Managers often tend to ignore and sideline mental health issues while discussing workplace problems. While managers commonly talk about other issues such as work-life balance, workplace bias, bullying, etc., mental health is one topic that gets completely ignored in most organizations.
The above numbers have in fact increased over the past year due to the pandemic. Continuous remote working has taken a toll on the mental health of employees. Reports of anxiety, depression, isolation, stress, and fatigue have increased. It has resulted in increased absenteeism, reduced productivity, disengagement, and burnout.
It is high time organizations recognize the importance of mental health issues and help build a conducive and supportive environment for employees.
Here are some ways in which organizations can help.
Spread Awareness About Mental Health
The first step to solving any problem always begins with awareness. This could be through the form of workshops, seminars, conferences, etc. held by certified mental health professionals. They can help spread awareness about mental health and de-stigmatize the problem.
Spread awareness about common mental health problems like depression, anxiety, social phobia, etc. Encourage your employees to come forward and open up about their mental issues, so that you can help them overcome their issues.
Don’t Treat It As A Taboo
Why do some employees struggle with having good mental health? There are many reasons, but one of the main reasons is not opening up about it to anyone. Many people shy away from expressing the mental issues that they are battling daily.
Create a culture that encourages employees to open up about it.
Not all employees who have mental issues can come forward and talk about their problems. Sometimes, as a manager, you need to go the extra mile and look for changes in the behavior of your team members.
Common symptoms that you can look for are irritability, depression, withdrawal from contact with others, loss of motivation, mood swings, etc. If you find someone from your team displaying these behaviors, it is time for you to have a conversation about their mental health issues.
Connect With Your Employees
Once you realize that a team member has changed their behavior or is exhibiting symptoms of mental health issues, it is best to have a conversation about it. Do not make assumptions before having the conversation; remember that your impression can be wrong too.
Connect with them over informal or formal sessions and talk with them and give them support. Ask them simple questions and encourage them to share what triggers their problem more. Also, give them frequent feedback on how they work and they can improve. It will keep them engaged and busy at work.
Sometimes, people battling mental health issues just want someone to hear out what they have to say, so listen to them without judging or giving out opinions instantly.
Supportive Work Culture
A supportive work environment is one that practices healthy communication and does not engage in toxic or harmful behavior. It shouldn’t make employees feel stressed. A distinction has to be made between job-related stressors and environmental stressors. Stress is a part and parcel of any job, and employees understand that on certain occasions, they might experience stressful situations. However, when these stressful situations frequently affect their ability to do their job or impact their ability to function, that is when it becomes a problem. Consequently, organizations need to be observant of the environment in which their employees work.
Creating a healthy workplace environment might necessitate organizations completely overhauling their workplace policies to be more inclusive. While this task might seem painful, it will go a long way toward creating a workplace that employees want to be a part of.
Design Policies Around Mental Health
Oftentimes, organizations have health policies but they might be cursory health policies or focus more on physical health. One way organizations can be more inclusive and supportive is to revamp their policies. It should cover all aspects of health and wellness. This includes creating provisions for employees with disabilities or employees with mental health problems. Also, adding or offering resources (through the employee assistance programs) that they can use to seek help. It is also important that employees be aware of these policies and use them when they need it. Having a good policy but not being able to use it renders the policy useless. It also prevents employees from seeking the health and care they need.
Employee wellness initiatives cannot move forward or even function successfully if they do not have the enthusiastic support of leaders and managers at an organization. It will not only lend more weight to mental health initiatives but will reassure employees that their well-being is important to organizations.
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.