HerStory 5 - Leanne Scaletta @ We Are Adam
Hey Leanne, thank you so much for joining us our guest on our bonus blog today! So, tell us about what you do currently, who you work for, how long you've been with them?
I’m Operations Manager for We Are Adam, a specialist recruitment agency in Manchester. I’m just about to celebrate my 3 year anniversary!
Congratulations! To be there a few years must mean they're great folk to work for - what's the support for mental health like there?
Honestly, it’s superb. Recruitment can be a very stressful environment but the owners here accept that fact and are really supportive. It’s a very grown up place to work and everything is tailored to the individual as much as possible. We’ve done work as a team with a performance coach, but outside of that we were also offered 1-2-1 sessions to work through some personal demons and to say there’s a noticeable difference in my confidence is an understatement!
That sounds phenomenal you've got such amazing people around you! Life before We Are Adam, how has your mental health impacted your work?
I ended up having to leave the workplace with no notice after having a breakdown. I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression. I’m really glad to say I’m very healthy now but looking back, it was a REALLY scary time of my life.
We can imagine it was terrifying! We've been there too with the horrid workplace triggering our own mental health, fully know just how much it can affect you. But incredible to hear you're doing so well now. What experiences have you had of an employer negatively impacting your mental health?
There have been quite a few and I don’t want to point fingers. But being told I had to put makeup on because it looked better, by a female boss no less, was one of the ones that has stuck the most. For a long time I wouldn’t leave the house without makeup on because of it.
WOW. That is shocking, but sadly not uncommon. In our previous career we've had similar limitations and demands on how we presented ourselves. Was anything done to support you or help you at the time?
Nothing, sadly. But I didn’t have the confidence to fight it. I did for the sake of the rest of my team – for those who didn’t wear makeup for religious reasons – I fought their corner, but I complied with it myself because of my own insecurities.
Even if you complied yourself, it takes a lot to make a stand and campaign for other people also affected. On a happier note...what positive experiences do you have of an employer handling mental health well or being pro-active in employee well-being?
Where I am now, at Adam, is definitely the best place I’ve worked for understanding. I was terrified of telling them why I’d had to take time off work and hid it on my CV with some freelance stuff, but the reality was that I wasn’t able to face the workplace until then. Their understanding made me want to work with them and it’s been the best career decision I’ve ever made. There’s loads of benefits that are focused on personal wellbeing and ‘switching off’ too. I try to pass on their wise words: “no one can be 100% 100% of the time or you burn out”. It’s all about balance and I’ve learnt that from my boss. Don’t let perfection get in the way of a good job is another pearl of wisdom I’ve picked up here.
That's incredible. We're so happy you've got the support you deserve, and to see there's some good guys out there to work for! Based on your experiences with We Are Adam, what do you think employers could do more on a day to day basis to prevent personal struggles?
Be available and listen. It’s so easy to get caught up in your own workload that you can forget to make time for your team. Again, I’m lucky that it’s not the case for me, but I’m guilty of getting caught up in my own stresses so I make a conscious effort to make time for the team as well as myself.
So basic, but so crucial. When you are in a dip and faced with going to work, what support do you need personally from an employer?
I like to keep to myself and I’m a ‘coper’ as it were, so I just like to have space. I’m in a very people focused role and when I’m having a down day (they do still happen, we’re all only human after all) I find tackling other peoples’ problems really tough. I had a day working from home recently which really helped me focus on my work and get caught up after a pretty tricky time in my personal life. It’s easy to say that you shouldn’t bring external drama into the office but I find it impossible to stop it from impacting on my productivity whilst my mind is elsewhere.
We've found it near impossible to not be affected by external triggers in the work place. If you're passionate, empathetic and caring, you can't just switch that off and leave things at the door. It's so lovely to hear a company being so flexible and supportive in your personal needs. Do you have any coping mechanisms or strategies to help lift you up?
Totally. As my biggest struggles are anxiety it’s all about dealing with whatever is bothering me. Sometimes I have to take time out to establish what that is. Without dwelling on it, I take the time to acknowledge the issue and deal with it. If I don’t, it’s all I can think about! I’m a big fan of music to help me focus too – I have created a playlist of tunes that help me get in the zone when I’ve got too many distractions. I’m a huge fan of mindfulness too. I used to be one of those people who was too busy for meditation but I realised the real definition of mindfulness – allowing your brain to focus solely on one thing with no distractions. Once I figured that out I realised that I can be mindful doing a whole host of mundane activities – brushing my teeth, washing up … it’s not all colouring books and mediation apps! (I’ve written a blog on this myself, https://www.leannescaletta.com/single-post/2018/05/14/Mindfulness)
Thank you so much for sharing your blog too! We've loved reading it and have already found some great tips to implement. Following on from your experiences with workplace mental health - both good and not so good; is there anything you'd like to see within businesses in regards to supporting mental health and promoting well-being?
Acceptance. It shouldn’t be taboo and we shouldn’t be scared to say we’re unwell. The stigma stops people from dealing with things and before you know it, it’s gone too far. That’s what I did. So many employers talk the talk but we need them to be willing to walk alongside their employees and truly support them, in whatever capacity is right for that individual.
Completely agree. Acceptance is the first step in making it OK for everyone to not be OK if that's what's going on. Whats's your top tip for anyone struggling with their mental health in the workplace?
Talk to someone. If your employers has an Employee Assistance Program then make the most of it. Tell whoever you are comfortable with, but make sure you tell someone you are struggling. If they don’t know, they can’t help. People can surprise you – they might have had experiences themselves and are in a great place to support you!
So true, you never know what doors can open from speaking up. And one thing I ask everyone, for the HerStory playlist - what's your go-to song to put on and get you super ready for a day at work? As I usually need to focus my brain, I usually go for All I Need – Air coz it’s a lovely chill-out song that does literally that!
Thank you so much Leanne, it's been amazing chatting with you. Go give Leanne's blog and her current employers some love - links below!