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In recent years, mental health has finally exited the shadow of stigma and entered the conversation, even in the workplace. Given that we work in environments that are more fast-paced and stressful than ever, the tempo is bound to impact our mental health.
As a business owner, employer, manager or member of HR, here are the contributions that you can make to build a mentally healthy workplace:
Companies in many Western countries have now started to introduce mental health days in their employee plans. In other words, if an employee feels stressed out, overwhelmed, verging on burnout or anything else that might be affecting their productivity, they can ask for a mental health day just as they would if they had the flu or an infection.
Work from home is another option that can reduce stress for many employees, especially those with children. We said ‘option’ because working from home might be stressful for some people and they might feel like they’re out of sync with the office dynamic.
However, according to a LinkedIn survey, 82% of workers expressed the desire to work from home at least once a week. If you’re not sure about your own workplace, you can set up a small survey and ask your employees whether they would like to have the option to work from home (and how often).
82% of workers expressed the desire to work from home at least once a week.
Exposure to sun, fresh air and greenery are proven to have a positive effect on mental health. Since we’re completely detached from all these things in an office, it’s no wonder that motivation, happiness and energy seem to drop after a lot of hours at work!
Even though your employees have to work from their computers, there is still a lot that you can do to re-connect your office to nature and the outdoors. Start by adding as many plants as possible. An extra plus would be to add plants that absorb electromagnetic radiation, such as succulents, spider plants or snake plants. If you have low levels of natural light in your work space, you can make use of LED grow lights to keep your plants happy and healthy.
If you have that option, setting up a remote outdoor office on your terrace or rooftop is also a great idea. Of course, this type of work has to be done within Wi-Fi’s reach and only on warm, sunny days!
Just like nature, exercise and movement have a scientifically proven positive impact on mental health. And just like nature, moving is anything but natural and necessary in today’s offices, especially in IT and digital industries.
The first line of defence against a sedentary lifestyle that can have a negative impact on the mental health of your employees is an on-site gym. Unfortunately, this is unachievable for many offices, but you can offer gym discounts and subsidies for workouts nearby for employees who decide to join.
For many people, toxic work relationships and verbal violence are among the primary stressors in the workplace. In order to tackle this issue as an employer, changes and rules have to be systemic and well-known.
Start by promoting and really carrying out a zero-tolerance policy towards violence.
In a mentally healthy workplace, there is simply no room for team members who make other employees feel bad.
Pets are joy-bringers not only to their owners, but to all others around them. This is why many pet-friendly offices around the world have reported higher levels of happiness and good mood among their employees.
Dog companions also lower the stress levels of their owners in the workplace, regardless of the industry or their position in the company. At the same time, the pet-friendly office has been a topic of debate due to prevalent allergies to dogs and cats.
Nutrition is another important ingredient in the recipe for great mental health. It has been scientifically proven that unhealthy foods like sugar or saturated fat cause a crash in energy, mood and productivity. Unfortunately, this is often what most of us reach for in times of sudden hunger or cravings in order to continue working normally.
Most often, we reach for sugary and unhealthy treats because there are no healthy alternatives. So, by simply offering fruits and other healthy options in your office kitchen, you can have a positive impact on snacking habits and the overall nutrition of your employees.
The best writing service company is happy to offer its employees fruit, smoothies, healthy snacks and refreshments.
Some tech companies have started introducing group meditations as part of their effort to break mental health stigma. This is an awesome way to collectively reduce stress levels among your employees, but there are also more everyday ways of doing the same.
For example, you can invite psychologists and mental health experts to talk about some of the issues most of us struggle with. Pay special attention to the problems in the workplace and make sure that these sessions feel like a safe place where everyone can share their experiences.
Most new companies have a designated chill zone where employees can take their breaks or socialize. In an office, it’s important that employees have space where they can really unwind and relax. When it comes to working remotely, your staff still need a virtual "watercooler" area to hang out and build relationships with each other - there are plenty of online tools for this!
For introverts, you can also design a separate alone chill zone. Not all people get their energy improved and stress levels reduced by being around other people. This is especially important if you have an open-space office. These types of offices can be overwhelming — and everyone needs some alone time to recharge.
There is so much that you can do to boost mental health in your office! When you look at it this way, it’s really a wonder why most offices are still stressful, mentally-draining spaces. If you need an extra incentive, the improved mental health of your employees will not only have an effect on their individual wellness but also on teamwork, communication and productivity.
Daniela McVicker is a career coach and blogger. She’s also a business communication coach, helping future job applicants to write business emails to help them achieve success on their career paths. You can check her last Trustmypaper review.