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The rise of mental health and the need for predictability in isolated jobs

Talent leaders from around the world tuned into the first ever edition of ToTalent Live. Vessy Tasheva took to the virtual stage first — speaking extensively about the changes that have occurred in recruiting — and the need for talent leaders to be diverse leaders, wary of the mental health of their employees and recruits.

Jasper Spanjaart on March 23, 2021 Average reading time: 3 min
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The rise of mental health and the need for predictability in isolated jobs

In 2020, the world went from being in a position of comfort — to a situation wherein stress, anxiety and mental health issues seem the common denominator among all age groups. Luckily, that’s something talent leaders can tackle, DEI expert Vessy Tasheva said to start her keynote at ToTalent Live. “What we are facing now, is that our day-to-day sense of belonging has been bombarded”, she said. 

As a result of the widespread mental health problems – potential candidates are now looking at jobs from a different point-of-view. “In our early 20s, we’re not too busy thinking: what is the healthcare package, that becomes more important later down the line”, she said. According to Tasheva, employees are no longer attracted to big cities, as they are working remotely anyway. But whether through hatred, racism or lockdowns, our mental health has suffered. According to her research, mental health rose from #12 on the list of organisational priorities in 2019 — to #1 in 2021.

‘People are struggling’

Throughout her various pieces of research on the intersection between diversity and mental health with Vessy.com — Tasheva recognised a key problem TA teams are now facing: people are more stressed than ever before. “People are struggling — and struggling to undergo any sense of change. That has become extremely problematic for recruitment purposes.”

“People are struggling — and struggling to undergo any sense of change. That has become extremely problematic for recruitment purposes.”

Tasheva said has seen a serious shift in how employees view companies from a relationship perspective. “A sense of friendship is critical for retention”, she argued. “Intuitively it’s true — you don’t want to leave that place because you might not replicate that place where your friends work. The pandemic has shed a light on a hidden impact: the fact that relationships have eroded.”

The need for predictability

Tasheva called upon talent leaders to embrace the mental health trend — and ensure they provide a sense of stability — where not much else is stable. “Anything that we would typically do that defines who we are, we no longer have”, she said. “Whether it’s watching rugby or going to the pub, many of us have lost their identity to some extent. Now, the one stable thing that helps us define who we are is our job.”

We have to ask the question: how do we support people in growing autonomy maintain a sense of identity outside of their work?”

“When life is unpredictable, that’s when anxiety goes through the roof”, Tasheva said. “You are relying on your work to help you have at least some type of predictability in your life. Isolation and loneliness can be severe when working remotely for this amount of time. You wake up, you go to work, only to do it all over again tomorrow. We have to ask the question: how do we support people in growing autonomy maintain a sense of identity outside of their work?”

Pursuing mental health

As part of the solution, Tasheva suggested an active approach towards covering mental health costs of employees. “As companies save on an office place, the insurance of it, et cetera — they need to make sure their employees feel a sense of stability — and even predictability with their job. Even if it’s a regular Friday update on any particular thing they care about. People know it’s coming, and it provides that one minute of stability in this huge canvas of almost too much flexibility.”

“People have never been so isolated.”

Above all, Tasheva saw a real need for talent leaders to be inclusive leaders. “People have never been so isolated”, she said. “So it is essential for those in higher HR and recruiting functions to work together on these things. For HR and recruiting — they need almost sort of counselling skills to help their employees and recruits. They need enough space to be free, to be able to create and explore… without it being chaotic.”

It’s not too late to sign up

Did you miss the first day of ToTalent Live 2021? No problem! On March 24th, we’re delving into another key subject within the world of TA and recruiting: metrics. Sign up and get ready for another healthy dose of inspiration at 14:00 Central European Time.

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Jasper Spanjaart

Jasper Spanjaart

Writer and editor at ToTalent

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