6 Ways to Improve Mental Health at Work

May 16, 2019

In lieu of Mental Health Awareness month, we identified major factors that contribute to poor mental health and came up with initiatives you (as an employer) can take to cultivate a positive, supportive environment for your employees.

Mental health is one of the most important contributing factors to a positive attitude in one’s personal life. Simply put, if someone isn’t feeling balanced mentally, they won’t be as productive, engaging, or fulfilled in their work.

To put it in perspective, the CDC reports that over 18 million American adults suffer from a depressive-related illness or condition every year. Depression can be thoroughly disruptive to one’s mental health in all aspects of their lives, especially at work.

This level of impairment can cost employers billions of dollars in productivity and time costs each year, making mental health a top priority in the majority of companies hiring in today’s modern era (it’s nice to actually care about your employees’ mental health too!).

Depression and anxiety alone take their toll; in total, over 1 trillion dollars are lost in productivity costs per year according to the World Health Organization.

Below is a list (to name a few) of major components of an employee’s job that can have a negative impact on mental health.

  • Lack of transparency and communication
  • High-stress job duties
  • Job security
  • Bullying/Harassment
  • Lack of support of employees
  • Long or tedious commutes
  • Work inflexibility
  • Lack of growth and learning opportunities

 

Mental Health Awareness

Consider the following when creating a better environment for your team:

Hold weekly meetings

A manager who doesn’t communicate tasks or important information can leave their employees feeling inadequate, ill-prepared, and unsupported.

Meeting regularly with your employees will get your team on the same page and open the door for better communication and increase feelings of overall support for struggling employees.

Acknowledge your team

Providing positive reinforcement can go a long way in ensuring a team member feels supported and validated.

According to a recent Harvard study, positive reinforcement is vital to a strong relationship between employees and their supervisors, in addition to being more effective than punishment techniques.

Create Awareness and Educate

Individuals who struggle from mental health problems at work often feel neglected, misunderstood, and unsupported. This can in part be attributed to the “invisible” nature of illnesses such as depression or anxiety.

It is important that managers acknowledge the presence of such conditions in the workplace; to talk openly about such matters helps destigmatize mental health issues and support those who suffer. This can also help decrease bullying and discrimination (even accidental) by making the aggressors aware of the potential harm they are doing to those struggling.

Cultivate meaningful relationships

Making an effort to dive deeper than the surface between employer-employee relationships can encourage open discussion of mental health. The more comfortable employees are with their supervisors on a personal level, the easier it will be for them to be more open about their issues. This can start with something as simple as a team bonding event after work, or even during lunch.

Flexibility is key

Working remotely can provide a slew of benefits to both employers and employees. Offer opportunities to telecommute or adjust their hours depending on the situation. Employees who are given the option to telecommute are more productive, experience better mental health and overall work-life balance.

Offer opportunities to grow

Employees who feel their growth is stunted or stagnant can lead to feelings of helplessness or low morale. If possible, encourage employees to take classes, attend workshops, and participate in webinars. Learning can have a positive impact on mental health, in addition to improving self-esteem.

It is important that your employees feel comfortable enough to seek help if and when they need it- especially if they’re at work. By offering ample opportunities to support struggling employees you reduce the risk of turnover and productivity deficits. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to help someone in need from time to time.

Ben Waring
INSIGHT WRITTEN BY:
Ben Waring