Independence and Mental Health

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Independence day is one of my favorite holidays, second only to Interdependence Day, AKA Thanksgiving.

When we wipe off the make-up of BBQ’s and fireworks, we might remember a moment in history that embodied, risk, self-determination, and interdependence as a people against an unjust ruler who failed to act in the peoples’ interests.

Acting justly in one’s interest and the interests of those who entrust your decision making is at the heart of the declaration, and it should be at the heart of business as well. However, very often, it is not.

Each day, employees across the country, entrust their career and future success to the decision making of the leaders of the companies they serve. The hours go in, the work comes out, the checks get cashed, and yet the vast majority of workers (almost two thirds according to the Faas Foundation and Mental Health America) believe the stress of their roles harms their mental or behavioral health.

While there is no panacea or tonic to cure the unique conditions under which individuals suffer, you can hire for success with incredible accuracy and consistency and actively prevent some of the most common causes for workplace stress, namely non-productive employees and culture killers.

Unfortunately, very few know how to hire for success, and this includes the majority of recruiters and most hiring managers. If they did, attrition, work-life balance, and employee satisfaction rates would be much different than they are. Crappy hiring practices are so prevalent that only 20% of hires are deemed “overwhelmingly successful” while nearly half of hires fail within 18 months. Combine that with scarcity in the tech market, and It’s no wonder managers feel “held over the barrel” to retain under-performers, and the workloads of other employees increase resulting in a plague of unhappiness in the workplace across the USA.

The reality is, adopting proven hiring methodologies that both attract the right candidates and screen out those that will suffer and cause suffering to others is possible. Not only that, it’s the surest way to protect your company, your career, and the mental and behavioral health of those that have entrusted their work lives to your management.

This independence day, I encourage all business leaders to claim more independence to build the right teams and refuse to be subject to the historical and ignominious norms of staffing and hiring. 

Fire your severely under-performing employee. Resist engaging recruiters who are incentivized to sell their candidates at any price. Engage in in-depth discourse with your talent acquisition team and ensure they aren’t overworked. Refuse to be held over a barrel due to the scarcity of talent. Take your career into your own hands by taking hiring into your own hands and committing to being great at it. Investigate the passive candidate market with dedication and fervor and study the best books for how to do this. Hire an experienced recruiter with niche knowledge and a record of placement longevity, not just placements. Finally, for inspiration to make the changes necessary, read the Declaration of Independence this week.

For information on best practices, resources, and simple measures that considerably improve the quality and happiness of your team, I recommend the books WHO by Smart and Street, Recruit Rockstars by Jeff Hyman, or contact me directly for a short discovery session.

Have a happy 4th of July and be sure to exert your independence!

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