It would be difficult to find anyone who will argue for positive mental health at work. Many high-profile campaigns have promoted a more open approach to mental health and well-being, which was once taboo. Organisations need to be able to support mental health at work as employees are more open to talking about it.
Unfortunately, many organisations are not doing enough to support employee mental well-being and health. There are many ways to make this happen that will not only create a mental health environment but also encourage employees to participate fully in the workplace.
Positive mental health at work is a benefit
Supporting mental health at work has many benefits. First, there is a human case to support fair and inclusive workplaces. Everyone deserves to be able to fully participate in the workplace and achieve their full potential. It is becoming increasingly clear that employers should consider creating a work environment that promotes mental wellbeing and mental health.
This is especially important when considering the prevalence of mental health issues. There are also financial consequences. The World Health Organisation estimates that anxiety and depression can cost $1 trillion per year to the global economy in lost productivity.
Supporting employee mental health can lead to shorter sick leave periods and less presenteeism. Mentally healthy workplaces result in employees being more productive, innovative, and resilient.
How to improve your mental health and well-being at work
It is not a new concept to raise awareness about mental health in the workplace. Because of its potential to have a negative impact on a company’s success, it is not surprising. According to Mental Health America, disengaged employees can cost businesses up to $500 billion annually.
Many companies recognize the importance of supporting workers’ mental health by offering benefits to their employees. According to an American Heart Association report, more than 8 out 10 employees believe their employers offer at least one mental-health benefit. These employees also stated that they wish their employers provided more.
Training for middle and senior managers
Once you have established a culture of inclusion and support from the CEO, you can provide training to your middle and senior managers about how to identify and treat mental health issues. Organisations must ensure that their leaders are able to lead in a way that creates an inclusive and engaging environment.
Leadership development should include skills that help increase awareness and confidence in managing mental health issues. These skills should be developed by your middle managers as well. Your middle managers are the ones who can help create a mentally healthy workplace.
They are the ones who have the best conversations with employees about their mental health. Your line managers can also benefit from training programs that help them recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness.
Meetings shouldn’t just be about work
Regular one-on-one meetings between your direct reports and your performance reviews can provide opportunities for a deeper conversation with employees. These meetings can be used to gauge the employee’s well-being, rather than just ensuring work gets done. It can make a huge difference in how employees feel and give you the opportunity to address any concerns or issues.
All employees should make work-life balance a top priority
Employees can feel overwhelmed by the pressures of trying to balance work and personal life. This can lead to burnout. Employers can promote a positive balance by using effective stress management practices, such as flexible work policies, encouraging employees to take breaks, offering mental health days off, and limiting email hours.
This is especially true for senior employees. Your workforce should know that these practices are encouraged and not discouraged.
Establish an inclusive, welcoming culture
Employees must believe in their organization and be able to trust that they will receive the support they require. You may not be able to break down the stigma surrounding mental health, and people might worry about speaking out could have a negative impact on their carer.
Employers must create a culture that encourages inclusion and champions it daily. This should be stressed from the first contact you have with a candidate, and maintained throughout their tenure with you as an employer.
It is important to make clear from the beginning that employees will be treated confidentially, with respect, understanding, and without intolerance, any mental health or wellbeing issues they wish to discuss. Although this may seem like a long process, employees will be more open about their mental health and be able to receive support sooner.
All employees deserve the opportunity to speak up in the right forum
Employee engagement and wellbeing are directly linked to feeling that our work matters and that we are valued. A mentally healthy workplace culture requires that employees feel heard on all issues. You can do this by asking employees at all levels for their feedback.
From the top, set the tone
Leaders are responsible for promoting mental health at work. They can show that they are committed to creating a culture that is supportive and understanding of their employees and help to break down the stigma associated with mental health issues at work. It could be as simple as an internal blog or communication from the CEO.
Make wellness action plans
Sometimes preventive measures alone are not enough. Sometimes it is necessary to provide tangible and concrete support. A tailored action plan can be created for employees who disclose that they have a mental illness. This will help them to manage their work and improve their mood.
These actions can be as simple as setting up weekly catch-ups that help prioritize workloads, flexible working arrangements or mentoring programs.
Take part in mental health and well-being initiatives
Regular initiatives can help you promote mental health and well-being in your workplace and engage your employees. These initiatives can be run internally or externally to support your employees holistically. These include the provision and management of mental wellness resources, mental health challenges, mindfulness practices, personal growth opportunities, and an employee assistance program.
Regular and transparent communication
You should update your employees on the organization’s performance, goals, and vision during these meetings. This will help your employees understand the goals and objectives of the organization and keep them engaged. They are able to understand the importance of their responsibilities and how they contribute to the organization’s goals.
Many organisations outsource their mental health care to third-party providers. While it is important to support employees’ mental health and well-being, External support gives your organization access to expert guidance, training and assistance. You must ensure that mental health support services are firmly embedded within your organization, even if you choose to do so.
A happy, productive, and healthy workforce is the key to any organization’s success. The importance of ensuring the mental well-being and health of your employees should not be left to the socially conscious employer. It should also be a priority for business-conscious employers. Create an inclusive, supportive culture and an open-door policy to encourage mental health and wellness initiatives.
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