Mental Health, The Disability Economy, And The Future Of Work

If we’ve learned anything over the past two and half years, it is the fact that COVID has accelerated the cultural shifts that are impacting the future of work. Words such as vulnerability, kindness, empathy, and psychological safety are becoming commonplace in the daily business vernacular. In this time of transition, employees are recognizing that organizational responsibility goes far beyond just a steady paycheck, but rather the desire for businesses to help support mental health initiatives that champion growth and highlight employees’ wellbeing as central to the core growth of any organization.

When discussing the emerging Disability Economy one of the most complex and multifaceted areas is centered around non-apparent disabilities which encompasses the realm of mental health and wellbeing. As we’ve seen COVID wreak havoc across a global workforce that is just trying to keep afloat, we are also witnessing a sea change across the corporate ecosystem responding to this crisis in numerous ways. First, the discussion of mental health which was once considered taboo in the halls of corporate culture has now emerged as an essential component of developing a thriving business. Secondly, companies are beginning to explore more deeply having designated personnel that emphasize the significance of mental health and wellbeing on par with any other business strategy across the enterprise. Companies such as Vayner Media where Claude Silver serves as its Chief Heart Officer is one organization that is ahead of the curve and identifies that the power of soft skills is not only important to the internal dynamics of the company but is setting the trends for the future of business techniques that are fundamental for the digital economy of the 21st Century.

One key benchmark within the areas of mental health and wellbeing that is describing the upward trend of needs can be seen in the app marketplace. Data suggests that the mental health app market will reach $17.5 Billion by 2030 indicating the need for mental health services in all forms is becoming an essential part of daily life. As the future of work is continuing to evolve and the needs of employees are changing in real-time, mental health concerns need to be baked into the equation. Senior Leadership must rethink a company’s position in terms of how they regard their relationship with their workforce. Framing mental health as a key driver for business success changes the whole tenor of corporate life not only from a management perspective but elevates the value of care as a vital piece of the puzzle to a more comprehensive people strategy.

While the world of work is everchanging, it is important to take a closer look at the nomenclature around mental health and connect the dots to why this is so important to senior leadership. As companies begin their return-to-work policies, they have been faced with real friction, among them are the fundamental questions, what is work flexibility, and what type of work culture is right both individually and collectively as an organization? These are challenging questions, but it is important to offer some thoughts that will help guide senior leadership through this tumultuous time. First, the language of mental health must become standardized in every communique across the enterprise. Building a nurturing environment will carry tremendous currency and goes a long way to earning trust and ultimately a level of psychological safety which for many employees is a fundamental pillar for this new work environment. Secondly, leadership must embrace care as a central tenant of economic growth. Acknowledging employees’ mental health and wellbeing as a source of motivation, professional development, and ultimately corporate buy-in is the pathway towards trust. It is this element of trust that serves as the direction toward redefining the future of work as we know it.

In marking Mental Health Awareness month, it is important to highlight the emerging Disability Economy as a conduit to reveal some of the key trends within this subset market, but also amplify the critical importance of how it can define the corporate culture of the digital age. In upcoming Mindset Matters columns we will dig deeper into this new purpose of mental health and discuss more granular solutions of how to confront the challenges of this new work environment to find a greater sense of balance.


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