Gen Z and young millennials are perhaps the most well-being-conscious generations, fueling the reinvention of post-pandemic workplace culture. But they also suffer from a myriad of mental health issues, many of which are brought on by the pandemic. As this new generation enters the workforce, employers must be prepared to provide adequate mental health benefits to meet their needs. One of the most cutting-edge innovations for young employees is the Born This Way Foundation, co-founded by Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta. If your company doesn’t prioritize mental health, mom and daughter insist, you could be missing out on recruiting top Gen Z and Millennial talent.
Make “benevolence” cool again
The Born This Way Foundation supports the mental health of young people, especially the BIPOC community, who strive to build a kinder and braver world of work. “I came to the foundation with a solid background in business, which is why my daughter asked me to work with her, because I understand American business,” Germanotta told me. “I was a product of the work cultures of the 1980s and 1990s – one of those people chained to the office for whom the cumulative stress was horrible.
In my conversation with Germanotta, I found out where Lady Gaga’s coolness came from and found her mother to be just as hip, kind and caring as her daughter. Germanotta said she worked under the Dark Ages, iron-fisted management styles where there was a perception that kindness was soft or weak when, in fact, it is a great strength. “You can make tough business decisions, be productive and have big profits and do it with dignity, kindness and compassion,” she said. “It’s a tool, not just a fuzzy word. Even though there is a mental health stigma in the workplace, there is a stigma associated with soft words like kindness in the workplace. Unfortunately, the belief that management has to be tough to be profitable still persists. »
The enduring myth that links kindness to weakness or incompetence, that gentleness cuts profits, and that businesses have to be tough to be profitable, reminded Germanotta how Lady Gaga was affected by so much meanness when she started her career. “Looking back as a mother, the reason our foundation exists is because of my daughter’s experience with unkindness and how much of an impact it has had on her mental health journey,” said she declared. “At a time in her life when she needed kindness for many reasons – exclusion, bullying, difference – she was not there. People had a choice to fill that negative space with kindness, but chose not to. Kindness could have changed the trajectory of her mental health experiences, which grew increasingly darker because the wickedness was relentless and unstoppable.This amazing and confident young woman faced an experience difficult and trying, which is why she chose to share her story. She had the courage to speak about the lack of kindness when she was on stage and how it affected her mental health. This is how the foundation started in. Young people were like, ‘Oh my god, Gaga, how did you do it? We have the same things happening to us.
Germanotta told me how proud she is of her daughter for choosing to use a platform for good. “She strongly believes that is her real purpose in life, to help young people. Of course, she couldn’t breathe without her music, but that’s what she wants to be her legacy for young people around the world. I just feel privileged to be part of it. There came a time in my life that it was such a surprise to work with young people every day.
The Foundation’s Kindness Research at Work
The foundation has studied the intersection of kindness and mental health for the past 10 years and found an undeniable connection between the two. Recently, they partnered with In effect to conduct a study on how workers aged 18-29 value kindness and mental health at work. The study of 1,200 young people found that 79% of respondents believe mental health should be a priority in the workplace and are looking for employers who have caring policies that support mental health. According to Germanotta, the key findings of the study include:
- 77% of respondents were more likely to apply to a job posting that listed “kindness” as an important company value.
- 74% of respondents said it was important to have a caring community in the workplace, such as asking managers to check on their team members for professional and personal support.
- 89% of young workers rate mental health and kindness as high priorities in the workplace.
- Just 32% of employees work in environments where paid personal or mental health days are provided.
- Only half of young people surveyed said they have health insurance that covers mental health care.
The survey found that young people are more passionate about their careers and invested in their work if they are in a caring workplace that prioritizes mental health – a win-win situation for employees and employers. In the ‘new normal’, young people working today believe that mental health and kindness go hand in hand and are equally important in the workplace, research shows. “People spend a lot of time at work. What the data from this study means is that we have the opportunity and the obligation for companies to be more welcoming to young workers and to attract and retain talent,” said Germanotta. “We all win when we put people first as well as profit. We have better productivity and healthier, happier employees. Diversity brings change because you have different perspectives and people who approach issues from different angles. It can be more creative and everyone wins.
According to Germanotta, this research has further demonstrated the connection between mental health and kindness and the role we each have in ensuring the success and fulfillment of young people in their personal and professional lives. “Companies that want to attract, retain and support their workers can take concrete steps to encourage caring workplace communities, increase access to needed mental health resources, and affirm and respect everyone in the workplace. their workspaces. The Born This Way Foundation aims to validate young people’s emotions, encourage kindness and eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health – the workplace is a critical environment for achieving these goals,” she concluded.
The foundation puts its money in its mouth. They are committing $1 million to fund youth-led mental health initiatives in various communities in tandem with Lady Gaga’s 2022 Chromatica Ball tour this summer in cities where she will perform.