People are the most important asset in any business, and when people work at a mentally healthy workplace they are much more likely to be happier and more fulfilled in other areas of their lives too.
Mental health challenges in the workplace are often a response to physical, psychological or emotional factors that exceed a person’s ability to cope.
Daily frustrations due to a lack of adequate resources, social isolation or role ambiguity can easily mushroom into bigger upsets, feelings of failure, and more serious challenges like burnout. This can cause higher instances of absenteeism, presenteeism (working while not fully performing duties), high staff turnover, customer complaints and poor staff satisfaction.
Investing in the well-being of employees is good business
Companies can take several steps to improve employee experience and support mental well-being in the workplace. In doing so, they can create a happier work culture that supports employees at different stages of their mental health journey. Studies show that mentally healthy companies outperform the stock market by 2-3% a year.
Here are 3 strategies to create a mentally healthy workplace and help employees feel accepted & valued:
1. Create a supportive work culture
Despite recent strides in public awareness about employee mental health, it’s more important than ever for businesses to establish policies that make the workplace safer, fairer, and more accepting of employees struggling to manage mental health challenges.
Stigma about mental health prevents many employees that need help from disclosing their condition and seeking support from their employer and others around them. A culture that lacks acceptance and support can lead to discriminatory behaviour, including harassment that affects people’s attitudes and beliefs about mental health (including their own), self-harm and substance abuse.
Investing in workplace wellbeing means understanding mental health the way your employees do. By encouraging employees to share their feelings about mental health issues, lines of communication are opened that make way for a safer, healthier work environment.
Company culture is incredibly powerful. When a company prioritises mental health in the workplace, employees are empowered to ask for help and seek out information about where to go or who to ask for support.
Compassion is contagious too, it makes workplaces nicer places to be. A workplace that encourages employees to look out for one another often experiences knock-on effects, like strengthening and enhancing the company culture, to create an environment where employees feel valued and inspired.
Something as simple as a smile, or a word of encouragement to a person that has experienced a difficult time can contribute to a sense of belonging. This beats ignoring the issue, just to let that person spiral into depression, anxiety or burnout. A supportive workplace isn’t about curing people suffering from mental illness. It’s about empowering them them to speak up, and normalising mental health challenges.
2. Flexible Scheduling
There is strength in flexibility and trust, and often the most resilient, successful and productive employees are those that are able to serve their own needs as well as the needs of the business. Sometimes a companies biggest opportunity to impact employee wellbeing is to help them deal with workplace stress factors by introducing flexible policies.
By empowering employees to air grievances early via a 10-minute informal chat every few weeks, employers are able to find early solutions to help ease worker pressure. Policies such as relaxed response times, no email after hours, and four-day working weeks can also help foster a culture of empowered and valued workers.
Companies that encourage a healthier work-life balance in their workers often enjoy benefits such as increased profit, more satisfied, productive and loyal staff, reduced absenteeism and the ability to attract and retain talent.
3. Encourage mental and physical breaks
Regular breaks can contribute to the health and well-being of your employees. Convincing employees to stop work and take breaks long enough to disrupt the body’s stress response cycle, can help them experience better mental and emotional well-being at work and lower their stress levels.
A meta-analysis from 2020 found that just using occupational health and fitness programs that include mindfulness sessions can decrease employee stress and burnout levels while improving overall well-being and job satisfaction.
Breaks that incorporate some sort of movement or stretching help promote creativity and ward off many common health concerns. Studies have shown that exercise reduces workplace stress and anxiety too – just getting away from the desk and walking around the block can trigger the production of the four main chemicals responsible for happiness (endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin) and reduce adrenaline and cortisol.
Daily physical movement is also a healthy way to build resilience to mental and emotional challenges since the endorphins help enhance problem-solving and coping mechanisms and can boost energy levels when fatigue and unexpected challenges hit. Best of all, when daily exercise becomes routine, employees tend to feel satisfied with themselves and their accomplishments, which leads to higher self-esteem, mental tolerance and better resilience to stress in all elements of their lives.
Poor workplace wellbeing has an incredibly high price
Just as company culture can impact employee mental health, so too, can mental health affect a company’s productivity levels. Recent estimates suggest mental health issues cost the global economy $1 trillion annually in lost productivity, absenteeism, and staff turnover.
While it can be hard to measure a companies return on investment, mental health just isn’t something workplaces can afford to overlook.
Sprintcrowd helps companies create a culture of wellbeing and support for employees. Book a demo today to learn about what we can do for your workplace.