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Valuing Mental Health in the Workplace

Updated: Oct 12, 2022

The Mission Society is hosting a virtual Career Fair this October to highlight the variety of opportunities available to students after high school and college graduation - connecting young people with professionals across fields who are sharing invaluable advice for the future. In recognition of World Mental Health Day, we are talking about well-being in the workplace with Human Resources (HR) professional, Nikki Sargeant.

For our month-long career fair, the Mission Society team is speaking to professionals and learning about the many fields available to our students after graduation. Though each of their jobs are vastly different, all of our participants have emphasized the importance of caring for your own well-being as you navigate your career – with advice on managing stress and burnout, advocating for the job you want, and finding roles that support wellness in the workplace.

To learn more about these topics, we spoke with Human Resources Business Partner, Nikki Sargeant. Her work revolves around solving issues on the ‘people side’ of a business, and creating environments where employees thrive. She guides important decision making with managers, develops benefit programs, finds solutions if a staff person is struggling, and handles hiring processes and employee exits. She also helps staff through transitions like major team growth and management changes. A through-line in all of this work, Nikki says, is valuing and looking out for others.

“We take care of people. As an HR professional, that is part of your job. We take wellness very seriously, and support everyone in whatever stage of life they’re in – both personally and in the workplace.”

Another value at the heart of these efforts is work-life balance. Nikki empowers her fellow employees, and aspiring professionals, to imagine what they want from both their jobs and personal life, and to advocate for the career that fits their vision. During interviews, she recommends asking questions about what the typical day might be like, what time people on the team start and end work, and whether or not any employees find themselves staying late during the week. The answers can be incredibly revealing about the type of daily experience you might expect, and can help you decide on accepting a position.

“Working five days a week, for months on end and with no time off is unsustainable. There’s no way an individual can do their best work on that intense schedule. Taking vacation, leaving work at the door, and investing in self-care is vital to a healthy career life. I encourage my co-workers, and anyone who is navigating a job, to step away when you need time and remember that doing so is a very valid choice.”

On a broader scale, organizations have programs and HR teams that are meant to care for the employee, maintain a safe working environment, and destigmatize the conversation around mental health. For example, Nikki’s company pays for employees’ robust benefits, provides access to consultations with health professionals and licensed therapists, offers paid time off, and more. A big part of Nikki’s job is to be at the helm of creating this healthy and positive space for staff, and she encourages any person on the job hunt to discover what services are available at prospective offices.

Nikki reminded us how much of a critical resource HR is for every current and prospective employee, and most importantly, how invaluable it is to address mental health and well-being in the workplace. There are so many resources out there to help people on their journeys, and Nikki’s hope is that all employees feel comfortable reaching out when they need support.

Thank you to Nikki for taking the time to speak with us for the Mission Society Career Fair, and for encouraging us to ensure our work environments are safe for all employees. To join us for more job highlights, advice, and interviews throughout the month, check out our blog or follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

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