Creating Mentally Healthy Workplaces in Europe: Insights from the GBC Leadership Roundtable
As employee well-being is gaining increasing recognition as a critical factor in workplace success, the Global Business Collaboration for Better Workplace Mental Health (GBC) is spearheading efforts to create mentally healthy work environments around the world. As part of these efforts, GBC is running a series of Leadership Roundtables across the globe to bring together C-suite leaders to discuss the challenges and opportunities around workplace mental health in their region.
A Meeting of Visionary Minds in Continental Europe
In September 2023, the GBC proudly brought together senior leaders from across Continental Europe for a roundtable discussion on the opportunities and challenges around employee mental health in the region. This roundtable, was kindly hosted by GBC Founding Partner Clifford Chance.
The discussion provided a unique opportunity for leaders from diverse business sectors to have a culturally-nuanced dialogue on workplace mental health, chaired and steered by experts. The session saw participants share insights into how their businesses are making mental health a strategic priority; and offer personal reflections and observations on specific challenges and opportunities in the region. Hosted by Mathieu Rémy, Managing Partner of the Paris office at Clifford Chance, and Poppy Jaman OBE, Chair of the GBC and Founder of MindForward Alliance, the roundtable surfaced a number of themes around common issues and solutions, which are summarised in this paper.
Business leaders are encouraged to read and share the paper, and can send any query about the roundtable, GBC’s work to drive positive change in the region, or ways to join the Collaboration to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Themes Shaping the Dialogue
The roundtable discussions highlighted various themes integral to understanding and addressing workplace mental health challenges in Continental Europe. Key take-aways included:
- Executive Responsibility: Mental health is an executive-level responsibility, CEOs and senior leaders need to commit to fostering a supportive organizational culture.
- Leadership Training: Companies are implementing holistic leadership programs focused on empathy and collective leadership, and prioritising these competencies in recruitment.
- Work-Wellbeing Link: Organisations acknowledge the dual impact of employment on wellbeing and the need to identify drivers of stress and understand the role of organisational culture.
- Cultural Stigma and Regional Differences: Some Continental European countries face challenges due to cultural stigma, hesitancy among managers, and differences in how various employee groups perceive mental health support.
- Addressing Long Working Hours: Leaders recognise the importance of addressing cultures of long working hours to prevent burnout, aligning with the shifting expectations of younger generations.
- Hybrid Work Challenges: Organisations are addressing challenges posed by hybrid work models, including the pressure to be ‘always on,’.
- Mental Health as a Talent Differentiator: Younger generations are prioritising mental health, considering it a key factor in choosing employers. Companies need to recognise mental health support as crucial for talent retention.
- Impact Measurement: As businesses implement mental health initiatives, there needs to be a focus on measuring their impact through various KPIs, including engagement surveys, anonymous support line data, and turnover rates.
The Leadership Pledge: A Call to Action
During the roundtable, participants were invited to sign the GBC’s Leadership Pledge—a commitment to prioritising workplace mental health within their organizations. The pledge provides a easy to use framework to support businesses design and implement their mental health strategy and includes actions like developing mental health action plans, promoting open cultures, addressing unhealthy work habits, and fostering inclusivity.