Mental Health Awareness Week highlights importance of empathy in the workplace

May 13, 2021 Updated: September 28, 2022

In 2020 the mental health of workers was put squarely in the spotlight when the world of work experienced one of the largest changes in living memory as workforces left physical workplaces en masse.

Fast-forward more than a year, and with vaccine rollouts starting to take effect in many countries, workers are now facing fresh worries and anxieties about leaving home to return to offices and physical workplaces.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 from May 10–16 brings a focus to mental health at a pivotal point in our emergence from the pandemic and offers a timely reminder that employers must show empathy and understanding to support employees whatever their work location.

According to the Health and Wellbeing at Work report published by the CIPD (the professional body for HR and people development) in March 2020, nearly two-fifths (37%) of respondents had seen an increase in stress-related absence over the previous year, while three-fifths (60%) reported an increase in common mental health conditions. The poll surveyed more than 1,000 people professionals and results showed that one of the top two causes of stress was management style.

In Nature of Work: The new language of work for a living age, we highlight the need to transform companies from ‘organizations’ into living, breathing, growing ‘organisms’ that hold human feelings, connections and potential at their core.

“With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizational responsibility for people’s physical and mental health came even more to the forefront both in terms of how physically safe environments were for the people expected to work in them, but also the extent to which leaders, managers and colleagues were able to empathize with the physical and mental wellbeing of others in their organization and wider community.”

[Extract from Nature of Work Biodiversity element]

In research carried out for Nature of Work across a wide range of global industries, findings point to an empathetic approach to people management leading to better Health for companies, Health and Biodiversity being two of the 12 Nature of Work elements that make up the new language of work for a living age.

“It was observed that organizations consisting of people practising empathy were better able to support and include, for example, those working from home while also having to parent or double as caregivers, and were better equipped to help manage the mental health impacts of living through a pandemic. Empathy helped teams to come together virtually and to collaborate effectively, making sure everyone was able to participate and contribute.”

[Extract from Nature of Work Health element]

Mental Health Awareness Week gives us all the opportunity to remind ourselves of the importance of showing understanding and providing support to the teams around us.

Categorised in: Nature of Work

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