The average person is expected to spend more than 90,000 hours in their lifetime working. With this many hours spent working, it's no doubt a person's mental health will be greatly shaped by the workplace environment. That's why both employers and employees benefit from a workplace that champions mental health, which in turns affects work performance, judgement, morale, and more.
In this article, I'll highlight six worthwhile strategies and initiatives to get your employees feeling in top shape mentally.
A strategy is a long term goal whereas an objective is a smaller task. Objectives are completed to fulfill your overall initiative. The strategies outlined below are not mutually exclusive, you can tackle more than one at a time - I've numbered them for ease of reading:
1. Encourage employee engagement
Reason: employee contribution is key to engagement. If employees do not feel like their contributions matter, then they will have a hard time being engaged in their work.
- Promote participation and decision-making among all employees
- Create anonymous employee satisfaction surveys
2. Promote work-life balance
Reason: too much work leads to stressed out employees. A healthy balance ensures employees are motivated by their work but also maintain life outside of the office.
- Offer flexible paid time off options
- Create a culture where it is okay to take time off - this comes down to management leading by example
- Offer flexible work hours
- Offer remote working options
- Encourage employees to use their vacation time
3. Build a culture of respectful behavior
Reason: treating one another with respect and trust ensures that the employees have good working relationships and in turn can communicate openly and freely.
- Create a guideline of reasonable conduct
- Make sure employees are aware of the guideline
- Ensure collaborative efforts are more common than not
- Conflict resolution practices must be in place
- Ensure everyone working on a project is on progress by meeting frequently but efficiently
- Be transparent in difficult situations
4. Recognize employee contribution
Reason: tying back to employee engagement, we want employee's to understand their opinion is valued. Contribution will lead to higher levels of engagement.
- Hold one on one meetings with your staff
- Praise the employee in public, discipline privately
- Create an organizational structure where all employees are recognized and not just the upper management
- Ensure that employees understand the roles that one another play within the business
5. Manage workloads
Reason: Overburdened and disengaged workers become stressed. In the long run, this could cause an employee to leave the company.
- Work with employees to establish a balanced schedule
- Devise a plan with each individual employee, but ensure teams have a general idea of where everyone is at
- Allow for flexible deadlines, which can help overburdened employees
- Share schedules between teams to keep members accountable
6. Build a culture of wellness
Reason: wellness is directly tied to mental health - having a hobby outside of work can greatly improve a person's well being even if not tied directly to the job itself
- Start a wellness program such as a Wellness Spending Account
- Add wellness events (such as yoga) into the team building efforts
- Lead by example - corporate culture develops at the management level
- Train managers to recognize and respond appropriately to mental health problems
- Offer employee assistance programs and encourage employees to actually use them
- Make wellness a priority
- Provide in-building services related to wellness such as a massage therapist or napping stations
While the employer is responsible for improving the work culture and environment, it is primarily the employee's responsibility to put these objections into action and truly seek the change they seek. Here are individual steps you can take to improve your mental health in the office:
1. Take breaks
- Get some fresh air
- Look far away for 1 minute every 20-30 minutes
- Stretch when stiff... or simply take deep breaths
- Move around
- Bring a healthy snack to work to revitalize your morale
- Drink a sufficient amount of water per day
3. Sleeping habits
- Get at least 7 hours of sleep
- Be open - let your coworkers or employer know what is on your mind
- Take the day off if feeling unwell. It's better to rest for one day then struggle through the week.
Learn how a Wellness Spending Account can improve your workplace:
Listen to our podcast episode about Mental Health in the Workplace: