good work is good for you

Cassie Dryburgh is a Senior Consultant for the Not-For-Profit Division. She recently completed a course on positive psychology and mental health with the University of Sydney. It reinforced and expanded upon what she already knew — that good mental health is necessary for career development and that decent work can aid recovery from mental illness. Cassie explained: “Happiness and wellbeing must come before career advancement. Burnout and stress lead to disconnection and disinterest, and when there is more output with less resources, it is not sustainable for anyone.”

Since COVID, people worldwide have a new set of priorities. “At Moir Group, we have witnessed the shift. Our candidates and clients want to work for a purpose and are putting family and causes first. They are less motived by money and titles and are seeking work that is aligned and authentic.” Leaders are in a position to improve employee mental health and wellbeing at scale. By rethinking the workplace via a modern understanding of health, this idea of “good work” is possible. Good work is sustainable work that nurtures your self-esteem, social connections, financial security, status, and sense of identity. Cassie added: “Good work is good for you, and research by the Faculty of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians shows it to improve your mental health.”

Risks to mental health at work

People are a business’ greatest resource. We know this statement to be true, and many organisations declare the same, recognising that their staff are integral to their success. But if this is the case, do organisations support their staff the way they do their other resources?

Most adults spend at least a third of their employable years at work. Failing to address the effects of mental health challenges at work is a missed opportunity for employers and comes at a great cost. Globally, an estimated 12 billion working days are lost every year to depression and anxiety at a cost of US$ 1 trillion per year in lost productivity. “Mental illness in the workplace leads to a staggering loss of revenue for businesses due to sick and personal leave, resignation, and reduced productivity. There is also a large population who don’t want to let it be known due to historical stigmatisation and suffer in silence,” said Cassie.

According to the World Health Organisation, risks to mental health at work can include:

  • under-use of skills or being under-skilled for work
  • understaffing, excessive workloads or work pace
  • long, unsocial, or inflexible hours
  • lack of control over job design or workload
  • unsafe or poor physical working conditions
  • organisational culture that enables negative behaviours
  • limited support from colleagues or authoritarian supervision
  • violence, harassment, or bullying
  • discrimination and exclusion
  • unclear job role
  • under- or over-promotion
  • job insecurity, inadequate pay, or poor investment in career development
  • conflicting home/work demands

Create a psychologically safe workplace

Since COVID, Moir Group’s candidates have been asserting their worth and investing in themselves. They are not interested in workplaces that do not accommodate flexible work and are not psychologically safe. “Psychologically safe means a workplace that aligns with your values and allows you to bring your true self to work where you are not judged. The space is inclusive, and you feel safe to raise issues and are listened to. You feel like you are part of something,” Cassie explained. “If you don’t meet these standards now, an employer risks losing staff, being left behind and the productivity and commitment of their staff plummeting.”

Employers are in a unique position to move the needle on burnout and explore ways to create the healthiest environment for their employees. Here are some ways to support the wellbeing of your team:

  • Champion for mental health: Have someone on staff who has completed their mental health first aid training and is passionate about supporting team members’ ongoing wellbeing.
  • Open conversations: Have regular, honest, and transparent discussions with staff about their wellbeing and make it clear they can reach out for support at any time.
  • Lead by example: Leadership should be upfront and vocal about making mental health a priority.
  • Provide training: Give staff members training to help recognise the signs of mental illness with confidence.
  • Flexible work: Recognise that staff have a life outside of work and provide members with flexible work choices and autonomy.
  • Work culture: Build awareness of mental illness into work culture, processes, and systems.
  • Time off: Encourage people to take time off and to have regular breaks.
  • Be human about it: Reach out and offer access to support services.

Moir Group’s approach

At Moir Group, we do not partner with clients and candidates who do not align with our values. These include care, partnership, rigour, persistence, and passion. We recognise that work is a big part of people’s lives and that having a satisfying job is a big part of having a fulfilling life. “When we meet with candidates, we always discuss and encourage them to think about work culture and values. We prepare them to ask these important questions in their interviews because the right person will thrive in the right environment.” Cassie added: “Because we have such strong relationships with our clients, we are able to advise and provide insight into team structure, culture, staffing, work hours and flexibility. It’s essential we match the best candidate with the best client, keeping their mental wellbeing at the forefront.”

Final thought

Would you like to learn more about finding the perfect job for you? Or are you seeking quality finance professionals for your organisation? Our Not-for-Profit Division is passionate about job satisfaction and wellbeing. Contact the Moir Group team today for a chat.

Cassie Dryburgh is a Senior Consultant for the Not-for-Profit Division. She finds real job satisfaction in supporting our candidate community with career planning, interview technique and resume writing.  She is also committed to workplace mental health and has completed further studies through Yale University on the science of wellbeing.

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Moir Group acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present and encourage applications from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people of all cultures, abilities, sex, and genders.