“Hope you’re well”
What a wonderful phrase.
“Hope you’re well”
It ain’t no passing craze.
It means… well it means a lot of things really. It could mean “Have you got any jobs for me?” Or it could mean “Hi, remember me?” Maybe it means “Have you thought about the contract offer since we last spoke?”
Rarely does “hope you’re well” mean you’re hoping your recipient is doing well. You are of course. You probably hope most people are well. But you don’t write it to invoke a chat about it.
It’s a cliché opener. It has as much consistency as “Alright?!” if you’re English. Or “G’day” if you’re Australian. The answer to which is just to repeat the word. If you answered with a critique on your day to an Aussie, they may look at you slightly strangely.
As a phrase, “Hope you’re well” doesn’t have much substance.
This is something I’m going to try and change. How? I’ll tell you shortly.
Last week I hosted an event on the thorny issue of Mental Health in recruitment. It’s probably safe to say what I know about mental health you could fit on the back of a Xanax packet.
It’s not a lot.
But, despite my old History Teacher’s insistence to the contrary, I do have a brain. And every single person who has a brain, has mental health. Sometimes that health’s good. Sometimes it’s not.
Up until recently, if you said ‘mental health’ to someone in recruitment, they’d think of ‘mental illness’. Suffering from a mental illness is, fairly obviously, a negative.
The traditional stiff upper lip, work hard/play hard, don’t show weakness, sentiment of recruitment has meant the stigma around mental illness has got to the point it’s now wreaking havoc. It’s a silent killer in the UK and everywhere around world. People have shied away from it. They haven’t talked about it and wouldn’t dream of introducing anything related to it in their business.
The thing is, whilst mental illness is obviously a negative, it’s not the only consideration with mental health.
“Mental wellbeing” is exactly the same thing as mental health. It just sounds nicer. It sounds like there’s a positive end to the spectrum. Which there is. Just like in physical health. You could be in hospital having just fallen off a ladder. You could have a mild dose of the sniffles. Or you could be about to do an Ironman.
The same applies for mental health. There’s a positive end to the spectrum. It just never gets any air time because people only talk about this subject when they realise something’s wrong. Hence the stigma.
This is something we need to change.
The more you promote the positive, the less chance the negative has to creep into people’s lives.
Just like recruitment’s changed, so must our attitude towards this sticky topic. There’s now less of the traditional ‘boiler room’ atmospheres in recruitment. Relationships drive great recruitment. Not someone mindlessly battering the phone.
In the 80’s you could probably smoke at your desk. Now, you’re more likely to see free fruit in your office, every week.
Why? Because fruit’s healthy. If you eat fruit, you’re less likely to be sick. Meaning you’re more likely to come to work. Meaning you’re more profitable as an employee.
And, people like fruit. So they’re happier and stay with the business longer. It’s a small gesture that probably costs business owners less than £20 a week. But it can make a big difference.
I was incredibly lucky to be supported at the event by George Bettany, the co-Founder of Sanctus, who promote positive mental wellbeing. Sanctus aren’t a charity. They’re a business. They encourage hitting the positive end of the spectrum discussed above. Essentially offering mental, free fruit. They have grand plans, one of which is a ‘mental health gym’ on the high street.
Sanctus’ first client was a recruitment business. Which goes to show this idea has legs in the industry.
But they now have clients in the likes of Red Bull, Boston Consulting Group, TransferWise, CarWow, Cranberry Panda, Dice and more. There are others on the way too. A lot of others.
Next month, in conjunction with World Mental Health Day, Sanctus is going live with a pledge for any business in world to sign up to. This is a pledge written on the wall of a company in indelible ink. The details of the pledge will be revealed by them later, but the overriding message is: “We care about our staff.”
As a message, that seems probably more important than anything else a business has to say. And, something that’s pretty easy to agree to.
Now, that old History Teacher I referred to earlier will be delighted by this, but any other history buffs will know about the time Martin Luther nailed a thesis containing 95 things wrong with Catholicism to a Church door in 1517.
It caused a bit of a stir. ‘Lutheranism’ was created and a new wave of religion was born. Sanctus’s pledge is similar. Only instead of stating things that are wrong in the world, their pledge (and their business) focuses on positives. The positive end of the spectrum.
Sanctus and businesses like them are going to change the world. Whether you work in recruitment or any other industry, it’s time this new religion was born. It’s a religion, like most, based on morals. The simple desire to not have people kill themselves to simply do their job. Because right now, that’s what’s happening.
Remember the irrelevant intro at the beginning? This is where its meaning becomes obvious.
I was absolutely staggered to find out the biggest killer for males under 45 in the UK is suicide. And the stats for females aren’t great either. I’d suggest that recruitment represents that demographic more than many. This is the extreme negative end of the spectrum.
I don’t think I’m going to get recruitment leaders on board by talking about stats like this. It would be nice, but I don’t think it’s possible. Most of them just wouldn’t see how it affects them personally, or more crucially their business. But, the one language every Recruiter, recruitment owner, MD, Director or CEO does speak, is money.
What’s the ROI on a subsidised gym membership, do you think? There is one. But it’s not possible to view it in a P&L.
This is where “Hope You’re Well” comes in.
Hunted is going to work with Sanctus to promote the positives, not the negatives, mental wellbeing can have on you. Your business. Your employees. Your colleagues. Your staff retention. Your profits.
We’re going to ask any one of our partners that wishes to, to work with us.
It won’t be hard to agree to any proposal.
We’re planning to promote small changes in how our partners work to help them stay true to their promise. Things like changing how people ‘call in sick’ for example. A simple email instead of the insistence to calling on the phone. Agreeing to including mental health days alongside physical sick days. Perhaps offering a meditation app on the benefits package. Maybe the commitment to taking meetings on the move or outside.
We’re open to suggestions.
Like Sanctus, Hunted’s message will be this: “These businesses look after their staff.”
It will be a badge of honour for every partner on Hunted taking part. We’ll write regular content to promote it and the ideas behind it. This will drive higher applications to work for these businesses. It’ll mean they retain those staff. And it’ll mean the bottom line profits, which let’s be honest is a hugely important thing for many, are healthier.
It won’t be revolutionary. It’ll be common sense.
It would be amazing to see this particular brand of common sense, become common place.
I’m aware some people may read this article and scoff. Recruitment’s a tough industry for me to introduce this kind of initiative to. I get that. Not all of the clients on Hunted will be happy or ready to sign up to it. And that’s OK.
But by taking small steps and working with people like Sanctus, Mind, the Samaritans and the inspirational people at our first round table, I think we can do it. It’s important to make sure the support structure and elevation process is in place for the negative end of the spectrum of course.
But promoting the positive end is something we can all have more influence on.
To finish on one last hard sell, I’d like to share a recent conversation I had with an ex Chief of Staff at Barclays. A person that has dealt with hundreds of Recruiters over her long career. Any Recruiter this person worked with that sounded stressed, under pressure and clearly struggling in their job was normally not given jobs to work.
I know that sounds like a punishment. But the thought process was, if this person’s already struggling, I’d rather not increase their workload and have them deal with candidates for this business. They’ll be rushed. They’ll be under pressure. They don’t seem happy. They aren’t going to represent us in the best light.
“I’ll wish them luck, but for now, I’ll go with the Recruiter who sounds not only capable, but happy.”
That’s one of the most momentous messages I’ve heard in relation to this topic. If your staff are under pressure from every angle, clients are less likely to want to work with them.
That, if nothing else, will affect your business and your profit. And is another reason for just thinking about offering mental free fruit.
If you want to discuss this further, to either counter or support the initiative, please do get in touch.
Recruitment Consultant at Austin Fraser & Austin Vita
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