NOTEWORTHY: Asking for, Offering Support are Skillsets We Can Re-learn

News from the Noteworthy

Asking for, Offering Support
are Skillsets We Can Re-learn

In my last “News from the Noteworthy” column, I wrote about the wellbeing struggles that are keenly felt across the workforce. I shared the results of a recent survey where business leaders, managers, and supervisors told us they are spending an average of 39 percent of their time on issues such as employee burnout, fatigue, stress, anxiety, mental health, and substance misuse issues. That number went up as high as 70 percent for some owners and supervisors.

Mental health-related exposures in the workforce, such as burnout, fatigue, stress, anxiety, and substance misuse, lead to reduced financial health and reduced productivity in the workplace. These issues also speak to the broader wellbeing of people we work with; people we care about. Employees tell us that similar struggles show up in the family and the community as well.

Most people agree that we tend to live in a “mind your own business” world, even though much of our social interaction and supports used to be built on active neighborhoods and friends from work. Yet, somewhere along the way, we began to shy away from what might be considered meddling in other people’s lives. There was a tacit message to avoid being nosy or butting in. Offering support became perceived as an intrusive thing rather than a welcome thing. This norm has left many feeling isolated and stressed, and I’m pretty sure it is no longer a viable or successful social contract.

Asking for support and offering support is a skillset that we can all re-learn and increase our comfort level with. Adults live most of their waking life in their work environments. This is a perfect place to begin increasing wellbeing. It’s a win-win for businesses. They get a more content and productive workforce, supervisors can become less stressed, and the community around them gets healthier through genuine human connection.

What would it look like if the workforce and the workplace were to have the tools to be the catalyst for this change?

Through very generous grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Office of Addiction Supports and Services, we have been able to take the feedback from regional business leaders and develop both programming and technical assistance for businesses, free of charge.

An individualized needs assessment can be scheduled to discuss the specific needs of an organization. And, from that, a tailored approach to increasing the wellbeing (which impacts the productivity and financial health) of the business or organization can be developed. That tailored approach includes a menu of options based on the size of the organization and the time available for workshops with the supervisors and/or the employees. Again, this is grant funded, so there’s no charge.

The feedback received from companies that have been through the process is pretty amazing. We can’t take credit for that. It wouldn’t have been possible if owners and managers hadn’t taken the time to share with us what would help them. Our job was to listen…and it still is.

If the folks you work with are hurting, struggling with absenteeism, productivity, or mental health-related exposures, we’re here to support you. (And we promise we’re not meddling!) Contact LEAF at (607) 432-0090.

We have professionals from around the region that would be happy to sit down with you and listen in order to develop that individualized approach for your business’s wellbeing. And, although this may sound a bit like rose-colored glasses, it is built upon science and best practice. We no longer have to live in a “mind your own business” world. We can actually move to a “how can I support you” world.

Julie Dostal is executive director of the LEAF Council on Alcoholism & Addiction, Oneonta.

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