From demanding deadlines to shifting priorities, there is no doubt that work can cause stress. High levels of stress can lead to more significant issues such as employee burnout and mental illness. So, what can organizations do about it? May is mental health awareness month, and while talking about mental health is becoming less taboo, there are still many organizations that could increase their awareness of this topic. There are several ways to help mitigate stress and promote mental wellness in the workplace. Here are five ways you can incorporate mental wellness into your company culture:
It all starts from the top down. One of the most effective ways to make mental wellness a priority in the workplace is through leading by example. Leadership can promote a mentally healthy work environment by providing senior managers and supervisors with mental health training. Using the tools and resources from these trainings can help leadership encourage open and honest communication and demonstrate commitment to employee well-being. They can also use the knowledge they’ve learned to identify and adequately respond to warning signs of mental health. Understanding how to identify and prevent emotional triggers in the workplace is also vital to ensuring that employees feel supported and safe.
Research shows that physical health is linked to mental health. In a study of 1.2 million people published by The Lancet Psychiatry, exercise was positively linked to better mental health and stronger emotional well-being. There are several ways you can promote physical activity in the workplace. For example, offering weekly office workout sessions: yoga, pilates, or even dancing can be arranged in an oversized conference room. Employers can also provide employees with standing desks or host a companywide step competition to increase activity levels. Other small ways to endorse physical activity in the office include encouraging employees to use the stairs or by holding biweekly meetings outside for a walk rather than inside the office.
Employers have a responsibility to understand and influence mental health in the workplace. There are various ways to measure employee mental health, including employee engagement surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one meetings. Surveys are a great way to allow employees to share their experiences. By implementing routine surveys, organizations can better monitor employee mental health and well-being. They can also determine what additional benefits are needed to meet employee needs. Leadership should encourage open and honest discussions with employees about mental health and include anonymous feedback on existing workplace policies. By addressing employee mental wellness directly, employers can increase employee engagement while also demonstrating their commitment to accountability.
It is crucial to normalize mental health conversations within the workplace to reduce the stigma associated with mental health topics. Employees shouldn’t fear that others will judge them or exclude them if they bring up mental health concerns and experiences with their team. Employers should cultivate an inclusive work culture and foster a workplace community that allows open and honest conversations about mental health. Employers can do this by sharing their own experiences around mental health, implementing stress management programs, or by offering access to campaigns to reduce the stigma preventing employees from seeking help.
It’s no secret that modern-day technology can make it difficult to disconnect from work. Yet, having a work-life balance is a vital aspect of mental wellness. Employers can encourage work-life balance by offering flexible work arrangements. This could include allowing remote work, limiting the number of after-hours emails, and encouraging paid time off. Since many people work from home because of the pandemic, the blurring of work and personal time can cause a great deal of stress. Managers should set clear guidelines regarding after-hour calls and emails and stick to them. Additionally, employees should feel encouraged to take lunch breaks and time off if needed.
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