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Improve your business by prioritising millennial mental health

Improve your business by prioritising millennial mental health

A 2014 global study by Deloitte has predicted that by 2025, millennials will comprise 75% of the global workforce. They could be your staff, stakeholders, consumers or competitors.

Despite the bad rap that millennials sometimes receive in the media, they will inevitably become a valuable asset to the workforce – however, they come with new ideals and ethics.

To nurture your emerging millennial workforce, it will become increasingly important to focus on mental health and wellbeing.

It is important to appreciate millennials as a distinct generation – one that shows a greater focus on ethical practice and corporate social responsibility.

Further, a 2015 Deloitte study pointed to findings that while they understand profit and efficiency to be important in business, millenials place a far greater premium on wellbeing, growth and development than previous generations. To better engage the millennials in your workforce, the following needs to be considered.

Forge closer working relationships

Shockingly, it has been reported that millennials experience the highest rates of depression at work compared with any other generation.

While this may be due in part to millennials’ increased openness to communicating about mental health, practising good mental health habits in the workplace from the top down is vital in positively combating absenteeism and retaining staff.

At Stepping Stone House, we nurture our young people through mentorship, training, and intensive adventure education, providing them with experiences that really grow their sense of camaraderie. All this is about team work, fundamental learning and self-sufficiency.

However, encouraging our young people to take a break is just as important – as we have seen with our summer camps. Each year, for more than 10 years, we have an optional camp that is purely for enjoyment – like a big family holiday.

From surfing lessons and feeding giant stingrays, to stand up paddle boarding and seeing kangaroos, these camps aren’t designed to be intensely challenging – but are character building, nonetheless. The relaxed atmosphere and unique experiences then allows for strengthened friendships between residents and staff – making fun an ideal facilitator for growth and development.

This is transferable to any business, where fun and unique experiences can become a great motivator in forging closer working relationships. Being authentic, celebrating your employees’ successes, and keeping open communication will invariably make for a workplace that your staff enjoy being a part of, and where they feel they can talk honestly about their mental health and wellbeing.

Focus on empowerment

With the sensitive groundwork of an open and communicative business in place, it’s important to note that employees with mental health concerns can still achieve significant success. And while checking in with your employees is important, you don’t necessarily have to handle them with kid gloves.

Where appropriate, you can identify staff needs and concerns to find a balance between the employee’s capabilities and the tasks at hand. Discuss with them what their career aspirations are and what goals they can work towards. By focusing on empowerment, you may find that your staff can still deliver, perhaps even at a greater capacity, when they have your full support and understanding.

Encourage your staff to be creative and collaborative, and challenge them to be the best they can be in their job.

At the summer camp, when our Stepping Stone House residents were faced with two-metre wide stingrays, they didn’t think they would be able to get close to with them. But with patience, they were able to direct their emotions, face their fears, and watch the stingrays feed up close, and learn something about themselves in the process. That’s progress.

Be a role model

Millennials, generation Z, whatever you call them – will go on to have a significant impact on the workforce, and they need to know that their employers have their health and wellbeing in mind.

This starts with you. Boosting your own mental health, being approachable and open, and encouraging your employees are all steps in the right direction towards breaking the stigma and having an engaged and productive workforce. Good employee mental health and wellbeing can be a vital way to get the very best out of your younger staff and the next generation of the workforce.

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