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Addressing Mental Health In The Workplace Is Key To A Better World Of Work

We’re passionate about the world of work, and how we can make it better. To help satisfy our curiosity, we’ve launched an interview series where we pick the brains of experienced leaders, business owners, managers, and individual contributors to get their thoughts on how we can collectively build better workplaces.

Join us in our next installment below as Britta Larsen—Vice President, People Operations & Culture at founder-led start up Bespoke Post—shares her insights with us

We’d love to get to know you a bit better, tell us a bit about your backstory.

I fell into HR 15 years ago. My first 10 years were spent in creative operations, so  I believe that I take a different approach to HR. I view my primary role as improving the employee journey, from candidate through alumni. Additionally, I’ve always worked at founder-led companies, because I love getting to know founders and turning who they are (and what they care about) into a dynamic, progress-oriented environment, all while being extremely mindful of the health and happiness of their employees.

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If we were to ask a friend to describe your personality to us, what would they say?

They would say that I’m outgoing, I put people first, I believe in objectives and inspiration, I’m a good listener (and talker!), and that I see the individual and the whole. I take a holistic approach in almost everything I do.

Thinking back to your career journey, what’s an interesting story that stands out? 

In 2001, I was part of a startup. This was before the word “startup” was even a part of our common vocabulary. The camaraderie that we had was impenetrable, and it was an incredible experience forming the company and it’s path together. Four years into that, we grew big enough to need HR, and that’s when a great mentor of mine decided that’s what I should do with my career. I ended up working with that team for 10 years, and I found my future in people and culture. It taught me a few things:  how much you can learn from being at a company for a long time, how great mentors can guide your path, and what it’s like to build a culture from the ground up.

What’s the most impactful lesson you've learned over your career thus far?

You’ve got to do the job to get the job. Too often, promotions are desired or expected based on thinking you can do the role. But if you start doing the role, and proving that you can, it makes it very easy for management to give it to you. 

Thanks for giving us some insight into who you are! Let’s jump into things. When you hear the phrase “build a better world of work”, what comes to mind?

I think of the employee journey and how your needs will range depending on where you are in your career and how long you’ve been with the company.

It requires understanding at what point people are located on their journey, and trying a more individualized approach to enhancing that. 

For you, what’s the main blocker you see as standing in the way of building a better world of work?

Addressing mental health and the impact it has on the day-to-day functioning of employees.

In this pandemic/post-pandemic world, the remote/hybrid nature of work has blurred the boundaries between our private lives at home and our public lives at work, and how we show up for both. The last two years, with the pandemic, systemic racism/racial injustice, the political climate, and an evolution of the working environment has really tested people. It’s nearly impossible to come out of these past few years without being affected, and companies thus need to support their employees even further. 

What steps do you recommend someone take in order to remove this blocker?

We need to continue to support our employees and their mental health through several channels. An appropriate amount of work, time off, support, programming, socializing, challenging, resources, and a voice. A company should be aware of the workload being assigned to individuals, PTO being utilized, support programs being offered, programming attendance, socialization opportunities, and positive social dynamics within. If an employee is experiencing challenges, the message must be continually underscored that these can and should be brought up with their manager. If you have a 1:1 system, these can be addressed on a consistent basis. 

What’s one thing within our control that we can practically do to build a better world of work today? 

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What steps do you recommend someone take in order to put your idea into action?

Weekly 1:1’s with your direct reports and monthly 1:1’s with your skip-levels. Repeat. 

Can you share one thing you’ve experienced, seen, or read about that is leading us towards a better world of work?

The evolution of Human Resources being called People Operations, or Talent, or People and Culture shows the importance of people.

I hope that this trend continues, and that more companies ensure they have compassionate, empathetic people leading their people function. 

I’m curious, thinking about building a better world of work, is there a company and/or leader who stands out to you as someone we should follow? If so, what are they up to?

You should follow Abraham Hicks! The Emotional Guidance Scale is vital, it illuminates how we navigate ourselves and our energy in motion.

How can our readers follow your work?

You can check out https://www.itsbritta.com/ and read my salary story featured on Refinery29.

Thank you for adding your voice to People Managing People’s interview series on How to Build a Better World of Work! 

Add Your Voice To The Conversation

Join our interview series and share your ideas for how we can build a better world of work!

By Tim Reitsma

Tim is the co-founder and General Manager of People Managing People, an online publication focused on building a better world of work. He is experienced with people & culture, leadership, business strategy and operations with a focus on building great teams who are excited about their craft and their organization. With over 15 years of leadership experience, Tim has always been guided by his core values: faith, family, curiosity, and fun. He is a coach, mentor, speaker, advisor, and an active volunteer in his community. Tim loves spending time outdoors with his wife and two kids as well as mountain biking in the north shore mountains.

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