Simone Biles rocked the world stage when she decided to “take a step back.” The decision signifies a continuing shift in athletics as top competitors like Tom Brady and LeBron James continue to discuss the importance of rest and other well-being practice. Simone Biles made the decision to put her own health and safety first in the face of overwhelming pressure to win, and showed immense bravery. Biles’ decision was a seismic shift from previous years’ expectations that Olympic gymnasts should prioritize victory over everything else, including their own health or safety.
There are so many studies that point out how people are feeling more anxiety; and despite companies’ awareness of the trend, employees feel they are not receiving the support they need from employers. Late last year, Hibob conducted a study to understand the impact of the pandemic on employee mental health and productivity. In this survey, 49% of respondents said their mental health over the past year had a major effect on productivity. The study pointed to a 22% decline in mental health for employees and a 12% decline for managers. (fastcompany.com)
Recruiters are innately competitive and will often burn the candles at both ends. Similar to athletes, they strive to consistently perform in the face of adversity, dedicating hours of their work and personal time toward organizational success. I have often pushed myself beyond the limits needed out of a sense of need to prove to the organization my role was vital. I don’t think I am alone in this.
Simone Biles’ decision to pull out of the competition for mental health reasons is an opportunity for recruiting leaders to talk their team about the importance of prioritizing mental and physical well-being. At a time when recruiters feel pressured to sacrifice long-term health for short-term benefits, it is critical that recruiters have a balanced view of success. The market continues to throw an array of challenges and the best way to remain sharp and ready for the challenge is to place importance on taking care of yourself.
What are some lessons recruiters and recruiting leaders can learn from Simone Biles? Here are three ideas to start the conversation.
Create the Right Environment
A team who feels they can speak openly about their mental health will always outperform those who do not. I wish there was some fancy statistic I could pull to validate this but unfortunately, I have only my experience to offer. It’s the leader’s responsibility to be in tune with their team members enough to recognize when someone on the team might need to have a conversation about balance. As a leader, I take my “protector” role very seriously and find myself protecting my team more from themselves than from anything else.
Leaders have the power to chip away at any stigma around mental health and make it easier for team members to open up and seek help. Many who suffer from anxiety or depression have become experts in faking wellness, especially in the office where performance and commitment are constantly reviewed. I have found that when I face similar pressures, speaking openly about my mental health—struggles, what’s worked, and what hasn’t- has initiated a safe place for other team members to share their journey. One of my favorite authors, Brene Brown, has stated in two books that leaders should model vulnerability.
Empower your people to speak up, advocate for themselves, and ask for what they need. In the workplace, those needs can range from better mental health benefits to parental care and PTO.
Let’s face it, recruiters are really bad with boundaries. I mean, we’re tasked with growing pipelines of talent-most of whom we have to sweet talk into showing any interest in our organization. It’s natural then for us to blow beyond any other boundary out of habit.
While this is a great trait to have, it should be kept in check. We need to have time away from the office. We need to have time to rest our brains. We also need time to spend with someone other than coworkers or candidates. This is where boundaries will help us manage our mental health.
Yes, everyone needs boundaries for good mental health. The first step is to take accountability for your feelings and actions. Recognize those feelings or situations that drain you and seek out ways to limit the exposure. Tune into your feelings, your past experiences and how you want to show up in the world. What matters most to you? What are you unwilling to compromise on? Use meditation, prayer, journaling or being in nature to allow for a space of self-awareness.
One of the biggest boundaries to is to set office hours. The COVID19 remote working has done wonders for workaholics who now value the time spent with family and loved ones. Recruiting is a 24/7 job sometimes but your body also needs adequate rest to function at peak performance. You can’t continue to run on empty and expect to blow your own goals out of the water. There comes a time for everyone when we just shut down out of exhaustion.
Use boundaries to avoid the detrimental shut down and watch your production exceed what you thought you could do.
The show of love and support for Biles proves that there is courage in speaking up and saying “no.” The message for companies around the world is: Take care of your employees, take mental health seriously, and give your employees the flexibility to balance it all. Before they stand up and say “no.”FastCompany.com
If more leaders and recruiters follow Biles’ lead and speak openly about their own struggles with mental health, it could have a real impact on the industry as well as the organizations they serve. We can learn a lesson from her decision to maintain her health and balance while continuing to compete. I hope that support for Biles’s public decision seeps into our daily relationships at work and at home isn’t a fad but the start of a conversation.
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