106 Communications

6th Sense

Graduate recruitment and mental health: time for change

December 2019 | Student engagement

Having been out of the world of graduate recruitment for c 18 months I have signed up to as many networking events as I can to get the old cogs turning again. On Wednesday, Accenture hosted a Mental Health and Wellbeing in Graduate Recruitment Time to Talk event alongside Hype Collective. Barbara Harvey gave a compelling summary of the business imperative for taking mental health seriously in the workplace with employees being four times more likely to have a positive view of work in organisations where there are programmes for Mental Health in place. The impact of such programmes on an employees’ ability to cope at work, to perform and to stay is significant. Barbara talked passionately about Accenture’s Mental Health Allies programme and the impact of this through the business through positive story telling.

Paul Stollery of Hype Collective shared their recent findings from student research into mental health. The findings highlighted the increasingly open nature of the student population around mental health which is reassuring to hear. However, there is an apparent disconnect between students’ perceptions of the support offered by organisations versus the reality of what is being provided. “I want employers to see mental health as a real thing” is what students need from employers in their recruitment comms.

The Panel, chaired by Stephen Isherwood, from the ISE, raised an important point that comms and disclosure around mental health isn’t just on the journey to an offer; it’s about support when they land. If 69% of students have experienced a related issue then employers need to be more than an employer. Businesses need to adapt to deal with the changing demographic and their idiosyncrasies as they enter the world of work.  Businesses like Deliveroo are “tech unicorns”; day to day their employees’ experience challenges that other businesses have never encountered before and this can be stressful for new grad entrants. In light of this seeming pandemic of mental health issues in our student population, where we see one student suicide every 4 days, the risk is that we as employers shy away from giving our grad employees the challenging/ stressful jobs. And as such removing the opportunity to cut their teeth on some juicy, ground breaking work that can provide those career defining moments.

The contract between employers and grads needs to change. Our comms to the grad market need to be clear; business is challenging and ever changing and that we need talent with resilience, learning agility which isn’t afraid of failure to help us win in business. But, in return employees can expect increasing flexibility and wrap around support to ensure everyday stress doesn’t turn into a mental health crisis.

Author: Jayne Cullen


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