When this employee emailed about taking time off for her mental health, her boss had the best reply.
Madalyn Parker, a Michigan-based web developer at the chat software company Olark, sent an email to her fellow coworkers and CEO a few weeks ago openly discussing her mental health and why she needed to take a couple of days off to recharge and reset herself. While some of us are hesitant to even take deserved vacation days, Parker was honest about why she decided to take time away from her job in order to focus on herself.
Her boss’ reply is the perfect example of how important it is to respect and encourage employees to look after their own mental health.
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After Parker’s tweet went viral, Olark CEO Ben Congleton received praise for how he handled the situation. While his answer to Parker’s email may surprise some, letting employees take mental health days isn’t just considerate, it’s good business. Studies show that taking care of mental health issues increases productivity and performance at work.
In response to all of the fanfare, Congleton posted a message on Medium, detailing exactly why he believes it’s a boss’ job to urge their employees to look after themselves.
“I wasn’t expecting the exposure, but I am so glad I was able to have such a positive impact on so many people,” Congleton wrote. “It is incredibly hard to be honest about mental health in the typical workplace. In situations like this, it is so easy to tell your teammates you are ‘not feeling well.’ Even in the safest environment it is still uncommon to be direct with your coworkers about mental health issues. I wanted to call this out and express gratitude for Madalyn’s bravery in helping us normalize mental health as a normal health issue.”
Congleton went on to plead with other CEOs and executives to begin nurturing an open dialogue amongst their employees about the importance of mental health.
“It’s 2017,” Congleton continues. “We are in a knowledge economy. Our jobs require us to execute at peak mental performance. When an athlete is injured they sit on the bench and recover. Let’s get rid of the idea that somehow the brain is different.”