Many entrepreneurs and leaders do not believe that the mental health of their employees is relevant to their business or falls within the sphere of their responsibilities. They ignore the fact that the emotions, feelings, and thought patterns influence the behaviors of their employees, and therefore, directly impact organizational processes, communication, and productivity.
From maintaining efficiency and productivity to maintaining workplace safety, the mental wellbeing of employees defines the workplace culture and their contribution to the organization. Helping employees elevate their mental wellbeing is one of the most crucial steps to enhance the health of an entire organization and endorse a culture of inclusivity and sensitivity.
Understandably, a healthy workplace cannot undermine all mental health problems, as family, life quality, experiences, and genetics all play instrumental roles in their development and progression. However, employers can take various steps to strengthen the mental wellbeing and health of their employees.
Here are some strategies that business leaders can adopt to create a mentally healthier workplace:
Initiate a Discourse on Mental Health
Organizational leaders must take the initiative to start a discussion on mental health and make it easier for their employees to discuss their problems.
Andrea Paul, MD Founder of Health Media Experts, working on Healthcare Marketing, says “It is crucial to highlight issues and symptoms related to depression, stress, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. Highlighting the symptoms and discussing mental health issues will make it easier for employees to understand the problems faced by them and others around them.”
It will create a facilitative and inclusive culture where colleagues can look out for each other and spot signs of being overstressed, anxious, or mentally disturbed. Managers must be trained and educated in the signs and symptoms of common mental health problems and how to respond to such employees. All it takes is a heartfelt and caring conversation to encourage an employee to get the help they need.
A Harmonious Work-Life Balance
Leaders must actively encourage their employees to maintain a healthy and harmonious work-life balance. Employees who arrive early and leave late should not be encouraged or praised, and employees should not be made to work in the evening or at odd hours after they leave. It is crucial to draw boundaries and maintain schedules that avoid a spillover of work into the employee’s family time and at-home routine.
Employees who are being overworked at the office and home are most likely to burn out and experience overwhelming bouts of stress. Without a harmonious work-life balance, their productivity will decline. It is crucial to encourage employees to spend quality time with their family and loved ones, and encourage them to take vacations. In fact, the organization must facilitate vacations and opportunities that allow their employees to unplug from work and recharge.
Encourage a Rich, Fulfilling Life
Organizations often expect their employees to have little life or interests outside the office. Sending emails late at night and expecting prompt responses, or actively encouraging employees to neglect their hobbies or family gatherings to work on an important presentation is unethical and hazardous to their mental wellbeing.
Anthony Mixides, Managing Director at London Vape says “Working as the Managing Director at my company, I believe employees should be given a dedicated paid-offs every year to take regular vacations where they are able to unplug from the office. Don’t expect them to answer emails around the clock.”
Organizational leaders must encourage their employees to develop a rich, fulfilling, and creative life outside the office. They must encourage their employees to take part in sports, maintain hobbies and spend more time with their family and loved ones. Many organizations celebrate family days with picnics and parties or encourage their employees to take part in sports with office teams and regular matches.
Prioritizing Health & Wellness
Organizational leaders must make wellness a priority by promoting healthy eating, exercise, and leisurely, stress-busting activities. Employees should be incentivized to look after their health and wellbeing and participate in wellness programs. Organizations can offer free or discounted gym memberships, yoga sessions, or diet and nutrition workshops.
Employees often hesitate to approach managers with requests to take leave for dental or physical checkups. Therefore, they are highly unlikely to approach their superiors to discuss their mental health issues and traumas. As managers and leaders, it is crucial to reach out to employees and offer unconditional support.
“Being a founder of a company that helps businesses to grow, I always try to educate managers about the symptoms of mental health problems and help them to respond appropriately. A caring dialogue between a supervisor and an employee could be instrumental in encouraging an individual to get help” says Rorie Devine, CEO, and Founder of GRO.TEAM
Managers and leaders must be discreet in offering help, and employees should be assured that the organization is fully supportive of their efforts to address their mental health needs.
Small but sincere efforts, mindful conversations, and heartfelt consideration can help an employee struggling with mental health challenges by offering the encouragement and motivation one needs to seek out treatment actively. In the long-run, every investment an organization makes to uplift the mental wellbeing of its employees results in enhanced productivity, growth, and success for the organization itself.
Providing Free Screening Tools & EAP Benefits
A large majority of mental health patients neglect their ailments, and their conditions go untreated. This is primarily because of the lack of awareness about the signs and symptoms of mental health ailments. Most issues are shrugged off as stress or anxiety, and people end up taking sedatives or relying too much on alcohol to unwind and make their problems disappear.
This is exactly what Eric Edelist Founder & CEO of Bizooy.com suggests “Free screening tools can help employees examine their own risk factors and symptoms without compromising discretion or opening up publically, which can be increasingly challenging. When employees recognize their risk factors for depression and chronic stress, they are more likely to seek treatment”
Offering EAP benefits allows employees to undertake free therapy sessions, and it is crucial to remind your employees of the benefits of attending these sessions. EAP benefits and therapy sessions are a great idea for employees who are struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, marital issues, divorce, or performance-related challenges.
Hiring a Therapist
Organizations that maintain a large workforce often hire organizational psychologists and therapists who can cater to their employees. This is a great strategy that reveals a caring and nurturing organizational attitude towards the mental wellbeing of their employees.
Having free and easy access to a therapist will make it easier for employees to cope, identify their risk factors and symptoms, and obtain the help they seek. Naturally, this investment will pay off twelve-folds as the employees will be well looked after, and the organizational culture will promote wellness, productivity, and growth.
Stress Management Training
Managing stress can be overwhelming, and most organizations pile up stress instead of helping their employees manage their workload. Organizations and business leaders can help their employees by providing training and workshops on stress management, inner-strength, emotional wellness, and self-care.
Half-day workshops twice or thrice a year can prove to be major catalysts of transformative change as they can aid in emphasizing the significance of developing healthy strategies to manage negative emotions and energies.