3 books I wish I read earlier in my career

Have you noticed that since leaving school you have less time to read books? If you enjoy reading them and want to be reading them, it seems to be harder to fit the reading into your daily schedule. Yet there are lots of articles, which tell you ‘Read these 20/50/100 books’. Who has the time?

Therefore, I have decided to summarise for you just 3 great books that have had a massive impact on my career, how I communicate and work, and have vastly improved my work experience.

Before you start reading a little disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you decide to purchase through this link.

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The culture map

You can get it here:

[AMAZON UK] The Culture Map

[AMAZON US] The Culture Map


This is my number one must-read if you are working in a multinational company (or even if you have a couple of colleagues from different countries than you are from). It will not only improve your understanding of where your own behaviors come from and how to communicate with other cultures, but you will also understand why some people act in a certain way, and honestly – you will become more understanding and less angry at co-workers.

Let me give you an example. I am Polish, born and raised, and proud of it. I have lived almost my entire adult life in the UK, so my behavior has adapted over the years, however, some things remained a mystery to me until someone pointed them out.

As a Polish woman, I am quite outspoken and straight to the point. If there is work that needs to be done, it gets done, everything else can wait. We appreciate quick solutions in our culture and we leave building relationships for after the work is done.

On a few occasions, I did exactly that with my English co-workers. I would arrive at the office, learn of a crisis, drop everything and ask my teammates to do something I wasn’t capable of and highlight that it was urgent. To my surprise, they didn’t respond and it took a few reminders for the next hour or so until I eventually sat down next to them and did it with them, to both mine and their frustration.

For years I couldn’t understand what was I doing wrong. If you are English and reading this, you are probably thinking already how rude I was. But in the culture I am from, this is very appropriate behavior at work. However, in the English office you are expected to arrive, say your hi’s, ask people how are they doing and add a little bit of relationship building before you start the work. Maybe ask them what they did last night or what is happening with something you know they had a problem with. After 10-15 min of conversation like this, I would then ask the question ‘Oh, I just learn that [something happened], would you mind doing [xyz] when you have a minute? I am not sure how to do this, but I know you have a great experience with it’.

‘Oh, I just learn that [something happened], would you mind doing [xyz] when you have a minute? I am not sure how to do this, but I know you have a great experience with it’.

Back home this kind of behavior would be addressed as wasting people’s time, not prioritizing your work, and maybe even as being lazy and inappropriate. Your boss could potentially take you on the side, and explain that this is a workplace and if there is a crisis, you need to take care of it before making friends.

How interesting is this, isn’t it? Those two seemingly not that distant cultures can have such a massive difference when it comes to working culture.

‘Culture map’ is definitely a book I wish I have read earlier in my career, as it would explain my early career problems with co-workers and why I struggled to have good relationships at work.

[AMAZON UK] Culture Map: Decoding How People Think, Lead, and Get Things Done Across Cultures

[AMAZON US] Culture Map: Decoding How People Think, Lead, and Get Things Done Across Cultures

Deep work

You can get it here:

This is another ‘star book’ that I wish I read earlier in my career. ‘Deep work’ shows you the value of the uninterrupted work state and how much more you can achieve by focus.

Let me ask you a question, how many hours a day during work do you switch off your email to focus on a project? I know very few people who do that, even I used to feel awkward when I started doing this. We live in a culture, where we believe that we should always be reachable. If you are at work, it means anyone can contact you, it means you have to be visible on email, Skype, Teams, Zoom, etc. But do you really?

The most valuable work you can deliver is when you actually deeply focus and remove all the distractions. If you are feeling unease about having that ‘unavailable’ status showing, have a chat with your boss first about what you are planning to do. You can agree with your boss that you will switch on your email 2 or 3 times during work to check on urgent matters, but other than that you will be unavailable and focusing on the most important aspects of your role.

If you have a bunch of meetings in your calendar or need to respond to important emails, but you don’t want to be distracted, you can set your Outlook to “work offline”. This mode will let you join meetings and write emails, but once you hit ‘send’ they will be waiting in your outbox to be sent all at once when you switch to the offline work mode.

Let me know in the comments if this tip was useful!

But going back to the book, “Deep work” is a position you should read if you are easily distracted by emails, social media, or squirrels (yup, that’s me if I sit by the window). It will not only give you an understanding of the importance of deep work but also provide you with tools on how to implement it into your work life.

[AMAZON UK] Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

[AMAZON US] Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

How to win friends and influence people

You can get it here:

‘How to win friends and influence people’ is a great book that I wish I read way earlier in my career!

I have grown up believing that doing 100% of your work in high quality is the standard and you are not supposed to get praise for it, it is what you do and that’s it. If you do the 5% wrong or just not in a perfect way, you are supposed to be told and work with your superior on improving it.

What a load of bullshit.

Praise and appreciation are the number one motivators for anyone! Telling people off and pointing out their mistakes is actually counterproductive, and can lead to resentment, less motivation at work, and actually more poor quality work. Who knew?

After reading “How to win Friend and Influence People” I have become much more generous with my praise. Before that, I was focused on improving everything that came my way. If someone would come to me for feedback on any project, I would start pointing out holes in what they have done, without acknowledging first that they have actually done a tremendous job so far! You can guess, that very soon people stopped asking me for feedback and I couldn’t understand why. In my own perception, I was an amazing feedback giver as I actually gave them ideas to improve.

The secret is, that we ask for feedback to get some kind of valuation. We want someone more experienced to acknowledge that we are on the right track and that we are doing the right thing. If you want to share feedback with someone, start with praise. Remind them what they have accomplished so far, how valuable it already is. Before sharing any thoughts about improvements, think to yourself. Is this really going to make the project better, or am I just picking holes? If you think there is a way to make it better, suggest that they could do 1 or 2 things or ask them if they have considered them already. It will go a long way!

If you want to learn more – just grab the book through the links below.

[AMAZON UK] How to Win Friends and Influence People

[AMAZON US] How to Win Friends and Influence People

3 books I wish I read earlier in my career

So there you have it. Three books I wish I read earlier in my career. If you haven’t read them yet, make sure to grab them now.

What was a book that changed your career? Let me know in the comments.

How to identify a project idea at work that will inspire your stakeholders

When you started working, it is most likely that your boss was setting up your goals and objectives and identifying which projects should you pursue. As you progress in your career, you should notice that more often you are not only required to set your own objectives but also to be able to identify valuable projects ideas and pitch them to your boss and stakeholders.

Sounds scary? Don’t worry – this article will take you through the basics you need to know to find the next project idea that will inspire everyone around you.

how to identify a project idea that will inspire your stakeholder

Know your crowd

I talk about it very often on this blog, but knowing your stakeholders – including your boss – is crucial. By building close relationships you can learn all about their own goals and objectives, what obstacles and challenges are they facing and what is important for them overall. You will notice that some stakeholders are very particular about their time, others want to protect their teams and their workloads, others want to avoid any risks, and more often than not – they will care about all these things.

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You will be going back to your stakeholders’ needs and expectations throughout the project, so it is good to know who they are, how they act, and what do they care about.

When coming up with an idea for a work project, the easiest way to do so is to identify some issue ‘close to home’ – meaning something which is related to your job or which is affecting it.

In one of my previous roles, I have noticed that our SME company was using over a thousand contractors for maintenance issues. Because we had over 30 sites and 6 people managing the maintenance of them, each of them had their own contractors that they built relationships with and usually had 2-3 for each issue, ‘just in case’. I was responsible for managing contracts with these suppliers. As you can imagine, this was almost impossible.

The current Head of Maintenance decided to implement software which would manage the vendors and provide us data about the costs incurred… It would be a great idea if he didn’t quit right after implementation, leaving me somewhat responsible for the system.

As you can imagine, me in my mid-twenties at the time, trying to convince a bunch of 40-60-year-old technicians that they should rethink the way they operate wouldn’t sit brilliantly with them if I just showed up and start talking about changes. This brings me to the next point:

Get a sponsor

In bigger companies ‘sponsorship’ is an actual thing and can relate to budgets and officially paving the way for the team, however you can use this in an unofficial way in a smaller company too. A sponsor is someone who understands and believes in what you are trying to achieve. They will speak for you at the higher levels and will support the communications when needed.

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Going back to my maintenance example, my sponsor became Head of Operations, to whom all the maintenance was now responding. I admit it was lucky, as this was at the same time a person who managed the team I wanted to influence and someone who deeply cared about the P&L and understood how multiple vendors are affecting us.

Your sponsor can be anyone who is high enough in the company to help you make an impact. It can be your boss, your boss’s boss, head of finance, or any other department. You don’t need to formally ask them, but when you search for the right person, talk to them about the project and observe their reaction. Do they understand how this will affect them, do they ask insightful questions, do they give you recommendations on who to talk to? If yes, they are your person.

Get the data

Before pursuing your idea, make sure you have all the relevant data and that you understand the implications of it. Before I talked to the maintenance team about reducing the number of vendors we have had, I have analyzed these in detail.

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  • how many vendors are there?
  • how much money do we spend with each vendor?
  • how often do we use them?
  • how many transactions are there annually? How many invoices?
  • how does a high number of vendors impact our finance team? (they have to process large number of small invoices – that takes time and money)
  • how many vendors are in which category (for example how many plumbing companies, how many electricians?)

Your analysis will depend of course on the type of work that you do, my one is from the perspective of procurement category manager, so it is quite specific, but you will need the same depth of information regardless of your role:

  • what numerical data can be drown? Number of instances something occurs, costs assosiated, time.
  • how often does the issue occur?
  • how does it affect the immediate team? How does it affect other teams?
  • what will happen if we continue this way?

If you are struggling with defining your questions and analyzing your topic in more depth, drop me a message. I would love to help you out (no catch here, I will not try to sell you anything, but your experience can help me write future articles!).

Brush up your presenting skills

Once you have an idea in your head, you understand the background, you’ve analyzed the data and understood your stakeholder’s needs and worries, it is best to put all your thoughts in a presentation.

Start by listing the main problem you want to solve, for me it was:

  • to reduce the number of vendors

Then think of the benefits it will bring to your company and stakeholders:

  • more clarity for maintenance team
  • focused on good quality vendors
  • ability to negotiate better rates as more work going through less vendors
  • less paperwork for the finance team, ability to consolidate to monthly invoices instead of per job
  • building better relatiosnhips with vendors
  • les stress about choosing the right supplier by the maintenance team

and so on. List everything you can think of.

As a next step use your data. Pick out some of the most shocking statistics or information. In the past, I would for example calculate the time needed to process the invoices and the cost for the company to pay the finance team to process them (you can find some estimates online per invoice if you are interested in doing this yourself).

To make your presentation more interactive, you can also ask your audience to guess how much does it cost them to process invoices (or do another thing that you are talking about).

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Going back to my maintenance story, what I have done at this point, I have shown them an A3 piece of paper with all their vendors listed on them. That was the first shock that they have seen how many of vendors they have. We have then started going through the ones we spend the most with and the conversation was shocking. Some engineers were saying ‘Oh yes, I do use this vendor a lot, but they are terrible, but I have no one better’, but then another engineer would step in and recommend a vendor they had a great experience with. And that’s when I realized – they never talked about it between themselves.

Showing the data in the most thought-provoking form – sometimes is just one statistic pulled out or sometimes is showing the sheer volume of the basic data – will give you the best results. As people interact best with ideas that they thought they came up with. I can assure you that at this point they already started thinking that collaborating with each other and working with less and more quality suppliers is the best way forward.

Only now present a solution. Once you see the lightbulbs forming, this is the moment to share what you have come up with, or you can even ask them to suggest their solutions. Once they offer 2-3 similar to what you are proposing, you can then suggest yours. This way makes it way easier to create a buy-in without having to actually sell your idea to stakeholders.

And one last thing – presentation does not mean PowerPoint! If you decide to go for it, try to stick to a maximum of 5 slides (10 is pushing it) and only present key information. Don’t write what you are going to say, only highlight the most important fact or entertain the audience.

In the maintenance story example, I only had the aforementioned A3 sheet of paper. That was it, no computer, no PowerPoint presentation. And this created a powerful presentation by a 20-odd-year-old woman to a bunch of engineers who were at least twice my age.

Communicate in a group

This story teaches us one more thing – it is great to build individual relationships, but the best projects include communication as a group. This doesn’t need to be frequent, but putting all stakeholders in one room can create additional benefits to your project and you might realize that certain pain points show up or that they can even solve them by themselves, just by spending time to talk to each other.

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So how to identify a project idea at work that will inspire your stakeholders?

Remember these simple steps:

  • Know your crowd
  • Find an idea related to your day job
  • Get a sponsor
  • Get a data
  • Brush up your presenting skills
  • Communicate in a group

Let me know in the comments if you would like a more detailed walkthrough.

5 tips on how to smash presentations to senior leaders

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Have you ever pitched an idea to senior leaders at work? Or presented a report or any other work you have done? How did that make you feel? Did you feel confident and competent, or did you wish you didn’t have to do that and go back to your Excel/ERP/other work computer program?

What is more – how did they react to your presentation? Were they interested, interactive, asking insightful questions? Or were they quiet, checking their phones, and just said ‘no’ at the end? (or ‘we will get back to you on that’, which is even worse…)

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What if presenting could be easy? What if you could stand in front of the leaders and be confident, knowing that you have the key to what they want, knowing that they are listening to you, are interested and inspired by what you are sharing?#

You might want to start your journey here – I have recently written an article about stakeholder engagement, which lays down some basics for understanding the people you are presenting to.

A little thank you

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This article is dedicated to one amazing female professional, who has been a massive supporter of my work. As she is my first supporter on Patreon, I wanted to give something back and asked her what topic would help her the most at work. So presentation skills it is!

If you would like to have an article written on a topic that is interesting for you, you can do this by supporting me on Patreon and sending me a message with the topic you would like to learn about.

But back to the topic at hand!

Is presenting to senior leaders really that different?

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Some of the advice you will find in this article, like starting with the framework, is just a piece of good generic presentation advice, however as you progress in the company and present to more and more senior people you might discover that they actually need less information than you are used to presenting.

Usually, when presenting to a wider audience with various levels, you might find yourself required to dive deeper into a specific topic or explain in more detail. The audience might be also more interested in the journey that you were on and the details you have discovered.

So how would you present to senior leaders?

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Presenting to senior leaders tip no 1: Start with a framework

Your framework for the presentation can be a summary of the main points that you are going to address, stating whether you would like the audience to ask questions during the presentation or after or just sharing the structure of the presentation and time.

Having a framework sets expectations for the audience. They know what will happen and what is expected from them. This is a good generic presentation tip, but I thought that highlighting it here is important. Having a clear framework communicated at the beginning of your presentation will make it sound way more professional and highlighting the main points might make your audience more focused, especially if you are going to talk about solutions to problems they have been having.

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Presenting to senior leaders tip no 2: Keep it simple

Simplicity is the key. People often try to make their presentations sound smarter by adding big words or having lots of analyzed data on the screen. This doesn’t help absorb information!

Senior leader are usually faced with dozens of topics every day. They need to absorb complex information quickly and make decisions. If your presentation is complicated, the best that can happen is that the person you are presenting to will take time to analyze it themselves (which will take time) and draw conclusions. The worst-case scenario is that they will decide it is not important enough and therefore not worth their time.

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I like to do what I call a ‘Mum test’. Would my Mum understand the presentation if I gave it to her? My Mum is a very smart woman, but she doesn’t know anything about my job.I revise the presentation, keeping in mind that the person might not be familiar with some aspects of my job, but also that I don’t want to overload them with details and still keep it light.

Keeping it simple means also having your data consolidated. Don’t show what you have done, but what conclusions have you drawn. Make sure though to show the link.

Let me give you an example from my line of work (I am in sourcing). Recently my colleague helped me run a benchmarking exercise between two print providers. They have looked through every single item to identify the differences in cost of materials, transport, labor, and finished products. When they presented the data back to me, they have included all their calculations and the final conclusion: the pricing varies by x% (low), therefore we can stay with the current provider.

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Simple right? Well, no. Their final analysis didn’t include any information about how they had drawn this conclusion, only a massive spreadsheet with hundreds of lines to analyze. Once I started looking into this data, digging in, and asking questions, I have realized that the whole exercise was not thorough enough.

The cost of materials varied around the year – was it considered that we were comparing cost from Jan 2020 to cost in June 2021? What would help me understand the conclusion – and trust it more – is showing me that considerations like this were included. I didn’t need to see the whole calculations but being given the considerations like:

  • cost of materials changed by x across the year
  • company Z assumes X people working on the projects, whereas company Y assumes X people
  • seeing a price comparison analysed in detail for one product

These simple points would give me more trust that the analysis was done correctly, I would trust the final conclusion and I wouldn’t require to look into the work again by myself.

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about this point.

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Presenting to senior leaders tip no 3: Have additional data

Very often if you miss any considerations mentioned above, the audience might ask you questions about the data behind. It is a good practice to always have available additional information.

If we continue on the above example of print suppliers, if I would present, I would look into the current print market, see who are the key leaders and why we do/or why we do not engage with them. Are there any trends that we are not taking advantage of?

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Additionally, I would also have a cleaned-up spreadsheet with all the calculations. What do I mean by cleaned-up? Make sure you remove anything that you might have added during the analysis process (I sometimes write my thoughts on the side to remember to check or analyze something), structure the data so it’s easily readable, and make sure that you are showing your thoughts process (formulas rater than final numbers).

Having these things at hand, you will make sure you have the answers when the questions are asked. However, if you are faced with a question you don’t have the answer to – don’t try to make it up on the spot. It is normal to say ‘Let me get back to you on that after the meeting’ as nobody has the answer to everything. Make sure that your answer is well researched, as this will give you more credibility than answering on the spot with incomplete data.

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Presenting to senior leaders tip no 4: Evaluate risks and anticipate potential questions

When preparing your presentation, think about what the leaders you are presenting to are caring about. What is important to them?

If you are talking to a marketing executive about the print vendor, what in this process is relevant to them? I have noticed in many companies that marketing is usually well funded and might have less consideration around the cost. They might care more about the image of the company or simplicity or processes. If that’s the case, you can talk about environmentally friendly materials and consolidating ordering rather than focusing on the cost.

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If I were to recommend a switch of the supplier, I would think about the risks associated with the move, setting up accounts, processes, the supplier understanding our internal processes, collaborating well with the team, and delivery times. Have a think about what is relevant and consider it before the presentation. Maybe check some additional information. You don’t have to raise the risks during your presentation (this might be useful when dealing with a specific type of leaders) but having prepared for this type of question will support your professionalism and credibility when asked.

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Presenting to senior leaders tip no 5: Know your audience

This last point ties in nicely with all the four before – knowing your audience will make the whole process easier!

Understanding what challenges they have, what are their current objectives and where their teams might need support, can help you develop any presentation and tailor it to the person you are presenting to.

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If you are not sure where to start with knowing your audience, I have created a Stakeholder Questionnaire (click here), which will help you analyze your stakeholders, including senior leaders, that you may be presenting to. Make sure you go through all the prompts and consider how your project or data that you are presenting is impacting them.

Let me know below if this was useful and what other topics would you like to hear about!

How to talk about mental health in the workplace

Mental health has recently become a buzzword that most employees are using to attract and retain staff. Some companies are really invested in the staff wellbeing, some still have a long way to go. In the most recent report, Office for National Statistics reported that 36% of adults felt high anxiety levels. It was exceptionally high in the 16-29-year-old group (40%). These statistics show that talking about mental health at work is becoming increasingly important.

If you want to learn what can be the signs of your work affecting your mental health negatively, make sure you read this post.

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Personal disclaimer

This article is going to be very personal. As an employee who has experienced mental and physical health issues during the pandemic and as a person who wants to improve workspace communication, I feel that it is vital that I speak up about mental health at work and share advice to support those who struggle. If you have any advice you would like to share, please leave it in the comments so we can all learn.

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I am not a mental health professional and if you are experiencing any issues, please follow up with your GP or mental health professional. You can also contact Samaritans, which is a free service.

Why employees don’t talk about their mental health

Mental health stigma can be a barrier for employees who wish to talk openly about their issues. You don’t need to have a diagnosed mental issue, such as depression or anxiety to discuss the impact of your work on mental health. However, there are several reasons why employees hesitate to talk about it:

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  • Fear of losing their job or missing out on a promotion – as an employer you can advocate for the employees that their mental health will not be affecting their position at work
  • Worry over coworkers and their managers judging them – providing training on supporting mental health among employees, can elleviate some misconceptions about mental health issues.
  • Not wanting to be seen as being given special treatment – providing training on diversity, equity and inclusion can further aid creating more understanding workplace and make employees more accustomed to talking about mental health
  • Witnessing harassment or bullying of others who have talked about mental health – this is a tough one to address if this hasn’t been raised on the company forum. However, the company leaders can start sharing their own stories surrounding mental health. Seeing members of the C-suite share their vulnerabilities, can make employees more open to share their own and create an understanding that anyone can experience these issues.

The benefits of talking about mental health in the workplace for your employer

It may sound strange the first time you think about it, but actually talking about mental health at work can benefit your employer. Taking time to resolve issues that staff has as a consequence of the environment we are in now or just their own work can have tremendous benefits:

Your mental health can be affected by your work without you even realizing it, so make sure you support creating an open and honest environment at work.

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Talking about mental health at work can increase productivity and job performance

Being open about your work affecting your mental health can be a signal to your company to review your role and responsibilities. Your company can support you in establishing achievable tasks and regular reviews.

Having a clear plan and goals can help you feel more confident and alleviate some of the anxiety, leading to higher levels of productivity. It can also support your understanding of the impact you are making and your performance on an ongoing basis. Knowing that you are doing indeed a good job, can go a long way for your well-being.

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HOWEVER, if you are a boss, make sure that you are not micromanaging a struggling employee, as this will only have a negative effect on their wellbeing and job performance. Instead, set easy tasks and establish achievable deadlines and empower your employee to deliver these by themselves. Showing that you trust them with their workload (but are available to support them when they need it) can help build a great relationship and improve employees’ performance.

It is hard to get the balance right between letting the employees work on their own and micromanaging, especially when they are struggling with the workload or when their mental health is affected. We will talk in a couple of weeks about how to establish a good boss-employee relationship to make this process smooth.

Talking about mental health at work can improve employee attraction and retention

As we all learn about the importance of mental health, more people pay attention to this when looking for a new role. Having a defined employee mental health strategy and sharing it outside the company as well, can have a great impact on the quality of staff the company will attract. Furthermore, employees that feel supported will be more likely to remain at the company. One of the reasons why employees (especially millennials) leave their job posts is not feeling that they make an impact, therefore feeling more anxious. Because of the high expectations that we have for ourselves, it is easy to miss the great impact that we have. Supporting employees with their mental health includes celebrating their achievements and making them feel seen and appreciated. With these principles at the core of the company’s HR strategy, it is more likely that your staff will be satisfied and remain at the job post.

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But it’s not only that. There are plenty of resources that employers can use to support mental health at the workplace. There are apps that can be offered to employees to support their wellbeing, coaching sessions, or implementation of mental health first-aiders.

Talking about mental health at work can prevent sick days due to anxiety or depression

According to Health and Safety Executive website in 2019/2020, each person suffering from anxiety and depression took on average 21.6 days off. The average for all health issues is 17.6 days. Mental health had the highest average in this statistic and the highest total number of days off 17.9 mln). Time taken off is not only a cost to the employer for the cost of sick days taken but also the cost of delays in projects and required substitutions for the roles (or skipping the work completely).

Addressing mental health issues before they become severe enough for the time off work, can support the employees and reduce the time taken off work. Many employees will not open up about their issues though if the workplace is not actively promoting talking about mental health. You may not be even aware that the time off was taken due to poor mental health as employees will often mention feeling ‘unwell’, without stating mental health as a reason.

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The benefits of talking about mental health in the workplace for you

When we feel supported and empowered to talk about mental health issues in the workplace, we can be more open. Talking directly about the issues we are experiencing can have a direct impact on:

Being able to express your issues and be supported by your boss and the company can help reducing burn out and stress. Having a clear action plan and communication can increase your productivity and actually make you feel better about the work that you are doing. Having regular communication can help you to understand what is required from you to satisfy the basic requirements of the job, how to achieve a good standard, and what is considered an outstanding performance. You might be surprised, that you have been delivering an outstanding performance without realizing it.

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Talking about mental health in the workplace can help you feel more included at work

Being able to openly share how you feel can create deeper bonds between you and your colleagues. Being a part of the wider community and feeling included, can also raise your job satisfaction levels.

We seem to distance ourselves from environments where we don’t feel inclusion when we feel somehow ‘different’. This can be especially apparent in terms of mental health and talking about your struggles.

I have recently been a part of the conversation when a colleague admitted that they were struggling long-term with their well-being and opened up about the issue. I have never felt so understood at work as in that moment, as I have had my personal share of struggles in the last year or so (as most of us had actually). However, when talking about it with colleagues I would downplay it and just focus on the physical aspect of my problems. Now I know that my peers are open to having deeper conversations and I believe it brought us closer as a team.

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Talking about mental health at work can improve your job satisfaction

I have previously shared how your mental health can be affecting your job satisfaction and how to address that, however, I believe that it is important to include this here too.

Making sure that your mental health is addressed at work and re-designing your workload or even your schedule to support this can have tremendous benefits. Building a relationship with your boss and getting regular feedback on your performance, can also help you feel more satisfied at work as you no longer wondering.

I find this to be a really good way to improve both mental health and job satisfaction – having clearly defined duties and understanding what means a basic performance, what means a good one, and what will be considered excellent can alleviate a lot of anxiety.

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How can you start the conversation about mental health in the workplace


If you would like to discuss your struggles with your employer, you can try the below process:

  1. Write down (preferably over a few days) how you feel, what tasks make you anxious, when you are procrastinating the most. Is there something which makes you feel worse? Are you postponing specific tasks? Why? Maybe you are not sure where to start or what is actually required from you? You can treat this as a journalling exercise. This part is only for you to help you understand yourself better.
  2. Spend some time re-reading and thinking about the issues. Write down main points of what you have journaled about. Pick up the patterns and re-phrase them that they can be shared with your employer.
  3. Think about possible solutions. Do you need time off work or would adjusting your workload be sufficient? Do you need a different work pattern or would you prefer to work more as a part of a team instead of on your own. Maybe working from home is affecting your work-life balance? Or do you need better understanding of what are the core duties of your role?
  4. List what you enjoy about your role. Maybe there are certain duties that you would like to do more of?
  5. Let your employer know you have something important to talk to them about, you can mention at this point that this is to discuss your wellbeing at work. You can start with your boss if you have a good relationship, HR or workplace mental health aider.
  6. Give examples of how your mental health impacts your work and vice versa – what elements of your role make you feel anxious or stressed. Use the journalling exercise from step 1.
  7. Provide suggestions on how you can be supported. Giving suggestions to your boss on how to solve problems is always a great idea if you are coming with an issue to them. It also ensures that you get a solution that you actually need and not what they think you might need.
  8. Share with them what you enjoy about the role and state what duties would you like to focus on. This shows them that you actually are enjoying the role, just struggling with some elements of it or the structure. This makes the conversation way more positive.
  9. Ask the person how to proceed from here. Does company already have procedures around supporting employees mental health? Or does it need to be worked out? Ask which elements that you suggested could be implemented immediately so you can start improving straight away.
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What can companies do to support workers communicate more openly about mental health issues

To summarise what can company leaders take away from this article and how can they support their employees:

  • create a culture of inclusion – including mental diversity – provide training on mental health and diversity, equity and inclusion to guide employees towards more understanding of the issues
  • support struggling employees with reviewing their workloads and responsibilities without downgrading their roles
  • provide support but avoid micromanaging – show trust to the employee, but ensure they are supported when they need it
  • have company leaders share their own mental healt stories to empower you employees
  • provide support in terms of resources, such as apps, coaching and mental health first aiders

What would you add to this list?