There’s no denying the fact that the workplace plays a key role in an employee’s health and welfare. Apart from the monetary benefits, a job contributes to the purpose of our life and social well-being. It offers a sense of identity, boosts self-esteem, and offers a platform for social interactions. However, a toxic work environment can have the opposite impact. It can take a heavy toll on our mental and physical health.
A report by WHO reveals that nearly 12 billion working days are lost yearly to depression and anxiety. What’s more disturbing is that in some countries, nearly 48% of the working population suffers from mental health issues.
It is not just the employee’s mental health that gets affected due to a negative work environment. Poor mental health can significantly affect an employee’s performance and reduce a company’s overall productivity. A recent study suggests that mental health problems cost the economy $1 trillion annually due to increased absenteeism, high turnover, and poor productivity.
Factors Contributing to Mental Health Issues in the Workplace
Some of the key workplace factors that can result in poor mental health include:
Relationship problems with superiors or colleagues
Performance pressure, such as extreme deadlines or unachievable targets
Poor job prospects or undefined career advancement path
Long, inflexible working hours with an ever-increasing workload due to manpower shortage
A toxic work environment that fosters harassment or discrimination
Limited or no communication between management and employees (like in the case of mushroom management)
Unsafe practices at the workplace
Too many unpleasant or repetitive tasks
No sense of teamwork
Lack of diversity and inclusivity in the workplace
Additionally, the post-pandemic challenges have only exacerbated the situation by introducing a major shift in employees’ working habits. New stressors of working remotely, such as no clear distinction between the office space and home and increased screen time, have also become key precursors to mental illness.
8 Tips on How to Promote Mental Health in the Workplace
1. Implement Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
Employee assistance programs (EAPs) aim at equipping employees with the services and resources they require for mental well-being. The employee wellness program can help with emotional and substance use issues, interpersonal conflicts, legal problems, and financial difficulties. In addition, EAPs may help train managers and supervisors in dealing with employees with mental health issues.
EAPs are company-sponsored services and are usually delivered free to employees. Furthermore, these services may be delivered in person, by telephone, or through information technology media.
An open-door policy provides a platform for employees to discuss their mental health issues freely. This approach fosters an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their concerns with employers without fear of judgment. If an employee hesitates to open up, managers can reassure them that support is available whenever they are ready to talk.
An employee should be encouraged to adopt habits to promote mental health. This can include:
4. Encouraging employees to take intermittent breaks
Apart from scheduled lunch breaks, employees should be encouraged to move around and get away from their desks/screens for a few minutes. An ideal break of approximately 20-30 minutes discourages prolonged hours of sitting and staring at screens.
Employees should take a quick walk around the office, dedicate a few minutes to gentle stretching, or step out for tea/coffee and fresh air. These small changes in the working style can ultimately increase blood flow, improve mental health, and make employees more productive.
5. Making healthy eating the easy choice
The canteen or common sitting area in the workplace should have healthy eating options like fruit, nuts, and sugar-free energy bars as snacks. Develop a menu that promotes healthy eating habits, offering a variety of nutritious choices to accommodate diverse dietary needs.
6. Encourage employees to involve in physical activity
Encourage employees to involve in physical activity, promoting overall well-being. It may not be practical for all organizations to have a fitness center or gym on the office premises; however, companies can offer discounted memberships to local gyms as part of employee benefits.
7. Provide Opportunities to Learn About Healthy Lifestyles
Conducting health-centered workshops or mental health programs is a great way to offer opportunities to become aware of a healthy lifestyle and its benefits. Mental health training allows employees to learn from a registered health expert. Employees can gain the motivation to adapt to a healthy lifestyle through these seminars and workshops and eventually take the steps needed to implement their new knowledge.
8. Rethink Health Insurance Policy Coverage
Organizations can enhance their health insurance policies by incorporating coverage for mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, behavioral concerns, substance use disorders, and more. To ensure comprehensive care, companies can expand treatment teams to include clinical psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, and other health professionals.
Employees feel valued, respected, and appreciated when organizations show that they are genuinely concerned about employees’ health and well-being.
Promoting mental well-being at work not only aids employees in finding effective treatments for anxiety or depression but also results in a myriad of positive outcomes. Employees often report enhanced mood, more fulfilling relationships, reduced stress, and heightened focus, motivation, and energy to tackle crucial tasks, ultimately contributing to increased productivity.
As evident from a comprehensive survey encompassing the insights of 1,200+ employees and 500+ HR leaders, prioritizing mental health resources yields significant benefits:
Increased Employee Loyalty: A substantial 73% of employees and a remarkable 81% of managers conveyed that they are less inclined to consider leaving an organization that provides robust mental health resources. This underscores the critical role mental health support plays in fostering employee loyalty and reducing turnover.
Preference for Mental Health Benefits: The survey further revealed that 73% of non-managerial employees and 76% of managers prioritize mental health benefits over other employer-sponsored perks. This highlights the growing recognition of the importance of mental well-being in the workplace and its impact on overall job satisfaction and engagement.
According to an employee health survey by Mercer, it was revealed that 42% of employees with extensive access to mental health benefits are likelier to stay with the company, compared to 27% of those without access. Similarly, people whose employers provide health and well-being benefits are more loyal, involved, and engaged.
Reduction in Employee Healthcare Costs
The provision of comprehensive healthcare benefits by employers plays a pivotal role in reducing overall employee healthcare costs. When organizations prioritize employee well-being by offering robust healthcare benefits, it results in preventive measures, timely medical interventions, and increased accessibility to healthcare services. By promoting regular health check-ups, vaccinations, and wellness programs, employees can proactively address potential health issues before they escalate, ultimately mitigating the need for expensive medical treatments.
Mental health stands as a cornerstone of overall employee well-being. By proactively addressing mental health concerns, employers can cultivate a workforce that is healthier, happier, and more productive. Demonstrating a commitment to the physical and mental well-being of employees not only enhances job satisfaction but also fosters a sense of loyalty and dedication to the organization. The implementation of these measures contributes to a workplace culture that values and supports the holistic health of its workforce, creating a positive and resilient environment.
Engagedly is a robust HRMS platform that helps organizations nurture a work environment characterized by high performance, high employee retention rates, and greater job satisfaction. The cloud-based platform streamlines all HR-related tasks while gauging employee productivity and identifying areas of improvement.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Why is mental health important in the workplace? Q: How can employers support mental health among employees?
A: Mental health significantly impacts employee well-being, job satisfaction, and overall productivity. Prioritizing mental health in the workplace creates a positive environment, fostering better employee engagement and organizational success.
Q2. How can employers support mental health among employees?
A: Employers can provide mental health resources, such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), offer flexible work arrangements, promote work-life balance, and cultivate a stigma-free culture that encourages open communication about mental health challenges.
Q3. What initiatives can organizations take to address mental health stigma?
A: Organizations can implement awareness campaigns, conduct mental health training for managers, create supportive policies, and encourage open conversations about mental health. These initiatives contribute to reducing stigma and promoting a workplace where employees feel comfortable seeking help when needed.
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Kylee Stone supports the professional services team as a CX intern and psychology SME. She leverages her innate creativity with extensive background in psychology to support client experience and organizational functions. Kylee is completing her master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational psychology at the University of Missouri Science and Technology emphasizing in Applied workplace psychology and Statistical Methods.