Dear Corporate America:
Stop hurting people. I appreciated all your posts last week about reimbursing gym fees and therapy coverage for #WorldMentalHealthDay. But hot tip: if you modeled a culture of healthy habits and balance in the first place, then you wouldn't have to spend so much on wellness programs to fix what you help to break.
In consulting speak: Band-aids are great, but have you ever tried fixing root causes? #plsfix
I started therapy for the first time in my life last year and one of the concepts really hit home: understanding how you might be contributing to your own suffering. So I ask you: as an organization, how might you be contributing to your employees' suffering? What unhealthy time and lifestyle habits, lack of boundaries, and unrealistic metric expectations might you be placing on people's heads? As leaders: what types of unhealthy habits are you modeling? Do you reward the rainmakers who are assholes, and silence the people who raise thoughtful and challenging questions? How are you helping establish boundaries in a Zoom world?
I get it - I'm not judging. I was you 12 months ago. I modeled a lot of unhealthy habits as a boss in Corporate America. I rationalized that this is what it took to be an executive. That I didn't really expect employees to respond at 10 PM, but I needed to get the email off my plate. That I was building wealth for my kids and they would see my hard work as something to admire. That this is just how things are.
In the last year I've learned the concept of boundaries and realized that they are missing in the workplace. I've looked at the constant pace of #hustleculture and realized it was a great way to hide from disillusionment with my job. I have looked at the corporate boss who demanded total compliance with a strategy that made no sense, and still doesn't. I watched as he punished every partner around him who dared to ask for clarification (Partners. Who own the firm. Don't have a right to question how their investment is being spent?) I have looked at my old life, and realized I would never want that for my children.
You guys, this isn't the American dream. We've made it into a nightmare. Stop the culture of fear. Model boundaries. Encourage the questions. If you are secure in your leadership - and yourself- they will only make your strategy stronger. With the Great Resignation and published stats of 65% of employees looking for new jobs as of August 2021, your people are telling you: make it stop. If you don't, who will?
I get that many of you won’t feel safe to like this post. Know that I see you, and you’re not alone. Tell me here or DM: what changes would you want your boss or company to make, to support your mental health? What changes will you commit to?