The impact that the last two years have had on people’s mental health in the tech sector cannot be underestimated.

Employees have faced a global pandemic, adjusted to remote and hybrid working, felt increased pressure at home and have had to deal with the increased customer demand for technologies.

Technology and changing work patterns have encouraged an ‘always-on’ culture greater than ever felt before. It’s an issue that’s particularly pronounced in the tech sector and is contributing to increased levels of burnout and problems with mental health amongst tech professionals.

With Mental Health Awareness Week shining a spotlight on the need to maintain our mental wellbeing, we’ve outlined some steps tech businesses can take to support their employees…

Reframe mental wellbeing as a leader

The first and arguably one of the most important steps to increase awareness around mental health in the technology sector rests with the leaders of companies and how they communicate it to their employees.

Firstly, emphatic leadership is key. Establishing trust among employees and demonstrating care and concern is so important when encouraging employees to open up and feel comfortable sharing how they honestly feel.

With stress and burnout on the rise among tech professionals, think about using solutions other than reducing workload to improve employee wellbeing.

For example, creating an anonymous survey for employees gives teams a platform to voice their concerns openly, allowing you to gain a better understanding of their true feeling and the areas they might be struggling in.

Consider asking questions such as, what would make you feel more valued at work? How can we improve the current support structure? And do you feel you can set clear working boundaries?

Tackling issues in this way demonstrates to employees that the company really cares about them and the impact the job is having on their mental wellbeing, not just their output linked to their workload.

Create safe spaces

Perhaps unsurprisingly, creating a safe space where employees feel they can talk openly about their mental health is essential to preventing burnout and providing a positive working environment.

Safe space can take on many different forms, from informal group catch-ups to more structured forums where colleagues can speak to one another in both an in-person and virtual capacity.

By removing the stigma around mental health, it’s possible to normalise conversations about help and support. Therefore, leaders must ensure that there’s the opportunity to be open and honest about issues without judgement.

Never underestimate the importance of listening, it may not be possible to fix something immediately, but listening and validating the concerns and challenges of a colleague is always a good start.

Take small steps on the road to recovery

There is no quick fix when it comes to mental health issues; you can’t just click your fingers and solve the problem. It requires effort, buy-in from everyone and a change to company culture, all of which takes time. 

Start small by finding out from your teams what more you can be doing to have a positive impact on their mental health. There isn’t a one-size-fits all solution, so the needs of each individual employee need to be taken into account when offering support.  

It’s no secret that those that work within the technology industry are subject to high stress and workplace pressure, largely due to long hours and short deadlines. It’s therefore so important that mental health gets placed at the very top of the corporate agenda, without stigma or fear.

Fostering healthy mental wellness for employees benefits everyone in your business, but it’s not a task you can check off and be done. It’s not a one-time sprint to complete. Mental health is something that needs to be worked on every day and creating a safe space where employees feel comfortable, connected, and engaged takes work.

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