The Shift - May 11th 2023


Missed The Shift in your inbox last week? Recap on what was covered in Blink’s fortnightly update for frontline leaders on May 11, 2023 — and don’t forget to subscribe so you never miss another edition.

How to talk about mental health: “Leaders: Go first.”

“We all have mental health.” It’s an undeniable statement — and one that’s often used to start conversations around mental wellbeing. And yet, where mental health is becoming more commonly discussed in the workplace, there’s still progress to be made in sharing personal stories and feeling safe to do so.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and this HBR article from the founder and CEO of Mind Share Partners, Kelly Greenwood, has clear advice for leaders, compelling them to “Go first” in normalizing “the ups and downs of being human” and telling a “leader ally story” at work.

What is a leader ally story? It’s an “authentic, vulnerable, and supportive message that includes a personal experience with mental health” ranging from burnout to grief or a diagnosable condition. People in C-Level and Executive positions are more likely to report at least one mental health symptom than other workers. This is a great reason for them to “Go first” — another being that in making themselves vulnerable, leaders create space for co-workers across the organization to do the same.

The full write-up contains actionable tips for how to tell your leader ally story, including:

  • Speak from the first person where possible — and if you do want to share another person’s story, be sure to do so anonymously
  • Ensure inclusion by acknowledging that your experience is one of many
  • Address the reasons why mental health conversations are so important at work and end with a call to action

Greenwood’s article is a must-read for leaders looking to take a courageous step toward sharing their personal mental health stories and creating a culture of psychological safety. It’s not an easy thing to do, and many of you have questions on how to handle the topics of mental health, stress, and wellbeing with your teams.

For expert answers to these questions, keep reading on the Blink blog.

Lessons from LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report

Growth is one of the four key fulfillment drivers identified by O.C. Tanner in its 2023 Global Culture Study. Unfulfilled employees are 399% more likely to actively look for another job, 340% more likely to leave the organization within a year, and 71% less likely to promote the organization as a great place to work.

To retain your best workers and be a competitive employer, you have to offer growth.

LinkedIn’s recent Workplace Learning Report outlines the ways that Learning & Development leaders can bolster their positions internally and deliver the growth opportunities that keep employees engaged: 

  • Activate people managers: “Helping employees expand their skills isn’t something to avoid out of fear of losing people. It’s a business imperative — which is why it’s disappointing that only 35% of learners were encouraged to learn by their manager in the past six months.” L&D teams should look to first-line managers and train them in supporting the career development of fellow employees
  • Improve data literacy: Set aside vanity metrics and start assessing the data that matters. Today’s most commonly used L&D metrics focus too much on how many people show up to training, and not enough on how that training impacts the organization
  • Invest in cross-functional relationships: 77% of L&D professionals say their role became more cross-functional in the past year. From working with Talent Management to create internal mobility pathways to partnering with DEI for equitable learning opportunities, L&D leaders have a lot to gain from collaboration — and can deliver the best business outcomes as a result

One nurse’s journey to healthcare CEO

Speaking of growth, Becker’s Q&A with Airica Steed, EdD, RN is sure to inspire. Steed is the first female, the first Black person, and the first nurse to step into the role of CEO at MetroHealth

Her lived experience on the healthcare frontline brings big benefits, she believes:

“I’ve sat in multiple places across a table. I can sit in a position of empathy and understanding and really channel that strength as I navigate through correcting the brokenness of our challenged healthcare system. Being a nurse positioned me to be a great listener, and this is one of the most critical skills that I leverage. I don’t talk first, I don’t act first. I intentionally focus on listening, understanding, and engaging, as well as opening up more seats around the table for people to feel heard, understood, valued, and advocate for their own health. It really makes a difference.”

70% of frontline employees will apply for development opportunities when they are offered, so take the learnings from Steed’s story and LinkedIn’s report and reconsider what you’re presenting to frontline workers in terms of career trajectory.

Thousands of new roles for frontline workers

There’s good news from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics this month: 250,000+ new jobs were created in April 2023, many of which appear in frontline-centric sectors.

❤️ 🩹 77,000 jobs were added in education and health services

🏨 31,000 in leisure and hospitality

🏗️ 15,000 in construction

🛠️ 11,000 in manufacturing

🚚 and 10,600 in transportation and warehousing

With unemployment levels close to a record low, frontline organizations now need to create sustainable demand for these open roles. Could frontline influencers be one way to do so?

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