We talk a lot about mental health as the second pandemic after COVID-19, but it’s equally important for us to understand that the issues surrounding emotional wellness have been around for years. What the coronavirus pandemic has done is to simply exacerbate the need for connection and authenticity, and now more than ever, that there is a need for greater advocacy surrounding emotional inclusion and the wellness of our employees in the workplace.
We live in the 21st century, but our business landscape remains archaic. Showing emotions in the workplace continues to be seen as a sign of weakness or unprofessionalism, and there is a deep stigma here that needs to be unveiled. Against the backdrop of COVID-19, it is more apparent than ever that these outdated business management paradigms simply do not work anymore.
A study conducted by Oracle found that 78 percent of employees, managers, human resource leaders and C-Suite executives across 11 countries felt that more should be done by companies to protect the mental health of their employees. Whether or not we choose to take action now, it is evident that this issue is greater than all of us.
Emotional inclusion is all about the practice of putting emotional intelligence into action. We emphasise a lot on understanding and navigating one’s emotions, taking it one step further by focusing on the doing and the way we act in accordance with our emotions. Beyond that, it is also a call to all companies to invest in a trained therapist in their organisations to support the well-being of their employees in a sustainable way.
“Emotional inclusion is all about building a kinder and more compassionate workplace—creating an environment where you don’t feel completely drained once the workday is over”
I chose to start Emotional Inclusion a year and a half ago because timely action was imperative, especially given how things have exploded over the COVID-19 pandemic. We all have our parts to play in destigmatising mental health and creating a safe working environment for our employees, and my contribution is to spearhead this movement with my platform.
I have nothing against mental health coaches, but if we are going to take the mental health of our employees seriously, we need to examine this through a medical lens. Studies have shown that there exists a tangible link between mental health and physical wellness. Be it clinical or subclinical depression or any other form of mental affliction, such matters impact your cognitive skills and physical functioning. And in the workplace, this means that you cannot show up to work and accomplish what you need to get done. In the long run, it is at the company’s disadvantage if it doesn’t wake up today and acknowledge that mental health needs to be taken seriously.
In this campaign for greater emotional inclusivity, the onus is on everyone to play their part to foster a healthier and more nurturing workplace environment. As workplace leaders, the lion’s share of the responsibility falls on us, but I believe that everyone can and should be a champion of emotional inclusion.
“We all have our parts to play in destigmatising mental health and creating a safe working environment”
We tend to be so engrossed with work and results that we forget about the humanistic angle of our actions. In this rat race, we often overlook the fact that true work productivity is a team effort—sharing of inputs and strategies regarding next steps and workplace decisions.
If we can engage in constructive group discussions regarding work, why shouldn’t such dialogue extend to emotional inclusivity as well? The best way to spearhead emotional inclusion is to not be afraid to speak up. This can be as simple as reassuring your team that speaking up about something difficult is not a sign of weakness and unprofessionalism.
I believe that it is the social responsibility of everyone to stand up and advocate for a more humane and gracious workplace environment. We know that mental health and physical wellness go hand in hand, and it is a disservice, not only to ourselves, but also to the companies we work for if we don’t voice what we feel. The sooner we embrace this, the sooner our corporate landscape can evolve into a more humanistic one.
Emotional inclusion is all about building a kinder and more compassionate workplace—creating an environment where you don’t feel completely drained once the workday is over. Everyone deserves a life well lived and it starts with us, as advocates and champions of mental health. Emotional wellness is not a fluke. It is something that requires sustained and conscious effort in building, and we all have our part to play in building a better world for ourselves and those who come after us.
To stay connected with what captains of industry are saying on emotional wellness, listen to the Emotional Inclusion podcast here.
Mollie Jean De Dieu is the General Manager of French fashion and accessory company, Longchamp, in Singapore and Malaysia. A firm believer that promoting emotional health and mental well-being should be part of every organisation’s DNA, in 2020, amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, she founded Emotional Inclusion, an organisation and platform that advocates for the mental and emotional well-being of employees.