What leaders can learn from Simone Biles’ Olympics exit


Simone Biles taught us all a lesson about psychological well being within the office.

Essentially the most vital present of willpower on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was Simone Biles strolling away from the competitors to concentrate on her psychological well being.

“We wholeheartedly assist Simone’s choice and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being,” learn a press release from USA Gymnastics. “Her braveness exhibits, but once more, why she is a task mannequin for therefore many.”


The outpouring of assist for Biles exhibits that individuals are taking psychological well being significantly and are right here to speak about it. By saying “no” and placing her personal well being above all else, Biles sparked a dialog in regards to the weight of expectations and the calls for we place on others. It additionally resonates so deeply as a result of it comes at an necessary time—after 15+ months of dwelling amid the stress of a pandemic—when increasingly more People are coming into contact with the struggles of psychological well being, particularly within the office.

Examine after research signifies that because the pandemic continues, individuals are feeling extra nervousness; and regardless of firms’ consciousness of the development, workers really feel they’re not receiving the support they want from employers. Late final 12 months, Hibob performed a research to grasp the affect of the pandemic on worker psychological well being and productiveness. On this survey, 49% of respondents mentioned their psychological well being over the previous 12 months had a significant impact on productiveness. The research pointed to a 22% decline in psychological well being for workers and a 12% decline for managers.

How can enterprise leaders and HR deal with emotions of burnout and worker well-being?

Simone Biles’ openness about her psychological well being struggles is courageous and galvanizing. If the #GOAT can rise up and say, “I must deal with myself,” it empowers others to do the identical. Position fashions have the ability to chip away at any stigma round psychological well being and make it simpler for others to open up and search assist. Many individuals that suffer from nervousness or despair have years of expertise at faking wellness, particularly within the workplace the place efficiency and dedication are always measured. Enterprise leaders who face related pressures ought to converse overtly about psychological well being—their struggles, therapy, what’s labored, and what hasn’t. Do not forget that it’s okay to mannequin vulnerability. Empower your individuals to talk up, advocate for themselves, and ask for what they want. Within the office, these wants can vary from higher psychological well being advantages to parental care and PTO.

On the similar time, enterprise leaders can’t wait for workers to boost their palms and ask for assist. Leaders and HR must create work environments that stress the significance of labor/life stability. This can be achieved by way of time-off insurance policies that enable workers to take limitless sick or psychological well being days, sending the message that even in the event you’re presently working from your bed room, a migraine, abdomen cramps, or fogginess are all legitimate causes to take the break day and recharge.

In a distant work surroundings, managers aren’t round to choose up on the indicators of burnout and stress. If you’re a supervisor, converse to extra junior workers about psychological well being, ask them how they’re feeling, and acknowledge that burnout and nervousness are extra widespread than you suppose. In 2019, even earlier than the pandemic, the World Well being Group labeled worker burnout a medical situation. Professionals within the discipline say the problem has solely gotten worse as workers cope with the social isolation of working from residence and the stress of dwelling with altering restrictions and well being dangers. Actually, a research revealed that almost one in each 4 junior-level workers has skilled a decline in psychological well being since March 2020.


Whereas job satisfaction is again to pre-pandemic ranges, individuals are nonetheless working lengthy hours and having to stability household life with skilled obligations, which can have a extreme affect on their psychological well being. Analysis exhibits that the pliability of distant work is the important thing to job satisfaction, and helps contribute to a greater work-life stability. As extra firms undertake hybrid work methods, which permit for versatile work hours and areas, extra workers will profit from the liberty to work the best way they need to. Versatile scheduling provides individuals extra time to concentrate on themselves so that they can deliver dedication and dedication to the job with out feeling overextended. And as extra leaders take a cue from Biles and open up about their very own struggles with psychological well being, it can have an actual affect on anybody who feels that they’re struggling alone or can’t ask for what they want.

The response to Simone Biles’ Olympics withdrawal exhibits that society is getting higher at speaking about psychological well being. The present of affection and assist for Biles proves that there’s braveness in talking up and saying “no.” The message for firms around the globe is: Maintain your workers, take psychological well being significantly, and provides your workers the pliability to stability all of it. Earlier than they rise up and say “no.”

Rhiannon Staples is the CMO of Hibob.