“It is absolutely vital that employees are given the reassurance they deserve that their mental health is taken as a priority to the same extent physical health is during their employment. It is not a courtesy, it is a necessity.” – Emily Fry
Mental health is a state of well-being that encompasses the emotional, psychological, and social aspects of our lives. Having a positive mental health enables you to be happy, manage life’s stressors, develop healthier relationships, improve quality of life and work productively. On the other hand, having poor mental health could affect how you think, feel, and act. You may feel unhappy, be often stressed, have relationship difficulties, have medical conditions and also affect work performance.
Mental health is an important part of overall health so it’s something that people should often talk about. This could adversely impact other areas of your life, like in the workplace. Mental health and wellbeing in the workplace has become a problem especially in this time of COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Mental Health Foundation, 1 in 6.8 people experience mental health problems in the workplace or about 14.7%. The number of those affected has increased even more due to the pandemic. Some employees feel more irritated, some seem to lose their self confidence, sudden change in behavior, have problem making decisions, become unmotivated etc. This affects employees' overall productivity and as a result, employers are now finding ways on how to boost the mental well-being of their employees.
What can managers do to support their employees during these trying times?
It’s important to prioritize the mental health of your employees by creating an open and caring culture that makes them feel valued, supported and looked after. Here are 6 ways you can do.
1.) Have changes in company culture and policies.
Even slight changes to organizational culture can boost employee engagement and wellbeing. Managers can develop a mental health policy to reassure employees that their company cares about their mental health and wellbeing. They should also encourage their team members to talk about mental health to create a culture of openness and awareness.
Making sure that leaders and managers are committed to wellness and engagement activities are also important. So that employees feel more comfortable in approaching them to discuss any problems they may have at work, or even at home. By also making sure that a manager exert effort in getting to know their staff so it will be easier to spot when they’re having problems or behaving uncharacteristically at work.
2.) Ask questions and listen to your staffs
Some employees are afraid to voice out their thoughts or concerns in the workplace. They may be nervous, embarrassed or simply lack the guts to express themselves. That is why it is important for managers to ask questions or initiate a conversation to their team members.
Asking your employees some questions may help you improve things, get more suggestions and create an open environment. Also, listening will make them feel that they are heard and important. Employees who know they are heard are more engaged and productive. When staff members have a voice, they’re willing to use it.
3.) Regular Check-ins with employees
Managers should check-in with their staff regularly. It can be through text, call, in-person or emails. This is important as it builds trust and connection between you and your employees which drives engagement. It also helps managers get updates, connect with team members, and identify potential issues early. Asking simple questions like what are they working on today, what are they planning to do tomorrow or if they need help or anything are helpful to build strong manager-employee relationship.
4.) Reward Employees
Rewarding employees for their good work is a way of showing your appreciation. Employees will respond positively to any sort of appreciation that comes their way. When they feel that they are valued, it increases their satisfaction and productivity. Managers should praise and recognize the efforts and contributions of employees in the company so that they feel a sense of achievement. This will make them feel motivated to finish certain tasks and perform outstandingly. That is why all companies need to implement recognition into their workplace on a regular basis.
5.) Be Mindful of Workplace Triggers
There are many known triggers for mental health and stress. Some of it includes; being in a high-risk role, working long hours or having no breaks, unrealistic expectations, overwhelming workloads, high-pressure work environments, a lack of managerial support, job insecurity and many more. There are lots of potential workplace triggers and managers should help employees address negative triggers in the workplace. They should be concerned about how they can help to fix the issue or solve the problem. They should listen to them, understand them, and let them express their emotions, offer support and be more emphatic. As a result, employees will feel a greater sense of trust and confidence in their managers.
6.) Have Team building
Work should not always be about work. Engaging in team building helps employees improve their overall mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. Team building is an important investment in your teams and in your business as a whole. It helps in building effective relationships within your employees. This will also increase staff productivity, improve their decision making skills, foster interaction at work, build strong relationships between team members, develop team qualities and create more connected, effective, and happier teams. This includes different types of team building like activity based, problem-solving based, communication based etc.
On a final note, good mental health and wellbeing at the workplace improves overall productivity of employees while mental health problems affect them in many different ways. In this time of pandemic, employee mental health must be a top priority for companies. Companies should never underestimate the importance of discussing mental health at work. They must take steps to improve the mental health in the workplace and create wellness solutions to help their employees.
Grensing-Pophal, L. (2020). Pandemic Takes a Toll on Employees’ Emotional Well-Being. Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/pandemic-takes-a-toll-on-employees-emotional-well-being.aspx
Mental Health Foundation. (2022). Mental health statistics: mental health at work. Retrieved from https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/statistics/mental-health-statistics-mental-health-work
Newsome, P. (2021). 10 Ways to Improve Employee Mental Health and Why It Matters. Retrieved from https://www.4cornerresources.com/blog/ways-to-improve-employee-mental-health-and-why-it-matters/
Plumptre, E. (2021). Why Is Mental Health Important? Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/the-importance-of-mental-health-for-wellbeing-5207938