Mental Health at Work//

3 Ways Managers Can Support The Mental Health of Their Staff

Finding a balance between work and private life

The balance between work and private life impacts work performance and the way people feel

overall. However, finding balance is a difficult task, not only for employees, but also for

management. Moreover, each individual has their own preferences, priorities and needs, which make it more difficult given there is no “one size fits all” solution. For example, someone with young children requires different scheduling and accommodations versus employees without children. Even though there is not one singular, perfect solution, there are some strategies that can help managers lay the foundation to support work-life balance and the mental health of their staff.

Encourage your employees to move around

Managers want their employees to perform at their best. When the body is in shape, the mind will be in shape too. Exercising can help create an extra energy boost for the afternoon “lull” and can up the mood of your employees. It relaxes the mind and it improves sleep. Also, working out betters body strength, core stability and flexibility. Therefore, posture can improve, leading to less injuries and, for example, less back pain.

As a manager, you might think supporting employee fitness requires a fancy gym and thus extra costs. However, when you think outside the box, an easy workout in the park during lunch break can be organized by one or your employees that is into fitness, or encouraging a group to join in a power walk around the office area to clear the mind.

Keeping your employees active during working hours is crucial.

We hear it all too often these days: sitting is the new smoking. Well, a standing desk or standing meetings can be an easy solution to this issue. It’s easy to do a small stretch or a few jumping jacks to break up the long sitting hours. Next meeting, try to introduce one of these every 15 minutes. It’s very short and does not interrupt the meeting. On the contrary, it will boost focus.

Allow employees to disconnect after work

The barrier between one’s work and private life is becoming increasingly porous, largely due to the multiple communication tools that prevent us from really taking a break. The professional population is increasingly replying to work emails and phone calls at night, during the weekends and on holidays. Having easy access to emails via laptops and smartphones has its advantages, because it allows teleworking and flexible hours. However, it also brings about negative effects, such as an increased work pressure. In the long term, it can even lead to stress symptoms (exhaustion, neck and shoulder pain, headaches, etc.) and burn-outs.

So what you can do as a manager, is to allow disconnection after working hours.

In Germany, for example, there are many large companies that have taken initiatives themselves to protect their employees from work stress after hours and they have been doing so since 2011.

For example, employees of Volkswagen can no longer send emails half an hour after the end of the working day. For car manufacturer Daimler, who produce Mercedes cars for example, employees can activate an auto-delete in their mailbox during their holidays. Messages that arrive during the holiday will then automatically be deleted. In this way the company avoids that employees have an overflowing mailbox when they come back to work. Employees of BMW are also not obliged to respond to emails of their bosses after working hours.

Also in Belgium, the company Lidl ensures that emails being sent after 6 pm, will only be received in the employees mailboxes at 7 am the next morning. That way, employees do not check their inbox after work.

It can be beneficial for employees not to work all the time, and give workers the right to
occasionally draw the line when their employer’s demands intrude on evenings at home, treasured vacations or Sundays with friends and family. Productivity and effectiveness could increase when there is an actual mental and physical break from work.

Overuse of digital devices has been blamed for everything from burnout to sleeplessness as well as relationship problems, with many employees uncertain of when they can switch off.

With the introduction of a right to disconnect, managers could take into account demands from employees for both their protection as well as the flexibility they can enjoy. The positive thing about this is that it can encourage conversation between employers and their employees, working together to find a good way of achieving work-life balance.

Be flexible where it is possible


Flexibility is one of the best perks to let your employees organize their work-life balance the way it fits best for their lifestyle and needs. Although it can be frightening to allow flexibility, because it needs a certain amount of trust, your employees will be thankful for this and will be more willing to go that extra mile.

Teleworking can be a great way to keep your employees motivated to work hard. When you let

them, especially senior employees, work remotely, they can move to their ideal location, travel, and spend more time with their families – while still contributing to your organization’s success.

Working from home allows flexible scheduling and gives your employees options to take care of their needs, such as picking up kids from school, working out and going to doctors’ appointments.

If working remotely is not a possibility because the job requires the actual presence of your

employees, it can also be beneficial to allow flexible working hours. Letting them sleep a little longer when working late the previous day or letting them work from home once a week to avoid long commutes.

It’s beneficial to allow your employees to take frequent breaks throughout the day. Productivity and effectiveness will increase when taking regular pauses, even if it’s just for five or ten minutes. Talking to colleagues in the kitchen, while preparing a coffee, or having a chat with them about their weekend plans is the best way to pause the brain and to restore focus.


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