Today, 14 March 2023, is My Whole Self Day. This is an annual campaign by Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, the purpose of which is to drive positive workplace culture change. MHFA state that they “want organisations to empower employees to bring their whole self to work”.
Employees being themselves at work has multiple benefits for individuals and their employer. It helps to create a culture of openness and transparency, where employees feel comfortable to share their perspectives, values and beliefs. Thus using employee voice, which is vital in creating an inclusive environment, developing trust, gaining employee insight and understanding what is important to different stakeholders (CIPD, 2022). Overall, by bringing our whole self to work, we can communicate and influence at a greater scale.
At Maxwell Hodge, we encourage our people to be themselves by ensuring wellbeing is at the centre of all we do and rooted into our culture. This includes having Mental Health First Aiders and Champions to support positive mental health and wellbeing and offer help and support to colleagues when needed. It also includes management having formal wellbeing check-ins with their teams during the appraisal process. We feel that this is important to normalise conversations about mental health and wellbeing. Additionally, employees are encouraged to collaborate with colleagues and share ideas and views at Team and Office meetings. All of this enables people to bring their whole self to work as it provides different platforms and opportunities to share perspectives. Furthermore, by having regular discussions and sharing information on wellbeing, we are creating a more comfortable, authentic environment for people to be themselves.
It is important to recognise that even when there are settings for employees to share their perspectives and beliefs, they may still struggle to be their true self. This may be the case when individuals are suffering poor mental health because of the negative connotations and stigma attached to mental health conditions. Research suggests that people suffering from mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression still fear job security, and often, would prefer to keep that part of them hidden. This highlights just how vital it is that we create environments free of judgement where people can be honest and don’t feel that they have to hide any part of themselves.
A key aspect of My Whole Self Day is self-awareness and understanding whether how you appear at work differs from how you truly feel and what impact this has. One of our main priorities at Maxwell Hodge is to encourage open conversations about mental health and wellbeing whether that be with a professional, supervisor, friend or family member. It is vital that we all remember that there are people around us who want to listen and support us to become the best version of ourselves, which starts with bringing our whole self to work.
References and Further Reading
- CIPD Employee Voice: https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/relations/communication/voice-factsheet#gref
- MHFA My Whole Self: https://mhfaengland.org/my-whole-self/
- Priory Mental health stigma silences employees: https://www.priorygroup.com/blog/mental-health-stigma-silences-employees