Improving Employee Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace
According to the CDC, an average American spends over one-third of their day, five days a week, at the workplace. However, in the post-pandemic era, many are reconsidering their relationship with work and how it affects their health and satisfaction with life. Having a fulfilling job is good for mental health and wellbeing, but a negative work environment can have an opposite effect. Workplaces play a significant role in an employee's mental health, which is why now, more than ever, it is important for business leaders to promote wellbeing in their respective workplace.
Why is employee mental health so important?
Failing to address employee mental health can have a detrimental impact on a company’s success. In fact, the WHO states that depression and anxiety in the workplace cost the global economy an estimated $1 trillion per year in lost productivity.
Poor mental health among employees can lead to issues such as:
- Decreased job performance and productivity
- Poor communication with coworkers or clients
- Employee disengagement
- High turnover rate
According to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year. In such an environment, employers play a crucial role in not only caring about the mental wellbeing of their employees, but also helping to foster a stigma free environment where individuals feel comfortable raising their hand when they need help.
5 ways that your company can improve employee mental health
One of the initial steps toward establishing an environment that is supportive of mental health in the workplace, is promoting and protecting the health, safety, and wellbeing of all employees. Below are a few ways in which you can support mental wellness in the workplace.
Offer mental health programs and other relevant resources for your workplace -
Similar to learning basic first aid and CPR, equipping your colleagues with mental health training can help them recognize the signs of mental stress in themselves and others. Such programs also empower participants with tools to help themselves and others in need of support.
Set a positive example by modeling healthy behaviors in the workplace -
As a leader, it is important to exemplify positive behaviors surrounding mental health in order to encourage your colleagues to uphold those same values. Tell about your daily gratitude or meditation practice, share insight from a therapy session, and speak candidly about ways in which you are prioritizing mental health in your own life.
Decrease the stigma by having open and honest conversations -
Engage in dialogue about your own experiences or struggles with mental health (if any). By establishing a culture of authenticity and transparency with communication in the workplace, you can help to normalize mental health challenges amongst your colleagues.
Organize activities or challenges that align with mental & physical health improvements -
Physical activity is not only good for the body but also for the mind, and it’s been proven that getting active can improve your mental health. Initiate employee wellness challenges, invite your colleagues to take a five-minute walk around the building, or host virtual activity & wellness challenges. Such challenges tend to boost employee health & wellness scores, lead to higher employee engagement, and are transformative for an organization’s culture.
Offer flexibility and be inclusive of those struggling with mental health issues -
Have patience and understanding if someone within your team is navigating through stressful issues in their personal life. Offering time off for childcare or setting healthy work-life boundaries are a couple of ways to show your employees that their employer really cares about them and their wellbeing. As the needs of your employees continue to shift, strive to have a realistic, adaptable, and generous approach to tackling mental health stress. Doing so can help your workplace and employees thrive.
Tackling the issue of mental health as a whole is a daunting task, and all the more critical when we talk about mental health and workplace together. Aim to make strides towards promoting mental health or emotional health in the workplace one step at a time. By providing solutions, assessing and evaluating the mental wellbeing of employees, and implementing workplace health programs, you as a leader can help to cultivate a healthy work environment for your team.