Mental Health and Franchising

In May of each year, the United States recognizes Mental Health Month to heighten awareness of mental health issues, prevention methods, and treatment options. One of the major emphases is to encourage people to talk openly about any difficulties with mental health they encounter. No one is immune to mental health issues, especially those in stressful careers like franchising.

In fact, entrepreneurs are more likely to suffer from mental health struggles at some point than the general population. A 2015 study by the University of San Francisco focused on the mental health crisis with entrepreneurs. According to this study, approximately one half (49%) of entrepreneurs will suffer from at least one form of mental health condition during their lifetimes. This compares in the U.S with a reported 35% of the general population.

Mental Health and Business

It is undeniable that the journey of an entrepreneur is a rollercoaster. Startups, franchisor or franchisee, anyone who has started and operated a business will readily acknowledge the struggle with dizzying highs and sickening lows. If the stress of such a volatile business environment becomes too great, it can spill over into other areas of life.

While specific numbers for mental health issues among franchisors do not exist, anyone involved in franchising should be aware of mental health issues and the risks involved. Any wise business owner should be aware and compassionate toward the issue of mental illness, and be prepared to assist those within their company or franchise network who suffer from any form of mental illness.

Structures to Help with Franchising and Mental Illness

A wise franchisor will see it as his or her responsibility toward the franchise network to provide support structures for any member of the team who develops a mental health issue. If a franchisee is struggling with their mental health, that will undoubtedly have an impact on the business and result in poor performance. What happens to one franchisee can have repercussions for the entire team.

What are some structures and support mechanisms a franchisor might consider adopting to address mental health issues within their business? The following are some suggestions. A reputable franchise advisor will likely be able to point you to more resources.

The Franchise Network

A measurable benefit of being part of a franchise network is being part of a larger community. That can be a huge help in supporting franchisees who may be suffering from mental health issues, or even those who are at a higher risk of developing them. A close, supportive network of franchisees can provide immeasurable support to others within the network during any time of need.

Honest and Open Communication

The beginning point of any system of support for mental health is openness and honesty. Having good and clear lines of communication between the franchisor management team and the franchisees, together with a positive company culture, is a key factor to overall franchise success. With such an excellent franchisee support structure in place, a franchisee who can self-identify when they are starting to struggle should feel able to be open and honest about the difficulties that they are experiencing and feel confident that in doing so they will be supported and assisted wherever possible.

Awareness and Resources

With open communication as a priority, franchising networks should also have appropriate systems and resources in place for when a struggle with mental health is identified. When a franchisee or employee might be experiencing difficulties but has not yet opened up about it, the franchisor should have the compassion to offer support and advice at an early stage, hopefully forestalling a crisis.

Promoting Mental Health in Your Franchise

One huge franchisor has launched an entirely new line of meals in support of Mental Health Month. Burger King launched the “Real Meals” campaign, where patrons can select a meal that reflects their current mood. Of course, it is an obvious swipe at their number one competitor, McDonalds, and their “Happy Meal.” Burger King contends that no one is happy all the time, and the meals come in different-colored boxes to reflect your moods.

According to a press release, “With Real Meals, the Burger King brand celebrates being yourself and feeling however you want to feel.” Kudos to Burger King and their acknowledgement of mental health awareness, as well as a master stroke of advertising.

While you may not go to such great lengths to promote mental health in your franchise system, you can put structures and resources in place to care for those within your team who suffer mental health issues. For more information, contact the advisors at Franchise Guardian.

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