Why Every Recruiter Should Have a Mental Health Day

Your financial success is directly and inescapably linked to your performance.

So even when you’re feeling drastically under the weather, you’ll go to work. In fact, even if your boss is one of those people that requests you not to come in when you’ve got a light dose of the sniffles, the majority of workplace sickness will probably be down to physical ailments.

But it’s not only physical ailments we need to be conscious of as an industry.

When was the last time you called in, because your head wasn’t in the right place? I’d probably guess, never. I’d also say, if you did, your boss would raise an eyebrow or maybe even call you out on it.

How do you even broach the subject without sounding uncommitted or lazy?

“I don’t really feel like coming in today” may have you labelled as someone ready for an exit. On your terms or theirs.

Recruitment Mentality

Even if you work for the most progressive, supportive recruitment agency in the world, it’s still a recruitment company. And run by people who are almost certainly looking at the bottom line more than other businesses.

That means your schedule will be hectic.

Your hours will be long.

And when you get home some days you’ll be sick of the sound of your own voice.

So, maybe you book a holiday. Maybe that holiday’s with a group of friends? Maybe it’s a wedding? Or taking the kids away somewhere nice.

But even if you go somewhere relaxing, it’s rarely a period of downtime for yourself. Because it’s a holiday, you’ll drink. Go out. You’ll be running around trying to make flights. Organising the children. Travelling. Toing. Froing

In a lot of cases arriving home, you’ll be wishing you had another holiday to unwind. But it’s too late. Back to the grindstone.

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White lies?

I wonder how many of the recruitment agencies, or even all the companies in the UK, as a percentage require a phone call to take a day sick?

There’s no way we could find that out, but simply sending a text message, email or WhatsApp to your Manager won’t suffice at a lot of businesses. Which complicates things.

The reason Managers require a phone call is to stop phoney absences. Fair enough.

But the most steadfast and honest of people in the world will have ‘gruffed’ their voice up before that call.

But why? If you’re too sick to work, you’re too sick to work.

But also, working while you’re ill will negatively affect those around you. Along with affecting your own performance it’ll elongate the time it takes to get better. Meaning your success suffers as a result.

Often, the issue with psychological issues is, there’s no diagnosis in the wider population and even when there is, there’s an inherent stigma attached. This is most true with young adult males who have a macho, protector persona cast upon them from an early age in media, by parents and social expectations that suggest talking about things is weak.

Which is of course, absolute nonsense. But add that to a job where pressure is always present and it can create a bigger issue quite quickly.

Most people never know, that them feeling down about things is actually diagnosable as something more serious. It’s even less likely they’ll do something about it until it builds up into something uncontrollable.

So… let’s say you’re not feeling right about work or life in general. You call in sick. And you even do the honour of ‘gruffing’ up your voice, with an old classic excuse about flu or something you’ve eaten. And your boss doesn’t buy it.

You’re now on the back foot, about something completely reasonable, to someone who pays your salary. You’re under more pressure than before and have had your card marked, probably publicly.

What a great way to solve mental health issues in the workplace.

Change starts at the top

There won’t be a reduction in mental health issues in the UK until top brass look at the benefits actually considering it can have. For one, not having a downbeat and downtrodden workforce, will work wonders for the morale of the company.

But secondly, the overall profit will rise too. 

I know that’s counter intuitive for many businesses. Especially in recruitment. If you’re not at your desk, you’re not making money, right? Well, possibly.

But the simple fact is, you could be at your desk, miserable, not offering anything to anyone. Probably with a detrimental effect to your own sanity and the business. Much like in the way a cold can be picked up by someone else, negativity can too.

There’s an organisation in New Zealand that offers 4 mental health days every six months, if you need to take them.

Now, a lot of the time, these aren’t taken, gladly. But what that says about that business speaks volumes. It says they care about their staff. It says they’re as important as the turnover.

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Do More

I’m not suggesting recruitment businesses start offering 4 days every six months as statutory mental health days. And there’s a consideration for negative connotations of putting a time frame on the issue.

But there has to be a middle ground to help Recruiters and indeed any profession maintain a healthy mind?

To put things into perspective, the biggest killer for males under 45 in the UK is suicide. That statistic underlines why just being open to talk about mental health is a big issue in business.

Young men are taking their own lives because they can’t see another way out. The figures aren’t too great for females either.

So what’s to be done? Offering a ‘mental health day‘ could well be a start.

Whether you call them ‘mental health days‘, or ‘duvet days‘, which a lot of Hunted partners offer. It’s time we started acting more responsibly as an industry and addressed the wider issues holding back businesses from being better.

Better Employers. Better for business longevity. Better at staff retention. Better at profit generation.

Open dialogue between management and staff, is something that has to be available. I don’t think there’s a recruitment business in the UK that wouldn’t want a longer average staff retention. And the burnout faced by such a large amount of Recruiters could be abated, more than it is currently.

Whether you’re in recruitment or not, I’d love to hear what your current employer does for mental health awareness.

Get in touch: tom@hunted.com

It would be great to find out how many recruitment employers are taking steps to address mental health issues in their business, and maybe increase this number too.

I believe if there was more lip service given, in business in general, the UK would have a chance at addressing some of the negative stats currently affecting this generation.

If you’re feeling the pressure right now, here’s a link, nothing to do with Hunted that can help you, confidentially.