One of the biggest trends getting attention this year is the topic of mental health at work. For customer success leaders who focus on taking care of others for a living, it’s crucial that we protect ourselves from the cognitive overload that comes with the job.
For those of us who are managers (responsible for others as well as ourselves) many of us are also concerned about the wellbeing of our teammates — keep in mind, people don’t always feel comfortable discussing issues related to self care.
Throughout 2021, Quala has been paying close attention to the topic of mental health at work. For one, we’ve designed our platform to make customer interactions more positive and productive. That focus pushes us to continually follow discussions related to burnout in tech — something that we’ve seen to be an issue long before the pandemic.
Here are some important discussions we’re following, along with ideas to try on both a personal and team level.
The challenge: Work addiction
The solution: Celebrate and reward time off
The team at Atlassian recently published a powerful statement that “it’s time to stop wearing the ‘workaholic’ label like a badge of honor.”
When we care about our jobs, it’s tough to step away — particularly when our colleagues are quick taps and swipes away on our phone. It’s especially tough to rest our minds when “being a ‘workaholic’ is often synonymous with dedication, ambition, and initiative,” writes Leks Drakos for Atlassian.
But overworking may be hurting rather than helping us, causing us to lose sleep, neglect our personal health, and self-sabotage our work performance with fear. Work addiction comes from a place of compulsion rather than true enjoyment.
One way to keep working boundaries healthy for ourselves — and our teams — is to celebrate time off. When a teammate takes vacation time, offer praise. When someone needs to reschedule a meeting for personal time, give virtual high-fives. If a teammate says “no” to an assignment, respond with the emoji equivalent of a heck yeah.
The bottom line is to create an environment where people feel comfortable, safe, and secure in switching off from work mode.
The challenge: Constant context switching
The solution: Encourage space for deep focus
For those of us in customer-facing roles, multitasking seems like a must. Every day requires that we continually switch our focus between team meetings, customer conversations, analytics tools, Zoom, and email.
But even though it feels like we’re getting a lot done, we may actually be hurting the quality of our work. According to the Cleveland Clinic, only 2.5% of people are able to successfully multitask. When we switch back and forth between different tasks, we’re more likely to make errors, take longer to finish a project, and disrupt our abilities to learn. There’s also a link between multitasking and mental fatigue, meaning that we may be harming our mental health by juggling too much.
So what should we do instead?
The answer goes back to the basics of doing one thing at a time — and allowing us the space our minds need to think, process information, and self-reflect. Here are some tangible choices we can make, to make that sense of focus better:
- Schedule fewer meetings and instead, answer questions over email
- Block off times on the calendar for focusing, so teammates respect this space
- Shut down browser tabs, and only keep one project visible at a time
- Use software like Quala to help organize and automate repetitive tasks
- Give people the option to say “no” when asked to take on more responsibilities
For practical insights on the topic of deep work, check out this guide from Doist to help craft a regular routine and prioritization strategy for intensive focus.
The challenge: Absence of structure
The solution: Establish routines
Working in tech, every day feels like a blank slate. There are so many ways that we can prioritize our time and attention. But this freedom may be overwhelming to some — as humans, our brains need patterns and routines.
The team at Guru has written about this topic in depth, encouraging team leaders to establish rules and habit patterns for using different software. The key is to come up with best practices at both an organizational and individual level. Julia Soffa, Guru’s senior revenue empowerment manager, encourages the following steps below:
- Complete an audit of ongoing routines for software, communication and collaboration
- Then, teams can work together to establish internal “rules” for how to best use each tool
- The goal of these exercises is to help everyone connect in a more meaningful way
- Clear processes leave less guesswork around healthy communication boundaries
Soffa also encourages people to evaluate their individual routines by taking the following steps:
- Making sure there’s enough time for self care before the work day starts
- Assessing and making improvements to our relationships with our devices
- Taking more time to pause — going outside, moving our bodies, and allowing more space with our workplace communications
Last but not least
Mental wellness begins with creating space — giving our brains more time to focus, introspect, recharge, think, and respond. It means empowering ourselves with the space to feel comfortable taking space in the first place. Customer success teams not only deserve it — being constantly attentive to the needs of others means that we need it to stay calibrated and mentally empowered. Wellness is the ultimate strategic advantage.