Supporting employee mental health and promoting it in the workplace should be a priority for every company. This is especially true considering how demanding the past years have been due to the pandemic.
Poor mental health greatly hinders productivity and leads to further anxiety, stress, and burnout. That’s why a good organizational strategy that supports mental health and psychological safety is essential in a business.
Company owners and managers must understand, above all else, that they’re dealing with living, breathing, and feeling human beings in the workplace, not robots. The stress of any job causes mental health problems and stressful feelings for some, which is why managers must know how to develop strategies to improve things.
The first steps
Before even trying to implement a mental health support strategy, it’s important to get to know the employees and assess their current state of being. The American Institute of Stress released a survey by ComPsych that revealed that 62% of workers suffer from extreme levels of stress, with severe fatigue, across all industries.
It’s also vital to determine whether the company culture allows employers to safely open up about their mental health concerns. There’s still a considerable amount of stigma associated with mental health issues, and not everyone is comfortable speaking up about them.
The top 3 strategies for better mental health in the workplace
Stress is a heavy hitter when it comes to impairing workers and affecting their productivity and overall quality of life. This is why it’s important to have support in the workplace, which is usually one of the greatest sources of stress and anxiety. Here are three strategies toward better mental health in the workplace that leaders can implement in their companies:
1. Encouraging meaningful participation
For a mental health initiative to succeed, it’s crucial to have meaningful participation of people who’ll effectively benefit from it. Leaders should provide a safe environment where their workers can openly share their experiences and feelings.
It’s also important to ask employees to get and stay involved in developing and creating the mental health strategy. With their different ideas and points of view stemming from their personal experiences with mental health issues, they help design the best strategy possible.
To motivate workers to participate, employers can try finding involved representatives amidst the workforce, encourage staff to have a voice, provide safe communication forums, and inform employees about every change made across the organization to support the mental health cause.
2. Open communication
As previously mentioned, the stigma associated with mental health causes a lack of communication regarding the subject in the workplace. Regularly opening up about it, communicating with staff and inquiring about their well-being will help reduce the stigma and make the workplace feel safe.
When communicating about any organizational change, companies should remain transparent and let workers know everything that’s going on. Leaders should explain why changes are occurring, what they will look like, and what’s in it for them. They should also be clear on what happens when certain circumstances don’t change.
Not everyone will be open to direct communication, so it’s important to consider alternative channels with them in mind. Companies can develop online forums and training sessions and deliver individual notices. Managers should also support employees to speak up about needing a mental health day off.
3. Education on mental health services
Businesses and HR leaders must focus on developing educational mental health campaigns across the organization. Even though the number of people struggling with poor mental health is high, many of them don’t know what kind of options there are and how the company will help them.
According to a 2020 survey by the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions and Lyra Health, 60% of employees paid for mental health care out of pocket in 2020 despite being insured by their employer. This happens because companies aren’t proactive in sharing their mental health benefits with workers. Sometimes, employer assistant programs are difficult to understand, and HR leaders need to make an effort to help and accompany their workers through the process.
Focusing on mental health education in the workspace is another way for workers to feel safer and more trusting. They should be able to know about their options, how to reach out for help, and what the company’s plans cover.
How does mental health impact job performance?
Poor mental health can negatively impact job performance in several ways. For instance, anxiety can take a toll on a worker’s physical capabilities. It can cause a loss of concentration, make it difficult to carry out the most basic day-to-day tasks, and reduce stamina. Other consequences of mental health issues in the workplace include:
- Feelings of paranoia
- Low confidence
- Social avoidance
- Inability to work on a team
- Lack of communication
Advantages of investing in mental health in the workplace
Investing in mental health strategies in the workplace is a great way to combat poor mental health among workers and it can bring many advantages. Some of them include the following:
- Increased retention and satisfaction
- Improved productivity
- Better customer service
- Reduced employee-related risks
- Lower medical costs
- Increased sense of being present
- Higher company reputation
The advantages of investing in mental health strategies aren’t solely reserved for the workers who get to benefit from them. The company itself has a lot to gain from happy and healthy employees. Not only do they get to enjoy a better reputation than the competition, but they also get to save some funds related to medical costs and absences.
How to develop a workplace mental health strategy
Companies must take a few steps to develop a proper workplace mental health strategy. First, they must gain leadership support. This involves creating a compelling business case, identifying champions among workers, establishing governance, and committing several resources.
The second step requires companies to identify the needs of the workers. Leaders should identify existing policies and programs, review current data and research, consult with staff to determine present issues, and get feedback on the proposed approach.
With the support of leaders and the opinions of workers and stakeholders, the next step is to develop a plan. Here is where the company determines outcomes and goals to establish an achievable and actionable roadmap. It might be necessary to collaborate or even hire external expertise.
Once the company implements action, all that’s left to do is monitor, review, and improve the strategy. Leaders should collect data, compare progress with set goals, and adjust the strategy whenever needed.
Society constantly faces poor mental health issues and their consequences. These issues worsened in the past couple of years due to the pandemic. Having companies take charge, and adequately respond to help solve these issues, is of the utmost importance. Bad mental health issues negatively impact work productivity and decrease the workers’ quality of life outside of the office. Implementing strategies toward better mental health in the workplace greatly benefits both the workers and the companies.
The best strategies for mental health include a significant focus on participation, communication, and education. Happy and healthy employees do their best. A company that supports its staff at all levels will always have a better reputation and benefit from its workers’ loyalty.