Nurturing a supportive work environment for men

Live&Breathe's CSO with some truths around mental health

From immersing ourselves in the dynamic ebb and flow of today’s business climate, one realisation has become remarkably clear: the well-being of our workforce, particularly their mental health, can no longer be an afterthought. Nowhere is this truer than for the, often under-discussed, issue of men’s mental health. Once a silent spectre in the corridors of offices, the understanding that men, too, face unique struggles in their mental health is slowly gaining acceptance. Now more than ever businesses are beginning to realise that nurturing a culture that welcomes all employees with empathy and understanding is not only crucial, but indispensable.

Navigating the unconventional path to success

My professional journey, for example, is not your typical trajectory. A fervour for language pulled me from political science lectures into the thrumming heart of a management consultancy firm, eventually landing me in the bustling, often beautiful but always barmy, realm of advertising. Along this exhilarating, if atypical path, my mental fortitude was put to the test.

Though stepping into a more senior position than I felt I deserved, in an industry far removed from my initial expertise, while still relatively young, was a commendable feat, it came with its own demons. Imposter syndrome and anxiety became my unwanted companions, as the need to prove myself created a pressure cooker environment, often fraught with self-doubt.

It’s important to remember that my experience is just one of many, and while feelings of imposter syndrome and anxiety aren’t universal, they, amongst other things can cast a shadow over the mental health of — including men — in the professional landscape. The first step in dismantling these issues is acknowledging they exist and committing to offering meaningful support.

Breaking the stigma through open dialogue

Tackling the stigma that shrouds men’s mental health in the workplace requires openness and dialogue. Society often expects men to embody traditional ideas of stoicism and emotional restraint. An alarming 40 per cent of men have never voiced their mental health concerns. But it’s tough! As I discovered in my early career spanning the UK and China, the fear of judgement, or being seen as weak or replaceable kept many men silent about their inner struggles.

Busting through these rigid societal norms demands safe, welcoming spaces for candid conversations.

When businesses (such as the one I belong to) encourage employees to share their stories, anxieties, and victories, they cultivate an environment rich in trust and empathy. This sense of mutual understanding encourages those in need to seek help, paving the way for better mental health outcomes.

Support systems and resources

The role of businesses in championing men’s mental health goes beyond just conversations. Many businesses have made significant strides by introducing dedicated support systems, including access to mental health professionals, career coaching, and wellness budgets. These resources empower employees to manage stress, cultivate mindfulness, and strike a healthy work-life balance, but also show that there is an outlet, and there is a source of help.

Work-life balance, often a precarious tightrope walk, plays a vital role in ensuring sound mental health. But by encouraging employees to take regular breaks, unplug post work hours, and prevent overtime burnout, businesses can actively promote a healthier work rhythm. In addition, the provision of flexible work arrangements, often under protected and underutilised, can empower employees to balance their professional and personal lives more effectively.

By giving men’s mental health the spotlight it deserves, and aiding in dismantling deep-seated stereotypes, businesses can champion a work environment that prioritises the mental well-being of everyone.

The road to mental health support isn’t just about the welfare of individual employees, it also paves the way for a resilient, thriving organisation. By fostering an open dialogue, implementing robust support systems, advocating for a healthy work-life balance, and raising awareness, businesses can breed a compassionate and understanding climate.

After all, the most successful businesses are those that ensure, with zero-compromise, the well-being of their people.

Featured image: gryffyn m / Pexels

Ben Alalouff, Chief Strategy Officer, Live&Breathe

As the Chief Strategy Officer at Live and Breathe, Ben is responsible for designing and overseeing the strategic direction for clients and the agency alike. His work has helped the agency to grow and evolve whilst he has aided clients to improve business performance and drive growth. He specialises in omnichannel business strategy, consumer experience planning and journey design and, quite frankly, doing things a little differently. He is a firm believer that a company's success is dependent on its ability to provide a seamless and enjoyable experience for its customers, but one that is definitively different to its competitors. To this end, he works closely with the agency's creative teams to ensure that every touchpoint in the customer journey is carefully considered, from initial awareness and consideration to purchase and post-purchase engagement. Previously, Ben was a Management and Strategy Consultant specialising in transforming businesses for the better. Including a stint in Hong Kong, he had over six years’ experience of working for an array of global clients helping to drive digital revolutions. His highlights included overhauling the e2e customer processes and associated customer journeys for one of the UK’s largest retail banks, designing a microtransactional token-based loyalty points system on Blockchain infrastructure for one of Hong Kong’s longest operating retailers and performing a general business health check on an international shipping conglomerate. Ben’s a-typical career trajectory makes him a highly effective Chief Strategy Officer for a modern Creative Agency. He brings a unique perspective and idea-generation process to Live and Breathe and is laser-focused on helping the agency to deliver innovative and disruptive solutions for its clients.

All articles