Why Employee Mental Health Has to Be Part of the Workplace Conversation

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Happy and healthy employees are the backbone of a great organization. As leaders are looking to improve their workplace, it’s important to have employee mental health be part of the conversation. How employees feel directly impacts their contribution in the workplace. A negative work environment is not only bad for employee morale, it’ll will cost you financially.  In fact, the Center for Prevention and Health Services estimates that mental illness and substance abuse issues cost employers between $79 and $105 billion annually in indirect costs. Absenteeism, decreased productivity, and increased healthcare expenses are just a few of the ways mental health problems cost employers. Of course, providing a great place to work is important for more than just the bottom line. Here are a few ways to keep your team in a strong mental state while at work.

Promote healthy work practices

Mental health is impacted by biological and environmental factors. As an employer, you can’t affect the biological aspects, but you can help in the work environment. Set realistic objectives for your team. Keep the late night emails and 80 hours work weeks to a minimum. Sure, in a fast-moving company when you’re on the grind, time does get lost. When the stakes are high, burning the midnight oil is par for the course. That said, be sure to give your team a chance to catch their breath to prevent burnout.

Encourage solid relationships between employees and immediate supervisor

The relationship employees have with their immediate supervisor is a crucial component to their satisfaction at work. Consider this, your employee’s supervisors hold significant influence in your team’s work life. When the relationship is positive, your organization thrives. When the relationship falters, employees can experience anxiety and stress, ultimately impacting their performance in a negative manner. Spend time with your team leads and make sure they are developing into competent, supportive leaders. When employees trust their leadership, they are more likely to communicate when problems arise.

Provide employee mental health resources

Perhaps the most difficult aspect in promoting employee mental health is that it looks so different in each person. Some employees who are silently battling hard times might smile the most. While it’s impossible to expect leaders to be mental health professionals, they can make employees aware of the resources that are available to them. Many health benefits, for example, have affordable options for employees to take advantage of. When the opportunity arises, mention these options to your team.

Inspire physical wellness

Working in an office can lead to a sedentary lifestyle. More importantly, mental health is directly impacted by a person’s physical health. How a person eats, sleeps, and exercises correlates with their frame of mind. Since the average American employee spends 47 hours at work, encourage healthy living in the work setting. Host a fitness challenge and provide nutritious eating options. Creating a positive physical health environment fosters a teamwork setting. Your people have a chance to bond while taking care of themselves simultaneously.   

Why we need to pay attention to employee mental health

As organizations become more open to publicly talking about employee mental health, organizations can do their part in promoting positive mental health by becoming an advocate. Set manageable work hours, train supervisors to lead in a successful manner, have mental health resources readily available, and promote healthy living. When employees feel happy and healthy, they are able to work to the best of their ability. Moreover, satisfied workers exude the very culture your organization breeds, so take care of your staff and they will take care of you.

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