How Business Leaders Can Prioritise Mental Health in the Workplace
For a long time, it’s been taboo to talk about mental health at work. Some people are afraid that if they spoke up about their struggles with mental health, no one would understand them, people would judge them, and their job might be at stake. For these reasons, employees are hesitant to share their mental state with their employers. But if they don’t discuss it, it won’t be addressed, leading to increased sick days, decreased morale, strained relationships and reduced productivity. To prevent these consequences, leaders must implement mental health management at work.
Here’s a look at why mental health matters at work and how you can prioritise it in your workplace.
Why Is Mental Health in the Work Environment Essential?
A business is responsible for protecting its employees while they are working. This includes traditional workplace safety measures like providing personal protective equipment, training on the safe use of dangerous machinery, and protecting workers’ mental health.
There is more to workplace well-being than physical health. It should cater to a holistic view and consider a person’s psychological, social and emotional health, which affect how we think, feel and behave.
Mental health in the workplace means fostering an environment that supports your employees’ mental health. A healthy mental state can make a massive difference to your business’s operations and the overall safety of your employees. Hence, putting it first at work is a good idea. This can include being aware of factors that can up people’s stress levels in the workplace.
Work-induced stress is caused by various factors, such as the following.
Work type: Some professions, like medical personnel and first responders, have a higher stress level because of their duties.
Workload: An excessive amount of work can lead to mental health issues.
Scheduling: Lack of freedom can lead to increased stress.
The environment at work: How people feel at work is usually a good indicator of whether the environment is healthy or toxic.
Career progress: Lack of a career vision can lead to a lack of motivation.
Insecure job conditions: Uncertainty about permanent employment or shift work can cause stress.
A balance between work and life: Not balancing work and life can lead to feelings of failure in one or more life areas.
When a worker is unwell, it affects the team and reduces productivity. If companies do not cater to their employees’ mental health, then the following can happen:
- Taking more sick days
- Productivity declines
- Cost increases
- Rotation of personnel
- Complaints from clients
- Toxic working environment
Mental health is key to the success of businesses and organisations. Thus, decision-makers need to incorporate it more into business strategies.
How Do You Promote Good Mental Health at Work?
Ensure psychological safety
Despite the growing number of employees discussing their mental health, the experience isn’t always positive. This primarily results from a lack of psychological safety at work. You feel psychologically safe when you believe you won’t be humiliated or punished for speaking up.
Psychological safety can be achieved if team members value each other’s work, look for each other’s well-being and participate in team decisions. Team leaders play an important role in psychological safety within a team. Through their actions, they can create a positive work environment. This environment can only be made by compassionate leaders who listen well.
Empathy must be consistently demonstrated in the workplace to encourage employees to raise concerns. Moreover, organisations need to make people feel valued and as if they belong. If not, being in the workplace can create a sense of isolation, making mental health symptoms worse.
Change policies and practices
Prioritising mental health at work is made more accessible by focusing on mental health policies. For instance, you could discourage meetings on alternate Fridays. You can also ask workers to dedicate saved commute time to activities that promote physical and emotional health and establish work-life boundaries, such as physical activity and socialising with family and friends. By following these steps, you can improve employees’ well-being.
Make check-ins a part of your culture
Maintaining regular contact with everyone on your direct report list is critical. As more and more people work from home, noticing signs of trouble may be more complex. Simply checking in with employees is a small step but one that can make a big difference.
Provide flexible working hours
Some employees may not be comfortable working 40 hours weekly in an office. In 2020, many team members preferred remote or hybrid work options when forced to work from home. Searching for one may not be difficult for those interested in a remote job since many companies offer remote work. Promoting work-life balance through flexible work options shows employers care about their staff’s well-being.
Despite its benefits for work-life balance, working remotely can also make employees feel isolated. So engage remote employees through communication and team-building exercises to make them feel they belong at work.
Provide resources for mental health
The most effective support mechanisms employers can offer are mental health resources. Clinical services may need to be subsidised for employees experiencing acute mental health problems. At the very least, people could benefit from tools intended to teach coping skills and encourage self-care. These could include surveys, quizzes and guides that serve as wellness assessments to determine an employee’s work-life balance and mood.
Invest in workplace mental health training
Equip your team members with the knowledge on how to assist someone who is struggling and where they can find resources. This can be done through mental health first aid training. A mental health first aid course is intended to raise mental health awareness and eliminate mental health issues’ stigma. Educating employees about mental health and dealing with them creates a supportive and open work environment.
Invest in Your Employees’ Well-being and Make Mental Health a Priority
At EDP, mental health first aid courses are available to businesses interested in having mental health first aiders on their staff. Ensure your workforce is equipped with the mental health tools they need. Book an MHFA course with us today.