Closeup of sad young Asian woman at cafe leaning head on clasped hands and staring into vacancy. Tired freelancer feeling burnout. Stress and bad news concept, stress

How tech companies can promote women’s mental health

Closeup of sad young Asian woman at cafe leaning head on clasped hands and staring into vacancy. Tired freelancer feeling burnout. Stress and bad news concept, stress

By Elizabeth Hatt, Director at Boomi

The pandemic’s widespread impact on the mental health of workers has been well documented, with a survey from the UCL finding that depression and anxiety symptoms increased sharply over the Christmas period.

While many employees experience periods of stress and anxiety, this has only increased during this long period of uncertainty. Is the pandemic over? Will it ever be over? We mull over these questions as we dig deep to push past something that feels like it may never fully end. The effect this has had is detrimental to the well-being and productivity of employees as well as to the success of a business.

Building back confidence

Every individual will respond differently, and we can’t predict the future, but there are several promising approaches we can take to improve the mental health and day to day livelihood of workers.

We’re talking specifically about women’s mental health and when I speak to women in tech roles about mental health, the same issues emerge. Competence and ability abound but due to a variety of reasons, both internal and external, confidence may not be in such high supply.

I find that a great way to support confidence is through mentoring and actively engaging in understanding the source of their confidence (or lack thereof).  According to a study by the Cambridge Judge Business School, mentoring programs can help reduce anxiety, ergo, it must help build confidence.

Opening up

As we move forward, we need to make sure that we are continuing to offer the flexibility that has been afforded to employees throughout the pandemic to provide some measure of consistency as they transition into the post-pandemic world. The idea of going back into a crowded workplace may excite some and unnerve others.  So, how, on a more permanent basis, do we develop and maintain an inclusive working environment while operating in different physical locations?

At Boomi I am exploring a more programmatic approach to this, getting innovative ideas from our teams on how we proactively nurture inclusion and understand what makes our employees feel at ease.

Businesses need to adjust or remove expectations. They have to be open and talk to their employees and continue to have those conversations surrounding mental health. At Boomi, we have created a wellness space, whereby everyone is encouraged to share and discuss their thoughts and feelings on the topics of mental health.

By creating and maintaining this community, whether through an active messaging channel, invited speakers or virtual exercise classes, all within the workplace, it creates an open dialogue that encourages conscious awareness of nurturing wellness in all facets of life and business.

Happy & Hybrid

Employees must be given the opportunity to articulate what they need in order to succeed at work and wellness.  This could be a more comprehensive, codified hybrid work scheme, allowing employees to take back control over their lives or challenging the status quo of traditional office life. As WFH restrictions are lifted, companies must tread carefully when establishing future working arrangements and the impact on their employees.

Establishing agility

Businesses should also look to pivot towards a results-based environment rather than hours worked, as showcased in the McKinsey ‘Agility in the time of COVID-19’ report. By maintaining vigilance with results, it will ensure everyone is fully transparent with regards to what they want to improve on and achieve going forward.

These points are relevant to both men and women.  Given we want to continue supporting gender balance in the tech industry we need to be sure that our future working environments help retain and attract women.

We can all play a role in nurturing and coaching. By encouraging reticent women to speak out about any concerns they may have, it frees up the workplace, traditionally mired in its own office politics, to focus on what’s most important for everyone, personal and business-wide growth.