The future of work is already here but just not evenly distributed — to paraphrase William Gibson. Indeed this year has reads a little like a future dystopian novel for many, yet work might be changing for the better. 100 days of restrictions on where we work and being apart from each other has not only accelerated the conversation around remote and more flexible working patterns, but also shone an extra bright light on the continuing importance of mental health at work.
Mental health at work is no just longer about mental health in the workplace — but rather, about designing relationships, patterns and structures which consider how you can support your teams, no matter where they’re working or how they’re working, and many employers are doing great work to make sure their people are invested in and cared for — and with with good results, we know that investing in mental health is not only good for people, it’s good for business too — research shows that interventions and activities supporting positive mental health can can provide a return on investment of up to 8:1.
Yet — as teams increasingly move towards more diverse groups, combining on-site and remote, full-time, part-time and freelancers, or with many businesses, especially in the creative sector, building their teams from almost exclusively freelance talent, what responsibility and investment is being put into your non-employees?
This year’s World Mental Health Day theme is “mental health for all” — we all have mental health, and we all have a responsibility to take care of the mental health of those we work with, regardless of employment contract. This means your freelancers and self-employed colleagues too.
Unfortunately — it seems like there’s a very long way to go. In our annual study, we discovered that over 71% of freelancers don’t feel their clients or employing organisation has their wellbeing in mind, that 66% don’t feel they have adequate support for their mental health within the context of work, 63% wouldn’t know where to find that support, and 81% would like clients to take some responsibility.
Whilst it’s entirely understandable that clients aren’t going to pay for health insurance or sick-pay, training or vacation days, or invite freelancers to wellbeing…