Creating a Workplace Culture That Values Mental Health

Solitude and a lack of interaction can lead to anxiety and mental exhaustion. Here's how to value mental health at work.
Creating a Workplace Culture That Values Mental Health
Adrian Johansen

If you want your business to truly evolve, then you need employees who are happy to come to work each day and give it their all. The problem is, if you aren’t actively thinking about how to improve the mental health of your employees, then there is a chance that your staff may be more unhappy than they seem.

There are many signs that your employees aren’t happy at work, including an increase in call-ins and lowered productivity, and if you let it get out of hand, your company could suffer.

Companies in the US are already losing over $225 billion dollars a year due to issues associated with employee morale.

To ensure the success of your enterprise and the employees within, you need to change your culture now to avoid becoming another statistic.

Communication Is Key

The process of improving employee mental health begins with management and human resources. Both must have an open-door policy and not just in name only.

Instead, management should continuously encourage employees to come to them if they are feeling overly stressed or otherwise overburdened. When employees come in, the manager needs to actively listen to their concerns and offer real solutions that can be implemented in the short term.

If one employee is feeling mentally drained or otherwise unwell, they are probably not alone. In order to provide assistance to those who need additional help, start a peer network in the office where employees who need to talk can meet with managers or fellow employees to compare notes and discuss their issues and what they are doing to put their minds at ease. If your budget allows, consider putting a professional counselor on the payroll whom employees can go to discreetly and get the help they need.

In these days of COVID-19 and social distancing, many companies have turned to a remote workforce, which keeps everyone safe and separated.

Solitude and a lack of interaction can also lead to anxiety and mental exhaustion.

To remedy this, provide everyone with a webcam and have brief video chats every couple of days that can replicate what it is like to take a break and talk around the watercooler.

This is a great time to see each other and feel like a group while also going over daily goals and status reports. You want to eliminate mental health issues before they start, and these get-togethers can be a great way to go.

Work-Life Balance

While deadlines need to be met, it is still important to promote the proper work-life balance, so employees are not becoming overly stressed.

One way that a business can negatively impact the mental health of its employees is by working them too hard and not giving them a chance to come up for air.

Promote balance by encouraging employees to take their vacation time. This doesn’t necessarily mean two-week trips — even a day or so here and there when they are feeling a bit of burnout setting in can help them regain their footing.

Also, think about allowing flexible schedules when necessary. With the coronavirus pandemic still wreaking havoc on our world, many employees are working from home along with their kids and significant others. This can mean that in addition to work, employees are also caring for their families, and at some point, it can be too much to take.

If you can, allow employees to start later in the day so they can get their kids set up for school or allow that extra hour at lunch so they can go to the doctor. As long as the work still gets done, these small adjustments will show your employees that you appreciate them and have their backs.

It is also imperative that you allow everyone at work to take breaks throughout the day so they can catch their breath and come back to their tasks rejuvenated and ready to go.

During these break times, encourage employees to stretch and get a drink of water, as both activities can fight off fatigue and keep you alert.

A Welcoming Atmosphere

Of course, the best way to show employees that you care is to have a workplace that they will happily return to day after day and know that they are appreciated. One way to do this is with employee training and growth opportunities. Managers should bring in each employee and tell them the future positions that they can fill if they complete achievable requirements.

When provided with a roadmap, employees will have something to strive for each day.

Ensuring mental health for your employees is not only about career paths, but ensuring their physical safety as well. At the office, avoid common injuries from trips, slips, and falls by labeling all chemicals and hazards, including that wet floor that was just recently mopped. Provide ergonomic chairs and desks, so employees don’t strain their backs or wrists.

You should also have regular safety meetings where you gather all employees and remind them of common hazards and how to properly operate machinery and office equipment to avoid injury. Again, express the importance of going to management whenever they are hurt or see the risk of danger around the office.

Remember, this open-door policy is essential, and it will do wonders to show your employees that they are more than just cogs in the machine.

If you are an employer who hasn’t yet thought of the importance of a mentally safe work environment, then drop everything and start today. The wellbeing of your workforce should be your number one priority, and in return, they will show their appreciation for your efforts through hard work and improved efficiency.

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