Yesterday the British Government launched Thriving at work, The Stevenson / Farmer review of mental health and employers. To me it was a rare piece of positive news: finally a top-level yet practical initiative that could really make a positive difference to so many ordinary people. Ordinary thinking, feeling, individuals.
For whilst mental health may be a serious medical condition, such as Schizophrenia or PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) for example, to a far greater number of us it is more likely to be concern over a close friend or relative or a general feeling of depression or anxiety at the state of the world. Don’t many of us feel unwell, through some non-physical cause on a fairly regular basis? It probably goes with being creatures that care, that have strong emotions and, dare I say it, sensitive natures?
If our emotional state and resulting mental state can be fragile, if it’s perfectly natural to feel ‘out of sorts’ for all sorts of reasons (such as a favourite uncle being close to dying, or there’s been a terrorist incident in your nearby centre) then it is only natural and reasonable that we need to talk about these feelings: we need somebody to listen, to empathise and to show they care about how we’re feeling. In any situation where we’re rubbing shoulders with our fellow man and woman.
For too long ‘hard’ business and ‘objective’ academia has ignored these realities, treating every staff member the same way it see a financial statement or business plan. And look where that has got us! How many work places do you know that are not characterised by glum faces and excessive stress?
Where’s the wisdom of that? Or the common sense? Finally, in this report, we’re reminded of what we all know at so many levels but have been discouraged from saying through fear of not being ‘professional’. Being professional means caring about our colleagues, being willing and able to actively listen to their concerns, to share as a fellow human-being.
This is not only good for us, individually, as human-beings, but is also good for business: when we feel cared for, we’re more likely to feel valued. When managers listen to our concerns we’re more likely to respond to particular business-related concerns. It’s common sense, it’s win-win. This is wisdom at work.
Dr keith beasley
As an engineer turned life-guide and Quality Assurance expert who did his PhD on 'Transcending Thought', I've seen life from many perspectives. We need them all to even begin to make sense of life . . .
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