How To Promote Positive Mental Health In The Workplace
“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients.” — Richard Branson
With one in five adults living with some form of mental health issue, helping employees improve their psychological wellbeing could be one of the most important steps an employer can take - both for the individual and for the success of the organization.
Creating a workplace environment that acknowledges and promotes the value of positive mental health represents an essential duty of care, not only to vulnerable employees and their dependents, but also to their colleagues and the prospects of the business as a whole.
It would be a false economy to neglect this because of perceived costs… According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “For every US$1 put into scaled-up treatment for common mental disorders, there is a return of US$4 in improved health and productivity”.
A business is the sum of its people
Without the human interaction that breathes life into them, companies are nothing but shells. Seeing employees only as a means to an end is an unsustainable model.
As a renowned business leader and New York Times, bestselling author Doug Conant says, “To win in the marketplace, first you must win in the workplace”. And it’s impossible to win in the workplace without consciously taking into account the overall wellbeing of your workforce.
Create an environment of mutual respect
The culture of an enterprise tends to trickle down from the top. A CEO who demonstrates disdain for subordinates due to perceived shortcomings is essentially giving tacit approval for everyone else in the organization to behave the same way.
This kind of environment is particularly toxic for employees who might be managing mental health issues. The best practice is to have a clearly defined policy of mutual respect among all levels - and a zero tolerance for bullying.
Put support systems into place
It’s not enough to say that support is available to anyone experiencing mental health issues - there has to be open and sincere discourse on the topic to dismantle the stigmas attached to it. Consistent engagement is a must.
Surveys show that up to 49% of people have felt they could not talk to their manager about a mental health issue. While 57% of employees who did speak to a manager felt they did not provide significant help. Organizations can train supervisors in mental health as well as have designated mental health champions in the workplace who can be approached if the employee does not want to talk to their manager.
In all cases, it is critical that there is guaranteed confidentiality, and that real, quantifiable steps are taken to address issues raised, including providing access to appropriate professional advice where necessary.
Encourage a healthy work/life balance
Setting unrealistic goals and compelling employees to arrive early, work late or take work home with them, will have a negative impact on your business in the long run. Stress and ‘burn-out, ultimately results in compromised performance, increased sick days and higher staff turnover - and puts employees at risk of experiencing serious mental as well as physical health issues.
According to the American Institute of Stress, 80% of workers feel stress on the job, and nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress. The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work reported that over half of the 550 million working days lost annually in the U.S. from absenteeism are stress-related.
Encouraging a healthy lifestyle including a healthy diet and regular physical activity, both in the workplace and after-hours, will reap wondrous rewards for employees and the organization alike. Vacations, hobbies, quality time with family and friends and an ability to routinely completely ‘unplug’ from work are essential to a healthy work/life balance.
Show your appreciation
One of the greatest ways to ensure your employees feel valued is by rewarding them when they do a particularly great job, to show you’re noticing the effort that they are putting in. We’ve made it simple here at Gifted, with our Appreciation Program. Create your own automated gifting system for your clients, employees and colleagues, in just a few clicks, to make sure nobody ever feels like their hard work is going unnoticed.
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ — Maya Angelou