Sales News

The State Of Mental Health In Sales

Stress levels are at all-time highs. Working in sales – an already stressful career – means mental health matters...

July 8, 2021

The State Of Mental Health In Sales

As awareness and support around mental health rise, so does sales performance. That's just one of the key findings from the 2021 State of Mental Health in Sales Report, where 770 respondents across the sales organization from leadership to individual contributor filled out a survey conducted in March and April of this year.

As the chart illuminates below, seven in ten reps who rate their mental health as very good or excellent score their performance just the same. The data is clear – when we support and care about our team's mental health, we're more likely to hit our revenue targets.

Four Major Drivers of Poor Mental Health

The far-left bar tells us just over one in five sales professionals think their performance is better than good when they also rate their mental health as poor. So what variables contribute to an unhealthy level of well-being?

Here's just a sample of why sales reps (and all people) might rate themselves with poor mental health:

  1. Imposter Syndrome. Born in the late 1970s, this term has become more prevalent in the last few years and refers to feeling inadequate or not good enough to succeed. According to research from the International Journal of Behavioral Science, 70% of us will experience imposter syndrome at some point in our lives.
  2. Job Burnout. If we find ourselves waking up each morning and dreading work, or if our sleeping or eating patterns change, we could be experiencing burnout. Feelings of disengagement and not seeing the purpose in our day-to-day tasks are also solid indicators.
  3. Substance Use Disorder. Maybe it's self-denial or the associated stigma, but many of us struggle with addiction and how to find help. The most recent data from 2019 shows 20 million in the United States deal with this challenge – that's about one in eight working professionals.
  4. Lack of Leader or Manager Support. Whether it's the absence of psychological safety, micromanagement, or missing targets, we are more prone to poor mental health when we don't feel supported by our boss (or team).

Another study from Modern Health last year points out 24% are working more hours, and 45% now say it's harder to balance and set boundaries between personal and professional life. In fact, setting strong boundaries is the top mental health need for salespeople (see list below).

How Leaders Promote Mental Health

So what factors lead to higher levels of engagement, motivation, and mental health? Back to the 2021 State of Mental Health in Sales Report for some answers. Perhaps the most fascinating insight, when survey-takers were asked to reflect on a time in their sales career when they felt most engaged and motivated at work, they shared feeling supported by their manager, having autonomy, and being recognized.

Though these factors are certainly important, the data shows reps have seven distinct needs when it comes to better mental health.

Salespeople are more likely to rate their mental health as very good or excellent when these seven needs are met:

  • Strong boundaries with work
  • Feel like they are making a difference in the world
  • Feel strongly connected to their teammates
  • Have clarity and direction in their career path
  • Feel their goals and metrics are achievable
  • Feel they can be open about how they are feeling at work
  • Feel that they have job security

Leaders could also step up and establish an employee resource group. For example, Saleforce launched Soberforce and promoted an event called The Many Faces of Addiction. As leaders, think about hosting non-alcoholic events (or provide the option) as many of us come together again for team building. Advocating for platforms like Happify Health and Modern Health would also signal leadership support.

One final finding from the report is the impact leaders can have destigmatizing mental health. When salespeople felt there was no stigma in the workplace, 68% rated their mental well-being as good or better. When respondents said they felt the stigmatization, only 21% rated their mental health as good or better.

Commit to talking about mental health in the workplace, and lead by example.

Remember to download the full report here!

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