ARTICLE: The right foundations. Five steps to building a healthy workplace.


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Early in Career

When we sat down with people early in their careers, we realised that priorities had changed. Young people want to know that they’re joining a healthy, supportive workplace right from the start.

Here are some ways you can improve your culture and set young people up for success.

1 Prioritise mental health

Young people know when a workplace is just ticking the boxes. From the time they seek employment, they’ll investigate the mental health policies and resources you offer. Mental health and wellbeing should be woven through your culture and the entire employee journey. From onboarding onwards, check in often and give people the space to talk.

In certain roles, high pressure and tight turnarounds are par for the course. But there are ways to motivate and reward your employees through the tough times. Recovery days, leave bonuses, and work-free evenings could be the difference between performing well and burning out.

2 Engage junior employees

Starting a new job can leave a young person in a lonely place. You can help by connecting them with junior employees within your business. Some organisations connect graduates with ‘buddies’ from different teams, which helps them expand their support network and meet like-minded people.

Your junior employees can be your best allies in the recruitment and support of young people. They can communicate your policies more effectively and point new workers towards helpful resources. Make them part of the process from the very beginning and everyone will benefit.

3 Simplify the process

If employees think seeking help is too complicated, they’ll give up trying. As an employer, you can encourage help-seeking by making resources accessible and easy to find, letting everyone know how to use your resources, and what to expect. Reassure them that any concerns or struggles will be confidential.

The young people we heard from also want clarity around role expectations and responsibilities. It takes time to process what’s expected of them, and they won’t thrive if they’re thrown in the deep end. By simplifying job design, young people won’t need to sacrifice their wellbeing just to be seen as a team player.

4 Redefine mental health training

In a 2019 report, it was found that only 50% of young employees were trained to take care of their mental health. Yet an article by the Harvard Business Review reveals that employees with the right training are more productive, collaborate more closely, stay longer, and suffer less stress.

Until now, training has focused on self-care and building resilience. However, a more effective approach looks at practical skills and everyday coping mechanisms. This training needs to be refreshed regularly, as young people continue their exposure to workplace challenges. You can find a range of great training resources here.

5 Encourage everyone to share

You can’t have a mentally healthy workplace without frank and open conversation. Many young people still fear being held back if they show vulnerability or signs of struggle.

Real change needs to happen from the top down. Leaders should share their own stories and struggles with their employees. You also need to train managers who will carry on those open discussions with their teams.

To attract the best candidates, and keep them thriving, mental health needs to drive your culture. For more tips and tools to shape that culture, visit our website.